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What Would People Think?

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Tomorrow, Christy and I move into our new apartment. Should've been today, but that's a whole 'nother story involving carpets. Right now I can't sleep.

Monday, I start my new job. I predict another insomniac night the night before.

"Sigh" quoth Charlie Brown.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Various Controversies Involving Religion

So it seems conservative Christians are up in arms again about something on TV. No, they aren't complaining about something Green Day and U2 sang at the Saints game. (Anybody know where I could find a video of that performance?) And this time...I find myself in agreement.

VeggieTales is a really cute - and unabashedly Christian - children's cartoon series starring (you guessed it) talking vegetables. ("If you like to talk to tomatoes....." Oh great, now I'll never get that song out of my head.) (What? Why are you looking at me like that? I'll have you know that I have nieces and a nephew who are HUGE fans of VeggieTales. I've only viewed the show in the perfectly-legitimate-for-adults context of being the Good Uncle.)

NBC recently chose to run the previously video-based series on Saturday morning...and eliminate most references to God and Christianity. One of the show's creators and conservative watchdog groups are up in arms...and rightfully so.

How inane! What was NBC thinking? This isn't about religious tolerance. If NBC wanted something which appealed to a vast swath of the American public, regardless of religion, there's got to be dozens of quality (or not-so-quality) children's programming they could have chosen. Instead, they take a highly popular and creative cartoon which is based on teaching Christianity and Christian morals, and they gut the show of its very foundation. (Pardon the mixed metaphors.) Why bother?

On other controversial religious fronts: I'm sure you've read about the Pope's remarks at some conference which set off angry reactions among Muslims world-wide. He quoted a 13th century Byzantine emperor who called Islam "evil" and "inhumane." In response, we have the burning of the Pope in effigy and other such angry stuff.

For understanding of what the Pope was actually saying - ironically, a condemnation of religious violence, among other things - and how he might have handled this better to not set off a firestorm, see this excellent and informative debate between my colleagues Zhubin Parang and Matt Novak over at Zhubin's blog.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Our Rwanda

I was 13 years old when the Rwandan genocide took place. Except for a few news updates on Channel One (which was shown at my junior high school), I was ignorant of the one million people that died in that horrible mass murder. I was also ignorant about how the Western world stood by and let it happen.

Now it's happening again in Sudan. I no longer have the excuse of ignorance. And neither do you.

For years, rebel force have battled the Sudanese government (and its proxy, the brutal Janjaweed militia) in the Darfur region. Most of the deaths came not from violence but from famine and disease that followed after the fighting (and intentional ethnic cleansing by the Janjaweed) left the region in ruins. So far, about 400,000 people have died and 2 million have been forced to flee their homes. 3.5 million are totally dependent on international aid. And that aid is about to disappear.

You see, earlier this year, the government signed a peace agreement with the largest rebel group. But other rebel groups never signed on. The agreement called for 8,000 under-equipped African Union peacekeepers to patrol a region the size of Texas. Not surprisingly, this has not ended the violence. The AU peacekeepers are scheduled to leave on September 30 - 11 days from the writing of this post. When they leave, any semblance of peace and safety leaves with them. And so do the aid workers.

George Clooney - of all people - gives an eloquent summary of the problem here.

What can you do?

To start with, you can call the White House and urge President Bush to use his UN speech today (and his other influences) to push for fully-equipped UN peacekeepers to provide stability and peace in Darfur. Bush has openly called the crisis a "genocide" before and has expressed concern about Darfur. If enough people call, perhaps Darfur can take a place beside Iran on the White House's foreign policy agenda.

There's an organization called Save Darfur. It's a coalition of community and religious groups dedicated to preventing another Rwanda from happening in Sudan. They've got a weekly action e-mail to help you find other ways to help. So here's another thing you can do: subscribe to that e-mail list. Yeah, I know...spam sucks. I got sick of getting e-mails from MoveOn, the Democratic Party, Sojourners, Democracy for America, People for the American Way, and occasionally random princes from Africa who needed my money. But this is worth it.

