I'm disappointed that

Ken Salazar, from my own home state, has turned out to be a far more conservative sort of Dem than we were all hoping for. Although, given the general "redness" of Colorado - excepting spots like Boulder and Manitou Springs - getting anyone with a capital D after their names into national public office is a real challenge.

So I was greatly encouraged when I learned that he's been sparring with our good friends at Focus on the White Christian Family. I suspect that what stings Mr. Dobson is not that Salazar compared their desire for theocracy to a similar Saudi affliction, but that they really, truly desire an all-Christian government. In other words, it's not the comparison itself that stung, but the truth that underlies it.



One of my favourite

fortune cookie fortunes, to date at least, is now my AIM away message.

"There can be no existance of evil as a force to the healthy-minded individual."

Allow the profoundity of this statement to penetrate your forebrain and percolate for a time. You will recognise it as a Truth, one of those near-magical ideas that allows you to slice through the thicket of deceit we trudge through every day. I share it with you freely.


Now that I'm working

I have too much time to read stuff. Blogs, news wires, almost any form the english language takes upon my tiny screen.

Oh, tiny? Yes, Pallas has been sold and replaced with a delightfully lightweight 12 inch iBook named Ruri. I upgraded the memory and hard drive myself, which was fun and surprisingly exhausting the first time through.

Week Three of Super German Class began with our first test, and today I got it back graded - "B." That might be the best grade I've ever gotten on a German test in four years of trying to pass the first term. I told my current teacher that I'm a poor student in foreign languages because of my love affair with English, and I'd likely find something wrong with every language that isn't English. Still, to mind it seems as though there's a few things utterly perverse about the German language, which were hilariously summed up by Mark Twain in his essay, "The Awful German Language." Google it, then be like me - read it!


For the first time

in a long long time, words have failed me.

Actually, that's not true. They regularly fail me when it comes time to describe some new and exciting form of idiocy in human life. But in this case, all I'm trying to do is describe the weather in Pittsburgh.

It's so nice, so genuinely enjoyable, so picturesque that I just don't know how to describe it. Even when it rains, it rains solidly and with great assurance, so that you feel that your time is not wasted. Don't worry, says The Weather, I'm serious about getting you wet today. No light halting showers. Relax and enjoy. The sun, as it shines, heats you pleasantly, not oppressively, and when a breeze blows to cool you it feels like a fine light spray of moisture, like those little mister/fan combo things.

I want to burn these days into my limited memory, so that when conditions again become awful, when the air is thick enough to chew and hot enough to melt hip kids' hair gel, I can have a few positive thoughts to draw on.


The Barbarism of Certitude

Ooh, that's some catchy English. I happened upon a Tract, or small illustrated booklet by a man named Chick, which told the tale of an Olde West Gun Slinger. This Gun Slinger came to town to stir up trouble, for some mysterious reason attends church on Sunday morning, and gradually comes to accept the line that God loves all sinners and Jeebus can save him from going to Hell. In the meantime, the local sheriff has posted a reward for his capture and is gathering the forces of Decency, or perhaps Greed and Self-Interest, to capture this Nefarious Bad Guy.

The Gun Slinger emerges from church a converted man, but the locals have him surrounded and cart him off to jail to await his hanging. There is presumably a preponderance of evidence that this dude has done some Heinous Crimes, such that no trial was necessary to determine his guilt. The Sheriff watches his neck snap, the Reverend stands by and covers his eyes. The Nefarious Bad Guy, who may have burned down orphanages, shot countless innocent people, and otherwise engaged in the worst possible criminal behaviour in mid-19th century America, goes to Heaven because he clapped his hands together the night before and agreed to believe in a magical book and special Power Words.

After he's buried, the Sheriff is rejoined by the Reverend to accept Jeebus as well. The Sheriff declines, rides off into the sunset, get's bitten by a snake, dies, and is immediately sent to Hell. Apparently, no amount of Doing Good on Earth can get you into heaven, but no amount of Doing Evil can keep you out. It all hinges on whether or not you believe that a 2,000 year old dead dude can erase a lifetime of moral crapulence.

But Wait, There's More! Apparently a lot more, although I won't link directly to this man's website. I realise no one reads this journal, but I don't even want to take the chance that someone might increase his business. Let it be said that there are plenty of other Tracts on other subjects, including the absolute truth of the Bible in regards to the creation date of the Earth, roughly 6,000 years ago.

The light from distant stars that's been traveling for millions of years? The measurable radioactive half-life of the most common life-giving element on Earth? The less than 2% variation between higher ape and human DNA? The amount of evidence and provable fact that you must ignore in order to arrive at the conclusion that only an invisible Super Man could have built the universe is staggering. It's just not even worth conversing with these people. If that sounds horrible it, is, but I cannot believe that anyone who buys this crap whole could make any useful contribution to human society. It's just flabbergasting.


My sister discovered

an old word for me, one that apparently sums up Who and What I Am in This World.

She said I was a Navigator.

And the moment she said it, I felt a little tingle of certainty, as in yes, that describes "Me" perfectly. What does it mean? In the context of our conversation, it does not refer merely to an aptitude with maps and star charts, although I've demonstrated that as well. To make it through this world one must know how to Navigate the endless streams of desire and need, fact and fiction, possibility and apocalypse, Reality and Unreality that we are presented with minute by minute of our mediated existence. More than anything, I think, no matter what the circumstances a Navigator knows instinctively how to find their way, and aide others in finding theirs.

That is an immense gift, terrifying and humbling yet strangely comforting as well. It should not be confused with an ability to know the absolute truth, or to disseminate such truths to those who lack them. That's a bit egotistical. Finding your way, in the traditional Bhuddist sense, means coming to an understanding of your place in this world and making the care of others your highest charge after eliminating the root of selfishness, your Self.

Mystical gobbledygook, perhaps. The Bus Stop Prophet told me that I would be a Warrior, who would show "all the rest of us how to do things right." Who the fuck knows? I think I can do both.

The Awesome New Book

That Is Currently Occupying My Thought Processes For Most of the Day: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris. He makes some difficult points and some outrageous-sounding claims, but the logic of his central position seems solid. Here are some tastey bits -

"The idea that any one of our religions represents the infallible word of the One True God requires an encyclopedic ignorance of history, mythology, and art even to be entertained... for there is no more evidence to justify a belief in the literal existance of Yaweh and Satan than there was to keep Zeus perched upon his mountain throne or Poseidon churning the seas."

"The belief that certain books were written by God... leaves us powerless to address the most potent source of human conflict, past and present. How is it that the absurdity of this idea does not bring us, hourly, to our knees? It is safe to say that few of us would have thought so many people could believe such a thing, if they did not actually believe it. Imagine a world in which generations of human beings come to believe that certain films were made by God or that specific software was coded by him. Imagine a future in which millions of our descendants murder each other over rival interpretations of Star Wars or Windows 98. Could anything - anything - be more ridiculous? And yet, this would be no more ridiculous than the world we are living in."

As I said, many rough points about the unsustainable influence of religious faith on what we think of as modern understanding. Somewhat perversely, I am now gripped by a real desire to read the Bible, or at least as much of it as I can manage to get through, just to confirm my own worst suspicions about this oddly powerful tome of myths and legends.

At the very absolute minimum, it will Get You Thinking.