Musings from Southern New Mexico

Month: July 2013

Your Media

I have spilled imaginary gallons of electronic ink decrying the quality of our media. Yet I find the recent hubbub involving news reading airhead Lauren Green’s interview with Professor of Religion Reza Aslan unimportant. I suppose it is possible to become jaded that a typical news reader is hired largely for aesthetics, as the former Miss Minnesota suggests. I did make some half-hearted comments in various social media.

Below is quoted from Whatever Works:

Green: “It still begs the question though, why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?”

Aslan: “Because it’s my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That’s what I do for a living, actually.”

My comment:

Mr. Aslan is a scholar in religions. A professional news reader (with a graduate degree in journalism, no less) doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the phrase “to beg the question.” Yet this hackneyed stereotype (former beauty queen turned TV news reader) incorrectly uses the phrase in questioning the religion expertise of a professor of religion at a major university.

On an old Army friend’s posting, a former colleague wrote this comment:

As poorly as the interviewer conducted herself…she raised a valid set of questions….and the supposition is that (just like a Christian scholar can hardly write – even with “scholarly authority” – on Judiaism or Islam, Buddhism, Mithraism…etc…..(her question, at least least in my view, was never answered).We are the sum total of our beliefs….and it will, and does, (because it defines our ethos) affect our views, our “studies” etc. COme on guys….this man converted as an adult…which requires a SEE (significant emotional event). Of course it is going to affect how he studies, writes, theorizes. Duh. All the more reason to be skeptical while reading his book…makes it all the more enjoyable.

My comment:

If a person does not worship Zeus, he obviously can’t write with “scholarly authority” on the Olympian gods.

That’s also why no scholarly work has ever been done on the Nordic or Mesopotamian gods.

Ultimately, though, I can barely get up the energy to climb upon the soapbox to point out the abject ridiculousness of the infotainment approach to journalism. It is no longer like beating a dead horse. Rather, it is like standing downwind from the much scavenged beast, which is now clearly in a gruesome state of decay and yelling the obvious at annoyed passersby.

Update: I shouldn’t neglect to point out that the only other place I have heard the name “Aslan” was as the lion (the obvious Jesus character) in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Where Must We Spend Our Attention?

Slogging through the swamps of our media, I am assailed by this question. Often, this is in the form of some poor TLC drivel note even worthy of ridicule. What brings it to mind today, however, is a number of recent conversations I have had. It bothers me to no end that items that would generally fit the description of local news end up becoming the topics of discussion dominating the proverbial water coolers around the country. Among these are the Zimmerman case. The basic facts of the case are that an armed man saw a black teenager, followed him, then killed him. These basic facts would seem to require an overwhelming amount of contextual mitigation to overcome. I can only assume that the context that would convince a jury of reasonable people included whatever weapons the boy carried (and here I don’t mean “boy” in terms of a male person not yet of voting age, I mean it like a fine gentleman like Mr. Zimmerman means it: one of those people), the verbal threats that no doubt lasted the duration of the stalking, and the completely unprovoked assault that must have occurred at the close of the undefined stalking period.

I only wish someone could present me with a non-absurd scenario in which the above could have happened.

I somehow doubt that will ever happen.

But if nothing else, this story has taught us a lesson. In conjunction with the story of the woman whose warning shot at an abusive husband cost her a 20 year sentence, this story has shown us two key facts about Florida justice:

  1. If you pull a gun on someone, shoot to kill.
  2. Don’t be black.

Words to live by.

Manly Men of the World, Rejoice!

The armed belly crawlers among us can rest easy. Mouth breathing juries in two states have affirmed the legality of that age-old tradition of reacting to uppitiness with deadly force. Members of the lesser races or the lesser gender risk legal execution for refusing to accede to the demands of a manly white man.

To recap the heroic story of manly hero George Zimmerman:

A large man sees a small teenager suspiciously blacking up his neighborhood (truly, what is the point of living in a gated community if negroes suspicious people are allowed in?). After police refused to help Zimmerman deswarth the block (even going so far as to tell our law-abiding-standing-his-ground-tough-guy hero to leave the perpetrator of this flagrant melanin pollution alone), Zimmerman practically had no choice but to stalk the no doubt future criminal (I mean, look at him, hoodie, dark skin, and all) for a time and, when confronted, ventilate him with a manly gun.

As for the heroic story of manly attempted john Ezekiel Gilbert:

When a man hires an escort from Craigslist, it is assumed that the term “escort” is in quotes (as shown). That is to say, the legal avocation of paid escort is supposed to be a mere euphemism for the illegal occupation of prostitute. If, as in this story, that is not the case, it is clearly within a man’s rights to shoot the not-whore in the neck.

With a manly gun.

Update: I should also mention that, to date, every single defense of Zimmerman that I have heard contained one or more dogwhistle racist claims. Interestingly, something else I have heard from Zimmerman defenders is the Reefer Madness defense, implying that Trayvon Martin was “all hopped on the merry-jew-wannah,” and probably desperately violent as a result. Having attended college for over a week, and/or a single music concert not taking place at a grade school, I can say that violent pot aficionados are probably not very common. As well, I find it interesting that most of the “he has used marijuana, which implies he could break into a murderous rage at any moment” crowd have used marijuana in the past themselves. As I am not among the estimate 42% of American adults who have used marijuana, I will have to take their word for it that weed renders one prone to violent rampages.

The Fourth

I left late today to catch the local small-town fireworks. As I approached the area of interest, I became aware that many of this town’s inhabitants had the same idea. I retreated from the center of activity, parking in the first semi-deserted parking lot I could find. People sitting in the same parking lot with lawn chairs told me that this was probably about as good as I would do. As we began the trek in the general direction we thought we should be going, we could see the density of people and vehicles increasing. Not knowing really where the fireworks show would be, we just stopped at a conveniently open area to wait and see where the fireworks would be.

For some time, we witnessed the occasional fairly impressive pyrotechnic. My son repeatedly asked if that was the start. I told him he would know when it had started.

After a good 40 minutes of standing around in an otherwise unremarkable patch of ground, we saw a rocket go up that was clearly a part of the main event. I was amazed by how quickly that detonation was heard. It was close. Looking down, I saw that the launch location was probably less than 300 m from us. I could see each item from launch to detonation. After a number of items had gone off, I began notice debris falling on my person. Within minutes, my son was complaining about something in his eyes. Not only were we close, but we were as close as one could get without being chased off by security (which I would witness a few minutes later). Overall, it was a great show with a resounding ovation at its conclusion.

The fact that we were passing, on foot, the cars leaving the various parking lots along the way, meant that we had been lucky enough to stumble upon the ideal situation. I am very tired, though, and have to work tomorrow.


Today was the latest in a string of odd coincidences. Living in the desert during the third year of drought in a long string of droughts, we do not often encounter rain. I have three cars. In the last two weeks, I washed one car for the first time in at least a year. The second was taken in for routine service. The third was taken in for repair. After each newly cleaned vehicle was received, we had rain within hours. If I were the superstitious type, I might make something of this. Today, I finally started a small project I had been putting off for quite some time. I bought a quarter ton of concrete to pour a slab for the exterior unit of the heat pump system I purchased over two years ago. Given that we’ve had 3.6 inches of rain in the past 12 months, I find it grandly unfortunate that the day I chose , from among last 700 or more days, blessed us with rain.

I appreciate the rain. I only wish it weren’t so inconvenient.

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