Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The N-Word

An excellent article in Slate.  Go read it.
 
Oh, and "The N-Word," in this case, is "Nazi."

Returning to the World of the Living

I'm back, or on my way there. 
 
November has been very busy.  Rewarding, but busy.
 
I am hosting a party on New Years Eve.  More on that later.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

Because of work, we had to cancel our trip to the city to spend Thanksgiving with my mom.
 
Happily, she has her friend Joan, and she still has the invite to Hope's -- Hope is a wonderful hostess, and I will miss her and her hospitality this year.
 
James, I understand, got a last minute plane ticket back to the Buckeye State.
 
Instead of Thanksgiving in the city, it will be Thanksgiving in Geneva -- with my Dad's wife's family in the afternoon.  While it was not the plan, it is a fine alternative.  Bunny and Jim are fun. 
 
And in a fine moment of serendipity, I ran into cousin Pat this morning at Starbucks at Cedar-Fairmount.  He was surprised to see me, as he thought I'd be on my way to the city by now.  But now Gina and I will be joining Pat and Beth for "Tom & Jerry"s Thanksgiving evening at their home in Shaker Heights.   Aunt Betty will be there too.
 
What is a Tom & Jerry?  It is a hot drink with whipped egg, rum and brandy, a little nutmeg. 
 
I am sorry I'll be missing my mom.  And I am a little bummed that Gina and I won't be travelling to the city this holiday.  I was looking forward to Kristen tagging along for the ride.  Well, another time.  The city isn't going anywhere.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday Talkback

It isn't Thanksgiving yet, but here is a winter holiday Monday moan:

"Now that many stores are going to be wishing us Merry Christmas, how do I respond if Christmas isn't my holiday?" - Beachwood

Now, I suppose you have heard that some stores, like WalMart, have backed away from wishing people the more inclusive "Happy Holidays" and are once again wishing people "Merry Christmas."

Part of me thinks that conceptually, the message of Christmas carries meanings that transcend the religious. The spirit of good tidings and cheer associated with Christmas can be separate from the religious underpinnings. I gag at those revolting billboards that read "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," as the early church selected the time of the winter solstice to celebrate Christmas because the pagans were already celebrating at that time. Converting to Christianity did not have to mean giving up your winter holiday festivities.

But the thing is, lots of people don't see it that way. Lots of people, Christians and non-Christians alike, see Christmas as only a religious holiday. Thus, some Christians take offense to the idea (like I suggested above) that non-believers can share in the good tidings and cheer associated with Christmas without accepting Jesus as their personal savior (or something to that effect). Likewise, some non-believers, like this Monday Moaner above, are at a loss. They don't celebrate it in any form, and don't care to be wished a Merry Christmas.

The fact that some stores have backed away from the more pluralistic "Happy Holidays" is a bit sad then, in considering that. It seems when you speak with the people who were most upset with the so-called "War on Christmas," they wanted stores to switch back to wishing people a Merry Christmas because that is, as far as they are concerned, the true holiday of the season. That they want the message of Christ to remain in the forefront. That they want the holiday season to be more exclusive and less inclusive. It is as if they don't want you celebrating Christmas unless you subscribe to their view of Christ.

I respectfully suggest that if a store decides to cater to those people by now wishing all of their customers a Merry Christmas instead of a Happy Holiday, then let those people shop at those stores, and you who take offense at the suggestion, you should take your money elsewhere. That is what I would do. You need not say anything back, though you certainly can -- and knowing me, I would. But that is what the stores respond to: the bottom line. And Christians aren't the only ones who shop.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tuesday Talkback - Executive Edition

Too many moaners this week, and too little time for me to face them all. Today I present the special select Executive Edition of Tuesday Talkback.

"I think it's a disgrace that Tops stores are discontinuing their off-brand products. A lot of people cannot afford the brand-name items." - Cleveland

Ummmm, don't you think that has something to do with the fact that in just a few weeks, all of the Tops stores are either being sold or closing? I suspect Giant Eagle doesn't want to assume Tops' off-brand lines, because Giant Eagle has their own. And if you think you can't afford the brand-name stuff, how do you think the hundreds of soon to be laid off Tops employees feel?

