Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Photo of a Texan, holding a guitar

Ted Koppel raised two serious points on Nightline. The first was if New Orleans
can be saved. The answer to that is likely no. The Big Easy tourists love will
be there; the French Quarter & the riverfront. But the residential city is
being destroyed right before our eyes. The entire population has had to be
removed, with no prediction as to when they may be allowed to return, if ever.
A large percentage can never go home. There will be too much flood damage
& residual pollutants.

This leads to the other point. Katrina was a slow moving storm, everyone knew
it was coming, everyone knew that New Orleans was a city at risk anyway.
The evacuation went surprisingly well. & yet - it wasn't a terror attack.
The levees weren't blown up. No "dirty" weapons were detonated. How well have government agencies prepared, & how well have they responded? I think we all
see that it isn't going good. Elected politicians act increasingly frustrated
& even dumfounded, FEMA overwhelmed, the Army Corps of Engineers stumbling for solutions. Only the Coast Guard & Army rescue units & the National Guard
look sharp, but this what they have trained for.

With the scope of the disaster ranging from the poorest neighborhoods
of New Orleans across a large swath of generally prosperous coastline,
the levels of human misery & material loss, the breakdown in basic services,
the disruption of oil production, a major city's economy taken off the map
of America, many thousands of jobs permanently wiped out, what will happen?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

MMOB vs. JAMRS is disguised as a helpful site for guiding young people who are "Trying to figure out what to do? Or what you'd like to do?" In fact, it is part of JAMRS (Joint Advertising Market Research & Studies), a Pentagon project that has compiled a huge database of potential recruits. The "No Child Left Behind Act" has a provision that requires public high schools to hand over private student information to military recruiters. The purpose of this invasion of family privacy is to allow minor students to be recruited at home by telephone calls, mail and personal visits. If a school does not comply, it risks losing vital federal education funds.

But the MMOB (Mainstreet Moms Operation Blue) is wise to this "sneaky Pete" strategy.

Category Two?

New Jerseyans need to pay close attention to the Gulf Coast right now. I've stood on the levees in Rahway NJ & easily imagined the kind of storm - combination of drenching rain, wind & successive high tides - that would push the city's tidal river over those embankments. Such a storm would innundate sections of Rahway (as smaller storms have in the recent past). But after losing a public library to a freshwater flood, Rahway has cleared & created additional buffer areas. Options are limited given that the greatest threat is caused by storm water runoff from upstream towns. The potential for destruction along the coast, where overdevelopment has placed hundreds of thousands of people, homes & businesses in harm's way, is almost unbelievable.

There are two worst case scenarios. The slow-moving noreaster type occurred most infamously in March 1962, which became a very significant event of my youth when I saw some of the damage in person. The most frightening possibility steers a hurricane's eye up Delaware Bay, placing the entire state in the powerful eastern quadrant of the storm, just where Biloxi was. It wouldn't take a Category Four.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Category Four

A news report last night showed two obviously affluent couples, from New Orleans, in a wood paneled restaurant, expensive earrings dangling from the women's ears, lamenting their evacuee status. I forget exactly where they were, but it was in Mississippi. Katrina was going to The Big Easy. But at the same moment, on New Orleans close radar, Katrina had shifted slightly. headed due north, the west wall of the eye beginning to soften. I watched that radar until dawn. Those well dressed people enjoying their dinner might have fled in the wrong direction. I wonder if they were surprised on Monday morning. The wind & the storm surge of 30 feet were going to overwhelm Gulfport, Biloxi, Harrison County, destroying both grand antebellum houses & humble doublewides. In New Orleans, the mostly poorer north section of the city near Lake Pontchartrain was devastated, not the old French Quarter. But someday the water will rise higher than the river levees.
WLOX TV, ABC affiliate, Biloxi/Gulfport

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Carnival of New Jersey Bloggers is creatively hosted this week by Ryan Kennedy.
I didn't submit anything because I was on an imaginary Jersey shore vacation all week. On Friday, I went to Point Pleasant & pretended I'd been there since Sunday.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Greetings from Point Pleasant Beach
on a Friday evening.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The vultures are already gathering around Fort Monmouth, the salivating developers & greedy politicians, dreams of zoning board deals & waterfront McMansions. It will be a year or so before the Army sorts out a closure plan, & the situation can change. Is there a way the next Governor of New Jersey can just take the whole base away from local & county control? The property is a State resource. I feel the same about our beaches.

