Monthly Archives: July 2002

Capital Punishment shows signs of mortality

The American Prospect has an article on recent signs that the Death Penalty is on its decline. Hopeful news for this abolitionist. The Supreme Court decision banning the execution of the mentally retarded seemed like a no-brainer to me (and hopefully soon juveniles will also be protected, until then we are one of only 5 or 6 countries in the world that execute kids…including such countries as Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.)

I am especially emboldened to hear that public support of the death penalty has dropped in the past 10 years from 75% to 65%. As the Prospect notes…the law is going to follow the people, and the only real hope for an outright ban is for the percentage to drop close to if not below 50.

TIPS

“A national system
for concerned workers
to report suspicious activity”

Is the slogan
on the top
of the government website.

“We’re not asking
for people
to spy on people”

Is what the Director
of Homeland Security
insists.

But no one is sure
what definition of “spying”
his dictionary contains.

And few have noticed
the acronym for this program
when spelled backwards
accurately describes
what it is doing

to the freedom
for which our soldiers
have fought and died
for over 200 years.

July 14

Today is Bastille Day.

My ancestors were spread out all over Europe: Polish, Russian, Hungarian, Romanian, Dutch…and French. With respect to literature at least, I consider myself a Francophile. I have enjoyed most everything I have read from pens dipped in the Seine. Primary are Hugo, Baudelaire, and Montaigne…though there is much I have not read. And unfortunately I am consigned to reading translations since my only language is English.

Today is the 213th anniversary of the “storming of the Bastille” and the end of the French Monarchy. The French Republic had some rocky early years. I am currently reading Hugo’s History of a Crime dealing with Louis Napoleon’s coup d’etat in 1851. The US had its own difficulties 10 years later. The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance. (Jefferson).

Body Worlds

Where is this world headed?

Body Worlds

Real live dead people
on display in the UK.
Pregnant woman with

womb exposed, foetus
revealed for gawking tourists.
Athletes posed in

action. Goalkeeper,
cyclist, basketball player.
Is it surprising

the curator of
this ghoulish museum’s German?
Is Madame Tussaud’s

now passe? Missing
wax statues of Arafat
now considered tame.

All Star Game – 2002

A tied-game after 11 innings…this doesn’t upset me.

The All-Star game is an exhibition game. Pre-season exhibition games end in ties often. The purpose of the All-Star game is for the fans to see the best players from each league play each other. The winner is irrelevant. In some years, not all players get to play, and that *is* a travesty for fans of the players who sit on the all-star bench. This year everyone played.

The MVP award not being handed out…this is disappointing. Only because it was named this year in honor of the late Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams…and after being named for him, it doesn’t get awarded. I understand the MVP usually goes to the most valuable player from the winning team, but instead of handing out no MVP…they should have handed out two – one to a player from each league.

I am mad at Fox Broadcasting Corp.

What did Fox do? During the pre-game there was a tribute to Hall-of-Fame St. Louis Cardinals announcer Jack Buck, and 33 year-old Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile. Both passed away recently. During the tributes, Fox decided it was a good time to air COMMERCIALS. Great business decision folx.

Fornication

The concept of not having sex outside of marriage seems a little, how shall I say it, “old fashioned.” I am going to go out on a limb here, and say that the majority of grooms in the US are not virgins. (Nor are the brides)

However, there are some states in the US that still have “fornication laws” on the books which actually make it a criminal act to have sex outside of marriage.

While there are many unenforced laws on the books, and it would be fine if this were just one of them….it is being enforced in Georgia. A 16 year old boy was fined for having sex with his 16 year old girlfriend. Do they really believe this is going to stop 16 year old boys and girls from responding to their completely natural desires and curiousity? (And really it’s fining the parents…they may in turn take it out of the kid’s allowance, but they’re still the ones that are directly paying the fines.) In addition to the quixotic futility, even though it takes two, the article doesn’t indicate that the girl’s parents were equally fined.

