Monday, March 31, 2008

Ballardian quotes

Left: James Graham Ballard, year unknown, from Ballardian.



My favorite writer, JG Ballard, is very ill. I am wishing him the very best.

Some random quotes from a recent BBC interview by James Naughtie:


[The post-war British] behaved like a defeated population. I wrote in The Kindness of Women that the English talked as if they had won the war, but acted as if they had lost it. They were clearly exhausted by the war and expected little of the future. Everything was rationed — food, clothing, petrol — or simply unobtainable. People moved in a herd-like way, queuing for everything. Ration books and clothing coupons were all-important, endlessly counted and fussed over, even though there was almost nothing in the shops to buy. Tracking down a few lightbulbs could take all day. Everything was poorly designed — my grandparents’ three-storey house was heated by one or two single-bar electric fires and an open coal fire. Most of the house was icy, and we slept under huge eiderdowns like marooned Arctic travellers in their survival gear, a frozen air numbing our faces, the plumes of our breath visible in the darkness.
...
I’d been to the United States and I’d seen that already, by the early 60s, we were getting the first supermarkets, motorways, we were getting, you know, consumer society, television and the like, we were turning into a kind of — media landscape — and I thought; this is interesting, because we’re all going to be Americanised, sooner or later, whether we like it or not, and science-fiction was above all, it was American, it described an Americanised future.

JN: To that extent it was right.

JGB: Yes it was right. It was right.
...
I’ve always been drawn to consumerism and Americanisation of daily life but I’ve always been aware, you know, there’s a sort of — dark side to the sun, and in the case of Kingdom Come — which describes, really, a sort of high-point reached by consumerism in this country, a year or two ago — I suggest that, you know, consumerism, could evolve into something very close to fascism.
...
[War brings] the sense that reality is a stage set that can be cleared at any moment; that came over very strongly, because children are very reliant on stability and convention, they take for granted that their parents are maintaining this friendly place called home. I think the experience of war is to undermine all that. I’ve always been a little sceptical about what I’m told — there’s nothing new about that nowadays — nobody trusts a politician. And I think I’m sceptical about consumerism because it’s really all we’ve got left — the main pillars of British society have always been: the monarchy, the Church of England, the class system, you know, respect for the Armed Forces, and so on. And they’ve all, these pillars have all been knocked down: politicians are distrusted, we think of them really as a collection of — many of them anyway — as a collection of rogues, the Church of England has lost a lot of its authority, so has the monarchy. So what we have: consumerism. I’m not sort of suspicious of consumerism, but the problem arises is when it’s all there is left. I mean, if you go out in the London suburbs, away from our great museums and Houses of Parliament and art galleries, theatres and the like, into a world where all you have are retail outlets, you suddenly, think my god, how can you live here? In fact I do live here. It’s that sense that there’s nothing other than a new range of digital cameras, or what have you, to sustain one’s dreams…

In a 1996 interview with Scottish journalist Damien Love for The List magazine, he discusses his novel Cocaine Nights, which he describes as "Kafka with unlimited Chicken Kiev":
Well, I the author am not suggesting that we all go out and… burgle our neighbour’s houses, or take up drug trafficking, and the very next day we’ll all be practising our violins and forming chess clubs. But I’m saying that it’s possible that we’re too obsessed with security. Although, anyone who has just been burgled is going to think me an idiot. Quite rightly. But, it’s a matter of realising that, you know, certain things have to be bought at a price, and maybe the price is too high. Maybe, to make a pearl, you need a bit of grit in the oyster shell. I think, probably, that the proposition I’ve put forward in the novel is probably correct.
...
As living standards continue to rise, as they have done since the war — and, I’m sure living standards will, on the whole, continue to rise — people have got more to lose. You know, they’ve packed their homes with high-tech electronic gear. It’s worth burgling the average suburban house, now. Many of them are equipped like TV studios, not to mention things like jewellery. So, one gets this strangely interiorised style of living, where you switch off the outside world, rather like it was some threatening television programme. You do this by treble locking your front door and switching on the alarm system, and then you retreat and watch videos of the World Cup. And that’s not a good recipe for healthy society. Looked at objectively, one could say that cinema, the visual arts, the ‘entertainment’ culture generally, are in a worse state than they have ever been this century. The cinema is a shadow of what it was in the forties. There’s scarcely a novelist worth reading. There’s scarcely a painter or sculptor worth looking at. I’m too old to know if the music scene has the vitality that it had back in the 60s, but I don’t imagine that it has. And, you know, we’re in a culture of substitutes — Elizabeth Hurley. They had Marilyn Monroe, we’ve got Elizabeth Hurley. Something’s gone wrong. Is it that we’re engineering a new kind of life for ourselves that has echoes of those that I describe in this book?
...
I mean, it’s silly to say this, because I’m not inviting anyone to come and steal my car or burgle my house; but one always assumes that totalitarian states will be imposed from the outside on the average citizen, that they’ll be sort of horrific and threatening. But in a way, I’ve often thought that the totalitarian systems of the future will be actually rather kind of subservient and ingratiating, and will be imposed from within. We’ll define the terms of the TV mono-culture which we now inhabit, and it’s a pretty empty place. I can imagine, 50 to 100 years from now, social-historians looking back at the closing years of the 20th century and saying, ‘My God, it opened with the flight of the Wright Brothers; halfway through they went to the moon; they discovered scientific miracle upon miracle. And then they ended with people sitting in their little fortified bungalows while the tele-surveillance cameras sweep the streets outside, and they watch reruns of The Rockford Files.’

It’s a nightmare vision.
Thanks to Ballardian for these interviews.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dead Air Church: The Feast of Divine Mercy

Left: Traditional holy card of Jesus and St Faustina, revealing the Divine Mercy devotion.


In Catholic tradition, today is the Feast of Divine Mercy. If you ask for forgiveness today, they HAVE to give it to you, no matter who you are or what you have done. Serial killers, fascist dictators, everyone. A cynic might say, you could accumulate horrible sins all year, then wait for the Sunday following Easter to confess, and thereby get a pass. (Not me, of course. I'd never say something like that.)

