Monday, April 30, 2007

I haven't thought of this in years, but it suddenly seemed the most perfect thing to post.

I could tell stories about the first times I heard this back in the early '70s, but I'm not sure about the statute of limitations.


You are a fluke Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.....Deteriorata! Deteriorata!

Go placidlyAmid the noise and waste. And remember what comfort there may be In owning a piece thereof.

Avoid quiet and passive persons Unless you are in need of sleep.

Ro-tate your tires.

Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
And heed well their advice, Even though they be turkeys.

Know what to kiss.....and when!

Consider that two wrongs never make a right
But that

Wherever possible, put people on hold.

Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment
And despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer main-te-nance.

You are a fluke Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Remember the Pueblo.

Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle and mu-ti-late.

Know yourself.
If you need help, call the FBI.

Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you.
That lemon on your left, for instance.

Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet.

Fall not in love therefore; It will stick to your face.

Gracefully surrender the things of youth:The birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan
And let not the sands of time Get in your lunch.

Hire people with hooks.

For a good time call 606-4311;
Ask for "Ken."

Take heart amid the deepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.

And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot
It could only be worse in Milwaukee.


You are a fluke Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you conceive him to be---Hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises and urban renewal
The world continues to deteriorate.


You are a fluke Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Performed by National Lampoon on "National Lampoon Radio Dinner," a 1972 recording by Blue Thumb Records. Lyrics by Tony Hendra.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I’ve recently been reading two great books which I’d like to recommend. Generally, I’ll just toss in a review of the fiction I’ve been reading, or the occasional non-fiction book which has come to my attention. This time I really feel that these books are important and worth seeking out at your local library.

Sam Harris’ “Letter to a Christian Nation” and Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” both speak to the dangers of not only religious bigotry, but to the harm caused by belief in and of itself. Both writers have written other books discussing many of the same ideas, and both have had books on various bestseller lists. While many other books have dealt with the same topics, it’s unusual for them to enter into the public debate as they have.

Harris’ latest is sort of a follow-up and general response to some of the reviews and mail he received on his previous book, “The End of Faith: religion, terror and the future of reason”. The book is written as an open letter to those people who took offense at what Harris had put into his book, his denunciation of religion and his very public declaration of his atheism. He quotes some of the mail he received and it’s interesting how vile “Christians” can be following in the footsteps of their savior. What would Jesus do? Surely not call for Harris to be tortured and his family killed? Then again, maybe He would. This could very well be why Harris gets a bit testy in some parts of the book. His anger, justified or not, is pretty evident.

Dawkins is much more level headed throughout. Although he goes over some of the same areas Harris covers, he's able to maintain a sense of humor. Dawkins' book is dedicated to his friend and fellow atheist, the late Douglas Adams (who is quoted several times in the book). As Dawkins is a scientist he sometimes may go over the head of a lay person. I'm not too proud to admit that the concepts of 'meme' and genetics make my head hurt. Still most of Dawkins' book is fascinating and I highly recommend it, even if you don't agree with all of his positions.

Over the next few months I plan to pick up a few other books which both Dawkins & Harris recommend (including other books by each). With all the miracles and "God's wraith" we get in too regular proportions from the media it's nice to see my own point of view given voice.

By the way, I just want to remind folks that it is going to be the National Day of Reason this coming Thursday (5/3), which you can read about over at A response to the National Day of Prayer we go through every year, and about time!

Friday, April 27, 2007

It's been a while but I finally have a Joe Bob Briggs review to post here.

I'm going to be honest and say that the book didn't hold my interest as much as I had hoped early on. Still I think I owe to the JBB folks to actually read each and every book they send along.

The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks
Publisher: Knopf Publishing; ISBN: 030727859X

We’re all living ‘on the grid’ whether we know it or not. From the time we are born until we die, computers, government agencies and a mysterious group called The Tabula or The Brethren track our lives. Most of us are more than willing to give up a bit of freedom and privacy in order to feel safe & secure. Then there some folks who like to keep hidden from the Great Machine.

