Most intelligent thing on this blog…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader feels he must point out the most intelligent thing written on the blog in a long time was just posted. Sadly, your Maximum Leader didn’t write it. It was written by your Maximum Leader’s bro Kevin in a comment to the last post. Here is the good part:

It’s unsurprising that people mix and match components of religious belief and praxis; that’s been happening since the beginning, and is a ubiquitous feature of human culture. Perhaps the issue to focus on, though, is what happens when mixing and matching becomes the prevalent ethos, and depth gets sacrificed in the name of breadth. Any particular spiritual practice takes time to master, and mastery is hard to achieve when you spend all your time gawking at the over-stocked aisles, but never buy anything. A lot of “seekers” miss this about true practice: it takes deep and serious commitment, no matter which path is chosen. Every major tradition contains some form of that admonition, but shoppers — dabblers — ignore it because they’re just too enchanted with all the variety that’s out there.

Of course, many mix-and-matchers aren’t flirting with twenty different traditions at once; at most, they’re supplementing their core practice with elements from just one or two other distinct traditions. I can use myself as an example here. As much as I respect the rich inner life found in Hinduism, I know that Hinduism doesn’t hold the same charm for me that Buddhism does. For me, it’s the Zen form of Buddhism, and just Zen, that has informed (and seriously altered) the nature of my Christian belief and practice. JuBus and others are in the same boat: far from being heedlessly promiscuous in their religious explorations, they’re looking for that one tradition that gives them a Jerry Maguire-style “you complete me” feeling.

The people who creep me out are the truly eclectic ones — the loopy folks who have utterly renounced the scientific mindset in favor of a hilariously incoherent worldview that allows all pantheons and doctrines equal air time. Sense, for these people, is far less important than sensibility. Rationality has left the building.

It’s also unsurprising to see that people still cleave to magical, folkloric nonsense. Healing prayer, evil eyes, ghosts, demonic possession, ESP, ancient astronauts, crystals, blah, blah, blah– these notions fill a need, I suspect, especially in modern societies where the romantic mindset is still cultivated, making the more classically realist attitude seem like cold comfort in the face of a mysterious and dangerous world. Alien abduction fantasies and 9/11 (or moon landing) conspiracy theories all respond to that same need as well. Superstition provides the illusion of sense without actually making sense.

Your Maximum Leader understands the impulse about which Kevin writes. At many levels he feels it himself.

Your Maximum Leader hopes that in himself the impulse hasn’t made him an idiot too. Jury may be out on that count…

Your Maximum Leader will go back to gaining childish delight from the Charmin Bathrooms in Times Square now…

Carry on.

New Poll: Americans superstitious idiots

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees on the Reuters news wire that a new poll by the Pew Center for Religious and Public Life shows that a suprising number of Americans are superstitious idiots. The article doesn’t put it that way and is actually entitled: Many Americans Haunted by ghosts; look to astrology.

Here is a juicy bit:

The poll released on Wednesday showed that three-in-ten Americans say they have felt in touch with a dead person and 18 percent say they have seen or been in the presence of a ghost.

Other Pew surveys have shown that relatively few Americans would identify an Eastern religion or New Age spirituality as their core faith. But about a quarter of those surveyed say they believe in aspects of Eastern religions.

Nearly 25 percent said they believed in reincarnation and 23 percent said yoga was a spiritual practice. Twenty six percent said they believed “spiritual energy” could be found in objects such as trees.

A quarter said they believed in astrology, while 16 percent of U.S. adults think that an “evil eye” exists or that some people can cast curses or spells on others. Among black Protestants the evil eye figure is 32 percent.

What can your Maximum Leader say about this except that he weeps for the future.

Until he read this piece he thought that the worst thing he’s read/see/hear today was the drivel that President Obama was spewing out to a room of unfortunate Norsemen (and Norsewomen) and other dignitaries while accepting his Nobel Prize.

The “evil eye!” Really now! People actually believe that people with “powers” can use the “evil eye” to cast spells and curses… Other than the eyes that Elin Nordegen Woods is using on Tiger now, your Maximum Leader is unaware of a curse laden “evil eye.”

