Saturday, December 31, 2005

Pikeville And The Vanishing Mountains

When a hurricane hits land, it suddenly starts to break down. A weak category two will almost immediately become a category one. It has something to do with the friction of the land, in combination with the sudden lack of warm Gulf water by way of which the storm is fueled. As even the most monstrous of storms makes their way up into the interior of such states as Alabama, or Mississippi, and on into the mountains of Tennessee, even the strongest, most monstrous of storms eventually become degraded to the point that for the most part they become at worse bad thunderstorms. Under the best of condtions, they can spawn off tornadoes, even when they reach into the state of Kentucky. But at least, by the time they make it up that far, their hurricane days are over, even if they originally made landfall as a category five or a strong category four.

That, however, is all about to change, thanks in part to a partnership between two men very few, even in Kentucky, have ever heard of.

Donovan Blackburn is the city manager of the Easter Kentucky town of Pikeville, and he has recently formulated a plan in conjunction with Jim Slater, the President of Central Appalachian Mining. The plan now all but in the process of implementation is one whereby the mining company would be contracted to mine all the coal out of at least two large mountains on the outskirts of the city. Once the coal is sufficiently removed, the land would then by flattenned, and then used for various development projects. Mainly for homes, but there is also an agreement in the process of being finalized involving a Mr. Mike de Bourbon, an attorney who represents local airports. There has also been discussion concerning the prospect of baseball and soccer fields.

As you might have surmised, we are talking about a whole lotta land here. Enough to change not only the landscape of Pikeville, and Pike County, but more to the point, completely change the environmental structure of potentially the entire state of Kentucky.Especially viewed n conjunction with other, similar projects that have been undertaken in recent years. A baseball field in nearby Prestonsburg, for example, necessitated the removal of a significant portion of mountain land, now flat land.

The reasoning in the current Pikeville project can be sumed up as the need for lieberstraum. The 6500 person population town of Pikeville needs room for expansion. One might hope for a different, more environmentally friendly solution. Ashland is not that far away, for example, and what the hell is in Pikeville anyway. Whatever is not there, it probably won't be there any time soon. Just more people, and increased social services to meet not the needs of the general population, but those of the newcomers. But of course, extra tax revenues in Ashland would not translate into higher salaries-and bonuses-for city officals of Pikeville.

The Pikeville development project, however, might well translate into a serious climactic change for the state of Kentucky, and in fact this has been ongoing for several years, in fact, for going on two decades now. Winter snow is pretty much a thing of the past, at least in comparison to years gone by. Rain in the winter was actually all but unheard of in Kenutcky.

Now, winter rain is a common Kentucky occurrence, and it is a nasty rain, an unhealthy rain, as there is a significant lessenning of natural flora to prevent flooding and erosion. Winters are not as cold, but they are sitll cold, and so on the worse of days, instead of snow, we are blessed with sleet and hail. There is significant snowfall once every few years, but it is rare. There is seldom any accumulation that amounts to anything, nor does it stick around when it comes.

As for the summer years, there is an increase of tornadoes to contend with, once a rarity, now practically a yearly, and frequent, occurrence. The reason for all this can be traced back directly to mining, development-and politics.

When the Democratic Party held the state of Kentucky in it's grasp, the party naturally became so corrupt, that it all but imploded from within, and the Bop Trop scandals, resulting from a federal investigation, spelled the end of Democratic Party domination of the state. But the Republicans achieving parity with the state Democratic Party only made things worse, in a lot of ways, and environmental issues are just one example of this.

Now to be clear, the Democratic Party in the earlier days were not exactly pro-environmental tree huggers. It took a significant amount of protest and threatened court lawsuits to prevent Red River Gorge from being turned into a giant dam project. And this was in the days of Democratic monopoly over the state.

Of course, in those days, environmental activism was in it's infancy. Yet, Red River Gorge ws one of the early successes of the modern environmental movement. Now it is almost forgotten, and there have been whispered rumors, once again, that the Gorge area as well may be slated for some future development.

Back in those early environmentally aware days, it became plain that the practice of strip mining, in which entire mountaintops were removed and levelled, would have a future negative impact on the surrounding area that would have far reaching consequences. And so, environmental laws were passed, on the federal level, that mandated the restoration of mountain lands, after strip mining, to as much of it's original contours as was possibile.

Unfortunately, Messrs. Slater and Blackburn have apparrently, suppossedly, found some kind of obscure exception written into this federal law that allows for development in the case of need for expansion. I don't expect the Interior Department or the Environmental Protection Agency under George W. Bush to be much help in rushing to prevent the development. It would probably take a court order to get it stopped, and another series of court battles to order the project permanently halted. As of now, I know of no one rushing to the courts. The only briefs being filed would appear to be the ones covering the pocket pool doubles currently being played by the mining and other development and business interests, and Frankfort politicians.

As such, I don't expect the project to be stopped, now do I expect it to be an unusual case. I expect more, in the years ahead. For all his faults, Governor Paul Patton managed to prevent mining on Black Mountain, which is the highest elevation in the state-for now. Along with the Red River Gorge, it too is probably once more in danger, as I'm sure there are greedy eyes yet turned toward it. Just waiting for the right opportunity, fo rthe right go ahead from the right person. Or for the right heads to be appropriately turned away.

But it looks like that's just the way it is for now, until the people stand up and shout, enough! Again, I don't expect this to happen either. There are too many wedge issues by which voters can be distracted, and who cares about a place like Pikeville anyway? Or any place else in the mountains of Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky, for that matter. Any change would be an improvement, right?

Fine. But think about this. In the event a strong category four or five hurricane batters into Florida, and makes it's way up to Kentucky by way of Georgia and/or Alabama, it might be more than a strong thunderstorm by the time it makes it here. It might in fact be a strong category one hurricane still, or even a weak category two.

Actions have consequences. Unfortunately, the people that are repsonsible, or will be in the event this shortsighted policy of greed isn't reined in, are not the ones who will suffer those consequences, as for the most part they probably won't be living in the affected areas. Or if they do, they can easily leave.

No, it's all the rest of us chumps who will be left to deal with the devastation. The average citizen of Kentucky, the descendant of that rapidly vanishing breed, the mountain people, who a century from now, at this rate, will be remembered, if at all, as a long extinct breed of person. Maybe even as a category of faerie folk who, for all their mystical powers, could not prevent the storms.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Burning Bushes

Of all things for the Bush Administration to choose to pick a fight over, you have to wonder why they would choose to get involved in the up-coming Supreme Court case involving Anna Nichole Smith, who is attempting to overturn the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco) appeals court decision which itself reversed a previous decision that allowed Ms. Smith 89 million dollars from the estate of her late husband, the late Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall. The amount had been lowered from the original 474 million originally sought. Mr. Marshall's son has fought tooth and nail to prevent Ms. Smith from receiving any benefits from her late husband.

The former Playboy bunny, a Playmate of the Year, was only 26 when she married Mr. Marshall, who was himself 89 years old at the time. He died a year later, in the year 1995. Marshall's son fought the settlement with Ms. Smith on the grounds of mental incompetence on the part of his late father.

Originally, Ms. Smith was disallowed any kind of inheritance from the estate of her husband, but she was finally awarded the 89 million in the aftermath of a bankruptcy petition. And here's where it gets sticky.

Supposedly, the Bush Administration has opted to join in this lawsuit, on the side of Anna Nichole Smith, on the grounds of protecting the rights of federal courts to rule in bankruptcy cases, over the rights of state courts in settlement cases.

In other words, the Ninth Circuit seems to have ruled in a way you would expect would meet, for once, the approval of the Bush Administration. They ruled in favor of recognizing the jurisdiction of the State of Texas Courts to decide wills and property disputes.

But, no, the Bush Administration, Republican and suppossedly conservative, filled with ideoloques who purport to be for keeping bankruptcy cases under tight control, and in limiting any kind of monetary damages to what they would consider a reasonable level, if any at all-have decided in favor of the federal bankruptcy court.

Is it stating to make sense? It does to me, but only if you suspend disbelief that the Bush Administration cares a rip about a woman they probably perceive to be a tawdry tramp out to make as much money as she can get out of a naive old, lonely, and foolish man. They would probably explain they are not judging the case on it's merits, they are simply standing up for the rights of the federal bankruptcy court to make whatever decision it comes to, right or wrong.

Maybe. But I have to wonder if there is something else going on here behind the scenes. The Marshalls doubtless have little regard for the Bush family, who they probably think of as transplanted Yankee tenderfoots trying to trade in a manufactured image of Texas machismo for political capital. They may have been politcal supporters of this wealthy, conservative talking, politcal dynasty, but I doubt there were ever any real bonds between them.

And, there may have been no real political affiliation as well. I have no idea as to what the politcal leanings, in general, of the Marshall family may have been, or are now. It is worth noting, however, that throughout most of it's history, Texas has been, though conservative, a Democratic state.

The wealthy, more than anyone, hedge their bets, contributing appreciable amounts of money to Democratic candidates, even though for the most part, of course, they understandably prefer Republicans. Yet,it is conceivable that the Marshall family, as a good many others, may have been supporters to one degree or another, of such notable Texas Democratic luminaries as Lyndon Johnson, John Connolly (who switched from Democrat to Republican in his later years), and former Governor Anne Richardson, and a host of others. In addition, it's a safe bet that, as well as viewing with disdain the Bushes Texas pretensions, the wealthy Marshall family has looked with alarm at some of the none too conservative positions, and actions, of the Bush family over the years, and have supported considersable oppossition to them.

Of course, I could be well off base in all this. It could well be that the Bush family has no reason whatsoever to go after the Marshall family due to some perceived politcal slight. In fact, it could well be the Marshall familyhas been, in the past, dependable supporters of the Bush faamily-at least politcally.