"I wish I could have told these politicians what I think of their solicitation calls." - Mentor

Most of these politicians have offices with phones. And people who answer them. Call them! It may fall on deaf ears, but you don't have to just wish. You actually can make those calls!

"As a senior citizen, it is hard to check several times to see if we have mail. It doesn't even come close to the same time every day." - Brook Park

I don't understand this expectation that the mail is supposed to come at the same time every day. This isn't the first time I've heard this. The mail comes when it comes. The only complaint should be if it doesn't arrive at all on a given day, or if they stick it in the wrong place. If you don't want to keep looking for it, then wait till late in the day to check your mailbox. And if you want your mail first thing in the morning, get a PO Box, as mail usually gets delivered to PO Boxes before the carriers even go out on their routes.

"I'm so tired of sending a gift check to my grandchildren and not receiving a note or call to say thank you. Shame on their parents, too." - No city

Easy. Stop sending the money. I bet you'll get a call then. As for shaming these kids' parents, shame on the parents' parents for not raising them right either. Oops, that would be YOU, grandma.

"I moved back to Cleveland hoping to find the Cleveland I'd left. But what I found was an area taken over by foul-mouthed, ungrammatical, smoking morons, whose ineptitude at driving is exceeded only by their stupidity at choosing local leaders. And Dennis only provides the national spotlight on Cleveland's continuing joke status!" - Fairview Park

There's no place like home! I'm not exactly sure when you left Cleveland, Dorothy, but Dennis didn't exactly just arrive on the scene. He was elected Mayor of Cleveland in 1977 and was mayor when the city defaulted in 1978. He made national news then, too. Where've you been the last 30 years?

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Cleveland Police Officer Beckwith Badge 1047

I worked till after midnight. And as I pulled out of my parking garage I was so wound up, that I thought a beer on the way home sounded nice. It had been a long day. So I head over to Ohio City to go to the Bier Markt. I'm thinking Belgian.

By the time I got to W25th St, I felt the wiser about having a drink. I realized how tired I really was. So I decided to just skip it and drive home. I meant to turn onto Lorain from W25th Street, but I missed the turn. And in my confusion to figure out where I might turn around, I apparently crashed a red light too, because the next thing I know, I am being pulled over by the Cleveland Police.

I was taught long ago to keep your hands up on the steering wheel where they can be seen. Officer Beckwith, Badge 1047, walks up to my window and demands my license and my proof of insurance. I provide these without incident, making no sudden moves. It is late, it is dark, and right now I am really glad I hadn't touched a drop to drink. He hands me back my proof of insurance, and takes my drivers license back to his cruiser.

He comes back a few minutes later with a ticket written out for running a red light, and lists it as a fourth degree misdemeanor due to a speeding conviction within the last year, and thus I get a mandatory court date. He tells me to sign it. I point out to him that the address at the top of the ticket is my old address and ask him if he'd like my new address, and he tells me he doesn't care about that. I then see the court date is the day before Thanksgiving and remember that I'll be out of town. I ask him if it is possible to assign me a different date right now. He tells me he cannot, and that if I want another date, then I need to go to the clerk of courts next week and sign a waiver and they'll just give me another date there. Sign a waiver? I ask him what kind of waiver. He says "a waiver." I'll admit, I don't have a lot of experience with traffic court, but I was skeptical that they'd be so accommodating. So, next to the signature line -- where the revised address information would go if he'd have wanted it, I begin to write, "Per Officer Beckwith, date can be continued upon signing waiver." Only I don't get to finish writing that. Officer Beckwith forcibly grabs my left wrist and the ticket (and the metal box it sits on) out of my hands, slamming my left hand right into my steering wheel and he starts screaming at me: Did I tell you to write that? Did I tell you you could write anything except to sign your own name? Am I going to have to treat you like my four year old? What did I tell you to do? What did I tell you to do? And I'm dumbfounded -- literally I don't know what to say. And then he says, you want me to arrest you? You want to spend the night in jail? I'll pull you out of this car right now and take you down to jail. And I'm thinking, well, no, I really don't want that. But I just look at him, and I start to tell him that I was just writing down -- and he interrupts me -- tells me to shut up, that you don't get to write down anything. I didn't tell you you could, all you are allowed to do is sign your name. So I look at him, and say, "can I do that" or something to that effect. He jams the box back into my hand -- which is throbbing at this point -- and I sign the ticket. And then, get this, the copy of the ticket he gives me -- he had already torn out (which I am also confident the police are not supposed to do) -- so my copy doesn't have my signature or the note I tried to write in the margin of the ticket.

