Giving credit where it is due, I got the tip about word clouds from none other than Mr. Fire's blog. As you'll notice if you follow the link, the predominant word on his word cloud is "car." Who woulda thunk?
But before I wander away from my recent topic of choice, there's some good news regarding the Ike relief effort: former President Bush the Elder and former President Clinton are teaming up as they did for the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Here's the link to a news story about the Bush-Clinton Coastal Fund, and here's the link to the site where you can make donations.
On a more personal front, our dear friend's beach house on Galveston's devastated west end is still standing. The first floor, which contained the garage, patio and shower area, is pretty much gone, and there's damage on the upper level as well. Repairs will be extensive, but at least they will be possible.
But it will be quite a while before Galveston and the rest of the Texas coast, as well as large parts of Houston, get back to normal. Residents returning to Galveston over the past few days have been met with distressing sights (and smells). Galveston is, as the headline to a Houston Chronicle article poignantly understated it, "not the island they remember." Maybe it will be so again, someday.
Speaking of hurricanes, over the last weekend and for a couple of days following, I felt almost as if I'd been through another one.
I just don't know how I live with myself...
To add to past charges from Secretrons that I'm a Nazi-type hate-monger, and from some skeptics that I'm intellectually dishonest and not a critical thinker, comes the surprising news that I'm a NewAge cultist hypocrite, and apparently a racist too. (I am not providing relevant links for this latest round of accusations, for reasons that will become apparent.)
Occasionally, for no good reason, I jump into online frays that end up making me waste a couple of days I'll never get back, arguing with people about things that probably don't matter much in the big scheme of things. You may have done this too. Sometimes these arguments end up in friendship or at least a deeper understanding between/among participants. Sometimes they end up in a truce. Sometimes they just fade away and raise their ugly heads in another way later on.
Anyway, I made the mistake last weekend of jumping into a brouhaha that was heating up on one of my favorite blogs. The actual topic of the discussion was politics, but it ended up being a rancorous exchange that ultimately got so heated that the owner of the blog reluctantly (but wisely, in my opinion) closed the thread to any further comments. I joined the exchange for what I have since acknowledged is a petty reason, and one that had nothing to do with the actual topic of the discussion: one participant whose opinion was clearly outnumbered had mentioned, presumably as a means of bolstering his arguments and his credibility, that his blog has ten times the Technorati authority that mine does. He added that the donations he'd solicited and received for blogging would enable him to pay his rent that month.
In my response, alas, I came across as being self-righteous and moralistic regarding the prospect of blogging for money. To make it worse, I made a couple of gratuitous remarks about this person's motives and even about some possible reasons that people were giving him money – reasons that he subsequently said were way off-base. It was, I admit, not my finest hour. I've had time to think about it and I realize, thanks in part to this person's response to my comment, that what was really going on with me at that time was a case of money envy.
I didn't, and don't, agree with the political and social points this person was trying to make during that discussion, but that was not the immediate issue for me at the time. Very simply, I was thinking: Wow, why am I not making any effort to make money from Whirled Musings? If HE can do it with his blog...
Even so, his comparison of his blog to mine was pretty much an apples-to-oranges deal; although our common ground is a disdain for the culture of the conspicuously enlightened, mine is mainly a humor blog, and his, increasingly, is an angry political rant blog. In both tone and purpose, his blog is far more serious than mine. At any rate, I intended to use the original discussion forum to post a public apology not just for my moralistic tone but for any inaccurate statements I'd made about this person and his blog, but as I said, the blog owner closed that thread off to comments.
The next day the angry-political-rant blogger presented his version of the controversy on his own blog. He viewed the whole affair much differently than several of the other participants, including the other blog owner, and that's putting it mildly. Regarding my little part in the matter, I tried twice to send a comment (and an apology, though apparently not enough of one) to his blog, but he wouldn't publish my comments. Privately I asked him why, and he explained to me that it was because he didn't want to open the door to more grief from "vicious NewAge attack dogs." After I sent my second comment he asked me to "please stop." So I have not made any further attempt to write directly to him, publicly or privately. I am not providing a link to his blog because I do not want to open him up to further vicious attacks. (He apparently blames me because he's been getting nasty private emails dissing him for soliciting donations for his blog.)
