Sunday, November 29, 2009

This year's CC-written famous UU skit

Note: This was performed at my church's yearly celebration of famous UUs and their gifts to society. It loses a little when you just read the text.



Applause people




Props needed:

Two large signs that say “Applause please”

A gaudy trophy (we used a soccer trophy)

(Entire cast is onstage, with any youth without assigned parts dressed as circus people. PT is in the center of the group of circus people.)

Announcer: Welcome, Welcome to the 1890 Universalist of the Year Awards. Tonight we honor a very important Universalist and one of the most famous men in the entire world, circus legend PT Barnum!

(Applause people hold up posters that say “applause please” Audience, one hopes, applauds.)

Announcer: You probably know PT’s story. After all, his autobiography is one of the best selling books in the entire world. You know he has given away large portions of his fortune to museums and libraries and to Tufts University. You know that he has revolutionized circus and entertainment. You know that he has helped change the circus from a den of iniquity to a den of delight! You know that he started the Greatest Show on Earth. You know who he is and you know that we’re giving him the Universalist of the year award, so give it up for :P.T. Barnum!

(Applause people hold up signs, PT steps to the front.)

PT: (Delivered in a way that makes him sound VERY impressed with himself. Jumbo should look increasingly agitated as the speech goes on.) Thank you, thank you, I’m honored to receive the Universalist of the year award. I have given a lot of money to museums and educational institutions, but I’d like to talk about one more reason why I deserve this award: My political work.

Now maybe it’s not appropriate for a church to give an award for political action, maybe that’s why you left it out of your speech, but before the war I spoke out against slavery frequently and I even served two terms in the Connecticut legislature. Also, I…

(Jumbo steps forward, takes mike from PT)

Jumbo: Now PT, I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish but Clara Barton was the greatest Universalist of all time.*

PT: Well… I…

Jumbo: I don’t know why you think you can even get a religious award, you did so many bad things.

Jojo: Yeah, take it from your old pal Jojo the dog-faced boy, you’ve been lying to people and cheating them your entire career!

PT: Now really!

Jumbo: It’s true. Let’s talk about the Cardiff Giant for a second.

PT: (proudly) One of the most famous hoaxes in history, I might add.

Jumbo: The bible said some things that people thought meant there used to be giants roaming the Earth. So a tobacconist named George Hull made a sculpture of a giant man out of wood and started displaying it, claiming that it was one of those biblical giants. You made your own and started to claim that your giant was real and HIS was a fake, when both of the giants were just made up.

PT: (laughing) The thing of it was, when Mr. Hull took me to court, they ruled in my favor because the judge said there was nothing illegal about calling Hull’s fake a fake! I won the case!

Jojo: PT, you’re missing the point. You were CHEATING people. People came to your museums and your sideshows thinking that they were really seeing a giant man or the body of a mermaid, and none of that was true. How can you accept an award from a religion when you made all your money from tricking people?

(PT takes microphone, addresses audience. He should really sell this. Make the audience feel like PT is snowing them but they are having too much fun to care.)

PT: Jojo the Dog-Faced Boy is right. While I gave a lot of my money away, I made a lot of money from fooling people. But did you ever ask yourselves if those people really deserved to be fooled?

It’s a really complicated world out there, my friends. And if you’re the sort of person who runs around automatically believing in giants and mythical creatres, you’re going to have a difficult life. I gave lots of money to universities. But if you spent five cents to go to my circus, saw the unicorn, thought to yourself that it looked like a goat with a horn on it and figured out you can’t always believe what you’re told, then for five cents I gave you a better education than some people ever get.

Part of being a religious liberal is thinking for yourself. I taught thousands of people to do that.

So I ask you, members of the audience: Do I, PT Barnum, deserve this award? Applaud if you think I do.

((Applause people hold up signs. Announcer looks over the crowd (who should be going nuts), nods, and hands PT the trophy. He holds it up triumphantly.))

Announcer: The greatest showman on earth, my friends. The greatest showman on earth.

*Nobody got this joke, at all. The silence was deafening.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Less stupid than Black Friday, less self-satisfied than "Buy Nothing Day"

Next day-after-Thanksgiving, I think I'll celebrate National Day of Listening.

who knows some of y'all celebrate "Buy Nothing Day" and aren't evangelical jerks about it, but the majority...

CC's favorite reporter written up in her favorite magazine

Yep, it's Radley Balko being interviewed by the Economist.

