May 2007 Archives

Priest Fires Church Organist For Selling Sexual Aids genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

Is It Live Or Is It Plastic?

Never let it be said that the Catholic Church isn't interested in what happens in the bedrooms...and the living rooms of its parishioners. A Wisconsin priest fired a woman who had sang in the choir and been the church organist for years...because she is a sales representative for a company that sells "spa products and sex toys" at in home sales parties. Read on, it gets better.

Linette Servais, 50, played the organ and sung with the choir for 35 years. Much of her work as choir director and organist was done without pay. When her parish priest asked to meet with her, she thought it was to say thank you.

Instead, she was told to quit her sales job with company known as Pure Romance or she would lose her position in the church.

Pure Romance in Loveland, Ohio, is a $60 million per year business that sells spa products and sex toys at homes parties attended by women. It has 15,000 consultants like Servais.

She said her decision was not hard: She began working with Pure Romance after a brain tumor and treatment left her sexually dysfunctional. The job allows her to help other women who have similar problems.

"After I got over the initial shock, I prayed over this a long time," she said. "I feel that Pure Romance is my ministry."

[Rev. Dean] Dombroski said he couldn't discuss the situation because it involves personnel. But in a letter to his rural congregation, he wrote: "Linette is a consultant for a firm which sells products of a sexual nature that are not consistent with Church teachings. Because parish leaders are expected to model the teaching of our faith ... she could stay on as the choir director/organist or she could continue to be a consultant but she could not do both."

Servais responded with her own three-page letter to church members, saying she felt compelled to help other women, especially those suffering from problems caused by cancer.

Many choir members quit in support, she said, and some have gathered at her home on occasional Thursdays to sing hymns.

"Father Dean made it sound so sinful," she said. "There is so much more to this business than toys."

Rumor has it that the only church authorized "sex toys" are altar boys and girls...perhaps experts within the church hierarchy have first hand evidence that artificial devices simply aren't as satisfying for their parish priests?

If hypocrisy were a sex toy, then the Catholic Church would be the equivalent of one big / bad "ginormous" dildo.

Image courtesy of dailyhaha.com

Daniel DiRito | May 31, 2007 | 5:26 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The State Of The Economy: Perception Or Reality? genre: Econ-Recon & Six Degrees of Speculation

Perception vs. Reality

Well the tenuous state of the economy just elbowed its way back into the spotlight amidst the ogling over record highs in the stock exchanges. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by a paltry .6 percent during the first quarter of 2007…less than half of the estimate. If this slow growth were to persist throughout the year, GDP will end the year with total growth of less than 2.5 percent.

My goal isn’t to strike the economic alarm bell, but I suspect that the state of U.S. commerce may not be as rosy as many had hoped…especially when one factors in declining home values and the associated rise in foreclosures. One must also consider the nature of the loan products that are attached to a huge number of these homes as well as the overall shift in credit strategies that can be summed up in the oft heard term "subprime lending".

Let me share some information from a few sources and you can draw your own conclusions as to the economic prospects in the coming months.

From The Associated Press – 05/31/07:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The economy nearly stalled in the first quarter with growth slowing to a pace of just 0.6 percent. That was the worst three-month showing in over four years.

The new reading on the gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department Thursday, showed that economic growth in the January-through-March quarter was much weaker. Government statisticians slashed by more than half their first estimate of a 1.3 percent growth rate for the quarter.

The main culprits for the downgrade: the bloated trade deficit and businesses cutting investment in supplies of the goods they hold in inventories.

"We are still keeping our head above water -- barely," said economist Ken Mayland of ClearView Economics.

For nearly a year, the economy has been enduring a stretch of subpar economic growth due mostly to a sharp housing slump. That in turn has made some businesses act more cautiously in their spending and investing.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke doesn't believe the economy will slide into recession this year, nor do Bush administration officials. But ex Fed chief Alan Greenspan has put the odds at one in three.

So to begin with, the former Fed Chairman estimated that there is a 33% chance of a recession…before the first quarter GDP figures were released. Perhaps his prediction has changed?

The economy, unlike many other measurable statistics, depends in some part on the confidence of the consumer; hence consumer confidence is regularly calculated and reported. At the moment, consumers remain relatively positive about the economy…though I suspect that is driven in large part by the low unemployment figures and the stock market’s recent run of record breaking closings.

I’m of the opinion that gas prices, the drop in home values, rising foreclosure rates, and a looming bear market will soon facilitate a downward shift in confidence…which will likely initiate a compounding effect with regards to the factors that figure into this first quarter dip in economic growth.

From The Elliott Wave Theorist - 05/18/07:

There is an important event for believers in perpetual inflation to explain: the trend of yields from bonds and utility stocks. In the 1970s, prices of bonds and utility stocks were falling, and yields on bonds and utility stocks were rising, because of the onslaught of inflation. But in the past 25 years bond and utility stock prices have gone up, and yields on bonds and utility stocks have gone down. Once again, this situation is contrary to claims that we are experiencing a replay of the inflationary 19-teens or 1970s. Those investing on an inflation theme cannot explain these graphs. But there is a precedent for this time. It is 1928-1929, when bond and utility yields bottomed and prices topped in an environment of expanding credit and a stock market boom. The Dow Jones Utility Average was the last of the Dow averages to peak in 1929, and today it is deeply into wave (5) and therefore near the end of its entire bull market. All these juxtaposed market behaviors make sense only in our context of a terminating credit bubble. This one is just a whole lot bigger than any other in history.

Some economic historians blame rising interest rates into 1929 for the crash that ensued. Those who do must acknowledge that the Fed’s interest rate today is at almost exactly the same level it was then, having risen steadily—and in fact way more in percentage terms—since 2003. So even on this score the setup is the same as it was 1929. Remember also that in 1926 the Florida land boom collapsed. In the current cycle, house prices nationwide topped out in 2005, two years ago. So maybe it’s 1928 now instead of 1929. But that’s a small quibble compared to the erroneous idea that we are enjoying a perpetually inflationary goldilocks economy with perpetually rising investment prices.

As to whether the Fed can induce more borrowing by lowering rates in the next recession, we will have to see, but evidence from the sub-prime and Alt-A mortgage markets suggest more strongly than ever that consumers’ and investors’ capacity for holding debt is maxing out. I see no way out of the current extreme in credit issuance aside from the classic way: a debt implosion.

When thinking about the ability of consumers to absorb more debt, there are several factors to consider. First, Americans are addicted to credit and credit card debt is a key component of that debt. In the month of March alone, consumer credit debt rose by $13.46 billion dollars…and total consumer debt stands at $2.425 trillion dollars. More importantly, consumer debt is anticipated to rise 6.7 percent this year.

At the same time, mortgage debt has evolved to include new products…many that leave homeowners vulnerable to interest rate fluctuations…and others that actually extend the amount of credit beyond the actual value of the home predicated on evidence of the borrowers prior positive credit history (occasionally called 125% loans). The bottom line, as I view the situation, is that much of the recent run of strong economic data is a result of debt spending…debt born of easing credit standards coupled with rising home values and the ability to borrow and spend this perceived paper equity.

