April 2007 Archives

Keane - An Introduction To Their Music genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Keane is another in a long line of bands from the United Kingdom. The group struggled for recognition for a number of years before 2003...the year they recorded their first record to garner any recognition. The band released its first full album in 2004, Hopes And Fears, which sold over five million copies.

In 2006, they released their second album, Under The Iron Sea. The following is a sampling of their music. Let me know what you think of them.

Nothing In My Way

A Bad Dream


Daniel DiRito | April 29, 2007 | 6:30 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Real Time With Bill Maher: New Rules 04/27/07 genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Another classic set of New Rules from Bill Maher. I especially liked his rant on mustard and the part where he suggests that President Bush is a crazy person...and provides a video clip and a few other examples to prove his point.

Daniel DiRito | April 29, 2007 | 6:26 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Premiere of LOST IN DC genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts

Now that David Broder has explained to me how Alberto Gonzales and Harry Reid are both "springtime exhibitions of ineptitude" I have suddenly found myself with a better understanding of the Bush administration. Had I only realized sooner that a war cannot be lost if it never ends, I could have felt the relief that comes with unmitigated denial. Thank you, Mr. Broder, for providing this tasty morsel of enlightenment.

If only I had known earlier that I could cease listening to the Democrats suggest that we are losing the war in Iraq, I would have been able to come to grips with the length of the war, the cost of the war, the deaths that have resulted from the war...all the while knowing full well that we will eventually win this war. I owe my newfound clarity to Mr. Broder and for that I am eternally grateful...especially given the fact that this war may well take an eternity to win. Such symmetry is rarely found. Unfortunately, I must lack the wherewithal to see the obvious.

Here's a Washington political riddle where you fill in the blanks: As Alberto Gonzales is to the Republicans, Blank Blank is to the Democrats -- a continuing embarrassment thanks to his amateurish performance.

If you answered "Harry Reid," give yourself an A. And join the long list of senators of both parties who are ready for these two springtime exhibitions of ineptitude to end.

President Bush's highly developed tolerance for egregious incompetence in his administration may have met its supreme test in Attorney General Gonzales, who at various times has taken complete responsibility for the firing of eight U.S. attorneys and professed complete ignorance of the reasons for their dismissal. This demonstration of serial obfuscation so impressed the president that he rushed out to declare that Gonzales had "increased my confidence in his ability to do the job."

As if that were not mind-boggling enough, consider the mental gyrations performed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as he rationalized the recent comment from his majority leader, Harry Reid, the leading light of Searchlight, Nev., that the war in Iraq "is lost."

[...] Reid's verbal wanderings on the war in Iraq are consequential -- not just for his party and the Senate but for the more important question of what happens to U.S. policy in that violent country and to the men and women whose lives are at stake.

Given the way the Constitution divides warmaking power between the president, as commander in chief, and Congress, as sole source of funds to support the armed services, it is essential that at some point Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi be able to negotiate with the White House to determine the course America will follow until a new president takes office.

To say that Reid has sent conflicting signals about his readiness for such discussions is an understatement. It has been impossible for his own members, let alone the White House, to sort out for more than 24 hours at a time what ground Reid is prepared to defend.

Instead of reinforcing the important proposition -- defined by the Iraq Study Group-- that a military strategy for Iraq is necessary but not sufficient to solve the myriad political problems of that country, Reid has mistakenly argued that the military effort is lost but a diplomatic-political strategy can still succeed.

The Democrats deserve better, and the country needs more, than Harry Reid has offered as Senate majority leader.

I wish I had Broder's critical thinking skills. When Harry Reid said that the war in Iraq is lost, I mistakenly thought he was arguing that the manner and methods employed in Iraq to this point are a failure and that more of the same would only serve to support a losing proposition. Knowing that most Democrats and numerous other opponents of the Bush administration's prosecution of the war have long argued that we must find a political solution to the conflict led me to believe that Reid was simply stating the obvious...but Mr. Broder, with his vast breadth of objective reasoning saw through Mr. Reid's remarks.

Broder suggests that Reid's incoherent posturing will make it impossible to negotiate with the President...a man Broder apparently knows to be reasonable, rational, and amenable to considering alternative approaches to the war in Iraq. Senator Reid, in his shortsightedness, has seemingly precluded the possibility of a meaningful dialogue focused upon crafting a revised strategy that will be mutually satisfactory.

Again, my shallow observations had led me to conclude that the President's recently announced and enacted military surge was in fact a preemptive signal that he intended to continue seeking a military solution...and that he wasn't amenable to an open dialogue focused on a far different approach.

Fortunately, after reading Mr. Broder, I realized that it is in fact the Democrats and those opposed to the Bush administration's prosecution of this war who are pursuing strategies that are inflexible and arbitrary. I stand corrected.

If this country is to ever exit the island of illusions that has become the hallmark of the Bush administration, the last thing we'll need is to enlist more men like David Broder...men who forego intellectual honesty in favor of far fetched fabrication.

In the meantime, I think Mr. Broder would be an ideal candidate to make a cameo appearance in the recently launched television series...LOST IN DC. The following graphic is a preview of what the viewer can expect.


Lost In DC

Daniel DiRito | April 26, 2007 | 1:48 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Daily Show: Why Bush Still Supports Gonzales genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Another great piece by the Daily Show. In this clip, John Oliver explains the actions of the President to blindly support Alberto Gonzales and other members of his administration. The strategy is basically this..."If Congress continues to question the President; he will unleash his army of idiot-geniuses". This is a must watch because it’s such a simple explanation for the frequently counterintuitive behavior of the Bush administration.

