Monday, April 30, 2007

Is "Before" Your "After?"

Maybe there is truth in advertising.

I visited The Moon, a diner here in town to grab a shake to answer Gina's cravings, induced by my in vetro nephew. I edged my way past the greeting cards, the tchotchkies--ceramic pigs, an Elvis dinner set, you get the idea-- and up to the counter.

After the owner's introduction, which was a cross between a tour of the Grand Coolie Dam and Disney's Jungle Cruise, I ordered two shakes, to-go, and moved toward an out- of- the- way table. I began to read my Egyptian History book, as was my practice at the time, and waited.

Soon, I was surprised by the entrance of the ultimate poster- child- for- heart- disease, shuffling past me from the back. He paused beside me. "I'm sorry, did I take your seat, sir?"

"No--" catching his breath, "--I'm not sitting down." At this point I felt a little uncomfortable, realizing that his pause had nothing to do with my table, it was the pause he took every four or five steps to catch his breath as he worked his way to the kitchen, to fix himself a fried ham and cheese and a shake before he started his shift as chef.

As I sat there, I looked at him and realized that he looked like one of those "before" pictures in the Super Metabo- Skinny Juice commercials and I wondered, what did his "before" picture look like? And would he have ever eaten here, let alone taken the job, if he could have seen the after.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

I Demand a Recount!

I am nerdier than 86% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

This is wrong, my nerd score should be in the mid-nineties, at the very least!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

For James

This is a comic for James that I found at XKCD: A Webcomic of Romance, Sarcasm, Math, and Language.


You Say you Want a Revolution?

Comments (this is a double post on TBINU and Blogum Nemo Legit, since I'm not sure anyone still reads it, so comments will be combined on BNL)

Recently, Dr. Ben Witherinton, one of the best authors in the field of biblical studies and the backgrounds of the Christain New Testament and early Christianity Christianity posted about gun control; I'm not a fan of more gun control, not because it wouldn't be good to keep guns from the hands of homicidal crazies, but because I could make weopens in my garage if I wanted to, guns and ammo included, and because in Great Brittain, where gun controll is off the charts, people still kill eachother all the time, but now people who would use weopens to resist the violence of others , people who would step in to defend others, cannot. I also disagree with his interpretation of the constitutional right to bear arms; it was not, by what I've learned in my studies, to let them hunt, it was so that they could overthorow the government if the government became tyrannical, like the government they overthrew.

Here's the deal, though, I have that opinion as an Ameerican citizen. My reasoning, my ideals are shaped by American thinking, not by scripture. I am still in disagreement with Doctor Witherington, though (which makes me uncomfortable, 'cause he's wicked smart), it seems to me that the Christian opinion should apply to Christians, not to our entire country. Christians should not, as far as I can see, try to form the secular world in the image of Christ by using the power of government; Jesus refused that temptation when Satan showed him the kingdoms of the world and offered him power. Rather, we should change the world the way that Jesus did, by being different and by thinking differently and by acting differently. So, rather than activism, our response is to live lives that are free of violence and domination and manipulation and we should speak in ways appropriate for students of the prince of peace.

What does this say about the American Revolution? Or the Civil War? Would the world be a better place if these conflicts had not taken place? On the surface, it seems like it would not, but maybe, if we had tried submission to unjust rulers, as my ancestors of faith, Barton Stone, David Lipscomb, Benjamin Franklin (no, not that one) and so many others did, but resistance through reasoned speech that discouraged violence but encouraged us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, maybe then it would have still turned out okay. Maybe if we had been willing to oppose slavery like so many white people did in the civil rights movement: by joining the slaves in their suffering, and being murdered for it without regret . . . maybe if we had put ourselves in a position to die for our brothers and sisters, rather than to kill for them . . . maybe if we had been willing to suffer the evil of a Brittish king, we would have had slavery ended on our shores when it ended in the UK.

