This is not the religious freedom you are looking for

Attention, religious conservatives decrying the government’s crackdown on your religious freedom: you’ve got it all wrong. See, you think religious freedom means you have the right to practice your religion wherever, and whenever, you like. Not true.

Religious freedom actually means “freedom from religion.”

Let me explain.

Clearly, you are free to practice whatever religion you like. We agree on that. I cannot force you to practice my religion. Likewise, you can’t make me practice your religion. Nobody is dragging anybody into a church here. Your religious freedom is actually the freedom to not be dragged into my church.

In other words, you (or your daughter) are free to not wear a hijab. Not your religion, so nobody’s going to make you do it. Awesome. That also means that my kids are free to not pray in public school. Not their religion, nobody’s going to make them do it. Double-rainbow awesome.

So nobody imposes their religion on anyone else. Religious freedom in America, as the founding fathers envisioned it. Huzzah! Don’t you think we should all be able to agree on that?

Please apply this to your own life. And get your religion out of mine. Thanks.

Introducing the Pringle

Over breakfast this morning, while looking through the newspaper ads, my seven-year-old son asked me what a Pringle was. I explained, and we discussed why they come in a cantube, instead of in a bag like normal chips, but there’s nothing like experiencing something for yourself.

So today, while I was at work, I bought one of those little cans of Pringles.

Their first Pringles

Their first Pringles

We shall see what he (and his little brother) think of this.

Name a Children’s Book Every Child Should Read

This post idea is from Plinky.com, fwiw.

Name one children’s book every child should read.  This is tough.  I grew up being read to.  I grew up reading.  Our kids get books read to them every night.  Our oldest reads himself to sleep every night after we read to him.  I’ve been stealing our family’s old children’s books from my mother’s shelves for years now (usually with her permission).  I love books.  I love board books and easy readers, chapter books and young adult novels.  I can name, off the top of my head, probably a hundred children’s books I like.  So the most difficult part of answering this question is picking just one book.

And that’s the fun of it, too.

My choice is The Tale of Custard the Dragon, by Ogden Nash, in the edition illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.

Cover of The Tale of Custard the Dragon

Here is why.  The story has a dragon in it.  That’s probably enough, for me, but I also like that the dragon is owned by a little girl, Belinda.  I like that the book is about courage in the face of danger, but also accepting your true self.  It has sympathetic characters that are still flawed (Ink, Blink, and Mustard are kind of mean, but still part of the family).  I like that Nash rhymes “window” with “Belinda” (as in “windah”).  That he rhymes “pirate” with “gyrate.”  That the poetry flows easily when read aloud.  That the pictures are delightfully detailed and whimsical.  Every child needs a little adventure, and a little whimsy, and an underdog to root for.

I give this book as a gift whenever I can.

Here it is in prose form Here it is at Amazon (for just $7.00!)

What one book would you choose?

Bad Machinery

I don’t often get caught up in the fancy of something, but this has entranced me. There is a web comic, that’s been around since last Fall, that I can’t stop reading. Well, that’s not strictly true. I can stop, but every time I go back it is just as delightful.

It is called Bad Machinery, by John Allison. It takes place in Tackleford, somewhere in England, and involves kids who are about… I don’t know, fourteen, fifteen? (I’m so bad at judging ages that it seems to extend into cartoons… huh. ((Oh, look, they’re twelve. See how bad I am?))) Anyway, it is so quintessentially fun, cool, young, and English that I can’t help reading it in my head in an accent. I’ve even tried fitting different accents on different people.

Very cool. I’m about halfway through the archives, but it is absolutely fabulous.

Try it. Start at the beginning.

Oooh, and look what I found, the home page! Bad Machinery.

Yes, the cross-pollination with Scary Go Round is odd ((Okay, not so odd, as it seems the supernatural has made an appearance in Bad Machinery, too… not sure how I feel about that.)). I haven’t let it quell my enthusiasm, however. As best I can tell, Bad Machinery is Scary Go Round: The Next Generation. In any case, I like the young’uns better.

What he said, about “Lost”

This bit from Alan Sepinwall’s review of the last episode of Lost is key to why I loved it, and the series as a whole.

“Ultimately, “Lost” didn’t succeed because of the mythology. We’ve seen too many examples of mythology-heavy, character-light series fail over the last six years to think that. “Lost” succeeded on emotion, whether that emotion was fear of the monster in the jungle, or grief over Juliet dying, or joy at Desmond reuniting with Penny, or thrills at Sayid’s breakdance fighting and Hurley riding to the rescue in the Dharma bus. When “Lost” was really and truly great, it locked you so deep into the emotions of the moment that the larger questions didn’t really matter.”

The rest of the review is also interesting, if you care.

The Blade Runner gun

The other day I was musing to the wife about how ridiculous it would be to spend stupid money, just because I had stupid money to spend. I mean, if I was a billionaire, I said, I could not imagine spending $150,000 on a car, no matter how electric or cool it was. It is one of these truisms I’ve always held to. Lots of money would never overcome common sense.

And then I heard that Harrison Ford’s gun from Blade Runner was up for auction. Here let me show it to you:

Harrison Ford's gun from Blade Runner

Harrison Ford's gun from Blade Runner

Another view

It was expected to fetch $150,000, and instead went for $270,000.

And yes, if I was a billionaire, I would probably buy this.

Guided Selections in the iTunes Music Store

Neat how the iTunes music store lets you – This is fascinating. Guided selections for artists or genres in the iTunes Music Store. That is, they present you with (someone’s opinion of) the basic songs for the artist or genre, next steps, and deep cuts. It’s a little hard to find in iTunes, but if you click on any of the “iTunes Essentials” links, you get this interface. Quite frankly, awesome.