by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

The World Cup is scheduled to open in Sao Paolo on Thursday June 12th, with performers Claudia Leitte, Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez, but 223 miles away the Rio favelas are in the middle of a worsening crime wave:
Rio chaos in countdown to kick-off
Gunfights and killings in shanty towns have escalated just weeks before the World Cup begins in Brazil
(emphasis added)

“There are two drug gangs and one militia. So it won’t be in two days, it won’t be in a year, that we bring peace quickly,” said Luiz Pezão, the new governor of Rio, after meeting with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

Characterised by its chaotically-built red-brick shanty homes and illicit energy connections, Maré has been a strategic stronghold for Rio’s drug gangs for years, given its location near the airport and one of the main thoroughfares through the city.
. . .

The authorities believe that criminals in Maré have been coordinating attacks in other favelas on the police who have been stationed there as part of the ongoing pacification programme. Since the start of the year, at least 16 officers have been killed.

Street protests continue to rock the country just 45 days away from the opening, so Luiz Felipe Scolari, the coach of Brazil’s national soccer team, is worried as he

told Brazilian television Sunday that protests calling for social change and criticism of the amount of money spent on the tournament “could big-time” be a negative influence on his team.

And call the Bar Rescue guy, folks, since instead of the World’s Most Interesting Man, Usama bin Laden bars are taking over Brazil

Though it may be in poor taste, Fernandes’ hot spot was only the first of bin Laden themed hangouts in Brazil. Mac Margolis of Vocativ found “nearly a dozen Brazilian establishments” named after the former Al-Qaida leader- including a sport where thirsty fans in Rio can shoot a game of pool at Caverna do Bin Laden.

What could possibly go wrong?
faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American culture and politics at Fausta’s Blog.

by baldilocks

Two recent “public outrage” issues in this year’s news have demonstrated that many people—even baldilocksconservatives—have the notion that no one may abridge “free speech.”

The only law related to free speech is in the U.S. Constitution, specifically, Article I of the Bill of Rights. Stated therein:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech. Therefore, if you are not or I am not Congress, we are unable make any law abridging free speech. If a private corporation or a private association is not Congress, it is unable to make any law abridging freedom. Therefore, the 1st Amendment does not address what any parties which are not Congress may or may not do with respect to freedom of speech. Again, none of the parties mentioned in the cases above are Congress, nor are they any other branch of government.  Each case involved something called a contract between private parties.

A contract is a written promise. Contracts can have all kinds of terms, some of which may involve what parties say in public. Other terms can stipulate how a party can react when the other contracting party violates any of the terms. Things like termination and fines are examples of such penalties, and you can bet that both A&E and the NBA listed these things on the contracts they offered to the Robertsons and to Sterling.

Observers are free to give their opinions on what they think and how they feel about these public controversies and their outcomes, but, in the end, it comes down to what was promised contractually and whether any of those promises were broken. If Duck Dynasty fans or A&E fans or NBA fans or even Donald Sterling fans don’t like how these private parties have resolved their contract problems, fans are free to no longer be fans. But, not being Congress, neither A&E nor the NBA have violated Phil Robertson’s or Donald Sterling’s 1st Amendment rights, respectively.

Each entity is free to act according to the terms of their respective contracts. And, you and I are free not to give them our money if we don’t like what they do.

At least for now…

(More on the Donald Sterling topic here.)

AFTERTHOUGHT: A&E fired Phil Robertson for his comments, then re-instated him; the NBA banned Donald Sterling for life. Both A&E and the NBA reacted to the sentiments of their respect core consumers. Business is business.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

by baldilocks

Yes, I can occasionally be caught live in the kitchen. Look quick.

When growing up, my dinner task was making the salad. My mom bought the goods and I prepared them to her exacting specifications. As a result, I am very, shall we say, anal about salads.

A clean vegetable is a happy eater. Wash as far down as possible, wash as far up as possible, then, wash ‘possible.’ That maxim goes for many things.

