Monday, May 30, 2011


Did you know there was an event this Memorial Day to remember veterans, POWs, and MIAs?

If not, did you know that Sarah Palin made a big ruckus when she showed up at a biker event?

I knew about one of these things, but not the other. And that is what's wrong with our media.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Interesting blog synergy

Oh yeah, I have a blog.

In just the past few days, there's been an interesting overlap in several of the blogs I read. It all started when Believe Out Loud, a Christian group that encourages churches to become "fully inclusive of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity" tried to place an innocuous ad on the Sojourners website (a large network of progressive Christians) and was refused. Here's the ad:

This prompted two posts over at slactivist, "My hope is built on nothing less" and "Jim Wallis and Believe Out Loud, Part 2" and over at Obsidian Wings, "Authoritarianism and the Slut Who Walks", which sort of a follow up to "The Women Men Don't See", which was a really interesting response to the Jewish newspaper that edited out Hillary Clinton and another female White House staffer out of a photo because of their (Stalinesque?) "respect" for women. The slactivist posts are more about the intersection of homosexuality and Christian identity, while the OW posts are more about authoritarianism and strict gender roles. Good posts all.

I was just struct at the quality of the points raised by Fred at slactivist as well as the civility (and coherence) of the commenters. I think Fred's main points can be summed up as:

For now let me just reiterate what I’ve said above about evangelical identity in America’s evangelical subculture. It is marked, above all else, by the proper “stance” on homosexuality and abortion. Those who meet that test are regarded as insiders with a voice that will be listened to. Those who fail that test are regarded as outsiders..

The point here is that there are many, many people besides Jim Wallis who inhabit the terrain that Tony Jones describes as "conservative on issues of human sexuality" while "theologically thoughtful and progressive on other biblical and social issues." I think that Tony is right that such a position is, in the long run, untenable.

I find his first point more interesting. Abortion and anti-gay-rights are, as raised by both slactivist and OW, shibboleths for right-wing Christians. In other words, those two beliefs are almost mandatory and universal markers for inclusion in that community, which also largely defines the modern GOP.

I've often said that (and bored both readers of this blog by saying so often), current politics is driven by identity as much as it is policy. More so for the Right; there are virtually no pro-gay, or pro-choice Republicans, but plenty anti-gay-marriage Democrats. For example, Barack Obama.

I don't really have a point, but many of the commenters at slacitivst do. Many of them are excellent and it's sad that they're going not going to get attention because they're comments in some guy's blog. So I'd like to highlight a few here:


[T]his is why evangelicals are losing numbers in droves. They've made it a zero sum game where you can either be a Christian or you can love your neighbor as yourself.

Semperfiona, on whether Jim Wallis's decision not to run the ad was a choice between "the lesser of two evils:"

It's hard to be charitable toward a choice that paints "respecting my civil rights" as the greater evil... it sounds an awful lot like "I'm not a bigot but my customers are, so your kind are not welcome here" which is just a mealy-mouthed species of bigotry and reinforces the opinions of other bigots, comforting the comfortable.

Amaryllis, on gender roles:

What bothers [fundamentalists] the most about gay couples is not what they may be doing in bed; it's much more about "who wears the pants" when both wear pants. Or skirts and heels.

Because, in their view, the entire basis of social relationships, from the most private to the nation as a whole, is based on Authority. And trying to ignore the "natural" or "God-given" hierarchy is just asking for trouble, for individuals and for society as whole.

And not to bury the lede, but these are the best of the bunch:

Morgan Guyton: (emphasis mine)

[T]he reason why "conservative" views of sexuality don't have long-term viability for a Christian who's serious about the Biblical perspective on poverty is because the primary function of sexual "conservativism" is to excuse middle-class Christians from being concerned about poverty since we can label it a moral failing of welfare mamas who need to learn how to close their legs.

bad Jim, on why a conservative (wide) stance on sexuality is such a shibboleth for evangelicals:

[A] focus on sexuality doesn't threaten things that really matter, like wealth and power. Preaching that looks benignly upon getting and spending is more likely to prosper, and the ideal of self-control lends itself nicely to material pursuits. If a display of virtue and self-denial is required, what better than to condemn sins to which one is not attracted or of which one is incapable, which for most men would include homosexuality and abortion.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

How often...