I had an idea of taking a train down to Point Pleasant late this afternoon but my energy level wasn't quite up to the amount of walking the journey requires; I like wandering the Arnold Ave. retail district, then heading to the boardwalk, strolling up to Manasquan Inlet around sunset & back to the amusement area for pinball. There used to be a wall of really fine classic pinball games there. Only a few left. Last summer, the best collection of old pinball & video was in a too dark room at Seaside Park's Funtown Pier, & had one of my favs, Earthshaker, which requires only moderate skill & a couple of warmup games to get really fun; unfortunately, the train stops ten miles north of that place.

Someone found this blog by asking Jeeves:
Has there ever been a volcano on the East coast of the United States? I don't recall ever writing on that matter, but the answer is Not for approximately the past 200 million years.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Watch your waistline, President Chavez

This from a minister who reportedly loves iceberg lettuce:
"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,'' Robertson said. ''It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop.'' Pat Robertson, advocating the death of the President of Venezuela.
Doctrine & diet shakes are Robertson's stocks-in-trade (his business is about power & money). He knows exactly & absolutely what we're supposed to believe, so it's surprising he didn't back up his statement with a few quotes from Leviticus regarding punishment & proper nutrition. When an American Protestant mullah, even one over the edge of senility, calls for the execution of someone outside the country, he's unlikely to find a soul in his flabby flock courageous & fit enough to take up the challenge. The distance is short from that to issuing a fatwa against a sinful fellow politician or activist or competing preacher or weight loss guru who displeases the buff Reverend. Robertson may not "know about this doctrine of assassination," but he's in favor of it all the same. That's the dangerous message he sent to his large, dedicated TV cult-following. Rumsfeld's response: ''Our department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law. [wink] He's a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time. [wink wink]."

Monday, August 22, 2005

falling from the moon

Rattling fan blowing in
an August night I am using
poorly. Somewhere else
the bells & sirens of a
boardwalk arcade,
little boats circling a pool,
a small train whistles
rounding the bend
toward funnel cakes,
smile for the camera.

They scream falling from the moon,
flashing wheels,
belts & gears,
this house is haunted.
Search the darkness
& there is the ocean.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sloppydawg hosts the Carnival of New Jersey Blogs

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Simple Vacation

There may be no such thing as a "simple" vacation, but nothing ought to be simpler than the few days in North Wildwood. Choosing a motel is easy. The Wildwoods are packed with expensive palaces sporting names like Fleur-dy-Lys, Quebec-by-the-sea, Le Voyageur. In addition to the usual amenties, these places will wake you in the morning, feed you, tan you, sauna you, bus you to Atlantic City & hand you an ice pack for your brain when you stagger home at 4 a.m. Competition is fierce. One motel even advertises a "solar heated pool," which could also be said about the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the French-Canadians who flock to these exotic hostelries by the thousands only see the boardwalk & ocean from their neon-lit balconies.

I patronize a small, no-frills, family-owned motor court called The Kismet, a few blocks south of Hereford Inlet & a mile north of the nearest loud boardwalk amusements. It has no swimming pool, game room, or resident psychiatrist. I don't need those frills anymore.

After making reservations in May
for the 5 night "midweek special" in August, I start worrying about the weather, intently studying the long range forecasts, hoping for the jet stream to make a certain snakelike loop over the Great Plains. I expect 85 degree days, balmy nights, & a big thunderstorm scheduled to begin promptly at midnight Wednesday & ending 30 minutes later. Since having my flesh slowly incinerated at the beach holds no appeal for me, a cloudy day won't ruin a visit to Cape May Zoo or keep me out of the undertow.