I was pretty angry at this point. I rode down to the Cleveland Police Second District stationhouse on Fulton and got the complaint form. I normally give police officers a lot of respect, and lot of slack because their job is difficult. But the actions of this officer were outrageous, unnecessary and uncalled for. He overreacted, and he had no business putting his hands on me. And as I type this, my hand still hurts from when he grabbed me and slammed my hand into the steering wheel.

For all my gripes about the redlight cameras, I've never been assaulted by one.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Greg Hits Hollywood

From Greg Benson ... who brought us the joy that is "Swappin' Heads."

Cleveland -- and Nottingham Spirk -- Noticed by the NYT

It is great to see Nottingham Spirk's church renovation/conversion -- and various other Cleveland projects -- get attention in the New York Times.

Post-election Thoughts

Blackwell conceding by 9pm -- he was so far out of that race even Ken Blackwell couldn't steal it.

Dann over Montgomery for AG -- both campaigns were nasty and brutish, but Betty Montgomery's was so nasty that this may have been her undoing.

Dems sweep all statewide non-judicial offices except auditor. Did the public respond positively to Mary Taylor's ads that she was a CPA? Or negatively toward Barbara Sykes for her support of Bob Taft's tax hike? Was it Sykes' inarticulateness? Was a need by the voters to somehow split their ticket and award one office to the GOP? Was it racial somehow (though Ohio had no problem before electing Blackwell as Sec'y of State.)

Terry O'Donnell over Bill O'Neill for Ohio Supreme Court. Nice run on principle there, Bill, refusing to take any campaign donations. In light of that, getting 41% of the vote looks pretty good. Except that the larger point in any political campaign is to WIN.

Sherrod over Dewine -- wow, I really thought it would be closer than a 10 point difference.

Nationally -- the Democrats take the house, and the Senate remains up in the air. The senate races in Montana and Virginia are too close to call, but the Dems have razor-thin leads in both. Given that Montana will probably be called Tester-D over Burns-R, watch for the lawyers to swarm on Virginia as they did in Ohio and Florida. The stakes are too huge not to happen, for the very control of the Senate is at stake. The Dems need 51 (49 plus the two independents, and socialist Sanders-I of VT and Lieberman-I will align with the Democrats) in order to have a working majority. And while the Dems having won the House is big, winning the Senate too would be huge. How huge? Reagan lost the Senate in 1986 election, and the Iran-Contra hearings followed. Remember how a Republican controlled House and Senate pounded on Clinton during the last two years of his administration?

Despite the dreadful voting machines and the gerrymandering of congressional districts, the message looks clear: change the course, Mr. President. What you are doing is not working, and the American people do not approve.

Finally, the Tennessee senate race. I'll be interested in looking into this one further. From what I can tell, the race was a dead heat between Corker and Ford until the RNCC ran that dirty racist "call me" ad. I wanted to discount the worth of that ad, that anyone who was a bigot wasn't voting for Ford anyway. But polling shows what appears to be a cause and effect between the running of that ad and the race separating to give Corker the lead over Ford. That was disgusting, and even if it swayed things in Tennessee, maybe it swayed a few things elsewhere as well, against the GOP, once that ad received national attention. Between this ad and the litany of other below-the-belt and straight-to-the-gutter ags run by the RNCC, I think a lot of people are going to remember the dirty and divisive politics played by the GOP this year, as they should. Here we are, over 140 years removed from the Civil War, over 50 years removed from Brown v. Board, and a major political party still plays to prejudices and wins in Tennessee.

