Christian Science Monitor: A culture of bribery in Congress

I'm still not sure how such an... interesting... religion as "Christian
Science" gets a newspaper as generally level-headed as the
Christian Science Monitor, but they've
got a nice

editorial on the Cunningham case and state of corruption in Congress
:

Either way, money still talks in Washington and the legal/illegal
distinction gets easily blurred in all the backroom dealings with private
interests until, that is, a brazen case of bribery pops up. Then

Poets are sexy

Reuters reports that creativity is sexy:

Pablo Picasso, Lord Byron and Dylan Thomas had more in common than simple creativity. They also had active sex lives, which researchers said on Wednesday was no coincidence.

Psychologists at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Open University in Britain found that professional artists and poets have about twice as many partners as other people.

Osaka notes

Well, been back from Japan a few weeks now, hustling to make up lost
time at work. So again no updates for a while.

Japan was...wonderful. Again, I didn't want to leave; and I'm now
tentatively planning and plotting to go back for a longer stay, maybe six
months or a year.

It wouldn't be until next fall at the earliest, what with the big Seido Karate 30th Anniversary Saiten in June, and the AOBTA conference in July.

I don't know if I'll go through with it or not, but I am signed up for a
Japanese language class in the spring at Anne Arundel Community College.
(Have to go all the way to Arnold - I'm minutes from UMBC and Catonsville
campus of BCCC, but they don't offer the introductory Nihongo class next
semister...) And I'm looking at turning part of my house into an apartment
I can rent out to help cover the mortgage while I'm away. I figure these
are useful things to do regardless of whether I follow through on a longer
trip.

Greetings from Osaka

Hello friends! Was running around the past few weeks trying to get
everything lined up for my Japan trip (thus the lack of updates), now here
I am...

Got in Thursday local time, and Friday went with Robin to the school where
she teaches English to Japanese children. And I mean children - one
and a half to two an a half years old. Bilingual toddlers. They had a whole
day of Halloween events, including bobbing for apples and a pinata (filled
with American candy I brought over).

Saturday night we went to a party on the Osaka loop line, a train that
encircles the city. At first it was a complete madhouse - they had us
packed in with regular commuters, too packed to even break out a beer. I
was not having a good time...but then, as far as I can figure out, JR
(Japan Railways, on of the several train companies here) brought out an
out-of-service train for us. It was still crowded, but now it was fun!

"Dog Welcomes Squirrel Into Litter of Pups" - AP

This story of a dog nursing an orphaned infant squirrel reminds me not only of the recent "adoption" of a baby hippopotamus by a tortoise, but also of an incident some years back with my dog Piccolo.

It was spring, and the grass in back yard was a little long. I let the dogs out for their morning romp, but when I called them back in, Piccolo stayed where she was, lying on the ground. Not even the promise of a dog treat would get her to come. Worried, I went over to her, and found her curled protectively around a nest of baby rabbits in the grass!

Gore unlikely to run; Clinton unlikely to win

Al Gore says he has no intention of running for President again. Kind of a shame, he's saying all the right things on the issues now. (Al, where was your voice in the 2000 election?)

Much is being made of Senator Hillary Clinton as a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2008. That would be a suicidal path for the Democratic party - not (or not just) because Clinton is a controversial figure and woman to boot, but simply because the American people do not elect Senators to the Presidency.

Of the ten men elected president since WWII, four were former Vice-Presidents. Of the remainder, four were former governors, and the other two were war heroes.

Get Smart's Discordian connection

Recently I was talking with our good friend Carl Schwartzman when the recent death of Don Adams, who of course played Maxwell "Agent 86" Smart in Get Smart, came up. Carl mentioned that since Adams's death, the number 86 kept popping up for him.

Of course any numerological topic brings to my mind the the Law Of Fives. And I quickly realized that 8 + 6 = 14, and 1 + 4 = 5. Law of Fives, front and center. What else would you expect from a show where the heroes are trying to fight "KAOS", but often end up making more trouble than their opponents? No question, Max was a Knight Of The Five-Sided Temple.

Christians who know "all about the apocalypse but not the Beatitudes"

Tim Kreider, of The Pain - When Will it End?, gives the best description I've ever heard of the problem with most of the religious right in his artist's statement for last week's strip, in which he says of George W. Bush, "He was a mean drunk who got arrested for driving under the influence and threatened to beat up his father, and he was born again as a mean Christian who knew all about the apocalypse but not the Beatitudes."

Next time some hate-monger claims to be a Christian, quiz 'em on it; ask them to recite the Beatitudes, the heart of the teachings of Jeshua ben Joseph. (I can't, but then I don't claim to be a Christian.)

The best we can hope for in Iraq

Something I posted to a Slashdot thread today (material in italics is from the post I'm replying to), addressing a common pro-war attitude:

As a side benefit, the people of Iraq have a chance at self-rule

Well, the 100,000+ dead don't have any chance at self rule, no...and those left have more chance of falling into civil war that, at best, ends up in a theocracy, than of ending up with a stable democracy.

After the way the neocons have fucked things up over there, the very very best we can hope for over there is that in 50 years or so, after a few hundred thousand more people have been killed in the fighting, things will be as nice and stable in Iraq as they are in Northern Ireland now.

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