This is one of those "people's holidays"--which often feature Benediction, sacred litanies, the works. I've been to Divine Mercy masses many times, and used to say the chaplet regularly.

Some years ago, I frequented a chat room of hardcore trad-Catholics, several of whom turned out to be groupies of Mel Gibson's wacky dad. In this chat room, I first learned there have been sporadically-flaring controversies about St Faustina's diary and her account of events. Apparently, her diary contained what might be heresy or at least, some embarrassing nuttiness. (I have never read her diary, which is written in a simple-schoolgirl fashion that didn't hold my interest.)

What the traddies hated, in particular, was how St Faustina got bumped to the head of the saint-making list. Obviously, the homegirl mystic from Glogowiec, Poland, was a favorite of a certain other person from Poland, who made sure to canonize her in 2000. Hey, be true to your school, and all that! John Paul II was nothing if not fiercely loyal to Poland. This rankled the chat-room Gibsonoids to no end.

Looking up "St. Faustina" in the Catholic Encyclopedia, unbelievably, there is no entry for her, or separately for the Feast of Divine Mercy. Hmm. Since the death of her benefactor, has Polish-homegirl-with-weird-ideas been put on the back burner? (Reverend Wright, call your office!)

In a list of Feast days, I don't see the Divine Mercy listed.

The Catholic Church's great strength has always been to incorporate the people's folk piety (often called pagan) into the traditions of the church (often called co-optation and appropriation). Liberals hate this openly-imperialistic tendency, while conservatives hate that such pious folk devotions are often heretical, bizarre, magical-thinking and off-the-wall. Meanwhile, every such devotion and saint has its true believers, who are all over the lot economically, religiously (in style of worship), socially and even nationally. The tension between these forces is one of the most fascinating aspects of historic Catholicism. It is especially fascinating to witness such tension and consequent revisionism in my own lifetime, as I see that St Faustina, like Our Lady of Fatima, was exceedingly useful for the Cold War, but not as popular after the demise of the USSR.

In these famous incidents and individuals, we see a certain political populism joined with religious hope, as the people of Poland prayed for freedom.

St Faustina, pray for us.

~*~

And for Dead Air Church, we feature another famous plea for mercy, today.

Marvin Gaye - Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

You may be a redneck if...

... your rear car window is held up with duct tape.

And today it rained, causing it to fall down.

So there I was, sprinting out to my car during my break, wrestling with the window in the downpour, trying to get it to stay put, so I could tape it back up.

I got pretty wet.

Good Lord.

(Graphic at left from Despair.com.)

~*~

Where are the antiwar songs? Politico.com wonders:

An unpopular president, an unpopular war, a restless young generation eager for change — all the elements of a mass protest culture would seem to be present in this election year.

One thing is missing: a mass culture.

The Vietnam era produced an entire genre of anti-war and cultural protest songs, the best-known of which became anthems of the age.

Iraq and the Bush presidency have inspired lots of music in this tradition — but nothing that has gained a large popular audience or is vying to be a generational anthem.

Music, say some sociologists, is just one manifestation of a more fundamental trend. Opposition to the Iraq war, which commands strong majorities in the polls, has not produced mass marches on the Pentagon or shut down college campuses.

The reasons are varied, including the lack of a military draft and much lower casualty figures than were suffered in Southeast Asia 40 years ago. But another big factor is the fragmented nature of how Americans live and communicate — with no clearer example than how we listen to music.

The trend was highlighted this month when Warner Music’s Sire Records issued a 30-song soundtrack for the anti-war documentary “Body of War,” the release timed for the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The album includes musical heavyweights like Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder and 62-year-old Neil Young, who has contributed to the anti-war songbook for both Vietnam and Iraq.

Despite the project’s star power and its appeal to multiple generations, its format — the concept album — has, for the most part, been left for dead. People today download their favorite songs from multiple albums at a time, unlike in the '60s, when an iPod would have looked like something from the set of Star Trek.

Back then, says Robert Thompson, founder of the Institute on Popular Culture at Syracuse University, protest music was inescapable.

“Those songs, whether you were listening to them in your dorm room or whether parents were upset that their kids were listening to them in the basement, you were hearing them,” Thompson said. “Those songs were the soundtrack of that period. They were in the air literally, and people had to come to grips with them.”

In today’s culture, Thompson added, music consumption tends to take place in a narrow channel.

“Now it’s completely possible for songs that are getting huge distribution one way or another amidst their core fan base to remain completely unnoticed to a fully intelligent and aware American,” Thompson said. “Back in the pre-digital, network era, we all fed from the same culture trough, whether you liked it or not .”

The biggest reason why today’s protest music is failing to echo broadly, some cultural critics believe, is not just a shortened attention span on the part of music fans, but the move to an all-volunteer military. Compulsory military service during Vietnam meant millions more families felt they had a stake in the debate.
Read the whole thing.

~*~

I am currently enjoying the DVDs of the first season of the F/X series DAMAGES. Glenn Close is terrific! I realize when I watch a show like this, how starved I am for women characters my own age, even if they're mean cutthroat lawyers.

Obviously, the entertainment situation for women my age is dire.

Me and Mr Daisy are still arguing over whether No Country for Old Men deserved the Oscar for best picture. Mr Daisy still prefers the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple period.

Good movies? Need recommendations!

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Listening to: Santana - Everybody's Everything
via FoxyTunes

Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Delusional Precious!

You're in my heart forever.


~*~

Radiohead - Karma Police

[via FoxyTunes / Radiohead]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hillary's ever-changing biography

Left: Clinton in Bosnia in 1996, photo from NECN.com.


Did I tell you guys about the time I went to North Korea and was taken up into a space ship with the ghost of Joan Crawford, all while she screamed NO WIRE HANGERS! at the aliens? I'm sure I have, I've told the story many times.

Well, never mind that, I misspoke.

Do you just love the word "misspoke" or what? Hopefully, some 6-year-olds are paying attention, or some precocious kid like Stewie: "Lie? I didn't....LIE, exactly... I... MISSPOKE, yes, that's it, I misspoke!" Misspoke is the new "Whoops, got caught making shit up again!"

