Monday, December 22, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life?

I never liked the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." I don't admit that much because it is such an unquestioned part of the Christmas movie canon. It is the favorite Christmas movie of many of my closest friends and family members. But to me it's extremely depressing.

This guys gives up all his hopes and dreams to help a community that is narrow minded and self-centered. Yeah they come through at the end with a measly $5000 bucks but George still has to live in that crappy old house running a business that causes no end of stress. He never gets to go to the oilfields of Venezuela or the savannahs of Africa. His nomadic wunderlust is crushed into a forced domesticity that perpetuates Thoreau's quite desperation. And those jazz clubs of Pottersville seem a lot more happening than the judgemental and co-dependent denizens of Bedford Falls.

I read an article in the New York Times that captures my opinion of this movie perfectly. I finally realize I'm not alone in my apocalyptic vision of It's A Wonderful Life. Read it Here...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wanted: Real Dialogue

I applaud President-Elect Obama for selecting Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration. The gay/lesbian mafia have reared their ugly heads again by demonstrating their hypocritical intolerance of anyone who disagrees with their world view. I guess they assumed that now the political and social pendulum would swing completely their way now that Bush was leaving office. Obama has shown that he really meant what he said by reaching out to all Americans.

Obama understands that the devisive zero-sum game played by both the right wing ayatollahs and the left wing loons these past couple of decades stalls progress and keeps the United States in the muddy trenches of quagmire.

What is needed is intelligent dialogue and conversation. Neither side will budge the other with yelling, screaming and acrimony as the main ground rules for engagement. Obama seems to represent a member of the left willing to talk to the right. Warren seems to represent a member of the right willing to talk to the left.

This controversy was accelerated by a bored media desperately in search of a firestorm in the Obama transition. A supposed Obama connection to Gov. Blago didn't pan out. This story will also fizzle out very soon.

Note: All puns in this blog were completely intentional.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bradford wins the Heisman!

Superman wears Sam Bradford pajamas.



Tebow is a Neanderthal. Sorry...shouldn't insult Neaderthals. Seriously! Crying because he didn't win it again! Using that for motivation in the championship game? What a loser. He shouldn't have been on that stage. He was only up there because of winning the thing last year...which he deserved. This year his numbers were considerably down and he lost at home to Ole Miss. You don't get a Heisman just because you gave a good pep talk. Graham Harrell deserved it more than Tebow.

Colt McCoy...yeah if you give an award for flopping on the sideline like an Argentinian soccer player. He did that twice against OU to get personal fouls called...which led to first downs...which led to undeserved scores. And this argument that he wasn't surrounded with the same kind of talent as Bradford. Asinine! ut always ranks among the top in the nation in recruiting. They have the best athletes in the world. It's not Bradford's fault sMack Brown can't coach 'em to their potential.

It should have been Bradford, Harrell and Crabtree on the podium with Bradford winning it...which he did. Now on to an 8th National Title!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Thunderer

In 1997 my buddy Scot and I planned to Eurorail across Spain, hook up with a Yugoslavian freighter at Gibraltar and cruise to Casablanca to celebrate our birthdays (which fell around the same time) at Rick's Cafe Americain.

But I ran low on Pesetas so we went to a bullfight instead with a crazy retired Matador nicknamed "The Thunderer" which sounds better in Spanish.

After the corrida Scot went back to Jerusalem and two months later I went to Oklahoma.

2008 Update: Yugoslavia is now Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Croatia and Slovenia. Pesetas have been replaced by Euros. And bullfighting is now banned in Barcelona.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Death to the Pixies

So I was in this ski shop halfway between Durango and Purgatory Mountain. This was back when "Bubba's Boards" was a bona fide indie shop ran by stoners and shredders before it went corporate and relocated into swanky digs in the Purgatory Village. I saw this rock band sticker on the wall behind the counter that said "Death to the Pixies."

I had been recently introduced to The Pixies and liked their stuff. So I asked the boarder behind the counter who looked like Jeff Buckley what he had against The Pixies.

He said, "Dude! We love the Pix. This is a promo for their album."

So I had showed my ignorance of Pixie discography but those Bubba guys didn't judge my alt cred. They were too busy prank calling "Gold Medal Sports" a rival shop owned by a crusty old bugger with a big white beard named Tom who had jerked us around regarding boot rental prices a day earlier.

A few years later I saw that stoner employee at a local dive called Schoolhouse Pizza north of Durango. I asked him "you use to work at Bubba's?" He said, "Yeah awhile back."

His glazed over barmate laughed out loudly and shouted "This punk got FIRED! They fired his &@*!"

I said, "Oh yeah, What for?"

"Smoking weed behind the building during business hours."

Buckley just smiled sheepishly. I wasn't surprised by the firing or the cause.

Later that night I saw a rich woman back into a Mercedes SUV in the Schoolhouse Pizza parking lot which was iced over. She busted out the SUV's tailight. She was wearing all white with white fur and had super bleached white hair. She was in her 60's and was trying very hard to keep her youth but not very successfully. She just drove off without reporting her crash. The nerve.

Today I printed off a "Death to the Pixies" decal to tape on the wall outside my classroom to commemorate this memory.

Monday, November 24, 2008

College Football Karma

College football towers heavily over the NFL for many reasons. Tradition, pagentry and unpredictability are some of the facets of the college game that make it much more attractive then the No Fun League. There also many rules that go with being a college football fan. One of the most important rules is...


Texas fans violated this rule in droves this past weekend and have learned a powerful lesson in college football karma.

College football is a game of the heart...not the brain. It is a game of emotion...not logic. You should never root for your most hated rival even if appears to be in the best interests of your team. Such appearances usually are merely a chimera. I believe it is okay to quietly root for other lesser rivals in such cases. But...

Alabama should never root for Auburn
Michigan should never root for Ohio State
Florida should never root for Georgia

and Oklahoma should never ever root for the Texas Longhorns. And vice versa.

This past weekend the Burnt Orange faithful made a big show of rooting against Texas Tech. Many were joking about borrowing OU gear for the game. Not only were they rooting for their most hated rival...they were rooting against an in-state team...Texas Tech. Since Oklahoma State is not OU's main rival and is in-state I could forsee times when I would have to root for them to help OU in the polls. But I would never in any circumstance root for the Longhorns even if it appeared that it would help OU in the long run. I hope ut loses every game. And if OU needs so much help from texas that it needs my rooting interest...then OU doesn't deserve to play for the championship.

No, it is not logical or rational. But that is the beauty of college football. And because of the Texas fan's blatant disregard for this rule and for an in-state football karma struck back 65-21 in Norman. Now OU has vaulted past texas in three polls and conventional wisdom says that an OU win next week all but guarantees them a spot in the Big 12 Title Game and a chance for a national title shot. All because they utterly destroyed Tech this past weekend.

