Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Search Mania 6

It's been awhile since I've subjected everyone to searches that internet users have used to reach my blog. It's another good batch this time around.

My favorites this time around:

"did the mennonites ever fight among themselves" - Yes, in fact, that is one of the defining characteristics of Anabaptists in general -- disagree on some minor point of theology or behavior and then go start your own sect.

"i was wrong about the doctrine of pre-emptive" - I don't know if this person was asking for forgiveness from google or looking for gloating opportunities. Either way, there are not nearly enough places in world where "wrong" and "pre-emption" are used in the same sentence, so I'm glad my blog can contribute in some small way.

"mennonite year of doing what you want" - That is the best idea I have heard in a long time. It may be time to start a new sect.

"mennonite toddler blog" - strangely apt for this blog.

"what happens when you marry a Mennonite," "amish mennonite sexaul ritual" and "mennonite and unmarried and pregnant" - Nice little object lesson when used in combination, buried right there in the search terms.

Here are the ones I've found most interesting in the last six months:

mennonites and cult imprisonment
peeing standing up bible reference
mennonite year of doing what you want
mennonite mania
do mice stink when poisoned
people who think media pressure is good
mennonites looking in the eyes
nice rejection letter nice sample
i hate Mennonites
america the good neighbor
jesus pluck out eye
corny the mennonite
mennonite random name generator
i was wrong about the doctrine of pre-emptive
mennonite vagina pictures
percentage of american men who pee sitting down
encouraging letter of rejection
what happens when you marry a Mennonite
dead mice and a children
consumerism Eisenhower
mennonite indoctrination
punctuation is meaning
how mennonite avoid taxes
mennonites skin colour
mennonites justice hunger
mennonite toddler blog
after atonement
parade magazine computer menonnite
biblical peeing on the wall
god loves you. everybody else thinks you're an asshole
are mennonite men circumcised
did the mennonites ever fight among themselves
minor rejection
prohibiting standing to pee
projecting worship songs on the wall
mennonites rule shirts
smelly Mennonites
amish mennonite sexaul ritual
mennonite home brain injury children va
mennonites burn every seven years
my god can do anything
trick to remember the 7th amendment
the sinner minor wife and their people
meaning of you have ruined me for other men
cute overload antidote
is governor palin a Mennonite
mennonites against mccain
they just can’t keep their hands out of the cookie jar
peanut butter is spaghetti sauce
taxing a windfall homerun
why she left and why she died song
i eat pasta sauce from the jar
mennonite tractor backhoe
feeling manly
mennonite mind control
mennonite and unmarried and pregnant
how to annoy socialists
is character assassination a sin

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hillary as Secretary of State

It looks like Hillary as Secretary of State is going to happen. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it -- Crockhead had some pretty good thoughts last week. I've been trying to work up some emotion about it, but really, I don't care.

In fact, I guess it was the election I was addicted to, rather than the governance, because so far, I haven't really payed much attention to cabinet choices and such.

One thing that I must admit though: As mad as I was at Hillary last spring for throwing all that mud at Obama, it did seem to help him in the fall campaign. Rev. Wright was old news by the fall and the grilling he went through showed his moxy under pressure. When McCain tried to tie Obama to alleged scary people, it didn't work, because we'd heard it before, and the only people it mattered to were already going to vote for McCain.

I still don't trust Hillary much, but so far, I still do trust Obama to know what he's doing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shut Up and Salute

I’ve never heard of Mike Gallagher before, but he sounds like a low-rent Rush, if that is even possible. (Thanks to urbanmenno for the link on this.)

Gallagher has spent a few sessions of his radio show lambasting Goshen College for not playing the national anthem before their sporting events. Goshen, being a Mennonite college, doesn’t play the anthem because of their historical stance on the separation of church and state. Gallagher is angry that Goshen hates their country so much. He thinks they should lose any government funding they receive if they don’t play the anthem.

While Goshen isn’t terribly interested in conforming to Mike Gallagher's version of patriotism, they are very interested in the Constitution, especially what it says, and how it is used. Unlike most colleges, they take Constitution Day very seriously, by reading the Constitution and creating groups to discuss it. Surprisingly, you can love your country because of the values it upholds, rather than the flag it bears or the song about war set to the old English drinking tune it chooses as its sacred song.

Demanding that the flag and the anthem be part of your expression of gratitude for your country is silly. It borders on idol worship, which, you know, is kind of sacrilegious.

And yet, some conservative responses are so depressingly predictable: Wave your damn flag and play the damn anthem and shut up about that whole separation of church and state thing.

