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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Getting the rest of my thoughts in

It began with agreement, it really did...

A fellow blogger I follow went off on the meatheaded would be congressman Todd Akin, who thinks that woman can shut off incoming sperm at will.  Apparently he never bothered to look into things past what he heard in some 6th grade locker room.  In the course of many posts, though, this blogger said something that made me decide I had to speak up- basically, she'd never vote for any man who told her what she HAD to do with her body.

In a way of getting the other side out, I sent in an unfortunately long winded comment.  Among the the things I brought up:

- That BOTH times my ex and I made a child, we knew it immediately.  I won't pretend it happens to everyone, but I know for a fact that we weren't alone in this.  She said "That is insane" but admitted she neither had children nor wanted any.  Which is a better response than the ones I get from atheists about what I believe, but would have been nice to not have been looked at as nuts for an experience I had and she did not.

-That, given that I personally believe that life comes at conception, I find it a bit selfish for this to be all about the woman and nothing about the child.  She has a different mindset and disagrees, no harm no foul.

-That I don't think the fight over it would be near the proportion it is except that Planned Parenthood is not an honest broker in this, nor are any other clinics.  They make a profit on the procedure- a bigger one than they get from counseling- and thus have been exposed many times in pushing abortions without recourse, counselling, or parental notification.  I suggested that all abortions should be government paid- but paid only to the break-even-point on the procedure, so that money leaves the equation and counselling, other options, education based on responsibility and ramifications, and birth control could be equal partners in their work.  I think we "basically" can see agreement there, but from her response I think she believes that any control of abortion leads to unwanted kids, handicapped kids with no one to support them, and other such cases by the ton.  Which pretty much makes my point, which is that as long as money is in the equation, both sides will take extreme positions and refuse to compromise.

- None of which was but a set up to my real problem with the post- that I do not believe that ANYONE who has one, make-or-break issue is a fit voter.  Voting should be done with the best interests of the nation as a whole, or not done at all.  If you can say, for example," It doesn't matter how bad the economy sucks, I'm voting for Obama because he'll let me have an abortion"- OR "I don't care if he is a heartless corporate monster, I'm voting for Mitt because he'll let my church's hospital run things according to conscience", it's one easy step to," I'm voting for Hitler, because he's giving us everything we want- who cares what he does with the Jews?"  To her credit, she explained that the statement was just made over the issue being discussed, and didn't mean she was actually a one-trick-pony voter.  But if it's in your mind, perhaps it needs to be examined.  It doesn't do much good to vote for the guy standing up for woman's reproductive rights if his economic plans put all the women you are defending out of work.

Okay, all of that is what has gone before.  But there are a couple of things I wanted to hit and didn't particularly want to turn it into a whole thing on her site.  I know she doesn't read here, but some of her other readers do.  If you'd like to pass this on to her, your business, public forum.  I'm not doing this to berate her, or talk behind her back, and she is certainly entitled to her opinions.  Like I said, I agreed with 90% of the original post, for pete's sake.  So rather than trash her blog and her day, I thought I'd finish up here.

One thing, she states that she believes "a baby's rights begin at birth".  Okay, but what about its life?  Carry one for 10 months and see where you set that marker at.  Not trying to be snarky, but there is a fundamental difference between "rights" and "life", and you can't just rationalize that away.

Another thing, it was brought to my attention that I would feel differently if I was being forced to have a vasectomy at a certain age.  Actually, I wouldn't since I had one after Shenan, but anyway it's apples and oranges.  Maybe not if you take the baby in the womb as a living thing out of the equation, but you are comparing the prevention of the CREATION of future lives with the taking of one THAT IS ONGOING.  Not the same thing at any level.

And the sad thing is that the true, overarching issue is being ignored.  Perhaps it would be easier to see a fetus as a life rather than "A rice grain sized thing inside me" if we saw sex as the loving union of one man and one woman rather than a recreational pursuit.  Not judging anyone in particular, I think all of us get hit by that stone.  Lord, I know I do.

Finally, I was told I'd feel different if I had woman parts rather than man parts.  I really don't think that's true- the only change, sadly enough, would be the level of responsibility I would feel (sadly, because it's the level I should have felt all along).

Time Machine week 31

Today is August 31, 1970.  Among the musical notes on the police blotter today is the arrest of Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary.  He was busted for doing what "was common practice, unfortunately..."  to wit- indecent liberties with a 14 year old groupie.  Not to worry:  realizing he was a good little leftist anti-war dope smoking hippie, Jimmy Carter pardoned him in one of his last acts in 1981.  At least though, Peter learned a valuable lesson- you must BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LET...

...puff the Magic Dragon!
And with that rim shot we move onto this week's Time Machine.  This week we feature mobsters, attempted murders, Buddy Miles doing Neil Young, a six degrees that ends in this week's debut at #68, a new top dog, the difference between a Seeker and a New Seeker, and probably the dumbest statisical study in the history of Time Machine. And with a cameo by Ed Sullivan, you know it'll be a reeeeeealy big shue! In the words of Styx, Light Up, Everybody...!

12 songs debut on our hot 100 this week- including the one we'll mention at the end of six degrees.  In addition, I have 6 more to mention.  Before I do, I noticed a couple of songs in the nether reaches that debuted before and you might be thinking, "Didn't Chris mention them?  Why aren't they in the top forty yet?"  Well, here's why.  Christie's Yellow River debuted 9 weeks ago, and is still moving- slowly- upwards, rolling along 7 to #83.  And Sugarloaf's Green Eyed Lady has taken the last 4 weeks rumbling, stumbling, bumbling from 97 to 90.  Be patient, they're on their way.

Coming in at 98 this week is Bryan Hyland (yep, the Itty-Bitty Teeny-Weenie-Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini guy) with Curtis Mayfield composition Gypsy Woman.  R. Dean Taylor is at 89 with Indiana Wants Me.  At 86 is Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma, by the New Seekers.  What's the difference between a New Seeker and an Old Seeker? The original Seekers broke up when my darling, my love Judith Dunham left for a solo career.  Guitarist Keith Potger decided to make an updated version of the band, and founded and produced the New Seekers in 1969-70, though he only performed on their second lp.  The originals re-united with a new female lead in 1977, while the New guys broke up in '74.  Both bands have de-formed and re-formed since then, with Judith returning to the originals in 1992.  But as they say on TV, any resemblance between the two bands is strictly coincidental.

Anyway, a band called 100 Proof Aged In Soul debuts at 82 with the raucous Somebody's Been Sleeping; Johnny Cash comes in one of my favorites, the heartbreakingly vivid Sunday Morning Coming Down; and at 65, Three Dog Night hits with Out In The Country.