Daniel DiRito | April 25, 2007 | 6:55 PM | link | Comments (1)
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The Jesus And Mary Chain - Just Like Honey genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

After disbanding in 1999, The Jesus And Mary Chain are reuniting for an appearance this weekend at Coachella, a three day music festival in Indio, California. The song Just Like Honey was featured in the movie Lost In Translation. Given the violent history of The Jesus And Mary Chain, it seems like an odd coupling but, in many ways, the song is perfect for the disaffected and detached theme that runs through the movie.

For those unfamiliar, performances by the Scottish group often involved band members facing away from the audience, concerts lasting less than a half an hour, and most ending with the destruction of the bands equipment and audience rioting.

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Just Like Honey

Daniel DiRito | April 25, 2007 | 11:46 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Renovations In Progress - Pardon Our Dust genre: Indie-Script

Just a heads up that Thought Theater is in the process of making a few site alterations and updates. We've moved around some of the column content and we're adding a feature to allow each reader to select the color theme that they would prefer to use in viewing the site. In the past, we've rotated through the six different color themes...leaving each theme in place for approximately a week at a time. Going forward, site visitors will be able to choose the theme they like.

We're hoping to have all the changes completed by weeks end. Thanks for your patience and thank you for continuing to visit Thought Theater.


Renovations In Progress

Daniel DiRito | April 24, 2007 | 2:35 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Alberto Gonzales: When Will The Canary Sing? genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Singing Canary
Despite the widely held belief that last weeks testimony by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before the Senate Judiciary Committee was an embarrassing disaster, the President continues to be his most loyal supporter. In fact, the President stated that the Attorney General "answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer". The New York Times has an update on the President's position with regard to his embattled Attorney General.

WASHINGTON, April 23 — President Bush said Monday that the Congressional testimony of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales last week, roundly panned by members of both parties, in a way had “increased my confidence in his ability to do the job."

Mr. Bush has repeatedly asserted his confidence in Mr. Gonzales, a longtime adviser, as criticism has mounted over the dismissals of eight United States attorneys.

But his statement on Monday was his first direct comment about Mr. Gonzales since the attorney general appeared before the committee, and it was at considerable odds with an overwhelmingly critical assessment of his testimony by members of both parties. It indicated that Mr. Bush, at least for now, has concluded his attorney general can weather the challenge to his leadership at the Justice Department, barring any evidence of wrongdoing.

That challenge had seemed all the more daunting as of Sunday, when Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the committee whom both sides view as a barometer of support for Mr. Gonzales, appeared on “Fox News Sunday" and said, “The attorney general’s testimony was very, very damaging to his own credibility," and that his continued tenure was “bad for the Department of Justice."

One senior Republican Congressional aide at work in Washington on Monday, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, called Mr. Bush’s statement that his confidence in Mr. Gonzales had grown after his testimony “curious"; another senior Republican aide asked, “Was he watching the same hearing as everyone else?"

“I will stay as long as I can be effective, and I can be effective," Mr. Gonzales said in response to questions about his plans.

Mr. Gonzales said he needed to spend time on his priorities, like combating terrorism, drug abuse and the danger to children from the Internet.

So I guess we can conclude that the Attorney General and the President will continue to ride the same horse they've ridden since 9/11 and at virtually each and every bump in the road. If the 2006 midterm elections were a barometer on the voting public's acceptance of this familiar rhetoric, one would think they might craft a new message.

“If the attorney general’s hearing performance increased the president’s confidence in his ability to lead the Justice Department, then he’s setting the bar fairly low," said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, in a statement on Monday.

"The attorney general broke no law, did no wrongdoing," Mr. Bush said. "And some senators didn’t like his explanation, but he answered as honestly as he could. This is an honest, honorable man, in whom I have confidence."

And, if Mr. Gonzales were to step down, officials argued, it would wrongly lead the public to conclude that he had done something wrong.

They sure wouldn't want the public to think that anyone in the Bush administration would do anything wrong...and more importantly they wouldn't want to admit as much. Actually, my own preference is that Gonzales remains Attorney General. I think from a strategic perspective, he does the Democrats more good remaining in office and there is little reason to believe that his replacement would be any better. I've come to expect the status quo for the duration of the President's time in office. That being the case, every misstep should be a welcome benefit for the opposition.

Since I doubt little will change between now and January of 2009, I thought I might as well have a little fun at the Attorney General's expense. It was evident from the hearings that Gonzales wasn't going to sing...so I've taken the liberty to suggest some more fitting tunes for his next performance.

Attorney General Walking

Alberto Gonzales Walking?

Daniel DiRito | April 23, 2007 | 8:30 PM | link | Comments (0)
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If Only Someone Would Have Spanked Cho genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

It's always interesting to see the religious fanatic’s perspective on current events. If it isn't Pat Robertson blaming Katrina on Ellen DeGeneres and gays or Jerry Falwell blaming 9/11 on gays, abortionists, feminists, and pagans or Reverend Phelps blaming military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan on gays, it's the American Family Association blaming Virginia Tech on the separation of church and state. I found the following video at No More Mister Nice Blog and it offers the latest message from the AFA explaining how banning God from schools is responsible for pretty much everything that ails the nation.

