October 31, 2006

mask

(“Evil Tiki Mask” courtesy of the folks at Halloween Mask.com)

Here’s a poem fitting for this day:

The victim, who tried to run away
Lay in parts, just outside the doorway
On the porch
Between the two front windows
At the exact center of the cleft
Of the whole house cut in two.

Not far off
In nearby trees, you could see
A large arm, still brandishing an immense axe–
And peering back
The satisfied
Assassin’s eye.

Ooooh – that’s real spooky, eh? This, and more spooky poems by Michael Benedikt can be found here.

Happy Halloween from Goodboys Nation!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:27 | Comments (0)

That was some nor’easter they got all along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard this past weekend, eh? Parts of Maine were especially hard-hit, with hundreds of thousands of people in the New York City area without power at one time during the height of the storm.

(Funny, I don’t recall experiencing any kind of similar conditions here in Gilbert, Arizona last weekend. Strange…)

Bryan Woods at The Storm Track has this cool story about what it was like up on the Mount Washington (NH) summit, where they recorded subsequent wind gusts of 151 and 158 miles per hour (!), and a 10-inch snowfall to cap an October that featured 34 inches, the second highest total on record for the month of October.

I always looked forward to that first major storm that would barrel up the East Coast every late October-early November, turning trees loaded with their fading fall foliage to bare branches in a day’s time. In the next few weeks the yellows, oranges and reds of early fall will be transformed into the browns and grays of November, awaiting that first cold snap and the prospect of the first snow. A lot of people out here in AZ consider snow (and cold, for that matter) a four-letter word; I never felt that way and hopefully will see some when I get back to MA after Christmas (God willing!).

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:49 | Comments (0)
October 30, 2006

moana OK, I’m officially undergoing Hawai’i withdrawal, and it’s all because of Moana Chang’s lovely “Boat Days In Hawaii” CD I received in the mail while I was back East last week. Ahhhhhh……

Listening to it for the first time brought me back to that lovely moment I mentioned in my brief recap of the highlights of our vacation, hearing a band playing Hawaiian music on the Aloha Tower pier beneath our ship as it slipped silently out of its berth and towards the Pacific and our 7-night voyage around the Hawaiian Islands. The music that night was incredibly lovely to behold, the female voice who sang in Hawaiian alternatively hauntingly or cheerfully beautiful, depending on the tune being played. I’ll always remember hearing the soft strains of “Aloha ‘Oe” slowing fading into the distance as the sounds of land and civilization were gradually replaced by the breezy, nautical sounds of a cruise ship underway in the tropical moonlight.

One can imagine my delight, then, at discovering that the Moana Chang CD I purchased almost as an afterthought while perusing through various tiki bar accessory websites (and there are literally dozens of them out there!) just so happens to be by the very same artist we heard serenading us that night on the Aloha Tower pier. This, from the liner notes accompanying her CD:

“…In 1999, Moana got involved with the Aloha Boat Days Committee, a perfect pairing with her talents and passions! As Music Coordinator for Aloha Boat Days, Moana Chang and her Aloha Tower Entertainers provide the world’s most gracious welcome and farewell at Honolulu Harbour. This compact disc is a compilation of favorites from Moana’s Aloha Boat Days repertoire.

Way cool! By pure coincidence, we have a lovely little reminder of our Hawaiian cruise experience available at the push of a button. Who woulda thunk it? It’s only been a month, but here in the suburban confines of our Arizona subdivision, Hawai’i seems a place long ago and far away, indeed. But thanks to Moana Chang and her lovely CD, the weeks and miles melt away and we’re once again there, if only in our imaginations.

So, if you want to experience for yourself a little bit of the magical and festive atmosphere that goes with being on a cruise ship departing from the Honolulu pier on a lovely tropical evening – at a fraction of the cost! – you can’t do any better than Moana Chang’s “Boat Days In Hawai’i”. Aloha!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:36 | Comments (0)
October 29, 2006

wild life “Wild life, whatever happened to…
Wild life, the animals in the zoo?” – “Wild Life”, Paul McCartney and Wings

Awright, so neither the album nor the song are very good, but it’s an “all wildlife, all the time” day here at Goodboys Nation! Earlier, we did the big blue, now its on to terra firma

* First off, some good news – Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro continues his long recovery from his near-fatal injury at the Preakness. There’s actually a University of PA Veterinary Medicine Center blog devoted to updates on his condition. It’s great to see that the horsey is obviously loved and being incredibly well taken care of, and the blog is a nice touch.