In positive news on the sex front, it’s taken way too long, but every man’s nightmare is finally over! Leave it to the French…but the perfect bra has finally been invented. It snaps easily on and off.

On the Political News Front. For the Independence Day holiday a few groups in Washington DC are asking Britain for British citizenship (They are upset that they don’t have full voting rights in the US…have no representation in Congress…and are still taxed.)

And finally, in a bit of irony, The White House admits that Bush is guilty in the past of doing some of the very same business practices he is now promising to stop.

July 4, 2002

Happy Independence Day to America!

My country tis of thee
sweet land of liberty
of thee I sing
land where my fathers died
land of the pilgrim’s pride
from every mountain side
let freedom ring!

Prayer in public schools

I’ve never been able to understand the complaint I hear from some quarters that the right to pray in public schools is being attacked. I know I was able to pray in my public school, and did so often, before every exam I took.

I’m not entirely joking. I often did pray. Yes, silently, to myself. No teacher stopped me. And I can guarantee no teacher would stop someone praying in that manner today. And if a teacher did try to stop a student, that student should go running to the nearest branch of the ACLU. They would love the publicity they’d get in taking that school to court.

Every court case that the critics bemoan has been about **organized** school prayer. Prayer where a school, a teacher, or another student decides on a prayer that all other students are going to be forced to recite, or at least listen to, regardless of whether they want to or not.

Can’t the critics see the difference between voluntary, and forced? It’s the same difference between the concepts of love and rape. If someone doesn’t want to swallow something, it shouldn’t be forced down their throats.

Sorry about the graphic image, but I think it is an appropriate analogy. For those of us who believe, God is someone we have a very close relationship with. But our relationships differ. If someone suggests to us that we should have a different sort of relationship with God, and tries to force that relationship on us, a negative reaction shouldn’t be surprising.

Public Schools can definitely assign their students to read the Bible as a source for many literary allusions. I studied biblical stories (old and new testament) in my Junior year of High School English. (Freshman year we had studied Greek and Roman mythology). American History courses should definitely cover the effect religion has played on American History. From the Puritans, to William Jennings Bryan. From the Scopes trial to Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

But that’s not the same thing as teaching scripture, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, or posting the Ten Commandments.

You might be surprised to discover your translation of scriptural passages, including the 10 commandments, aren’t identical with the translation used by other religions. If a school picks one translation, isn’t it in effect telling students of other religions that their religion is wrong? Heck, you’d even have to pick between Matthew’s and Luke’s Lord’s Prayer. I can’t say I know what lies behind that controversy, but I’ve read that some prefer one over the other.

Matthew 6:5-6: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men….when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret….”

I rarely ever quote the Book of Matthew. But ironically, he makes a lot of sense to me in this passage

9th Circuit

During the past week I have been busy working on a novel I am attempting to write, along with learning some new computer languages…so it took me awhile to write these poems in response to the events of June 26th…

God Bless

On the same day
the ninth circuit once again
showed they’re the most progressive circuit
in the country
the usually rock-slow senate
reacted 99-0.

(The Oldest Living Senator
from the state of North Carolina
was unable to keep up with this pace
but would have loved the chance
to wave his flag.)

On the same day
on the other side of Capitol Hill
as 416 praised God from the rooftops
(hallelujah!)
11 congressmen either couldn’t decide
or were unable to make it to their seats to vote.

But there were three with courage.
Three willing to say “No” to God,
and “Yes” to Jefferson.
Honda, Scott and Stark
will go down in the history books
as the only three out of 530
who respected the wall
between State and Church.

God Bless
Mike, Bobby and Pete.

Priorities

It took one day for 530
congressmen and senators
to introduce, discuss, and vote
on a bill contradicting
a decision of the ninth circuit court
that was likely to be overturned anyway.

Meanwhile
everything else they were discussing
was put on hold.

Perhaps we can convince them
to work at this same speed
on bills concerning education,
health care, corporate injustice,
airport safety, the environment,
and other things clearly
not as important as
declaring this country is led by God,
to hell with the First Ammendment.

House Vote
Senate Vote