It’s Link-O-Rama!
Check out the government’s online auction clearinghouse.

The Internet Timeline
The history of the net, complete with Homestar Runner.

Badger Rampage Injures Five
And no, it’s not from the Onion.

Napsterizing iTunes
Apparently iTunes isn’t the solution to online music piracy.

The Dullest Blog in the World
What’s even more bizarre than the fact that this site is actually funny, is the fact that the New York Times covered it.

The Star Wars Kid
If you haven’t seen the 15-year-old geek twirling a broom/lightsaber, you haven’t truly lived. Wired covers the story, and a blog tries to raise money for the poor kid whose private video was leaked to the world. Unfortunately, we all have embarrassingly dorky videos from our not-so-distant past. May God have mercy on us all.

Close with a Matrix

I watched the original Matrix this weekend and then plunked down my cash for Reloaded. It wasn’t the mind-blowing experience of the first one (how could it be?), but it is full of freaky plot twists and lots of computer animated kung-fu.

Frankly, I found myself yawning at Neo’s fight scenes. The guy can bend the rules of physics to his liking, so how can he lose? It’s just an excuse to show off some cool effects, and they weren’t that cool. You can only kick a guy in the head so many ways. Watching him deal with his Messiah complex was much more interesting.

I also enjoyed Morpheus’ line that his beliefs don’t require others to believe in them for them still to be true. Seemed very applicable to Christianity, though we often don’t realize it.

I’ll be in line to see the third movie, but the Matrix universe is beginning to lose some of its luster. And it doesn’t help that every movie franchise is blossoming at the same time: Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, X-Men. As cool as mythic tales are, you can only take so many alternate worlds with their own hero.

I get to clothe the leper!

More from Nickel and Dimed:

“The preaching goes on, interrupted with dutiful ‘amens.’ It would be nice if someone would read this sad-eyed crowd the Sermon on the Mount, accompanied by a rousing commentary on income inequality and the need for a hike in the minimum wage. But Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say. Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth. I would like to stay around for the speaking in tongues, should it occur, but the mosquitoes, worked into a frenzy by all this talk of His blood, are launching a full-scale attack. I get up to leave, timing my exit for when the preacher’s metronomic head movements have him looking the other way, and walk out to search for my car, half expecting to find Jesus out there in the dark, gagged and tethered to a tent pole,” (page 68-69).

As you can tell, I’m liking this book. But don’t get the wrong impression. I’ve already quoted two extremely isolated sections that refer to Christianity. These are simply religious asides, which I find particularly biting. The rest of the book is just as intriguing, and I feel it’s time I give it a bit of credit.

Barbara Ehrenreich is trying to make it on minimum wage jobs, working as a waitress or a cleaning woman, living in efficiency apartments you could fit in your bedroom. She’s trying to see if it’s even possible to survive like that, and then reporting on it so the rest of us feel some shame or guilt or a bit of understanding and maybe something is done about it.

It reminds me so much of the summer of 1999, when I scoffed at going to Taco Bell, afraid to spend the 99 cents on a Taco Supreme. I pinched and I scrimped that summer, and I tried not to live off my dad’s gas card. I lost at least 10 pounds that summer, and made a lot less that minimum wage. But even that experience barely allows me to relate.

What I find so striking is when Ehrenreich applies the daily existence of the lowest class with Christian teaching. It sucks, but she is so right. Jesus was a wine-guzzling vagrant. He told people to give to the poor and not to cheat each other. He told us there are more important things than money, but you wouldn’t know it by the cars parked in church parking lots.

Jesus wasn’t interested in rules, especially not societal rules. Yet we are. I walk past apartments small enough to pass for the ones Ehrenreich stayed in, I ride the bus with people she describes as coworkers, and I see these people everyday at restaurants and stores. Sometimes it does feel like the church has taken the real Jesus, shoved a sweaty black dress sock in his mouth and stuffed him in the baptistery. We’re afraid he’d overturn our pews and fellowship tables.

The words of Paul stuck out today: “For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence,” (2 Corinthians 2:17, NRSV).

I expect this kind of language at Denny’s

“The worst, for some reason, are Visible Christians-like the ten-person table, all jolly and sanctified after Sunday night service, who run me mercilessly and then leave me $1 on a $92 bill. Or the guy with the crucifixion T-shirt (someone to look up to) who complains that his baked potato is too hard and his iced tea too icy (I cheerfully fix both) and leaves no tip at all. As a general rule, people wearing crosses or WWJD? (“What Would Jesus Do?”) buttons look at us disapprovingly no matter what we do, as if they were confusing waitressing with Mary Magdalene’s original profession.”
(Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, page 36. I originally noticed this quote on, which encouraged me to take the book of my shelf and read it, and I came across the quote on my own today.)

If this is how Christians are seen, I’d rather be an Invisible Christian.

Kiss the chick vote goodbye

The other day I finished reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It’s a teen girl book that’s diverse enough to keep anyone interested (it follows four unique friends) and not quite deep enough to lose those afraid of using their brains. In all it was a good read, but I wished it explored the issues it raised a little deeper. It seemed to scratch the surface and move on, leaving me wanting more.

Of course the sequel came out this year, and I’m beginning to see it as a part of a larger trend in literature: Chick Lit. The Traveling Pants is barely a part of the Chick Lit trend, which centers more around books like Bridget Jones’ Diary, but it’s almost a teen version, Chick Lit Lite, if you will (similar books include Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, What My Mother Doesn’t Know, and Gossip Girl among others). Last night I was in Target and I realized the sudden proliferation of these Chick Lit books (like Confessions of a Shopaholic, Mr. Maybe, Milkrun, See Jane Date, Asking for Trouble, and The Trials of Tiffany Trott, among others). They’re all written by young women and feature the stories of young, hip, single, sexy urban women who are chasing after the perfect guy. They’ve all got hip attitude and cynicism, and are packaged in pastels or with attention grabbing photos of hip urban women. It’s amazing how quickly a trend like this can come and go. After all, if Target devotes an endcap to it, you know it’s yesterday’s news.

And if Kevin is pondering about it, you know it must be even older news. I love discovering bandwagons long after they’ve left.