Certain humans called Travelers are able to leave their mortal forms and go to another realm, returning with new wisdom and ideas that don’t set well with the Tabula. For thousands of years the Tabula have hunted and killed every Traveler it found, thought to be prophets, seers and others considered too dangerous. Fighting for the Travelers are the Harlequins, dedicated warriors who put their lives aside to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Today, the Tabula believe they have found a way to harness the power and abilities of a Traveler for their own purpose. Of course, since they have killed every other Traveler, it is difficult to test their theories. Fortunately, they appear to have discovered not one but perhaps two people capable of moving from one realm to another.

Brothers Gabriel and Michael Corrigan did not have a normal upbringing and when they sit with their mother at her deathbed they discover why. Their father, it seems, was one of the last Travelers and they may have inherited his abilities.

Writer John Twelve Hawks begins his “Fourth Realm Trilogy” like other authors who know before hand that they have a long story to tell. While it does move along pretty quickly, Twelve Hawks does spend a lot of time introducing his large cast of characters, including some who don’t get to stay around for very long after we just get to know them. He also spends a great deal of time giving us the history of his different groups, so it’s possible the next two books will move a bit faster. When we get to spend time with his characters Twelve Hawks makes them believable and most have more than one dimension. Both of the Corrigan brothers and the Harlequin, Maya, who is sent to protect them, are solid characters who all have their own motivations and reasons.

I wanted to like this book more than I did, but like other planned multi-part works the writer has a balancing act where he can’t show all his tricks right away. If you enjoy this type of ‘realistic’ fantasy set in post-9/11 America and Europe you might get more from it than I did.

Three stars.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I see that in the latest Harris poll the President has fallen to a 28% approval rating, which means that close to three quarters of those surveyed don't believe he's doing a good job. The poll also shows that nobody in Washington (on either side of the aisle) has the majority of poll takers feeling positive about their job performance.

I did find one thing odd in the poll which was this item:

When asked which two issues the government should address first, 30% of poll respondents said the war and 13% said Iraq.

I'd like to know how folks divided this up. Were they thinking about the 'war on terror'? Was there a separate question about Afghanistan which didn't show up in the article I read? Just curious.
If you check out the links on The Left you note some new additions.

At the top you'll find the Librarian's Internet Index, a great source of links to databases and resources on hundreds of topics. In the Orange County Public Library, and in other places, you'll find this as a homepage or under Favorites. I find Wikipedia coming up so often when doing a Google or Yahoo search I've decided to go ahead and link to it. (Besides it actually has an entry on The Lovely Christina Stoffo, the only acquaintance I have who has one.)

Scroll down further under the political blogs/sites and I've added Countdown with Keith Olberman (which will link to the show's "award-winning" blog The Newshole). Since I'm getting home most nights too late to catch the show (or am having dinner at that time) it's a great way to keep up with the "award-winning" program.

For those wondering, I'm really enjoying my first few weeks here at the City of Orange Library. My co-workers and the rest of the staff could not be nicer. In fact, just about everybody I've encountered who works for the city really seems happy to be working here. I think it's a FISH thing, but I'll have to get back to you on that!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How could I not post this strip after my earlier post on religion?

I recommend you head over to and check out other strips, goodies and the blog. (I'm not getting a kickback here!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Until I get a chance to upload some of the photos I took, I did want you folks to take a look at the outside of the new library.

You can't actually get into the 'tower' you see, it's for electronic equipment, etc.

I also wanted to pass along a press release on some Chuck Jones material on exhibit here at the library that local folks may be interested in stopping by to see.

Chuck Jones “Read To Succeed®” Art Exhibition
Displayed at New Orange Public Library & History Center

Orange, CA – A special art and animation display planned to coincide with the grand re-opening of the new Orange Public Library & History Center began on Saturday, April 21, and will run through mid-September of 2007.

