Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mos Def Serves Chris Hitchens

Here's how I remember an exchange among Christopher Hitchens, Salman Rushdie, and Mos Def on "Real Time" the other day:

SR: I hope Obama turns out not to be a pussy.
CH: I hope he gets serious about the threat of a nuclear armed Iran.
MD: If we're going to get all preachy about nonproliferation, perhaps we should get our own house in order and disband the nuclear club. Nobody should have nukes.
CH: (His trousers darkening with urine stains) I'm glad you realize the Iranians are lying about their intentions, silly Negro with your silly nom de guerre. Muslim extremists are the only people to have declared that they want nukes so they can use them.
SR: Hezbollah has a mushroom cloud on its flag.
MD: America has actuallly used nukes and caused a huge humanitarian crisis.
CH: Why won't you listen to the wog next to you who is smart enough to agree with me. The Muslims want to kill me.

It went something like that. I expected Maher to jump in and call bullshit at some point, but he never did. Mos Def held his own, most definitely. He had convictions on his side whereas Hitchens had only his trademark smarminess.

Update on Jesse Lou Baggett

Mr Baggett seems to be recovering from his vestibular disease. He's off the steroids, so I'm hoping that his constant urinating will stop soon or that he'll at least have more time to go outside before he unloads.

He's back to stalking us when he wants something, eg a walk, pork. He's his old beggar self again. He's a little slower and less bright eyed and bushy tailed than before, but I no longer fear that death is immanent.

He's eating again, and that's a huge relief. He's milking our sympathy for all it's worth, too. He refused to eat anything at first except sausages and lamb. Then the dog walker discovered that he would eat Friskie's turkey and giblets cat food. When I ran out of cat food, I discovered that he would eat sardines. When I ran out of sardines, I discovered that, if he got hungry enough, he'd eat his damned dry dog food just like before he was sick.

It's good to have my friend back.


It turns out that I made a difference in the life of a child.

Last Sunday while I was waiting to rehearse before the service, a woman came in with her three year old daughter. They approached me, and the woman said that my peformance in a church event some weeks ago when I had dressed in drag and worn a purple wig had traumatized her daughter. The child had been having nightmares, and the mother wanted the child to see me as an ordinary man in the hope that this would console her. The girl could hardly look at me, so I don't know if my ordinary appearance was any consolation to her.

It was not my intent to frighten children. My get up was supposed to be comical, and it seemed so to the vast majority of the audience. Scaring a kid was a bonus.

You never know what will freak out a kid. My little sister feared an animatronic clown at Euclid Beach amusement park. Other clowns have always been OK. Daddy long leg spiders also scared the hell out of her. This fear persisted until her teens as frequent experiments I performed over the years proved. She never seemed to become desensitized no matter how many of the spiders I exposed her to. I tried to help, but she is an ingrate.

Daddy long legs do not scare me, but every other spider does. Not just the deadly ones. All of them. I also maintain the superstition that it is bad luck to kill a spider, so I'm in a fix. I don't know how I acquired arachnophobia, because it's been with me as long as I can remember. It's not so bad that I can't go outside and garden or anything. I just go into spasms if I get a spider on me. I wear gloves when I dig so the eight legged bastards can't bite me. I will never go to Australia, though, because of the deadly spiders. That and the eternal plane ride.

I confess that it is sometimes fun to scare kids. But I reckon it's good for them to be desensitized to various frightening circumstances, and I take pleasure in helping others. My nephews will one day thank me for desensitizing them to the fear of monsters in closets and under beds. It's not a monster; it's your uncle! Fear becomes hilarity. That's how I saw it anyway. I don't care what their therapist says. She wasn't there.

I took Mrs Vache Folle's two younger nephews on the haunted house ride at Rye Playland when they were way too young for it to be appropriate. I made up for this by pretending to be terrified myself and expressing the anxiety that we were to be killed and eaten at any moment. I reckoned my own apparent fear would distract the boys, but it seemed to heighten the scariness of the ride for them. They can thank me for teaching them that rides like that can't really hurt you, but they haven't yet. Again, I am stricken with the ingratitude of some people.

