Wednesday, September 26, 2007

“How long do dead mice stink” and other searches

It is time once again for what I expect will become a regular feature of this blog: The Most Interesting Search Strings People Have Used Lately To Find This Blog.” As with the last time I did this, these are all real searches with real people on the other end, God help us all.

I was inspired this time around by two things. First, I was reminded of interesting search strings when I entered “How long do dead mice stink” into google myself today. It being autumn and our home being the older, holey kind, I will let you guess why I would enter such a string.

A bit of advice: Try using traps before going directly to the poison. But I can’t complain too much, since the poison did what it claimed it would do: kill the mice. The problem is that the inside wall of our bathroom now really, really, really, really stinks, and not because the flu is going around or we live in unsanitary conditions (until now). So, now we just want to know when the mice’s revenge will subside. After a scientific search of the best internet blogs available, it looks like anywhere from one week to seven years. I’ll keep you informed in the next installment of Interesting Search Strings.

The second reason for this entry is to report the surprising number of people who apparently come to this site looking for porn. I’ve had just over one person a week reach me via “Mennonite porn,” and one person, who apparently wasn’t satisfied with those results, via “Mennonite porn help.” While many regular readers might equate the quality of my work with simple pornography, know that this isn’t a literal comparison.

However, the best thing about listing all of these here is that it will make it more likely that wierd and disturbing search strings will reach this blog in the future. So, I can only cross my fingers and hope that the next time someone wants to know about “black specks in bowel movements” or “spitwad blowers” that they come here, especially now that they are mentioned twice in this post alone.

So, here they are, with helpful numbers listed after the ones that were the result of multiple searches:

mennonite porn (9)
Mennonite porn help
mennonite beer
mennonites law enforcement
do mennonites drink beer
mennonite national anthem
joke shunning
mennonites want money
mennonites heresy
socialist party united states america Mennonites
most impeachable president
black specks in bowel movements
dodge church buses
dodge ram caught fire (2)
smurfit stone building lots and bats
projecting words on the wall for singing
could open veins happen in America
spitwad blowers
kids survive apocalypse
interesting ways to blow stuff up
violence, revenge and the amish
mennonite jewelry
attraction to teenagers (3)
inappropriate attraction to teenager
mennonite teenage boys
mennonite scandals
non violent extremist
minor candy companies
growing corn in the tropics
fiction children survive apocalyptic
what do native americans say about adultery
mennonites Hitler
americas immoral deeds
amish milkman murder
silly departments
social interactions of Mennonites
new communism in venezuela threat to America
mennonites torture us civil war
mennonites casket

Monday, September 24, 2007

Something Old and Something New

Here’s Old: Blackwater guards running around Iraq, shooting up people for no good reason, of which there have been reports for years. No End In Sight had a disturbing video of it:

I was glad to see the Iraqis have finally had enough. I hope the Iraqi government actually has enough power to do something about it.

Here’s New (to me at least): American snipers engaged in “baiting” by leaving explosive wiring and detonators in the road, then killing Iraqis who come by and pick them up (assuming that if they pick them up, they must be terrorists). The soldiers are currently on trial, and say they were ordered to do this.

We’ll see what comes out at the trial about orders, which wouldn’t surprise me. But at some point, don’t people need to take responsibility for their own actions? If given an order to murder people whose only crime is curiosity, shouldn’t you just say no, sorry, I’m not going to do that, and instead, report it up the chain of command?

Friday, September 21, 2007


Without much background information, it was hard to get excited about a show called “N*gger, W*tback, Ch*nk,” (or simply “NWC” to the nice ticket lady at Krannert). It just sounds too much like smart-alecks trying to get attention for their play.

Then came a moderate-sized stink about it here locally, as a number of people found the title offensive and propagating stereotypes rather than challenging them. It is obvious that our Chief Illiniwek wounds are still pretty raw.

Nonetheless, I intentionally tried to stay away from the controversy so I could see the show without much baggage. This is course a fool’s errand – an American trying to experience a play about race without baggage.

The show was written and performed by 3 young men who met at UCLA, one black American, one Ecuadorian, and one Filipino-American (Miles Gregly, Rafael Augustin and Allan Axibal). It was essentially 3 intertwining one-person plays, each telling their own stories, with the others comparing notes on race and stereotypes as they go.

