Wednesday, October 29, 2008

As Always, Garrison Keillor Gets it Right

From my favorite humorist, Garrison Keillor. (Please click on the link for the full article, because it hits the nail on the head so perfectly.)

It was dishonest, cynical men who put forward a clueless young woman for national office, hoping to juice up the ticket, hoping she could skate through two months of chaperoned campaigning, but the truth emerges: The lady is talking freely about matters she has never thought about. The American people have an ear for B.S. They can tell when someone's mouth is moving and the clutch is not engaged. When she said, "One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let's commit ourselves just every day, American people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars," people smelled gas.

Some Republicans adore her because they are pranksters at heart and love the consternation of grown-ups. The ne'er-do-well son of the old Republican family as president, the idea that you increase government revenue by cutting taxes, the idea that you cut social services and thereby drive the needy into the middle class, the idea that you overthrow a dictator with a show of force and achieve democracy at no cost to yourself -- one stink bomb after another, and now Governor Palin.

She is a chatty sportscaster who lacks the guile to conceal her vacuity, and she was Mr. McCain's first major decision as nominee. This troubles independent voters, and now she is a major drag on his candidacy. She will get a nice book deal from Regnery and a new career making personal appearances for forty grand a pop, and she'll become a trivia question, "What politician claimed foreign-policy expertise based on being able to see Russia from her house?" And the rest of us will have to pull ourselves out of the swamp of Republican economics.

Your broker kept saying, "Stay with the portfolio, don't jump ship," and you felt a strong urge to dump the stocks and get into the money market where at least you're not going to lose your shirt, but you didn't do it and didn't do it, and now you're holding a big bag of brown bananas. Me, too. But at least I know enough not to believe desperate people who are talking trash. Anybody who got whacked last week and still thinks McCain-Palin is going to lead us out of the swamp and not into a war with Iran is beyond persuasion in the English language. They'll need to lose their homes and be out on the street in a cold hard rain before they connect the dots.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

On Sarah Palin, James Dobson and the Separation of Church and State

I was reading an article today that said that nearly half of born again Christians are planning to vote for Obama. To say that I was surprised would be an understatement. Surprised, but pleased as well. It is beyond time for individual Christians to start thinking for ourselves.

This news comes just after my local Christian radio station, Spirit 105.3, broadcast an interview between the Rev. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Yes, that Focus on the Family.

As a non-Republican Christian, I found the interview -- particularly the insinuation that the Republicans are somehow God's party -- unbelievably offensive. So offensive, in fact, that I reprogrammed my 105.3 button this morning to another station. (It wasn't entirely the Dobson-Palin interview. I find most "Christian" music to be insipid and entirely about me-me-me. If the music spoke to my heart, I'm not 100% sure I would have done the same thing.)

But anyhoo. On the above born again Christian post, I left this comment:

Posted by laurie @ 3:16 PM Thu, Oct 23, 2008

I listened to James Dobson and Sarah Palin last night on my local Christian radio station, Spirit 105.3 in Seattle. When Dobson told Sarah how he and many other Christians had engaged in a lengthy prayer for a "miracle" to help them win, I wanted to vomit.

Separation of church and state isn't just to benefit the state. It's to benefit the church as well. When we merge the church with a political party, we commit Christ to positions he would never have chosen on his own. In the case of the Republicans, they've tried to commit Christ to preemptive war, torture, and deficit spending to finance tax cuts for the rich. I don't think Christ would approve of being used in this way.

People like Rev. Dobson treat Christ as a prostitute -- somebody they can dress up in clothing the Lord would never choose for himself so they can pimp him to the world to increase their worldly political power.

A question for Rev. Dobson and everybody like him: How many people have been turned away from Christ because their conscience wouldn't allow them to pull the ballot lever the way you told them they had to?

Shame on you.

My own faith has been affected by the politicization of religion. People like me are treated as non-Christians by those who see the only two litmus tests for Christianity as abortion and gay marriage.

I'm against abortion, but feel that turning it into a criminal act does even more damage. Better to work on the unplanned pregnancies. And I've discussed my thoughts on the gay issue before. (Click on the link for the long version.) Short version: I have a hard time believing that the God of love would cast good people into hell for the sin of loving "wrong," when he created them to love that way. And I certainly don't think that Christ would choose this as one of his two main issues if he were alive today.

And so my Christian beliefs -- in things like working against poverty, and in treating every person as if he or she has value, and in being against things like torture and preemptive war -- is out of step with our American, politicized version of Christianity.

I, for one, am tired of being a second-class Christian citizen.

I am voting for Obama.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Apocalypse Now Not

I am not a tech person. And by that I mean I am REALLY not a tech person. My kids grew up with this stuff. I didn't. And so I consider myself exceptionally lucky that the website I work for has real, actual, paid tech guys. Because us non-tech folks have been known to bring the site down occasionally.

Yes, entirely down. Crashed. Nothing visible to the naked eye except a white screen.

For a site whose revenues are dependent on pageviews, this is not a good thing. Just fyi.

My favorite techie jokingly calls the problem "Apocalypse Code." It usually happens when one of us non-technical people copies code from another source to do something like, say, embed a Youtube-type video.

I say "YouTube-type" because actual YouTube videos are very rarely the problem. YouTube is made for dummies. Like me. They give you the code, right there on the YouTube page. All you have to do is copy it from their site and paste it into yours. No muss, no fuss, no crash.

When issues occur, it tends to be on non-YouTube sites, where you have to do a "View Source" to look at the code from someone else's website. From there you have to pick out the code to copy -- usually a couple of lines in the middle of pages and pages -- all by yourself. It has the potential to be a non-techy's nightmare.

Sometimes we copy too much code, or too little code, which causes the software to say, "Wait a second. There is an opening here but no closing." This can melt down the entire site until the problem is fixed.

So anyhow. The point of my tale: I dragged myself out of bed this morning, and like most mornings, the second thing I did (after the all-importnant starting of the coffee) was check the site.

Uh-oh. Crashed.

The good news is that it was not my fault this time. It was one of my co-bloggers. (Not that I'm pointing fingers or anything. Chris.)

Once I saw that the site was down, I did what I usually do, which is frantically try to contact one of the guys who can fix it. Since it was Sunday morning, though, none of them were online.

So guess what? I went into the guts of the most recent post (where the problem is generally located), took a look at the code, saw some stuff that looked extraneous, and removed it. Returned to the site, and lo and behold, everything was back to normal.

And those of you who are of the tech generation are saying, "Yeah. Big deal."

I am here to tell you that for someone of my generation, it is a big deal, okay? A big freakin' deal. It's performing successful neurosurgery when you don't know how to tell gray matter from white matter. It's like baking a souffle from scratch when you can't boil water. It's's like... It's like something to be proud of, okay?

So I am here to tell you, with great pride:

Apocalypse averted!