May the Rescue Plan Succeed

Which is more to be feared? Bankers who own the government, or a government that owns banks? I have heard it argued that bankers ought to own banks since they are motivated by and regulated by profit, but this does not seem to have been the case for some time now.

Am I less free now that the government has stepped in to rescue the economy? I think not. Whatever freedom I enjoy has always been at the sufferance of the sovereign. Whatever it is convenient at the moment for the sovereign to regulate, it regulates. If it is inconvenient to the sovereign or a matter of indifference to it, I am "free" to act and think and speak in the fields the sovereign ignores. For the moment.

If the economy is "rescued", I will be better off than if it is allowed or caused to descend completely into the shitter. I am inclined to hope for success for the rescue plan. Its failure may see me living under a bridge.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Selfless and Stateless

My issue with the state is that I would prefer to live under organizing principles that are not predicated on violence. I differ with some other advocates of statelessness in that I reserve no special reverence for property rights. These are also predicated on violence inasmuch as they must be enforced by states or private defense agencies.

I am also not an advocate of individualism or selfishness. Rather, the perfect society in my view would be characterized by selflessness and love.

How do we (assuming you agree with me) get to the selfless, stateless society? Is it necessary to embrace the total state in order to destroy it? Because man has not yet been transformed into a perfectly loving and selfless being, what intermediate stages must we endure on the path to utopia?

Bible Verses that Baffle

The emergency back up preacher delivered a sernon on Jesus as "The VIne". Sure enough, he took it too far and asked what Jesus meant when he talked about bearing "fruit". As I see it, the point is that we as branches bear fruit, i.e. have value and efficacy, only when we are attached to the vine. There's no need to inquire about what kind of fruit and whether it's tart or sweet.

What the preacher didn't talk about from the Biblical passage where Jesus likened himself to the vine was the part where Jesus promised that if we abide in him we can ask for anything and get it. I've never heard a plausible explanation about what this is supposed to mean. It seems pretty straightforward. Abide in Jesus, ask for anything you want, and you'll get it. Also, there are a number of verses where Jesus says very similar things about how anything is possible with faith and about how God, who loves us more than any earthly father, will give us anything we want. Finally, Jesus promises that whosoever lives and believes in him will never die.

I struggle with these promises. If the explanation is that abiding in Jesus means that we want only what God wills, ie whatever in fact happens, then why didn't Jesus just say that? Maybe nobody has had enough faith to cheat death or move mountains. Maybe we just aren't abiding hard enough to get our wishes fulfilled.

Can the faithful alter reality itself if their faith is strong enough?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Biblical Metaphors

The sermon on Sunday was about how Jesus is the Good Shepherd and how we are like sheep. This metaphor works to make the points that Jesus knows his own and his own know him, that he takes care of us, that he seeks us out when we go astray.

But I don't think it should be taken too much further. I don't want to get into how we sheep might get fleeced or slaughtered. I don't reckon Jesus was going there when he compared himself to a shepherd. He never mentioned having a border collie.

The theme of the sermons in Lent revolves around the names and metaphors that Jesus used for himself. Many of these, such as the shepherd, the gate, the way, the light, the vine, the door are useful until you take them too far. Jesus is like each of these things in some ways, but not in all ways. Jesus is like a vine in that he bears metaphorical fruit, but he is not like a vine in that he does not engage in photosynthesis, nor is he subject to fungal attack on his roots. Jesus is the light in that he enlightens us, but he does not travel at light speed and does not have the characteristics of both a particle and a wave.

You see where I'm going here? You have to make interpretive choices when you read the Bible because of all the allegory, poetry, parables, metaphors and other literary devices. You can't, as I've heard some claim, take the Bible "just as it is" with no interpretation. Well, you can, but it won't make any sense.

BSG Ends in an Unbelievable Way

The final episode of Battlestar Galactica ended on a weird note. The 38,000 surviving humans landed on what is clearly Earth around 150,000 years ago. They spread themselves over the globe and went native and presumably interbred with the archaic human population they found there.

What are the odds of humanity's evolving twice on two separate worlds? Wouldn't the 38,000 souls show up in our gene pool and skew the evidence of genetic diversity? Wouldn't signs of agriculture and metallurgy from 150,000 years ago have turned up? What about the human presence in Australia and the Americas so long ago?

