Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jim Baen Shears Sheep Several Times

Jim Baen has launched a new, electronic magazine, Jim Baen's Universe! While subscriptions start at $30, they range up to $500 in a multi-tiered subscription scheme.

"Wait," I hear you cry, "How can you sell identical digital bits for vastly different amounts of money?"

Child, child.

Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle! Jim is selling Tuckerization rights to future writings by his stable of writers.

For a mere $100 you get limited Tuckerization:
Your Tuckerized character will be a minor character with a name but no dialogue, unless the author decides to expand their role, for his or her own dramatic reasons.
In the $250 membership, things improve:
Your Tuckerized character will be guaranteed to be a secondary character in the story, not a minor character.
But way up in the $500 memberships things get very tony:
Very extensive Tuckerization rights, if you wish to exercise them, by any author in the Tucker Circle , in either a book or a magazine story. You can choose the author, and indicate a preference as to book or magazine story. Your character will be a secondary character in the story, AND you get to choose whether they’re still alive or dead at the end of the story.
But wait! There is a catch!
Fair warning: Do keep in mind that in the event your character appears in a series, if you want to keep him or her alive, you’ll have to renew your $500 membership next year. Yes, we know that’s evil. We’re professional scribblers, what do you expect?
Evil? Jim's stable boils an honest pot, so I'll be subscribing. But I think I can pass on the chance at a private meal with one of the Baen authors (it would seem rather uncomfortable to me) and the ego-feed of seeing my name used in a Sci-Fi series.

Geeze. What if your namesake was a really evil character? I don't mean cool-evil like Ming the Merciless, but disgusting-evil, like Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. I guess you pays your money and takes your chances.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Not Again!

Yet more Bible illiteracy, this time from someone who must know better: the Reverend Jesse Jackson!
"The ideologues over at Fox News have decided that to save Christmas, we've got to insist that stores advertise 'Christmas sales,' not holiday sales, and that cards wish people a 'merry Christmas,' not a happy holiday. Behind their moralizing, these folks are trying to use Christmas for petty political purposes. But that's not what the Christmas story is about either. It's about a couple--Mary and Joseph--forced by an oppressive government to leave their home to travel far to be counted in the census. They were homeless in a strange land."--Jesse Jackson, Dec. 20, 2005
Jesse, you don't have a political purpose in your remarks?! Let me state my viewpoint. I don't watch Fox News. Heck, I don't pay for cable TV (I'm too cheap!) But just looking at your statement, I can see a couple of problems you may want to address.

Okay, Jesse, stay with me here. You may have heard this before, but this time pay attention:
Luke 2

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

So what do we know about the Holy Family? They had an oppressive government all right, in that we agree. But how did we know it was oppressive? That government wanted to tax them! It wanted to hide that tax with the sham of a census.

But where were did they wind up? In Joseph's own city! I am sure that they felt like strangers, but it was Joseph's ancestral homeland. They stayed there for some time, maybe years, until Herod decided to practice a little retroactive population control. (But that's an issue for a different post.)

And the Christmas story, Jesse? It's not primarily about Joseph and Mary, as you well know. It's about the Incarnation.

I'll give you the same advice I gave Nancy Pelosi: cut the glittering generalities; and speak the Gospel.

They Gave at the Office

Democrats continue to bang away at their "religion gong," assuring all us benighted Evangelicals that they do, too get this "faith thing." The latest exhibit is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's Jeremiad against the Republican budget resolution:
"Mr. Speaker, as we leave for this Christmas recess, let us say, 'God bless you' to the American people by voting against this Republican budget and statement of injustice and immorality, and let us not let the special interest goose get fat at the expense of America's children.

"The gentleman from Washington [state], Mr. McDermott, quoted the prophet Isaiah. And as the bible [sic] teaches us, to minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship, to ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us. Let us vote no on this budget as an act of worship and for America's children."
Wow. So voting against the Republican budget is like going to church?! Oh, man! No wonder we don't see you guys in church! You gave at the office!