Those crazy politicians, you just have to watch them every minute, or it'll be a new whopper every day.

In this case, you've undoubtedly heard the latest, but it's just so outrageous and awful, it bears repeating:

CBS News Video Contradicts Clinton's Story

CBS' Sharyl Attkisson Was On Bosnia Trip - And Got A Warm, Sniper-Free Welcome; Clinton Says She "Misspoke"

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton greatly misstated an experience in Bosnia that has opened the door for her foreign policy experience to be scrutinized. Sharyl Attkisson reports.

(CBS/AP) It was supposed to be an example of Hillary Rodham Clinton's battle-tested experience:

"I remember landing under sniper fire," Clinton said at a recent campaign event.

It started when, in a recent speech, Clinton spoke of her visit to Tuzla, Bosnia, in 1996 as first lady.

The brutal war was over, but hostilities continued. And though the trip was exactly 12 years ago Tuesday, the memories seemed etched in Clinton's mind.

"There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base," she said.

Problem is: that's not how it happened at all. And we should know: CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson and a CBS News crew accompanied the First Lady on that Bosnia trip.

A photograph shows Clinton talking to Attkisson on the military flight into Tuzla.

And pictures CBS News recorded show the greeting ceremony when the plane landed. Compare that to Clinton's account: "I remember landing under sniper fire," she said. "There was no greeting ceremony and we were basically told to run to our cars. That is what happened."

But there was no sniper fire either when Clinton visited two army outposts, where she posed for photos. And no sniper fire back at the base, where she sang in a USO show starring Sinbad and Sheryl Crow.

Asked about the issue during a meeting with the Philadelphia Daily News' editorial board on Monday, Clinton said she "misspoke."

"I went to 80 countries, you know. I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book. You know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things - millions of words a day - so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement," she said.

A spokesman for rival Barack Obama's campaign questioned whether Clinton misspoke, saying her comments came in what appeared to be prepared remarks for the Iraq speech. His campaign's statement included a link to the speech on Clinton's campaign Web site with her account of running to the cars.

Clinton's campaign said what is on the Web site is not the prepared text, but a transcript of her remarks, including comments before the speech in which she talked about the trip to Bosnia.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a written statement that Clinton's Bosnia story "joins a growing list of instances in which Senator Clinton has exaggerated her role in foreign and domestic policymaking."

Referring to the CBS News video, Clinton aides said Monday, it "was not quite as dramatic as Clinton put it."

"She meant that there was fire on the hillside around the area when we landed, which was the case," said Clinton campaign aide Lissa Muscatine.

Mike Allen of Politico.com said: "Who knows if she misremembered, misspoke, exaggerated, whatever. It makes the case for Sen. Obama that all this experience that she's been talking about is at least partly in her imagination."

Hundreds of thousands have viewed the video online in just the past few days.

There's a saying: Never let your memories be greater than your dreams.

When you're running for president, maybe it should be: never let your memories be greater than the video.
~*~

And monkeys might fly out of my butt!



Did I tell you guys about the time I jumped out of an airplane over Chechnya, delivering humanitarian aid to the suffering masses? I didn't? I did? Well...

Oh, never mind.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Feminist update: The transgender wars wage on!

Left: from postmodernbarney.com by way of lovely Lisa!



Yes, fight fans, it has not abated since I had my last big thread during the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival in August of last year. A few stand-offs, a few truces, but recently--a brand new conflagration.

The problem with cataloging blogwars is: who started it? In this case, I suppose we could accurately say the whole thing started back in... ohhh, I don't know. Long time ago.

This round appears to have been started by a thoughtful post at Maia's blog, titled Transphobia and Radical Feminism - A challenge:

I found that transgenderism / transsexualism is not the weird fetish of disturbed freaks, but a genuine - and very difficult - lived reality. I looked at some of the statistics for mental health and suicide rates among transpeople - both those who transition and those who do not. I read the blogs of transfolk, mainly transwomen - some who are out in real life, some who are not. I looked into medical evidence about the causes of transgenderism and found that there is no certainty about the true cause - whether it is physical / biological or whether it is mental / emotional / social or whether the individual cause varies from person to person. Sometimes intersex biology is relevant, sometimes not. From all this I learned that gender identity is a real phenomenon, even if we do not all consciously experience it; and I learned that gender dysphoria (where gender identify does not match biological sex attributes) is a real phenomenon, even if few of us are unfortunate enough to experience it.

What I found is that the definition of class Woman is not a simple matter, and I am not the person who can define what a woman is.

Radical feminists - especially those who are separatists or who advocate (as I do) the need for woman-only space - often struggle with this. We often act as though we know exactly what a woman is, and that a transwoman is not a woman. Even if we recognise that the question is not straightforward, we still struggle with the inclusion of transwomen in women-only spaces.

Sometimes our exclusion is expressed by straightforwardly characterising transwomen as men, so that it is then self-evident that they should be excluded from woman-only spaces. This really isn’t a very profound analysis.
I agree, it isn't.

My own process mirrors Maia's in many ways. My deepest, sincerest compliments on her honesty and willingness to ask the hard questions:
I do get that this is hard. I get that - especially for women who have been traumatised by men, women who have good reason to fear men, women who do in fact (as I once did) view transwomen as just men in drag - this is very hard indeed. Doing the right thing is often hard. It is still the right thing.

I keep making a connection in my mind with people who have suffered in war or conflict who are then asked to make peace with those whom they identify as their (former) enemies. We can understand if a person who suffered and was traumatised by long years in a prison camp, a rape camp, a concentration camp, if this person cannot forgive the group of people responsible for the suffering, is intensely distrustful and triggered by the mere presence of a person who looks like those people or shares their nationality… We understand, but understanding is not the same as condoning the organisation of, say, racist mental health spaces from which even innocent members of that group or nation are excluded - even members who were themselves traumatised, who fled as refugees, who reject their birth nationality and claim citizenship in their place of asylum…

I understand that this is hard. We want to protect those among us who have been hurt, who are still hurting. The question is not whether we want to protect women who are asking for safety. The question is whether we can actually achieve that by the exclusion of transwomen, and whether it is even acceptable to offer such protection when it comes at the expense of transwomen, by perpetuating the poorly analysed othering of transwomen, by ignoring the hurts and the violence that transwomen experience precisely because of their (desire to have) membership of class Woman. I don’t think so.