* This story about stupid animal rights activists in Switzerland really bugs me (my bolding):

Animal rights activists who broke into a circus to liberate a rare white tiger changed their minds after seeing it – and took a bunny rabbit instead.

Campaigners from the Swiss faction of the Animal Liberation Front had earlier told Circus Royal director Oliver Skreinig they planned to steal the Siberian tiger and hand him to a zoo.

But when they broke into the circus enclosure and saw the animal they changed their minds – and stole a rabbit instead.

The liberationists then posted pictures of themselves online wearing black army uniforms and balaclavas and holding the rabbit.

Skreinig said: “The pet rabbit was not even in the show, it belonged to our clown’s six-year-old daughter.”

Pretty pathetic, huh? Here’s my question – after getting the tiger, where’d they think they were gonna put it – in the back seat of their Chevrolet? A dining-room sized pet carrier? For both the clown’s daughter and her bunny rabbit’s sake, I sure hope these creeps have the guts and compassion to return it to her. While many animal activists have their hearts in the right place, these jokers were not just stupid, but cruel and mean as well. And The Great White Shank hates cruel and mean. (Hat tip: Polipundit)

* Those eclectic folks at Free Republic provided this National Geographic story link about things not looking very promising for the hippo population in a Congo wildlife reserve. I find this particularly heart-breaking:

Hippopotamuses are being butchered by the hundreds inside a Central African wildlife reserve, conservation groups report.

An aerial census conducted yesterday put the hippo population in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at 629

This represents a 98 percent crash in numbers since the 1970s, when there were some 30,000 animals, according to the Frankfurt Zoological Society based in Germany, which carried out the census.

In recent weeks about 400 hippos have been slain, according to Emmanuel de Merode, head of the Africa Conservation Fund based in Kenya.

The killing is being blamed on Congolese militia currently operating inside the park. The rebels are believed to be eating and selling hippo meat and taking the animals’ teeth for ivory.

Not is not only tragic, but a disgrace as well; just don’t expect the government to step in and do anything about it. Between the increasing expansion of radical Islam, the ongoing AIDS epidemic, the Darfur tragedy, and the usual cabal of incompetent and corrupt dictators sucking from the trough of their poverty-ridden populations, Africa is in a greater mess than ever before, with no real hope in sight. Perhaps the Colonial Powers of the 19th and early 20th century were not always acting in the best interests of their possessions, but they did bring a sense of order to things, and you didn’t have the rampant chaos and corruption there is now. Of course, that’s not a very politically-correct thing to say, but the fact is, Africa is not, and will never be, able to take care of itself politically and economically. And its never the people in power who suffer.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 10:19 | Comments (0)

News item from the other day: Icelandic whalers kill first fin whale.

Can someone tell me why, in the 21st century, we still need to be hunting whales? Look, I’m no tree-hugging, enviro-wacko like these folks (although I will admit to avoiding stepping on ants and letting insects out of the house instead of executing them on the spot), but one would think that between the world’s rapidly-expanding aquaculture industries, new technologies, and an increasing global awareness of the need to better manage our precious and diminishing natural resources, a practice as outdated and unnecessary as whale-hunting would have by now been the stuff of old, fantastic stories told by Jack London and shared by intrepid old salts over a whiskey and a crackling fire.