File under: Sure you have freedom of speech, as long as you don’t use it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to Ruin Parody

I heard "Torn" on the radio this morning by Natalie Imbruglia. I always liked that song, but now every time I hear it I think of Johan Lippowitz's mime of it:

In searching for that video, I found that he and Natalie Imbruglia actually performed it together:

Too bad. Like Sarah Palin being on Saturday Night Live, it pretty much ruins parody to have the person you are parodying be right next to you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Micro Mini Review: The Secret

My 6th grader Jasmine has this to report on The Secret:

Me: How was the movie?
Jasmine: It was like every other movie.
Me: How so?
Jasmine: There are a bunch of clues to figure out and they have to get to stuff before the bad guys do.

Depressingly, that is a pretty good description of every other movie.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Chief's Next Dance

Chief Illiniwek danced again, unofficially, at Assembly Hall last Saturday. I was there, playing the part of a liberal, biased, commie media writer.

My liberal, biased, commie write up on it is available at Smile Politely: Dancing Privileges

Friday, November 14, 2008

Roger Ebert: Honorary Mennonite

Roger Ebert just did a good Howard Zehr impression on his blog with The third most important story of the year.

In a wide-ranging essay on religion, racism and violence, Ebert talks about the recent Muslim fatwa against terrorism, his firsthand impressions of Iran, and how South Africa managed a peaceful transition of power.

It made me think about how blacks in South Africa had to endure Nazi-like rule and would have been competely justified in violent overthrow of their government, according to the morality of Just War.

But not only did they manage a peaceful transition without resorting to violence, but they set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a national theraputic forgiveness ritual. Here's Ebert:

After apartheid ended, decades of old wounds were open and bleeding. Still unpunished were whites who had engaged in the Sharpeville Massacre, the torture and murder of political prisoners, and the loosing of attack dogs against school children. And Africans who had engaged in terror bombings, assassinations, and the "necklacing" of fellow Africans suspected of cooperating with the whites. (A necklacing consists of chaining a tire around a victim's neck and setting it afire.)

There were very few violent reprisals, even though both sides had a very good idea of exactly who to target. Under the leadership of the heroic Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed. It held hearings throughout the beloved country, and its rules were firm: Describe fully what you did, who your victims where, and where their bodies might be found, and then make an apology that the Commission members believed.

Then walk away. Your crimes and your sins are now between you and heaven. Think about that. It was successful. The stature of Tutu, de Clerk and Mandela helped make it so. South Africans of all races, weary onto death of decades of violence, greeted the Commission almost thankfully. It is one of the most extraordinary stories in human history.

Human Smoke Quotes

Someday, I'm going to write an essay titled "Why I am almost, very nearly a pacifist." I very much want to be 100% pacifist, and I always seem make the case for pacifism, but like anything else, I recognize it has it's problems. I'll say them out loud at some point, when my essay is done.

In the meantime, here's some more pacifism advocacy: Quotes from Human Smoke: The beginnings of WWII, the End of Civilization by Nicholson Baker, which PG suggested I read last summer.

Captain Philip S. Mumford, a former British officer in Iraq, joined the Peace Pledge Union. He gave a speech about why. “what is the difference between throwing 500 babies into a fire and throwing fire from aeroplanes on 500 babies? He asked.

“There is none.”
It was January 5, 1937

And one from Aldous Huxley:

Aldous Huxley was in Hollywood writing Ends and Means, an inquiry into the philosophy of nonviolence. It was 1937.

The international police force that people were clamoring for was a mistake and a misnomer, Huxley believed. “The police act with the maximum of precision; they go out and arrest the guilty person,” he wrote. “Nations and group of nations act through their armed forces, which can only act with the maximum of imprecision, killing, maiming, starving and ruining millions of human beings, the overwhelming majority of whom have committed no crime of any sort.”

An international police force was in actuality a force for international massacre. “If you approve of indiscriminate massacres, then you must say so,” he wrote. “You have no right to deceive the unwary by calling your massacre-force by the same name as the force which controls traffic and arrests burglars.”

Nonviolence was, Huxley thought, the only intergovernmental response to violence that had any practical chance of working. It worked with nations as it did with individuals:

"We have all seen how anger feeds upon answering anger, but is disarmed by gentleness and patience. We have all known what it is to have our meannesses shamed by somebody else’s magnanimity; what it is to have our dislikes melted away by an act of considerateness; what it is to have our coldness and harshnesses transformed into solicitude by the example of another’s unselfishness."

Violence made men worse, Huxley said; nonviolence made them better.

When I say war is evil, even when it's intentions seem to be good, what I'm saying is that violence makes people worse. War is indiscriminate, no matter who we are going after and what we are trying to accomplish.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More with the Apocalypse

My Smile Politely column is up: Hoarding Food for the Apocalypse, where I reveal my general lack of faith in everything.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don't Get Too Comfortable

With the election over, I can finally return to some long-awaited worrying about useful things -- like robots taking over the world.

Many thanks to John O'Neill, for tipping me off to this:

Apparently, one strategy the robots will employ is to dance for us and make us laugh, so we will feel comfortable around them. Sure. Right up to the appointed time when they block out the sun with cosmic sky-eating death rays.

