Thursday, December 31, 2009

Be It Resolved That...

I cuss less this year, including lightening up on the use of noncussword substitutes like sockcucker and fothermucker.

I see an allergist and take care of the allergies that are at the core of many of my health issues. Appointment is set for 1/12/10.

I become a teetotaler for a while and let my crazy bills do their work.

I eat more fiber and less red meat.

I exercise more.

I watch less TeeVee.

I do something cultural at least once a month, eg theatre, opera, ballet, museum.

I get laser surgery on my eyes and get rid of my specs and contacts..

I get involved in some kind of service to my conspecifics.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I heard douchenozzle Congresscritter Peter King advocating "profiling" over the weekend. He meant ethnic or racial profiling and lamented that "political correctness" stood in the way. Actually, it's the utter ineffectiveness of that kind of profiling that stands in the way of its being deployed.

Besides, what categories of people should be subject to extra scrutiny to deter terrorism? Irishmen and Roman Catholics of all nationalities since the Oklahoma City bomber and the abortion clinic bombers were Catholic and because members of the IRA were Irish? Nigerians and, since Nigerians don't look much different from other Africans, other Africans? Swarthy Arabian or South Asian looking folks and anyione who looks like them such as Israelites and some Hispanics? Basques and anyine who looks Basque, i.e. Europeans and those of European descent?

I guess the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans needn't be looked at too carefully. Everyone else will get enhanced security and surveillance.

Profiling, to work, has to be predicated on meaningful characteristics, not on race or ethnicity. The proportion of malefactors of a particular race or ethnicity to the total membership in the category is so miniscule that race and ethnicity are useless for profiling.


Twenty six years ago on this date, Mrs Vache Folle, who was not then so named, and I exchanged wedding vows and became recognized as a marital unit under the laws of the District of Columbia. We wed in a small ceremony at the Kay Spiritual Center on the campus of The American University where we were both students.

Mrs VF's Aunt Dorothy played the organ, and her recently divorced parents stood up with us. A Baptist chaplain did the honors. We had a party at my house after the ceremony which my Milanese friend Michael catered. That night we stayed at a hotel downtown and had prime rib at Blackie's House o' Beef. The next day we bought furniture for our marital apartment on Capitol Hill.

Since then we have had many adventures. Mrs VF is my best friend. She is even more beautiful now than the day we married.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Top Ten Events of the Aughts

Our Carpathian Shepherd, Jesse Lou Baggett, who had been living for several years in a park in Yonkers, was struck by a car and subsequently became our domestic dog, at the time our fourth dog.

I left grad school and returned to professional life as an in house corporate tool.

Our blue-eyed red dog, Trudy, died peacefully at home.

Cassidy, one of our pair of beagle mix siblings, passed away at the age of 15.

We adopted William Jasper Stone, Salopian Terrier, from the Yonkers Animal Shelter.

The other beagle mix, Sunny, passed away at age 16.

We bought our house in Stormville.

We joined the Hopewell Reformed Church.

I was laid off from my job and retained as a consultant.

Mrs Vache Folle's company closed and she got a new job with a giant douche for a boss.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Eve services went well and were enjoyable. The sermon was mercifully brief, an early Christmas gift to the congregation. As usual, it was aimed at the many visitors and occasional attendees who come to church only on Christmas Eve and perhaps on Easter and Good Friday. As we prepared to sing Silent Night and light candles, the first assistant preacher, the prophetic one, harshed our mellow a little bit by insisting that we remember those who will wake on Christmas morning to spiritual darkness. The choir enjoyed fellowship between the services at a supper of grits and shrimp provided by my fellow tenor, an expat Carolinian.

Now it's Christmas morning, and Mrs Vache Folle and I have enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with the newspaper. At present, she is baking a cake to take to Christmas dinner with friends. Songbirds are swarming the feeder outside the picture window by the kitchen, and the dogs are on the lookout for critters to chase. The world is blanketed in snow from last weekend's storm. I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This and That

How will health care reform affect me? I don't have the slightest idea. I have been receiving lots of e-mails assuring me that the legislation, while not everything progressives might have wanted, still represents substantial progress, whatever that means.

Another economic indicator that we are still in a crunch is the continuing paucity of corporate gifts that we have gotten from vendors this year. Where are the tubs of caramel popcorn and the ethnic goodies from around the country? It's not fair.

The choir party came off well. We changed the time to 3 pm to beat the storm, and the turnout was great. Mrs Vache Folle picked up a tray of mei fun, and I got deli stuff and alcohol. Our guests brought appetizers and desserts, all of which were eaten. I have been having mei fun and deli sandwiches for every meal since Saturday. And beer.

I enjoyed the show Sing-Off in its brief run. Eight very talented a capella groups competed for prize money and a record contract. They also collaborated, which was fun to see. The judges were positive and constructive in their criticism and didn't try to make the show about themselves. I hope that the show continues and inspires a resurgence of a capella singing.

The choir's Christmas Eve program has really come together (good thing since Christmas Eve is tomorrow).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Senate Sucks

The way I read the Constitution, we can't amend it to abolish the Senate. But we should be able to curtail its role. I propose a constitutional amendment to limit the Senate to voting up or down on bills generated by the House of Representatives. There wouldn't be any Senate versions or amendments or reconciliation process, just yea or nay on the bills.

Also, as Robin Williams has suggested, Senators should wear jackets with the logos of the special interests who own them just like NASCAR drivers.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blizzard's a-comin'

I have been informed by the National Weather Service that a blizzard is on the way to Southern New York. Best case scenario for this storm is that it will swing eastward and drop only a dusting of snow on us in the Hudson Valley while devastating Long Island and New York City. I'd really like to see Connecticut get it big time as divine punsishment for Joe Lieberman. Dutchess County isn't even in the weather warning area, so there's hope for a mild impact.

The good news is that because of the party we are hosting I stocked up on liquor and beer and food and Duraflame logs. Duraflame's long lasting fire logs are the hassle free way to enjoy a toasty fire. Ask for Duraflame by name.

Assuming the party goes off as planned, it is traditional to have a white elephant gift exchange. Everyone brings a wrapped present and then draws a number from a hat. The fortunate number drawer chooses a present. Subsequent drawers choose a present but are entitiled to compel any earlier drawer to trade. Some of the gifts are nice, but most are tacky knick knacks and bric a brac some of which have been passed around the choir at Christmas parties for decades. Folks try to outdo themselves with undesirable presents. We're supplying a couple of decent gifts as hosts and some extras for guests who show up empty handed.

Obama Disappoints

Wanda Sykes nicely summed up the way a lot of folks feel about Barack Obama. He's like a beautifully wrapped present that when you open it turns out to be a three pack of underwear.

I was hoping he'd be more effective. He needs to be more assertive and combative. I'd sack his whole staff and get some new blood if I were in charge and if I gave a damn.

I give only a half a damn because I like to keep my eyes open a little in case the wingnuts look as if they might get power. I would have loved for Obama to have nailed the coffin shut on the right, but he has insisted on treating them as if they had legitimate issues.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I finished Numbers in my rereading of the Bible. As far as I can tell nothing in the whole book pertains to me or to anyone other than the ancient Israelites. A lot of it involves preparation for life in the Promised Land (what to do with manslayers and blood avengers, for example) and provisions for the Levites. So far, the first few books of the Bible have been interesting but not especially instructive. Perhaps Deuteronomy will be different.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Spirit

Mrs Vache Folle and I have really gotten the Christmas Spirit. No, we haven't done anything nice for anyone or anything like that, but we have decorated our house with lights and garlands and wreaths and such like. I aim to put some lights on the little evergreens outside if it ever stops raining or snowing long enough.