And that brings us to our birthday songs.  Turning 30 this week are Kool and the Gang's Big Fun, the duo of Kenny Loggins and Steve Perry with Don't Fight It, and the duet of Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes with Up Where We Belong.  Turning 35 are Foghat's I Just Wanna Make Love To You, Dave Mason's We Just Disagree- along with another that I'm going to save for just a little bit.  Turning 40 are the Spinners' I'll Be Around and the Doobies' Listen To The Music.  At 45 this week are The Association's Never My Love, Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze, and Lulu's To Sir With Love. Turning the big 5-0 are Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kicker Five with the very first charting of The Monster Mash, and the legendary Gene Pitney with Only Love Can Break Your Heart.  Oh, and turning 60 is a song by Guy Mitchell called Feet Up (Pat Him On The Po-Po).  After reading the lyrics, the song is about his newborn son, which of course means his "po-po" is his bottom.  Hmmm.

This might not seem the time for it (but there's a method to my madness), but right now I'm going to do this week's almost-but-not-quite shoutout.  Since we've dealt with this one a couple of times now, I'll mention Neighborhood's version of Big Yellow Taxi peaked last week at 24, and slides to 30 this time.  The Who's take on Summertime Blues topped out at 14 last week, and slides to 25 this week.  And dropping from 11 to 13 is the inimitable BJ Thomas with another long-winded title, I Just Can't Help Believing.  Which got me thinking that it might be interesting to set up BJ against some random singer and see if his proclivity for long song titles is as bad as I make it out to be.  But then I was doing the birthdays, and amongst those turning 35 was Barry White's It's Ecstasy (When You Lay Down Next To Me).  And I said, y'know, Barry has a lot of loooong song titles himself.  And I decided it was time to find out who was the king of long titles.

So I went through BJ's discography first.  He charted 45 songs with a total of 216 words in them- including an 11, a 10, and 5 eights- for an average of 4.8 words per title.  Barry charted 56 times with pop and R&B, rolling up 286 words- never breaking double figures, but piling up 4 nines, 4 eights, and 8 sevens- for a per-song average of 5.1.  So from now on, I guess I'll have to use the Barry White School of Long Song Titles.

Lissen up, baby, my titles aren't my LONGEST thing...
Speaking of big things, the big dropper is a song we haven't mentioned yet (and likely never will again).  Paul Kelly peaked at 54 with his tune Stealing In The Name Of The Lord last week; it falls 39 spots to 93 this time.  Big mover's in the top 40 once again.

Our where are they now victim this week are the Fifth Dimension, who land at 50 this week with On The Beach (In The Summertime).  The original group had unravelled a bit after the hubby/wife team of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., left in 1975.  But a succession of replacements kept the band alive, if not on the charts.  In 1990-1 McCoo and Davis joined them on tour, and in 1995 they put out one last album of new stuff, In The House, before accepting the mantle of "nostalgia act".  McCoo and Davis still perform together.  Ron Townson left the band in 1997 and died 4 years later; Lamonte McLemore retired in 2006, leaving Florence LaRue as the last original still with the group, still touring at 68 years old.

Top 40 debuts this week include: up 2 to 39, another WATN featuree Lost Generation with The Sly, The Slick, And The Wicked; our big mover this week, flying up 31 to 37, Neil Diamond with Cracklin' Rosie, giving Neil 2 debuts in the last three weeks (Solitary Man is at 27 this week); Ernie the Muppet, AKA Jim Henson, comes in at 35- up 17- with Rubber Duckie; Anne Murray wings in 8 spots to 36 with Snowbird; Tom Jones gains 13 to 34 with I (Who Have Nothing); and Dawn leaps 27 notches to 33 with Candida.

Hey, Bert!  I'm in the top 40!

Our salute to the past this week focuses on Ruth Etting.  Weaned on Broadway, Ruth piled up 62 top fortys, 38 top tens, but only hit the top with the second to last song of her 12 year (1926-37) career, 1935's Life Is A Song.  One of her best known songs wasn't a chart hit, but a tune from 1931's Ziegfield's Follies- the classic Shine On Harvest Moon.  She was married to gangster "Moe the Gimp" Snyder, who agressively managed her career.  In addition to song and dance, she did several movie shorts and three feature films.  One of those was 1933's Mr. Broadway, which starred (and was co-written by) Ed Sullivan as an entertainment reporter who ran into many of the stars of the day (who played themselves in the film).  By 1937 she was pretty much retired and divorced Moe the Gimp.  He wasn't exactly graceful about it and shot her pianist and new boyfriend Myrl Alderman.  Moe was convicted of kidnapping and attempted murder, but like a good gangster got out on appeal a year later.  A decade later her life became the movie Love Me Or Leave Me, with her part being played by Doris Day, and- naturally- the part of Moe going to Jimmy Cagney.

"' I told him, Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player!"

Three new songs in the top ten, three come out.  The three droppers are: Tighter, Tighter falling from 8 to 23; Lay A Little Lovin' On Me from 7 to 12; and Close To You from 6 to 11.

Ronnie Dyson, a graduate of the BJ Tho Barry White School, holds at 10 for a third week with the 13-worded If You Let Me etc., etc.

A six-notch jump from 15 to 9 for CCR with Lookin' Out My Back Door.

It's 9 to 8 for 25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago.

Diana Ross leaps 6 as well to 7 with Ain't No Mountain High Enough.

Moving up six is all the rage this week; Clarence Carter does it to #6 with Patches.

And dropping from 1 to 5 is our six degrees victim.

We've actually done a six degrees worth of stuff on Stevie Wonder's Signed Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours), but here's some more.  As we know, the song was redone years later by Peter Frampton on the I'm In You lp.  One of the background vocals on Frampton's effort was an old hand named Mike Finnegan.  A veteran session man on organ, Finnegan has among his credits organs on a couple of the cuts on Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, the songs Rainy Day, Dream Away and Still Rainin', Still Dreamin'.  Another player on these songs was world famous drummer Buddy Miles.  And this week on our hot 100, Miles scores a debut at #68 with his version of Neil Young's Down By The River.

Bread slips a notch to 4 with Make It With You, a song my son says would have been better if somebody else did it.  I think he was wanting some electric guitar on it.  Hmmm.

Mungo Jerry moves up 2 spots to #3 with In The Summertime.

Edwin Starr lays siege to the top spot, moving 2 to #2 with War.

Which is ironic, because the new #1 song this week is...

War, featuring Eric Burden, with Spill The Wine!!!

Yee hahh, another show done!  See ya next week!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog...

Thanks to everyone who commented on the three part "The Train" story.  It is now posted on the Story and Poetry Page" for your convenience.

Boy, could I really have some fun ranting about some of the stupid things the "Large-Mouthed Left" have said around and about the GOP convention.  You know, like Ellen Barkin retweeting someone who wished the entire convention would be washed away in a storm; Chris Matthews on MSNBC trying desperately to convince Newt Gingrich that Newt was a racist while spewing racist comments himself;  other NBC commentators trying to tell their audience what hate filled speeches were being made while deliberately not covering ongoing speeches by 2 African Americans and a Latino;  oh, and how about the hackers that got on the Wiki page on Mia Love and called her a "dirty whore" and a "house nigger", and the now-unemployed Washington bureau chief of Yahoo News joking about "Romeny partying while poor blacks drown" in NOLA?  Thank you, democrats and assorted other left wingers, you are all such princes.

