Friday, September 30, 2011

Overheard at Table 2: Sea Turtles and Unborn Babies

Niall Carter, sitting with Millie Nagadoces, is ruminating over a mocha latte. "You know," he says, "The pastor mentioned something last Sunday that still hasn't quite seeped through the mental webbing, if you know what I mean."

"As I rarely do," Millie interjects.

"But he was on his series about the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, and you know I told you the week before the Meek are apparently those with the backbone enough to tell the government to kill Social Security, but this week was those who thirst for righteousness, and apparently we do not 'thirst for righteousness' if we live in a country where the rights of a sea turtle are protected more than those of an unborn child."

"He said that?"

"He did. Now, there's something logically incorrect about that statement, but I can't put my finger on it. There's some fallacy of logic there."

"It's simple. They're completely separate issues. I call it the False Juxtaposition. You put them together for an emotional statement. It's an emotional appeal to make people think that those who try to protect the environment want to kill unborn babies."

"i.e. 'Liberals'."

"And Progressives. Apparently we're all out to eat your fetuses. But really, the laws or lack therof trying to save a species that will go out of existence, because there are only 1300 of them left were developed in a completely different vacuum than the much more all-encompassing debate of abortion slash right-to-choose. To put them together narrowly reframes the context so that any moral human being would have no other decision, morally, than to be outraged against the abortion. But the argument should have never been framed, because there are so much more facets to each - and separately."

"I knew there was a reason why I like talking to you. Another cappucino?"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Overheard at Booth 3: Texas Senator Wipes Away Last Meals

Harold is saying, "yeah after that one guy last week ordered this huge meal and then didn't eat a bite of it, some State Senator from Houston got all bent out of shape and he said 'No more last meals in Texas!' I heard him on the radio, he was pretty fired up and all, he was saying 'This is ridiculous! They didn't give htier victims such a courtesy, they shouldn't have one either' and 'This is a waste of taxpayer money!' - never MIND that the whole Death Row is a waste of taxpayer money. Did you know that being on Death Row is twice as expensive as just locking a guy away for the rest of his life? TWICE! And this guy thinks a hundred dollars worth of food is a waste of taxpayer money. dude! the waste of taxpayer money is the wad of cash that shoved under the table for the private prison corporations to build prisons to hold immigrant women and children! The payola that they give to the drug companies for the drugs for the lethal injection - shoot, they pay five times what the drugs really cost. That's the waste of taxpayer money!

"And about the last meal anyway, you know, yeah, sure, if the guy really did it, and yeah let's face it, the majority of them did, no question, and yeah, they didn't give their victim a courtesy, but this is the last chance to tell them that we live in a civilized world. This is a 'Hey, you killed people, but even though we're gonna put you down like a mad dog, here is one single shred of decency and kindness, which you never showed, at least we can show you this!' and you can look at it like one last 'NYAH -we're better than you' or you can look at it like the last chance to show the person some shred of compassion, which might - just might - lead him to repentence in his final moments - and I know some people don't want him to have salvation at the last moment, but you know, hey it can happen! - but either way, the last meal . . .

"it's just the right thing to do."

overheard somewhere

remember this well that if you ar not agitating you are standing still, and you have to ask which is mor like being alive and which more closely reembles death.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Overread at Table 1:

270. (from 365)
1018. (from Em in the Blogosphere)

All this is
in the false belief that we
could have an individual voice
in a world inundated
by the roar
of 6.5 billion voices
all shouting
at the nothing new.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Overheard at Booth 2: Biblical Meekness

I overheard those two guys talking about a sermon on meekness that seems like it went, like, way off the deep end, so I decided to look up Biblical meekness. This seems like a pretty decent essay on the topic:

Overheard at Booth 3: Moribund Second

Dale: I'm almost scared to go back to service tomorrow.

Sandeep: Why's that?

Dale: You should have been there last Sunday. Jumpin' Jehovah in a Crackerjack box, the pastor was on fire. We're working through Sermon on the Mount and we're on "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth," and then he tells us that meek doesn't mean mild or humble, but tempered by God, "disciplined" was the word he used. Then he went on this hour long tirade about how the government is undisciplined and we have undisciplined people in government who just want to spend more than they have and oh, man it was nuts.