There is one more argument for trans-exclusion that I want to cover. It is touched upon in the Ogyn quote about “females who were raised as girls.” The idea is that transwomen, because they were raised as boys, cannot understand female oppression, that they have absorbed a degree of male entitlement that is impossible to reconcile with radical feminist women-only spaces. This is a big fat stereotype. If you tell a radical, young, woman-loving transwoman of colour that she is too dangerous and privileged to be allowed into your radfem women-only space then she will, if she is strong enough, laugh in your face. Rightly so.
The quandary for radical feminists: Are transwomen (people assigned "male" status at birth, but now identify as women) "really" women? Should feminists treat them as ex-oppressors or comrades-in-arms?

And why are transmen (people assigned "female" status at birth, but now identify as men) totally INVISIBLE in this conversation? What is to be gained by simply ignoring them, as many of the anti-trans radical feminists do?

Why such acrimony, viciousness and rancor from radical feminists? All out of proportion to events, IMHO.

And now, we bring you the greatest hits of this round. First, at Questioning Transphobia, we have the hoopla over the word CISSEXUAL, a handy-dandy word in these discussions. CISSEXUAL simply means "not transsexual." However, some trans activists have defined the word as: one who's genitalia "match" their social gender. Some feminists become rabid at such descriptions, since they have been mistaken for men or have been very butch; they feel this term erases them. A better description would be: one who's genitalia "match" the gender they feel themselves to be.

Is there such a thing as "cissexual privilege"?

There is also hoopla over the term transphobia--just as back in the day, there was consternation over the term homophobia. Some of you may remember the righteously indignant bleatings of various right wingnuts: "Phobia? I ain't skeered of no fucking fags!" Rush Limbaugh was one of the main wingnuts offering this line back in the early 90s.

At one point, I jumped in the fray. (Eh, I've done better.) You don't have to read all 120 posts, but keep in mind, I am UNBANNED by the end! (((bows)))

Belle sums up admirably:
well, it interests me, because it's coming up at the same time that the argument is supposedly y'know that they're going for this expansive sisterly communion, radical feminism (by the lights of people like this) is all about Class Woman, all 3+ billion of us, you know, we are strong, we are powerful...which is why the stakes are so high, because it's a -universal- movement, not just another little political faction or clique.

AND at the same time, there is an insistence that the -real- danger that transfolk pose to the women-only space is that they threaten the "safe space."

Safety.

This is, in fact, what's on the table; this is what's being so passionately defended when the author (and others) start talking about "radfemphobia" as a counter to the term "transphobia" (which is simultaneously being rejected and mocked as invalid).

“I want the ability to be with like-minded individuals and only like-minded individuals.”

The response:

Here’s a question: why? And, what do you mean by that exactly?

Because that’s very telling, to me. You’re not even really interested in mystical sisterly communion, much less political effectiveness, so much as being around people who you don’t have to argue with. Like, at all.

“Birds in their little nests agree…”

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but: even if you do manage to purge your community of all dissenters on transpeople (much less the transpeople themselves), sex work/prostitution, femme accoutrements, BDSM, and so on and so forth, there’s -still- going to be something that’ll tear you apart. Does. Hell, I can see it happening from here. Yeah, it happens to everyone, we all have fights, often over stupid shit, but y’all…I gotta tell you, from where I'm sitting? you really put the “fun” back in “dysfunctional.” This goes a good way toward explaining why.

It’s, like, a -betrayal,- isn’t it, when your “sister” suddenly turns out to be, -not- an extension of yourself, but -a completely whole other person-. -Different.- This isn’t what you signed up for! You came for the merge! This was supposed to fix everything! Why, it makes you feel so, so…*alone*. Again. And terrified.

Welcome to life.

Welcome to adulthood.
And featured below, more links to more arguments, and replies to arguments, and offshoots and derails of even more arguments, from Jack and Witchy Woo. Priceless! A must-read.

Witchy, of course, has edited all 'unpleasant' and non-adoring remarks from her blog, like the good Stalinist censor she is. So, for the whole exchange, check out Jack:

Recent blogwar in a nutshell.
Terrible people are TERRIBLE people
You are, actually, like the right wing.
[Opens up dictionary] *Ahem*
No, you're wrong. Sorry if that deeply troubles you.

Yes, it certainly does trouble them. They go on and on and on, then forbid arguments in response. (Because of course, they can't reply, or they wouldn't be afraid to allow an open discussion.)

Stay tuned, fight fans... I'm sure this won't be the last installment!

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Listening to: Talking Heads - The Girls Want to Be with the Girls
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Screamworthy!

Left: Canebrake rattler photo from Kingsnake.com.



Lesson: Don't leave luggage open on the porch!

Snake crawled in man's luggage in SC and bit him when he unpacked in VA.

The Associated Press • March 25, 2008


McLEAN, Va. -- A high school coach emptying his luggage after a team trip to South Carolina was bitten by a small rattlesnake that had somehow gotten into his bag, authorities said.

Andy Bacas in was stable condition at Inova Fairfax Hospital, fire officials said. He remained hospitalized Tuesday morning.

Bacas, a rowing coach at Yorktown High School in Arlington, told authorities he felt a sharp pain on his hand Monday when he reached into his luggage. He then saw the nearly foot-long snake and slammed the suitcase shut.

Fire and rescue workers took the suitcase outside, opened it and blasted the snake, identified as a juvenile canebrake rattler, with a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. The chemical essentially froze the animal to death.

"The guy who responded had seen (the fire extinguisher technique) done on TV," Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Ben Barksdale said.

Bacas' son, Peter, said the luggage had been left open on a porch during the trip to Summerton, S.C., which is about 75 miles northwest of Charleston. Barksdale said he had no information that the snake was deliberately put into the luggage.

Bob Myers, director of the American International Rattlesnake Museum in New Mexico, said it's conceivable that a snake would crawl into luggage seeking warmth or shelter.

