Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Why we have to care about judges

A judge in Indianapolis ruled that two wiccan parents cannot raise their nine-year-old son in their faith.

Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs

Wicca—one of the eclectic byproducts of the New Age movement—has become so mainstream that U.S. military chaplains are instructed in its beliefs so they can provide care for Wiccan members of the armed forces. They are not satanists. In any case, here's a judge who is so ignorant of the Constitution that he truly believes he has the authority to dictate a child's religious upbringing to the parents.

He is not the only closet theocrat in the judiciary. That's why judicial nominations are important. One law professor at Indiana University said overturning the ruling should be a "slam-dunk" because it's "blatantly unconstitutional." But who will decide? A federal judge appointed by George Bush?

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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day: two songs

Allied soldiers in the ruins of a church at Lucey-le-Bocage
In remembrance: two versions (with audio) of an antiwar song inspired by the mass graves of World War I.

The original text (1976) by Scottish-Australian folksinger Eric Bogle is titled "No Man's Land" or "The Green Fields of France." The German version, "Es ist an der Zeit" ("This Is The Time"), is Hannes Wader's 1980 interpretation of Bogle's song. Addressed in imagination to one of the soldiers whose name Bogle discovered on a forgotten grave in northern France, his song could have been written for any of the more than 1,900 Americans—including 75 in the past month—who have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, as then, they were sent to war by leaders who told them they were making the world "safe for democracy."

The music

English version sung by June Tabor
English/German version*

*A live performance by Eric Bogle and the East German folkgroup Wacholder in 1985 in Berlin.

The texts

No Man's Land
Es ist an der Zeit

Do they know why they died? (Eric Bogle)

And I can't help but wonder now, Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you "the cause?"
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain,
For Willie McBride, it's all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

The time now is right (Hannes Wader)

Es blieb nur das Kreuz als die einzige Spur
Von deinem Leben, doch hör meinen Schwur,
Für den Frieden zu kämpfen und wachsam zu sein:
Fällt die Menscheit noch einmal auf Lügen herein,
Dann kann es geschehen, daß bald niemand mehr lebt,
Keiner der die Milliarden von Toten begräbt.
Doch es finden sich mehr und mehr Menschen bereit,
Diesen Krieg zu verhindern, es ist an der Zeit.

(There's left just a cross as the only last trace
Of the life that you lost: so I'll swear in this place
To stand and to fight in the struggle for peace,
Lest we fall once again for their lies, their deceit.
For then it could happen that no one survived,
None to dig graves for the billions who'd died.
But, no, there are more and more ready to fight
To stop this new war: for the time now is right.)

Ja auch Dich haben sie schon genauso belogen
So wie sie es mit uns heute immer noch tun,
Und Du hast ihnen alles gegeben:
Deine Kraft, Deine Jugend, Dein Leben.

(Yes, just as they lied to you in your last days
They're still lying to us and they'll do it always,
And you gave them all you could give:
All your strength, all your youth and your life.)

[Translation by Andy Lang]

Eric Bogle's Home Page
Hannes Wader's Home Page

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

It doesn't get more Eurocentric than this

Okay, so he's not really you-know-whom, but a discontinued Action Hero named "The Aquarian."

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Fear and loathing in the Blogosphere

Thanks to the "Next Blog" button which Blogger considerately places at the top of this page, it was easy for me to take a quick tour of the "blogosphere."

The first five hits revealed it as a wondrous place of trenchant commentary, significant discourse and high pathos:

1. squirrels on speed
2. Wabbits wuv karrots farm
3. freak on the loose
4. The World According to Me (Perception = Reality)

and one blog devoted entirely to thousands of links to porn sites. (I'm suppressing the title because it violates my completely arbitrary and secret Standards and Practices Code.)

Some blogs are ... well ... just a little self-serving. This would be in contrast to my blog, which is fully oriented towards YOU, dear reader, and has nothing to do with my ego. For instance:

Mortgage Loans in [southern state deleted] and Home Buyer Topics

Hello my name is [name deleted]. I'm the mortgage loan officer at Aggressive Mortgage Corp. I enjoy helping families through the often complex processes of obtaining a mortgage loan. So often, consumers are herded into mortgage programs with no regard to the actual needs of the home buyer, current and projected. I created this mortgage blog for your comments and questions. Please share your thoughts.
What the hell is an "aggressive mortgage?" Does the collection agency employ angry out-of-work Nova Scotia fishermen to hector you over the phone? Are you surprised that this blog has many posts, but no comments or questions? How can I avoid a similar fate?

Hello my name is Andy Lang. I'm the unemployed web consultant living in Andy Lang's apartment. I enjoy helping churches through the often complex processes of obtaining websites and web communities. So often, Christians are herded into web strategies with no regard to the actual needs of the end user, current and projected. I created this web blog for your comments and questions. Please share your thoughts.
Share away! But, aggressive mortgages aside, my brief tour of the blogosphere has deepened my conviction that there are no boring people, just people who are boring. The blogosphere is a rich compost heap of self-revelation, where you can learn much about the human condition. And if you have ready access to a gun, a knife or a source of carbon monoxide, that knowledge could be dangerous.

week is pretty same as previous. Some thing interesting this week, last night have my gals night out again, went to Acid Bar at somerset. We came too late at 9.30pm coz after my driving and in the end everyone were late ... at first wanna go Newasia bar, look good but got entrance fee of $20. So we decided to join WanTheng's gang. Cheow Guan was already gone. Ok, the thing is CG tried to matchmade Niger and WanTheng together. hee, so when WanTheng said she had this gathering, CG immediately call Niger along. People started to mix around and beeyen got her encounter ... a friend's friend's friend ... a guy tried to matchmade her with a korean guy ... ok, but the korean guy is too old and its the type that totally not suit beeyen. So she was giving me this kinda of face like "What the %^%#, uncle, or please" look all the night till the guys left. I think the 3 guys are desperate though, trying to pick us out, maybe not us, should be pick "her" out last night ... hahaha, but I had a good laugh (I know I very bad). The drinks are good, and the music are great too. Too bad no chicken wings....
I don't want to seem misanthropic, but don't we need a new term for "lumpenproletariat" that fits the 21st century? "Lumpenblogobrat" or something along those lines? Suggestions?