Vacation logistics are about what to bring & in this matter I am a Survivalist, so I must transport my own coffeemaker. Because I want to spend money on good stuff, like crab cakes, pizza, & ice cream, I also pack bowls, utensils, snacks, cereal & anything else that might keep me out of an all-you-can buffet, I stop by the local Pathmark before I check in. Wandering around the shore on an empty stomach is risky; nothing blows a budget faster than boardwalk food. I also pack Alka-Seltzer, boombox, a couple of books, & the strongest sunblock legally available.

Clothes perplex me. Might be hot, cool, rainy, or the first ever August snow. The worse weather pattern has muggy days with a nippy drizzle & a hurricane 200 miles offshore, which happened one year. All possibilities must be anticipated. Fashion counts for little. No one on the beach in late afternoon looks thrice at a skinny middleaged guy wearing flowerprint swim trucks, xtra large Mister Bubbles teeshirt, sea shell necklace, & green Aloha Surf cap. Only a writer would look like that..
For evenings on the boardwalk I bring ten pocket baggy khaki pants. Lots of places to stash coins for pinball. Forget about socks.

Finally, I pack everything in backpacks & plastic supermarket bags, taking care to remember small essentials. While I think nothing of pushing hard cash across a counter for a funnel cake or Ramones shirt, I get really annoyed if I have to purchase toothpaste or shampoo at inflated prices from a store that mainly sells bait & beach balls. Everything goes on to the back seat of the car. I have an irrational fear that the trunk will fly open just past New Gretna & deposit my stuff in the marsh.

Vacation officially begins on a Sunday afternoon, rain or shine, over an iced tea at Forked River rest stop. If the car broke down there, I'd have it towed the rest of the way to Wildwood.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

The Grand Canyon

Adam: This place is cool, what is it called?
Yahweh: The Grand Canyon.
Adam: That's the best name you could come up with? How did you make it?
Yahweh: A giant garden hose with the nozzle set to "stream."
Adam What's a nozzle?
Yahweh: Dummy, you have one.
Adam: Oh? How long this canyon thing take to make?
Yahweh: A couple of minutes.
Adam: Unbelievable. It looks like it took a million years at least.
Yahweh: That's why it's a joke.
Adam: Well, how would anyone know it's a joke?
Yahweh: I added fossils.
Adam: What are fossils?


Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Most Famous Christian of the 20th Century?
"Mother Teresa? Nope. Billy Graham? Nope. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Guess again. Albert Schweitzer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, any and all popes, any and all U.S. presidents…Nah, throw ‘em out." Not even Bono.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I hope New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester spit up his coffee
this morning when he read the latest poll showing George W. Bush has a whopping
61% disapproval rating here. Yet, for 20 years the most liked "politician" in Jersey has been
former governor Tom Kean, a model for GOP rationality now considered so contemptible
by the far right intelligent designers at the RNC that our local Republicans might as well
start a new party. Why not call it the Whigs?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Among Bob Cesca's suggestions to Karen Hughes for helping GB's low ratings:
-Enemies of the president should be labeled "Gay Islamic Embryonic Stem Cell Harvesters Who Hate the Troops and Who Love the Terrorists" (you can swap "love" for "embolden" which tests strongly).
Let's try it out: Cindy Sheehan is a Gay Islamic Embryonic Stem Cell Harvester Who Hates the Troops and Who Loves the Terrorists. Reads o.k., but a right winger wrote something like that to me in an e mail last night, although it also might have contained the phrase "tool of the global papist conspiracy."