The Day They Kicked God Out Of The Schools

Well there you have it...schools raise our children and we are helpless to impact the minds of our children because once the schools get hold of them, it's all downhill from there. But then again...I went to Catholic schools for twelve years and had far more religious training than reciting a prayer in the morning and I still ended up gay...and that happened without the help of any altar boy obsessed priest.

So what conclusions can we draw from my own life? Perhaps if we consulted the AFA, they would explain that "right living" depends upon what type of God one is exposed to in school...maybe Catholic school education isn't an acceptable presentation of God? I'm sure they can also explain why women had abortions before Madalyn Murray O'Hair and why boys had sex with girls before condoms were provided in schools and why there were gay people when sodomy was illegal.

Yes, society used to be perfect and everyone had a conscience and there was no violence, no infidelity, and no sin...ah the good old days! If we would simply put God back into the schools, nothing bad would ever happen...because we know that children cannot be influenced by the behavior of their parents...just teachers and peers.

Oh, one last thing...there is a charge of five dollars to receive your copy of this message...consider it a donation to God's latest enterprise. After all, it costs a lot of money to conjure up the next natural disaster to punish all the bad people.

Daniel DiRito | April 23, 2007 | 12:50 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Canadian Province Introduces Ban On Cyber Bullying genre: Nouveau Thoughts & Uncivil Unions

I Want Change

Just two weeks ago the blogosphere was engaged in a debate about the appropriateness of implementing a standardized code to monitor and maintain web civility. Now a Canadian province has introduced legislation to make cyber bullying a punishable offense. The measure would allow schools to suspend students for personal attacks upon teachers or fellow students. I think it's an interesting development in light of the heightened concerns raised by the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech.

(Toronto) "Bullying is bullying'' whether it's done online or in a schoolyard, Premier Dalton McGuinty said as his government last week introduced new legislation to add cyber-bullying to the list of offences for which a student can be suspended or expelled from an Ontario school.

Changes to the province's Safe Schools Act were introduced to stop students from posting comments, pictures or videos attacking another student or teacher on popular online sites such as YouTube.

It's the first time either physical or online bullying will be formally prohibited in provincial schools.

"Whether you do it online by way of the latest technology or you're doing it in person or over the old fashioned telephone, it still causes pain and suffering,'' McGuinty said before a Liberal caucus meeting.

"It's unacceptable, and I'm proud of the fact our safe schools act will in fact broaden the gambit of offences and take into account bullying and cyber-bullying.''

Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday she wants to help students grapple with the new technologies they use and to teach them to start taking responsibility for their online actions.

But Wynne said she will also make sure troubled students who are suspended or expelled get a chance to return to school by providing $31 million a year for new programs to help them.

"Bullying is not currently listed as an infraction, and it's about time that we recognized the seriousness of these behaviours.''

When I posted my thoughts on the web civility issue a couple weeks ago, my focus was primarily on the behavior of adults and I expressed my concern that the internet is only the latest in a long string of venues for people to demonstrate their incivility.

In the last week, I also expressed my concerns that society needs to explore the dynamics that are leading to more and more troubled children and the prevalence of violence within the school setting. While I don't know the full details of this Canadian proposal, it makes some sense to address civility in children if our goal is to begin the process of altering the growing demonstrations of conflict and contempt.

I realize that schools cannot be a substitute for sound parenting in the form of guidance by example...but I also realize that if we are to have a chance at stemming the tide of incivility, children are our best hope. I find it encouraging that this Canadian measure allocates funds to assist in changing the behavior of those who commit these infractions. Again, it seems like a practical place to start, although I would need to have a much better understanding of the proposed legislation.

The Ontario Teachers' Federation welcomed the proposed changes to the Safe Schools provisions, noting that Monday's ``tragedy at Virginia Tech has everyone thinking about students and their safety at school.''

``Teachers in Ontario are happy that the proposed legislation includes bullying, cyber-bullying and bullying of teachers as an infraction that could lead to suspension or expulsion,'' said federation president Hilda Watkins.

"This behaviour is unfortunately spreading, especially in cyberspace.''

The opposition parties agreed bullying needs to be dealt with, but accused the Liberal government of failing to provide schools with adequate resources to ensure student safety.

Conservative education critic Frank Klees complained the government had few details in the bill.

If nothing else, it signals the beginning of a dialogue that may attempt to address the growing acceptance of vitriol and violence that seems to have become an integral part of our human exchange. It seems like a far better approach than looking to restrict song lyrics or to shut down comedians and television programs that simply parrot and parody the symptoms of a much larger societal ailment.

Until controversial songs and shows no longer speak to the valid feelings held by viewers, these types of communication will be perpetuated by a growing demand and an unlimited supply of new artists and advocates. Changing the culture must start at the source. Banning music or speech is akin to the century's old practice of banning books. It didn't work then and it won't work now because it doesn't extinguish the emotions that drive their creation.

Civility is not achieved through declarations or directives...it is achieved when a majority of individuals believe that it is a viable and valid decision that will serve to enhance both the individual and the society. That is the task at hand...and it is no doubt a formidable one. Nonetheless, progress will only be made when we acknowledge this fundamental reality and begin the difficult process of changing minds.

