Monthly Archives: December 2010

December at the Humane Society (or, Who Wants a Cat?)

December: Insanity strikes!  Animal control raids a woman’s house and confiscates 248 cats.  But…where do we put them all?  Answer: Anywhere and everywhere.  Hallways, garages, and empty dog kennels are all now cat areas.

If you’re wondering why there are no pictures, the humane society needs to go to court to win permanent custody of the cats, so all the pictures are currently court evidence.  Perhaps later.


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Love and Respect (part II)

If you aren’t convinced that Love and Respect Ministries is sexist, read on until you are.  All quotes are from their website.  Except the bits from Powerthirst.  And my snarks.

Though we all need love and respect equally, the felt need differs during conflict, and this difference is as different as pink is from blue!


As a wife, you notice a man and a woman walking hand in hand.

Hand holding is invisible to men.  Men trip because they try to walk between two people who are holding hands.  They don’t even realize what happened.

You see a couple sitting together in the park, talking face to face on a bench.

You beam all the way through your friend’s wedding.

As you pass the hospital, you see new parents coming from the maternity ward, and your mind races back to the birth of your child and what you felt as a couple.


You look at the world through pink sunglasses. (Forgive the stereotypical color pink, but it serves the biblical point I want to make.)

We don’t stereotype by color.  Just by behavior.

As a husband, you notice matters of honor.

The movie Saving Private Ryan, about the invasion of Normandy, tears you up as you fixate on the incredible heroism.

You cried at a movie?  Pansy.

You follow the world champion sports team, feeling part of these guys who say, “We respect one another more than anybody on the planet. We’d do anything for one another. One for all, all for one! We’re going to be number 1 again!”

Sports (aaahhhhhh!). You’ll be good at them. It’s an energy drink for men. Menergy! These aren’t your dad’s puns, these are energy puns. Turbopuns!

The note from your growing son that says, “Dad, I respect you more than anybody” penetrates your heart like few things. That card is kept as gold.

Your son said…what?  Seriously?  Who would put that on the card?

The Purple Heart you won in the Gulf War sits on your shelf.

A picture of your war buddy who gave his life that you might live is center stage in your home study.

You’ve had the worst, now try the thirst…quencher.

These things are about “strength and honor,” the phrase from the movie The Gladiator. God designed men to be so moved by honor that they give their very lives. Men serve and die for honor.

Now with preposterous amounts of testosterone. Preposterone!


Feeling overweight after the holidays, Michelle complains to Adam, her husband.  He listens quietly.  The next day at the bookstore, Adam sees front and center the book, Dieting for the Christian Woman: Post Holiday Menus.  He purchases it.  When he brings it to Michelle she goes ballistic! “I can’t believe you!  This is unreal.  You don’t love me for me but only if I look nice.  You’re despicable!”

A Lifetime Original film.

I discovered a secret – a secret hidden in plain sight!  A husband does not lack the knowledge that he is to love his wife.  She tells him that she needs to feel his love. What he lacks is motivation.

The secret is this:  A husband is motivated to love in response to a wife showing him unconditional respect.  That’s a big truth hidden in plain sight.  After hearing it, it still seems foreign to many!

Remember, if your husband doesn’t love you, it’s your fault.

My wife Sarah would like to subtitle the Love and Respect Marriage Conference, “The conference men want to attend.” We believe this is a fair and balanced approach for both husbands and wives.


Through RESPECT TALK you can……

  • Re-kindle moments of closeness in the midst of stress
  • Open your husband’s closed spirit when he feels everybody respects him but you
  • Counter the misperception you are trying to be his mother
  • Give him hope that you view him equal to you, not worse than you.
  • Re-energize his deflated ego in the midst of outside factors that are discouraging him.

Because wives who don’t show enough deference are just trying to be your mother.


You’ve already observed how this feeds into stereotypes:  Women are silly and emotional and all they ever think about is weddings and babies; men are tough and like sports and, for some reason, all of them are wounded veterans.

The really damaging part of a sweeping generalization like this is the great unspoken question:  What if I’m not like that?  If I don’t fit into your astoundingly binary pigeonholes, then what?  Is it wrong?  Am I sinning by desiring respect as well as love (or love as well as respect)?

This kind of approach encourages people to act according to the prescribed formula rather than learning what approach works for their significant others.  Husband acting distant?  He must need more respect.  That doesn’t work?  He must need even more respect.  But every person is different; every person wants and needs different things.  Only by learning about your spouse as an individual can you hope to treat him in the way that he or she wants to be treated.

