Friday, October 31, 2008


Rulers of yore often had gnarly nicknames. There was Domnall the Pock-Marked and Eochaid Crooked Nose of Dal Riata in the 7th century. Scotland had Malcolm Bighead in the 11th century and Malcolm the Maiden in the 12th and John Emptycoat in the 13th. Orkney was blessed with Erik Bloodaxe and Thorfinn Skullsplitter and Einar Falsemouth and Harald Smoothtalker. York had Ivarr the Boneless. England had Athelred the Unready (or the Heedless as I translate it), Swein Forkbeard, and Edmund Ironside before the Normans. The first Norman king in England was William the Bastard, later William the Conqueror. Later, there was Richard Lionheart and Edward Longshanks. Somewhere there was a Sigurd the Haughty. Russia had Ivan the Terrible.

What should GW Bush's kingly nickname be?

Look! An Ayrab!

Rashid Khalidi is someone you might be proud to have as an associate, so what the hell are McCain and Palin up to? Oh, right, race baiting. Khalidi is a Palestinian American, ergo an Arab, ergo probably Muslimish, ergo scary to the dumbasserate.

My grandnephew and grandniece are half Redneck and half Palestinian, and they're as cute as buttons and not scary at all (except for the Redneck half).

McCain really has lost any honor he might ever have laid claim to.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Calling Palin Out on the Wardrobe is Not Sexist

I saw on the TeeVee that that woman, you know the Survivor loser cum token conservative on "The View", claimed that criticism of Sarah Palin for her $150K wardrobe paid for by the campaign was "sexist". What the hell? What's sexist about it? If Obama's campaign bought him $150K in clothes, you'd bet the right would be "outraged" (again). The criticism is not that Palin's Caribou Barbie and a real clothes horse.. It's that the campaign took donors' contributions to pay for something so frivolous and probably not contemplated by the donors. Plus McCain himself made a big fuss about Bill Clinton's getting a $200 haircut on his campaign's dime back in 1992. Moreover, Palin has been posturing as a non-elitist, an ordinary hockey mom. The $150K wardrobe, the tens of thousands on makeup alone go to the issue of whether Palin is a phony.

It is perhaps ironic for someone to defend Palin by calling sexism since Palin is hardly a feminist. Then again, I don't think she or her supporters really know what sexism is. Maybe they think it's any time a woman is criticized. There's been sexism aplenty, but this is not an example of it. Playing the sexism card in this context demeans the concept and is, itself, sexist.

Observations About Wingnuts

Right wing nutzoids are always "outraged" about something. They don't have the complete range of emotional responses that normal people do. They're never dissapointed, mildly annoyed, or a little miffed. They're outraged! It's hard to take them seriously because they're always going on about something.

Right wing nutzoid "intellectuals" are paranoid about liberal conspiracies to keep them from succeeding in life. It's not their second rate scholarship and mediocre talent that forces them into wingnut welfare slots in "think tanks" and rightie publications. It's liberal bias. Frankly, if the right wing bench wasn't so thin, these folks would be fry cooks. They should count their blessings.

Right wing nutzoids talk in code. For example, when they say that an area is the "real" America, they mean it doesn't have many uppity Negroes, Jews, Catholics, Puerto Ricans, or what have you. Nudge nudge. Wink wink. Say no more. They're reminding the dumbasserate why they live in red states. Remember how the Democrats came out for civil rights and how pissed off you were about that? C'mon, it still must really chap your ass. Besides, Obama's black. They use the code because some of their constituents would be uncomfortable with overtly racist oratory, and the code makes for plausible deniability. Everybody in the GOP knows the code words. "States' Rights" is another one. Federalism is a perfectly legtimate topic, but that's not what wingnuts are talking about. They don't care about federalism. They're appealing to nostalgia for segregation and Jim Crow.

Right wing nutzoids aren't funny, at least not intentionally. You can laugh at them, but they can't do comedy. That's because they're mean, and mean is just not funny. Don Rickles was funny, but he wasn't really mean.

Right wing nutzoids are less likely to be sentient than other people. They clearly have no self awareness beacuse they are blithely able to distort facts and to take positions contrary to their assertions of mere minutes earlier without embarrassment.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frak! It's Snowing!

Snow is falling on Hosner Mountain this very minute, and it's still October. I was hoping for an Indian Summer.

My Audition for 60 Minutes

I have five fingers on each of my hands. Why five? Homer Simpson and a lot of other cartoon characters get by fine with just four. Some Amish people have six, something fancy talking science people call polydactylism.

My uncle Herman had four on his left hand. He started with five but a German soldier shot of his left ring finger in North Africa. He claimed it itched a lot of the time and that he couldn't scratch it because it wasn't there. That's a hell of a thing.

Herman's father, my grandfather. Had one digit on his right hand. He started with five like most of us but lost evrything but his thumb in an mishap in a sawmill in 1910. It kept him out of the cavalry in Wordl War I even though he was still an excellent shot and a superb horseman. Lucky for me he didn't go to Europe in World War I. I wouldn't have been born with my complete set of ten fingers.

Can I have Andy Rooney's job when he retires?