I remember saying a number of years ago that I could foresee the day when nations would use their navies to protect the oceans from renegade nations that refuse to honor or sign international treaties designed to protect fish stocks and endangered species in the big blue. I sure hope things never get to that point, but when I read about things as senseless as the hunting of whales in this day and age when it’s common wisdom that their numbers need to be protected, it makes you wonder how close we are to that day.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:58 | Comments (0)
October 28, 2006

rc cover Although a confirmed Episcopalian in membership and a Anglo-Catholic in both my spiritual worldview and religious practice, over the past several months I have enjoyed attending on an occasional basis a Roman Catholic church down the street from me. Partly because it’s close, partly because I like the 4 PM Saturday Mass time (why more churches don’t do this is beyond me), partly because I’ve enjoyed the services, the sermons from their priests, and the music, and partly because of all the crap going on in the Episcopal Church (TEC) these days with all the dissatisfaction and gradual disintegration resulting from the ongoing war being waged against conservative (i.e., “orthodox”) parishes and members who’ve had enough of its socially-progressive, gay/lesbian agenda following the consecration of openly-gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson three years ago.

But it wasn’t just convenience or dissatisfaction on my part that got me seriously considering Roman Catholicism. Earlier in the year, I was both impressed and moved by the book “Rome Sweet Home – Our Journey to Catholicism”, by Scott and Kimberly Hahn. The Hahn’s were life-long, Scripture-centered, militantly anti-Catholic Presbyterians (Scott himself a pastor) who came to discover in Catholicism what they both felt was the true vehicle and voice for God’s Word in its sacraments, doctrine and practices. The book struck a chord in me and made me want to undertake a similar kind of journey of my own.

One night, I met our veterinarian at the pizza place Tracey and I do our usual Friday night take-out. An active member at his non-denominational church, we’ve ended up having lengthy and interesting conversations whenever rabbit checkups have brought the two of us together. When, this particular night, I told him I was attending St. Anne occasionally and at least thinking about the possibility of becoming a Roman Catholic, he looked at me like someone who had swallowed an anchovy the wrong way.

“How could even consider that with all the clergy sex scandals in the Church?”, he nearly shouted. When I told him that, of course, this was something I too was concerned about (after all, as a former resident in Bernard Cardinal Law’s Archdiocese, where some of the most egregious abuse cases took place, I was well aware of both the Vatican’s and the American church’s shortcomings in this regard), he chided me for even considering joining an institution that, as he said, “covered up and mishandled, from the smallest parish priest all the way up to Pope John Paul II, the abuse of children.” While I replied (and still believe) that the RC Church is hardly alone among institutions – religious and secular – that have had problems in this regard, our conversation certainly gave me pause about the journey I had embarked on. If indeed I was to consider converting to and embracing Roman Catholicism, I felt it important that I satisfy myself right up front that the Church was taking a strong stance against sexual abuse and abusive priests to ensure this kind of thing would never be allowed to happen again.

But how to find that out, I wondered. Given the limited amount of time the fine RC pastors at St. Anne have to pastor their own parishioners – let alone some Anglo-Catholic potential RC wannabe – I figured the best route would be to try and seek responses from various RC resources on the ‘Net and the blogsphere. So one day, I sent a number of e-mail inquiries to a variety of places: the most influential orthodox Catholic mouthpiece on cable television, Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network, to one of the bloggers at Roman Catholic Blog (a blog I frequent and always enjoy), and, given my familarity with his book, to Scott Hahn at his own personal website. In my e-mails, I simply presented myself as a long-time Anglo-Catholic considering a move to Roman Catholicism and asking where I might find answers to concerns I had about the Church’s response to the clergy sexual abuse scandals.

Surprisingly, there was no response. Not a one.

So back to my search I went, and, truthfully, it wasn’t that easy. Ultimately, however, at a website called Catholic Answers, I found this response from a Fr. Roger Landy (interestingly, at the very bottom of a list of other questions relating to Church doctrine, practice and such), but even in his thoughtful and rational presentation I found this troubling observation:

Do we have to do more to support the victims of such abuse? Yes we do, both out of justice and out of love. But not even that is adequate. Cardinal Bernard Law has persuaded many of the medical school deans in Boston to work on establishing a center for the prevention of child abuse, which is something we should all support. But that by itself is not sufficient.

Talk about the fox guarding the hen house! Not only should Cardinal Law be sitting in some dank, dark jail cell for harboring known sex offenders and moving them around, thus allowing them commit even more acts of abuse, but he got a nice gig at the Vatican as a reward. For Fr. Landry to use Cardinal Law as a model for actions the Church should be taking to prevent sexual abuse is not only laughable on its face, but an indication that the Church has yet to take seriously the actions of one of its foremost American bishops who, along with the Archdiocese of Phoenix’s Bishop Thomas O’Brien, became the poster-children of the scandal itself.