Also notice the use of “honor”:

These things are about “strength and honor,” the phrase from the movie The Gladiator*. God designed men to be so moved by honor that they give their very lives. Men serve and die for honor.

“Honor” is used, roughly, to mean “something deserving of respect,” which seems accurate.  Thus it is a male trait, because males need respect. But honor can be earned.  You can act honorably; you can be deserving of respect whether respect is given or not.

Love, on the other hand, can only be given.  You can’t deserve love; there is never an amount of love due to you because of your actions nor nature.  Men need something that they have earned; women need something that you give by your own choice.  It all comes back to control and dependency.


*Men watch Gladiator and think about strength and honor.  Women watch Gladiator and think about how The Fall of the Roman Empire was way better because it had both Alec Guinness and Christopher Plummer.  Seriously, you have not seen epic until you have seen that movie.

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Oddity of the Week

Am I the only one who didn’t realize that the Muppets have a YouTube channel?

Not a channel of old clips from the 70s, but new material with a YouTube viral flavor and a canny amount of self-awareness.

I realize I’m interrupting your steady stream of ninjas, sleeping puppies, and pirated music videos… —Sam the Eagle

Stadtler and Waldorf are right at home now, in a venue where sarcastic heckling is always expected.

Few, if any, franchises have had as much lasting value as Jim Henson’s Muppets.  Sesame Street has been rock solid for forty years (partly because it was originally so far ahead of its time); other shows have come and gone as the franchise morphed to fit the era–The Muppet Show as an answer to Saturday Night Live; Muppet Babies as part of (indeed, one of the instigators of) the Nickelodeon/Cartoon Network cartoon boom of the late 80s and early 90s–always fresh yet always retaining their essential muppetness.  It’s a rare balance and virtually no other show has mastered it like the Muppets.


Image from Wikimedia Commons.

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Love and Respect (part I)

There’s a curious meme circulating in complementarian circles that goes like this:  Women want love.  Men want respect.  This is, apparently, a pretty big thing: The first Google result for “love and respect” is this site (and it isn’t a couple of random kooks or anything–look at the number of posts on the forums!).

I assume this came from the Big Book of Gender Stereotypes, but it’s one of those “black people like watermelon”-type stereotypes that leaves you wondering:  How did this ever get started?  Was there some guy once who was like, “Being loved is for pansies!  REAL men don’t need love!”

Just kidding.  It’s from Ephesians 5:33, which according to this website is the only verse in the Bible.  And from this super-sciencey study, which found that…both genders want both.

These things never seem so bad because they’re always couched in soothing language and ninety percent of what they say is perfectly reasonable.  Don’t be fooled.  Weirdo polygamy/incest/child marriage cults also couch their teachings in soothing, reasonable language spoken by fatherly middle-aged white men with glasses.  Of course you communicate bad ideas in language that makes them sound like fine ideas, otherwise no one would ever listen to you.

The love/respect movement is sexist.  More on that after the cut.  But is the underlying premise true?  Mark Driscoll loves to ask, “If you had to pick just one–love or respect–which one would you pick?” with the assumption that it is patently obvious who will pick which one, even though I recall a prominent woman singing “All I’m asking is for a little respect.”

I thought about this question.  I thought about it carefully.  And, after much deliberation, I picked respect.  I think that everyone, regardless of gender, should pick respect, and this is why.

Picture love without respect.

For me, it’s a blank.  The word “patronizing” comes to mind.  I picture men doing things for women that they don’t think the women could do themselves.  I picture women voicing concerns and men telling them not to worry their little heads about it.  I picture men buying things or doing things for women that the women don’t want out of the assumption that it must be what they want, deep down.

None of this is loving.  I can’t picture love without respect.  There is no such thing.  Respect is the bedrock of a loving relationship and love cannot exist without it.  More at the end of the cut.

Now picture respect without love.  What do you see?  I see Colonel Mathieu from The Battle of Algiers, oddly enough.  The Algerians are his enemies, and yet his respect for them is deep.  I could name other examples: the relationship between a good boss and his or her subordinates, for instance.  The picture here is not a blank.  Respect can and does exist without love.

If you have love without respect, you have neither.  If you have respect without love, you still have respect.  It isn’t everything that one needs in a relationship, but it is something and it is of value.


How do you love someone?

You respect his or her feelings by paying attention to how he or she feels and acting accordingly.

You respect his or her body by being physical in a way that serves him or her instead of just yourself.

You respect his or her preferences by doing the things he or she wants to do.

You respect his or her ambitions by planning a life together that leads to where he or she wants to be.

