The Wild Cats of Poteet, Texas

Still in Texas, as you can see. We went out to the family farm the other day. it’s in a little town called Poteet, home to the largest plastic strawberry in America. While I helped dad-in-law fix a pump, Elvira took a few pictures of the farm.

Then it started to get dark.

Then the cats came out. Farm cats aren’t quite the camera divas that Lucy and Rupert are and wouldn’t hold still. This is the only shot i got that is even a little clear.

Not Your Grand Pappy’s Christmas

If it’s Christmas, it’s time for the usual blather about the supposed Secular War on Christmas. Which, historically, is a neat little reversal that Bill O’Reilly and his ilk have stumbled upon. If you’re over the age of 20, you may remember that up until the early nineties, there really was a cultural war against Christmas, only it was being perpetrated by religious fundamentalists, not against them. Every year, Christian groups, some of them at least wearing a mask of civility and mainstream belief, conducted a campaign to remind people of the “Reason for the Season,” to try and retake the holy day from the evil secularists who had commercialized the true spirit out of Christmas. They wanted all the Christmas trees taken out of the malls, no carols on the radio and all references to Santa and his reindeer excised form the season entirely. Christmas was a solemn religious occasion, they intoned, not a festival of gift giving and materialism.

At some point that got reversed, into the now familiar claim that we secularists are somehow trying to suck all the meaning out of Christmas by trying to have all the Christmas trees taken out of the malls, no carols on the radio and all references to Santa and his reindeer excised form the season entirely. Celebrating Christmas openly is a flagrant disregard to the varied and multicultural celebrations of indigenous people all over the world, we secularists supposedly shriek, and we shouldn’t be forcing any one belief on everyone.

The whole business about the true Christmas spirit being religious rather than secular is ironic, seeing as how it was Christians who stole the holiday from pagans to begin with. It’s also bullshit.

Up until the seventeenth century, Europeans celebrated Christmas the same way we Americans now celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, or Cinco de Mayo or Thursday: by getting drunk and breaking shit. Christmas revelry was so bad that when the founding fathers settled down to the day to day governing of the new country, they outlawed Christmas. And it was by unanimous assent. No one wanted anything to do with that noisy, brawling European jackassery. It wasn’t until the mid nineteenth century that the tree and wreath and quiet celebration with family became popular and it was a British import, from Queen Victoria who had grown fond of how her German husband celebrated the day.

So which religious impulse do we follow? The ancient Winter feast in honor of the returning Sun? Or the mythical mass and two week-long exercise in self flagellation that was the traditional Christian way to honor the birth of the returning Son? Truth be told, it’s neither.

If the modern meaning of Christmas has its source in any one thing, it is a work of fiction. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has become the basic template for the Modern view of the holiday. It’s basic moral, that in this coldest month of the year (at least in the Northern hemisphere) we should take a moment to be thankful for what we have, especially each other, remember the past, ponder the future and try and be a little more just and kind to those around us, resonates with everyone. There’s no need to drag in a magical carpenter and three itinerant astrologers, but neither do we need to overdo the gift giving. Keep it simple, personal and heartfelt. That is the secular spirit of Christmas, the one everyone really celebrates, today. Weather or not it was always so is not the point. Traditions change. And in the waning days of religiosity, change is usually accompanied by wailing and drama from the religious dinosaurs who wish the secular comet weren’t plunging into the atmosphere. But it is and you can’t stop it. That’s life.

That we still do celebrate Christmas, even we secular atheists, should surprise no one. It just isn’t the Christmas your grand pappy remembers or that your ancestors tried to forget.

I’m Time’s Person of the Year!

As I’m sure you all know by now, I’m Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. This was a huge surprise as I didn’t even knew I was in the running. Hell, I didn’t even know anyone at Time read the blog. Just goes to show that the mainstream media isn’t quite as daft as we think it is, or as it has often proven itself to be, repeatedly. Over and Over.

But, after singlehandedly swaying the election through my powerful net-roots activism, it was pretty hard to miss me. And I’m sure my LibraryThing page had a lot to do with swaying the decision in my favor, too.

Not to worry though, I won’t forget my faithful readers reader as my meteoric rise to fame and fortune make me a big time shaker in whatever the hell it is I do with this blog. As we all know, cat pictures have a startling array of effects on the world stage, from economics to geopolitics, cat pictures, snarky reviews of movies and anti-religious rants will surely win the hearts and minds of all those who wish to do us ill.

With my help, I’m sure we will use the power of this mighty series of tubes to change the world for the better.

At te very least, we’ll have something to look at until the world ends.

Kooks In The Inbox

Yesterday, I received this frankly baffling email:

Hi. My name is Eugene Gershin. Perhaps we have met online, but more probably you don’t know me from Adam. I monitor blogs for SamsonBlinded, and came across your post.

