Saturday, April 30, 2005

blame the media

When all else fails, blame it on the media. Surely it's that the liberal media has it in for the pro-life movement and hates crisis pregnancy centers. There can't be any other explanation for why the silent work of crisis-pregnancy centers doesn't get more coverage, can there?

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because we believe that the news media won't make any effort to present our story, we don't spend any effort reaching out to the media and giving them a story that they'll run with. So the news media doesn't report anything positive about crisis pregnancy centers, thereby proving that they are in bed with pro-choice activists.

Media outlets love heartwarming stories about people helping other people in need. That's a big part of liberalism, don'cha know? Forget the rhetoric, take the time to develop a serious media campaign, and spend the money it would take to implement it properly, and pro-life groups will find they're getting more coverage of their activities.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I'm not just a liberal journalist. Let's pretend that I'm also a pro-choice liberal journalist. Chances are that I'm going to be one of those who just takes abortion as a for-granted position, and it's not an obsession for me at all, any more than auto insurance reform.

Every time I run into someone who is strongly pro-life, they rant and rave about how Planned Parenthood is killing babies, how the media are deliberately covering up the dangers of legal abortion to protect their allies in the abortion industry, and how we always go for the sensational stories that make pro-lifers look like idiots and ignore the things they quietly do to help pregnant women. Every now and then I'll encounter other wackos who automatically assume that I'm going to hell and publicly call on people to pray for my soul, without even stopping to find out anything about my spiritual state.

That's a fairly rude way to treat someone. It irritates the real me, who has been pro-life since his teen years. I can only imagine how much worse it would go over with a pro-choice me.

This isn't just about publicity and marketing. A lot of it is about plain old-fashioned manners.

Want coverage of other aspects of the pro-life movement than the loudmouths at demonstrations and protests? Then find some way to make "business as usual" sound compelling. It's not that hrrd -- there are literally thousands of PR firms that do just that for their clients, every day. Get the local Birthright or some other pro-life group to hire me, and I guarantee I will start getting them into the newspaper, and not just little three-inch press releases, either. Most advertising money is money poured down the drain, anyway.

I can't begin to tell you how many times as a reporter and as an editor small-business owners called us up to let us know about what was going on, or just loved it when we used their business for a news story. Nonprofits loved it too -- it always drove up the giving and got their message out to the community.

Conservatives and churches have bandied about the term "liberal media" so much that they've created a divide that doesn't have to be there. Groups that could benefit tremendously from the news media just don't think about it because they've been told so many times that the media have it in for them that they believe it. And so, rather than being in the world but not of it, we withdraw further from it, and create our own media to broadcast our message loud and clear to people who already know it by heart.

It is within our ability to get the right horns tooted, but to do that we need to take the initiative to do it, and make a better effort to get along with the people who work in the news media. Complaining that it's not our fault doesn't accomplish either of those purposes.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

pro-adoption

One thing the muckraker in me has always wanted to do is to try to organize an adoption awareness event, and ask Planned Parenthood or some other pro-choice group to help support the event.

And then when they refused, I would have a field day with their commitment to choice not extending to choices that don't involve abortion.

Fortunately for everyone, the muckraker in me long has been underfed and reined tightly in by those dirty old ethics of mine. Setting someone up for a fall is just low, and I couldn't do it, even to a group that supports abortion on demand.

But it is an entertaining thought.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

plugging away at enrollment

I spoke to the superintendent's office today, and got the impression that they don't have a clue what they're doing, but I wrote down the name of the person I spoke to and what she said so I can use it later on, if it comes down to that. She had said that they have no problem with Evangeline entering first grade if she's already covered the kindergarten material. (Ha! This 5-year-old whizzed through addition and subtraction flash cards earlier today. In kindergarten, you only need to know your numbers.)

I'm calling the state Department of Education later today, I hope, to see if I can get info on exactly which statutes cover homeschooling and transfer into public schools.

I'm probably putting more effort into this than I need to, since the charter school is multi-grade level and they'll test Evangeline before the start of school to establish her baseline, but I'm still concerned about her being filed as K and having to spend an extra year in school if we end up staying in public schools for the rest of her education. (Like I said earlier, I'd rather homeschool her all 12 years, if possible, but we don't all agree on that as a family.)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

sanity saver

We've found it very useful to have the rule that the same videotape or DVD may not be watched more than once in the same day. We've had that rule since Evangeline was born, long before she discovered the TV, and it's been a great rule for preserving sanity in the house.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

a big idea come and gone

Remember when VeggieTales was actually funny?