You respect his or her needs by accommodating them graciously and not making him or her feel demanding or high maintenance.

You respect his or her life by showing interest in the things he or she does and remembering birthdays, projects, relatives’ names, likes and dislikes.

Love is a kind of respect.

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We Interrupt this Program

To bring you this important announcement:  Pinky has achieved fleeting Internet fame!  Alas, it came posthumously, and Inky is not the sort of hamster to rejoice in his brother’s success.  I, however, feel that my life has now been fulfilled.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

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The Poor Tax

"This change does not affect you!...Wait, what's that? You care what happens to people who aren't you?...Why?


“Our bank has a poor tax now,” was Jordan’s observation as we got this notice from Chase.  And so it has:  It now fines people who don’t have enough money.  Checking is free if you have at least $1500 or make a monthly direct deposit of $500 or more.  Otherwise, it’s a $10 a month fee.

Wait, what?  So if you don’t have enough money…they charge you money?  Thus ensuring that you will continue to not have money, so that they can continue to charge you money?  Why not just bring back debtor’s prisons and have done with it?

It’s true that, assuming that they need more money and absolutely need to earn it by charging fees and not by, say, loaning money and making financial investments like a freaking bank, then yes, they have to do something like this, because they couldn’t charge you for putting too much money in the bank.

Oh wait, they earned $11.7 billion in profits last year.  So they’re just being pricks.

They’re also shooting themselves in the foot in the long run, since they’re helping to create a class of people in abject, inescapable poverty.  These people will never take out mortgages or make investments or any of the things that actually earn banks money.  They’re also helping grind economic recovery to a halt, since what kind of person has no monthly deposits and can’t keep a minimum balance?  The unemployed.  But Chase is willing to accept all that for the chance to take $10 a month from people who don’t have $10 a month.

But enough from me.  Someone else has a few choice words for Chase and the other banks:

Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.  (James 5:4)

You shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.  (Leviticus 19:22)

But your eyes and your heart are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, and shedding innocent blood and on practicing oppression and extortion.  (Jeremiah 22:17)

There is a kind of man whose teeth are like swords and his jaw teeth like knives, to devour the afflicted from the earth and the needy from among men.  (Proverbs 30:31)

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  (1 Timothy 6:10)

Woe to those who scheme iniquity, who work out evil in their beds!  When morning comes, they do it, for it is in the power of their hands.  They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away.  They rob a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.  (Micah 2:1-2)

Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying “When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain, and the sabbath, so that we may open the wheat market, to make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, and to cheat with dishonest scales, so as to buy the helpless for money and the needy for a pair of sandals, and that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?”  (Amos 8:4-6)

On garments taken as pledges they stretch out beside every altar, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.  (Amos 2:8)

Therefore because you impose heavy rent on the poor and exact a tribute of grain from them, though you have built houses of well-hewn stone, yet you will not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine.  For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, you who distress the righteous and accept bribes and turn aside the poor in the gate.  (Amos 5:11-12)

And basically the rest of Amos.  Alas, I don’t think we’re actually going to see anyone get dragged with a meat hook.  This is, however, a great illustration of why we can and should tax the crap out of the rich:  Because the inherent structure of our society already fines the crap out of the poor.  Just reaching the point where poor people are able to keep all the money that they earn, let alone gain interest on it, would be an advance.

In conclusion, can anyone recommend a good credit union in the Pasadena area?


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Interactive Fiction

Can I just say this right off?  Text adventures are fun.

There’s something about wandering around in a minimalist arena of verbal descriptions that makes even the most mundane and disorganized of stories feel incredibly special.

You are in the empty room.

There is a paper clip here.


The trouble is that, historically at least, text adventures inevitably were mundane and disorganized; Zork and its ilk suffer from the obvious problem that all you ever do is wander around using things with other things for no particular reason.

Two facts that might surprise you, however:

First, text adventures did not die in the eighties.  And second, they are a great deal more advanced now.

Modern interactive fiction is all about storytelling.  The new name that has replaced the now-deprecated term “text adventure” indicates this focus.  These stories use the interactive format to increase immersion: Now the adventure really is yours and you are in control of what happens.

Is this a shameless plug for my interactive fiction?  Of course.  It’s called Aurora.  It’s set on a spacecraft, where you awaken to find the ship off course and everyone else still in cryogenics.  It’s up to you to figure out what has gone wrong.

You can download the game here; you will also need the Glulxe interpreter to run the game, which you can get here (you probably want the Windows installer).  For a little help on this game (and interactive fiction in general, in case you haven’t played much before), look below the cut.

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