Friday, November 28, 2014

ebooks vs print books

I have nothing against ebooks. I have read novels on my iPad. But I still prefer print books. In particular, when I read a print book over a period of time, I like watching the bookmark inch its way from the beginning to the end of the pages.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Non Fiction

Normally, I never read non-fiction books. I always felt like I was reading a text book for a class and was immediately overwhelmed by a mixture of boredom and unwanted responsibility. However, in the last few years, I've started reading more non-fiction than fiction. Maybe it's a sign of age. More likely, it's because my interest in what's going on politically and socially in America has grown. As I start to look beyond my own cocoon, I want to get a clearer understanding of why this country is the way it is.

I've recently picked up two excellent non-fiction books. The first is "Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate" by Ginger Strand. She examines how the highway system changed America, adding mobility, but also destroying neighborhoods, isolating the poor, and setting many communities adrift. She does this by using different mass murderers who used the highway system to conduct their crimes. In the chapter about Charles Starkweather, Strand includes a quote from a reader to the Washington Post commenting on how the country's push for consumerism and mobility had changed us. The reader said, "The things are getter better; the people are getting worse."

The second book I picked up is "This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral plus plenty of valet parking in America's Gilded Capital" by Mark Leibovich. Funny and depressing in equal measure. I'm a long time fan of the Daily Show so I love sharp clear-eyed political humor and Leibovich delivers the goods. The thing is, I was halfway through when I had to put the book down and stop reading. Not because it had lagged or got boring, but because it was just to damn true about the self-serving greed of the people who run our government. The concept of politicians as public servant has become a cynical joke. Still, don't let my sadness stop you from enjoying Leibovich's excellent book.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

NFL and the Ray Rice debacle

Here is a rough sketch of my opinion of the Ray Rice/NFL scandal. Players treat their wives and girlfriends like footballs to be thrown, kicked, and carried around like a prize. The NFL needs to start dealing with this problem. They've turned a blind eye to spouse abuse for years. But its not just the NFL. The U.S. Justice system needs to be more serious about it as well.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Eat Less Chicken, Believe Less Bullshit

Truett Cathy, the founder Chick-fil-a, closed on Monday. I wish I made that up, but a friend of mine came up with it. He was an American success story. Good for him. And good for him that he maintained his religious beliefs while running a business. His stores were closed on the Christian Sabbath. However, the famous “closed on Sundays” thing annoys me. My grandfather ran a grocery store in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was open on his Sabbath, Saturday, because his clients were predominately Christian and they did most of their business that day. He would have gone out of business if he had closed on his Sabbath. It’s much easier to stand by your religious beliefs when you live in a country where your religion is the majority. It wasn’t that much of a sacrifice for Chick-fil-a to be closed on Sunday, especially in the South, home of the Bible Belt. So I say it's no big deal that Cathy closed his stores on his Sabbath.

I know it doesn’t seem right to pick on the man when he just died. That sort of rudeness is usually left to Fox News. Just tune in when someone with an opposing political position dies and you will hear such disrespectful drivel that you will think their mommas didn’t teach them how to behave properly. But I have a personal reason for not liking Mr. Cathy.

I worked for a printing company in the early 80s. The owner was a born again Christian. He tried repeatedly to convert me and I reminded him repeatedly that he was out of line. I didn’t know the owner was this way before he hired me or I wouldn’t have taken the job. But once I was there, finding another job took time and I couldn’t afford not to work. I wasn’t in a position to close myself all week to maintain of my Jewish beliefs.

My owner would print any Christian job for free and then charge secular clients double to make up the difference. One of those free Christian jobs was the church newsletter for Truett Cathy’s church. It was my job to put the newsletter together for printing.

For over a year, the newsletter was obsessed with the movie “Chariots of Fire.” According to Cathy’s church, the central message of the movie was that Christians were morally superior to Jews. The devout Christian runner in the movie didn’t run on Sunday. The Jewish runner didn’t care what day he ran. When the two men faced each other in the same race earlier in the movie, the Christian won because God favored him over the Jew because the Jew refused to accept Jesus. The church had an article every week repeating this idea in different ways. It didn’t matter that “Chariots of Gods” hadn’t been in the theaters for over three years. There were other similar anti-semitic articles in the newsletter. At times it felt like that the only time the church wasn’t insulting the Jewish faith was when they were praising Truett Cathy.

One could claim that Cathy didn’t write the articles so he might not have agreed with their anti-semitism, but he wouldn’t have been a member if the church didn’t reflect his way of thinking. Which brings me to the other reason why I don’t care for Mr. Closed-On-Sundays-Because-I’m-Such-A-Big-Christian, which was his anti-gay comments that brought out all the smug Christian haters to his stores to buy his chicken sandwiches. Or was it his son who said the hateful shit? It doesn't matter. The son learned from this father. The point is Cathy acted as if his beliefs gave him the right to disrespect other’s beliefs. And I have no respect for someone like that.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Reasons why Jews are the best

1. The people in the Jewish Bible are so popular, they appear in other religions' bibles.

2. Jews can turn a circumcision into a party.

3. Jews have made suffering an art form.

4. Haters be hatin' because Jews be God's Playas.

5. Jews can make that phlegmy "ch" sound which is almost as cool as Latin people's rolling "r" sound.

6. Jews invented the Bagel, the single greatest bread product in the world.

7. Jews don't recruit. If you aren't born into the religion, you have to take a test to join.

8. Jews wrote the Ten Commandments.

9. Some of their members have gone on to become deities.

10. Jews agree to disagree with themselves.

11. Jews don't take themselves seriously, except when they do.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Happy Birthday April

Happy 40th Birthday April.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Is that you, Jesus?

This religious pamphlet was left on my porch a while back. I was amazed at how much Jesus looked like a white American suburban man who goes to the gym regular and drives an SUV. I even like the way the artist drew the part in Jesus' hair. It's interesting how the image of Jesus has been changed to fit the local culture. I don't see other religions doing this. Jews don't depict Moses as a black hat Hasidic scholar. Buddhists don't depict Buddha as a shaved-head hipster in skinny jeans and wool cap drinking a latte. But Jesus gets turned into what everyone wants him to be. I almost feel sorry for the deity.