Now, I am not a pure pacifist: I can imagine no world in which there is never a need for violence to oppose violence, and I respect people like soldiers, who put their very souls on the line to protect others, but maybe we put that stuff too far up the list.

Comments (this is a double post on TBINU and Blogum Nemo Legit, since I'm not sure anyone still reads it, so comments will be combined on BNL)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sad News

Okay, so it isn't sad news, it's happy news. Gina gets to come home early! Hoooray for Gina! And I'm sure Bennett will be very glad too. Of course, I think I might go through some baby-withdrawl, having had him for about eight hours a day . . . that's the sad news --Bennett- and- Uncle- Ty- time has been severely curtailed 8~{(> Oh well, I'll still get to play with him a lot :~{)> just not quite so regularly.


I've Won!

Yes, that's right, over the last week, I have been informed by email that I have won more than a dozen lotteries. Whatever will I do with the winnings? . . .

In other news, a Chinese bank manager has asked me to let him use my account to redeem unclaimed money, several members of African royalty want me to help them claim their inheritance and an Afgani immigrant with terminal cancer wants to give me alms to distribute.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hot Weather

Here's one from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, via Making Light:

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two. This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they ?

Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.

Hot Springs

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why Doesn't Someone Do Something?

Why doesn't someone do something? Yes, I guess that has become a rhetorical question.
The following was posted by Laila and borrowed from

Okay, so we know exactly what Israel is going to do: continue what they are doing until the Palestinians leave or die. Most of us know that nothing we can do or pressure anyone else to do, within the boundaries of legal and advisable action will change that.

Here is my question: why do the surrounding countries refuse Palestinians a place as citizens? Why do they refuse to let them immigrate as refugees? Why do they put them in what amount to prison camps? Why do they treat them like criminals and have them report in like they are on probation? Why are they brothers when Israel does evil, but poorly-treated foreigners when they are not in Israel?

We all know that what Israel does to Palestinians is wrong, but why don't we all know that what all the governments of the region are doing is wrong?

What can we do? I don't have a good answer, so I'm praying and maybe I'll send a note to a senator; see, I believe in God, so I'm sure about prayer, but I don't believe in my senators.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Worst Case Scenario: Baby Edition

The following constitutes an imaginary scenario based upon actual facts:

Situation: Baby has a diaper blowout while you are downtown. Your shirt gets ruined in the mix, but you need to stay downtown. You have a diaper bag, a jacket, and a stroller: What do you do?

Answer 1: take off the shirt and wear the jacket to a store where you can buy a new shirt.

Answer 2: Traipse through the mall without a shirt and hope security doesn't catch you before you get to a Punk clothing store where you buy a new one.

Answer 3, My Answer: Put on the jacket, but, rather than buying a new shirt, buy a gold chain, unzip your jacket 'till it shows, and embrace your retro-loving 80's self.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Why is Racism Wrong?

By now, everyone knows about Don Imus' stupid racist lapsus linguae and his subsequent apologies and firing. I must admit to being disturbed by the stupidity and ignorance of such an error, and that I've never liked Imus' show. In listening to the larger context of what was happening on the program, though, I think that he was just adding to what someone else said and attempting to make it funnier; he did not seem to realize at the time just how offended people would be by it, or how racist it sounded.

The night after he was fired, I had trouble sleeping, in part because I could not identify the reason for my discomfort with his firing: I think that racism is a terrible evil, I think that stupidity deserves consequences so that people learn to avoid it, and --though I don't consider his comments particularly mean-spirited or racist-- they are certainly not acceptable, or good for the company f0r whom he worked.

As the answers to most of my difficult problems, I found the answer in my sleep, where my subconscious sorts out the issues: the firing of Imus was not wrong because the company should allow such speech, it is wrong because it was motivated by public offence, not by the inherent evil of such actions. Racism is not wrong because it offends people, racism is wrong because it demeans people and leads to a process of dehumanization that has historically resulted in atrocity after atrocity; therefore, if a person (Imus) deserves to be fired for saying racist things, he deserves to be fired not because people were offended but because he has helped to create an atmosphere of oppression. In this case, though, he was willing and able to turn his actions around and use it as a teaching moment; he took what opportunities he could find to do these things, but then he was fired.