Daniel DiRito | April 23, 2007 | 10:49 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Scissor Sisters - Kiss You Off genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Kiss You Off is the latest video from Scissor Sisters. I think it is one of their best. It has a real retro feel. Some of the band on stage scenes remind me of a combination of the set of the Mike Douglas Show and Hullabaloo. Yea, I know...where did I come up with that? See what you think and let me know. Enjoy.

Scissor Sisters - Kiss You Off

Daniel DiRito | April 22, 2007 | 1:23 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Happy Earth Day genre: Snapshot Thoughts

Earth Day - Building in Paris

Daniel DiRito | April 22, 2007 | 10:05 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Catholic Church Says No To Limbo genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Tongue-In-Cheek

When I was growing up and attending Catholic schools, we were taught that a child that died before it was baptized went to Limbo and remained there forever. For a number of years now, my dad has been asking what happened to Limbo because he hasn't heard it talked about by anyone within the Church hierarchy. Well, it appears that Limbo has passed away. The Church's Theological Commission (are they licensed like Realtors?) issued the ruling today.

From Reuters:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Roman Catholic Church has effectively buried the concept of limbo, the place where centuries of tradition and teaching held that babies who die without baptism went.

In a long-awaited document, the Church's International Theological Commission said limbo reflected an "unduly restrictive view of salvation".

The 41-page document was published on Friday by Origins, the documentary service of the U.S.-based Catholic News Service, which is part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The verdict that limbo could now rest in peace had been expected for years. The document was seen as most likely the final word since limbo was never part of Church doctrine, even though it was taught to Catholics well into the 20th century.

"The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in revelation," it said.

The document stressed that its conclusions should not be interpreted as questioning original sin or "used to negate the necessity of baptism or delay the conferral of the sacrament".

In writings before his election as Pope in 2005, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made it clear he believed the concept of limbo should be abandoned because it was "only a theological hypothesis" and "never a defined truth of faith".


Well isn't that interesting. When my peers and I were taught about Limbo, the priests and nuns failed to mention that it was merely a hypothesis or that it wasn't yet part of Church doctrine. I can't say that this surprises me because it has been my experience that the Church functions along the lines of "you better believe this or else...until we tell you that you no longer have to believe this". Would anyone care for a dish of arbitrary and capricious? I hear it's quite tasty though difficult to swallow. But then I do have a bad habit of forgetting how the notion of infallibility works.

Perhaps the Church has realized, in this instance, that fear (don't let that baby die before being baptized a Catholic) may no longer be as effective as it used to be in keeping the flock in tow. One final point...do not make a mistake and think that you can site this example for the reconsideration of other "teachings"...after all, we followers aren't privy to the inner workings of where hypothesis ends and doctrine begins.

Fortunately, it allows me another opportunity to have a little fun with Photoshop.

No More Limbo

Daniel DiRito | April 20, 2007 | 11:40 PM | link | Comments (1)
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The Daily Show: The Bush Definition Of Progress genre: Just Jihad & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Jon Stewart figures out the mystery behind the President's belief that we are making progress in Iraq...for the umpteenth time. Those struggling to see the benefits of the most recent troop surge...intended to make more progress in Iraq...will quickly realize that we have actually been making progress in Iraq for a long time now. You just need to understand how progress works in the Bush administration.

Daniel DiRito | April 19, 2007 | 6:55 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Let's Blame The Atheists genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

Big Questions

I realize that events like the tragedy at Virginia Tech are highly emotional and lead to countless reflections...but today I found one that elicited a double take. The posting is titled "Where Is Atheism When Bad Things Happen?" and it was written by Dinesh D'Souza who is employed at Stanford University.

Notice something interesting about the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings? Atheists are nowhere to be found. Every time there is a public gathering there is talk of God and divine mercy and spiritual healing. Even secular people like the poet Nikki Giovanni use language that is heavily drenched with religious symbolism and meaning.

The atheist writer Richard Dawkins has observed that according to the findings of modern science, the universe has all the properties of a system that is utterly devoid of meaning. The main characteristic of the universe is pitiless indifference. Dawkins further argues that we human beings are simply agglomerations of molecules, assembled into functional units over millennia of natural selection, and as for the soul--well, that's an illusion!

To no one's surprise, Dawkins has not been invited to speak to the grieving Virginia Tech community. What this tells me is that if it's difficult to know where God is when bad things happen, it is even more difficult for atheism to deal with the problem of evil. The reason is that in a purely materialist universe, immaterial things like good and evil and souls simply do not exist. For scientific atheists like Dawkins, Cho's shooting of all those people can be understood in this way--molecules acting upon molecules.

If this is the best that modern science has to offer us, I think we need something more than modern science.

Oh my...where to begin? OK, seriously, I understand the point D'Souza is attempting to make and I can even appreciate his effort to dismiss atheism in little more than three paragraphs...but I struggle with his insinuation that atheists like Richard Dawkins would view the Virginia Tech tragedy as nothing more than molecules acting upon molecules.

Can this event be scientifically characterized in that way? Of course...but that's true of virtually all actions. D'Souza and other like minded scholars frequently seek to paint atheism as heartless and without conscience. It's the same battle the Catholic Church has waged against secularism for as long as I can recall. The argument basically posits that non-believers must therefore be something approximating ruthless hedonists who spend all of their time trying to disprove God through science. I respectfully disagree.

Even the title of D'Souza's piece is part of the propaganda. Is he suggesting that there weren't any atheists in attendance at these memorial events or that they would refuse to attend one? The truth is that many atheists are humanists, hence the term I heard so often during my Catholic upbringing, secular humanists. No group has a monopoly on grief nor should anyone attempt to draw those comparisons or conclusions.