Sandeep: So, he just got sidetracked, you think? Veered wildly off into a tangent?

Dale: No! That's the sad thing - he had presentation slides on the display screens! Numbers, man, numbers about how much we spend on Social Security, Medicare, Defense. He was saying that we have to get rid of our entitlements, we have to be more "disciplined" It was nuts, man, seriously nuts.

Sandeep: How'd the congregation take it?

Dale: Oh, ship-to-stern, dude, that was the scariest part of all! They ate - it - up! Seriously. You know, I can understand how the congregation could be proud of the 4th of July speech, and I thought it was a bit much for the pastor to make a sermon on 9-11, but maybe he just got pumped up by their response for that, because on THIS sermon, they were cheering and clapping and ovationing at every point he made against the government. I seriously thought that if he told them to go get some torches and pitchforks they'd go burn down Washington DC. These guys were almost rabid!

Sandeep: Sounds almost like a cult.

Dale: It felt like it. I was looking toward the door, trying to see how I could get my family away from these nutbars. But I gotta tell you, my wife, man, she is one sweet-heart lady who just puts it all into perspective, and man I wish I had the sack to have stood up and told this pastor what she told me . . .

Sandeep: Kinda hard to take a stand in the middle of a 3,000-strong mindless mob, don't you think?

Dale: Which is why I stayed put! But at one point, the pastor said, "There is nothing in the Constitution about the separation of church and state." And my wife looked over at me and said, "He's right. It's in the Bible. 'Render unto Caesar that is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's."

Sandeep: Seems like she's better as your wife than she ever was as my sister.

Dale: I dunno. She says you weren't the easiest brother to get along with.

Sandeep: But I never got her involved in a cult.

Dale: Ouch, bro!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Overheard at Booth 5: The Death of Memory

Templeton is saying, "It's a really disturbing trend, and for me it started even twenty-twentyfive years ago when I read an article that said that all the McDonald's workers were no longer reading anything on the cash register, because there were no words - there were only little pictures of the Big Mac, the fries, the drink, all that. And I thought to myself then, dang, there's the end of literacy: McDonald's just killed it."

And Howerton continues, "Totally true, and it has gotten worse, I mean, my kids, they can't cognate a coherent thought, I swear, the other day, my daughter was 'like, yeah, well, we had a good time at the mall, and it was like, so funny, this thing, like, we just laughed SO HARD, because Kayley, she like - oh here!' and she showed me the pic on her phone that she took of her friend wearing a giant styrofoam hat. I mean, she couldn't EXPLAIN the scenario to me, she could only SHOW me from the picture that she took."

Templeton agrees, "Yes, yes. Something is definitely lost here. Some sort of cognitive abilities. The ability to make coherent connections. Which is strange, because I've always felt that all this technology, designed to keep us all together, really is isolating us. I mean, if we can't describe a situation to each other in words - such as 'my friend tried on this silly hat and we laughed ourselves silly' then we really have a problem!"

Howerton says, "I showed my kids the movie Fahrenheit 451 the other day, because you know, they need it for school and they won't read the book, and in the movie everyone was losing their ability to form memories, real long-term memories, which was a side effect from not being able to read. I remember thinking that the book had so much more depth than the movie, which was odd. But then it hit me that when the movie was made, it was made for audiences who were more literate. When that movie came out, more than likely most everyone who went to see it had already read the book. Now we make movies so that we won't have to read."

Templeton says, "I read the other day that there is more information now out there than there ever was, and I think the article stated that the average man in the 19th Century had about as much information over the course of a lifetime than would fill one issue of the New York Times cover to cover. Granted, that of course isn't talking anything about intelligence or reasoning capacity; it was talking purely about amount of information that they had access to. So I've come to this conclusion: there's too much information out there. Too much. There's so much that we can no longer even BEGIN to dive into the overwhelming mass of information that is pounding us. We're tuning out. Just like the people in Fahrenheit 451 - only instead of being starved for reading, we've got so much that we just refuse to read. Taking pictures is so much easier. We don't have to think, or even form memories. We just keep them stored on our memory cards!"