I can believe in Cylons and faster than light travel, but it all fell apart for me in that last episode. What the frak?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Toxic Assets

I am willing to buy up all the toxic assets held by financial institutions on the following terms:

A) The federal government has to front me the money.
B) I don't have to pay back the government until I sell the assets.
C) If I lose money on any of the assets, I don't have to pay back the difference.
D) If I make money on any of the assets, I get to keep it.

Isn't that fair for the man who is offering to save the banking industry?

Jesse Lou Baggett is a Sick Puppy

Jesse's not in hospital any more. We picked him up Saturday evening. He is able to walk albeit like a drunk. He drinks a lot and pees even more, but he won't eat anything. He turns his nose up at all his favorites. I may need to score some pot for him and give him a shotgun. That's what friends do. He'd do it for me if he knew how to smoke.

His eyes aren't jiggling like they were. He just looks sad. He spoke yesterday for the first time in a week, and I take this as a positive sign. He also tried to get up on his favorite sofa instead of just passing out on the floor. I pray that this signifies progress.

Jesse has been my friend for almost 10 years and has lived with me for 8 years. He is a damned fine dog considering his background as an urban stray. So he mangled a couple of cats in his day? Haven't we all done things in our youth that we're sorry for? And that shitzu had it coming.

We don't have an emergency back up dog since Trudy died several years ago, so both the boys are indispensable.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What's Better Than a Gold Medal at the Special Olympics?

Not being retarded.

I made the mistake of telling this joke to my then 8 year old nephew who retold it in my presence to his feebleminded great uncle. I was very uncomfortable when this happened, and my brother seemed to take great delight in this. "Hey Uncle Floyd! What's better than an Olympic Gold Medal?", asked the kid. "What?" replied Floyd. "Not being retarded!!" The kid laughed, so Floyd laughed, too. Nobody laughed more than my brother.

Leter I realized that neither the kid nor Floyd had a clue about the joke's meaning. And the kid's mangled version of the joke seemed to me to be even funnier for some reason. If I had to choose between an Olympic Gold Medal and not being retarded, I'd go with the latter. Who wouldn't?

Special Olympics

When President Obama likened himself to a Special Olympian on Jay Leno, it never occurred to me that anyone would take offense and that the drooling heads on CNN would be all over it. If I were a Special Olympian, I would be proud that President Obama would characterize his efforts to raise his level of bowling proficiency by practicing as akin to the efforts of Special Olympians. That's if they had the sense to understand what he was saying, which I'm pretty sure they don't. But them as are not feebleminded and who have loved ones who are special should have been proud for them.

Seriously, what was offensive about President Obama's remark? The analogy was spot on. Moreover, he was comparing himself to the Special people. What kind of insult is that? Is it that he is still not much of a bowler even though he tries that offends the sensiblities of those whose business it is to get offended on behalf of the Special? That's just stupid. Special Olympians are by and large not very good athletes, but the point is that they try and should be honored for trying despite the challenges they face.

Have you ever been to the Special Olympics? I have. They're great. The participants are wonderful people, and if they were capable of understanding what President Obama meant, they would chastise their spokespeople for being wankers.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


On my way home from Chicago yesterday, my pack of baby wipes was mistaken for a threat by the Transportation Security Administration, so my bag was searched. The day before, some TSA wankers in Stewart came into the gate area and demanded that a woman submit her coffee, which she had just purchased at the Euro Cafe by the gate, to a test for chemical agents. Do they have any idea how ridiculous this nonsense makes them appear? I don't carry toiletries any more just so I don't have to go through the indignity of having some TSA bureaucrat check to make sure I have less than 3 ounces of shampoo in a one quart zip lock bag. I note that the threat level is orange, so I have adjusted my routine accordingly.

I had the good fortune of sitting in first class for one leg of the journey home. First class means that you are treated as a human being with some modicum of dignity and get to sit in a seat in which an ordinary human body actually fits. And there's free booze.

The airport in Philly is as seedy as it gets. The toilets are filthy. There was a toilet at O'Hare, though, that took the prize for dysfunctionality. So much of the commode was taken up with an automated dispenser of a plastic seat cover that one's turd production apparatus was barely situated over the turd disposal area. And forget about peeing at the same time. The urination production apparatus was left suspended in space over one's trousers and feet.