Nancy, do you want to give me chapter and verse on that doctrine that you just declared?

Okay, maybe I can help you Nancy. Maybe you were referring to this:
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

You see, Nancy, you gotta get past those glittering generalities of "God's creation" and jump right into the concept of hungry, thirsty, naked, and imprisoned people.

But maybe you were right to be vague about this scripture, Nancy. It deals with judgement at the end of the age. You know that stuff that we Evangelicals just can't shut up about.

In fact, this parable comes from St. Matthew's 25th chapter--right after the Parable of the Talents. You remember the Parable of the Talents, don't you Nancy?


Don't feel bad. John Kerry read right through the New Testament and missed it.

If your going to bash Republicans with the Bible (note the capital letter used for a proper name) you are going to have to do much, much better than this. You are just embarrassing yourself.

Absolutely the Best Blog Headline of the Month

Geoff Robinson over at Faith, Beer, and Other Things (which in itself is a great title) has my undying appreciation for a wonderful post headline:

The Fool in His Own Heart Says "Multiverse"

Which title spins off Biblical knowlege, cosmology, and Science Fiction in a great three-bank shot.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Magnet Madness

Okay, this will be my final post on the "flaming hypocrite" fish.

The company that markets the magnets, Reefer Magnets, is featured in a Skagit Valley Herald story:
A political parody of the ichthys, the Christian fish symbol, has put Washington state Democrats in some hot water and cast a spotlight upon a Mount Vernon activist who wants marijuana legalized.

Allison Bigelow did not create the facetious fish, but her company, Reefer Magnets, owns the copyright and sells it on the Internet.

“I didn’t make it,” she said. “Now I’m the one in the hot seat.”

The parody is a car magnet with a cross and the word “hypocrite” inside the fish.

The magnet comes on a piece of poster board with phrases meant to illustrate hypocrisy between Christian values and what some consider twisted morality of some of society’s Christian leaders, especially those with a hand in politics.
So what are these phrases that provide clues to the "twisted morality" of some of society's Christian leaders?
Love thy neighbor
An eye for an eye...
Blessed are the peacemakers
Who would Jesus bomb?
Armeggedon outta here
Thou shalt not kill
Pro-life? Pro-war?
Oh, Lord, won't you buy me...
Beware of false profits
I don't know about you, Faithful Reader, but this does look like the result of some heavy critical political analysis...arrived at sometime after the fourth or fifth bong bowl.
She sees the media attention as a chance to talk about the real aim of Reefer Magnets and her efforts to educate and advocate for the decriminalizing marijuana.

“In my opinion, we wouldn’t be such a warring people if we used more cannabis and used less alcohol,” Bigelow said.

Bigelow has marched in anti-globalization and anti-war rallies in Seattle. She has written letters to editors and voted for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in 2004 if only to vote against President Bush.

“I’ve done everything I can, but I still feel I have blood on my hands,” Bigelow said of the ongoing war in Iraq...

“We don’t need to be in a war for oil because we have industrial hemp,” Bigelow said. “If you look into all the little things that hemp can do, you’ll understand. We wouldn’t be killing people for oil.”
It's all about OIL! In the words of Billy Bob, "It's like I'm playing cards with my brother's kids."

These people are quite beyond parody.

This whole issue was raised because some dim bulb over at Washington State Democratic headquarters looked at wooing the disaffected evanglicals, or alternately, giving the Evangelicals the boot and securing the hemp-oil reefer vote.

Put on the pilot's jacket, guys, cause it's MISSON ACCOMPLISHED!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Democratic Chairman Bails With Fork

In response to the outcry over the fish magnet offered on the state Democratic Party web store, Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt had the item yanked. Tuesday Berendt said, "The moment I became aware of it, I insisted it be taken down. I'm sorry if anyone was offended. It's embarrassing."

You insisted Paul? Was there opposition to the directive? Who's in charge over there?