However, I've actually been glued to watching hurricane coverage live streaming on NOLA station WWL-TV.  I have been praying for those suffering, watching stories of heroism, and have been in awe how much better prepared the officials in Louisiana are than they were seven years ago.  Suffering is not over, as the storm is slow moving, and they are prepping to blow some of the older levies and evacing a LOT of people who thought they would be safe.  Unfortunately, Isaac is probably the most unique storm in ages, and does nothing as expected.  If nothing else is learned, hopefully the National Hurricane Center will learn it's time to scrap the Saffir-Simpson scale for something that takes into account estimated storm surge, pressure, sheer size of the storm, and forward speed instead of just wind speed.  Then, instead of "I can ride out a tropical storm/cat 1", you might instead think, "Hmm, this is more than just a rain storm, perhaps I should leave."

Among the things unusual here- a hurricane will usually have an inner eyewall that contracts to a certain point, and then collapses and an outer eyewall forms.  This thing, as it neared land, had a 50-mile wide eye (which is pretty big)- and started to form a new eyewall INSIDE this, which I understand no body had EVER seen happen before.  As I type, an official from one of the Parishes (we call 'em counties), put it best- "We've been calling it a Cat one, but to those poor people in Braithwaite and Laplace, it's a Cat five!" 

Braithwaite, BTW, is a town in an area protected by a local (i.e., not Federal) levee that got overtopped this morning.  These people found themselves facing a six foot rise in just under two minutes; by this afternoon, houses that people were being rescued from rooftops in the morning were partially submerged- or worse.  This was the east side of the river- and they are evacing the west side in case they need to blow the west levees to drain the area.

Even I am tempted at times to ride out such a storm, just to see what it's like.  But this year we had a storm here in Ft. Wayne.  It had similar winds, a lot less rain, lasted a fraction of the time, and we had no power for three and a half days.  We didn't have severe damage here, though the city did.  We had access to ice, and batteries, they won't.  And we didn't get flooded out.  And it still sucked.  I've struggled to imagine what would have happened if Ft. Wayne wold have had to withstand ten hours of that storm rather than 10 minutes.  And that's when you go back to praying for them.  So, with all due apologies, I have had other things to do than pay a lot of attention to the convention, or to the hate-blinded morons masquerading as "news media" complaining about it.

I have had time to chuckle here and there, though.  Stole this one off of Facebook:

"Ha ha! Check out this dumbass!"

Take that, Laughing Cow!

The Train- Finale

"Oh, God," Erwin muttered, his heart sinking as his mind scrambled to understand.  "Erwin, think about it,"  the man in front explained.  "There is more to faith than doing things.  Did you know Him?"

"How are we supposed to know Him? He died two thousand years ago!  Do YOU know Him?"

"Ya twit!" Josie laughed.  "He ain't on the same plan as us."

"What do you mean?"

"He's an angel," Josie answered.  "Likely a fallen one.  Ain't so?" The man in front tipped his hat to the dead gunslinger.

"Oh, God," Erwin said again.

"But wait," Jerry said, jumping to his feet unsteadily.  "Then, i-if you're an angel, y-you can HELP us!  Help us!!!"  He fell at the angel's feet, weeping and chanting.

"Yes," Consul Marius whispered.  "That makes sense..."  He rose and headed up front, clinging on to the back of each seat until he'd made his way to the front.  He fell to his knees beside Jerry when he got there.  The angel-in-over-alls looked back at Josie and Erwin with a whaddya-gonna-do shrug.  Josie echoed it and eased back into his bench seat again.

Erwin's mind was racing; he understood less the more he learned.  If only that Reverend had stayed, he could explain... The Reverend!  He had went up front to speak to the engineer and never returned!  What answers had he forced from the engineer?  Erwin raced- as best he could- for the door to find out for himself.  It had to beat sitting here watching this!  He soon changed his mind, if not his course.  The next car was squalid, its passengers engaged in... well, he didn't want to think about it.  He hurried to the next door, and the next car was worse- as was every succeeding car from there on.  Even the terrain outside the windows was worse:  barren, flat... pestilential.  After what seemed an eternity of such cars, he entered what appeared to be the locomotive itself.  No seats here; just a handful of poor wretches, sucking their toes, gouging their eyes and ears, babbling incoherently.  He moved slowly up the long hallway of the damned, at last finding Reverend Stowe sitting near the front.

He knelt to face him; the eyes were blank, serving no purpose other than an origin point for the dark tears that ran unbidden down the unmoving face.  Erwin gently touched his shoulders, shook him slightly.  "Reverend?  Reverend?"

"No use of that," the Engineer said, never turning from the view ahead.

"What happened to him?"

"He looked out my window, and saw what was to come," the engineer replied.  "Same as all these others."

Erwin steeled himself to stand.  "Are you another angel?"

"No, nothing so great," came the response.  "Just a man like you."

"Then, how... how is it you drive the train?" Erwin asked.

"Irony,"  the Engineer said.  "You see, I thought the afterlife was an absurdity, somebody's idiot shared imagination, a way in which governments controlled... well, that doesn't matter now.  But it was not enough for me to disbelieve, oh, no.  I felt it my duty to free all mankind from the chains of belief, of religion.  I felt it my noble charge to convince others how happy, how peaceful we would all be, once we all accepted that there was nothing to see beyond the Veil."

"And.. and then what?"

"Well, obviously, I passed beyond the Veil.  And instead of nothing, I saw EVERYTHING.  Funny, isn't it?  I spent my whole mortal life blinded, teaching others to close their eyes.  Then I attained immortality, much to my surprise, and I could see.  And what I saw left me blind once more."

"What did you see?"  Erwin asked.  "Did you... see God?"

"God? No," the Engineer went on.  "I had chosen long ago never to see Him, and He took me at my word.  No, what I saw was the utter lack of hope I'd won for myself, and for anyone fool enough to listen to the fool I was.  No, the only way to be truly blind is to look into the black, and know it to be your own soul..."

"But I believed in God!  I did!"  Erwin screamed.  "I don't belong here!"

The Engineer smiled.  "I had a friend once,"  he began.  "He always tried to tell me that you can't see God in a book, or know Him as a concept.  It was a relationship that was needed.  A relationship! I laughed.  Might as well have a 'relationship' with the Easter Bunny, or ol' Saint Nick, I'd say.  That's how much sense it takes to 'believe in God'.  And he'd say, sense won't do it.  It takes faith."

"What is faith?"  Erwin asked, shaking uncontrollably.

"How should I know?" the Engineer said, laughing bitterly.

Erwin turned back to the Reverend, yanking him upright.  "Snap out of it!" Erwin screamed, shaking him hard, slapping his face.  "Tell me what faith is, damn you!"

With the barest trace of coherence, Reverend Stowe looked at the panicking Erwin.  "...Not supposed to be real..." he murmured softly.  "...Just a way to make money... not supposed to be real..."

"You really should come here and watch this," the Engineer said to Erwin. "It's quite fascinating..."

Erwin let the ruined pastor fall to the floor, and walked with legs of wood to the windshield of the locomotive.  He saw a barren land, devoid of light and life, as a horizon rushed up towards them, only seconds away.  Then the train shifted, pitching downward as it hurtled into the outer darkness...

