Who’s Your Theologian?

I know I’m a couple hours short of that degree in Theology, but I recognize the problem in Hugh Hewitt’s assertion:

“For all of its history, ADL has been self-asked to live up to one of the oldest most fundamental principles of civilization. It is actually one of the Commandments as we know: ‘Love your neighbor.’ And all of you are yourselves showing courage, because it can be bitter, it is tough. Bigotry, hatred, fear, drive people to do things that are inexplicable, and it is hard in any community to stand up against that, but it is vital.”

John Kerry –connecting again with yet another audience. ADL is a largely Jewish organization, which is not likely to recognize John Kerry’s “commandment” as one of the big 10.

Sloppy sentence, Hugh. You know and I know that the Big 10 are found in the book of Exodus, which features the little-known story of the Hebrews fleeing from Egypt. Some of the people in the Anti-Defamation League might have heard that story sometime. So it’s not that the members of the Jewish organization won’t recognize the ten commandments.

A more nuanced reading indicates that the members of the Anti-Defamation League will not recognize Kerry’s “Love your neighbor” edict as one of the ten commandments because it’s not in the ten commandments, not because the Jews don’t recognize the ten commandments.

Take care with your words, brother, because someone out there will hop on it to paint you as anti-semitic, somehow turning your ill-written assertion into repeating the blood libel.

(Link first seen on Power Line.)

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That Will Teach Us

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows the voters the error of our ways:

Looking to go swimming at a St. Louis County park pool on Memorial Day or Labor Day?

Forget about it.

After voters this month narrowly turned down a sales tax increase to support county parks, the parks department is trimming five weeks off the swimming season.

Obviously, not forking over an extra sixteen and a half million dollars of our money every year has forced the county to prioritize its budget and trim some non-essential services. Unfortunately, this will infringe upon the pencilled-in right to swim found in the elaborately customized constitutions owned by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Undoubtedly, this will impact the children, the seniors, and the poor disproportionately, as they don’t have swimming pools in their backyards. I guess we’ll read that in tomorrow’s Post-Dispatch.

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Hockey Joke

Four hockey fans are mountain climbing. Each climber happens to be a rabid fan of a different NHL team. One from Chicago, one from St. Louis, one from Detroit and the other from Nashville. As they climbed higher and higher, they argue more and more about which of them is the most loyal to their particular hockey team.

As they reach the summit, the climber from Chicago takes a running leap and throws himself off the mountain yelling ” This is for the Chicago Blackhawks!”

Not wanting to be outdone, the climber from Nashville throws himself off the mountain shouting “This is for the Nashville Predators!”

Seeing this, the St. Louis Blues fan walks to the edge and yells, “This is for hockey fans everywhere!”. He then pushes the fan from Detroit off the cliff.

(Slightly modified from a joke seen on Hockey Pundits, which involved some Canadian teams or something.)

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What Generation Gap?

In the September 2003 issue of Speakeasy, the magazine reports on its survey that sought to examine the differences among the generations in its readership and to determine if one or more generation gaps really exist. A handy table condensed some of the highlights:

Graduated from High School In: 1940s and 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
When you crooned behind your closed bedroom door in high school, which singer did you most often imitate? Elvis Presley Joan Baez
The Motown Sound
Joni Mitchell
Carole King
Paul McCartney
Johnny Cash
Tori Amos
Ani DiFanco

Ani DiFanco? It’s just a typo, I know, because a later cell of the table (most important album from high school) spells her name right (while getting the name of her album Little Plastic Castles wrong). But jeez, it sort of proves the generational gap, wot, that they couldn’t tell at a glance the misspelling?

Or perhaps I am the only one who straddles the generational gaps like a gymnastically-inclined squid.

To celebrate, I switched from the AM oldies station today and put on some Vag Rock. I’m I am not a pretty girl…. that is not what I do…. I ain’t no damsel in distess….. and I don’t need to be rescued….