The brain child of Phil Vischer, VeggieTales is a computer-animated show about talking vegetables, like Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, and a few others, including a family of carrots, some grapes and a bunch of asparagus spears. It's goofy, in an off-beat and creative way; billing itself as "Sunday-morning values and Saturday morning fun" as it marketed itself toward a primarily Christian market.

Unfortunately, VeggieTales series went downhill since about a year before they did "Jonah," their feature-length adaptation of the book of Jonah, and has never made it back up. Their latest offerings like "Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed" and "The Wonderful World of Auto-Tainment!" -- not to mention "Larry Boy and the Angry Eyebrows" or "Duke and the Great Pie War" -- show signs of being rushed through production in order to make a quick buck.

These are videos that either needed more work, or that never should have been considered. The lessons are still there, but they're expressed too forecefully, the story is belabored and stilted, and the humor is forced. These are tapes and DVDs that were not worth buying. In the case of "Auto-Tainment," we actually wrote to Big Idea to say how awful it was.

It's a shame, because the company was producing some high-quality stuff for a while, like "Larry Boy and the Fib from Outer Space" and "Esther: The Girl Who Became Queen." Subpar videos cheapen the brand.

We have three episodes on DVD of their 3-2-1 Penguins series, but I have to say that I haven't been very impressed with that series as a whole. They're more sophisticated than the more recent Veggie Tales offerings, but even so, they're just not engaging. The series has a science fiction motif, but the lessons are more typical of Sunday school fare than what we were accustomed to with VeggieTales: the story is subordinated to making a point, rather than telling a good story and letting the moral come out.

Evangeline has asked a couple times to watch them, and it's better than some of the stuff she could be asking to watch, so I guess I shouldn't complain too much.

But I'm still really disappointed at the turn this show has taken.

Friday, April 22, 2005

school bureaucrats

My wife and I are going to put our daughter into a charter school for first grade, but we're currently amid a minor bureaucratic struggle to get her past year of schooling to count for kindergarten. (She missed the cutoff date in our school district by two weeks, which is what initially decided us in favor of homeschooling.)

Well, according to a letter I received today from the superintendent of schools, Evangeline is allowed to enter first grade -- as long as we can provide "the appropriate certification regarding the program that [she] has completed." Well, duh. It's a homeschool, innit?

We didn't use a curriculum for kindergarten, since there are no state core curriculum requirements for it and it isn't even mandatory for a child to attend kindergarten in Iowa. I've got a list of all the books Evangeline has read herself or had read to her, records of the classes we enrolled her in outside the home, and a nice portfolio of some of the projects she's worked on here at home, albeit rather few worksheets.

Can anyone recommend resources, people or organizations that can help us with this? I haven't wanted to put her into public school at all since we found out we were expecting, but this is the route we've decided on as a family, and I hate for a bureaucrat to tell us we can't do it because they don't like homeschooling.

inerrancy

What exactly do we mean by biblical inerrancy? At what point do we say "This can't be metaphorical" or "This has to be exactly how it happened," before the whole thing collapses like a house of cards?

On the forum we've talked before about whether Jonah was an historical story, or just a parable, and I think only one guy said "Absolutely, it's historical." The rest of us hedged our bets and said, "Well, it could be, but it isn't necessarily." We've had similar talks regarding the manner of Creation and other such topics. The Jewish tradition is a big one for using stories to teach lessons, as evidenced by the frequent use of parables throughout the Bible. As I've heard it argued -- and I have no idea how accurate the claim is -- the insintence that all the stories in the Bible be interpreted literally is a phenomenon found only in the last couple hundred years, and not one that would have been espoused during biblical times.

"Lord of the Rings" also presents itself as factual, in a sense. If we had found it in a clay jar in a bog, we would have believed it to be a long-lost cycle of literature, particularly with its references to lost stories, transcriptions and so on. Who's to say the book of Jonah doesn't have an analogous origin?

Just because God can do something doesn't mean that he does. The story would be less fantastical if we had something else we could relate it to, such as another incident of someone being swallowed by a "great fish" and surviving the incident. Unfortunately, the only incident I'm aware of that was fabricated for a 19th-century sermon.

With many other biblical stories, such as the parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Plagues, and even the fire that consumed Elijah's water-soaked sacrifice, we have ideas based on observation and intepretation that give us some insight into how God may have worked his purposes. In the case of Jonah, we usually just have to shrug our shoulders and say, "Well, he's God, so he could do it."