From Contrarian Chronicles at MSN Money - 02/26/07:

Meantime, the big question remains: When will folks be forced to connect the dots? Unknowable though the answer may be, my friend in London provided a clue, via a recent e-mail:

"You and I and a select group of others have been all over subprime for months now. But today (last Wednesday) is the first day where equity managers have been in to us, asking questions about subprime. Until today, most of the equity managers knew something bad was happening in subprime, but were prepared to assume it was not going to be a problem for the wider credit market, the economy, and so on.

"Slowly but surely, people are starting to get it, and slowly but surely, I am starting to think that the tipping point in credit -- via a subprime-generated shambles in CDO (collateralized debt obligation) land -- is closer than anybody imagines."

Behind the scenes in the land of financial black boxes, the time bomb is ticking.

Lastly, I would like to share a quote from Easy Al, taken from a speech dated April 8, 2005 (not so very far from the zenith of the real-estate market). I don't talk much about Al Greenspan anymore, mostly because he's gone from the scene, and I spilled so much ink on him before he left. But if you had to pick one man responsible for the imbalances in America and the financial hangover coming our way, it would be Al, who said:

"Innovation has brought about a multitude of new products, such as subprime loans and niche credit programs for immigrants...With these advances in technology, lenders have taken advantage of credit-scoring models and other techniques for efficiently extending credit to a broader spectrum of consumers...Where once more-marginal applicants would simply have been denied credit, lenders are now able to quite efficiently judge the risk posed by individual applicants and to price that risk appropriately. These improvements have led to rapid growth in subprime mortgage lending...fostering constructive innovation that is both responsive to market demand and beneficial to consumers."

Note that Greenspan was singing the praises of subprime lending while working to keep the economy moving forward…calling it "innovation" and defining it as "advances in technology". Excuse me, but when a lending institution alters its credit standards based upon the need to compete with other lenders in a tightening market that has been in an extended period of acquisition and consolidation…whereby smaller banks and lenders are acquired based upon total assets and growth projections…is there any doubt that "innovation" and "technology" are simply code words for the mechanisms that have been instituted to serve the players that stand to benefit most from merger mania?

If one accepts the rhetoric, one would have to conclude that lenders have been able to magically extract reasonable risk borrowers from the trash heap of bad credit scores. Don’t get me wrong, the extension of credit ought to cut both ways…meaning that there are clearly borrowers who deserve a second chance and there ought to be a means to allow as much…but the historical take on bankers has been that they like to lend money to those who don’t need it. If I understand the new dynamic, the prevailing momentum is to create the rationale to lend more because size and sales have supplanted stability as the gold standard.

From Bloomberg.com - 05/29/07:

May 29 (Bloomberg) -- Home prices in the U.S. dropped last quarter for the first time in almost 16 years, as 13 out of 20 cities reported declines in March.

The value of a house dropped 1.4 percent in the first three months of the year from the same period in 2006, according to a report today by S&P/Case-Shiller. Prices last fell during the third quarter of 1991.

The retreat may deter owners from tapping into home equity for extra cash, economists said. Combined with record gasoline prices, lower home prices raise concern consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy, will slow.

The decline in prices may not be large enough to concern the majority of home owners, economists said. The drop in prices in the 12 months ended March pales in comparison to the 157 percent gain over the previous 15 years.

A recovery in housing is being held back by a wave of subprime mortgage defaults, which is throwing homes back onto the market and prompting banks to tighten lending standards for borrowers with poor or limited credit histories.

"These data are probably only just beginning to reflect the impact of problems in the subprime mortgage market,'' said James O'Sullivan, a senior economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, in a report to clients. "Further declines seem likely.''

Again, I’m convinced that economic insiders are hesitant to acknowledge the full breadth and depth of the growing list of negative factors. Keep in mind how consumer confidence works when reading that declining home prices "may not be large enough to concern the majority of home owners […] in comparison to the 157 percent gain over the previous 15 years." I view the prior fifteen years of growth as the dam that is holding back a rising tide of reality…a reality that once released from its state of anesthetization will rapidly catapult consumer confidence in the opposite direction.

Human nature is such that we prefer to ignore the obvious if the obvious has the potential to disrupt the status quo. At the same time, our human nature tends to lead us to panic once reality escapes its domicile of denial. Word of mouth about the family down the block that is in foreclosure along with the neighbor that has dropped the price of their home for the fifth time as well as the number of for sale signs mom sees while carpooling the kids to school have a way of breaching our built in barriers to bad news. Once that happens, it’s a new world…one that seemingly emerges overnight. I used to have a saying that went, "Everything’s shit…until it isn’t"…and in this instance, the reverse may well hold true.

There may not be a comparable match for the relationship between perception and reality that exists within the construct of consumer confidence. These two forces have a tremendous impact on the actual direction of our economy…which is a direct byproduct of the economic decisions we make. As it now sits, if today’s perceptions cannot withstand the growing body of evidence that foreshadows economic tumult, we may be fast approaching an all too dreadful day of awakening.

Image courtesy of thecrespo.cracked.com

Daniel DiRito | May 31, 2007 | 12:29 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Fox News Discussion On The Creation Museum genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

This week, Answers in Genesis (AiG) launched the opening of its Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The museum is primarily intended to defend the belief that the Bible is the correct account of the origin of the universe and to cast doubt on the scientific evidence supporting evolution as well as the age of the earth...which the Creationists believe is approximately 6,000 years as compared to the scientific belief that its age approximates 4.5 billion years.

From Journal Chrétien:

“Just as Dayton, Tennessee, was ground zero for the defense of evolution in 1925, so Petersburg, Kentucky, will become ground zero for the defense of creation in 2007," said Ken Ham.

“The purpose of the museum is to use observational science to show that the Bible is true, its history is true and therefore the Gospel is true," Ham continued. “There are a lot of Ph.D. scientists who believe what the Bible teaches. Both creationists and evolutionists use the same science, and the same evidence – the difference is our pre-existing beliefs [about origins]."

“The buzz is out there globally about this place," Ham noted. “It is incredible that something that is Christian and built on the authority of God’s Word would get such international media attention. But, you haven’t seen anything yet – this museum will be a rallying point for Christians around the world."

“The Creation Museum is a walk through the Bible using science, geology, biology, astronomy and anthropology to confirm the accuracy of biblical history," said Ham.

“Christians are tired of being beaten down and marginalized in this country. Many are telling us it’s about time we had a place where Christians can stand up and say the Bible is true ; its history is true ; we can defend it ; we have the answers ; and we can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s what this museum is all about."

______________________________________________________

What intrigues me most about Mr. Ham and others that promote a Biblical interpretation of the origin of the universe is that they foster the notion that science is in conflict with religion and that the goal of science is to promote disbelief or atheism. Clearly, science has never asserted that it has disproved the notion of god, nor has it argued that the evidence supporting the theory of evolution refutes the possibility of a supreme being.

Frankly, my impression is that men like Mr. Ham benefit from the inferred conflict between science and religion and they use it to promote their own organizations and to support efforts to gain followers and donors. They also seek to reinforce absolutist thinking which insures that believers will reject other objective considerations because to do otherwise would be to deny their faith. It’s a rather effective strategy and if one subscribes to the principle of follow the money, there can be no doubt that it has buoyed the financial status of numerous religious leaders.