It's like a perfect storm, if perfect storms were awesome.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Epilonious's bitchin' Glee character bios

I agree with much of what he has to say.

(Added later: And now he has more.)

Five years ago today

~ A happy marriage has in it all the pleasures of a friendship, all the enjoyments of sense and reason, and indeed, all the sweets of life. ~

-Joseph Addison

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In my Victorian literature class in college

I equated that scene in 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' where she's walking through the forest and the birds are falling out of the sky to this.

My professor didn't like that. Oh well.

Happy Thanksgiving from your pals at the Chaliceblog!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Does anybody ever think or Google things?

A breathless email was sent to a mailing list I was on this afternoon. The original writer of the email had found this picture.

I swear, the second I saw it, I said to myself "Oh, everybody's saluting but the President. The band must be playing 'Hail to the Chief"

Needless to say, the text of the email was all about how the sender didn't know specifically what was going on in the picture, but picture was taken on Veterans day and how by not saluting Obama must have been showing disrespect to the troops.

Needless to say, when I went looking for what was going on during the Veterans Day Ceremony that Obama attended, I found video taken from another angle.

Yep, Obama had taken the stage and "Hail to the Chief" was playing. Obama wasn't not saluting the troops. He was not saluting himself. Because saluting yourself is stupid.

And we wouldn't want to be stupid, would we?



CC reviews "Best Bet"

I really wanted to like this book. Really.

I've read and reviewed the first three books in the series and prior to this, each book improved on the last. Best Bet has a decent plot. The main character, Hallie, is one class short of graduation and gets the chance to take a class that includes a free trip around the world. She takes the trip and discovers when she comes back that it didn't really change her life as much as she expected.

All of that sounds fine, but Best Bet seemed like a huge step down from the the previous book in the series, particularly in the characterization and the stilted way the characters talked.

I don't know that I've ever read a novel with so many quotations and references to random things. The whole series has this issue, though it's the most problematic in Best Bet. It's like a habit that several major characters have picked up and it leads to horribly clunky explanations of who the original speaker was that completely screw with the flow of the writing. Part of me wants to give the book a pass on that because it is a young adult novel and the author clearly wants to teach the reader what some words mean and who some famous people are, yet Harry Potter managed to teach very young children dozens of words that were J.K. Rowling straight up invented by simply using them in context and trusting that kids are smart and would figure it out.

Thus the Harry Potter books have no passage that reads like:

"Accio Broomstick!" Hermione said, and the broomstick floated over to her, because "accio" was a magic word that when accompanied by a wave of a magic wand, summoned the stated object to the person who case the spell.

Yet Best Bet has many passages that are almost as bad and they really drain the energy out of some of the dialogue. Also text like "She'd only told Bernard a hundred times that she'll not be used as bait to bring in trade for him, the way poet and socialite Sebastian Venable employed both his mother and his cousin in Tennessee Williams' play Suddenly Last Summer" and incredibly specific and dated references like "I hear strains of Neil Diamond's song Be from the Johnathon Livingston Seagull soundtrack wafting over the lawn..."

The first book in this series, Beginner's Luck got most of its "funny lines" from characters literally telling each other old jokes. Best Bet has a few funny moments, but mostly the characters were back to telling each other old jokes, and they did it a lot. Most comic novels get their humor from either the author's witty and original writing or character-based humor and Best Bet has little of either and having a character tell the old joke about the Charles Dickens martini, "No olive or twist," just doesn't cut the mustard.

As had been standard for this series, the continuity is really bad. For the simplest example, Hallie's sister Darlene is thirteen on page fifteen and twelve on page sixteen. But it's beyond that to a fundamental inconsistency to some of the characterization. The supposedly street smart Hallie ends up having to take an extra college class to graduate because she blindly trusted her advisor when he told her she was taking the right classes. Almost all schools have "breadth requirements." They aren't a difficult concept and it's kind of hard to fathom that a 21-year-old who was supposed to be that world-wise wouldn't have checked over her transcript for herself.* It never even occurs to anyone in the book that she might be partially at fault there.

That is far from the only hint that though she's supposed to be 21, in many ways, Hallie's still a teenager. She spends much of the first part of the book feeling like people are running her life if she's the center of attention and feeling ignored if she's not. She seems much more interested in what her boyfriend is wearing (which she carefully describes every time he appears) than what he is thinking or feeling. She thinks of him far less often than she thinks of her other friends while she is on a trip she takes around the world and at the beginning of the book has to be asked before she seriously considers what he will feel about her going and disrupting their plans to move in together, though she's been considering her own feelings on that for twenty pages or so. The purpose of her trip is a sociology class and she seems offended that she actually has to study sociology at times. She loves gambling and gets to be good friends with a gambling addict yet no insights ensue, other than she has to win his money back because she's a better gambler.

