Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm Feeling Crabby!

Time for me to get off my rant horse and have a little fun here. It's Friday, anyway.

Tonight for dinner, LC cooked up an inexpensive box of crabcakes. They were all right; they weren't great, but then again, we weren't expecting any of the fine Maryland seafood places that specialize in crabcakes. Being from Maryland, we're spoiled that way; you might even call us crabcake snobs.

I've always loved crabcakes. You can buy them fully cooked, as pre-cooked patties, or just buy the crab meat mixed with the shells or hand- or machine- picked. I remember my mom licking the shells out of crabcakes on many a summer day (all right, not THAT many; crab meat isn't always cheap). And whereas LC gets a kick out of picking the meat out of steamed crabs, I don't enjoy it quite so much, although I'll open them up and eat the meat as well.

Crabcakes can be either fried or broiled. I've had them both ways, and I prefer broiled; I think there's more crab to taste that way. I often like them with just a dash of Worcestershire sauce and maybe a drop or two of lemon.

Some great places to sample crabcakes in Maryland include finer restaurants like Sunset, near the former Casa del Cyg in Glen Burnie; Buddy's Crabs and Ribs in Annapolis; Phillips in Baltimore, Ocean City, and elsewhere; and Dutch's Daughter in Frederick. But you can get perfectly good ones also at more casual locations like G&M's in Linthicum (that might be the best of all, and I advise getting carryout so you don't have to wait nearly as long as to sit down), Timbuktu in Jessup/Hanover, Roy's Kwik Korner in Glen Burnie, and May's in Frederick. Any of these places will give you baseball-sized crabcakes. If you can get a platter that includes two cakes, get it and save the other for the next day or whenever; I doubt you'd consume both at the same meal anyway. If you can't get here, you can have crabcakes shipped to you.

Just as yummy is cream of crab soup. Sunset serves its cream of crab with a small sherry bottle. Rocky Run has good crabcakes, but even better cream of crab soup. Maryland crab soup, which is more vegetable-based, is also popular, although it's not my favorite.

When I was working in Tampa many years ago, I went to lunch with a few cow-orkers at the Colonnade, a restaurant with a beautiful view of Tampa Bay. I decided to sample their "Maryland style crabcakes," feeling that as a connoisseur, I could judge whether theirs were genuine. Well, I can assure you: they weren't. It seemed almost as if sand was the filler, and the crab meat was nonexistent. In their defense, it was the onset of winter, and there really isn't any local crab population to speak of. And occasionally during Maryland's crab off-season, restaurants may import some crabs from Louisiana. But this year's MD crab haul was reportedly a good one.

This post is making me hungry. Better go to bed with visions of crabcakes and Natty Boh (the official adult beverage of crabs and crabcakes) in my head! Let me know of any places I forgot.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Never mind the water: don't drink out of the glass!

From the same hotel chains that brought you Saving the Environment By Not Changing Your Bedsheets. After seeing the following investigative report from a Fox Atlanta station that's been floating (so to speak) around the blogosphere, I may never use a hotel room glass again:

I saw this on Michelle Malkin's blog, but for a change, I have to disagree with her. This has less to do with the nationality (or lack thereof) of the workers as it does the ridiculous shortcuts that these hotels take to keep their costs down.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pope Benedict, saving us from lousy music!

How now, DB?

Pope to purge the Vatican of modern music

Okay, the dioceses and archdioceses are next! That sound you hear is OCP and GIA trembling in their drum kits.

H/T: Anita/V for Victory! (The pic was hers too.)

RIP, Sean Taylor

I loathe the Washington Redskins, but the murder of Sean Taylor is truly tragic. Taylor may not have been a model citizen, but he didn't deserve to have someone break into his home and shoot him.

God rest his soul.

Monday, November 26, 2007

That being said . . .

(See my post below on illegal immigration.)

A frequent name being tossed around at folks like me is xenophobic (fear of strangers). Hey, I don't mind name-calling; if the shoe fits, and all that. But here, the shoe doesn't fit.

