Saturday, March 31, 2012

"The Sisters Brothers" Wins Tourney of Books

By Paul Gagne, Guest Blogger

The 2012 Tournament of Books concluded yesterday with a championship matchup between Teju Cole’s debut novel Open City and Patrick deWitt’s work The Sisters Brothers. It was a dream matchup – for me at least, as I had read both books – and in the end, deWitt’s modern western novel outgunned all other competitors. 

As I wrote in my initial review of Open City, surprisingly little happens in the novel. Still, its thoughtfulness and quiet power will stay with me more than any other book in the tournament. That The Sisters Brothers, a western set in 1850s northern California, prevailed in the opinion of ten out of sixteen judges, owes to three things chiefly – Eli, the winning main character in Sisters, the amount of sheer incident in Sisters versus the lack of same in Open City, and a worry that Teju Cole is aping the style of W.G. Sebald, whose work I have not read (though Austerlitz has been on my to-be-read radar for quite some time).

The Sisters Brothers is a fine diversion, featuring short-short-short chapters (sixty in total in under 400 pages) that are ideally suited for modern attention spans, while Open City introduces us to a novelist whose debut work demonstrates, at least in part, what it means to have consciousness, and ultimately, to be human.

I’m sorry, but this matchup is a no contest for me in favor of Open City. Unfortunately, a majority of the judges didn’t agree.

As for this year’s Tournament of Books, it introduced me to several books I wouldn’t have read otherwise, including both titles in the championship match. And heck, it got me to read 6 books in 6 weeks (giving a big boost to my challenge goal!), which I haven’t done since I commuted via the subway back in my Boston days.

Speaking of goodreads, add me as a “friend” on the site, and perhaps we can keep each other informed about great things to read, as well as get ready for next year’s Tournament of Books. 

Weekend Zen, March 31 - April 1

We often talk about moral values, justice and trust, but the important thing is to put them into effect in our everyday lives. 

                        - Dalai Lama

Friday, March 30, 2012

5 Signs "W" Plans to Endorse Romney

Romney and the elder Bushes
George H.W. Bush, our forty-first president, has officially endorsed Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee.

One of the senior Bush's sons, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, made the same announcement last week, but his other political progeny, George W. Bush, a man whose name is uttered in GOP circles these days only slightly less often than Voldemort's name is spoken at Hogwarts, has been silent thus far about which candidate he prefers in 2012.

If you've been eager to find out which contender will be the lucky beneficiary of W's endorsement, your wait is over. I have leveraged my enormous journalistic resources and keen instincts for truth to ferret out the answer. 

Here are 5 recent actions that George W. Bush has taken which are evidence of his plans to endorse Mitt Romney for President. 

1. Hired a web developer to post "Mission Accomplished" banner atop Romney campaign website.
2. Asked the Supreme Court to interrupt primary season and declare Romney the winner.
3. Called Dick Cheney to ask for permission. 
4. Announced plans to finally put an end to torture - by halting televised Republican candidate debates.
5. Nominated Mike "Good job Brownie" Brown to clean up debris scattered by the Gingrich disaster.

Thanks to these Bush family endorsements (and also to delegate math and the absence of any other reasonable candidates) there's virtually no way Mitt can lose the nomination. 

Downton Arby's - Royals, Ruses, Roast Beef

I think the title says it all.

(Hat Tip to Paul for sharing this video with me.)

Daily Zen - Friday, March 30

Behold this world, how it resembles an ornamented chariot, in which fools flounder, but for the wise there is no attachment to it.

                       - The Dhammapada

Thursday, March 29, 2012

How Books Are Born

This short clip is a very cool look at how a book is physically "born." You know - the old-fashioned way - before they were just sent as PDF files somewhere and then converted to a file your iPad can read.

I really liked seeing a stack of actual hardback book covers on a table, before they get glued around the pages.


What I Learned From Spike Lee's Twitter Flub

Spike Lee's Retweet
I am white. I am middle class. I have never been unfairly harassed or pre-judged by the police, and no one I know has ever been murdered. Some would argue that these personal characteristics leave me grotesquely under-qualified to fully understand the controversy surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin. They may be right, and consequently, I have written nothing on the topic - until now.