Anyone who uses iceberg lettuce or put the leaf spine in a salad should be shot. (or maybe, er, reeducated.) Use red-leaf, romaine or butter leaf lettuce or some combination thereof. Spinach is also yummy.

IM000148.JPG

Buy the right mushrooms. Get the ones that are closed at the junction between the body and the stem. If you buy the white ones, don’t buy them if they have dark spots. Cut the stems off but not so far down as to where you can see the inside of the body.

Use red onions and/or scallions, because they look prettier and taste better than yellow or white onions. Cut most of the flower of the scallions off because they are bland. The root is the good part.

Bell peppers are mandatory and when I’m the only one eating the salad or am sure of my audience, I will add chopped Serrano chili pepper in my salad. (You folks who are not from the southwest part of the US or are not of Mexican descent might not know what a Serrano is. It’s a little, tiny green pepper that is hot. I like hot, but if you like HOT, try a Habanero pepper. Make sure to wear gloves while you’re chopping those.)

Two of the ingredients that my mom didn’t require, but I usually use now are: carrots and cucumbers. Yes, peeling them is a pain—and please peel the cuck—but, boy, do they give great texture and taste to the salad. Split the cuck down the middle, by the way.

Sometimes I will top the salad with canned crab. There are two places here in LA from which I’ve bought the crab: Food for Less and Trader Joe’s. The FFL version is cheaper and the TJ’s version is prettier, but they both taste about the same. Sometimes I’ll rinse off canned beans or corn and add those. I don’t put anything heavier than that in a salad. Chicken, beef and pork are for the main course.

Croutons and bacon bits are masks for a salad prepared by a lazy salad-maker. If your ingredients are good, fresh and varied, you don’t need these, unless you like them.

No yellow, orange or white dressings should be used. Hey, if you want to hide the taste of your salad, just tear up some iceberg, chop up a big, fat tomato and pour Thousand Island all over it. Blech. I like a non-obnoxious Caesar or just some olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar.

If you must put some seasoning on your salad, a bit of Mrs. Dash will do the trick; oh, and black pepper.

What did I forget? Tomatoes, of course, are required; cherry types cut in half. Full-sized tomatoes will make the salad go bad faster (too much liquid).

If you think salads are boring, you’re missing out on one of the great pleasures of eating. Time, attention and varied ingredients are all that are required. Don’t forget to make it beautiful as well. Eating is almost as much about the eye as it is about the tongue. So sue me for being a look-ist.

Burp.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

baldilocks

 

 

 

 

faustaby Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Johns Hopkins economics professor Steve Hanke has been looking at the old misery index, that is, a simple sum of inflation, lending rates, and unemployment rates, minus year-on-year per capita GDP growth, and Venezuela’s on top:

When measured by the misery index, Venezuela holds the ignominious top spot, with an index value of 79. 4. But, that index value, as of 31 December 2013, under states the level of misery because it uses the official annual inflation rate of 56. 2%. In fact, I estimate that Venezuela’s annual implied inflation rate at the end of last year was 278%. That rate is almost five times higher than the official inflation rate. If the annual implied inflation rate of 278% is used to calculate Venezuela’s misery index, the index jumps from 79. 4 to 301, indicating that Venezuela is in much worse shape than suggested by the official data.

Since the government has imposed price controls on mostly everything, the inflation rate appears to be low, but so are the store shelves,

There’s one thing Venezuela has plenty of: guns. Olympian Gabby Franco describes how Venezuelan citizens are not allowed to own guns, but the country has the highest murder rate in our hemisphere,

John Hinderaker posts,

Now, socialist Venezuela is in a state of collapse, with rampant inflation and shortages of basic necessities, like food. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, probably millions, have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the government’s corrupt incompetence. The socialist government, now headed by Nicolas Maduro, has responded with a brutal crackdown in which dozens of anti-socialist Venezuelans have been murdered by government forces or paramilitary, pro-government gangs that–who could have guessed?–are heavily armed, despite the country’s “progressive” firearms laws.

