Yes, it’s true. The semester is finally coming to a close. All of our projects are turned in (I hope), our minds are highly caffeinated as we cram as much 18th century lit theory into our heads as is possible for the final, our stockins are hung by the chimney with care. All we are left to do is reflect. And at the risk of sounding sappy and sentimental, I have some wonderful things to look back upon.

I dare say I stirred up a bit of controversey, though not nearly as much as Rookie did with his Saudi-federally-sanctioned-rapist story. I like controversey. It’s a lot of fun to debate ideas with people, especially when either you or they are steadfastly stuck in one position and refuse to move on it. As it happens, during my first round at college, I spent a lot of time in shouting matches with streetcorner evangelists handing out tracts that said that Muslims were doomed to the fires of hell, and that 9/11 was punishment for America’s moral deviance. (Why God would choose such heathens to act out His vengeance is beyond me; they must work cheap or something.)

And for all the controversey I did cause, there’s a lot more that I could have caused. For example, I might have written an entry about Mexican criminaliens which I’m sure would have drawn fire from a handful of you more liberal types. I could have written about the definition of liberty and how every president since… oh… FDR has violated your personal liberty. Hell, I could have written about how Jay Severin’s indefinite suspension is another skirt-hiking, knee-jerk reaction from PC pansies at the FCC who are bowing to the will of people who are, as we speak, breaking the law and raising our taxes. But I didn’t do any of those things.

Not to say that I won’t, of course, it just won’t be on this forum. This opportunity has provided me with a revelation: there are a lot of stupid people out there (and I don’t mean any of you, of course; I’m talking about the people who we blog about, like Saudi rapists, mothers who jab their dead sons in the balls with sharp things, whoever the jackass was that called Lenny ignorant, etc.) who need to be called out on their stupidity. Many of these people occupy public office. These people need to be rounded up and dealt with.

And by “dealt with,” I don’t mean forced to believe as I do. It would be arrogant of me to think that everyone should believe the same way I do, and I’m anything but arrogant (ahem). No, by “dealt with,” I mean that people must be made accountable, that they need to see the implication of their actions and beliefs before they go about doing or preaching anything. I believe that the fear of public ridicule is enough for people to want to think things through a little better, and I am ready to be that engine of ridicule.

Yes, I had a lot of fun this year. Lenny told me she’d love me if she didn’t hate me so much. Rookie pointed right at me and said, “You’re a jackass.” Even our usually even-keeled professor had to bite her lip a couple of times when she referred to my bashing of academic writing (apparently that’s her life’s work or something… pssht). So all in all it wasn’t much different from my interactions with my closest and dearest friends. (Quick anecdote: I was listening to the radio this morning, and the DJ was talking about Severin’s suspension. Fifteen minutes later, my daughter interjected: “Daddy, why do you yell so much?” And for once in my life, I didn’t really have an answer.)

Keep an eye peeled for the next neo-con blog to grace the interwebs. If you’d like a link to it, respond to this post and we’ll figure out a way for me to let you have it. (What awful sentence construction… damned bourbon.)

Oh, and hopefully sometime in the near future Notelrac, Palm Tree, Lenny, Rookie and I can all sit down and discuss politics over a good brewski. Or get arrested for fighting in public. Whatever we’re in the mood for.

Until then, friends, as the thugs say, “peace.”

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A Fitting End

May 2, 2009

So I’ve been pulling out my hair trying to figure out what I should do for my last post on this little blog here. I just don’t know what else to do. I’ve already put up some things about issues that I care about, I’ve already insulted a bunch a bunch of people, I’ve already insulted even more people, I’ve already experimented with some things and then used my experiment to insult a bunch of people, and then one night I was too tired and put something up that I regret. So now what? It’s the end of the semester and my brain has been taxed to its limit. I feel like I’ve got nothing else to say.

And then, serendipity. While trying to think of something to write, I went a-surfing the web like I usually do when I’m delaying the inevitable, and look what I stumbled across. Remember that little 8-year-old Saudi girl who’s father married her off to a man almost six times her age? The one who was twice denied a divorce? Well, third time’s a charm.

Apparently, the rest of the world were not the only people up in arms over this case, as it was quite a point of contention in Saudi Arabia as well. King Abdullah has apparently been living up to his reformist billing, and women have more rights in Saudi Arabia than ever before. In fact, one of his advisors has gone public with his demands that the legal age for marriage be raised to 18, and the justice ministry has gone public with their desire to take control of marriage away from girls’ fathers.

So then I’ll take this one last opportunity to post here to do what I do best: gloat. So was I right about this one, or is the reformist Saudi government closed minded in their pursuit to give more rights to women?

And I’ll leave it at that.

I made mention of it earlier in one of my responses (to Lenny, I believe), but I’ve just gotten back into bourbon. For those not in the know, bourbon is American whiskey. Real bourbon comes from a little place called Bourbon County, Kentucky, but the term “bourbon” (some designate it with a little b, others just don’t care) refers to just about any whiskey made in America. Jack Daniel’s, for example, is distilled in Tennessee and is still called bourbon whiskey. (And not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s whiskey with an e. Whisky is something else entirely, either Irish like Jameson or Scotch like Johnnie Walker.)