The venom from a canebrake rattlesnake can be particularly harmful, but a young snake is not usually large enough to deliver enough to be lethal, Myers said. Adult canebrakes can grow to 6 feet.

"There's an old wives' tale that says a baby rattlesnake bite is worse than an adult bite, but that's just not true," Myers said.

Three or four people die each year from rattlesnake bites in the United States, out of perhaps 8,000 bites a year, Myers said.
(((screams)))
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Listening to: Bob Marley & the Wailers - Is This Love
via FoxyTunes

Monday, March 24, 2008

Makes sense

Graphic by way of white rabbit and Bug-Eyed Earl.



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Listening to: Kathleen Edwards - The Cheapest Key
via FoxyTunes

Save the libraries!

Left: Graphic by Aaron Louie.

From Mountain Xpress, here is Ileana Grams-Moog, discussing an ongoing, national issue--the continuous, rapid depletion of public library collections. She is describing the process in Asheville (NC) but it could just as easily have been anywhere:

From my time working as a librarian, I know that all libraries cull their collections on an ongoing basis. But what’s happening now is apparently a permanent downsizing. Nor is it only fiction that is disappearing. Science, history, biography, psychology, cooking, gardening, crafts: Every area is being depleted. Many—indeed, most—of the books being sold are out of print and therefore not easily available elsewhere, if at all. This is especially deplorable in areas where old books contain information not available in new ones. In cooking, gardening, crafts, yoga, poetry, history and even in science, in fields such as animal behavior and paleontology, old books contain detailed, lively information that’s no longer covered in more recent ones. To get rid of these books is the equivalent of deliberate, collective amnesia.

I was told that the criterion used is how recently the book last circulated. I just bought, for $2, a book that I took out about a year ago (and that cost the library more than $30 when acquired).
The other issue is storing the books, if they are not discarded. The public appears willing to pay for libraries, but not usually willing to spend tax money to build warehouses for old books that no longer circulate. (What's to become of the thousands of old, dated books, if indeed they are kept?) There are thousands of volumes discarded every year, everywhere. Most municipalities have periodic book-sales, and if you have ever been to one of these, you know some really fantastic, unique books are culled from local collections, constantly.

And what about the user-atmosphere of the libraries themselves? In larger cities (and increasingly, in small ones, too) homeless people sleep in libraries during the day, use the restrooms, panhandle when security guards aren't looking, etc. Have Borders and Barnes & Noble become the new 'library'--as educated, suburban readers prefer not to deal with the riff-raff that is the general public?

For an entertaining and informative take on the library biz, check out Blogging Librarian.

And I can only add, with considerable vehemence, SAVE THE LIBRARIES!!!!!!
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Listening to: The Volebeats - Radio Flyer
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dead Air Church: The Resurrection

And the angel spoke to the women, saying, you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth.

He is not here, for He has risen, as He said.

~*~

After the Goldrush - Prelude

[via FoxyTunes / Prelude]


Art by John Pitre. Song by Neil Young.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Odds and Sods - Holy Saturday edition












It is a stunningly beautiful day in upstate South Carolina!

My new blog-friend Mandy and her fabulous photos (see also her photo blog) have inspired me to get my artiste on and take some photos myself!

So, below, is a tour of my Holy Saturday.

~*~




Since John McCain has helpfully reminded us that Purim is the Jewish Halloween, I felt a distinct lack of Purim trick-or-treat candy in my life, and so I first went to Mast General Store. There are literally barrels of candy--in hundreds of varieties-- just waiting for Daisy!

Mr Daisy hates Mast General Store which he cynically compares to SOUTHERN LIVING magazine. (However, he WILL eat the candy.)

~*~



Next, it's on to the terrific LOOSE LUCY'S, where I buy most of my cutting-edge fashions. (YES, you can shop online, so click and purchase at will!)

At left: Lovely Natalie and Erica stand ready to assist you in your Deadhead fashion needs. They also play excellent reggae and jam band music while you shop. Only a dullard could resist.


~*~



And now, for more music, we hit the redoubtable Horizon Records to lose ourselves in stacks of merchandise, particularly the cheap bins. I am patiently waiting for Gene to put a copy of We're Only In it For the Money on sale. (Yes, whoring out the blog, people! Gene, are you reading?)

And right next door, there is the renowned Bohemian Cafe, where one must stop for a sip of sweet tea and some live music.

If you still have any money left! :)



~*~

Left and below: Malcolm Holcombe at the Bohemian Cafe, part of WNCW's Tower of Song series.

















And as a special treat for Holy Saturday, we have the Seven Deadly Sins quiz!

I like how well I scored (no "highs" on anything!), but I have to say, the Lust questions simply didn't, um, address the things I personally find worthy of lust. So, of course, I scored very low. It's all a matter of staying under the radar. I know how! (((grins and winks))) I'd guess lots of other people also know how.

So, don't haul the answers over to your local priest, announcing, "See!?!"--however tempting it may be.

Greed:Medium

Gluttony:Low

Wrath:Low

Sloth:Medium

Envy:Medium

Lust:Very Low

Pride:Low



Thanks to lovely Lady Banana!


Have a happy Easter, everyone!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke 1917-2008

At the beginning of The City and the Stars (1956), Alvin and his friends are on some type of outrageous adventure. They have just escaped the Cave of the White Worm and are winding through underground labyrinths. Then, next thing you know---what? The dream--is it a dream?--is over. But not before Alvin suggests they climb the Crystal Mountain. Why not?

Alystra, his love, is upset with him:

"Oh, Alvin!" she lamented, as she looked down at him from the wall in which she had apparently materialised. "It was such an exciting adventure! Why did you have to spoil it?"
Alvin's friend Callistron also shows up, to pile on. Callistron is similarly pissed:
"Now listen, Alvin," began Callistron. "This is the third time you've interrupted a saga. You broke the sequence yesterday, by wanting to climb out of the Valley of Rainbows. And the day before you upset everything by trying to get back to the Origin in that time-track we were exploring. If you don't keep the rules, you'll have to go by yourself."
And with that, we were hooked. Particularly those of us who didn't keep the rules and were always trying to climb out of the Valley of Rainbows. We UNDERSTOOD Alvin, instinctively. And we followed Alvin across the planet Diaspar and into deep space, where we grappled with the concepts of destiny, religion, mind, God, the future of humanity... all the major philosophical concepts packed into a dazzling story of space exploration and the upheaval of old civilizations.