One thing is for sure, though, the Bush family would be well advised to not count on any continuing support from them.

The Countdown Factor-Olbermann versus O'Reilly

It all started in the wake of the court settlement between Bill O'Reilly, the host of Fox News Channels "The O'Reilly Factor", and a former female producer who had accussed him of sexual harrassment. O'Reilly appearred on the air, in the format of his highly rated program, to inform the viewers that what he had experienced was the worse kind of evil, and now that it had been settled, he would "never speak of it again".

Following this, his MSNBC competitor, Keith Olbermann, the host of the quirky "Countdown with Keith Olberman", had this reply, and I paraphrase-"It's not over until I say it's over".

The first volley of the war had been fired. It's been ongoing ever since.

Olbermann has no qualms about replaying episodes from Fox News, mostly O'Reillys Factor segments, when he wants to make a statement or a point. John Gibson has also been a recent target, however. In either case, he pulls no punches, nor is there any doubt as to who or what he is talking about, as he gleefully identifies his targets by name, position, and netwok affiliation.

O'Reilly is a bit more persnickety about this, or it could be a matter of Fox company policy, but whichever the case, O'Reilly has never mentioned Olbermann's name, nor the name of his program-not so much as once.

He mainly refers to MSNBC, saying that it is "out of control", that it is falling apart, and that his "competitor" (Olbermann) is a smear merchant, and that O'Reillys early morning fourth rerun (actually, the third rerun, to be technical about it), beats his (Olbermanns) first run eight o'clock showing in the ratings.

"Unbelievable", exclaims O'Reilly, who obvioulsy wants Olbermann gone from the network, if for no other reason than simple general principle.

To this, Olbermann replied a few days later on his own show, actually replaying the preceeding mentioned clip, that this was a dodge, and that it wasn't about the ratings. He never denied O'Reilly's ratings were better than his, he said, then adding that "five and a half million flies can't be wrong."

And on it goes. At various times, O'Reilly has been, according to Olbermann, the days "worse person in the world". This of course is a segment in which the three worse persons, according to Olbermann, are listed, counted down from number three on down to the absolute worse, number one. When Olberrman listed O'Reilly as that particular days worse person in the world, it was over the "Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays" brouhaha for which John Gibson has also been targeted by Olbermann.

On another day, O'Reilly was actually named all three of the days "worse persons in the world". Another time, during a final installment of theMichael Jackson trial "Puppet Theatre",( in which newsphoto heads are superimposed on top of a popsickle stick, while a voice, obviously Olbermanns, narrates a ridiculous, suppossed utterrance of certain persons involved in the proceedings), the Michael Jackson puppet, in relief at finally being acquitted of the charges of child molestation brought against him, exclaims to fellow puppet and brother Randy Jackson, "now at last I can finally take off this mask."

Do I really have to tell you who the Michael Jackson puppet was revealed to be?

Unfortunatley, O'Reilly has been on vacation over the Chistmas season, and probably won't return until after New Years. He will probably continue to refrain speaking the name of Keith Olbermann, or the name of his show, on the grounds that his competitor shouldn't be so dignified. But I'm thinking he might have some reply to make in defense of all those five and a half million flies who are his viewers. How could he not?

In the meantime, my viewing schedule is pretty well set for eight o'clock. From here on out I watch O'Reilly, until I get my needed bitch fix. Once the fly remark, and all it's attendant implications, are addressed, naturally I will turn back over to Olbermann. I'm sure he won't dissapoint.

It's more fun than professional wrestling. And it's for real.

Austria-Land Of Terminators

An astute historian knows, ofcourse, that Adolf Hitler was not truly German. He was Austrian. To him, this was a distinction without a difference, and he quickly set about doing away with the distinction when he annexed his home coutnry to his adopted land, prior to the onset of World War II, wihtout so much as a shot being fired in protest, or in fact with little if any protest. Out of all the countries involved in the world conflagration that quickly followed, Austria probably sufferred the least. Out of all the millions killed during the conflict, Austria's casualty rate was among the lowest, probaly less than a percent of the total, at least of the civilian population.

Of course, there were military personnel, and Nazi Party oficials in particular who left behind a legacy. One of these was Kurt Waldheim, who for a brief period was Secretary General of the United Nations. Another would be the father of naturalizd American citizen, and actor, and currently Republican governor of the state of California, Arnold Swarzenneggar.

It seems odd how the Austrians, at least the officials of that nation, have turned on the man they once considered the homeland hero. Especially seeing as how they have so few of them. And to be sure, I am no fan of Arnold Swarzenneggar, either of his politics, or of his acting. But give him this, he simply did his job in the case of convicted murderer Stanly "Tookie" Williams, who was finally put to death after Swarzzeneggar refused to commute his sentence to life in prison without possibility of parole. He simply followed the law. He agreed to review the case, and having done so, found no grounds whereby commuting the sentence would be justified. It's really just that simple.

With all due respect to my European based friends and associates-America's ancestors left Europe for a reason, in fact, for a bunch of damned good ones. Europeans have their own peculiar-very peculiar-way of doing things, and we have ours. We can debate the merits of each individual instance of difference over a steaming hot cup of coffee, perhaps, but in the final analysis, our laws are ours, and whether we keep them or adjust them, is really a matter for us and us alone to decide. Europeans, or no other outside nation, has a say in the matter, really.

So, while you continue to award Nobel prizes only to Americans who tow the line according to what you perceive to be the politically correct policy, and while you remove native sons names from roads and boulevards and sports stadiums, know that when you do these things, we join with Arnold in giving you our blessings to do so.

You see, we don't have to concern ourselves with the prospect of passing ridiculous laws that nullify freedom of speech in order to make up for our past misdeeds. We have a way of making up for our considerable misdeeds, in the long run, not with words, but with actions.

True, we still have a long way to go. But when we get there, it will be here. Not there.

Echo The Dog

A dog has a distinct method of killing something it perceives to be a threat, or an annoyance, or as competition. Take rats for example. The dog will snatch the varmint up in his powerful jaws, and shake the unfortunate creature, until it dies from internal injuries. And so it was when Echo, a German Shepherd/Huskie mix-according to some reports, a dog/wolf hybrid-snatched within his powerful jaws little two week old Ethan, the only child of his owners, the Vest family, newly moved to Georgetown Kentucky. Both mother and father had stepped outside the house, leaving the infant alone in the house with Echo, when they suddenly heard the baby's screams. They made it in time to retrieve the child from the dog's jaws, whereupon the child was transported to Unversityof Kentucky Medical Center, where his condmition was just recently upgraded from critical. Apparently, little Ethan is going to be all right.

Echo, meantime, managed to temporarily escape from the cage in which he had been placed by the animal control people, and ran off. He was found some eight miles or so away, about as many days later. He was apprehended, and transported to the animal control sanctuary, where his fate for quite some time was uncertain. The dog even seemed to know his days were numbered. He quaked in terror in front of the cameras that filmed him for WLEX-TV out of Lexington, one of the many local news outlets that covered the story.

It was almost a sure bet the former family pet would be put down, sometime after Christmas, but a flurry of calls-more than 300 of them-to the Scott County Sheriffs Department, saved the dogs life. Upon word of the upgraded condition of the infant, the animal was transferred to the care of the Wolf Run WIldlife Sanctuary in Nicholasville, Kentucky. There he will be free to roam in an open though controlled environment, with plenty of space to run and romp. He's probably still wondering what all the fuss is about. Soon, he'll probably forget the incident ever occurred. He is, after all, a dog.

Too bad his former owners didn't have the common sense that would have been necessaryto realize this simple fact of nature, befoe they left the dog and theinfant alone in thehouse, suppossedly assumming-according to their statement to police investigators-that the two wee in seperate rooms. The police are still investigating theincident, though officially, for now, the incident is oficially considered to be pobably an unfortunate accident.

All's well that ends well. Still, this should be a cautionary tale for those who can't seem to understand that dogs, like all animals, including those of the human vairety, are programmed by nature to perform certain functions, and react to a certain set of stimuli. Through years of association, he had doubtless truly developed a bond of affection toward his human masters, the Vests. But little baby Ethan was a different matter. To Echo the dog, the baby was just another
threat, just another pest, just anotehr pest. Just another rat.

Translation to the Vests and to all those who think like them: Echo the dog is not Ethans loving uncle, brother, or trusted friend, or baby sitter.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Burning The Red Cross

Once again, problems with the Red Cross, only this time it's not entirely their fault. The scope of the Katrina disaster was so great, they outsourced a lot of their volunteer work to private contracters, who took advantge of their positions to enable their friends to collect money targeted for homeless Gulf Coast residents. The majority of this fraud came from a contact center in Bakesfield California. The Red Cross, and the contributors, and of course the victims, were defrauded to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, at least.

The Red Cross itself came under scrutiny when it failed to deliver a large portion of contributions it received in the wake of 9/11, saying it should keep a portion of the money in the event of futue disasters. There was a big stink raised over this, and the then diector, Dr. Bernadette Healey, ended up resigning her position.

This in itself should have brought national attention to the problems with this dinosaur, behemoth organization, which went to it's overall structural integrity. It's a problem that's been around a while, one which I have personal first hand knowledge of. I had an uncle, now deceased, who was a sergent in the Viet-Nam era, in the Air Force, stationed in Thailand. While there, his wife had a baby, that died soon after birth. He had no way of getting home, and so turned to the Red Cross. He was told they could not help him. As a result, he would have not been able to make it home to be with his wife at their childs funeral, had he been unable to borrow the money. Luckily, his father, my grandfather, was able to wire him the money, and so he made it home.