The echoes of the horn's wail ripped through Erwin's soul, and all the emptiness in the universe gathered into what Erwin conceived of as his chest.  The words of Joshiah Everard to the Reverend came into his mind- "Savor it- it will be the best such feeling remaining to you..."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Train- part the Second

Erwin started to stand up, but his legs were not used to the train's less-than-gentle rocking and had to return to his seat.  "See here," he said with as much bluster as he could manage.  "You seem to know who WE are.  Who are you?"

"Not important," the man in front answered.

"What do you mean, 'Not important?' ", Erwin shouted.  "You're the only one here who knows where we're going..."

"I know, " the killer said.

The Roman turned to him.  "And how would you know?" he snarled.

"Probably because he has lived his life closer to our destination than you others," the man in front said.  "Right, Joshiah Everard?"

"Reckon so," the killer said.  "'N' call me Josie."

"But what about the rest of us?" Erwin said.  Bead man nervously echoed, "Y-y-yeah".

"Hmmm.  Well, lookit you,"  Josie said without ever turning toward him.  "Stained, but not all the way.  Green... and purple.  You were a banker?"

A light seemed to flash on in Erwin's mind- a partial realization.  "Why yes, yes I was.  How..."

"Plump, manicured," Josie went on.  "never did an honest day's work in your life, didja?"

"Now, see here..."

"Don' git yer ass up," Josie said.  "Put that way, I ain't either.  It's all about takin' from those who cain't do aught about it, inn'it?"

"I was a mortgage broker," Erwin defended himself.  "If some people could not fulfill their obligations, it is not my fault if..."

"Y'ever go ta chuch, banker-man?"  Josie interrupted.

""The name is Erwin," he retorted.  "And yes, yes, occasionally."

"You ever read what the Good Book said about usury, ERRR-win?"

"Er, no," Erwin answered, put off by the abuse of his name.

"I reckon our friend, here, could set ya straight about it," Josie said, yanking a thumb at the man up front.

"Church? Good Book? What nonsense is this?" the Roman demanded.

Josie looked him over, then turned to the man in front.  "How'd we get the old-timer in here?"  he asked.

"Thought you might like a little variety on your way,"  the man in front smiled.

"How very kind of you," the Roman spat sarcastically.  Josie laughed and leaned back in his seat.

"It really doesn't matter who you ride with," the man in front said, more seriously.  "You all bought your tickets the same way."

"A-and how's that?" bead man asked.

"By not gettin' right with the Lord," Josie answered.

"What?  But I-I-I worshipped Jesus!  I did!"  he sputtered.

"And Buddah, and Allah, and Shiva, and Morrigan," The man in front replied.  Even Ahurumazda, I believe.  But none of them fully, properly, or exclusively.  There, Jerry Mason, lies your dilemma."

"I-I haven't used that name in years," Jerry protested.  "I have a tantric name..."

"Takin' on a name ain't worship," Josie muttered.  "And believin' a guy existed ain't faith."

"BAH!  This, again, is nonsense!"  the Roman roared.  "I was faithful to the god of my fathers.  I gave all the required sacrifices, more!  I believed, and knew them with every fiber of my being!"

"And when ya died, you told everyone ta believe you were a god, too, di'nt ya?"  Josie asked.

"How dare you!" the Roman snarled, face flushed with rage.

"Hmph.  Here, I thought ya ALL did," Josie said as he stared out the window.

"A Consul of Rome is Jove's manifestation on Earth," the Roman said calmly, forcing his anger down almost phsyically.  "It is only proper for the plebians to see us as divine."

"An' when didja figure that out?"  Josie asked.


"That you were a god."

"I never said I WAS a god!" the Consul snapped.

"You said it was proper for the people to see you as a god," the man in front said.  "How do you see yourself, Gaius Marius Italiensis?"

Consul Marius lifted the back of his hand, and turned from the conversation.

"So, first you say th-that you should only believe in one God," Jerry spoke up.  ""Then, you say it has to be the right one?  But if you believe in the goodness in all gods, all religions, all men..."

"Ain't but one way ta heaven," Josie said.  "Rest of us ride the train."

"I'm actually quite impressed at your knowledge on the subject, Joshiah," the man in front said.

"Good Book says the daemons know 'im and fear 'im.  It's us dumbass humans cain't figure it out," Josie answered.

"And you are a... a demon?" Erwin asked.

"No, I am not, ERRR-win," Josie answered with a smile.  "But I was reeeeeal intimate with mine."

"Okay, but what about me?" Erwin said, turning back to the man in front.  "I... I knew about Jesus.  I went to church on most of the high holy days.  I gave to the building fund!"

Josie chuckled.

"We knew all that," the man in front said.  "If you like, the Conductor will check your ticket."

Suddenly, a man appeared behind Erwin, dressed as a conductor on an old-time train.  Probably a friend of Josie's, the thought skittered across his brain.  "Ticket, please," he said.  Erwin reached into his robe, pulling out the shiny gold ducat he'd found earlier.  The Conductor gazed at it, and as he did, it corroded, rotting before his eyes until it resembled a fragment of a tin can that lie rusting in a dump for a lifetime.  The Conductor handed it back.  "Checks out," he smiled.  "Have a nice trip."  He then walked to the front, disappearing through the door.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Train- Part The First

Note: those of you who only know me from the blog have never seen any of my serious stories before, so you are in for a treat. Those of you that have seen my stories before, you’ve never seen one like THIS before. Enjoy!

Erwin Farner “woke up” to find himself in a bench seat by himself. The chugging and swaying told him he was on a train, though he could not recall ever having been on one before. In fact, he could not recall boarding this one- nor anything else that should have been in his recent memory. He knew who he was, who and what he was supposed to be; yet, anything that had actually happened to him in life was a stranger to him.

He looked out the windows and saw pleasant, grassy meadows swathed in sunshine going by. Where was he going? He searched his pockets for a clue, and found he HAD no pockets; he wore only a robe, smeared in green and purple. It looked as if someone had taken a snow-white robe and used it as a dropcloth while painting a child’s bedroom. Then, his hand hit on something. A sliver of gold, shaped like a ticket, with neither printing nor engraving. He looked at the face reflected in it- it was old, older than he perceived himself to be.

“This must be some kind of mistake,” He muttered to himself.

“No mistake,” a low, flat voice off to his left said, shaking Erwin awake to the fact that he was not alone.

Other men rode in the car, in bench seats ahead of him. They did not face him, but yet he somehow saw who/what they were. Two seats ahead to his right, a black-haired man, his face mustached and weather-beaten. His black eyes were cold, the kind of cold one only achieves when he has watched many men over the sight of a Colt equalizer- and watched them fall, clutching whatever bloody wound the bullet fired had wrought. This man felt Erwin looking into him; an imperceptible shift of an eyebrow and a twitch at the end of his straight, leathern lips were all the reaction he gave.