So to all you Texas fans...thanks for all your support...but we didn't need it nor want it. No one likes a traitor to their own state or their rooting interests. I will never do you the favor of rooting for Texas...ever. Boomer Sooner!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Joe the Idiot

I guess Joe the Plumber was wrong that electing Obama "would be the death of Israel" now that Obama has named a Jewish Chief of Staff. Rahm Emanuel is a well known supporter and friend of the nation of Israel. Just another example of how stupid Joe the Plumber is and why McCain should have never pandered to him during the campaign. Oh...I guess that also debunks the Obama Muslim conspiracy theory as well. Would a radical Muslim name a Jew as his Chief of Staff?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Who Can You Trust?

I voted for Obama. But I am going to follow Cornel West's lead when Dr. West stated that "If Obama is elected, I will dance and celebrate for a day. The next day I will be his number one critic." Dr. West's speech can be found here:

I was happy Obama won. I enjoyed the historical nature of the moment. I have great hope that we will move on from the disatrous administration of the Bush White House. But I'm not going to give Obama a free pass. No responsible citizen should. Obama deserves a fair shake and the patience of the American people as he deals with our economic woes and difficult geopolitical environment.

Despite his immense failures I can also acknowledge that Bush had some positives. His cabinet and top advising staff was the most ethnically diverse in the history of our Republic. His choice of Justice Roberts to the Supreme Court was an excellent one. The Federal Abortion Ban was a step in the right direction.

Nothing disgusts me like straight ticket voting. No offense to the Geico guys...but a Neanderthal could pull the lever for a straight ticket vote. Neither party deserves unswerving and slavish loyalty. Both parties have numerous examples of corruption and malfeasance in their ranks.

A brief rundown of names of powerful party members prosecuted or investigated for one crime or another...

The G.O.P.: Ted Stevens, Larry Craig, Tom DeLay, Scooter Libby, Mark Foley, Bob Livingston and Jack Abramoff.

The Democrats: Dan Rostenkowski, Barney Frank, Gus Savage, Tim Mahoney, Daniel Inouye, Jim Wright and Bill Clinton.

I'm not going to elaborate on the crimes or misdeeds perpetrated by this rogue's gallery. There are many more names you could add to both lists. You can google their names if you wish. My point is that blind loyalty to either party is asinine. It is the duty of the democratic citizen to critically analyze both parties and hold them accountable. Party members on both sides of the aisle often scramble to make excuses for people within their party who are guilty of corrupt behavior. Why? If you hold the guilty accountable then your party will be stronger in the long run.

I've mentioned Jim Wallis's phrase in prior posts and I'm going to repeat it now: God is not a Republican...or a Democrat.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Oh Ye of Little Faith...

As I was browsing my friend's facebook statuses after the election I was not surprised to find a number of disappointed McCain supporters. Whoever won the election would leave the other side disappointed...perhaps even a little bitter. This is true of all elections.

However, I was particularily struck by the doom and gloom nature permeating through their status updates. End of the world kind of hyperbole was everywhere. I remember these same people bemoaning the defeat of Bush to Clinton in 1992 and yet the world did not end in the 1990's. Again, I guess this kind of hyperbole is to be expected in the emotional aftermath of an election.

I did find one sentiment backwards, ignorant and offensive...all from someone I consider very intelligent and gifted. They implied that Obama's victory was a sign of God's judgement on a sinful America. This friend was trying to be positive by saying that we should always accept God's judgement even if it's not easy to take.

But I'm offended by their implication that those who voted for Obama, including myself, were unknowingly bringing down God's harsh judgement on America. That I and the majority of the nation were too stupid to realize what we were setting in motion by voting for Obama. I am sick and tired of my fellow Evangelical Christians saying that the Republican party is the only party for followers of Christ. The only two issues that matter to many of them in their narrow vision is abortion and gay marriage. Christ's vision is much more comprehensive than just those two important issues.

How many times must it be said..."GOD IS NOT A REPUBLICAN...OR A DEMOCRAT!"

I believe Christ is also concerned about a consistent ethic of life (which includes both the evils of abortion AND capital punishment). I believe Christ would care about our stewardship of his creation. I believe that Christ would be greatly concerned about our treatment of the impoverished, hungry, widows and orphans. Narrowing the Christian political focus to abortion and gay marriage limits the vision of Christ.

What kind of faith do we have in God if we preach such doom and gloom every time one of our candidates loses an election. The early Christian apostles lived under Nero for crying out loud...and the faith spread like wildfire!

Number one: McCain's biography is no more "Christian" than Obama's. He only reached out to evangelicals to win the election.

Number two: McCain and Obama actually agreed in the debates that they did not want to change the definition of marriage. Both stated their agreement with George W. Bush on the importance of civil unions for gay couples.

Number three: McCain said in the debates he would not use abortion as a litmus test for selecting a supreme court justice. He has stated that although he was pro-life he would not actively seek to overturn Roe v. Wade. So how does this make him more acceptable to pro-lifers? Was he acceptable just because he "said" he was pro-life? How blindly foolish is that? Obama said he wanted to see a world that didn't need abortions and actually favored banning partial-birth abortions. He may not be pro-life...but at least he is against abortion is some cases. And abortion is already legal in this country...for eight years we have had a pro-life president and the most conservative court in a generation...and yet Roe v. Wade was not overturned.
But those points are secondary to the lack of trust many Christians place in God. There are good Christian Democrats and athiestic Republicans. This election proves it's high time that evangelicals break free from their slavish and dogmatic loyalty to the G.O.P., widen their vision of Christian justice and focus their faith in Christ and NOT on the government of the United States.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Weezer in Grand Prairie

The October 21st Weezer concert in Grand Prairie was awesome. The band came out in white coveralls with "Weezer" written on their backs. Rivers sang the first two songs wearing a white ski mask. A few songs into the set they stripped off their coveralls to reveal bright red sweat suits also emblazoned with the Weezer logo. These guys exuded fun and goofiness the entire concert. Rivers walked around stage kicking a soccer ball and jumping off a trampoline all while singing lead and playing guitar. All the band members took turns singing lead and traded instruments quite frequently. They all can play each other's axes quite nicely. There was even a "hootenanny" session with selected Weezer fans as they brought to the stage fans who had audtioned for a two song jam. There were bass clarinets, guitars, baritones, spoons (yes, spoons!), flutes, accordian and a trumpet solo on Beverly Hills. Later Rivers sported a massive cowboy hat while their bassist sported a wrestling cape with the Flying W Weezer logo. Pure insane madness with great music that blew the roof off the dump.

The setlist included some rare B-Side singles. Here's the setlist from their October 21st concert at the Nokia Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas...