The Read To Succeed® art exhibition, part of Orange’s “Year of the Library” celebrations, was enthusiastically announced today by officials of Chuck Jones Center for Creativity and Orange Public Library. It will be on display at the new Orange Public Library & History Center during the following schedule of regular library service hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(Closed Sunday)

The Read To Succeed® art was created in 1988 by Chuck Jones, four-time Academy-Award winner; internationally renowned animator, director, artist, and author; and graduate of Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts) as part of a still‑active program designed to encourage young people to read. A voracious reader himself, Chuck relished the opportunity to sketch and paint a variety of colorful works showing Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Porky Pig, Sylvester, Tweety, PepĂ© Le Pew, and other characters finding knowledge, fun, and adventure in the pages of books.

The library exhibition includes the initial, rarely seen series of nineteen-year-old posters, as well as original, hand‑painted animation cels which have never before been available for public viewing. Chuck Jones Center for Creativity and Orange Public Library consider this display of art, free to all, to be a unique opportunity for library visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in Chuck Jones’ vision of the world: A place where everyone opens their minds to the unparalleled joy of reading.
Chuck Jones “Read To Succeed®” Art Exhibition at Library, ADD 1-1-1

Chuck Jones Center for Creativity (sharing space with Chuck Jones Gallery and Archive) and the new Orange Public Library & History Center are both located in historic, pedestrian-friendly Old Towne Orange. The Read To Succeed® art exhibition represents the first of what both organizations hope to be many cultural collaborations benefiting the residents of Orange, Orange County, and beyond.

Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, a nonprofit private operating foundation, is dedicated to fostering and encouraging creativity, especially in young people, using the drawings, films, and writings of legendary animation director Chuck Jones as inspiration. For more information about Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, go to or call (714) 516-9540.

The mission of Orange Public Library is to welcome and support all people in their enjoyment of reading and pursuit of lifelong learning, to preserve local history, and to provide equal access to information, ideas and knowledge through books, programs and technology. For more information about Orange Public Library, go to or call (714) 288-2471.

Read To Succeed® is a registered trademark of Six Flags Theme Parks Inc.

Some of the best advice my late mother, Marion Chaput, gave me was along the lines of, “Don’t talk to people you don’t know about religion or politics, since you might offend somebody.” Sadly, along with other advice she gave me for a little over fifty years, I did not take it to heart, as I should have. It’s usually been the ‘politics’ part that has gotten me in trouble, since I tend to wear my progressive views quite openly. I find it better, especially on the job, not to get all Leftist on folks. You can imagine all I swallowed back in New York when Rudolph Giuliani was mayor!

If you know me, you also know that I'm Agnostic on my best days and deeply Atheistic when I'm cranky. I was raised Roman Catholic, attending catechism weekly for most of my elementary school years, plus going through the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation. When I turned thirteen, in my first year of high school, it was time to decide whether or not I would continue in what was then called Christian Youth Organization (the high school version of catechism for teens). While I was given the choice, my mother felt that it would be best if I gave it one year and then made the decision. Of course, not to offend her I went ahead with the weekly meetings discovering quite quickly that, at least for me, they were a great waste of time.

Now, being honest here, my father and I never had many what you would call 'serious' conversations. I remember having one about 'sex', which took place a week before my first marriage to Betsy with whom I had been living for eight months, and one about religion when I was thirteen. I have no idea how it came about, probably because I was complaining about going to CYO when my friends (most of whom were already attending Sacred Heart Catholic school, so didn't have to attend the weekly classes) were out doing more interesting things.

It wasn't a long conversation, as my father really was never a long-winded kind of guy. I tend to take after my mother and love to hear my own voice, as does my sister, Pam. (My younger sister Susan takes after my father on the other hand.) Basically, it came down to my father admitting that he really didn't have any faith in a God and only attended church for my mother's sake. He told me that he had never seen evidence to prove there was a God and things he had seen during WWII and after reinforced his non-belief. I doubt my dad ever read any books on philosophy or theology, but then he pretty much stuck to books on sports and exotic travel.