So what then is D'Souza actually suggesting? I read a blog called Pharyngula, a science blog, and they have frequently debated topics that involve the intersection of science and religion. A number of months back, the site did a posting that asked the question, "Does Science Need Religion To Have A Conscience?". The following discussion is from a Thought Theater posting on the topic and I think it speaks to the assertions made by D'Souza:

PZ Meyer, the sites author, wrote:

"No, we don't need religion for that. Atheists can have a conscience, too, and we are aware that there are human limits to what we should do. Too often, religion is used as a justification for doing the inhuman to heretics and unbelievers...and to pagans. It's a piss-poor substitute for morality, unless you think propping up the obscenely rich or damning people for what they do with their genitals is "morality" (and isn't that also an awfully petty concern for their majestic deity?)."

You can read the entire post and comment thread here.

The following was my comment posting:

I'm not a religious person and I don't believe in an afterlife. Ironically, while I also won't stake a claim to being a Christian in the defined and institutional sense of the word, I am content to support the notion that the examples offered by a man (fictional or factual are irrelevant to me) named Jesus can guide us to change. His is the story of a social critic who dissected the fallacies and hypocrisies that permeate the human experience. He did so at great personal risk because I believe "he" saw it as I choose to see it...if one man can elect to pursue and follow "truth", then he is entitled to believe and expect that all men can do the same.

In doing so, when each individual makes this necessary choice, we will cease pursuing and negotiating for a better, future destiny...and we will finally live heaven on earth. Our destiny is of our own making. I refuse to allow religion, or those who believe it is theirs to define, to remove that destiny from my earthly grasp. In the end, we can choose to be good people that honor humanity without submitting to any religious institutions or doctrines. Attempts to argue that science needs religion to keep it humane are therefore absurd.

The following was one of the replies to my comment:

While a generally agree with you thoughttheater, I must as a similarly flawed human take the stance that just because someone "attempted" to lead people to a better world, based on his own interpretation of what would make one, I would be a fool to assume that he a) had the knowledge necessary to adequately assess the consequences of his theories, b) sufficient knowledge of world customs and cultures, many of which he could have known nothing about and c) a fundamental lack of understanding of the basic biological drives that led to both the social structure he fought and the one he advocated, to succeed. History is rife with people like Jesus and Marx, who had utopian idea[ls] that "sound" good, but ignore the basic realities of how, and why, humans think and act the way they do.

The only functional system is one that sways with the occasional punches thrown by the individuals that "fail" to fit into the structure. Societies are like bridges. Build them to sway to little and they break, let them sway too much and they vibrate themselves into the point of failure. We barely understand the stresses that can screw up one person, based on a rough estimate of their personality. Jesus, Marx, et al, tried to build bridges with no understanding of the materials, no comprehension of the scale of time needed to succeed and no clue what the existing, never mind new, stresses would be.

The bridges they built collapsed, but society survived by living in the wreckage, until some other fool came along and tried a new design. Only, just as we still fail at building new structures, we continue to fail at building new societies. The problem is, when a real bridge falls down, someone looks it over to find out "why", societies sadly keep being rebuilt using various combinations of historical ideas, with no grasp of the reasons for failure and no desire on the part of those that proclaim themselves as the arbiters of morality and social order wanting to learn from the mistakes, never mind ever doing so. Progress when it's made is made in spite of such people, and like old world church builders, if it works and doesn't look offensive to them in some fashion; they adopt it, then claim they knew all along that it worked. When it doesn't, they more often than not try to rebuild the same unsupported towering columns, defective dome ceilings and fancy pedestrian threatening crenalations and physically impossible arches. And of course, they blame demons and goblins (or atheists and liberals) when the whole edifice collapses.

I then moved the discussion to Thought Theater and replied with the following:

First, in my offering Jesus as an example, I wasn't actually attempting to support an established doctrine but moreover to demonstrate what I perceive to be an effective method for the pursuit of "truth". Underlying all of my beliefs is my strong conviction with regard to the sanctity of humanity. For me, nothing holds greater weight...nothing. Keep in mind that I stated that "the examples offered by a man (fictional or factual are irrelevant to me) named Jesus can guide us to change." Therefore, my focus was on an endpoint; not a prescribed path...hence the key word "guide". To give an analogy, suppose we want to obtain a total of ten particular items...say marbles. The way we count those marbles may be different but the goal is something we can agree upon; we all generally concur on how to define a marble and we all have an understanding of what the number ten means.

Essentially, my premise is founded on the notion of "truth". Note that I am not supporting what I would characterize as dogma or doctrine...that being Truth. That begs the question, what is "truth?" To understand that premise, one needs look no further than the underlying principle, "the sanctity of humanity." The individual that responded to my remarks stated:

"I would be a fool to assume that he (Jesus)...a) had the knowledge necessary to adequately assess the consequences of his theories, b) sufficient knowledge of world customs and cultures, many of which he could have known nothing about and c) a fundamental lack of understanding of the basic biological drives that led to both the social structure he fought and the one he advocated, to succeed."

