Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Decisions, Decisions

Aniston Love Letters to Be Auctioned
- - - - - - - - - - - -

By DERRIK J. LANG Associated Press Writer

July 25,2005 | NEW YORK -- One of Jennifer Aniston's
former flings is auctioning off letters, notes,
pictures and other memorabilia from the "Friends"
star. Michael Baroni, a California lawyer who claims he had
a summer romance with Aniston, is selling
keepsakes such as a makeshift birthday card she wrote
on a piece of toilet paper and a childhood picture of
the pair.
According to Baroni, their summer lovin' -- he was 16,
she was 15 -- turned into a longtime friendship until
they lost contact...

Hmm... Now I'm thinking that maybe I too should auction my love letters and other items from Jen (I used to call her "Jen"). She was all after me when I was about 21 and she was 20, somewhat after this Boni Moroni character it seems.

Nah....maybe I'll just be loyal to the memories.

Or...wait,... maybe that was "Jan" that I went out with back then?

Ok, now it seems that this was a completely mistaken posting today.


The Greatest Athlete of All Time?

Seven Tour De France titles! No bicyclist has ever even come close to this before. I can't really think of another sports achievement that might top Lance Armstrong's stunnng career. To not only come back from a cancer scare, with a diagnosis of a 20% chance of survival, and not only just survive it, but to then go on and win what ended up being seven Tour titles, it's just unbelievable! They say his heart is twice the size of the average person's, which greatly improves his athletic abilities on the bike. I'd say that it's twice the size in more ways than one.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Painful Reality

Daughter of Jalil Shaalan, a security guard at a local school, cries beside his body after he was gunned down in front of her outside of the school, Thursday. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

This is a picture I saw in the paper on Friday as I ate my nice lunch at a nearby restaurant after a short day at work. I felt very sick at looking at this picture as I sat in this nice place eating an enjoyable meal, while these people probably don't themselves eat so well; and then to see this little girl crying at the feet of her slain father, it was kind of too much. I feel partially responsible for this, as an American, as someone who did not do enough to prevent an illegal, immoral war from coming to the land of Iraq, perpetrated by my own government, and resulting in a chaotic violence which has lead to the deaths of over 1700 U.S. soldiers, perhaps up to 25,000 Iraqis to date, and to the death of this man, and the resultant misery of his little daughter. This is the picture that you never see, in a war sold to us as necessary in the fight against terrorism. Since when did she become my enemy?
Perhaps now though I, and we, have become hers.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Quisp & Quake Dialogues

I remember a time as a younger man riding in a car with 3 other friends one weekend evening, a long time ago now, just riding around and around in circles as we were looking for things to do (i.e., trying to find girls), when after miles and miles of riding around, our inter-car discussions began to take a somewhat more philosophical turn. We were at that age when young people are exploring what they believe in, and why they believe in what they believe, an age which is both a wonderful as well as fascinating time of life. Someone from amongst our group, I'll call him the "Pseudo-Atheist" (because he really believed in God deep down, while denying it outright) began to challenge the existence of God, and I in turn took up that challenge with own my responses and "proofs" that God does indeed exist (I have since then taken my own more "philosophical" view upon this, perhaps to be explained in more detail in another posting), with the debate at times becoming quite heated. What I remember as being so interesting about this particular evening was that our heated, frenetic dialogues (or quadralogues?) would bounce on over into other topics quite easily, with only the slightest, most tenuous link existing between one topic and the next. Somehow, (don't ask me how) our discussions over the existence of God, the nature of God, and whose father was responsible for whose nonsensical views, turned seamlessly over into discussions about breakfast cereals (we were not drinking), and especially a cereal that I believe was called Quisp (here is some info on Quisp: Wikipedia:Quisp and Quisp Site). Quisp had a nemesis by the name of Quake, and if I remember right, they both looked essentially the same, little cartoon alien characters with propellers on top of their heads. We soon began to debate the merits of Quisp and Quake (Quisp was good and Quake was like a dark, nefarious version of Quisp, in the cartoon world). This debate also eventually turned quite heated, in terms of whose cereal was better, Quisp's or Quake's. Was Quisp really good and Quake evil? Where was Quisp from, what did Quake want from Quisp, and why did he seem to cause so much trouble? And, why the little mini saucer-shaped corn and sugar cereal? Was there a hidden mystery behind it all? Was there something being conveyed or revealed, but only to those "initiated" into the mysteries, as we obviously were?