The following is a video clip from Fox News which involves a discussion on the museum and the broader topic of Biblical interpretation and scientific method.

Daniel DiRito | May 30, 2007 | 7:44 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Dr. X - Illegal Immigration And Unemployment genre: Econ-Recon & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Illegal immigration is a more complicated, multi-layered issue than the heated words in this political debate often suggest. I really don't have a side — just some observations, some concerns and a few opinions. So, don't take this as a "pro-illegal" immigration position on my part, but among the 18 states that have set new records with historically low rates of joblessness, one finds California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

This data runs against the grain of resentment that can be found among many of those who are extremely troubled by illegal immigration. Of course, these record low rates of joblessness don't prove that illegal immigration doesn't take ANY jobs from Americans. If, however, one's contention is that illegal immigration takes jobs from legals and from American citizens in the aggregate, you've either got to collect some data and start testing that hypothesis or you will be arguing entirely on the basis of fanciful theory — something that is particularly suspect when the argument is associated with resentment. At the very least, it is difficult to look at data like this and declare that illegal immigration has had a significant negative effect on the employment prospects of legals and Americans.

Many economic and cultural issues like the immigration issue involve dynamic subtleties that don't lend themselves to simple bifurcation into all good versus all bad positions. The primitive side of the human mind wants to simplify things in just this way because, for a variety of reasons, a world in which our wants, desires and opinions are unassailably pure is more manageable and bearable. In service of achieving such simplicity, however, the truth has a tendency to get back-written to fit assumptions that either aren't supported by data or are supported by fudged and cherry-picked data.

Previously, for example, I wrote about a fictionalized history of immigration in response to LaShawn Barber's ill-informed moralizing on the issue. Barber's version of history represents an instance of how someone operating with nothing but a data set simplified by a puerile imagination tends to avoid the effort of investigation if those fantasy "facts" support an opinion they hold dear.

H/T: The News Junkie

Cross-posted at Dr. X's Free Associations

Dr. X | May 30, 2007 | 1:58 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Thought Theater Welcomes A New Voice...Dr. X genre: Indie-Script

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce Dr. X to the Thought Theater readership. Dr. X authors a blog titled Dr. X's Free Associations which can be found here.

Dr. X has kindly agreed to some occasional posting of content here at Thought Theater and I think readers will find Dr. X to be quite thoughtful and most insightful. Some of you may recognize the name from several comment threads.

Dr. X's bio reads as follows:

I am a psychoanalytically-oriented clinical psychologist who has been a private practitioner for twenty years. In addition to my private practice, I have been employed in two university counseling centers.

I have extensive experience treating a wide range of disorders, as well as having expertise in psychological testing and assessment. During my career, I have conducted hundreds of psychological assessments, each including clinical interview and a full battery of objective and projective tests.

My areas of greatest interest are self psychology and intersubjectivity.

Our mutual interest in psychology and our shared curiosities about numerous issues make Dr. X a logical complement to Thought Theater. I'm pleased to announce the addition of this excellent new voice and I'm sure readers will enjoy reading Dr. X's offerings.

Welcome!

Daniel DiRito | May 30, 2007 | 1:01 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Iraq War: A Suspect Plot & A Disingenuous Script genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

To Laugh Or To Cry?

When it became apparent that the war effort in Iraq was going to take far longer than anticipated, a debate ensued as to whether or not the strategy employed from the outset was sufficient. Early on in that debate, several observers as well as one high ranking active duty officer, General Shinseki, suggested that we lacked the necessary troop levels to win the peace. Shinseki and others argued that we would need at least 300,000 troops to achieve some progressive level of order in Iraq.

Time and again, the President, Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, and other members of the administration routinely dismissed criticism and the calls for more troops. At the time, they argued that we were building an Iraqi military that would soon “stand up so we could stand down". Time and again, the number of fully trained Iraqi forces has been modified. One most recent assessment suggests that just over 6,000 Iraqi soldiers are capable of functioning fully independent of U.S. oversight…which then led to arguments about the definition of independent.

I recall that before the 2004 presidential election, the administration touted that the Iraqi security forces numbered nearly 200,000…though it was never clear if they were fully trained to assume the primary role in policing the country…and the number seemed to change from day to day. John Kerry suggested that we focus on training these forces as soon as possible in order to facilitate the reduction of American troops…and the president countered that those efforts were already underway and progressing as expected.

The most recent assessment states that the Iraqi security forces now number 337,000…of which 143,000 comprise the Iraqi military and 194,000 are members of the Iraqi police force. Discussions are also underway to increase the total security force to 365,000 by the end of the year.

While I’m no mathematician, when one takes a look at the chronology of the increasing numbers of Iraqi security forces along with the recent surge of American forces in comparison to the level of insurgent and sectarian violence, something just doesn’t add up.

If General Shinseki was wrong, then the Iraqi security force alone exceeds the number of troops the administration ever believed would be needed to prosecute our efforts in Iraq. The combined security forces in Iraq now number right at 500,000…far greater than the number the administration ever stated would be needed and well beyond the number that led to Shinseki’s forced resignation. At the same time, there is speculation that the U.S. troop surge could soon approach 200,000 American soldiers.

The only conclusions one can draw from this recent information…along with the four plus years of ever changing rationales…is that we are still being fed inaccurate assessments by an administration that places more weight on reconstructing its rhetoric than restoring security and rebuilding a functional Iraq.

If our efforts in Iraq were a theatrical production, it would no doubt have been billed as an epic tale of good versus evil…but the reviews would be more apt to characterize it as a poorly crafted and executed dramatic offering turned farcical comedy…one that left the audience scratching its collective head while wondering if it should succumb to satirically inspired laughter or simply acquiesce to the tears that are born of the Bush administration’s propensity and pattern of offering the far more familiar and formulaic tragedy.

Image courtesy of mycousinjoey.com

Daniel DiRito | May 30, 2007 | 11:25 AM | link | Comments (0)
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A Reflection On Happy Remembrances genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Happy Remembrances

A Reflection

I’ve never really liked holidays since for the most part they no longer seem to be about the person or event that triggered their creation. By and large, we’ve turned virtually all holidays into commercial opportunities and a reason to have some time off from work. With our “what’s in it for me" mentality and our need to be entertained, holidays have become a whirlwind of events and activities that leave little time to reflect. By the time we do these things we do, its time to get back to work and we once again begin the process of anticipating the next holiday inspired hiatus…often leapfrogging their real meaning.

My grandmother’s birthday is at the end of May and I’ve always associated it with Memorial Day. She died just under eight years ago and would have been ninety six this year. As a child, most of my holidays included my maternal grandma and grandpa…my paternal grandparents weren’t around as my dads mom died before I was born and his father died not long after I was born. They were all Italian immigrants who came to America as young adults.

When I think back on how we spent most holidays, they usually included a traditional meal prepared by my grandma and spending time around the dinner table listening to the conversation and the reminiscing of the older adults. They were all storytellers and they each seemed to have a style all their own. I’m sure that by the time I was a young adult, I had heard each story numerous times…which happened because we frequently had company that hadn’t heard the stories before and invariably, someone would ask one of the older folks to recount a favorite story for the newcomers. We never grew tired of hearing them because they were colorful, insightful, and about real life situations.

