Sunday, 4 May 2008

Small Town America

Sometime in the past couple of weeks...Obama came out with his "small town, America" statement. The vision (witless thinking, perhaps) was that small town, America....has a problem and its either finding its safety and security in guns or religion. When the statement was first made, I simply let it pass and refused to make any blog to question it. I've since changed my mind.

Small town, America....is where little league games happen on hot Saturday afternoons, with ice cream later.

Small town, America....is where you know your barber, your mechanic, your plumber, and your neighbor on a first-name basis.

Small town, America....is where you trust your local politician not to cheat you too much or siphon off tax revenues to buy a modern-age statue of a penguin.

Small town, America....is where you go to funerals of people that you've known for thirty years and considered a friend.

Small town, America....is where you go fishing a dozen times a year with your high school friend and your wife's cousin Larry who does transmission repairs.

Small town, America....is where your kids are safe and the porch light is turned off by 9PM.

Small town, America....is where you do charity socials for folks who need cancer operations and don't have health insurance.

Small town, America....is where you attend a local church but never appreciate the minister standing on your front porch and chatting about Moses to you.

Small town, America....is where you get drunk once a year at the high school reunion meeting, and meet with a bunch of guys who are losers just like yourself.

Small town, America....is where pumpkins are grown and part of decoration in October.

Small town, America....is where you keep a gun in the closet by the door, but haven't fired it in twenty years....and its likely that the ammo will malfunction anyway, if you do fire.

Small town, America....is where Wal-mart has yet to arrive.

Small town, America....is where a catfish restaurant sits on main street and you can still get a all-you-can-eat deal for $9.99.

Small town, America....is where your Uncle Barney still tells WW II stories, although half the time he is in Africa fighting the Nazis and half the time he's in the Pacific fighting the Japs.....and the reality is that Barney was 18 in 1945 and had barely gotten into basic training when the war ended.

Small town, America....is where your wife has tinted her hair and you think she's a new woman entirely. Later, you put on some Barry Manilow music and get her to put on the Madonna outfit that you bought via the internet.

Small town, America....is where your septic tank has failed but you have 44 guys ready to tell you how you can replace it yourself without paying Walt's Septic & Supply to do it for you. After failing miserably, you pay Walt's Septic & Supply to quietly fix what you screwed up and just let your reputation stay intact.

Small town, America....is where a parade occurs each fourth of July with veterans and kids involved. Later you grill some steaks and drink some fresh lemonade. And that night, you watch some kid light up $100 worth of fireworks, which accidentally set fire to some farmer's field and you spend two hours stomping out the field fire.

Small town, America....is where the only murder in the past decade was the local Baptist minister who got shot by some guy who came home early from work to find his wife in a inappropriate position with the minister.

The truth is that we all live in Small town, America....and we really don't care to move or be somewhere else. The wisdom of the statement by Obama....was a bit low on thinking.....and likely a demonstration that he hasn't ever been in such a place. Like so many of our political figures of today....they live in imaginary places and work for imaginary voters.....and tend to grasp imaginary life very easily. Fortunately for us....we are rooted down....and stuck in Small town, America.

Sect Common Sense

Sometimes, you run into a bit of common sense with sect members. An example popped up this week in New Mexico. John Sayer had been a member of a local sect group, similiar to the one in west Texas up until 2005, and then he and the family left the sect...rather quickly.

John had been a faithful member, for almost sixteen years. John never complained. John did all that the sect asked for. John gave his proper amount of contribution to the church. John attended services regularly and was a normal member in most aspect. Then one day, the head dude of the sect.....a guy by the name of Micheal....came up and announced that God had told him to sleep with seven virgins.

Here we will pause a second....thinking and pondering.....the minister of your church comes up and says that God told him in a vision to sleep with seven virgins? I have kinda read the Bible more than once over....at least in my youth with the damned Baptists.....and just can't remember any paragraph where God told some guy to find seven virgins and sleep with them. God told Noah to build an ark, which he did. God told Moses to lead a bunch of folks out into desert, which he did. God told John the Baptist to stir up trouble, which he did. God told a bunch of folks to do things....and none of them argued. This is the curious thing about Bible scripture....none of them ever argued.

So now, we can put ourselves in John's shoes, when the minister comes up and announces that he has to sleep with seven virgins. Normally, most of us would just nod and not say anything much to the minister, assuming that God must have told the guy, and we should not argue. The problem is.....John had two daughters....fifteen and sixteen years old. Micheal wanted both of them to be amongst the seven virgins.

