Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hollywood responds!

I'm still waiting for that callback from George Clooney, but meanwhile, Broadcasting & Cable reports that NBC, MSNBC and CBNC will simultaneously air a benefit concert Friday night featuring artists such as Harry Connick, Jr. and Tim McGraw.

(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin, who's doing a bang-up job of covering the hurricane aftermath.)

Compass Bank pledges $250K in matching donations!

Compass Bank, based in my hometown of Birmingham, Ala., is accepting American Red Cross donations and has pledged a matching donation of $250,000!!!!

If you live in any of the following areas, please, please drop by your Compass Bank branch, even if you aren't a Compass customer, and double your money for hurricane relief:

Alabama: all major cities
Northern Florida: Pensacola, Ft. Walton, Gainesville, Jacksonville and surrounding areas
Texas: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and surrounding areas
New Mexico: Albuquerque
Arizona: Phoenix and Tucson
Colorado: Denver area

Live TV feed available from New Orleans

WDSU in New Orleans is broadcasting over the Internet here. (Hat tip to Rightwing Nut.)

They just reported that previously-buried caskets have washed up on the beach in Mississippi. No one is sure where they came from.

:: shudder ::

The GGB will have an update later about a blogosphere-wide effort to raise funds for various charities tomorrow.

Katrina relief kudos

Kudos to the Birmingham and Hoover, Ala., fire departments for sending heavy rescue teams to Gulfport.

Kudos to the New York City Fire Department for their decision to send rescue personnel to the Gulf. As one FDNY spokesman said this morning on Fox, it's their turn to repay the nation's kindness during 9/11.

RFK Jr. is an ass

I know I said I would back away from rants and try to focus on constructive, well-mannered commentary, but this guy is a piece of work:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: “For They That Sow the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind”

And I'm sure Mr. Kennedy has private aircraft that run on canola oil. Do us all a favor: Get out your fat wallet, write a check to the American Red Cross and shut the hell up.

Mr. Clooney, call your office

The Gulf Coast cries out for help. George, are you listening?

Hey ... I really love your movies. I know some would flay me alive for saying this, but I still plan to hit the theaters this fall to see Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana, even though they appear to be highly politicized from what I've read in previews. But I'm a grownup, I can handle it. I like you that much. I even liked Solaris.

But after all the wailing from Hollywood about Iraq and Africa and whatnot, the only news story I can find about Hollywood's reaction to Hurricane Katrina is this piece. Maybe it's too early, but are you guys gonna do anything about your own countrymen suffering in virtual Third World conditions down South? Yeah, down here in the Red States. Flyover country.

You were involved in the (in)famous Sept. 11 star-a-thon. On many fronts, this is worse. Fewer lives lost but multitudes displaced, entire cities shut down, our gas and oil supply compromised, and the economic futures of hundreds of thousands of people at stake. Will you and Julia and Brad and Angelina rise to the occasion? Will ya put your money where your mouth is?

I thought I'd put the challenge out there to you because although I don't find your political views appealing, I am a genuine fan. Ask anyone who knows me. I'm not so reactionary that I cannot enjoy what you bring to the silver screen. And at times like these, surely we can get back to being Americans again and forget about politics and partisanship.

I've put more than one dollar in your wallet, and I'd really like to see you step up to the plate help my neighbors -- your neighbors.

George? Are you listening?

UPDATE: Sublog reports that a Stephen King-owned radio station is helping the relief efforts. (Thank you, Michelle Malkin.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina aftermath

No way I can compete with pix from the Gulf Coast, but here's a sample of what's happened locally.

These pine limbs were hitting the roof all night. I figured as long as I didn't hear a crash, I'd be OK. This morning, the whole neighborhood smelled of pine.

Down the street, this tree wasn't so lucky.

Drinking lessons

Once again, a major national story is diverting Greta Van Susteren, et al, from the Natalee Holloway story. One could only wish that Van Susteren would have the journalistic cojones to shake Beth Twitty's hand, offer her condolences and say, "Mrs. Twitty, our nation is facing war, soaring gasoline prices, assaults on our Constitution, and a continuing threat from Islamofascists. I feel sorry for your family, but I have a job to do."

Nevertheless, I agree with Marianne Jennings that the Natalee Holloway saga has an important underlying lesson that few are willing to admit. As Jennings puts it:

Jimmy Stewart chivalry has expired. Young men slip mickeys (or whatever they are called now) into young women's drink to get them truly amenable to romance, a charitable label for their planned activities with the fairer sex in a stupor. Liquor + nightclubs + young attractive women = Trouble, When did we lose this wisdom?

The GGB has her own story about this. In my junior year of college, I got rip-roaringly drunk at a party hosted by a married couple I knew very well -- or so I thought. They let me crash on their couch so I wouldn't kill myself trying to drive home. The husband -- thinking I was unconscious and with his wife sleeping in the next room -- unfastened my clothing and fondled me. He stopped when I woke up. I shudder to think what would have happened if I actually had been out cold.