I enjoyed this long but intelligent piece by diarist Steven D @ Kos,
The Big Three: Issues Dems Can Win With In 2006

Monday, August 15, 2005

Greetings from Lake Owassa

Spent a very enjoyable Saturday afternoon at Lake Owassa, where the water was cool & the air was not 100 degrees. I did something very stupid though. After having a large cup of wine & sizable section of hot Italian sausage on a roll, I decided to skip using an inflatable float toy, jumped in the lake & set out for the raft. An 8 month pregnant young woman had just done it, & there she was sitting on the raft laughing with a bunch of other partyers. I hadn't been freshwater swimming in 6 years, never was a strong swimmer, & have little upper body strength. Fortunately, my body reminded me of this before I reached the halfway point. I turned back & I doubt if I've ever felt more relieved than when my feet found a place that wasn't over my head. I was exhausted, & shaken up that such a modest amount of alcohol could make me so impulsive. Before I went to the party I'd told a few people how much I was looking forward to paddling around with my butt in the middle of an inner tube. Most of the remainder of the afternoon was spent contentedly on the floating dock with my feet dangling in the water. I described pretty Lake Owassa in detail in a post from last year's event.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Angels at the Jersey Shore

Narrow steps climbed from my godmother Cath's bedroom to a barely improved second story with two rooms separated by a curtained doorway. A few feet above the floor the walls sloped inward to the roof peak. It was a tight space in a bungalow. My brother & I shared a bed in the room at the back, beneath a small window. In the other room, my grandmother Nana & Aunt Bella slept together. These were our accommodations for summer vacations in Somers Point, a small town across the bay from Ocean City.

Nana was on vacation, too. She & Bella loved each other without especially liking each other. The causes of this dislike were unknown to me in the 1950's. Eventually, I concluded that Bella never accepted her older sister's claim to the matriarchal throne, & had been griping about it for three decades. Even so, they worked well as a team if necessary, although the two of them standing one atop the other couldn't put a basketball through a hoop.

At bedtime - always too early - Nana pulled the chain on the overhead light & went into the front room. Bella came creaking up the steps, the light in their room went out & we heard them taking off & hanging up their clothes. Then they said perfunctory little prayers & got into bed.

My brother & I always had trouble getting to sleep on the first night of vacation, what with the long car ride and the excitement of arriving, and the strange bed & the uncomfortable stuffy heat of that attic. We were sunburned & stinking of  Noxema. The house was so silent it was pointless to talk, we'd only be shushed. So we just lay there blinking our eyes in the dark.

About ten minutes later the battle between Nana & Bella began with a skirmish of flailing arms & bumping old lady hips. "For love of Mary & Joseph, Bella, give me some room to breathe."

"So it's not the grand hotel you're used to, eh?"

"I've got so little mattress I'm going to fall on to this dirty floor."

"My dirty floor? & if you fall it'll be all the way into hell or the kitchen, & I won't go down there to pick you up."

My brother & I giggled at the groans & curses of achy, ancient bones until Nana shouted for us to stop. After awhile the two old sisters seemed to fall asleep & we could hear tree toads & cicadas & the sea breeze that never found our little window. These sounds were enough to start us on the journey toward sleep. But halfway down that path the snores started, slowly gaining volume with each inhalation. A hard day's labor of reciting maledictions exited those ladies' bodies like two bands playing different tunes in the same parade.

My brother fell asleep anyway, leaving me alone & trapped in an attic. Where did everyone go? Sleep took them all from me as if they were dead, & sleep is a short refuge as surely as death is the long one. What child would risk waking the dead to go to the bathroom? Even if I got to the top of the steps, Cath & her husband Jim were in a big bed behind a closed door at the bottom, blocking the way.

I rearranged shadowy objects into a gallery of horrors. I could shut my eyes but not my ears to the keening of the banshee, the Irish harbinger of death. I heard so many banshees outside the window in Somers Point that it was a miracle anyone was alive at Christmas. At some unnoticed moment, a Catholic angel or Protestant angel or sheer exhaustion took me out of the darkest valley of night & into temporary oblivion.

