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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
My Secret - Frank Warren
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28 July 2006

Friday Random Ten

New London Fire – Different
Pedro the Lion – I Do
The Arcade Fire - Une Année Sans Lumière
The Accident Experiment – Sky’s Your Home
Rosie Thomas – All My Life
Dixie Dirt – Fast Food Media
Tim Lee – Any Part of This
Naughty By Nature – Jamboree
Kanye West feat. Mase – Jesus Walks (remix)
Cat Power – Naked If I Want To

A Time For Anger

One of the things I hate most about being an American, and there are plenty such things, is our ignorance, naivety, and historical amnesia. As a culture, we’re very individualistic, very wrapped up in ourselves. A logical extension of that is we don’t know much about the world around us. We have a hard time grasping the subtleties and nuances of context. When someone crashes planes into our buildings, it’s hard for us to grasp that they might have reasons for wanting to do so, reasons that have little to do with hating freedom. It might be, rather, that they are upset about specific actions and policies of the United States.

For a lot of people in the United States, we are the good guys. When we invade other countries, we do it because we have good intentions. We do it because we want other people to be free. When our soldiers torture, rape, and kill civilians in those countries, obviously those are isolated incidents, even when those multiple isolated incidents begin to stack up.

It’s a strange thing, how the United States in five years has gone from the sympathetic outpouring following September 11 to the intense waves of hatred we see today. But really, it’s not all that hard to understand why. Just ask someone from Iraq:

Rape. The latest of American atrocities. Though it's not really the latest- it's just the one that's being publicized the most. The poor girl Abeer was neither the first to be raped by American troops, nor will she be the last. The only reason this rape was brought to light and publicized is that her whole immediate family were killed along with her. Rape is a taboo subject in Iraq. Families don't report rapes here, they avenge them. We've been hearing whisperings about rapes in American-controlled prisons and during sieges of towns like Haditha and Samarra for the last three years. The naiveté of Americans who can't believe their 'heroes' are committing such atrocities is ridiculous. Who ever heard of an occupying army committing rape??? You raped the country, why not the people?

In the news they're estimating her age to be around 24, but Iraqis from the area say she was only 14. Fourteen. Imagine your 14-year-old sister or your 14-year-old daughter. Imagine her being gang-raped by a group of psychopaths and then the girl was killed and her body burned to cover up the rape. Finally, her parents and her five-year-old sister were also killed. Hail the American heroes... Raise your heads high supporters of the 'liberation' - your troops have made you proud today. I don't believe the troops should be tried in American courts. I believe they should be handed over to the people in the area and only then will justice be properly served. And our ass of a PM, Nouri Al-Maliki, is requesting an 'independent investigation', ensconced safely in his American guarded compound because it wasn't his daughter or sister who was raped, probably tortured and killed. His family is abroad safe from the hands of furious Iraqis and psychotic American troops.

It fills me with rage to hear about it and read about it. The pity I once had for foreign troops in Iraq is gone. It's been eradicated by the atrocities in Abu Ghraib, the deaths in Haditha and the latest news of rapes and killings. I look at them in their armored vehicles and to be honest- I can't bring myself to care whether they are 19 or 39. I can't bring myself to care if they make it back home alive. I can't bring myself to care anymore about the wife or parents or children they left behind. I can't bring myself to care because it's difficult to see beyond the horrors. I look at them and wonder just how many innocents they killed and how many more they'll kill before they go home. How many more young Iraqi girls will they rape?

Why don't the Americans just go home? They've done enough damage and we hear talk of how things will fall apart in Iraq if they 'cut and run', but the fact is that they aren't doing anything right now. How much worse can it get? People are being killed in the streets and in their own homes- what's being done about it? Nothing. It's convenient for them- Iraqis can kill each other and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed- unless they want to join in with murder and rape.

27 July 2006

Stephen Colbert: 2 Mainstream Media: 0

Further proof that Stephen Colbert is not one to be toyed with.

In other Colbert news, here is a fairly old but insightful NPR interview with him, in which he discusses the news, comedy, and his Christian faith.

26 July 2006

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

The old shall pass away, and all things become new.