It's time to see some Christmas movies. My favorites include the following:

Four Christmases with Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon is now on my list of classics. Yuppie couple usually gets away for the holidays is forced to visit their four horrible families (their folks are divorced) to great comedic effect.

A Christmas Carol, the one from the 30s with Alistair Sims or the one with Captain Picard, is my favorite. I hate all other versions, especially Mr Magoo's performance.

It's a Wonderful LIfe has been a long time favorite of mine. I always weep when George's brother toasts him as the "richest man in town". It used to run a dozen times every December, but it has been supplanted by that movie about the kid and the BB gun.

Bad Santa.

But Christmas is not just about movies. It's also about TV specials. My favorites include:

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, the animated one not the live action film. Are the Whos of Whoville the same as the ones that Horton heard when he heard a Who? If so, what conditions give rise to the appearance of snow on such a tiny scale?

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. I always identified with the misfits.

A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tiger's Tastes Pathological? I Doubt It.

On occasion, I'll check out Inside Edition to get a glimpse of my high school classmate Debbie Norville. Yesterday, I was stringing some lights while IE was on in the background and blathering on and on about Tiger Woods. At one point, a black pundit, whose name I didn't get, came on and opined that Tiger was attracted to white women because he had low self esteem and was a self loathing black man. Presumably, any black man's attraction to white women was pathological in this man's eyes.

Could it be that going for Swedish bikini models and that type is just the way Tiger rolls? I reckon we all like what we like because we like it and that we don't really choose what attracts us. Tiger's old man must have liked Thai women since he married one and begat Tiger with her. Maybe Tiger should be attracted to Thai women or Asian women in general since he is as much Asian as he is African American. He also has some European and Amerind heritage, or so he claims. Should he seek out Amerind women out of loyalty to his race?

Then again, I don't have any idea what's it like to be black. Maybe some black men set aside their strong attraction for black women and take up with white women who disgust them or to whom they are indifferent for weird reasons having to do with self loathing. Who's to say, though? Every interracial couple I have ever known seemed to enjoy mutual atttraction.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


It has dumped snow twice in the last week. Here's what I hate about snow:

1. We have to pay the plow guy.
2. I have to shovel the crap off the walk.
3. It melts a bit and refreezes so the dogs can't walk on it. (Neither can I).
4. There's salt on the road and it hurts the dogs' feet.
5. It takes longer to commute.
6. It is dangerous to commute.
7. It is dangerous to go to the mailbox.
8. The dog poop ferments under it and leaves a big mess when the snow melts.
9. I can't jog without falling on my ass.

Here's what I like about snow:

1. It's pretty.
2. The wildlife is more visible.
3. It reflects the moonlight and makes it seem less dark.
4. It gives folks something to talk about.
5. I have an excuse not to jog.
6. I have an excuse not to walk the dogs in the freezing cold.
7. It's obviously not "too cold to snow".

Surviving the Solstice

Mrs Vache Folle made a pretty good observation the other day while we were watching a TV program about folks who go crazy with their Christmas lights. She reckoned that the lights are a way of fighting the darkness that is most profound around the winter solstice. Moreover, the activity of setting up the lights and keeping Christmas is a way of fending off depression.

Mrs VF reckoned that societies with winter would tend to have holidays around the winter solstice to get them through the darkest days without killing themselves. Folks kill themselves around the time of the solstice because of the hopelessness and darkness, and the holidays are meant to get them through it. If they kept Christmas better (or the other holidays) they could get through the season alive.

Look at the way we celebrate Advent. We tell ourselves to have hope, to know peace, to be joyful, and to celebrate the light. If we didn't do this, we'd be confronted with despair, anger, depression and darkness. Seriously, the winter solstice sucks.

We're hosting the choir party this year, so for the first time in years we are actually decorating our house and putting up lights. Or we will when I get around to it. The snow has set me back a bit. I have to keep reminding myself about how beautiful the snow is and to put my feelings that it is a big honking pain in the ass aside.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

War on the War on Christmas

It's time for my annual etiquette lesson to the Christmas Warriors. If someone wishes you Happy Holidays, you're supposed to smile and reciprocate, not be a giant douche and berate them for not saying exactly what you think they should have said.

At this moment, and until something like December 24th, it doesn't make sense to wish anyone "Merry Christmas" unless you are deliberately trying to be niggardly with your blessing. After all, there's the whole holiday of Advent in which to be merry and Christmas Eve and then Boxing Day and Epiphany and New Years. So saying Merry Christmas is akin to saying "enjoy December 25th but none of the days leading up to it and none of the following days".

Monday, December 07, 2009

Tickled to Death

I, for one, reckon that being tickled to death would be something to avoid. It is preferable I suppose to being burned to death or buried alive, but it would still be a bad thing. Yet, it is often said that we would be tickled to death in connotations that imply that such a state of affairs would be welcomed. "I'd be tickled to death if you could help with conference" means that such help is welcomed not that the speaker supposes that such help would be like being tickled until dead.

I'm not sure that it is even possible to tickle a person to death. I surmise that at some point the nerve endings that send the tickle sensation to the brain would cease to fire and that continued contact would no longer tickle long before death. Moreover, tickling does not, as far as I can tell, cause any actual injury to the tickled person.

If it were possible to tickle someone to death, I imagine that there would be warnings about tickling babies.

Out of Afghanistan

What the hell is the military activity in Afghanistan all about? Wouldn't it be ironic if we had the Russians send in troops to help us secure that country?

One of my Republican conspecifics the other day assured me that the US cannot leave Afghanistan because (a) it would leave a vacuum for terrorists to take over, and (b) it would be expensive to remobilize in case of another attack on America. I don't reckon that these arguments suffice to justify the financial costs of the war there let alone the moral costs.

For the life of me, I can now no longer recall why it was ever considered a good idea to invade Afghanistan. Perhaps it was deemed politically expedient to appear to be doing something in response to the attack on the World Trade Center, but the invasion of Afghanistan, a state which did not carry out or sponsor the attack, was a boneheaded move.

Let's look at some of the reasons I have heard for invading Afghanistan.

1. Terrorists trained there. They also train in Idaho and Pakistan and a thousand other places around the world. Does that we mean we should overthrow every government that is unable to insure that terrorists don't train in their territories and then occupy those states? Wouldn't it make more sense to assist those governments in rooting out terrorist training camps or, if they were uncooperative, to target or surveill the terrorist training camps themselves?

2. They hate us. Lots of people hate us, espceially folks whose countries we have invaded and occupied. The WTC attackers were mostly Saudi Arabians, and lots of Saudis hate America. Should we invade Saudi Arabia and occupy it?

3. It is unstable there and is apt to become a breeding ground for extremists. It was already a breeding ground for extremists when we invaded, and the invasion didn't make things better. We don't have enough troops or money to stabilize the place if they can't stabilize it themselves, and the invasion and occupation fuels anti-American sentiments and Islamic extremism. We didn't give a crap about the stability of Afghanistan when we were engaged in proxy war there with the Soviets during the Reagan/Bush era, so why do we care now?

4. Pulling out will make us look weak. We're not weak by any account, and staying in makes us look stupid, which we may very well be.

We will never be able to afford to turn Afghanistan into Vermont. Hell, we probably can't even bring it up to the level of Texas. The US should get the hell out of Afghanistan.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Our Vacation

We arrived in Barcelona around noon on Friday the 13th and were delighted to find that our hotel, the Montblanc, was located in the heart of the "Gothic" district. Over the nexty two days we strolled up and down La Rambla, the pedestrian plaza that extends from the Catalonian Plaza to the waterfront. We had tapas and wine, and watched the people on their constitutionals. We gravitated eevery so often to the Mercata de Boqueria where we bought food and candy from the vendors' stalls and gaped at the bounty on sale.