Also, what's the deal with her living in Ohio her whole life and acting like she's never met a Mennonite?

Heart's Desire was the only book in the series to have real plot issues, so it wasn't a surprise that the story isn't bad. That said, both the writing and the characterization are so clunky that it's almost impossible to focus on the story. I guess the series peaked with The Big Shuffle, which is too bad as I really thought it would improve from there.

Oh, and for the record, there is a phrase that teenage girls need to know that the book didn't teach. When a guy who is more or less a complete stranger knows you've been drinking all night and gives you more alcohol, then gives you drugs, ignoring your initial refusal, until you're so wasted that when you wake up in the morning you don't remember anything of the night before, that's "first degree sexual assault." If the character doesn't see it as that, she doesn't have to treat it that way, but if you're going to write a book that goes to the trouble of explaining who Dorothy Draper is, you might as well get that concept in there.

In the book, it's treated like an amusing youthful adventure and the only consequences are the main character's concern that a boy she thinks is cute will think she's a slut.



*Item: At my "pre-Senior year" check-in with my college advisor, he looked at my transcript and said I needed three politics classes to graduate. I said "No, I don't, I need four."

Because I had looked at the requirements, then looked at my transcript. Not rocket science.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hanging out as a Spiritual Practice

Peter Morales has caused a mild stir in the YRUU room.

In an attempt to get UUs off our duffs and doing things, a cause I'm usually behind, he has made some rather grand statements about youth work in the latest issue of UU World.

He writes:

"I am convinced that we too often fail to recognize how much our children, youth, and young adults need to give. Hanging out is not a spiritual practice. Joining hands to work for something we care about is. Service is an essential part of faith development. We need to do so much more to engage the idealism and energy of our young people."

Err...Does he actually KNOW any UU youth? Has he ever tried to fit in YRUU amongst football practice, homework, play rehearsals and family responsibilities? I was at an RE training this weekend and someone else asked TogetherBeth what work our YRUUs did out in the community. She said something like:

"Well, we do the food drive at All Souls, of course, we have 40 youth going to that tomorrow. And we put together safe sex packets for Metro Teen Aids, and we entertain kids at the children's Inn at NIH and the whole church does volunteer work in the community during service week...well, we need to do more out in the community"

Actually, I think most people would say that's pretty good. And "out in the community" doesn't count the work trips to El Salvador and New Orleans our church does that are attended by lots of youth and the tons of fundraisers for various charities that our YRUU group does.

That aside, though, I still think the Reverend Morales is incorrect when he writes that "Hanging out is not a spiritual practice."

Well, actually, earlier in the article, he writes warmly "I remember one woman who had a passion for connecting with the elders of the church. She wanted them to feel connected and respected. She loved to hear their stories. What a gift she was to our church!" So perhaps what Reverend Morales meant was that "Hanging out is not a spiritual practice when youth do it" because it sounds suspiciously like hanging out is spiritual as all get out when you do it with the elders of the church.

The most useful conversation I've ever had with a YRUU happened as we were baking brownies. The second most useful conversation I've had with a YRUU happened BECAUSE Jana-who-creates and I were too lazy to go upstairs and get a folder. (If you follow that link, it's item four.)

Hanging out, in the way YRUUs do it, where you talk about how to deal when a friend says something homophobic, or how upset you were when you had your first car accident or how you've decided what you want to do when you grow up or how the kids at your old school were mean to you but you love your new school and now you're OK, is a vital, connective tissue that makes all of YRUU's heavy lifting possible. Hanging out is where we learn both the big important moments and the little stupid stuff of each other's lives. It's when we slow down from all the stuff we're doing (both charitable work and everyday things) and say to each other, "tell me about your day, because I want to know who you are."

I tend to think that when we connect with one another, we are connecting with a piece of that which is divine.

If that's not a spiritual practice, what is?


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Misanthrophy Moment: Social Skill issues on the internet that bug me

1. People who constantly change which social networks they use/whether they are blogging and where and constantly feel the need to talk about it.

I first noticed this behavior back in the Usenet days when any site that promoted vigorous discussion had people who would grandly announce they were leaving, then quietly return within hours or days, a behavior that is fine once or twice. I recall Usenet folks who did it every month or so, though.

