Archive for November, 2006

Never forget how terrible America is

November 29, 2006

NY Times editorial on the Pope (the best kind of Times editorial, of course):

As the pope champions the rights of Christians in Turkey and other Muslim lands, he should bear in mind that his words will be most effective if he makes clear that the West still has a long way to go in defending the rights of minorities.


Mea coupa

November 29, 2006

I got an e-mail from a senior faculty member (a biologist) at one of my universities today, and noted a couple of typos. I will share them with you.

First, he apologized for something, and then added “mea coupa.” Well . . . RE-coupa is all I have to say about that. I guess he’s never seen “mea culpa” written out.

Then, he referred to some quiz numbers that got all mixed up. He said they had been “permutted.”

I may need to get a life and stop blogging about crap like this.

Cryptic Scripture Corner

November 28, 2006

This is from Wisdom 12:27, in the King James translation. Yes, all the words are English, but am I the only English-speaker who reads this and is left completely confused?

For, look, for what things they grudged, when they were punished, that is, for them whom they thought to be gods; [now] being punished in them, when they saw it, they acknowledged him to be the true God, whom before they denied to know: and therefore came extreme damnation upon them.

Group movies can never please everyone

November 24, 2006

At my Thanksgiving Day celebration, the five of us present decided to choose a movie to watch together after dinner. I’ll make a long story short: I proposed “Waiting for Guffman,” but was outvoted. We watched “Wedding Crashers” instead.

The host’s sister had called WC “the funniest movie she’d seen in her whole life.” This was a strong selling point for me, I admit. Also compelling was her characterization of the movie’s brand of humor. I asked what kind of humor it was, on a scale from Crude to Sophisticated. She replied that it was more sophisticated than crude.

I should have known better than to trust the judgment of someone who had no fewer than three issues of US Weekly magazine in her possession. In short, the movie was entirely predictable, the jokes could be seen coming a mile away, and they were almost all quite crude. They were unfunny in the extreme, and separated by long, dull segments lasting several unfunny minutes apiece. Every joke was sex-based, and not a few relied on the fact that the actors were articulating things that had already been thought by the viewer. This, I guess, is supposed to make the viewer feel smart, or prophetic . . . or, in my case, cheated for having been given a line that I had just predicted a second before its on-screen delivery.

So: crappy movie, and at least 45 minutes too long. The thing is 2 hours, 8 minutes. Watch me sum it up in 10 seconds: Two morally bankrupt divorce lawyers crash wedding parties in order to get laid. At one of these, one of them falls in love. As guests at the ritzy estate of this woman’s father, he pursues her, while his friend tries to get away from her oversexed sister. They are exposed as frauds, but eventually this being forced to come clean leads to two happy marriages. (I’d compare it to “The Taming of the Shrew” if the plots were a little closer, and if there was anything else similar between them.)

Are there any movies that are sure-fire crowd-pleasers? In a crowd with a female Protestant lawyer who loves US Weekly, a male Catholic literature scholar who hates US Weekly, and three others who fall somewhere in between, it seems that no matter what movie you watch, someone is always going to come out disappointed.

Jetlag Travel books

November 12, 2006

These fictional travel guides are hilarious. I’ve only browsed a few pages on “Molvania” and “San Sombrero,” but will be coming back over the next several days whenever I need a laugh.

Check out the national song of San Sombrero: “La Bababumba.” And don’t forget to turn off pop-up blocking or this site won’t work.

Richard Dawkins at Ted Haggard’s church

November 12, 2006

Check out this short video, which I came across through the Roman Catholic Blog. It is apparently part of a film made by Dawkins about the “evident falsehood” of Christianity.

At one point an annoyed Dawkins tells Haggard that he clearly knows nothing about evolutionary theory. That’s rich, since Dawkins is painfully ignorant of the most basic facts about Christianity. If you like to see atheistic know-it-alls have their philosophical shortcomings explained to them in a public forum, check out Terry Eagleton’s excellent review of Dawkins’s The God Delusion. This review from the NY Times is also excellent, but I like Eagleton’s better.

Addendum to Haggard comments

November 10, 2006

In my last post I said, of Ted Haggard, “hypocrisy runs no deeper than this.” Upon reflection, I see that I was wrong. I now don’t believe that Haggard was a hypocrite. Yes, he was preaching against homosexuality while engaging in it himself, but the mere act doesn’t make him a hypocrite. He would have had to preach against it while secretly believing that it was not wrong. I think he probably always thought it was wrong, but, like any vice, found impossible to overcome. So he was weak but not hypocritical. My thinking on this was influenced by these comments over at

“Jesus Camp”

November 9, 2006

I saw “Jesus Camp” tonight in a small theatre, with about 10 other viewers. There is no plot and no surprise ending, so you if you haven’t seen it you don’t need to worry about my comments diminishing your experience when you do.

A penny for the old guy

November 5, 2006

Today is Guy Fawkes Day in England. On Nov. 5, 1605, Guy Fawkes was discovered in a ground floor vault beneath the House of Lords with 36 barrels (nearly one ton) of gunpowder. The plan had been to blow up King James and Prince Henry on November 5th, the opening day of Parliament, but thanks to a letter that found its way to the King, the stash was found and England saved from regicide.

English Catholics were not helped by the fact that Fawkes and his co-conspirators were also Catholic. They hadn’t been helped in 1588, either, when Catholic Spain tried to invade England. Or in 1586, with the Babington Plot, or in 1678, with that loser Titus Oates made up a story about a “Popish Plot.” (There was no plot, but Catholics were put to death anyway.)

Christmas mini-rant

November 4, 2006

If it’s not too early for retailers to put up Christmas trees and holly in their stores, it’s not too early for me to gruntle a little about it. I saw Christmas decorations in a store on Halloween. No Halloween decorations were visible . . . is it because Halloween doesn’t sell as well as Christmas? Thank God I am not hearing Christmas music yet.

Speaking of Halloween . . . it bugs me when people say “Holloween.” They sound like they caught themselves just before flubbing a holiday shibboleth, and only boors rhyme the first part of Halloween with the last part of marshmallow. Wouldn’t it sound stupid if you heard someone say “marshmollow”? Yeah, it would.