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This is a draft of something I'm going to email to the office of Howard Kleinhelder, and maybe see if I can turn it into a local letter to the editor.

Howard Kleinhendler, I wanted to vote for you. Not that I knew who you were before you left that automated call I found on my answering machine last night, but I have voted against Chris Smith in every election since I moved to NJ's fourth congressional district. As the Democratic candidate this time around, you would have gotten my vote simply for standing against him.

When I got home and listened to the first 15 seconds of the pre-recorded message you'd left on my answering machine, I swore and punched the delete key; I wish now I'd saved it so that I could quote it to shame you. Have you become confused about what race you're running in, and maybe think you're now running for a seat on the New York City Planning Commission? Are you perhaps an expert in Islamic theology when it comes to the location of religious centers?

If not, why is it any business of yours where Muslims in New York choose to worship? Have you forgotten that this is America, where we are supposed to have higher standards for religious freedom and tolerance than anywhere else on the planet? Did you really want my first introduction to you to be a robocall assuring me that you're at least as full of anti-Muslim bigotry as your opponent?

Don't tell me about September 11th. I remember it well. I remember what a gloriously bright blue the sky was that morning. I remember the news stories on the radio that morning ("Mad Cow disease discovered in Japan"). I remember the minutes between the planes when we could think it was some terrible accident, and the shock of the revelation, after the second plane hit, that this was a deliberate attack. I remember frantically trying to find news websites that were still up to tell us what was going on. I remember over the next several days deliberately avoiding the TV and its endless replay of people jumping from the collapsing towers. And I remember how over the course of the following months and years our country went collectively insane.

I'm sure that the rest of your message, had I listened to it, would have calmly used language about the difference between having the right to do something and whether that's a good idea; that's the usual middle ground politicians attempt to carve out here. But there is no middle ground to be had there - you have declared that the anti-Muslim sentiment of people who were not actually there in Manhattan on that Tuesday trumps America's historic commitment to freedom of religion. You have joined with those who would class Muslims as non-American by definition. As a consequence, I cannot press the button next to your name this November.

I still can't bring myself to vote for Rep. Smith - his long commitment to a reactionary position on reproductive rights guarantees that - but when you see the full breakdown including write-in votes know that the "George Washington" write-in is from me. I know he's ineligible being dead and, more than that, a Virginian, but I'd point you to his letter to the Jewish community in Newport, RI as an example to follow. "To bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance" - that's how politicians speak when they want my vote.
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Something Katherine has gotten into lately, with the intensity that only a small child can, is VeggieTales, the series of Christian-themed computer-animation videos starring vegetables produced by a small animation studio outside Chicago. She'll sometimes wake up saying "go watch VeggieTales", and has to be convinced that it would be good to eat breakfast first. (This morning, she did wake up saying "I'm hungry", but by the time we got downstairs she was clamoring for VeggieTales)

We've caught her singing "VeggieTales, VeggieTales, VeggieTales" to herself and even once heard "Cebú... cebú..." over the baby monitor as she was getting to sleep. (If you're not familiar with the series, just trust me that there's a song with that in it)

Jennifer and I have been fans of VeggieTales for a while, and in fact have a complete collection (well, we're missing one of the four non-CGI tapes) that we started sometime in 2001.

Anyway, as should not be too surprising, I've been watching lots of Veggie Tales with Katherine lately and have been thinking about it more than usual.
Cut for length, and for spoilers of recent video content )
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I don't quite know why I'm still awake as I really should be asleep, since I have to wake up in about 5 hours to make my weekly commute to NYC, but I am. Since I am awake anyway, I thought I would share something I ran across today while tidying up my personal web account. This is something I wrote September 18th, 2001, according to the filesystem. I don't know if I ever linked to it from anywhere except possibly a few posts on slashdot, so you can't go find it in the internet wayback machine - you'll just have to trust me that I wrote it then. I've cleaned up a typo or two, added an lj-cut tag, and reduced the level of the heading tag, but it's otherwise as I wrote it then:

September prayers

Many people recently have been saying "our prayers are with the victims and their families". While that is good, and proper, that's not where prayers should end. Prayer is powerful, and praying that one phrase over and over changes us in ways I am finding gradually more and more ugly.

Therefore, I thought that I should share where my prayers have been this past week.

My Prayers for September )
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So the gospel lesson this week was Mark 6:30-44 which says in part:
38 And he said to them, How many loaves have you? Go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39 And he commanded them to make them all sit down, arranging the guests on the green grass. 40 And they sat down, arranged in hundreds, and fifties. 41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, raising his eyes to heaven, he blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave to the disciples to set before them, and divided the two fishes among them all. 42 And they all ate, and were satisfied. 43 And they carried away twelve baskets full of the fragments and of the fishes. 44 Now they who had eaten were about five thousand men.

So there you have it - Biblical justification for the axiom of choice. I don't know why the connection hadn't occurred to me before.

May 2017

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