My Name is Jonas
Pink Triangle
Perfect Situation
Say it ain’t so
Keep Fishin
Pork and Beans
Dope Nose
Hash Pipe
El Scorcho
Greatest Man that ever lived
Island in the Sun
Beverly Hills
Buddy Holly

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Middle Eastern Ironies

The current president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has stated that he wants to "wipe Israel off the map." I find this historically ironic because 2,500 years the Persians had their chance to do just that. Instead, Artaxerxes allowed the Jewish exiles (exiled by the Babylonians) to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of Solomon. The very people who allowed Israel to restore their cultural wants to erase them from the atlas. Ahmadinejad always calls upon the greatness of Persia's history to re-affirm Iran's place in the world. He obviously was sleeping during this particular lesson in his World History class.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lifestyles of the Rich and Subsidized.

Alaska has been in the news a lot lately. Now I knew that every Alaskan resident receives a dividend from the state's oil enriched budget surplus. But some of the facts are staggering...

EVERY one of the residents of Alaska receives $3269.00 a year...simply for living in Alaska.
The state has over $5 billion in savings and a permanent fund now worth $35 billion.

When you consider that dozens of states (including the one in which I reside...Texas...and the two others I grew up in...Kansas and Oklahoma) have been facing serious budget crunches, the fact that Alaska has so much in reserve is sickening. When states across the nation cannot properly fund their education systems and pay their teacher's a decent salary due to serious fiscal problems...Alaska's billions cause me to take a second look.

Yet the federal government continues to subsidize Alaska's existence. Why? Why do American taxpayers still pay a dime to help Alaska? Why does Alaska (including Sarah Palin) continue to beg the American people for federal earmarks? No Child Left Behind has yet to be funded and I have received one 3% raise in four years as a teacher in Texas...yet my tax dollars continue to help Alaska enrich itself. Why is Juneau asking for anything when they have billions in the bank? They may have quashed the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere" but they still kept the $247 million. If they have so much in savings...then why am I paying Alaska a dime of my hard-earned money?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Does God Put Country First?

Both political parties are trying to position themselves as the "patriotic" party. As a Christian I was disturbed by such rhetoric at both conventions. Obama said we must put our country first. McCain's new campaign signs say "country first." As a Christian I completely reject this notion of putting country before God. Jim Wallis gently chides both parties with the following observations with which I wholeheartedly agree...

"But one other thing bothered me last night, and it did also at the Democratic Convention. It was all those signs that read "Country First" and all those chants of "USA, USA, USA!!" The high-powered and, frankly, militaristic rhetoric kept telling us that "country" should be put above everything else -- including family and friendship. But what about faith? Should country be put ahead of faith, too? I kept wanting to yell back at the people yelling at me about putting the country first and say, "No, not me, I'm a Christian." Because we as Christians simply can't put our country first, ahead of God, ahead of Jesus Christ, ahead of the body of Christ (remember the worldwide body of Christ), and even family and friendship. Especially when our country is wrong, and when most of the rest of the body of Christ around the world thinks so.

"Country First" was the theme of John McCain's speech and night, and he asked us to "fight with him." Barack Obama also said in Denver that all Americans must put country first -- to counter the Republican exclusive claim on patriotism. Well, again, not all of us. I suppose people running for president have to say that, but Christian voters shouldn't go along with that. Can anybody imagine Jesus leading cheers shouting "USA!"?"

The rest of Wallis's (who once wrote a book subtitled "God is not a Republican or a Democrat") blog can be found here....

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Another Obama Endorsement

I promise you...we did not put our 20 month old son up to this. We're not into brainwashing. He's just heard this name a lot on the radio and in discussion. Obama is easier to say than McCain. Anyway, another endorsement for Barack Obama...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dubious Selections

I wasn't too impressed by Obama's choice of Joe Biden as a running mate. Of those names being bandied about as possible candidates he was the one I least liked...with the exception of Hillary. As a teacher I don't have much sympathy for repeat plagiarists. Plus, if Obama's running on a change platform, selecting a three decade senator hardly qualifies as outside the beltway thinking. I do like that Biden takes the train back home everyday like millions of us who belong to Orwell's upper-lower middle-class.

As uninspiring as Biden's selection it towers over McCain's ridiculous choice. I like the fact that Palin is pro-life and a Christian...but that's about it. She may be an admirable woman but I'm not a big fan of NRA membership and those who are pro-oil drilling in ANWR since ANWR, according the U.S. government, would only lower gas prices about 2 cents a gallon. But that's a debate for another day. Palin's biggest benefactor in Alaska is Ted Stevens...a senator recently indicted on corruption charges and notoriously in the pocket of big oil. Not good company to keep.

McCain's judgement has always been questionable. From being censured for ethical violations during the Keating Five scandal, to committing adultery, to bragging about his college drinking binges, to seeking out John Hagee's (a man as nutty as Jeramiah Wright) endorsement, to singing "bomb bomb Iran", to supporting the war in Iraq, to questionable dealings with Arizona lobbyists, to considering switching to the Democratic party...twice...McCain's judgement skills are dubious at best. And now he adds another major strike against his judgement.

McCain is 72 years old. He has had four bouts with cancer. And he picks someone who has been a governor of the least populated state in the U.S. for less than two years to be a heartbeat away from the most complex and demanding job on Earth? Two years ago Palin was the mayor of a town of 9,000 residents. And for just 23 months she has governed a state that is basically a subsidized colony of the United States. This is who McCain saw as qualified to run the United States of America in a crisis?

Palin has zero foreign policy experience. And she asked yesterday what experience does a vice-president need. Such a statement displays amazing naivete. Sure, the office of VP may not be worth a warm bucket of spit, as once eloquently stated by John Nance Garner. But when the President is 72 years might want to have a VP who's qualified to step behind the big desk at a moment's notice.

I'm not a big fan of Biden...but the selection of Palin is pure idiocy on McCain's part. Maybe I'll be proven wrong in November. Maybe she'll mobilize a dis-affected conservative base...Dobson's already jumped back on the bandwagon. But I think that once the initial excitement and novelty of the choice wears off people will start to wonder about McCain's sanity.

This choice may go down as bad a Quayle and even Perot's choice of that crazy admiral Stockdale back in 1992.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


My facebook status says it all...

"David is superfreakingstoked because he just scored tix to Weezer's October Dallas visit."

Yep, Kimberly and I will be Weezing again for a second time. But this time they're playing the Nokia which is a way cooler venue than the Smirnoff where we saw them three years ago.



Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympic Quick Hits

Quick hits on the Olympics.

1.) The Chinese are obviously using girls under 16 on their gymnastic team. What do you expect from a totalitarian state?

2.) Phelps is Superman.

3.) Usain Bolt could have shattered the world record in the 100 m. Still broke the record despite letting up at the end to celebrate. He looked like a man among boys. It would be great to see how he ran if actually challenged by someone.

4.) Luikin got screwed by a stupid tie-breaking rule. Just another reason why I don't like events that rely on human judging and not on something truly quantifiable like a time or goal score.

5.) Sacramone also got screwed. When the Chinese girl mis-executes and then falls on the landing...and yet still passes Sacramone who didn't make a mistake...another reason to hate the gymnastic system.