Yesterday I read that filmaker Spike Lee retweeted a message to his Twitter followers that he believed contained the address of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who tussled with and killed 17 year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL. As I contemplated what good could possibly come fom Spike Lee's tweet, I finally began to get a handle on my own feelings about this entire heartbreaking event.

Lee's retweet of the post, which originated with a Twitter user named named Marcus Higgins, made headlines not because it contained the address of Trayvon Martin's killer, but because it didn't. As it happens, the original tweet contained incorrect information, and the address that Spike Lee provided to his 250,000 plus Twitter followers actually belonged to an elderly Florida couple who are in no way related to George Zimmerman or to anyone involved in the Trayvon Martin case.

The inadvertently involved couple, David and Elaine McClain, began receiving threatening letters and phone calls shortly after Lee's retweet went out last Friday, and they ultimately fled their home and sought refuge in a hotel. Mr. Lee has subsequently apologized to the couple via Twitter,  and he implored his mass audience of Twitter followers to "Leave The McClain's In Peace." At the end of his message, he added "Justice In Court," presumably in an attempt to avoid inciting any further actions against the McClains, or against George Zimmerman himself. Lee has also settled with the McClains, compensating them for losses incurred and for the disruption of their lives.

I genuinely commend Mr. Lee for acting quickly to rectify the mistaken address situation with the McClains, but I also believe there are more important implications to be considered when you allow yourself to wonder what could have transpired if Spike Lee had transmitted the correct address for George Zimmerman on Twitter.

What if, in an attempt to provide the justice they fear might otherwise be denied, someone lit the Zimmerman home on fire, or worse, directly harmed or murdered George Zimmerman or a member of his family? Would an attack on Zimmerman improve the situation for Trayvon's grieving family? What impact would a revenge murder have on the already oft-strained relationship between races in America? I don't like to think about how this could have turned out.

Spike Lee
Photo: AP / Victoria Will
It's not my intent to become righteously indignant on behalf of Zimmerman, the McClains, or anyone else (sorry, if it's too late to avoid that outcome), nor is it my desire to bash Spike Lee, whose public persona and body of work I greatly respect and appreciate.

It's just that this unfortunate Twitter mistake has helped to crystallize my own thoughts about Trayvon Martin's death.

Daily Zen - Thursday, March 29

Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect. 
                      ― Margaret Mitchell

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Shallow End - Angry Goose Attacks Man

An empty sidewalk, an innocent man, and an incredibly angry goose. The guy's co-workers laughing in the background make it even better. Nothing redeeming here - just rock solid entertainment.

Viewing Tip: Click the title bar at the top of the clip to view in a larger window.

Newt Gingrich Can't Quit Because He Thinks Too Much of Himself

Photo: AP/ Jose Luis Magana
Imagine you're running for President of the United States of America.

After almost a full year of campaigning, you've won 2 of the 29 state primary contests, you've spent more cash than you raised, and you've admitted that it is mathematically impossible for you to amass the number of delegates needed to win your party's nomination.

What would you do?

Reasonable human beings would acknowledge that their ideas failed to adequately ignite the passions of voters, and that their campaign lacked the support and structure needed to win. Rational people would graciously step aside, and allow the electoral process to unfold naturally.

Pompous egomaniacal blowhards, however, would apparently take a different tact. They would forge ahead pointlessly, cutting their staff by one-third and reducing their campaign activity, while simultaneously shifting their focus to behind-the-scenes manipulation of the Republican political machine.

Newt Gingrich honestly believes he is one of a handful of politicians who can save America, one of the few who is smart enough, skilled enough, and tough enough to see us through the next four years. He thinks his answers are better than anyone else's, and what's more, he is likely stunned that the rest of us can't see that. Newt cares too darned much about this great nation of ours to let it fail, or so he thinks.

In light of Gingrich's ongoing delusions of grandeur, I think it's time for an intervention. I think it's time for Newt to take someone else's advice, for a change. The time has come for Newt to get a heavy dose of the truth, whether he likes it or not.