He had not been there four hours when a representative of the Red Cross approached him at my grandparents house, offerring his condolences, and assurring him if there was any way the Red Cross could help, he should let them know. He told them to go to hell. I guess he had more integrity than I do, I would have accepted the offer, putting the confusion down to an example of bureacratic bungling and red tape.

But that's just the point. When you deal with any large organization, even a charitable one, it gets to the point that overhead expenses become the primary concern. By the time all this is taken care of, there isn't that much left over for the actual services the organizations are suppossedly meant to perform. I'm afraid that way too often, red tape becomes more of a convenient excuse than an actual reason.

But in the case of this latest example, where the Red Cross is not the actual culprits, the question becomes, how hard can it be to vet the private contactors to ensure they are reliable and trustowrthy? Even with the reasoning that action had to be taken quickly, there should have been some kind of oversight of the contractors.

At least, the Red Cross has promised swift action will be taken to violate the offending parties. Here's hoping they don't bungle this job.

Tea And Cookies

No more Yahoo Groups. No more questionable web-sites. In fact, very few web sites. Period. When it gets to the point you can't even trust the New York Times, you know the world is spinning out of control. So, what exactly am I talking about? I'm talking, of course, about spy-ware. Those little malicous and certainly not so sweet things called tracking cookies that enter your system, ostensibly for the purpose of tracking your internet browsing, at times merely to iform the site of the number of browsers they have attacted, at other times for more nefarious purposes, liketo send you ads and pop-ups.

Over the last week, I disabled at least thirty of these pesky critters, and incidentally also disavbled the cookies for this site. For a bief time, therefore, I had a problem logging onto Blogger. But now, just for now, the problemis solved. It would help if Blogger were to identify the name of their tracking cookies so a peson could know what not to delete, should they be detected by such agencies as MacAffee, and others whose sole purpose for existence is the disabling of cookies, worms, viruses, and trojans.

Frankly, if I had to do without Blogging, it would be well worth it, if it meant peace of mind. And who the hell needs Yahoo anyway. A clue-nothing in this world is free, and that damned sure includes free e-mail. And so, from now on, anytime I am in contact with my Yahoo Groups, even the one I own, Paganbitchslap, and the other I moderate, which is Voting Pagans, well, it's just going to have to be through this Blog. If they want to bitch and moan or otherwise give me some hell, they'll just have to come on this Blog and post their comments here.

Like I told someone else, I've become the Howard Hughes of computer viruses. For good reason. So I might as well tell you now, in case you haven't all ready learned it. If you ever get a sudden pop-up purporting to be from Microsoft, and it tells you that as the result of an error, your Windows willbe shutting down, and you may as a result lose your work, approachwith caution. Do not click on any of the links in this message, as it is probably not actually from Microsoft, though it certainly looks like a legitimate Microsoft message. More than likely, it is a forgery, a worm known as the Sasser worm. Here is what you should do if you receive this message.

Go to your control panel, click on Start, and then Run
Type in CMD, press Enter
A window should appear, in which you should type Shutdown A, then press Enter

This should prevent the infection, or eliminate it. However, if you have Windows, you should install every update Microsoft makes availiable, and do everything you can to prevetn this scourge. Some programs take a long time to download, and rventhough it isn't really necessary, I can'thelp but watch the downloading process. A bit like watching grass grow, or snow melt. Or, if you're not like me (obsessive) you can simply minimize the window and go on about your business. Me, I just can'thlp myself, so I simply brew a strong cup (or two or three) of hot tea, have a cigarrette (or three, or four), and just sit back, and watch. And watch. And watch.

And count my blessings. After all, if these hackers were really all that smart, they would be able to come up with a way to get into your system that wouldn't slow you down, wouldn't crasdh your system, and more improtantly, in a way in which they couldn't be detected. A way in which you wouldn't even know they are around.

But, of course, they are around. So be aware.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Yule-And The Coming God

As Yule begins tomorrow, I might take some time off for meditation. It is quite possible I might not be back until January, though hopefully I will be back well before then, if for no other purpose than to answer comments which I hope to have. But I may not post any new blogposts for a week or two, just so you'll know in advance. Also, I'm in the process hopefully of making some changes. Once these changes come about, hopefully I will be enabled to improve the quality of this Blog somewhat, as I will have more time to devote to it. But, we'll see. Nothing is for sure as of yet (is it ever?) but I am keeping my fingers crossed in hopes of some big, positive changes on the horizon.

But before I sign off, for the time being, I will leave with the following astrological aspects. To those of you interested in ever new ways of attunning with the deites, this may give you an invaluable guide to starting out with the beginning of the Wheel of the Year. What could be more appropriate than by attuning with the newly born God by way of his own astrological chart drawn up to coincide with his birth? Of course, I don't have the tools to draw up a chart, but at least I have here the pertinent planetary positions and aspects.

Sun enters Capricorn at 8:34 p.m. This marks the exact time of the birth of the God, and will give you a clue in establsihing his ascendant, or rising sign. I don't have an ascendant chart with me handy, unfortunately, but I think it is probably either Leo or Virgo. Either one is important, but especially Virgo, as this might well put it (ascendant) in conjunction with the moon for the day.

The Moon incidentally enters Virgo at 2:38 a.m. It so happens that the Sun and the moon are trine throughout most of the day, and maintain a slight trine, which is a beneficent aspect, at the exact time of the solstice (sun enters capricorn).

ALso, again through most of the day, the moon is in trine with the planet Mars in Taurus (8th degree), and in fact the Sun, Moon, and Mars form what is known as a Grand Trine, which is a greatly positive aspect.

Unfortunately, there is also in the chart of this new born God a Grand Cross, which is as follows

Jupiter-Scorpio, 11th degree
Saturn-Leo, tenth degree (retrograde)
Neptune-Aquarius(15th degree)
Mars-Taurus-eighth degree

Note that Mars, in addition to being involved in the Grand Trine, is also a part of the Grand Cross. A cross is a multiple square aspect, and is considered adverse. It can be a source of strength, however, if handled positively.

Another aspect that is noteworthy is the one between Uranus (Pisces, 7th degree) and the Moon is Virgo. This aspect is called an oppossition and is very powerful. In addition, Uranus is sextile Mars, which is a positive aspect. It is not however sextile to the sun as there are too many degrees of seperation between the two.

Jupiter, I should add, is trine Uranus. This too is of course a greatly beneficient aspect.

Mercury is in the ninth degree of Saggittarius, forming a square with Uranus, yet also forming a trine with Saturn.

Pluto in the 24th degree of Saggitarius seems to be unaspected.

Venus is stationary in the first degree of Aquarius. It will soon be going into retrograde motion.

The Northern Lunar Node is to be found in the ninth degree of Ares, the Southern one being therefore in the ninth degree of Libra. These lunar nodes are important as they determine the dates of the eclipses. They will move slowly, in the oppossite direction of the planetary movements.

I will have to do more research in order to ascetain the ascendant of the God. And when I can be certain, I will post accordingly. But if you wish to use this system, it definitely has it's advantages, as it can provide a uniuely individual way in which a person can detemine which deity might be more conducive to attunning with in this coming year.

It may vary from person to person. A lot will have to do with your own astrological chart, and how compatible this chart would be with yours. Of course, it requires some rudimentary knowledge of astrology (which unfortunately is an apt description of my own) but a basic knowledge of your chart in relation to this "chart of the God" can help you in a divinatory way attune with the diety that is most proper for you.

Anyway, until the next time, Blessed Be-and damn, I'm dizzy.

Success Of The Year

No, it is not the Iraqi election, as it is way to early to tell just exactly how long that will last, if at all. Nor do I really care. As one person who is sick of American meddling in foreign affairs, and who feels that America shoud take care of Americans first-and, by the way, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, etc., etc., etc-I feel in dire need of medication every time I hear thenauseating news that reminds me yet again of how we have remained so entangled in foreign problems to the detriment of caring for our own.

Hopefuly, if htis does not change, there will come a time when I can acquire the medication prescribed for nausea, and al ther as wel, at a fraction of the cost that it currently is. And for once, I actuallyhave to thank none other than-George W. Bush.

Yes, for my award of success of the year, I am referring to none other than the Prescription Drug Benefit which is this year in the process of being implemented. Finally, those seniors who are o limited incomes will pay far less than they have previously been forced to pay for their medications. In some cases they may have to pay nothing at all. How could this not be appreciated, epecially i view of the fact that way to0 many seniors have had to juggle so may different expenses that at times they have been faced witht he choice of going withut food, or going without needed medication.

Yes, I know it is a boondoggle. Yes, I know it is a massive government entitlement that wil doubtless get more expensive with time. Yes, I understand that it will doubltess be a cumbersome bureaucracie ripe with red tape and countless other problems. And finally, of course I am aware that it is going to add to the budget deficit, and the national debt, if not eventually addig a tax burden on the middle class.

On the other hand, it is something. For years, the Democratic party has bitched and moaned about medical care reform and the need for prescription drug venefits, yada,yada, yada, while all the time they knew they would never get it passed through the Congress, past all the Republicans and conservative Democrats. It was a sure fire vote getter for them from their individual constituencies, one they knew they could count on without really having to worry about delivering on it.

Then Bush and the Republicans came along, snathched away this issue, co-opted it right out from under them, and actualy did something about. It was one of the few, maybe the only instance, of pure political genius on the part of George Bush, though Karl Roves fingerprints can probably be found on the panties. He paid off a liyal constituencie, the pharmaceutical industry, in a way that went beyong their wildest dreams, and did so in a way that sought clevcerly to peel away appreciable layers of Democratic support among the elderly.

