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Sunday, July 30, 2006

FINALLY! 

The five year old has lost her first tooth. She is perpetually hard up for cash (she tends to misplace it) so has looked forward to the easy money of tooth barter for some time.

She dictated this note:

Dear Tooth Fairy:

My tooth is in this box. This is the first tooth I even lost. Don’t look under my pillow, because, as I said, my tooth is in this box. This one right here --->

I love you.

Love,

/s/ [the five year old]

P.S. Take the tooth but don’t take the box. I have to give it back to [my sister]

The box was our idea as the tooth fairy has been known to overlook teeth left under the pillow without protection (we didn't reveal that she almost always leaves the dough even if she can't find the tooth).

We are all anxiously awaiting Flitterpuff's visit.

UPDATE: and now her sister has lost a tooth too! The Tooth Fairy is going to experience a cash crunch if this keeps up.

ATONEMENT 101 

This wonderful essay by Dennis Prager sets forth the gold standard for how to say you're sorry. Fittingly it’s all about Jewish insights into sin, forgiveness, and atonement. Definitely read the whole thing, but it lists seven essential criteria:

First, Judaism holds that God directly forgives only sins against God. For God to forgive our sins against our fellow human beings, we must first get the forgiveness of those who have been sinned against.

Second, Judaism holds that only the victim of a sin may forgive. If I steal from Jones, Smith is in no position to forgive me. Jones, and only Jones -- not Smith, not all of humanity, not (yet) God -- can forgive me the wrong I have done.

Third, to obtain forgiveness, I must repent -- that is, I must feel genuine regret for what I have done. This is axiomatic, but it must be stressed because of the current, bizarre trend toward forgiving people who have never even said "I'm sorry." God himself does not forgive us unless we repent, which is one reason why our own forgiving of those who have never repented is not allowed. Another is that doing so removes the incentive all of us need to face our wrongdoing honestly. If we are forgiven without repenting, why repent?

Fourth, also axiomatic, a sinner must acknowledge that he has sinned in the first place. Unfortunately, many people these days have rejected the concept of sin altogether. They prefer "mistake. . . ." But a mistake is unintentional; it is rarely the right word to describe wrongdoing. A second preferred term is "sickness." We have substituted psychological categories for moral ones. Yet "sickness" is entirely different from "sin." If I have sinned, then I am responsible for what I have done. But if I did something because I was sick, how can I be held responsible? My sickness (or "addiction") caused me to do it. And if I am not responsible for my sin, repentance is unnecessary.

Fifth, Judaism holds that a sin must be acknowledged precisely. To merely say "I have sinned" is mostly meaningless. We are all sinners, after all. Only by specifying the sin can the true penitent move on to the next step.

Sixth, the penitent must resolve not to commit the sin again. The third-century Babylonian teacher, Rabbi Judah, defined a true penitent as one who twice more encountered the object that caused his original transgression and yet managed to avoid committing the sin. He gave as an example, "the same woman, at the same time, in the same place."

Seventh, the person who wishes to make amends for wrongdoing -- to truly atone for what he has done to other human beings -- must acknowledge that he deserves punishment. Otherwise expressions of regret can be hollow. "I take full responsibility" is a meaningless phrase unless it is accompanied by a willingness to suffer consequences.

So, what do you think -- how does Mel Gibson's apology stack up?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

MEL ON JEWS 

Christopher Hitchens is a smart guy, right? In 2004 he wrote a Slate essay that was scathingly critical of Mel Gibson, making the startling assertion that -- aside from generally being a jerk and a bore -- Gibson was an anti-Semite and even a Holocaust denier. Here's an excerpt from the essay (discussing an earlier, "simperingly lenient" interview of Mel Gibson by Peggy Noonan):

Noonan asked him a question that he must have known was coming, and which he must have prepared for, and she asked him in effect to "make nice" and agree that the Holocaust actually had occurred. His answer was, to all effects and purposes, a cold and flat "no." A lot of people, he agreed, had died in the last war. No doubt many Jews were among the casualties. It's one of the most frigid and shrugging things I have ever read. You would not know from this response that the war was begun by a fascist ruling party that believed in a Jewish world conspiracy, and thus that all of those killed were in part victims of anti-Semitism. . . .

But then, you were not brought up by Mel Gibson's father, who has repeatedly and recently stated that there was a population explosion among European Jews in the years 1933-1945 and that the Holocaust story is mainly "fiction." Young Gibson, when asked about this by Diane Sawyer, told her not to press him (which she obediently did not). But when asked by Noonan, he replied by saying that "My father has never told me a lie."

So here it is 2006, and Gibson is arrested for going 87 in a 45 while lit. Here's an account of the arrest:

TMZ has learned that [Los Angeles County Sheriff's] Deputy Mee audiotaped the entire exchange between himself and Gibson, from the time of the traffic stop to the time Gibson was put in the patrol car, and that the tape fully corroborates the written report.

Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, "You mother f****r. I'm going to f*** you." The report also says "Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he 'owns Malibu' and will spend all of his money to 'get even' with me."

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"

UPDATE BY ELOISE: The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's civilian oversight office announces it will investigate whether authorities gave Gibson preferential treatment and tried to cover up alleged offensive comments and behavior. Gibson issues a statement: "After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

RAISING THE BAR 

From Sheetrock & Shellac:
Ray [who owned an excavating business] had mixed feelings about [his six year old son's fascination with equipment catalogs] ... Nevertheless, every so often he would take his son to a flat area near his home and let him spend a couple hours digging a real hole with a real backhoe while Ray sat on a rock and watched. This made his son one of the three or four happiest six-year-olds in the world, and made me feel like a bad father. Fortunately, my son never found out.
Fortunately, I am not prone to parental guilt. And fortunately, I do not have a son. And although my five year old daughter might be interested, I have no intention of sharing the possibility of real backhoe games with her. But it does sound cool, doesn't it?

