I think the Jews got it right, the marking of the new year in autumn. Leaving aside any debate about whether life begins at conception or at birth,* there’s something intuitive and irrepressibly hopeful, poetic even, about the seeds of some future beginning taking hold in autumn, lying dormant and warm beneath the earth over the cold, dark, hard winter, to nudge their vernally green buddy heads above the surface of snow-scruff and the pungent mud of spring. Certainly more intuitive than beginning the year on January 1st – only a week or so after the longest night of the entire year; hell, only a week or so after the season of winter has technically begun – when all the world (well, the northern hemisphere) is dead, still, and frozen. That’s supposed to represent a new beginning, then?!? What calendrical maniac hoodwinked a whole culture to swallow hook, line, and all that the new year should begin smack dab in the chapter of death and darkness? It just doesn’t feel right. Read the rest of this entry »
Category Archives: Religion
I was not intending to break my scribble silence with two cents about a Republican candidate in Missouri running for U.S. Senate about whom I know positively nothing. After the essential recall of the Wisconsin recalls, the wind in my sails for explicit political scribbling has flagged off. But sometimes, even for a young curmudgeon, the bait is too irresistible, the bad taste and foot-in-mouth buffoonery such a spectacular eclat, that one risks ignorance by ignoring it.
Enter the court jester du jour, Todd Akin. I was out of state when this latest gaffe debacle/ Freudian slip hit the press over the weekend. Because I am old-fashioned enough, I treat email like regular mail in this sense: when I am away from home, I will deal with it all upon my return. No smart phone, no tweets, no iPads or tablets. Not even a quick dose of reality with a shot of espresso at an internet cafe or a lackadaisical saunter at some public library. But I do read the paper and listen to the radio, so I had heard all about what Todd Akin said — and then later said what he meant and should have said instead. I knew I would be coming home to countless emails about this as if I had had my head in the sand. I counted no fewer than sixteen such emails just with the name “Todd Akin” in the subject line, not counting less specific ones with the buzzwords of “rape” or “legitimate.” One-liners like “Unreal!” and “Dangerous and Wrong,” “Repulsive” and something else connoting the next cannon fire from the war on women. I understand the motivation behind these attention-grabbing headlines, and I agree with their outrage. I do not agree, however, with their conclusion that Todd Akin should step down. Read the rest of this entry »
First off, an editorial consideration: the last time a scribble indirectly dabbled in abortion and race the shit hit the fan like a fanatic orangutan with a crop duster but no Pepto-Bismol. From that experience I have not learned that I should not be even scribbling about such emotionally charged issues in the first place, in part because I am by nature a stubborn person, but mostly because it has long been a cherished belief that to elicit a passionate response is generally an indication of doing good work. That said, if I am reaching out exclusively to a certain segment of the population, then I am being a bad writer. This blog is admittedly pretty liberal. But I would regard myself an amateur with written-off irrelevance if I only pissed off some of the people all of the time; far better would it be to piss off all of the people some of the time. For then, at least occasionally, I must be getting something right. Not that pissing people off is my intention; I am not a provocateur. (Actually, I’d like to consider myself a fairly nice guy, who despite a lot of weird stuff was given good manners.) I personally have no interest in taking up a controversial topic for controversy’s sake — I will leave that kind of dare-devil skullduggery to the stirring pots of schlock-jock op-eds and braggadocio bloggers. For me the point is to take up a controversial subject unflinchingly when its moment arises. If I fail to reach out with a requisite amount of tact or only pretend to see things from the opposing perspective so as to seem more reasonable or circumspect, then I am genuinely sorry and I ask that you accept my apology. In this scribble, as in many of my endeavors, I seek only to speak truth to power, and if I happen to piss off anyone, let it be them — those whose vested interests see living things as commodities and codify justice with dastardly and bastardized double standards. Read the rest of this entry »
One of my favorite protest signs from last year read “Walker Like An Egyptian.” I saw it the first day of what would turn out to be the month-long (if not longer) uprising in Wisconsin — the first such occupation in America during 2011. Back then, demonstrators were still descending upon Tahrir Square in Cairo. Scott Walker was and is no Hosni Mubarak, of course, and what had been (and still is) going on in Egypt was drastically worse than the portentous inauguration of the new Republican administration. No doubt about it. But what was happening in Egypt last year in February was historic, as would be our contemporary uprising in the Dairy State. Was Madison the new Cairo, the state Capitol building the new Tahrir Square? No, but the analogy was understandable. So a sign that punned a 1980s hit song by the Bangles with the governor’s name while invoking a subversive political message was perfect: Scott Walker was like Hosni Mubarak in a sense, and what we had been watching on TV half a world away was now taking place in our own backyard — and we were there, in live time; and like Mubarak, who would eventually agree to step down, so too should Walker have.