When I woke up, my brother was gone, downstairs watching cartoons. Nana & Bella were also downstairs, their bed neatly made. Shyly, I descended the attic steps, peeking at the assortment of bottles & costume jewelry on Cath's dresser. In the kitchen Nana smiled, & Cath hugged me with her soft. young arms & called me a lazybones, pushing me toward a box of Sugar Pops & a carton of local blueberries on the table. Outside there were birds perching on the clothesline, & dew on the grass, & a cool, cloudless morning sky stretching away to an island over the marshes & bay. I heard Laughing Gulls. By noon I was fully myself; a half-Irish brat out to collect swamp punks & poison ivy, eager to roam beach & boardwalk.

As children, we are tested by bleak nights when we cannot name our angels. But when we grow up, the location of our true home is revealed to us in a memory of those angels & of a heaven we find in the light of morning & never really leave.

(originally published by Worrall Community Newspapers)

Friday, August 12, 2005

It's the President, Stupid!

The Republican radical right - the folks running things - cannot abide any dissent that escapes liberal blogland & marches around all the barriers & traps they set up to protect them - & us - from an alternative view of the universe. Relatively few people noticed or even knew about Cindy Sheehan before she arrived in Crawford Texas. After all, who the hell other than George Bush himself goes to Crawford to get attention? But this is not slick campaign. Cindy has been speaking out for a long time. Her home website looks like it was designed in 1995. The organization itself looks puny. Two things pushed her to the front page: 1. The lack of anything else to write about in Crawford. 2. The horrendous casualties inflicted on American soldiers in Iraq over the past month, especially the Marine unit from Ohio. No contrived "Freedom Walk" can disguise the fact that it is the President of the United States, not the middle-aged mother of a dead soldier, who is harming the morale of our military.

The liberal/left should counter the mad dog attacks on this woman from the right. But let her stand out there on a Texas highway & speak her own peace. She has a credibility & authority none of us bloggers can match. If other Gold Star Mothers disagree with Cindy, fine. Let them speak also. Out of it will come the first real debate about what went wrong in Iraq. Because the spotlight isn't on Cindy so much as it is on two thousand graves & thousands of maimed soldiers & on the Commander-in-Chief who put them in harm's way with lies & has no plan to rescue them from a civil war we fertilized in a foreign land. Meanwhile, every cent added to a gallon of gasoline puts billions into the wallets of George Bush's friends. as does the pumped up war budget he created on their behalf.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cindy Sheehan's question

Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan is asking the right question: Has President Bush ever suggested to his daughters that they set an example & sacrifice themselves to his miserable war? Cindy wisely took her low-budget protest to Crawford Texas, where reporters are forced to sit stupified by heat, bad food & boredom for five weeks. She is the news in that gawdforsaken place.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Across the Bridge of Lies

I am 56 years old. I have resisted up to now ever calling a President of the United States & his administration "evil." But with the announcement of Defense Dept. sponsored America Supports You Freedom Walk & concert on September 11, from the Pentagon to the National Mall, I am on the edge of doing just that. This, my conservative religious friends, is truly horned beast antichrist stuff: Lies masquerading as truth. Death disguised as life. You can look it up. The Republicans running this nation are really satanic phantoms that have absorbed the minds & souls of humans. Of course these devils can quote Scripture to their own ends - the old Sunday School teachers warned us little protestant kids about that. Haha, we laughed up our sleeves at the time. What is Satan's goal? Death. How does he win converts? Through the enticements of vice, of which simple greed for money is most alluring, followed by power. Which tactic is most successful? War, by far the most profitable of human enterprises. We are ruled by the Damned who are convinced they are Saved. Do I actually believe this? Accept it as a metaphorical gift from someone who used to think Revelations didn't belong in the Bible.

