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Saturday, March 15, 2003

 
CLEANING UP THE BOOKMARKS

Really cool things that others linked to a long time ago but that I failed to post links to in a timely manner:

Pepys' Diary.

"Technical difficulties."

Matt Smith's call for Total TIA Awareness.

Time-wasting, contentious list of the 100 Greatest Music Videos.

The Periodic Table of Condiments.

Propaganda Critic.

Al Tompkins' invaluable page of Iraq Resources.

Terry Jones' devastating parody of George W. Bush.

The Gulf War II flash game.

Wampumblog's parallel history of the presidents Bush.

The Jack Chick parody archive.

The SOTU spoof.

"Frodo has failed.

Landover Baptist, where even Betty Bowers may not be good enough to worship.

"Where is Raed?" In Baghdad, hoping to survive liberation.


posted by Fred Clark 3:05 AM


Wednesday, March 12, 2003

 
LOW-RENT TACTICS.

My experience with my landlord has been less than positive.

Sometime in the week between Christmas 2000 and New Year's 2001, my landlord began repairs in my apartment's bathroom. The shower stall -- one of those pre-fab, one-piece plastic jobs -- had a crack that was sending water from my shower through the wall, then through the ceiling of the photocopier shop below.

The guy my landlord hired replaced the plastic shower stall with this sheetrocky stuff, onto which he applied this laminate tile. Except the sheets of tile were about 4 inches shorter than the walls of the shower, leaving 4 inches of exposed sheetrock (once the not-strong-enough glue began to give and the tile started to sag and bulge, it was more like 6 inches of exposed sheetrock). This expert craftsman told me he'd be back to finish the job. He also noticed the slow drip on the hot water in my bathroom sink and shut the hot water off. He said the washers on the faucet were shot and he'd replace the faucet when he came back to finish the tile.

He never came back.

I mentioned to my landlord that my shower had 4-6 inches of exposed drywall and he told me not to worry -- this was "special" drywall, designed to be waterproof for use in bathrooms and showers. He told me this again today -- more than two years later. (If it's waterproof, why is it starting to look like this?)

This echoed the sentiment he expressed earlier, just after Hurricane Floyd, when the plaster in my living room ceiling collapsed: "At this point," he said. "I really can't worry about it unless it's leaking all the way through to downstairs." My wet drywall was fine as long as it didn't allow the water to leak downstairs.

Fast forward 16 months, I get a corporate job and go for a corporate business trip, staying in a corporate hotel. Washing my hands in the hot water of the hotel's bathroom sink I think, "This is nice. A guy could get used to hot water in the bathroom sink."

I hit Home Depot as soon as I got back and replaced the faucet. Not the smoothest or most professional job (I used a bit more putty than a pro would have) but there it was -- hot water!

I had a couple of towels on the floor during the operation. One got about half-soaked, the other -- the one I was kneeling on -- stayed bone dry.

I get home from work Monday night and there's a note from a plumber.

It seems that turning the hot water back on after a year and a half was more than the pipes were expecting. They had broken in the night and soaked a copy machine in the store below to the tune of $6,600 in damages. The plumber (a real one this time) replaced all the pipes around my bathroom sink (the poor thing went for years with a broken faucet -- then it gets two good new ones in two days!). He also tore out the toilet and all the pipes attached to that, replacing them with brand new ones -- so maybe the toilet was leaking? Who knows.

I asked the guy if he'd ever heard of waterproof sheetrock. He said it was none of his business, but that he wouldn't have left a shower like that and called it finished.

That was last April. Today I get a certified letter from the insurance carrier for the folks downstairs -- they're suing me, the building manager I deal with and the owner for $6,647 +. In addition to calling me names and tossing around the F-bomb, the manager made it clear today that he and the owner intend to stick me with the entire bill.

The bottom line appears to be this: For the past six years, I've been able to squirrel away a tiny bit of money -- mainly by living in this low-rent dive with holes in the ceiling, moldy drywall in the shower and the occasional gas leak (long story that one). Now I get to give all that money to Nationwide Insurance to reimburse them for damage done by someone else's pipes, all while being insulted by a rude and ineffectual building manager.

Not happy.




posted by Fred Clark 4:30 PM


Tuesday, March 11, 2003

 
BOB JONES!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Larry King scrapes bottom of barrel so hard he breaks through to the muck underneath.

CNN all day has been plugging tonight's Larry King Live, supposedly on the topic of "Is War on Iraq the Christian Thing To Do?" Larry's guests are Bob Jones III -- yes, that Bob Jones -- and pop-inspirational writer Max Lucado.