21 July 2006

Friday Comics Blogging

20 July 2006


Star Wars, as reimagined if James Earl Jones's Darth Vader lines were replaced by lines from other James Earl Jones movies.


If you haven't purchased Derek Webb's Mockingbird yet, well, now you don't have to. Webb is going to be giving the album away beginning 1 September.


Six reasons not to buy major label music.


Lots of Brick Testament updates, featuring the teachings of Jesus.

19 July 2006

Today's Reason To Love Family Guy

I See White People

Kotaku points out something telling about the Left Behind video game. Apparently everyone in the game is white:

I asked Bauman if he was worried that people might perceive the lack of minorities in the game as something racist. He reiterated that that wasn't the issue at all, adding that if you look at the plot of the book, it would simply mean that the minorities of the game were the ones that had ascended to heaven.

"The way we twist that around is to say, 'OK ,so all the white guys are the ones that got left behind'," he said. "There is no statement being made there."

The developers, most of whom are based in Kiev, are in the throes of finishing up the game, which is due out this October, but Bauman says that as future maps, missions and expansion packs come out, they will make sure to add new unit models, including minorities.

Expansion packs?

I can already see the packaging: Left Behind: Eternal Forces...Now with Minorities!!!!
Interesting indeed that a city as diverse as New York, in which the game is set, would have no minorities. The Big Apple hasn't been this white since Mad About You. I guess the Muslims and Jews made it to heaven after all.

(h/t: Slacktivist)

17 July 2006


Shakespeare slung slang like no other, so I reserve the right to say things like forsooth motherfucker.--Daniel Roop

I don't got that bad of a mouth, do I? Fuck shit ass bitch cunt, shooby-de-doo-wop?--Eminem

By now you probably know that President Bush was caught swearing today on a live mic while talking to Tony Blair at lunch (see the amused, straight to the point British reaction here or watch CNN drag it out for five minutes here).

Personally I couldn't care less. I enjoy swearing myself, as you've probably noticed. I find the evangelical reaction to swearing legalistic and peculiar, for a variety of reasons that I won't go into now.

That said, President Bush is the evangelical golden boy. Although Christian support for the President is waning, there are still many who believe the man can do no wrong. Many of these are the very same Christians who believe that good Christians don't swear. This presents a dilemma. It's pretty clear from both the video tape, and Bush's previous instances of swearing, that this isn't an isolated incident. Rather, it's what Bush always does behind closed doors. Again, I'm fine with it. But this raises an important question. If good Christians don't swear, and George Bush does, shouldn't we conclude that our President is not a good Christian?

14 July 2006

Things My Wife And I Learned In Niagara Falls And Toronto

1) Tandem bicycles are not as easy to operate as they first appear.
2) Should you encounter an enraptured male in a swimming pool making sexualized grunting noises and muttering the word “breasts” to himself, you should exit as soon as possible.
3) Sneaking terrorists from Canada into the United States appears to be as easy as said terrorist riding in the trunk of an automobile. (This isn't to say that I've been smuggling people into the States, but rather that it looks like a super easy thing to do.)
4) Canadian currency, stamps, and flags are all infinitely cooler than U.S. currency, stamps, and flags.
5) Canadians don’t say “eh” as much as we’ve been led to believe.
6) Canadian beer? Good stuff.
7) Gasoline in Buffalo, New York is more than 20 cents more expensive than gasoline in suburban Chicago. No one seems to know why.
8) Skinny dipping? It’s even better in a Great Lake.
9) Rodeway Inn By the Falls in Niagara Falls? Shittiest hotel ever.
10) Sheraton Centre in Toronto? Best hotel ever, especially when discounted by two-thirds the going rate.
11) Priceline really chaps my ass.
12) Holy Fuck is a great name for a rock band.
13) I don't know who this Tim Horton fellow is, but he makes a damn tasty café mocha.
14) Screaming hordes of Spider-Man fans apparently don't know that actor James Franco and Harry Osborne are not the same person. But, my, James is a cutie in person.