Also, you can donate to that group.

No more being frozen in despair and immobility at the size of the problem. Let's do what we can.

Update (1:09 PM):
Here's the text of what Bush had to say about Darfur in his U.N. speech:

To the people of Darfur, you have suffered unspeakable violence. And my nation has called these atrocities what they are: genocide.

For the last two years, America joined with the international community to provide emergency food aid and support for an African Union peacekeeping force. Yet your suffering continues.

The world must step forward to provide additional humanitarian aid. And we must strengthen the African Union force that has done good work, but is not strong enough to protect you.

The Security Council has approved a resolution that would transform the African Union force into a blue-helmeted force [read: United Nations force - Ben] that is larger and more robust. To increase its strength and effectiveness, NATO nations should provide logistics and other support.

The regime in Khartoum is stopping the deployment of this force. If the Sudanese government does not approve this peacekeeping force quickly, the United Nations must act. Your lives and the credibility of the United Nations is at stake.

So today I'm announcing that I'm naming a presidential special envoy, former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, to lead America's efforts to resolve the outstanding disputes and help bring peace to your land.

Hopefully this signals a renewed commitment to the people of Darfur and a willingness to pressure the Sudanese government to accept the UN force. It sounds like a step in the right direction, but if there's no follow-through the consequences will be deadly.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Facts Learned From Our Drive To Dallas

1. There is a town called Chunky, Mississippi.

2. Chunky's town hall is open T-Th from 9-12. Otherwise, you can call the mayor on his personal number, posted on the town hall door.

3. The Cracker Barrel in Jackson, Mississippi has a cookbook of "Mississippi recipes." A worker in Cracker Barrel told us it's the "best of the best" of Southern cooking. We were intrigued when we saw the recipe for butterscotch cake. We considered buying it when we saw the various casserole recipes. We put up the book and walked out the door when we saw the recipe for - I kid you not - fried squirrel.

4. There is a town called Yazoo City, Mississippi. While that town has a funny name, I must point out that Yazoo City does not contain the Chunky Baptist Church.

5. Yazoo and the Fried Squirrels would be an excellent name for a rock band.

That is all. You may now return to your regularly scheduled web-surfing.

UPDATE (12:50 AM the following night, after the first 2 comments below):
I now add the following updates for your edification

1. Deer Corn Hunting License

2. Hot Penny Action (Christy's favorite!)

3. East Texas Oil Museum

You're welcome.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What Do You Remember?

Being a lawyer, I was going to use 9/11 to write a blog post about the legal aspects of the War on Terror. I had in my mind a description of President Bush's recent actions bringing actual terrorists to Guantanamo Bay and seeking to try them. I would've described how it fit into the Administration's legal strategy and political strategy and how I feel things are moving in the right direction...we are again becoming a nation of laws, not men. (I hope.)

Then I started reading news about 9/11 memorials. Emotion and memories pretty much overtook rational thought.

Part of the way I'm trying to make sense of this whirlwind of thoughts and emotion, chaos and sadness.....is to simply remember.

I remember 9/11/01. I remember starting the day, sitting in the living room of my dorm at Vanderbilt, studying for my Latin American Politics class. Mike walked into the room and simply said "Shit!" I'm not good at reading tones of voices, so I thought he was simply annoyed and possibly distressed. I thought that our beloved creation, The Slant (Vanderbilt's humor paper), had somehow enmeshed itself in yet another controversy. I asked "what's wrong?" He said "Somebody just flew some planes into the World Trade Center!" "What?"

We both walked into his room and watched as some rescue worker was describing to CNN how horrible it was....like something out of a disaster movie. Then the second tower fell. I remember watching in absolute shock. I remember covering my mouth with my hand. Maybe crying...maybe not. It just....couldn't be happening.

Later that day I remember going to my Latin American politics class. This was Vanderbilt, so of course classes were not cancelled. My teacher (I remember that he was a socialist), spoke with the class about what would happen now. I remember him (or was it someone else?) saying that our freedoms would probably be restricted in response. I don't remember what else we said.