Energy Independence

The wanker running to unseat John Hall in my district has the words "Energy Independence Now" on his yard signs. Since he's the GOP candidate, I assume he means drill, baby, drill or some such nonsense. There ain't enough oil under the US of A to satisfy the enrgy requirements of Americans, and that's a fact. The US of A sits on 3% of the world's oil and guzzles up 25% of the world's oil. Do the arithmetic.

Besides, if more American oil is pumped out of the ground, it won't necessarily be sold to Americans. Oil is oil.

Finally, the amount of oil we're talking about in environmentally sensitive areas just might not be worth the risk. I don't have a whole lot of trust in oil companies not to destroy the beaches of the whole Gulf Coast.

I hear folks all the time say how unfortunate it is that we are dependent on oil from people who hate us. From what I'm hearing on the campaign trail, Alaskans hate Americans as much as anybody. And Texans pretend to like Americans but refuse to stop embarrassing us with their antics.

Energy independence is a meaningless phrase. To reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we should reduce our dependence on oil, no matter where it comes from. And that won't happen any time soon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Love Mrs VF

I just ate some leftover duck that Mrs Vache Folle made yesterday. She steamed the duck for 45 minutes to get rid of some of the excess fat, and then she roasted it on each side for 20 minutes. It was very good. Duck is all dark meat. We also had spinach that Mrs VF cooked up with garlic and some brussells sprouts, so half of the duck was left over. I chopped it up with a butcher knife into chunks just like they do in Chinese restaurants and fried my share in butter and olive oil. This made the skin and the layer of subcutaneous duck fat delightfully crispy. I heated up some of Mrs VF's signature mashed taters and went to town. She uses Neufchatel cheese and sour cream inctead of milk and butter, so the taters heat up as delicious as when they were first made. Now I'm enjoying a postprandial Johnny Walker on the rocks.

I sure love Mrs VF. I praise her cooking because it is truly glorious. I shop for the food and she cooks it up. For lunch yesterday we had baby back ribs. She parboiled them first then baked them at 250 degrees for four hours. They were slathered with chipotle grilling sauce and were to die for.

She also has a great sense of humor, one of the most important characteristics a human being can possess. On Saturday, we went to a comedy show fundraiser at the local firehouse and laughed our asses off. The comedians worked blue and didn't hold back in front of the firehouse folks. It was as good a comedy show as I have ever seen, and we have seen many.

She is also the most thoughtful person I know and truly caring and solicitous, even to me. And she's a looker to boot.

But the main thing is the cooking.

Partisan E-Mails

I'm a Georgia cracker, and Mrs Vache Folle comes from what I like to call the Keystone Krackers. So we got all the anti-Obama (previously anti-Hillary) e-mails forwarded from our kinfolk. I got a racist one from my mother, and I was taken aback because she always seemed to me to be the least racist person I knew, in the Deep South at least. I had to respond, and I at least got her to commit to vote against Saxby Chambliss. I'd like to think her dislike of old Saxby is based on something other than his broken pledge to restore the Confederate Battle Flag to the state flag, but I was afraid to ask.

In all fairness, Mom may not have realized that the e-mail was racist. It claimed that reader surveys of Country Living and Ebony magazines as to the three biggest fears yielded nuclear/terror attack, loss of a loved one, and terminal illness for the former and ghosts, dogs and registered mail for the latter. If the surveys were ever really undertaken, it might have been an interesting piece of cultural trivia, but it also included some verbiage that suggested Baraxk Obama was stupid just like the stupid ghost/dog/registered mail fearing readers of Ebony.

Of course, the comparison may not be very fair. Instead of Country Living, let's have Weekly World News readers' biggest fears: Satan in tornado form, Bat Boy, and the guy from Saw. Or Southern Partisan's Readership: Negros, Jews, Sammy Davis, Jr. Let's ask the readers of US, and OK! and In Touch what really scares them and mock their fears.

I mock the Country Living's readership's fears. None of their fears can be avoided by them. The Ebony fears are at least avoidable.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Faith Priorities

Check out Jim Wallis at Huffington Post and his "Faith Priorities":

I prefer this approach to listing "non-negotiables".

Hat tip to Mrs Vache Folle.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Google Group Goes Public

I went ahead and changed the settings on my Google Group "Church and State" so that anyone can join. My fellow churchgoers mostly took a pass, but I'm still interested in this idea even though the church discussion group ends this Sunday. Our season of meaningful dialogue will have come and gone.

So, any of my imaginary readership that wants to join should feel free to do so. You don't have to be a Christian, but it would be helpful if you were willing to sign on to the premise that we can discuss important issues with gentleness and reverence and in consideration of the love we have for one another as conspecifics.

The purpose of the group is not so much to advocate political positions, although this will doubtless occur if anyone signs on, but to try to gain a fuller understanding of one another's positions and the needs and concerns that underlie them. I'm hoping for a lot of reframing, and I aim to try to reframe issues whenever I can as moderator.

Does it Matter that McCain Family Owned Slaves?

There's a good piece at Huffington Post about McCain's slave owning ancestors:

I was a little disappointed because I was half expecting to find out that McCain himself kept some slaves in his many mansions.