09 July 2006

Roadside Theology

Avalanche Pulaski Day

As you probably already know, Sufjan Stevens is releasing The Avalanche on Tuesday. It's an album of B-sides from Illinois, which was regarded by many critics as last year's best record. Having listened to Avalanche several times now, I can tell you it's, eh, OK. There are some great songs on the album, like "Pitsfield," "Springfield, or Bobby Got a Shadfly Caught in His Hair," and "Dear Mr Supercomputer." And there are several other tracks that make Avalanche sound like, well, an album of B-sides.

At any rate, here are five Sufjan related items to tide you over until Tuesday:

1) Video of Sufjan performing "Casmir Pulaski Day" live.

2) Stream The Avalanche in its entirety.

3) Video of Sufjan and the Illinoisemakers performing "The 50 States Song" live.

4) Video of a capella group Carleton Singing Knights performing "Chicago" live.

5) Sufjan is touring with My Brightest Diamond this fall. Dates:

Mon. Sept. 11: Nashville, TN, Ryman
Tues Sept 12: Little Rock, AR TBA
Fri. Sept. 15: Austin, TX, Paramount Theater
Sat. Sept. 16: Austin, TX, Paramount Theater
Tue. Sept. 19: New Orleans, LA, House of Blues
Weds. Sept. 20: Atlanta, GA, Fox Theater (PASTE Fest)
Thu. Sept. 21: Chapel Hill, NC, Memorial Hall
Sat. Sept. 23: Indianapolis, IN, Egyptian Theater
Sun. Sept. 24: St. Louis, MO, The Pageant
Mon. Sept. 25: Milwaukee, WI, Pabst Theater
Tue. Sept. 26: Chicago, IL, The Riviera
Thu. Sept. 28: Philadelphia, PA, The Towers
Fri. Sept. 29: New York, NY, Town Hall
Sat. Sept. 30: New York, NY, Town Hall
Mon. Oct. 9: Los Angeles, CA, The Wiltern
Weds. Oct. 11: San Francisco, CA, Zellerbach Hall
Fri. Oct. 13: Portland, OR, Crystal Ballroom
Sat. Oct. 14: Vancouver, BC, St. Andrews Cathedral
Sun. Oct. 15: Seattle, WA, Paramount

07 July 2006

Random Friday Thoughts

I think I'm going to stop using public restrooms. It seems like every time I'm in one something strange happens. Not long ago I blogged about the strange person who didn't understand the concept of locking the stall door. A while back I found two packages of unopened cookies in a bathroom stall (my wife wouldn't let me eat them). Today I found someone's car keys in the bathroom stall at work, not on the floor where you might expect them, but hanging from the grip bar next to the toilet paper. Was someone doing gymnastics in there? I don't know.


If you like the pissed off, cynical comic strip stylings of David Rees (Get Your War On, Adventures of Confessions of Saint Augustine Bear) as much as I do, you might be interested in this video of him speaking at Columbia University.


Alternet recaps the top 10 power brokers of the Religious Right. The unholy quadrinity is there (Robertson, Falwell, Dobson and LaHaye), plus a few lesser known extremists. Combined annual revenue? Roughly $446 million. That's a lot of wasted money.


Check out this remix of Kanye West's Gold Digger. It's The Legendary K.O.'s George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People.

Sample lyric:

He said, "I know it looks bad, just have to wait"
Forgetting folks who too broke to evacuate
Niggas starving and they dying of thirst
I bet he had to go and check on them refineries first
Making a killing off the price of gas
He would have been up in Connecticut twice as fast


Olsen twin porn. Will it happen? I don't know.

05 July 2006

Who Killed The Electric Car?

An Affair To Remember

Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.--James Dobson

Marriage has been in the news a lot in the past few years. I think it all started back when Bill Clinton got his infamous blowjob. These days, it seems that one of the biggest issues on the Republican agenda is the sanctity of marriage.

That's an interesting prospect for a couple of reasons. For one, Republicans are supposed to be the party of small government. Yet everywhere we turn, many Republicans seem to be wanting to tell people what they can or can't do in their bedrooms, who they can or can't marry, what words they can't hear on television and the radio, what can be taught in science classrooms, which religious documents can be placed in courtrooms, and so on. That seems like an awful lot of oversight for a group that wants smaller government.

