Monthly Archives: March 2004

Year of Our Lord

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked in the hearings whether or not “Under God’ in the pledge was more or less problematic than Presidents including “The Year of Our Lord” in Presidential Proclamations.

Unless presidents are required to use that language, I see nothing wrong with that in that it would be a personal choice. I am sure if someone who did not believe we were in the 2004th “Year of Our Lord” were to become President, they would change the language to suit their personal beliefs. Presidential Proclamations are just that, personal proclamations of the President. It’s just that we have never had a non-Christian President.

I don’t feel our current President is speaking for me when he says 99% of what he says, why would I feel he is speaking for me when he says “Our Lord”?

One Nation Under God

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency has a good overview of the Supreme Court hearings on the Pledge, and the responses of various Jewish groups.

I feel what Marc Stern of the American Jewish Congress says makes a lot of sense. If the Supreme Court were to remove the words from the pledge, there is absolutely no question what would happen next. It would be the quickest passage of a Constitutional Ammendment this nation has ever seen. And the language of the ammendment could well contain stuff that would be much more damaging than those two words in the pledge. So, while one might prefer the pledge not to have those two words, and while one might rationally conclude that it is a violation of the first ammendment, it’s better we do not go down this path.

The Wearing of the Pink

Last Wednesday we were supposed to wear Green.

Friday, some will be Wearing Pink in support of some 7th and 8th grade boys who were banned from a school picture for wearing pink.

They claimed they wore pink because “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest wears pink. The school thought it was gang related. The day after the incident, 400 out of the 1000 students in the school wore pink.

And now Ryan Seacrest is encouraging everyone to wear pink Friday.

I had no idea pink was ‘in.’ Especially for 7th and 8th grade boys. Times change.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Monty Python’s Life of Brian will be re-released next month to mark its 25th Anniversary.

There is no attempt to hide the fact the decision to re-release it is tied to the success of Mel Gibson’s Passion. Advertisements will even ask the question “Mel or Monty?” Surviving members of Monty Python describe it as “counter-programming.”

The BBC article above interestingly notes that the movie would never have been released 25 years ago if former Beatle George Harrison hadn’t stepped in to finance the movie when the original financiers stepped out fearing the controversy.

Moses and the Lord

I post the below entry, and 2 seconds later, the following appears in my email box:

Moses & The Lord

“Excuse me, Sir.”

“Is that you again, Moses?”

“I’m afraid it is, Sir.”

“What is it this time, Moses; more computer problems?”

“How did you guess?”

“I don’t have to guess, Moses. Remember ?”

“Oh, yes; I forgot.”

“Tell me what you want, Moses.”

“But you already know, Sir. Remember?”

“Moses!”

“Sorry, Sir.”

“Well, go ahead, Moses; spit it out.”

“Well, I have a question, Sir. You know those ten ‘things’ you sent me via e-mail?”
“You mean the Ten Commandments, Moses?”

“That’s it. I was wondering if they are important.”

“What do you mean ‘if they are important,’ Moses? Of course, they are important. Otherwise, I would not have sent them to you.”

“Well, sorry, Sir, but I lost them. I could say the dog ate them; but, of course, you would see right through that.”

“What do you mean you ‘lost them’? Are you trying to tell me you didn’t save them, Moses?”

“No, Sir; I forgot.”

“You should always save, Moses.”

“Yes, I know. You told me that before. I was going to save them, but I forgot. I did forward them to some people before I lost them though.”

“And did you hear back from any of them?”

“You already know I did. There was the one guy who said he never uses ‘shalt not.’ May he change the words a little bit?”

“Yes, Moses, as long as he does not change the meaning.”

“And what about the guy who thought your stance was a little harsh, and recommended calling them the ‘Ten Suggestions,’ or letting people pick one or two to try for a while?”

“Moses, I will act as if I did not hear that.”

“I think that means ‘no.’ Well, what about the guy who said I was scamming him?”

“I think the term is ‘spamming,’ Moses.”

“Oh, yes. I E-mailed him back and told him I don’t even eat that stuff, and I have no idea how you can send it to someone through a computer.”

“And what did he say?”