In addition to the marauding gangs armed to the teeth, the country is armed. Russia is Venezuela’s largest supplier of weapons and armored vehicles, but China and Iran are involved, too.

Joseph Humire explains,

Using civilian militias to shoot students and beat protestors is only one tool in Maduro’s repressive apparatus. Other tools have come at the hands of one of Venezuela’s top benefactors — China. According to Jane’s Defense Weekly, at least two Chinese-made military systems have recently been battle tested on the streets of Venezuela.

The first is the Norinco VN-4 armored personnel carrier that has been recently deployed by the Bolivarian National Guard to patrol Venezuelan neighborhoods and intimidate its residents. The VN-4 is a multi-role, light armored vehicle with a light machine gun mounted on top. Venezuela purchased 141 of these armored vehicles in 2012 for this type of contingency, and they are now rolling through the streets of Venezuela in the face of the protests. The other system is the Shaanxi Y-8C military transport aircraft, of which Venezuela purchased eight from China for $353 million back in 2011. These Y-8C aircraft were seen on the tarmac of several Venezuelan airports last month, made public through an array of photos posted on Twitter that claimed Cuban Special Forces were disembarking this Chinese-made aircraft.

. . .  on February 26th, a Russian Vishnya-class intelligence ship, the Viktor Leonov CCB-175, was identified in the Havana harbor, just hours from Venezuela. This spy ship arrived unannounced, fully equipped with electronic eavesdropping equipment and weaponry. That same day, several Russian-made surface-to-air missiles were relocated from the Venezuelan military industrial hub of Maracay, to the capital of Caracas. These particular missiles, the S-125 Pechora 2M, were sold to Venezuela by Russia in 2009, and delivered to the Bolivarian Republic as recently as a couple weeks before the mass mobilizations began.

These low altitude surface-to-air missiles are the same kind of anti-aircraft weapons that Vladimir Putin sold to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which limited the option of placing a “no-fly” zone over Syria as Assad unleashed chemical weapons on his people. The repositioning of the Pechora missiles to Caracas is an ominous indication that the repression in Venezuela will get much worse if the protests continue.

Cuba, China, Russia and Iran are involved in Venezuela’s dictatorial regime.

No wonder the country is #1 in the misery index.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

faustaYesterday the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-2 that states have the right to ban racial preferences, what we call “affirmative action”, which the French refer to “discrimination positive“, or positive discrimination – an oxymoron if there ever was one, but overly optimistic, or the newest euphemism for academic settings, “race-sensitive admission policies” (emphasis added):

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, in the opinion that controlled the outcome, insisted that the Court was saying nothing new on the constitutionality of public policies that take race into account. “This case,” he wrote, “is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it….The holding in the instant case is simply that the courts may not disempower the voters from choosing which path to follow.”

He added: “There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this Court’s precedents for the Judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters.”

Justice Sotomayor dissented, but her dissent was framed in emotional terms, having conceded that the Michigan law itself did not violate equal protection:

Race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and, unlike Justice Sotomayor, do not consider myself to be a “wise Latina“:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” said Judge Sotomayor

Certainly it wold be ridiculous, if not downright foolish, to assume that accident of birth in the form of ethnicity has made my life experiences “richer” than anyone who hasn’t lived my life. During the decades I’ve lived in the Continental U. S. I have been “addressed by a stranger in a foreign language” – in German, in Italian, and in Spanish – which did not offend me; to the contrary, I see it as a compliment that a person would like to communicate with me in their language.

But I pose to Justice Sotomayor this question, does race matter when Asian (East Asian and Indian) students are denied admission to top colleges because quotas favor a different minority?

The real issue on college admissions is the quality of public school education,

As a practical matter, the fact that non-white students do relatively poorly under race-neutral admissions standards at our public universities is an indictment mainly of our K–12 education system and of the cultural anarchy that has imposed especially high costs on the children of black and Latino families. It is not an indictment of race-neutral standards. Unable or unwilling to do a better job of preparing black and Latino students for college in the public institutions controlled by its most reliable footsoldiers, the Left insists on anathematizing the very standards under which the incompetence and negligence of our government-run schools, the very model of progressivism, are revealed. If that takes a bit of doublespeak — non-discrimination is discrimination — it wouldn’t be the first time the Left has relied on it.

