"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Sunday, January 29, 2006

How's your gosh?

The expression "Oh my gosh" seems to have ramped up the last couple of decades. Gosh isn't a person but rather a thing of sorts. Dictionary.com defines gosh as an interjection, "used to express mild surprise or delight." As an English refresher, an interjection is usually a single word utterance used to indicate a strong emotion or reaction to something. Examples would be "Ouch!", "Hurray!" and "No!" Dictionary.com also states gosh is an "alteration of God" (sic). Why would people alter "Oh, my God" to "Oh my gosh?" Certainly if one didn't believe in God or didn't like God then to substitute gosh makes sense. That certainly isn't a justification for the change but rather an explanation for the substitution. In a teleological sense, in a world that's completely under the sovereignty of an infinite God there should never be any surprises. Any expression of surprise at any event or bit of newfound knowledge is a reminder of our limited capacity as creations of God. To say "Oh, My God," or "Oh, my gosh," may or may not be blasphemy (see: Commandment, Third). It may or may not be an indicator of a weak faith. It can mean a lot of things, depending on who’s uttering it and why.

Because of the more frequent use of "my" in the three-word phrase, instead of just "Oh gosh," which would make more sense in light of it being an interjection as opposed to an object, I tend to think most of the "Oh my gosh" usage is a derivative of "Oh, my God." This would imply it's a phrase used more often than not in a pejorative sense. To elaborate further, I don't think most people use it to consciously insult God, but rather it just rolls off their tongue naturally as an outworking of their fallen nature (see: Romans, The book of).

Disunion of the State

President Bush will deliver his State of the Union speech Tuesday night. It's the annual event when the president goes before the television cameras and tells us how great things are. Relative to the rest of the world life is pretty good here. Those that leave for a time are generally happy to get back. However, when you compare yourself with the Middle East, Africa, and a host of other paradise-challenged countries how giddy can you get?

We're in a seemingly interminable conflagration with Iraq. We're doing a two-step at the moment with Iran. A large chunk of American adults are illiterate. We're in debt up to the upper half of our foreheads. The two-party system and its stranglehold on our legal system continue to snuff out the middle class.

This Tuesday will be cast as a state of the union but in truth its both a lengthy attempt to airbrush the stretch marks from the Bush legacy and promote the Republican party in general. Medicare part D (for Derelict) will be heralded as a short term struggle but a long term success. The "success" of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare in general will not be entered as articles of evidence. The backlash created when husbands dump their wives and vice-versa will be glossed over if mentioned at all. The weakening of the nation by way of treating illegal immigrants with the equivalent of "time outs" and rants of "bad dog... bad dog" will be met with vehement sweet nothings.

Get to bed early. Read about it on Wednesday.

Monday, January 23, 2006

How Do We Know You're Not a Cannoli, Cascioli?