The current version is people who "cut back on their internet usage" every other month by announcing that they are going to stop being on facebook, stop tweeting, stop blogging, etc, and then go back to everything within a week or so.

It's not so much the leaving that bugs me; it is the announcing. Are you really so important that I need a lengthy facebook message from you every time you quit facebook? Are your blog readers really so dumb that if you don't update for awhile they won't figure out that you're cutting back?*

2. People who don't Twitter and are so damn proud of it.

Intense Elizabeth said that she couldn't judge these people because she doesn't have a TV and likes to bring it up. She's right, that's exactly the dynamic at work. Has someone asked if you're on Twitter? Feel free to say "No", though a speech about how you are too busy and important to waste your time on something like that is superfluous.

Otherwise, nobody really needs to know that you consider yourself too busy to be on Twitter. I'm not saying you have to be on Twitter, mind you, I'm saying that the "Why, I can't imagine how people find the time to type 140 characters about what they think or how they are doing every few days." is profoundly irritating thing to say, especially if you bring it up frequently around people who ARE on twitter becase it totally comes off with that "My time is too valuable for me to have a TV" snottiness that some people have. (And IntenseElizabeth mostly doesn't have)

Similar speeches about facebook and blogging are also included here, though Twitter seems to inspire the most self-satisfied smirking from those who don't participate.

3. People who read blog posts and news stories about Oprah, but aren't Oprah fans and need to make sure you know.

This applies to every Entertainment news story, especially those about celebrities, it's just very obvious about Oprah stories right now. American Idol stories get it every single year.

Damn near every Oprah story out there right now that allows comments has dozens of people who apparently clicked on a story about Oprah, chose to comment on a story about Oprah, then wrote something along the lines of "I don't watch Oprah, I don't care about this story."

I wish the people who feel the need to do this could bottle their apparently abundant free time and sell it to those people too busy to twitter.

who appreciaties Oprah like she appreciates William Forsythe as both are apparent geniuses at forms of entertainment that just really don't interest CC personally. My feelings are roughly "Wow, it's great that there's someone out there doing such a great job doing that sort of thing for people who like that."

Because she knows you were dying to know what she thought about the matter.

*This is not a slam against Peacebang, who has closed her blog for a few months and is qite clearly remaining gone those few months. Even I publically pondered closing the Chaliceblog once. Once. in five years of blogging. And I said at the time that I was only going to do this if I got a certain job that more or less required me to. I didn't, so I'm still here. I get that life happens and that if you are literally disappearing for months on end you need to tell people, it's the people who do this all the time and never actually leave who bother me.

The slightly less awesome Alan Rickman video found!

Truly obsessed people such as myself know that there were two versions of the Alan Rickman/I'm too sexy video. Anna had fond the earlier, draft-like version that is slightly off beat in places and has still photos in places.

By all means check it out if you need some Alan Rickman goodness.

And thank you, Anna


Friday, November 20, 2009

Alan Rickman music video

I got some not awful but rather frustrating news this morning and I'm needing some Alan Rickman to improve my day.

The original Alan Rickman video of the awesomenes is gone, so we will have to go with PG's suggested replacement.


Quote of the Day

"They made a porn movie about Sarah Palin and the same actress, Lisa Ann, played me in the porn version of 30 Rock. Weirdly, of the three of us, Lisa Ann knows the most about foreign policy." — Tina Fey.

Ethnic slurs for Ethnicities that don't really exist anymore

TheCSO points out that using "Philistine" as an insult is technically an ethnic slur, it's just a slur against an ethnicity that has not existed in a long time.

As pretentious as I'm sometimes accused of being, I will confess that I don't really run around calling people "Philistines" much. As a term, it's a little "Look at me, I'm a bohemian with an expensive education" for my taste though I am sure it has its moments.

But since the whole "The Cubans CC knew growing up use 'boat people' non-pejoratively for people who took a self-help approach to get to America, but the Vietnamese consider it an extremely nasty ethnic slur and she will get yelled at if she uses it on her blog the way she always heard it used"* fiasco of '06, I generally assume that if I even have an inkling something could be construed as insulting to an ethnic background, I should never ever use it.

At the same time, there aren't any actual Philistines left to offend.



*For the record, the context was that anybody who had the brains and gimp to build a boat and sail hundreds of miles to get here deserved to be an American and probably had awesome genes our culture needs.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

If you have sent me a novel to review...