But in the meantime, we're waiting on Montana, and waiting for furies to be unleashed in Virginia. The first colony, the capital of the confederacy, the home of Washington and Jefferson and assorted Lees, and soon to be the site of some very interesting legal manuveuring by teams of election lawyers. Stay tuned. Now the fun really begins.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Early Election Returns Say "Wait Awhile"

We aren't going to know who won for days, at least not in a lot of the local races, and maybe not even in some of the closer statewide races.

An estimated 27,000 absentee ballots received after last Friday by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections won't be counted today.

They are projecting an estimated 22,000 provisional ballots, which may or may not be counted.

This is all in addition to the 3,100 overseas ballots, which get an extra 10 days to return -- and that's fine.

But that means a lot of races could be too close to call tonight, especially county-wide races. It is highly improbable that the uncounted would deviate greatly from the counted. 27,000 uncounted votes shouldn't all be for the same candidate in a contested race. But in a close race that's just a couple thousand votes apart, it could swing.

I guess I did something besides marching band...

You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Thanks, Jack-Be-Nimble!

Tuesday Talkback

As if the elections weren't moaning and talkback enough, I give you Tuesday Talkback.

"A week before Halloween at Ridge Park Square in Brooklyn, Christmas lights were on and lit. Every year the holiday gets shoved down our throat earlier and it's not a surprise that I'm sick of it when it actually shows up." - Parma

A few Christmas lights two months before Christmas has nothing on the months and months of political campaigning that finally (hopefully) ENDS TODAY. And after a week, all of those yardsigns left on treelawns and vacant lots will look as bad as a Christmas tree on MLK day.

"Yes, let's turn the church sanctuary into a boxing ring to illustrate a sermon and promote violence. Makes sense to me." - Lakewood

I am not sure what this person is talking about, but ... when you sat down, NAMBLA gave you a standing ovation. No, it doesn't make sense to say that here either.

"These drivers who just dash out, pulling in front of you in traffic, as if to say, 'If you don't want to wreck your car or cause an accident, you'll stop!' " - Cleveland

As if to say? No, that's what I'm saying! Pretty much: "Go ahead and hit me, and sit here for the next couple of hours doing paperwork."

"I am begging the manufacturers of clothing to please not add spandex to the material! This makes it very difficult to iron and, within an hour of wear, the clothing looks slept in." - North Royalton

Spandex is difficult to iron, I suppose. I question why anyone would want to. Perhaps this person irons her nylons too? I guess I just haven't noticed the spandex sneaking into the clothes that I wear. Hmmm.

"A big, fat jeer to the Ohio Lottery for playing the first holiday commercial of the season on Oct. 30. It's a commercial about their new holiday cards and has Christmas music, etc. - Euclid

A big fat jeer? This isn't Friday's Cheers and Jeers -- this is Monday Moaning. You supposed to say "A big fat moan." Get it right!

"I enjoy the evening tri-colored light show on the Lakeside Courthouse from the Shoreway, so why have half the lights been burned out in the eastern portion for most of 2006?" - Cleveland Heights

This lighting, while pleasant, isn't exactly what I'd call a "light show." No more so than jogging down the driveway to get my newspaper would be called "the Iron Man." But when I drove by the Old Courthouse the other night, it was all lit up the same as it has been for some time.

"I thought I would be calling for Thankful Thursday but, unfortunately, I'm calling for Monday Moaning. I lost my wallet at the Browns game. I understand if you're hard up for the money, but you could have at least turned in my wallet." - Middleburg Heights

Everybody who goes to the Browns game loses money, except maybe Randy Lerner.

"Why is it every time I coast and try to save a little gas when I come to a red light, some driver behind has to speed up, pass me and I end up behind the bumper of that vehicle a few hundred feet down the road? This country could save a lot of gas if drivers would just alter their driving habits." - Avon Lake

A lot more gas would be saved if you got off the road altogether. And my last nerve would be saved by not being stuck behind some jackass who thinks he's saving the world by slowing me down.

"I received not one, but two, notices from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on where to go to vote. It has the name, address and voting location. Then I read in the paper that you cannot use these as identification, and I got two, no less. It's a waste of taxpayers' money." - Cleveland

Providing you notice of the location of your polling place is a waste of taxpayers' money? In your case, perhaps it is.