My horizons have been broadened by watching shows like The Amazing Race in which Americans are plopped into other countries and their cultures. Some of the Racers act like Uglo-Americans, wondering why the locals have the gall to speak their own language and not English! Or, as one participant once said when in an African country, "Why can't these people stop breeding?" Also, in and out of various seasons, the Racers have wound up in India, where the women Racers are almost always shocked at how they're treated: as second-class citizens, if that.

Now, I haven't ventured out of the United States much in my life, and I don't say that as a good thing. Our trip to Canada was my first prolonged time in another country since I was seven years old, as our family finished a three-year stint in England. But I do know this: I would never demand that, for example, everyone in a non-English-speaking country speak English to satisfy me (or, if I did, I'd know I was wrong). That's one of the things that irks me about illegal immigrants to this country; they expect us to provide them their own culture, instead of assimilating into ours.

I would hope that when in other countries, I would be able step back and appreciate what's unique about their culture, people, and way of life. It seems to me that Puffy, for one, has done that.

Another thing that Racers on TAR can have a hard time with is the contrast between the poverty they see in various countries . . . and the utter joy the children have even in the midst of it. Last week's episode was a good example of this, as a group of Burkina Faso children led Vyxsin, a Goth, through a crowded market. She was overwhelmed. Perhaps the children, unlike us, don't couple happiness with economic status. And no, I'm not arguing that it's good for people to be poor! It's just that this idea of money = happiness is a very Western idea not necessarily shared by the rest of the world. (We support Cross International, BTW.) And how many unhappy well-off people do you know?

I hope that I can be so helpful with strangers in my area . . . even if they may be here illegally.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Maryland Bishops Get Illegal Immigration Wrong

Appearing today in my church bulletin was this statement about illegal immigration from the Maryland Catholic Conference, the leftist lobbying arm of Maryland's Catholic bishops in Annapolis.

The major point of the document is a good one: whether immigrants are here rightly or wrongly, they deserve compassion as individuals. Point well taken. But from there, the document leaves much to be desired:

In the Church, a universal body united through Christ, all find a home. Illegal entry is not condoned, but undocumented immigrants are embraced.

Well, which is it? Since when does "illegal entry" not equal "undocumented immigrants"?

Today, like their immigrant predecessors, Latinos often are the objects of suspicion, intolerance and discrimination.

Mainly because they, by and large, are the ones coming here illegally, siphoning money from our economy, sending it back to prop up the economies of the countries they're coming from, demanding goods and services such as hospital E.R. treatment, demanding services in Spanish and refusing to learn English or otherwise assimilate into our culture, etc. I'd appreciate a comparison about how many Poles, Irish, Italians, etc. did this in the 19th century. And what an insult this has to be to Latinos who have come here legally!

And then the bishops really start grasping at straws:

Descendants of enslaved Africans continue to suffer the bitter fruits of slavery and segregation.

Accepting the begged question of whether the verb "continue" is appropriate, no one could possibly argue that slavery was a good thing. But there's no comparison between slaves and their descendants who were forced to come here, and illegal immigrants who are being urged by their home governments to come to the United States illegally.

Crisis Magazine has an excellent analysis of this document. As Deal W. Hudson puts it:

[. . . W]hen the two "rights" are in conflict -- the right to secure borders and the right of a person to have basic needs met -- the nations with the "ability" should respond with "generosity."

The problem with such an argument is simple: Who decides which country has the ability? Who decides what "basic needs" are and whether they are available in the country of origin? Who decides what "generosity" is? Clearly, this argument is a prudential matter and can be argued openly without insinuating any disrespect for the bishops or their teaching office.

My bishops, or, more accurately, the MCC staff, means well, but any discussion of illegal immigrants without looking further at the "illegal" part of illegal immigration is like discussing Hamlet without the prince.

Health Advice

Never try to move an entertainment center using your knee. It doesn't work, at least not like it used to.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Of Flying Cars, The Environment, And Abortion

How life imitates art.

Ladycub and I just finished watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang again. It's a cute movie that has its moments, but ultimately wastes Sally Ann Howes' beauty and fine singing talent, and even Dick Van Dyke seemed out of place at times. It was based on an Ian Fleming novel for children, and Fleming was already well known for writing the James Bond series of books which Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli had turned into the highly successful movie franchise. So Broccoli hired the Sherman brothers songwriting team from Diz-knee and set out to make a musical version of Chitty. Most of the songs, however, aren't very memorable, with the possible exception of "Posh" (which has nothing to do with Victoria Beckham).