Luckliy, I flew in and out of Stewart, the small regional airport just 25 miles from my house. I was able to jump in my car parked 100 yards from the terminal and drive home in about a half hour. Had I used Newark or La Guardia, it would have taken 30 minutes to find my car and a couple of hours to drive home.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Post About Nothing

I haven't posted much lately because I've got nothing. Just a few random observations of no interest to anyone. Wait, that's what my blog is for!

Did you ever notice that the Ghost Hunters are always scared shitless of ghosts? Why is that? Ghosts can barely manage to manifest themselves in the slightest and subtlest ways, so I'm pretty sure they can't harm you. Besides, shouldn't they be happy to find a ghost, what with being ghost hunters and all?

I am addicted to "The Wire". In honor of that show, I have added liberal usage of the words motherfucker and cocksucker to my vocabulary. I also am drawn to "Big Love". It's creepy, but it sucks you in. "Battlestar Galactica" is ending. How will I go on?

My dog Jesse has vestibulitis and is in the hospital. He's getting on in years, so we can look forward to a period of prolonged illnesses and incontinence. It still won't make us glad to see him go.

My second cousin invited me to his wedding. I reckon he had to, what with my living so close by. I reckon the best gift I can give is to decline the invitation and make room for somebody he and his bride to be actually know and like.

I just finished Spencer Wells' "Journey of Man". I like the subject matter, how polymorphisms on the nonrecombinant portion of the Y chromosome can be used to make inferences about human migration, but he keeps using an annoying soup analogy that just doesn't work for me. Genetic polymorphisms are not very much like soup recipes, so the soup analogy isn't all that helpful. Aside from that, it's a good read. Now I'm on Brian Greene's "Fabric of the Cosmos" or some such title. It makes sense to me, Mr Mathematical Retard, and is enjoyable to read.

Mrs Vache Folle and I are making slow but steady progress on our Rosetta Stone Spanish lessons. The program has a hard time accepting her voice, even when her pronunciation is spot on. I have no such difficulty. I try to talk like the announcers on Telemundo. It seems to work.

Preparation for Good Friday and Easter in choir is freaking me out. The other tenors never show up for practice so I have to carry the whole section, and I suck at reading music and keeping time. Our recently departed director was particularly good at helping me figure out my part. She understood that she could not underestimate my abilities.

I've been working a lot. That's good news for the bank account, but it really cuts into my sitting around time.

I got a Blackberry, a hand me down from one of Mrs VF's former co-workers. I actually use it to read e-mail and get on the internet. I never used a cell phone before except in emergencies.

Now posterity will know what I was up to at this point in spacetime.

Andy Breitbart Makes People Stupid by Osmosis

On Real Time, some wanker by the name of Andy Breitbart represented conservatives and Republicans. He spent almost the entire time whining about how he was afraid to say anything because it might be construed as racist. The rest of the time he spent denying that Rush Limbaugh is racist. He came off as an idiot. Not all conservatives who appear on Real Time are so transparently stupid, and I reckon he won;t be back on the show any time real soon. Bill Maher doesn't make a habit of booking the dumbest people he can on the right. He wants an interesting show and not simply for some fool like Breitbart to embarrass himself.
At first I felt a little sorry for the guy, but he was such a douche that empathy wore off within a minute or so. I just wanted him to go away.
Note to self. The name Breitbart is code for stupidity, so don't waste any time on anything he has written or where he appears. If anyone starts a sentence with "Andy Breitbart says..." feel free to stop listening.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thousands of Domestic Terrorists Per Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris claims that there is a large domestic terrorist network ready to overthrow the United States: http://www.examiner.com/x-2071-DC-Special-Interests-Examiner~y2009m3d9-Chuck-Norris-claims-thousands-of-right-wing-cell-groups-exist-and-will-rebel-against-US-government

I don't suppose any of them would squawk if they were indefinitely detained without charges or trial, since those were the gnarly powers they once thought the president of the US should have. Back when he was a white dude. Just a few months ago as a matter of fact.