We took a tour bus to Sagrada Famillia the cathedral designed by Gaudi. It looked to me as if it had been designed by Dr Seuss. We visited a famous garden also designed by Gaudi. We visited, among other things, the Picasso Museum, the Chocolate Museum, and the Aquarium. The Picasso Museum featured pieces from Picasso's own collection of Japanese erotic art with examples of their influence on him. Mrs Vache Folle surmised that the art was done by men since the penises were drawn all out of proportion to what occurs in nature, especially for Japanese men (as if Mrs Vache Folle would know anything about Asian men's penises). The Chocolate Museum was devoted to exploring the heritage of Barcelona as the gateway for chocolate into Europe from the New World. Back in the day, ten cocoa beans would buy a rabbit or a prostitute, and 100 would buy a slave.

On our quest to find the Picasso Museum we found a wonderful little restaurant in the back alleys: Economico.

On Sunday the 15th, we boarded the Norwegian Gem in the harbor. I got a bizarre seaweed wrap, steam, massage treatment and settled into cruising mode. Monday the 16th was at sea as we steamed for Malta. The weather, which was supposed to have been in the fifties and rainy, was sunny and in the seventies, so our gamble on the off season paid off.

We arrived in Valetta, Malta on the morning of Tuesday the 17th. We took a tour to the old city of Mdina and then back to Valetta where we visited various sites related to the Knights of St John Hospitaler. It was amazing how much survived the bombing in World War II. The churches were beautiful. We leaned that Maltese is a Semitic language and that the Maltese reckon that the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked on the island. It must be so because St Paul appeared on horseback in the sixteenth century to help repel the Turks. He wouldn't have done that for just any old island.

From Malta, we went on the Naples. We visited Pompeii and were surprised to find that the site is a whole ginormous city. We also went to Sorrento and Capri and visited a cameo production facility along the way.

Next stop was Rome which, although it was not built in a day, we had to see it in a day. We visited the Forum and the Colisseum and St Peter's. We were told that St Peter's is the biggest church in the world, but I reckon they weren't counting monstrous megachurches that aren't Catholic.

We then went to Florence where I was cursed by a gypsy hag on the Pontevecchio. She was begging for change, and I reached in my pocket and gave her what I had. It turned out to be 11 cents, and she was offended by my gift. She began giving me raspberries and following me around screaming in her gypsy lingo. I assumed I was being cursed. I did get the flu a few days later. We had a lot of free time in Florence. One of our fellow tourists, a Virginian complained that he reckoned Florence was "just a dirty old town". I thought Florence was the coolest place we had been to. Mrs Vache Folle bought a handbag at an open air market. I got gelato, as I did every chance I got in Italy.

Then we went to Cannes. Mrs Vache Folle and I didn't book any excursions, and we just walked around and had lunch and sipped beaujolais (it had just arrived). We felt very cosmopolitan.

Then it was back to Barcelona to catch a plane to Newark. We didn't see much of Newark as it was late at night when we arrived.

Our travels lead me to question why anyone would ever leave Italy.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I'm Tiger Woods!

I have never had sex with Tiger Woods. Folks should just quit speculating about this and move on. Even if I did have sex with Tiger Woods, it wouldn't be anybody's business but mine and Tiger's and Tiger's old lady and my old lady (neither of whom were present when Tiger and I were not having sex). I'm not promising that I'd never, under any circumstances, have sex with Tiger Woods; I'm just saying that it hasn't happened...yet.

Do I think worse of Tiger for getting lots of tail on top of being young, attractive (I'm told), married to a Swedish bikini model and rich as Croesus? No, my envy level topped out years ago.

Does Tiger Woods' philandering make him less valuable as a role model? Certainly not, unless you want your kids growing up thinking it's a good idea to pass on sex with hot women who throw themselves at you even when you have a hot Swedish bikini model at home.

Will I buy less Nike crap because of Tiger's scandal? I could not buy less Nike stuff unless I stole Nike products and sold them back to the store.

Midianite Mini-Holocaust

In Numbers, there's an interesting episode involving the genocide of the Midianites. Some of the Israelites covet the land of the Midianites since it is especially good for livestock, and they decide to take it even though it is not part of the so called Promised Land. They promise to fight for the Promised Land when the time comes, but they aim to live in the land of the Midianites. To this end, they attack the Midianites and kill all the adult men and take all the women and children captive. The Israelite leadership chastises them and requires them to kill every male child and every female that has ever had sex. Only virgin females are to be spared.

Evidently, at one time genocide was an approved policy of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Perhaps it was even a method God employed to work His will in the world. I suppose it made rational sense if you wanted to be sure no Midianite was around to exact vengeance and if you aimed to rid yourself of alien cultural influences, but it doesn't seem right when judged by our modern moral sensibilities. The authors of Numbers seem downright proud of the slaughter of the Midianites.

I sometimes hear it said that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I'm hoping He has dropped genocide from His list of approved activities and that He is not the same as the God of Numbers, if He ever was..

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I Don't Know If I Believe in Belief

I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosover liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

These propositions, purportedly uttered by Jesus, seem unequivocal. Believers who are dead will live again, and believers who are alive will live on forever. But it can't possibly have its plain meaning, can it? So far, everyone born before 1890, believers and unbelievers alike, has died. Does this mean that there were no real believers? Or does it mean that Jesus was speaking figuratively? Why did he distinguish between the living and the dead if there were no difference between the two states in terms of destiny?

I confess that this passage sometimes disturbs me as much as it comforts me. I don't even know what to make of the requirement that we "believe" in Jesus. What does "belief" entail? Is it the satisfaction of the old epistemological itch? If so, what specific propositions are we minimally supposed to believe in order to be saved? Is it belief in the form of "trust" that we are supposed to have?

I am not even sure that any of us has "beliefs" except as useful fictions to explain and predict the behavior of others and ourselves. There may not actually be brain states that can be identified as "belief in Jesus" or any beliefs for that matter. Beliefs are supposed by folk psychologists to inform behavior and to serve as part of the explanation for what people have done and will do. Someone who can be said to "believe in Jesus" would certainly manifest a set of behaviors that was extraordinary and unlike those of ordinary men, wouldn't he?

Or is it enough simply to profess belief, especially where the object of belief is relatively far removed from everyday experience? One might announce quite sincerely that one believes that there is intelligent life on other planets without showing any behavioral manifestations of such a belief. Likewise, one may make all manner of theological assertions that can have no bearing whatsoever on how one lives, eg various conceptions of the trinity. How easily then might we profess Jesus as our Lord and Savior and then go about our business as if this profession meant nothing much in terms of our actions. Perhaps we should consider whether many of our beliefs are really more in the nature of "opinions".

I am thinking mainly of myself and the feebleness with which I live the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps I am too hard on myself. If we have beliefs or opinions, we do not choose them. They happen to us. If God wills me to believe harder and to manifest my beliefs more radically, it will happen. Meanwhile, it is perhaps ingratitude for the belief that I believe that I have that leads me to whine about not believing better than I do, assuming that I have beliefs in the first place.

I am going to characterize the whole issue of "belief" as a mystery and worry about it later. The same goes for the "never die" thing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I was in Europe for a while, then I got the flu (the regular kind, not swine) and was laid up in bed for a while. Now I'm home and better and full of ideas for blog posts.

Meanwhile, I have often heard it said by world travellers (which in British Airways lingo means "coach", by the way) that the US of A is the best place in the whole world to live. They must not have been to Barcelona.

Monday, November 09, 2009

From Whence Do Rights Derive?