I’d like to welcome you to look at Obadiah Shoher’s blog. Obadiah – an anonymous Israeli politician – writes extremely controversial articles about Israel, the Middle East politics, and terrorism.

Shoher is equally critical of Jewish and Muslim myths, and advocates political rationalism instead of moralizing.

Google banned our site from the AdWords, Yahoo blocked most pages, and Amazon deleted all reviews of Obadiah’s book, Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict.

Nevertheless, 170,000 people from 78 countries read the book.

Various Internet providers ban us periodically, but you can look up the site on search engines. The mirror www.terrorism-in-israel.com/blog currently works.

Please help us spread Obadiah’s message, and mention the blog in one of your posts, or link to us from invisiblelibrary.blogspot.com. I would greatly appreciate your comments.

Best wishes,
Eugene Gershin

First off, Eugene is right, I don’t know him from Adam. I don’t recognize him form the comment threads on any of my regular reads and he’s never commented on this blog. And seeing as he wants a link form the old blogger version that I shut down over a year ago, I’m guessing he hasn’t read anything I’ve written here lately.

But more to the point: Who is Obadiah Shoher, and how exactly does one become an anonymous Israeli politician? Israel hasn’t been around that long and it’s not that big so as to have politicians that could be anonymous, if we can even grant that there ever could be such a beast as an anonymous politician to begin with. I suspect they sit at the same lunch table with tiny giants and compassionate conservatives.

Googling his name doesn’t really answer the question, as it’s apparently a pen name for someone who describes himself as having a Machiavellian perspective, which is refreshing in it’s honesty, if still a bit scary.

Shoher’s “political rationalism” advocates an Imperialist Israel that controls the entire Middle East. He also applauded the war between Israel and Hezbullah over the summer, and seems to advocate war (nuclear or just good old killing) with well, everyone within reach of Israel’s missiles. It’s a little hard to make out just what policies he’s advocating from his site’s entries as they ramble all over the map of Cloud Kuckooland without ever making a real point. But the general impression one gets is that he’s awfully fond of the idea of starting wars he’ll never have to personally fight. Which makes me wonder how he managed to avoid getting appointed to some high ranking post in the Bush Administration. I guess that’s one of the downsides to being an anonymous politician.

I don’t know what to make of Amazon deleting reviews of his silly book, unless they were simply so racist and militant that they constituted hate speech. Which is not out of the question. Right wingers like Shoher tend to bring out the worst in those with poor impulse control and childish world views.

Why they would think I might be interested in promoting such bloody and fantastical nonsense escapes me. I doubt that Eugene is really singling me out here. This is very likely just a rare bit of kook spam but I clearly got on someone’s list because if something I wrote here or on my old blog.

So, let me make something clear: I never have and never will espouse an ideology like Shoher’s. I’m morally opposed to Imperialism and war, no matter what the excuse. If my anti-religious stance has given someone the impression that I’m just another antimuslim or antisemite ranter, let me clear that up as well: I’m opposed to religious indoctrination, not religious people. You have every right to believe any damn fool thing you like. But I am neither obligated to play make believe with you or to suffer your ignorant jibber jabber, especially when that barely coherent rambling involves celebrating murder and advocating killing as if it were just part of the daily routine of politics.

I’m not in the habit of discouraging people from reading this site but Mr. Shoher and Eugene, you are not welcome here. Tolerance only goes so far but it does not mean that I will suffer idiots and fools.

A Glass of Milk

They never did figure out who put the Ecstasy in the President’s milk. The First Lady was the one to realize something was amiss when she had to pull the President away from the Green Room wall where he had been fondling the gilt framed mirror and licking the wallpaper. She told the Vice President, who called a Doctor immediately.

“Nothing to do,” said the Doctor, patting the President on the shoulder and smiling congenially. The President offered a dreamy smile of his own in return. “He should come down in a couple of hours. Just make sure he drinks plenty of water and juice.”

The President spent the night listening to jazz records and dancing around the Lincoln Bedroom, rolling on the south lawn and petting the dog. That night as he was coming down, he whispered state secrets into the First Lady’s ear.

“You haven’t done that since the caucus!” she cooed.

In the morning, the Joint Chief’s met to decide the fate of a pesky foreign potentate who had been giving them trouble for a number of years. The Joint Chief’s were unanimous in their decision to invade the foreign country, topple the regime and replace it with a pro-US dictator.

“I don’t know if that’s such a great idea,” said the President, “What if the people, you know, have other ideas? I mean it’s their country, right?”

The President was beginning to think many strange and beautiful things. About the joy of simply breathing, defining the world with each exhale. No one should be denied that simple pleasure. Or peanut butter.

The Vice President and Secretary of Defense clenched their jaws and exchanged uneasy glances.