Most importantly, for all it's problems, despite the potential cuts it could face from a Congress desperate to establish some semblance of fiscal sanity (unfortunately, again, on the backs of the poor), this is a program that will actually help the people who most need help. The poor, infirm, aged senior citizens who may now actually have a chance for peace, who now may have some hope for a bit more of a comfortable, even a semi-healthy, lifestyle.

It will need some tinkering, I am sure, over the years. There will need to be improvements made. But at least it is a start, finally, at solving a problem, a new beginning that has been long overdue.

Heroes Of The Year

Without a doubt, to me it would have to be a group of people known as The Minuteman Project. Yes, I understand they have been much maligned as racist, and maybe to some extent some among their number are just that. But on the other hand, their deeds have revealed a fundamental truth about American national security, especially as it appies to the situation along the Mexican American border. It is non-existent.

It has been said that the security along the porous border is difficult, and that putting the National Guard at the border would only be a band-aid solution at best. As long as people are willing to come here and work, and can find work, and as long as there are employers willing to hire them, there is little we can do about it, and actually we shouldn't worry that much about it. They take jobs that Americans for the most part are unwilling to take, and they pay taxes and Social Security. This, it is claimed, balances out the expense they add to the social sevices safety nets of the various states. Even the crimes committed by them, it has been said, have been greatly exaggerated as to their overall impact. Sure it is a problem, but patience and undertanding is called for, not overreaction and nationalistic xenophobia.

But then Elliott Richardson, Democratic Governor of New Mexico, himself of Hispanic origins, took the unexpected step of declaring New Mexico to be in a state of emergency due to the problem of ilegal immigration. The Democratic governor of Arizona followed suit. Though Arnold Swarzzeneggar of California resisted (after floating out the idea as a trial balloon) as did the Republican Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, it was obvious that the problem was far from minor.

The Minutemen stepped up to the plate, and up to the border, and within a short period of time, the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States from Mexico came to a virtual standstill at that part of the border at which they positioned themselves. And the did all this without force of arms, with no true legal authority.

As is the case of many heroes, they were derided, ridiculed, and even villified. But they held firm, and made their point. They were American citizens, standing up for their right to protest a policy they found reprehensible, that of the governemnts all but turning a blind eye to the constant flow of ilegal immigrants into the United States, all for the purposes of attracting cheap labor and cheaper votes, and satisfying the political whims of Vincente' Fox, who condescendingly told one of the few concerned Congresmen of the U.S., Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado, that the American Southwest situation wasn't about a nation-it was about a region.

The meaning was obvious. Fox and his cohorts in Mexican government and business feel they have a right to the American Southwest, and if the truth were known as much else as they can peel away as possible. And they are doing it with the blessings of American buinesses and politicians, who for the most part can't see past their own narrow immediate self interests. And the American people, for the most part, are ignored.

The Minuteman Project was a thumb in all of their eyes, and a thorn in their sides, and put a pox on al their houses, at the same time. They deserve to be commended-not assaulted.

Known Villains Of The Year

Notice the caveat-KNOWN villains of the year. The worse villainy, after all, is often perpetrated in the shadows, as all too often it could never flourish in light. It could well be though that the greatest of these potential villains may be in the process of being brought forward. They are those buiness interests, those real estate developers, and their allies in Louisiana State and Local government, to say nothing of the Federal Government enablers, who seem to be in the process of holding out on reconstruction projects in New Orleans-especially in the nearly all black, poverty ridden Ninth Ward-in the hopes that these properties can be condemned and confiscated, and turned into whatever the developers have in mind, which will of course be for their own profit. All of which will naturally leave the legitimate citizens of these areas homeless and totally bereft of properties. In fact, they have been told they have a year to repair their properties, and rebuild. One look at the area, even over televisions or through still pictures, will tell you immediately how daunting, how impossible, such a task will be. So, with all this in mind, we keep these folks in reserve, while we from here on out focus our attention, while not yet leaving New Orleans, yet expand to the surrounding Gulf area.

And the winner of this well deserved though understandably uncoveted award is-the American Oil Companies. As a group, these animals qualify as bottom feeders of the worse variety. Again, the most desructive vilainy is often perpetrated in the dark. So, when the oil companies tell you that it is a matter ofthe markets deciding the price of oil, and that the supply, due to the disruptions, just doesn't meet the demand, and that this is due also to manipulations of OPEC in combination with ever increasing needs from such countries as India and China, and that the lack of oil refineries is yet another culprit, all thi is very true.

Unfortunatley, the truth is often used to disguise a lie, and this case is a blatant example of that. In an effort to cut costs and increase profits, it was decided long ago to limit refining capacity, one of the main reasons there have been no new refineries buildt since the 1970's. Also, fuel efficiency standards, which could be and should be higher, have been resisted for years, also having an indirect impact on limitations of suppies.

The end result-more profits. Plus less expenses, which lead to even more profits. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and to a lesser extent Wilma, then, weren't disasters for the oil companies. They were windfalls. They were blessings in disquise. And they took advantage of these disasters in such a way that their profits were higher, much higher, than in previous years. They could have taken appreciably less profits by maintaining their prices at reasonably higher levels than before the disaster (to make up for the lack of supply and to ensure that it didn't all too quickly run out in affected areas) and still made higher profits than in previous years.

Their excuse? They had to satisfy the demands of their investors, first and foremost. Plus, these increased profits were needed for investments in future refining capabilities, and further exploration and development. The usual goobledygook, meaning nothing, and probably soon to be forgotten.

They aren't the only problem of course, there has been political reasons for the lack of refining capacity and decrease in exploration and development, some valid, some not. And of course there are the manipulations by OPEC. But for the most part, the oil companies have been way too eager to maintain inordinatley high profits by whatever means necessary and to crush out any competition in the meantime. There are only five major oil companies and they form a kind of cabal. There is no competition to speak of. Just kind of a non-trust trust. An undertanding among friends, more than a healthy competition. Kind of like when the Mafia back in the old days divided up territory and tried to keep things copecetic. Only in this case, these guys are all friends and neighbors, so to speak, in an exclusive neighborhood with tight zoning standards that they control, with the help of government agencies and intimates in that government-Vice President Dick Cheney comes especially to mind.

These are the guys that, to a great extent, have been in control of aiding the Vice President in deiciding on energy policy, for the last five years, in secret, without any scrutiny from the press or any other intersted and concerned citizen or group.

They are more than just vilains. To me, they are evil incarnate. And Bush and Cheney, are no more than their paid stooges.

Failure Of The Year

Your first clue would be, he gave a speech Sunday Night on American television sometime around nine o'clock. After five years as President, and six as Governor of Texas, you would think that an alumnus of Yale, to say nothing of Harvard Business College, would know how to give a speech. You would think at least he would have the gestures down, and they wouldn't look so wooden, so stiff, so-well, obvious, I guess.

Then again, this guy isn't really used to having to give a speech where he actually admits to any kind of mistake,to any kind of, let us be plain-fuck up. And that's what it all comes down to. The quality of this speech is almost symbolic of the problems with this President, and this Administration. It's just one big fuck up.

The amazing thing is that it took so many people so long to catch on. But shit happens, and it took one cataclysmic national disaster, in the form of Hurricane Katrina, to show this President, and this Administration, for the bumbling fools that he and it is. Once that occurred, then everything else started to become ever more clear.

But, the really amzing thing about the Bush Administration is that it actually has turned out to be a walking picnic of woes. There are four different kinds of bad governments. You have those that are made up of liars and thieves. You have the ones that are sinister and repressive. You have the ones that are wrong headed and arrogant. And finally, you have the ones that are just blatantly incompetent.

It is rare that you will find an American Administration that doesn't contain, on at least one level or another, some aspect of at least one of these failings. In fact, I would say it would be almost impossible to not find at least some degree of one of these faults in even the best of them. In way too many cases, unfortunatley, you will find an appreciable degree of two of these failings. Then, there is the thankfully extremely rare case, when an American Administration will contain as many as three of these failings, in a couple of cases to a significant degree. The Administrations of Buchanan, and Nixon, and Harding, may possibly be three eamples of Administrations that contained three eventually crippling shortcomings.

But the Bush Administration may indeed go down in history as the first to be infected with all four of them. Take the war in Iraq. Lies, deceits, manipulations. Wrong headed and arrogant, even when faced with the facts that things did not go exactly according to plan, to say the least. Sinister and repressive in the way that any opponent, real or perceived, to this ill-conceived adventure, was treated either directly or indirectly, through political attacks and slanders, all too often with the aid of a cowed and in some cases a bought and paid for press.

Luckily, for the country, and maybe for the world, the Bush Administration contained that one final, fatal flaw of incompetence, in some cases outright stupidity, that caused it to come crashing down a lot quicker than it ordinarily might have. The incompetent way the Iraqi War has been bungled was really an eye opener in the face of Hurricane Katrina. Before the Hurricanes, and the incompetent way the government responded, it was a relatively easy process to blame the media for reporting overwhelmingly negative news about the Iraqi War and insurgency. It was a simple process to accuse the Democrats of playing politics (especially since in a good many cases a lot of them probably were).

But now the truth is out. Bush is a liar, a charlatan, a fraud, a cheat. He is an arrogant megalomaniac with delusions of Messiahhood, if not out and out godhood. And he is obviously incompetent. It is only right that he has taken to saying lately that the responsibility for the various mishaps rest at his desk. For, in fact, far from merely being something that just sounds good and proper and humble, the awful truth is-it's the awful truth.

Monday, December 19, 2005

God Of The Year

This was an easy one. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Floods. Who else?