Shaken by the intimacy of the view, Erwin switched nervously to a second figure. The very air around this one, several benches ahead on the left, was ancient. His figure chiseled, his nose and cheeks that of some old Roman Caesar. One could easily imagine a wreath of bay leaves resting on his bald and withered brow. His visage was imperial, as cold and marble as if he were a bust in a museum. His only reaction to Erwin’s gaze was a feeling Erwin got of being unworthy of notice. His robe was scarlet and purple, in contrast to the first man’s, which was the color and consistency of dried blood.

Just in front of this man was another, tall and poised. A toupee balanced upon his head, misaligned and disheveled, a stark contrast to the prim and proper air about him. His robes were like gold, but heavily patinated, as if of copper left exposed for ages. It was topped by an ill-positioned clerical collar.

A fourth man, a few seats in front of the first, looked worriedly out the window at his bench seat, fingering a set of beads. His robes were multi-colored, mixed but hardly blended, in a confused mess that literally hurt Erwin’s eyes even though the colors were too toned-down to be what one would call “psychedelic”. The man paid no mind to Erwin’s gaze, seemingly murmuring to himself.

Finally, Erwin saw the man who spoke. He was the only one who faced the group, sitting casually at the front of the car. His hair was long, his face unshaven. He alone did not wear a robe; instead, he wore denim over-alls and a dark western hat with tassels of white, gold, and silver. “Nobody rides this train mistaken,” he said.

The Roman sneered. “The thought of riding in such a common conveyance with such… commoners… makes me ill.”

“Savor it",” the first man, the “killer”, said. “It’ll be the best such feeling remaining to you.”

The collared man rose and roared at the killer, “What would you know of our plight?” He stared at the killer with eyes afire with hot flame. The killer returned but an icy smile. The collared man turned to the man in front, shouting, “I demand to know why we’re here!”

“Siddown, Reverend Ezekiel Johnston Stowe,” the man in front said evenly. “You know why you’re here. Deep down in your hearts, you all know.” The man with the beads jerked his head at the words and turned to look at him; then nervously went back to his beads.

“Well, I demand to see the engineer,” Reverend Stowe snapped. “I want to get to the bottom of this!”

The man in front motioned to the door beside him. “Suit yourself,” he told the preacher. But you know you won’t like what you find.”

Reverend Stowe stormed to the door. As he reached it, those in the car heard a ‘thump’ of something falling from his robe. The “bead man” reached down to retrieve it, and came up with a bank-wrapped bundle of money; Erwin guessed a thousand in twenties. “You-you y’dropped this, “ bead man stammered. The Reverend stared at it, his face flushing red in rage, for he certainly had no shame in him. The man in front chuckled, the killer smiled. Stowe swept out of the room without another word, slamming the door behind him.

“Prick,” the killer snickered.

The bead man held out the money wad to the man in front, but he merely shrugged a shoulder. The bead man looked back down at his palm- and it was empty.

Tune in for part two of three tomorrow.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why you don't just take the camera to bed with you

After the circus of Friday morning, I'm sure a lot of you probably ask that question of me.  Okay, here's why.

I snuck down at daybreak Saturday to get the camera, hoping to see the same kind of mischief I saw without it the day before.  In an hour of waiting, Mr. Woody made a brief appearance.

Then about 20 minutes later, Mr. Cardinal flew by, checked things out from a nearby tree, and had a bite.

For the remainder of about an hour and a half, we were bored.

It wasn't until Scrappy's suppertime (and no, we didn't spend that whole time up on the bed) that we got more vistitors- and they weren't birds.

That was young doe with Mr. Bunny- whom I actually took pictures of before I spotted him!

Now, the night before, we had got to watch Mr. Skunk hop playfully across the back yard on his nightly rounds.  Last night, it was Mr. Humpty Back (AKA the raccoon) sprinting back to the woods after dining in the dumpster, followed by an owl going from tree to tree and and a rare late-night bat appearance (usually they're back to bed before it gets pitch black).  But I had brought the camera up with me, ready to capture scenes of the latest bird festival.  And here it is:

Yup, after 20 minutes of watching, a sparrow showed up.  Oh, and about 15 minutes later, he was joined:

And in an hour and a half, that was all the birds that showed up this morning.  However, just after the first sparrow showed up, we heard a crash from the woods.

There's an "animals-only" trail about fifty feet down the parking-lot side from the main trail, and Mama deer came bounding out, paused for a second (the one pictured above), and then headed east.  I assumed that she was headed for the river, this not being that unusual a route.  Then came a second crash.

This was young miss again.  She tore out after Mama, stopped behind the pine trees, and sauntered back into the main trail.  Just as I was musing that it was odd that they weren't sticking together, Mama comes calmly back, a sense of accomplishment on her face...

...which, of course, she turned before I could capture it...

...and then she made her way back down the main trail.  Seconds later, we saw what she had accomplished- faster than I had a prayer of snapping, the two fawns, who had been in the east end of the yard out of sight the whole time, came charging as fast as they could, back to the "animals-only" trail and back with mom and big sis.

So, while we did get the benefit of the great deer run-around, I think it safe to say that bringing the camera up to bed is definitely NOT for the birds.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Just some fun stuff.

Ever since I saw someone else's post about all the fun ways people find you on search engines (actually, it was here at One Odd Duck- you should read this, it's hilarious) , I've been keeping more of an eye on the searches that lead people here.  Some are unusual but explainable, like "Marty Brennaman bulls#!t" (from his birthday shave.  More people were interested in the thing he didn't mean to say than what he actually did.), and fudergong (What's that?  read here.)  And never a month goes by without somebody wanting to look at this Silver Convention picture:

...although no one has ever accepted my challenge to explain just why they are (or this is) so darn popular!  Silver convention in the second biggest search draw I have all time, and leads the third search (Rikuzentakata, the Japanese city I featured after the quake/tsunami) by about 250.

Lately I have been getting searches from desperate porn seekers, in which google takes their request and mangles it into things that might be on my posts in a far different form.  For example, here's a sentence or two from a recent post:

"...This was so steep, a couple that was running uphill were bent over trying to run. The husband said, "Hello!" The wife said, "Help!"

Google massaged this into an acceptable find for the search "Wife Bent Over."

Another one was searching for "Baby Breeze Penthouse".  Apparently he was looking for Baby Breese, a model in Penthouse Magazine.  But he did pause long enough on my site to look at this:

...which was part of a post I did in which I mentioned that it was too hot to go for a walk, but we did anyway because there was a nice breeze... and later pointed out that we saw a baby bunny.  Where the penthouse comes in, who knows.

In the meantime, after a long pause, I'm getting some scam-emails again.  On the 8th, Mr. Peter Morgan of Lloyds of London wanted to let me know I was getting a £450,000 settlement for having been a scam victim.  On the 10th, someone who found me lurking job sites looking for work Offered me a job.  Mr. Rica (first name Costa?) said I would be dealing with "international funds", I'd work 2-3 hours a day to start, and make $2,300 + commision to start, 3K once I passed probation.  Signed it, "Faithfully Yours, HR Recruiter."