The point is that the McCains continued to be well to do after the slaves were freed, while their former slaves struggled. The legacy of slavery is still with us. It's not that white folks with slave owning ancestors should feel guilty about it; it's that we should acknowledge that the freed slaves were not in very good shape economically when they were emancipated and that a century of Jim Crow made it very hard for them to get ahead. They never did get that 40 acres and a mule that was discussed. Even with civil rights legislation, there is still a great deal of discrimination against the descendants of the slaves, so there's little wonder that black folks are on average poorer than white folks.

Most of my ancestors were illiterate dirt farmers and didn't own any slaves. They were mostly hillbillies and lived in areas where slavery was less common than on the piedmont or tidewater. Slavery was bad for them because they had to compete with slave labor. Some of my ancestors, however, were slave owners, and I have checked to see whether I personally benefit from their crimes. My family's circumstances were such that the wealth generated by slavery went to other branches of the family and did not trickle down to me or even to any of my great great grandparents. They all pretty much had to start over after the War Between the States, and the advantages I enjoyed were due to my grandparents' hard work that saw them rise from sharecropping to owning their own farm. Of course, if they had been black, I'd have been a sharecropper, too. Black folks in my home town didn't have a chance of getting ahead. White folks literally would not let them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rapturists are Wrong

All this Rapture nonsense annoys the crap out of me. I know, I know, it's no crazier than any other religious belief, but it's not in the Bible and it's not part of the Christian tradition, at least not until the 19th century. Rapturists are a whole 'nother religion as far as I'm concerned.

I was talking to my Dad, who studied theology in college and was meant to be a Campbellite preacher, about the Darbyites and where they got this foolishness from. His take is that they imagined that John, who wrote the Apocalypse, was more akin to Nostradamus than to a Biblical prophet. He was a fortuneteller, not a soothsayer, in their eyes. All the prophets, to such folks, were writing, not about the time and place they lived, but about the far distant future. How you'd know which prophets to include in your canon hasn't been explained, but that's how they see prophesy.

Dad reckons, and I agree with him, that John was writing in apocalyptic code about conditions in his own time and that he alludes to persons and nations acting at that time. He was regarded as a prophet because what he wrote was true when he wrote it, and readers at the time understood what he alluded to.

I don't expect Christ to return any time soon. As Martin Short remarked on Real Time the other day, he's probably going to visit the trillion other planets who didn't nail him to a cross before he comes back to us.

Greenspan Shocked

Alan Greenspan is shocked and confused that bankers would fail to protect their shareholders. Why would they? Each actor was supposed to act in the best interests of the fictitious corporation for which they worked. Each actor, therefore, dons a mask of disinterestedness while pursuing his own interests. The banker wants a bonus and goes after profits, real or imaginary, and takes as many risks as he is allowed to take. The shareholders want their shares to appreciate and/or yield dividends, so they don't check the risk taking. The cautious banker would get left behind and show only modest profits compared to his more highly leveraged competitors, and the shareholders would punish him for it. The market would punish him for it. His superiors would punish him. He'd go home, and his wife would punish him, too.

There is simply nothing in the system to check the excesses that brought the credit system down except for the prospect of a massive failure, and nobody expects their bank that they run as geniuses from the best schools to fail. How could it? They're too big to fail. They've never failed at anything, so they're not going to fail now.

The thing is that a lot of these bankers aren't even very bright. They don't even know how their bank works half the time. Sure, they went to Ivy League and quality safety schools and all that, but they were legacies who didn't really need to be all that smart to get in. And once you're in, those schools are no more demanding than others. After school, positions were made for them at banks, and they patted themselves on their backs for rising so high in the meritocracy.

Who will pay for their ineptitude? The shareholders, taxpayers, working stiffs at the banks. You can bet the masters of the universe will land on their feet. Nobody will remember whose bright idea it was to walk the leverage plank all the way to the end.


I was never as into popular music as my peers when I was a youth. I never bought records, and I didn't have a stereo in my room. I'd occasionally listen to an album with a friend and nod approvingly, but I was just humoring them. In college, when folks would yammer on and on about which drummer had been in what band before the third album of so and so had been released, I would just listen and wonder who the hell they were talking about.

Now I own about thirty CDs of various artists with no particular genre in the majority. I own four Alison Krause CDs. I also have a Windham Hill collection and three Andreas Wollenweider CDs. I have some blues, some jazz, some Springsteen, and some classical. I rarely listen to any of them except in the car from time to time.

I love music, even though I am not much of a consumer of it. I have always been in choirs and choruses, and I sing all day long in the shower, the car, around the house, when I mow the yard, when I'm cooking.

I can't stand pop music nowadays, so I rarely listen to the radio for music. I tune in to sports competitions or news, only occasionally settling on a song, usually an oldie that brings back memories of my salad days. I am pretty sure that there is only one hip hop song that runs in a continuous loop. And country has gotten even more unbearable than ever. I would rather listen to polka than country.

I have never made a mix tape.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Failed Google Group

I started a Google group to continue the discussion some in our church have been having about faith and politics. So far, there's been one taker, and my opening post is all there is. A lot of the folks in the discussion group are oldsters and not apt to be interested in an on line discussion, but many are good candidates. I'm beginning to think that it's me, that my coreligionists are a little freaked out about participating in anything with a self avowed anarchist. I reckon they're afraid I'll disillusion them.