One of my favorite stories was told by my grandpa. As a young man, he lived in New York with his parents and worked as a laborer on the Empire State Building. Life at the time, and particularly in the Italian community, frequently involved a large circle of friends and relatives. From time to time the older and better traveled ones would give advice to the younger, more naive ones…advice that came from their more rapid assimilation into American culture…which frequently didn’t conform to the beliefs and customs of the older Italians.

As the story goes, one of these younger men, during a conversation with my grandpa, asked him if he was saving his money from what was at the time a decent job. My grandpa answered that he wasn’t…he was doing what young Italians who lived at home did…he gave his money to his parents. So his relative told him that he needed to start saving some money and suggested my grandpa open a bank account. After some sustained prodding, my grandpa acquiesced and began putting his money in the bank. With the ensuing payday, he deposited his earnings.

The deliberate nature of Italian familial dynamics led his parents to say nothing after the first payday passed without my grandpa placing his earnings on the table. Keep in mind that the Old Italian mind set was often accompanied by an unspoken strength and patience which was employed long enough to allow for the unexpected…but not much longer. Another week passed and my grandpa failed to place his earnings on the table. During dinner, my grandpa’s dad…pa as my grandpa called him…finally broached the subject. He told my grandpa that they (his mom and dad) had noticed that he didn’t bring home any money from work and they wondered if he might be having a problem that he wanted to discuss (giving the benefit of the doubt fits the above style perfectly). My grandpa explained that his cousin had suggested that he start saving his money for the future so he had opened a bank account. His mom and dad said very little other than to acknowledge what they had heard.

The next evening, my grandpa came home and as usual, his mom was preparing dinner. When it came time to eat, my grandpa noticed that there were only two place settings at the table…located at the seats where his mom and dad typically sat. As his mom began to put the food on the table, my grandpa finally broached the missing place setting. He calmly inquired about the missing plate; asking if there was a problem…to which his dad calmly responded, “no, there isn't any problem". Puzzled, my grandpa asked, “Well Pa, then where is my plate?" His dad, with continued calm, replied, “Where is the money you made from work?" to which my grandpa stated, “Pa, I told you last night that I started saving it in a bank account." His dad paused for a moment (there is an art to sending messages in an Italian family) and calmly said, “Well, then you should go eat at the bank", and with that the message had been delivered.

Without fail, everyone listening to the story would burst into laughter regardless of how many times they had heard the story. Thinking back, I’ve occasionally wondered why we laughed…but it was because my grandpa was imparting a story about the lessons we learn in life and he was doing so with humor which was an integral part of our Italian cultural tradition. While the incident involved a serious situation, once my grandpa understood the message his parents were delivering, there was no doubting that the story was priceless and he had perfected its delivery. I think the humor is also the result of a more pensive approach to life…one that sought to impart wisdom while preserving dignity…so more was said with less.

In truth, his dad and mom could have simply demanded to know why the money wasn’t on the table the very first night…but they thought wiser…and waited and watched in hopes that clarity would emerge and perhaps their son would offer a reasonable explanation…or on his own realize the inequity of the situation without the need for confrontation. When that didn’t happen, they delivered a gentle, though jolting, message that illuminated the relevant realities.

As it turned out, before the next payday, my grandpa and his dad agreed that he could continue to save some of his money but that he would pay a portion for his room and board. Thus an important lesson was learned and my grandpa would be a better man and better prepared for the coming travails of adult living.

So as this holiday comes to an end, recounting this story has allowed me to return to those years when each holiday was a time of reflection and an opportunity to learn more of life’s lessons. As Memorial Day passes, I long for those moments around the table and those simplistic stories that determined what I believed and shaped who I would become…and I fondly remember those who have left this life and I recommit myself to maintaining the texture and depth of their legacies of love.

Daniel DiRito | May 29, 2007 | 9:39 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Some Thoughts On When Death Comes Calling genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Happy Remembrances & Hip-Gnosis

When Death Comes Calling

Its no wonder death is a controversial issue. While it’s something we all have to do, there are differing opinions on what it means and whether or not an individual ought to have the right to determine when to die.

The practice of physician assisted suicide is even more volatile. With the upcoming release from prison of Dr. Kevorkian, the doctor who assisted in over one hundred suicides, the topic is once again front and center and the subject of new polling. The full article can be found on MSNBC.

NEW YORK - More than two-thirds of Americans believe there are circumstances in which a patient should be allowed to die, but they are closely divided on whether it should be legal for a doctor to help terminally ill patients end their own lives by prescribing fatal drugs, a new AP-Ipsos poll finds.

Though demonized by his critics as a callous killer, Kevorkian — who is to be released Friday — maintains relatively strong public support. The AP-Ipsos poll found that 53 percent of those surveyed thought he should not have been jailed; 40 percent supported his imprisonment. The results were similar to an ABC News poll in 1999 that found 55 percent disagreeing with his conviction.

The new AP-Ipsos poll asked whether it should be legal for doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to help terminally ill patients end their own lives — a practice currently allowed in Oregon but in no other states. Forty-eight percent said it should be legal; 44 percent said it should be illegal.

More broadly, 68 percent said there are circumstances when a patient should be allowed to die, while 30 percent said doctors and nurses, in all circumstances, should do everything possible to save the life of a patient.

Few people have actually encountered an individual that sought to end his or her own life as the result of a terminal or debilitating diagnosis. In my own opinion, being around an individual dealing with these circumstances brings a new perspective to the topic as well as a better understanding of the prevailing dynamics.

In many instances, the first reaction to a newly diagnosed terminal illness is often a consideration of suicide. From what I’ve experienced, the reaction is a relatively natural response to the loss of control over one’s destiny…and I contend the consideration of suicide is an attempt to capture some degree of control.

Over time, the vast majority of these patients rule out suicide as the will to live…even if it comes with severe pain and other disabling limitations…exceeds the desire and the need for control. In fact, I see the consideration of suicide as part of a process…a process that forces an individual to actually review and reconcile their beliefs with regard to death.

Often, at the end of that process, there is an effort to compartmentalize one’s pending death…a means to block out that reality in order to savor the time that remains. In many ways, that ability is a fortunate defense mechanism.

Nonetheless, there are individuals that view the knowledge of death as the equivalent of death…whereby that thought is so disruptive and so overwhelming that it precludes the ability to partition the act of living from the reality of pending death. For others, the decision to die results from the fact that the illness has put an end to all that brings joy and life loses its meaning and its purpose…all of the positive incentives have evaporated and the will to live simply fades away.

Frequently, the decisions surrounding death are more difficult for friends and family of the dying individual. The refusal to accept the inevitable loss of a loved one can be a powerful force for denial. Factor in religious beliefs and it can actually become quite contentious.

Only 34 percent of those who attend religious services at least once a week think it should be legal for doctors to help terminally ill patients end their own lives. In contrast, 70 percent of those who never attend religious services thought the practice should be legal.

Just 23 percent of those who attend religious services at least weekly would consider ending their own lives if terminally ill, compared to 49 percent of those who never attend religious services.