There is "truth" in those remarks. However, they do not refute the endpoint...they simply explain that he (Jesus) may have been more distant from it then than we may be now. Obviously, at the time one would have expected people to believe that the world was flat or numerous other incorrect assumptions. More importantly, in seeking "truth" we can be wrong until such time as the data tells us otherwise...so long as we continue to seek it and to honor the sanctity of humanity. If the stated goal is sincere, doctrine and dogma will not stand to block the newfound "truth"...it will support it since it is consistent with the end goal...more "truth" to bolster humanity.

Science, as I see it, accepts the methodology I am advocating. At the same time, goodness, as the logical adjunct to the concept of the sanctity of humanity, can travel simultaneously and in synchronicity with science without the need for religion. In my construct, the advancement of humanity is the ultimate objective. To say it differently, religious doctrine is not allowed to intervene and insert judgments that distinguish beyond the basic definitional denominator...our humanity is sacred.

Repeating a portion of what the other commenter stated:

"The problem is, when a real bridge falls down, someone looks it over to find out "why", societies sadly keep being rebuilt using various combinations of historical ideas, with no grasp of the reasons for failure and no desire on the part of those that proclaim themselves as the arbiters of morality and social order wanting to learn from the mistakes, never mind ever doing so."

Again, there is "truth" in these remarks. I agree that many seek to determine the direction of society based upon their own doctrines of morality...that is typically found with most religions...and it is often unwavering in spite of any sufficient evidence to the contrary. In fact most religions don't actually seek to build societies...they seek to keep them as they envision them, based on dogma, for all of perpetuity. Nonetheless, that doesn't refute my basic premise...it merely points out the obstacles that are created. Another example might be beneficial. Since the origin of the Bible, numerous interpretations have been offered and, more recently, more documents have been exposed that seemingly indicate that the content that was placed in the Bible, to a large degree, was chosen by those in positions of authority.

Clearly, there are Gospels that were not incorporated into the Bible. The fundamental premise is that God spoke to those who authored the Bible and yet it is obvious that humans had to make determinations as to which conversations were real and which were fabricated. That endeavor was necessarily based upon doctrine over science and that dogma continues to assert authority today despite the evidence that the methodology remains subjective and therefore potentially flawed. Jesus, whether factual or fictional, challenged many of the notions found in the Old Testament. Presumably, he did so because he felt the doctrines it contained conflicted with his pursuit of a larger "truth". Was his purview sufficient for eternity...of course not. Has his methodology remained valid...I contend it has. Keep in mind that I called him a social critic which by its nature defies conventional precepts in order to expose more "truth"...a construct that remains fully consistent with my contention.

I want to come back to one of the commenter's remarks. He indicated that individuals like Jesus and Marx must have had "a fundamental lack of understanding of the basic biological drives that led to both the social structure he fought and the one he advocated, to succeed." In theory, this still remains true. We don't understand all of the biological factors within the individual and therefore the society. Nonetheless, we have the ability to pursue them. Again, the goal remains consistent...the pursuit of more "truth"...and the methodology is still valid...continue to dismantle and question without reliance on doctrine in order to find more "truth".

Jesus and Marx approached change by pointing out the very things the commenter objects to...a reliance on established methods despite evidence to the contrary. They both promoted change by explaining the faults with the status quo. In other words, sometimes the visions for the future are nothing more than the dissection of the foibles of the past. In that regard, both Jesus and Marx told us what was wrong and what to walk away from...the absence of "truth"...and to move towards what might be better...the discovery of more "truth".

Not long ago I saw a play in Denver called Marx in Soho by historian Howard Zinn. The premise of the play is that Marx has come back for one day to defend himself and his theories. The following is from Westword, a Denver publication:

He is not a Marxist, this Marx insists, going on to condemn the power-mad thugs who terrorized Russia and China in his name. He describes his belief system as essentially humanistic, a blueprint for a classless society in which everyone is free of want and able to develop fully as human beings.

On the other hand, the critique of capitalism is spot-on, since capitalism, too, carries within itself the seeds of its own corruption. "I predicted that capitalism would increase the wealth of society, but this wealth would be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands," Marx says, describing the America we know with absolute precision. When he talks about the manipulation of patriotism to make people "forget their misery" and thunders against capitalism's tendency to commoditize everything, including art and human individuality, it's hard not to stand up and cheer.

Although Marxism contended with capitalism for dominance and legitimacy over much of the twentieth century, few Americans know anything but a cartoon version of it; Marx in Soho is an excellent antidote to this ignorance.

The point of the play, and my point about those who seek to advance social change in the interest of the sanctity of humanity as the underlying premise, is that it is not the choice of those who call for change, in order to promote change, that stops change; it is halted by the failure of more to choose it because they see the sanctity of humanity as secondary to the singular objectives of the individual. I contend that this is in fact the hidden, yet compelling, force behind religion.

Establishing a construct that "allows" the individual to take priority over the whole of humanity (I think the acceptance of humanity being inherently flawed is a choice) and at the same time be provided with the opportunity to obtain redemption is the very essence of religion. Once in place, this collective mentality allows the individual to come first because it is supported by the accepted premise that humanity is flawed. Subsequently, as part of the fundamentals of religion, forgiveness can then be obtained by supporting and participating in religion.

There are scholars who contend that the actual message of Jesus was in fact that all men are the sons of God because humanity is sacred. In other words, his message was that we must all choose to honor the sanctity of humanity. One often hears it expressed that he was "the only begotten son" of God. It isn't hard to conclude that the reference simply meant he was alone in his choice to honor the sanctity of humanity here on earth. His fate speaks to the fact that established beliefs can and do hinder the unbiased and unfettered pursuit of more "truth".