It now seems all so ridiculous, but in a way, also not, in that our discussions over religion and God, signs and symbols, and crazy breakfast characters, all had merged and morphed into something that seemed on that night almost truly illuminated, in some both revelatory and yet also inexplicable way. It was a night that I have always remembered to myself as the Quisp and Quake dialogues, a strange and wonderful evening that touched upon both the sacred as well as the profane; the most high as well as the everyday of common experience, which in reality is nothing more than simply the totality of human life itself. I know that my friends too would remember this wild and charged evening if I were to see them again and were to bring it up with them, and I also believe that they would remember this night with the same sense of "intensity" that I have of it.

Needless to say, we never found any girls on that particular evening, and now that I think of it, we rarely (but sometimes occasionally) ever did, heightened metaphysical conversations or not!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Divine Providence

An interesting thing occurred at work today. It was related to some things that had happened yesterday, in that yesterday I had completed a straightforward phone interview with a client, including making the accompanying notes in the database. It seems that when this interview was later reviewed by my direct supervisor, the notes involved were not showing in the database. I explained to her that I had indeed included notes, and I could not really explain why they were not there in the record. We have also been experiencing some systems problems in our databases within the last few days, which I of course brought up to my supervisor as a possibility, but being the "thinking" type, she immediately dismissed this possibility, telling me, "not to do this again". Needless to say, I detailed the whole situation for the dept. supervisor shortly thereafterward, with the inclusion that I felt that the chastisement for doing, in my view, my job correctly, was inappropriate. The dept. supervisor seemed to agree with this.

Well, today, as I was working on another interview, I went to make a note, and lo and behold, what popped up on my screen was the older note in question, coming over it seems from a completely different database I'd used yesterday. We are really having some major systems problems here as of late! I was able to actually show the strange occurrence to the dept. supervisor to prove my case. I had been hoping for some way to show that my explanation for the lack of previous notes was indeed correct; that I had in fact made the notes in question, but they had just disappeared unexplainedly for some reason. Well, here they were back again, in the totally wrong place within the system, and impossible to have landed there but for a database system gone terribly wrong. It was almost as if the hand of God had come down, and plugged them back somewhere into the system (or at least had retrieved them from their hiding place), so that they would appear once again, proving that what I had said originally was in fact the truth.

Sometimes God will show up on your side, even if some muddle-headed paper pusher tries to ruin your day for you!

Friday, July 08, 2005

The War on Terrorism

I remember a while back when many were saying that we had to begin to think of terrorism as being part of a greater war in which we are now engaged, and in which we must fight until "they" are defeated. When 9/11 occurred, there was also talk of Osama Bin Laden (whatever happened to him, anyway?) being treated as criminal to be brought to justice, much as you would with any criminal responsible for multiple homicides. I also remember that this idea was laughed at by many, in that you don't take police action against such a tremendous attack as was 9/11, what you do is go to war.

I think now that our current actions in Iraq have shown that going to war, against "them" (the Iraqis?), was about as wrong-headed as could be possible. 9/11 in fact should have been treated as a police action, in which we would have pursued the real criminals and brought them to justice. A police action deals with a specific crime, and the accompanying potential suspects to the crime. A war on terror is a lashing out against predesignated enemies, and against a nebulous "them", purposefully designed as such in order to encompass other agendas (oil, for instance?). What we have now is war, against an invisible enemy, which cannot be won. You cannot kill all of the terrorists. Our actions, in fact, have only succeeded in creating more. Many in the Muslim world now feel that America is at war with Islam. Although we have no issue with Islam, our actions have provided the fodder for those who wish to promote this idea, such as Islamic extremists like Bin Laden and his al-Quaeda. A war on terrorism is a war that will not work, and cannot not succeed. Did the British ever defeat the IRA through military action? Have the Israelis, perhaps the nation with the most experience in combatting terrorism, ever succeeded militarily in stopping Palestinian extremist terror within their own nation?

While there is still time, we should abandon this misguided policy of so-called "war" (but we should not abandon the people of Iraq, suffering from under a mess of our own making, which we must now work to repare), concentrate upon Bin Laden, al-Quaeda, and their associates, as the criminals that they are, and work to bring them to justice for their crimes. The vast majority of the Islamic world, as well as the rest of the world, can respect that; in that they also do not tolerate nor condone crimes such as 9/11 or the attacks upon the citizens of London and Madrid. Ireland and Israel have both shown us that wars on terrorism cannot be won. Perhaps it may be time to sit down with those who have so much hate (not with those who have committed crimes, they should be prosecuted), and actually listen to their grievances; grievances which many times are legitimate and require immediate attention, as with the issue of Palestinian independence and also with regard to the ongoing poverty of the Third World. If we don't listen now, it may be too late for all of us, to listen later.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Karl Rove - Prepare to Frog-March?