Or, as my colleague Juliette Akinyi Ochieng correctly names it, The Great Indoctrination.

Back when Justice Sotomayor was nominated, I said,

Identity politics is, in a word, wrong.

Elevating ethnic-identity politics over the law doesn’t make it right.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on US and Latin American culture and politics at Fausta’s Blog.

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by baldilocks

The Left has been building America up for overt communism/socialism/marxism/progressivism—henceforth called leftism–for a long, long time. Most educational systems have long ceased to educate their charges properly.They baldilockshave ceased to define objectively the concepts of leftism, small-l liberalism, capitalism, basic economics and, of course, history. Specifically, educational systems stopped calling leftist concepts and ideologies by name. This made it easier to present these principles as good and necessary–present them as rights.

The accepted and assumed “truth” that leftist principles are rights is virus-like. It has become so pervasive that, when those who are properly educated, formally or otherwise, try to explain how and why such principles aren’t rights guaranteed by the US Constitution and how the implementation of these “rights” has bankrupted this nation and how it has radically altered life in this country for the worse, explainers get labeled adversely: racist, Nazi, Uncle Tom, fascist, Aunt Jemima, sexist, tool of the Patriarchy, or some combination thereof, depending on the coating and plumbing of the Cassandra in question. And, these labels stick for the same reason–because the definition and history behind those terms isn’t taught either. So, for example, instead of a Nazi being defined as someone who oppresses a set of persons, a Nazi is defined as someone who stops another from oppressing a set of persons.

And, in the wake of the sowing of those seeds, the human emotions of covetousness have further softened the ground for Leftism. The idea of profit beyond a certain limit being morally wrong stems from nothing but envy. Therefore, if the regular Jane knows nothing about government or economics or history except for the distorted topical versions dispensed by the average public educational system, the average university system and/or the seven o’clock news, she can be convinced, for example, that nationalizing the oil industry will bring down her gasoline bill. She can be convinced that corporations are the enemy of the worker. She can be convinced that their money is her money—stolen out of her pocket. She can be convinced that all profits of other individuals and corporations belong to her and those like her. She can be convinced that the great, almighty government can save her and everyone from the dastardly, mustache-twirling corporations. And, ultimately, she can be convinced that the icon of Hope and Change—the very flowering of the Leftist transformation plan for America–can and will make all of her dreams come true.

And so it is that the Cassandras, eloquent though they may be, will go unheeded for the most part.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

by baldilocks

Originally posted here on May 12, 2010; slightly updated and re-edited. This story is never out of season.

 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

(Acts 2:17-18; KJV)

Some time ago, I had a dream.

Before I explain what type of dream it was, I should mention that my dreams are very vivid—almost like being awake; like short visits to worlds yet unexplored.  Sometimes, I can remember them immediately upon waking, but they will usually be forgotten if I fail to write them down.  (As an aside, I think that the ability to remember one’s dreams goes hand-in-hand with having a well-developed imagination—something essential to being a novelist.)

My subconscious will even, on occasion, incorporate sounds from the waking world and build a dream around it if the sound isn’t loud and/or piercing enough to disrupt my sleep.  Such was the case several years ago when former Israeli Defense Minister Dan Gillerman’s melodious, accented baritone memorably penetrated my dreams as it wafted from my television.  In that dream, the voice seemed to be emanating from the throat of the man whom I loved at the time; he seemed to pontificate about a war with Gaza.

However, for the dream mentioned at the beginning, there was never any need to write the details, and, whenever I reconsider it, it always looms large and has capital letters: The Dream.