Once our humanity and its obligations are subrogated to religion, a whole new hierarchy has been fabricated by the few for the many. When this happens, religion has thus supplanted our accountability to humanity such that our actions in relation to others are viewed through this new prism. Unfortunately, the prism is different from one religion to another. In one way or another, they all attempt to place value judgments on some or all of our natural human activities such that the sanctity of humanity becomes secondary to the principles of any particular religious doctrine. This is often done regardless of conflicting scientific information thereby frequently suppressing the acceptance or pursuit of more "truth".

The example of Jesus cannot be characterized as that of a rigid doctrinaire. In the end, if Marx or Jesus were to actually return to this world as it now exists, I believe they would analyze the prevailing Truth, assimilate the actual "truth" available, compare and contrast both, offer their views on the degree of either's legitimacy, and lastly, and most importantly, choose to live all the "truth" available despite the potential risks...while remaining committed to seeking more...ever mindful of the underlying objective...the sanctity of humanity. The visionary, whether placed on the horizon of yesterday or today, always looks backward before moving forward...yet always remains a visionary.

Daniel DiRito | April 18, 2007 | 10:39 PM | link | Comments (2)
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CU Student Jailed: Valid Reaction To Virginia Tech? genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Six Degrees of Speculation

Walking A Tightrope

A student at the University of Colorado was arrested following comments during a discussion of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Max Karson stated that he understood how someone might want to kill thirty two people along with some other remarks that a number of the students felt were threatening.

Karson also produces a controversial campus publication called the Yeti that contains what he characterizes as satire. Some view the publication as "hate speech".

Max Karson of Denver had spoken in a class on Tuesday "about understanding how someone could kill 32 people," university police Cmdr. Brad Wiesley said.

He was arrested later that day and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of interfering with staff, faculty or students of an education institution.

Karson was to turn 22 on Thursday. CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said privacy laws prevented him from releasing any information about him.

Several witnesses told investigators Karson said he was "angry about all kinds of things from the fluorescent light bulbs to the unpainted walls, and it made him angry enough to kill people," according to a police report.

Michael Karson, Max Karson's father, told the Camera newspaper of Boulder that his son's comments may have been misinterpreted. The elder Karson questioned whether his son's free-speech rights had been violated.

"I would have hoped that state officials would know their First Amendment better than they seem to," he said.

Karson also has a video on You Tube that is included below. Be forewarned that the video contains adult language and simulated violence. I felt it was beneficial to post the video and allow viewers to comment on how law enforcement should react to these types of situations. I don't actually know how the authorities will be able to discern which statements (verbal or written) or which videos need to be viewed as threats to society. At the same time, I understand people's concerns and the instinct to be suspicious and cautious.

I've not had enough time to collect all of my thoughts, but my instincts tell me that we (society) would be better to focus on the dynamics that are creating troubled children and treating them than on how to craft a law enforcement policy that fully protects the public while also preserving our freedom of speech. Creating such a policy could be quite complex. An example may be helpful.

Everyone understands why it is inappropriate to yell fire in a theater and what the law enforcement reaction should be...but should making a video or writing a story that contains violence be considered a similar criminal act? Unfortunately, I think that's the conundrum we face as we consider establishing far more proactive guidelines while attempting to prevent another Virginia Tech. I'm inclined to think that we (society) often make the mistake of addressing the symptom rather than the core problem and I've never found that to be a very successful approach.

Feel free to share your own thoughts and observations.

The Interview

Daniel DiRito | April 18, 2007 | 9:22 PM | link | Comments (1)
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In A Pinch genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

You Find Out Who Your Friends Are When You're In A Pinch...

Daniel DiRito | April 18, 2007 | 7:39 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Best Of Thought Theater - Family Values: This Blows genre: Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Following up on the Virginia Tech tragedy and my prior posting, I thought it would be beneficial to bring back a piece I wrote about a year ago. At the time, I was discussing family values with a focus...

Daniel DiRito | April 18, 2007 | 2:59 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Regina Spektor - Fidelity genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Regina Spektor was born in Russia and now lives in New York City. Her musical background and influences range from classical piano to Queen and The Moody Blues. The following clip is the music video for her song Fidelity...

Daniel DiRito | April 17, 2007 | 6:23 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Reunion genre: Happy Remembrances & Rhyme-N-Reason

As a follow up to the prior posting on the tragedy at Virginia Tech, it seemed appropriate to share the following poem. I won't offer much explanation but suffice it to say that I wrote it while reflecting on...

Daniel DiRito | April 16, 2007 | 9:03 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Chain Letter Society: On The Virginia Tech Tragedy genre: Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation

It is being widely reported that at least thirty people have been killed on the campus of Virginia Tech University. Apparently the shootings were carried out by a lone gunman that witnesses report to be a male in his...

Daniel DiRito | April 16, 2007 | 2:15 PM | link | Comments (18)
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Beyond Imus: What's Next? (Adult Content) genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

No doubt that the words spoken by Don Imus were inappropriate and insulting and led to his demise. Since the situation began, there has been ample discussion about rap music and the lyrics found in much of today's music...

Daniel DiRito | April 15, 2007 | 12:17 PM | link | Comments (3)
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Real Time With Bill Maher: New Rules - 04/13/07 genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Maher is in top form in this latest iteration of New Rules. He takes the Bush administration to task on the hiring of some 150 lawyers from Pat Robertson's law school...including the Department of Justice's Monica Goodling, who recently...

