Friday, December 23, 2011

Dear Dictionary

The last few words I sought definitions for, in no particular order:

walking-around money

The Christmas I Hate

I know what you're thinking: I'm not a religious person, so when I start off an entry with "the part of Christmas I dislike", you may leap to the conclusion that I'm not going to be too keen on the whole "birth of baby Jesus" thing.  As the sign on the way to work in rural Kansas says, "Jesus is the Peason for the Reason".  I should mention that sign has seen lots of years and is not entirely legible.

I actually don't mind the Jesus portion of Christmas.  It has his title in the name, for Christ's... sake.  Yes, people get uppity.  Yes, Jews put up trees.  Yes, evangelicals attack anyone who mentions holidays. Yes, the White House puts out a Christmas card with a dog in it.  But whatever - I can empathize really well.

When I visited the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh, I was moved to tears.  I'm not Scottish.  Or a soldier.  I don't even believe the chapel was a consecrated religious location.  But I'd go again in a heartbeat and cry some more, because it's a beautiful place.  And it is dedicated to a tradition that -- while not mine -- is still something I understand.  I respect that and, as instructed, I made no speech upon entering.  It is a social crime to disturb that solemnity.

So if I'm "down" with "the JCrizzle", what's the part I scorn?  It's the music.

Out-standing in the Fields

I haven't written on politics for quite some time.  It does just keep on going, doesn't it?

The truth is that it's very much "in for a penny, in for a pound".  Where do I start? Or stop?  It ends up being a daunting topic.  It's also a potentially divisive one, given our current climate.  I already feel like I edit what I post to social networks.  While the vast number of my friends thinks some variety of what I do, I do also have some outliers.  And I don't want to lay traps or have friends gang up on those in the minority.  And I don't want the minority to put back against wall and spit venom at all and sundry. 

And isn't it a disservice to say that it's very much "us" and "them"? Take this video from the campaign of Rick Perry, Republican presidential hopeful.

Here's the text, for those of you at work or non-videoed.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As President, I'll end Obama's war on religion. And I'll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.
I'm Rick Perry and I approve this message.

On one level, I'm kind of impressed that anyone stood up and said something that was red meat to their base and anathema to the not-base.  But I suppose I shouldn't be surprised considering there's a very contentious six-way primary battle. Hell, the Republicans have had like a dozen debates, and I think there are at least eight more.  Have they always done that?

For all of its appearance of straightforward "plain" talk, the ad is short on specifics.  Or verisimilitude.  I don't share his opinion that open and "out" gays in the military is a bad thing.  Last year (I think), Britain celebrated 10 years of having homosexuals in their armed forces.  I don't think it's done them any harm.  Still, not liking gays in the military is an opinion so as much as I disagree, Mr. Perry is entitled to it. 

The second half of that first sentence talks about Christmas.  The clause is a little bit strange, since structurally he seems to be saying that kids can't celebrate Christmas.  My favorite comment on this video: "Honestly, if kids 'observed' Christmas any harder in schools than they already do, they would be elves."  That comes from the description of this PARODY VIDEO

When I listen to this, I hear a massive "Onward, Christian Voters" chorus.  Stuff has gone wrong, and it's probably due to traditions!  And that pesky first amendment.  Faith may have "made America strong", but it was also founded and structured in such a way as to keep faith out.  We have freedom of religion here: the state does not collect taxes to fund a particular faith.  Our leaders do not compel the masses to follow a particular doctrine.  The way you prevent other faiths from indoctrinating your children is to keep all of them at the door.  Nobody gets in.

I really don't know why Mr. Perry is worried about Christmas.  We get it as a federal holiday -- a process which (while convenient) skirts a bit close to the church/state wall.  We don't get Hannukah off from work.  We don't all get Eid al-Fitr as a chance to feast.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Beautiful Noise

This morning I was assisting a young saxophone player and her mother.  They had just had some minor maintenance done and were preparing to settle accounts.  I had said some sentences to them sparingly, as they had spent most of their time chatting with the saxophone technician.  In a tip I learned from dating, if people are involved in a conversation it is often rude to infiltrate myself in a conversation just for the sake of being noticed. 

So after saying "Let me see if I can find your account...", the mother said -- half to me and half to her daughter, "What a great voice!  You should be on the radio or something."

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Best Buy things come to those who wait.

Dear Best Buy:

If you take my money for an order, tell me it should process in "0 to 1 days", then can't provide me with a status update or a cancel button on your web page six days later, I need to contact you.

If your automated phone service takes my order number then echoes that the order is "in process", then has the digital gall to tell me to get updated information at the web page, I spend several minutes ranting the silliness at a couple of my coworkers.