Yes, said the book, this is for YOU, you nonconformist Alvins out there. I know who you are.

We knew who he was too, and upon hearing that Arthur C. Clarke had passed, I cried the way I've cried for relatives who had given me precious gifts of love and time; I felt he had done this for me. His work said to us: Here is the universe, go! CLIMB THE CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN!

The New York Times writes:
The author of almost 100 books, Mr. Clarke was an ardent promoter of the idea that humanity’s destiny lay beyond the confines of Earth. It was a vision served most vividly by “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the classic 1968 science-fiction film he created with the director Stanley Kubrick and the novel of the same title that he wrote as part of the project.

His work was also prophetic: his detailed forecast of telecommunications satellites in 1945 came more than a decade before the first orbital rocket flight.

Other early advocates of a space program argued that it would pay for itself by jump-starting new technology. Mr. Clarke set his sights higher. Borrowing a phrase from William James, he suggested that exploring the solar system could serve as the “moral equivalent of war,” giving an outlet to energies that might otherwise lead to nuclear holocaust.

Mr. Clarke’s influence on public attitudes toward space was acknowledged by American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts, by scientists like the astronomer Carl Sagan and by movie and television producers. Gene Roddenberry credited Mr. Clarke’s writings with giving him courage to pursue his “Star Trek” project in the face of indifference, even ridicule, from television executives.
Left: photo from Reuters, 2002.

It is fitting that Arthur C. Clarke left his mark in space itself.

In 1945, he wrote a hugely influential technical paper, published in the British journal Wireless World:
[The paper included] a series of diagrams and equations showing that “space stations” parked in a circular orbit roughly 22,240 miles above the equator would exactly match the Earth’s rotation period of 24 hours. In such an orbit, a satellite would remain above the same spot on the ground, providing a “stationary” target for transmitted signals, which could then be retransmitted to wide swaths of territory below. This so-called geostationary orbit has been officially designated the Clarke Orbit by the International Astronomical Union.

Decades later, Mr. Clarke called his Wireless World paper “the most important thing I ever wrote.” In a wry piece entitled, “A Short Pre-History of Comsats, Or: How I Lost a Billion Dollars in My Spare Time,” he claimed that a lawyer had dissuaded him from applying for a patent. The lawyer, he said, thought the notion of relaying signals from space was too far-fetched to be taken seriously.
And on this Maundy Thursday, let me say that I've always found it amazing that an atheist could write so movingly about religious faith and spiritual awe, as Clarke did in his short story The Star (1955):
Religion, and in particular religious faith, are central themes in ‘‘The Star.’’ The narrative is the interior monologue of the central character, a Jesuit astrophysicist. He is aboard a starship on a mission to investigate the causes of a supernova in a distant galaxy. He and the rest of the crew discover the artifacts of a highly developed civilization, carefully preserved on the only planet that remains in orbit around the supernova. Knowing that all life would be wiped out when their sun flared into a supernova, this race of sentient beings left a record of who they were and what they accomplished. The pictures, sculptures, music, and other relics of a very human-like race doomed to destruction depress the crew and investigating scientists, who are far from their own homes and lonely. What the narrator has learned but not yet communicated to the others is that the supernova that destroyed this civilization was the Star of Bethlehem, which burned brightly in the sky to herald the birth of Jesus Christ. His discovery has caused him to reexamine and to question his own faith.
As so many of us struggle to reconcile tragedy with God's will, Clarke took us seriously and respectfully--because he cared so passionately.

Goodbye dear friend, Sir Arthur Charles Clarke. A piece of heaven deserves to bear your name.

~*~

Entire text of The Star.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

BRING THEM HOME NOW!

As I wrote on Monday, the Greenville Antiwar Society candle lighting took place on Sunday night, downtown at Bergamo Square. Below are some photographs of the event, which I am sharing here as my contribution to the Blogswarm Against the War.

In the center, there is a beaded structure, representing the Iraqi people--hundreds of beads symbolize the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead. It would be impossible to light a million candles, so this is the best we could do.

Every candle bears the name of an American soldier that has died in this needless, senseless, evil brutality. Their names, ages and dates of death are listed. Of the candles I personally lit, the youngest was 19, the oldest 28. There are 3988, total.

The sheer number of names is overwhelming. Each small, flickering light--a life that has been extinguished.

In the sixth photo below, activists are singing the old Civil Rights hymn, This little light of mine/I'm gonna let it shine.

Yes, we have to do that, as hopeless as it sometimes appears.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

And as another poet once wrote: We all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.

We must light the way with truth.

~*~







Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ruminations on Obama's preacher

Left: The Hierophant, from the Rider-Waite tarot deck.


Ah, yes, religious authority. Incredible this is all happening during Holy Week--irony, anyone?

Today, Senator Barack Obama addressed the issue of his preacher, Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr. The preacher gets exercised and says things, as (God knows!) preachers are wont to do.

As pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, he is the Christian servant responsible for bringing Senator Obama to the Christian faith. I doubt very much he could have succeeded at this goal by delivering boring and well-mannered sermons, but now I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last night, I attempted to make a list of outlandish things I have heard priests say. I have kissed the relics of (Maronite) St Rafka, as well as St Francis Xavier. I own a 3rd class relic supposedly touched to the tomb of St Philomena, who may or may not have existed. I have heard of saints levitating, eating vomit* and everything else. I heard one priest lambaste Jews at every available opportunity, usually honing in on various bad acts in the First Reading at Mass (always from the Old Testament) and then going on something of an antisemitic rant. I used to cringe if the First Reading had any "bad Jews" in the passage, usually those Jews partying while Moses is trying to tell them how to behave properly. Golden calves, disobedience, lack of faith! Oh no, I thought, here it comes. And he never missed a chance, in this regard.