He was someone I never perceived as a threat. Never, never, never. Yet I came dangerously close to full-on sexual assault because I pounded down four drinks in rapid succession in an attempt to have a good time. And I was 21 and legal -- three years older than Natalee Holloway and, you'd think, old enough to know better.

I'm not blaming Natalee Holloway for the fact that, more than likely, she's dead. But folks, let's be clear-headed about this. Anytime you drink to excess, you are assuming a certain amount of risk. That risk increases if you are female, young and in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people.

Natalee Holloway either was too drunk to think straight when she got into a car with three young men, or she was drugged and lured away. Either way, she was too young, too naive and too inexperienced to be partying in a foreign country with virtually no adult supervision. She took an unnecessary and unwise risk and, in my opinion, I don't think her parents were acting wisely either when they let her go on this trip.

And if that's the lesson we take away, then maybe all the media coverage was worth something.

Katrina epilogue

All is well at Casa de GGB. Lost power sometime after 9 p.m. last night (not sure when -- I hit the hay early). Woke up at 2 a.m. to a dark house and pine branches about 1.5 inches in diameter on my deck. Power came back on (surprisingly) at about 8:20 this morning.

All in all, an easy night compared wtih what's going on on the Gulf Coast. My prayers and thoughts are with everyone affected by Katrina.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Well ... hurricanes have their upside. Got to leave the office at 2:30 p.m.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Solving a decades-old mystery

Thank goodness for the Internet.

Today, I finally discovered what the heck Larry Gatlin is singing at the end of the chorus of the song "Love Is Just a Game." For nearly thirty years, I sang the words as "the winners walk out laughing / the losers cry tears again," even though I'd swear that Larry was singing "the losers cry teal again," which makes absolutely no sense.

Maybe heartbreak has something to do with teal. I know I was heartbroken once at having to wear a teal bridesmaids dress, but that's another story entirely. I just couldn't figure out why these poor saps were running through the streets decrying a shade of blue-green. "No! Not teal again! No! No! No!"

Now, the mystery is solved.

The correct lyric is "the losers cry, 'deal again.'" Ah! The game metaphor is thus complete.

Monday, August 22, 2005

We interrupt this blog for a brief rant

Actually, it's not my rant. This prime piece of rantism is courtesy of

Here’s my advice to Democrats: Stop with the national self-loathing, the nazi comparisons, the ridiculing of the red staters, the hatred of religion, the militant abortion rights, the incessant demands for raising taxes, the demonization of the Patriot Act, the petty refusal to confirm qualified judges and all the other mean-spirited garbage you’ve indulged in over the last 5 years. Just because you disagree with the president on tax relief or foreign policy doesn’t mean he’s a right wing Jesus fascist with dry drunk syndrome and the IQ of a chimp. Instead, recognize that the real fascists are Islamic, propose some realistic social programs that don’t break the bank, admit that school vouchers are a good idea in most cases, get on board with tax reform and at least admit that it might be possible that social security really is in trouble. You might actually win a few elections if you do that.

What he said.

And now, deep thoughts on Cindy Sheehan


14 children and pregnant again?

Nope ... this isn't a preamble to a speech on the welfare state.

Yesterday, I saw a Discovery Health Network program about the Duggar family of Arkansas. Said family is raising 15 children (the latest, Jackson Levi, born just recently) without the help of the government and, by all accounts, are doing a pretty bang-up job of it.

The Duggars, headed by Jim Bob, 38, and Michelle, 37, are in many ways practicing a lifestyle that harkens back to the 1800s when large families were the norm and there was no such thing as Nintendo, MTV or iPods to take away from family time. We are so infatuated in this culture with radical individualism and having as few kids as possible to impinge on our lifestyles, I think we tend to forget that the typical American family of 2.3 children is something of a recent invention and hardly a global cultural norm.

Admirably, the TV program was upbeat and complimentary about the Duggars' lifestyle. They are obviously devout Christians (of some very conservative Evangelical stripe, but I don't know which), and the show completely avoided the sneering, contemptuous tone you might otherwise expect from the MSM. (For commentary that is sneering and contemptuous, click here.)

These people are not rednecks. The homeschooled children are remarkably intelligent, well-behaved and self-assured. The home is clean and well-ordered. I think we all could take a few lessons from the Duggars about personal responsibility, devotion to family and simplicity of living. Our kids would only benefit if we had less TV and more outdoors playtime, less Internet and more playing the violin, and -- dare I say -- more siblings and less stuff?

So ... why am I not in a mad rush to recommend that we all live exactly like the Duggars?

Well, first of all, a disclaimer: Whatever the Duggars' flavor of Christianity is, I do not subscribe to it. That is, I don't have a problem with married couples using contraception. The Duggars, however, have chosen to take the natural route and have as many children as God sees fit to give to them. Fair enough -- I just don't see Scriptural warrant that that is the way it must be done. I'm also not opposed to women wearing pants or shorts and cutting their hair, whereas the Duggar women do neither. But, again, I don't quibble with their convictions.