Howerton says, "Kinda makes me afraid we won't remember this conversation!"

Templeton says, "What makes me sad is that if this were ever written down and put on a blog somewhere, no one would ever read it. It would simply be one insignificant drop of water in an ocean of immeasurable absurdities."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Overheard at Table 3

Wife: When my sister was down last month she told me I need to get some new underwear.

Husband: So it's really true that women tell each other stuff like that. You know, my brothers and I never discuss stuff like that. It's just not done.

Wife: Well, she told me that I dress like a granny, in underwear at least. I told her that you like what I wear.

Husband: Well, yeah, if you're comfortable in it, then it's all good.

Wife: She says I should take $200 and go to Victoria's Secret.

Husband: Hm. OK.

Wife: But all that stuff just looks like it would be so uncomfortable.

Husband: Don't worry. You wouldn't be wearing it for very long.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Overheard at the Counter: Boehner yesterday, Perry tomorrow

Niall Carter says, "Holy fecal matter on an asphalt shingle! Did you HEAR what the Sneaker of the House was spewing forth yesterday afternoon?"

John Steppenwolf replies, "Gladly I did not. Unfortunately, I believe I must now hear it from you."

The Barista says, "It's the same old Stuff on a Shingle. Apparently we're in a bad economy because we want poor people to get regular checkups at the family physician."

Niall Carter says, "Yeah! - and the same old tripe about regulations killing business growth! I can't believe it! That makes me so furious I could just scream and never stop!"

Verble says, "Are you really upset that he said all this? I mean, don't you know better by now."

Niall, visibly panting at the counter, says, "No - it's not that what frustrates me. What frustrates me is that out of 300 million people in this country there are at least 70 million moronically inclined enough to believe this crap so much that they will be motivated to express their insipid belief system at the polling booth next year."

The Barista says, "And probably for Perry!"

Verble says, "Well, the Book of Revelation does state that the Antichrist will rise. These things must pass . . ."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Overheard at Booth 3: September 12, Ten Years After

Niall Carter: Good lord, is this day going to become yet one more nationalistic holiday? I mean, for real! Come on! In my neighborhood the flags put in front yards on Labor Day were left up until yesterday.

Well, I didn't call in any talk shows but where was I ten years ago when I heard the news? I was riding in a cab through the streets of Chicago when it came over the radio, and the cabbie was Pakistani and he said to me, "Oh [expletive] mistor, yoo are not going to go crazy and not tip me now, are you?"

Now, ten years after (great band, by the way) have a song that's 40 years old that is still as valid today as it was back then. Only this time we've got TWO wars dragging on endlessly and killing the economy, and back then it was only a pee-poor backwoods jungle, wheras these two are in areas that are economically strategically extremely important. and that oughta tell ya - while that one might have been for some provinical idealism, these two are more about money than they ever were about revenge!

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Short Story from the Pulpit

A few weeks ago in church we had a guest pastor giving the sermon, one who frequently peppers his speeches with sports vignettes and metaphors, which is usually an effective teaching tool, especially among this type of down-home, rough-and-tumble congregation. However, the more I think about what he told us, the more I feel uncomfortable with it.

This particular story was about an assistant coach to a pro-football team somewhere in New England, I forget which team, but it's one of the big ones. Throughout his tenure as coach he always had a witty rapport with an old African-American man who worked in the cafeteria. The man was always joking with the coach that one day he was going to own his mercedes. The coach would always joke, "Man, you could never afford my Mercedes!" Ha ha, lots of laughs.

Then, last year, the coach got a job as a head coach with a pro team down south, and on his last day at work, he went to the old African-American man and said, "Hey, do you have any cash I could have? I forgot my wallet today." And the African-American man pulled out all the cash he had in his wallet - a $20 bill.

He handed it to the coach, and the coach handed him the keys to his Mercedes and said, "You just bought yourself a Mercedes!"

