Sunday, April 23, 2006

This Might Explain It

My friend Donna Bethell, physicist and killer cyclist, responds to my previous post:


"My sister Linda, a developmental pediatrician, was telling me recently about some truly hyperactive kids that she sees. These boys are more than just antsy. They are almost literally bouncing off the ceiling - jumping off furniture, oblivious to risk, can't be stopped. She says that at international conferences, physicians from Europe say they never see this problem and think the Americans are exaggerating. We hit on the explanation: the syndrome is highly inheritable and from the 16th to the 19th centuries, just about everyone in Europe who had it immigrated to the New World. What else would induce anyone to get on a leaky old boat, cross a stormy ocean, plow into the wilderness, face savage warriors, and keep going until stopped by another ocean? It's the scientific underpinning of the old adage: the ones with get up and go got up and went.

"The gene pool of Europe has been depleted of the hyperactive, risk-taking, but ultimately constructive and inventive genotypes. The few that didn't immigrate were selectively killed off in two World Wars, the crowning disasters for Europe."

Anybody got any better ideas?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dutch Dreams

An op-ed in this morning's Minneapolis Star Tribune is truly educational.

Three women, identified as "political scientists who have taught at Carleton College" (no word on where they're teaching now) collaborated on a piece about same-sex unions in Western Europe. They conclude that, since the Low Countries and Spain have legalized same sex marriage, and that other countries like France and Austria permit "civil unions", that the U.S. is out of step, and "the nature of the current debate in the United States is what is aberrant."


First, let me take a poll.

How many of you have ever said to yourself, "Gee, I sure wish I were a Western European! Dutch, that's what I'd like to be! Taxed up the wazoo and assisted suicides... yeah, baby, that's the life!"

Hands, please?

It always makes me laugh when "political scientists" trot out places like Holland and France as worthy of comparison with the U.S. Hello, ladies! In case you haven't noticed, Europe is a disaster zone! How many people died in the French heat wave? Thousands, because that marvelous government couldn't get its act together to be of any use! And what about that great employment system, huh? You can't get fired! P.S. Bill Gates just cancelled his reservation.

The reason the U.S. is not like Europe is we don't want to be. Face it, it's a nice place to visit, but live there? Did you ever try to get phone service in Italy? Or buy gasoline in France? It's to laugh.

The authors also argue that ideas like a constitutional amendment to ban SSU's "is not helpful in creating a national dialogue,"and "indeed, such top-down legislation is contrary to the spirit of American federalism."

I for one eagerly await their op-ed on Roe v. Wade. That ought to be inspiring.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Muriel Spark

"I am a descendant, do not forget, of Willie Brodie, a man of substance, a cabinet maker and designer of gibbets, a member of the Town Council of Edinburgh and a keeper of two mistresses who bore him five children between them. Blood tells. He died cheerfully on a gibbet of his own devising in seventeen-eighty-eight. This is the stuff I am made of."

-from "The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie."

Muriel Spark died on Good Friday in Italy at the age of eighty-eight.

Quote Of The Day

"No one questions the authenticity of the Judas Gospel, which depicts Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus but as a favored disciple."
-"How The Gospel of Judas Emerged," New York Times for Sunday, April 16.

Happy Easter from the New York Times!
And they don't hate Christians. They really, really don't.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Different Night, Con't.

The first Seder I atttended was ten years ago.

My sister's children were very young- Harry was five and the twins, Emma and Dean, were three. Their dad's father, Jim Liberman, decided it was time they were introduced to their Jewish traditions, and asked for a Seder. Not an easy thing for my Irish-American sister to pull off, but she was game.

So dinnertime rolls around and Grandpa Jim shows up with a handful of Haggadah's (Haggadim?), and one very fancy yarmullke.

I mean, fancy. Really eye-catching. Bright green satin with little sparkly do-dads.

But only one. "For Harry," he says. "He can read the questions."

Anyone who knows little kids knows what happened next. "MY hat!" No, MINE!" "MIIIINE!!" "WAAAAAAAHHHH!"

At this point, yours truly showed up. And was instantly hijacked by the parents. "Go out and get us two more yarmulkes. NOW." Next thing I know, I'm on a yarmulke hunt.

At first I was optimistic. I mean, I was two miles from Scarsdale, how hard could this be? The main drag was dotted with any number of little shops offering "Judaica," and some of them were still open. So I pulled into one and asked for two yarmulkes, please.

"I'm sorry, we don't sell those."
"You don't?" I was shocked. "You're kidding."
"No, sorry." They explained they mostly sold menorahs. "They make a lovely gift."

It was all downhill from there. I ended up at the KMart trying to rip the visors off a couple of Yankees caps. When I returned to my sister's house with my booty, it turned out all to have been in vain, anyway. The Seder was over.

It didn't go so well. Grandpa got tired of waiting so they decided to start hatless- the fancy green satin hat was stashed out of sight and forgotten. But when Harry read the first question- "Why is this night different from all other nights?"-- the twins thought, Oh goody, it's riddle time! and started jumping up and down and screaming "Why did the chicken cross the road? Why did the chicken cross the road? Ha. ha, ha!"

At this point my brother-in-law, who was very ill at the time, ran out of steam and went back upstairs to bed. Grandpa left, the kids were put to bed. When I arrived my sister was sitting at the table, staring at the pages of a Haggadah and longing for a vodka tonic.

