Monday, May 17, 2010

The Dangers of Theocracy

Warning: The following post is of a political and religious nature. The only talk about cute ducklings, my genius sons, the joy of music, and my love of language occur here in this warning, and are therefore already past.

Last week, I read from a few sources about Sarah Palin calling for a "return" to a government based on the ten commandments, which are of course just gateway rules to full-on theocracy based on someone's interpretation of the words of the Bible. So many Christians and ultra-conservatives (which are not mutually exclusive groups) believe that such a shift in government can be only a good thing, because Christians are holy and just and all those good things. What could go wrong?

A story I found this morning from Mail Online gives us some hint about what a theocracy can be like. According to the story, a 23-year-old woman asked for a ride from a man. That man, instead of taking her where she needed to go, took her to another house, where she was gang raped by that guy and four others. That rape was followed by an unwanted pregnancy. The woman tried to get an abortion but wasn't allowed.

When authorities eventually heard the whole story, what was the result? The woman was convicted of adultery (even though she wasn't married) and sentenced to a year in prison. After her rape baby is born, she will receive 100 lashes — and I ain't talkin' about no Revlon lashes here. The fate of the five rapists? Apparently, no one really cares about them.

This case comes from Saudi Arabia, which adheres to what Mail Online refers to as "a strict form of medieval law," which is based on the tenets of Islam.

But there can be no connection between this Saudi corruption of justice and a Christian USA, right? Perhaps, but it really depends on whose interpretation of Christian dogma and scripture holds in the White House, the Supreme Court, and Congress. There are certainly some hard-liners who oppose abortion in any cases, even in a case of rape, so, in a Christian America, this woman could face the judge for attempting an abortion.

If a Defense lawyer — or worse, the judge — wants to adhere to the writings of the Old Testament, the results could be much worse:
If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her. Deut. 22:28–29
A strict interpretation of this passage would result not in a rapist put behind bars, but in a woman being forced to marry (and never be able to divorce) one of the men who raped her. Still, it could be worse:
If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. Deut. 22:23–24
So, unmarried rape victims must marry their rapists and never get divorced. Married rape victims are put to death. That's some good ole godly justice for ya.

But, you say, these are taken from the Old Testament, and Christianity is all about the New Testament. True, but does that mean that Christians ignore the Old Testament? Of course not. Creationists wallow in the words of Genesis. Women look to Old Testament scripture for guidance from strong Biblical women — because there aren't many in the New Testament. Christians find their morality lessons in the Old Testament stories of Job, of Lot, and of Noah. And don't forget, Mrs. Palin called for a return to the ten commandments, which are found in Exodus, the second book of the Old Testament.

So how would a Christian theocratic government choose which parts of the Old and New Testaments from which to draw legislation and legal decisions? Would we just leave it to our elected, Christian officials (and their ministers/pastors/priests) to make that decision? Would you feel safe with that? Would you feel that justice has a fair hand in that? Would you vote for that?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Yummy Mother's Day Meals

Saturday afternoon, I headed down to my parents' place for Mother's Day weekend. When we got there, my mom wanted to go down to Bloomington and check out the Bloomingfoods co-op. So we hopped in the car and headed south.

The result was two wonderful meals. For dinner on Saturday, we had this nice sampler spread. (I apologize for the quality of the photo.)
Here you have spinach gnocchi with (a bit too much) basil pesto, banana peppers stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto (the whole think was harder than I expected), and marinated sweet red peppers stuffed with goat cheese and spices (these are absolutely delicious!). On the second plate were three cheeses: A locally produced Gouda, a soft and nutty St. Jerome cheese, and the most amazing cheese ever: cocoa-rubbed goat cheese. I couldn't really taste the chocolate while eating the cheese, but it left a mocha-y aftertaste. Deeeeeeelicious.

For Sunday lunch, we sculpted this masterpiece:
Carrots, broccoli, onions, chicken, a little mayo, and dill weed wrapped in crescent roll dough and topped with an egg glaze and slivered almonds. It was a delicious cross between chicken pot pie and a calzone, and we ate it with fresh polenta and pesto-marinated mozzarella balls.

