That’s an excuse to tell this story:
During the 2004 election, when I still lived in Delaware County, I volunteered with Move On, knocking on doors in Everybody’s Hometown. We coordinated at the home of another volunteer — “Dino” Don Lessem. Lessem is a popular author and dinosaur expert whose career includes, among other things, consulting for the Jurassic Park movies.
Remember the raptors from those movies? Several of stood on Lessem’s front lawn. The dilophosaurus that ate Newman sat on his front porch.
The directions Lessem gave us to his house were the same as the ones he gave to the Patch reporter: “It’s a house with red shutters. And there’s a big dinosaur out front.”
Turnout in the borough was over 90 percent on election day in 2004, and my precinct went 2-to-1 for Kerry. Dino-power.
(Oh, and if you’re visiting Everybody’s Home Town, don’t miss Dino Don’s Dinosaurium.)
* * * * * * * * *
Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov is a ridiculous idiot.
That’s easy for me to say. Well, obviously, “Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov” isn’t easy for me to say, but what I mean is that I can easily mock this eminently mockable man without having to worry about any repercussions.
It wouldn’t take any courage for me to list all the honors and awards the “protector” of Turkmenistan has bestowed on himself and then snarkily retort: “The only title he is still missing is ‘Buddha.'”
But it did take courage for the anonymous Turkmen wisecracker who left that comment on a Russian news site.
Berdimuhamedov controls the press in Turkmenistan, which “ranked 177th in a list of 179 [countries] in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index.” He controls what the people of his country can and cannot say about him
But, as Global Voices reports, web-savvy Turkmen have figured out how to leave untraceable comments on websites outside of Berdimuhamedov’s control.
Voices’ roundup of their comments provide a fascinating peek into a closed society. It also provides a powerful reminder to be grateful for the privilege I have to mock my own government officials with impunity. If you, too, enjoy such freedom, do not let it go to waste.
* * * * * * * * *
Historian and author John Fea has been touring to promote his book, Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Fea is a professor at Messiah College, an evangelical school here in Pa., so his publicity efforts have involved a lot of Christian radio and evangelical churches.
Fea recounts some of the highlights from his travels in a Patheos column, “On the Road With Christian America“:
A conservative talk radio host in Orange County, California asked me if the founding fathers would have opposed the placing of American flags near gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. (There was apparently a news story dealing with this issue at the time of my interview). When I said that I did not know, he went off on a tirade about how liberal history professors were destroying this country. …
A Christian radio host asked me to define George Washington’s position on abortion. …After hearing me talk about Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? at Colonial Williamsburg, a man asked me if Messiah College “was still a Christian college?”
At the same lecture, a woman wanted to know if I believed in “collective salvation like Barack Obama.” …
I began a talk at an Arizona mega-church by asking the audience of 200+ evangelicals to raise their hand if they thought that America was “founded as a Christian nation.” Nearly every hand in the room went up. (I have since learned not to start my talks in this fashion).
* * * * * * * * *
Andi Cumbo discusses her “Five Elements That Make a Book ‘Good’ to Me.” I thought about cutting and pasting the entire thing here, retitled as “Five Elements at Which the Left Behind Series Fails Utterly.”
The Transylvania International Film Festival last weekend in Nicolae Carpathia’s hometown of Cluj did not include the films Left Behind or Left Behind II: Tribulation Force. (The latter was a digital, direct-to-DVD production, so can we call it a “film”?)
But if anyone was looking for some End-Times entertainment, there’s been more than enough recently to keep the “Bible prophecy” maniacs as manic as ever:
“Rockefellers and Rothschilds Unite,” the Financial Times reported, delighting John Hagee.
The Bilderberg Conference brought the leading lights of the Illuminati together in Virginia, sending Jack Van Impe into a frenzy.
And the Law of the Sea Treaty has resurfaced, causing Tim LaHaye to make his “O-face.”
If that’s not enough to keep the anti-Antichrist brigades happy, they can always just fall back into hating on Muslims.
* * * * * * * * *
Alvin McEwen challenges Alveda King to put up or shut up with her lies about Bayard Rustin. She shuts up.
McEwen also reports on a book that “blows the lid off of gay link to black gospel music.” Was that lid ever on?
And while I’m linking to Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, McEwen makes another excellent point. The religious right is predictably freaking out over the supposed moral calamity of C-list superhero Northstar’s same-sex wedding. But they’ve never made a peep in protest of the morality of the Punisher.
In the last few years, The Punisher comic book has been the showcase of, shall we say, repulsive actions, all viewed in living color including but not limited to: Eviscerations (i.e. disembowelments), cannibalism, rapes, immolations (i.e. setting people on fire), close-ups of violent shootings, death by snakes, piranhas, sharks, polar bears …, beheadings, the destruction of an entire island by a nuclear bomb, a tossing of a gangster from the top of the Empire State building … castrations …
But not once, I repeat, not once has any religious right group raised anything resembling anger, outrage, disgust, or downright shock over any of these things.
It’s not that the religious right approves of such things, mind you. It’s just that condemning the Punisher’s ultraviolence doesn’t bring in as many fundraising dollars as condemning Northstar’s wedding does.