6.) Shouldn't be surprised by all the world records falling in swimming. The new Speedo is cutting down resistance by 5%. The Beijing pool is the deepest in Olympic history cutting down on time slowing water turbulence. The Beijing pool has two empty lanes on both sides that also level turbulance and the lane dividers actually are designed to flush water down and not back into the lane. All these innovations were bound to help re-write the record books. Doesn't take anything away from the medalists though.

7.) Strange that the Olympic pool actually has lifeguards on duty.

8.) Would NBC show so much beach volleyball if the women wore less revealing outfits? Those outfits are worse than the average bikini and if I were a hardline feminist I'd be pissed since the guys wear knee lengh shorts and wide band tanks. Now that's exploitation. But back to the point...are there that many Americans interested in beach volleyball that you show it every night? There's dozens of Olympic sports that don't get any coverage at all...couldn't we at least get a synopsis on these other sports rather than replay beachball and water polo over and over again?

9.) Glad to see Mongolia got their first Olympic medal ever. They got it in Judo. Too bad the equesterian events aren't more geared toward the Mongolian skill with horses because they would dominate. You event where you shoot an arrow at a man/target while riding backwards on a horse going 40 mph.

10.) Actually like how the Basketball team is handling itself on and off the court with class. There's no Michael Jordan missing the opening ceremonies and threatening to boycott a medal ceremony because he'd have to wear the Reebok sponsored Olympic windsuit or Charles Barkely elbowing a tiny Angolan off the court during a 40 point blowout. These guys look glad to be here are playing with dignity.

11.) Totalitarian states put on the best cooridinated opening ceremonies.

12.) That Romanian chick who won the marathon should run in the men's event. It wasn't even close. She must have run 10 additional victory laps after crossing the finish line. She could have run two marathons.

13.) U.S.A. boxing is dead.

14.) And I do feel sorry for all those other USA swimming medalists who no one pays attention to because of Phelp's amazing feat.

15.) And lastly...I find it astounding that the same gym in Frisco, Texas has produced two all-around Olympic gold medalists in women's gymnastics in a row. One nation winning two in a row is amazing enough. But two from the same gym...what kind of kool-aid are they drinking over there? My brother and sister-in-law live a few blocks away from this gym and I'd like to drive by sometime just to see a place that has produced two gold medalists in consecutive Olympiads.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ridin' the Tractor

Kim's Uncle Scott graciously took Jackson on a ride on the big tractor when we were up in Indiana a few days ago. Here's some video...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Book Review - Worlds at War (first draft)

The following is the first draft of a book review that I am submitting for publication in a historical journal. This book also served as the summer reading for my AP World History students this summer. Your comments, criticisms and corrections are welcome and appreciated. For some reason my blog platform would not allow me to indent paragraphs which is why they are spaced for this blog.

Worlds at War: The 2,500 - Year Struggle Between East and West. By Anthony Pagden.
(New York City, NY. Random House, 2008. Pp. xxv, 625 $35.00)

Following the horrific events of September 11, 2001 many Americans flocked to bookstores purchasing books on Islam to gain insight into the animosity toward American and western culture that pervades the Islamic world. Acts of Islamic terrorism were not new in 2001 but the fact that terrorism had now reached American shores awakened many American citizens to the harsh reality that they were players in a “clash of civilizations” that had been going on for a very long time and to which no end seemed near in the foreseeable future.

Anthony Pagden’s thesis is quite simple. The conflict between East and West has indeed been going on for a very long time, over 2,500 years in fact. Pagden argues that this struggle goes back long before the advent of Islam and its conflicts with Christianity and Judaism. The ideological battle between the Occident and the Orient has been continuous since at least the time of the Greek invasion of the Hellespont and the subsequent ten-year Trojan War made famous by Homer’s The Illiad.

Pagden doesn’t necessarily attempt to explain the reasons behind the two millennia old battle between East and West. Rather Pagden traces a series of clashes throughout antiquity that help place today’s conflicts in context. The recurrent theme in the East-West relationship, according to Pagden, is one of consistent misunderstanding of each side’s cultural values. The West is always bewildered by the East’s collective mentality and willingness to remain under the leadership of autocratic despots. The East never does understand the West’s desire for individual freedom and sees democracy as tyrannical in its inherent chaos.

Many of the historical incidents, related by Pagden in masterful prose, bear striking similarities to the misunderstandings in the East-West relationship today. Napoleon’s failed attempt at introducing western political and philosophical institutions to Egypt in the late eighteenth century seems very much like the current difficulties the United States has faced in introducing moderate democracy to Iraq in the early 21st Century.

Worlds at War discusses the many battlegrounds both military and philosophical including the Trojan Wars, The Persian Wars, Alexander’s Hellenism, Rome’s relationship with the East, the rise of Christianity, The creation of Islam, the Crusades, the Ottoman Empire, the impact of the Enlightenment, the Middle Eastern mandates following World War II, the Balfour Declaration and much much more. Each era and historical event provide examples of the vast gulf of understanding between the West and East.

Pagden’s narrative is extremely compelling and provides an impartial view from both eastern and western perspectives. He provides another side to many of the historical events with which western audiences may be familiar thus coloring these events with more nuance and contextual depth. One weakness of Pagden’s work is his overt skepticism toward religion. Rather than keeping an objective eye of an historian intact, Pagden occasionally allows his antipathy toward organized religion, both Islamic and Christian, taint his work with editorializing that seems oddly off-putting and out of place in this work of history. But these insights are few and far between and do not take away from Pagden’s impressive achievement.

This book is so enormously comprehensive it could easily be used as the definitive text on the history of the East-West relationship. The comprehensive nature of Pagden’s subject, of course, does not allow for him to go into the great historical depth one might expect for each individual chapter. Volumes could be written on the subject of each chapter. However, Pagden does not skimp on historical detail. He wonderfully walks the fine line of providing enough facts to give weight to the narrative without dragging his book to the depths of factual overload.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Travelin' Man

This summer I have been on the road. Since school got out the end of May, I've been on the road 31 days. Not as long as some of my compadres...but a lot for me. First Colorado to grade essays, then the Bahamas to celebrate my ten-year anniversary then on to Indiana for family reunion and the Tulsa, Oklahoma to visit more family. I'm glad I don't have to travel for my job. I'm getting too old for this!

photo: Me in front of Rawson's Square, the Bahamas.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Been awhile since I've posted a video of Jackson. Here's two from bathtime when he's discovered the fun of dropping things into the tub. Jackson has no need to worry...nothing is revealed that should be too embarassing to him down the road.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back in Tejas

Made it back to Big D with no major issues. Had a woman sitting next to me throwing up into a barf back all the way from Denver to OKC. That was a first. It was a bit of a bumpy take-off. I've watched too much LOST. Then we were on the tarmac in OKC for an hour due to weather in Dallas. Flying into Love Field is much cooler than flying into DFW. You fly right above the sky scrapers in downtown then drop several hundred feet faster than you would at a normal airport due to the limited airspace. Love is the only way to go...all you need is Love. Only the Baghdad corkscrew landings would be more interesting. I'll have to ask my friend Buck how that is...but he's still in Kuwait where he tells me it's 122 degrees.