Out of curiosity, I was looking up how often Americans eat out, on average. Before I got that far, I found this:

Yeah, as a society, we're pretty much fucked.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mayoral race speculation

This may be a bit incoherent, but it's late and I want to get this down.

First, there may be some shennanigans going on in the Champaign mayoral race. I forget who originally pointed this out, possibly on Twitter, but Smile Politely has an article up, "Local officials mum on alleged Schweighart campaign violation" about Schweighart campaign work possibly being done on City time and by City employees. Naughty.
I've never worked for the City, but at the later years when I was at the University, we had to go through rather silly, yet mandatory, annual ethics training that made it pretty darn clear that things like this were not appropriate. Is that true of state and city employees as well? Anyway you'd think anyone involved with a political office would be doubly sensitive to it. And then someone involved with a political office and a political campaign would be triply sensitive to it. But, then again, perhaps it's the abuse of the vast purchasing powers and powerful influence grad students and postdocs hold that is the real ethical threat.
Secondly, I've heard speculation that, if elected, Mayor Schweighart may not serve out his entire four-year term, but instead, retire and some other Republican would be appointed to finish his term. On one hand, I don't think it's fair to judge the mayor's suitability for election solely on his age. On the other hand, he is, shall we say, of a certain age and (I hear) has had some fairly serious health problems in the past. And any appointee going into an election as an incumbent would have a pretty significant advantage.
The mayoral debate is Wednesday. I mused about the idea of livetweeting the debate, then someone heard about that, and now I've learned that People Have Been Told I will be doing that, so now there's all this pressure. People, don't get your hopes up. Also, don't assume I have any idea what I'm doing.
Also, the first mayoral debate in how many decades is two days away, and still, no clue about the format, who's going to be asking questions, whether the questions will be coming from the audience, or what. But, hey, at least it's being put together by a legitimate organization, right?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Some time ago and I'm not sure how, I got put on an email list of local left-leaning bloggers and the like. It's low traffic. For example, there were a dozen messages or so about Rahm winning in Chicago, another few about anti-Wisconsin protests in Springfield the other week.

Then there's this one guy. He sends out about one email a week. It's not specific to this list, but includes around a hundred email addresses including those, He's got a real hardon for the Dallas County News, because about half of the addresses are people there.
And these emails ... they're just nuts. Not Sarah-Palin-nuts, but a-few-Crayons-short-of-a-full-box nuts. So, of course I find them fascinating. Not working in the medical field, I don't have a lot of contact with schizophrenics, so this is very novel to me.
Here's one from December, with the formatting replicated as accurately as I can:
Loving Alphas, heaven on earth - the perfection of capitalism [the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment and innovative acts of love demonstrated are the new currencies of LIFE ] 1. Transparency a. Test b. Part 1 (Budget, etc.) c. Part 2 (Social Security, etc.) 2. three million dollarnaires club 2020 OBJECTIVES 1. Oprah Winfrey - $1 trillion personal net worth 2. Mr. Rupert Murdoch - $1 trillion personal net worth 3. 333 million three million dollarnaires 3. Lawsuit resolution 1. United States government facilitates resolution of personal injury lawsuit - President has power to pardon (healing) 2. $30 million settlement 3. pursuit of heaven on earth 4. Project Alpha - ???? [How much more powerful... Even more threatening... Let MANKIND substantiate...] - Are you smart enough and strong enough to be an Intellectual Marine? - What are WE doing to PRAXIS heaven on earth? 5. Hillary Clinton/Susan Rice 2012 vs. Condaleeza Rice/Liz Cheney 2012 - 44 male Presidents of the United States of America - 0 female Presidents of the United States of America - 0 female Vice Presidents of the United States of America 6. 2020 EMPOWERMENT initiative - 40% of global business owners, politicians, CEOs, directors, and producers are female Sarah Palin Global SELF-ESTEEM champion Keli Goff Strategic link to Africa Megyn Kelly Strategic link to Europe Soledad O'Brien Strategic link to Latin America Michelle Malkin Strategic link to Asia Fran Townsend Synergy maximization Michelle Obama Synergy maximization 7. Bill Gates/Warren Buffett giving challenge - $100 billion immediate strategic development fund [suggestion] - Link to 2020 EMPOWERMENT initiative 8. United States economic development recommendation - global interconnected impact - suggestion of additional analysis and recommendation of euro-inspired financial model for developing countries in Africa, Europe, Latin America, and Asia - Link to 2020 EMPOWERMENT initiative 9. Inheritance/healing initiative - Slavemaster offspring Family reunions - Link to 2020 EMPOWERMENT initiative 10. Cry - original collection of poetry - 2nd short story written by Tony Evans will be a ONE word eBook [ LOVE ] PhoenixRising - Global list of "slumlords" - Global list of [Intellectual contradictionS] - Link to 2020 EMPOWERMENT initiative Future LOVE "state" - merger of TV/Internet/TIVO/Visual Phone in ONE "application" Sincerely, [ name redacted, --Narc ] Ebony & Ivory PRAXIS - Up Where We Belong
The Internet: Enabling schizophrenics since giant lizard aliens gave it to us in 1996.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Some unofficial thoughts on Unofficial