Fr. Landry is absolutely on target when he writes, “There are always people …who use excuses for why they don’t practice the faith, why they commit spiritual suicide. It may be that a nun was mean to them when they were nine or that they find the teaching of the Church on a particular issue too burdensome. There are many people these days who say, “Why should I practice the faith, why should I go to church? The Church can’t be true if God’s so-called chosen ones can do the types of things we’ve been reading about!”; nevertheless, I don’t consider myself among those he is talking about. While my faith in the Church as a holy and godly institution has taken more than a couple-two-three hits in recent years, I haven’t lost my Christian faith – I’m just looking for a suitable berth where I can dock my Anglo-Catholic boat that fits the place I am spiritually now.

(BTW, if you’re interpreting this post as a form of Catholic-bashing or yet another argument to buttress your own negative feelings about the Catholic Church or Christianity, you’ve come to the wrong place. Personally, I have no problem or axe to grind with the RC church – I love its Mass, respect its sacraments, practices and traditions, revere its saints, and support its political pro-life stands on abortion, the death penality, embyronic stem-cell research and euthanasia. And, I’m not gonna let the abhorrent practices and behaviors of some bad apples in a HUGE barrel turn me away from the Church, practicing my faith, and worshipping my God – after all, there remains much, much more good in what Christian churches do worldwide than bad. And, I happen to like and respect the new Pope and will be interested in seeing the kinds of changes he imposes to restore some of the faith and trust in the RC Church lost as a result of the clergy sexual abuse scandal. [Of course, reading recent stories like this and this shows he's still got his work cut out for him.] Nevertheless, my thoughts and prayers are with him daily.)

So where does that leave me, you ask? Looking for an Episcopal or Anglican congregation in the area that I can visit and feel comfortable in. It may not be easy, but there’s something about re-embracing my Anglo-Catholicism that feels right and tells me this is the way to go. Where I end up, only God knows, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted along the way.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:56 | Comments (0)
October 27, 2006

Rioting by Muslims youths appears to be back on the rise again in France. This particularly portion of the AP article caught my attention (my bolding):

The overnight attacks and recent ambushes on police have raised concern about the changing character of suburban violence, which is seemingly more premeditated than last year’s spontaneous outcry and no longer restricted to the housing projects. The use of handguns was unusual — last year’s rioters were armed primarily with crowbars, stones, sticks or gasoline bombs.

Regional authorities said the Nanterre bus line, which passes near Paris’ financial district, had not been considered at a high risk of attack. Francois Saglier, director of bus service at the RATP, said the attacks happened “without prior warning and not necessarily in neighborhoods considered difficult.”

The RATP was to meet later Thursday with unions to determine which routes would be changed or limited in response to the unrest. Unions demanded that the RATP allow drivers to exercise their right to stop work in case of imminent danger.

Don’t think other European governments like Belgium, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Germany aren’t paying close attention to this, for I’m thinking it’s becoming pretty clear to them that for far too long they have allowed unchecked immigration to overwhelm their own native populations, which are emigrating the heck outta there to other countries. Unfortunately, the toothpaste is out of the tube, so to speak, and there’s virtually nothing these governments can do to prevent the same thing from spreading and expanding without some form of confrontation. Unless the French were to really get tough – and I’m not sure they have either the desire or the courage to do so, a bad situation is only bound to get worse. When abhorrent behavior – in any form – is not countered or checked early on, those doing it are only emboldened.

And Powerline has more, including this link and the following:

The most spectacular incident took place at 1AM between Bagnolet and Montreuil. A gang of 10 pistol wielding hooded youths boarded the bus. One of the assailants placed his gun on the side of the bus driver’s head and ordered him to get out of his seat. The gang commandeered the bus, drove it a short distance and torched it in a neighboring suburb. Appropriately enough, the bus was torched at Montreuil’s Lenin Square.