So where does the fish come from? According to the Seattle Times:

The fish magnet is copyrighted by a Mount Vernon company called Reefer Magnets. The company mostly sells magnets with pro-marijuana messages such as "Hemp is Patriotic" and "Jesus is coming, roll another joint."

Berendt said he wasn't sure what the fish symbol is supposed to mean but said he thinks it is aimed at "people who claim to be pro-life but are for the death penalty."

Paul, it's time to file a malpractice suit against the doctor who installed that tin ear.

Lots of people who are truly pro-life see a great deal of difference between a unborn baby who has never hurt anyone and "Tookie" Williams who, after killing (at least) four people, had 25 years of appeals and court motions before the order of the state was carried out. Refusing to acknowledge that this position can be taken by thoughtful people (after a lot of reflection and inner turmoil struggle) is to live in a Romper-Room world of primary-color moral distinctions.

The issue goes a lot deeper than the brief appearance of a piece of anti-Evangelical litter (Why not include that "Jesus is coming, roll another joint" magnet?). The problem is that someone thought that placing that item on the store page was funny or clever. Someone approved this item; someone at your Washington State Democratic Party headquarters thought cocking a snook at Evangelicals by including that nasty little piece of litter was worth the effort.

That means that whoever did this thought that Evangelicals were

  1. too stupid to know they were being mocked
  2. not worth the effort to accommodate
  3. not a group that is worth including in the Democratic Party.

Works for me! Count me excluded, Democratic website operative!

Monday, December 12, 2005

How Democrats are Loosing the Evangelical Vote Part MCXIII

I'm not somebody that slaps bumper stickers onto my car. There are many worthy causes and viewpoints that I uphold and support, but are unrepresented on my bumper. In fact, this reluctance has annoyed Mrs. Islander for years.

I have been a member of a Pentecostal church of one kind or another for over 20 years, yet my car does not sport the little chrome "fish" one often sees here and there. This is not to say I despise these badges of viewpoint. I find the more restrained ones kind of classy, quite unlike the "I Found It!" and "Honk if You Love Jesus!" bumper stickers.

When I first saw the "Darwin" fish-with-legs I almost ran off the road laughing. Though it was derivitave, it was smart, cute, and had the advantage of gently turning the Christian "fish" into the setup to the "Darwin" punchline. The Christian "fish" eating the Darwin fish was less funny, but still tasteful.

But there have been lots of less tasteful and cute products out there. At top right is one that was offered for sale by the Washington State Democratic Party.

I it just me or is the party just clueless? Lots of ink has been spilled by Democratic advisers since the 2004 election in trying to understand why they are doing so badly among Evangelicals. I gassed on about it myself.

But, folks, if a state party is so clueless that they cannot see that this kind of imagery offends the very people that they need to capture in 2008, they are beyond hope.

The original page was taken down, but the image was captured and can be seen at:

Monday, December 05, 2005

Varieties of Sleep

Warning: this is a post of the Seinfeldian variety. That is, it's mostly about nothing.

A few weeks ago, after haven taken the grand-Islanders Trick-or-Treating, I was lying, exhausted, in bed on the edge of sleep. As I snuggled down into the covers, hearing the cold wind moan outside my window, it occurred to me how much this sensation differed from falling asleep outdoors in daylight.

I know, Deep thoughts, Maynard. But I warned you.

Falling asleep outside is a light sleep. It is as though a part of my brain stays alert for unfamiliar sounds or the approach of unexpected presences. Even with this lack of depth, few things are as sweet as lying warmed by the sun, lulled by the humming of bees and the scent of green, growing things, and just drifting imperceptibly to sleep.

Falling to sleep with the sound of ocean surf produces in me a sleep that is almost like being drugged. Once, Mrs. Islander and I got away for the weekend to a costal hotel, sleeping in a room that overlooked a Pacific beach. I could almost feel the work-a-day stress sliding off of me like a heavy coat. That night, to the sound of the waves, my sleep was insensate.

Falling asleep in a warm bed during a cold winter’s night is sleep filled with the smugness of your isolation from the discomfort outside. Mrs Islander and I enjoy keeping a window ajar year ‘round, so the air on our faces is cool. This causes the warmth of the quilts and comforters to be that much sweeter.