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Deploy the DiFranconator!

I know that United States forces in Iraq have played American rock and roll as a form of psychological warfare against the islamofascists. When confronted with taunts of against their manhood and Metallica, many Iraqis charged out like rabid animals and were quickly shot down.

Imagine how much more madder and crazier they would have been if our guys played Ani DiFranco. If the decadence of American rock and roll offended them so, it could only be more effective to have a woman singing to them that she’s enthusiastically conflicted about sleeping with copious amounts of men and women.

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Who’s Not Their English Major? Say It!

From Crescat Sententia we have a rebuttal of sorts to the list included here. Crescat lists its top 99 books/series of all time.

Here’s how I fared on its enlightened reading, with the books I have read in bold and those I have on my to-read shelf in italics:

    1. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    2. The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishigruo
    3. Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
    4. The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene
    5. All The King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
    6. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
    7. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
    8. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
    9. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco
    10. Syrup, by Max (Maxx) Barry
    11. Emma, by Jane Austen
    12. The Dirk Gently Series, by Douglas Adams
    13. Ada, by Vladimir Nabokov
    14. The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
    15. 100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    16. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
    17. The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
    18. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    19. Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov
    20. Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, &c., by Orson Scott Card
    21. Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood
    22. Survivor, by Chuck Palahniuk
    23. Ana Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
    24. The Three Musketeers Series, by Alexandre Dumas [The Three Musketeers, anyway.]
    25. The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri
    26. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera [“Strip!”]
    27. Tess of D’Urbevilles, by Thomas Hardy
    28. High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby
    29. Howard’s End, by E.M. Forster
    30. Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk
    31. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
    32. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
    33. The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Greene
    34. Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbon
    35. My Antonia, by Willa Cather
    36. The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
    37. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    38. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
    39. Song of Fire and Ice, by George R.R. Martin
    40. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    41. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Doestoevesky
    42. What Maisie Knew, by Henry James
    43. American Pastoral, by Philip Roth
    44. Galveston, by Sean Stewart
    45. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller, by Italo Calvino
    46. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    47. Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen
    48. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
    49. Youth in Revolt, by C.D. Payne
    50. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
    51. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
    52. Big Trouble, by Dave Barry
    53. Cat’s Eye, by Margaret Atwood
    54. Villette, by Charolotte Bronte
    55. The Last Chronicle of Barset, by Anthony Trollope
    56. Phineas Finn, Phineas Finn Redux, by Anthony Trollope
    57. Darlington’s Fall, by Brad Leithauser
    58. This Real Night, by Rebecca West
    59. The Baron in the Trees, by Italo Calvino
    60. Summer, by Edith Wharton
    61. The Unconsoled, by Kazuo Ishiguro
    62. Cecilia, by Frances Burney
    63. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
    64. Dangerous Liaisons, by Choderlos de Laclos
    65. Mr. Scarborough’s Family, by Anthony Trollope
    66. The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien
    67. A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster
    68. The Duke’s Children, by Anthony Trollope
    69. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote
    70. Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot
    71. The Dumas Club, by Arturo Perez-Reverte
    72. Baudolino, by Umberto Eco
    73. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
    74. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
    75. David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
    76. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
    77. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
    78. The Manticore, by Robertson Davies
    79. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammitt
    80. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
    81. Good Morning, Midnight, by Jean Rhys
    82. The Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket
    83. Sula, by Toni Morrison
    84. The House in Paris, by Elizabeth Bowen
    85. The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt
    86. The Death of the Heart, by Elizabeth Bowen
    87. Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers
    88. The Discworld Saga, by Terry Pratchett
    89. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
    90. The Fountain Overflows, by Rebecca West
    91. Possession, by A.S. Byatt
    92. The Island of the Day Before, by Umberto Eco
    93. God Knows, by Joseph Heller
    94. The Cat Who Walked Through Walls, by Robert Heinlein
    95. Candide, by Voltaire
    96. The Vagabond, by Colette
    97. Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding
    98. The Fencing Master, by Arturo Perez-Reverte
    99. Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James

Not so good, but it’s not a list of (sniff!) canon.

