Jesus Made Me Puke

Rolling Stone sent a reporter undercover to an Encounter Weekend sponsored by Pastor John Hagee’s Cornerstone [Mega]Church in San Antonio. Although I don’t care much for the flippant ‘those-wacky-christians’ tone of the article, the reporter does make some interesting observations about the brainwashing aspects of his experience. Scary stuff.

By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to “be rational” or “set aside your religion” about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters. Once you’ve made a journey like this — once you’ve gone this far — you are beyond suggestible. It’s not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that’s the issue. It’s that once you’ve gotten to this place, you’ve left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things. You make this journey precisely to experience the ecstasy of beating to the same big gristly heart with a roomful of like-minded folks. Once you reach that place with them, you’re thinking with muscles, not neurons.
By the end of that weekend, Phil Fortenberry could have told us that John Kerry was a demon with clawed feet, and not one person would have so much as blinked. Because none of that politics stuff matters anyway, once you’ve gotten this far. All that matters is being full of the Lord and empty of demons. And since everything that is not of God is demonic, asking these people to be objective about anything else is just absurd. There is no “anything else.” All alternative points of view are nonstarters. There is this “our thing,” a sort of Cosa Nostra of the soul, and then there are the fires of Hell. And that’s all.

That’s some fine reporting

This AP article is a mess. In particular, check out this sentence:

Fournier appeared disappointed as left [sic] the capsule and walked to the hanger [sic]. He was hugged by members of his entourage.

Oh, there’s also this:

Fournier, 64, had planned to make the attempt Monday, but had to postpone his plans because of weather conditions.

And in case you missed it the first time, later in the article:

Spokeswoman Francine Lecompte-Gittens said Monday’s postponement was due to unfavorable weather.

Annals of cultural confusion

I’ve studied the German language and Germanic culture for years, but sometimes the intricacies of cultural understanding still allude me.
Last week, I visited my company’s R&D office in Linz, Austria, for the first time. Please note that, as far as I know, I’m pretty much the only U.S. employee in the company who speaks fluent German–except the couple of Germans who work in the US offices, of course.
When speaking German, I assumed that all of my fellow software engineering colleagues would address me with the informal ‘Du.’ That was true with one exception.


America’s ‘recession-proof’ cities

Forbes just published an article about top ten most recession-proof American cities.
The selections are based primarily on low unemployment, home prices that continue to rise, and the likelihood that the local economy will continue to grow.
By all three of those criteria, it’s no surprise to me that Austin came in at #3.
But what I find strange is the inclusion of San Jose and Seattle in the list. Home prices in those cities may have continued to rise, but as I understand it, those are among the cities hardest hit by the hyperinflation in home prices. In fact, the article mentions that the median home price in San Jose is over $830,000.
Perhaps the economy in those cities is healthy enough that it will continue to attract enough people to support those ridiculous prices, but from what I’ve read, the cities with home prices that have been speculated into the stratosphere will be hit hard by the building recession. It won’t take many job losses in those locations for that house of cards to come tumbling down.
Of course, this is Forbes, which seems to operate in a different reality than I do. The only mention made in the article to the possible severity of the recession is this: “In his statements to Congress’ Joint Economic Committee earlier this month, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke predicted the economy would possibly move into recession in the first half of 2008 but begin to rebound in the second half.”
I guess America’s Relatively Recession-resistant Cities wouldn’t have made nearly as catchy a title.

Politics as usual

From former labor secretary Robert Reich‘s blog:

Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Listen to Economists
When asked this morning by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos if she could name a single economist who backs her call for a gas tax holiday this summer, HRC said “I’m not going to put my lot in with economists.”
I know several of the economists who have been advising Senator Clinton, so I phoned them right after I heard this. I reached two of them. One hadn’t heard her remark and said he couldn’t believe she’d say it. The other had heard it and shrugged it off as “politics as usual.”
That’s the problem: Politics as usual.

(Via Fred Clark)