But still, even in the more concrete events of the Bible, there's enough variation within the text that inerrancy can't mean completely accurate in every single freaking detail. The chronology of the gospels is nonexistent, for starters, even if we assume Jesus cleansed the Temple twice. One gospel has Jesus cursing the fig tree, and it withers immediately; another has him cursing the fig tree, and it's withered when they come back, about a week later.

Other details vary from gospel to gospel. How many angels were at the tomb? Who got there first? What did Jesus say right before he died? Did both thieves taunt Jesus, or just one? Did Judas buy a field and fall forward in it, or did he hang himself? How many demoniacs identified as Legion were lurking in the tombs when Jesus and his disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee? Why are there two lines of descent from David to Jesus? If memory serves, the Torah prescribes two different ways to prepare the same sacrifice, once in Leviticus and once in Deuteronomy, and each passage strictly forbids the other passage's technique. (And for that matter, did Moses really write all that Law *in advance* of the Israelites' entry into the Promised Land, or did Jeremiah or someone else just make that up years later when the book of the Law "was found"?

Now most of those aren't hard to harmonize, but it's not hard to find more, even without the skeptics gleefully jumping on every small detail, and not all the explanations we give are wholly satisfactory. To an extent, we can shrug our shoulders and say it's not important, because the ancient Hebrews told stories as a means of communicating Truth, and whether the stories were real often didn't enter into it. (I may be mistaken, but I believe our insistence on taking everything literally is a fairly recent development in hermeneutics; i.e, in the last couple hundred years.)

See, I'm just wondering where we stop and what our basis is for stopping there. If the myth time of Genesis 1-11 is meant to be a vehicle for truth and is not meant to be taken as literal history, then what reason do we have to believe that the Exodus really happened as described? And if Jonah is just a nice parable to remind the Israelites that God lives the Ninevites too, then what reason do we have to believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead and that the gospel isn't just another reassuring story? Once we begin playing with the canon like that, where do we stop?

Don't misunderstand. I'm not having a crisis of faith. I long ago accepted that I can answer many reasonable challenges to my faith, and that there are other challenges I have no idea how to respond to. It's not about who has the best argument, pro or con, since there's always somebody on the other side with a more intelligent argument. It's really about Jesus and who he is, and what the Cross represents.

But I'm wondering: Where do you draw the line at the old metaphorical interpretation or "It's not that important" reasoning?

The point of the text is more important than picayune nittygritty or even historical details. It really wouldn't bother me too much to find out that the titulus had the languages in a different order from the way they're listed in the gospels, for example, and it wouldn't really bother me to find out that the Earth is significantly older than Usher's 6,000-odd years.

BUT! At some point, the Truth of the story has to be borne out by the reality of the story. If, as some revisionist historians claim, there was no Exodus from Egypt, that the entire story is just a nationalist myth meant to comfort Israelites with a nice story that they were special and unique in all the world, that is a major blow to the faith, isn't it? If the role models of faith we're given in the Patriarchs or the prophets are manufactured just to convey a point about the importance of faith or to provide a demonstration of what faith ought to be, doesn't that render the lesson somewhat less legitimate?

All but the most ardent fundamentalists will agree that if anything stopped for Joshua it was the Earth's rotation, not the sun. But if even that didn't stop, well, then, doesn't that diminish the truth of the lesson that God was watching over Israel, somewhat?

At what point does the history stop being subordinate to the authoritative nature of the Bible? At Christ's life? (Note the discrepancies among the synoptics, and with the gospel of John.) And again, what about those dratted inconsistencies in Christ's genealogy? If he was descended from the king God had cut off ever having a successor on the throne, then doesn't that raise questions about the authoritative nature of the Bible, even on spiritual matters?

I never said I had all the answers, just a lot of questions.

Like I said somewhere else a while ago, I realized long ago that the truth of the gospel ultimately isn't going to be settled by argument. There are thousands of skeptics out there with arguments, many of which I can refute to my own satisfaction. Others, I can't, but I know people who can or I know how to find the answer myself.

What I can attest to is the transforming power of the Risen Christ, and what he's done in my life and the lives of those around me. If I'm following Christ the way he asks me to, others will be able to see it for themselves.