At first, The Dream was a nightmare—one of the few nightmares in my fifty-plus years.  (Interestingly enough, I only began having nightmares in the last few years—since I began walking closer to God.) I couldn’t see anything at first; I could only feel—and the feeling in question was pure terror.  I’ve never come close to being that afraid when awake and I hope that I never do.

There was something–a living thing—in the room with me.  What was it?  Evil itself is the only way to describe this entity.

I lay on a floor, curled up in a ball like a potato bug and unable to move.  My eyes—my dream-eyes—were slammed shut for fear of seeing the thing.  It seemed to menace my back, crackling the skin of it.  In the manner which dreams unfold, I could “see” chunks of flesh fall from my back; then  it would reintegrate and the process would start again.

I wanted to uncurl and turn to face the being, but fear stopped me.  I could feel my chest heaving; it seemed as though the mere sight of the Thing of Evil would stop my heart forever.

Then I cried out to God and He answered, reminding me that He had not given me the spirit of fear; that this particular emotion had a different source.  This reassurance seemed to slow my breath and un-paralyze my body.  I stood up and opened my eyes, but I still wasn’t quite able to face the Creature.

Sword_of_spirit

“Stretch out your arms,” God said.  I did so and opened my right hand.  In it was a sword or a handgun (they seemed interchangeable) and, as is so in myth and in fantasy, my weapon had a given name.

Its name was “the Word of God.”

So, with weapon in hand, I “screwed my courage to the sticking-place” and turned to face my enemy, steeling myself to view its ugly face.

It was gone.

*****

Weeks later, I was sitting in church and very much awake.

My pastor–learned in the languages of the Bible, Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine Greek—was expounding on the two Greek terms for “word of God.”  One is a term with which most English-speakers are familiar—logos.  The other, however, is one I had heard before but had no idea what it meant until my pastor began to expound upon it: rhema[i]

The difference?  People far more theologically learned than I are still discussing it, but the difference seems to be in scope.  A rhema is more of a short aphorism, rather than a long sermon or the Word in its entirety, and it is intended to counter the Adversary quickly when he’s trying to induce doubt and/or fear.  For example, Jesus Christ used a quick succession of rhema on Satan when the latter tried to induce doubt about God the Father.

In short, when you hear preachers talk about “a word from God,” most of the time they are talking about a rhema.

“What does this have to do with your dream,” I hear you ask.  My mouth literally dropped open when my pastor mentioned the other definition of rhema….

The Sword of the Spirit[ii].

Whenever I feel anxious about anything, I think of this dream

Happy Resurrection Day and may the enemy Passover your dwelling.


[i] James Strong, The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001),1641

[ii] Strong’s, 1626

baldilocksJuliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!

 

 

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This month we are behind, but we can make our goal if we can get $100 a day for the rest of the month. That’s 4 $25 Tip jar hits.

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by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, died yesterday. Cuba’s government-run media mourned Fidel’s friend, who even worked for Cuba’s Prensa Latina news agency in Bogota and New York. He was 87 years old.

One of the giants of Spanish-language literature, García Márquez’s most renowned novel is A Hundred Years of Solitude, which brought magical realism to the forefront,

“In Mexico,” he says, “surrealism runs through the streets. Surrealism comes from the reality of Latin America.”

It may at times, but it also helps to bear in mind that he had books to sell, and his own staunch support of Castro verged on the surreal: Cuban author Carlos Alberto Montaner, who knew Garcia Marquez well (they shared an agent), narrates (link in Spanish, my translation with emphasis added),

With no other factor than compassion for [Cuban political prisoner and former union leader Reinol González] Reinol’s wife, who had gone to Mexico to meet the novelist and ask for his help without ever having met him, García Márquez interceded with Fidel to release him. And so it happened: the Dictator not only released González. He gifted him to García Márquez right in the middle of the street, as one gives away an inanimate object, and, suddenly, the Colombian found himself in Havana with the strange gift from his powerful friend, owner of the lives and deaths of all his subjects.

That a human being would waste his prodigious talent in the service of a monstrous dictator after having witnessed such event speaks of a blindness, a void of the soul.