I'm back. Blog apathy strikes again. I'm sorry, it's nothing personal.

Unofficial was this past Friday. I don't really have much to say about that subject. Most of my experience with Unofficial involved riding a bus home after work that smelled like stale beer.
Gerry Schweighart, the mayor of Champaign, and therefore the city government, appear to very much disapprove of Unofficial. They ramp up alcohol enforcement before and during the event. The News-Gazette's front article today calls the ticketed students "scofflaws", Unofficial a "bacchanal" that is "the most dreaded annual event on the UI campus."
This year, however, a 21-year-old UIUC student was struck by two cars while crossing the street Friday night and remains in critical condition. I don't know if this was Unofficial-related or not, but for the sake of pontificating, I will assume so.
This is the second significant injury that's happened during Unofficial in my time here. In 2006, a student was killed after falling off the back of a motorcycle.
I think it's time this stopped. I don't mean Unofficial; I'm not sure how you could stop that without giving the mayor dictatorial control over the city. I mean, I think it's time the city embraced Unofficial and made it safer. There are plenty of other communities that host crazy events; maybe we should look into how they do it. There's South Padre Island during Spring Break, for one. I assure you that Unofficial is the pale shadow of Mardi Gras's little brother's second banana.
For starters, I think that Campustown and possibly the roads around the main quad should be closed to street traffic.
It's important to remember that Unofficial isn't a creation of University students. It's a creation of a Campustown bar owner. It's the goal of Unofficial to get students into the bars to drink. That being said, allowing 18 to 20-year olds into bars on this weekend is just stupid. Of course they're there to drink.
I'm less concerned with creating a moral hazard involving alcohol and more interested in creating an environment where students can be their stupid selves and not be killed doing it.
UPDATE: Someone over at today's N-G article suggested making it a parents weekend. I think that's a great idea. I think the presence of a lot of students' parents would tone down the no-holds-barred partying. (Not to mention the possible expectation that they'd have to be awake before noon the next day.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Posted without further comment...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My trip in billboards

I went down south to visit the family over Christmas. Here's the summary of my trip as told by billboards I saw on the way:

Number of billboards...

  • calling President Obama a socialist: 1
  • asking if President Bush was missed (no, seriously): 1
  • against abortion: 2
  • advertising a feral hog hotline: 1

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Stay classy, Tea Party. Oh, too late.

I really wanted to avoid commenting on today's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords for a day or so. It's too easy to quickly politicize these things, which are often perpetrated by lone nutjobs. Then, I saw that Illinois Review saw fit in their only post on the subject so far to quote this:

Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips condemned the attack on Giffords, but warned supporters that the Tea Party movement would be blamed by political opponents.

"While we need to take a moment to extend our sympathies to the families of those who died, we cannot allow the hard left to do what it tried to do in 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing," he said.

Yeah, because clearly, the "hard left" really enjoys it when someone tries to assassinate one of their own.