Songs Sung Blue

Even here in predominantly Buddhist Bangkok, it’s impossible to escape some form of Christmas season torture. Most of the time it’s only innocuous things like decorated trees in malls, store employees wearing Santa hats, or seasonal song medleys blaring in restaurants.

But things start to get particularly creepy when gangs of overzealous Christians go public in their attempts to force their message on the locals. Bangkok's BTS skytrain system announced earlier this week that on Saturday and Sunday passengers will be “entertained” with Christmas carols by students from local Christian schools and churches.

I recall this horror from last year. I boarded one afternoon train on Christmas Day and was immediately confronted by a half-dozen kids singing their traditional odes to baby Jesus. There was no escape. All I could do was grimace and bear it. I noticed the Thai passengers in the carriage looking away from the minstrel missionaries, also obviously uncomfortable with this overt religious "celebration."

It puzzles me - and annoys me - that Christian groups are allowed, if not encouraged, to use public transporation as a "vehicle" for their preaching, even if it's being billed as seasonal entertainment. Would they let a group of Muslims use the trains for afternoon chanting and prayers? I think not.

This year I'll make it a point to avoid the Skytrain on those two days. My taxi is waiting!


This is asinine

Merry F***in Christmas
-Denis Leary

Having ended the War on Terror, solved poverty and fixed our schools, the House will be voting on a resolution expressing support for "the symbols and traditions of Christmas" today.



This kid is a hero!

A Pennsylvania student is off the hook after the American Civil Liberties Union defended his right to wear a political T-shirt to school.

Chris Schiano's T-shirt said "International Terrorist" and had a picture of President Bush.

A security guard at his high school north of Philadelphia told him to take it off. He refused.


Pentagon bravely vigilant against sinister, threatening Quakers

NBC has published excerpts from a leaked Department of Defense document in which it is revealed that the Pentagon spied on a meeting of peace activists at Florida Quaker House and branded their work as a threat to national security.
The DOD database obtained by NBC News includes nearly four dozen anti-war meetings or protests, including some that have taken place far from any military installation, post or recruitment center. One "incident" included in the database is a large anti-war protest at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles last March that included effigies of President Bush and anti-war protest banners. Another incident mentions a planned protest against military recruiters last December in Boston and a planned protest last April at McDonald's National Salute to America's Heroes -- a military air and sea show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Fort Lauderdale protest was deemed not to be a credible threat and a column in the database concludes: "US group exercising constitutional rights." Two-hundred and forty-three other incidents in the database were discounted because they had no connection to the Department of Defense -- yet they all remained in the database.


You're, Your, Yrrrr

I never did read Eats, Shoots & Leaves, the bestselling book on punctuation that came out last year. Despite having taught English and worked as a copy editor, I'm not that much of a punctuation stickler. But I gotta tell you, some mistakes just drive me up the wall. Foremost among them is the misuse of the word "your."

A few weeks ago I was watching a WWE wrestling match on TV with some Cambodians at a guesthouse owned by Brits. Nothing too odd there, except for the fact that I was even watching TV in the first place. Before one of the matches, the camera focused on someone in the audience holding up a sign that said: Your Pathetic.

There it was again: someone screwing up the simple contraction of you and are. You see it every day. Go ahead and check your e-mails and see what I mean. Apparently the vast majority of Americans (and yes, these are native English language speakers we're talking about) do not realize that there is a difference between you're and your. I honestly think all the people that write lines like "I hope your having a good time" don't even realize they are making a mistake. Perhaps these are the same misguided individuals that voted for Bush.

Well, it's a theory, anyway.


New Music Friday

Excellent stuff from James Blunt. Listen to this song and guess who he's singing about. Hint: The keyboard riff is a huge clue.
So Long, Jimmy (5mb)



50 Years Ago Today

by Michael Moore

December 1, 2005


I just thought we should all pause for a moment today to remember the simple act of courage, defiance and dignity committed by Rosa Parks when she refused to move to the back of the bus because the law said she had the wrong skin color. The greatest moments in history, the ones that have truly mattered and have taken us to a better place, are made up of scores of these singular acts by ordinary, everyday people who could no longer tolerate the crap and the nonsense of those in charge.

Today, whether it is a student who holds a sit-in to get the army recruiters off his campus, or the mother of a dead soldier who refuses to leave the front gate of the president's ranch, we continue to be saved by brave people who risk ridicule and rejection but end up turning huge tides of public opinion in the direction of righteousness. We owe them enormous debts of gratitude. It is not easy to stand up for what is right, especially when everyone else is afraid to leave the comfortable path of conformity.

Rosa Parks may have been alone on that bus at the moment of her arrest but she wasn't alone for long. The old order was shaken, the world was upended and, as a people, we were given a chance for a bit of redemption.

Perhaps the best way to celebrate this most important day in American history is to ask yourself what it is that you can do today to make a difference. What risk can you take to move the ball forward? What is that one thing you've been wanting to say to your co-workers or classmates that you've been afraid to say -- but in your heart of hearts you know needs to be said? Why wait another day to say it or do it?

There is probably no better way to honor Rosa Parks -- and yourself -- than for you to put a stop to an injustice you see, not allowing it to continue for one more second. Do something. Then send me an email to contributions@michaelmoore.com and tell all of us what you did (I'll post as many as I can).

Fifty years later, the bus we're on could use a few more people simply saying, "No. I'm sorry. I've had enough. I'm not going to take it anymore."


Michael Moore

Joke of the Day

Sitting by the window of her convent, Sister Barbara opened a letter from home one evening. Inside the letter was a $100 bill her parents had sent.

Sister Barbara smiled at the gesture. As she read the letter by the window, she noticed a shabbily dressed stranger leaning against the lamp post below.

Quickly, she wrote, "Don't despair. Sister Barbara," on a piece of paper, wrapped the $100 bill in it, got the man's attention and tossed it out the window to him. The stranger picked it up and, with a puzzled expression and a tip of his hat, went off down the street.

The next day, Sister Barbara was told that a man was at her door, insisting on seeing her. She went down and found the stranger waiting. Without a word, he handed her a huge wad of $100 bills.

"What's this?" she asked.

"That's the $8,000 you have coming Sister," he replied. "Don't Despair paid 80-to-1."

Thanks to Brenda

Welcome to Silly Land

The New York Times leads with newly released documents showing that Judge Alito was a player in a pushback against Roe v. Wade when he worked at the Reagan-era Justice Department. In a 1985 memo, Alito wrote that two Supreme Court cases represented an "opportunity to advance the goals of overruling Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects." A White House spokesman said that despite the memo's strong morality-centered language, suggestions that it might be indicative of how Alito would rule on abortion cases "cross the border into silly land."

I argue that we crossed the border into Silly Land the day we rolled over and allowed the Supreme Court to appoint Dubya as president. Of course Alito will rule far to the right. Why else would he have been chosen? With Dubya's popularity continuing to tank he needs to shore up his base. Expect this to be a nasty fight.