So what lessons is our media teaching us with these actions? 1. Racism is wrong because people are offended by it, not because it results in evil actions 2. There is no recovery from stupidity, thus if a person does something stupid, she or he might as well continue, or escalate, the cycle of stupidity, because there is no redemption from it.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What Offends You?: Prelude to an Imus Post

[I started this post more than a year ago, but it just didn't seem complete, now I'm posting it because I want to deal with similar issues where Imus' stupidity is concerned]

What, if anything, offends you? This might surprise everyone but Trey: I am not offended by very many things. I have high personal standards, but other people have to decide for themselves what they are going to do and to believe. Don't get me wrong, I believe that we should stand up for what is right (for whenever we can be relatively sure is right) but how does my offense help?

I also believe that easily offended Christians are Christians who can't interact with non- Christians, and therefore limited in their sphere of influence. I think the worst bane to Christianity is the extreme behavior of fundamentalist Christians, triggered by their overly sensitive offence reflex

Beyond that, there aren't very many things that are so obviously wrong that I can expect other people to come to the same conclusions as I have. So, I'll disagree with people, I'll discuss people's behaviors with them, and I'll occasionally argue with people about how they choose to act, but I don't see any advantage in being offended. So, when I can help it, I don't get offended.

To quote the Apostle Paul: "9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat."

In other words, Christians should ignore even the biggest issues that they might have, at least when it comes to non- Christians (you might also note that the categories mentioned are habitual --people who are so involved in a behavior that they have become synonymous with that behavior . . . these are not just people who have been drunk but people the lives of whom embody drunkenness).

Recently (last year, now) I discovered an offensive book that I've really been enjoying. I could do without the offensive parts, but it's the kind of book I've been waiting for: an honest story of a relationship with Jesus by someone who isn't necessarily a Christian but understands Jesus pretty well.

The book is titled Lamb : The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. In an interview Moore said,

I handled the material in the funniest way I could conjure, while still maintaining the identity of the Jesus as laid down in the Gospels. As a vehicle for the humor I created Biff, an irreverent best friend of Jesus, and the narrator of the story. This sort of allowed me to goof on the whole story a lot without outright attacking someone’s faith. The book was under the radar for most of the religious community, but I’ve gotten letters from hundreds of Christians, a score of non-clergymen, and a Rabbi, and all really seemed to like the book, some even have said that it strengthened their faith, which probably had a lot more to do with their faith than my book, but it’s still positive. I’ve had one negative reaction. Last week a Fox News channel in St. Louis cancelled an interview at the last minute because they were afraid of the book. The only other negative reactions have been to my humor, not to the religious context. Some people thought that the humor was too adolescent. They, of course, are right. I was writing about adolescents.

While he did get one or two small details wrong, for the most part it is evident that Moore did his research. If you know what to look for, you can get a better picture of the ancient world from it than from most text books.

One last note: I was offended by one part of Lamb. Angered is more like it. Like any good student of Anthropology, I was taught to respect other cultures and religions, but in the case of religions that practice human sacrifice, especially the sacrifice of children, I'll make an exception. At one point in his book, Moore recounts some of the atrocities committed by Hindu believers in ancient India. When you read this section, you might just understand the real God's wrath. I couldn't help wishing that God would strike dead those who were responsible, if only in the book.

If you are offended by ANYTHING, you might not want to read this book, but if almost nothing has ever offended you, or if you like to be offended, give it a read.

Here are a few things to remember as a Christian reading this book:

1. This is fiction and the author wants you to see it as fiction.

2. Biff represents regular people, with all of the flaws and sinfulness of every person included in (some might say condensed into) his life. Think of it this way, how easy do you think it is for Jesus to see what we say and do? This book proposes that Jesus could walk alongside humanity without letting his holiness create an impermeable barrier. Biff's sexual fixation isn't something I wanted to read about, but it accurately represents the sexual overindulgence characteristic of our age (and the Roman, though not Jewish, culture of Jesus' time).

3. Biff is writing the story. Once you get to know him, you'll understand that Biff is the type of guy who makes up the dialogue of the past in his own idiom, swears and all, so be prepared.

Let me know how your book club goes :)


Saturday, April 14, 2007

And Hours to Go before I Eat . . .

6:05 PM -
Scene, the K-- living room

Gina [talking on the phone]: Hello, I'd like a large "Duke Tristam Platter" (the real name is trademarked) Pizzano onions, green peppers, or Linguise.

[Hexagonal Eating Surface Pizza Company (this too was trademarked) answers her, unheard by all but Gina]

Gina: Yes, that's the correct address.

[Hexagonal Eating Surface Pizza Company responds]

Gina: Okay, 30 to 45 minutes. Great.

[Waiting by the phone . . . ]

7:30 Pm -

Gina [talking on phone]: Yes, it's 7:30, and I ordered my pizza at 6:05, it hasn't arrived yet.

[Hexagonal Eating Surface Pizza Company responds]

Gina: Yes, that's my order. Okay. Thank you.

Ty: So?

Gina [to Ty]: it "disappeared."

Ty: If it came to my house by accident, I'd pretend it was my order.

Gina: they said they'd make it and rush it out immediately, and that they'd charge half price.

[Waiting for pizza . . . ]

8:15 -
Gina [on phone]: Okay, please hurry.

[to Ty] at least they arn't going to charge us. Do you have cash for a tip . . .

9:15 -
Gina [to Steve]: It's been too long, that has to be at least partly the driver's fault, don't bother with a tip.

[Switch scene: some time later, Ty is driving in the car and listening to radio]

Radio Personality: okay, caller, what's your complaint?

Caller: People in this valley don't tip pizza delivery guys. I moveds here after working the same job in two other states and no one tips as badly as Boise.


Friday, April 13, 2007

False Advertising by Capitol One?

I don't have a credit card, but the credit card company that uses pillaging Germanic tribes in their advertising just sent me an application . . . ironically on the same day their 5%, that's right 5% rate hike takes effect. In their commercials where the Vikings or Visigoths or whatever are put out of business because they (representing rate hikes) don't happen there. WRONG! Now the pillagers are working for the company. It would normally not bother me that there was a rate hike, but because their commercials indicate that they don't hike rates like other companies, most of which have not yet hiked their rates, this, in my book, is false advertising. I don't know that I am important enough to do anything about it, but I intend to write in to news programs and talk shows and see if I can't convince people to make life hard on them. Listen, people, if you say that you are going to be different, we expect you to keep your word, even if you are rich, and if you lie, we'll do our best to let the whole world know.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hey Baby, you Doing Anything between Now and Pentecost?

So, Easter is past and, by the ancient Christian calendar, Jesus has, in some way, risen to life again. What does that mean? Okay, for most people, absolutely nothing, but I hope that some of us can begin to think differently.

So, Jesus died on passover on Friday and was raised from the dead on Sunday, and that is what Easter was originally intended to celebrate. It was supposed to be a time when we start our lives over and forget everything we skrewed up in the past, right? Then, if you look in the book of Acts, Jesus stayed around for 40 days, evidently just spending time with his followers.

Alright, so, I'm from a Christian background that is very uncomfortable with Christian holidays because many of them have pagan elements, so I don't really understand why other groups act the way they do. Why is Lent such a big deal to some people (by choice they stop indulging in certain things for 40 days, and complain about it), but after Jesus rises and we get him back and he is with us, we don't go out and enjoy life to celebrate his pressence? It seems much more Christian to go out and celebrate (in responsibile ways, of course) over these 40 days during which we are (symbolically) in his pressence than to go out and binge on everything, no matter how self- destructive, on that moronic invention, Fat Tuesday.

Following some very good military advice: only give orders that your soldiers will be willing to follow; I want you to go out there and give me 40 (okay, 37 and 1/2) days of acting like your best friend is hanging around with you before he goes very far away. I wish that you were all here with me, we could do this together, but go out there and enjoy life and I'll be with you in spirit. Live like it makes a difference.

P.S. I kind of think we ought to live joyfully every day, but 40 days is a good start.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

"What does P-U-L spell?"

Have you ever really wished that you could faint? I mean really dead-away fall flat and not wake up for a few . . . weeks? I suppose I've felt that way often enough, but seldom have I ever felt the need for a mild concussion when a girl was not involved. Where those of the fairer gender are concerned, I might just as well fall to the ground when I come within range, because, heaven knows, I'll wish with all that I have that I had been unconscious on the ground, with only drool coming out of my mouth, ten days later, when the realization of what a fool I was force me into paroxysms of mortal terror (mixed generously with sad whimper-giggles of self-deprecating humor) at what I've done.

I try to keep such self-derision under control, since such things can lead to more embarrassment, when the cashier (the non-mutant cashier, who is actually quite cute) at Walmart's smile falters ever so slightly as she motions you to her empty counter when she notices your crazy-man mumble- under- your- breath ("idiot.can'tbelieve you-- uh-oh, shut up, moron"). Instead, I try to save my self-loathing for my morning routine-- after all, it's easy to muster up negative feelings when a mirror is only a few feet away, and only occasionally indulge in the Walmart crazy- mumble.

The first time that I can remember such guilty terror was long before girls were a cause for terror, though their cooties were.

My daddy was a basketball coach, but he wasn't one of those coaches who abandon their children for the players, he was one of those coaches who makes a difference in the lives of kids and brings his family with him. I always wanted to be around my dad more, still do, truth be told, but he spent more time with me than most fathers ever spend, and I knew that he wished it could be even more.

So, dad took us with him to the games, and we liked watching them, for about a quarter, and then we liked to find quiet places to play, and occasionally lose control of a basketball, which would inevitably end up rolling across the court, or bounce into the stands, or trip an already clumsy-looking adult.

Dad was coaching the B team, and the main event (the varsity game), was in the final quarter when Dad went to make sure everything was cleaned up and everyone was out of the locker rooms. The visitors had evidently had a tough time with the lights, because Dad left me outside the locker room while he went to find the switch or breaker that had been turned off.

As I waited outside, I examined my environment, looking for entertainment. The stairs were fun, but I was not yet old enough to consider jumping them, as I did when I grew older; the vinyl on the walls offered little entertainment, and it was purple, a dreaded "girl" color, so I knew I must find fodder for my imagination elsewhere.

Suddenly, I saw it. The answer. The unknown. A puzzle. It was red and round and, evidently, stuck to the wall. It looked ever- so- slightly like a giant red door-knob to a hidden door. Not only that, but it had the beginning of the magical inscription placed on so many tantalizing entrances. P- U- I recognized this. Of the six words with which I was familiar, two began with these same two letters. I knew what to look for . . . either an ess and an aitch and I would push my way to adventure, or two els and I would pull adventure to me.

Unfortunately, what awaited me was wholly unexpected, P-U-L. "P-U-L," I said, "I don't know that one yet . . . DAD!," I said, loudly enough for dad to hear me above the sounds of running players and cheering fans, "What does P-U-L spell?"

"P-U-L doesn't spell anything," he said, blissfully unaware of the context from which I spoke, "but P-U-L-L spells pull."

Just then I saw the other el.

Let me pause right here to say that anything that one puts at kid-height should be either kid-proof or able to be fixed by a kid . . . the fire alarm that I pulled was neither. Not only was it kid-proof in all the wrong ways, it turned out that it was perversely adult-proof too.

As the spectators ran past I did my very best to press my body into the purple wall, actually, I was trying to press my body through it, all-the-while struggling for breath against my crippling panic. You may not believe me, but I quite clearly recall thinking, 'shouldn't I have fainted yet? am I not working hard enough at it?'

Dad came out and told me that it was not the end of the world, and the janitors came to tun it off, but they didn't have the key, so the alarm rang on, and my heart beat in great THUMPS until I escaped . . . and it still does, whenever that scene invades my thoughts.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dissertations, Desert Fathers, and Desserts

If you become bored with the following, just skip down to paragraph three for a recipe:

I. Sorry I haven't been blogging much; it seems that my thoughts are not currently fit for a general audience. I'm reading about Bakhtin in my tangentally- related- to- my- thesis reading time, so I find myself thinking things like, "Bakhtin's thesis defense should be written as a narrative parallel to Kafka's 'Trial of Joshph K,' (or is it called 'the Trial?'); it would be even more fitting if someone would compare Kafka, Swift, and (Bakhtin's hero) Rabalais (since they all seem to have similar creative imaginations, though Kafka and Rabalais are generally seen as unique) first. Actually, you might even draw a parallel to the trial of Socrates, like Acts does with Paul's defense before the Areopagus. I'd like to read that, actually, I'd like to write that, if I had time. It's classic GvsE stuff: the genius at odds with the state is refused the title he deserves because morons, who gained their credentials (if they had them at all) because they pandered to the party, to The Man."

II. I'm also quite interested in the Desert Fathers of Egypt, I only have ten more chapters to go in my Coptic grammar (though I need to review chs 8-20 again, since I've not been working on it for a few weeks). On Google Earth, I found Sketis, which was a very difficult place to find in antiquity, but now is home to many monasteries and has a highway running right past it, but I could not find Nitria, since it was, according to the information I could find, destroyed in ancient times, and any goods were carried of by others passing through. I did find out that they believe that it was inbetween the modern Sadat and Damanhur, and then I find myself saying things like, "That isn't right. It should be much farther to the west, more like between the monastery of St. Makarios and Alexandria; that would make much more sense, considering the narrative about Apa Zacharias contained in the sayings of Apa Carion, where he, as a child, is not well accepted by the monks and so, to prove his worth and ascetic zeal, he goes and stands in a nitre filled lake --like the ones between Alexandria and Sketis-- and comes back looking like a leper becuase the nitre eats into his skin (it's a really sad story and it makes me angry at their lack of understanding, they should have felt worse about their behavior).

III. Finally, I like to cook, I like to bake very much, and I like to make dessert. Do you have a good poundcake recipe? Neither do I, but I do have a recipe involving poundcake. I can hear you being intrigued. First, make some poundcake in a breadpan, make it from a mix, if you want, I used an almond flavored mix from the Oregon Coast. Now, cut it in slices at least one inch thick. You can either leave them out for a few hours, which will help keep them in one piece, or increase the risk of crumbling and use them right away. Now, mix some eggs and milk or, preferably, cream and make french toast using the poundcake; be gentle, don't saturate the bread, don't get too impatient --turning it before it is done on the first side-- or it might crumble. Serve with strawberries (or your favorite french toast topping, fruit, fruit jam, or preserves is best) and whipped cream. then tell me that you liked it.

In other news, I've posted a few more pages of my thesis on "The Thesis I Never Finish," for those who are interested.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ahhh -- the Sounds of a Fake Ocean

Tank is sitting up with me now. A few minutes ago, nothing would console him . . . then I turned on the whitenoise I use when I need to sleep but someone (the builders next-door, the cats, my brother- in- law chasing the cats and yelling "RWOWwww SCreaches") is being noisy . . . now he is asleep. He stopped crying the minute I turned it on -- AMAZING.

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