Ill Wind May Not Blow to the Whitehouse

Will Hurricane Katrina spell the end of George Bush’s Presidency? Almost certainly yes, with a few caveats. 😛

As the full horror of Hurricane Katrina sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if this is the end of George Bush’s presidency. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that every copy of the US Constitution was destroyed in the storm. Otherwise President Bush will remain in office until noon on January 20th, 2009, as required by the 20th Amendment, after which he is barred from seeking a third term anyway under the 22nd Amendment.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the entire political agenda of George Bush’s second term will not still be damaged in some terribly satisfying way.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that the entire political agenda of George Bush’s second term consists of repealing the 22nd Amendment. Otherwise, with a clear Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, he can carry on doing pretty much whatever he likes.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the Republican Party itself will now suffer a setback at the congressional mid-term elections next November.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that people outside the disaster zone punish their local representatives for events elsewhere a year previously, both beyond their control and outside their remit, while people inside the disaster zone reward their local representatives for an ongoing calamity they were supposed to prevent. Otherwise, the Democratic Party will suffer a setback at the next congressional election.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if an official inquiry will shift the blame for poor planning and inadequate flood defences on to the White House. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody admits that emergency planning is largely the responsibility of city and state agencies, and nobody notices that the main levee which broke was the only levee recently modernised with federal funds. Otherwise, an official inquiry will pin most of the blame on the notoriously corrupt and incompetent local governments of New Orleans and Louisiana.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if George Bush contributed to the death toll by sending so many national guard units to Iraq.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody recalls that those same columnists have spent the past two years blaming George Bush for another death toll by not sending enough national guard units to Iraq. Otherwise, people might wonder why they have never previously read a single article advocating large-scale military redeployment during the Caribbean hurricane season.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnist are asking how a civilised city can descend into anarchy.

The answer is that only a civilised city can descend into anarchy.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if George Bush should be held responsible for the terrible poverty in the southern states revealed by the flooding.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody holds Bill Clinton responsible for making Mississippi the poorest state in the union throughout his entire term as president, or for making Arkansas the second-poorest state in the union throughout his entire term as governor. Otherwise, people might suspect that it is a bit more complicated than that.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if George Bush should not be concerned by accusations of racism against the federal government.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody remembers that Jesse Jackson once called New York “Hymietown” and everybody thinks Condoleezza Rice went shopping for shoes when the hurricane struck because she cannot stand black people.

Otherwise sensible Americans of all races will be more concerned by trite, cynical and dangerous political opportunism.

As the full horror of that sinks in, this columnist is simply glad that everybody cares.

* From a tip from Right Voices and Slugger O’Toole. Original article by Newton Emerson in the Irish Times.


Church for Men


When Diane & I discuss dating topics with other church singles, always we end up discussing the proper roles of men and women in both dating and in marriage. Usually we end up agreeing that men are not taking the role of “spiritual leader” properly in accordance with Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11.

The women often complain that the men are not strong enough. The first big stumbling block is usually pre-marital sex. The men profess to be Christian, then pressure the women to have premarital sex. The women submit, then lose trust in the men because the men were supposed to be the spiritual leader. While what the women did was also improper, it was the men that were supposed to lead here.

What happened? Author David Murrow in a book called Why Men Hate Going to Church says that 90% of all American men believe in God and 5 out of 6 call themselves Christian, but only 2 of 6 attend church. They see no value in it; they believe church is for women, children, and seniors.

These two are very much related, I think. While Christian men should be motivated to study the bible and practice God’s instructions, they don’t do it like they should because they do not subject themselves to accountability with other Christian men.

Is there something the church can do? Right now, many men feel the church has been feminized – where Jesus commanded, “Follow me!” it has been replaced with “Let’s have a relationship with Jesus.” Women love the idea of Christian relationships. Men on the other hand want challenge, risk, structure, commands.

In Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox, he excerpts several things churches can do to reach out to men. While churches have volunteer opportunities for singing, nursery, cooking, planning social gatherings, churches can add more masculine activities such as working on cars or fixing houses. Or even just encourage the men to get out with each other to do “guy things.”