But then, Fidel had gifted García Márquez a fully-furnished mansion in Havana’s best neighborhood (link in Spanish), and a Mercedes, complete with staff, after the 1982 Nobel award was announced.

Regardless of the house and slaves, García Márquez lived in Mexico, where the government kept him under surveillance as a Cuban propaganda agent.

faustaIf you would like to borrow García Márquez’s novels from the local public library, I recommend Love in the Time of Cholera, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor. I read One Hundred Years of Solitude while in college and it blew my mind, but decades later attempted to re-read it both in the original Spanish and in the Gregory Rabassa translation, and found it unreadable.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on US and Latin American culture and politics at Fausta’s Blog.

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Friday is here and the worst week of the what is shaping up to be the worst month financially for this blog is again taking shape.

That’s wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that prior to this month February & March were respectively the worst financial months the blog had before it.

I’d like to think this site and our writes are worth your support. Frankly we are sitting $1254 shy of the mortgage and the payroll. It’s going to take a $100 a day each day to the end of the month to get this done and turn this three month slump around. (And the establishment certainly isn’t going to provide it).

I think the site and the work done here is worth it, if you do too then please consider hitting DaTipJar below .

Naturally once our monthly goal is made these solicitations will disappear till the next month but once we get 61 more subscribers  at $20 a month the goal will be covered for a full year and this pitch will disappear until 2015.

Consider the lineup you get for this price, in addition to my own work seven days a week you get John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit) and Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  on Sunday  Linda Szugyi (No one of any import) on Monday  Tim Imholt on Tuesday,  AP Dillon (Lady Liberty1885) Thursdays, Pastor George Kelly Fridays,   Steve Eggleston on Saturdays with  Baldilocks (Tue & Sat)  and   Fausta  (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.

If that’s not worth $20 a month I’d like to know what is?

 

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

CONTAINS SPOILERS

Unlike the prior season, this season’s opener had me glued to the TV set from beginning to end. The episode is titled Time Zones, and Joel Murray as Freddy Rumsen opened it with an entrancing monologue (an ad for Accutron watches) that also serves both as a metaphor on time, and on the value of objects for those of us who are fond of our material possessions – especially our watches.

The pitch of Rumsen’s voice, the flat delivery, and the use of this monologue as the opener for the final season brings us into a Twilight Zone* of sorts, in keeping with the T-Zone title.

Rumsen’s appearance bracketed the episode. Keep in mind that he was forced to take a leave of absence from the ad agency after drunkenly urinating in his pants and then passing out right before an important meeting. At the end of the episode he pleads with Don, “Why don’t you stop this Cyrano bit, and march your ass in there and get us both a job”. Murray is magnificent as Freddy.

Roger’s descending into depravity, and yet his daughter forgives him – which he can not understand.

Don Draper continues his downward spiral and there’s enough foreshadowing compressed in this season’s first episode to make us certain of his destiny.

Or is there?

Walter Dellinger, Supreme Court Advocate, writes at the WSJ,

I liked this episode a lot. In part, that is because I am an incurable optimist. This episode is so grim that there is only one way to go for its central characters and that is some version of up.

There seems to be a minor anachronism: Don glides through LA airport on a background of colorful mosaics. In 1967, for The Graduate‘s opening sequence, Dustin Hoffman’s character did the same, but the tile were white. By 1997, the tiles were small and colorful for the Jackie Brown credits.

As for the clothes, the women’s clothes signal the direction of their lives:

  • Joan in respectable suits,
  • Peggy in Mary Tyler Moore’s tam,
  • Meghan in ever-more-short miniskirts signaling desperation.

Among the men, Pete’s preppy early-metrosexual style shows him for the ___ [fill the blank!] he is. Don’s still wearing a trilby, which makes him slightly out of step with the times.

The year is 1969, and, unlike the earlier seasons, by 1969 I was in the continental US, and old enough to remember the news events that took place. Mercifully, I was not surrounded by adults sinking into alcoholism.