I was dropped off at DIA six hours before my flight. Luckily ran into my WHAP crew (pictured) in the main terminus and we were able to kill some time before we went to our seperate terminals. Finally got my laptop working wirelessly so I could kill some more time on the internet. Then I paid $5.00 (supply and demand for you) for Backpacker Magazine to kill more time. Ran into SNU prof Peggy Poteet who was heading back to OKC at my gate and chatted with her awhile. Then read a history book (Cause that's how I roll).

Rainy in Dallas when I landed...but it was a cool 75 degrees...good since I'm spoiled on Rocky Mountain weather. What a great thing it was to see my wife and son again. Longest I've been away from them.

photo: Last dinner at CSU with Wes "Three Minutes of Fury", Chas "Saipan Jayhawk Hippie", Jerry "KCK", and "Freakin' Redwings" Eric.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

From the Mountains

Well I'm done grading A.P. World History essays. I read over 850 essays in seven days. So yeah, I'm a bit punchy. My assigned question to grade was over trade and commerce in the Indian Ocean from the 7th century C.E. through the mid-eighteenth century C.E.. Needless to say the overwhelming number of essays I graded were pretty lousy. I had one perfect 9 the whole week. But we wrapped up early and now I'm enjoying the mountain breezes before heading to the closing night party where you will see dorky historians get funky from their Rocky Mountain High.

Missed Kimberly and Jackson terribly...but I did have a good week other than that. Met great people, had engaging conversations over a bizarre range of topics and enjoyed cool breezes as opposed to the oppressive Texas heat.

My table of seven was a great table. No Nazis, fascists or anti-social louts...all cool people. Some other tables weren't so lucky. Brian, our table leader from Long Beach, was laid back Cali style yet always encouraged us to keep up the good work.

The food was good. The logistics top-notch. My room had internet access, A/C and a nice view. I am very impressed with Colorado State University and the College Board.

But I am ready to head back to Big D. I did post a few pics on my flickr site which can be accessed here. I'll be home a few days and then it's off to the Bahamas where I will not have to grade a single essay.
photo: my table taking a night out at Woody's after a long day of grading sophomoric (literally) essays.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Letter to the Times

A friend of mine who teaches history at a university in Pennsylvania told me today that his son had a letter published today in the New York Times. During a break from grading AP essays he rode his bike to a newstand in Fort Collins to buy a NY Times. Sure enough, his son's was the first listed in today's edition in the opinion section. He was responding to an article in yesterday's paper about the Senate's investigation in to the lead up to the war in Iraq. So, whether you agree with this guy's opinion or's still cool to be printed in the Old Gray Lady. The article can be accessed online here. It's the first letter on the top.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Weezer Day!

Today was Weezer day. Their newest album came out titled "Weezer." It's their third release of theirs that is self-titled, so like the other two it will be known by the color on the cover...this one is known as the Red Album. I couldn't make it to the record store today. Six miles from my campus dorm here at Colorado State University...gotta rent a bike.

So I wore a Weezer concert shirt today as I graded AP essays and had all kinds of comments. Guess a lot of World History teachers dig Rivers and the gang. One dude at the cafeteria offered me his SPIN magazine featuring a Weezer cover story.

And Kim told me that a character on the Young and the Restless was wearing a Weezer shirt on today's episode. Righteous!

So here I am grading essays about trade and commerce in the Indian Ocean (650-1750) while listening to the iPod. Hope the guy next to me couldn't hear me humming "Pork and Beans."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Turn it OFF!

Back in the old days of carburetors we were taught that if you left your car idling for less than 30 seconds it saved more gas to let it run than shutting the engine off and restarting. However, most cars today have fuel injectors which lowers that magic number to 10 seconds...some even say 7 seconds. So when I go to the bank or wait at the railroad crossing I actually save gas by shutting down my engine.

I say all this to address one of my biggest pet peeves. When I drop my son off at the Daycare a great majority of the parents leave their cars running while they go in to drop off their kids. Today, for example, the car next to me was running when I got there and was still running unoccupied when I left...a good ten minutes later (and it was 70 degrees need to run the A/C).

Here's the reasons why this drives me so crazy.

1.) It's actually illegal in Texas to leave your keys in the ignition due to the great potential of theft.

2.) It's dangerous to leave your car running in a daycare parking lot with so many kids around.

3.) It's a terrible waste of gas and money during these times of $4 a gallon gas.

4.) It's terrible for the environment to needlessly spew carbon monoxide into the atmosphere when it can easily be prevented.

5.) What message does that send your kid that you drop off them so fast you don't even want to bother shutting off your engine? Might as well have a drive through window at Daycare to expedite the process.

So I talked to our Daycare representative at our school and fortunately the problem will be addressed. People, save your money and environment and turn off your car when sitting for more than 10 seconds. According to General Motors you will more than recoup your gas savings than the expense caused by wear and tear on your ignition.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Radiohead Setlist

Some have asked for the set list from last Sunday's Radiohead concert in Dallas. They played two hours and played all 10 songs from their newest album "In Rainbows." They also did a nice sampling from all their albums sans Pablo Honey. The only song I hadn't heard before was Bangers and Mash which is on the second disc you had to pre-order from the "In Rainbows" release. It is still not available at record stores from what I understand.

All I Need

There There

15 Step

Bangers and Mash


Pyramid Song

Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

The National Anthem

Dollars and Cents

Faust Arp


A Wolf At The Door



Everything In Its Right Place



1st Encore

Fake Plastic Trees


Falling Into Place

House of Cards

Exit Music (For A Film)

The Bends

2nd Encore

You and Whose Army?

Paranoid Android

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Search for Eternal Youth

Here's why I'm not too stoked about the new Indiana Jones movie. I hope I'm proven (or proved....never quite sure which is correct) terribly wrong cause I love the Indiana Jones series.

1.) Harrison Ford is old. That could still work, however not only has he looked old in his last few movies he's also looked befuddled and lost.

2.) Shia Labouf. The guy's a terrible actor. He plays the same character (see the awful Transformers for his template) in every flick. He believes cocky and arrogant channels Brando or something. How cliche is it that he's playing a biker dude? This is supposed to be Indy and Marion's possible love child?

3.) Aliens? I hope the reports aren't true.

4.) We often forget that the only true classic Indy movie was "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The Temple of Doom had some iconic moments...but overall the movie's pretty dumb. Kate of the worst movie heroines ever. The Last Crusade was a little better...but still sappy compared to Raiders. It's hard for lightening to strike twice.

5.) George Lucas's writing has gotten progressively worse as the years have worn on. His dialogue for the Star Wars prequels was awful.