You should know that I have 47 pages of law school paper due in the next week. I'm 15 pages into my paper on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, seven pages into my main negotiation skills paper and I haven't started the negotiation paper that I have to read another book before I can write.

Luckily, I'm a law student and used to heaps of work so, that means "The review will go up Wednesday."



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Into the church like that."

Before class one night, a few of my classmates were discussing prior jobs they'd had.

One woman mentioned working for a political organization with strong ties to Christian churches. You'd know it if I told you the name.

"You worked there?" one of her friends said. "I didn't know you were into the church like that."

"I sure am," she said, her voice a masterful balance of emphatic passion and flawless politeness. He had meant it neutrally and she had taken it that way.

And I found that so interesting as I would be surprised if this person spends as much time as I do at church. Maybe she does. Nothing on her if she doesn't. Most people don't.

But even though I think I am "into the church like that" by any reasonable definition, UUs pretty much never think of themselves that way or put it like that. And if being a UU were a crime, I could surely be convicted, but I doubt I could confess with such grace.


Cory Maye gets new trial. W00t!

Of course, it was overturned on the venue grounds, not the 'Mississippi forensics guys are corrupt' grounds, but hey, I will take it.


Saturday, November 14, 2009


I am frequently accused, mostly by people who think they are making fun of political correctness by enforcing it, of not being the most PC person around.

And I would hardly consider "National Geographic" a particularly culturally sensitive organization. After all, it brings to mind either British Explorer types yakking to drawing rooms about their adventures in exotic places, or young people of generations before mine who used its pictures of naked people for well, what my generation and generations forward use the internet for.

So yeah, not particularly culturally sensitive even by reputation.

But despite my low standards for the place, even non-PC me is genuinely appalled by the Shrink your own head game now available on National Geographic's website.

It's exactly what it sounds like. Upload a picture of yourself and they will make your face into a shrunken head. Then you can put it on Facebook.

That might be one of tackiest, least culturally sensitive things I've ever seen on the internet. And that's saying a hell of a lot.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Carrie Prejean feels she is being "censored" and has been on several major news networks to talk about it.

People who use the world "Censored" without understanding or caring what it really means irritate me. You are not being CENSORED if:

1. People insult you

2. Not every medium wants to write about you or your cause, or feature you talking about you or your cause. For example, if not every single news show wants to interview you about your memoirs of life as a beauty queen.

3. The UU World doesn't want to run an insulting ad from your favorite organization but has offered to run other ones that are more respectful.*

If you write a book and the government makes your book illegal, come talk to me. Otherwise, it's time to find another talking point because whining that your very well-known ideas are being censored because one news show won't interview you, one magazine won't run your ad, etc, etc and soforth just makes you look dumb.


*Obviously doesn't apply to Carrie, but I did hear the UU World accused of "censorship" for not wanting to run the FFRF's ad in the future. The atheist who made this claim is FAR from alone. People CONSTANTLY bitch that anyone who wants to ignore their well-known ideas is censoring them.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Hat tip to theCSO Mom

I totally feel for the people at the beginning who look like they want to call the cops, but like them I was won over by the end. And you gotta love the lady at 2:28 who is blandly buying her train ticket and ignoring everything that is going on.

whose blog is not going to become your source for flash mob dance videos, but Kim HAD complained that my previous flash mob dance video had matching costumes. So now I've posted one that doesn't.

On the other hand, if you have anything around halfway as hilarious as Fisticuffs Club, the Chalicemailbag is always open.

Little Kid Religion

I remember word-for-word the conversation where I first heard of Unitarian Universalism.

"I don't go to church," my lab partner in my high school Oceanography class (a goth chick who has several freshmen believing that she was an actual vampire) said. "But my parents are Unitarians." She spoke the last word like it was the most tremendously uncool thing to ever be.

"What do Unitarians believe?" I asked.

"They believe that you can believe whatever you want."

"That's a stupid religion." I said.

"No kidding"

And our conversation moved on to other matters, none of them relating to Oceanography.

As many times as I've corrected UUs of various ages (mercifully skewing towards kids) on the specifics of refining belief through reason, I can totally see why "you can believe whatever you want" is a little kid version of UUism.

Similarly, the little kid version of Christianity I grew up with was along the lines of "Be good and do good stuff and you will go to heaven. Pray and God will give you stuff. Take care of the poor because Jesus said to."*

I took some theology classes and developed a more sophisticated understanding of Christianity before I rejected it as a spiritual path, but I found those little kid tenets to be quite tenacious as far as my own thinking about these matters went and part of me still sees Christianity as a religion very focused on who gets what from God.

