Thursday, May 31, 2007

Moose — some vacation photos

We took a vacation last week to a different part of our lovely state. We saw several moose, a fox, a couple of tom turkeys, and I spotted our first-ever live, non-captive porcupine. I only got photos of moose.

Female moose, mother moose, mama moose, moose, NH, New Hampshire

moose, NH, New Hampshire

moose, NH, New Hampshire

Friday, May 18, 2007

Corbin Covered Bridge, Newport, NH — a photo

Here's my "picture postcard" view of the covered bridge that's just down the road from our home.

Corbin Bridge, Newport, NH, New Hampshire, Corbin Covered Bridge

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Getting a Little Political -- Part 3

I watched some of the Republican debate the other night. There was a point at which the questioner asked for a show of hands of who does not believe in evolution. Much to my disgust, some hands went up.

I didn't catch whose hands those were, but I checked the New York Times online edition for the transcript, and they reported that the hands that went up belonged to Brownback, Huckabee, and Tancredo.

Assuming that the NYT transcript is correct, and assuming that the question's intent was clearly understood*, and assuming that we're not dealing with a semantic issue of what "believe in" means...these three men should automatically be deemed unelectable.

So here's where the semantic issue comes in:

Does "believe in evolution" mean "accept that evolution is a process that actually occurs"?


Does "believe in evolution" mean "put your faith and trust in evolution"?

If it means the former, then Brownback, Huckabee, and Tancredo are addled. If it means the latter, then that's somewhat acceptable.

Here's where things get tricky: If you ask me whether "I believe in George W. Bush", my answer will be "No! No! NO!"

Does that mean that I am a denier of his existence? No. Certainly not. I believe he exists. I believe he's a dangerous ass. But I don't deny his existence.

So in that sense, I also don't believe in evolution, right? I don't put my faith in it. I don't believe it's working for my betterment. I don't believe it will provide any salvation to me or anyone else. I don't believe it will lead to an Eden here on Earth (or anywhere else). That's just dumb. But it is a process that happens in nature. So in that sense, you bet I believe in evolution. Just as I believe in fire. Just as I believe in gravity. Just as I believe in sexual reproduction among the mammals.

But I think that in common parlance "Do you believe in George W. Bush?" takes on one meaning and "Do you believe in evolution?" takes on another. It's a matter of semantics.

So, do we give them the benefit of the doubt? No way! Particularly not Brownback, who is a known fundamentalist religious nutjob. (For the record, I'm not saying that or casting any other aspersions on anyone's character here or anywhere else as a statement of fact, actionable as slander or libel. For the record, I'm saying it merely as a literary device. Call it parody. Call it satire. Call it what you like, but don't call it slander or libel, please!)

* Reading the transcript, the question seems less clear in its intent than it seemed as a spoken utterance. The questioner stumbled a bit on his phraseology. But having listened to it in real time, I believe the intent of the question was really quite apparent.

Getting a Little Political -- Part 2

Second topic: How is it possible to be willing to vote for Hillary? To use a gender-inappropriate term, Hillary was cuckolded. She was cuckolded more publicly and more embarrassingly than anyone else has ever been cuckolded in the history of the world.

That's not her fault.

Her husband is (or am I to believe that he's reformed and should I change that "is" to a "was"?) a lecher. That's no secret. It never was. I think we pretty much all knew it going in.

I remember having a conversation with a friend who was volunteering for his campaign in 1992. I asked her whether she thought he was merely the best of the available choices or whether she honestly believed in him and trusted him. (Her answer surprised me greatly. To me, even then--before he was elected, before all of the scandals broke--it seemed quite obvious that he should not be considered a fine, upstanding, decent member of the community, worthy of admiration and respect. To put a word on it, he was a slimeball. That has no bearing on how well he governed or what he was or wasn't able to accomplish while in office. But it's fair to note, as a matter of historical record, that it was out there.)

I repeat: That's not Hillary's fault.

However, she didn't divorce him. And that's not even what really bugs me about Hillary--not exactly. I'm not terribly concerned that she didn't divorce him at any given moment during that whole mess. I'm not terribly concerned that she didn't divorce him the second after his second term in office ended. What concerns me is that every day that goes by is yet another day when she hasn't divorced him.

That is her fault.