Here's another strategy:

The first entirely artificial heart should be ready for human trials 'within two and a half years', it was claimed yesterday. The prosthetic replacement would be fully implantable and could solve the worldwide shortage of donor hearts – estimated at 20,000 each year.

Under the guise of "healthcare," up to 20,000 people a year will be walking around with robot hearts. Sure, it will keep them alive for awhile. Probably just long enough to become an army of human puppets, waiting to receive instructions from their robot master controller to turn the rest of us into energy pods.

I think profiling and wiretapping are in order. Also, some kind of Gitmo facility should be created for them, disguised as a hospital or something.

Obama may bring hope and unity to the humans of the world, but what is his plan to confront the threat of evil robot overlords?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Armistice Day

November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which fought the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.

So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

And all music is.

- Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
Vonnegut has a point, I think. Armistice Day was about peace. It was about no longer engaging in violence. Veterans' Day is about soldiers, and so ends up being about war. I recognize that many soldiers are brave and honor their country with their service. And yet many others shame their country with unnecessary acts of brutality. War itself is as often about conquest as about protection.

Sacred means Godly, being worthy of religious veneration. Neither war nor warriors are sacred, no more than community organizers or Christian Peacemakers are sacred. At best, war is a necessary evil. War does not stop being evil even when it seems necessary.

On the other hand, peace is sacred. God's will is for us to live peaceably with each other. And we used to have a holiday that was all about peace, not war.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Get Your War Off

This blog has been an election prisoner of war, since I've done nothing but obsess about it for 2 months now. But now that the campaign is over, paperwork is being filled out and an armistice appears near.

I can tell it's close, because I'm already ready to laugh at stuff like this:

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Friday, November 07, 2008

Democrats fail to blow election

This is hilarious, from Andy Borowitz:

Just minutes after their party's longstanding losing tradition lay in tatters on the ground, millions of shell-shocked Democrats stared at their television screens in disbelief, asking themselves what went right.

For Democrats, who have become accustomed to their party blowing an election even when it seemed like a sure thing, Tuesday night's results were a bitter pill to

More here.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What Unity Feels Like

An interesting phenomenon happened yesterday. No less than four conservative friends and family contacted me, expressing either congratulations or satisfaction at how the election went, even though they voted for McCain.

First, my sister emailed me to say congratulations and that she wishes Obama good luck and blessings on the tough job ahead. Then my conservative neighbor, who believes wholeheartedly that Obama is a socialist, said he wasn’t too upset by it. He thought the financial crisis was going to make it tough for everyone, and he hopes Obama can find a way to address it. My brother-in-law, who is more libertarian than conservative, called and said how happy he was for us, especially for our kids. He is temporarily living in Boston, and I found out his congressional representatives are Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Barney Frank, so he's about as underrepresented in Congress as is mathematically possible. Finally, Jill’s conservative Christian cousin sent email to the whole family that said it brought tears to her eyes to see the “First” black family walk out on stage together, even though she voted for McCain.

Have other Obama supporters gotten this reaction from their conservative friends? Or am I just special because I’m such a vocal Obama supporter?

One possible explanation to this is that conservatives are just better sports than liberals. After all, liberals generally lambasted their conservative friends after Bush was re-elected. But I doubt we would have gotten those calls if Hillary Clinton had been elected, nor would liberals have been so upset if John McCain had beaten John Kerry in 2004. The anger after 2004 was specifically about handing power back over to Bush for four more years. There’s a difference between being a poor sport and being upset that the country is going down in flames. (Although I suppose it could be both -- country going down in flames and poor sportsmanship).

I think the difference this time around is the historic nature of electing an African American as president. I think we all shared a powerful and moving national experience when Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha walked out onto that stage and Barack gracefully accepted the presidency.

“To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.”
The images and the cathartic language combined to make a statement about what is possible in our country.

After all the mud slung at Obama during the election, I was worried that it would cause reasonable people to remain afraid of him as a ... well, pick one: dangerous radical, Muslim, terrorist-lover, socialist, unAmerican, yadda, yadda.

That so many people are embracing this event as an historic triumph for our country, regardless of support for or against Obama's potential policy direction, says something very positive about us as a people. We can come together and agree that it is good that a black man can be the image our country presents to the world. And it is good not just for African Americans, but for everyone. Every so often, when the conditions are just right, our ideals can outstrip our ideologies, and our collective post-election reaction appears to be one of those times.

No doubt all this unity will dissipate as policy decisions run into serious opposition. That’s to be expected. No doubt there are still plenty of outright racists seething about the election. They will always be among us. But it feels good to know that among mainstream Americans, there is still room in political discourse for us to be our best selves.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Post Election Wrapup

What impresses me most about Obama's victory is not that he won, but how he won it. He appealed to our better nature, with a message of hope and unity. He has consistently expected the best of Americans, and 52% of voting Americans responded.