Anyway, one of the eventual plot points of the movie is that inventor Caractacus Potts' (Van Dyke) father (Lionel Jeffries, who was actually younger than Van Dyke) is kidnapped by Baron Bomburst (Bond movie veteran Gert Frobe) of Vulgaria, who mistakenly believes the elder Potts invented the eponymous flying and boating car. When trying to rescue his father, Potts discovers that Vulgaria is devoid of children, all of whom Bomburst has imprisoned via the Child Catcher (Robert Helpmann), who can apparently smell kids with his nose that Bob Hope would have envied. Potts' two children, Jeremy and Jemima, fall prey to the Child Catcher and have to be rescued along with the elder Potts.

My point? We are slouching toward Vulgaria, folks.

We live in a society that does not value children and sees them as an intrusion, a problem to be solved, and in no way a blessing. Sports stars father multiple children by multiple women, but that's okay; they don't have to take care of them. On the other hand, married couples with, say, five or more children are demonized as being selfish, uneconomical, or just plain crazy (I'm one of six myself). And while I am on the one hand grateful that young unwed moms don't abort all their children, way too many see the child(ren) as an impediment to their lifestyle. Hey, if Britney could go clubbing after having two kids, who shouldn't?

And now? Having children threatens the environment (h/t: Michelle Malkin). So children are now reduced to a factor that makes the earth less "carbon-neutral," and those who kill their own babies and sterilize themselves are now heroes. If I were more callous, I'd tell these people to kill themselves instead of their children, but that's not right.

But this is what happens in a post-Christian universe. And the societies that are having many children (partucularly Muslims and illegal immigrant Latinos) know their fertility will have an impact on the future of this world. The population implosion elsewhere in the world is well under way, and Paul Ehrlich's alarmist predictions of a "population explosion" are becoming more discredited by the day.

The message nowadays is clear: Getting pregnant is the absolutely worst thing that can happen to a woman. Tell that to my wife, who is involuntarily infertile. Meanwhile, I thank Bigbro for giving me four of the most wonderful nieces a guy could ask for. I hope he never checks their "carbon footprint."

Friday, November 23, 2007

I'm so done with . . .

(Volume II. Here's Volume I. Apologies to the Czabe.)

I'm so done with hearing about Hannah Montana, as well as the Diz-knee PR machine that decides every so often that EVERYone deserves to know the latest and greatest on the Diz-knee Channel.

I'm so done with Brian Billick and his head-scratching play-calling.

I'm so done with that stoopid robot that Fox has during its football games.

I'm so done with Fox's syndicated The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, which I'm forced to watch while in my office:

First of all, is it a Regis and Kathie Lee clone? Is it hard news, Montel-esque news, or what? It can't decide. And does Mike Jerrick ever comb his hair? Could he get a referral from John "The Breck Girl" Edwards for a barber? He makes Pat Sajak's hairdo look good.

I'm so done with people who finish your sentences for you. (Not that I've ever done that or anything.)

I'm so done with talk radio personalities saying, "Welcome into . . ." when most normal people say "Welcome to . . ."

I'm so done with even pretending to care what Donald Trump has to say.

I'm so done with Dr. Dean Edell. He's lucky to have a radio show.

I'm so done with the Lube Center trying to upsell me on everything, when all I want is a lousy oil change.

I'm so done with women dressing like sluts and then complaining when they get noticed for how they dress. The message they send has nothing to do with the message they intend to send.

I'm so done with prime-time television, save for The Amazing Race and Antiques Roadshow.

I'm so done with the writers' strike, even though I think they're right. It doesn't affect me a whit.

Although I *heart* Laura Ingraham, I'm so done with her breaking up the flow of her show because It's Time To Interview Somebody. She's her own worst enemy. She should just continue when she's on a roll and have fewer guests.

I'm so done with the Olympics, and have been since the 80s.

I'm so done with cell phones that don't allow you to download your contacts. I'm still re-entering mine from when my phone went kaput.

I guess that was my "anti-Thanksgiving list."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Where we'll be for Thanksgiving next year

Maybe with my sister in Illinois, where her hometown is also the home of:

The Turkey Testicle Festival!