What gives me the right to express my stupid opinions on this blog? My right derives from the fact that neither the state nor anyone else with the ability to do anything about it gives a rat's patootie about my opinion or whether and how I express it. The state does not at present have any particular interest in my speech acts. Why would it? I can't really do the state any harm, and it may even score legitimacy points by ignoring me, especially in the case of states such as mine that claim to protect their subjects' freedom.

Other folks who might disagree with me don't care enough about it to try to punish me for my opinions. Part of this stems from my use of a nom de blogge. It isn't as easy to mess with me if you don't know who I really am. Besides, interference by a private individual or entity probably wouldn't be considered as a violation of my "rights". We have come to think of rights as deriving from the Constitution and applying only to state action. If I had some God given inalienable rights, wouldn't I be able to defend them against all comers, state and non-state actors alike?

Whatever rights I have I enjoy at the sufferance of my conspecifics.

Aspects of Popular Culture That I Just Don't Get

Vampires. Kids want to be vampires or date vampires. Vampirism seems like it would be a huge disability what with not being able to eat anything but blood or to come out in the daylight. Believe me kids, you'll know enough toxic psychic vampires in your life without wishing to meet some mythical ones.

Flavored martinis (except as starter drinks for junior high schoolers). These are nothing like actual martinis and are far removed from the martini experience. After age 25, these should not be permitted. Men of any age should never order these. These are girlie drinks.

Kardashians. Why do I have to know who these people are?

Shredded jeans. In my day, shredded jeans meant you were trash. Decent folks would patch the holes in their jeans.

Facebook. I spend enough time in front of a computer without corresponding with my long lost grammar school classmates.

2012. What makes anyone think the Mayans knew peedoodlysquat about anything? I don't think they even predicted the precipitous fall of their own civilization, so I don't put much store in their prognosticating abilities. Show me some shit they got right, and I might take them seriously.

We Need a Better GOP

Some of my conspecifics of the Democratic persuasion are glad that the GOP has gone completely over to the dark side and is now almost exclusively the party of batshit. Its leaders are the likes of Limbaugh, Beck and Palin so my conspecifics reckon that the GOP will be too scary for most people now.

This is not a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Since we have two party system, it is never a good idea to have one of those parties committed to insanity. Americans are so stupid that they might just vote the maniacs into power. They did it in 2000 and 2004, although in those days we couldn't be sure that the crazy wing would take complete control of the party.

A healthier American political system calls for two parties that are pretty much the same and both of which are capable of actually governing when in power.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Makes You Think

I went to the Wikipedia and looked up mass murderers. They have lists of shooters by hate crime, workplace shootings, school shootings, slaughter of families. Based on the names of the killers in the US, it looks like the Ft Hood shooter was the only one that was a Muslim. So if I call for special attention to be paid to Muslims as potential spree shooters, what does that make me?

Tim McVeigh was a Roman Catholic. I didn't hear a whole lot of talk about screening Catholics after he blew up a building. After all, there have been lots of Irish Catholic terrorists, mostly in Ulster, so the Oklahoma City bombing could have been seen as par for the course. Why wasn't it?

Eric Rudolph also identified himself as a Roman Catholic. When he murdered folks based on his religious beliefs there was no call to monitor Catholics. Why not?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Ft Hood Shooter

Know what I'm going to say about the Ft Hood shooter before the facts come out? Nothing!

Know why? Because I am self aware and would be ashamed if my dumbass speculation turned out to be wrong.

I wish more people were like me.

Lay Off Pit Bulls

Mrs Vache Folle and I are big boosters of pit bulls. Now that I've lived with one for a few years, I don't think I'll ever get any other breed. We get annoyed when we hear folks say things like,"Little Timmy McCracken was bitten by a pit bull." Why mention the breed? Most of the time the dog in question was not, in fact, a pit bull. Nobody ever says "A golden retriever attacked Granny!" or such like even though every breed of dog is liable to attack someone under the right circumstances.

It's analogous to including a reference to a person's religion or ethnicity in a statement about their alleged crimes. "Robin and Holden McGroin of Brewster were swindled by a Chinaman last month." "A Negro driver struck the sign post, causing damage estimated at $800." "The Roman Catholic gunman was killed in a shootout with police." "Scotsman arrested in bribery case."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

TV Watching

We left season 4 of Weeds on a cliffhanger, and season 5 is not yet available from NetFlix. We've moved on to season 1 of Big Love. I had only seen the most recent season before and was hoping for some background. Season 1 was pretty much the same as the last season but with more multimarital sex. You'd think old Joe Smith would have come up with a way to mandate a four way, but I reckon he was killed before he had that revelation.

We haven't watched much regular TV since we got the NetFlix subscription. The only show we catch by appointment is The Biggest Loser where morbidly obese people compete to lose weight. Each week, two contestants who lose the least percentage of body weight are liable to be voted off, and each week the voting contestants vote off the wrong person. The right way to vote is to get rid of the fatter person who is apt to lose more weight and put you below the yellow line in a future weigh in. If a superfat guy has a bad week and is up for a vote, that's your chance to eliminate a real competitor. But no, the contestants always vote based on other idiotic criteria and screw themselves. Great fun.

The Daily Show repeat moved to 7 pm so I don't catch it as often as when it was on at 8. I watch documentaries on The Science Channel or Discovery. The History Channel seems to have turned into the crazy hokum channel with a fixation on Nostradamus and Gods from Outer Space and Atlantis.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I Am Apathetic

I voted yesterday, but I'm not sure why I bothered. It was easy since all I had to do was pull the lever on every Democrat on the ballot. I vote entirely based on spite and self preservation, although our Hudson Valley Republicans seeking local offices (a) aren't as batshit insane as their copunterparts in other regions, and (b) can't do much harm on the East Fishkill town council or Highway Department.

I just don't give much of a shit about politics these days except to keep one eye open for incursions by the wingnut Christianists and those in their coalition of crazies.

Monday, November 02, 2009


I have been thinking about eschatology lately and have decided that it's a mystery. We don't have enough to go on to know when Gotterdammerung will come about or what it will look like. Maybe we won't even know that it has happened. One day we'll be plugging away as usual and the next thing you know we're living in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I'm not afraid to speculate, and I have some eschatological suspicions that I'll share now for what they are worth. I have not had any special revelation from God, nor am I trained in theology, but I do have some completely irrational beliefs about our ultimate fate that I reckon are as authoritative as anyone else's.

Judgment Day is billions or trillions of years away, and we will have become a class 3 or better galactic or intergalactic civilization by then. The teachings of Jesus, as practiced by those who actually understand them and in whom the Spirit dwells, will be the characteristic of humanity that permits us, among all the intelligent species in the universe, to avoid destroying ourselves and to go on to the next levels of civilization. Our technological advancement will go hand in hand with our ability to love. Love will inspire us to occupy the whole universe. We will be a blessing to the universe, and the Kingdom of God will encompass everything.

Earth will be long gone by then, and I can't imagine what kind of beings our descendants will be by then. They may not even be flesh and blood.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thought Crimes?

There might be good reasons to oppose particular hate crime legislation, but the argument that such legislation, at least as it has been drafted so far, constitutes "thought crime" is not one of them. The argument is as fatuous as it gets. Here's how it has been used in my experience: "To find that something is a hate crime requires us to delve into the perpetrator's mental state; therefore, it criminalizes the mental state and is an Orwellian thought crime."

Most crimes require delving into the perpetrator's mental state. For example, intent is an indispensable element of many crimes. If I kill you without intending to, it could just be an accident, for which I may not be criminally culpable, but if I meant to kill you and especially if I had malice aforethought I am a murderer. Does that mean murder is a thought crime?

