Archive for October 7th, 2007

63 Years Later, Nothing Has Changed

Avedon has unearthed the perfect FDR quote, from 1944:

The whole purpose of Republican oratory these days seems to be to switch labels. The object is to persuade the American people that the Democratic Party was responsible for the 1929 crash and the depression, and that the Republican Party was responsible for all social progress under the New Deal. Now, imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery – but I am afraid that in this case it is the most obvious common or garden variety of fraud.

That M.O. sounds awfully familiar, somehow…

October 7th, 2007 at 07:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Republicans,Wankers

How Dubya Supports Our Troops

Yet another reminder that there is no level of wankery so extreme that Dubya cannot surpass it:

The Guard troops have been told that in order to be eligible for the education benefits they expect, they had to serve 730 days in Iraq. They served 729.

Nearly half the members of one of the longest serving U.S. military units in Iraq are not eligible for a more generous military educational benefit, with some falling one day short of eligibility. […]

All 2,600 of the soldiers, who returned this year from Iraq, are eligible for money for school under the GI Bill. But nearly half discovered they weren’t eligible for a more generous package of benefits available to other soldiers.

Minnesota’s congressional delegation is apoplectic, and the Army has vowed to look into the matter, but the troops are understandably suspicious that they were deliberately brought home after 729 days so the Pentagon could deny them GI Bill benefits.

Nooo, that doesn’t sound suspicious at all. Of course, I expect that Dubya and his cheerleaders will issue a counterargument along the lines of, “First we’re keeping the troops there too long, now we’re bring them home too soon? Make up your minds already!”

I bet a whole lot of those Guard troops were there primarily to get those GI Bill benefits that they’re now being cheated out of. Once again, we see that Dubya’s GOP views our soldiers as nothing more than props for their faux-patriotic chest-thumping, but could care less about treating them fairly.

(h/t ellroon)

4 comments October 7th, 2007 at 05:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

No, The Other Kind Of Halo…

This is a very strange sort of religious outreach:

Across the country, hundreds of ministers and pastors desperate to reach young congregants have drawn concern and criticism through their use of an unusual recruiting tool: the immersive and violent video game Halo.

(…)

Those buying it must be 17 years old, given it is rated M for mature audiences. But that has not prevented leaders at churches and youth centers across Protestant denominations, including evangelical churches that have cautioned against violent entertainment, from holding heavily attended Halo nights and stocking their centers with multiple game consoles so dozens of teenagers can flock around big-screen televisions and shoot it out.

The alliance of popular culture and evangelism is challenging churches much as bingo games did in the 1960s. And the question fits into a rich debate about how far churches should go to reach young people.

Far from being defensive, church leaders who support Halo — despite its “thou shalt kill” credo — celebrate it as a modern and sometimes singularly effective tool. It is crucial, they say, to reach the elusive audience of boys and young men.

Witness the basement on a recent Sunday at the Colorado Community Church in the Englewood area of Denver, where Tim Foster, 12, and Chris Graham, 14, sat in front of three TVs, locked in violent virtual combat as they navigated on-screen characters through lethal gun bursts. Tim explained the game’s allure: “It’s just fun blowing people up.”

Once they come for the games, Gregg Barbour, the youth minister of the church said, they will stay for his Christian message. “We want to make it hard for teenagers to go to hell,” Mr. Barbour wrote in a letter to parents at the church.

But the question arises: What price to appear relevant? Some parents, religious ethicists and pastors say that Halo may succeed at attracting youths, but that it could have a corroding influence. In providing Halo, churches are permitting access to adult-themed material that young people cannot buy on their own.

(…)

Daniel R. Heimbach, a professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, believes that churches should reject Halo, in part because it associates thrill and arousal with killing.

“To justify whatever killing is involved by saying that it’s just pixels involved is an illusion,” he said.

Focus on the Family, a large evangelical organization, said it was trying to balance the game’s violent nature with its popularity and the fact that churches are using it anyway. “Internally, we’re still trying to figure out what is our official view on it,” said Lisa Anderson, a spokeswoman for the group.

(…)

Hundreds of churches use Halo games to connect with young people, said Lane Palmer, the youth ministry specialist at the Dare 2 Share Ministry, a nonprofit organization in Arvada, Colo., that helps churches on youth issues.