With the New York Times journalist Judith Miller being jailed today for refusing a court order to reveal sources which would lead to answering who might have outed Valerie Plame, the wife of retired ambassador Joseph Wilson, in her role as a CIA operative, speculation has been going on all day as to who Miller is protecting by refusing to reveal her sources, with President Bush's chief political advisor, Karl Rove, leading the list. The illegal public revelation of Plame's work may very well have led to lives being lost, due to the now public knowledge around the world that Plame worked for the CIA, possibly jeopardizing the relationships and very lives of her contacts in other countries. Someone outed her, it seems, as an attack upon former ambassador Wilson, who took a publicly negative view on the whole WMD fiasco, as a sort of payback. Wilson has previously been quoted in the past as saying that he looks forward to Rove being "frog-marched" in handcuffs, out of the White House on his way to jail. Although Rove may or may not indeed be the leaker, we here at Fiat Lux are also hoping to see the guy hop.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Luther Vandross 1951-2005

What a loss to lose such a talent at such a relatively young age. I played some Luther this morning in memory of both his talent as well as for some of the landmarks that his music has made in my life. Who can forget songs like, "Here and Now", So Amazing", "Give Me the Reason", "Because It's Really Love", and so many more. Thank you for the music, Luther, you will be missed.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


I haven't always gotten along so well with my father.

Sometimes things have been pretty bad, and most of the time there seems to exist a sort of standoff; a silent agreement to agree that we disagree on so many things.

The problem may lie in that we are each so much a mirror of the other, in so many ways.

But I have to say that, at the same time, my admiration for him can at times overcome the many differences that exist between us, and that there are some qualities there that have been passed on to me, through no fault nor effort of my own, qualities with a value far greater than anything material, and for which I am very much grateful.

I remember a day a while back, when after visiting over at my place, my parents and I decided to go over to the local hamburger stand to have something for lunch. We drove over, ordered our food, and then sat outside under the patio umbrellas waiting for our order. As we sat together in conversation over various things, my father looked around, and seemed to fade in and out of the conversation as he surveyed the surroundings. You see, as a cop, it has become second nature to scope out an area, to see what is going on, and to make sure that everything is ok. But, on a level deeper than this, as a street kid from Newark, NJ, it is part of a survival mode, to always be aware of your surroundings, and of what is going on, as a matter of self-preservation and survival; an ability to notice that which those of differing circumstances might very well pass by or over. For instance, if one has known hunger, sometimes one can see it in others.

Over at a few tables from us sat a somewhat dishevelled looking dark man, a Mexican immigrant, most likely an illegal, by himself, shirt partially unbuttoned,and black hair flipping about in several different directions. He seemed slightly nervous, which also made him seem a little shifty, as he sat there gazing around at things, like someone unable to communicate in a world foreign to him. His nervousness may also have been somewhat heightened by my father's looking over at him occasionally, silently sizing up his intentions.

I later also noticed the man, and saw my father's eyes shift over to him from time to time, as we ate our lunch. I asked him what the guy was doing. "Nothing", my father said. "He's just sitting there.". The whole thing started to seem a little strange to me, and I began to wonder myself about the man's intentions, and what exactly he was doing sitting over there. My father then said, "He's waiting for us to leave"; to which I thought about, and then eventually asked, "Why is he doing that?". My father responded, "He wants to see if we're going to leave something when we leave.". The man was hungry, something I never would have picked up on, thinking that maybe perhaps there was some sort of danger, something to be wary of. But then, I have never really, truly, been hungry, so how would I know?

My father and mother talked over what to do, and it was decided that, as she speaks Spanish, my mother would go over and ask him if he would like something to eat. She went over, put her hand on his shoulder, and spoke to him for a little bit, and then came back. She said that yes, indeed he would like something to eat. She did also get his name, but this detail I have long since forgotten. My father decided that the man's dignity would better be preserved by buying him a meal personally, rather than by just thrusting money at him. So he went over and ordered a large of each item, hamburger, fries, drink, and gestured to the man that his order would be coming out very soon. The man indicated gratefulness with his hands and with his eyes, maintaining a personal dignity in the midst of a situation of which I am sure also presented some pain and discomfort. We soon were finished, so we gave a casual wave to the man as we left. He waved back,and then began to eat.

It is because of reasons like this, that I am able to overlook my father's faults, to forgive his failures, and even at times to stand in awe and reverance, in an emancipation of sorts from angers of the past. This, I guess, is what freedom means to me.