I remember going to the chapel. (The very chapel where, 4 year and 11 months later, Christy and I would marry.) Later that day there was an impromptu memorial service, but at the time it was just me and a few others. I knelt and prayed. I don't even remember what I prayed.

That's what I remember about 9/11.

Christy also remembers 9/11. At that time she was living with her friend Erin Hamer. When Christy woke up, Erin was staring at the TV. In her groggy state, without her glasses, Christy could only see something hit a building and the building falling. She concluded it was a movie - probably King Kong. Christy remembers actually arguing (still half-asleep) with Erin, insisting that she had seen this movie while Erin kept saying she thought it was real.

After realizing it was real, Christy remembers going to class. Her professor was from New York City. It was a Spanish class. Her family lived just a few blocks from the WTC. She had no idea what had happened. The class had to tell her. The prof. tried bravely to continue class, but couldn't. She ended class early and ran out to find if her family was alive. (They were.)

Christy remembers going to the Pub, Vanderbilt's bar/short order cook place/room with a really big TV. She saw someone walking out. This other student looked like a ghost....just totally ashen and in shock. After Christy had seen enough TV, she left the Pub. Dean Larry Dowdy saw her and asked if she was ok. Christy realized she must have looked the same as the ashen student she had seen earlier.

Christy, for once in her life, decided to do some homework late into the evening. She didn't tell anybody she was going to go study in some classroom. I mean, why should she? She never accounted for her whereabouts before. But today, her friend Alisa Randolph freaked out when Christy never showed up in her dorm at the usual time. Actually filed a Missing Persons report. It's sort of funny to them all now.

That's what Christy remembers about 9/11.

What do you remember about 9/11? Where were you when you heard the news? Who told you? How did you react? What did you see that day?

I'm creating an open forum here. Or you can write on your own blog....but please let me know. I'm not asking for analysis or pontification on what it all means. Right now, I just want to remember.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Book Meme

So Monica tagged me in one of those meme things. Apparently I gotta write about books. Must preface this by saying I wish I was reading more and have only recently had time to read for fun.

1. One book that changed your life: Wow, that's a tall order! Don't know if a book of the Bible counts as a separate book, but I'll go with the book of Lamentations, especially chapter 3. It's the book of the Bible that most directly confronts sorrow and suffering, admits the world is totally screwed up.....and the author still somehow finds faith in God. That is, to me, indescribably profound.

2. One book that you've read more than once: The Chronicles of Narnia series (read twice by age 13...need to read again)

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: Seeing as I'd be sort of alone and forlorn, see # 1.

4. One book that made you laugh: Anything by Dave Barry

5. One book that made you cry: Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Yeah, so I cried for Mary Lincoln when Abe was assassinated. I'm a historically-minded softie.

6. One book that you wish had been written: "How To Get A Job Watching Movies For A Living" by Roger Ebert

7. One book you wish had never been written: I could go serious here, but nothing comes to mind except Ulysses by James Joyce. Yeah, yeah, I know it's a classic and I have all the love in the world for classics. But, damn I wish stream-of-consciousness had never been inflicted on me in high school.

8. One book you're currently reading: Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes & Legal Culture. A book given to me, ironically enough, as part of the Integrity Award.

9. One book you've been meaning to read: Off Ramp: Adventures and Heartache in the American Elsewhere by Hank Stuever. Stuever's got a funny way of observing the beautifully tacky aspects of American culture. Also he's either Christy's cousin or her uncle. I'm not sure which.

Okay, so who shall be my victims, assuming they are willing meme-ers? The usual suspects, I suppose


Monday, September 04, 2006

Wedding Photos

Finally got access to the wedding photos. Go to this website and enter the password "crbs" (that's Christy's former initials followed by my initials).

There's 1,231 photos, so beware. Luckily, they are categorized for easier searching. See the "categories" thingy at the top.