Then two days ago came the Rev. Frank Bute Ego, Manager of Benin's Western Union office (and isn't it nice that Benin's WU office has a member of the clergy working there?), telling me that, yet again, I was to be compensated for being a "scam victim".  I guess all of these compensation funds are retroactive to whenever you get stupid enough to fall for them.  Anyway, he informs me that the IMF is working with the FBI, "America security leading team", to send me $950,000 dollars at a rate of $4,500 a day.  They're just waiting on my info to fill out my "Clean Bill Record Certificate" before all that money comes tumbling in.  Thank GOD I fell for a scam, eh? Oh, did I mention that this one begins, "Attention Dear"?  That Rev. Frank is just a sweetie!

But the winner for most imaginative this time around goes to Thomas Volva (does this sound like a Seinfeld joke to you?) who had this curious request for me:


I was shocked when i saw your surname today. I really want to know if

that is your surname.
It is important i know!

I hope to hear from you.

Thomas Volva.
Assistant Manager GTB
London, United Kingdom.

Of course, since Thomas sent it to "undisclosed recipients", I'm a bit puzzled at what surname he's referring to.  Maybe I should just reply, "Yep, that's me, last name Recipients."

Okay, that's it for now.  Oh, Oh wait!  There was a news item I wanted to mention.  It seems that the atheists are now removing those billboards I wrote about earlier in the week.  Apparently they were surprised by the outcry against them (another strike against "simply sensible") and may or may not have been asked by the billboard company to remove them due to threats against either or both the company and the group.  I am genuinely sad to see them come down, and here's why:

1.  They were designed to draw such threats, so that the atheists can take 'em down and complain about free speech, or use the incident in a "look what we did" way the next time a dispute about a Christmas display comes up.  Gotta be smarter than this, people!

2. It is, after all, their free speech right to put them up.  Whether you look away, throw rotten tomatoes at 'em, cover them over with graffiti, put up an intelligent response on a nearby billboard, those are your rights too- and a helluva lot smarter than making threats AKA giving them what they want.

3.  If they are going to put up something so completely moronic, why not let them?  The longer it stays up, the more people will look and say, "hey, that's pretty stupid!"

4.  They had the money spent, now they'll probably get a pro-rated refund.  Why on earth do you want to put money BACK in their hands?

Okay, now I'm done.  See you next rant!

Friday, August 24, 2012

C.B. de Scrappy strikes again

Today's walk through the woods started off with another couple of "distance sightings":

These first ones are the young doe.  A little ways later, I spotted Momma.

All I've been seeing lately is these two- bucks seem to have split.  It wasn't till the Ravine trail that the babies popped up.

So I attempted to film... our four-footed director, though, was determined to sniff something that was apparently circular shaped and in which I was standing in the middle.  In other words, I kept having to unwind myself from a director who had not noticed our subjects.  If you don't notice it before then, you'll notice it at the 1:00- 1:10 mark.

Earlier this morning, we were awakened to another party at the seed bell.  We started with not one, but 2 Mr. Woodys- and they were arguing over the bell.  And they continued to argue.  At one point, we had Mr. Woody #1 on the bell, Mr. Woody #2 on the roof of the shed, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal in the tree just above, Mr. Chipmunk on the fence, and Mr. Squirrel out in the yard, all awaiting the denounment of the discussion.  Eventually they took the argument into the nearby pine trees.  Mr. Chipmunk tried to take advantage first, but Mr. Woody #1 ran him off, and he contented himself with eating the ground spill.  Then Mr. Cardinal finally got a turn.  But we definately have at least one woodpecker with possession issues.

Scrappy was content to just watch the Woodys, and a little light growl when he saw ol' Chip.  But once the arguing got intense he became more interested; and when Chip tried the roof, Scrappy leaned back into me, gave me the baby eye and a whine that translated to, "Daddy, I wanna get 'im!", and then slammed his paws down on the windowsill as if to point out what he was looking at (Actually, he WAS pointing it out, and the stomp meant, "THERE! Right THERE!")

After a time things settled down... but you had a pretty good chance all morning of looking out and seeing some greedy woodpecker hanging upside down picking seeds.  Thinking about getting another bell in hopes of giving somebody ELSE a turn.

Time Machine week thirty

Today is August 24, 1970.  At 3:42 AM, a Ford Econoline packed with a ton of the same stuff used in such places as Oklahoma City, which had been pulled up next to the Sterling Hall at the U of Wisconsin's Madison campus, explodes.  The objective, the Army Mathematics Research Center on the second, third and fourth floors.  Despite having enough explosive power to damage 26 surrounding buildings and to put van fragments on top of an eight story building three blocks away, the objective floors are so lightly damaged that only one day of work was missed.

The 1st floor and basement were not so fortunate.  In the basement was Dr. Robert Fassnacht, a physics professor who had come in late at night to work on some experiments before heading out on a family vacation.  He left behind a wife, a three year old son, and a set of twin one year old daughters.  Another professor, Henry Baschall, saw 25 years of his life's work destroyed.

I won't dignify the leftist scum who did this by naming them other than they called themselves the "New Years Gang."  One of them was never caught, and is reported to be hiding out in Canada.  If any of my Canuck readers find him, I think treating him to his own episode of "The Grey" would be appropriate.  Two others served three of their seven year sentences.  One of them was later busted in Indiana for meth making, and later died of lung cancer.  The other passed the Oregon bar in 1987, but was refused admission because of character issues (AKA not repentant of his earlier life of terroism).  The ringleader served 10 of a 25 year sentence, and then spent a lot of time making a living on the Madison campus selling juice and food.  Somehow, this is not real surprising , the Madison campus traditionally such a hotbed for communists and anarchists that the only thing that surprises me is that the bombers didn't go to the faculty first to see if they'd have pitched in for a ramp so they could've driven the van into the second floor.  In 1986, the lead worm had this to say in an interview:

"I still feel we can't rationalize someone getting killed, but at that time we felt we should never have done the bombing at all. Now I don't feel that way. I feel it was justified and should have been done. It just should have been done more responsibly."

Which is Moronspeak for, "If only we hadn't f'ed up and actually trashed the AMRC, it would have been justified to take those kids' father from them."  I'll bet the Wisconsin bar would admit him, though.

Welcome to Time Machine, and this week is going to be a bit odd.  We have two of those oddities coming up in the birthdays; a cameo by the Waring Blendor;  an in depth discussion of the difference between a Billboard #1 and a Cashbox #1; and a six degrees that, like a coconut creme pie you just dropped on the floor, is kind of all over and includes such notables as Tommy James, Jay and the Americans, Paul Simon, Dion, and Donna Summer.  Teased enough?  Okay, let's do this!

Hey, Kyle!  Wake up, I said, "Let's DO THIS!!!"
This week the hot 100 debut bell rings nine times, and I'm mentioning four of 'em.  At 100, mentioned for the why rather than the what, is Elton John's first American chart hit, Border Song.  James Taylor comes in at 86 with Fire And Rain; just above him at 85, Linda Ronstadt's first solo chart hit, Long Long Time.  And three spots north of that, Free hits at 82 with All Right Now.

Those songs turn 42 this week.  And now to kick off the rest of this week's birthdays...