Poseidon. What the hell got into this God this year? Now it's easy to imagine a Christian would hop on this, and tell me, "this is not a god fit for worship". They would point out how angry and destructive would be such a force, more in keeping with the temperament of a demon than a god. They would assure me that Poseidon actually does not exist, perhaps. Eventually, of course, a good many of them would turn right around and say that the natural disasters that have afflcited our planet this year is "the will of God"-theirs, of course.

My only reply to all this would be that, well, what is reality, and what is a God? To me, a God is pure energy, a force of nature, one that permeates the universe, including mankind, and thus a good deal of the gods make-up goes into the make-up of humankind, and indeed all of life. So to that degree the deities are all very real. They are a part of us, of the world, of the universe, and in my opinion you ignore them at your peril. Not that they expect you to worship them in the traditional meaning of the word worship-in fact I would submit they have no real desire or need for this. But attunning with them can be beneficial in getting in touch with our own lives and true selves. Attunning with the energies of the deities therefore can help us achieve our goals in life and become the kinds of peoples we truly want to be. It takes work, and self-discipline, and practice, but it is worth it.

Sometimes it requires a sacrifice, and here I don't mean to imply any kind of a blood sacrifice, but simply a sacrifice of giving up something we might want, for our own good, to stop smoking, stop drinking-or to stop some other bad, destructive habit, such as, for example-


Now of course, the negative aspects of years and years of pollution can't be undone overnight, or even in the course of a decade or two, or three. But the evidence of global warming is becomming more explicit every year, and now perhaps has manifested in ways that augurs ill for the next following years. Some say this could be the start of a cycle that happens every now and then, and that industrial pollution and all the other human caused ills that afflict our planets environmental health, add very little to the process, if at all.

Excuses. Nothing but rationalizations, the same that have threatened forrests and added to Mercury in drinking water, all in the name of keeping the economy srong and vital, a Hobsons Choice which is actually unnecessary. Reducing emissions from autos and industrial plants, for example, can actually add to the economy by providing opportunities for growth and expansion of businesses into these new frontier areas of science and technology. It would be a simple matter to subsidize industries in order to offset the costs of research, and tax breaks for this purpose, provided those breaks were legitimately used for these reasons, would be fine and appropriate.

The problem is, it would interfere with the immediate bottom line, and would interfere with meeting the immediate concerns of investors. It would make us less competitive. Of course, this is nonsense, and if there were any legitimacy to these concerns, they could certainly be worked out. But that's not the problem. The problem is greed.

Therefore, the poisons of our industrial and other wastes are continually dumped into the air, into the water, and there seems to be no let up in sight. Even if the naysayers are correct, that all this pollution doesnt add anything substantial to the cycle of warming which has evidently given rise to these natural disasters, it is obviously not good for the health of the planet, and those of us who live thereon, to be continually subjected to the posioning of our environment.

And if they are wrong, the implications are obvious. The trend is going to be reversed over a period of years, but only if there is a reduction-not an increase-in industrial pollutions and auto exhaust emissions and other culprits. As for Poseidon, you can expect him to throw these kinds of tantrums I fear for quite some time to come. The disasters of this preceeding year was just a slight warning compared to what could be ahead.

No, that's not a positive way for a deity to act. No, it is not compassionate and loving. But hey, he's a God. What do you expect-miracles?

Garbage In-Garbage Out

Goddess Of The Year

The Goddess Of Compassion, by whatever name you might prefer to call her, has been busy this year. Starting with the Asian Tsunami, and ending with the Afghan earthquake. And a whole lot of shit in between, most notably, at least from an American perspective, the Gulf Coast hurricanes, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.

Of course, the presence of the Goddess is severely lacking in a good many people, and her absence from their lives stood out like a sore thumb, at least during the height of the Gulf Coast disaster brought about by Hurricane Katrina.

A good many of the people of our country rose to the challenge and were quite admirable in the way they exhibited the Goddesses presence in the form of donations, in many cases not only of money, but of time. Some even took people into their homes. (Frankly, I wouldnt have done this).

A good many people, unabashed animal lovers, went out of their way to rescue animals, pets that had been abandoned to what would certainly have eventually been a sorrowful fate. Although many animals lives were lost, a great many more were saved. Some people even refused to leave their pets behind. Very commendable, and admirable, in my own opinion. This I probably would have done myself, and would like to think I will, if ever put into such a position. How could I go off and save myself when the animal I purport to love, depending on me for it's welfare, it's survival, watches helplessly, begging as I go off into the distance, to safety. Nope. Not me. I'll go right ahead and die with it. If that sounds crazy, well, okay, too bad. But you see, I happen to like animals better than people anyway, and so,without further ado, I reveal the Goddess of The Year, the Goddess who epitomized the utmopst in this year of compassion, not only for mankind, but for all creatures great and small.

Artemis. Who else? True, Artemis sanctions the killing of wildlife for food and clothing, but at the same time mandates responsibly doing so, in a manner that the species is thinned out without being in danger of extinction. But htis can hardly be considered as wholesale cruelty and callousness, such as that which was sanctioned by the likes of Bill O'Reilley, who opined that the residents should be forcibly removed from their homes, if they tried to remain to be with their animals. When one woman e-mailed a complaint to his show over this callousness and asserted that she herself would remain, O'Reilley said forcifully, "And you would die, Maddam"

Duh! Get with the program, O'Reilley, and all so likeminded. What the hell is life lived with a guilty conscience. To you, they are just animals. To us, you should have known and have hopefully by now learned, they are our friends and companions. Nothing less.

But of course when you are dealing with peabrains who make their living running their mouths, or government agencies, you can't expect much in the way of compassion and understanding, as their lives are all too self-absorbed, evidently, to warrant any time for love and companionship.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Power Outage

A word about something that happenned just yesterday, a power outage that blocked out power in the entire area. All the homes, restaurants, everything. From roughly eleven o'clock in the morning to some areas, and finally by 12:30 the entire area was out of power. Until five thirty last night, when it finally come back on. I had gone out trying to find out if anybody knew anything, as even our phone was out. Luckily, saomebody cleaning a store parking lot told me that the power would be back on at 6:30-if we were lucky. Right about that time, I ran into a woman out awalking with her kids, trying to find something to eat. She had just called, and was told the power would be back on about 7:30. I felt somewhat better, so I tried to go to the store to buy some balogna, being told bythe girl in the lot I could get it if I had the exact change. Butthen the manager said everything was covered up. It was pitch black in tere, so I just said to hell with it and went on back home. I kept my clothes on, including a winter vest and coat, and crawled under the covers. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon, and was about 29 degrees.

Finally, the power came back on, at about 5:30. The disaster was over, including worries over the potential disaster that worried me more than anything else-the prospect of a refrigerator full of spoiled food.

The girl in the store parking lot had told me that a transformer had blown at the main power station, but other than that I really didn't know anything. But I figured that this had been coming for quite some time, as for the last couple of months it seemed that the heat had to be turned up higher than usual before it would even come on, and stay on. But I found out just today, that evidently it wasn't a problem that had been building up after all. In fact, it may have been a problem, that, with jut the slightest bit of precaution, could have been totally prevented.

The cause of the problem, the reason the main transormer had blown, leaving the entire town without power for five hours or more?

A squirrel had gotten into the power station and into the transformer, shorting it out. Doubtless this small, unfortunate, and seeminly insignificant animal never knew what hit it. But everybody around here sure felt the effects. Kind of ironic, when you stop to think about it.

God Of War

Last night I watched on Spike TV the Video Game Awards, hosted by Samuel L. Jackson, and featuring such luminaries as Charlize Thereon, who received an award for best female performance in a video game for "Aeon Flux". ALso present, but for just a brief appearrance, was Keifer Sutherland, who introduced the new video game "24" based on the popular Fox Network Series in which he plays Agent Jack Bauer. He seemed strangely out of place in the affair, coming in for just a brief appearrance from offstage, and then leaving. You could almost hear him thinking, "get me out of this house of lunatics".

But for the most part, you could appreciate the bond that united this disparate group, made up of A-List actors and actresses, gangsta rappers, rock musicians, and computer gang geeks of all races and ages. Gamers all.

I felt drawn to watch the two hour special out of curiosity concerning the game "God Of War", an offical site to which I have provided a link in the title. From what I have read on the site, Ares appears to be every bit as maligned on this site as he has been throughout the God's history, including by the ancient Greeks. He is the bloodthirsty, excessively violent, and yet cowardly and craven, God who is the personification of the act and carnage of war. Of course, all of the Gods and Goddesses of ancient Greece had their positve as well as their negative aspects, and unfortunatley Ares more positive aspects have been long lost, forgotten, from history.

So shrouded in mystery has he become, in fact, that his true name-Enyalios-has almost been forgotten, and has survived only due to Homer's inclusion of it in "The Illiad", although the name appears there as the name of a son of Ares. Originally, Ares, or "Areis" was more of a title that was used by all the male Gods, in Mychaenaean times. Homer seems to have adapted it for current use of the God with whom it has become identified, more for poetic reasons than anything. Throughout the work, is repeated the phrase, "Ares, bane of man".

I have never been much of a gamer, though I have played on occassions, and I have no idea how the game "God Of War" goes, although I have been told it is excessively violent, in keeping with Ares' nature. It came under scrutiny, along iwth others, in a recent meeting of people who seem to be overly concerned with the detrimental societal aspects of gaming on the young. All the usual suspects were there, including Democratic Connecticutt Senator and former Vice-Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberrmann. Without getting too far out on a tangeant, for the purposes of this post I will ocnfine myself to one word- PARENTING!

At any rate, I can only assume, for the time being, that you fight a variety of figures, from human to half hiuman, to the animals of the bestiary. One of the characters that is particularly popular in the game is the "Hydra". Naturaly, the farther you go in the game, the higher the level of difficulty is likely to be. If you conquer all your foes, I suppose you come face to face with Ares Himself.