As far as I know, no hate crime legislation promulgated to date makes hating a crime. It's only a crime if you do violence to someone on the basis of that hate. Hate all you want, haters! Hate openly so we'll all know to shun you. Just don't act on your hate violently.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My $0.02 on Afghanistan

I don't know what the US thinks its mission is in Afghanistan. If it's to rid the country of Al Qaeda, then congratulations to the US on its victory. You can bring your troops home now. If it's to create a stable, pro-US country with a legitimate central government, then good luck with that. That will take decades and zillions of dollars and tens of thousands of casualties and hundreds of thousands of troops. The end result is certainly desirable, especially if you're an Afghan, but the enormous costs greatly outweigh the benefits in terms of US interests and can't be justified politically. Or maybe the goal is to keep Afganistan from becoming a breeding ground for anti-modern, authoritarian extremism. If so, we have failed by making it more of such a breeding ground than ever. The best we can do is contain the extremists and counter them with, say, cash.

The way I figure it, the US should set as its goals (a) keeping Pakistan from falling to the Taliban or other nutjobs, (b) keeping Al Qaeda and its ilk from reasserting itself in the region, and (c) establishing effective networks of intelligence and propaganda dissemination in the area to protect and promote US interests. A huge military presence is not required to meet these aims. A huge military presence, unless it's huge enough to maintain a police state, may even be counterproductive.

It was a dumb idea to invade Afghanistan in the first place. Let's not compound the error. If the US leaves and the Taliban returns to power, then Afganistan is the same as it was when we invaded it, no better or worse.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Most Americans Think

Do most Americans consider a vote for cloture as tantamount to support for the actual bill?

No. Most Americans don't know what cloture is. Most Americans don't even know they have a Senate let alone how it works.

Reveals of no Particular Interest to Anybody

I don't have ass cancer, but I have to get snaked every three years for polyp removal. I'm supposed to eat more fiber and less red meat.

I have not touched alcohol in 10.5 days. I don't feel any better, but I figure I don't need the calories.

Mrs Vache Folle and I have become addicted to the TV series Weeds which we have been renting via NetFlix.

The choir is "auditioning" a prospective director tomorrow, the first time we've assembled in many weeks. Perhaps the church is committed to the concept of a chancel choir after all.

I have been running/marching a five mile route whenever I can lately, but my left knee is killing me. I have excruciating pain in the medial condyle of my shin. It's back to the orthopod for me, I reckon.

I have been reading a science fiction anthology, a book on human evolution, and a book entitled The New Atheism. The science fiction is about to displace the others since the evolution book seems to be more about paleontologists and their discontents than about interpreting their finds. Just let me know the current consensus, OK? The atheism book is pretty dull. so I haven't gotten far. That it relies to any extent on The End of Faith does not bode well for the rest of the book.

I have fallen behind in my Rosetta Stone Spanish lessons, and I will be in Spain in two weeks! We're scheduled to go to Barcelona for a few days and then to cruise in the Western Mediterranean for a week.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Farewell, Newspapers

I hear that newspapers are failing as businesses. Remember back when the Town Criers were whining about how newspapers were eating into their profits? Or when the bards complained about that newfangled writing thing and how it was killing the demand for epic poems recited from memory? I don't either, but I bet it was a lot like what we're getting from the papers.

The only thing I'll miss about newspapers is how useful they are as a weed suppressant under the mulch. A few layers of newspaper will keep down the weeds and decompose handily into the soil with no ill effects. I reckon I'll just have to use cardboard if Mrs Vache Folle gives up her subscription to the NY Times. She could read it on her blackberry for free, and it would always show up on time (unlike now). She could also avoid the mess of newsprint on her hands and clothes and the annoying way the paper refuses to unfold properly.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saxons, Vikings and Celts

I recently finished Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: the Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland by Bryan Sykes. It would have been a lot more interesting (and it was pretty interesting, mind you) if Sykes had devoted more pages to interpretation and implications than to the quest for DNA samples and thumbnail histories of the Isles. (BLOGGER ETHICS NOTE: I had to buy the book with my own money and did not get a damned thing for reviewing it. Nobody asked me to review it, and it is unlikely that anyone will be inspired by this review either to acquire the book or to eschew it.)

Anyway, the analysis shows that the long postulated Celtic invasion from Central Europe does not show up in the genes of the Islanders. On the matrilineal side, the Islanders are mainly descended from the mesolithic foragers who first resettled the Isles following the last glacial retreat up to 10,000 years ago. There appears to have some movement along the Atlantic coast from Iberia in the early Neolithic. In Orkney and Shetland, it appears that the Vikings brought their women with them when they settled the area (about a third of the folks carry Viking mDNA). In the old Danelaw, there is evidence that women came with the Danes or the Saxons (5-10% have Viking, Dane, Saxon or Norman mDNA). There is almost no sign of Roman genetic influence in mDNA.

On the patrilineal side, the vast majority of male Islanders carry a Celtiberian Y chromosome. There also seems to be a substantial minority who carry the Y of the mesolithic aborigines, and there is an overlay in the East of Saxons, Danes, or Vikings (in East Anglia as much as 20%).

All in all, the Islanders are Celts (their ancestors antedated the Romans and spoke Celtic languages). Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotsmen, and Welshmen are all brothers. Suck on that, WASPs!

Ardi is not the Boss of Me

Via Huffington Post comes an article speculating whether Ardipithecus was a "liberal". The author, Frans de Waal, after going through the history of interpretations of human nature by analogy with various extant non-human primates, wonders:

"What if we descend not from a blustering chimp-like ancestor but from a gentle, empathic bonobo-like ape? Or what if we share characteristics with both of these close relatives instead of just the one favored by our personal political ideology? Ardi is telling us something, and there may be little agreement about what she is saying, but I hear a refreshing halt to the drums of war that have accompanied all previous theories."

The discovery of the postcranial remains of Ardipithecus has been one of the most exciting events in paleoanthropology in years. Ardi stood erect, and she had a prehensile great toe. She lived in the forest, not on the savannah. The implications of the discovery for human evolution have been described by Owen Lovejoy and others in a special issue of Science (registration required).

What I find most interesting about the discovery are the plausible explanation for the development of bipedalism offered by the data and the long overdue recognition that extant great apes have been evolving all this time from our common ancestor as well. Our ancestor probably wasn't like any of the living species of hominoids. Several features of Ardipithecus are consistent with the notion that bipedalism developed as part of a strategy of male provisioning of mates and offspring which required carrying provisions over relatively long distances.

But as exciting as all this may be, I can't wrap my brain around the idea that the way that Ardi lived has much to do with how we should live now. Righties (other than Creationist religious righties, that is) sometimes point to evolutionary psychology (they prefer the term sociobiology for some reason) to support the status quo, and they tend in my experience to favor the "Killer Ape" model, so I reckon fossil evidence that counters such fatuous arguments with equally fatuous counterarguments are useful to a degree. I'd prefer, however, to attack the underlying premise that human evolution has left us with a set of "natural" tendencies that it would be wrong in many cases to resist and in all cases to problematize.

I am speculating here a bit, but I would bet that Ardi shit in the woods. Does that mean that we ought to shit in the woods, that it is foolish to develop plumbing and alternative shit disposal systems that run counter to our nature as sylvan defecators? Should I tolerate it if strangers come and shit in my woods?

Ardi ate all her food raw. Does that mean cooking is unnatural and wrong?

Ardi didn't wear any clothes. Clothing is unnatural and wrong?

What if Ardi were promiscuous? Would that mean that promiscuity should be the norm for us now?

Ardi lived by the chase and forage. Is it, therefore, wrong to farm or work at a trade?