Again, I truly hope I'm proven (or proved!) wrong and that we'll have another classic this summer. I'm hoping if I keep my expectations low I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Radiohead in Dallas

So last night I got to cross off another "group to see in concert before I die list". Radiohead ended their ten-year embargo of Dallas by coming to the old CocaCola/ Starplex/ Smirnoff/ Centre Sunday night. 1998 was the last time Yorke, the Greenwoods and the rest of the dystopian gang played Big D. Think about that. '98...that was before Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief and of course In Rainbows. A lot's happened since then.

So even though I stayed up until 3 a.m. a couple of months ago to order tix online I still missed the reserved seats. But the lawn was still great and we had a clear view of the stage with the Tibetan flags and lighting strands hanging from the ceiling. The weather was perfect...75 degrees at downbeat. There was a rather chatty Burning Man Chick wannabe next to us giving her Lesbian girlfriend unsolicited emotional therapy but she settled down by the third song after her second beer and several tokes on her funny looking cigarette. That's the usual but expected downside to these events. Still can smell the cheap pot in my nostrils despite using cologne and whatnot to eradicate it. But the 20,000 folks were into the music and afterwards everyone got out of the parking lot amazingly quickly. (yes, I just used two adverbs in a row just like Ian Fleming)

The crowd was in to it. Radiohead must be an alien band from another planet to show us Earthlings what original alternative music can sound like if truly inspired. Doesn't really fit the normal summer arena show...but even the dystopic myopic strands of minor chords got electric and optimistic at times and the night was rockin'. The astounding light show focused the music instead of taking away and there were no cheesy spotlights and dry ice. They threw a piano out there for a third of the songs and Thom Yorke played that, an organ, drums and several guitars. The rest of the band cooked like crazy maniacs from some type of musicl cult of excellence and even when the tempo was slow it seemed the world would end when the song reached its denoument.

What a concert! I'm still a Weezer man, but Radiohead is by far the most talented, most original, and compelling band since the Beatles. There is nobody...nobody that comes close and you just think I'm on a contact high due to seeing them live just last night. But I believed that before and now am amazed they were even better live.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Inside the Family

When the Dixie Chicks got themselves into trouble in London a few years ago for criticizing President Bush the overriding issue for many seemed to be that it was wrong for them to make such criticisms of our President on foreign soil.

Now, President Bush has done pretty much the same thing. Attacking the opposing party during a campaign season in the United States is an expected and perhaps beneficial part of the democratic political process. But to criticize a potential future leader of the United States in the parliament of a foreign nation is inexecusable. I wouldn't care if it was a Democrat criticizing a Republican, or as in this case vice versa, you keep such internecine conflicts at home.

Hasn't Dubya ever seen The Godfather? Never discuss family business with outsiders. Tear each other up in campaign season in the United States...but not in the Knesset. President Bush isn't a lame country singer...he should know better. He's the freaking President of the United States, leader of the free world.

Unfortunately, when he's replaced this January he's moving only 20 miles away from my house. Guess I should be used to idiots on the Dallas freeways by now.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cinco de Mayo

So today I wore my Mexican national soccer jersey to school to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. My numerous Hispanic students always get a kick out of it and they are allowed to call me Mr. Brown or Senior Blanco for today only. But I had an interesting experience as I was walking across the breezeway from the parking lot to the school. As I walked past a group of white kids (made up of mostly poor white trash rednecks) I heard someone spit and say "Mexican" in a very hostile tone almost under their breath.

Of course I kept walking because there was no way to truly be sure who was responsible out of a big group of kids and to even be 100% certain the spitting sound was related to the verbal slight...or even if it was directed toward me since I'm not Hispanic although I was wearing the Mexican jersey. But it was tragically enlightening to experience for a brief moment what many of my Hispanic and African-American students go through on a regular basis. As a white male I have never had to deal with that kind of prejudice. Just goes to show you that despite the enormous gains in equality and ethnic respect, the spectre of racism is still alive and not necessarily just hiding in the shadows. The event saddens and angers me because I realize that so many have to go through worse abuse than this on a daily basis.

I've blogged before that I will not allow the ugly reality of racism to go unexposed when I come into direct contact with it. In this case I could not defintively prove that anything actually took place. That's one of the stumbling blocks for the persecuted. You ask yourself was the incident real or imagined. And even if real, what recourse do you have since you can't prove anything.

Often these kids are outnumbered. And all you're left with is a vague, yet certain uncomfortability. That's the case because most racists are too chicken-s$@t to step out of the shadows and confront head-on. Yeah, I apologize for my language but racial harassment pisses me off. To think of good people having to endure that crap everyday. That's the ugliness of racism.

But in those cases where I do encounter racism...usually in the supposedly safe confines of white conversation...I do not allow such warped thinking to continue unchallenged. My goal is to shine the light on those cockroaches and make them scurry to the shadows carrying their unhinged mentalities with them. I will make life as uncomfortable for them as they do for others. It's been said many a time that allowing evil to go unchallenged is just as evil as the evil itself. The least we can do is to make them squirm and not be comfortable with their mentality of hatred.

photo: Me the last time I was in Mexico back in 1998.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

May Day

A little poem in honor of May Day...

May Day and I'm not wearing red.

Ding-dong communism mostly is dead.

But was it ever really alive?

From what version did it derive?

Stalinism, Maoism, Leninism and Che

Never really followed Marx and Engels anyway.

The same poor souls suffer who always suffer.

Yes, the lower working classes always have it rougher.

But Orwell's Proles are too stupid to unite.

They'd rather overspend on cigarettes and whine than fight.

note that the picture is on the LEFT.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Hailstorm!

Oklahoma City is getting pummelled in the sports messageboards for supposedly stealing the Supersonics from Seattle. You should see the prejorative names some ignorant fools are suggesting the new OKC team call themselves...including incredibly cruel swipes like the Oklahoma City Bombers. I know people who lost loved ones in the Murrah Building bombing...a building me and two others were due to tour for a college government class project on April 19th that was cancelled at the last minute due to a golf tournament...a tournament that possibly saved my life. Yeah, I don't find much humor in that name.

OKC did nothing wrong. Seattle had plenty of opportunities to "save the Sonics." No one from the local area stepped up to purchase the team. Seattle built two new stadiums for the Mariners and Seahawks but not for their oldest professional franchise. Seattle was given chance after chance and now they cry because they have to live with the consequences. Don't blame Oklahoma City...a city ready and willing to host the Hornets after Katrina and ready to go when the opportunity came knocking. Don't blame OKC.

I lost my favorite NBA team in 1985 when the Kansas City Kings moved to Sacramento. I know how it feels. I wandered in the NBA loyalty wilderness until 1997 when I moved to Dallas and decided to root for the lousy at the time Mavericks since I had no rooting interest in another NBA team. I will continue to root for Dallas (despite their gutless playoff performances the past two years) because I don't believe in giving up on teams that easily. But I will wish good things for the OKC team and perhaps root for them if I ever move back there. The same would be true for any potential team moving to Kansas City (sooner than you might think!).

