"What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote
in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes
his own self-interest as he sees it... which for the majority translates as 'Bread and Circuses'."
- Robert A. Heinlein

In Roman times, free Bread and Circuses entertained the masses. I hope you find your time
here both entertaining and informative.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Masonic Products

It's been a while with the posting.
Since I last posted anything, I've moved to a new city, and started a new job. Plus my Zazzle Store of Masonic Apparel and Accessories has continued to grow. Here are two of my latest designs, available on iPad/iPhone/iPod cases, laptop sleeves, binders, notebooks, notepads and more!

Friday, June 10, 2011

American Superheroes - Played by Brits

So we all loved Christian Bale as Batman. He brought a needed gravitas back to a role that had been plagued by overacting and visible nipples. We ignored the fact that a Welshman was playing the role of probably the second most popular American superhero (after Superman himself - What's more about The American Way than Supes?).

But my British wife was absolutely gobsmacked to hear that after the next three major American Superhero moves come out (we're not counting you Aquaman), the top three American superheroes will all be played by Brits.

Let's Recap:

Christian Bale. British Actor. Batman. Yet his family left England when he was the tender age of two, so he is acceptable as an American Batman. He also played Rugby, which is probably why my wife fancies him.

Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill. The new Superman. How British is that name? Fans of The Tudors will recognize him. But yes, he does look acceptably Clark Kent-ish in those glasses. I can see it. I think he will do well, but I also vote that given a few more years Tom Welling should get his big screen debut, given how well he did in Smallville. Also, Cavill was originally cast as Superman in Superman Returns, only to be replaced when McG quit. Zach Snyder of 300 and Watchmen fame is set to direct, with Christopher Nolan producing, so I'm holding out high hopes for this film.

And then we have Andrew Garfield. The New Spiderman. In a reverse from Christian Bale's history, he was born in L.A. to a British mother, and them moved to the UK when he was three. He was in The Social Network, aka The Most Popular Film This Year I Haven't Seen, and will now star as Spiderman. To which news my British wife replies "Well, no one can be worse than Toby Maguire, but he has to do something about that hair. Note: I picked the one picture in which he is not sporting an incredible mop of hair.

So what do you think? Is it cool that British actors are playing the most iconic American heroes? Is it ok in Superman's case because, let's face it, he's already an illegal immigrant and therefore unwelcome in Arizona and Alabama, so a foreigner can play it convincingly? Comment and let us know!

It's all right, You can all sleep sound tonight

My wife is a huge fangirl for Superman. She loves the old Christopher Reeve movies, especially, Superman - The Movieand Superman II, gives me withering looks when I disparage Lois & Clark - The New Adventures of Superman (tho she does admit the series is almost as crappy as Superman IV), and has watched Smallville religiously. I've always liked Batman a bit more, what with his humanity, darkness and general willingness to go a bit further than that goody-two-shoes Supes who won't kill a human even if the world depends on it.

But lately I have to admit it's rubbing off. I loved Superman: Red Son, and particularly enjoyed the interplay between Batman, earth's coolest human superhero, and Superman, the √úbermensch who acts almost in a "Father Knows Best" fashion towards us frail mortals in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

That's why I particularly enjoyed the post from Waiter Rants on The Man of Steel. To Quote in part:

"So I rented the 2006 film Superman Returns last night and watched it on my big plasma TV. And when I saw Superman sonic booming though the skies to save a fiery plane from crashing that smile retuned. Now many critics panned the film, saying the director overplayed the whole Superman as Jesus thing. But what those dolts didn’t remember is that Superman is a reincarnation of a very old myth. Yes, Kal-El was sent to Earth by his father to be humanity’s savior, sort of dies, wakes up and flies into the heavens. I get the comparison. Jesus kind of had superpowers too. But the myth even predates the Gospels. Remember Hercules, the strongest man in the world? The son of Zeus who performs great feats, journeys to the underworld, cheats death and ascends to Mount Olympus? Sound familiar? So when the twentieth century rolled around we recycled an old myth and put it tights and a red cape. And that’s why I think so many people love the idea of superheroes and The Man of Steel in particular. It touches on something primal and endless; our secret wish that there’s a benevolent being greater than all of us – someone who will save us from ourselves."

It's an excellent summation of the links between ancient dying god myths and modern superhero legends, particularly Superman. One quote that has stuck with me, though I don't know who it came from, was (paraphrase) that "Batman is Bruce Wayne's alter-ego. He puts on a cape and pretends to be stronger than he is. Clark Kent is Kal-El's alter-ego. He puts on a pair of glasses and pretends to be weaker than he is. Clark Kent is Superman's commentary on the human race."

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Freemasons For Dummies: Liquor and Freemasonry in Indiana

Freemasons For Dummies: Liquor and Freemasonry in Indiana

A fascinating article about Indiana and its history of Masonic Prohibition. Have a read!