No word on what my brother-in-law thinks of this festival. I'm also waiting for the feminists to protest that there ought to be a Turkey Ovary Festival.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sign Of The Day

One that made me wish I had my camera. It was on a piece of cardboard and borne by a homeless man on New York Avenue in northeast DC:

"I Won't Lie -- I Want A Beer."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Senatus Populusque Thompsonensis

UPDATE 11/28: The Frederick News-Post printed my letter to the editor, an edited version of the following post.

Again, I have to ask Frederick County Commissioner Lennie Thompson what planet he's living on. He still has this half-cocked idea that every county road can be converted into a tollway (his so-called "Appian Way"), once he gets every vehicle in the U.S. to have a revenue generator electronic toll payment transponder. That, he says, is the only way to generate revenue for building new roads.

That, I say, is insane. What does Thompson think we pay gas and highway taxes for now? What increased taxes were necessary to build the new auxiliary lane that runs on southbound I-270 from I-70 to Route 85?

I can only conclude that Thompson loves gridlock, almost as much as he does high housing costs. He staunchly refuses to allow the state to build a simple on-ramp to westbound I-70 from Route 144 because it would "reward developers." I hope he's proud of forcing traffic from New market and Lake Linganore to drive all the way into eastern Frederick and clog up Monocacy Boulevard, competing with trucks coming from the Lafarge Quarry and the Reichs Ford Road trash transfer station.

The simple fact is this: What increased gas tax did Alaska Senator Ted Stevens need to build his half-billion-dollar Bridge to Nowhere? And when did Thompson decide he was no longer a commissioner but a senator? Thompson would be better off using his energies to lure businesses to Frederick County and increase the lousy average weekly wages so that residents like me wouldn't have to commute to Montgomery County, Washington DC, or Northern Virginia to work. But since Thompson has no interest in growing Frederick County's tax base (nay, he'd rather see it contracted), he'd rather schmooze with the contractors who make these transponders. Pretty good for a commissioner who has spent his career demonizing developers and others who might commit the cardinal sin of spurring the local economy.

Of course, Thompson's ultimate plan could be to force all who don't agree with him to move to Pennsylvania. The scary thing is that it just might work. In fact, I thought I recently saw Thompson putting up new signs on I-70 on South Mountain and at Mount Airy saying, "Welcome to Frederick County -- Now Get Out."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I was right!

And some of you said I was wrong to call Kyla Ebbert a skank. Well, I was absolutely right:

A 23-year-old college student who was told by a Southwest Airlines employee that her outfit was too revealing to fly is wearing even less on Playboy’s Web site.

Kyla Ebbert appears in a series of pictures — some in lingerie, some nude…

“They’re very tastefully done,” Ebbert told The Associated Press on Thursday. “I don’t see anything wrong with the female body.” (Nor showing it to any and all, I reckon. -Cyg)

Ebbert worked at a Hooters in San Diego but said wants to become an attorney, and doesn’t think posing nude should get in the way of her professional aspirations.

“This was beautiful and classy. I don’t see why it would affect a professional position,” she said.

Insert your own jokes where appropriate; there's just way too many.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Might Be In A Cult-Like Group If . . .

Here's an interesting article from by way of the Covenant Communities Blog: Sifting the Wheat from the Tares: 20 Signs of Trouble in a New Religious Group. It deals with how to tell whether a Catholic or other religious community could be problematic. I'll extract the 20 warning signs here and speak about whether they were involved in my experience as part of the Lamb of God (covenant, shepherding/discipleship) Community in Baltimore:

