Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Post Splitter

This is a test of the post splitter shit... So here is the compact part of the poop.
And this is all the rest of the post.

As you can see this is quite long.

Lorem ipso yadda yadda.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Test of Blockquote

This post is little more than a test of the whole concept of blockquoting. Does this look like PMW wants it?

This is a blockquote. It is straight text, no italics, just plain and simple quoting. Does this make the customer happy? Is it good, cool, and sexy?

Am I nattering on just to make something so that it fills up a reasonable quote? You bet your sweet bippy!

Well, it looks like it doesn't automatically italicize it. I thought the CSS did that in the formatting. I was wrong.

So then thank you very much...
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Any Egrets?

What do you say when an egret comes calling?

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Sunday Reading

- History in 60 Seconds: The end of the Polaroid era is near.
The demise of Polaroid’s instant film cameras has been coming for years. Digital technology did it in. The decision this year by the company that Edwin Land founded to stop manufacturing the film has left devotees who grew up with Polaroid’s palm-size white-bordered prints bereft. They have signed up in the thousands as members of Digital cameras that print instant pictures have materialized to fill the void, providing a practical substitute. But as in most affairs of the heart, logic is beside the point.

Cold-blooded blogs during the last year have dished about Polaroid’s leaky developers and the impossibility of making copies from instant film prints or of fiddling with them, which, by the way, was precisely why police photographers long ago cottoned to them for crime scenes and mug shots. A friend the other day also complained about how Polaroids often came out yellow and, when left on the rainy porch or stuck onto the refrigerator door along with the shopping lists and report cards, ended up faded and curled.

All true. One is reminded of the pragmatists’ disdain for long-playing records when compact disks arrived. Then D.J.’s and audiophiles revived LPs, in part precisely for the virtues of its inconvenience.

That is to say, LPs, like Polaroids, entailed certain obligating rituals. Igor Stravinsky near the end of his life spent evenings confined to a chair. He listened often to Beethoven. His assistant, Robert Craft, would cue the records up, then, when one side was finished, rise from his seat, carefully flip the vinyl disk over, place the needle at the beginning, and rejoin the composer, a simple act of devotion required by the limits of LP technology, endlessly repeated until it became a routine binding Stravinsky and Craft like father and son.

I can still picture my own father with his Polaroid camera. “Cheese,” he would actually say, and the machine would whir before expelling a print with the negative still attached, requiring the shutterbug to wait a prescribed time before peeling it off. My father would check his watch, shaking the covered snapshot as if the photograph were a thermometer. Then at the right moment, with a surgeon’s delicate hands, he would separate the negative in a single motion and reveal — well, who knew what.

Because that was part of the beauty of the Polaroid. Mystery clung to each impending image as it took shape, the camera conjuring up pictures of what was right before one’s eyes, right before one’s eyes. The miracle of photography, which Polaroids instantly exposed, never lost its primitive magic. And what resulted, as so many sentimentalists today lament, was a memory coming into focus on a small rectangle of film.

Or maybe not. Digital technology now excuses our mistakes all too easily — the blurry shot of Aunt Ruth fumbling with a 3-wood at the driving range; or the one of Cousin Jeff on graduation day where a flying Frisbee blocked the view of his face; or of Seth in his plaid jacket heading to his first social, the image blanched by the headlight of Burt’s car coming up the driveway; or the pictures of you beside the Christmas tree where your hair is a mess.

Digital cameras let us do away with whatever we decide is not quite right, and so delete the mishaps that not too often but once in a blue moon creep onto film and that we appreciate only later as accidental masterpieces. In fact, the new technology may be not more convenient but less than Polaroid instant film cameras were, considering the printers and wires and other electronic gadgets now required, but at this one thing, the act of destruction, a source of unthinking popularity in our era of forgetfulness and extreme makeovers, digital performs all too well. Polaroids, reflecting our imperfectability, reminded us by contrast of our humanity.
- You're Likable Enough, Gay People: Frank Rich has his say on the Rick Warren story.
By the historical standards of presidential hubris, Obama’s disingenuous defense of his tone-deaf invitation to Warren is nonetheless a relatively tiny infraction. It’s no Bay of Pigs. But it does add an asterisk to the joyous inaugural of our first black president. It’s bizarre that Obama, of all people, would allow himself to be on the wrong side of this history.

Since he’s not about to rescind the invitation, what happens next? For perspective, I asked Timothy McCarthy, a historian who teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and an unabashed Obama enthusiast who served on his campaign’s National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Leadership Council. He responded via e-mail on Christmas Eve.

After noting that Warren’s role at the inauguration is, in the end, symbolic, McCarthy concluded that “it’s now time to move from symbol to substance.” This means Warren should “recant his previous statements about gays and lesbians, and start acting like a Christian.”

McCarthy added that it’s also time “for President-elect Obama to start acting on the promises he made to the LGBT community during his campaign so that he doesn’t go down in history as another Bill Clinton, a sweet-talking swindler who would throw us under the bus for the sake of political expediency.” And “for LGBT folks to choose their battles wisely, to judge Obama on the content of his policy-making, not on the character of his ministers.”