"May I call you Luigi, Mr. Cascioli?"
"No. I prefer Cascioli, ... mister."
"Fine then, Mr. Cascioli. If I've understood you correctly, you have stated before this court and this jury that Jesus Christ never existed. That He was, as you put it, a 'fable.'"
"That is correct."
"You wrote a book to this effect."
"Yes, I did."
"Luigi, are you--"
Throwing his fist into the air, "I said to call me Mr. Cascioli."
The prosecutor continues, "Mr Cascioli, how do we know for sure that you aren't a clone? Not really Luigi Cascioli. Mr. Luigi Cascioli?"
"Don't be silly. I'm here, and I'm Luigi Cascioli." He turns to the judge, "Excuse me, your honor, May I have a double Italian espresso, straight up, no sugar?" The judge rebuffs him.
The prosecutor continues. "How do we know you're not a cannoli, Mr. Cascioli?"
"Don't be ridiculous. I am Luigi Cascioli. You are a cannoli."
The judge pounds his gavel onto the bench. "Mr Cascioli, you're out of order. One more outburst like that and I'll hold you in contempt."
"I'm sorry, Your Honor, but he called me a cannoli."
The judge responds. "How do you know he said anything?"
The prosecutor turns to the judge. "Your honor, may I...?"
"I'm sorry. Continue," said the judge.
The prosecutor presses his point. "Mr. Canoli, er, Cascioli."
Luigi turned red. He grabs his fist with his other palm and rubs furiously.
The prosecutor prods deeper with his line of reasoning. "For all I know you are a cannoli. And you're a cannoli that never existed."
Luigi turns towards the judge. "Your honor, this man is making no--"
The prosecutor interrupts. He points at Luigi directly. "Just answer the questions, 'talking cannoli.'"
Mr. Cascioli stands in the witness chair, screaming, "I am not a talking cannoli! I am an atheist; I am an author; but I am not a cannoli." He turns to the judge. Sweat now detectable in his pits.
"I demand these charges be dismissed!"
The judge's eyebrows flip up. "Mr. Cascioli, you brought forth the charges."
The prosecutor seizes the moment. "Mr. Cascioli, can you prove you exist?" The courtroom hushes.
"Don't be stupid."
"I'm sorry, you said something?"
"I'm here. I'm right here."
"No further questions your honor. The evidence clearly proves Mr. Cascioli does not exist, and that Jesus Christ did exist."
The judge stands. "I'll instruct the jury and we'll render a verdict once they report back. Court adjourned."

The head juror stands. "So we're all in agreement then. Finally. We agree that Mr. Cascioli's charges are false, that Jesus Christ did exist, but that we'll return a verdict of guilty anway. Let's keep it in this room though. When we hit the book signing and talk show circuit remember, Mr. Casciolo is what?"
Juror One said, "A victim?"
"Right, and not a cannoli. And, what else?"
Juror Five chimes in, "An Italian hero?"
"Right again. And what else?"
Juror Seven answers, "Someone worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize, and an appointment to the United Nations."
The head juror rubs his hands together. "Let's go."

(Ten Years later Luigi Cascioli dies and is buried in a field outside of Venice. On a daily basis people from all over the world maintain a vigil there--holding candles, sharing Bible verses and drinking cappuccinos. Oh yeah, they eat cannolis too.)


Entertaining Compromising?

A local dynamic duo in the Christian (?) ministry arena recently turned down a $100 million offer to buyout controlling interest in its properties and ministries. The pastor went before his congregation and said he was declining the offer to maintain control over all aspects of the church and its associated minitries. One reason cited was concern for the poor. The congregation burst into applause. At the surface it sounds like this controversial couple rejected mammon for the good of God and the people.

I called the reported who ran the story and asked a few questions. Was the $100 million offer legitimate? (the story listed the investors as "unidentified".) She said it was. I asked if the pastor knew the investors personally prior to the offer being made. She wasn't sure. I asked if the investors went to their church. She wasn't sure. She did offer up though, which was not in the article, that negotiations went on for 4 months! Hhhhmm? 4 months. It took 4 months to reach a decision that the congregation collectively and correctly processed nearly instantaneously.

Preachers/ministers of a true Christian bent are in their positions primarily because of a divine calling and appointment--not because of favorable market research. The sermons of the truly called should be inspired by God and on the heels of prayer--not directives from administrative types, especially ones "in the ministry" because of an investment opportunity.

This dynamic duo took four months to turn down this offer. Let's hope for the sake of the credibilty of the pastors that in these negotiations it was settled on day #1 that the buildings themselves were negotiable, but not the control and content of the ministry. That seems unlikley though as the growth of the ministry, from the investors' perspective, would be essential to making a profit, and its unlikely the investors would give up controlling interest of the dynamic voice boxes and word processors. Who buys a business and voluntarily subjugates their opinions to the suggestion box?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

An Ounce Of College is Worth a Pound of Something

Several national rags ran an article recently citing American universities pumping out graduates with striking deficiencies in various academic disciplines. 69% of graduates could not make extrapolations from complex books. 59% of college graduates are not proficient in reading prescription labels. So, if the instructions read, "Smoke one doobie every 6 hours," it's understandable that some students might misread "one" as "two," or perhaps "three." More than 50% of graduates could not interpret a table depicting the effects of exercise on blood pressure. Comparing credit card offers and evaluating the per-ounce price of food items were also mentioned as tasks that proved too difficult for college grads.