Both men have been identified in promos for the show as "conservative leaders." This is true in terms of their politics, but not --as the promos imply -- in terms of their theology. CNN has set this up in such a way that Pope John Paul II is portrayed as a "liberal" -- which is inaccurate and absurd.

Bob Jones, of course, believes that every biblical passage discussing the Roman Empire -- e.g., the ten-horned beast and whore of Babylon of John's Apocalypse -- is really about the Roman Catholic Church. So he doesn't just think the pope is "liberal," he thinks the pope is the antichrist.

The Bob Jones University does not use the Nicene Creed or the Apostle's Creed -- the ancient, universally embraced statements of the Christian faith. No, they wrote their own creed. Set aside the actual content of this creed (which relies on an idiosyncratic, modernist hermeneutic) and just consider this act:

Bob Jones re-wrote the creed.

The faithful at Bob Jones University are not actually "Christians" in the sense that this term has historically been used and understood. And it's not just the creeds -- every aspect of Christian doctrine and practice has been rewritten by the cultists in Greenville, S.C. They are not Christians. They are Jonesians. And who outside of their campus/compound gives a flying fig whether or not war on Iraq is the "Jonesian" thing to do? (Since Iraqis are not as white as Bob Jones III himself, I'm guessing they favor this war.)

As for Max Lucado, he's a pastor from San Antonio and he's got his master's in "biblical and related studies," but those qualifications didn't get him invited onto Larry King. No, he's on Larry King tonight because he has a syndicated daily radio spot and has millions of books in print.

This is American marketplace ecclesiology -- spiritual authority is supposedly determined by book sales and arbitron ratings. We worship God, but Mammon appoints our bishops. I have nothing against Max Lucado, but this system -- best-selling authors speak for God -- is idolatrous and perverse.

If Larry King is really interested in Christian teaching on war then he should invite a theologian on the show. Heck, get Michael Walzer on there. He may not be a theologian, but he knows far more about Christian teaching on war than does either the pop author Lucado or the cultist Jones.


posted by Fred Clark 3:05 PM


Monday, March 10, 2003

 
"KID GLOVES"

You can't defend America the same way Saddam defends his regime.

Yet again Sunday, supposedly respectable talking heads -- including the appropriately named Jonah Goldberg -- sat with the supposedly respectable Wolf Blitzer and defended the idea that America and its ideals might be preserved by the judicious use of torture.

Then I read this from Tim Dunlop's Road to Surfdom:

Two young sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks, are being used by the CIA to force their father to talk.

Yousef al-Khalid, 9, and his brother, Abed al-Khalid, 7, were taken into custody in Pakistan in September when intelligence officers raided a flat in Karachi where their father had been hiding.

...

The boys have been held by the Pakistani authorities but this weekend they were flown to America where they will be questioned about their father. CIA interrogators confirmed that the boys were staying at a secret address where they were being encouraged to talk about their father's activities. "We are handling them with kid gloves," said one official. "After all, they are only little children, but we need to know as much about their father's recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times and they are given the best of care."

Mohammed, 37, is being held in solitary confinement at the Bagram US military base in Afghanistan. He is being subjected to "stress and duress" interrogation techniques.


Dunlop's post relaying this disturbing information is aptly titled "Let Them Go." Somehow the CIA official's assurance that these children -- a 7 and a 9-year-old -- are being treated with "kid gloves" does little to relieve my concerns that these children are being used in an unseemly, unspeakable way.

Jeanne d'Arc links to this unqualified offering, which reminds the CIA, the Bush administration, Wolf Blitzer and all of his windbag guests of another important reason why the United States should not condone or employ torture:

Because we're the fucking United States of America!

(Follow the link -- then follow the links in the link, the whole thing is worth reading.)







posted by Fred Clark 4:57 AM


Sunday, March 09, 2003

 
WHAT PART OF "EXODUS" DIDN'T YOU UNDERSTAND?

"Remember that you were slaves in Egypt."

Atrios has done some serious homework on racist newspaper editor Robert Stacy McCain and the whole creepy, Neo-Confederate network of defenders of the American Holocaust. Go read the whole thing -- links and all.

I will address this later in more depth, but the whole "well, the Bible OKs slavery" thing is an ignorant, illiterate piece of heretical nonsense that contradicts the teaching of every branch of the Christian church -- including even those offshoots, like Southern Baptists, who originally broke away from the larger church in order to defend slavery.

So please -- if someone tells you that "the Bible approves of slavery," keep in mind that this person is interpreting that book differently than the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant and Anabaptist branches of the church.

17 Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.

19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.

-- Deuteronomy 24:17-22




posted by Fred Clark 6:48 PM


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