Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rachael Ray... Terrorist?

Imagine my surprise as I logged into my AIM account this morning and was greated with the headline, "Rachael Ray's 'Terrorist' Ad Yanked" Well, I guess the rediculous headline did what it was supposed to do, because I went ahead and had a look. Apparently Dunkin Donuts has pulled an advertisement featuring Rachael Ray because her stylist put her in a white silk scarf with a black paisley pattern.

Yup. Scarf.

Terrorist scarf!

But Michelle Malkin apparently thinks I'm clueless about the symbolism of the terrorist paisley pattern, so let's rectify that, shall we? Malkin says that the paisley scarf that Rachael Ray is wearing "appears to be a black-and-white keffiyeh." She goes on to say,
It's just a scarf, the clueless keffiyeh-wearers scoff. Would they say the same of fashion designers who marketed modified Klan-style hoods in Burberry plaid as the next big thing?
Wow, keffiyeh are exactly like Klan hoods. Maybe I am a clueless... And yet, Malkin's condescending and vitriolic tone doesn't quite have me convinced that she is a neutral and reliable source of facts. I mean, really, who does she think she is? A FOX News pundit? What's that? She is? Oh. Well. That explains a lot.

Anyway, I decided to do a little research into the keffiyeh through Wikipedia, which is linked in my sidebar. And what I learned is that the keffiyeh is a traditional headress of Arab men and "is commonly found in arid climate areas to provide protection from direct sun exposure, as well as for occasional use in protecting the mouth and eyes from blown dust and sand."

It is true that Yasser Arafat has made the particular pattern of his keffiyeh a trademark symbol that has come to represent his politics. Even the way in which he wears the garment is symbolic, as "Early on, he had made it his personal trademark to drape the scarf over his right shoulder only and arranging it in the rough shape of a triangle, so resembling the outlines of the territory claimed by Palestine."

I suspect that it is also true, as Malkin says, that they are "a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos." I also suspect, however, that they are also a regular adornment of shopkeepers, taxi drivers, farmers, tailors... people who are kind and gentle as well as radical Islamic terrorists. In fact, our own military use keffiyeh "in military olive drab or khaki with black stitching" to keep the sand out of their faces as they do their duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Was Rachael Ray supporting Yasser Arafat in a Dunkin Doughnuts commercial by wearing a silk scarf that is the same color, almost the same cut, and not at all the same pattern as the keffiyeh Arafat has made his trademark? I sincerely doubt it. Was Dunkin Doughnuts right to pull the add? Actually... yes. Because Rachael Ray's scarf simply isn't important enough to be arguing over.

Although I am glad that I learned a little bit from all of this siliness. The keffiyeh is more like a baseball cap than a Klan hood. The Klan hood, as far as I can tell, is only worn by those who are in the Klan and subscribe to the Klan's positions. Baseball caps are worn in many different styles and colors for reasons varying from a simple need to keep the sun out of one's eyes to intentional affiliation with a group of people (the Yankees or the Red Sox, for example). Not every red & white cap means "Red Sox fan." Not every black & white keffiyeh means "I support Arafat." Many more times than not, a cap of any color means "this keeps the sun out of my eyes." And many, many more times than not, a keffiyeh means "this keeps the sand out of my face."

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Friday, May 23, 2008

Editing is Neat

This morning I ran across the following video on YouTube, and as I was considering writing a post about cell phone use and etiquette (Just cause it rings doesn't mean you have to answer it!) I noticed another version of the video called "extended cut." Here's the first...

Wow, who hasn't wanted to do that, right? Props to the prof! But wait... who was sitting in the middle of the classroom catching it all on video? Maybe it's been too long since I was in school, but we weren't video-taping lectures then... Maybe the extended cut will give me some answers...

Hehe, I suspect, having seen the full cut, that the whole thing was staged, and that the short cut made it look more real than it actually was. Which is really rather clever, in my opinion!
Seriously, though, silence your cell phones when you're in class, or worship, or a movie. If you really feel you need to look at your phone when it starts buzzing away, go outside and do it. Especially if you're someplace dark, like a theater. Even texting is annoying in a darkened room, because everyone behind you can see the light from your phone. It's like waving a flashlight around in there. And for your safety, and the safety of others, don't talk or, God forbid, text while you're driving. I can't count the number of times I've personally avoided an accident and said aloud, "What are you doing?" and then been able to answer myself. "Oh. You're driving one-handed while talking on your cell phone."