It is tricky to talk about stereotypes, and an effective way to do it is to simply talk about personal experiences. My friend Pat Gabridge wrote a great playabout race from the perspective of a white guy (Pieces of Whitey) which I think works because it draws from his personal experience as a white father of black children. In NWC, the stereotypes are much more visceral, because they apply to the performers themselves as minorities. The stories they tell are not hollywoodish moments of racial hatred against them, but examples of how labels define and confine them. They may be simple things, but they are nonetheless powerful enough to be seminal moments in their search for identity – the Filipino wanting to be Tom Cruise in grade school, the black schoolboy reading Huck Finn in a class filled with white kids, and the Latino being told not speak Spanish by his dad for fear of being deported. Even positive stereotypes are revealed as limiting, and ultimately dehumanizing, which is a message Illini Nation especially needs to hear.

And yet, somehow they manage to make it all really, really funny. For example: Who is allowed to say the N-word? Anwser: Not sure, but we know Kramer isn’t. It plays up stereotypes in ridiculous ways, so that we laugh at the stereotypes, not at the class of people the stereotypes are directed at. Then it breaks them down at the end, revealing how stereotypes are not terribly true. In one particulary poignant scene, they each talk about the positive aspects of each other's cultural groups that seem invisible to the wider culture, and that sometimes (sadly) it would be liberating to simply have a different stereotype than the particular one you are saddled with.

NWC succeeds in challenging stereotypes, despite the controversy of its title. It also gets people to talking about race, which is good. By laying bare their experiences and lives, the performers are asking us to see them as human beings, rather than as caricatures. It succeeds on-stage, and I wish it would succeed more often in life.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Freedom in America

Wow - this is disturbing. A student asks questions (albeit, obnoxiously) at a John Kerry forum, and ends up getting tasered:

So, if you go over your time limit in a public forum, and the police come to drag you away (is it illegal to be a conspiracy nut now?), and you object, expect to be legally tasered. I'm guessing the officers will not get in trouble, since they were probably following "proper procedure."

Such is state of free speech in our country.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Obligatory Friday Post

It's Friday already and recent company and life have conspired to prevent a blog entry this week. So, instead of the usual blathering, here's an Opus from a few weeks ago that I particularly enjoyed:

Sunday, September 09, 2007

No End in Sight Review

Here's my review of No End in Sight, over at the Unofficial EbertFest blog.

It is a documentary about the decisions made in the runup to, and early stages of, the Iraq War. It will disabuse anyone of the notion that George Bush is some kind of modern day Abraham Lincoln. If you wonder why I would bother even mentioning this, you don't read the letters to the editor in the News Gazette very often. Which is probably a good thing.

Friday, September 07, 2007

It's Our Image That's the Problem

From news reports of yesterday’s Jones Report:

“A panel of retired senior military and police officers recommended Thursday that the United States reduce its presence in Iraq to counter the image that it is an "occupying force."

"The force footprint should be adjusted in our view to represent an expeditionary capability and to combat a permanent-force image of today's presence," said retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, who led the 20-member commission. "

This reminded me of the South Park episode where the Catholic Church is very concerned by news reports of child molestation by priests. “Yes, this is a very serious problem. We've got to find out why these children are suddenly finding it necessary to report that they're being molested. Stop the problem at its source.”

This report is certainly a step in the right direction, but I can't shake the feeling that they believe our problem isn't our presence there, but the perception of our presence there.

Still, the best way to "counter the image" that we are an occupying force is to not actually be an occupying force. Even if we reduce our footprint, we can't have hundreds of thousands, or even tens of thousands of troops in Iraq without being an occupying force, even if those troops are mostly supplying logistical support to an Iraqi-veneered army. The only way to truly combat the image that we are an occupying force is to not be there.

I also noticed this tidbit: "We believe that all [U.S.] bases in Iraq should demonstrate evidence of Iraqi sovereignty," including flying the Iraqi flag, the report says.”

Again, wouldn’t a better way to “demonstrate evidence of Iraqi sovereignty” be to simply hand the bases over to Iraqis, rather than to slap Iraqi flags on them? Or do we define "Iraqi sovereignty" differently from how we define "American sovereignty?"

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Why Newton Would be Rejected by Modern Science

Ben Stein, Intelligent Design Champion, says “In today’s world, at least in America, an Einstein or a Newton or a Galileo would probably not be allowed to receive grants to study or to publish his research.”

I think he is right, although not for the reasons he thinks:

Dear Mr. Newton,

Your work on planetary motion and mechanics has an elegant simplicity about it, but we feel it is not advanced enough for this peer-reviewed journal. In fact, it appears to be nothing more than simple high-school level physics and calculus. It is almost as if you are unaware of 300 years of advancement in scientific theory. If this is a joke, we are not amused.


The Journal of Orbital Mechanics