I haven't eaten this well in a long time. And it was otherwise a wonderful Mother's Day weekend.

And, seriously, those marinated sweet red peppers stuffed with goat cheese and spices were absolutely divine!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Free Reward! An Infinity of Hoops!

Thank you, Taco Bell, Dr. Pepper, and EA Games for wasting a good twenty minutes of my evening with your ridiculous offer of free stuff. Grrrrrrr.

It started innocently enough. I had lunch at Taco Bell on Friday and got one of their ecologically unfriendly plastic fountain drink cups. On that cup was a 12-character code that, according to the cup, I could enter at to get some "exclusive in-game content for [a handful of] EA Games and more!"

One of the games is Spore, one of my favorites. So I went to As expected, I had to create a user account there. After I did that, I had to answer four simple questions about my drink choice, and then I entered my code. Simple enough, and totally expected.

Clicking the button to continue took me to a page at, where I expected to download my freebie stuff. I was faced with a login page, and so I entered the user account info that I had just given at That was the wrong info.

I was at a new site. And I was expected to open a new user account at I rolled my eyes, but I am a big fan of Spore. So I took a couple minutes to enter my information and create a new password. After that, I was asked THE SAME FOUR QUESTIONS THAT I WAS ASKED BY TACO BELL.

Weird, yes, but not all too time-consuming. I forged ahead, entering my 12-digit code AGAIN at I was notified that I have a "reward" that I could redeem, and the only thing I had to do was LOG IN TO THE EA GAMES WEB SITE to retrieve it. And I didn't have a user account at EA Games.

I managed to hold back the deluge of four-letter words that were threatening to shoot from my mouth -- my two young sons are here, after all -- and I was ready to give up. I had already spent too much time and received nothing but the promise of more spam e-mail.

But my elder son is even more of a Spore fan than I am. And he has some adorable puppy-dog eyes.

So I created a new account at EA Games. I wasn't asked any questions about my drinking habits, and I didn't have to enter the 12-character code again, so I hoped I was actually getting somewhere.

Once I was logged into EA Games, I had to choose one of the games that offered some in-game content. I clicked on Spore, and I was getting a little excited -- the "prize" was a set of cybernetic body parts that I could use to build characters in my game. Totally Star Trek cool.

When I chose Spore, I was magically transported to the Spore Web site where -- guess what?! -- I was supposed to log in yet again. This time, though, I already had an account there, and I even remembered my password.

So I logged into the Spore Web site and got to the page with the longed-for link to the free awesome download. The link was right there! But the other text got in the way -- specifically, the text warned me of a known issue with a file path, followed by these instructions for working around that problem:

To fix this issue, please complete the following steps:
  1. Uninstall Spore and Spore Galactic Adventures
  2. Re-install Spore
  3. Re-install Spore Galactic Adventures
  4. Return to this page to install the Spore Bot Parts Pack.
So I jumped through the user account hoop. I jumped through the user account hoop. I even jumped through the user account hoop. The user account was a much easier hoop, so I just stepped through that one. And now I am expected to spend the next hour uninstalling and reinstalling two programs on my computer before installing my "exclusive in-game content."

I like Spore, and I would really like to have this Bot Parts Pack. But I like my time better. I can make much better use of my time than un- and re-installing software. Sitting here typing away about this travesty of a marketing campaign is a better way to spend my time than that.

I wish I could say that I was denying the perpetrators of this crap what they wanted, but unfortunately, the marketers at Taco Bell, Dr. Pepper, and EA Games have already gotten their rewards.

If any marketers are reading this, take this as a great example of how to piss off the very people you're trying to turn into customers. I will undergo this Sisyphean effort for nothing less than a new car. And it better not be a Daewoo.

And to the people at QDoba: You're now my favorite Mexican fast food restaurant. See you Monday.