Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Days To Remember

Another crazy week for the Amulet Man, so another classic post revisited. This one is spurred by the interview of Angelina Jolie I saw on this morning's Today show. In her honor, please enjoy this post from last year around this time.

And add your idea for a "new holiday" in the comments!

I’ve always thought we could use more holidays.

Sure, it’s nice to get off for the usual occasions, like Christmas and Thanksgiving … but too often you really need that day away on October 3 or May 25 instead of one of those obvious days.

One solution is the “personal day,” the corporate benefit that allows employees to pick their own special day. Not bad, especially if you get several of them.

Even better, though, is just creating your own fancy holiday.

The greeting card companies have tried this for years, with varying success. I keep hearing about this apparently popular “Sweetest Day,” although I’m not sure if my fiancée would be flattered or insulted if I ever called her “sweetest.” Other such fake holidays, like “Grandparents’ Day,” have few fans.

But I am a fan of one particular idea along these lines. According to, in a recent radio poll in Namibia, half of the callers expressed support for making the day Angelina Jolie gives birth to Brad Pitt’s baby a national holiday.

That’s NOT a typo—Namibians are actually considering making Brangelina’s big day a historic event simply because the couple has been shacking up at a beach resort in their country while waiting for the most beautiful baby ever to pop out.

If this concept takes off, don’t be surprised to see a wave of new national holidays, giving people in these places days off for:

France: “I’m French … So I Just Don’t Want To Work Today” Day

The United States: “American Idol Final Selection Show” Day

Mexico: “Get an Early Start Walking North” Day

Namibia: “Britney Spears’ 30th Birthday/Fifth Childbirth” Day

Belgium: Nothing. You see, the Belgians keep trying to come up with a new holiday, but they will never settle on one. Why?

Because Belgians waffle.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

True Believers

I don’t like to write about U.S. politics.

As a matter of fact, I’ve mostly referred to politics as part of humor posts. The blogosphere hosts plenty of idiot voices on our country’s political system and personalities; I don’t need to add mine to the mix.

But we are gearing up for a presidential election—and an obliquely political comment last week caught my attention. In case you missed it, the Rev. Al Sharpton, in a debate with author Christopher Hitchens, said something controversial about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney:

“As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways …”

Wow. For a man of ostensible Christian humility like Sharpton, that’s quite an arrogant statement. His apparent first instinct, as revealed in this impromptu debate response, is that a Mormon like Romney doesn’t “really” believe in God.

I don’t care how Sharpton imagines his pet version of a supernatural, divine being. Frankly, I don’t care how Romney or anyone else does, either. That’s not the point.

It’s the assumption of the holier-than-thou attitude that troubles me.

Sharpton seems to think that he is best placed to identify the people who “really believe in God.” (I can’t put my finger on it, but something tells me that Big Al puts himself into that group—which, naturally, makes him superior to others who fail to believe in his version of God the way he does.)

Shame on him as a supposed “man of God.”

And think about it: This is the most economically advanced, technically sophisticated country in the long history of humanity. Yet part of our social and political spectrum holds up a person spouting this kind of hypocritical, haughty prejudice as a spokesman.

Shame on us as a supposed nation of tolerance.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Lying about Lying

This is a post of mine from 2005. I recently endured some nasty back-and-forth on a television talk show, and it spurred me to put it out here again. Let me know what you think.

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There is a disturbing trend in American politics. Actually, there are several … but I will reserve today’s vitriol for just one.

Check back for others. I am sure they will be spilling out soon.

What is rankling me is a tendency that has been growing for years—incrementally enough that we barely notice it has become standard fare. I am talking about the all-too-common practice of labeling a view you do not share a “lie.”

AKA: Advocacy of an alternate view is “lying.” Anyone who disagrees with you is a “liar.”

Lie. Lying. Liar.

To lie, however, means to make an intentionally false statement.

It is NOT to state a position that is controversial or even incorrect. It is NOT to express a belief that is unpopular or even repugnant. It is not even to take a country into war based on information that you wanted to be true but had no way of knowing was not, because just about everyone in the world agreed on that information.

Such a thing may be seeing what one wants to see. It can be annoying, it can be sad, it can sometimes be mind-numbingly stupid.

But it is not always, or even often, lying.

Accusing someone of being a “liar” is a particularly nasty epithet. Yet I hear it being used de rigueur on the radio and TV talk shows of the left AND the right. The worst case, of course, was the very title of a recent book by left-wing author whom I will not dignify: “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.”

Lie. Lying. Liar.

Unlike most political analysts, apparently, I do not assume that those with whom I disagree are deliberately telling falsehoods. I truly believe that most of my critics—no matter how illogical or ridiculous I find their ideas—actually believe the facts and arguments they share with me to be true. Even when I think their suggestions would only hurt those they intend to assist, I believe that these folks actually do mean well.

This is not, of course, what you will hear from a growing number of political commentators. No, they would rather disrespect any poor soul who disagrees with them.

How to undermine a critic’s arguments? Accuse him of telling lies. Insist that he is lying. Call him a liar.

But it is simply inaccurate to assert that anyone who dissents is lying. It offends reason. It dumbs down debate. It is an incorrect use of the word—and a morally repugnant tactic.

And anyone who disagrees with me is a liar.