This is actually good news. Public schools are imploding as expected and the end result is the devaluation of the college diploma. This is not to applaud the current state of affairs per se, but to be excited that the diagnosis of public education has hit the mainstream with a mighty blow. Studious pupils and watchful parents will take note of the drive and intellect of the Jacks and Jills filling the nation's classrooms and opt for Plan B, whatever that turns out to be. The private schools too are plagued with political correctness and aren't necessarily a haven for the dutiful.

"Education" takes way too long in America and its plagued with fluff. If these problems can't be solved with cholesterol-lowering medications or mandatory lottery participation by the richest amongst us, then we'd all do well to dig into the Old Testament book Proverbs and make another go at this.

NFL Athletes Prepare For Depression Chamber

With the NFL playoffs peaking my viewing of the NFL channel on Dish Network (satellite) has ramped up. The NFL has microphones aplenty on the sidelines and the highlights of the games have been interesting to watch. There's four teams left and the comments from all four sidelines to this point have been full of arrogance and confidence in the ultimate football conquest--acquisition of the Vince Lombardi Trophy secondary to a Super Bowl victory this coming February 5.

75% of these athletes will be bulldozed over the next two weeks--some tomorrow, some Feb 5. In some cases tears will accompany said defeat. Pride cometh before a fall.

Oh, to be a Beached Whale

A norther bottled-nosed whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) swims up the River Thames and grabs the attention of many a Londoner. If he (or she) needed cash for a blubberectomy I imagine this whale would have received it. Medics did indeed place a "river call" (see call, house) and tried to rescue the whale. Unfortunately it appeared to suffer a convulsion and died.

Many people find themselves in like-dire straits on a daily basis yet don't command the same attention this whale received. As a rule, the level of care seems to parallel the presence of television cameras. If you're ever really ill, do domething spectacular to get the cameras on you. Otherwise, get in line and pray hard.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Kings are "Resting Comfortably"

Former President Gerald Ford, 92, was hospitalized today in California with pneumonia. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lies in a hospital trached and on a ventilator post-massive stroke. Health updates on world leaders are generally spun to minimalize attention on the nature of the current malady and emphasize that everything's cool, relatively speaking. If Ford is "doing very well" he's still 92 and afflicted with a serious malady for someone his age.

At one point in Yasser Arafat's last days reports ranged from he's dead, to he's critical, to his being wished a speedy recovery. After Bill Clinton underwent surgery last year to have scar tissue removed, secondary to his prior quadruple bypass surgery, Hillary released a statement saying her husband "is doing very well." I don't know if "very" was helpful in such statement. I trust she used "is" appropriately.

Politicians always have solutions to any problem and if they're ill they're still "doing very well." Having a quasi-messianic complex afflicts one with great hardship that necessitates verbal two-stepping on a frequent basis.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Advancement of Artificial Business Associates

We can't recall when we first heard one but we know they've been around awhile, and that they infest phone lines--those computer-created voices that companies utilize to save payroll expenses. At some point the use of this techno-technique expanded to make these "people" not only disseminators and gatherers of information but personable and friendly "folk" to boot. "I'm sorry, you said 'stupid'? I don't understand. Please say 'yes' or 'no'." These army of empathetic fake voices displaced the friendly live people that used to work the phones and took over as the frontline apologists for corporations nationwide. "Apologists" in terms of apologizing for the expected delay and decline in customer service. Why have a real person shoulder blame when scapegoats can be created using software! They never lose their patience and they never "talk back." They're not very bright but as pro bono workers one wouldn't expect them to be very bright.

A new level of activity has been added to the repertoire of the artificial employee--audible artificial working. With yesterday's phone inquiry I was privy to hearing the artificial employee type away while researching my question. This went on about 20 seconds. Every key stroke was neatly spaced and they went at a nice ventricular tachycardic-like rate.