It may be that folks are timid about having anything in writing.

There's one more discussion on Sunday, and if others from the church don't sign up, I'm going to open the group to the public. That may be for the best since that would open it up to a wider range of perspectives than one Dutch Reformed congregation in the Hudson Valley.

Don't Rush to Judgment on McCain's Ties to Al Qaeda

Pretty much everyone who has been paying attention has heard by now that JS MCain promised not to go into Pakistan and apprehend Osama bin Laden even if he knew exactly where he was. Evreyone also knows that subsequent to this promise McCain received the coveted endorsement of al Qaeda. Let'e not rush to judgment and fall into the old post hoc ergo procter hoc fallacy. Just because the promise preceded the payoff, it does not follow that there was any kind of tit for tat. Al Qaeda simply supports candidates that it believes are best for its agenda. That's all. The promise had no impact.

On the other hand, if there is a terror attack conveniently timed to help McCain after one of his surrogates suggested some months ago that a terror attack would be helpful, I might start to wonder if a deal hadn't been cut. Still, it could just be a coincidence.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Head Banging

I get tired of the same old questions about anarchy, especially the one that goes "What would you put in the place of government?" The answer, obviously, is "nothing". I'm an anarchist, remember? What part of an-archy do you not understand? I liken the question to someone's asking you what you are going to put on your neck after you have that tumor removed. You can't imagine a world without government? That's the fault of your feeble imagination, not my ideology.

I really can't stand it when people say things like "if there was no government, there'd be anarchy". I'm pretty sure they mean chaos or some such thing, and even though they have never given it a moment's thought before and have never lived without a ruler, they feel that they can say unequivocally that we would spiral into a postapocalyptic war of all against all if the goverment went away, or even if it were diminished in power appreciably.

It's not my job to tell people what to do once they throw off their rulers. I don't know what a post archy community would be like. There'd be an infinite number of possibilities for folks to organize cooperatively. The state is evil, and I won't budge an inch on its legitimacy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More on Politics and Faith

This was the second week of sermons and discussions about faith and politics. The sermon, in a nutshell, was an exhortation for Christians to view themselves foremost as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and to practice love and justice in all that we do. As with the last sermon, it was as uncontroversial as one could hope for if one wanted to avoid controversy. Jesus is Lord. If we can agree on that proposition, we should be able to discuss any issue together.

I was astonished to learn that a churchgoer had characterized the program of the last two weeks as "demonic and divisive" and had gone off to one of the satellite congregations in protest. Of course, the program is dicey, but the pastor has handled it capably and lovingly, and the whole point is that we need to try to wrestle with potentially divisive issues rather than pretending that they don't exist. I couldn't figure out what the angry churchgoer found so disturbing, and I wish that he or she had chosen to discuss it with us in the discussion group. This person has not been a discussant.

Then again, I have on rare occasions heard some partisan congregants mutter that praying for peace was "political" or that any reference to "social justice" was "socialism". Last time I looked, we had signed on to worship the "Prince of Peace", and Jesus and no small number of the prophets were very concerned about social justice. I suppose on some level, everything is "political" especially if the state is always your first resort. The personal is political, it has been said; and the community is certainly political if you use politics in its broadest sense. So, if you are tetchy about "politics", just about anything is out of bounds.

The second discussion group was interesting but not as satisfying as the first. One particpant was so partisan that she came with talking points. For example, she made a point to talk about "conservatives" versus "socialists". She didn't seem to listen to anyone else's concerns or points and she seemed keen to advocate for McCain going so far as to throw out some dubious attack on his character. Her contribution was small, but it reminded me how important it is to impress on people the ground rules of such a discussion.

I was also disappointed that a couple of folks felt the need before the meeting to get me to deny that I was really an anarchist, to admit that I conceded that the state was necessary. They were not capable of listening and were too busy trying to get me to take off my tin foil hat to grasp what I was getting at. They were newcomers to the group and one of them was the partisan I wrote about above.

I am wrestling with what makes some folks so uncomfortable about the idea of open discussion with gentleness and reverence. I suspect that for some the very idea that some issues about which people hold deeply held and emotionally charged views are up for discussion is intolerable. There is no room for discussion, and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. If the pastor gets them to accept the idea that other people might have completely different points of view about, say, abortion or homosexuality or what have you and still be just as Christian as they are, their whole world will collapse on itself. The authoritarian leaning and legalistic members of the congregation will be the most unwilling or even unable to embrace openness and differences of opinion. For them, the only point of discussion is to bend the recalcitrant to their way of thinking. They are, by definition, intolerant, so calls for tolerance are intolerable.

On the other hand, the tolerant members appear to be willing to welcome the intolerant and to hear them and to engage in a dialogue. I suspect that such a dialogue would result in relatively fewer conversions to intolerance than to tolerance once everyone is really heard.

Friday, October 17, 2008

One Party; One World

The US has a two party system. We don't abide those third and fourth parties because that's just too many and a recipe for chaos. In fact, I reckon two parties is one too many. Let's cull it down to one and call it The Party. Things would be a lot simpler that way. Party members would decide things for the country, and only the best and the brightest would qualify for party membership, as long as by best and brightest you mean adherence to the party line.