And all of this takes on a new meaning with respect to Passover this year. So with that in mind I am delighted to share with you unedited the very witty and well-done “Wisconsin Union Passover Seder Guide” penned by Ann Imig — just in case you thought Friday Night Fish Fry and gefilte fish were the the only crossroads between Sconnie and Ashkenazi. Read the rest of this entry »
Today marks the last day of the (ir)regular session of the Wisconsin State Legislature; good riddance to bad rubbish indeed! While halfway through lent, this lapse Catholic is glad the state is giving up Republican mandates for a short while at least. Plus spring has sprung, and with it that irrepressibly burning eternal. Keeping with the lenten theme, the days are longer (lengthened, you might even say), the sun brighter and warmer. With recalls soon to be set, there is light for sure at the end of this tunnel that has been the yearlong winter of our discontent, and hope outshining the audacity of dopes.
Read the rest of this entry »
If Caesar were alive today, he’d be stabbed to death with a speculum. Three days shy the Ides of March, there is something disproportionately apropos for the Republicans in the State Assembly to make use of its limited time left in the current legislative session to vote on three bills that further the national war on women.
Read the rest of this entry »
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!
To turn a George Bernard Shaw quip on its head, might it be said that England and Scotland are two cultures separated by a common economy? For that seems truer than suggesting that it’s two accents and aspirations separated by a House of Commons, much as romantic myth or the zeitgeist of exiles would have it otherwise. Read the rest of this entry »
Imagine if the Chicago Bears proposed to gauge Lambeau Field from end zone to end zone 30 yards wide and 50 deep, with lots of littered blue-and-orange insignia to go around. How well do you think that would go over? Or better yet, the Vikings, up to and including all the connotations of sacking cities (not quarterbacks) and looting. Or what if Mexico just said, You know what? You have completely desecrated Texas, so we’re taking it back. To hell with your Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and your pugilistic James K Polk! So it is peculiar that one matter strangely absent in the debate and debacle of the proposed Gogebic mine in northern Wisconsin is the apparently bypassed sovereign nation status of the Bad River Tribe of Ashland and Iron Counties, recognized by the federal government of the United States of America, if not by Governor Walker or the Republicans in the State Legislature. Perhaps they can make it up to the tribe by renaming a school mascot — say from the “Fighting Chiefs” to the “Corporate Whores.” At least the Raiders, the Plunderers, because all it comes down to is landscape piracy and ecological racism. Hut hut, hike! Read the rest of this entry »
Is there any evidence to doubt that electoral races are more about the cult of personality that surrounds each candidate than the substance of their policy proposals? Jack Kennedy looked good because Nixon came off as something caught between an out-of-work vice principal on a bender and a panhandling hobo with an organ grinder and tiny monkey clapping cymbals. Reagan looked great because he was the Marlboro Man who radiated Norman Rockwell nostalgia together with a Californian confidence and can-do attitude all avuncular smiles, while Jimmy Carter’s worried face and baggy eyes were the caricatured lampoon of spineless, ineffectual Democrat. “Dubya” masqueraded as the guy you’d get a beer with, while Gore was an unblinking robot with as much charisma as the Sears Roebuck wooden crate he came shipped in. And Obama against McCain, good lord! It was like Magic Johnson and Bruce Springsteen rolled up in one going against Archie and Edith Bunker behind the piano caterwauling “Those Were the Days.” Read the rest of this entry »