I'm thinking, why stop there? Why not maybe have these artificial employees have a grand mal seizure while someone is on hold, or maybe choke on a memory stick. A knife to the back could explain a long delay. There would enough gullible customers (i.e. "most important asset") who would hold a bake sale and retract their dificult inquiry to boot. There are other ideas.

Thank you for reading this blog. Your reading is very important to us. We're sorry for the delay in publishing this post. Please remain reading, the end will be right with you.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Inconsistent Atheists

Atheists like to denounce the Bible for multiple reasons, not the least of which is because of their belief "God" makes Osama bin Laden seem like a Boy Scout. They'll cherry pick verses on the beefier subjects--rape, murder, sacrifice, cannibalism, eunuchs, etc.--and partly justify their atheism on the unscholarly exegesis of those verses.

It's curious that atheists go to great lengths to denounce Someone they contend doesn't exist. I don't believe aliens exist and therefore haven't spent an ounce of energy or ink denouncing things spokespeople for "aliens," claim aliens have said. (I would ask rhetorically why "aliens" don't speak for themselves but that borders on alien analysis).

If the atheist is perturbed with the balance of history there's nothing he can do to change it. History is what it is and the atheist, if he really believes his atheism, must view history as the works of man operating in the absence of God. The facts are the same for all mankind. The interpretations are what differ. That which the atheist finds appalling and disturbing should be to him the fruit of atheism. To decide otherwise is to be epistemologically self-contradictory.

If the atheist could remove all bible verses he didn't like, and history was devoid of sin, the atheist would still not unilaterally seek after God. Atheists have a faith and trust problem more than they have moral concerns.

God is love and God is just at the same time. God's not sweating out the impact of what redeemed and unredeemed people alike will flub tomorrow.

Free Construction Work Screening!

In terms of categorization by profession, this article, commenting on findngs by George Washington University Medical Center, purports alcoholism is most prevalent in the construction and mining industry. 1 out of 7 is an alcoholic in those fields. Reportedly, that may be a risk as much as 45% higher than found in other occupations.

One trivial flaw in the study is the failure to mention that everyone is at one time or another a construction worker. Who hasn't laid a brick, built a doghouse, painted a wall, pushed a shovel, etc. These are all activities the National Construction Education Board, calls "good" construction work, or GCW. Everyone wants and needs a high GCW level. This prevents honey-do lists from clogging up.

Then there's BCW- or "bad" construction work. Tasks like building a bridge, installing windows on a high-rise, building a dam, etc. This is the construction work that leads to elevated levels of BCW, which leads to alcoholism.

Some experts suggest what's more important than absolute levels of GCW and BCW is the ratio. For men, a good GCW/BCW ratio is 4.0 or higher. For women, the goal is a ratio of 3.5. While diet alone can often improve ratios some people may need to take medication.

The good people at Pflamzer recently released their new drug to reduce BCW by up to 50%. Their drug, deconstructastatin, costs only $99.95 per month and lowers alcoholism by nearly 0.005%! It's effect on all-cause mortality is less dramatic. The gooder people at Muck, Shock and Dumb (MSD) claim their product--alcolowastatin--provides an equivalent benefit with fewer side effects. Moreover, Alcolowastatin is said to increase GCW levels by 20%. For women that can't seem to get their husbands to stop watching playoffs to fix the leaky roof, alcolowastatin may be preferred for these patientsover other drugs in this class. However, Alcolowastatin costs up to $3 million per day.

Alcolowastatin's costs seems to be prohibitive. But with the new Medicare Part D prescription plan, seniors can get alcolowastatin with only a $2 co-pay. Who's pays the rest? It doesn't matter--as long as the goodest people at MSD keep lobbyists dollars flowing into the coffers of the two major political parties, the good folk in Washington won't present the details of their "budget."

So, stop living in fear. Go to your doctor today. Ask for the little red, white and blue pill.