Coney Island Carousel Saved

The City of New York stepped up & bought it, averting an auction that probably would have resulted in the beautiful thing being disassembled. The loss of the great carousel in Asbury Park ripped the heart out of that place.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Lesley Gore

Met Lesley Gore & watched her perform at WFMU today. I've encountered many terrific musicians at the radio station, but rarely someone who has iconic stature* for me. Lesley earned that stature not with "It's My Party" or "Judy's Turn To Cry" - classics of Sixties girl group style pop, or even her appearances in "The T.A.M.I Show" & in "Ski Party" singing "Sunshine, Lollipops & Roses." to Frankie & Dwayne, but with "You Don't Own Me" - a dramatic anthem of independence that, while a bit too petulant to be fully proto-feminist, was an important lyrical statement as well as a great song. It's still a great song that Lesley loves singing. She's a sincere, classy & feisty (& diminutive) woman. Hard to believe this Jersey Girl's released her first new album in 30 years. Lesley never left show business.

*others include Sam Andrews, who was Janis Joplin's bandmate & lover, & Yogi Berra!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

is hosted by Sharon at

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Jersey Boomer

A distant rumbling felt as much with the stomach as heard through the ears. Then, the same sound, slightly closer and louder. A bluish flash at the window. The rumbles become sticks of dynamite exploding as they fall from the sky directly overhead. Walls and furniture appear and disappear like apparitions. Rain, wind, rattling windows.

Summer thunderstorms in Jersey have extroverted personalities. They can’t be ignored. They gather over the Pocono Mountains for strategy conferences. They can be very selective in their targets, skipping one town while reducing the next to wet heap of broken branches. Our thunderstorms are cantankerous, knocking a tree down here, blasting a hole in a roof there, setting off security alarms, making lights flicker. Mostly, they just scare children, dogs and superstitious grandmothers.

My gramma Nana believed one of those fierce, jagged bolts of lightning had her name engraved on it. She would shut off every appliance, retreat to her room, light a holy candle and sit on the edge of her bed mouthing prayers until the storm passed. Our nervous dog Susie, recognizing a fellow coward, hid under her bed.

My mom, a cool cookie, could get out of bed in the middle of the night, gauge wind direction, shut every window on that side of the house and return to bed without turning on a single light or tripping over anything.

The romance went out of thunderstorms for awhile after I took a basic college course in meteorology. A teaspoon of knowledge turned them into big machines, and I observed them analytically rather than with mystical awe.

The typical late afternoon or evening Jersey boomer takes shape over middle Pennsylvania, where warm, moist air rises in an updraft, creating fluffy cumulus clouds. Some clouds continue to rise until the water condenses as raindrops or hail. This creates a downdraft of cool air that accompanies or precedes a thunderstorm. A thunderstorm cell lasts only about 20 minutes, but they renew themselves by moving toward fresh sources of warm air, like over my house.

They are capricious beings. As a kid, I saw a small bolt of lightning reach through the branches of several tall trees to punch a hole in the corner of the garage, no fire, just wisps of ghostly steam & smoke. So much for striking the highest object. A few years ago, a violent thunderstorm cut a damaging path through part of Union County, ending in Rahway River Park. Most people thought it was a tornado, National Weather Service disagreed; what probably occurred was a microburst, an intense downdraft of air and rain that can produce winds of 100 miles per hour.

What is particularly frightening about thunderstorms is that the negative electrical charge in the base of thundercloud can induce a positive charge on the ground for several miles around, which means you don’t have to be standing in the storm to get zapped. It could come as a great surprise while admiring that pretty rainbow.

There are occasions when the sky breaks a certain way to reveal, rising thousands of feet above the lower rain clouds, a cloud so towering that high altitude winds flatten its top into an anvil shape, the classic cumulonimbus cloud. Great air turbulence & hailstones reign within its soft billows. These clouds are sometimes seen in their full beauty where there is a far horizon, like in western Jersey or over Raritan Bay, or a mall. They deserve holy candles, especially when they cool the air at the end of a hot, humid day, leaving a sliver of orange moon in the summer sky.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Lovely photo of Bronwyn C. & Jeff Maschi at Chris T's blog.
I'd like to sketch a routine for these two talented performers called
The Private Eye & The Farmer's Daughter.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wrung out & hung up