One of the narratives from the commentariat last night was that there was nothing McCain could have done -- the conditions were simply too negative for any Republican to win. I'm not convinced that is true. The McCain campaign lost a lot of people by choosing an unqualified vice-president, and also by playing to the worst impulses of his base, in promoting the narrative of Obama as Scary Other.

However, I'm now going to differentiate "John McCain" from "the McCain campaign." I believe the McCain campaign acted shamelessly at times. But John McCain the man gave an incredibly great concession speech last night, essentially saying that all that mud was just campaigning. I hope the well isn't too poisoned from that campaigning, but McCain's shushing his supporters and offering to help out with the challenges ahead was vintage McCain 2000. I wish he had showed up more during the campaign. But, I'm grateful that he is now offereing to detox the well. Good for him.

Random observations:

  • The first sentence on the front page of the NY Times: "Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday." I guess we can start using his middle name now. Hopefully, the stigma will wear off in the next four years.

  • It was truly touching to see so many African Americans shed tears of joy at the outcome. It was quite a shock to hear all the pundits suddenly talk about race, when it was such a verboten topic before he clinched it. My Smile Politely column is about this.

  • It was over when he won Ohio, but it was interesting to see the news media continue to play along for a full hour afterward. Of course, they didn't wait long until the polls closed in California -- I think they called it at 10:00:01 CST.

  • The challenge facing Republicans is pretty stark going forward, and it was all revealed at the two rallies last night. Like the conventions, McCain's gathering featured a small group of almost all white people, middle aged and older. The Obama gathering was hundreds of thousands of everyone - black, white, young, old, and everybody in between. As American demographics continue to change, Republicans are going to need to be more than the party of older white people.

  • My 9-year-old son has focused on the bodyguards of this election. He's been very interested in how many bodyguards Obama has and what kinds of things they might have to do to protect him. Note that this isn't because he's particularily concerned about Obama's security, but because he desires to have bodyguards of his own one day. When he saw Malia and Sasha on stage (Obama's kids), he asked whether they got bodyguards too, and was really jealous when we said that they did.

  • One casualty to this election is my belief that ordinary people could be president. Obviously, Sarah Palin plays into this, but really, it's more about Obama. I'm just egotistical enough to believe that I can do most things, and am as good as most people. But I've come to believe that Obama is extraordinary, in intelligence, in temperment, in judgement, you name it. He's the right man for these time, which would overwhelm an ordinary person. Of course, I'm assuming he will govern as brilliantly as he has campaigned. Let's hope that's true.

  • Remember last week when Bush invaded Syria? OK, technically it wasn't an invasion, but a bombing of a foreign, soveriegn country. Still, I was shocked not that it happened, but that there was so little outrage about it (except from the Syrians). What happens if you throw an October Surprise, but nobody comes? I guess no one expects much of anything anymore from Bush.

  • I quoted this from Obama's victory speech already, but it is just so exactly right: “Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.”

    This is what has been wrong the last eight years. We've thought we could intimidate the world with our weapons and our wealth, without paying much attention to our ideals. The first step in fixing it is being aware of it, and yesterday we took that first step. We have a long way to go to dig out.


Finally, hope and unity defeat fear and division.

I was doubtful, but am happy, and now very tired.

I put up quick column with a few election thoughts over at Smile Politely, scheduled to go up at 9:00AM. I'll link it here when it goes live, but after the victory party I'm supposed to go to.

Also, I'll post some other election musings later as well.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Make History

Well, the Steelers did their job by beating the Redskins, so now everything points to an Obama victory.

Of course, the big question is: Are the polls accurate? If they are, Obama will win easily. As many analysts have mentioned, it all depends on Pennsylvania and Virginia. McCain essentially can’t win without Pennsylvania, and if the polls are not accurate, they will show up in those two states, where Obama has been over 50% for quite some time. If the polls have misread those states, we could be in for a long, nerve-racking night. If Obama takes PA and Virginia, it’s over.

Why could the polls be so inaccurate? Lots of reasons, this time around. Obama’s race continues to be a huge question mark. Also, exit polls the last two elections have been unreliable (supposedly because Republicans don't want to talk to pollsters, but I don't know that I completely buy that). Voter turnout, voter suppression and intimidation, registration purges and polling machine malfunctions can all play a role in a close election. One things in Obama’s favor is that most polls don’t include cell phones, which means young people are undercounted, which would favor Democrats on election day.

So, we’ll see. I fretted before the 2006 mid-term elections, and everything worked out fine then. Still, take nothing for granted. Go vote. If the margin is high enough, inaccurate polls and polling place shenanigans will not matter.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wassup '08

Remember the Wassup guys?

Well, they are back: