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.