The reality is the former House Speaker is delusional and sad. He is an arrogant and egomaniacal man, who in the face of a fair and honest beatdown at the hands of Mitt Romney, is holding out hope against all odds that he can steal the Presidency of the United States. And when his efforts to cheat his way into the White House are unsuccessful, he will secretly wish us all a fast trip to Hell in a handbasket, and pity us for our ignorance in not recognizing him as our own best chance at survival. So be it.

Give it up, Newt. Your time has come and gone long ago, and no one wants to play with you. Pack up your toys and your bloated bag of big ideas, and just go home.

Daily Zen - Wednesday, March 28

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify. 

        - Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daily Zen - Tuesday, March 27

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.
                        - Paulo Coelho

Monday, March 26, 2012

Turn of Phrase - Strauss-Kahn Is Big Pimpin'

Dominique Strauss-Kahn
"Having relations with an escort does not constitute a crime and is a matter of private behavior, perfectly legal among adults."

- An interesting "defense" from Richard Malka, attorney for legally embattled French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is now being investigated for his alleged involvement in a French prostitution ring. Malka vehemently denied his client had any involvement in prostitution, and then added the statement above. 

You probably remember last year when charges were filed against the 62 year-old Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, for allegedly raping a New York City hotel maid. Those charges were eventually dropped, but then a separate sexual assault accusation was made against DSK by a French writer. The second set of charges also failed to result in a prosecution of the French politician. 

The current investigation into DSK's potential complicity in "aggravated and organized prostitution" is still underway, despite his denials of any involvement in such activities.

I'm not saying Dominique Strauss-Kahn is guilty of anything, but I'm pretty sure if he invites your sister, your mom, or your grandma out to dinner, she should definitely say she is busy washing her hair that night.

Djokovic Aces Bob Simon on 60 Minutes

World #1 Novak Djokovic

Some tennis fans, millions of them actually, love the immense outward confidence and bravado of Novak Djokovic. Others find the cocksure Serbian's emotional on-court displays of machismo and chest-pounding to be a bit chafing and over the top. What all tennis fans appreciate about the top-ranked 24 year-old is the enormous passion, skill, and commitment he brings to our sport.

For the better part of the last decade, Roger Federer has owned professional tennis, and he has served as arguably the most gracious and respected ambassador any sport has ever had. Rafael Nadal, the man who finally challenged Federer's long reign of tennis dominance, brings his own breed of beauty and gravity to the sport, only with added elements of brute strength and perseverance.

Novak Djokovic is different. In his ascension to the top of men's tennis, he has clearly brought weapons that rival those of Federer and Nadal, but his arsenal is unique. His game has no flaws, and his athleticism and flexibility are marvels of sport. So long as his iron will is working with him and not against him, he is virtually unbeatable.

Beyond his tennis prowess and talent though, Novak brings new personality to the game. He laughs, he yells (mostly at himself), and he applauds with a few taps of his racket when an opponent executes a remarkable tennis shot to beat him. Intentional or not, he allows fans to glimpse what's happening inside his heart and mind, even as he works to rein in and harness his emotions.

Roger brings grace to the sport, and Rafa brings power. Novak brings fire.

Djokovic told his personal story to journalist Bob Simon this week on CBS' 60 Minutes. His journey from war-torn Serbia to the pinnacle of men's professional tennis is remarkable and inspiring. From the woman who first recognized 5 year-old Novak's talent to the dark basement where his family hid during seventy-eight consecutive days of bombing in Belgrade - we begin to understand how winning tennis championships has transformed not only Novak Djokovic, but the entire nation of Serbia.

You can see Novak's full 60 Minutes interview here and gain insight into the personality, character, and wit of the tennis great.

And you can enjoy a little of Novak's sense of humor in the short clip below, where he takes 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon on to the tennis court for a little lesson in returning serve.

Daily Zen - Monday, March 26

Sometimes you don't know how nice it is outside until you walk out the door.

                     - Peter Drogaris

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week In Review - March 24, 2012

No political posts on the blog this week, but for those of you who missed my insightful and articulate commentary on the Republican primary race, I can sum last week up in two words - nothing changed.

The NFL, on the other hand, was jam-packed with excitement. Peyton Manning's move to Denver forced the Broncos to wrestle with an important conundrum - could they un-retire jersey #18 for Peyton? Oh yeah, and there was also that little Tebow issue to resolve. The pious QB ended up with the New York Jets, spawning a flurry of internet controversy, and some damn funny Tweets. Speaking of saints, New Orleans' coach Sean Payton received a well-deserved one-year suspension for his role in the team's deplorable bounty scandal.