And yes, there's more. I've heard priests trash-talk the sacrosanct USA, usually starting with the mortal sin of abortion (extremely few priests challenge birth control or divorce; hey, the collection plate might suffer, okay?) and moving on to the usual suspects, porn and gays. They often quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV), which states:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Heal it? Is it sick? Is America sick?

And then there is that perennial favorite, which I am also quite partial to, from Deuteronomy, Chapter 30:
Here, then, I have today set before you life and prosperity, death and doom.

If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.

If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,

I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.

I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.
This passage is used by the right and the left, with clockwork regularity. The right sees abortion and wild sex; the left sees war, poverty and genocide (as Rev. Wright also does). This is basic Christianity, people. And besides that, the traditional concept that people will pay for their sins is common to most major faiths.

Why are conservatives allowed to say this, but liberals are not? Is it the diagnosis that we are disagreeing about? Reverend Wright has frightened the horses, announcing from the pulpit "God damn America!"--actually using the term in it's proper context, not as profanity... he meant America's acts lead to damnation in the Christian sense. Why is this any worse than the fundamentalists who warn that unbelievers who are ruining the country will all be swept up in the Great Tribulation, and will not be Raptured with the Righteous?

The last person expected to carefully separate himself from his faith was Mitt Romney. "How Mormon is he, anyway?" seemed to be the operative question. Catholic politicians and presidential candidates are not expected to answer for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, known to make extremely controversial statements on both the right and the left. Why not?

If I am 50 years old, and I've heard these outlandish and possibly unpatriotic homilies, as hit-and-miss as I am in attending church--what do you suppose other politicians and presidential candidates have heard in their respective churches? I assume they have heard as much or more than I have. Does anyone care? No. They care if you are Mitt Romney. And they care if you are Barack Obama. Why?

I think we all know the answer to that, don't we?

All of us who have attempted to be devout and faithful at any point in our lives, have had arguments with spiritual advisers, preachers, priests, rabbis, etc. We do not necessarily agree with everything they say, and we ask ourselves (if we are thoughtful and intelligent, as the Senator certainly is)--how far can we go with this? What is demanded of us? Can we deliver? Can we be good Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus? What does it mean to be devout?

The same priest that might electrify us when speaking passionately of injustice, can drone on like an old boring puritan about abortion. The same preacher who inveighs against lack of charity and lack of volunteers for the soup kitchen, can suddenly turn petty and draw already-sullen teenagers aside and hiss disapprovingly at them, that they are dressed like gangstas... (PS: this is not helpful when they are already looking for an excuse to stay home!) Spiritual leaders are human beings, and they err. Does this truly shock anyone, that most people decide for themselves what they believe, their pastor being only one of many factors that influence them? Indeed, I think this is taken for granted among affluent white people. Well, of COURSE you choose. And yet, Barack Obama is expected to disassociate himself from the person who brought him to the faith??????

Why is he being put through the ringer, because he has a big-mouthed pastor, as many (most?) of us do?

Lotus offered the wise opinion that he couldn't see what the big deal is about, since most of what Rev. Wright said was true anyway. (Spoken like a true lefty!) Bonnie Erbe, holding forth on CNN this afternoon, announced that Obama's speech today had not properly distanced himself from Rev. Wright; the so-called Reagan democrats won't be convinced, she said. Convinced of what? Why is Obama expected to answer for his pastor, when probably every single presidential candidate has some pastor in the background, saying otherworldly, disturbing things?

I think we all know the answer to that, don't we?

When asked why I don't leave the Catholic Church, I reply it would be like leaving the United States. I wouldn't know how. It is part of who I am. And why am I expected to leave? Why can't I stay and fight for what I want the Church/the USA to be?

Why is Barack Obama expected to show his mettle by disowning his one-time spiritual mentor? Worship style in the African-American community is all about a radical appreciation of justice and the cultural custom of fiery rhetoric and music that dramatizes and underscores this appreciation and attendant spiritual knowledge. This is an established American tradition, and it is not for CNN, FOX NEWS and MSNBC to judge whether that tradition is expressed "correctly" or not, just as I really don't care if anyone objects to my relic of St Philomena. I don't own it for your approval, I own it because of what it means to ME, thanks.

The fact that one tradition is accepted as a given, regardless of how outlandish it might be, and one is still being judged and picked apart, speaks volumes.

Last month, I wrote a post about religious bigotry, and obviously, I spoke too soon.

Or is this really about something else?
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24)
~*~

*The Autobiography of St Margaret Mary Alacoque

Monday, March 17, 2008

Odds and Sods - Irish brawlers edition

Last night, I attended the Greenville Antiwar Society's candle lighting vigil in Bergamo Square, downtown. This commemorates the 5th year of the war, and every candle bears the name of a deceased American soldier.

There are now 3988 candles, total.

We've been doing it five years now, and the candles just increase. It's so beautiful, one woman said to me, but how sad every candle represents death.

I'll be posting more photos on the 19th, for the Blogswarm Against the War.

~*~

In the New York Times, Maureen Dowd writes the following:

If only they could see things as the president does. Bush, who used his family connections to avoid Vietnam, told troops serving in Afghanistan on Thursday that he is “a little envious” of their adventure there, saying it was “in some ways romantic.”
Do you BELIEVE this guy? (((shakes head in dumbfounded amazement))) I mean, what can one SAY??

~*~

I've just been listening to a self-defined feminist caller on C-Span berate lefty bloggers for criticizing Hillary. Is there no end to this???? Are we NOT ALLOWED to choose another candidate?

And speaking of feminism, are we allowed to point out that much of the "experience" HRC is nattering on about, was as FIRST LADY, an UNELECTED position?

Speaking of Hill, I just got an email from ((dramatic pause!)) ELTON JOHN! Yes, I'm pretty special to rate emails from VIPs, you are thinking. But no, it's just a mass-mailed invitation to Democrats to go to a pro-Hillary concert at Radio City Music Hall; tickets range from $125 up to $2300. If you raise over $10,000, you are invited to a special reception with Elton John and the Clintons. (Doncha love how they say "the Clintons"--while denying they are using Bill's popularity to whip up support for HRC?) I wouldn't be too interested in partying with policy-wonk Hillary, but of course, one can only imagine the parties Bill and Elton have been to; those might be some jolly fun!