There's the real quandry...who would I root for between Kansas City and Oklahoma City? I consider both teams my hometown. I've never had to pick since OKC never had a pro team. I could easily be a Sooner and a diehard Chiefs/Royals fan. It was easy to become a fan of the Mavericks and Dallas Stars since neither OKC or KC had NBA or NHL teams. Don't know what I'll do if the waters get muddied up in the future.

P.S. Glad the Chiefs picked up Longhorn Jamaal Charles in the draft. He really helped the Sooners out last year fumbling on his way into the endzone and allowing OU to keep their lead and win the game. He's a Sooner hero. Just hope he's learned how to hang onto the ball since then.

P.S.S. My pick for the OKC NBA team is the OKLAHOMA CITY HAILSTORM.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Random Notes

An unbelievable thing happened yesterday. Little Southern Nazarene University defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 8-4 in a men's baseball game. The Crimson Storm of the NAIA don't meet up with NCAA schools very often. Everyone knows I am a diehard Sooners fan except for those extremely rare times when they meet up with my beloved alma mater SNU. This was SNU's first major victory over a major college power since they revived the baseball program in 1997. Stunning. What a big win for the Storm!

Well I got my braces yesterday and it wasn't that bad. No pain...just an annoyance. I'm sure I'll feel some pain when I go in for adjustments and tightenings. It is a pain to have cut up my pizza into little tiny pieces. And it's taking my five minutes to brush my teeth well. Hopefully I'll get faster with practice. Flossing is a nightmare. Two and a half years to go. Hope its worth it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Countdown

28 Days until school's out.

2 days until I get braces.

2 weeks until snorkeling lessons.

4 weeks till Radiohead plays Dallas.

8 weeks till I lay on the white sand beaches of the Bahamas.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Go Memphis!

Tonight's NCAA championship game is the twentieth anniversary of one of the most traumatic experiences in my sports-watching life. It was in 1988 when the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Oklahoma Sooners in the national title game. The Final Four was being staged in my hometown of Kansas City that year. It's hard to describe how excited the city was...especially since nearby KU was in the semifinals.

To make it worse both my parents are Jayhawk alums. All my friends, teachers and enemies were Jayhawk fans. I was one of a few sparse Sooners in K.C. it seemed. I was feeling pretty confident...cocky actually. OU had the highest scoring team in NCAA history. They had defeated Kansas three times that season (twice in the regular season and once by 23 points in the Big Eight Tournament). Kansas was lucky to get into the tournament that year.

My Dad and I attended the final Final Four practice session at Kemper Arena which was free to the public and jammed packed. It was exciting to be ten rows from the floor to watch Duke, Arizona, Kansas and Oklahoma do their last practice sessons. That night I videotaped the game (which my parents confiscated after I wished to delete it from existence) and almost had a stroke when KU pulled off the upset. It only got worse.

The next day everybody in the high school raked me over the freakin' coals. My KU Alum high school band director forced me and another OU fan to lead the clapping to the Jayhawk fight song in front of 120 jeering band students. Pretty traumatic stuff for a freshman. By the end of the day I lost my cool and when a guy named Harry jeered me in the hallway before sixth period going up the staircase I punched him in the head. The jeering went on for months. Months! Even football season didn't bring the normal respite because nobody cared about football in Kansas at the time.

The shame was that OU had one of the greatest college basketball teams of all time that year. Mookie Blaylock, Stacy "Sky" King, Ricky "Amazing" Grace, David Sieger and Harvey "General" of the best line-ups of all time. But that is all forgotten since stupid Danny Manning and his cast-offs got lucky the fourth time they played the Sooners.

Yes, I'm over it. That was 20 years ago. Especially when my band director emailed me to apologize two years ago. But I tell you this...getting over it doesn't mean I won't be rooting hard for the Memphis Tigers tonight. Sorry Mom and Dad. With all due respect I hope the Jayhawks go down hard. That's the beauty of for a team doesn't go away easily (go Royals!). But neither does hatred for a team go away that easily as well. Go Memphis!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Favorite Music

A student asked me the other day what my favorite songs of all time were. I hadn't thought about that in awhile so I decided to make a list...I love lists. These are my current favorite rock/pop songs of all time. I limited a group to only one a group like the Beatles or Zeppelin only get one song despite singing many of my favorite songs. The list is constantly changing so this is simply a snapshot.

My top twenty (in no particular order) favorite songs at the moment.

Lazy Boy by Brazzaville
Sleepwalker by Santo and Johnny
Holiday by Weezer
D'yer Maker by Led Zeppelin
I Can Hear Music by The Beach Boys
Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles
Hook by Blues Traveler
Candela by Buena Vista Social Club
Waiting For My Lucky Day by Chris Isaak
Sweet Jane by the Cowboy Junkies
Do You Realize? by The Flaming Lips
Monkey Wrench by Foo Fighters
The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News
Blue by The Jayhawks
Here Comes Your Man by the Pixies
My Iron Lung by Radiohead
Don't Look Back in Anger by Oasis
Since I Don't Have You by The Skyliners
Blue Moon by The Mavericks
Invisible Touch by Genesis

photo: Jackson stealing one of my CDs

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Perversion of War

Earlier this week France's last surviving World War I veteran died at the age of 110. Shortly before he died he gave an interview where he said... "You shoot at men who are fathers. War is completely stupid."

This week I have been reading The Histories by Herodotus. He relates the story of Croesus, king of Lydia (in present day Turkey) who made this cogent observation in the fifth century BCE about how war is essentially an artificial and un-natural invention of man.

"In peace sons bury their fathers. In war fathers bury their sons."
photo: Kimberly, me and Jackson at his first birthday party last January.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Bode Miller has won his second overall World Cup Championship. This is an amazing feat for an American that will probably generate little interest in the media which is still ticked that Miller blew off their Olympic predictions in 2006 by failing to medal. Many thought Miller was done after 06...he left the U.S. Ski Team to compete individually. However, he blew everyone away by winning six races this year. Last year he won the World Cup title in the Super G...this year he wins the Super-Combined and the Overall titles. He broke Mahre's American of career World Cup victories and he still has those two silvers from the 02 Olympics. He is no doubt the greatest American skiier ever and he probably won't get any mag covers for it. America would rather talk NASCAR. An American beating the Swiss, Austrians and Germans in skiing? Unbelievable.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Birthday? What Birthday?

So yesterday I was a bit blue as I felt the relentless march of mortality as my birthday (today) drew nigh.

I had to make a late night stop at Wal*Mart and I ran into one of my former students working in the electronics department. He updated me on his life and told me he had just gotten married, was graduating from A&M Commerce in May and was about to begin student teaching. He is majoring in World History and is going to be a History teacher. He said that I was the prime inspiration for him getting into teaching and that everyone told him you had to coach to be a history teacher in Texas. He said, "I always told them that wasn't true since I had a World History teacher in Kaufman who didn't coach. He just taught and that's what I'm going to do."

