Friday, December 26, 2008

White Christmas

Dear Mr. Al Gore,

A "white Christmas" never happened in SoCal, all during the time I lived there. On the other hand, you should come here to Land-In-Between, where we had it, and not only did we have it, we had it in spades. Our whole town looks snowed-in and buried. And our snow shovels dug and dug, moving snow from here to there. But today, a break in the weather finally came (see picture), and the Sun, long forgotten, showed its face once again, making the winter a little less bleak. And the roads are plowed enough to be passable, and people are moving about, shopping for after-Christmas bargains. But I must confess, Mr. Gore, that I am a little disappointed in the "Global Warming" you promised everybody. Other than providing you with a Nobel Prize, it has had little benefit for us here. But I know you are a generous man, so please share more of your benefits with us. A little warm air would be great. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Go Home Californians

Here in Land-In-Between, the Idaho panhandle, the winter is now coming close to breaking the all-time 1915 record for snowfall. My life has been wasting away with neverending snow shoveling, and the roofers who I hired have just left after clearing off my roof, so I can be ready for the next snowstorm without worrying that my roof will cave in. It took four young, strong guys almost a hour, and my roof isn't all that big. My house now looks like it sits in the midst of a glacier. There's no way I could have shoveled the roof even if I wanted — I'm too old and tired out.

It's been brutal. Where is all the "Global Warming" we were promised? I'm beginning to think it's all a bunch of hooey. I hope the Chicoms start building more coal-fired power plants and start spewing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We need it a little warmer around here. The polar bears can go drown for all I care, although I think they're smarter than that and will eventually hybridize back with the grizzly bear population.

If this winter doesn't make all the Californians who came here pack up and leave, nothing will.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Won A Bet

Yesterday, my friend Mark made good on his bet with me and paid for my drink at Starbucks that morning. He was surprised that Obama won the election. On the other hand, there were times I thought that McCain would get it. I am so glad I don't have to see any more poltical ads on television. And what is odd is the job that is now being done on Sarah Palin by campaign insiders. How Palin has been treated always seemed odd to me. How much flak she received since she was nominated always amazed me. For now I am unwinding. I had expended a lot of mental energy into writing about a subject that is not especially pleasant for me, and I need to take a break and turn my attention on other matters. Also, I have a cold I need to get over.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Venti Mocha Bet

I now have a bet going with a friend of mine. If Obama wins in November, my friend Mark has to buy me a venti mocha at Starbucks. Otherwise, I have to buy him one.

At this point in time, however, it looks like Obama has more to fear from some of his friends doing him damage, given how berserk they have gone about Palin.† So I am a little concerned about losing my bet. But we still have two months left to go in this presidential election (sigh). In that time, after the initial charm has worn off, and people begin to tire of seeing Palin's face, there's still the chance that Obama might pull it off. But he needs to boogie hard.

As far as Palin is concerned, well, all I can say is that I am not that much impressed with her. Sure, she was once in a beauty contest, now is the governor of a sparsely populated state, shoots guns, can hunt caribou or moose, loves her family, and might be a conservative xtian, still I can only say "so what?" By themselves these things don't qualify a person to hold a high national office. And this doesn't take into account that she's probably being used for window dressing and mere culture-war bait, and that in a McCain presidency she will have about as much importance as Dan Quayle had in the Bush 41 administration. It's McCain that's running for president and not Palin.

In the meantime, while everybody was distracted by the Palin brouhaha, the government just took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Other than making the taxpayers the chumps who will now have to cover F&F's bad loans, what's up with that? It's scary that neither candidate is talking very much about this. Let's hope that China stays happy with holding onto dollars.

It will be interesting to watch what happens when Palin gets interviewed by the media, once the McCain campaign allows that to happen. This morning even Chris Wallace, on Fox News, was starting to wonder why they are keeping her incommunicado as far as interviews are concerned. I daresay that the MSM will question her about her religious beliefs, and if their questioning comes off smacking overmuch of hostility, it will work in McCain's favor. However, if they focus on her views regarding the economy and foreign policy, it will have the effect of working in Obama's favor, for in that case I am fairly sure that she won't have anything to say beyond just repeating by rote the standard GOP platitudes.


† The Left's proclivity to indulge in nutty paranoia about xtians is a big element in the craziness that broke out. Of course I am not saying that everybody is like this, but some wheels got very squeeky this week. And then there were the goofy antics of a certain influential and widely-respected blogger on the website of a well known magazine. Nonetheless, we all remember him for coining the very perspicacious socio-political term "christianist," for which we are all thankful, and whereby we can understand those things that would otherwise be murky or mystifying.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Organic Churches

Here in Land-In-Between we had five inches of snow this morning, and here it is already Spring and April is just a few days away. The robins are getting ready to lay their eggs, and they must be freaking out. How are they going to gobble up worms with all this snow on the ground?

