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Sunday, January 31, A.D. 2010
Star Wars Weather Forecast

It feels like Hoth outside!

My brother Aaron notified me of the Star Wars Weather Forecast. If you go to the page, you can type in your city and then receive a basic weather report conveyed by one of the settings in the Star Wars films. Here, it is currently Hoth, “Cold, ice, freezing desolation.” I did a search for Lagos, Nigeria, and I got Yavin IV, “Hot, but with some cloud in the sky.” Cairo was Bespin, “Fog, mist, cloud. Can’t see a thing.” New Orleans was Endor, “Temperate, but grey and cloudy.”

I was saddened that Cairo did not give me Tatooine, which is what I expected. Dubai, however, failed me not, “Hot, dry, occasional sarlacc.”

I fully admit that I am a Star Wars geek; and I have way too much fun trying to get various locations in a galaxy far, far away to tell me the weather of some of Earth’s notable cities. My most sincere gratitude goes to Tom Scott, the site’s designer, for bequeathing such a gift to mankind. His awesome nerdiness ought to astound us all.

What’s your town like right now?

Posted by Joseph on Sunday, January 31, Anno Domini 2010
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Friday, January 29, A.D. 2010
Gringo Donovan Runs for the Border

A current television commercial for a Mexican lottery game has troubled the sensitive feelings of some hyper-estrogenized North Americans. The advertisement features American soccer player Landon Donovan as an illegal alien who sneaks into Mexico to play the lottery game, which is only for Mexican citizens. Evidently, the commercial is quite popular among the Mexican masses (who, unlike their and our cultural elites, have a sense of humor), as it plays with comic inversion upon the immigration issue as well as indulges in the Mexican obsession with fútbol.

I am heartened somewhat to think that the Leftist bureaucrats who rule our two nations have less credibility among Mexicans than among “Anglo” Americans. Eventually, even little white boys and little white girls in pristine Vermont won’t abide by their idiocy. Nature has a way of self correction, and the sheer lying nonsense of the politically correct [sic] tyrants will eventually exhaust the patience of long suffering Americans.

When the revolución comes . . .

Posted by Joseph on Friday, January 29, Anno Domini 2010
Monday, January 25, A.D. 2010
The Onion on Abortion

After my last several posts about the March for Life, allow me to offer you some morbid comic relief from The Onion. Of course, no one can bring humor to the abortion debate with tact, but there are clever ways to go about it—and The Onion nails it. For a satirical company that clearly orients itself toward the metropolitan, college educated Left, I find it to be incredibly subtle and smart as it mocks social issues. As with The Simpsons and South Park, I marvel at its ability to preach truth to the blind while simutaneously making them laugh.

The first time that I remember encountering the abortion debate in America’s Finest News Source was in the Point / Counterpoint section eleven years ago. Read it; it’s brilliantly funny and it wonderfully undermines the thoughtless dogma of the abortion rights crowd with humor—which makes them unwittingly receptive to hear what they often refuse to hear:

Point: Life Begins At Conception
By Marilyn Brewster

Life begins at the moment of conception. To say otherwise is not only to deny the word of God, but to defy science. An abortion takes the life of a living person, whether the procedure occurs in the first week of pregnancy or the last.

Some say abortion merely destroys the “potential” for life. Yet there is no point during the entire nine-month gestation period when the developing fetus is fundamentally different from the child that is ultimately born. A child in the embryonic stage may not have the physical appearance of a newborn baby, but the genetic material that will determine that child’s sex, hair color and eye color is present from the time he or she is what a pro-abortion advocate would rather you look at as “a mass of undifferentiated cells.”

Medical research shows that a baby’s heart begins beating by Day 25, and electroencephalographic evidence demonstrates that a baby’s brain is already functioning by the end of the sixth week. Still, neither of these checkpoints in early fetal development acceptably mark the beginning of life, for they are just points along a continuum of development—a continuum that starts the moment the egg is fertilized.

So how can the government dictate at what point an abortion can be performed? How can anyone say that at 24 weeks and 6 days, a child is not a viable human being, but at 25 weeks it is? The answer is simple: It’s a human being from the start!

An unborn child is not part of a woman’s body. It is a separate being, albeit one that depends on his or her mother for protection. Is there anyone who would argue that a mother cannot be held accountable for the life and death of an infant in her care? By the same token, a mother should be held responsible for the life of a child from the point of conception—the point at which life begins.