I won’t go into all the details of bourbon production, but I will tell you that there are a lot of great bourbons out there beyond the crud that you can get in vats at any liquor store in the country. (I reflexively cringed, Rookie, when you made mention of SoCo.) I have several stellar examples in my liquor cabinet now: Pappy Van Winkle 25-year old is otherworldly, Eagle Rare Single Barrel is divine, Buffalo Trace is complex and thought-provoking, and so on. But the one I want to talk to you about today is Bulleit Bourbon.

Bulleit comes in a glass jar without much in the way of a label. Everything you need to know is raised in the glass — not etched, mind you, but literally cast as part of the bottle, the old-fashioned way. The bottle itself is unremarkable. It’s got a plastic-topped replaceable cork, is shallow and broad-shouldered like a gigantic flask, and does nothing to draw the eye. You can pick one up for the modest price of $25 or $30 per 750 mL bottle. Not that you would — chances are you’d never even see it on the shelf next to all of the more recognizable and attractive bottles out there.

But I did buy that bottle. As a self-described booze connoisseur, I figured it would be good to get back to basics. That said, I had really never tasted a no-frills bourbon before. “No frills” generally means “cheap” and “almost undrinkable,” if not “classless” or “intended for mass consumption.” That is the way of things now: can you name for me a no-frills kind of alcoholic beverage that is both cheap and pleasing to the connoisseur? Forget alcohol; can you say that about any product these days?

Bulleit manages to be bourbon without being fancy, and simple without being of poor quality. It’s just damn good. Not the smoothest, not the tastiest, not in any respect the best bourbon that I’ve ever had (Pappy 25 gets that honor). No; it’s just damned good. And there are so few things that are damned good in any price range that I was absolutely stunned the first time Bulleit touched my lips.

So I’ll put the question out there to the rest of you: when was the last time you paid short money for something mind-bendingly good? Do such things even exist anymore? Aside from Bulleit, I mean.

Peace

May 1, 2009

peace4

This is the peace sign, the most widely known symbol in the world; it was originally called the “Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament” symbol. It was designed by Gerald Holtom as a badge against nuclear war. The symbol was adopted by the United States when Martin Luther King Jr. had a friend that used it during civil rights marches. By the late 1960’s, the peace sign became a prominent symbol for the anti-war protesters of the Baby Boomer generation. Far-right fundamentalist groups and the South African Apartheid regime attempted to ban it, but the symbol remained unbanned.

If you look at the symbol very carefully, you will see an “N” and a “D”, which stand for Nuclear Disarmament. In semaphore, the letter “N” can be formed by having a person hold two flags upside down to form the upside-down letter “V”; the letter “D” is formed by having a person hold one flag straight up with one hand and then the other flag straight down. These two pictures can then fuse together to form the peace symbol.

This sign may mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but the one thing that remains is that peace can be equivalent to love. Love for the earth we live on, love for the people around us, and love for the life that has been bestowed upon us. We are only on earth for a little while (comparatively speaking, over the course of evolution). Why would we spend our time fighting or being unhappy? This is not to say that unhappiness is an unhealthy emotion, because everyone can feel this way from time to time, but for the most part, it is a non-productive and useless emotion.

There is no fancy way to end this blog entry – it’s just like this.

Links:
http://www.designboom.com/contemporary/peace.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_symbol#The_peace_sign

Concerning Grammar

May 1, 2009

Our Civic Writing class had a long discussion about grammar, especially that found in blogs, such as this one. Many people felt that to point out the poor grammar of an individual’s post was in bad taste; that it was nothing more than an attack on the writer, and not a key issue of the subject matter at all. And there are times when I do agree with this; don’t troll someone’s post just to be an ass. If you really want to hurt someone, then attack their position, not their grammar.

But it doesn’t always have to be considered nit-picking. In fact, if I screw up grammatically anywhere in this post, then please, feel free to correct me. I want to know, in an attempt to learn, improve, and never make that mistake again, (hopefully).

I like grammar. I don’t know why. I always had fun diagramming sentences, and locating dependant clauses, and correcting noun-verb number. I like studying grammar the same way some people like solving algebraic equations, (which, admittedly, I have fun doing as well).

I think people are far too proud. Don’t you want to be corrected? Obviously, the person pointing out your mistakes should do so in a nice, constructive way, but I always aim for improvement. Swallow your pride, and say “thank you”. Sometimes, people aren’t looking to “get you”; sometimes, they’re just looking to help you out.

I get it; sometimes it seems pretentious of a stranger to correct your flaws. But if people were to accept help more often, then perhaps we’d all grow just a little more on a daily basis. This is what we as a community should strive for; constant improvement. Then again, it was Don Marquis who said “The chief obstacle to the progress of the human race is the human race.”