John, I'm guessing, stood there for a long minute and then probably came to reasoning that the minister was full of crap. John then took his wife and children and left the sect. For this brief moment in time, we see a guy who came to grasp what was going on and what was being asked. The father did exactly what you'd expect him to do. Actually....I probably would taken a fist or two to the minister, and then told the guy that God ordered me to punish him as severely as possible.

The problem then came, after leaving the sect....John's idiot daughters both returned to the sect (2006), with some local boy. They wouldn't listen to dad or mom.....and just stayed at the sect. John apparently didn't want to mess much around with the sect....for undeclared reasons. This past week....the New Mexico authorities came into the sect and removed several kids.....one of which....was his daughter. At least until eighteen, they can hold her....and maybe talk some sense into her.

John says that Micheal did eventually find the seven virgins necessary, all of which were eighteen (so they claim), and did God's "command". The sect has a severe recruiting problem....in that of the original eighty members they had in 1999....have dwindled down to fifty. And I'm guessing that they have taken the last of their virgin girls out of action....so the old guys don't have that legendary "command" of God that they can chat about. I do find it curious that they were actually able to find seven young ladies over the age of eighteen in New Mexico who were virgins....which I had been told by a former resident of the state that there isn't much to do there on Friday or Saturday night except go to the drive-in and score with a local chick.

So now, I sit and ponder....about visions and God's commands. I'd really like to have some vision where I'm told to go to Milwaukee and be mayor, or get a vision that I'm supposed to be the park manager at the Grand Teton park. It'd be great to get that vision that I'm supposed to travel to Reno and win $10 million at the slots and use the money to build a ranch for disgraced New York ex-governors. I could see God handing out a command to me to make a puppet show like Bert & Ernie, or maybe even to become a professional wrestler named "Doctor Doom". But then.....the odds of me ever getting a vision....are like one in a billion. I'm more likely to learn how to square dance.....than get a vision.

Out there somewhere is a guy named John who did the right thing. For that, I applaud the guy. In the thick of things....when minister's words carry ten tons on each word said....John saw through the smoke.....and clearly understood the minister's real intentions. The minister isn't really a minister....and he probably is the last guy on earth who has read a real Bible. This is a guy sits around all day....fantasizing about young women and lusty moments. Their wisdom and character....lack depth. They prey on the weak and the lesser-intelligent among us. They want acceptance without question. Their lives are without form and substance. We would be better without them.

Writing History, Over & Over & Over & Over & Over & Over

Sadly, this week, the magazine Nature got into another episode of pondering. Apparently, the earth won't get any warmer, until 2015 (maybe). Then global warming will kick in and whoop our butt.

There are some issues with what was written in Nature, and the boys kinda lay out the major problem. The British Meteorological Office has a center...the Hadley Center...which studies the climate as they collect data. The British boys have data that show a worldwide temperature decline for almost ten years now. In fact, the earth just isn't much warmer than it was in 1878 or 1941. The problem is that there is a second source of temperature data, which conflicts. The other source, controlled by NASA and run by the University of Alabama at Huntsville) does agree a decreasing temperature scheme over the past ten years but then says its barely above the 30-year average.

The Brits have sat there and wondered about these differing facts. One curious clue is that NASA has been reworking recent temperatures upwards and older temperatures downwards...which generally, if you are a trend-issue guy....creates a greater slope. This is a neat trick, for a statistics guy to show a certain trend and make your own story believable.

The only issue is that you tend to rewrite history. And after someone eventually catches you, you have to re-rewrite history, to slant your story again. Then the guy is caught yet again, and must re-re-write history yet again. Over and over.

Now....after you sit and ponder all of this...and ask yourself how in the world can you get a neat job like this....re-re-writing history and get paid over $250,000 a year and have a private office with your own government-provided laptop, and a neat travel budget of at least $100k a year? Well....you need to be Doctor James Hansen. You may remember Jimmy...he's the kid from Iowa that made good and actually became a personal friend and science adviser to Al Gore. We might also add that Jimmy is the leading individual in the US...talking global warming. Presently, with this global cooling problem underway....Jimmy's agenda is in the pits...and he may have re-re-rewrite the numbers yet again.

I'm really not much of a fan of the doctor from NASA. After you watch his interviews and his absoluteness in global warming...with never a question mark in his discussion...you start to think of him as a Baptist minister...who knows God in the personal sense. I think Jimmy has become a bit one-side, and as a scientist...who ought to know better....facts are rarely absolute and subject to change. As global cooling starts to become reality...Jimmy is going to have to face a smiling audience who wonders why he suddenly shifted his mind and became a global cooler, rather than a global warmer. Things within Jimmy's world will be less absolute....as time goes by.