Secondly, and what will surely provide The Daily Show with a lot of great material in the next couple of years, is how it relates to at least three potential 2008 Republican presidential candidates. Three of the top Republican candidates for 2008 are John McCain, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani. The problem? All three have cheated on their wives. And all three are divorced.

Notes Alternet:

McCain was still married and living with his wife in 1979 while, according to The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof, "aggressively courting a 25-year-old woman who was as beautiful as she was rich." McCain divorced his wife, who had raised their three children while he was imprisoned in Vietnam, then launched his political career with his new wife's family money. In 2000, McCain managed to deflect media questioning about his first marriage with a deft admission of responsibility for its failure. It's possible that the age of the offense and McCain's charmed relationship with the press will pull him through again, but Giuliani and Gingrich may face a more difficult challenge. Both conducted well-documented affairs in the last decade -- while still in public office.

Giuliani informed his second wife, Donna Hanover, of his intention to seek a separation in a 2000 press conference. The announcement was precipitated by a tabloid frenzy after Giuliani marched with his then-mistress, Judith Nathan, in New York's St. Patrick's Day parade, an acknowledgement of infidelity so audacious that Daily News columnist Jim Dwyer compared it with "groping in the window at Macy's." In the acrid divorce proceedings that followed, Hanover accused Giuliani of serial adultery, alleging that Nathan was just the latest in a string of mistresses, following an affair the mayor had had with his former communications director.

But the most notorious of them all is undoubtedly Gingrich, who ran for Congress in 1978 on the slogan, "Let Our Family Represent Your Family." (He was reportedly cheating on his first wife at the time). In 1995, an alleged mistress from that period, Anne Manning, told Vanity Fair's Gail Sheehy: "We had oral sex. He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, 'I never slept with her.'" Gingrich obtained his first divorce in 1981, after forcing his wife, who had helped put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while in the hospital, as she recovered from uterine cancer surgery. In 1999, he was disgraced again, having been caught in an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.

Despite the scandalous details, whether the press will air them is still an open question. When it comes to personal morality, liberal commentators have long argued that the press has one standard for Democrats and another for Republicans (and another one entirely for the Clintons). It's possible that the mainstream media will fail to apply the same scrutiny to the known transgressions of Gingrich, Giuliani and McCain as the Times did to rumors about Hillary Clinton's husband.
That's going to pose a big problem for a lot of evangelical Christians. James Dobson, quoted above, has already distanced himself from McCain. And it's likely he won't have anything to do with Giuliani or Gingrich. That could prove troublesome for a Republican party that has increasingly relied on conservative evangelicals in the past few years.

Of course, this assumes that Christians are going to be consistent in their message of moral values, which I think is unlikely. It also assumes that Democrats are smart enough to use Republican hyprocrisy to their advantage. So far they haven't had the ovaries for that.

04 July 2006

On Patriotism

Howard Zinn has a short essay up at Alternet from his forthcoming book. It's worth a read:

In celebration of the Fourth of July there will be many speeches about the young people who "died for their country." But those who gave their lives did not, as they were led to believe, die for their country; they died for their government. The distinction between country and government is at the heart of the Declaration of Independence, which will be referred to again and again on July 4, but without attention to its meaning.

The Declaration of Independence is the fundamental document of democracy. It says governments are artificial creations, established by the people, "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," and charged by the people to ensure the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Furthermore, as the Declaration says, "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it." It is the country that is primary--the people, the ideals of the sanctity of human life and the promotion of liberty.

When a government recklessly expends the lives of its young for crass motives of profit and power, while claiming that its motives are pure and moral, ("Operation Just Cause" was the invasion of Panama and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in the present instance), it is violating its promise to the country. War is almost always a breaking of that promise. It does not enable the pursuit of happiness but brings despair and grief.

03 July 2006

This Is Wire Tap

First we learned that George W. Bush was talking about invading Iraq before September 11. Then we learned that the Patriot Act was written before September 11. Now, via Americablog, we learn that the National Security Agency wanted to monitor phone calls of U.S. citizens before September 11.
The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.

"The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11," plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. "This undermines that assertion."
It seems that the Bush administration isn't really all that interested in defending the U.S. from terrorists. What they are interested in is a convenient excuse.