Need your CW levels checked? Head to your local mall today and get screened. All you'll need is a hammer, a remote control, and your most recent set of assembly instructions from Wal*Mart. It's free. It's easy.

Help stop alcoholism--stop working on major tasks! It's never too late to stop working.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Brokeback Fountain: A Movie Review

(Friday, January 6, 2020) Brokeback Fountain opened in theaters across America this weekend to rave reviews. Critics hailed the movie as as "a masterpiece," exposing mean-spirited stereotypes and heralding a new era of freedom for people heretofore suppressed by an intolerant and bigoted society.

Set in New York City, Brokeback Fountain centers on the activity at a magnificent, post-postmodern 1000-foot fountain erected on the property formerly occupied by Madison Square Garden. Bathed in an array of spectacular colored lights, the fountain is mesmorizing and an avenue of escape for a culture teeming with restlessness. We learn early on that the fountain is a place many come and linger for many reasons. Some come to work amidst the anesthetizing, white noise emitted by the pounding waters. Others cavort there for romantic reasons.

The movie's protagonist is Dr. Ennis Del Mar. Ennis is a highly successful orthopedic surgeon who lives in an ostentatious penthouse overlooking Central Park. His other home is in Hong Kong. Parents from all over the world bring their children to Dr. Del Mar for high-risk surgery that Ennis has an uncanny ability to perform with remarkable results.

From the backstory we learn Ennis developed several surgical techniques that found their way into medical textbooks and med school classrooms across the globe. In 2012 he rejected an offer from President Clinton to serve as the Surgeon General. When he isn't giving back a child his life through painstakingly complex surgery, Ennis is often found at the base of Brokeback Fountain. We see him there often, sipping his favorite mocha cappuccino, reading childrens books, and oftentimes alongside a former patient. It's not uncommon to see grown men at Brokeback Fountain with children.

At the movie's midpoint we find out the fountain is to the child slave labor industry what Ellis Island was to immigration back in America's early days. American men and women trafficking in child slave labor often meet at Brokeback Fountain to "conduct business," having American children shipped to China, Hong Kong and elsewhere in exchange for gold, cash, other children or hard drugs. Conversely, foreign children are shipped to Brokeback Fountain to meet the demand of American pedophiles still struggling with the bottleneck created by lingering vestiges of a bureaucracy borne of unfounded, judgmental thinking.

Democratic Senator King (played by William Macey) and staunch conservative Congressman Giles (played by radio maverick Howard Stoned) both look the other way when it came to Brokeback because the amount of money generated there creates a laundering windfall that successful political campaigns can't do without.

In Act III of Brokeback Fountain we see countless former patients/partners of Ennis, now grown, bringing new children to Ennis. Some are new patients, some are new partners, and some are both. The parents of the partners are sometimes receptive to the arrangements, if a surgical need is involved. Other parents are unwilling to have their children taken against their will to be with Ennis. But whenever drugs and political money are involved, as we see in this movie, the parents wishes merit little attention.

What sets Brokeback Fountain apart from other groundbreaking movies is its bold tackling of the controversial issue of pedophilia. Ennis plays a suppressed and long-term pedophile who longed for simple love and acceptance for who he is. From his high school days he always knew he had a love and fondness of children. He tells one desperate parent of a patient, "I was born this way." To his credit, he only has relationships with willing partners. We never see Ennis forcing himself on unwilling children.

There's no nudity in Brokeback Fountain. There are several scenes with implied acts of pedophilia, but all are done in a tasteful and artistic way that serves to advance the plot beautifully. Brokeback Fountain was clearly the fan favorite at the Canine Festival this year and will merit serious Best Motion Picture attention at the Oscars. For a minority group long ridiculed and driven underground with suppressed feelings and their innermost feelings of love for children, Brokeback Fountain could not have been released too soon. In an era where bigotry, intolerance and hatred mar society, along comes a movie like Brokeback Fountain to restore common sense. I give Brokeback Fountain two thumbs up. Men and women, once shackled and monitored with GPS monitoring systems, are finally emerging into the fabric of society, bringing their gifts and talents with them.