My son KC turns 23 today! When he was born, pop music stunk... Richard Marx was at #1 with Right Here Waiting.  HOWever, where music counted- the Mainstream Rock Chart- we were 2 days away from Tom Petty hitting the top with Free Fallin'.  That one, KC would aprove.

Moving from 1989 to 1982, we have four songs that turn thirty.  Juice Newton, who recently capped off the Eighties countdown, celebrates the 30th birthday of Break It To Me Gently; Huey Lewis' Working For A Living also hits 30, along with Joe Jackson's Stepping Out and country crossover Sylvia with Nobody.  Turning 35, ironically, (and stay tuned for why that is ironic) is Peter Frampton's version of Signed Sealed Delivered, I'm Yours.  Along with, we also have Eric Carmen (with the Beach Boys) and She Did It, the Commodores and Brick House, and one very special birthday child.

This week 35 years ago, Paul Davis first hit the hot 100 with I Go Crazy.  This song took a slow, meandering course to popularity;  it took 11 weeks to hit the top 40.  6 weeks later, it would seemingly peak at 22, and by week 19 it was out of the top forty.  However, it returned to airplay alley on week 22, and two weeks later surpassed its earlier peak. It was into the top 20 in week 25, and reached the top ten on week 29.  It peaked at #7 in weeks 31-2, and finally passed out of the hot 100 after spending week 36 at #59. On Billboard, it actually made 40 weeks, holding the record for one-appearance singles for several years.

Other birthdays included Emerson Lake and Palmer's From The Beginning, Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now, and the Eagles' Witchy Woman turning 40; Peter Paul and Mary's tongue in cheek I Dig Rock'n'Roll Music turning 45; and Bobby Vinton's Rain Rain Go Away turning fifty.  Blow out the candles...

Big dropper this week is the Jackson boys with The Love You Save, falling 27 spots to 64.  The big mover is a top 40 debut.

Last week I mentioned that we were moving into a stretch where the Cashbox #1s weren't necessarily the Billboard #1s.  I gained the opportunity to do a little deeper When double dipper Tommy James landed on the Where Are They Now spot yet again, climbing to 50 with a song called Ball And Chain.  And what I found kinda surprised me.

The difference between the two charts were in the method of collecting and interpreting data.  Imagine you're checking out the weather radar online.  You have a choice called "smoothing" that takes the jaggedness and short term spikes out of the picture if you turn smoothing on.  So think of BB as "smoothing on" and CB as "smoothing off."  With the Cashbox charts, you get a lot more of the "real time" changes without the "smoothing that made BB more pop-py.  That said, I checked the charts from our current start at January 1970 to the original Time Machine's start in late Spring 1975.  And the results are that CB had a lot more #1s than BB- a LOT more.  Of the 190+ #1s on CB in that time period, a full 35.5% were songs that did not hit the top on BB.  I won't list all 69 rogue #1s; but on the other side of the fence there were 7 tunes that hit BB's top but not CB's in that same span:  Janis Joplin's Me And Bobby McGee and the Stones' Brown Sugar in '71; Michael Jackson's Ben in '72 (Which was odd, because the Jacksons' Mama's Pearl, Never Can Say Goodbye, and Got To Be There all hit #1 on CB but not BB); Maureen McGovern's The Morning After in '73; Cher's Dark Lady in 1974; and the Eagles' Best Of My Love and the Doobies' Black Water in early '75.

Just three top forty debuts this time around.  The big jumper, The Spinners' It's A Shame shoots up 23 to #38; Ray Stevens hits at 39, up 2, with America, Communicate With Me; and edging in at 40, up five, is Detroit rockers Frijid Pink with Sing A Song For Freedom.

Our blast from the past this week is Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians (more of Bobby G.'s homeboys).  In an 11 year recording career, they charted 50 top 40s, 32 top tens, and 5 top dogs.  These included his biggest hits, Memory Lane in August of 1924, and the next biggest- their first- Sleep from December of the year before.  Waring and his brother first founded their dixieland/jazz band at Penn State, back before PSU stood for Pedophile State U.  At first doing upbeat, novelty-styled tunes, they grew into more serious musicians by the dark days of the early thirties.  Wiki just says he abruptly stopped doing recordings in 1932;  another site let me in on the reasons.  Radio stations were finding it cheaper to play recorded music that to have in house bands; but the artists were getting no royalties-per-play.  Waring became heavily involved in the Artists Protective Society (APS), and it was for this reason that he quit recording altogether.  If they weren't going to be paid for playing on the radio, then you'll just have to go see him live.

He remained involved in music until his death in 1984.  He ran choral schools for 37 years; and was the star of his own TV show from 1948-54.  He also became an investor on the first electric blender sold commercially; he put his own name on it, and the Waring Blendor became a cultural icon.  Fred actually died after recording a performance at Penn State in 1984.

"...put me through some changes, Lord, sorta like a Waring Blendor..."

Just one song into the top ten, one drops out.  Band Of Gold descends from 9 to 20.

Ronnie Dyson pauses at 10 for a second week with If You Let Me Make Love To You, etc, etc.

Chicago rockets into the top ten, up 5 to #9 with 25 Or 6 To 4.

And dropping three to #8 is our six degrees victim.

We've already mentioned how Alive And Kicking's Tighter, Tighter was a Tommy James comp, and that the future Mr. Donna Summer, Bruce Sudano, played in the group.  In between ANK and Brooklyn Dreams, Bruce and his buddy and also future Brooklyn Dreamer Joe Esposito were members of a reborn version of a band called The Mystics.  The original Mystics recorded the original Hushabye, which hit #20 back in '59.  This was their second attempt at a first single; the first one they were offered was taken away from them and given to Dion and the Belmonts- and that was Teenager In Love.  After Hushabye, they struggled to get out of Brooklyn.  After their first lead singer quit, he was replaced by a kid going by the name Jerry Landis- although you probably know him better as Paul Simon.  After he left to be Tom (or Jerry, I'm not sure which) in the duo Tom and Jerry (AKA Simon and Garfunkel), he was replaced by Jay Traynor- yes, Jay of Jay and the Americans.  Thus, the Mystics hold the record for lead singers having the most hits after leaving, without ever hitting the charts WITH them.  The Mystics split in '61 and reformed to become a nostalgia band in 1969, and it was this incarnation which Sudano et al joined briefly; they remain together, more or less, as a nostalgia act.  Alive And Kicking?  They disbanded in 1972 to get away from Mo Levi and the mobsters at Roulette records;  the band reformed later, and now they hire out as a wedding band.  You can get the full band for one price, or founder Pepe Cardona and his son as a duo a bit cheaper. You can also get a deal on those two and the female lead, who is not an original.

Robin McNamara moves up one more to #7 with Lay A Little Loving On Me.

The Carpenters long to be Close To You: you must have slipped 3 notches to #6.

Mungo Jerry climbs 2 to #5 with In The Summertime.

Edwin Starr also climbs 2 to #4 with War.

Bread drops 2 to #3 with last week's #1, Make It With You.

Eric Burden and War moves 2 to #2 with Spill The Wine.