Sad. Just sad.

Carry on.

Enjoy the go!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader realized that a post entitled “Nothing to report” was awfully long for a piece purporting to report nothing…

That said… This post will be much shorter.

You must, MUST, click through and read an account of a (repeat) visit to the Charmin Bathrooms in Times Square.

Your Maximum Leader only wishes it had audio too…

Carry on.

Nothing much to report

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been out there. By “out there” he means “on the interwebs.” Lurking. He’s been reading and ruminating. Occasionally he’ll comment.

All in all he’s not had much that he feels warrants a comment. That is one of the problems of blogging isn’t it. One might read a post (or a tweet or a newspaper/journal article) and say to oneself, “My self, that perfectly encapusates my thoughts on this subject.” But if you don’t actually write a post of your own linking the article/piece in question who the hell knows? Frankly, even if you did write a post and provide a link, who the hell cares?

Meh.

So hows about a post about nothing? Indeed… Lets…

Your Maximum Leader has been spending his free time watching hockey and football. He’s tried reading a few different books to see if something grabs him. He’s been sorely disappointed in his choices. What makes his disappointment more… disappointing is that all the books he’s chosen are recent additions to his library that he’s not gotten around to reading yet. Sadly, your Maximum Leader figures that he’s suffering from some sort of short-attention-span disorder.

Speaking of hockey… This Washington Post piece about the NHL “war room” in Toronto was interesting. The room is much smaller than he imagined. Although he does like the little detail of how the room smells of pepperoni pizza. That makes it all so real. So real. In a way knowing that the room is as small as it is makes your Maximum Leader sort of sad. He was hoping for a “mission control at NASA” feel. Or even better… Dr Strangelove… Alas, it looks like a production room at a secondary studio at a big city TV station…

Anyhooo…

Your Maximum Leader got word from his good friend, Smallholder, to let him know that the hog and steer raised for his consumption have been slaughtered and are going to be butchered this week. Today in fact. Your Maximum Leader has made three calls to the butcher to adjust his cutting instructions. Your Maximum Leader has decided that he needs to get the bacon and one ham fresh from the butcher. (Normally, the cut pieces are frozen for him.) Your Maximum Leader is going to try and make his own bacon and cure a ham this year. He’s got his pink salt in hand and will have to get to curing this weekend if he is going try his hand at ham and bacon. The bacon should be pretty easy to cure. It can be done in a large bag in the fridge. The ham is going to be more of a challenge. He needs more space and time. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how he’s going to manage the ham, but he’s working on it.

Actually, your Maximum Leader trying to figure out the curing of the ham at the Villainschloss has been a mentally taxing exercise.

Moving along…

Your Maximum Leader is disturbed by his use of the DVR. He feels that he is watching more tv as a result of having more control over his viewing choices and times. He records a fair number of programs. By his count he has three shows recorded daily (Pardon the Interruption, The Late Late Show and his guilty pleasure Chelsea Lately). In addition to the dailies, he records only new episodes of 8 other shows. Then there are movies as he finds them on HBO. In his defence, if he doesn’t watch one of the dailies within a day or two of broadcast he deletes them. As they are topical there is nothing like watching old news… But he has a few movies that have been on the DVR for months… Almost half of the last season of Curb Your Enthusiasm remains on the DVR. (NB - Your Maximum Leader loves Curb Your Enthusiasm; but finds he can’t watch more than one episode at a time. The humor is uncomfortable at times and has to be doled out in measured doses.)

It would likely do him well to cut down (or out) a significant portion of tv time. Your Maximum Leader supposes that compared to “regular” Americans he might watch less tv than most. But it is starting to feel like too much.

Sooo…

What the hell is up with Tiger Woods? Your Maximum Leader doesn’t get it. If you are going to be a world famous personality and you know that you like to mix it up when it comes to female company; then why do you even consider marriage? Your Maximum Leader has a certain amount of regard for George Clooney in this regard. Clooney gives off the vibe that he knows he is going to have trouble in a long-term relationship; so he doesn’t enter into one. That is a good thing in your Maximum Leader’s opinion. Know yourself and save yourself (and others) lots of heartache. Your Maximum Leader is at one level shocked and at another amazed by the scope of Tiger’s affairs. Shocked by the numbers and amazed by the efforts that went into meeting/maintaining/hiding the affairs in his schedule. One wonders if he has an assistant helping him in this… Then again, if he had an assistant to help him with these things he might not be in the mess he’s in now.