As long as we're simplifying things, let's admit it: there are just too many countries with divergent forms of government and interests that inevitably lead to conflict. Once we get the The Party in power, we can start annexing some of these other countries or, at the very least, make sure that The Party runs them even if they continue to exist nominally as "independent" entities. Eventually, The Party will run the whole world.

Frak the GOP

I am so pissed at the GOP that I not so secretly yearn for an O'Bama landslide. I would also like to see the nonGOP party get 60 Senate seats and kick Joe Liebermann to the curb. And a bigger Congressional majority, too. The GOP needs this to force it to purge itself of the more corrupt and dangerous elements that have taken it over. If it doesn't do this, then to hell with them. Let them be out of power for the rest of my life at least. Let them go the way of the Whigs or the Know Nothings or the Anti-Masonics.

"Conservatives" are better when they are out of power. They can block stuff on the basis of "conservatism". When they're in power, they conveniently forget their "conservative" principles and go hog wild. They just aren't up to governance. Look at their "intellectuals" for crying out loud!

Look what "conservatives" have done when in power. They've increased the size and power of government and run up debt like there's no tomorrow. Reagan and the Bushes alike.

I get the feeling that folks who are conservative in their viewpoint have been played by the GOP. Just like libertarians and Christian fundamentalists. Maybe these constituencies should form their own parties. The libertarians, I am told, already have in a manner of speaking. How about a "Conservative Party" and a "Christianist Extremist Party"? Then the GOP could go back to being the party of the country club set.

What He Said About ACORN

yournamehere at DEath Wore a Feathered Mullet has gotten a little political lately. He nails the whole ACORN scare tactic here:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rapture Ready Folks Shouldn't Run for Office

If you expect to be raptured, as I understand Sarah Palin does, you have no business seeking high office. As I understand it, the rapture will come right in the middle of the tribulation or the beginning, so the rapture ready officeholder will be nowhere to be found when things get really tough for the rest of us. We want a leader who will stay with us in the times of tribulation, not one who aims to skip out on us when the going gets tough. What good is a Commander in Chief who is AWOL at the Battle of Armageddon?

My Take on the Debate

I poured myself a scotch and water and watched the debate. McCain seemed almost sane for the first several minutes but returned to his usual incoherent ramblings in short order. He made a lot of funny faces and blinked about a zillion times. Never blinks, my ass.

Joe the Plumber might be the only vote McCain secured with his performance last night. Joe, an employee at a small plumbing company, makes over $250K? Really? He must be putting in a lot of overtime. If he makes that much, then I don't feel too bad for him if he gets a tax hike.

I turned off the TV before the pundits started telling me what I had just seen and heard. I saw John McCain looking like a half wit next to Barry O'Bama who never lost his cool. Of course, he wasn't going to do anything to make it look as if he was beating up on a crippled old dude. O'Bama tried to stick the issues. McCain, not so much. He came off as a whiner and unstable.

O'Bama was poised and won my admiration for his strategy of attempting to appear as if he wanted to show the American people where he and McCain differed on the issues. He knew McCain would never let that happen. Issues are not McCain's strong suit.

What do I think of O'Bama's positions? Not much, but I reckon that of the two men on stage last night he is a lot less likely to get me killed or to kill other people needlessly or to accelerate our progress toward a police state.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Questions That Won't Be Asked

I would like the candidates to answer a few questions at the debate:

1. Will you commit that you will not pardon anyone from the Bush regime for crimes, including war crimes, committed in connection with their offices?

2. Will you support the investigation of waste, fraud and abuse by contractors and others in Iraq and Afghanistan?

3. Do you repudiate the concept of the unitary executive?

4. What do you think the Tenth Amendment means?

5. What will you do to depoliticize the intelligence services?

6. Will you order American personnel to stop torturing people?

7. Will you order the release of all detainees who cannot be shown to be guilty of any crime?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More Advocacy for the Matrilineal Extended Family

I really get tired of people who argue that the so called traditional nuclear family is "natural" because it takes both a man and a woman to make a baby. Indeed, so far it has required contributions of sperm from a man and an egg and womb facilities from a woman to make a baby. It does not follow, however, that any particular household form is superior when it comes to raising that baby. There's no logical connection between the statement of how babies get conceived, as matter of fact, and how babies should get raised, as a normative proposition. I have to go with the idea that there are any number of ways to raise babies without frakking them up, and that it isn't up to me to tell anyone else what their domestic arrangements should be.

As far as I'm concerned, what could be more unnatural than the so called traditional nuclear family? I doubt very much that our prehistoric forebears would have survived long in such an arrangement. On the contrary, they'd have banded together in larger extended family groupings.

To belabor the point, I reckon that matrilineal extended families with visiting spousal relations are as "natural" as anything else contrived by mankind. My nephews and nieces are as close to me genetically as my own grandchildren. Over the centuries, the difference will be negligible between my direct and indirect descendants in terms of relatedness. However, I'm just about 100% sure that my nieces and nephews are actually related to me and not changelings. My matrilineage will almost certainly be my kin whereas my patrilineage will be fraught with multiple risks of cuckoldry, and it takes only one of these to wipe out my genetic contribution.