"I work in a bar. If you are an adult, I think you should be able to smoke in a bar, racetrack, casino, anywhere a minor shouldn't be in the first place. I could see a restaurant or public place where you have children could be smoke-free. But you have a choice to go to the bar." - Cleveland

Ah, because it is only the lungs of minors that should concern us and be kept smoke-free. I see...

Actually, I'm surprised there weren't more issues oriented moans this week, such as:

I've got this money burning a hole in my pocket, and I'd rather hand it over to Forest City Enterprises locally than drive to Detroit and leave it at the casino in Greektown.

Or maybe:

I engage in addictive behavior that will eventually kill me, but if I could pay 50 cents a pack to the arts while I do that, at least I'll have died for a good cause.

Maybe next election.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Random Thoughts

I drove the Vapor Trailer to work today.  I love having that Indian Summer.
 
The Belgian Waffle at Bob Evans is $4.99.  A single hotcake is $1.39 or something like that.  The waffle, while good, was not three times better than a single hotcake on the side of my eggs.
 
The treelawns along Chester Avenue are loaded with campaign signs -- including two rather large Blackwell signs that seemed as futile as they were large.
 
I spotted a ramp off of Chester that alternated different Sutula signs -- John's red-white-blue sign alternated with Kathleen's pink-black-white sign.  Since I expect to see Sutula in Kathleen's pink and black, I always doubletake when I see John's signs.
 
I spotted a Peirce - Libertarian for Governor sign in front of a home on Silsby in University Heights over the weekend.  I'd seen them on Chester, but this was the first one I'd seen in front of a house.  I love the libertarians, but I can't help but wonder -- if his house catches fire, does he put it out himself?  Haha, cheap, I know.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Call Me St. Audient, the Adopter of Adult Kitties

This is Kyle. He is six years old and he hails from Philadelphia -- a Pennsylvania boy just like me. A little porker too -- so we have two things in common. He was a little unsettled about moving in with me on Sunday, but with each day he is making himself more and more at home.



This is Lola. She's four years old and Kyle's companion. She was a little unsettled herself, but more so I think by how upset Kyle was. She likes to pass out downstairs next to the bar. I'll say it so you don't have to: my kinda girl.

They both love to chase the feather. They both eat dry food, though I understand Kyle will eat just about anything (and I think that he probably has!) They both have their claws, and so far, both have been well behaved and scratch only their scratching posts. And my hand that first day, but that's just about healed by now.

Gina's friend Susie's coworker Jeremy -- is how we came to meet the new kitties. Gina and I went over to Jeremy's on Sunday. Jeremy cares about them very much, but needed to give them up. We'll make sure they have a good home, and I assured him that if there are any problems, I'll let him know. I know how hard it is to give up a kitty, so I wouldn't want him to wonder if they are ok.

Say hi to the new kitties...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints Day

An interesting Op-Ed HERE.
 
Even though I am not a practicing Catholic, I still grew up in the church.  It is a part of my background, for better or for worse.  And I tend to think for better.  If I had never known it, I could not be as critical of it as I am now.
 
And in that vein, it is interesting to reflect on how some of the saints were people who stood up against the church and paid a heavy price for doing so.  With beatification and then sainthood, the rightness of their positions, and the sacrifices they made in an effort to be good catholics, were vindicated. 
 
When thinking about those people who did stand in the way, it is good to remember that there have always been people who, in the name of God, held uncompromising positions, and were flat wrong.  There are people today, people who inject their faith into politics, who are unwilling to compromise because to compromise their position would be to compromise their faith.  Well, you can believe, and you can think you are virtuous and true in your belief, and that does not change the fact that you can be wrong when you attempt to apply those beliefs to the world around you.
 
Religion, at its best, is a motivational tool for exercising self-control.  At its worst, it is a weapon for exerting control over others.  If a man of faith choses to live his life a certain way, then God love him for doing so.  But when he requires the law of the land to reflect his beliefs and impose them on all others, then he is an enemy of freedom.  For to give up your own personal freedom voluntarily to lead a life you believe is virtuous is your right.  But to take that freedom from others is not.

B-b-b-b...wha?

Wouldn't these look sporty on a Volvo or a Saab?