Concerning Mrs Woods. She is a very attractive woman. That said… Your Maximum Leader finds something disturbing and off-putting about her eyes in most photos he’s seen of her. He’s not saying she has “crazy eyes” or “googly eyes” or anything. There is just something wrong about her eyes to him.

In real news…

Your Maximum Leader reads that the Senate seems to be stripping the “public option” out of the Heath Care Bill. He hopes that soon the “Health Care” part will also be stripped from the bill…

This bill is a mess and just continues to linger on getting worse. One would hope that at some point the Senate would just throw up their hands and say collectively “Fuck this… Let’s pass some stimulus bills, an anti-flag-burning amendment, and declare it National Cocktail Party Month.” After putting the health care measures out of our national misery they could go home for “Winter” holidays and raise money for their re-election. That’s a good plan right? Of course it is.

Carry on.

100 Below: THE high stakes game

The senior member chose the seating arrangement for the tri-annual game. She liked putting the dealer under the grand portrait of Harlan Saunders. The contrast of whites amused her.

“Two please Josef,” she said as she discarded.

“Benedict or Benny please,” the dealer replied politely.

“Right.”

A wide-faced spectacled man entered the room and sat at the table. “Sorry for being late everyone. Liz, thanks for having us.”

“You’re welcome Warren. Buy-in is 2 billion cash or a controlling stake small nation or major bank.” The Queen smiled at him.

The Pentaverate poker game was on.

President’s speech on Afghanistan

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader did not watch the President’s speech on Afghanistan tonight. He was eating a late dinner and then watching “Castle” on the DVR with Villainette #1.

From what he can tell by a quick check of various blogs, CNN and Fox; no one liked what the President had to say. Nary a soul seems to have much good to say…

Hummm… Very curious…

Your Maximum Leader will ruminate on this overnight…

Carry on.

Saint Andrew’s Day + 1

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maxmium Leader took a brief moment to celebrate his Scottish heritage yesterday. Yesterday, in addition to being the anniversary of the birth of the Great Man Himself, was St. Andrew’s Day. St. Andrew’s Day is a bank holiday (as your Maximum Leader understands it) in Scotland. And while it is not Burns Day by any stretch, it is a day of some note in Scotland (and to Scots and those of Scottish ancestry) as St. Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland. Your Maximum Leader celebrated the day by making himself a Scotch Egg for lunch. Longtime readers may wonder if your Maximum Leader imbibed in a little of the Scotch Whisky as well… Sadly he did not. He needed to remain true to his 4th of July pledge to only drink domestic for the balance of the year. (Rest assured he will imbibe a bit of the good stuff at a few seconds after midnight on January 1.)

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader was going on about St. Andrew’s Day…

You know your Maximum Leader doesn’t read Andrew Sullivan’s blog on a regular basis anymore. He is less thought-provoking and more shrill nowadays. But from time to time a series of links lead your Maximum Leader back to ole Mr. Sullivan. Today that link started with a Charles Krauthammer smackdown of ole Sully. (If your Maximum Leader may… One wonders if Sully liked it, the smackdown that is…)

Well, having read the Krauthammer smackdown your Maximum Leader felt as though he ought to read the offending passage by Sully. So he clicked through and read it. (He also found, clicked through, and read Sully’s apology.)

Well… Since your Maximum Leader was on Sullivan’s blog he decided to poke around and see if anything struck his fancy. Lo and behold, something did. That something was this piece on Scottish Independence.