When I was a child, sleep seemed an interruption of long, glorious days. I fully understand why a child cries at bedtime. When I was a solider, sleep was a wonderful break from the stesses of martial life. (In fact, in boot camp I discovered how to fall asleep anywhere, anytime I had a few spare minutes. It's a talent that I sadly had to unlearn.)

Now, as I enter my mid-fifties, I find that my only bars to sleep are the aches and pains that the flesh is heir to. And for that I have ibuprophen.

Taleena Takes Me to Task

Taleena over at Sun Comprehending Glass takes me to task because in this post I speculate aloud about the chances of a couple of social moderates capturing the social conservative's vote:
Wither "Social Conservatives?" What will 2006 and 2008 bring? I think that rank-and-file social conservatives will vote for a McCain or a Guliani, if they feel that they have a conservative Supreme Court to guard the legacy of their gains of the last 20 years.
I found Taleena's response puzzling:
I think he over estimate's McCain appeal and I stand by my earlier comment:
"Social conservatives" will be split down big vs. small government lines in '06, but will ultimately back a tough Hawk in '08 as Western Europe slides deeper into dhimmitude.
...and so I commented:
Do we have a bigger hawk on the national Republican scene that McCain? Do not the centrists voter swoon at his name? Has he not traction among the moderate Democrats as the anti-Bush?
Taleena replied:
Centrist swoon over Guiliani too, and the first amendment travesty McCAIN-Feingold will not be forgotten. Neither will his flirtation with running as a third party candidate. Guiliani also has traction among moderate Democrats.

Since when has Howard Dean hesitated to use Christian in demonizing the R's? Neither has he or other leaders in the D's concealed thier disdain for Israel either. Sure libertarians are a small to smaller group of people (depending on where you live) but I wonder how long even socially liberal libertarians (like Glenn Reynolds) will put up with the creeping and not so disguised socialism on the left?
This has gotten too long for comments, so I'll post my reply here:

Again, two points I'll contend:

Centrists may have swooned over Guliani, but unless he's got a great new campaign line, he is rapidly approaching his "sell by" date. 2001 was a presidential term ago and there have been no new terrorist attacks on U.S. soil (thank God!) In the meantime Guliani has not held a national post or pulpit. I would have nominated him first head of Homeland Security, but that did not happen. What has he been doing? What compelling narrative can he relate?

I think that the outrage over the McCain-Fiengold campaign finance debacle is kept alive only in the hearts of hard-line anti-McCainers and First Amendment zealots. (I consider myself in the latter category.) But I really think that that kind of outrage gets very little traction in the general public who still think the problem with the political system is too much "special interest" money. Ironically, MacCain is going into 2008 with a guaranteed pipeline to mainline Republican donors. He is going to appeal very strongly to the anti-Hillary crowd.

Howard Dean presents the Democrats incoherent political voice about Christians. (He is joined in this by John Kerry.) He wants Christians to vote for the Democrats, but expresses contempt for their gullibility in voting for Republicans. He claims to be a Christian himself (which he may be, that judgment is reserved for Another), yet he has only hazy ideas about where the books of the Bible are located.

Glenn and many other libertarian thinkers identified with the Republicans during the Reagan years, due to the Gipper's stance that, "Government isn't the solution, government is the problem."

Many libertarians jumped the Republican ship when GWB announced "compassionate conservatism." The only thing that kept people like Glenn around was the cold-eye realization that post-911, the Democrats had zero foreign policy credibility. Whatever you thought about the Republican's domestic agenda (not much) we could argue about later, after the people that want to kill us are dealt with.

UPDATE: After posting the last couple of paragraphs, I realized I may have oversimplified to the level of untruth. There are many Democrats with loads of foreign policy smarts. The problem for the Democrats as a viable opposition party is that those grown up voices are being shouted down by the (increasingly misnamed) and the Kos Kids.

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