“You know what he said. He used Your name in vain. You don’t think he might have sent me one of those — err — plagues, and that’s the reason I lost those ten ‘things’, do you?”

“They are not plagues; they are called ‘viruses,’ Moses.”

“Whatever! This computer stuff is just too much for me. Can we go back to those stone tablets? It was hard on my back taking them out and reading them each day, but at least I never lost them.”

“We will do it the new way, Moses; using computers!!”

“I was afraid you would say that, Sir.”

“Moses, what did I tell you to do if you messed up?”

“You told me to hold up this rat and point it toward the computer.”

“It’s a mouse, Moses, not a rat. Mouse! Mouse! And did you do that?”

“No, I decided to try calling technical support first. After all, who knows more about this stuff than you? And I really like your hours. By the way, Sir, did Noah have two of these mice on the ark?”

“No, Moses.”

“One other thing. Why did you not name them ‘frogs’ instead of ‘mice,’ because did you not tell me the thing they sit on is a pad?”

“I did not name them, Moses. Man did, and you can call yours a frog if you want to.”

“Oh, that explains it. I bet some woman told Adam to call it a mouse. After all, was it not a woman who named one of the computers ‘Apple?'”

“Say good night, Moses.”

“Wait a minute, Sir. I am pointing the mouse, and it seems to be working. Yes, a couple of the ten ‘things’ have come back.”

“Which ones are they, Moses?”

“Let me see.

‘Thou shalt not steal from any grave an image’ and ‘Thou shalt not uncover Thy neighbor’s wife.'”

“Turn the computer off, Moses. I’m sending you another set of stone tablets.”

Oldest version of this joke on the net I could find dates back to October 1999

Under God

The New York Times examines what “Under God” means in our pledge, as the Supreme Court begins to look at that issue.

According to the Bush administration, which is defending the pledge, its recitation is no more a religious act than pocketing a coin imprinted with “In God We Trust.” The administration’s brief says both are simply patriotic acknowledgments of “the nation’s religious history” and of the “undeniable historical fact that the nation was founded by individuals who believed in God,” an empirical statement that poses no threat to the separation of church and state.

I find most interesting a religious response to this position:

According to another group of religious individuals, 32 Christian and Jewish clergy members who take the opposite side in the case, reciting the pledge with “under God” invites a troubling kind of civic blasphemy. If children are supposed to utter the phrase without meaning it as an affirmation of personal faith, the group’s brief asserts, “then every day, government asks millions of schoolchildren to take the name of the Lord in vain.”

So either the pledge is asking students to affirm a faith in God, as the plaintiff, Newdow is claiming. Or it is requiring religious students to violate one of their 10 commandments. Either way, it’s a violation of the First Ammendment.

addendum
Here’s an article from the perspective of a non-Judeo-Christian-Islamic author. Many assume incorrectly those who are unwilling to say “Under God” are comprised only of atheists. But we are a diverse nation. There are also Polytheists in this country. And a pledge of allegiance stating the nation is “under God” not only implies their faith in a multiple of gods is incorrect, it forces them into a decision between being patriotic and violating their religious faith, or holding to their religious faith and appearing unpatriotic.

Florida 2004

The more things change…

Florida has cleaned up their election system. They’ve done it so well, that in their primary two weeks ago, Gephardt won a county! Gephardt, who dropped out of the race months ago, and got 1% of the vote everywhere else, got over 60% in Bay County.

Luckily, it was an Optical Scanner system, so there were paper ballots to recount. And recount they did, and unsurprisingly, there had been a *small* error.

But many counties in Florida have Diebold Electronic Voting Systems. With absolutely no paper trail.

In a January election, with only one race on the ballot, and electronic voting, there was a 12 point margin of victory, and 130 blank ballots. (Why would 130 people show up to vote, and not vote? Remember, there was only one race on the ballot.) The loser wanted a recount. There was nothing to recount.

There are a few bills in Congress to require verification methods. Hopefully something can be done by November.

Utah bans firing squad

Utah has banned the firing squad as a means of execution. All that’s left there is lethal injection.

The reason for the ban, unfortunately, had nothing to do with the cruelty of firing squads over injection, but instead they didn’t want to give convicts the option, since they considered it a “dramatic” choice.