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June 2, 2006

bob and larry, tomato, cuke

Buried inside the headsratching was the ridiculous.  This morning's NYTimes ran a little story on the frontpage about how some sports franchises (mostly minor league baseball and arena league football) are running what they call "Faith Nights".  Faith Nights are promotional events like Bat Nights, where they hand out bats to the kids.  The difference being, of course, that the teams aren't handing out faith.  No, it's more like Fireworks night, because at Faith Night, the faith is just asploding all around you.  Biblical bobbleheads.  Scripture/verse citations on the home team unis.  Prayer rugs.

Oop.  No, no prayer rugs.  Wrong "faith".

I don't generally support picking on mainstream Christians on the grounds that the majority of them have no problem interfacing with the rest of us.  But it's these "Faith Nights" and similar events that get me worried.  A certain group of Christians seem to have lost the ability to exist in a secular world, and feel the need to create these little rifts in the fabric of the world where theocracy is permitted, whether it be a minor league ballpark, or a little town in Kansas where unmarried couples may not cohabitate.

Christians, meet the Amish.  Talk amongst yourselves.

Further, the NYTimes story jumped to the sports section, where it ran with a picture of what-looked like the Kool-Aid dude and a giant walking dildo standing on the mound of a ball-field, and was very excited by the prospect of the glaring editorial error.  It was not to be:

[Brent High, President of Third Coast Sports] joined forces with VeggieTales, a popular line of Christian-themed children's videos, books and music featuring animated vegetables.  VeggieTales' slogan is "Sunday morning values, Saturday morning fun," and Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber have become fixtures at Faith Nights around the country.

I'm all for everyone proselytizing their chosen religion up and down (it's a free country, natch), but if the best you can do is anthropomorphic garden vegetables spreading the Good News of Christ, you're just setting yourself up for some eventual righteously pissed apostates, once they realize that they got took by a tomato and a cucumber.  The big difference between a talking tomato and a talking, oh, say, duck?  We only sometimes eat a duck.

And for that matter, why does Christian indoctrination of its youth always resemble the garish offspring of brainwashing and blackmail?  I only say this as a veteran of Vacation Bible School, where we were taught that Jesus will love you with cartoons and cake, unless you fail to "take Jesus into your heart", in which case, cue the longish description of the horrors of being cast to the fiery below.

Is it any shock that coming around from all that can produce a profound feeling of agnosticism?

Posted by mrbrent at 11:23 AM

June 1, 2006

no news today, try again tomorrow

Is it a slow day at the Yahoo! Box of Headlines?
• Look back at June 1 in history

I'd say so, yes.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:01 AM

May 31, 2006

them suckas can mail

Finally, an idea that is dumber than building a wall across the Mexican border:  Mailing bricks to congressman to make your thoughts known about said wall.

You'd think that an electorate that basks in the warm glow of the hagiography of Ronald Reagan would realize that walls are traditionally something the good guys tear down, instead of build.  (See Wall, Berlin)  But no.  Somehow, a bunch of crypto-racists decided that the best way to protect the middle class and stop the erosion of good jobs is to build a freaking wall.  Now, when jobs leave the country, they'll have to dig a tunnel, or jump real high.

And so on, until you arrive at mailing bricks.  I hope that the manufacturing industries that have shipped their jobs overseas will feel duly regretful seeing American ingenuity at work.  With the brick-mailing.

Credit where credit is due, however -- if anyone can take an innocent brick and imbue it with the threat of racial violence, it's these border hawks.  I have a feeling that each of these bricks was actually dragged behind someone's pickup before it was mailed.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:19 AM

May 30, 2006

engagement is the new badass

I'm not sure, but I think I had what feels like a nearly original thought about our foreign policy.  I'm as shocked as you are.

I haven't heard this said out loud yet (and maybe I'm just not paying attention), but it seems to me that the hangover that follows a couple years of bingeing on unilateral unprovoked armed pre-retaliation is the unvoiced belief that if you attempt to solve an international issue with anything less than military force, then you, as a nation, are some kind of pussy.  And this is more than a tenet of the Bush Administration foreign policy -- it is a cudgel they use to beat their critics.

Take Iran, for example.  The bigger indications (ignoring wire service exaggerations of President Ahmadinejad -- you know, "Iran hates Santa Claus, Ahmadinejad sez" and that sort) are that Iran is interested in de-escalating tensions over its nuclear capability.  Meanwhile, rumors abound that military action against Iran is a foregone conclusion by the Administration, and overtures from Tehran fall on deaf ears.  It could be argued that the military action is inevitable because it is as much of a policy goal as is hampering Iran's WMD capabilities.  I would go further and say that the Bush Administration obsession with use of force is more than a policy goal -- it's a rigid posture that they cannot disengage from.  They cannot countenance engagement as a policy any more than they can admit responsibility and apologize.

Of course, there is also the sideways thought that the largest reason that the Administration avoids peaceful negotiations is that the Halliburtons and other military contractors don't make a dime from peace.  A bad war, however, brings in hundreds of billions for them to misappropriate.  Not that I'd imply a causal relationship between the desires of military contractors and the aims of the Bush Administration -- instead, I'd aver it.

I guess the initial rush of fear has dissipated, the night sweats that broke out when it looked like the Department of Defense was dead set on detonating a nuke in Iran. I don't know if cooler heads prevailed, or if it was just the silliest trial balloon ever.  Whichever.  There's still a diplomatic situation that has arisen w/r/t nuclear power and our untrammeled right to be the arbiter of all things nuclear, and I'm a big fan of engagement to resolve it.  Seems like the more civilized thing to do, and I'm not even draft age or anything. 

I just try to keep on being a big fan of civilization.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:18 PM


I just want to throw this one out there.  There is a new business concern here on the internets, called Prosper.  I ran across references to it in three different places in two days (most significantly at Boing Boing), so I pretty much was forced to look into it.

Basically Prosper is eBay configured as a financial institution -- p2p lending.  You post your desire to borrow money, and other individuals just like you make you an offer.

I haven't used Prosper yet (and can't say that I would), but doesn't it seem to you that Prosper could dent the business of commercial lenders in the same way that Amazon has dented the business of bookstores?

Further, wouldn't damaging the business of commercial lenders (and their pernicious cousins, credit card companies) be something to take to the streets and dance and sing about?

Posted by mrbrent at 10:20 AM

May 28, 2006

no appeasement of global warming!

Media Matters finds it alarming that an global warming skeptic would compare Al Gore to Hitler.  I find it a bit more alarming that this dude would try to compare the environment to Jews:
Gore believed in global warming almost as much as Hitler believed there was something wrong with the Jews.

So crackpot scientist (he doesn't get his name written, no) is concerned that Al Gore is going to embark on an ambitious campaign to exterminate millions of... environments?  Global warmings?

That is a damn long way to go to drop a Hitler bomb on someone.  Is there some form of ad hominem that is above and beyond normal ad hominem?  The stench of the rhetorical desperation is deafening, in a smell-type way.

But, as long as we're toying with ad hominem, let me add that this non-name skeptic dude's cogent and reasoned scientific arguments remind one only of a necrophiliac lamb-raper.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:04 PM