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Ban Raw Materials, Says Expert “Red” Adabsurdum

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The debate over Missouri’s growing methamphetamine problem took a major turn Wednesday, as police from around the state demanded that some common cold pills used to make the drug be classified as regulated narcotics available only at pharmacies.

At issue is a chemical called pseudoephedrine. It’s an active ingredient in more than 80 over-the-counter remedies that are sold everywhere from gas stations to grocery stores. But pseudoephedrine also is a key ingredient in most recipes for meth, a powerful stimulant often called ice, crystal or crank.

Missouri last year toughened existing regulations on how much pseudoephedrine a store could sell to an individual customer, and added new restrictions on where those cold pills could be displayed. As a result, meth cooks and their helpers now must shop at dozens of stores to get the thousands of pills needed to make even a few ounces of meth.

Police at the summit said that without tougher regulations, the explosive increase in small meth labs will continue in Missouri and throughout the Midwest. Although most of the nation’s meth is made at a small number of large drug labs in Mexico and California, Missouri and the states it borders accounted for more than half of the meth-lab raids and related seizures last year.

In other news, fire marshals demanded that lighters, matches, and magnifying glasses be sold only over the counter as they can be combined with an accellerant to intentionally start a fire, MADD is protesting against the availabilty of fruits and dandelions to young people, who can then ferment them and drink the contents, and the anti-gun lobby to restrict the sales of steel, lead, and wood.

Legitimate purposes and rights are a threat to security. Just stand in your stall and bleat a little until its your turn, veal.

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Budget Crisis in San Francisco Because People Obey Law

The City of San Francisco is running into budget problems because drivers just aren’t racking up the fines anticipated, reports the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Bay Area’s sputtering economy has meant good news for San Francisco drivers, who have seen a drop in competition for the city’s notoriously scarce on-street parking spaces, but bad news for City Hall’s finance wizards who count on fines for illegal parking to help balance the budget.

Unfortunately, building fines and excise taxes into the budget lead to this sort of problem. The government needs people to do proscribed things, or it needs to proscribe more things to keep spooning citizens’ money down its sucking maw. People might shriek over a property tax increase, or might vote down a sales tax hike, but who’s going to oppose raising a parking ticket fine?

Until your dentist appointment runs over fifteen minutes, or you don’t know the lottery-style system of proper side-of-street parking (stay overnight in Milwaukee, eh?) and suddenly you’re paying $250.

The silver lining, if you’re looking for something positive to say about profligate spending outpacing revenue: The anticipated shortfall is only $4 million dollars in the $352 million dollar deficit San Francisco’s running this year.

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Hat Blogging

Brock Sides of Signifying Nothing is a hat man. He even mentions Mr. Hats in Memphis, which is oddly enough where I purchased my current preferred black fedora. I’ve only been to Memphis twice, but the last time I was there–some six years ago (?!) I got my Dobbs. I would have gotten it at Donge’s, in Milwaukee, but they closed down seven years ago. A pity; I had gotten my first three fedoras there.

At any rate, here it is, my primary hat, worn outdoors with or without trenchcoat:

The black fedora.

I wear it winter or summer, to work and to play. I’ve been wearing black fedoras for eleven years, since my years at college. Even today, should I bump into a Marquette alum of the same period, I might be recognized on the hat alone.

(Oh, yeah, and to Arkansas with James Lileks, who said intemperate words about bloggers and fedoras.)

Here’s my writing hat of the last few years, a brown Berlesoni I picked up at an estate sale for a couple bucks:

The brown fedora.

It has the former owner’s initials in it, WJS. I tend to wear hats while writing (I wore a cheap straw Panama hat for my first novel and this brown fedora for my second novel). Heck, I’m wearing a ball cap now (Sydney Olympics 2000, given to me by a friend who got it from a real, live Australian!).