Men are also more likely to consider suicide and they favor allowing doctors to assist by a wide margin…a fact that I would suggest supports the theory of controlling one’s destiny…a feature I would argue is more culturally ingrained into the male mindset.

Men were more likely to say they would consider ending their own lives if faced with a terminal illness — 43 percent of men would consider the option, compared to just 28 percent of women. And 53 percent of men think it should be legal for doctors to help end the lives of terminally ill patients, compared to 44 percent of women.

Death is perhaps the most personal of all human events…something that is almost always done alone. In my opinion there isn’t a right or wrong way to deal with one’s own death.

Anyone with an interest in the topic would be wise to see the Spanish language movie The Sea Insidebased upon the real life experiences of Ramon Sampedro to end his life after an accident left him a quadriplegic. It is a beautiful and poignant expose on the right to die which eloquently presents both sides of the argument. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in further exploring this topic.

Image courtesy of Globalclashes.com

Daniel DiRito | May 29, 2007 | 2:12 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Polls Be Damned - George W Knows Best genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Bad Math

President Bush has his own interpretation of public opinion...one that is contrary to existing polling data. In fact, the president has taken to offering his particular version in public appearances, a move that strangely fits the modus operandi of this administration. They seem to believe that if you say it often enough, it magically becomes the truth. The following excerpts are from an Associated Press article.

Democrats view the November elections that gave them control of Congress as a mandate to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. Exit-poll surveys by The Associated Press and television networks found 55 percent saying the U.S. should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq.

The president says Democrats have it all wrong. The public doesn't want the troops pulled out - they want to give the military more support in its mission.

"Last November, the American people said they were frustrated and wanted a change in our strategy in Iraq," he said April 24, ahead of a veto showdown with congressional Democrats on a troop withdrawal timeline. "I listened."

"A lot of Americans want to know, you know - when?" he said at a Rose Garden news conference Thursday. "When are you going to win?"

Polls show that leaving - not winning - is most Americans' main goal.

In a poll released Friday by CBS and the New York Times, 63 percent supported a troop withdrawal timetable of sometime next year.

Another this month from USA Today and Gallup found 59 percent backing a withdrawal deadline that the U.S. should stick to no matter what happens in Iraq.

The article also points out that the lack of a clearly defined alternate plan of action in Iraq (think Democrats cave on a withdrawal timeline) likely provides this opportunity for the White House to define public sentiment. If one believes the premise that people are, for the most part, followers, then the lack of leadership on the part of Democrats cedes that role to the Bush administration. How unfortunate.

Image courtesy of www.lincolnsblog.com

Daniel DiRito | May 29, 2007 | 11:13 AM | link | Comments (0)
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BBC - Atheism: A Rough History Of Disbelief 1: 4 - 6 genre: Hip-Gnosis

This is the second in a six part Thought Theater series that replays the BBC three episode documentary, Atheism: A Rough History Of Disbelief. The first part can be found here along with my own thoughts on the subject and the objections that were voiced when PBS decided to air the documentary on American television.

Episode One - Part Four

Episode One - Part Five

Episode One - Part Six (Last Segment)

Daniel DiRito | May 28, 2007 | 9:38 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Iran, Iran So Far Away...But Not Anymore? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

Iran

I don’t begrudge anyone changing their mind…and frankly, I view it as having been willing to remain open to the possibility that changing circumstances may well warrant new conclusions. Notwithstanding, I do find myself less than accepting of the Bush administration’s propensity to state positions absolutely…such that those who hold the opposing view are deemed to be anything from wrong to near treasonous…until such time as they quietly reconsider…without so much as an acknowledgment of their possibly flawed judgment.

Such is the case with our frosty relationship with Iran. For much of the Bush administrations tenure, and especially prior to the 2004 election, direct conversations with Iran were off limits…and the president let John Kerry and the voting public know that it wasn’t going to happen. An article in today’s New York Times tells us that everything has changed.

BAGHDAD, May 28 — The United States and Iran held rare, face-to-face talks in Baghdad on Monday, adhering to an agenda that focused strictly on the war in Iraq and on ways the two bitter adversaries could help to improve conditions here.

“The Iranians as well as ourselves laid out the principles that guide our respective policies toward Iraq," he said. “There was pretty good congruence right down the line: support for a secure, stable, democratic, federal Iraq, in control of its own security, at peace with its neighbors."

The meeting occurred against a backdrop of a worsening conflict in Iraq and deepening animosity between Iran and the United States — each accuses the other of contributing to Iraq’s instability.

The American ambassador said he “laid out before the Iranians a number of our direct, specific concerns about their behavior in Iraq." The United States has repeatedly accused Iran of meddling in Iraq, including training Shiite militiamen and shipping highly lethal weaponry into Iraq for use in attacks by Shiite and Sunni Arab militants against American troops.

The Iranian ambassador said he told Mr. Crocker that Iran was willing to train and equip the Iraqi security forces to create “a new military and security structure" and asserted that the American efforts to do the same were inadequate. He said Iran was also prepared to help rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, which he said had been “demolished by the American invaders."

Mr. Crocker said the Iranian delegation proposed forming a “trilateral mechanism" to coordinate security matters in Iraq, a proposal that Mr. Crocker said he would forward to Washington for consideration.

If I’m properly deciphering the facts, some four years into the Iraq war, the Bush administration has apparently realized that without regional cooperation, it is doubtful that Iraq can become a stable nation. In fact, our reluctance to entertain direct talks with Iran and Syria may have served to amplify the insurgency and sectarian conflict within Iraq. The president’s proclamation that nations either stand with us or stand with the terrorists may have simply inflamed animosities and pushed others to join radical group’s intent on undermining U.S. efforts.

Clearly, this new attempt to dialogue about specific issues while still maintaining our objections to other actions on the part of the Iranian government is consistent with the successful efforts of prior administration’s to handle rogue nations. It is also consistent with the arguments put forth by a number of Democrats (and a handful of Republicans)…arguments that were ridiculed and dismissed.

I applaud the shift in strategy though I’m inclined to believe that it comes in response to what must be intense efforts by the GOP leadership to convince the Bush administration that it must consider any and all means to progress in Iraq prior to the 2008 election. At the same time, one can’t help but wonder how differently the war on terror and the subsequent conflict in Iraq could have proceeded had it been managed differently or had the administration been willing to consider alternatives along the way. Unfortunately we’ll never know.

Daniel DiRito | May 28, 2007 | 6:21 PM | link | Comments (0)
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A Death By Any Other Name Would Not Be Accepted genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Happy Remembrances & Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad

A Rose By Any Other Name?

Sometimes when writing a posting, one knows in advance that it may be controversial and has the potential to be met with anger…and sometimes that leads one to decide against ever publishing it. Other times, despite the probabilities, one pushes ahead and publishes such words because one believes they need to be spoken regardless. This is one of those postings.

On Memorial Day weekend…as well as any time one seeks to stop and remember those who are no longer here…we look for ways to understand death and to reconcile with the ominous nature of our mortality. Try as we might, one is never fully prepared for the death and loss of a loved one…and though time may lessen the time we spend in pain, it never lessens the depth of the pain that we do experience.

