Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Meet Hibbertopterus

Giant water scorpion (5' x 3') occasionally dragged itself on to land 300 million years or so ago in a volcanic, equatorial place that is now Scotland. Relative of the Horseshoe Crab, one of my favorite creatures.
Here's the BBC News article.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

weird, beautiful, unpredictable

I go way back with this listener, to when I had weekly shows, he's always appreciative, but this e mail encomium really knocked me out:
You're the undisputed King of Fill-ins. which seems like a pretty decent non-gig.

It's not so much the number of shows you do--though you may even be the leader in THAT this year--but the variety of shows you "replace". The fact that so many VERY different djs ask you is a real tribute to your taste and freeform skills. your shows are weird, beautiful, unpredictable and often you and other FMU types must be aware.
A great compliment from a person so familiar with WFMU. I do only about 10 shows each year. Other "bench" staffers do more. But I'm on the bench by choice, I don't solicit fill-ins, & unfortunately have to turn a number down for various reasons. A few shows come my way at the last minute through desperation. Some DJs are aware that I respect the overall style, tastes & listeners of the regularly-scheduled program enough to do shows that are not complete departures, & that I also announce during every set break that I am filling in & who I'm there for is probably appreciated more than one might think. I still go my own way, because there's a lot of ways I'm capable of going. & I don't pretend to be an "expert" in anything. It's easy to discern my fondness for drone & repetition, "New Thing" jazz, old organs & synths, 70s funkystuff, & medium-tempo rock. I decline all requests for programs that begin at 6 or 9 a.m. Chiki Chiki Boom

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sea Bright New Jersey

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Highest in 650,000 Years

WASHINGTON, DC, November 25, 2005 (ENS) - Levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are the highest they have been in 650,000 years, according to the first in-depth analysis of tiny air bubbles trapped in an ice core from East Antarctica.

In two articles analyzing air from the ice core published in the journal "Science" today, European researchers have extended the greenhouse gas record back to 650,000 years before the present, adding 210,000 years to previous records.
Ever get the feeling that we're too late? Maybe not if you believe the Earth is 6000 years old & this is just God tricking us again.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Loss Leaders

During the 90s I worked six holiday seasons at Pearl Arts & Crafts & enjoyed them for the most part. Also did one December in a large record store. My only real experience with "Black Friday" madness was at the old Stern's Dept. Store, where I had seasonal employment as a stocker for the dept selling luggage, attache cases, office gifts, those sorts of things. Stern's held a big sale after Thanksgiving & the enticements were holiday gift wrap paper & decorations. So on Wednesday evening the area manager had me make space for a large display of sale Christmas wrapping near the doors. He told me to bring the boxes out before store opening on Friday, with the warning that I should get off the floor by 9. "Go have a blueberry muffin & coffee (Stern's had great muffins) & sit in the back for an hour & when it calms down a bit you can restock." I had no idea what he was talking about. I ran a bit late on Friday morning because stock carts were scarce. As I unloaded & opened cardboard boxes of wrapping paper, I noticed a large crowd of women gathering outside the doors nearest me - this Stern's had five main entries & stockers had set up wrapping paper displays by all the other ones. I had unloaded the last box & was cutting it open when the doors were unlocked at 9 am. The stock cart was still in the aisle. Hundreds of women rushed through the doors, pushing & shoving & they all seemed to be headed toward my display. Suddenly, I was surrounded, mobbed, as these shoppers fell upon the wrapping paper. Some women waved rolls of paper at me, shouting, "Do you more of this style in stock?" I lied & said no, & somehow managed to push my way out & maneuver the stock cart back to the stock room.