Who are these domestic terrorists? Folks making over $250K pissed about their taxes going up? We'll soon find out when they have a giant conference call on the 13th!

The Snow is Gone

Except for the massive piles made by the plow, the snow is all gone. The ice on the pond is over half melted. Alas, one of our koi was found dead. The fate of the others is not yet known for they remain under what's left of the ice. The yard has been deformed by the series of freezes and thaws this winter, and I don't know if it will revert to its previous state once the temperature settles above freezing. If not, I'll have to fill in some of the depressions with my new abundant supply of silt in the pond.

My efforts to shore up the pond by the weir paid off, but the excess water found other unapproved outlets. The damage is much less than in years past, but more rocks will have to be mined from the mountainside and installed at the water's edge.

Mrs Vache Folle and I removed 7 grocery sacks of dog feces from the yard this weekend. Ordinarily, we keep the yard clear of fecal matter in a weekly "treasure hunt", but snow on snow on snow concealed the treasure until the recent thaw.

The yard is a soggy mess, so Jasper and Jesse have been tracking in mud. We can't seem to impress on them the importance of wiping their paws.

I see that there is a lot of cleaning up to be done what with leaves and sticks and other detritus all over the place. The deer ate a few of our plants, most notably the rhodies, but we are hopeful that they will grow new leaves. We tried to distract them with corn, but there's only so much corn you can put out. The pond overflow damage cost us a couple of perennials.

My scheme to terrace the back of the pond worked fairly well, and erosion from the mountainside was limited.

I aim to drag the deck furniture out of the shed this weekend. This action will insure that there will be at least one more snowstorm.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The New GOP Platform

I understand that the GOP is rooting for our entry into a full blown postapocalyptic dystopia. Apparently, they figure that's the only environment in which they can thrive or, failing that, in which their agenda will have some traction. I reckon they're right as long as they are still in thrall to the Christianist fascist part of their coalition.

If civilization collapses, the family will be strengthened. It will have to be stronger because folks will have to join together in lineages to survive.

Religion, or at least some kinds of religion, will be more influential as folks turn to God or gods to pray for salvation from starvation or zombie invasion.

Science, that pesky obstacle, will be set back as we enter a new Dark Age or as the wingnuts call it "The Good Old Days". Stem cell research won't be an issue because... what's a stem cell? Evolution won't be taught because nothing will be taught except Bible stories. Eventuially these will be taught from memory because reading will fall out of favor.

Liberal media? No problem. All news will be delivered from pulpits and by town criers and gossip.

Abortion? Nobody will know how to perform one. On the down side, about a quarter of women will die in childbirth and a quarter of the children will die before they are one year old.

Medical care will be universally unavailable.

Taxes will be low, mainly because incomes will be low. Most of us will simply work for our feudal warlords 60% of the time in lieu of paying taxes.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Limbaugh is the Real King of the GOP

Rush Limbaugh is a big giant douche who lacks any redeeming social value. He makes the stupid people who listen to him even stupider.

And he is what passes for the "intelligentsia" in the GOP.

This and That

I was wrong in my wishful prediction that some anomalous early appearances by some species of birds presaged an early spring. Way wrong. There's nigh on a foot of snow on the ground, and it's in the single digits in temperature.

On the plus side of the ledger, I have been eating my grass fed, free range meat from Fleischer's and enjoying it more than I can describe. The pork tastes like pork tasted when I was a kid on the farm. The beef is flavorful and rich. The chicken tastes delicious. I haven't tried the lamb yet, but I have high hopes based on experience so far. After eating the pork chops we prepared last Friday, I almost wept for joy.

Mrs Vache Folle found an interesting recipe for pesto in a magazine, and we tried it Sunday. Instead of basil and pine nuts, you use baby spinach and walnuts. It's worth a try.

I've been seeing lots of turkey vultures lately, perhaps drawn to the thawing casualties of winter. Also, red tailed hawks occasionally appear in the tree line along the back meadow. Some critter has been stealing the woodpecker cakes as fast as we can put them out. I suspect a coon.

Speaking of woodpeckers, we have had three species (downy, hairy, red bellied) so far. I have yet to tempt a pileated woodpecker to our place, although I have seen one just south of here.