In other sports, we looked at the historic clay court dominance of Rafael Nadal, and speculated on the Spaniard's ability to carry out his annual Springtime tennis court tyranny. Hockey gave us something unexpected this week, offering us the NHL's first on-ice lesbian kiss and a truly sweet marriage proposal. 

March brought the usual NCAA madness, and Paul Gagne updated us on the new world of bracketology - in books. Last week we also celebrated the birthday of Chaka Khan, who at 59 years old still "feels for you," and we welcomed Spring with a stunning video of blooming flowers.

As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekend Zen, March 24-25

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. 

                        - Buddha

Friday, March 23, 2012

Turning Saints Into Sinners in New Orleans

Saints coach Sean Payton
When I read that NFL head coach Sean Payton received a one year suspension for his role in the New Orleans Saints "bounty" program, I was flabbergasted by the severity of the disciplinary action.

I can recall several NFL players in recent years whose actions have resulted in suspensions, but the sidelining of a coach, or the off-the-sidelining more accurately, is far less common.

As in other professional sports, you don't have to look far in professional football to find occasions where players have been benched for incidents related to the use of performance enhancing drugs or off-the-field behavior that violates the NFL's personal conduct policy. In football, there are also plenty of examples of players who have been suspended for unacceptable or dangerous on-the-field conduct. The egregious head-stomping incidences involving Ndamukong Suh and Albert Haynesworth both come to mind, although even those only resulted in 3 and 5 game suspensions, respectively.

But do NFL coaches get suspended?

There was the much-publicized Bill Belichick SpyGate scandal a few years ago, wherein the hoodied leader of the Patriots was held accountable for videotaping another team's defensive signals in violation of league rules. The incident cost Belichick $500,000 and it cost the Patriots an additional $250,000 plus a first-round draft pick, but there were no NFL-imposed suspensions.

Former Minnesota Viking's head coach Mike Tice scalped a pair of Super Bowl tickets and received a $100,000 fine as a result. Jeff Fisher, formerly the head coach of the Tennessee Titans, has been penalized for his vocal criticism of game officials and referees - and the punitive response from the NFL for Fisher, and several others who have committed the same offense, has always been to pay a fine for their remarks.

That said, there have been a few recent coaching suspensions in the NFL.

Daily Zen - Friday, March 23

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

                        - Chinese Proverb

Turn Up the Sound - Happy Birthday Chaka Khan

10-time Grammy winner Chaka Kahn turns 59 years-old today. Here's what she was doing when she was 30 years-old.

What were you doing in 1984?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Daily Zen - Thursday, March 22

Put your heart, mind, intellect, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.
                    - Swami Sivananda

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today's Top Tim Tebow Trade Tweets

By now, you've heard that Denver has traded Tim Tebow to the New York Jets.

The announcement nearly killed the internet (Twitter loves Tebow), and as usual there are a few gems among the approximately 10 hundred zillion Tweets.

No worries though - you won't need to weed through all the chaff to get to the wheat. I've already spent seconds doing it for you. Some Tweets are funny, some are true, and some are funny 'cuz they're true. Enjoy.

Daily Zen - Wednesday, March 21

When we begin to appreciate the kindness and courage of others, we find pleasure everywhere.
                          - Pema Chodron

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Two Hockey Girls In Love

Hockey fan at Senators-Leafs game
On any given night, you can attend an NHL hockey game and count on a few certainties, like overpriced beer, pale bearded white guys on ice skates, and an occasional fight breaking out.

In any given year, you can venture out on the night of March 17th and find some of your fellow human beings, particularly us Mc-SomethingOrOthers and hordes of our sympathizers, enjoying fairly predictable past times, like green beer, parades with bagpipes (however Scottish that might actually be), and drunken wailing that attempts to pass as traditional Irish folk music.

Here's what no one expected last weekend on St. Patrick's Day at an NHL game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators.