When we attempt to understand death, we often draw comparisons in order to help us accept our loss. For example, with the death of an aged grandparent, we might tell ourselves that despite the obvious loss, our loved one had the good fortune of living a long and meaningful life. Unfortunately, there are times when our loss is virtually inconsolable and we’re unable to find a single scintilla of justification. Clearly, we all hope to avoid the latter…but life doesn’t always afford us our hopes.

The death of a soldier is an event that rarely goes without notice…and that is as it should be. Nonetheless, it is also quite troubling…and though we may not take the time to fully understand our reaction…in some primal way, it is known without analysis or discussion that the loss of a soldier requires a debt of gratitude since the life of each soldier is given in the service of the country we embrace. This unspoken, though well understood, sense of debt exists regardless of how one views the conflict that facilitates the loss of a soldier.

When a war is unpopular, or thought to be unnecessary, it creates a heightened angst when one is forced to recognize and assimilate the loss of a soldier. That heightened angst, in my opinion, comes from our natural tendency to seek to justify the loss of life. If one opposes the war, one may well struggle to find the means to soothe the loss. Perhaps the void that internal conflict creates is something we should embrace since it may be the very mechanism by which we can bring an end to conflicts that seem unwarranted. Nonetheless, navigating this highly sensitive terrain is akin to walking a mine field…if one fails to step lightly, an explosion can ensue.

With that said, I embark on a perilous journey…a journey intent on not only exposing the angst mentioned above…but a journey intended to accelerate that angst. To be clear, I honor and value the lives of every soldier lost as well as every individual and though I infer no disrespect, I realize some may not agree…and so I apologize in advance should my words seem otherwise.

This coming Friday, Dr. Jack Kevorkian will be released from prison after serving eight years for his part in assisting in the suicides of over one hundred individuals…individuals that by and large suffered ailments that would eventually end their lives or that had taken from them the lives that they cherished such that they already felt dead…though by some trick of fate, remained here in this existence against their will.

Assisted suicide is legal in only one state under highly regulated conditions and it remains a very controversial issue. Perhaps that is because we prefer to engage death as a matter of chance rather than as a matter of choice. I understand that argument though I’m not sure it can withstand a reasoned review. Again, let me be clear…my argument is not meant to minimize the religious beliefs that stand in opposition to assisted suicide and I readily accept objections to assisted suicide on that basis alone.

Notwithstanding, I’m of the opinion one can make a reasoned argument that we frequently fail to apply our beliefs about death consistently. Three headlines, one from 1998, and two from this Memorial Day weekend help demonstrate my point.

From The New York Times in 1998:

Kevorkian Deaths Total 100

Dr. Jack Kevorkian has helped a 66-year-old man with lung cancer kill himself and has now assisted 100 suicides, his lawyer has reported.

Mr. Herman died one day after the Michigan House of Representatives adopted a bill addressing Dr. Kevorkian, who has been acquitted in three trials.

The bill would make assisted suicide a felony punishable by as many as five years in prison and $10,000 in fines, or both. It now goes back to the Senate, where minor changes are expected to be adopted before it goes to Gov. John Engler, who is expected to sign it.

From The United Press International - 05/27/2007:

More Than 100 Soldiers Killed In May

BAGHDAD, May 27 (UPI) -- At least 101 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq in May, the seventh time since the 2003 invasion that the monthly toll passed 100, military officials said.
In April, 104 soldiers were killed, the Web site icasualties.com -- maintained by the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count -- said. The U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed 3,439 U.S. military deaths in Iraq, and 13 more await confirmation.

From The Associated Press – 05/26/2007:

U.S. Deaths Near Grim Memorial Day Mark

BAGHDAD - Americans have opened nearly 1,000 new graves to bury U.S. troops killed in Iraq since Memorial Day a year ago. The figure is telling — and expected to rise in coming months.

In the period from Memorial Day 2006 through Saturday, 980 soldiers and Marines died in Iraq, compared to 807 deaths in the previous year. And with the Baghdad security operation now 3 1/2 months old, even President Bush has predicted a difficult summer for U.S. forces.

This past week Congress authorized a military spending bill that met with the president’s approval and that did not include any timetable for withdrawal from Iraq…despite the fact that one can argue that the 2006 election sent a strong message that our elected officials bring an end to the war in Iraq and prevent the deaths of more U.S. soldiers.

Every indication suggests that George Bush will leave office…after eight years…with a significant presence of U.S. military troops still in Iraq. Back in 1998, the state of Michigan passed a law that led to the eight year imprisonment of Dr. Kevorkian for his part in facilitating the deaths of individuals who wanted to end their lives. Now I’m not suggesting the president or this congress should be imprisoned for their part in facilitating the death of 100 soldiers during the month of May…or the nearly 1,000 since last Memorial Day…or the 3,439 total soldiers killed in Iraq since the war began back in 2003.

However, on this Memorial Day weekend, I am suggesting Americans consider this information and put themselves through the process described above…the one which we humans go through when we lose a loved one. If at the end of that process, one feels some additional angst due to the growing absence of justifications for these deaths, then may I suggest that perhaps its time we demand that our elected officials do the right thing? If 100 assisted suicides warranted a law to imprison Dr. Kevorkian for eight years, what would be a reasonable equivalent for accepting the further loss of life in Iraq?

Daniel DiRito | May 27, 2007 | 11:32 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Fred "Outta His Mind" Phelps On The Cheney's genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

If anyone ever doubted the existence of a "flesh and blood" wing nut...fear no more. The following video clip is absolute proof. The video is of Fred Phelps, the notorious pastor from Topeka, Kansas, launching a scathing assault on the Cheney family in response to the birth of a son to Mary Cheney and her partner.

I'm certainly no fan of the Cheney's, but I view attacks of this nature to be nothing more than evidence that hatred born of the fanatical interpretation and application of religious doctrine has no place in society. Disagreeing with Dick Cheney's politics is one thing...but this type of personal assault is indefensible.

It should come as no surprise that Fred Phelps would stoop to this level. He and his band of followers have a long history of crass and disgusting demonstrations directed first and foremost at gays, and then at anyone they deem to have been associated with tolerance for the gay community.

Daniel DiRito | May 26, 2007 | 7:22 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Rare Footage: A Straight Talking GOP Candidate genre: Polispeak & Video-Philes

Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, a GOP candidate for president, appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher last evening. Paul has been shunned by most of the other GOP presidential candidates...but if you listen to Paul, he actually is a refreshing voice of clarity on a number of issues. Unfortunately, he hasn't a chance of winning the GOP nomination...but perhaps he will usher in a new era of inclusion and an appreciation of independent thinking within the party. Don't hold your breath...but hey...it's at least a start.

Daniel DiRito | May 26, 2007 | 6:42 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Bill Maher: Opening Skit & New Rules - 05/25/07 genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

What am I going to do on Friday night now? Last night, Bill Maher closed out this season of Real Time With Bill Maher. The following clip includes the opening skit in which Maher sarcastically argues for amnesty so our children won't have to "get off their boney asses" and do something. New Rules follow the opening skit and Maher ends the season with a critique of the Democratic Party as enablers of the failed Bush presidency...and a history lesson on the "suckiest" presidents.

I will now have to wait until August to get my fix of Maher snark...woe is me.