Men want a masculine leader, not a love object. Yes, Jesus was tender and empathetic, but presenting a “soft” Jesus every week can turn men away. Churches should present the masculine side of Jesus, too. Jesus did what was right in the face of adversity, He died for what was right. He led 12 male disciples. He threw himself on a grenade for us. It’s hard to recognize Jesus as a man’s man when the church looks like a ladies’ garden club or a baby shower. The goal is not to get men to cry; it’s to get them to walk with God.

More links on this subject here and here and here and here and here.

Broadband over Power Lines

My brother has been waiting for this for some time… high speed internet over electric power lines. It’s coming, bro!

BURNET — High-speed Internet service is coming to about 120 homes in this town of 5,000 using a novel technology that connects residents to the Web through power lines.

Broadband Horizons, which provides Internet access to about 6,000 customers in rural parts of Central Texas, is paying most of the estimated $50,000 cost to install a network in a neighborhood of Burnet, about 40 miles northwest of Austin.

Once the system is in place, scheduled by year end, they say that houses will connect by plugging a simple modem device into a wall socket.

Companies have been trying to develop the technology — called broadband over power line, or BPL — for nearly a decade, and now the technology is being tested in a few places. The city-owned electric utility in Manassas, Va., launched a pilot project last fall. Ohio-based Cinergy Corp. is also testing a system.

In theory, electric current runs along power lines at low frequencies and doesn’t interfere with Internet signals at much higher frequencies. Advocates say the technology would be a cheaper way to wire rural towns like Burnet.

Bob McClung, a Blanco entrepreneur, believes he could provide broadband service for about $30 a month with the cooperation of public and private electric utilities. He told the Austin American-Statesman that the technology could be much more common within a few years.

Brender and Eddie

I dream vividly – often the dreams fade quicky, so don’t try to ask me after I get to work what I dreamed last night. And by vividly, I don’t mean bright colors, I mean an entire movie. Last night’s movie included a soundtrack, and I scratched out the outline of the dream when I first woke up this morning so I could share it later.

A radio is playing. It’s Billy Joel, and the song is that one about Brenda and Eddie (Scenes from an Italian Restaurant), except Billy Joel pronounces it “Brender & Eddie). I never understood why he did that; perhaps it’s some northeast US regional accent. The dream soundtrack only includes the middle part of the song, not the Italian restaraunt part at the beginning and end. Brender and Eddie were the popular steadies and the king and the queen of the prom. (bomp bomp)

The music is coming from a car stereo. This is a nice car. It’s a Mercedes 500 series, black with brown leather seats. It’s difficult to look out the window because I’m upside down in the passenger seat. I can lift my head and see pine trees around a lake; it’s a beautiful sunny day. La la la la riding around with the car top down. It’s not a convertible, but I am riding around in a car (it occurs to me later that maybe it’s *me* that has the top down… and the bottom up).

In the backseat, behind the driver, is a bride. She’s wearing a white wedding dress with a thin veil. I can make out her face a bit; she’s familiar but I can’t place who she is. She’s either crying, or she wants to cry, or she’s just finished crying. Brender and Eddie were still going steady in the summer of ’75 when they decided the marriage would be at the end of July.

The driver is definitely a movie star – I recognize his face, but not his name. I’d go google him but I can’t recall a movie that he’s in. If I stumble across his name later, I’ll edit it in. He’s a tall thin man, short clean cut brown hair, plays mostly bit parts. Sort of reminds me of the principle Seymore in the Simpsons cartoons. He’s wearing a tux. Brender and Eddie were the popular steady and the king and the queen of the prom (bomp bomp) lal la la driving around with the car top town.

Upside down, I can see in the air vents of the car. There’s no dust in them. I think, “that won’t help me,” though I’m not sure what I need help with. Sitting upright maybe. When they decided that marriage would be at the end of July. I look at the bride, she’s turned her face to the side, looking down and away. She holds a tissue to face, outside the veil. That’s not right, the tissue should go on the inside of the veil where the runny nose is. The bride is saddened by something.