Counterpoint: Life Begins At 40!
By Irene Hasselbeck

I’m sorry, but I must strongly disagree with Ms. Brewster. Life begins at 40!

For anyone out there about to turn the big four-oh and dreading it, let me assure you: I myself just hit the milestone earlier this year and, like a bottle of fine wine, I’m only getting better with age. As far as I’m concerned, 40 is when life really begins! . . .
(Read the rest. )

We can now see The Onion News Network cover the issue in a similar way that superficially makes fun of laws that require abortion providers to offer sonograms to women before they perform abortions. However, the truth—the awful truth—gets through in an absurd parody of the even more absurd reality.

I am always surprised by them.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, January 25, Anno Domini 2010
Thursday, January 21, A.D. 2010
A Different Kind of March on Washington

If you are traveling to Washington, D.C. to attend the March for Life, I wish you a safe journey, and I shall see you and many other folks on the Mall tomorrow.

As comic relief, though, on your tedious trip through the wintry American landscape, I offer you a paradigmatically Onionesque take on political marches: “Racist Figurines March on Washington.”

WASHINGTON, DC—Calling themselves “insulting caricatures born of bigotry” and “demeaning portrayals bearing no resemblance to actual human beings or cultures,” an estimated 400,000 so-called jigaboos, pickaninnies and darky po’ boys representing racist statuary from across the U.S. marched on Washington Monday.

Decrying their own existence, the figurines demanded that legislators acknowledge them as “the unwanted remnants of a bygone and hateful era” and take immediate steps toward abolishing racially stereotyped imagery like themselves.

“Look at me,” Uncle Ben, a desexualized, rice-peddling “Good Slave” archetype, told fellow rallygoers. “I’m nothing like a real person. Look at my coveralls, my smiling, bug-eyed expression of passivity and subjugation. Clearly, I never should have outlasted the antebellum era, yet I’m still a widely recognized pop-cultural icon. I’m so angry I could boil in just five to ten minutes.”

Ben and his female counterpart Aunt Jemima, a genial, syrup-filled “Matron Servant” archetype, led the crowd in chanting slogans such as “Jockey No More” and “Hold Your Own Pony!” Jemima encouraged the crowd to resist caricatured representation of African Americans by hurling themselves from shelves and by falling over on lawns and golf courses. . . .

Read the rest in The Onion‘s archives.

“Hold Your Own Pony!” is my favorite line. I love The Onion.

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, January 21, Anno Domini 2010
Friday, January 15, A.D. 2010

I discovered last week that someone has made the drink featured in Mike Judge’s Idiocracy: Brawndo. If you have never seen Idiocracy, you might enjoy its crass satire as it mocks our lowbrow, trashy mass culture. My favorite part of the movie involves Brawndo, when it features a hilarious parody of moronic ratiocination.

I do not expect the drink to be good, but I found the cheap commercials on the Brawndo web site rather smirk inducing. They are a filthy celebration of the stupid (rated PG-13).

And yet another commercial for Brawndo, the Thirst Mutilator:

Here is the last one—truly a drink fit for the audience of Jackass.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, January 15, Anno Domini 2010
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Wednesday, January 13, A.D. 2010

Happy birthday to my nephew, Austin! In honor of his birthday, allow me to plug one of the computer games that we both have enjoyed—Pharaoh.

Sierra released Pharaoh in A.D. 1999 as a managerial city building game—a sort of SimCity along the Nile. You play various levels of increasing difficulty where you have to develop agriculture, harvest natural resources, trade, and, of course, build a city. Like Zeus: Master of Olympus and Caesar, you the city ruler must make sure that your people eat, that your priests appease their pagan gods, and that your military forces defend the city from invasion. Eventually, you get to build the great structures for which Egypt is known, including the great pyramids. It is a fun and informative game, which teaches its players a little bit about ancient Egyptians’ architectural, social, economic, agricultural, and religious life. For example, you have to build farm plots along the Nile’s flood plain, and you better make sure that you can harvest the crop before the next flooding season or your workers drown and you loose valuable wheat. The site Pharaoh Heaven has more information about the game.