  1. “Total” obedience to the pope. Not applicable to my experience, since LOG was inter-denominational, but in fact, I had the opposite problem:
  2. No sense of belonging to the local church. Very true: the community became more important than the Catholic Church or my parish.
  3. Lack of true cooperation with diocesan authorities. Hwat diocesan authorities? It was only when the Archdiocese intervened in 1993 that the abuses in LOG were addressed. Until then, the community had little to no dealings with the Archdiocese at all for fear of alienating the non-Catholics. Come to think of it, most of LOG's activities were done out of fear of alienating the non-Catholics.
  4. Making use of lies and falsehoods to obtain approval. For years, we learned that the LOG compound farm in Timonium was a "miracle in green." Legend had it that there was no way that this group of young hippies-turned-charismatics could obtain a mortgage for the farm and pay it off. Well, it wasn't so hard when the mother of head coordinator Dave Nodar put up her house as collateral for the loan. Also, while LOG proclaimed itself as merely a "light to the churches" and not a church in and of itself, it filed for tax-exempt status as . . . a church.
  5. Too soon an insistence on placing all goods in common. This is a tough one to deal with, given the examples of communites in the Book of Acts where this was the regular practice of new groups of believers. Fortunately, this never really came to pass. There was once a community food co-op, formed out of a belief that the "dark times" would force us to have to be self-sufficient. All I remember of it was the tubs of peanut butter that would have made wonderful epoxy.
  6. Claiming special revelations or messages leading to the founding of the group. The article refers to submitting such revelations to Church authorities for investigation. Well, when those getting the messages are an entity unto themselves, who needs investigation? One famous "message" included how we had to "cross the Jordan" and move to the other side of Baltimore. We celebrated this "crossing" with a mid-summer "Jordan festival" at the farm . . . back on the side of town where most members moved from. The LOG school band playing the specially written song "Jordan" sounded like the Pat Metheny Group's "Forward March."
  7. Special status of the founder, or foundress. Who watches the Watchmen? Dave and Cheryl Nodar's house was completely paid for with LOG tithes. Dave would give talks about the evils of the media and TV, and then all the neighborhood kids would be found in his house watching . . . the large-screen TV. Finally, his favorite word at community gatherings: "Let's."
  8. Special and severe penances imposed. That wasn't my experience, but this may have happened.
  9. Multiplicity of devotions, without any doctrinal unity among them. Not applicable: see #1.
  10. Promotion of “fringe” elements in the life of the Church. LOG had plenty of questionable associations, such as evangelist Larry Lea, "prophets" Bob Jones (not as in the university) and Paul Cain, and the Vineyard with John Wimber and Mike Bickle (more here; for a while, I thought LOG was going to become a Vineyard church). The founding of the community stemmed from the Marxist aims of Steve Clark, one of the founders of LOG progenitor The Word of God. Eventually, five Protestant covenant community leaders--Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson, Ern Baxter, Derek Prince, and Don Basham--who devised the shepherding/discipleship movement helped mold LOG into part of that movement while remaining affiliated with Catholic-based communities like WOG and eventually the Sword of the Spirit. More about the "Ft. Lauderdale Five" here. I could go on and on. (BTW, The Sign of Jonah looks to be a good blog about debunking the false prophets of Kansas City and the Vineyard.)
  11. Special vows. I was one of many LOG members who pledged a covenant (lifetime) commitment to the community, which Archbishop (later Cardinal) Keeler later dissolved. In fact, there was an elaborate commitment process that took a number of years.
  12. Absolute secrecy imposed on members. I wouldn't say there was absolute secrecy, but LOG was incredibly inward-focused.
  13. Control over the choice of confessors and spiritual directors. Everyone in LOG had a "pastoral leader" who had zero, zip, nada training in pastoral care. Of course, being at the bottom of the food chain, I wasn't anyone's pastoral leader. Oh, and ask my sister how sensitive personal information about her got disclosed to community leadership, information intended only for her pastoral leader.
  14. Serious discontent with the previous institute of which certain members were part. Not a factor, although the practices of individual churches were often derided.
  15. Any form of sexual misconduct as a basis. The only criterion I can safely say LOG had nothing to do with.
  16. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members. True for LOG, but only certain new members, ones who were to some degree needy. Nothing wrong with wanting to live in community, but it provided too much of a social structure.
  17. The group is preoccupied with making money. Huge problem, as alluded to above. Another "word" that we received was about the need to build or obtain a community center, and at one community gathering, we members were asked to come forward and empty our pockets. Most people, including myself, did so out of peer pressure and guilt. I never heard what happened to that money, as no community center was ever built. Also, what became of the $1.5 million garnered from the sale of the farm is a mystery.
  18. Elitism. I bought into LOG's "us against the world" mentality. With community life being at the center of my personal life, I sometimes felt awkward getting together with friends or family, or doing other non-community activities. Perhaps that's part of the reason why I so easily slip into hyper-judgementalism.
  19. The leadership induces feeling of guilt in members to control them. See the collection for the center above. Also, shortly before I left LOG in 1991, Dave Nodar gave an angry talk to the community called "Let the Leaders Lead." He could just as easily have called it "Stop Questioning Us." I even wrote him a letter saying how I supported him. Three months later, when I left LOG, I wrote Nodar another letter in which I retracted the earlier one.
  20. The group completely severs its members from the outside world. I've alluded to this already. In practice, we weren't "in this world, but not of it"; we were in our own little enclave that was merely missing a fence, gates, and a guard tower. Also, members who had dared leave were shunned. And here's one bizarre incident: in college, I notified my men's group leader that I would have to miss the next week's men's group meeting because my dad was throwing a 50th birthday party for my mom. He replied, "Can you get him to reschedule it?" And I, like an idiot, actually asked my dad! You know what his answer was . . . and he too was in LOG.
I have much more to say about my LOG experience, and I hope to get to do so here. It'll explain a lot about where I've come from.