How big a problem is Europe facing? Only the end of its western form of culture and civilization as they have known it. One of my faves, The Anchoress, is cross-blogging over at Captains Quarters, and she highlights an interview given by the always fab, always incisive Mark Steyn to Human Events magazine, in which Steyn rings the death knell for Europe and European culture and discounts the idea that the march of civilization always goes forward, never backward:

“Basically the European nations are dying and the populations in them are turning into relatively hostile Muslim populations, not all of them terrorists, but all of them, almost all of those people not sympathetic to America and American interests. And I feel that the great assumption that we all have, that the present tense is somehow permanent, or that it’s like technological progress. You know, it’s like, cars don’t go backwards. You don’t suddenly have a Cadillac Escalade and you go out into the yard one morning and it’s turned into a Ford Model T and it’s got a rumble seat and all kinds of other stuff in it. You take the view that—we think that social progress is like technological progress, that it can never be reversed, but I think it can be reversed and I think a lot of the world is going to be re-primitivized in the decades ahead and America has to change.”

The Anchoress gets it right, I think: “For as long as I have been reading Steyn, he has used demographics to powerfully make his point. He does so in this book as well, and the numbers are sobering. “America Alone” is a book you will want to read, and I urge you to. The world is going to look very, very different in another generation, and your children will be dealing with it. You need to anticipate it.”

Finally, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is someone who definitely gets it, and this column he posted at National Review Online ought to be required reading and a wake-up call for everyone out there who thinks the Global War on Terror is just George W. Bush’s paranoia and presidential obsession. Even if Santorum’s run for re-election this year falls short, he needs to be considered a major player in the 2008 Republican presidential sweepstakes.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comments (0)
October 26, 2006

Silly me – I was always taught that trees and bushes added value to your property. Evidently, that’s NOT the case out here in Gilbert, Arizona, where the neighbors on two sides of our property have complained about: a) the mesquite tree that drops little mesquite tree leaves into their swimming pool, and b) the lemon tree that has had the nerve to extend some of its branches over our dividing wall by a good foot or so.

I’ll admit it – I’m perplexed by these nonsensical, nattering nay-bobs of neighborly negativity. You see, I’ve seen the yards of these neighbors: the people complaining about the mesquite tree have zero – ZERO – landscaping in their teenie-weenie back yard that contains their in-ground pool and nothing else – just a swimming pool, some stone-covered ground, and a bare cement wall (very attractive!), and the guy complaining about the lemon tree uses that side of his yard for storing his trash and recycleable barrels. I’m thinking, you should be pleased to have Mother Nature intrude on your yard areas that could stand a little sprucing up. But no – the word is out: constrain those dreaded wandering trees and bushes, or we’ll do the trimming ourselves!

Want to know how business is done out here in the borderlands of the southwestern U.S.? I call a local tree company that advertises on the radio. The lady at Andy’s Tree Service is very nice, but she informs me that any visit would cost a minimum of $500, and, since all I have is a single tree problem, she suggests I do some shopping around, “if you know what I mean.”

Mmmmm. I love code-speak. “If you know what I mean.” Out here, “shopping around” means, take the underground economy route.

I talk to Carmelo, our landscaper who comes by once a week. I ask him to take care of the offending lemon tree limbs, which he says he’ll gladly do, and then ask him about the mesquite tree. “Sure, I know a couple of guys who can do the work”, he says, “I’ll ask them to come by over the weekend.”

Fast-forward to Sunday morning, 8:30 AM. The doorbell rings, and I stumble out of bed, throw on some clothes, and answer the door. Eduardo and Luis tell me they’re here to look at the tree. I show them the tree and Eduardo says it’s about an hour, hour and a half’s worth of work. He asks me, “How much?”

I scratch my head and the stubble of my beard. “Ummm…how about $150?”

Eduardo and Luis look at each other and a pained look of expression crosses their faces.

“OK, how about $200?”, I ask.

“Cash?”, says Eduardo.

“Cash”, I reply.

“OK”, Eduardo says, “we’ll do it.”

“Great”, I reply, “what day would you like to come by?”