Later, the manager came up, smiled, & asked if I'd gotten off the floor by 9? "Not quite," I said.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Parade

Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV today, I'd forgotten how boring it is. Balloons of cartoon characters I know only vaguely. their gigantism reduced to inches, one hopes for wind gusts of over 30 mph. Lip-synching pop singers mostly chosen for their appeal to pre-adolescent girls. Floats with waving "celebrities." The Oklahoma float had baseball players Johnny Bench & Bobby Mercer, & songwriter Jimmy Webb, but only Kristen Chenoweth mouthing And when we say Yeeow! Ayipioeeay! attracted any attention. She's becoming almost as ubiquitous & annoying as Bernadette Peters used to be, in the tradition I suppose of Ethel Merman, but sort of cuter. Oh look, there's LeAnn Rimes! The huge marching bands with 100 clarinets yet all one hears are the trumpets & snare drums playing a distorted, ominously martial arrangement of "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas." & through it all, two hosts reading copy supplied by the sponsors ("...supports the environment by donating a million pounds of wood chips annually to Sudanese refugees"), parade factoids ("the first band from Waco to appear since 1946"), or occasionally trying to improvise some snappy comments ("What would Christmas be without old Charlie Brown wearing the same shirt he wore when we were kids?" "That's right, & children of all ages, there's more to come." ).

(Orwellian occurance: NBC sticking to script, substituting tape of last year's M&M balloon + Al Roker's commentary while two people lay bleeding on the sidewalk next to a broken streetlight a few blocks up & this year's M&M balloon slowly deflated. Give those advertisers what they paid for.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It's been three years since I had anything like a conventional
Thanksgiving, & certain situations having nothing to do with me
made that day a strange one. But as my parents broke up when I
was a young teenager, I've had a wide variety of Thanksgivings
over the past 40 years & certainly nothing that would constitute
a family "tradition." The past two years I filled in at
WFMU & in 2003 had a turkey dinner there, too.
When Christine & I lived together I didn't really enjoy
Thanksgivings with her family & finally began excusing myself
from them, stayed home & hoped for leftovers.

I was one of the "relatives" everyone put up with on holidays.
Because my behavior & comments were examined & assessed after
the occasions, not going to them at all reduced me to a simple
curmudgeonly "no show." Bob writes poems, loves weird music,
doesn't care for football, has very liberal political views,
goes outside to smoke (pot? Nope, it's the "kids" who do that
out by the garage) & exhibits symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder
(which I don't have, proof being my collection of Mahler symphonies).

Yet, one of my most enjoyable Thanksgivings, about ten years ago
was with a large extended family plus several dogs & cats,
not a single green food item on a table nearly collapsing
under the weight of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, candied yams,
kielbasa, beer bottles, & elbows. Football on TV before, during
& after; noisy, informal, I had a great time, just one eccentric
among many. Another nice meal was with vegetarian friends who'd
finally given up going to family dinners where they had to carry in
all their own food anyway. The meatless main entree "loaf" wasn't
quite to my taste, but the wine, salads & pies were wonderful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Link Wray, May 2, 1929 - November 5, 2005

The Nap

I lay down for a nap & fell asleep.
In my nap I was taking a nap,
I saw myself taking a nap next to an open window.
I was under old blankets, & the bed
was in a kitchen next to a stove.
The kitchen was in a large house.
There were familiar people in the house.
Most of them were going upstairs,
on a stairway I didn't see, but I wasn't interested,
I knew what was on the second floor;
the WFMU radio studios, & I could always
hang out up there. So I decided to get up
& have a look around the first floor of the house.
It was quite large.
In the first room off the hallway I saw a horse
resting on the floor. When I walked in the room
it stood up. I wanted to stroke its nose
but I had no apple for it, so I let it alone
rather than make it anxious.
In another room two people were either assembling
or disassembling an artifical Christmas tree
I realized I didn't know if it was before
or after Christmas. A few of the rooms appeared
to be bedrooms people used, with doors that probably
opened into bathrooms. They were sparsely furnished
& fairly neat, so I didn't look at them too closely
or disturb anything.
Coming back down the main hallway toward the kitchen
a large entry way on the left opened into what had been
a living room when a regular family lived there,
but now it was mostly empty. A man
was stretched out on the floor relaxing. He was a
strange looking man, but not so strange that you
would notice him in a crowd. On the walls were
large posters that were like the artsy greeting cards
graphics companies sent me when I worked for a graphics studio.
"It's a nice house," the man said. "Yes," I replied,
"but everything on this floor was probably donated
or loaned, everything upstairs we bought."
& that was the end of my dream & my nap.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