The first time I watched this video (Hat Tip to my friend Wes Crisp for sharing it via email) I actually got a little misty-eyed. Seeing people in love is always nice, but c'mon, I see that all the time and it's nothing to get all weepy about. And clever marriage proposals can be sweet, but those don't usually get me either.

I watched the clip a second time, and as I reflected on what moved me about the video, I realized that it was actually the cheer of the crowd that stirred me. I was touched by the way the fans reacted to the idea of two girls in love - with the same moment of roaring adulation they would have shown if the couple had been comprised of a man and a woman. The crowd, like me, simply felt happy, privileged even, to share in that moment of real personal joy with the couple on the ice - and so they cheered.

Thanks to the Ottawa Senators for hosting the proposal, kudos to the NHL for sharing the video on their website, and hurray for Canada - where they aren't afraid to let two people in love get married!

Happy First Day of Spring

Google Logo on Spring Equinox
I wanted to call out a couple of cool celebrations of this first day of Spring.

Did you see the Google doodle today? Looks like an Eric Carle kid's book.

And then there's this...

Not sure if this is time lapse video or some other technical trickery. Either way, watching Spring literally unfurl is amazing. Nature's variety is simply stunning.

The Beauty of Flowers (Красота цветов) from VOROBYOFF PRODUCTION on Vimeo.

(Hat Tip to my friend Kyle for sharing this video with me!)

Daily Zen - Tuesday, March 20

We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one else can make for us.

                     - Marcel Proust

Monday, March 19, 2012

Turn of Phrase - Un-Retiring #18 for Peyton

 Former NFL QB Frank Tripucka
"That was a pretty nice honor. But if Peyton wants the number, they should give it to him. They definitely should.”

- From Broncos first-ever QB Frank Tripucka, when asked what should happen if Peyton Manning wants to wear the #18 jersey in Denver. The #18 jersey, worn by Tripucka during his time with the Broncos (1960-1963), had been ceremonially retired in 1986.

Whether Peyton will accept the generous offer from the 84 year-old Tripucka remains to be seen. Regardless, you don't find that kind of courtesy and selflessness much in professional sports any more.

Tournament of Books Moves to Second Round

By Paul Gagne, Guest Blogger

ToB Official Bracket
The Tournament of Books is kicking off its second round this week, and the literary scrapping is starting to heat up. As I mentioned in my prior ToB post, this event brings March Madness to literature, matching up contemporary works of fiction in head-to-head competition, bracketology-style.

I’ve been participating in the ToB for 4 years now, and each time I am struck anew at just how much the judges make the tournament. As there are no set rules for choosing winners in each literary matchup, it’s up to each judge to choose her own criteria in determining which book moves forward. Most of the time, this is satisfying. Other times, it's incredibly frustrating.

Let’s look at a couple of the matches that have been decided already, and then I’ll give my pick for Monday’s final first-round match, with my rationale.

From the judgments that have been made thus far, what I find most interesting is that both Bethanne Kelly Patrick, the editor of my new favorite website,, and author Haven Kimmel, seem to have chosen their winners based on a belief in the future of literature and the output of their respective chosen winners.

The Tiger’s Wife vs. The Stranger’s Child (Judge - Bethanne Kelly Patrick)

This matchup is one in which I read both titles prior to the Tournament. The judge selected Tiger's Wife as the winner, and I would have made the same decision, but for different reasons. I wanted to love Hollinghurst's Stranger's Child, as I have been passionate about several other titles by him over the years, but it was a letdown, and I knew it would be by about three-quarters of the way through. I also had high expectations for The Tiger’s Wife, and for the most part, those were met.

Especially effective for me were the linking of family and national myth-creation to the story of grandfather and granddaughter in war-torn Serbia. And while I enjoyed the Obreht more than the Hollinghurst, I felt no lasting emotional connection to either, although Obreht had me momentarily near the end, when the grandfather eats dinner in a hotel where he had honeymooned years earlier. The scene is perfect, quiet and powerful, as the grandfather dines with the deathless man as a military siege nears the hotel.

Nadal's Grasp On the Clay Court Crown

Rafa - 2011 French Open
Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Springtime is clay court season in men's tennis with four key clay court tournaments and a host of smaller events taking place throughout the months of April and May.