I think that the game fosters an interest in Egypt, as well. I gave my nephew the game when he was quite young, and still, as a teenager, he retains an interest in the gift of the Nile. He loved the Field Museum’s temple exhibits in Chicago, and just a few weeks ago, we visited the “Secrets of Egypt” exhibit at the Union Terminal and learnt more about mummification. So, if you wish to plant a little seed of Egyptology in the fertile mind of a child, consider giving him Pharaoh to play.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, January 13, Anno Domini 2010
Tuesday, January 12, A.D. 2010
Avatar Gnostics

On his View from the Right, Auster frequently explores and expatiates on Voegelin’s ideas about the gnostic impulse in man. See, for instance, this fascinating thread on gnosticism as a flight from uncertainty: “The Escape from Uncertainty: a Theory of Liberalism.” In such a vein, Auster wondered yesterday if the Avatar blues phenomenon that many movier watchers experience after having seen the film has something to do with Leftist gnosticism. I wrote to him about it, and he posted my following message in “Cameron’s Cinematic Liberal Paradise Makes Viewers Hate Reality”:

I sympathize with the poor folks who want to live on Cameron’s imagined eco-utopia. Though I have not seen Avatar (largely because of the discussion on your site), I have often wanted to travel to fictional worlds, and I suppose that such is common. My youth was spent yearning for Tolkien’s Middle Earth, where the exemplars of good and evil—and of virtue and vice—are more striking and obvious. Does not an Ivanhoesque Romantic stirring ever visit your breast, where you long to see the hero conquer the villains and then ride off into the sunset with the princess? Fantasy is full of our projected wishes, and I don’t know if it is gnostic to wish to see the world more clearly alive and wonderful than how we tend to find it. Looking at what the modern West has become makes me more than a little escapist. Of course, such escapism can be debilitating if indulged in too much. Like strong drink, a little bit of fantasy can take the edge off of our despair.

However, you are quite correct in noting that the best forms of fantasy make us see and appreciate the real world better. I would say that reading Tolkien inculcates an appreciation of creation’s splendor. The Inklings have brought to us moderns a glimpse of the premodern view of the world; they have introduced us to Pan. We who have been thoroughly secularized into seeing the world in a lifeless, horizontal, Cartesian way (as something simply to manipulate) easily lose our ability to see woods, rivers, and fields as alive, mysterious, and beautiful—in short, as iconic. The pagans thought that forests, hills, and lakes were sacred and full of spirits. They only erred in ignoring the divine power that manifests itself in such wondrous works. We Christians do not desecrate the world but connect its majesty with the source of such. Such recalls the tenth book of the Confessions:

And what is this God? I asked the earth, and it answered, “I am not he”; and everything in the earth made the same confession. I asked the sea and the deeps and the creeping things, and they replied, “We are not your God; seek above us.” I asked the fleeting winds, and the whole air with its inhabitants answered, “Anaximenes was deceived; I am not God.” I asked the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars; and they answered, “Neither are we the God whom you seek.” And I replied to all these things which stand around the door of my flesh: “You have told me about my God, that you are not he. Tell me something about him.” And with a loud voice they all cried out, “He made us.” My question had come from my observation of them, and their reply came from their beauty of order.

So, it may not be that these poor souls are gnostics. They may simply be aware of the void that the modern, atheistic world leaves them. Given the soul crushing materialism, consumerism, and general cowardice and dishonestly that typify our society, do you really blame them for wanting to live on an alien planet with happy pantheists? They are being fed confections from a tainted store, but their hunger is genuine and understandable.

Good luck in bringing the masses substantive meat.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, January 12, Anno Domini 2010
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Friday, January 1, A.D. 2010

Happy new year! I wish everyone good in A.D. 2010.

For this year’s first humorous offering, consider the following web site as worth a good raugh: Engrish. It features pictures of “Engrish” from around the world. Engrish is a trendy name for English speech or writing by non-Anglophones that amusingly mutilates the language. Be warned, however, that many of the pictures as well as the commentary contain vulgar language. For things don’t always translate well.

My favorite personal experience with Engrish involves a meal that I ordered from Talay Thai—a restaurant on Capitol Hill where I regularly get my Thai fix. On the container lid for a dish, the staff had written “broccori” with a Sharpie. I enjoyed the broccori immensely. I still do whenever I think about it.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, January 1, Anno Domini 2010
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