It would be genetically stupid to adopt a patrilineal family structure unless we also adopt a costly and inconvenient social order that keeps women under strict control of their mates. What would be the point of such a regime, with all the misery and unhappiness that it would entail, when the matrilineal solution is available at much less cost and with much more personal freedom?

I'm not telling anyone how to live, mind you, but you could do worse than the matrilineal extended family.

Political Discourse From the Poorman Institute

The Poorman Institute nails it with a brilliant analysis of political discourse:

The thesis:

"I’ve noticed, recently, that people who disagree with me are stupid and dumb. I can’t really believe they are as stupid and dumb as they seem, so I think they must be crazy as well.

Why are they so crazy? Well, any discussion of this would have to begin with how stupid and dumb they are. Imagine if you were so stupid and dumb that you actually disagreed with me, even when I was totally right? That would be enough to drive anyone crazy.

But the flip side of this requires looking at how smart I am. I’m pretty much right about everything, and with each passing day, as more and more of my predictions are born out by events, the incredible differential between people who disagree with me and are stupid and dumb, and me, who is wise and correct, becomes harder and harder for these stupid dummies to bear. And it drives them crazy."

Monday, October 13, 2008

What an Obama Victory Might Mean

I hate it that so many of my countrymen, especially those with a similar cracker heritage, are still racists. An O'Bama victory in November might well be interpreted as a sign that we have turned the corner as a country on racism. The election of the first mulatto president was something that I thought I would not live to see.

You may well disagree with O'Bama on the issues and reckon, beyond all sense, that McCain is the better candidate, but most of the yokels I have talked to reckon that his blackness is a disqualifier despite McCain's demented agenda.

I dreamed last night that my mother called me to warn me that she had read an e-mail that tied O'Bama to Islamic "bloodlines" with designs on world domination. We had a big fight when I told my mother that this was nonsense, and she wept at my inability to see that O'Bama was EVIL. I was happy when I awoke that no such conversation had taken place (phone logs establish that I did not drunkenly forget the call). Was this connected with the highly fraught political discussion at church? Just as I would hate to think that my fellow parishoners are racist yahoos, so I would hate to think of my mother in that light. Perhaps I equate my church with my family in some way and that I should explore how my ambivalence about church participation relates to my ambivalence about my family.

Perhaps I should get therapy or pastoral counselling. But who has the time?

Why Regulation of Corporations Doesn't Bother Me so Much

Corporations are monstrous creatures of the state that permit and promote large, impersonal, and unaccountable organizations that could not survive without the corporate fiction. If you want to do business as a corporation and accept the "benefits" granted by the state, you should expect to be regulated out the wazoo. It's only right. Corporations lack consciences and minds. They are designed to allow individuals to hide behind fictions and justify actions that they would never be able to pull off as individuals.

I reckon states can put any conditions on corporate activities that they want. It's their creature, their gift. You should expect it to come with strings.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Confessions of the Socially Phobic

I have come to suspect that a lot of my defects as a human being stem from my abandonment by my father and the presence of a psychotic and abusive stepfather in my young life. I have abandonment issues. D'uh. But I also have heightened anxiety that I suspect came from years of wondering when the stepfather was going to go off on me. I could never turn the hypervigilance off, and now I have to take Zoloft to get through the day. The social phobia dates back to high school when, although I craved society and friends, I felt that I could not risk letting anyone into my private hell. I was too ashamed to let anyone know what was happening to me.

Later in life, when I had put my dysfunctional family behind me, I had issues with forming attachments. I could be your best friend, but when you left, or when it was time for me to move on, it was always "have a good life". I have never been a faithful correspondent.

Now, at 50, I am starting to realize that I want to work on these issues and to make the effort to connect with my conspecifics. I want to have a social life. I have to work on it. I am convivial and amiable, and I should exercise these characteristics. I would be happier if I spent some effort becoming part of a community. I'm not sure how to start or if I even have it in me.

I Was Worried Over Nothing

The day of the "Jesus for President" sermon came. I didn't know why I had expected anything else, but it was a very principled call for those of us who submit to the Lordship of Jesus to discuss politics with one another "with gentleness and reverence". The Biblical text was from Samuel, the part where the Israelites demand a king. God instructs Samuel to warn the people that a king will take their sons and daughters, their treasure, and enslave them for his purposes. The Israelites still wanted a king, and what God through Samuel had warned of came to pass and then some. (I confess that the tax rate of 10% that God suggested seemed somewhat attractive).

About 12 of us and the pastor met in the narthex to discuss politics. The question put to us was what issues drove our political choices and how that related to our faith. We were all white. We ranged in age from about 35-80. We had a split of men and women. We spoke openly but with gentleness and reverence. We love each other, after all, and our eyes are on the eternal, so whatever the politics of the moment may be should not drive us apart. We of all people should be able to discuss any issue openly and respectfully. And we did, for a good hour and a half. There was the unrepentant Republican who came with a set of talking points about "smaller government", "lower taxes", "defense of marriage", and "national security". He claimed to be surprised at what he called "extremist" views of the other discussants, and he wasn't talking about me. He was talking about the moderate suburban Republicans who expressed an attraction to Barack Obama and a concern for social justice and controls on the potential excesses of unfettered capitalism.