Another hot day here in Jersey, we're like the clothes gramma Nana squeezed through the wringers on the old washing machine she used to the end of her life; we might not drip when you hang us on the line in the basement, but it'll take us a long time to dry out. I have an appointment this afternoon that will last about ten minutes, not including the time to get there, wait around, & come back, which will consume over two uncomfortable useless hours. ( Later: Turned out not as bad; storms passing north kicked up some clouds & a breeze. I hardly broke a sweat. I said to the doctor, "This city has few virtues for me on a day like today." He seemed to think it was a sensible thing for me to say. )

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Designing Intelligence

President George W. Bush, who converted to Methodism but usually attends an Episcopal Church, has endorsed "intelligent design." I suggest that the Prez knows even less than me about evolution or design. My problem with "intelligent design" is that it isn't always so intelligent. Surely the Designer, while leaving us with the free will that makes us so sinful & troublesome, could have come up with some better planetary recycling scheme than plate tectonics. I know "I am that I am" required earthquakes, volcanoes & tsunamis to destroy decadent, immoral cities & civilizations, but why should an omnipotent deity be expected to provide explanations for these we can figure out scientifically? & why visit these stupendous geological events upon the innocent? Hurricanes are climatic thermostats that redistribute energy, but couldn't the storms just do this without touching land? Would've been simple for God to arrange that. Why make birds fly ten thousand miles just so they can be at Cape May when the Horseshoe Crabs spawn their little green eggs? Why make all the Earthly & extraterrestrial machinery so ... complicated? & so wasteful? But in raising these questions I have already left the realm of science & entered theologyland, & a rather dumbed-down theology at that, where one can ride the Rollercoaster to Damnation. It's not science, & you don't need it to be Christian. So teach "intelligent design" in Sunday school. Or in a class on Comparative Absurd Religion. Put it on the syllbus with The Mystery of the Winking Jesus statue & Slavery: How Yahweh created the Southern Baptist Convention.

Catholics have been warning protestants about this for a long time. The Roman Church has some hard & embarassing experience in the matter - you recall Galileo - & now generally opts for a larger more unexplainable Divinity, & rarely gets hung up on debates about what Jesus would have said about evolution. I was raised on the lovely notion that The Wandering Young Rabbi enjoyed camping out, & was curious about nature, & even a little baffled. So I think He would have enjoyed chatting with a field botanist. But I'm a sentimentalist in the matter. I'm not being sentimental when I say that throughout the history of Christianity it has periodically been assaulted from within by sectarian epidemics of mass stupidity. We're in the middle of an epidemic.

Read Sam Harris on this subject.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Charles Jensen's online collection of poetry broadsides. Some beautiful things.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Welcome to Suneagles Golf Course at Fort Monmouth, one of our Nation's premiere Military Courses. The classical ambience and prestige of this facility are well known hallmarks of this installation, located at the world famous Jersey shore.

Asbury Park Press Suneagles story

A lobster in a supermarket

A lobster in the big tank at the supermarket caught my attention today as I was passing by on my way to the potato salad. It was on top of a lobster pile & making some kind of repetitive motion, so I stopped to watch. The doomed crustacean (at $6.99 per pound) was attempting with its long right front walking leg (Pereiopod) to remove the rubber band from its big left cruncher claw (Cheliped). It picked at the wide rubber band then tried to pry open the claw, picked then pryed. Lobster wasn't succeeding despite the walking leg having a rather sharp & strong small claw. It impressed me as a feisty animal of some intelligence. A lobster will self-amputate an appendage to escape a trap; the appendage grows back. If by a combination of persistance & luck the animal threw off its bonds, it would only crunch & maul the other occupants of the tank. I had to admit that most people look at a big claw on a lobster in a supermarket tank & imagine cracking, picking & sucking the "succulent" meat out of it. Still, something about the situation felt unfair.


"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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