However, I'll be honest here: Once you get into the rural South, you occasionally see folks of this stripe, and you can spot the women a mile away. It isn't just that they don't cut their hair or wear slacks or jeans. For some reason, they wear the ugliest, frump-granny jumpers and potato-sack dresses. While the gentlemen look a ready for a business lunch with their crisp chinos and polo shirts, the women range from looking like poorly-dressed kindergarten teachers to refugees from the cast of The Waltons. The Duggar females are no different. The plaid and the ankle socks and the white collars the size of Texas are hideous. And don't get me started on the hairdos.

I'm not trying to be cruel here, I just don't understand why the women have to look anachronistic and frumpy in the name of modesty and devotion, especially when the men blend in with the general population. There are plenty of flattering clothes on the market that adequately cover the body and many flattering ways to wear long hair. Between the extremes of Britney Spears and Laura Ingalls, isn't there a happy medium?

My only guess is perhaps modesty is not enough -- perhaps they believe the women ought to look distinct and different than other women for the sake of, well, looking distinct and different. Which leads me to my second point ...

The Duggars have a huge family, no debt, no TV, no Internet and no iPods -- and that right there puts them outside of the mainstream of American society. However, Christians were never called to mainstream and be like everyone else. We are called to live differently and have different priorities, which often the general culture fails to understand.

BUT ... and this is a big "but" ... I don't think the radical kind of cultural isolation the Duggars have is necessarily a good thing. I am opposed to "enclave Christianity" where believers create their own hermetically sealed microcosms of existence and have virtually no exposure to the larger culture. Besides Jim Bob's professional and political career, I don't see any evidence that the Duggars interact significantly with those who live differently than they do, nor do they seem to have any points of commonality with people in general.

To put it bluntly, they live in their own world. Sure, I applaud them for keeping gangsta rap and porno out of the house. That's not the issue. But Jesus told us to go into all the world to make disciples. The only way the Duggars' lifestyle can be self-sustaining over the generations will be to reinforce the "differentness" and isolation. I have my doubts as to whether that fulfills the Great Commission or is merely an interesting social experiment.

Jesus freely interacted with the common folk of his day. He did not sin, yet he was a "friend of sinners," so much that he won the reputation of being "a glutton and a wine-bibber." However, I noted in the program that the Duggars' primary -- and, from what I gather, only -- social outlet are other members of their "home church" who are rearing their children in the same way.

So, kudos to the Duggars for chucking the worst of American life and culture. But there's a great big world out there.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Y kant gies rede?

(Better known as: "Why can't guys read?")

I'm about ready to cash in my memberships at two -- count 'em, two -- online dating services and hire a yenta.

Yes, the GGB continues her elusive search for Mr. Right. In the meanwhile, I have met more than one Mr. Lack of Reading Comprehension Skills. Perhaps I'm just not communicating well. I'm considering publishing Dating the GGB for Dummies, including the following handy glossary of Things I Want in a Man:

Educated. Generally, this means that you are educated beyond high school. It also means that you show signs of actually being educated, such as the ability to string together a coherent sentence and spell short words correctly.

Between the ages of 30 and 42. This means that you are actually between the ages of 30 and 42 according to an objective source such as your birth certificate or your driver's license. It does not mean that you look or act like you are 30-42, have been told you look/act like you are 30-42, or were cryogenically frozen at 30-42 and have recently been defrosted.

Unmarried. This means that if you and I were to get married, we would not be charged with bigamy. And no, "separated" does not count.

Stable. This means that you do not call your landlord "Dad."

Christian. This means that you are a believer in the Christian Gospel and a faithful participant in the faith. Thinking that Jesus is "cool" or having gone to church once since Jimmy Carter was in office do not count.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Back in the saddle

Hi, folks.

Been awhile since my last post. The GGB is considering in which direction to take her commentary. It is easy to rant, but I am not sure anymore if that is the best use of this slice o' cyberspace.

This occurred to me as I watched coverage of the London bombings and the stunning revelations that many of the men involved in these crimes were natural-born or naturalized British citizens. As you might imagine, I felt several rants coming on and my fingers were itching to get to the computer.

Then I remembered some stories I've read recently about Sudan. Black Christians in the south who previously had been tormented and brutalized by Islamicized (is that a word?) blacks now are helping their former enemies. Now it's the black Muslims who are being turned on by their Arab counterparts, and the black Christians are living out Jesus' command to "love thy enemies."

So ... how do you respond to what happened in London without turning up the heat and extinguishing the light?

One thing I won't do -- I won't morally equivocate and try to explain away or diminish the real evil of boarding a double-decker and detonating yourself and everyone else within striking distance. But how do you love such people?

I have no easy or pat answers. And whatever answers I could give could be too easy anyway since I'm neither the victim nor a family member of a victim of the WOT.

Nevertheless, as I said, simply ranting is easy and cheap. If I'm going to say anything at all, I'd rather it be useful.

In the meanwhile, for those of you who need a laugh, check this out.