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Chainsaw Monkey: a love story about a monkey and his chainsaw

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‪This entire "Ground Zero Mosque Controversy" continues to baffle me. When I first heard of it‬ I passed it off as simple fear mongering rhetoric. The kind that would disappear when no one gave it any attention and treated it like the ridiculous escapade that it was. Except, the manufactured controversy only seems to have grown, feeding on itself. I was convinced that, soon enough, someone with a voice of authority would put it simply and say something to the tune of "Freedom of religion is one of the core foundations of our nation. There's no reason to stop this project."

I'm not sure what was more surprising to me. How long it took some people to take this simple stand, or which people elected to say the opposite. I'm appalled that so many people have the off mix of temerity and ignorance to suggest that any regulatory body or person in this nation has the right, or should be given the authority, to determine who can worship what god on private property. The entire "controversy" is manufactured rage, designed to promote Pamela Geller's racist book and ideology and seized upon by the GOP to divert attention away from their partisan denial of medical aid to 9/11 survivors.

I'll put this as succinctly as I can.

If you are a supporter of the Second Amendment,

If you believe that "Big Government" should stay out of your lives,

If you consider yourself a Constitutionalist,

If you practice any religion in the United States,

If you are a member of the Tea Party,

You should be telling everyone you know that Park51 not only has a right to build their center, but should do so with your blessing.

Anything less makes you either a hypocrite, willfully ignorant, or the kind of person who can ethically pick and choose which elements of the constitution you think are appropriate.

The founding fathers were very clear about this. Freedom of religion was so important to the foundation of this nation that it is the FIRST thing addressed in the FIRST amendment, even before the freedom of speech, a free press, or right to assemble.

"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."

If you argue ad nauseam over the wording of the second amendment and how it protects your right to own firearms, it is impossible for you to ethically justify preventing the construction of ANY house of worship on privately owned land.

If you believe the federal government is too big and shouldn't interfere in your personal life, you can not ethically justify the same government preventing the construction of a house of worship.

If you are a Constitutionalist, it is simply not possible for you to ethically deny anyone the right to practice their religion, which includes constructing a house of worship.

If you practice any other religion and live in the United States, you can not ethically deny someone else that same privilege and not realize that doing so provides your opponents with the authority to deny you the same ability, unless you are willfully ignorant of what a slippery slope is.

If you are a member of the Tea Party, while the primary foundations of your many organizations appear to be fiscally related, your stance on constitutionality and personal freedoms can not ethically allow you to deny someone the rights of the first amendment.

Which is all rather beside the point because, and listen carefully here, IT IS NOT A FUCKING MOSQUE.

Park51 is an interdenominational cultural and community center that happens to include a prayer space for Muslims and is specifically designed as an outreach to non-muslims. It is no more a mosque for including a prayer space than your local hospital is a church, because it has a chapel in it.

Furthermore, it is SPECIFICALLY and DELIBERATELY not a mosque so that it can perform the mission of peaceful cultural outreach. According to the wife of Imam Raul, Daisy Khan, "We insist on calling it a prayer space and not a mosque, because you can use a prayer space for activities apart from prayer. You can't stop anyone who is a Muslim despite his religious ideology from entering the mosque and staying there. With a prayer space, we can control who gets to use it."

Additionally, there is already a mosque, a real bonafide Muslim filled Capital M Mosque, only 400 feet away from the proposed location of Park51. Look at this picture. See that green arrow? That's the proposed location for Park51.

The red pin? That's Masjid Manhattan, it's a Mosque and it's been there for more than 40 years. It was there before the World Trade Center was erected. And no one ever gave a shit.

You know why? Because in America, we let people practice what ever religion they want.

See that big grey hole in the left side of the map? The one with no buildings in it? That's Ground Zero. You want to be mad about something? Be mad that it's been almost ten years and there's no god damned buildings there yet because of the overwhelming greed and pettiness of insurance companies and real estate developers.

What next, a mosque at the Pentagon you ask? Guess what, the Pentagon has a nondenominational chapel that regularly holds Muslim services. You know why? Because even the Department of Defense understand the first amendment. It's taken them a while, but they kind of get it now.

But what about becoming a training ground for terrorists, you ask? Well, as mentioned, there's already a mosque there, and has been for a long time. If terrorists are being made in mosques, we missed the ball on that. Even if they were, that isn't sufficient grounds to deny people their first amendment rights for the very same reason that no one has shut down any number of ultra conservative Christian churches that preach hatred. If members of a congregation get out of control, and do some crazy shit like plan to kill a bunch of cops, defraud millions of people, or support the actions of violent protesters, they are dealt with by our legal system, which was designed specifically to deal with criminals.