A friend forwarded the clown planter pic. Pat prays to Satan.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Whale Creek, New Jersey

photo by me

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

More Jersey Toadyism

"If American families are making sacrifices and 'tightening their belts,' the federal government can too!"
Say what? I'll give this much to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11): at least he attempts to rationalize why he voted for the Deficit Reduction Act. Of course, it's all horseshit. Our six GOP congressmen are nothing if not full of horseshit. Come election time, even the wingnuts among them like Mike Ferguson try to convince us they are "moderates." Which means they want us to believe they believe government has some useful & helpful roles in our lives. But they follow right along with their radical right Texan leadership in dismantling or gratuitously privatizing government services. They fall into lockstep when voting billions extra for war, billions in tax breaks for their fabulously rich patrons, billions for the corporate puppeteers pulling their strings. There isn't an independent, courageous voice among them. They know how far out they are on their party's geographic fringe: a northeast state that votes blue for president, blue for senator, blue for governor, blue for state legislature, blue even when maybe blue doesn't deserve to win. They're at the edge & their party leadership is suspicious of them. I can't find any evidence of why this should be so. It never seems to to occur to these congressmen why this state is drifting so blue even as union membership declines & suburban counties grow. It's because their national party is controled by radicals: religious radicals who want to make American a "Christian" nation after their own premillennial dispensational doctrines. Foreign policy radicals who thumb noses at international treaties & advocate unilateral "nation building." Political radicals with a "starve the beast" strategy of killing off every federal program that represents the essential decency & compassion of the American people. & torture: let's talk about torture, Rodney. Cheney says it OK, but only the courage of John McCain made you give a damn. We don't like the radicalism of your party & president. We don't like the war, the secret prisons, the lies, the coverups. & there are voices, very loud ones, within the GOP saying that the party is still too centrist. We can't pretend that the Republicans are truly, rationally conservative, which is why Rodney's comments on the Reduction Act are so bogus. You voted to crank up the deficit as part of a grand strategy to "starve the beast" by doing exactly what you did on Thursday. You are shameless. If we had the sort of justice in this state that macho Texans like our President advocate, you'd be dragged out into the street & have that horseshit horsewhipped out of you. We're not Texans, though. How do we get through to you?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Six Republican toadies from Jersey

Alright toady boys, let's play DeLay Declares! DeLay Declares jump up & down on one foot. DeLay Declares hold your nose & take one step back. DeLay Declares vote for cuts in college loans, school lunches & Medicaid. Now smile & take one hop to the left. Whoops, didn't say DeLay Declares.
Enjoy the game, boys, 'cause some of you won't be playing come '07. As a reward for participating in the game, each of our congressional contestants will receive via e mail this quote:
The prophet Isaiah said: "Woe to you legislators of infamous laws ... who refuse justice to the unfortunate, who cheat the poor among my people of their rights, who make widows their prey and rob the orphan."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Wading through the new report Future Sea Level Rise and the New Jersey Coast: Assessing Potential Impacts and Opportunities, a 37 page Pdf document from the Princeton Policy Research Institute. Not exactly a National Geographic kind of presentation. A large section is given over to Cape May Point, which the authors acknowledge isn't really representive of Jersey's tidal shoreline because it is subject to faster, greater changes. But that area has been measured & studied closely for a variety of economic & environmental reasons. Their conclusions are obvious: Rising sea levels will force ongoing adjustments, & eventual retreats from barrier beaches regardless of whatever long term plans we make or fail to make. We can do just so much, delay the processes, but some houses are going to fall into the ocean anyway, as has happened at Cape May over the past 100 years. So the more interesting parts of the report are about sea water intrusion into our fresh water aquifiers, & which tidal wetlands might have a natural capacity to keep pace with rising ocean levels. The faster the sea level rises, the less able marshes are to adapt, which puts a lot of already endangered wildlife at risk. Humans just pack up & move inland; birds, turtles & Horseshoe Crabs don't have that option, especially if storms radically change their habitat & food supply in a short period of time - a possibility that global warming makes more & more likely.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Same great entertainment, off-season rates

Ellen DeGeneres: I've had lots of boyfriends.
Dave Letterman: Am I late for this party?