Before moving on to the point, your Maximum Leader tips his bejewelled cap to Sully for choosing such a fine Caravaggio to put into the post…

So… Sully linked a piece in The Guardian on how the Scottish Independence movement stands currently within Scotland; and England. The focus of the Guardian piece is that there are a number of options available to the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Tories when the subject of a referendum on Scottish independence comes up (presumably after the next national elections for the Westminster Parliament). The first choice for Scots is maintain the status quo. The second is for complete independence. The third is tweaking the existing devolution of power to the Scottish Parliament. The fourth is the “devo-max” option. The “devo-max” option is described thus:

The fourth option is the most interesting. The SNP leader calls it “devo-max”, and his opponents call it “independence-lite”. (The Scottish propensity to name political initiatives after fizzy drinks presumably being a backhanded reference to the nation’s notorious sugar habits.) Whatever you call it, though, it basically means the Edinburgh parliament and government getting control over everything except defence, foreign policy and macroeconomics. It would keep the pound, the British army and the Queen.

When your Maximum Leader read that bit he thougth to himself “Wow. That would be just like the arrangement between the Federal and State governments of the United States circa 1790.” He was intrigued.

Sullivan noted, almost in passing, that the removal of Scottish MPs from the Westminster Parliament would cripple the Labour Party in England - as a substantial portion of their majority comes from Labour members from Scotland. This point was, in your Maximum Leader’s opinion, the main thrust of Jackie Ashley’s piece in The Guardian. The political ramifications of either Scotland’s independence or a “devo-max” situation would mean that England would, as your Maximum Leader interprets Ashley’s comments, devolve into a center-right nation. That “devolution” to being center-right and governed by Tories might make Ashley a little queasy; but it sounds just fine to your Maximum Leader.

Of course, your Maximum Leader needs to go back to Sullivan for a moment. You see, Sullivan got a note from a reader that he published and commented upon. The reader points out that Sullivan (and one presumes by extention the Guardian) presented the whole situation from the English perspective. Basically the writer stated that the English seem to like to blame the Scots for all that is wrong in the nation and think it would be better for them to all bugger off. The writer then proceeds to describe the problems as he sees them. (His thoughts are well-put and are commended to you.) He makes a fine suggestion (which your Maximum Leader will touch upon in a moment); and then ends with a bang. That ending for your edification:

And in truth it would probably only do Scotland good to be cast off [from England - ML]. If nothing else, it would force some clear choices about taxation, the size and scope of the public sector, industrial and education and policy, and so on. I’d like to believe that my long-left-behind countrymen-and-women could recreate themselves to be a Tartan Denmark, but I suspect that old political habits would die hard and there’d be a rush to get money from the EU. Still, we’ve already got the chilly disdain of Eurocrats, being shot of the English might not be the worst thing ever. It would be typical if after more than 30 years of talking about finding a new landlord or maybe even buying their own place, Scotland was evicted.

Your Maximum Leader wonders if the nation of his ancestors could, in his view, recover and become a thriving vibrant state without a reliance on social-democratic entitlement programs that seem to sap so much life out of the societies they propose to help. He agrees with Sullivan’s reader in thinking that if Scotland became independent that they would go crawling to the EU for cash. They’d go somewhere. Sadly.

Well… Back to this “devo-max” idea. Your Maximum Leader does think it has merit. Your Maximum Leader thinks that the two nations should maintain a narrowly defined and mutually beneficial Union. That Union should take care of the “macro” issues like defence, foreign policy and macroeconomic policy. As with so many proposals, the devil is in the details. But a carefully crafted Union could work out well for both nations. Sullivan’s reader suggests that rather than having two parliaments after a “devo-max” event that there be three parliaments (or two parliaments and a national assembly of some sort). A parliament for England (sans Scots) one for Scotland (sans English) and one that will handle the narrowly defined issues of “Union” (and contain both Scots and English). Frankly, your Maximum Leader doesn’t see why one would need a full parliament for the “Union” issues. It could be some sort of governance committee with so many members from the Westminster and Edinburgh Parliaments. It likely wouldn’t have to be in session very long each year either…

Your Maximum Leader is intrigued by the whole idea of keeping the Union and re-establishing the autonomy of the component Kingdoms. It worked for the US (a federal system that is) for a while. He wonders if it could work in reverse for the Brits.

Carry on.

Little White Rabbits

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader decided he’d throw the whole “rabbit” thing at you on the first of the month… All three of his kids shouted it at him this morning. Around 6am… It was not fun.

Carry on.

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