Monday, July 17, 2006

YOU CAN SLEEP WHEN YOU ARE DEAD 

The Folgers ad that some doubted was even real (and many dubbed "creepy," or the midwestern equivalent, "unusual") is viewed as a success (feedback "has been quite positive"). By "real" I mean sponsored by the Folgers folks, not made by unmedicated ad people. Because it clearly wasn't.

My favorite part was the growling dog. But then I'm a Medaglia D'Oro drinker.

Friday, July 14, 2006

BACK TO THE DIFFERENT TOPIC 

OK, by "the long way," I'm guessing you mean something along these lines:

Now, this is something I most assuredly can't do, at my desk or in my home or at the point of a gun or under any other conceivable circumstance. And to infer that someone who has the ability to do this would have the ability to do any number of, er, untoward things requires only the barest wisp of imagination for one with a certain cast of mind. (Hey John, I don't know what made me think of this, but have you talked to Randy lately?) But unless peckerhead city licensing officer Steve LaTour's next plan is to shut down the Summer Olympics, our mystery contortionist must have gone way beyond this.

Just how far beyond? We won't know the answer until the MSM gets off its lazy, Bush-hating, anti-American ass and does a little reporting for us. Or until we give Randy a call.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

ON A DIFFERENT TOPIC 

Hey Spitbull readers, most of you are in Minnesota -- What exactly did this "really flexible" lady do, and how did it violate state law? (Duluth IS in Minnesota, right?)

UPDATE: I am reliably informed by a learned Spitbull reader that the law at issue can be found here, and that there are First Amendment issues, contortion (contorting?, contortionism?) being arguably Constitutionally protected speech.

UPDATE II: I am reliably informed by Warrior Monk that Duluth is in fact in Minnesota, and that "it isn't bad at all," at least in the non-winter months.

UPDATE III: But I am still not informed, reliably or otherwise, what the flexible lady did to offend the local constabulary.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

TOO TIRED TO THINK OF A TITLE 

Sunday afternoon I took the five year old (whom we shall call ELK) for a ride on the Lake Harriet trolley. Her older sister had been at a friend's house since mid-morning, none of the little neighborhood folk seemed to be around, and I felt like I owed her a little entertainment. It's a strange feeling that comes over me every so often. Usually I squelch it, figuring that I paid good money for a basement full of Skanx (Slutz? Implantz? Something like that) dolls and toys and DVDs and computer games, go play with them already, what do I look like anyway, a cruise director? But this time I decided to give in. Plus she had been talking about the trolley for about a month. Quite the swell dad I am.

Once we bought our tokens and she put hers in the meter, she lost most of her interest in the ride and pulled out the little notebook she's been carrying around for the last few days. She's writing a story, she says. Since the only word she really knows is her own name, I wondered what was inside and asked her if I could look at it. And what did I see but page after page after page of more or less horizontal pencil lines. I felt like Shelley Duvall in The Shining when she discovers that Jack Nicholson's supposed novel is actually endless reams of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
Me: "Hey ELK."

ELK: "What?"

Me: "You don't have an axe in your other pocket, do you?

ELK: "Huh?"

Me: "Never mind."

Pause.

Me: "Did you just say 'redrum'?"

ELK: "Daddy, you're weird."
Actually, that conversation didn't happen. But if I don't exercise my poetic license every once in a while, it's liable to get revoked.

(I did feel like Shelley Duvall though, a brand new experience for me which I hope never to repeat.)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

THIS IS THE MOST BORING POST I'VE EVER WRITTEN 

Recent unpleasant news that "they" were hiking our home insurance premiums significantly finally raised me from my inertial torpor and to the Internet for a lucrative round of comparison shopping. Shazaam! Cut my home/auto rates by nearly 40% (told you this post was boring). Turns out we're completely typical here: an industry report says "the average consumer can reduce their auto premiums by forty-percent through comparative price shopping on the Internet." So hold your nose and just do it.

The ultimate savings we enjoyed livened up an undeniably dull process: how far is our house from the nearest fire hydrant? Have we had any moving violations in the last five years? If the inquiring mind wanted to know my mind was not instinctively inquiring. But I slogged through and was rewarded in the end.

So perhaps now you can forgive me when I say my first thought regarding the latest political dust-up between candidates for recently-retired Congressman Martin Sabo's open seat, was wow! they must pay a lot for insurance:
State Rep. Keith Ellison, a leading DFL candidate in the Minneapolis-based district, acknowledged Thursday that he recently had a suspended driver's license for nonpayment of parking tickets, an infraction that is drawing attention on political blog sites.

One of his DFL rivals, Mike Erlandson, also has kept traffic cops busy, with seven moving violations -- including five speeding tickets -- since 2000, and the Republican candidate, Alan Fine, has had four moving violations, three of them for speeding.

State records also show that Ellison has received nine traffic tickets for moving violations since January of 2000.
Holy moly that's a lot. Weirdly enough, it seems to be an occupational hazard: a 2003 report shows that politicians are the fourth most likely occupation to rack up speeding violations, after students, enlisted military and manual laborers. Least likely? Homemakers.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

KEN LAY BEATS THE RAP 

Under the doctrine of "abatement ab initio," a defendant who dies after the jury convicted him but before the judge sentences him "stands as if he never had been indicted or convicted" in the first place. See United States v. Logal, 106 F.3d 1547, 1552 (11th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted). ["Stands?!" -- sorry, unfortunate choice of words was in the original.] There won't even be any criminal restitution against him. It's one of those venerable common law principles found nowhere in any statute, but recognized by the United States Supreme Court as early as 1884. See Ex Parte Schreiber, 110 U.S. 76.