“It’s very pervasive,” Mr. Palmer said, more widespread on the coasts, less so in the South, where the Southern Baptist denomination takes a more cautious approach. The organization recently sent e-mail messages to 50,000 young people about how to share their faith using Halo 3. Among the tips: use the game’s themes as the basis for a discussion about good and evil.

At Sweetwater Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., Austin Brown, 16, said, “We play Halo, take a break and have something to eat, and have a lesson,” explaining that the pastor tried to draw parallels “between God and the devil.”

(…)

Playing Halo is “no different than going on a camping trip,” said Kedrick Kenerly, founder of Christian Gamers Online, an Internet site whose central themes are video games and religion. “It’s a way to fellowship.”Mr. Kenerly said the idea that Halo is inappropriately violent too strictly interpreted the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” “I’m not walking up to someone with a pistol and shooting them,” he said. “I’m shooting pixels on a screen.”

(…)

Ken Kenerly said he believed that the game could be useful in connecting to young people he once might have reached in more traditional ways, like playing sports. “There aren’t as many kids outdoors as indoors,” he said. “With gamers, how else can you get into their lives?”

I am neither a Christian nor an “OMG VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES WILL DESTROY US ALL!!!” alarmist, but I have a hard time seeing how Halo is consistent with Christian values in any way. I understand that churches are struggling to reach the teen demographic, but drawing kids in with a shoot-em-up video game is very inappropriate… unless you want to promote a martial approach to Christianity. If you want a congregation who see Christianity involved in a life-or-death, no-holds-barred struggle against nonbelievers (Muslims? Liberals?), then using Halo as a recruitment tool is a brilliant genius idea.

We should probably be a little bit worried…

3 comments October 7th, 2007 at 02:54pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Religion,Weirdness

Great Moments In Parliament

Today’s NYT Magazine has a feature about how gray squirrels imported from the US are outcompeting and wiping out the native red squirrels. The story focuses on efforts to kill grays so the much-beloved reds (see: Squirrel Nutkin) can rebound. The highlight is this impassioned plea on the floor of the House Of Lords:

Earl Peel rose to call attention to the decline in numbers of the reds and its significance. “To many,” he said, “the red squirrel represents an integral part of our woodland landscape — an iconic creature, immortalized by Beatrix Potter, through the charismatic character of Squirrel Nutkin.” But before turning his attention to Squirrel Nutkin, Earl Peel proposed conducting “a brief health check” of various other Beatrix Potter characters. “Starting with Tabitha Twitchit and Tom Kitten” — both cats — “they are truly on top of their game. . . . Let us now consider the status of Mr. Tod, the fox. On second thoughts, given that he has taken up 700 hours of parliamentary time, it would be somewhat hypocritical of me to prolong the debate.” He went on: “That brings me on seamlessly to the other really controversial character that graced the class of 1912 — and that of course is Tommy Brock,” Potter’s badger. “Hasn’t he done well?”

Peel continued: “Despite suffering from and carrying tuberculosis, he has successfully managed to establish himself in the hearts and minds of the nation as being more important than dairy cows or, indeed, farmers’ livelihoods, and like Mr. Tod, has managed to secure his very own legislation.”

Peel concluded his health check: “Squirrel Nutkin must look back on his alma mater and think to himself, ‘How could it have all gone so wretchedly wrong for me?’ ”

But what of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle? Does no-one care about Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle?

The lordly brilliance does not end there, however:

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy, the 21st to hold that title in Scotland, then spoke to point out the inherent superiority of the red over the gray squirrel: “Red squirrels,” she said, “are rather like quiet, well-behaved people who do not make a nuisance or an exhibition of themselves or commit crimes and so do not get themselves into the papers in the vulgar way gray squirrels do.” She continued: “Red squirrels do not strip bark from trees; damage arable crops, market gardens and garden plants; dig up bulb and corms from recently sown seed; eat birds’ eggs; or eat telephone wires and electricity cables, as gray squirrels do.” Lady Saltoun suggested some research be done on whether gray squirrels tasted good. She foresaw a fight at the dinner table: “I have a nasty feeling that . . . children in particular would say, ‘Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly eat that,’ just as they say they cannot eat dear little bunny rabbits. But this is worth having a look at.”

The fundamental problem with the gray squirrels is that they do not know their place. And children are too wimpy and soft-hearted to eat adorable rodents.

3 comments October 7th, 2007 at 10:55am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Quotes,Weirdness


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