At thirteen this was all I needed to move me from doubting there was anything to all the catechism I had been taught, to deciding it was all pretty silly. Personally, I found tales of the Norse & Greek gods a lot more interesting than anything I had found in most of the bible stories I had read.

This post has gone on a lot longer than I had planned, so I'm going to cut it in half. Since I've already bored you with all this next time I'm actually going to get around to talking about the books: “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins and “Letter to a Christian Nation” by Sam Harris.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My plan, over the next few days, is to post some photos I took last week during the grand re-0pening of the City of Orange Main Library. As you can imagine the work done by staff was remarkable, finally bringing off what seemed to everyone a mostly successful event. Then again, the dozen or more folks trapped on the elevator (in two seperate incidents on Saturday) may feel quite different.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I wanted to get in a few comments about the past week while I have some free time.

The hardest thing about the new job here at the library (at least until we actually open to the public) is getting back in the habit of working a full day. Doing the Extra-help/On-Call thing at the other libraries was hit or miss generally I’d go in two-three days a week (or on the weekend) and do three to four hours. It’s hard to believe that it has been over six months since I was doing the five-days a week routine.

Another surprise is how easy I’m finding the commute each day. Driving on the 5 Freeway for half an hour is a lot more enjoyable than those 90 minutes or more subway rides back in New York. I listen to Stephanie Miller on KTLK in the AM and switch between one of the all-news stations or “All Things Considered” on the way home.

Oooh! Missing e-mails! How in the world did that happen? Guess the IT folks at the RNC had the day off and nobody thought to contact the Geek Squad to help out.

I can’t say I can work up a lot of sympathy for Don Imus, who I’ve never been a fan of as I’ve said before. Still is it really going to make racism disappear with him gone from drive time? Plus, (and I know I’m going to catch flack for this) how long is it going to be before we see a comedian on Comedy Central making the same comment (while discussing the I-man) and getting huge howls from the audience?

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Kurt Vonnegut this past week. I was introduced to his writing by my friend Gerry, back when we were in junior high school. I loved SIRENS OF TITAN and began reading each of his books as they appeared as quickly as I could. Seems that each obit I hear or read makes the same comment about the comparisons between Vonnegut and Mark Twain, but that’s too easy. Simply put Vonnegut was one of the great American writers of the past century and we are not likely to see someone like him for a very long time. So it goes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I was never a big Don Imus fan, even before I began listening to Howard Stern (when Howard was doing afternoon drive over at WNNNNNBC). I dimly recall hearing Imus doing his Donkey Kong stuff a couple of decades ago, but didn't find him particularly funny.

Imus, like him or not, makes enough money for MSNBC and WFAN to keep him on the air, despite the comments he made last week. As Randi Rhodes said earlier on her show, they aren't going to 'punish' him until next week, since Imus does a fund raiser this week. If the network was going to do anything serious they would have jumped all over it the day after it happened (or that day, since Imus broadcasts in the A.M.).

He'll be back on the air next month, probably meet with the Rutgers' players, along with the Rev. Al Sharpton (who needs more air time himself), and we can move on to REAL hate-mongers like the talking-heads over at Fox.

Get over it, folks!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Things seem to be going smoothly here for once. Donna is fitting in nicely in her new job in Mission Viejo and actually enjoys her position. Of course, as the practice becomes busier things will become more hectic. I’m spending a few days a week learning the routines at the City of Orange Library, hoping to start working full-time by the end of April.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here seven months already. So much has happened during that time. Still we both agree that we made the right decision in moving here and hope the rest of our first year runs a bit smoother.

Baseball season has begun so they’ll be plenty of stuff on TV and the radio to keep me interested. As I’ve said before there’s baseball and then those other sports of which I have little or no interest. One thing that does bother me a bit is that here in Orange County it appears to be all about either the Dodgers or the Angels, while I’ve always had a fondness for the San Diego Padres. I find it especially odd here in southern OC since we are actually closer to San Diego than LA. I’ll probably have a few more words about baseball in general and the Red Sox, in particular of on Shot’s Shack in the next day or so.