And I loved this title: The Daily Bitchpatch. Can I steal it? I'm looking for something that conveys the spirit of a bitter middle-aged single male lashing out at the world. ("When I was your age, we had to write our blogs on tiny bits of paper and carry them in a sack eight miles through hurricane-force winds to the post office! And we liked it!") Any ideas?

I'm also looking for blogs from my Lieblingsland: East Elbian Germany. This one at first seemed promising:

Life In Dresden

Now, Dresden is one of Europe's great cities: a place of high culture and intellectual creativity. I'd love to follow a blog from Dresden. But, no, this blogger lives in Dresden, Ontario. The pix of Gollum and Chuckie (the homicidal doll) should have given it away.

Here's an interesting blog authored by a young USAF technician deployed in South Korea:

A Twig on the Shoulders of a Mighty Stream

Truly poetic! But take a look at his worldview:

This is my ongoing philosophy in life. It is my belief that in life, our general course in life is pre-determinded by events that are beyond our control, such as genetics, parenting, environment, and social/economic conditions. However, the stream is wide, and we are not completely helpless on our course through life.
Just slightly deterministic, don't you think? But his is a kinder and gentler determinism, since "we are not completely helpless" as we rush down that mighty stream of life. Nevertheless, the author writes well and he's a fan of the brilliant Mormon science fiction writer, Orson Scott Card, so I'm going to bookmark this one.

Speaking of determinists:

Fundamentally Right

It appears that the Muslims aren’t content just to live here in Jesus Land. They have plans for you and me. If you’re not a Muslim, they’re being taught to hate you. They are making plans to change America, the land of the free, that has taken them in. They’re working from within to destroy us.
This blogger occupies the Right Hemiblogosphere—a dreary and dismal place. And most of his recent posts were a continuous rant against John Kerry—six months after Kerry tanked in the election! But I'm not one to make fun of obsessive states: 15 years after the Anschluss, I'm still mourning for my beloved East Germany. Erich Honecker, we hardly knew ye!

Mr. Fundamentally Right chooses as his subtitle: "You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free." But the next hit took me in the opposite direction:

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.—Socrates
That's debatable: for instance, I do know as a fact that drinking a cup of hemlock will make me dead. I'm with Aristotle on that one. But it's hard not to approve of the blog's other quote:

Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.—George S. Patton
And now, dear reader, the conclusion: After moving through these various determinisms that inhabit the blogosphere, I came at last to a total solipsism:

You are epitome.of.cool
You basically fucking rock
You are the coolest that is and probably ever was
You don't even consider yourself cool but you are
There are a lot of people who are envious of you
You don't really give a fuck
Get down with your cool self yo'
That would be the theme of my blog. This is the world according to me, where my perceptions equal your reality. So let's all get down with my cool self yo'!

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Evangelischer Kirchentag in Deutschland

O mein Schatzi, O mein Schatzi, O mein hübsches Schatzelein. Du war klein aber Du wächst großer: O mein wachsendes Schatzelein.
I know you all have been waiting with bated breath (or baited breath, like my cat Schatzi's fishy breath) ... anyway, I know you've been eager for my latest report from the German Protestant Kirchentag (Church Convention) which is now in its third day. So I will not disappoint.

About 100,000 travelled to Hanover and another 200,000 are expected to attend a street festival organized for the occasion. Essentially, the church is taking over this major city for five days.

The biennial event is sponsored by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). The EKD is a federation of German Lutheran and "United" churches. There is a direct historical continuity between these churches and the Reformation of Martin Luther. [Note: "evangelical" in all languages except English means simply "Protestant" and has nothing to do with fundamentalism!]

Leading politicians—including Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Christian Democratic leader Angela Merkel—have addressed the crowd. Schroeder and Merkel will face off in September in the federal elections.

In some ways, the status of the Protestant churches in Germany is the opposite of our situation: George Bush won't even consider meeting with representatives of "mainline" churches but lavishes attention on any big fundamentalist gathering. In Germany, politicians from parties from Right to Left are falling over each other to court the mainline Protestant churches and at an event like this the secular media are present in force. In contrast, any public event organized by Germany's fundamentalist churches would come and go in obscurity.

Much of the event focuses on social and economic justice—though through the lens of Bible, theology and worship, of course. The rising tide of frustration in Protestant churches over high unemployment, globalization and militarization is fully and openly expressed here. For instance, the Kirchentag's lay moderator denounced on Friday what he called "the romanticism of market-liberal" economics which, he said, "subordinates moral values to economic goals." This is a "fatal reversal of social relations." "The question must be reversed: "How can the economy be shaped so it serves the life of the individual and the community?"

Participants are also voicing sharp criticism for the U.S. government's treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. No defenders of the war in Iraq here: it was and continues to be unpopular in Germany. But other debates on economics and ethics are more broadly representative of the existing political spectrum.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Andy's First Blog Contest

Who is this man? What is he thinking? Where has he been, and where is he going? Who was his best friend? Does he write poetry? Plays? Folksongs? Prize for the winner: a free lifetime subscription to this blog!

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