I have had some experience with this God, so I speak with a little bit of authority from here on out. I tried to invoke him once, and he didn't appreciate the gesture. He appearred to me in an explosion of fire and smoke, which I extinquished from my cauldron, luckily before too much damage was done. But the heat and the smoke from the heated essential oil, along with the steam from the extinquishing water, left the imprint on my ceiling that I can only describe as the perfect portrayal of the God, looking down on me with a hateful sneer as he leaned on a long spear, one hand on his hips.

My landlord of the time accussed me of actually trying to paint picutures on my ceiling. I lied, telling him that I had been frying chicken and the smoke filled the house and caused the image. At any rate the image remained up until the time that I moved. Years later, the ceiling collapsed due to the constantly leaking roof from the floor above, I was told, though whether that room was affected I am unsure. If not, he might well still be up there, glaring down with his malicous sneer at whoever now abides there.

At any rate, I have indeed had my experiences with this God, and therefore I can say that, if this game is at all true to the Spirit of this God, and his actual nature, he is not to be defeated by any mortal warrior, no matter how powerful , brave, or how highly favored and by whom.

In conclusion, if you want to go all the way in this game, and achieve the ultimate victory, I have a suggestion that is certainly worth a try. If you ever are able to rise to the level that, having defeated all other foes, you find yourself in the presence of the God Of War-

Bow down.

Metal Radio

I thought I would share this link, for now I will just keep it here. But be sure and check it out, and let me know what you think of it, if you are a metal fan, that is, of course. At a later date, I will put it in the Links Field. I intend to update the Links Field at a later date, and I would in the meantime request that if any of you have noticed a problem with any links I have currently put up, to let me know. I am becomming a regular Howard Hughes when it comes to concerns about viruses, spam, and now, spy software, and I don't want to inadverdantly be the cause of any problems.

Also, when I add new links, I want them to be something that would be of interest, and yet be something that would pretty much be something you wouldn't ordinarily think about. Fro example, it wouldn't make much sense to put a link up for the New York Times, or somehting else similarly well known, as anybody that would be interested would know how to find those sites to begin with.

Whereas something like this new link I just discovered for metal radio, which was provided by a fellow member of a Yahoo e-mail Group, might escape notice if it wasn't provided. I am proof of that. I am a fan of heavy metal, though I am of an age group that ordinarily wouldn't be considered a member of that audience (and that's the closest anybody is going to get to me telling them my age), and yet I would not have thought about it had this person not turned our group onto it.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the link, which is in the post title.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pluto-World Of Darkness And Magic

Well, tonight may be a Full Moon to remember, for while the Sun is in oppossition to the Moon tonight, it is also in a nearly complete conjunction with the dark planet, Pluto (within just one degree). Should be a great night for magic, as Pluto is a planet of immense power, despite it's tiny size and great distance from the sun, and from us.

Most astronomers long ago decreed that Pluto is a fairly insignificant place, and I have always felt that this was a shot fired across the bridge of astrology, the quirky and somewhat disreputable cousin to astronomy. True, the tiny planet, the smallest one in our solar system, was discovered due to disruptions noted in the orbit of the giant planet Neptune-which is four times the size of earth. Neptune, it so happens, was discovered the same way, by disruptions in the orbits of it's nearest neighbor, Uranus, which is even larger than it.

So whatever this as yet discovered planet was that was causing this disruption in the orbit of Neptune was undoubtedly of considerable size itself, right?

Well, no, not really. Until recently Pluto was considered the second smallest planet in the solar system, slightly larger than Mercury, when it was first discovered around 1930. However, by the 1970's, it was ascertained that Pluto was even smaller than had previousy been believed. You see, up until this time, astronomers had not been looking at Pluto alone. They had been looking at Pluto alongside what turned out to be it's moon, (Charon it was later named, after the mythological ferryman to the Underworld of Hades, or Pluto, and Persephone).

As it happenned, so distant was Pluto, and so small, that the two worlds together created the illussion of being just one planet. Or was it a planet? Due to the peculiar eccentricities of it's orbit, many considered that Pluto may have at one time in the long ago past, been a comet. At any rate, it was certainly too small to have influenced in the slightest way the orbit of Neptune. There must have been something else that was respnsible for this. The inadverdant discovery of Pluto was simply-a coincidence.

Wel, it has been going on seventy-five years since the planet, or comet, was first discovered. Astronomers have perused the solar system, just recently discovering what is apparrently an even smaller planet, or perhaps a mere asteroid, which in an earlier post I nicknamed Minerva-yet this tiny little world is even farther from Neptune, and as if that weren't enough, it is orbiting the sun at a higher plane than all the other planets, which orbit on the same plane. So Minerva is not a sufficient explanation for the past disruptions in Neptunes orbit. Nor has anything else been discovered that can offer up a reasopnable explanation.

But the question remains-how can such a tiny little planet, perhaps no more than a third the size of the planet earth, have such a disruptive effect on a planet such as Neptune, which is four times earth's size. And the answer to that question may well be found in the planets little moon, Charon.

Consider-our moon is roughly one seventh the size of the earth, and has been said to have a great effect on the tides of the oceans, and possibly has an electromagnetic gravitational pull, and effect, beyond just this known fact. At one seventh our size, the moon does indeed seem to pack a powerful punch. Were it not for our moon, earth would not be the same, in fact, it is hard to envision just what it would be like.

Yet, no one has seemed to have noted that Charon, the planet of Pluto, is ONE-THIRD the size of Pluto. To illustrate, imagine if our moon were two and a half times the size it is now, what the effect on our planet might be. The disruptions in the atmosphere would be constant, no doubt. There would probably be constant earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes, and even constant volcanic eruptions. The constant energy release into the atmosphere would be staggerring, and doubltess this would have an extended and permanent effect on the gravitational pull of the earth itself.

The point is, what if this might not equally apply to the planet Pluto. It would depend, of course, on exactly what the overall make-up of the planet is to begin with. After all, there has to be something there in sufficient quantitiers to have any kind of effect, to begin with, right? Well, there can be two ways of inferring this, actually. To start out with, we go back once again to the disruptions in Neptunes orbits that lead to Plutos discovery. The other point of inference is the simple fact that, after all, Pluto is maintaining enough of a gravitational pull to support a moon one third it's own size to begin with. These two starting points are as good as any, and I would maintain that position until it is proven otherwise.

No one really knows for sure if Pluto is even cold or not, it is just assummed it is due to it's distance from the sun. It is said that Pluto is probably a small planet or former comet made up of frozen methane, for the most part, with possibly a small amount of frozen oxygen, ammonia, carbon, and maybe just a smidgen of water ice. But no one knows for sure. No one has ever had a probe close enough to know for sure even what the surface looks like, to my knowledge. Unless it is something fairly recent, there has been nothing done to establish even what the surface of the planet is like, let alone what it's interior is made up of.

Although I would hazard a guess that more than likely the planet is severely cold, it is possible that it could be warmer than currently thought, or at least could contain pockets of warmth. It could at least be hot in the interior.

My own mental image of the planet is that it might well be something very similar to Iceland, with constant eruptions of frozen geysers, though made up mostly of frozen methane. There could be fairly high mountaneous areas on the planet which could be the result of these constant eruptions. A beautiful place, yet dark, foreboding, even terrible.

But certainly powerful, and a conjunction with it is always something that is noteworthy, especially comig at a time of the Full Moon. When performing magic, it is always wise to take note of the various astrological aspects which might come into play, and those involving Pluto are certainly no exception.

I am not a believer in extraterrestrials, insofar as their purported presence on our own planet is concerned. However, this statement comes with a caveat. If there are extraterrestrials that have visited or are visitng us now, and those extraterrestrials do indeed come from some point within our own solar system-Pluto would be the most likely point of origin, for the reasons I have mentioned. Because of the power involved in this tiny and deceptive, seemingly insignificant, dark and assummedly cold little world, nothing can be taken for granted where it is concerned.

It's power, incidentally, has long been asserted by astrologers as being not only great, but disruptive, and potentially destructive. That would certainly be in keeping with the nature of my theories about the dark world. It's power has long been considered dark, in some cases sexual, in some cases aligned with death and destruction, and in some cases it is seen as catharthic.

Whatever the case, it is a power that should not be ignored, and, utilized properly, especially in conjunction with the magic inherent on any full moon night, such as tonight, it can certainly lend a beneficial edge to any magical working.

Of course, some might say, well, even if what you say is true, and Pluto does have enough power to influence Neptunes orbit, that is a far cry from being able to influence us here on earth, and especially the sun. I would remind you of the one scientific fact of which you should be aware. Any action causes an equal and corresponding reaction. In other words, the pull of the sun on the planet Pluto itself will of necessity cause an effect on the sun itself. And that will, of course, have an effect, if only a slight, imperceptible one, on us. Naturally, the heavier a weight that you pick up and carry, the greater effect on your muscles, right? It's the same principle. But even the carryng of a relatively light weight will have an effect. And so it is with the effect of the sun on Pluto, and vice versa, and inadverantly, on us.

No, it is not an effect that can be predicted, like in the absurdly ridculous newspaper horoscopes. It is not even an effect that can be measured. But it is an effect that is there, and it is an effect that, if you wish, you can utilize for your own, hopefully positive, benefits.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Yule Nog

This is my own special eggnog recipe, and I will warn you before hand it is quite extravagant, and complicated, but if you want to give it a try, I promise that it is well worth the effort. It accomplishes several tasks. For one thing, provided you are not adverse to alcoholic beverages, it is a perfect Yule drink. For another, the high that you will get from it is delightfully intense, and yet joyously mellow. If you do sleep while intoxicated on this drink, you will experience lucid dreaming like you could never imagine. And the dream should be pleasant, extremely so. In fact, even a dream that ordinarily would be classified as a nightmare will be a pleasant experience. Finally, when you awake the following day, no matter how high you became the night before, you will not experience a hangover, in fact, you will feel refreshed and renewed, possibly like never before. This is probably due to the way in which the concoction coats your stomach. Once you peruse the ingredients, it will be easy to ascertain the reason for this. And so, without further ado, following is a list of the ingredients.