We’ve been on the road a while. Amongst the pines was a a semi-rural house, ranch style, with a front patio. It reminds me of my childhood home in Tucker, Georgia, near Tucker Lake. I can see the lake, too. I lift my head and look out the car window to see it. I say something like “and that’s why property values toward town will start appreciating, and those in the suburbs will start declining.” They got an apartment with deep pile carpet and a couple of paintings from Sears. A big waterbed that they bought with the bread they had saved for a couple of years. I think those song lyrics will upset the bride. I look at her again, upside down, and see the pine trees moving past her window. Her dress has pearls sewn into it.

I think the bride might be “Brender,” I’m not sure. I look at the driver, the movie star in the tux. I wonder if he might be Eddie. I wonder if he shops at Sears. Brender you know that you’re much too (sweeter?) and we always knew she could want more than that out of life.

The driver, the clean cut movie star, agrees with me about property values, “…and that’s why I’ve always said…” He drones on. I look out the window, see a massive overpass, a bridge. I also see a spawling suburban neighborhood. One of the houses is a two story, brick on the bottom half, white wood on the top half. There’s white wood around chimney, too. I think that’s probably a fire hazard but there’s probably brick inside to keep the wood safely away. They started to fight when the money got tight, they just didn’t count on the tears, whoa-o-o-o…

It bothers me that I don’t know if I’m going to the wedding or returning from the wedding. Oh, I recognize the bride’s face – it’s my old college jitterbug partner, Debbie. She was a tiny thing, perfect for lifting over my head and swinging around. Nobody looked any finer, she was more of a hit at the Parkway diner, and we never knew you could want more than that out of life. I don’t think the bride is Debbie, though – it feel like she’s standing in for somebody else, or maybe a collage of people. A collage of people that includes herself.

I’m still upside down. I can almost reach the radio if I want. If I could reach the radio, I could change the channel. I don’t make any attempt to reach the knobs though. I can’t see out front windshield of the car though and that bothers me.

We’re going up one of those huge overpasses, way up in air. The bride asks me a question, though I didn’t hear what she said. It occurs to me (yes, even in my dream, this occurs to me) that the highway is symbolic of Brender and Eddie’s marriage. We started before they were married, traveled through suburbia, traveled down a long freeway, now we’re about to go off a bridge. This is like a broadway dream production of a Billy Joel musical. I don’t know who I am – the producer? Or am I in the play like the bride and groom are, and I don’t know what role I’m playing? I’m not the musical director, that’s for sure – I can’t reach the radio knobs and turn off the Billy Joel. Perhaps it’s me, my relationships, and all my friends and parents and strangers relationships all wrapped up in one long Billy Joel highway metaphorical dream musical. That sounds right. From the high to the low to the end of the show. They got a divorce as a matter of course and they parted the closest of friends. No wonder the bride isn’t happy.

I wake up, and Patch is looking at me like he patiently does every morning. He’s waiting for his walk and I’ve overslept on a Saturday morning. I’m not a talker in the morning, I sort of *think* my fading dream thoughts at him, “that’s all i know about Brender and Eddie, I can’t tell you more cuz I told you already and here we are waving Brender and Eddie goodbye.”

Patch isn’t interested. He just wants his walk. Whoa, whoa, whoa-o-o-o-o-oa.

Constitutional Dreaming

I’ve forgotten the first half of the dream already, so I’ll have to pick it up in the middle. The first part had a train ride across town, avoiding traffic congestion, a little playing on the beach (I remember the houses had terraced beaches three stories high which I can’t figure out how that would work now). We’ll pick up the story on the way back home.

I’m returning from a college class (apparently with my son headed to college, that’s my brain’s cue to dream about college). I have some sort of big assignment due tomorrow, my sister and brother-in-law are arriving at 7pm to visit, and I’ve driven to a house to study the design for a home remodeling. Apparently I’m stressed with a lot of stuff to do.

A police officer pulls me over, asks me if I know I was speeding and writes me a ticket. No, I didn’t know, and he asks to look in the trunk of my car. He says we can do this the hard way, or the easy way, and I know he means he’ll simply arrest me if I say no and look in the trunk anyway. I’m thinking about saying no anyway, that this is an unreasonable search for a speeding ticket, but with the schoolwork, remodeling, and family visit, I don’t have time to object. I consent and let him look in the trunk. There’s a set of golf clubs. I apologize for the fire ants crawling all over them.

My son appears, asks me why I let him look in my trunk. And I wake up.