Ardipithecine females may have stayed close to the nest with their young while males went off in search of provisions. Does that mean that it is wrong for our women to leave the house and work?

Ardi did what Ardi had to do to get by when and where she lived. Lucky for us, her descendants were flexible enough to adapt when times changed. We're still adapting. If we're not, we're doomed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bill Donohue Embarasses Catholics Yet Agaain

Bill Donohue, whacky Catholic apologist, reckons that troglodytes are outbreeding folks with more progressive outlooks:

Wonkette quotes the following:

"The culture war is up for grabs. The good news is that religious conservatives continue to breed like rabbits, while secular saboteurs have shut down: they’re too busy walking their dogs, going to bathhouses and aborting their kids. Time, it seems, is on the side of the angels."

Crazy Bill Donohue, don't you know that religious conservatism is not hereditary? Hell, everyone's ancestors at some point were religious conservatives, but a lot of us have thrown off the yoke of superstition and authoritarianism despite this. No matter how many babies your religious conservatives pump out, there's no guarantee that they will also be religious conservatives.

Look at the Anabaptists. Their belief system is held by a small minority of the world's population even though they have been "breeding like rabbits" for almost five hundred years. If Anabaptist beliefs were hereditable, they would have overrun the world by now. Look at Catholics. No matter how many little Catholics you make, you can't depend on their not blowing off their religion when something more attractive comes along. You still have to sell Catholicism, and that's one hard sell now that Donohue and his ilk aren't allowed to host autos da fe any longer.

Time is on the side of the angels, Bill Donohue, but you'd be surprised at who the angels really are.


Jasper escaped last night and was missing for an hour and a half. I was just finishing up listing him on when he found his way home. I don't think I could have slept last night he had still been missing.

Today, I clogged up his escape route real good with a plank that I don't think he can dislodge even if he works at it for a good hour. I also need to impress on him the importance of coming to me when I call him even when he is hot on the trail of some varmint.

On a positive note, Jasper was not followed by villagers with torches and pitchforks.

I don't like worrying the way Jasper made me worry last night. Good thing I don't have children, I reckon.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Is it conceivable that the US has sponsored "terrorists" in the past and continues to do so to advance foreign policy aims?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Proof of Snow

Mrs Vache Folle took this photo of my car last night about 7. There was even more snow this morning.

Complaint Department

My complaints du jour:

It was still snowing this morning when I left for the office. I need to mow the yard, but it's covered in snow.

My left knee pain has returned. Now there's also something wrong with the shin bone where it joins the knee. It hurts a lot.

I still have the plantar fasciitis and heel spur in my right foot, and they hurt a lot, too.

My allergies are in full swing with mucho snot and tears and sneezing and sinus headaches behind the eye.

My left eye is jiggling off and on.

Jasper is escaping from the yard somehow, and I can't figure out how he does it. I have to catch him in the act.

I almost ran over a beaver and spilled coffee on myself.

Other than these things, I can't complain.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Foul Weather

It is snowing here on Hosner Mountain. Fortunately, it ain't stickin'. After the crappy summer we had, I can't believe we're having early onset winter. We didn't even get an Indian Summer.

I suppose it makes no sense to complain about the weather. There's nothing for it. Might as well enjoy what Mother Earth is featuring. Autumn is a very beautiful time of year in the Hudson Valley, what with all the spectacular "foilage", as the city folks put it. Other good things about fall and winter: no more mowing; more sitting around time; more time at the office so more money; juncos; wildlife is more visible.

Every year about this time I begin to fret about having lost my winter condition driving mojo. I haven't yet lost it. I hate driving in icy conditions in the dark, but I know how to do it. Rule number one is slow the hell down. A four wheel drive is not a license to violate the laws of physics. Rule number two is avoid situations in which braking might be required. Leave lots of space in front of you. Rule number three is ignore that stop sign on Miller Hill Road when you're trying to climb the hill.

UPDATE: Now it sticketh!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Satan Missing

So far in the first few books of the Bible, I have found no references to Satan or to an afterlife. There was one instance where Moses called down some smiting on political dissidents in the camp and sent them "alive to Sheol". The earth opened up and swallowed the victims. I don't know if the use of Sheol in this instance was figurative or if Moses claimed that he was sending his adversaries to a place known as Sheol while still alive.

Wherein I Opine About Random Stuff

Roman Polanski. If he raped a girl, he should face justice. I don't care how great a filmmaker he is.

Baseball postseason. I'd love to see Joe Torre and his Dodgers take on the Yankees who wrote him off as over the hill.

Football pools. I'm not in one, so I don't have to follow football not even a little bit.

Surrogates. Entertaining movie, albeit implausible.

Couples Retreat. Bad movie that I enjoyed and then felt ashamed that I had enjoyed it.

Johnny Walker Black. Twice as good as JW Red. I won't even try the other colors. I can't afford them so it's best that I don't know what I'm missing.

Sushi. Better out West.

Net Flix. We're in a free trial, and so far we're loving it. We've rented the first seasons of Mad Men and Weeds and are now on Season One of Battlestar Galactica. All the movies in my queue are TV shows, mostly British.

Facials. Got one Monday, and I look great. I'm going to get them regularly.

Massages. Every three weeks at a minimum is a necessity.

Heel spurs. Bad.

Guess Where I Was Last Week

Use these bad cell phone photos of public art to identify the city I visited last week.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Choir Disbanded?

It appears that my church has decided to let the music program (other then contemporary praise song leading) slide and that the consistory is not committed to hiring a choir director due to budgetary constraints. I have made my feelings about this known to the consistory for what it is worth. The chancel choir has not yet come off its summer hiatus, and I don't know that it will or that anyone other than the choir itself cares. Accordingly, I'm going to start visiting other churches in the area to see if any have a good traditional music program. I aim to start with the Epsicopalians.

Bible Study

I've finished rereading Exodus plus Leviticus, and now I'm in Numbers. So far, the rules that God has set down (or so the Levites would have everyone believe) deal mainly with the details of sacrifices and religious observances in the sanctuary and to unclean and clean states of being. Many of them seem to be temporary, i.e. limited to the time when God's sanctuary was a tent in the wilderness. Others are "permanent statutes". All, however, are directed entirely to the people of Israel and to nobody else, so I'm not paying too much attention to them at this point.

There is an interesting episode in Numbers. Some Israelites go into Canaan as spies to get the lay of the land, and all but Caleb and Joshua counsel caution and warn that the Canaanites are formidable adversaries. Later, some Israelites attempt to enter Canaan and are, in fact, slaughtered by the Canaanites. This is said by Moses to be their punishment for not believing Joshua and Caleb that they could easily take Canaan. Really?

In these books, God talks to Moses directly and appears to the people as a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night. He likes the aroma of burning animal flesh, and He can't stand whiners. He aims to make Israel a nation of priests. Within the nation of priests, you have the Levites as priests and the House of Aaron as superpriests. I'm going to go out on a limb ad speculate that the Levites had a hand in writing these books.

Suicide in the Circle

One of Vache Folle's long time co-workers from her last job bought a gun, rented a car, drove to a beach in Long Island, and shot himself in the head. A jogger discovered his body.

Everyone who knew him is completely shocked and asking themselves how this could have happened. He was an amiable man with a family, in good health, employed and making a very good living, and by all accounts happy enough that he would not kill himself. He didn't leave a note.

When I heard the news from Mrs VF, I immediately suspected foul play. After all, he had gone in for a flu shot the day before. Who does that if they're going to kill themselves? The police are certain that it was suicide.

