Archive for September 6th, 2004

Who’s Driving the Bus?

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One
of the unique opportunities of the four year election cycle is the rare
chance it offers to see the Vice President
in action. As we know, the current Vice President is normally hard at
work defending America for her enemies from a secure and top secret undisclosed
location. So secret, in fact, that were we to somehow discover it’s
location we would be required by the Homeland Security Act to commit
the American version of Hari Kari.

So it is surprising and a bit disconcerting to see Dick
Cheney, the current VP, prancing around on stage like a rabid groundhog,
roused from his underground lair, blinking at the unaccustomed light
and hoping for six more years of nuclear winter, so he can go back underground
and get some work done. He looks stiff and unnatural in the light of day,
and rumor has it that he is on the vitamin, speed and cocaine
cocktails developed by Hitler’s personal physician to keep the master
strategist going during the later stages of the second world war. This
may work well for the short run, but prolonged use is known to cause
megalomania and paranoid psychosis, and the withdrawal is a bitch.

Appropriately enough, according to the Roswell,
New Mexico Record
, VP Cheney
was hanging around town over the weekend, visiting schools and top secret
military bases. "We’re proud to be in Roswell today, because New Mexico
had a great delegation to the convention in New York, and Roswell looks
like Bush-Cheney country,"
he said to the audience, which included cheerleaders, the high school
band and many cadets from Roswell’s New Mexico Military Institute. Afterward
he was seen chatting up the Romulan ambassador.

We found it disconcerting when this thought occurred to
us, midway through Cheney’s rousing speech to the Republican National Convention:
"Who’s minding the store?" It was sort of like hurtling down a modern
expressway during a fascinating tour of a new and exciting
city, and suddenly noticing that both
the tour guide and the bus driver are standing next to your seat telling
you how wonderful the city is and how lucky you are to be along on the
tour. For a moment you are deeply appreciative, until you wonder, "Who’s
driving the bus?"

We sincerely hope that this silly election business is
over soon, and our fearless leaders can get back to what they do so well
–  Dick
Cheney to running the country from his undisclosed location, and George
Bush to his Presidential prestidigitation, keeping the eyeballs occupied
with harmless blunders and photo ops while the real men do the real business
of the nation in the shady and exclusive corridors of power.

Expect John Kerry to try to become the first man to windsurf
from Cape Cod to Vietnam.

from the Roswell Register

Google’s Weapons of Mass Destruction

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Anyone looking for a chuckle on Labor Day follow these simple steps

1) Go to Google.com

2) Enter “weapons of mass destruction” in the search box

3) Click on “I’m feeling lucky” and NOT “Google Search”

4) Read the resultant error message closely

Have a good day, everyone!

Keeping the Faith

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Perhaps presaging our first career as a
cultural anthropologist, the adolescent Dowbrigade had a consuming interest
in, among
other aspects of what is collectively know as "culture", the wild
variety of religions found around the world. In fact, had we not gotten
on the bad side of the International Jewish Conspiracy for our subversive
teen-aged activities in the Holy Land (from which we were eventually
rounded up by the Mossad
and deported from) we may very well have ended up working
with or for the God Squad in some capacity.

Be that as it may, we remember a youthful fascination with
many religions, and one in particular. A lengthy article in today’s
Boston Globe brought that phase of our philosophic formation tumbling
back into our mind.
The
religion in question: Zoroastrianism.

For a period of about a year (we must have been 13 or 14),
when asked for our religious affiliation, we would invariably identify
ourself as a Zoroastrian.We had actually found out enough about
the religion to know that it accepted no converts, even kids from mixed
marriages
with one Zoroastrian. parent (the Dowbrigade’s parents though Zoroastrians
were fans of the masked avenger Zoro), but this did not daunt us.

What attracted the adolescent Dowbrigade to such an out-of-the-mainstream
religion in the first place.  Well, first of all we loved the
name, which was much cooler, more exotic and mystical than "Christ"
(an exclamation appropriate to banging ones thumb with a hammer) or
"Jaweh"
(a name
so secret they can’t agree how to spell it) or Allah (thinking in Allah
Mode brings to mind ice cream on pie). We wondered how Zoroaster felt
in the hypothetical Pantheon of the Gods to always be the last God in
alphabetic
order. And being at that time completely ignorant of Spanish, we, like
our parents, assumed Zoro himself was a believer.

The little we knew about Zoroastrian beliefs only reinforced
our initial fascination with the group. Dating back to about a thousand
years before Christ, Zoroastrianism (and here we apologize to Ryan
Overbey
, friend and real expert in Comparative Religion, for oversimplification
if not blasphemy) had a profound influence on all of the major modern
religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Zoroastrianism. was one of the first monotheistic religions
to postulate what has become the dominant religious paradigm of the modern
world – life as a constant battle between the forces of darkness and
light. As we understand it, there are three basic tenets of Zoroastrianism.  First,
as Joseph Campbell writes in "The Masks of God", "The Zoroastrian version
of the world course presents a creation by a god of pure light into which
an evil principle entered, by nature independent of and contrary to first,
so that there is a cosmic battle in progress; which however, is not to
go on forever, but will terminate in a total victory of the light: whereupon
the process will end in a perfect realization of the Kingdom of the
Righteousness in Earth."

Second, there is the concept that each individual is imbued
with free will, and the ability (and responsibility) to choose to further
the cause of light, or darkness.

Finally, the third principle, essential to the Zoroastrian.
world view, is the idea that personal enlightenment is achieved through
engagement with the world, rather than disengagement, which
was the norm in most other Asian religions.

This meshes nicely with, and no doubt influenced, our own
present personal philosophy of the meaning of life, which holds that
not only is the universe enmeshed in a titanic struggle between good
and
evil,
but that on the cosmic scales, in relation to the human race, the aggregate
coffers of good and evil to date are exactly balanced.

This underlying axiom conveys a terrible responsibility
on any individual who adopts this worldview, because the results of
his or her daily choices and moral decisions could tip the balance,
for light or darkness.

If, we hypothesized, there were in fact a supreme being
testing the worthiness of his creations from beyond, or an alien race
or council of evolved conscious nesses, sitting in cosmic judgment of
our
ability
as
a species
to join the ranks of the evolved or the need to wipe us from the universe
like
a cosmic plague before we can infect our quadrant of the galaxy, it could
very well be our decision to give a few coins to a beggar or whether
or not to ghost-write an economics paper for a wealthy Middle-eastern
illiterate which makes the difference between salvation and oblivion.
A weighty responsibility, having the fate of humankind riding on your
shoulders every day!

In addition, we really liked the constant references to
Zoroastrians "famous
eccentricities, quirky manner, and indelicate vocabulary"
. They
were our kind of people!

As we got older and came to see all organized religion
as a cheap sham to harness human labor and loyalty to the service of
aging theocrats and the political thugs who co opt them, our Zoroastrianism
sort of fell by the wayside. But it all came back as we read the paper
this morning.

The Globe
article
points out that modern Zoroastrians, living
mostly in Iran, are dwindling in number due to their traditional refusal
to accept inter-religious marriages or converts. Another endangered thread
in the human tapestry, which, after after playing an important role in
getting us to where we are today, is struggling to find a place in the
modern world of global integration.

article from the Boston Globe