Newly archived radio program: Same great entertainment, off-season rates.
Lots to recommend. The Brothers Johnson cut will immediately transport you back 30 years. Henry Brant's music portrait of Harpo Marx. Steve MacLean (combed the WFMU shelves finding this one again), Ornette, Nigerian Army Rhythm Group, the Stylistics LP song, Steve Reid, Charles Ives, "May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone" by The Toys.

The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld media "counteroffensive" is so lame. No doubt planned well before the election, it was tastelessly, badly timed to begin on Veteran's Day, Bob Woodward's confession pushed it off the blogs, tornadoes blew it away in the midwest; Bush promptly flew off to Asia, which barely registered in the East as A-Rod & the weather grabbed the headlines. Nobody can look at Cheney now without wondering if our Vice President betrayed a CIA agent.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I only live in Jersey

The last time I attempted to fully express the regret
& disappointment I feel from having tried to be a
public poet in New Jersey, I sent off a terribly
unpleasant note to a poet I'd known for nearly 30 years.
That was about three years ago. In fact, I pretty much
walked away following the 1994 Dodge Poetry Festival.
From the late Seventies until the NJ State Council
on the Arts stopped awarding them, I dutifully sent off
to Trenton my Poetry Fellowship application & portfolio
every year they handed them out. There's little doubt
in my mind that had I received a fellowship before I turned 40
it would have totally changed my life, for those awards
were the only endorsements of basic literary competency
that had automatic currency with all NJ arts organizations.
To be turned down year after year was cumulatively dispiriting.
After awhile I felt like I was becoming Phil Rizzuto,
a sad joke forced to wait until allies Yogi Berra & Bill White
sat on the Hall of Fame Veterans Selection Committee.
But it sometimes does help to go to the bench.
I feel much more appreciated & respected at WFMU
than 8 years ago, when I was slowly burning out,
running dry of ideas, always afraid of losing my spot
on the schedule. In my heart, I wanted to sit down,
listen to Mahler symphonies, Beethoven quartets,
enjoy any kind of music without concerning
myself with the next week's novelties. I knew
the most & the least I could get out of WFMU.

I also knew the most I could get out of immersion
in New Jersey poetry. A few close friendships,
a wider social circle. Some income, certainly, for the
networker & hard worker. The more effort one gave,
the more one could earn. It was pretty evident that a
literary rep based on what one accomplished here
rarely transcended the borders of the state. That requires
a different ambition, & a different set of goals. But all I
wanted was some peer approval, acknowledgement
that I was creating good art.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fishing at Ocean Grove NJ

From Dollhouse

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Admiral Hotel, Cape May New Jersey

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

It's fresh or it's free

On the seafood page of the weekly circular, a local supermarket prominently promises:
It's Fresh or It's FREE!
Not sure what to make of that guarantee. Should we be concerned?
Are they giving away particularly aromatic salmon steaks?
What about this bag of defrosted frozen shrimp I found in the shampoo aisle?
I want to return the crab salad for exchange or refund
& present you with a bill for an emergency room stomach pumping.
When the Pathmark here was renovated a few months ago, the fresh fish section
was installed next to the bakery section, thus overwhelming & canceling out
the enticing mix of fragrances from all the bread, gourmet cookies,
cakes, muffins & donuts. It seemed an idiotic thing to do.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if the sales of birthday cakes plummeted.
You can't buy a cake for your kid's party, lie that you baked it yourself,
then have to explain why it smells like the dumpster behind Red Lobster
that the seagulls always attack.
I can't stand that corner of the store.
I always feel like hosing it down with lemon juice.

Friday, November 11, 2005

birthday today

Hoboken, 1983, photo by Sharon Guynup. Courtesy of The Museum of American Poetics

Martinmas Day

This is a heckova day to promote war; the feast of a peaceable saint.
It's the George W. Bush we've come to know, expect, & not like.