Islam is a religion that promotes hatred, terror and death, you say? Islam is not a homogenous Sharia imposing monolith. Islam, but like other religions, has many divisions with dramatically different philosophies. Al Queda and Wahhabists are a tiny portion of all Muslims. They no more represent the goals and objectives of Islam than the Westboro Baptist Church represent Catholicism or the KKK represents Jehovahs Witnesses. There are several major denominations of Islam (Sunni, Shi'a, Sufiism, Ahmadiyya) each of which has it's own denominations and splinter groups. The vast majority of the worlds 1.57 billion Muslims are not supporters of violence or terrorists agendas and do not preach these philosophies any more than your local Lutheran church supporters the murder of George Tiller. As for the word of the Quran, it is no more brutal, violent or oppressive than the bible. If you believe otherwise, you haven't been reading the same book I have for the last 37 years.

Sure, they have the right to do it, you claim, but SHOULD they? It is a sad state of affairs when someone suggests that exercising your rights is somehow something that should be avoided. Sure, you have the right to own a firearm, but SHOULD you? Sure, you have the right to peacefully assemble, but SHOULD you? Sure you have the right to a speedy and public trial, but SHOULD you have one?

You have the right to angrily deny that you are a hypocrite for wanting to deny Park51 their First Amendment rights, but SHOULD you?
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Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Signed by President, and founding father, John Adams who noted:

"Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed, and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof."

The US senate reviewed the treaty, reading it aloud on the senate floor in its entirety, and distributing copies to each senator.

The Senate ratified the treaty by unanimous vote, only the third in US history, in June of 1797.
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Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that it should read ‘a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.’ The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.

- Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826), third president of the United States, author of the Declaration of Independence, referring to the Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom, which became law on January 16, 1786.
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I know it's a bit late for a recap, but I'm only just now getting a handle on returning to my day to day life.

I have a complicated relationship with Comic Con. San Diego Comic Con is only four and a half days. Four and a half days that seems to last a lifetime until it's over, when it feels like it passed all too soon. When it's over, I'm left feeling emotionally and physically exhausted, while simultaneously regretting that it's all over.

For the last two years I've been at an exhibitors booth, and for the two years prior to that, I assisted in Artist Alley. I haven't been to a panel in years, and I rarely get an opportunity to actually walk the floor and see the show. When the show closes for the night, we stay out drinking until the wee hours of the morning. When the show opens, we have to be there half an hour early to set up. If I'm lucky, I'll get a total of a full nights sleep spread over the five days.

In this image we are probably not drunk

At some level, I'm not sure why I still go.

At another level, a level that I understand almost instinctively, I know I will continue to go. I will continue to complain of the aches in my back and knees, the long nights and early mornings, the sometimes irritating but often delightful fans, and I'll do it for a simple reason.

The people.

Buy her cat book!

See that lady? That's Katie Cooke. She's awesome, in just about every way. I met her at Comic Con five or six years ago I think, in a round about way so ridiculously coincidental and improbably that it sounds like fiction.

Every year I meet people, both fans and pros, who are exceptional. Not just exceptional artists or writers, although those exist in spades, but simply exceptional people. People I want to spend time with. People who I count as friends, and family.

Also, there's hot girls dressed up in skimpy costumes.


That's cool too.

See you next year in San Diego.
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Poll #1578365 Monday Poll: Identify

TAC is...

The AC
The Atlantic Connection
The Apostle Crew
The Aphrodite Connection
The African Cillaz
The Angry Cidz
It wasn't something that sounded like a K but started with a C.
The Angry Kittens?
Kittens not a C word.
The Aggressive Cobras
keeping you ladies warm this winter.
not a summer time thing.
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Sunday was my birthday. This is how I celebrate my birthday.

I have an odd relationship with birthdays. I'm sure that as a child I enjoyed the attention and the gifts. For just about as long as I can remember though, I find most of the spectacle awkward and somewhat embarrassing.

I get intensely uncomfortable when people sing Happy Birthday, or ask me what kind of gift I want. When my wife asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I replied that all I wanted to do was hang out with my friends. Nothing fancy. Nothing elaborate.

I'm aware that at some level, this seems to make everyone believe I'm petulant or ill humored.

Sorry about that. I don't think it can be helped.