And the new #1 song (and the reason why that Peter Frampton birthday song was ironic)...

Stevie Wonder with Signed Sealed Delivered (I'm Yours)!!!!

That's it for this week.  See ya next time!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chris is going to agree with Atheists??!?

In a way, yeah.  But let's set the stage here.  In anticipation of the coming political conventions, an atheist group has bought billboards near the sites, in order to "Take religion out of the political discussion."  In fairness, they have two different ones- an anti-Mormon one at the Republican site for Romney, and an anti-Christian one for Obama (why they bother I don't know) at the Democratic site.  Here, let me show you the "AC" one:

Okay, now everybody pull their claws in, and I'll explain what I agree with, and why.

First of all, in my discussions with atheists, I have constantly been rebuffed when I ask them to "Imagine for a minute that there is a God."  Why these free-thinking individuals refuse to play along, you'll have to ask them.  Well, I'm going to try to be an example to them by "putting myself in the other guy's shoes", so to speak.

First, let's tackle "sadistic god".  I assume that this comes from not only the wiping out of the fallen world by the Flood, but also the encouragement to Joshua to eliminate the Canaanites.  I imagine that if you look no deeper into things, you could probably make this assumption.  But what is not taken into account is the "imagine you are God" scenario.  Imagine you are God- soveriegn, omnipotent.  And as such, you want worshippers.  Not just robots, but worshippers who do so even though they have a choice.  Now imagine, given the choice, these creations of yours choose to reject you.  Despite the fact of several godly teachers along the way, closer to God than any Billy Graham of our day- men like Seth, and Enoch, Methuselah, and Noah- mankind chooses to listen to another teacher.  This teacher, Cain, who was given every opportunity to choose God, EVEN AFTER killing his own brother- goes off with a grudge against God and teaches people to reject him.  If you were God, would you be putting up with this?  If you went to the dog pound today and bought a puppy, and all this puppy did was poop on the floor and bite the kids, despite constant training, would you keep him?  And yet, God waited until there were eight people left who believed- and one of them turned out suspect- before He did anything.  But that's sadistic.  Same with the Canaanites.  They accepted a teacher with a grudge- Ham, who thought laughing at his holy father was appropriate- and they became a lazy, inbred people who were a poison to all around them.  Their idea of worship was tossing kids into the fire!

Next, let's look at "useless saviour".  Again, I can see where they get this, right from the Bible.  Because they do not believe in God, they do not believe the divinity of Jesus.  Paul said,   " 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. " (I Corinthians 15).

Ah, but there's the rub- WHAT IF IT'S TRUE?  The one thing I will never comprehend about an atheist is their refusal to deal with one hypothetical question-  If you are right, I do no harm to anybody in believing in God.  I die, I'm done.  But if I'm right, you are so screwed!  Wouldn't make sense to believe in God, on the off chance He exists, than to refuse to believe and burn all your bridges?  Or to put it another way, which is more sensible- take the path which has a 100% chance of being okay at the end, or the one that only has a 50% chance?  But instead, not only do atheists refuse to believe, but they are active evangelists in getting others not to believe.  Makes you wonder if somebody has an agenda, hmmm.....  That "teacher with a grudge" sure gets around, doen't he?

Third, we have the 30,000 versions of truth- which I assume is a slap at all the denominations.  This one I don't agree with so much because it relies on a diluted version of the word "truth".  But for the sake of playing along, we'll conceed the point.  With two caveats.  One, back to the if God scenario, God would have to realize to create non-robot worshippers, He'd have to make individuals.  With differing opinions, and ways of looking at life.  Wouldn't it make sense that He might allow them to evolve different gathering points, so that each can approach Him from the direction he/she is coming FROM?  Two, as I've said many times to no real effect, churches on earth are built from man's conception of God's will- and as such, flaws can seep in.  The common bond of all faithful churches was, is, and always will be, as paul said, Christ, and Him Crucified.  So, you can say, 30,000 truths... or you can say One Truth.

Fourth- "Promotes hate, calls it love".  Okay, again, if you imagine yourself outside the faith, you might see this.  But let's just take the classical battleground for this statement-homosexuality.  Let me make two things perfectly clear at the outset.  First, I believe that homosexuality is both a choice and a sin.  Two, I subscribe to the axiom "love the sinner,  hate the sin."  If I am an unbeliever, I am more likely to believe that there is not choice involved-"a homosexual is what I am, not a choice."  As such, "I" would be inextricably linking my person with the sin.  Therefore, I can easily see how Christians who hate homosexuality can be seen as hating homosexuals, if the homosexual sees it as a part of them instead of a choice.  I can see it, I just don't agree with it.  I have nothing against any gay person, and no, I won't go through a litany of those I know to prove it.  Suffice it to say, I don't beat them, paint graffitti on their doors, or treat them any different than I would anyone else.  But, I will fight to keep my child and any others I can from being taught that what I see as a sin is "normal".  Yes, that's hate- hate of the sin.  If those who want to identify themselves by the sin they commit think that means I hate them, sorry.

Finally, simply reasonable- oops, here I have to disagree.  Atheists function much like a religion yet deny the validity of religion.  They name themselves free thinkers and yet refuse to say, "What if..." And they insult 78% of the population to make a point about political unity.  Nope, I'd have to say, even when I "put myself in their shoes", that dog just don't hunt.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A lot of different things, all in pictures

We start out Sunday afternoon, with KC taking his sister Shenan out for a shopping event at Jefferson Point.  As you can see, a fashionista she's not.

Best line of the day:  Dad: It's a sunny, warm day.  Why are you wearing a hoodie?  Shenan:  Because we didn't get home till 5 in the morning. Dad:  That would make you tired, not cold.

Moooooving on to the Monday walk, everyone was still out of town after soccerpalooza.  Except some birds...

...and this old man, who spent about twenty yards keeping ahead of us on the trail rather than shooting up a tree.  Aqualung my friend, don't you start away uneasy.  You poor old sod, you see it's only me...

Oh, and this chipmunk who gets a fail in hide-and-seek...

And another squirrel who let me practice my long-distance stuff on him.

Scrappy wanted to turn at the back end of the complex, rather than our usual crossing.  As a result, he missed our first sighting of Mr. Ground Hog since the drought ended.

Today we were at Mounds state park- Scrappy came, too!

The great mound

This was so steep, a couple that was running uphill were bent over trying to run.  The husband said, "Hello!"  The wife said, "Help!"

There were alike a hundred of these little streamlets coming down from the high ground into the White river.

A pair of turkey buzzards across the river.

Scrappy found a cave... well, not so much a cave... an open spot under this massive rock.

Then there was this boardwalk to the bottom of the ravine.

This is the bottom...

...this is Laurie on the bottom.

A lot of puffballs.  I saw one off the trail a ways I swear was the size of a volleyball.

Then lunch at White Castle!!!!

"That was my favorite part!  Mommy and Daddy would give me the sandwich boxes and I was getting my nose stuck in them and I got fries and pickles and Mommy thought she bought me a water but it was Sprite Zero and that was cool too!"