So I accept that I have doubts, that I have questions, and there are some things that just plain don't make sense right now. At the same time, God put a brain in my head for more than proper balance of the noggin, so I'm trying to figure out what those answers are. If I never figure them out, well, fair enough. My faith is past the point where a few vexing questions are going to unravel it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

needlephobia

I've never been able to get myself to give blood because my dislike of needles is so strong. Getting allergy shots every week for fourteen years probably has something to do with it, but I've also had one or two times where doctors had to give me an IV or draw blood and had to stick me a few times before they could get anything.

From what I've been told, it's a moot point anyway, since I lived in Haiti for two years, from 1992 to 1994. Supposedly, I'm ineligible to give blood until 2014, but I don't have that from anyone in authority. All anyone has been able to tell me is that there are travel-based restrictions, but they don't know what they are off the top of their heads.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

psoriasis treatment

Things are going pretty well here, all things considered.

For only the second time in eighteen years or so, I'm getting some serious treatment for my psoriasis. Psoriasis, if you don't know, is a skin ailment that's genetic in nature and that flares up under stress. It looks like red, raw skin with white scaley flakes, if for no other reason than it's red, raw skin with white scaley flakes. I've had it since I was 17, and I had a small patch on my back, the size of my quarter. It's gone up and down a few times, but has never gone away entirely, and each time it's flared up, it's come back worse. At the moment, it covers 40 percent of my body, including my legs, my arms, parts of my stomach, my scalp, my shoulders, my forehead, and almost all my back, plus a few other spots.

A previous dermatologist had prescribed some topical steroids that worked like a charm and cleared up everything within about three weeks (unfortunately, that was before I started working at The Pit, more commonly known as WCN Newspapers), so I was expecting something similar this time. The dermatologist I was referred to this time didn't want to do that, since my psoriasis is so extenseive and topical steroids are steroids, after all, and coating almost half your body with steroids twice a day isn't something most doctors recommend for the long haul.

So instead, I'm getting phototherapy. With a name like that, you'd almost expect it to involve talking to a psychiatrist about how your mother never loved you and always had you airbrushed out of the family pictures, but it actually involves being exposed to ultraviolet light, since that's pretty much the only things that clears up psoriasis naturally. If you consider it natural to stand naked in a chamber lined with bright lights while you wear nothing but a pair of sunglasses shaped like swimming goggles, and hold a paper towel over your most personal anatomy, that is.

The downside to all this is that my share of the office visits comes to $10 a visit, and I have to visit the dermatologist's office three times a week for about four months to make this all work,so we're talking about $500 in co-payments.

The upshot to that is that I'm also taking a second medical treatment that involves injecting myself every Monday and Thursday morning with a psoriasis-treatment drug. Since both treatments are FDA-approved, I'm getting a combination of treatments with a proven track record of success -- FOR FREE. I'm taking part in a study to see how much faster patients respond to the treatments when they're combined. So not only am I getting the doctors' visits (and the drug) for free, I'm getting paid about $800 to do it.

The only part that really bites is that I have to inject myself, and I really hate needles. (Thank God I'm not diabetic. I can't imagine injecting myself with insulin three times a day.)

The other big news is that I've just committed myself for the next two years to a role-playing adventure using AD&D, version 3.5. It's a major transition for me, since I haven't played D&D in about 20 years, since I was in middle school. I actually got rid of all my D&D stuff back when I was in college, and the only roleplaying I've done since has been a little bit of NeverWorld and some live-action roleplaying as a vampire about eight years ago.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

the heartbreak of psoriasis

For only the second time in eighteen years or so, I'm getting some serious treatment for my psoriasis.

Psoriasis, if you don't know, is a skin ailment that's genetic in nature and that flares up under stress. It looks like red, raw skin with white scaly flakes, if for no other reason than it's red, raw skin with white scaly flakes. At the moment, it covers 40 percent of my body, including my legs, my arms, parts of my stomach, my scalp, my shoulders, my forehead, my generative organs and almost all my back, plus a few spots on my buttocks.

I've had it since I was 17, when it was a small patch on my back, the size of my quarter. It's gone up and down a few times, but has never gone away entirely. Each time it's flared up, it's come back worse.

A previous dermatologist had prescribed some topical steroids that worked like a charm and cleared up everything within about three weeks. Unfortunately, that was before I started working at The Pit, more commonly known as WCN, and it soon roared back to life.

The dermatologist I was referred to this time didn't want to do that. My psoriasis is extensive and topical steroids are steroids, after all, and coating more than half your body with steroids twice a day isn't something most doctors recommend for the long haul.