“We’ll do it right now”, says Eduardo, as Luis has already headed for their truck to get the necessary equipment.

Which they did, climbing up in the tree and along the walls, clipping and cutting as efficiently and effectively as a Marine Corps barber on the first day of boot camp. An hour and fifteen minutes later, the tree has a lovely trim, the yard has been impeccably swept, and Eduardo and Luis enjoy my offer of cold soft drink as I fork over the $200. I ask them if they have a business card, and they just laugh, thanking me for the work as they head back to their truck.

You can complain all you want about border enforcement and illegal aliens, and the pressures our open borders put on various corners of our economy, but down here this is the way work gets done, and, coming from a place like New England where all people and politics is local and kinda provincial, it is an amazing thing to behold, indeed. When they say America is, more than anything else, a land of opportunity, they ain’t just whistling Dixie.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:23 | Comments (3)
October 25, 2006

Last week I mentioned that one of the reasons I became motivated to vote early and often (well, at least early…) in this year’s mid-term elections was the disgraceful “official” state 9/11 Memorial erected near our state capitol. The design, which includes inscriptions that criticize the United States and the Bush Administration – for example, “Erroneous US air strike kills 46 Uruzgan civilians,” “You don’t win battles of terrorism with more battles”, “Foreign-born Americans afraid”, and “Congress questions why CIA and FBI didn’t prevent attacks” – has been praised by our liberal moonbat governor Janet Napolitano, but has faced increasingly hostile criticism in the weeks since its design was unveiled.

(Note: If you haven’t been following the controversy, Michelle Malkin has it covered from just about every angle, both here and here.)

Yesterday, on KKNT’s “Liddy and Hill” show, I heard it announced that the Arizona Legislative Governmental Mall Commission (which oversees the grounds upon which the 9/11 Memorial has been erected), after a push by commission member and former Marine Corps Col. Tom Smith, would have the memorial either covered up and/or dismantled until a formal decision could be made on its final design.

I haven’t seen anything about a formal decision in the local or national news yet, but this article from the October 20 Arizona Republic provides ample evidence of Smith’s intentions:

Arizona Capitol Mall Commission chairman Tom Smith is calling for the state’s 9/11 Memorial to be covered up until the group that OK’d it meets again and revises its controversial etchings.

Smith said at a mall commission hearing Wednesday he would send his recommendation to the state Department of Administration, which recently took over the deed to the donor-funded monument. Wednesday’s commission meeting was for discussion only and no action was taken.

“If it were up to me, I’d cover up all 54 (statements) until they convene and come up with new ones,” said Smith, a former state senator and a retired Marine lieutenant colonel.

Flopping Aces also has more on this, including first-hand coverage of the commission meeting mentioned above and word of a planned October 28 rally to have the memorial (or at least the inflammatory inscriptions on it) taken down. (Hat tip: Little Green Footballs)

Hopefully, we are starting to see some much-needed commmon sense brought to an ill-advised and controversial design that, rather than bringing people together (as it should have done), has divided them politically for no good reason whatsoever. And the fact that Governor Napolitano not only allowed such tasteless and inappropriate inscriptions to be placed on a memorial constructed on her watch, but has both praised its design and chided those who would complain about it, shows just how out of touch and clueless she is, and why she needs to be defeated in the elections two week’s hence.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:21 | Comments (0)
October 23, 2006

Great to be back in Arizona after a long day of flying yesterday. Little appears to have changed while I was gone – the fall grass seed Carmelo planted has come up thick and green, despite every effort by the local mourning doves to sabotage the effort. The front bushes are ready for their “winter” trim, just as the palm trees await their feeding, and the swimming pool its every-other-year draining. The lime tree is chock full of limes, and our new rabbit “The Big Nipper” and the other male in the house, Marble (a.k.a. “The Big Kahuna”) actually appear to be less hostile to one another when separated nose-to-nose by the rabbit room fence. The tiki bar in the backyard sandbox looks as cool as ever (pictures and story coming this week), and our FM clock radio issues (more on that this week as well) have not subsided. After a long day yesterday, it’ll be an early night tonight, and I’ll be blogging back at ya tomorrow.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 18:24 | Comments (0)

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