He travels to a town his advisors chose for him as representing "America."
Makes sure there's a military flavor to the surroundings.
Displays a new logo, catch phrase, slogan; today it's "Strategy For Victory."
The product hasn't changed, just the advertising. In fact, the product is George W. Bush himself. & the "strategy" is the small town, new slogan, etc. The goal isn't "victory" over terrorism but over the president's terrible poll numbers.
He's still trying to rationalize lies he told three years ago.
Disses not only those who want a phased withdrawal, but also Sen. John McCain for saying we don't have a sufficient number of troops in Iraq to do the job.
I try to imagine Inauguration Day 2009, the Bush Adminstration handing over the Executive Branch to a Democrat, even a dissident Republican. Why do I believe these people, if they were powerful enough, would use any means to prevent that from happening? They advocate torture & secret prisons. They're selling our military to the corporate sector. They sow religious division & strife. They must be brought to leash now, while there's still time, & holding on to the leash is a job for Republicans, Democrats, a free press, & all of us.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mike Ferguson, the Texan infecting New Jersey

The New Jersey GOP congressman I'd most like to see kicked out next year is wingnutty Mike Ferguson in the 7th District. The only reason this Tom DeLay cult clone holds the seat is because the Democratic Establishment conceded it to him back in 2000 before the district was redrawn to make it "safe." Even before Tuesday's results I thought he was vulnerable. If Tom Kean Jr. is running for Senate next November (no sure bet), perhaps Mike's Moment of Truth will have to wait until '08. Although Tom & Mike aren't exactly kissin' cousins. Still, at the least, with a lively candidate & a modest investment, Democrats can make the GOP divert truckloads of money into the contest.

But if the Republican Texan right wing extremists in Jersey would rather put an anti-choice, pro-gun, homophobe at the top of the ticket instead of someone named Kean, I say they should go for it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

That's not the answer I'm asking for --

Here's a transcript of a very strange White House briefing yesterday that nearly wanders into Samuel Beckett territory. Imagine Scott McClellan is being asked a basic question, the answer to which will decide his admission to heaven.

MR. McCLELLAN: It is an answer -- because the American people want to know that we are doing all within our power to prevent terrorist attacks from happening. There are people in this world who want to spread a hateful ideology that is based on killing innocent men, women and children. We saw what they can do on September 11th -
Q. That's no answer. [long pause] Do not concern yourself with temporal power when we're trying to determine which world you think you're in.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Thanks a lot, Jon & Doug (but we're all bozos on this bus)

Another gubernatorial election day in New Jersey.
Whichever candidate wins will have done so by making impossible promises & misrepresenting the views of his opponent.
Whichever candidate loses will deserve his defeat.
They both told us what we wanted to hear:
1. "I will lower property taxes."
2. "My opponent is satanic."
In January, acting Governor Richard Codey, who should have been the Governor-elect tomorrow, will go back to his desk in the Jersey State Senate.

Later: I'm satisfied Corzine won because, well, look at the alternative. One can't read anything national into the victory; that doesn't figure into how Jerseyans vote for governor. But I'll suggest this. His majority support is very soft. If this campaign on both sides hadn't been so relentlessly negative down the stretch, Corzine would have won by about the same margin but also retained the good will of the electorate. He's lost his "honeymoon." If all he does is stack his administration with the usual suspects & juggle the books for the next four years, he'll be gone after one term.

My votes: No on both ballot questions. Corzine. Abstained on assembly. Joanne Rajoppi as county clerk. Pushed button for only one freeholder, a Democrat.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Six Dollars, Six Records

Walking home from train station Sunday night, ominous lightning in northwest, splatters of rain, temp falling, strong gusts swirling leaves all around, acorns bouncing off my forehead. Headless Horseman weather. Watched ten minutes of TV movie Category 7, Eiffel Tower toppled by huge tornado, reassuring as thunder rumbled in the distance. The front passed through, it all quieted down in half-an-hour.

