My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Entry for March 16, 2009

Patience for people’s intellectual abilities should always be directly proportional to the opportunities that they have had to develop those skills.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's Good to be Well

Everywhere that I have lived has had some colloquial communication conundrums for those who are not from their area. In Jamaica “Seen” meant “Yes” or “Do you understand,” whereas in Michigan, “Seen” could be used in either past or present tense: “I seen him coming this way.” So when I moved to South Carolina I expected some provincial differences, but I instead noticed exaggerations of common grammatical mistakes. The most egregious, by sheer volume, is the inability of the local population to use “Good” and “Well” properly.

People often use good when they should use well, especially in speech. For those of you searching your brain for 6th grade English terminology, “Good” is an adjective (a word that describes nouns) and “Well” is usually an adverb (a word used to describe verbs). Good’s meaning indicates the noun is above average or better than normal. As an adverb, Well describes or qualifies an action or to tell how or to what extent an action is carried out. You also can use "well" to describe someone's health. The trick is to remember that you do not use good to describe verbs.

Before moving around the world I always assumed that certain spoken grammatical mistakes were either sloppy slips of the tongue or a sign or a poor education/upbringing. What I’ve learned is that some words or phrases can be local accepted by all classes and educational levels. While I find this uncomfortable, I am trying to see it as part of a dialectic difference. With any luck, I’ll maintain my good grasp of the English language and still fitting in well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Seek Medical Attention

You may not know it, but your stink requires a health professional. If there was an emergency room for BO, you would need to go there. If you smelled any worse, it might be fatal. Your pits could kill Dracula. If you were slightly more malodorous, the military would preemptively invade you. You reek so bad that there should be a team of doctors examining your underarms.

But not to worry, Procter & Gamble has just launched prescription strength deodorant, because they know that you are so far above the normal level of reekatude, that your scent could make an onion cry, you odor is so foul that a priest couldn’t exercise stench off of you and if you were a color is could be called funky tuna.

That is why you need prescription strength deodorant – so that the bouquet of rotting corpses that is your natural aroma might become manageable. Humanity awaits your purchase.

Monday, March 09, 2009

You Are Not Alone

This is an article posted from the AP this week:

More Americans say they have no religion

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP – Mon Mar 9, 12:14 am ET

Children walk back to their pews after listening to the reading of a religious AP – Children walk back to their pews after listening to the reading of a religious story at the foot of the …

A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out o of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

"No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state," the study's authors said.

In the Northeast, self-identified Catholics made up 36 percent of adults last year, down from 43 percent in 1990. At the same time, however, Catholics grew to about one-third of the adult population in California and Texas, and one-quarter of Floridians, largely due to Latino immigration, according to the research.

Nationally, Catholics remain the largest religious group, with 57 million people saying they belong to the church. The tradition gained 11 million followers since 1990, but its share of the population fell by about a percentage point to 25 percent.

Christians who aren't Catholic also are a declining segment of the country.

In 2008, Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults, compared to about 77 percent in 2001 and about 86 percent in 1990. Researchers said the dwindling ranks of mainline Protestants, including Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians, largely explains the shift. Over the last seven years, mainline Protestants dropped from just over 17 percent to 12.9 percent of the population.

The report from The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., surveyed 54,461 adults in English or Spanish from February through November of last year. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5 percentage points. The findings are part of a series of studies on American religion by the program that will later look more closely at reasons behind the trends.

The current survey, being released Monday, found traditional organized religion playing less of a role in many lives. Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious wedding ceremony and 27 percent of respondents said they did not want a religious funeral.

About 12 percent of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths. And, since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents — 1.2 percent — said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Santeria.

The study also found signs of a growing influence of churches that either don't belong to a denomination or play down their membership in a religious group.

Respondents who called themselves "non-denominational Christian" grew from 0.1 percent in 1990 to 3.5 percent last year. Congregations that most often use the term are megachurches considered "seeker sensitive." They use rock style music and less structured prayer to attract people who don't usually attend church. Researchers also found a small increase in those who prefer being called evangelical or born-again, rather than claim membership in a denomination.

Evangelical or born-again Americans make up 34 percent of all American adults and 45 percent of all Christians and Catholics, the study found. Researchers found that 18 percent of Catholics consider themselves born-again or evangelical, and nearly 39 percent of mainline Protestants prefer those labels. Many mainline Protestant groups are riven by conflict over how they should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships, salvation and other issues.

The percentage of Pentecostals remained mostly steady since 1990 at 3.5 percent, a surprising finding considering the dramatic spread of the tradition worldwide. Pentecostals are known for a spirited form of Christianity that includes speaking in tongues and a belief in modern-day miracles.

Mormon numbers also held steady over the period at 1.4 percent of the population, while the number of Jews who described themselves as religiously observant continued to drop, from 1.8 percent in 1990 to 1.2 percent, or 2.7 million people, last year. Researchers plan a broader survey on people who consider themselves culturally Jewish but aren't religious.