Daniel DiRito | April 14, 2007 | 6:48 PM | link | Comments (2)
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The White House Announces Project Purge genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

One of the most interesting things about this President is the fact that he frequently asserts that he is the unequivocal decider. When I hear someone use that terminology, my first assumption is that they must run an awfully...

Daniel DiRito | April 14, 2007 | 3:06 PM | link | Comments (8)
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Feeding Frenzy: What's Eating Us? genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation

We live in a world that likes to focus on flash...the best news is breaking news that portrays the latest tragedy...whether that be a plane crash, a shooting, a celebrity death, or any of a number of calamities. At...

Daniel DiRito | April 14, 2007 | 9:16 AM | link | Comments (0)
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D.H.T. - Listen To Your Heart genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Listen To Your Heart was originally released in 1988 by the Sweedish duo Roxette. In 2005 D.H.T., a group from Belgium released a remake of the song. This video is one of the dance versions that got a lot...

Daniel DiRito | April 12, 2007 | 9:04 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Imus, Bias, Devils, And Heaven genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

I’ve never been a Don Imus devotee. In fact, I can’t recall the last time I listened to any portion of his show. I’ve never met the man and I know next to nothing about his character or his...

Daniel DiRito | April 11, 2007 | 7:57 PM | link | Comments (8)
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The Daily Show On John McCain's Trip To Iraq genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Jon Stewart gives Senator McCain's assessment of Iraq a reality check. Stewart apparently doesn't realize that Americans routinely walk around the market wearing a bullet proof vest escorted by twenty soldiers and two Apache helicopters....

Daniel DiRito | April 10, 2007 | 11:51 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Little Britain: Daffyd's Brother Announces He's Gay genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Little Britain is a sit-com that originated in the UK a few years back. Daffyd is a character on the show that lives in a small Welsh city and likes to think he is the only homosexual in the...

Daniel DiRito | April 10, 2007 | 10:15 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Anna Nicole's Sugar Baby Has A Daddy genre: Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek & Uncivil Unions

In the never ending chapters in the life and death of Anna Nicole Smith, a court in the Bahamas ruled today that her former lover, Larry Birkhead, is in fact the father of her daughter...Dannielynn. Why Smith sought to...

Daniel DiRito | April 10, 2007 | 4:38 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Minus Imus: Two Week Suspension From MSNBC genre: Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Don Imus has found himself suspended and scrambling to explain and apologize for his racially derisive remarks. MSNBC announced that the surly talk show host would be suspended for two weeks and speculation suggested that should the incident continue...

Daniel DiRito | April 10, 2007 | 12:24 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Web Civility And Easter Bonnets genre: Indie-Script & Six Degrees of Speculation

Today the New York Times has an article discussing the state of civility in the blogosphere. The article opens with the question, "Is it too late to bring civility to the web?" Rather than answer the question directly, I'll...

Daniel DiRito | April 9, 2007 | 7:48 AM | link | Comments (2)
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More Freestyle: Timmy T - One More Try genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

The following video offers another example of what I would call the classic freestyle sound. This song - One More Try by Timmy T was a hit in 1991. To see more about the history of freestyle as well...

Daniel DiRito | April 7, 2007 | 12:10 PM | link | Comments (4)
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Catholicism Must Evolve genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Snapshot Thoughts

Science tells us that humans evolved over millions of years and will continue to evolve. History and the positions of the new Pope, Benedict XVI, tells us that the Catholic Church is still struggling to evolve...often holding fast to...

Daniel DiRito | April 5, 2007 | 6:00 PM | link | Comments (4)
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Passion, Spirit, Culture genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Does Passion Feed The Spirit And Nourish The Culture? I Doubt It Because The Food Tastes Bad....

Daniel DiRito | April 5, 2007 | 5:46 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Ground Control To Captain George genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

President Bush, in typical fashion, made a number of recess appointments of individuals previously rejected by the Senate. Granted, he has the authority to make such appointments but its further evidence of the President's propensity to ignore the opinions...

Daniel DiRito | April 4, 2007 | 11:13 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Alanis Morissette Covers The Song My Humps genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Wow! Talk about taking an upbeat hip hop song and turning it into a melancholy tune with a classic Morissette sound. I actually liked it and give her kudos for taking a pot shot at Fergie. Thought Theater previously...

Daniel DiRito | April 3, 2007 | 5:08 PM | link | Comments (0)
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MAD TV: Nelly Furtado Promiscuous Girl Parody genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Mad TV-Promiscuous Girl Parody - Watch the best video clips here...

Daniel DiRito | April 3, 2007 | 12:59 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Best Of Thought Theater: Pieces - 04/25/06 genre: Gaylingual & Rhyme-N-Reason

Best of Thought Theater is a new feature. Since Thought Theater is a relatively new blog, much of the older content didn't get a lot of exposure and I decided to bring back some of my favorite postings for...

Daniel DiRito | April 2, 2007 | 4:01 PM | link | Comments (0)
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For Sale: United States Of America genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts

At the close of the first quarter of 2007, the money being raised for the 2008 presidential race is shattering previous records and some suggest that following the selection of the two candidates, we may be heading for the...

Daniel DiRito | April 2, 2007 | 2:33 PM | link | Comments (0)
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