I was surprised at the openness at the discussion about issues such as race and the admission that many of us have a hard time getting it, how we tend to delegitimize the grievances of black folks as ancient history or victimology. I have been selling my co-religionists short. At least those who selected themselves for the discussion were among the most thoughtful and honest folks I have ever talked to about political matters.

I was given an opportunity to express myself openly and freely and to explain what a Christian Anarchist believes, at least the way I see it. Nobody batted an eye, and I got the feeling that I had given the discussants food for thought. At least there were none of the usual reactions about how insane my position was. I said that I failed to live up to my ideals and that, although voting itself should be avoided as an act of violence, I may very well vote as an act of self defense. My issues were choosing the party that was least likely to get me and mine killed or to accelerate our advance to a police state. I feel that I can wear my tin foil hat to church now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Said I Was Freaking, But I'm not Really

My faith has changed me in many ways. The other day, I got stuck in line at the supermarket behind a woman who was using three different food stamp debit cards and cash to pay for her groceries. It took a half hour for her to pay. Before my conversion, I would have been enraged and probably would have been a real douche about the situation. But on that day, I just contented myself to read the tabloids and make sure that I didn't make the poor woman uncomfortable. I also made sure that the cashier and bagger understood that I was content to wait and that I acknowledged their good work on behalf of the woman. The transformation amazes me. I am a different person through the working of the Holy Ghost, and I thank God for it.

I'm not saying that I'm Mother Theresa or deserve an attaboy. Far from the case. I'm just saying that I notice a real difference in my outlook on life. Take the current economic crisis. Even though I have anxiety neurosis and am, in fact, very vulnerable to adverse economic conditions, I'm not worried at all. God will provide, and if he doesn't, it's all part of His plan. I originally intended to be a drifter, you know, and this may be my chance to fulfill my childhood ambition. I am truly content with what I have, whether in plenty or want, and I trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding.

Of course, it is possible that I will think differently when I find myself living under an overpass and eating roasted rat. I hope not. I hope that I will be resigned to the will of God and will be a witness to the transforming power of the Holy Ghost.

I Fear a Lot of Things, Especially Fear Itself

I'm freaking out a little. Palin/McCain seem to be trying to incite a race war or to turn the so called "Culture War" or "War on Christmas" into an actual shooting war. Sadly, in my case, it will be a re-enactment of the brother against brother conflict of the war to prevent southern secession, because plenty of my kinfolk and in-laws are slack jawed yokels without the good sense that God gave a duck. On the other hand, many of these folks will be too liquored up to act on their violent impulses. The danger is that all it takes is one Palinite nutzoid suicide bomber to get "lucky".

On Sunday, the title of the sermon at my church is "Jesus for President". I have a queasy feeling that this could well be the day that I discover that a lot of my fellow churchgoers are Christianist nutcases or that my church endorses the state as a matter of principle. There is a discussion afterwards, and I am debating on whether to participate. If the sermon passes muster, I may not want to risk having the discussion destroy the illusion that my co-religionists are not mostly gung ho for Caesar. I have been tiptoeing around the topic for several years. On the other hand, perhaps I should air my seemingly radical anti-state views and see how they are received. They flow from my religious beliefs and are, to that extent, principled. I like the choir and lots of folks in my church, and I dread having to disassociate myself on this issue. I may be worrying over nothing.

The good news is that I failed in my program to become physically fit and svelte and that I am as fat as ever. If there is famine in the postapocalyptic dystopia, I am set. What seemed like shameful gluttony at the time will look like wisdom and prudence in hindsight. I packed it on in the years of prosperity and will be able to ride out the lean times. Mrs Vache Folle, on the other hand, is doomed. She imprudently maintained a high state of physical fitness as if the times of plenty would never end.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Don't Consume Fructose!

Mrs Vache Folle wants us to avoid high fructose corn syrup, and I figured she was being a tin foil hatter about it until recently. It turns out that fructose doesn't work the same way in our bodies as sucrose or glucose, that it messes with the satiety signals, that it contributes to obesity, that it kills bees that are fed with it, that it kills lab rats who are fed with it, and that children are better off drinking Kool Aid than fruit juice. Who knew?

I'm totally on board with Mrs VF's fructose avoidance policy. Also, we have decided not to eat anything that isn't food. We're going with Pollan's directive to eat real food, mostly plants and not too much. The last part will be a challenge for me, what with my being a glutton and all. As I'm typing this, I'm also eating corned beef hash with two eggs over medium on two slices of oat toast. But I'm proud to state that there's not an iota of fructose in my meal.

I understand that government may be to blame because of price supports for sucrose that make fructose from corn less expensive than sugar from cane and beets. Let's open up the sugar market and see if fructose stays on top. Big Sugar and Big Corn will never let that happen.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Touchy People

It has been my experience in my half century of life that folks who are weirdly touchy about particular accusations usually feel deep down that the accusations are true. John McCain gets weirdly defensive and outraged at any suggestion that he is a liar. This is because he knows deep down that he is one.