I wish Al Gore would hurry up and deliver on his the global warming promises. I am beginning to feel cheated.

Earlier I said I was reading "Pagan Christianity?" by Frank Viola and George Barna. Many other people have already reviewed the book. For example, Ariel Vanderhorst did what I thought was a fair review. There's not much I can add except for a few points:
  1. A person should be cautious when someone comes around claiming to have a radical new angle on Xnty which somehow eluded everybody else for the last 2000 years. Furthermore, in his book, Viola had a short chapter on XP being a "revolutionary" and then uses that to try to bolster his case. Anymore this is almost meaningless jargon, and it makes me immediately suspicious because it's a cheap agitprop device that amounts to saying: "Hey you over there! You had better pay heed to what I say because like XP I'm a farsighted revolutionary too and I therefore got Him on my side." For me this is just so much rhetoric.
  2. Although their book is larded with footnotes, I thought that in many places they presented a over-simplistic view of church history, almost to the point of being ludicrous. The sections dealing with the patristic era and the Catholic church were especially weak. In other places, while their presentation was interesting, much of the time I ended up saying "big fat deal, so what?"
  3. Viola and Barna don't discuss very much the role of the H.S. in the church. This is the one problem that I have with "Emergents." For all their PoMo trappings, they are still very rationalist in outlook. They just think they have discovered the better presentation, the better packaging, or the better branding.
  4. Viola and Barna place an emphasis on the church planters' role in starting up these "organic churches" which they are advocating. Just read some of the materials at House Church Resource. The question I have is just who are these "church planters" and who picks them? If somebody is picking them, then somewhere behind the scenes we still have an organization operating. And if an organization is operating, then somebody is paying for it. And so things may not be quite as "organic" as we thought they were.
While I thought Viola and Barna's book was disappointing in several ways, yet it was worth reading because, despite the book's deficiencies, they did manage to raise some worthwhile questions.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Politics of Heaven

Book Review
Title: The Politics of Heaven—American in Fearful times
Author: Earl Shorris
Publisher: W.W. Norton and Company

A Very Very Brief Summary of the Book
Woe is us! The FDR New Deal is gone, gone, gone. The bad people have taken over America.

But who to blame? Why it's mostly the fault of all those crazy Bible-thumping fundie xtians. There are other villains too, but these are the baddest of the bad. Woe is us!

Recommendation
This staggering work of heartbreaking genius is a book that reaches new heights of eloquence and erudition, wherein a hardcore progressive secularist bemoans the loss of "optimism" about this-world human perfectibility. Shorris is unhappy that things aren't going his way, and consequently there is page after page of lamentations.

To convey to the readers the amorphous, all-pervasive, and hideous evilness of it all, he likes to call the bad people "the movement". That Shorris chose not to capitalize the word "movement" is a brilliant stroke of genius, for it subtly shows the reader that it's everywhere and has crept into everything. It's even tunneling beneath your house.

If this sort of stuff is up your alley, and you enjoy watching an intellectual snidely call other people whom he doesn't like names like "liar", "racist", or "closet homosexual", then you'll adore this book.


[Update, 2017 Jan 05] If Earl Shorris was unhappy back then, just imagine how unhappy he is now.

Hollister Dreaming

Well, we've had enough snow here in Land-In-Between to suffice for two-and-a-half winters. A friend told me that we broke a record going all the way back to 1915. And even though we have had melty conditions now for over a week, it still boggles my mind how much snow we still have on the ground. But I am thankful to finally have a rest from all that snow shoveling. Now the snow berms have melted back enough where we can at least see the street from our kitchen window. With each passing day, Spring gets closer. I welcome Spring.

This is not the climate change we bargained for. So I wonder. Will all the Californians who moved here freak out and decide to sell their houses and leave? Oops, I guess they're stuck, when you consider that the housing market is slumping here as well. It must have been a surprise for them to discover that Land-In-Between isn't quite the paradise the realtors claimed it was, with all those beautiful pictures they showed them of Lake Ha Ha, and the forests, and the happy happy life of Podunk City. Certainly it was dreadful shock for them to discover that, hey, it really does snow here.

I guess that, to mollify themselves, the Californians will have to go to the Hollister clothing store at the mall and watch the live cam of Huntington Beach, showing the surf going in and out, and all the Dudes and the Bettys struting around carrying their surfboards.

Addendum: Yikes. It's snowing again.

Addendum: This Sunday we saw our first robins. The poor things must be wondering why there is still so much dang snow on the ground.