Which I think I provided.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Different Night

At sunset Wednesday Passover begins. Here in the twin cities at 7:54 pm or thereabouts the Frozen Chosen will be gathering around the table for Seder.

I have only been to two Seders in my life. (I'm not counting those paint-by-numbers fake Seders we had to practice back in Catholic school. The purpose of those was to teach us something about the Mass, and to make sure we didn't embarass ourselves if we ever got invited to a real Seder. Also to see who could spell "Waldbaums.")

The last one was just last year, here in Minneapolis. That was an Israeli Seder. It started at sunset with everyone at the table arguing about the translations and ended around midnight with everyone sprawled on the livingroom floor, telling Arab jokes. A good time was had by all.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Vive Le Stupidite!

Congratulations to the French government for caving to mob tantrum-throwing and scrapping Article 8, which would have given French employers the right to (gasp!) fire employees who suck at their jobs.

Remember to buy French, everyone! Who needs cars that work, anyway? Or pacemakers, or computers? Or anything, for that matter? Including employees.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Stickers

My own suggestion is "Minnesota: Not As Bad As It Sounds."

http://access.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/9908_statefair/contest/submissions4.html

Saturday, April 08, 2006

VICTORY!

Well, partly. My tulip shoots are coming up bigtime. So the squirrels didn't get them all.

Saw a dead squirrel on the sidewalk last week. What a beautiful sight.

Time to go throw darts at my Beatrix Potter poster!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Today's Ad, Con't.

Four of the signatories identify themselves as Roman Catholics. One, Michael Tegeder, is the pastor of the Church of St. Edward in Bloomington, MN. I don't know why he doesn't identify himself as a priest in the ad, but he doesn't, and he is. A priest, I mean.

The only woman in the group is Mary Beckfeld, who is a board member of something called "Catholic Rainbow Parents." Its website describes it as a "small but determined group." She's also active on the Archdiocesan Commission on Women. Of her eight children, one is a homosexual man. I'm not sure which of these qualifications makes her a religious leader, but she says she's one.

Necessary Corrections

Quarter-page "paid advertisement" in today's Minneapolis StarTribune:

"Set aside the proposed Marriage Ammendment.

"We are pastors, rabbis, seminary professors and other religious leaders in Minnesota."

Has everyone spotted the fun phrase so far? It's "other religious leaders." 261 people are listed. Only 12 actually state their leadership credentials: the rabbis.
Actually I'm not sure what "My-O" means. One Zen Buddhist is listed, My-O Habermas-Scher. That could be a clerical rank.

I don't see any shamans.

But let us continue.

"We are disturbed by the bitterness and lack of kindness that has emerged in our State by the proposals for a Constitutional Amendment which would ban marriages, civil unions or legal equivalents between persons of the same gender."

Sigh. I know no one's listening, but damn it, "gender" is a grammatical term. "Gender" is for nouns. People have a "sex." One of two, usually.

"It is unconscionable that we would amend our State Constitution to take away the rights of any group of people."

Note to copywriter: you cannot "take away" something no one possesses. There is no "right" to same sex marriage in Minnesota. So no one can take it away. See?

"We believe that primary relationships between people are important and should be encouraged, not put down."

"Put down"? Well hello, 1972! Long time no see! Groovy bellbottoms, man! Wanna get high?

"We believe God calls us to love and care for each other."

And have as much sex as possible with as many -- oh, sorry. I got carried away by the sentiment.

"We ask our Minnesota legislators to set their minds on bringing fairness and justice to all people in Minnesota, regardless of sexual orientation."

"Fairness and justice." And they're talking about marriage. Good Lord.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Seminar Is History!

UPDATE!

The Community Education Center of Eden Prairie, Minnesota has cancelled its plans to offer a "Da Vinci Code Historical Seminar" this spring.

As DIH reported back in January, Community Education Services of Eden Prairie offered a "Da Vinci Code Historical Seminar" in its Winter & Spring 2006 catalog. The course was the first offering in the catalog, and was to have been given three times: once on April 27, once on May 4, and again on May 11.

Community Education is a service of the Eden Prairie Public Schools.

The course description ran:

"Did you find the historical events in the 2003 fictional bestseller interesting but too fantastic to believe? Actually, most of the background items cited in the book were tied to events purportedly recorded in history: some to Leonardo Da Vinci...some to the disciple Mary of Magdola of early Gnostic Christianity, the Holy Grail, and Knights Templar who may have evlolved into Free Masonry."

It was the next sentence that got DIH's attention: "The Priory of Sion actually existed since 1099 and Opus Dei frightfully exists right here in the USA, today!"

The Spring and Summer Catalog is now out. And it makes no mention of the Da Vinci Code Seminar. When I called the offices of Community Ed I was told the course had been cancelled.

Explanations as to why the course was cancelled vary. As one source told DIH, when she called to ask what the story was she was told they needed the classroom for something else. When I called today, I was told "we just didn't get enough people signed up for it."

So, I called George Tkach. Mr. Tkach, readers will recall, was the man who was giving the course.

Mr.Tkach was not happy to hear from Desperate.

"You've made a lot of trouble for me," he said, " you and your Catholic cohorts! I've gotten letters from as far away as North Dakota!"[Can Iowa be far behind?] "And I've spoken to my attorney about possibly taking you to court! Goodbye!"

[Hat tip: Geny in Eden Prairie. Hey, Geny- are you one of my "cohorts"?]