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Okay, time for a random update on events in my life: I’m in Buffalo (well, Amherst, really) visiting Becky at the moment, and thanks to a kind suggestion from Becky’s mom that I stay a bit longer than originally planned, I’m going to be here through the 4th of July. Then it’s back east, to New York City for a Great Big Sea concert on the 5th, and then back to Connecticut.
I’m having a great time here, chilling with Becky, her parents, her friends, and her cute kitten, Toby. Here are a couple of images from the last few days. More coming soon!
Awwww… Toby is so cute!!! (Check out the Toby page!)
The Pledge of Allegiance has been ruled unconstitutional in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii — that is, throughout the Ninth Circuit Federal Appellate Court District — because of a ruling today by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court said that because the pledge contains the words “under God” (added by a particularly pious postwar Congress in the mid-50’s), it violates the First Amendment’s ban on a government establishment of religion. Sounds good to me… but how will they react in Idaho?
The ruling does not take effect for several months, allowing time for appeals… and time for religious conservatives from Orange County, California, to Orange County, Florida to get themselves all wound up into high dudgeon. Prepare for a barrage of righteous criticism of West Coast liberals, Bay Area atheists, “activist” judges who make “unpatriotic” rulings, and so on. Also prepare for a total lack of recognition of the irony that the Bush Administration is fighting a war against ultra-conservative religious extremists abroad while promoting an agenda of ultra-conservatism and government-endorsed religion at home.
But for now, let’s bask in the glory of this unique day in American history, when somebody saw the light — not of God, necessarily, but of reason. In the words of Judge Alfred T. Goodwin: “A profession that we are a nation ‘under God’ is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation ‘under Jesus,’ a nation ‘under Vishnu,’ a nation ‘under Zeus,’ or a nation ‘under no god,’ because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion.”
And lest anyone think “under God” was really intended as a neutral, non-threatening, not-specifically-Christian phrase, here’s a quote to chomp on: “Millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” Those are the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower as he signed the bill adding “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.
Scientists have discovered two new species of monkeys in Brazil’s central Amazon, according to the Associated Press. Both types of monkeys are about the size of cats.
“This once again demonstrates how little we know about biodiversity,” said Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International. “These are the 37th and 38th new primate species described since 1990.”
Mittermeier was also reportedly heard to comment that “monkeys are cool.” (Okay, maybe he didn’t say that. But they are!)
Following in the grand tradition of El NiÃ±o, La NiÃ±a, the Summer of the Shark, and various heat waves, cold snaps, tornado spells and heavy-snow seasons, the western wildfires have become this season’s winner of the news media’s annual “worse-than-ever-before natural phenomenon” sweepstakes. All the elements are there — the destructive power of nature, the helpless humans stuck in the path of nature’s fury, and the “experts” with apocalyptic sentiments.
With this sort of story, it is never enough to simply report events as they happen — we must also be subjected to countless reports and analyses insinuating that this latest event is actually the dawn of a new era of crisis and calamity, probably attributable to global warming, or maybe global cooling, or, most likely of all, El NiÃ±o.
Nevermind that the law of averages dictates there will be some extraordinarily destructive natural phenomenon every year, probably a couple of times a year. These days, every single time something happens, the media would lead you to believe that it’s the end of the world. And so, here we go again.
That’s not to say the wildfires in Colorado, Arizona and elsewhere aren’t newsworthy — they certainly are. But the fevered coverage gets a bit excessive. Then again, with pictures like this, it’s not hard to see why:
David Letterman on the D.C. airplane scare: “Boy oh boy, yesterday an airplane flew into restricted air space over Washington, and they had to evacuate the White House. I know you folks know all about this, I’m just letting the FBI know.”
David Letterman on the World Cup: “Of course, in soccer, you can use your head, and you can use your feet, but you’re not allowed to use your hands. And, coincidentally, that’s President Clinton’s technical definition of sex.”
Conan O’Brien on Vanna White’s divorce: “She said, ‘There’s no romance left in our relationship. He hasn’t bought me a vowel in years.’”
The Onion’s top story this week:
Unfortunately, it’s the other USC. The University of South Carolina Gamecocks defeated Clemson today and advanced to play the Texas Longhorns in the final. (The Cocks against the Horns? No comment.)
As for my USC, the Trojans didn’t quite reach the College World Series; they lost in the “super-regionals” on June 8 to Stanford (which lost to Texas yesterday in the CWS semifinals). So, alas, there will be no 13th national championship for USC baseball. But hey, we’re still the winningest athletic program in America!
As for the World Cup, the United States may have lost 1-0 to Germany, but we still have a lot to be proud of after our best run in the modern era.
And, uh, Happy Winter to our Australian friends. :)
Germany 1, United States 0.
3 1/2 minutes until the summer solstice.
3 minutes left in the game. (Germany still leads 1-0.)
7 minutes left till summer.
If there were no stoppage time, the second half of the U.S.-Germany game would end at 9:17 AM Eastern time — seven minutes before the summer solstice hits at 9:24. So, unless we have an injury-plagued or penalty-filled half, the game will probably end during the spring… unless it goes to overtime. But perhaps the United States will pull the comeback, win it in overtime, and become the “boys of summer.”
As I post this message, Germany leads 1-0 at 52:45.
…but the real drama is yet to come. Can America stun Germany? I don’t know anything about soccer, so I’m not going to make a prediction, but I will gladly state my loyalties for the record…
U S A ! ! U S A ! !
In other news, I switched web hosting companies. I’m still going to have BrendanLoy.com, but it’ll be hosted by WorldWebHosters instead of 5GBHosting. The basic facts are the same, however: I’ll still have 1 gigabyte of space for $35 a year. So stay tuned!
Oh, and summer officially begins in less than four hours, at 9:24 AM. Will the U.S.-Germany game be the first World Cup game ever to be played during two seasons?
Maybe Tom Ridge should look into this.
Inspired by the latest round of technical difficulties with one of the free web hosting companies that hold the picture files on this website, I bit the bullet moments ago and registered for a $3-a-month, 1-gigabyte website hosted by 5GBhosting.com. More importantly to all of you, I registered the domain name BrendanLoy.com. I had to do it sometime, since I’ll be losing my space on “scf-usc” in less than a year. So stay tuned — this website will be moving soon!