Give Me That Old-Time Canon Law

I think I'm going to like our new Baltimore archbishop, Edwin O'Brien. He has served notice that he will not stand pat on liturgical abuse in his parishes; he forced a priest to resign after he had an Episcopal priest concelebrate at a funeral, specifically reading the Gospel. He apparently also gave this priest communion. Both are blatant violations of Canon law.

Then you have to read way through the Baltimore Sun article to find that the Rev. Ray Martin also:

  • Hired a maintenance man who had a history of criminal activity, and failed to dismiss him when the Archdiocese told him to do so;
  • Allowed his dogs in the sanctuary (I know at least one other priest who has done that, and I doubt anyone challenged him on it); and
  • Failed to show up for a baptism.
Now, with the help of the Sun which values the politically correct over the liturgically correct, all sorts of parishioners are springing into action by brushing up on Canon law and the GIRM and finding out how Fr. Martin brought about scandal whining about the archbishop's actions:

Congregants at Our Lady of Good Counsel are organizing a silent walkout after the statement is read, said Natasha V. Rossbach, 37, who lives in Brooklyn."We are just going to get up and walk out to give Father Ray our support and show how much we loved him," said Rossbach.

Rossbach, who is not Catholic but whose husband is, said part of the reason she decided to raise her 3-year-old son as a Catholic is because of Martin. [ . . .]

"We just don't understand, it just doesn't make any sense," said Carroll. "As Christians, we're taught to forgive." [. . .]

"I thought the Catholic Church was making inroads to embracing everyone, but I guess not."

No, the Catholic Church ought not embrace scandal. And sadder than the fate of Fr. Martin is seeing how the feel-good catechesis (or lack thereof) of the last 40 years has brought up such a generation of Catholics who have no idea what they believe or why.

For that matter, Martin seems a bit deficient in his faith when he says, "I think that canon laws exist to protect the [C]hurch from extremism. I don't find that this is such an extreme situation." No wonder his flock is lost.

Archdiocesan spokesman Sean Caine agrees: "How can we expect our own people to follow the teachings of the [C]hurch if the priests don't?"

Amen. And that's why priests need our prayers.

(H/T: Ignorant Redneck.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hypocrisy Award Of The Week

I never got into the Sex Pistols, the late '70s punk band from the UK. But it seems that every music critic has, and despite having only ONE album, the band was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Phlegm Fame a couple years back. Never liking the Establishment, the Sex Pistols boycotted their own induction, citing among other things their hatred of the music industry. (In a way, I see their point: the anonymous illuminati of the RnRHoF have not a clue about who should be in or out; for example, Blondie, Bob Seger, and The Pretenders are in, but Rush, Yes, Genesis, and Deep Purple are all out.)

Fast forward to last month.

Now the Sex Pistols have re-recorded some of their tunes for use in the video game Guitar Hero III. The reason was apparently that their original masters were lost.

Nice to see that these punks are so idealist when it comes to the commercialization of their enshrinement in the RnRHoF (such as that may be), but such ideals go right out the window go right out the window when some dollar (or pound) signs come floating their way for residuals from a video game.