And when I say "her fault", I don't mean "a consequence for which she is to be blamed". What I mean is "her flaw". Namely, by not divorcing him, every single day that goes by, she demonstrates quite clearly that she has no sense of self respect.

Don't get me wrong. I'm certain that she has a great (maybe overblown) sense of her own value and importance. In fact, I'm sure that she's downright arrogant and cocky. That's simply not the same thing as having self respect, in my book.

I can't get past it. I can't imagine ever being willing to vote for somebody who has and who so proudly exhibits such an utter lack of self respect. There's no dignity there. And frankly, I can't stomach the idea of voting for her as long as she wakes up every day and again decides not to end that marriage.

Giuliani is a lecher, too. We all know that. Gingrich is a hypocritical lecher. I think we all know that too--and shouldn't forget it if/when he decides to jump into the race. John Kennedy was a lecher too, although I suspect it was less well known when he was elected--because the media didn't make a point of reporting it. Jefferson was a lecher too, apparently. I guess we have a long history in this country of electing people who are slimeballs in their personal dealings.

Frankly, I'm sickened by the culture of nosiness that has made sexual dalliances and proclivities a part of the political decision making process. I wish we could go back to judging candidates on their substantive ideas or lack thereof rather than on where they decide to "stick it". I blame the shift on the media, looking for stories wherever they can find them. And now that we've crossed that line, I don't think there's any going back.

In the past, I think we were allowed to believe (because we weren't told any better) that our elected leaders were admirable and worthy of respect. Now we are no longer given the opportunity to hold onto that illusion. Too bad. I think it was a nice illusion to have--healthy, in its way, for the nation's collective psyche.

But at this point, the "electable" candidates' lives are exposed too thoroughly to give them the benefit of the doubt.

So now, if we want to be able to respect our leaders, we must consciously choose to only elect respectable people to office. If we want to believe our leaders are decent, we can't simply assume that they are decent until proven otherwise. Instead, we have to take our impressions of their decency (or lack thereof) into the polling booths with us, and consciously choose to elect only those people who we believe to be decent.

Will that happen? I don't think so. We'll keep electing slimeballs. Frankly, because of the popularity W.J. Clinton retains, despite his thorough exposure as a world-class slimeball, I think lechery has become "the new normal". It's no longer considered a character flaw by the voting public. Instead, I think it's considered as merely a trait. I fear that "He (has/doesn't have) a southern accent" and "He (likes/doesn't like) to wear a jacket and tie while delivering his stump speeches" are now the ethical/moral equivalent of "He (can/can't) remain faithful to his wife". That's a shame.

I really don't want to vote for a slimeball. I'd rather have the slimeballs forced to step aside (or choose (of their own accord) to stay out of the race from the start).

But somehow I do see a difference between (a) disrespecting your wife or disrespecting your marriage and the vows you took and (b) disrespecting yourself enough to not even care when your husband disrespects you and your marriage and the vows he took.

Option (a) is vile, reprehensible, and disgusting. Option (b) is pathetic.

If you think you can convince me that I shouldn't be so thoroughly put off by Hillary's flaw, please do try. I doubt you'll succeed, but I'm eager to entertain your attempts. In the meantime, I'll go on believing that I will never be willing to vote for her--at least not until she chooses to end that marriage.

Getting a Little Political -- Part 1

I happen to feel like breaking from my usual routine on the blog today and stepping from apolitical posts to political. I'll probably get it all out of my system in a few rapid-fire posts and then be done with it for a few more months. At least I hope so, as I really don't want this to become a political blog. My apologies for this break from my usual programming.

First topic: Abstinence only sex education programs and "pro-life" rhetoric. Frankly, I don't want to hear it. And I don't want to hear about how RU-486 and abortions are wrong. I don't want to hear about how adoption is a wonderful option.

Right now, in America, if your daughter (or your sister, or your niece, or any young woman who is dear to you) goes to college, her odds of being raped are very close to your odds of rolling a six on a single die roll. I don't want to hear the anti-abortion rhetoric until those odds are a lot closer to your odds of winning the lottery.

And I also don't want to hear it until the backlog of kids in the system who nobody is willing to adopt is depleted to something very close to zero.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Winter Thorns — a new photograph

I'm going back to wintertime for this photograph. It's not quite as good as I would like, but I think it's interesting enough.

thorns, winter, snow