In league with my discomfort over the celebration, is the growing presence of my age. Thirty eight isn't a significant milestone with regards to aging, and in many respects it's not all that old. When I think about my age in comparison to the parts of my life that have already transpired, it starts to blow my mind a little bit.

It's been ten years since I started dating my wife. It's been twenty years since I graduated from high school and joined the Army. It's been thirty years since I first shot a gun. It's one thing to think of a childhood location and think, "I haven't been to that place in twenty years or more." It's another thing to find myself in a rarely visited part of Vegas and think, "I haven't been to this part of town in 15 years" and reflect that when last I visited, I was an adult.

Now I have a son, and I keep thinking of my the years in my life in relationship to my father and his life. My father was younger than I am now when I was born, but he always seemed like an old man to me. I don't feel old, except when I try to sit on the floor, but I realize now that I will always be old in the eyes of my son.
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Every year, for the past three or four years, my wife and her mother travel to Sacramento to visit family over Memorial Day weekend. It's a trip they enjoy, and one that I typically don't join them for. We spent some times in the past week lamenting the fact that because Logan is only 8 months old, traveling by airplane wasn't something we likely wanted to do with him if it could be avoided.

My wife was lamenting the loss of the annual trip and the opportunity to share our son with her family. I was lamenting my now traditional Memorial Day weekend of drunken debauchery and not wearing pants. It was a painful decision for both of us.

Nearly at the last minute, sometime on Wednesday, my wife IMs me and asks how I would feel about her driving to Sacramento with the baby and her mother.

I had a chance. I had to play it cool. Come on too strong and she'd ask why I wanted her away (drunk, no pants, video games all day), come on too soft, and she might decide not to go.

Sacramento is a 9.5 hour drive from Vegas. It's a trip that I wouldn't personally want to make. After about 5 hours in a car, my crippled knees start to painfully cramp.

I played it cool.

"It's a long drive. If you're going to do it, I'd rather you take my car."

"That makes sense," was her reply. It did make sense. My Tdi Jetta Sport Wagon has far superior fuel efficiency to her Mazda 3s, as well as more storage room and more torque for climbing mountain passes. The conversation quickly turned to one of logistics, and I knew I was home free.

I loosened my belt in preparation for taking my pants off.

Once she was gone, leaving in her wake a lengthy list of chores, I realized I had something precious. Something I hadn't had since Logan was born. Free time to devote to long abandoned projects.

Back in October, when I left the office for 3 months of paternity leave, I purchased supplies to engage in several projects, thinking I'd be beset by time to do so. I laugh now at how naive I was just a few months ago. None of those projects got anywhere near completion, most never got started.

One of those projects was painting the Bronco.

The Bronco is a great vehicle. Solid, dependable, a surprising turn radius, and as sure footed as a house cat taped to the ceiling. It's blue though, and that color isn't terrible well suited to the desert. It absorbs a lot of heat, and it sticks out like a thumb, especially with all the chrome. I wanted to give it a nice flat coat of a desert friendly color. My goal was to make it look as much like the CUCVs I had used while in the Army.

Maaco offers cheap paint jobs like this, but the only Maaco shop in Vegas is way up on the north side of the valley. I reasoned I could do this myself with rattle cans.

Early Saturday morning I started the job. I only had time to get the hood and front quarter panels done. I couldn't locate my face mask, so by noon I had a headache that suggested I couldn't realistically proceed any further for the time being.

Like any other paint job, the prep took the longest and involved sanding and lots and lots of clean up. Sanding automotive paint leaves a lot of automotive paint dust behind, which requires a lot of cleanup with mineral spirits.

The actual primering and painting didn't take nearly as long, or require as much paint as I had thought. About three cans of primer and maybe four of paint. The following day I found my filter mask and finished up the rest of the driver's side before calling it quits. Another few weekend days and this should be done. The hardest part is going to be the roof, which will not only be hard to reach, but will have to be done outside, because my garage isn't tall enough. This will require a day relatively free of wind, which we've had precious few of this spring. Hopefully it won't take me another nine months to get around to finishing.

My hopes hand't been real high for the quality of the job. I went in with both feet on the project, realizing that I would very likely screw it up so bad I'd end up having to take it to Maaco anyway. Overall I've been pleasantly surprised with not only the ease of the job, but the quality. The Bronco not only looks better, but in some way, even looks newer. I think that with a little more attention to detail, time and patience, it would be possible to create a very nice, near factory, finish. The only thing you don't get is an oven cure, but I'm counting on the desert sun to help with that.
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