As for my alleged hypocrisy, this person has on several occasions said I am hypocritical because even though I make fun of New-Wage/selfish-help ideas and people, I live with and am in love with a man who has studied Buddhism and considers himself to be a Buddhist. Ron is not a ritualistic, strictly observant Buddhist and has never claimed to be in the time I've known him, but he is a Buddhist nonetheless, and Buddhists, in my accuser's world, are evil. They are part of what's wrong with our world today, along with liberals, Democrats and NewAge folks.
It should be noted that the word "NewAge" is intended to rhyme with "sewage." Actually I first heard that clever little bit of wordplay seven or eight years ago from a good friend of mine who was a refugee from New Age culture, as I had been. I've used the term myself. In recent years numerous skeptics have taken to using it as well. But generally I prefer my own neologism, "New-Wage."
But I digress. To make matters worse, hypocrisy-wise, I am civil to people who believe in some of the New-Wagey things I snark about. I am even quite friendly with several of them. My accuser has also made reference to my agnosticism, which I assume is still further evidence to him of my hypocrisy, or at least of my weakness and refusal to take a firm stand on issues. After a lifetime of questioning, wondering and alternating between belief and non-belief, I remain agnostic instead of atheist. Namby-pamby, wishy-washy me: I just can't bring myself to take a stand one way or the other about the existence of G_d. Though I find Christopher Hitchens engaging and provocative, I refuse to fall in with the Hitchens camp and declare that "religion poisons everything."
Interestingly enough, the person who has pointed out these egregious flaws in me has thrown in his lot with the G.O.P., God's Only Party, though he himself is a staunch atheist. He fully acknowledges that inconsistency, but it apparently doesn't bother him. At least the G.O.P. is largely Christian, and in his view, Christians aren't trying to tear the USA apart like the Buddhists, lib'ruls and NewAgers are.
By the way, the Baby Boom generation is also evil, and our provocative blogger apparently can't wait till they all die out, although, having been born in the very early 1960s, this person is technically a member of that generation as well. By most authorities, the Baby Boom generation in the USA consists of all people born between 1946 and 1964. Granted, this guy was way too young to participate in the "Summer of Love" in 1967 or, two years later, to go to Woodstock, and he's never been one of those loathsome critters known as hippies, but he is, technically, a Boomer, whether he likes it or not. So is his hero, our current President, who, though probably never a hippie, reportedly did at one time indulge in some of the recreational substances enjoyed by many hippies (and later by yuppies, who were also Baby Boomers).**
As for my racism, all I can figure is that it is guilt by association. This person is black, I am white, and presumably most of the other folks who disagreed with him on that original blog discussion are white as well. In his view, we were all ganging up on him and using him as a punching bag.
I confess to having a strange attraction to the notion that individual people are much more than their beliefs or their political parties OR their race (as it happens, my comment on that other blog had absolutely nothing to do with race). Accordingly, I have numerous friends who don't fit into my little demographic niche. But obviously my thinking has been clouded by that evil Buddhist person I live with, and by other nefarious influences around me. I thought, however, that in the interests of full disclosure, you should know what a weak hypocrite I am. You should further be aware that I have no room to criticize New-Wage/selfish-help stuff, when I am clearly so enmeshed in liberal/NewAge culture myself.
So if you still want to read this blog, read it at your own risk.
PS ~ In case you haven't read these older posts of mine, perhaps they will help explain why I remain "on the fence" regarding what I feel are life's larger questions:
Not that any of that in any way excuses my weakness and hypocrisy. Oh, yeah, and my racism.