The Sex Pistols may want anarchy, but only as long as it doesn't affect their bank account. Hypocrites. Posers.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Bombs and Bathrooms

Yesterday, when I pulled into the downtown Silver Spring garage where I usually park for work, I noticed that a few of Montgomery County's finest had pulled up near the entrance. I saw a few of them walking downstairs into the lower level where I parked.

Turns out there was a bomb scare in the garage. Apparently, officers had found a vehicle with what at least appeared to be a bomb in the back; the report was of a gasoline can with wires around it. The street and garage were later blocked off for about an hour and a half, then reopened. I guess nothing became of it, and I've seen nothing about it reported in the news.

After I parked, I met my boss in the street; he had just finished his shift in our 9th-floor office. He informed me that he took one of his numerous bathroom breaks (he drinks a LOT of coffee) and heard someone say, "Shhhh." Sure enough, he looked underneath the stalls and saw four feet in one of them, two of which were in socks.

I thought that sort of thing only happened in mall or airport toilets (Larry Craig, call your office), but my boss informed me that the afternoon producer had walked in on a similar tryst some months ago. Ew. Just ew. Whether it was two men or a man and a woman, just go do that somewhere else!

Friday, November 02, 2007

You'll choose civility, and you'll LIKE it!

Having seen many a vehicle with the top bumper sticker (thanks to , how can I oppose a campaign to usher in civility? Well, for starters, if the Calvert and Centre Street Democratic Club Baltimore Sun gushes about it, it can't be much worth supporting.

Frankly, as I examine the site of the man behind the "civility" movement, Johns Hopkins professor P.M. Forni, I believe that the man is sincere in what he wants to accomplish. Surely I know folks that have been rude or offensive to me, and I've probably been that as well to someone else. I can stand to improve in that regard.

That being said, first of all, I think Howard County (one of the wealthiest in the U.S., BTW, and one in which I lived briefly before getting married) is trivializing and politicizing Forni's work. The message that gets sent to others becomes: "I'm civil, and you're not. Why? Because I have a bumper sticker that says so, that's why." Dr. Seuss wrote a book about that called The Sneetches. And check out who backs this initiative.

The very sticker above is an oxymoron. It almost seems to say, "Choose civility . . . or else!" I'd love to see this sticker on one side of a car with, for example, "Well-behaved women rarely make history" on the other side.

Then again, this one from the site of the same name might be fitting:

It's as if civility is being rammed down one's throat like, well, diversity. And the planned community of Columbia was founded 40 years ago in the name of imposed Utopian diversity that has yielded mixed results. Ask any longtime Howard County resident who doesn't live in Columbia what they think of when they hear the name James Rouse, and see the most uncivil reaction you'll likely get.

I do have problems with some of Forni's recipe for civility. For example, one of his 25 rules is to "be inclusive." Inclusive of what? We are all exclusive to some degree or another. Do we always get invited to every social function? Do we always want everyone else involved? Is inclusion really a virtue that should be achieved? Look at how "inclusive language" has dumbed down liturgical music at Mass! One of the worst summer vacations I ever had was when we had a "come one, come all" group of guys at a house in Cape Hatteras. (Well, that was the vacation during which I started dating Ladycub, so it couldn't have been THAT bad!)

"Respect even a subtle 'no.'" If we're talking about sex out of marriage, I'm all for that. But what about when men pursue women? How many relationships and marriages grew out of men's persistence after being turned down? Why isn't "don't give up" one of the rules?

There seems to be no room for disagreement in these principles. I wonder if this isn't a subtle way for those who espouse "Choose Civility" to say "shut up" to those who don't, but in a way that makes it seem like a compliment. I guess, for example, the colonists should have just respected George III and been done with it. Now pardon me while I fix my bangers and mash. And Rosa Parks would have done much better to sit in her proper place in the back of the bus, with much civility . . . right?

I think Forni ought to add a 26th rule, one that seems to work well for Alcoholics Anonymous:

"Don't take yourself so damn seriously."

Or this might be an even better one to live by. As MASH psychiatrist Sidney Freedman put it:

"Ladies and gentlemen,
take my advice:
Pull down your pants
and slide on the ice."