After March visits to big prize contests in Indian Wells and Miami, top ATP players cross the Atlantic to compete at Masters 1000 level tournaments in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome, before heading on to the French Open at Roland Garros, the event that marks the pinnacle of the clay court season.

Europe is the domain of the clay court season, and for the last seven years, Rafael Nadal has been its undisputed king.

Tally championships since 2005 at the four main clay court events, and you will find that Nadal has taken home the trophy 20 of 28 times. Reduce your scope to just the last three years, and things looks much the same with Nadal owning 8 of 12 titles. Not surprisingly, the handful of trophies Nadal hasn't hoisted at red clay masters-level and major events since 2009 belong to Novak Djokovic (2) and Roger Federer (2).

It's only when you narrow your view to look through the lens of the last twelve months that you see Nadal's prowess on clay begin to be challenged.

Daily Zen - Monday, March 19

Let us train our minds to desire what the situation demands. 

                         - Seneca

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week In Review - March 17, 2012

This was a mammoth news week for those who enjoy meddling in the sex lives of others. Anti-gay, anti-contraception candidate Rick Santorum won the South but continues to lose the war. Anti-woman, pro-slut radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh gained support and possible ad revenue from the see-you-all-in-Hell group at Westboro Baptist. Meanwhile, Pat Robertson weighed in on oral sex, and webcam voyeur Dharun Ravi faces prison time or deportation as a result of his conviction.

Can't we all just get along (without worrying about who everyone else is fucking)?

With only one gratuitous "F" word in this post, the MPAA would likely let me skate by with a PG-13 rating, which is better than the documentary film Bully fared. This important new movie directed by Lee Hirsch includes half a dozen schoolyard F-bombs and consequently received an unfortunate "R" rating, making it harder for the kids who should see this movie to have access to it. 

Fans of complex and layered television horse racing dramas, of which there are apparently only a few, had a tough week - as HBO canceled Luck, after killing one horse too many on the set.

March Madness is in full swing, not only in NCAA basketball, but also in the very unique Tournament of Books competition. And of course, if it's March, it's also time for green beer, corned beef and cabbage, and Danny Boy (Muppet-style).

As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Stirring Moment of Irish Nostalgia

Nothing like a timeless Irish ballad (Muppet-style).

(Hat Tip to my friends Heather Mason and David Fox)

St. Patrick's Day Zen, March 17-18

I balanced all, brought all to mind, the years to come seemed waste of breath, a waste of breath the years behind, in balance with this life, this death. 

                     - William Butler Yeats

Where I am, I don't know, I'll never know, in the silence you don't know, you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on. 

                     - Samuel Beckett

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jury Verdict Reached In Webcam Bullying Trial

Rutgers Freshmen Tyler Clementi and Dharun Ravi
A New Jersey jury has convicted Rutgers student Dharun Ravi on all 15 counts he faced of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy. Ravi, who used a webcam to spy on and humiliate his gay college freshman roommate, faces up to ten years in prison.

Ravi used his webcam to capture video images of his roommate, 18 year-old Tyler Clementi, kissing another man in his dorm room, and then he briefly broadcast the video online. Days after the incident, Clementi chose to take his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. The jury verdict does not hold Ravi legally responsible for Clementi's death, but the jury was aware of the suicide and could certainly make the logical connection between the events.

Ravi, who is 18 years-old and a legal alien resident of the United States, could also be deported to his home country of India as a result of the verdict, despite the fact that he has lived in the U.S. legally since he was a small boy.

Despite the triumph of justice in this case, there is no cause for celebration. Clementi's short life has ended, Ravi's life has been devastated. There are no winners left standing here - only horrific lessons for all of us about the potentially tragic cost of bullying and the very intense personal and public dangers of bias and intolerance.

You can find out a little more here about the short life of Tyler Clementi, the boy who paid the biggest price in this sad case. You can learn more here about how to fight bullying in your community.

Daily Zen - Friday, March 16

You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren't. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don't think your way into becoming yourself. 

                      - Anne Lamott

Read more of Anne Lamott's thought's on being who you were meant to be here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Westboro Baptist Vying for Limbaugh Ad Space

Young member of Westboro Baptist
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, creators of God Hates Fags, as well as God Hates Soldiers/Steve Jobs/Sweden, have added "sluts" to the ever-expanding list of things they despise.