And there was an "Oooooooooooooh!" that went through that congregation - a sigh of such sweetness at this tender story - look at how wonderful was this coach! Giving this man his Mercedes for only $20! How nice he is! What a good CHRISTIAN he is!

And I immediately thought of the widow at the box, the one that Jesus was so focused on the day before he was slaughtered: He said to his disciples, "Look at that woman, she gives two coins - all she has. And that other man, the rich man, he gives 100. But WHICH ONE has shown more favor to God?"

The answer is the African-American man: he gave all the money he had in his wallet to a man who makes multiple millions of dollars per year, and now with his new head coaching gig, will probably be able to buy a new Mercedes every month of his life until he dies! And yet, this story was intended to show what a great Christian is the coach - for showering such pity on the poor.

I couldn't believe my ears. I was stunned at the reaction of the congregation. Could they not see? Could they not hear? Did they not believe?

At the very least, the pastor should have ended the story with "but the coach also gave him back the twenty! But noooooooo! He probably kept the bill!"

We have to start looking at the quality of our giving - and not at the stuff that we give.

My God! I cry out every time I think of it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

At the Counter: Steppenwolf gets a text message from Verble

John Steppenwolf pulls out his phone and reads out the text message he just got from Verble Gherulous. "Listen to this - Verble's in San Antonio for a coffee symposium, and he saying that the riverwalk is one giant mall. He says if he wanted to go to a mall he'd've stayed home. But there's a dinosaur display at one end of the mall. He says that's pretty cool."

Niall Carter says, "Maybe he should go see the Alamo."

The Barista says, "He'll probably do that tomorrow. Right now he needs to get the disgust at our glut out of his system. A good night's sleep falling in front of MSNBC oughtta help him out."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Overheard at Table 3: Christians and their Supposed Salvation

Mike: The problem with Christians and Muslims, and really between Christians and everybody else, is that both Christians and Muslims believe that the only hope for a life after this one is to believe in their particular belief, and no other. To believe in anything other than their belief is to give up that afterlife. I can't speak for Muslims, but basically, to the Christian, if you don't believe that Jesus Christ is the only flesh-and-blood son of God, then you're going to Hell. Full stop.

Now, I know that's unpopular with a lot of people today, because they really want to believe that by being a good person will get you to Heaven. Frankly, that's a lie straight from Hell, and worse than any supposed "Muslim takeover" you could ever imagine, but that's not my point for today.

My point is this: for the Christian, at least, there is always going to be a certain amount of arrogance. "I believe in Christ, therefore, I'm going to Heaven and you are not." Christians must be VERY careful about this line of reasoning, because it leads directly to arrogance and the sin of Pride. We must not, as Christians, have the mindset of "I" - that is, "I'm going to have eternal life. I'm going to Heaven. I'm saved." We HAVE to keep the mindset that "I" am condemned, and it is HE who saved me. He will lead me to Heaven. He has made a place for me. He is my light and salvation.

Some Christians believe that once you receive salvation you cannot lose it. This is true. However, some, perhaps, are living the lie that because they proclaimed Jesus then they're saved. But my worry is this: we can't lose our salvation, but what if we never really had it in the first place? What if we proclaim Jesus as our Savior, but by our very actions and our deeds we are showing this puffed up arrogance that "I'm so much better than you because I'm going to Heaven and you're not. Nyah nyah nyah!" - What if that kind of attitude keeps us from truly accepting Christ, and by that, losing whatever chance we had not only at eternal life, but a really good one here?

That's the thought that scares me. It's almost better to be a religion other than Christian, or no religion at all, because at least then you have a focal point to look at Christianity. If you already think you are one, you have no reason to change?