Daniel DiRito | May 26, 2007 | 6:24 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Perfect Storm: Rising Tide But The Boats Won't Float genre: Econ-Recon & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

I’ve always been fascinated with society, psychology, and the human condition…especially from the perspective of what the future may hold. Don’t misinterpret that to mean that I think I can predict the future; rather I try to predict how...

Daniel DiRito | May 26, 2007 | 12:11 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Dr. Laura: All For Privacy...But Only When It's Her Own genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

It should be no surprise that I'm not fond of Dr. Laura Schlessinger. In fact, one of my favorite Thought Theater postings was a letter to Dr. Laura that I found on the internet...a letter in which the author...

Daniel DiRito | May 25, 2007 | 6:20 PM | link | Comments (0)
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On Being Gay - Will It Make My Brown Eyes Blue? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis

Can someone explain to me the concept of "gay indoctrination?" Unfortunately, with my "conversion" to homosexuality, I seem to have missed out on the recruitment program. As I imagine the process, I'm reminded of my college days and the...

Daniel DiRito | May 25, 2007 | 12:48 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Brewing The Iraq War: The Slow Drip Continues genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Looks like the White House may once again need to modify its explanation of the decisions and determinations made prior to invading Iraq. Time and again the American voter has been told that the President simply responded to the...

Daniel DiRito | May 25, 2007 | 10:28 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Who Is Baking The Immigration Cake? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

I’ve yet to comment on the recent immigration debate, though I have previously shared my thoughts on the topic at Thought Theater. Having recently spent some time ruminating on the relevnt issues, along with today’s reading of George Will’s...

Daniel DiRito | May 24, 2007 | 12:58 PM | link | Comments (0)
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BBC - Atheism: A Rough History Of Disbelief - 1: 1 - 3 genre: Hip-Gnosis

The planned airing by PBS of Jonathan Miller's BBC three part series called Atheism: A Rough History Of Disbelief created a stir among evangelical groups in the United States. A spokesperson for the conservative group Concerned Women for America...

Daniel DiRito | May 24, 2007 | 11:34 AM | link | Comments (5)
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Keith Olbermann Special Comment On Iraq Betrayal genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Well it was bound to happen. Just over six months after the American voter sent politicians what appeared to be a clear message about the direction of the country...and particularly their displeasure with the war in Iraq...the criticism of...

Daniel DiRito | May 23, 2007 | 9:00 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Working Class Hero: John Lennon vs. Green Day genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Green Day performed a cover of John Lennon's Working Class Hero on the American Idol finale tonight. I've included video clips for both versions below. Looking at comments on You Tube, most people have strong feelings about which version...

Daniel DiRito | May 23, 2007 | 8:28 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are genre: Gaylingual & Six Degrees of Speculation

If today’s Pew Research Poll says one thing loud and clear, it tells gays in the closet to come out and get to know the people around you. With almost every demographic, those who become acquainted with gays have...

Daniel DiRito | May 23, 2007 | 3:03 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Notable Quote: Hitchens On Faith genre: He Said, She Said

Christopher Hitchens has been all over the media of late. The release of his new book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, is likely responsible for much of the attention. Today he has a piece in the...

Daniel DiRito | May 23, 2007 | 1:33 PM | link | Comments (0)
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A Meditation On What A God Might Intend For Us genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

It seems to me that so many people suffer the need to be right...absolutely right...and they then proceed to seek, find, and identify the documentation or doctrine to support that rightness. If I understand the notion of creation...god gave...

Daniel DiRito | May 22, 2007 | 4:39 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Abortion: Is A Middle Ground Achievable? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

Those opposed to abortion were heartened by the recent Supreme Court decision supporting limitations on partial birth abortions. In particular, pro-life groups were encouraged by Justice Kennedy’s reference to the work of an anti-abortion group, The Justice Foundation. The...

Daniel DiRito | May 22, 2007 | 12:04 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Natalie Portman As Nuni In SNL Skit "My Name Is Jeff" genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

I'm a big Natalie Portman fan and she plays a character named Nuni in this SNL skit. It's one of the more bazaar skits I've seen on SNL in a while...which is probably why I liked it so much....

Daniel DiRito | May 21, 2007 | 7:19 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Today Show On Limbaugh's Barack The Magic Negro genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Don Imus firing has drawn attention to the comments made by the hosts of other similar programs. The following clip is from a piece on The Today Show that discusses a segment from Rush Limbaugh's radio show. During...

Daniel DiRito | May 21, 2007 | 6:51 PM | link | Comments (1)
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BBC: Sex Crimes And The Vatican - Parts 3 and 4 genre: Hip-Gnosis

This posting contains parts three and four of a BBC documentary that discusses the Vatican's handling of numerous accusations of sexual misconduct by clergy members on minors. Please watch part one and two in the prior posting first in...

Daniel DiRito | May 21, 2007 | 3:47 PM | link | Comments (0)
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BBC: Sex Crimes And The Vatican - Parts 1and 2 genre: Hip-Gnosis

I grew up attending Catholic schools...from first through twelfth grade. I attended a boy’s Catholic high school that had students living on campus from all over the world. I lived with my parents since the school was located in...

Daniel DiRito | May 21, 2007 | 1:39 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Rage genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Do You Need A Machine To Rage Against Someone Or Something?...

Daniel DiRito | May 20, 2007 | 9:25 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Real Time With Bill Maher: New Rules 05/18/07 genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Bill Maher tackles the meaning of Jerry Falwell's death. Like so many others, Maher points out a handful of quotes from Falwell to make his point that "name dropping god" has proven an effective strategy for the religious right....

Daniel DiRito | May 19, 2007 | 8:37 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Trench Warfare: Can The Democrats Stand The Slog? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

In the most recent Gallup polling, the President's approval numbers were slightly better than those of Congress...33% to 29%. Perhaps the numbers aren't sufficient reason for alarm on the part of Democrats, but they do give one reason to...

Daniel DiRito | May 19, 2007 | 9:01 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Rose Royce - Wishing On A Star genre: Gaylingual & Happy Remembrances & Tuned Out

I've been looking for a video of Rose Royce singing Wishing On A Star for a long time. Fortunately, one recently appeared on YouTube. Over the years, I've collected memories of friends and family in the form of music...

Daniel DiRito | May 18, 2007 | 2:17 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Adam Joseph: Faggoty Attention & Flow With My Soul genre: Tuned Out

Adam Joseph has a new music video for his song Faggoty Attention. His song Flow With My Soul has been featured on the Click List on Logo. He has his own record label and his music is just beginning...

Daniel DiRito | May 18, 2007 | 1:49 PM | link | Comments (0)
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The Daily Show On The GOP Debate genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Jon Stewart has some fun with the latest GOP presidential debate. Stewart demonstrates that there is virtually no limit to the effort of each candidate to prove their conservative credentials as they engage in an escalating game of one-upmanship....

Daniel DiRito | May 17, 2007 | 10:55 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Victory Is Coming Sayeth The "Lords" To The Hordes genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

In the wake of the 2006 midterm elections little has happened to predict how Republican voters will ultimately respond to the strong Democratic showing. I suspect that it would be difficult to make definitive conclusion as to what led...