Before I give theingredients, however, I shoud say that you should insure that you have the proper equipment. Large mixing bowls and mixers (yes, electric mixers, as with this recipe, mixing by hand may not be good enough). Also, insure that you have a sufficiently large cooking implement to hold a large mixture. Something that would of necessity cover two burners on the stove. Finally, insure that you have an adequate number of large jars for refrigeration, in case you of necessity have to cook the Yule Nog the day before it is to be used. And now, on to the ingredients.

1. three small boxes (or two large ones) of Jello or some other name brand vanilla cook and serve pudding, along with the amount of milk called for on the boxes directions.

2. two cartons of large eggs, each containing twelve eggs, for a total of 24 large eggs.

3. three 16 oz. cartons of ready made Kool Whip, or some other name brand, of whipped cream. (or three pints of whipping cream)

4. One cup of sugar

5. One eight ounce glass of whole milk (in addition to the milk you use to make the pudding)

6. 1/2 tespoon of ground nutmeg or cinnammon.

7. one fifth of Baccardi's Light Rum.

Okay, the first thing you want to do is seperate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Once you do this, you need to use just a portion of the cup of sugar in the egg whites, which you will beat until they form a maranque. Once you do this, place the merenque in the refrigerator for the time being.

Then, place the remainder of the sugar (you should have at least three fourths of a cup left) into the egg yolks, and beat them with the sugar until it is all well blended.

Then, cook the three small boxes of Jello vanilla cook and serve pudding over the stove according to the directions on the package. Once it is finished cooking, keep the pudding on low hear, uncovered. Once you have finished doing this, add about a half cup or so of the pudding to the egg yolk/sugar mixture, and mix well. Then, you will need to transfer the egg yolk/sugar concoction to the pudding and stir until it is all well mixed.

Then, you will need to add the whipped cream. Of course, if you use the whipping cream, you will need to whip it and then place it right away into the mixture. Stir until it is all well mixed.

Then, you will need to add the merenque made from the egg whites to the remainder of the mixture. Again, stir until it is all well mixed.

Then, it is time to add the eight ounces of milk.

By this time, the mixture should be cooled sufficiently that you can begin adding the Baccardi's Light Rum. And I specify this brand in order to discourage the use of an inferior brand. Also, do not use-repeat DO NOT USE- 151 rum, that is just too much for this recipe. Yet, an entire fifth of the regular strength Baccardi's Light Rum is perfect. Add the entire amount, but slowly, stirring it as you add it, ensuring the proper mixing, as always. Be certain though that the mixture has indeed sufficiently cooled before you add the rum, as too much heat can have a detrimental effect on the alcoholic content. If it is just slightly warm, that should be fine.

Finally, you add the 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg or cinnammon. You are now ready to serve your Yule Nog. This will make quite a large amount, which makes it perfect for parties or large gatherings, and if you are so inclined, for Yule celebrations-be they of the pagan or the secular variety. The entire amount can be refrigerated, and will be good for a few days, if any appreciable amount is left over. Don't count on this, by the way. At any rate, I discourage freezing the Yule Nog, as it loses it's consistency by freezing (as everything freezes but the alcohol, which will settle to the bottom of the jar, seperated from the remaining ingredients).

As I said, this should not be a concern, as there is likely to be very little left over the following day, if any at all. If you are a Wiccan or Pagan, and a practitioner of magic, this recipe is perfect for attunning with the deities for Yule. You may ritualy bless the ingredients, one at a time, and then the entirety of the Yule Nog when it has been completed. I like to call upon the Goddess and invoke her blessings on the Yule Nog, as a symbolic kind of mothers milk by which to nourish the new born God who dwells amongst us all on Yule. And, when drinking, it is certainly appropriate to visualize the Goddess and the God, and to attune with their energy, their divine powers, by way of the Yule Nog.

If you prepare the mixture before your Yule celebrations, it might be a good idea to prepare it the day before (but no more than that), and insure that you have the proper amount of jars with which to keep it cold in the refrigerator. When your Yule gathering begins, there would certainly be no better way in which to bind your Wiccan/Pagan comunity to the deities than by way of my Yule Nog. And I promise, a good time will indeed be had by all.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Training The Enemy

Somebody really messed up bad time when it comes to Iraq, and it seems like the mistakes have just been coming in a steady stream, with no apparrent end in sight. So what are we to do? Stay the course just doesn't cut it anymore, and there seems unfortunately to be no real plan for victory. So we just hear empty assertions that we will eventually begin drawing down our forces. In time for the '06 elections, of course.

But we shouldn't, we are told, announce any kind of timetable for withdrawal, as this would embolden the enemy, who would bide their time until the appointed date. Then, all hell would break loose, and the nation of Iraq would quickly collapse, would disintegrate into armed conflict between the various factions.

Nevertheless we are assurred that we will eventually achieve victory, and then our troops will come home. Before that, however, we have to assure that the Iraqis are able to vote for their government, whatever that turns out to be, and then, perhaps most importantly, we have to insure that the new and hopefully permanent Iraqi democratic government is able to defend it's self and it's people.

Seems reasonable enough, on the surface. Yet, we have been there now for roughly two and a half years, and as of the last count, the number of Iraqis that are able to stand on their own as a fighting force number roughly one battallion-of 800 men. This out of a total of about 160,000. Ponder that for a moment. Out of all the various members of the Iraqi army, police, and security forces, only 800 of them are of professional enough calibre of training and discipline as to enable them to stand and fight without any help from the U.S. military.

It sounds crazy. We should have by now trained far more Iraqis than this. Some assert that had we received the aid from NATO that we requested along these lines, the training would have been more successful. There are just not enough American troops to do the job of training the Iraqis while conducting the bulk of the combat.

Still others would assert that as long as we are there, the Iraqis really have no incentive to fight, they would just as soon us do their fighting for them.

Both of these are valid theories, and I am sure there is a great deal of truth to them. But I dont think it quite tells the whole story. For some time I have thought there is something that seems to be missing, some answer that is just below the surface. Suddenly, it hit me just what the problem might be.

Consider back to the start of the first Gulf War, which Saddam promised would be the "mother of all wars". Iraq had something like the fourth or fifth largest military in the world at that time, and they were considered to be one of the finest fighting machines in existence at the time. Of course, by the time the fighting started, it became quickly obvious that this was more or less hyped, greatly so. The coalition lead by the U.S. under President George H.W. Bush soundly defeated Saddams army and his so-called elite Republican Guard. It was indeed a humiliating defeat, despite Saddams laughable assertions of victory, based on nothing more than the first President Bush's wise decision to not go into Baghdad to oust the dictator.

While Saddam was contained over the course of the next ten years, he survived two uprisings that lead to mass slaughter by his Republican Guard, which along with the remnants of his army he rebuildt to as great an extent as possible.Yet, his influence was pretty much limited, at least by air, over the Sunni Triangle, thanks to the U.S. enforcement fo the No-Fly Zone established by the U.N., which also passed up to seventeen resolutions that it failed to enforce against the tyrant.

After a couple of retaliatory air strikes by the Clinton administration, whatever WMD Saddam may have been in the process of building up seems to have been destroyed, or at least was very well hidden, possibly even transported to Syria. Whatever the case, this was the main concern when George W. Bush decided (whenever he actually did so) to finally oust Saddam, a process that began in March of 2003.

This fear too did not pan out, and Saddams armed forces again were quickly decimated, or fled all together from the conflict. By the time three weeks had passed, the war was seemingly over, and Saddams statue had fallen. Saddams forces-the army, the Republican Guard, and the Fedayim Saddam-had faded into the woodwork. In some cases, they were actually told to just go home. Not the most brilliant move.

Ever since then, we have been fighting an insurgency of increasing ferocity, with greater and greater casualties as time goes on. And it doesn't seem to be a unified insurgency at that. In some cases it is made up of foreign fighters, from other Arab and Muslim countries, some of which might have a connection to Al-Queda, at leat one of which might actually be a branch of Al-Queda, and some which are more or less independant of any organizational structure or loyalties.

In other cases it appears to be a mishmash of former Saddam loyalists, the Republican Guard, the Feddayim Saddam, and others who are determined to restore and maintain the Sunni hegemony over the country that Saddam had for so long provided by way of the Ba'ath Party.

There are as well Shi'ite militia forces bound and determined to avenge the heavy handed rule of the Sunnis and to avenge the atrocities committed by the Ba'athists.

And yet, from time to time, it seems that all these disparate forces have conspired to target the American military forces as the common enemy. That is, of course, when they are not targeting the average Iraqi civilian, including women and children, subjecting them to the most vile and horrific acts of bloodshed by way of such atrocous actions as suicide car bombings and even by way of assaults on funerals, weddings, and most pernicous perhaps of all, on crowded mosques in the middle of worship services.

So it is easy to see why the Bush administration insists that we have to stand up a firm and stable democracy in Iraq, one capable of defending itself, before we can even think about leaving. That is probably the only thing they have gotten right in all this mess. They were certainly wrong about the presence of WMD's. They were certainly incorrect in their assertion that we would be greeted as liberators. They were incredibly naive in believing that the cost of the war and reconstruction could be met by the profits from the proceeds of Iraqi oil revenues.