Be polite, be safe, and be good to each other.
Rev. Josh

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Those of you who have been following this blog probably remember my post concerning the IRS and how it was threatening the non-propephet tax-exempt status of the United Church of Christ. The complaint against the denomination was a response to Senator Barack Obama's address to General Synod, the biennial national meeting of the UCC. Sen. Obama was invited to speak to his own denomination at General Synod months before he announced his candidacy for president and as you can see below, the UCC did everything in its power to avoid officially endorcing Sen. Obama's campaign. Nevertheless, Sen. Obama supporters did set up tables outside of the convention center (on public property) and Sen. Obama mentioned his candidacy in the speech itself.

After a great deal of research and thought, I came away not knowing if the UCC had abided by the letter of the law, though I remained convinced that we were very much in the spirit of it. Apparently the IRS has been satisfied, though, as the latest news is that the UCC has been cleared of any wrongdoing concerning Sen. Obama's appearance at General Synod! Huzzah!

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Wii Says You're Fat?

You may have seen a news item recently about the Nintendo Wii telling a 10-year-old British girl that she's "fat." Several quotes from the father and from Tam Fry have been circulating the web (and I assume TV, too, possibly) on the subject. Besides the description of the father being "gobsmacked" when he heard what the game had said, the most repeated quote from the girl's father is this:
"She is a perfectly healthy, 4-feet-9-inch-tall 10-year-old who swims, dances, and weighs only six stone. She is solidly built but not fat. She was devastated to be called fat and we had to work hard to convince her she isn't."
The other most quoted quote is attributed (I assume correctly) to Tam Fry, a spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum,
"I am absolutely aghast that children are being told they are fat. A child's BMI can change every month and it is perfectly possible for a child to be stocky, yet still very fit. I would be very concerned if children were using this game and I believe it should carry a warning for parents."
So far, nobody has been convinced that a "warning" or an older ESRB rating is in order here, and apparently Nintendo has made the following statement,
Nintendo would like to apologize to any customers offended by the in-game terminology used to classify a player's current BMI status, as part of the BMI measurement system integrated into Wii Fit.

Wii Fit is still capable of measuring the BMI for people aged between two and 20 but the resulting figures may not be entirely accurate for younger age groups due to varying levels of development.
So here's the deal, near as I can tell after a lot of internet research. Wii fit doesn't use the word "fat." It uses a simple calculation to find the users' Body Mass Index (BMI). Based on their BMI, they are put into categories, the most unfit of which are "overweight" and "obese." So what's the big issue, if you're overweight and the game says so, it's just truth, right? Well, despite Thoreau's famous injunction to "simplify," the BMI calculation isn't completely accurate. As it is a function of weight and height, it does not work well when considering growing children (who's weight and height can vary from day to day!) or, ironically enough, the very fittest among us (muscle mass weighs more than fat!) So, I think I'll leave you with a little promotional video of the Wii Fit so you can see what it is, really, and leave you with this thought. Wii Sports is one of the first video games that promotes getting up out of the chair and moving (The arcade game, Dance Dance Revolution is the first one I became aware of.) and the Wii itself is certainly the first video game platform to do so. I think that if you're aware of the drawbacks of the BMI, and talk with your kids about it before they play the Wii Fit games, that you'll find, in the end, that the Wii is still a positive thing.

Be good to each other
Rev. Josh

Friday, May 09, 2008

Updated Blog! Honest!

I know, I know it's been way to long again. But look! Here's the post about I Can Has Cheezburger? that I promised you. I don't know where they came from originally, but they can't spell, speak kind of broken English and Leet Speak (Hence the term Lolcats. LOL stands for "Laughing Out Loud" and cats. Well, they're the furry mammals that make us LOL.") I have to thank my friend Cort, from Aestus, for turning me on to Lolcats. In fact, they are so much a part of my day, now, that I've linked the site in my sidebar under the heading "Daily Dose of Joy." Cause that's what they are! Also new, is the Communication Stuff down at the bottom, for all of you who have been having trouble finding ways to lay ahold of me. Facebook and E-mail is about all I can keep up with though, so don't expect that list to get any longer any time soon! Anyway, here's one of my favorite Lolcats, I've done all I know how to, but I can't seem to make it smaller. The caption is "Meow Mix." I hope you enjoy it!

humorous pictures
more cat pictures

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh