Sunday, January 01, 2006

Posts of the Year, 2005 (Part Two)
Just dropping in here mid-weekend to put up some more of my favorite posts appearing here in 2005. If you missed Part One, it's here. Quotes of the Year went up late last week; they're here.

Where were we?

August 13: "Newspapers around the country have picked up the story of the poll of consumers that suggests many are beginning to worry about the impact of high gasoline prices. The people I feel great sympathy for are those on fixed incomes--the high prices fall on them first, and hardest. The people I feel no sympathy for are those with monster SUVs. How do you like your nine-mile-per-gallon status symbol now, Mr. and Mrs. Hummer? It would have been cheaper to have your net worth tattooed on your foreheads."

September 1:
"Being president is, of course, about more than just showing off the symbols of office and applying salve to the national soul. You have to run the show, and if Clinton were president now, he'd know how to help those people on the Gulf Coast, and he'd make damn personally sure people got helped, and if they didn't get helped, the Presidential Boot would be applied to the appropriate asses. He'd get in a damn boat and see things for himself, or at least a helicopter, instead of zooming 5,000 feet overhead in his flying palace. He'd stay up for days straight if he had to, and he'd make the whole thing look as easy as falling out of bed."

September 2: "It's not about public service with [the Bush gang], it's about the exercise of power and the pursuit of ideology. But now, here comes the basic test of any government--can it provide for its citizens in time of need--and they're failing it. Many--but not all--of Bush's supporters on the right are trying to apologize for his government's incompetence, trying to spin it as something else, trying to blame the victims, trying to change the subject. Except this time, it's not working. The emperor really has no clothes, and everybody's pointing and staring."

September 11: "Unlike proponents of intelligent design, I think the unimaginable age and complexity of the universe is a fine argument for the lack of a designer. . . . If the universe really was designed by some intelligence, his project management skills leave a little bit to be desired. A designer who would whip up a creation whose size and age are measured in un-graspably vast numbers, and then populate one insignificant corner of it with people who average less than six feet tall and live only 70 years, seems to be going to a lot of unnecessary trouble. Intelligent design only makes sense if the universe really is 6,000 years old--and then you've still got the complexity issue. Why do we need so many species, some microscopic in size, some that live in areas humans can barely reach? On the scale of cosmic time, the average human being views the universe as if he were passing by a keyhole at high speed for only a second or two. It seems to me that we could be rendered awe-stricken by a lot less."

September 16: "Thirty-five years later, do we still honestly believe that Americans can do whatever we set out to do, no matter how difficult? We still talk the game, but there's talk, and then there's action. If the NASA guys who brought Apollo 13 home had talked about doing it as much as the Bush Admininstration talks about the six impossible things it's trying to do at any given moment, the astronauts' frozen corpses would still be in orbit. And as far as Bush's commitment to hiring the best-qualified people to run the missions, two words: Michael Brown."

September 19:
"The idea that we're born with the capacity to do wrong certainly seems proven based on the evidence humanity has provided throughout recorded history. Once you accept your essential imperfection, it becomes a lot harder to unilaterally impose your will on other people. After all, you could be wrong. Indeed, what's so utterly maddening to me about America's religious right is their inability to accept their imperfections and their obliviousness to the possibility that they, too, might be wrong. For all their talk about being poor struggling sinners, they don't really believe that's what they are, or they'd display more of the humility that would have to come with such knowledge. And for all their talk about doing God's will, they're really doing their own. The belief that they can ask forgiveness for their sins and the assurance that they will receive it becomes a blank check to do anything they want."

October 19: "The government is not only the only agency with the moral authority to ensure justice; it's also the only agency that's both empowered and required to do so. Bush, Norquist and their ilk (I'm talking to you, John Stossel) perpetually hail the virtues of privatization, as if an unaccountable multibillion-dollar multinational is somehow magically better able to provide for the common good than the Fed. Big Government, so the story goes, is bad because it's an unaccountable, entrenched power designed to protect its own interests. Big Corporations, on the other hand, are good because they're unaccountable, entrenched powers designed to protect their own interests." (by Tom Herbst)

October 20:
"However, when regular people get the right to be inside the velvet rope all the time, not everybody reacts well. Think of lottery winners here, or Roseanne and Tom Arnold. Acquiring the credential that gets you inside does not automatically grant you the savoir faire to act gracefully once you're there. The nouveau riche really are different from those who are born to wealth, fame, and/or power, and from those who have learned over time what to do with the wealth, fame, and/or power it's been their good fortune to acquire. (Wow, 'savoir faire' and 'nouveau riche' in back-to-back sentences. Welcome to the fuckin' Algonquin round table.)"

October 31: "People of faith aren't necessarily any dumber than people of non-faith or people who have no belief in magical fantasies. However, people who are willing to live as though evidence is subordinate to 'best intentions' are setting themselves up as patsies for unscrupulous manipulators all too willing to exploit them." (by Tom Herbst)

November 15: [an e-mail to Bill O'Reilly of Fox News] "I rang doorbells for Kerry on Election Day. I voted for Bill Clinton. And Dukakis. And I would have voted for McGovern if I'd been old enough. And if Satan himself ran for office against any Republican from dog catcher on up, I might not vote for him, but I'd send money. Speaking of Satan running for office, I think Hillary would make a fine president. I'm sorry I am not a woman so I can't get pregnant and have an abortion for fun. I have a blog (The Daily Aneurysm) which I think qualifies as part of the liberal smear machine. At least I hope it does. I work very hard to subvert conservatism every chance I get. Can I please be on your enemies list? Happy holidays, jb"

Favorite Post Title of the Year: "Virginia Asshat Gets Feelings Hurt, Magically Acquires Clue," January.

Some posts that I am especially proud of as writing include:
--"Take It Outside", August
--"The Bombing of Sterling Hall", August
--"And Now for Something Completely Different", September
--"Music Abiding", December

The post that made me laugh the most while I was writing is was "Not That There's Anything Wrong With It", from August. (I had a good month in August.)

In 2004, it was easy to pick a single post as a favorite--my minute-by-minute report on volunteering at the Kerry rally the week before the election. Apart from being the year's best writing, it also was the perfect summation of 2004 on this blog. This year, there's no post as easy to point to as the year's best or most typical. We did have a lot of discussion about God here this year--quite an accomplishment for a blog whose two contributors are both atheists. We discussed the existence of God, how he works in the world apart from the question of whether he exists, and the antics of his followers. I can't decide between the pair of posts that started the discussions in earnest, so I'm going to have co-favorite posts of the year: "Stan, Prince of Darkness" and "The Boulder That's Too Big to Lift" from this past March. They were written in response to the Brookfield, Wisconsin, church shootings, and they generated a lot of comments from a lot of people. Alas, Haloscan does not retain comments going back that far, but what the hell--start commenting all over again if you want.

In the last post of 2004, I said I'd wish the year good riddance if I wasn't afraid 2005 would be worse. But, you know what? I don't think, in the final accounting, that 2005 was worse. A year ago, He Who Shall Not Be Named stood astride the country like a malignant colossus. Today, he's been exposed as having nothing on under his tunic--and that he's sufficiently naked to be impeachable. Granted, some of us could see that last year just by looking at him, but today, millions of Americans who could not hitherto have had their eyes opened. May 2006 open more eyes and bring more truth into the light. And may your 2006 be as peaceful and prosperous as the world will allow.

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