Six records, six dollars at the WFMU Record Fair in New York. Two of those for the LP jackets. Another replacing a worn album I've had for 35 years. The big find was a long out-of-print 1963 LP of short Charles Ives pieces, looks to be in pretty good shape. I browsed under an hour before doing a three hour volunteer shift behind the WFMU "El Cheapo" tables. Of necessity, I treat this marvelous music sale, with 125 vendors from all around the country, as fun social occasion to meet some old friends, & as a visit to a great museum, an opportunity to look at rare movie soundtracks. Some very serious customers fly in from Europe & the West Coast,

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Rahway River Park, New Jersey

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Planet bones
eons breaking
epochs healing

time the divider
time the joiner
we understand

we have mountains of bone
now mountains of cold
& we are starving


Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday Ten

* Rosa Parks: We knew how important she was, but did we expect her death to have such impact? Honoring Rosa Parks was a chance to hold up a bright light in a great darkness. Even in her passing, she demonstrated "prophetic witness." We didn't want to say goodbye.

* UMC Judicial Council: Methodist Star Chamber or kangaroo court?

* Neil Young on Conan O'Brien: Four nights, including "Damage & Needle Done." Conan also gave an entire show to U2 a few weeks ago. Now if he'd only drop the misleading line "Much to talk about" before every opening monologue.

* Charles & Camilla: My Brit cousin wondered if they'd get bad press here. I said by the time Charles goes home we'll wish he were president. He has all the dorkiness of Dubya, none of the arrogant ignorance. He's hip to global warming. Plus he can pilot jets AND helicopters. & those Camilla hats are worthy of an A.M.E. Sunday morning.

* Judge Samuel Alito: Local media attempts to make him a favorite son of New Jersey. But we have lots of good Roman Catholic Italian-American judges here, most of 'em not conservative enough to get promoted by Bush. All one needs to know: professional wingnut William Donohue of the Catholic League supports him.

* Anne Lamott, Plan B: Not the most disappointing "spiritual" book I read this year. Close, though. This author is begging for a great spoof. Wonder if The Onion's already done it? Her dreadlocks really are more Farina than Rasta.

* Jon Corzine for NJ Governor: His ex-wife publicly popped off about how Jon sold out his family for politics, & he'll disappoint New Jersey, too. Oy, if only divorce always had so simple an explanation. If our previous governor Jim McGreevey had been gay AND competent, that would have made for a really interesting campaign.

* Boston Legal: This week the firm took on both the Iraq War & Church-State separation, & lost both cases. But the points were made. & the episode ended with Spader & Shatner dressed in pink flamingo costumes.

* Street Prophets: "Faith & Politics." Skip over the doctrinal side diaries (Is there an afterlife?) & the place gets real quiet. Gradually making a nonbeliever out of me. Needs an injection of Kos feistiness. Failed in my attempts to be first poster trolled.

* Standard Time: 4:30 here & getting dark. Ugh.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Well, isn't that special!?

So I'm supposed to be beaming with Garden State Pride that a right wing jurist from the land of the duck-billed dinosaur fossil is nominated for the Supreme Court? Like Judge Samuel Alito gets a bye because he's a successful Roman Catholic Italian-American from the New Jersey? As Church Lady says, "Well, isn't that special!?" Catholic League professional wingnut William Donahue* says Judge Alito is Hey, yo! by him, & that's an automatic disqualification here. Let Judge Alito make the "Bad Catholic" list of a communion nazi like Bishop Galante of Camden ("No Eucharist for YOU!") & I'll reconsider.

*DUMP FEMA: FEDS SHOULD AID CHURCHES. (& hand every federal agency Bush ruins over to religious groups.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

United Methodists Declare: "Go to Hell, Gays."

The United Methodist Church may wish to adopt this new logo & revised slogan so everyone knows upfront where they're really coming from now. Perhap the revocation of the Rev. Beth Stroud's ministerial credentials would not be so bitter a defeat if the UMC had not at the same time restored to the pulpit a homophobic pastor, endorsing his authority to humiliate gay people in the name of Jesus Christ.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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