The study found that the percentage of Americans who identified themselves as Muslim grew to 0.6 percent of the population, while growth in Eastern religions such as Buddhism slightly slowed.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Entry for March 08, 2009

Science and religion can only coexist if you don't mind letting your religion constantly evolve.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Anderson, SC Jockey Lot

On the northern county line of Anderson County in South Carolina exists a cultural anomaly of epic proportions. Anything, and I do mean anything, seems to exist for sale in this one location. It draws people from as far away as the swamps of Florida to the back woods of Gatlinburg, TN, and even from the parts of Alabama where the term relative humidity literally means the moisture between two cousins having sex. This 65 acre flea market is the largest in the Southern United States and goes by the simple name: The Jockey Lot.

Each visit to the Jockey Lot is an experience that everyone in my family cherishes - mostly because it makes us feel better about ourselves. Now I’m not saying that these individuals are below the national average of intelligence, hygiene or “correct” breeding, I’m just saying that a large percentage of them prove that there is no minimum or maximum amount of chromosomes required to successfully procreate. This is the crowd that makes Larry the Cable Guy culturally relevant and on job applications probably list smoking as a hobby.

I wouldn’t even mention that their personalities can be fully described in hat form, that they consider teeth something they’re going to have to buy, or that most of them have more invested in their trucks than in their homes, except that I neglected to mention you wouldn’t get a full picture of the people who will be your shopping companions if you should ever decide to visit the Lot de Jockey.

You see, the Jockey Lot is a place that allows people to openly sell live poultry, next to pirated DVDs of last week’s movie release, adjacent to a pile of used and unwashed clothes, down the row from open boxes of medication, across from someone serving food that could give diabetes to a sugar ant, and all from sellers who consider showering optional. It is a enormous garage sale of people who don’t have to look their neighbor in the eye while trying to sell them last year’s must have, and still boxed, As Seen on TV products.

Personally, I find the fact that their high art comes in DVD form, that they classify Sunny D a fruit juice and think of Jesus mostly as an accessory, as kind of endearing. In all honesty, there really isn’t anything more entertaining than waking up early on a Saturday morning, hurriedly driving to this mecca of shopping delights, hopping out of the car to immediately see a mullet-clad female using the term redneck as a complement to try to woo her hubby in the Buy American shirt to purchase a cheap Chinese knockoff of a European bag designer while their toddler is shooed away from the semi-automatic gun table. So if you do go and happen to see something like that, and you will, just know that it’s going to be a good day at the Anderson Jockey Lot.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Big Government

Here is the biggest secret in all of Washington: Both the Republicans and Democrats love big government. It guarantees them jobs, makes them more powerful and creates an almost unbreakable institution in which they can run the show. The only difference is that they like big government in different places.

Lately there has been a pseudo-outcry by Republicans over the stimulus bill heading through Congress. Their latest charge is the true and tried "borrow and spend" assault that has worked well for them. Yet when you look at their own history back through the 1980’s, they have done the exact same for their own pet causes.

During Reagan’s Administration government spending increased by 69%, with a 92% increase in defense spending as he built up the military to confront the Soviet Union (none of these numbers are adjusted for inflation). When he left office the economy was growing and the size of the government as a share of total economic production had shrunk slightly, from 22.2% to 21.2%. In contrast, Clinton’s Administration increased government spending by 32% during his time in office; which was decreased by the rapid slowdown in defense spending after the Cold War ended. When he left office, Clinton’s defense spending had increased by just 4%. So the combination of restrained growth in government and a booming economy meant that government's size as a percentage of the economy dropped from 21.4% to 18.5%.

Next up was George W. Bush, who boosted government spending by 68 % in his eight-year presidency, spearheaded by a 126% increase for defense as he waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush's spending totals don't include the $700 billion bank bailout added last fall to his final fiscal year, or the $787 billion stimulus package added early this year, but by the time he left office, Bush's government had grown as a share of the economy from 18.5% to 22%.

Over the last couple of weeks Republicans have done everything that they could to brand Obama as another Big Government liberal. And even while Obama speaks of hope and optimism about the economy, he will probably increase government spending for the next two years, only to lower if back down to that same 22% by the end of his first term – the same as George W. Bush at the end of his presidency and slightly more than Reagan at the end of his.

The interesting thing to watch is Republicans crying Big Government while approving of any spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or on weapons systems such as the F-22 Raptor fighter jet being developed by Lockheed Martin. Even such Rush sycophants like Georgian Republican Representative Phil Gingrey has recently brought an argument to the floor that buying nearly 200 more of the F-22 Raptor jets (he attempted to claim that they were needed to defend ourselves from China and Russia) at $160 million each, is a good investment. If you’re trying to do the math in your head, that’s 32 billion dollars worth of Big Government on something even the military deemed unnecessary.

What it comes down to is that Obama and other Democrats want a big government that addresses their priorities, not the Republicans' agenda. Being a liberal myself, I see the military complex of Big Government that the Republicans pushed through over the last twenty years as wasteful, but the Big Government of education, energy conservation, health care… that the Democrats are now trying to push as worthwhile investments. So in the future, when you hear someone say that they are against Big Government, ask them what specifically they don’t wish to fund. I have a strange feeling that you’ll be able to pick out their political leanings fairly quickly.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Entry for March 04, 2009

If the voice of your political party is a talk show host, you should probably get ready for your party to reorganize.