This line of thought has me really glad that I'm a YRUU advisor. We didn't have sunday school classes for teenagers when I was a Presbyterian teenager because we didn't have any teenagers who wanted to attend except me. (And this was at a decently-sized church in the middle of DC). As I've mentioned, the multi-church youth group I was in was all about keeping us from having sex with each other and not so much about anything else. I remember two lock-ins, a charades game, a retreat, a trip to the movies ("Groundhog Day") and a stream cleanup. There had to have been more in four years of high school but that's literally all I remember doing.

Also, there was one discussion where we were supposed to talk about our hero and lots of kids said "my mom" and lots of kids said "God" and Teenage CC said "Katharine Hepburn."

So yeah, there wasn't much moving on to becoming a mature Christian adult in there. It's not a big shock that I didn't stay.

Conversely, Jana-who-Creates grew up in Atlanta and tells lots of stories of driving across a state or two to go to a youth con and how YRUU cons were really where she fit in. She grew up getting Unitarian Universalism on a deep level because there were people who wanted to teach it to her. And she met Richard Simmons.

Here's hoping that the youth I know and the youth you know have a better grasp of the faith they are growing up in than I did and that like YRUU did for JwC it truly becomes a place where youth can fit and where they truly get what their religion tries to teach.


*It bears mentioning that not all kids get the little kid version. LittleCSO had so many pointed questions about doctrine that his Sunday School teacher eventually had him meet with the minister, who told him straight out that if he didn't believe X, Y and Z then he wasn't a Lutheran. So theCSO stopped going to church as he was not a Lutheran. The actual truth of this story might be slightly less awesomely precocious, but that's how he tells it.

Poem for the Day

Autobiography in Five Chapters
by Portia Nelson

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost...I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall's a habit...but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

CC could really use that Alan Rickman video

but YouTube has pulled it down.

So let's watch a reasonably talented flash mob dance to "Single Ladies."

who wasn't encouraging the Yankees to win, mind you, but if they were going to they should have done it a day earlier so we could have had Glee back. Yes, I realize it's not as good as it was when I told you to watch. But it's still better than most things.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Anybody got a hymnal handy?

What are the hymn numbers for "We'll build a land" and "Enter, rejoice and come in"?


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Inappropriate use of a SWAT team #548

Cops like to claim that they HAVE to use a SWAT team sometimes because, say, it's really dangerous to serve a warrant in a no-knock style raid that more or less simulates a break-in.* Someone could have a gun!

I'm assuming they didn't use that excuse when they brought two SWAT teams to arrest some naked people.

Bonus points for threatening streakers with the sex offender list.


*So don't do it that way, CC says, but nobody listens to my advice on these things.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Racist Halloween Costumes and YRUU

"My mom didn't like my Halloween costume," Beloved Brillient YRUUer said. "And then she followed my friends in the car when we went trick or treating."

"What was your costume?" someone asked.

"I wore a poncho and a sombrero and a little mustache. My girlfriend went as border patrol."

There was silence. Crickets chirped.

"I can see why your mother had a problem with that," I said, also thinking that Mom probably followed BBY in case someone decided that the proper punishment for a punk kid in a racist Halloween costume was an asskicking. Not an unreasonable worry, I'm thinking.

No one else said anything, but the stares that Beloved Brilliant YRUUer got were not friendly ones.

In retrospect, I realize that this was the classic 'teachable moment.'

But I let it pass, at least partially because I was loath to start an entire discussion that would consist of condemning the kid's Halloween costume various ways, even though the costume and the wearer arguably deserved it.

But the more I've thought about it over the last day, the more I have wished that I had started a group discussion on racism. Next weekend, I have a law school thing Sunday morning, so the soonest I will be back in front of the YRUUers is the week after, a day short of a full two weeks after Halloween.

The idea time to start the discussion has passed I know, but how should I handle it from here?

Offer to lead a talk on immigration and focus the discussion on the complexity of the issues? (Possibly too subtle, but still the best alternative I've thought of.)

Actually say, "Hey, I know I didn't say this at the time, but the idea of going for Halloween as a Mexican really bothers me. Can we talk about what that means?" (Puts kid on the spot)

Assume that the Mom already had the talk and that if it didn't get through when she said it, I'm not going to make greater headway. (Cop out)