While I take comfort in the notion that death is always there as an escape should things become unbearable (hypothetically), I have never actually contemplated suicide. I have a hard time imagining what would drive me to it (other than a psychotic episode). What secret did Mrs VF's acquaintance harbor that led him to take his life?

Mrs VF is pretty shaken up by this.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Barbara Kellerman

Barbara Kellerman has a piece in WaPo wherein she admonishes the US not to dither with respect to Iran:

I link to the article not because it is interesting. It is not. Rather, I link to it to show an astonishingly bad piece of writing and advice from a member of the faculty at Harvard. This would have been a B- paper in the classes I taught.

Kellerman compares the president of Iran to Hitler and Iran to Nazi Germany all the while denying that she is making facile historical comparisons to Hitler and Nazi Germany. She then outlines a vague nine step program to engage Iran multilaterally on a wide range of issues while being prepared to use any weapons at our disposal. Step nine is "don't be delusional". I would add a step ten: "disregard Barbara Kellerman."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Flavored Cigarettes: Good Riddance

I heard that flavored cigarettes (except menthol) are about to be banned on the basis that they are "starter" cigarettes aimed at kids. Back in my day, we didn't have flavored smokes to entice us into smoking. We usually started smoking by trying "rabbit tobacco", an abundant wild plant that provided no satisfaction of any kind. Too bad we didn't know about Jimson Weed back then.

All the men in my family smoked, mostly cigars. My father favored Pall Malls and my stepfather Lucky Strikes. Women did not smoke, although my grandmother dipped snuff. My grandfather rolled his own cigarettes with Prince Albert in a can. He did it one handed and made a perfect cigarette effortlessly. At my grandparents on Sundays, the men would smoke up the parlor, and I would run around with the other kids under the smoke cloud. All we could see were the men's legs and feet.

In high school, the only place on campus you could smoke was the "Smoke Hole", the space under the walkway by the gym, and most of the smokers were from the ranks of the unsavory classes. The ambience of the Smoke Hole did nothing to encourage smoking.

I always assumed I'd smoke some day, and I finally started on Marlboros when I was 21 and old enough to know better. My then girlfriend smoked and turned me to the dark side. I smoked for 20 years, up to two packs a day. I settled on filterless Camels after a few years. I quit ten years ago this month, although I still smoke in my dreams.

I could never abide flavored smokes. No matter how desperate I was for a cigarette, I would not smoke a menthol. I suspect that menthol smokers smoke them just to reduce instances of bumming. Clove cigarettes are unbearable even to be around, and clove cigarette smokers tended to be hippies in my experience. So the inability to buy falovered smokes will not inconvenience me one bit. This is a loss of freedom that I will not notice.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Terrorists will attack America if:

(a) the US leaves Afghanistan; or.

(b) the US stays in Afghanistan.

Census Fears

Slack jawed yahoos fear the census:

All the wingnuts in red districts should absolutely avoid being counted at all costs, while denizens of blue districts should go overboard to cooperate with the census takers. That'll show the liberals.

Colonoscopy Day

The colonoscopy results were not as favorable as I had hoped, but I am waiting for the pathology report before I freak out or anything. The procedure went a little long because of polyp removals, so I came out of anesthesia before it was entirely over. I got to see my innards on a flat screen TV. I was still dopey enough that the sensation of the probe was not overwhelming.

I felt good enough the afternoon after the procedure that Mrs Vache Folle and I did a 3.6 mile power walk. The arch supports my podiatrist prescribed made walking almost painless. There are a couple of killer hills on our route, but I reckon this just makes it more interesting. It is a great joy to be able to exercise again after several weeks of debilitating foot problems.

After the procedure, and 30 hours without food, Mrs Vache Folle treated me to fried oysters at Joe Willy's Fish Shack and Ice Cream Parlor. They were pretty good but a little bready for my tastes. It was good to eat again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

This and That

We watched the Prime Time Emmys last night and were pleasantly surprised that it didn't suck. Neil Patrick Harris was a terrific host, and there was a great deal of self referential humor and meta-humor that played on all the aspects of awards shows that make them long and boring. For example, the president of the academy was introduced and then thanked for not speaking. There were no presenters of presenters, and some presenters presented more than one award at a time. There was a clock that showed how far behind schedule the show was. Winners with multiple people were limited to one speaker, and all the winners kept their remarks short and sometimes funny. 30 Rock ruled the evening.

I went to the podiatrist on Thursday and found out my heel problem is plantar fasciitis. I got a shot of cortisone right in my heel and a prescription for arch supports. The podiatrist wrote down the diagnosis so I could "Google it". That way he didn't have tell me that the root cause of the problem was my being a fat ass. Later, I visited my proctologist and set up a colonoscopy for this coming Thursday. I swear there must be a gravitational anomaly at the scale in her office.

We drove to Kingston on Saturday to get local, grass fed, organic meat at Fleischer's and to take in the farmers' market. We got some cheeses and bread, some nectarines and brussels sprouts, and some comb honey. We bought a month's worth of meat. We also had lunch at a delightful French restaurant, Le Canard Enchaine. Lunch there will now become part of our monthly Kingston routine.

Among the things we acquired at Fleischer's was a brisket. They had stocked up for the Jewish holidays, although I don't know if the place is kosher. We don't care, since we're not Jews, and if we were Jews we'd probably be secular bacon eating Jews like most Jews we know. Anyway, Mrs Vache Folle brushed on a mix of broth and barbecue sauce, and we cooked the thing at 275 degrees for over five hours. At an hour before it was done, we threw in a mess of taters, carrots and 'shrooms. The meat was practically falling apart and melted in our mouths. The leftovers have been callling to me.

I did a lot of mucking this weekend now that the water level in the pond is very low. Mrs Vache Folle, as part of mucking avoidance, harvested and processed a lot of vegetables from the garden. She found a pretty good recipe for turnips, and we used the carrots in the brisket. We'll have to give away squashes and chard, if we can get any takers. I need to pull out at least 50 more wheelbarrow loads of muck, and there's lots more to harvest from the garden.

We still don't have a choir director, so I haven't been singing in church. I haven't even been attending services. I don't know what the plan is for the choir, but I'll be very disappointed if the church goes all contemporary, all the time and dispenses with the chancel choir. Frankly, I'd have to change churches or just spend some time church-free. The music program is that important to me.

Friday, September 18, 2009

More Exodus

Moses, and his brother and mouthpiece Aaron, are charged with informing the Hebrews that I AM, the God of their ancestors, is going to take them out of Egypt and install them in the Promised Land. Moses has been given some magical powers (a staff that becomes a snake and a leprous hand that heals itself) to convince the Hebrews of his bona fides. Moses and Aaron are also charged with approaching Pharaoah about ketting the Hebrews leave.

At the same time, I AM hardens Pharaoh's heart so that he won't let the Hebrews leave in order that He may smite the Egyptians with a series of plagues. These culminate in the visitation of the Angel o' Death and the demise of every firstborn. (As a firstborn myself, I have always taken issue with this story. Why not the secondborn for a change?) The Hebrews take off, not before plundering, and Pharoah pursues them. Moses parts the Red Sea, the Hebrews cross on dry land, and the Egyptians are drowned.

The story strains credulity, but it makes for one powerful myth for nationbuilding later on. Does it matter whether the Hebrews actually fled fom Egypt? Not as far as I'm concerned. Which is a good thing since I'm pretty sure it didn't happen on the scale suggested by the story.