Daniel DiRito | May 17, 2007 | 12:57 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Christopher Hitchens On Jerry Falwell genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

In this video clip, Christopher Hitchens, atheist and author of the new book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, offers a scathing indictment of Jerry Falwell. While many find Hitchens extremely acerbic, his intellect is formidable. Note...

Daniel DiRito | May 16, 2007 | 1:42 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Follow The Oil: Identifying The Real Surge In Iraq genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

I sometimes find it difficult to comment further on the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq...its all been said before...and done before. The latest iteration of a troop surge seems little more than an encore of prior...

Daniel DiRito | May 16, 2007 | 8:06 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Website Liability: If You Build It, You May Pay genre: Indie-Script

A Federal Appeals Court has issued a ruling that holds a website (roommate.com) liable for the postings of some of its users. The court ruled that if a website constructs a format that is designed to elicit responses that...

Daniel DiRito | May 15, 2007 | 9:44 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Jerry Falwell: A Fitting Epitaph? genre: Happy Remembrances & Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

JERRY FALWELL - 08/11/1933 - 05/15/2007...

Daniel DiRito | May 15, 2007 | 8:39 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Falwell Dies - We Await Word On Who Is To Blame genre: Happy Remembrances & Hip-Gnosis

Jerry Falwell, considered the founder of the Moral Majority and a leading evangelical leader, has died at the age of 73. I decided to let his own words speak to his legacy...and to also allow readers to draw their...

Daniel DiRito | May 15, 2007 | 4:46 PM | link | Comments (4)
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Fears, Peers, Smoke And Mirrors genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Video-Philes

In our never ending quest to have the government or some other entity fix all that ails our society, we continue to look under every rock except the one that really counts…our own. On Thursday the Motion Picture Association...

Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2007 | 10:22 PM | link | Comments (2)
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Miss Jihad - 2007 genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad & Tongue-In-Cheek

Thought Theater continues its exclusive coverage of the Miss Jihad - 2007 competition from Baghdad. The four week reality television program format narrowed the field to five semi-finalists over the weekend. In order to reach the semi-finals, the contestants...

Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2007 | 4:06 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Real Time With Bill Maher: New Rules 05/11/07 genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Bill Maher, ever topical and always on the mark, provides another great set of New Rules. He discusses the National Guard's reduced ability to respond to natural disasters and he takes a swipe at the president's sketchy service by...

Daniel DiRito | May 14, 2007 | 8:36 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Switching Teams: It's Not What You Think It Is genre: Hip-Gnosis & Tongue-In-Cheek

The episode was called “The Beard"…and it aired during the sixth season of the popular television show Seinfeld. The following dialogue takes place between Jerry and Elaine and it is a testament to good writing and the ability to say...

Daniel DiRito | May 12, 2007 | 9:10 AM | link | Comments (0)
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George W. Bush: When Did Justice Become Just Me? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The United States Attorney scandal continues to offer insight into the machinations of unbridled partisan politics and the flaws of the human psyche. It now appears that efforts to remove those who were viewed to have failed to be...

Daniel DiRito | May 10, 2007 | 8:24 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Dig Deep...Reach High genre: Rhyme-N-Reason

I've always loved symbolism and metaphor...and the following poem is rife with both. I wrote this poem while imagining life to be like a leap from a cliff into a still body of water. The leap symbolizes decisiveness and...

Daniel DiRito | May 9, 2007 | 5:11 PM | link | Comments (0)
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White Woman, Black Man: How Big Is Ballot Box Bias? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Pew Research Center has a new poll that seeks to determine if the American public would be willing to elect a woman president. On its surface, one might argue that the results are encouraging...especially when compared to similar...

Daniel DiRito | May 9, 2007 | 12:45 PM | link | Comments (5)
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The Daily Show On The First GOP Debate genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Jon Stewart, with his unique wit, skewers the participants in the first GOP presidential debate. What I find so refreshing is Stewart's ability to find and point to absurd remarks and seemingly unexplainable facial expressions that so often go...

Daniel DiRito | May 9, 2007 | 10:42 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Hard Pill To Swallow: Senate Rejects Imported Drugs genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation

On Monday, the U.S. pharmaceutical lobby demonstrated the influence it wields on Capital Hill. The Senate voted to oppose the importing of cheaper drugs from other countries, a move that clearly signals that party affiliation and public opinion can...

Daniel DiRito | May 8, 2007 | 2:21 PM | link | Comments (2)
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The Dark Ages: What's Old Is New Again? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation

Less than ten years ago, the world awaited the promise of the millenium with hope and optimism. Less than ten years into the new millenium, one might argue that hope and optimism have been forced to yield to the...

Daniel DiRito | May 8, 2007 | 9:29 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Real Time With Bill Maher: New Rules 05/04/07 genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Bill Maher touched on the GOP's predisposition to make fun of everything French. As it turns out, the conservative candidate won the French election to become the next president, a move that may signal a thawing in the Bush...

Daniel DiRito | May 7, 2007 | 10:34 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Little Britain: Daffyd Is Bored genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Little Britain, a sitcom from the United Kingdom, chronicles the escapades of Daffyd, a gay man in a remote Welsh city. He likes the other inhabitants to think he is the only homosexual in the area. In this clip,...

Daniel DiRito | May 7, 2007 | 10:09 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Mika - Grace Kelly genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Mika, born in Lebanon and living in London, like so many other aspiring singers, has made his pop debut in the UK. Trained in opera, he has an amazing musical range. Earlier this year the following song, Grace Kelly,...

Daniel DiRito | May 5, 2007 | 8:08 AM | link | Comments (0)
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McCain: Gays To The Back Of The Tank genre: Gaylingual & Six Degrees of Speculation

Senator John McCain, in a letter to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), offered his support of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the military's current position with regards to gays in the military. McCain suggested that while he understands the...

Daniel DiRito | May 4, 2007 | 2:11 PM | link | Comments (3)
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Adoption & Foster Care: Evangelicals Walk The Talk? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

I've been a vocal critic of the religious right and more specifically the evangelical movement. I've often criticized their stance on abortion, gay marriage and adoption, and a number of other issues. My focus has frequently been upon the...

Daniel DiRito | May 3, 2007 | 10:26 AM | link | Comments (3)
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Robin Thicke - Lost Without You genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Alan Thicke's son, Robin, is a musician and his CD, The Evolution Of Robin Thicke, has received a lot of attention. The following clip is the music video for the song Lost Without You from that CD. He's been...

Daniel DiRito | May 2, 2007 | 8:21 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Name Dropping: What A Drag - Part Deux genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek

I did a posting quite a while back on how people pick drag names and I ended the posting with a list of drag names that had food as the theme. Thought Theater readers had a lot of fun...

Daniel DiRito | May 2, 2007 | 7:05 PM | link | Comments (0)
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A Treatise On Personal Responsibility genre: Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation

We live in a world that is all too often based upon deniability and a disregard for accountability. We’ve become adept at and accustomed to doublespeak in our spiral towards the mediocrity that accompanies the perception that obfuscation trumps...

Daniel DiRito | May 1, 2007 | 5:27 PM | link | Comments (5)
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