In related news, Yvonne in Alabama just purchased one of my Masonic Beer Mugs.

Whether in the traditional beer stein style or a frosted glass mug, this would make a great Father's Day gift. If you live in Indiana, you can buy a stainless steel travel mug for your coffee!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

On Rowan William's Distrust of Freemasonry

I wanted to comment on this article because I believe it gets much right about why Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is hostile to Freemasonry, and yet it also misses the point in its very first paragraph.

"Why is Rowan Williams suspicious of Freemasonry? For the same reason, surely, that almost everyone else is: it is a secretive society with links to mystical gobbledegook that may or may not have a whiff of Satanism. A Christian leader should be particularly careful not to be associated with such stuff, for he wants the Christian faith to seem open, accessible, reasonable – utterly distinct from such cloak-and-dagger Harry Potter stuff."

Let's unpack that a bit. First of all, the author argues that almost everyone is suspicious of Freemasonry. That may be the case in the UK, but not here in America, where the lodge is a valuable part of many communities, and charities like the Shriners' Hospitals do quite a bit of good.

I'll skip over the "secretive society" bit and go straight to the main contention here. Does Freemasonry really have links to "mystical gobbledegood," with a whiff of "Satanism?" Several great books that examine the historical underpinings of Freemasonry, including "The Origins of Freemasonry," and "The Masonic Myth," explode the arguments that Freemasonry is somehow linked to ancient magical or mystical rites. There is simply no historical progression. Furthermore, I have seen no "cloak-and-dagger Harry Potter stuff," in the Lodge. If there was, I'm sure Masonry would be doing a much better job of recruiting young people.

"Freemasonry may have links with ancient magic, but it also has links with modern reason. I think that this is what Williams really dislikes about it. Not the funny handshakes and creepy initiation ceremony, but the implicit claim that the rationalist God of the Enlightenment is an improvement on the limited Christian one. In the 18th century, Freemasonry spread among middle-class men who felt that religion should modernise; it should be about rational moral progress, and it should unite people rather than keep old divisions alive."

As an American and Freemason, I see the historical non-sectarianism of the Lodge as a major plus. The principles of the Enlightenment gave us western democracy and freedom of religion, and these principles of self-determination and freedom of conscience are assets for Masonry, not a threat to Christianity. The fact that a lodge brother can worship God as he sees fit does not restrict my ability to do the same as I see fit. Perhaps what Williams is really concerned about is the historic lessening of the control of the Church of England over modern British society, to the point that the UK has been called a "post-Christian" nation. Thus he lashes out at anything that does not shore up the Church of England's former dominance in society, in this case, a society of men encouraging morality and not imposing any one religious creed.

"It is therefore deeply associated with the ideology known as deism, an ideology whose greatest triumph was the American Revolution."

I would argue that the evidence that deism was a driving force behind the American Revolution is tenuous at best. Many of the Founders were non-dogmatic about their faith, and embraced religious tolerance, but this does not make them all, or even most of them, true Deists. In fact, one of the defining theories of Continental Deism was the concept of the Watchmaker God who created the world, set it in motion, and stepped back. However, most of the Founders expressed their fervent belief that the hand of God/Providence was directly responsible for their success in the fact of overwhelming odds.

Mr. Hobson continues: "Williams' suspicion of this tradition goes to the very heart of his theology. It is of a piece with his suspicion of the Enlightenment, and of "liberalism". The essence of liberalism, in this view, is its claim that the rational good of humanity has superseded any particular religion, including Christianity."

This is a very interesting contention. Anglicanism/Episcopalianism has long been considered to be a rather liberal version of Christianity. Sitting Anglican vicars have published books denying the deity of Christ, the bodily resurrection, and other doctrines of Christianity. Perhaps the Archbishop would do better to address the serious doctrinal schisms forming within his church, rather than trying to persecute an external organization which can and does contain many good Anglicans.

The spiritual "liberalism" that Hobson is denouncing is at the very core of what makes a non-religious group like Masonry successful. It is not a "Christian" organization anymore than it is Buddhist, Jewish or Islamic. As such it must tread the middle path of not forbidding or encouraging specific religious practice, and I believe it does so very well by forbidding discussion of religion in the Lodge. This kind of accepting attitude would be an asset to the Church of England, not a threat. Religion in the Church, and Tolerance in the Lodge is a perfect compromise.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Where do you get your news?

Where Do You Go For Your News?

I find that I get more balanced news from international sources, rather than the 80% US news and 10% Int'l news that US news sites report. Where do you get news?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brewing Apparel

As many of you know, I am also a homebrewer. I have designed a few products for homebrewers and those who like real beer, please let me know what you think.

How to Make Your Own Hard Cider

Hard Cider is a British tradition, a tasty apple-based alcoholic drink. It's simple and cheap to make. Check out this article about how to get started making Cider at home.

How to Make Your Own Hard Cider