According to Steve Drain, spokesman for the church, the folks at Westboro are preparing a series of radio spots they hope to air with advertising time they purchase during Rush Limbaugh's program. Westboro, not surprisingly, has come out in support of Limbaugh's controversial characterization of law student Sandra Fluke. Said spokesman Drain, "She wants to fornicate her brains out, but she doesn’t want a child. Sounds like a slut to me, and God hates sluts.” 

Despite Limbaugh's assertion that he has barely noticed the mass exodus of advertisers from his show, the loss of revenue from more than 100 abandoning sponsors must be cause for alarm within Clear Channel Communications, which owns the company that distributes Limbaugh's program, and the network of radio stations that carry it. 

If Clear Channel, the radio stations in the network, and Limbaugh agree to sell ad space to Westboro Baptist Church, an organization that is universally disrespected by partisans on both the left and right, then I guess we'll know with certainty who the most desperate whore among us really is.

Pat Robertson Talks Oral Sex and More

Everyone knows that Pat Robertson is well-versed in the dark evils of homosexuality, the hell-bent destructiveness of feminism, and the frightening colonial agenda of Islam, and with his direct hotline to God, Pat has also proven himself to be a prolific, if not always accurate, prognosticator.

Lately though, conservative Christianity's most famous jack-of-all-trades has upped the ante, showing a depth and breadth of knowledge that none of us would have thought possible. In the last six months, Robertson has revealed himself to be equal parts Dear Abby, Abby Hoffman, and Doctor Ruth, by providing personal advice on divorcing your Alzheimer's-stricken spouse, advocating for the legalization of marijuana, and us guidance on how we should feel about oral sex.

Preach on, brother Pat.

Daily Zen - Thursday, March 15

Only the moment counts. It determines life.
                      - Franz Kafka

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

HBO Kills Third Horse and Euthanizes "Luck"

A third horse has died on the set of the HBO original series Luck leading the network to cancel the underperforming television drama. Two horses were hurt and subsequently euthanized during filming of the first season of the horse-racing centered series, and now with filming of the second season underway, another of the star animals has been put down due to injury. Citing that "safety is paramount," HBO has pulled the plug completely on the project.

Considering that Luck is executive produced by David Milch, who also created and produced the critically acclaimed and moderately popular HBO series Deadwood, I had high hopes for the series.

Sadly, Luck fell far short of crafting the kind of compelling story lines and vibrant characters that populated Deadwood, and the series has been a major disappointment. Critics described Luck as "impenetrable" and "a drag," and based on its ratings struggle, the rest of the viewing world agrees.

If Luck had been a ratings blockbuster, rather than declining to barely half a million viewers weekly, I imagine HBO would have found a way to continue filming while keeping its animal actors safe. As it stands now though, putting the series down is probably better for viewers, and definitely better for horses.

Santorum Wins South, Still Loses in Delegates

Photo: Reuters
After winning two Southern primaries yesterday, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said in his victory speech, "We did it again!"

Yes you did, Senator. You scored a public relations victory and received the lion's share of mainstream media attention, but you actually managed to lose the delegate tally for the day.

Santorum did indeed sweep the South yesterday, winning both the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, but thanks to the fancy math of delegate apportionment in those states and two less publicized Pacific primary races, Mitt Romney actually extended his lead in the total delegate count.

Romney failed to win either Southern primary, but he finished just 3% behind Santorum in Mississippi and only 6% behind in Alabama. When delegates from those states are split among the candidates, and you add in delegates from late night results reported from contests in Hawaii and American Samoa, both handily won by Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor actually added about a half dozen more delegates to his total than Santorum did.

Santorum got the press and whatever campaign contribution boosts that might bring, but Romney won the day and moved closer to earning the nomination at the Republican convention this August. The frontrunner may have lost the 24-hour news cycle battle, but he won the delegate war, and in the end, Romney's strategy and organization will win out over Santorum's perceived conservative sincerity.

With Newt Gingrich playing spoiler and vowing to stay in the race until the end, and with Santorum "victory days" like Tuesday, it will only be a matter of weeks before Mitt Romney wins the Republican presidential primary race.