Amen. Here’s to humility and equanimity everywhere in America, starting at the top, as we negotiate the fierce rapids of change awaiting us in the New Year.
- Dave Barry's Year in Review:
How weird a year was it?

Here's how weird:

• O.J. actually got convicted of something.

• Gasoline hit $4 a gallon -- and those were the good times.

• On several occasions, Saturday Night Live was funny.

• There were a few days there in October when you could not completely rule out the possibility that the next Treasury Secretary would be Joe the Plumber.

• Finally, and most weirdly, for the first time in history, the voters elected a president who -- despite the skeptics who said such a thing would never happen in the United States -- was neither a Bush NOR a Clinton.

Of course not all the events of 2008 were weird. Some were depressing. The only U.S. industries that had a good year were campaign consultants and foreclosure lawyers. Everybody else got financially whacked. Millions of people started out the year with enough money in their 401(k)'s to think about retiring on, and ended up with maybe enough for a medium Slurpee.

So we can be grateful that 2008 is almost over. But before we leave it behind, let's take a few minutes to look back and see if we can find some small nuggets of amusement. Why not? We paid for it...
- Doonesbury: Elite advice.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Joined Together

Friends and family have been sending me the link to this week's cover story in Newsweek on the religious case for gay marriage. It is nice to see an article in a mainstream newsweekly take on such a topic, but frankly it is a restatement of many of the arguments I've made before on defining just what "traditional" marriage is -- a business deal between two landowners, a political peace offering between two warring European dynasties, one man and as many women as he can buy, or a convenient way of keeping the tabloids out of the bedroom of a Hollywood heartthrob who prefers his life partner in a tuxedo rather than a Dior gown. And since we as a nation have taken the word "marriage" and codified a religious sacrament into common law, it becomes problematic for both the sacred and the secular to define the union of two people for the purpose of sharing rights and responsibilities of a life together by that word. Tradition, it seems, has joined together the civil and the religious meaning of marriage.

Personally I don't care whether or not the case can be made that the bible supports the concept of same-sex marriage. I have been a member of a religious society, the Quakers, for nearly forty years and we have been supportive of equal rights, including marriage, for all people, since our founding in the 17th century. I have been at meetings for worship for marriage of same-sex partners long before it was on the national agenda. So it doesn't matter to me whether or not the Mormons, the Roman Catholics, the Baptists, the Jews, or any other community of faith approves of it or not. I am not seeking to impose my beliefs on them, and as far as I'm concerned, if they don't want to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, they don't have to. It does matter to me, however, that some organized religions would use their considerable media and financial power to impose their religious beliefs on others regardless of their faith or lack thereof. I have no problem with the churches speaking out. They have the same rights we all share as citizens. But if they are going to make the case to change the law to restrict the rights of a particular group of people, they had better make it based on the due process of law, not on the fear of a mythical supernatural power.

As the editors of Newsweek will undoubtedly discover, for every argument that can be made for same-sex marriage by theologians and biblical scholars, there will be those who can find passages and interpretations in the scripture that inveigh just as strongly against it. That is the danger in trying to find practical legal meaning in a collection of poetry, fables and parables written in a cobbled-together translation in a form of English that is over four hundred years old. Either way, I don't care whether or not the prophets of the Old Testament or Jesus Christ approved of homosexuality any more than I care about the approval of any other character in a work of fiction, be it him or Gandalf or Albus Dumbledore. The only written word that has any bearing on me is this passage:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
and this one:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
It is our peculiarly human nature that has joined together the religious and the civil definition that has made this debate what it is today. But what seems to be lost, ironically, is the point of joining together two people in the eyes of the society. They have found happiness together and they wish to be seen as a couple and share the benefits that we as a society have deemed important for them to have as one, be it the tax code or merely the acceptance in social circles or booking a vacation at a couples-only resort in Scottsdale. Families are defined not by the production of children but by common bonds of love and companionship. And while the focus of many advocates who oppose same-sex marriage focus on the issue of children and their upbringing, they're ignoring the facts that not all marriages produce children, and not all children are raised in happy homes, regardless of whether or not their parents are married or living under one roof. There's also the simple fact that many same-sex couples have children and provide wholesome and loving homes for them. Many same-sex couples want kids, and it seems both cruel and sadly ironic that certain states, including Florida, would single out gay people as the only citizens who are precluded from adoption.

It comes down to this: it doesn't matter what the bible says about same-sex marriage. Regardless of the gender, the union of two people who love each other and want to make a life together only strengthens our society and liberates us from the artificial limits imposed on us by absolute strangers wielding unintelligible and contradictory passages of poetic fiction from a time and a place far removed from our own. Granted, there is wisdom and insight into the human condition in the bible, just as there is in any work of literature that speculates on our relationship with ourselves and tries to find the cosmic truths of why we are here and where we are going. But to make it the basis of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and preclude the Constitutional guarantees that specifically prohibit the imposition of religious doctrine as the rule of law is a far greater perversion than anything the homophobes can imagine goes on in the lives of people whose very happiness they wish to control.

Bonus Feature: Jon Stewart discusses the issue with Mike Huckabee and pretty much nails him on it.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Here is a test from this year...

Does this make sense to you? I really hope so.
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