Wow. You don't hear that kind of feedback very often. I was a bit happier after that. Then tonight, we stopped at a restaurant for dinner and ran into another former student with her parents. She's on spring break and told me she was finishing her junior year and is also going to be a high school teacher.

So I am blue no more.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jackson Walking read that right. Jackson is walking. He began taking several steps in a row last Friday. And now he's very proud of himself. Here's a series of short video clips of the little walking maniac.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Quantum of Solace

So there is a bit of an uproar over the title for the newest James Bond flick coming out this November. Seems people don't like the title "Quantum of Solace." Doesn't sound Bondish (or Bondian?) enough for them. But to real Bond fans, those who enjoy both the books and the movies, the title is a pleasant surprise. 007 movies have always been fun...but now they can be smart. "Quantum of Solace" was the title of a short story in the Ian Fleming penned anthology "For Your Eyes Only." The other story in "For Your Eyes Only" is "The Hillderand Rarity."

When I was a columnist for my college newspaper, The ECHO, in the early nineties I actually stole (or borrowed since I did make reference to Fleming) those titles for one of my columns. That particular column piece was entitled "The Laundromat Rarity Leads to a Quantum of Solace." The column was a pitiful little essay on mulitculturalism in the United States. I had just finished "For Your Eyes Only" and liked the titles to those short stories so much I appropriated them for my little read column.

How I miss that weekly was called "Metaphysically Sober featuring Dave White and the 42nd Street Insomniacs." I'm quite sure it looms quite negligably in the memories of those ECHO readers at Southern Nazarene University between 1992-1996. It made no real contribution to the intellectual discourse of the campus yet allowed me to release those inner demons of a desperate pseudo-intellectual.

Anyway, I never thought the 007 producers would be daring enough to use the titles on an actual movie. But Bond has moved into the 21st Century as the ultra-cool "Casino Royale" proved. I believe we have the Bourne movies to thank for that evolution. So as a true Bond afcianado...I think the title "Quantum of Solace" is freakin' supercool.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Radiohead in Big D

I am superfreaking stoked because my wife just scored tix to the Dallas Radiohead concert this May. The tickets sold-out in ten minutes. They have not played Dallas in ten years...1998 the last time they graced Big D. The old Starplex is not the best venue in town...but I'd see Radiohead anywhere. Yeah...I'm counting down the days.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Are you Kiddin?

As a Mavericks fan I guess I'm supposed to be excited about the Jason Kidd trade. I would have been seven or eight years ago. But now I see the Mavs trading away their future (Devin Harris) for an old (he's almost exactly my age for crying out loud) wife-beating punk. Sure he may still have skills...but at what price? Maybe I'll think differently if they win the title. But that's the only way this trade will be considered a success...if the Mavericks bring home the trophy they should have brought home two years ago.

Photo: Me (wearing my supercool retro Mavs hat) and Grandpa

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Death of Mass Politics

My European History class has been discussing the rise and effects of mass society/politics in the 1880s through World War I. The enthusiasm of the working classes must have been intoxicating. Concurrently I just finished Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia" and his description of the euphoria flowing through the working classes of Barcelona was visceral. His description of the bitter in-fighting that destroyed the republican coaltion and doomed the loyalist fight against fascism was equally depressing. So our discussion ran into a comparision of that time with our own. The class pretty much surmised that we live in a society that deludes itself into thinking it dictates the direction of society but in reality follows along like the lap dog the lower and middle classes have always been.

Their raw and basic evidence is...

1.) Pitiful voting turnouts...50% at most for presidential elections and considerably less for the local elections which have a much greater impact on your every day life.

2.) Celebrity driven news cycles. How much of the news is driven by Paris Hilton, Jamie Lynn Spears, Lindsey Lohan the cult of the celebrity (i.e. the death of the Heath Ledger). At 6:30 pm on the local broadcast networks in Dallas, Texas your choices include...Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Extra, TMZtv, The Insider and Inside Edition. The elites drive fashion and issues of morality in our culture.

3.) Corporate control over the major television media conglomorates.

4.) Out of control campaign finance and lobbying influence on the poltical process.

The tragedy is that in the United States the people could have a greater say in government if pulled away from their myspace accounts, video games, meaningless addictions etc. Americans are not shackled by fascism or an authoritarian poltical system. The mass of Americans shackle themselves by laziness, ignorance and apathy. Stand in line at your local Wal*Mart to see that in first person.The tragedy, as recognized by my students, lies with the inevitable truth that freedom taken for granted is freedom lost and worse yet lost voluntarily...yet there are many throughout history and the globe that risk life and limb to attain a mere fraction of our political freedoms.

Mass politics is dead in America and has been for some time. Its death (or more optimistically, hibernation) is due to the same laziness that allows for sub-prime mortgages to spiral out of control and for the United States Government to run massive deficits which destroys the worth of the dollar around the world. Hopefully we won't turn into Orwell's proles of 1984 and remain asleep. Hopefully we'll wake up before we've lost our souls to atrophy.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jackson's Favorites

Jackson's favorite book is "Where's That Duck" by Dan Crisp.

More amazingly he really likes The Arcade Fire. I think that is his favorite band. He dances everytime I play them on the stereo. One year's old and already into some supercool stuff.

Here's a short video clip of random Jackson time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another Edition of...Overheard in Class

Overheard in class (an A.P. class no less)

My students are convinced that Tony Romo is the best of QB time despite not winning a single playoff game. They think he's better than Montana, Unitas, Favre, Marino...

and I said..."What about Terry Bradshaw?"

They said "who...the announcer?"

"Yes, the Steeler who has four superbowl rings."

And an A.P. student, in all seriousness, asked..."What did Terry Bradshaw steal?"

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bode's Back!

Good to see Bode Miller back on top of the skiing world. He's won two downhill races in a row and defended last year's victory at Wengen, Switzerland this past Saturday. Very rare for a skier to win the same course two years in a row. With this week's victory Miller ties Phil Mahre's record of 27 world cup victories by an American. He should blow by that record being that he's only 30 years old and skiing better than ever. Too bad most Americans only know him for his failure to medal at Torino. He's one of the greatest American athletes in the world who is doing unprecedented things on the World Cup Circuit. Back in the U.S.A. people are more interested in Tony Romo's Mexican vacation with Jessica Simpson.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The 2007 Reading List

Well here's the list of books I made it through in 2007. The number (19) may not be impressive to some voracious readers...but I think it's pretty amazing considering 2007 saw the wondrous arrival of my son and I didn't have much time to read. It's quite an eclectic list with a lot more U.S. History and economics than usual for me. It was a good year of reading material.

  • The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
  • Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • Banker to the Poor (Microlending and the battle against world poverty) by Muhammad Yunus
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Tristessa by Jack Kerouac
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Collapse by Jared Diamond
  • Dining with the Devil by Os Guiness
  • 1776 by David McCullough
  • Satori in Paris by Jack Kerouac
  • Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Candide by Voltaire
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard
  • The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
  • Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl