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The Columbus Disptach Hates Jesus!

I saw this mentioned in ScienceBlogs and had to share. We've talked about the War on Christmas before, but really that war is part of a larger issue: how do you cope when you are part of an over-represented majority? When the majority of Americans share your faith, and your religion dominates the culture and all three branches of government, it's doesn't leave you much to complain about. Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't complain. Instead, the few things left should be complained about ad nauseum. So when the Faith & Values section of the Columbus Dispatch wrote a few stories about Islam and Buddhism, they got letters from unhappy readers:
A couple of critics wanted to know why we were wasting ink on these "false" beliefs when Christ is the only path to salvation. Another caller said he was tired of having "that Islam religion … shoved in my face."
Mark Fisher, editor of that section, decided to take a look at their coverage. He tallied up the subjects of all the front page articles and compared it to the demographics of their readership. It turns out that one group was being left out, but it wasn't the Christians:
Although Faith & Values isn’t ignoring Christians, my tally does suggest that we are giving nonreligious people less attention than they deserve. We’re already taking steps to correct that.
Looking at the actual percentage of coverage and comparing it to the demographics of their readership is a really interesting idea, but I don't think they will win any converts (so to speak) with an empirical approach. I don't think Dispatch readers were complaining that Christianity was being under-represented statistically. I think they were complaining that any view, other than their own, was given any exposure what-so-ever. There are many people curious enough in their lives and mature enough in their faith to be interested in what others believe, but I fear they are the minority. In my experience, many, many people have the sort of faith that requires putting their fingers in their ears and singing "I can't hear you." Unfortunately, these are often the most vociferous members of any faith. So I applaud Fisher's approach, and I agree with his conclusion - agnostics and atheists probably do get too little coverage in the news. But I don't think the Dispatch have much success. Even if the Dispatch went the other direction and had 99 percent Christian coverage, they would probably still be accused of fueling the "War on Christmas" or some other such nonsense because of that one percent. So good luck.

Lewis Black on 2006 and the Problem with Christmas

Lewis Black is an angry, shouting comedian. You might recognize him from his appearances on The Daily Show. He took some time to review the major issues of 2006 and grapple with Christmas. I'm not sure if this counts as yet another salvo in the ongoing War on Christmas (he hates it) or a brave flanking maneuver from an unlikely ally (he hates the rampant commercialization of it). Perhaps if he had read our guide to fighting the War on Christmas, he would be able to make less ambiguous pronouncements. [youtube]PL8SCSz42us[/youtube] Also, the paddle is getting shorter. [youtube]nB_vKh9oye4[/youtube]

5 Survival Tips for the War on Christmas

Since many of our troops are committed to the War in Iraq, we find ourselves once again facing an even more dangerous situation here at home. That's right, the War on Christmas. Because the politically correct mainstream media refuses to cover this silent scourge, it's a little-known fact that the War on Christmas now accounts for more deaths in the United States than any other single cause except for diseases and misfortunes. Every time the clerk at the Seven-Eleven says "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas," it is a terrorist attack akin to flying a building into a plane, except this happens 1000 times every day. So what can you do to survive this trying ordeal (and maybe kick some butt back)? Here are five tips for surviving the War on Christmas: 1. Remind everyone that America is a Christian nation, founded by Christians on Christian moral standards (as Jesus said, "If they raise the tax on tea again, I'm going to fucking riot!"). They have no choice but to celebrate Christmas, and wish you a merry one. It's in the Constitution... or the Bible maybe... whatever, same thing. 2. Build a Yuletide fallout shelter. You can find construction plans for a sturdy backyard bomb shelter for sale via mail order - check the back pages of a 1966 Popular Science magazine. When the big one hits, it won't be the godless atheists you are fighting - it will be your own neighbors. Stock plenty of provisions such as egg nog, canned Christmas Goose and mistletoe. When the evil radiation of agnosticism begins to clear, send out a dove and do not leave the shelter until it returns with an olive branch. 3. Refuse to shop at any big-box retailer whose employees do not vigorously and specifically bombard you with Christmas blessings. Remember, multi-billion dollar corporations have feelings and care about you as a customer - going to Best Buy instead of Circuit City really makes a difference in the world. Boycott any store with a "Season's Greetings" banner, except for the big sale next Sunday, because seriously, I heard they will have this DVD player for like $29 and they will only have 10 per store so I'm going to camp out Saturday night. 4. Don't forget the true meaning of Christmas. A lot of secular humanists and other fascists will blather on about the spirit of giving, the importance of charity, fellowship and good will towards your fellow man, and other hippy garbage. Also, Santa Claus Frosty the Snowman are not the reason for the season. The true meaning of Christmas is how important it is that Jesus' mom did not have sex before he was born. This is very important. 5. This last tip is absolutely the most important thing you can do this holiday season to survive the War on Christmas: whine and cry about it day and night. Bitch and moan to your friends, family and coworkers. If you have your own cable news show, talk about how offended you are, and how the liberals have gone too far this time, and how political correctness is sending America down a slippery slope toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Maoism. For god's sake, write letters to the editor of your local paper! Construct unfunny "observational humor" jokes to point out how ironic it is when liberals oppress Christians in the name of multiculturalism (BTW you don't understand irony). Strain to work in that zinger that your golf buddy faxed you in 1993 about 'Billary' Clinton, make relevant pop cultural references to the ACLU and feminists! Pontificate over and over about how much better things were in the good old days, when every five and dime had a big, gory crucifix on the wall and we went downtown to see the department store displays but then we saw a black person once in 1973 so we moved far, far out to the suburbs and I hear they are opening a Country Kitchen isn't that exciting! Why don't you call, what am I, chopped liver? You kids get off my lawn! Remember, when a cashier making $6 an hour doing a boring, repetitive job is required by company policy to numbly acknowledge your presence, and they don't do it in your preferred manner, you are being oppressed! You should feel indignant - who will protect Christianity if not you? It's not like you're part of the overwhelming majority. It's not like all three branches of government at the federal, state, and local level are dominated by Christians. You are the scrappy underdog in this Culture War (by Bill O'Reilly), imagine a Hanukkah boot stomping on the face of humanity for all eternity! Thanks to Business Week for bringing this issue to my attention.

Gift Ideas: 5 Practical Presents that are Actually Useful

Looking for some interesting gift ideas? Sick of buying the traditional tie for dad and sweater for your nephew, and want to get them something they might actually have a use for? Look no further! Well, actually you should look further down the page. Below are five unique holiday gift ideas for that special someone that won't find their way into a box in the attic. Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner1. Give the gift of convenience. It is the year 2006, and yet you cannot fly around town on a hoverboard, jet pack, or even a flying car. Luckily, we do have robots to do menial household labor. I highly recommend the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner. You may be wondering: does it really work? Our experience with the Roomba has been very positive, so much so that we got one for my parents last Christmas. How is it practical? You just have to press a button, and it cleans the whole floor! Seriously. It takes longer than you might be able to do with a fancy Dyson vacuum, but you don't have to do anything! My mom loves it. To be fair, you do still have to empty it out when it is done and once in a while you might want to clean hair out of the brushes. But if you are lazy like me, it will do a much more thorough cleaning job, and you'll end up vacuuming twice as much. $149.99 at Amazon 2. Give the gift of health. Many of us suffer from health problems that could be improved by improving our diets. There is a lot of homeopathic quackery out there, but there's also a large and growing body of research on how to fight high blood pressure, cholesterol, and other common modern ailments. Unfortunately, the vitamin, supplement, and "natural " health food industry is largely unregulated. How can your dear mum be sure she is taking fish oil and not a mercury smoothie? Get her a subscription to ConsumerLab.com. How is it practical? I think this one is pretty obvious. Access to independent testing data on different brands can ensure you're getting what you're paying for. It might not seem like as much fun as a Big Mouth Billy Bass or a keyboard tie, but trust me, no one wants those things anyway. $27.99 for a one year subscription Kil-A-Watt 3. Give the gift of power. Not everyone is a tree hugger, but everyone likes to save money on their electric bills. You might be surprised which appliances and gadgets are sucking down the most power - or your recipient will, when you give them the Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. How is it practical? Just plug the thing you want to test right in and you'll be able to compare kilowatt-hours. It can also help justify buying that new flat panel monitor, air conditioner or other more efficient device. "Look honey, buying this new MacBook with the Core 2 Duo will actually save us money!" $24.99 at Amazon (and a little less from some of their "featured merchants.") Mind Hacks 4. Give the gift of brains. Publisher O'Reilly is well-known for their technical books and their fun "Hacks" series. Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain is a very entertaining book on how your brain works and why it works the way it does. The book is not just for nerds--it definitely does not read like a dry technical manual. It does adopt the hacker point of view, a combination of curiosity, cleverness, and an interest in real-world results. A similar book in the series (which I haven't read yet) is Mind Performance Hacks: Tips & Tools for Overclocking Your Brain. How is it practical? The chapters are, quick, light reads that give you practical insights and tricks, everything from improving memory performance to figuring out optical illusions. Everything is grounded in scientific research, and they cite actual sources! If you think your intended recipient will be put off by the title and format, you might want to consider Forty Studies that Changed Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research, which covers some of the same ground from a different perspective. $16.47 at Amazon Lego Ice Cube Tray 5. Give the gift of cool. Like most people, you are probably sick of boring old ice cube trays. Wait, you say you haven't given ice cube trays any thought in your entire life, and that my premise is specious? Once you've seen the Lego Ice Cube Tray and the Lego block-shaped ice cubes that it produces, you'll agree with me. This is the perfect gift for that certain someone. How is it practical? Well, how else are supposed to build a frozen scale model of Edinburgh Castle on the kitchen counter? Unfortunately, it looks like it is sold out until March! Not-nearly-as-cool but just as practical substitutes include the OXO Good Grips Ice Cube Tray and the ISI Orka Freeze and Press Ice Cube Tray, both with spill-reducing lids. $7.99 for the Lego tray (sold out) $3.99 for the Good Grips tray $9.95 for the Orka Freeze and Press Bonus gift idea! Finally, for those of you who need to the right gift for a godless, hedonistic liberal, The War on X-Mas Manual will no doubt fill their hearts with joy. If they are too far from the lord to truly know joy, then at least you know their hearts will be filled with secular blood as they pick up helpful tips on destroying your faith. How is it practical? Remember: whenever a minimum-wage cashier at a big box retail store says "happy holidays," Jesus cries a single tear. Better yet, if you can get the press covering a "war" against Christmas, they won't have as much time to report on the war in Iraq.