Dude! I've made myself so nervous just by talking, I gotta go pray . . . here's a ten for the coffee, thanks for listening.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Overheard at Booth 4: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Helfway thru ay was worried thut the udders might not be so completely into it, like, as it wuz sometimes not on the plot-plan as normal viddies, yuh-knoo?

but 'twas allright allright, it kept going, even tho' there wuz a duplicate plot, which plodded at times, and that whut wuz tha'which worried me most, thinkin' that the udders woodn't unnerstand it, none, like, they'd'be t'inkin, whaz all this with the monkey with the blind eye gettin the medicine that the udder monkeys be getting from Caesar, like? Now where's HE fit in, becuz he's in da lab and dey're all in the shelter like, but I wuz willin' to the udders in the theatre, 'jes hol' tight, ye droogs, jes hol' on, idd'll awl be awlroigh' "

an' it wuz, becuz Caesar, the chimp who has a good sense about whoo and wha' he is, by that I mean, the drug what was passed genetically down to 'im through his mudder wuz tha'which energized his evolutionary path, brought him more cognition, into being sentien' like the humans, and

of course y'knoo tha' the humans 're gonna be portrayed at dey're worst, roigh' - except for the hero and his love and his close friends, roigh' - dat's pretty standard stuff, right there, y'knoo, and I would've liked the human hero to be a bit more anti-hero, y'knoo, and even tho' he wasn't clean or 'heroic' (I guess yoo'd callit) still, could'a been more developed . . .

but I s'pose I shouldn't complain, becuz what wuz developed wuz the backstory to the Planet of the Apes that we know well, and for tha' this movie rocked, because the same drug what made the apes smart wuz the same drug that kills off humanity, so we have the double-whammy, y'see, of the rise of the apes and the decline of the humans. Plus, they interspered the astronaut Mars mission being blown off course, which ties in the astronauts returning to Earth to find the apes in total control, so doze of us in da know can tie it all togedder, y'knoo?

'an of course if you must know, dere is a lot of action when the apes finally rebel, break out of the cages, run wild throo da streets of San Fran and across the Golden Gate Bridge toward the Redwoods and there's a lot of gunfire and apes beatin' da horses and dere's a helicopter what gets chopped in half and kingkong jumps from da bridge and brings it DOWN - man! Dat wuz a breath-sucker!

But of coorse, da best part for me, jes a guy what loves litty-ra-choor, is watching Caesar as he leads the apes to rebellion. Caesar is a leader in the best sense of da word, in that he has a clear plan, which is liberation for the apes. In ape culture, he learns that he usually has to kill to be leader, but he changes the scope by forcing the current leader to cede power by jes the SHOW of strength (basically, he shows this baboon that he COULD allow the Gorilla to kill him, but he won't) - Also, de orangutaun asks him why, and Caesar replies that apes separated are weak, but united are strong - a realization that they need them all.

Also, Caesar attempts the liberation with the intent not to kill da humans, which is noble in character, roigh' - although y'see soon the kind of concessions he has t'make. I think the writers of this story were following the example of George Orwell's Animal Farm, y'knoo, becuz I could see in the blind eye of the ugly monkey a cold-hearted killer. Caesar lets Blind-Eye kill the real evil human, but y'can see the tension already between the two - the one who wants to lead and the one who eventually wants to rule. I can see the similarity between Snowball and Napoleon from Animal Farm in dat one, roigh' dere. I can also see it in his name - "Caesar" - which references da Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, and we all knoo how DAT one ends up, roigh' - betrayal and murder, that's what!

But sadly, we don't git da chance to see da' - becuz da movie ends with the apes in da redwoods, looking over San Fran and declaring dere freedom. An'den we see the infection start to spread over da whole world, loike, and y'knoo, oh boy! it's all over but da shoutin'!

Roight good Sci-Fi . . . roight good.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Overheard at Booth 4

the difference between what we mean and what people interpret are two completely separate worlds, two different realities, and they keep clashing up against each other. Example: my wife wants me to hear this great song by Jason Mraz called "Lucky" because it reminds her of us, and it makes me so damn happy that I go dancing across the room to give her a big ol' smooch and she tells me that after 12 years I should know by now to be respectful, and that she was hoping I'd be mature, and can't I take anything seriously, and she's never thought goofiness was attractive, and how we're losing our love for each other and that I'm just becoming some man she sleeps beside me every night and that she doesn't know what she's doing here any more.