But the brown fedora faces competition from the new beachcomber’s hat I bought in Florida this March:

The beachcomber.

I wear it, and the Sydney ball cap, as I revise novel #2, blog, and open (and close) the various and sundry inchoate essays and novels that allow me to continue my dream of being a writer.

So, what are you wearing?

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Dear Consumer: Just Say No

In another attempt to save the consumer from himself, the Illinois Attorney General is cattle-prodding the Illinois legislature to the rescue. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Typical sob lead:

When Michael Rogers drove out of a car dealership three years ago in his newly purchased GMC Jimmy, he thought he understood the financing arrangement. The interest rate the dealership gave him on the loan – 20.95 percent – sounded high, but the dealer had explained that Rogers’ checkered credit history had required it, and he’d accepted that explanation.

“I thought it was a good deal for me,” said Rogers, 45, a former postal worker in Chicago who is on disability. “I knew I’d had some credit problems … so, I figured, ‘Yeah, my credit must be bad.’ I figured this was the punishment.”

After more than two years of paying $409 a month on the car, Rogers learned that he had actually been approved for a 9.25 percent loan from a lender. Unknown to Rogers, the dealership had then added the additional 11.7 percent itself, raising the final cost on the $17,000 car by almost $7,000.

Aw, poor baby. You know, I got socked with a .9 percent financing rate in March, 2001. A year later, rates were 0 percent as car makers tried to ensure continued sales after September 11. So I feel your pain, pinhead.

21% on a car? Jesus H. Gonzalez, but that’s a damn high rate to pay. Come to think of it, $17,000 is a lot to pay for a vehicle, especially at 21% interest. It took me almost four years to run my credit cards up to that amount, but that included a night at a “Fantasy Suite” establishment which included an in-room swimming pool, sauna, waterfall, and complimentary bottle of champagne. A lot to spend for one person, but at least it wasn’t $17,000. What’s my point?

Oh, yeah, you, Joe Stupid Consumer, are an IDIOT to spend that much on a car at that rate of interest and assume it’s the best rate without shopping around. Fortunately, the Daley State will come to your aid and will straitjacket business because you, the consumer, are mad.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is pushing legislation that would require car dealers to tell customers how much of their car loan interest rate was determined by the lender, and how much the dealer has added on to it.

Thank heavens! The Illinois Government to the rescue!

The markup system is common in auto financing nationwide, including in Missouri. Lawmakers in Missouri are not considering any legislation to require disclosure of the actual loan rate.

The Post-Dispatch ruefully reports this, because it’s on the side of the working man in every contest wherein the reigning champion isn’t the newspaper industry.

One dealer promised to get a car buyer the “best” rate for a loan. The dealer offered the customer a loan at 16.95 percent interest. It turned out that the dealer was secretly paying 14.95 percent interest to a lender and pocketing the difference.

“I asked the dealer why he was charging my client a higher rate than the one approved for my client,” says Mitchell Stoddard, an attorney in St. Louis County. “And he looked me in the eye and said: ‘We gotta pay our bills.'”

All right, your crackhead investigative journalism has probably uncovered a dealer offering a deal to a subprime customer, wherein the dealer says the “best” rate, and probably means the “best” in the sense of the best in which the dealer would offer. Come on, PD, you don’t hammer advertiser Anheuser Busch in any advertisement wherein it proclaims any superlatives, particularly those including taste–so why come down hard on the poor SOB auto dealer who has bought a corner lot and a couple junkers in a throw at the American Dream?

I have sympathy for the business in this case because 1.) it’s someone taking a shot at making money, and 2.) it entered the contract with its eyes open, unlike the less-than-savvy consumers you defend. But the intelligent don’t need government, or crusading “journalism,” protection. They understand the free, voluntary exchange in any business transaction.

We’d also prefer you not pollute the swimming pool with more legislation and regulation, thanks.

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