You can watch the full episode for a limited time online at the Mad Men website.

And,
Of course AMC practices the 4 P’s of marketing, and, for promotion, you, too, can have a Mad Men avatar! Mine’s a pretty good likeness:

madmen_standard

*The Twilight Zone aired from 1959 to 1964.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on US and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.

by baldilocks

(Re-edited.)

Last week’s Mozilla-Brendan Eich saga has spawned many conversations. I have been involved in more than one of these, and they have produced a good amount of frustration in me. This frustration is borne of the fact that many people in this allegedly Judeo-Christian nation are functionally illiterate as to what they don’t believe, and as to what they do.

When Jesus Christ died and rose again, His work was finished, as He proclaimed. However, both believer and non-believer alike seem to think that the work of the individual Christian is finished when he/she accepts Jesus. (This is not to say that a Christian must do many things to be saved; he/she needs only to do one thing. My Catholic friends differ about this, but that is a separate topic.)

We Christians do sin–mostly in spiritual pride, but also in other areas, and that is to be expected. However, all too many of us think that Christians have arrived at some point of imaginary perfection. As a result, conversations about individual sins—like homosexuality—spur accusations from both Christian and non-Christian alike.

“What about your divorce?”

“Have you ever fornicated?”

“Have you ever lied?”

“Have you ever killed someone or thought about it?”

“What about the Westboro Baptist Church?

“What about Steven Anderson in Arizona?”

“If you’ve sinned, then who are you to call homosexuality a sin or oppose same-sex marriage?”

And on and on. This sort of thing speaks to an idea that Christians are members of some sort of club which no one can join unless they become “sinless.” It also betrays the fact that few really read the source material, including alleged pastors.

Here on earth, Christianity is a journey–a walk in faith–to the Destination; it is not the Destination itself. We pick the Destination–Heaven–when we accept Jesus the Christ as our Lord and our Savior. (Many Christians ignore that first part.)

Paul called the purpose of that walk a “perfecting of the saints.” “Perfecting” is, perhaps, an unfortunate translation of the Greek word used. In my opinion, he means that saints (all Christians) are to be shaped and molded in the manner that a potter shapes and molds clay toward an end vessel, one that is of the potter’s desire. And, as we choose to be saved, we also choose the journey—the shaping and the molding.

During each individual’s journey, the Potter shows that person his/her sins; some of which that person may not have previously thought of as wrong. Then, through reading the Word, prayer, fasting, giving—through obedience and trust of the Potter—that person can be purged of his/her sin(s). But, again, this is a journey.

The Potter will spin you, shape you, mold you and cut off things He can’t use. And, often, these actions will not feel so good at first. But, your mission as the clay—should you choose to accept it—is to remain on the wheel.

(Side Note: in one of the conversions, I asked this question as a thought experiment: why hasn’t God destroyed San Francisco? The assumption was that if God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the celebration of homosexuality, then He should deal thusly with any other municipality for the same reason. Answer: since the finished work of Jesus the Christ, we live in the Dispensation—the Age—of Grace.)

One of the participants in the conversation suggested that if homosexuals did not struggle with the thoughts of homosexual acts, that he/she should not be labeled a homosexual. Conversely, this person said, that if a person still struggled with these thoughts, he/she wasn’t really saved.  I disagree, because, I used to struggle with wishing harm on those who have wronged me, but this wasn’t always so. I had to ask God to be free of those types of thoughts. And, I had to walk to that destination, that freedom (which, of course, does not mean that there aren’t other struggles with other sins in my life). And here’s another reason.

Therefore, I submit that, when discussing the sins of homosexual thoughts and acts, we Christians should cease labeling the individual who is trying to walk in the faith of Jesus the Christ, but who struggles to be free of these things–as ‘homosexuals.’

We should, instead, label them as all Christians are labeled: as sinners saved by Grace. And we should, of course, pray for them and ask them to pray for us. And we all should remember that His mercy endures forever.

(Thanks to Mike C.)

baldilocks

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!