He is very quick to characterize almost any criticism as a challenge to his patriotism, and he gets way more worked up about such challenges, real or imagined, than he would if he didn't in the depths of his soul feel really guilty about something related to patriotism. I reckon he is haunted by the hundreds of prisoners of war known to have been left behind in Vietnam and whose existence he worked very hard over the years to cover up and whose return he did nothing to advance. Maybe he did some really bad things while in captivity and can't forgive himself for them. Maybe both.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Did Poor People Make the Banks do Bad Things?

Some of my wingnut conspecifics appear to have fallen for the GOP talking point that poor people caused the meltdown of the financial system. That's right. Poor people, whom the government encouraged or required banks to lend to, took down the whole system. They made those unsophisticated financiers raise their leverage ratios to unimaginable levels and develop exotic products free from regulation and from any sound banking practices. Those poor people mess everything up, and now we have to pay the piper.

It's hard for me to swallow it when people despise the poor and exalt the rich. I am suspicious of any explanation for a crisis that involves this type of reasoning. Let's be honest about the financial meltdown. Mortgages are only part of the problem, and subprime mortgages went to a lot of people who are by no means poor. It was a rational risk a few years ago to get into a house with financing that would become problematic a few years down the road, because you were going to flip that house for a profit or get more conventional financing when the equity went up to permit you to afford a conventional loan. Many people did this and succeeded. Others got left holding the bag when the housing market became depressed and they owed more than the house was worth and couldn't refinance. It was a bummer for them but hardly indicative of moral decadence.

Now it's easier to get a kidney than a mortgage, and the housing market is depressed even more by that. The depression of the housing market erased most people's primary base of wealth, so they had to retrench and stop buying things. This caused the economy overall to slow down. This caused businesses to be strapped and to be unable to pay for supplies and to pay down their credit lines on time. This made corporate bonds less secure. Meanwhile, the big banks were leveraged out the wazoo and circulating overvalued and risky credit default swaps to the tune of $62 trillion. Poor people didn't cause this mess. Smart, rich people did.

And it wasn't accounting rules that brought everything down. Blaming mark to market for the crisis is like blaming your thermometer when it shows that you have a fever.

Making things worse is that the big banks are public companies whose stock price is not just the market's gauge of performance. It's a signal to everyone else that the bank might not be trustworthy. When a bank loses the confidence of other banks, it's game over. The banks can't trust each other, so there's a credit crunch. Before you know it, there's a credit freeze. You can't get a car loan, the dealer can't finance his inventory, the car maker isn't selling cars, the vendors and employees of the car maker don't sell as much, none of these businesses can finance anything after a while. Folks get laid off in droves.

I think I'll invest in the ink they use to print money. And in wheelbarrows. People will need them to carry their currency.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Tale of Computer Woe; Service Pack 3

A week ago Friday, I could not get on the internet of or get e-mail. I could, however, use voice over internet and call the cable company to get help. I went through the automated troubleshooting system until it asked if I was calling over a voice over internet phone and stated that I'd likley have to turn off the computer and unplug it, in which case I'd lose phone service. So, I was connected to a technical helper who, after running some diagnostics (or at least that's what he pretended to be doing), informed me that it was the router for my Vonage service and that I should call Motorola. He gave me the numbers.

Motorola had a lengthy phone menu that, once I finally got to the product type I was dealing with, informed me to contact my internet service provider. D'oh! I bet the Cablevision tech guy was laughing at how I had gotten the old runaround. I bet he has a chalkboard behing his station where he marks each time he gets a schmuck off the line with the old call Motorola ploy.

I had a stiff one to calm myself and called back. This time I had use of a cell phone and was able to bypass the router altogether and establish that the router was not the problem. Tech #2 spent quite a while with me, then despaired and suggested that I needed a new ethernet card.

Mrs Vache Folle went to Staples where the geek derided the idea that the ethernet card was the issue. He wouldn't even sell her one but suggested that we bring the computer in for a diagnostic scan. When I told my carpool companion what I was going to do, he offered to come over and fix the problem. He's a ninth level IT mage, so I was grateful. He couldn't do this until over a week after the problem manifested itself. He tinkered around, familiarized himself with my antiquated system, and called Cablevision where he impersonated me. I listened to his side of the conversation, and if I closed my eyes, I could imagine I was in a Nick Burns skit. With his help, Cablevision finally hit on a plausible explanation: some software defect was preventing Cablevision from recognizing my computer's address.

So, my friend the IT mage and I got drunk while we watched "The Big Lebowski" on DVD. This morning, he fiddled around for a half hour, discovered that MS Windows Service Pack 3 was the problem. It contained a bug or feature, who knows which, that blocked the cable company. He uninstalled it, and voila!

To Cablevision, Motorola and Microsoft: thanks for nothing. Kudos to Staples, unless they were setting us up to sell us a new system, in which case shame on them. Many thanks to the IT mage and his willingness to work for booze.

A Rule of Thumb

One thing that you can know for sure about a person who says any of the following:

"Let's not play the blame game."

"How we got in this mess is not important."

"There's no sense in finger pointing."

"There's plenty of blame to go around."

"Mistakes were made."

It's their fault.