Because of all these grandiose and incredibly shortsighted assumptions, they were even wrong about the number of troops that would be needed in order to maintain order in the country after the war was over.

Worse of all, perhaps, they have been arrogantly misleading, almost to the point of being pathological liars, to the American people, about everything. The majority of people don't believe Bush any more, and have little faith in the Administration to set things right. We can ony hope for the best. But at least you would think the military would be more than capable of training the Iraqi soldiers in order to do the job at hand. So they can actually have the skills, in addition to the raw manpower, needed to protect their own country.

So what is the problem? What is taking so long to train the Iraqi military and police and security services? Why have so few as of yet been trained at a professional enough level that they are capable of standing on their own, without any help from the U.S.? Obviousy we have to adequaely train more than one division, otherwise we will be stuck there forever. In fact, logistically, it is almost impossible to leave as of now, without some kind of rear guard protection. Otherwise, were we to leave too quickly, we run the risk of actually leaving the last to leave as, to all intents and purposes, sacrificial targets. Then what? What is taking the process so long that we have inadverdantly had to bring in the Natioinal Guard and Army Reserve Units to take up the slack, and have for a significant duration of this war at least, been forced to institute a kind of what has been termed "back door draft", keeping our militasry personnel bund to their duty beyond their ordinary terms of enlistment. In some cases, for up to three terms.

Because of this, our military is stretched thin, and recruitment of new recruits is down, though it has been asserted that re-enlistment is up. And it is even unsure as to whether this is a legitimate claim. No one knows what to believe any more. For all the money, the billions of dollars, and the American blood, that has so far been spent, with no real end in sight, shouldn't there be more Iraqi soldiers trained than this? If not, why not?

Careful consideration of the circumstances and the history lead to one possible, even probabal, conclusion. The Bush Administration, and the U.S. military, actually doesn't want to train the Iraqis to be able to fight on their own-because they are afraid of them.

Now I know that will be a particularly hard pill to swallow for those who consider themselves the typical red-blooded American patriot, and particularly those who have been instilled with a belief in the spiritual destiny of America as a beacon of democracy and the guardians of the rights of mankind everywhere. But how else to explain it? The Bush Administration has been wrong about just about everything else, including such Iraqi allies as Ahmed Chalabi, who while feeding the U.S. what appears to have been false information in order to drum up support for the ouster of Saddam, at the same time seems to have been acting accordding to some reports, as an agent of Iran.

The Bush Administration is therefore now in a bind, and doesn't really have any clue as to where to turn. Obviously the Iraqis are capable of being trained by the U.S. military, and according to U.S. military standards. That is just the problem. Particularly when it now, on top of eveyhing else, seems as though the military and police forces may have in fact been infiltrated by insurgents.

Were we to proceed with the training, as the Bush administration has assurred the country and the world that we will, we may in effect be training the worse, the most powerful enemy the U.S. has ever faced. Especially if the much touted coming Iraqi parliamentary democracy ends up falling apart, and is replaced by-what?

Inevitably, whatever that might be, it will doubtless be an entity that will hold no great gratitude, and cerainy no great and abiding love, for the United States of America. It is just impossible to say what it will be, actually, though we can hazard a guess. It is not all that difficult to envision a return to Sunni rule, by way of the reemergence of the Ba'ath party. It depends on the circumstances. Or even a coalition of Ba'athists with radical Sunni clerics financed by wealthy Saudis. The more likely possibility would seem to be an Islamic theocratic government headed by the majority Shi'ites.

There is also a possibility that the entire country would just fall into chaos, and bloody civil war, with involvement by Iran, Syria, and Turkey. This could cause conflagration throughout the Middle East, in fact, and could in turn effect the security of Europe, as well as the U.S. security and interests.

Ironically, a well trained Iraqi Army might be the only thing that could precvent this tragedy, yet at the same time such an army might be exactly what would bring about a blood-thirsty, iron fisted regime as bad, or possibly even worse, than that perpetrated by Saddam Hussein.

Such an Iraqi army might, in turn, quickly become the Frankensteins monster of our own creation. The resultant outcome could indeed lead eventually to the mother of all wars.

Or the granddaddy of all disasters.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Reason For The Season

Christmas seems to mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. Of course, there is the aspect of the day as the birth of the Christian savior. It is a day for the giving and receiving of gifts and spending time with friends and family. To many, it is nothing more than a day to get off work. It is finally a day to be dreaded by a great many people, who suffer through grave bouts of depression and anxiety, which are heightened by the season and heightens their sense of loneliness and isolation.

Christmas was actually a pagan holiday originally, and seems to have been adapted by the newly Christianized Romans from the old festival known as the Saturnalia. Saturn was an ancient agricultural deity from the ancient days of Roman pre history, and little is known concerning him, though he was falsely identified with the Greek Cronus. The Saturnalia was a joyous festival, in which gifts were exchanged and there was much merry making, banqueting, partying, and the playing of pranks. Work was called off for the entirety of the festival, which ran from the Winter Solstice until the following New Years Day. This may well have been, in fact, the original "Twelve Days Of Christmas".

Even slaves got into the act, and they were not only free of their duties for the duration of the festival, but their masters were expected to cook for them, and perform all the menial tasks to which the slaves were ordinarily consigned.

This was a popular, even a beloved tradition, throughout Roman history, so naturally it would be considered rash, to say the least, to atempt to bring it to an end, not exactly conducive to gaining acceptance of the new state religion of Christianity. And so the holiday was kept, and maintained as the birthdate of the Christian savior. And so, apparrently, everybody was happy.

As a pagan, of course I do not recognize the holiday as the birthdate of the Christian savior, I recognize the holiday-which actually occurs most years on December 21st-as a celebration of the Winter Solstice. As, in fact, the symbolic rebirth of the sun, and of the sun god himself. For it is on this date, the Solstice, that ancient people noticed the sun, which had been steadily declining in length of it's days, now suddenly started to once again re-emerge, as the days once again begin growing longer. The Solstice, Yule, of course, is the shortest day of the year, but also marks the period when each day now becomes successively longer, as the light and heat of the sun now grows progressively brighter and stronger.

On this day, the newly reborn sun god, in other words, is once again a new born infant, new born from the womb of the Mother Goddess.

It is, in effect, the true New Years Day, though most pagans consider Samhain (Halloween) to be New Years. This I consider to be the age old effects of marketing and the connection in the popular mind of Halloweeen with witches and witchcraft, and so in my opinion the adoption of Samhain as the Wiccan and/or Pagan New Year is quite simply incorrect. But that is my opinion, which I have to concede most other Wiccans and Pagans do not share.

But at any rate, Yule as a traditional holiday has been around for some time now, prior to Christianity, and I can afford to be generous in my gratitude toward the ancient Christians for wisely endeavoring to uphold the tradition, albeit in a somewhat corrupted version. As such, I for one have no problem wishing them or anyone else a "Merry Christmas and a happy New Year", nor do I have any hang-ups about being met with such a greeting at Department Stores and such. I most generally return the greeting.

Nor do I have a problem with trees in public parks being adorned for the season, and with them being called what they are traditionally called-"Christmas Trees". Of course, I know they are or were originally called Yule Trees, or maybe were an outgrowth of the long ago burning of the "Yule Log" which seems to have been an ancient European tradition of the Celts, or perhaps of one of the Germanic and Scandinavian tribes. I don't know and it doesnt really matter. The point is, I am not offended in the least by any of the traditional public displays or recognitions of Christmas, nor can I imagine any other Wiccan or pagan that would be, not any that have a modicum of good sense, at least.

I don't even mind the traditional Christmas religous displays, the manger and wise men with baby Jesus and all that. Why the hell should I care? Yet, evidently somebody seems to mind, and so a controversy has been erupted, one which may have been magnified by forces on the Far Right in order to gain political points (or in view of recent events to keep from loosing them) with an incensed general public. For, the reality is, like it or not, the majority of Americans are Christians, and I have no doubt the majority of Americans always will be Christians. Frankly, this suits me fine in some ways. It does provide a bulwark against radical Islam, or for that matter against the more suppossedly moderate form of that vile religion.

Yet,there are those who for no real good reason think they have to come down against any public display of Christianity. Well, I resent this, as a non-Christian, for a number of reasons. For one, it puts me on the spot, as Christians who know of my pagan beliefs automatically assume that I side with these radicals. Well, I do not.

For another, it gives just that much more fuel to the fire started by those Far Right radicals, gives them ammunition, as it were, to use against not only pagans, but against any Democratric politicans, or supporters of any kind of progressive or liberal cause. It gives them just one more wedge issue with which to infalme the gullible against those of us who would otherwise stand to gain their support. A sure fire way to convince a person to vote against their own best interests is to appeal to their vanity, or their fears, or their prejudices-or their religous beliefs. In the case of the latter, the more heartfelt and yet superstitous are those beliefs, the better.

Christians are bad enough when they are confronted just with the facts of other religions, of the existence of them. They are bad enough when confronted with the simple reality that those of other religions have the rights to practice their religions in peace. This is enough to make them shout and moan and bitch about a so-called "war on Christianity". That and the fact a good many people just don't share their values. I know I don't always. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. So what!

All I know is, America is suppossed to be a country that is founded on certain key principles, and one of these principles is two pronged. On one aspect, you have the freedom of religion, and the rights to free religous expression, while at the same time it is against the law for government to support any one religion over another. That seems perfectly clear cut to me. Christians have as much of a right to their traditional holidays as any other religous group, and this should be respected.

The ancient Christans long ago learned the value of respecting traditions. Hopefully, the modern Christians of today are not adverse to learning those same lessons. Nor should anyone else be.