I get a whole booth to myself.
So instead, I'm getting phototherapy. Sadly, this does not involve talking with a psychiatrist about how my mother didn't love me and always had me airbrushed out of the family pictures. It instead involves being exposed to ultraviolet light, the only way to clear up psoriasis naturally.

That is, it's natural if you consider it natural to stand naked in a chamber lined with bright lights while you wear nothing but a pair of devo sunglasses shaped like swimming goggles, and stand there holding a paper towel over your most personal anatomy.

The downside to all this is that my share of the office visits comes to $10 a visit, and I have to visit the dermatologist's office three times a week for about four months to make this all work, so we're talking about $500 in co-payments.

The upshot to that is that I'm also taking a second medical treatment that involves injecting myself every Monday and Thursday morning with a psoriasis-treatment drug. Since both treatments are FDA-approved, I'm getting a combination of treatments with a proven track record of success, for free.

I'm taking part in a study to see how much faster patients respond to the treatments when they're combined. So not only am I getting the doctors' visits (and the drug) for free, I'm getting paid about $800 to do it. It just keeps getting better.

The only part that really bites is that I have to inject myself, and I really hate needles.

Thank God I'm not diabetic. I can't imagine injecting myself with insulin three times a day.

Friday, April 15, 2005

pat sajak

Pat Sajak has a hub on his site where he complains about how liberals have ruined political discourse in America. It seems you can't say anything in support of our president or a conservative viewpoint without being savaged by the liberals in the media and all around us.

Sajak's column is going to win points with conservative readers who already feel that way about outspoken Far Left-ers, but for thoughtful and reasoned analysis, it falls far short in really saying anything meaningful about the shrill tone of American political discourse. There is no shortage of people on the Far Right who demonize liberals as hating America, freedom and apple pie; who bill anyone on the Left as traitors, lacking a moral backbone, and so on.

It was only six months ago I was hearing that the Left would sell us all out to al Qaeda, that liberals would destroy the institution of marriage, that liberals are a bunch of soft-brained crybabies who want to be coddled, and so on. It was barely two weeks ago that I was hearing that liberals hate life and the people who try to defend it. And I'm regularly reminded on this very forum that the liberals in the media and that prominent Democrats have no ethics, no standards, no sense of fair play, and no grasp of reality.

When you get down to brass tacks, no political party, position or leaning has a dearth of arrogant SOB's, and there's plenty of blame to go around for the lack of reasoned political dialogue.

As Christians, whether liberal or conservative, Right or Left, I think it behooves all to begin the process of reconciliation by looking at ourselves and asking the Lord to show us where we have sinned against one another, and against the world. We're all guilty of looking down our noses at people who we think "just don't get it"; for seeing people as the enemy instead of as other people with different ideas or approaches to improving the world; and for allowing our own sense of right and wrong to drown out our sense of community and love.

Repentance and forgiveness should be our legacy, not arrogance, judgment and "neener neener."

Sajak's right, as far as he goes: There are plenty of loudmouth liberals who have left the planet and lost all sense of proportion. They're the ones who think a comparison between Bush and Hitler is reasonable, if a little unfair to Hitler.

The thing is, it's not the nitwits on the Left alone who have brought public political discourse in the States to a standstill. There are plenty of blowhards and bastards on the Right as well. I used to work for a newspaper where the publisher nuked every staff-written column that criticized Bush policies because they "weren't local enough" while he had no problem with staff-written columns that expressed a pro-Republican viewpoint. (Note that I said "columns" and not "editorials.") And Carol's points about the treatment of liberal views or unapproved lifestyles in the Bible belt are worth remembering.

My underlying point remains that we're barking up the wrong tree when we start pointing the finger at liberals, or at conservatives, and saying "They're so bad." We're missing the point when we sing without ceasing the lament of the Biased Liberal (or Conservative) Media. We're in the wrong when we laugh and say "What's the matter? Can't you handle being the ones out of power?"

We're in the wrong, because we're just as guilty.

Greg, I've sinned. It's been easy -- too easy -- for me to wag the prophetic finger at City Council and bemoan their willful disregard for the rights and needs of my city's poor, and the way they use their eminent domain power to uproot established, home-grown businesses, destroying people's livelihood and removing homes while they claim to be engaged in "redevelopment."

I say I've sinned not because I've been unfair to the City Council or because I've failed to appreciate the economic advantages to having another Starbuck's instead of a privately owned deli.

I've sinned, because there have been many times I've been just as willfully ignorant or negligent of my responsibility to do what's right by my hungry or homeless neighbors.

The city leaders have sinned, and so have I.

I say I've sinned not because it's wrong for me to notice and comment on the transparent bias in a news report; to be disgusted by the shoddy reporting and lazy investigation that went into the story; or to be outraged by the plagiarism I've seen professionals commit, the stories that are so far from reality that it staggers the mind, or the other sins of journalism.

I've sinned, because I've committed the same faults, even if they haven't been in print. There have been times I've allowed my passions to blind me to fairly presenting a situation to my wife, to my employer, to a friend, and to a neutral third party. There have been times I've been too lazy or tired to dig into the truth of a matter and find out what really happened, and so students got away with something they shouldn't, or the wrong person was punished, or everyone was. And there have been times someone's shared ideas with me, and I've passed them, and forgotten to give credit where it was due, or I've claimed to have been an influence for an action I wasn't even involved in.

And like everyone else here, I hate it when things don't go my way and I feel like the people who could help me are completely indifferent to how I need their help.

I've sinned in all these ways and more, and if I had to take bets, I'd wager that everyone who reads this forum has committed those sins too.

So that's why I made my post. There are many times this forum has played host to a game of Look How Stupid They Are. We all get into it in one form or another, either online or at home. We talk about how one group or another doesn't get it, acts as though they think the entire world would be better off if we all thought they way they did, and (of course) we do it with the oft-unstated but still clear understanding that we are different. We, as the better party, understand or are privy to a higher order than the poor slobs we're castigating as proud, judgmental and woefully uninformed.

And that's why I suggest that we all need some prayer and some soul-searching. Because, just like Sajak's column ironically misses the fact that the fault he sees in his liberal friends can be found among conservatives, we all miss the plank in our own eyes.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

not a city in china

A friend writes:

The base tip rate is 18 percent. Cash, please. If you use a credit card, you must tip more, because many servers don't report cash on their income tax, so cash is worth twice is much to them. 15 percent is what you tip when the service is just barely adequate. 10 percent -- you'll never be served again.

That's an interesting viewpoint, but it's not a practice I'm inclined to agree with, quite. We always put our tip on the credit card, and never feel inclined to tip extra because we are tipping that way. I see no obligation to tip extra because I'm not letting someone cheat on their taxes, nor to help them cheat.

I prefer to tip closer to 20 percent of the post-tax bill than to 15, and under no circumstances will I tip less than 15. I've been known to give people, including my dear old mother, tremendous grief for wanting to tip less than 15. (Money's really tight right now, so we're not eating out at all, which renders the whole issue moot, to be honest.)

Honestly, my inclination is to tip a little extra when we get shoddy service, although I'll also report it to the manager. A lousy waiter or waitress may not deserve the extra tip, but there's a lot of things I haven't deserved that I've still received, by God's grace.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

'til we have faces

Much as I loved "That Hideous Strength" and the Narnia books, "Til We Have Faces" blows them all out of the water. It is far and away C.S. Lewis' best piece of fiction. It also presents a more mature, more personal and more honest look at the nature of suffering than his previous book to deal with the subject, "The Problem of Pain."

The main character, Queen Orual, writes the first part of the book as a complaint against the gods because they are cruel to men beyond reason and without excuse. They take away from us everything that ever gave us happiness, and make it so that we often appear to be to blame for our own misery. (In her case, she had the misfortune of being one of the sisters in the Cupid and Psyche myth.)

In the second part of the book, she gets to deliver her complaint against the gods, and is answered.

Fantastic reading. I re-read it after Lumpy moved back to his parents, and found it made much more sense than it had the first time I read it, years earlier.

Monday, April 04, 2005

tattoos

The risk of hepatitis is substantial enough that I wouldn't get a tattoo. But if you do, here are a few suggestions:
  1. If you've been studying the martial arts and you've progressed far enough, get a black belt tattooed around your waist.
  2. Conversely, get a button-down shirt, necktie, dress pants, socks and shoes tattooed on your whole body, to save time getting dressed in the morning.
  3. Get an arrow pointing to your chin, with the inscription above it, "This end up."
  4. Get an arrow pointing to your chin, with the inscription above it, "I'm with stupid."
  5. Shave your head and have the back of it tattooed, "Handle with care. Contents fragile."
  6. As a sign of loyalty to your employer, have their logo tattooed on your forehead.
  7. Get an elephant with a black belt, kicking the snot out of a donkey.
  8. Have the words "At least I'm not Dave Learn" tattooed somewhere prominent.