A Mystery

God made Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and their ilk for His own ineffable purposes, and He made a mutlitude of humans stupid enough to heed them. Farther along, we'll understand why.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Democrats are Better than Republicans

Right wingers seem to be all over the place ideologically. The coalition includes country clubbers who just want to keep their taxes down and swarthy people out of their neighborhoods (except their servants) and Christian Dominionists who want to establish an American Taliban of sorts. Then there's them as are motivated almost entirely by race and ethnic hatred. Moreover, there's a slew of just plain authoritarians who can't stand it when anyone has any choices in life they they themselves wouldn't make (or claim that they wouldn't make). What holds all this together? Stupidity on the part of the right wing electorate and a shameless desire for power at any cost by the right wing leadership. Otherwise, the coalition makes no sense, and you'd have some Republican politicians who at least pretended to give a rat's ass about the well being of the country.

That's also why it's easier for the right to keep its focus on a set of insane talking points and to be disciplined. There aren't any real differences of opinion among them, just competition for place within the Party. They don't have to think about policy or the common good, because that's irrelevant to them. In fact, the shittier things are, the better for them since they rely so heavily on fear and anxiety.

The Democrats, while not being saints, actually seem to care about policy and to have genuine good faith differences among themselves. This makes them look "undisciplined" compared to the GOP with its officials marching in lockstep all the time. The left sometimes wishes that its party were more ruthless and under tighter control, but that would be a monstrous tragedy and the end of even the appearance of democracy. If we had two parties engaged in a no holds barred power grab, they would destroy the country. As it is, the GOP may be able to destroy the country all by itself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I noticed that some right wing jack offs have decided to be "anti-Czar" and to claim falsely that they represent the majority. Do you know who else took these same positions? Vladimir I. Lenin, that's who. He was against the Czar, and he called his party the Bolshevik Party, or Majority Party, even though they did not represent a majority.

It turns out the GOP is full of Commies.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Celebs Behaving Badly

I have had a few meltdowns in my day, but I was lucky that they didn't take place in very public situations and they weren't on tape. I can identify with Serena Williams and her tantrum involving a line judge. I might have promised to put the ball in a different orifice. Of course, Miss Williams will suffer the consequences. This isn't the NFL, you know. It's better to be able to control these things, and I am blessed that the Holy Ghost has helped me curb my anger.

Kanye West's behavior was of a very different order. It was the height of douchebaggery to take the stage and spoil Taylor Swift's and, ultimately, Beyonce's moments. He's not likely to suffer any consequences. Maybe this will start a hip hop/country feud that will end in a bloodbath. I hope not. He should have written a poem that expressed his feelings and put it to music.

Monday, September 14, 2009


On our way out of NYC a week ago Sunday, we had to stop on the Saw Mill Parkway for a DWI checkpoint. I had had a cocktail and a glass of wine several hours earlier but was not impaired in the least. It's possible that my blood alcohol content might have exceeded the ridiculously low level for driving while intoxicated, so the checkpoint provoked a little anxiety. I was prepared, however, to follow the advice I always give: look the cop right in the eye and lie. If he asks you whether you have been drinking, say "no, I haven't". Never say anything like "I had a couple of beers" or "I had wine with dinner". That's all the thugs need to make you blow in the breathalizer doohickey.

They didn't ask and just waved me through. To be cute, a couple of cops stood just inside my lane and pretty much dared me to brush them with my side mirrors. I didn't, though. That's another piece of free legal advice for you. Don't run over the cops.

I hate it when cops ask me "Do you know why I stopped you?" I do not plan to incriminate myself, and I have a hard time holding back a smart ass rejoinder. Some of the responses that come into my head are:

"Racial profiling?"

"Those warrants from Arizona?"

"You solved all the murders and don't have anything better to do?"

"You're hitting on me?"

Do as I do. Don't say these things out loud. Don't provoke the police, especially bored to death highway patrolmen. They genuinely have nothing better to do than fuck with you.

I know where the cops hang out on the Taconic, so I always abide by the speed limit when I'm in their hunting grounds. They're too lazy and unimaginative to occupy new stations, so everybody speeds like hell except where the cops usually lurk. The junction with I-84 is a favorite cop hangout so slow down as you approach it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ungentlemanlike Conduct

I know that Congresscritters, especially from the GOP, are unmitigated douchenozzles by definition, but they should at least pretend to act like ladies and gentlemen.

Take Shouty Joe Wilson, for example. He's an example of how gentlemanlike conduct is no longer to be expected from Members of Congress. I reckon they'll let anybody be a Congressman these days.

Shouty Joe is also a retired colonel of the National Guard, a calling that once was reserved to gentlemen. Nowadays anybody may receive commission it seems. He's a lawyer, too, another once respectable profession now made available to all comers and having no more dignity than that of an intinerant grifting driveway resurfacer. See how far we have fallen as a society when an officer and a lawyer and a Congressman no longer feels any need to try to behave with decorum during an address by the President of the United States to a joint session of Congress. The man's a southerner, the last holdout for good manners, so we know civility is good and dead.

Let's hope that Shouty Joe's mother did not live to see his shameful conduct.

Workers Comp Pays for Pizza Cook's Weight Loss Surgery

Via Huffington Post I found this story about a pizza cook whose employer is being forced to pay for his weight loss surgery The 340 pounder was injured on the job, and his doctors opine that he has to drop considerable weight before required back surgery can be undertaken.

This is an instance I reckon of taking your victim as you find him. If a really fat man hurts his back or knees or hip or what have you, there's a good chance that weight loss surgery will be needed as a prerequisite to healing the injured part.

The author of the article reckons that this will give employers an incentive to take a pass on really fat applicants for employment.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


What is the one thing that Meat Loaf won't do for love? I don't think he ever said.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

GOP Rebuttal to School Speech

Learnin's for queers!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

This and That

My aunt and uncle are in town for the tennis matches, so we started following the tennis to be able to converse about it with them. I must say that I've enjoyed the amazing run of fellow Georgian Melanie Oudin a/k/a the Russian Slayer.

I have had something wrong with my right foot for several weeks now. My heel hurts excrutiatingly all the time even though there are no signs of inflammation or contusions. I am set to see a podiatrist next week. The same day, I'm also scheduled to see my ass doctor to set up a colonoscopy. Has it really been three years? The procedure itself is not so bad, but the prep is medieval.

Yesterday Mrs Vache Folle and I treated ourselves to spa manicures and pedicures. Today, I aim to muck in the pond and wreck my beautiful nails. I haven't been able to muck all summer because the incessant rain has kept the pond too deep, so I've got some catching up to do.

Speaking of the pond, that blue heron is hanging out in a tulip tree by the back yard even as I type. He's waiting for Jasper to let down his guard so he can eat my comets.

The neighbor's cats have been eating the voles by the big shed. Good for them. The voles have been emboldened by the food scraps in the compost heap, and now the cats are taking advantage. Maybe they'll stay away from the bird feeder for a while.

So many of my countrymen are batshit crazy that it is truly frightening. At least some of them have had the decency to self identify by taking their spawn out of school today to keep them from being exposed to President Obama's innocuous speech.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

What Harwood Said

Half Moon

Four centuries ago this week, Henry Hudson in his vessel the Half Moon discovered the Hudson River. All along the Hudson Valley, we are celebrating the quadricentennial.

As an expat from Dixie, you'd think I had no real stake in the quadricentennial, but you'd be wrong. It turns out that some of my ancestors, the Van Hoozers and their kin and affines, were among the earliest settlers in the Hudson Valley and the founders of Claverack about an hour north of where I now live. One of the Van Hoozers made his way to North Carolina in the 18th century and spawned a great many southern descendants.

Jan Franze Van Hoozer (or Van Hussen as it was sometimes spelled then) was from Huss in Schleswig Holstein. He migrated to Amsterdam and then to the Hudson Valley in the 17th century.

I'm also related to Livingston of Livingston Manor, so I'm looking forward to the quadricentennial as a celebration of my heritage.