~*~

Left: Also, last night, I saw local band SONIC MARVEL at the Gathering Spot (affectionately known as the G-Spot, by locals).

And on a personal note, speaking of the luck of the Irish, my beautiful almost-red-headed grandbaby (age 2 1/2) has chicken pox and an additional ear infection. :( I miss her SO MUCH, I'd gladly nurse her back to health with nary a complaint or hesitation.

Please send all positive thoughts to the Texas Hill Country!

----------------
Listening to: Stiff Little Fingers - Alternative Ulster
via FoxyTunes

Happy St Patrick's Day

St Patrick icon from Byzantines.net.





An Irish Airman foresees his Death

by William Butler Yeats (1919)



I KNOW that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
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.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dead Air Church: Palm Sunday

In the liturgy for Palm Sunday, regular parishioners play the part of the mob, and well-dressed church-goers shout "Crucify him!" It's quite something to see and participate in. The theological lesson sinks in admirably, as intended: I crucified Him, and so did you.

And so, our countercultural equivalent for Dead Air Church: the Grateful Dead's New Speedway Boogie, their song about Altamont.

And it came to pass in 1969, that there was a free concert given by the Rolling Stones at Altamont Speedway on a cold December night, in which the Hells Angels were "hired" as security. (Note: This is fiercely debated, Sonny Barger claimed they were never technically hired in the conventional sense.) By the end of the evening, Meredith Hunter, an 18-year-old black man, would be murdered by "security." This event was captured in the concert documentary, Gimme Shelter, an amazing film.

The Dead were scheduled to play, and ultimately didn't. Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote this song to all who would alternately minimize the event and avoid moral responsibility, as well as to those who would self-righteously judge and second-guess the survivors. It's an amazing song. I've quoted lines here and there numerous times on my blog, but this is the first time I've played the whole thing.

I saw things getting out of hand
I guess they always will.


~*~

The relatively new version of this song I've chosen is by an Australian band known as Black Cab, recorded for their 2004 album, suitably titled Altamont Diary. This version gives the song the psychedelic gravitas it so richly deserves. And I really like this video, which puts events in a 60s/70s druggie context.

Black Cab - New Speedway Boogie

[via FoxyTunes / Black Cab]


Don't forget to pick up your palm leaf before you leave, and have a great Holy Week.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

Former SC State Treasurer sentenced to prison

Left: Thomas Ravenel on his way to court, September 2007, photo by Alan Devorsey of the Greenville News.

Judge delays former treasurer's sentence for 5 months

Friday, March 14, 2008

By Tim Smith
CAPITAL BUREAU


COLUMBIA -- Former state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel was sentenced to 10 months in prison, but the start of the sentence was delayed for 5 months. He also was fined $250,000, including $28,000 restitution to the state for the special election held to replace him.

The delay is to see what comes from the information Ravenel and his co-defendant Michael Miller, provided investigators.

A third man charged in the case, Pasquale Pellicoro, an Italian citizen, fled before his arraignment and has been sought ever since by the FBI. He was charged in a second indictment in the case, following the original indictment of Ravenel and Miller.

"We’re still looking for him," McDonald said today.

Ravenel, a Charleston multimillionare, and Miller, a Mount Pleasant disc jockey, are scheduled to be sentenced this afternoon by U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson.

Both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine. Miller also pleaded guilty to a count of distribution of cocaine.

Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but a pre-trial report recommended 10-16 months for Ravenel, according to his lawyers.

Miller sold cocaine to Ravenel, who used it and gave it to friends, according to prosecutors.

In their "downward departure" motion filed Thursday, prosecutors argued that Ravenel and Miller had been cooperative.

"He has given a complete debriefing of his participation in the drug conspiracy and the participation of others involved in the conspiracy and provided the government with historical information concerning drug distribution in the Charleston area," prosecutors stated in identical motions for both men.

"Based upon this information, the government has indicted another individual who is a fugitive from justice."

Common Cause of South Carolina, a non-profit watchdog group, has asked Anderson to require that Ravenel pay for the cost of the special session by lawmakers to choose his replacement, said John Crangle, director of the organization. If Anderson follows the group’s suggestion, he said, it would be a first in the nation.

"The significance of it in our view is this is a national precedent," he said. "No judge, as far as we can tell, has ever required a public official who is a criminal defendant to do this kind of restitution before."

He said the cost totaled about $30,000. If other federal judges were to follow such a precedent, he said, it could mean defendants who were congressmen would have to repay states millions of dollars for the cost of the elections held to select their replacement.

Ravenel and Miller were indicted last summer by a federal grand jury.

Gov. Mark Sanford suspended Ravenel, and Ravenel resigned in September and pleaded guilty.

Miller originally also faced a state charge of trafficking in cocaine. The charge was later dropped, and he was indicted on seven counts of distribution of cocaine. Miller pleaded guilty last year to one of those counts.

Giving Ravenel a break is justified, his lawyers argued in a motion earlier this year.

"He has already begun actively trying to make amends in a variety of ways ranging from treatment and resignation to cooperating with law enforcement authorities," lawyers E. Bart Daniel and Gedney Howe wrote in their motion. "The additional punishment of jail time is not necessary in this instance."

The lawyers described his crime as a "modest scale, first-time offense."

"It is unusual in terms of the manner of distribution," they argued in their motion. "The offense has already carried with it severe and much publicized ramifications for Mr. Ravenel. Mr. Ravenel has and is learning from this experience."

Daniel declined to comment this week on his client’s sentencing.

Both men are free on bond. Miller was briefly detained late last year after he was arrested by Mount Pleasant police on charges of striking an officer and disorderly conduct.

Leaders of the black community told The Greenville News in November that African-Americans in the state are watching the case to see how Miller is treated in comparison to Ravenel, a white 45-year-old Charleston multimillionare.

Former U.S. Attorney Reggie Lloyd has said what is important isn’t that both men are treated equally, since the facts of their cases are different, but that both are treated fairly.

----------------
Listening to: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
via FoxyTunes