The next day, the Vice President knocked on the door of the oval office. The President was busy looking out the window, remembering when he was a child and had visited the sea- how vast it was and how small he had known himself to be then, standing on ancient shores…

The Vice President came into the Oval Office, coughed to let the President Know he was there. The President swiveled in his chair to find a familiar looking man standing next to the Vice President.
It took the President a moment to realize that the man looked exactly like him. A genuine doppelganger.

“Who’s this?”

“Oh you remember Scooter West, Mr. President. He used to be your personal bodyguard. Well, he’s being promoted.” The Vice President pulled a pistol from his coat pocket. Scooter West sneered. It was the same sneer the President used to wear, before he drank that fateful glass of milk.

And the President began to think, could he make it to the door in time?

Love Child

Mary Cheney’s baby finds a strange defender in the form of Dan Savage:

it feels strange to rush to the defense of Mary Cheney, the useless dyke daughter of our malevolent vice president. But I knew I had to speak up after Janice Crouse of Concerned Women For America called Cheney’s pregnancy “unconscionable.” A few thoughts for you, Janice:

First, because Christianists like you can’t come out and say they oppose Cheney’s pregnancy because it says right there in Leviticus that Mary Cheney should be put to death (along with all adulterers, rebellious slaves, and lobstermen), they’re condemning Cheney for creating a “fatherless” child, a child that will have no masculine role models. Have you gotten a good look at Heather Poe, Mary Cheney’s partner of 15 years? My son has two fathers, but Heather Poe’s left labial lip is butcher than both of us put together. Even if Mary and Heather planned on raising their child on a deserted island somewhere, their kid wouldn’t want for masculine role models. And if things get too girly at Mary and Heather’s place, Grandpa Dick can always take the kid hunting.

Second, fathers are great—my son couldn’t agree more, Janice. And guess what? A lesbian couple can’t have a child without one. For all we know, Mary and Heather, like so many other lesbian couples, used a known gay male sperm donor—Ken Mehlman? Mark Foley? Ted Haggard?—and this kid is going to have a father in his life.

Third, Concerned Women For America doesn’t think Mary Cheney should have a baby. Great, fine, whatever. But Mary Cheney’s uterus belongs to Mary Cheney, Janice, and she can do whatever the fuck she likes with it. She can have babies with it or keep her car keys in it or fill it up with potting soil and plant tulips in it. It’s her fucking uterus, Janice, not yours. And if you keep inserting yourself into it, people are gonna think you’re a dyke too, or Heather Poe is going to show up on your doorstep and beat the holy living hell out of you.

Fourth, Concerned Women For America and the Christian Coalition and Mitt Romney and Pat Robertson have all made it clear that they think it’s wrong for lesbians to have children. Would someone in the media please ask them the obvious follow-up question: How the fuck do they propose to stop lesbians from having children? Post two members of the National Guard at the entrance to every lesbian vagina in the country? Forced sterilizations at women’s music festivals? Mandatory abortions for every lesbian who does manage to get herself pregnant?

Fifth, up in Canada—sane, sane Canada—a bill to reopen, and possibly reverse, the decision to legalize gay marriage failed by a wide margin in Parliament Thursday, December 7.

And Later, All the Imams Sat Around Discussing the True Color of the Sun

BBC:

Iran’s foreign minister has rejected criticism of a two-day conference being held in Iran to examine whether the Holocaust actually happened.
Manouchehr Mottaki told participants the event did not seek to confirm or deny the Holocaust, but rather to allow people to “express their views freely”.
Israel’s prime minister has condemned the gathering as “a sick phenomenon”.
[…]Participants include a number of well-known “revisionist” Western academics. American David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, is to present a paper.

This is a mockery of the entire concept of the Open Society. This is a bunch of conservatives and theocrats putting on a pantomime to show the world that fostering an air of open inquiery leads to nothing but a kook convention. This way they can say, “Well we tried your Multiculturalism and look what it did! Oh well, back to the Bhurkas and female circumcision.”

Christian Conservatives have been trying this nonsense for a few years, here in the US. It’s gotten so bad that we don’t even recognize it anymore as a mockery and think now that events like Justice Sunday, which are meetings held by Evangelical Megachurches to discuss legal issues, is just another feature of the fair and balanced media landscape.

Theocrats and Dominionists, here and in other parts of the world, have twisted language to suit their own vile needs. They’ve decided that the simplest way to get what they want is to call whatever their agenda is another name, something innocuous, that has the ring of something benign and maybe even liberal. If the opposite is actually the case, so much the better. Everyone gets duped, no one knows what the fuck is goig on and in the middle of this confusion, while we’re all parsing their mush mouth language, they slip the constitution out from under us and in the name of the Glorious and Holy Revolution, we slide into Fascism and religious dictatorship. Yipee!