McCain’s Eligibility – Natural-Born Citizen?

This is the second comment in as many days I’ve seen on this point. John McCain was born abroad, on a United States military base in the Panama Canal Zone. Does that make him ineligible under the United States Constitution, Article I, section 1, clause 5 (the “Natural Born Citizen Clause”)? The clause states that:

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

I have not researched the question with a view to SCOTUS precedents, but I have always taken that clause to mean, “born a citizen,” as opposed to “naturalized.” It seems kind of incredible to suggest that the Founders would have excluded from the presidency a man born to American citizens on an American military installation, there on orders, as a foreigner or threat to the internal and sovereign governance of the United States. Of course, I also can’t see anyone with standing – whomever that might be – being so foolish as to challenge McCain’s eligibility, should he be elected, in the courts.


Marketing The Shack

I posted a short review of The Shack here, earlier. I would love to hear from my readers about another, related topic: the book’s marketing. In my opinion, the way in which The Shack has been marketed raises some disturbing questions, of a kind I don’t normally associate with “mainstream” “Christian” books.

First, there is the Missy Project, which is explained in a two-page blurb at the end of the physical copies of the book, as well as on the book’s official site. (Missy, for those who have not read the book, is the name of a little girl who is abducted and murdered in the book.) This blurb encourages people to blog about it, write reviews (especially positive ones, of course), display it, seek positive reviews from others, buy multiple copies to give away, and so on. My favorite:

Talk about the book on email lists you’re on, forums you frequent and other places you engage other people on the Internet. Don’t make it an advertisement, but share how this book impacted your life and offer people the link to The Shack website.

To me, this sounds like straight-up viral marketing. The proceeds of the book, so far as I can tell, are not being donated to any charitable cause, but are going to the publisher and the author. So, either the author and others are really very convinced that the book is life-changing and are committed to bringing their message to a wide audience (which, conveniently, sells more books), or this is a shameless plug.

Then, there is the author’s site, the home page of which opens with this:

If you are so inclined and would like to write a review for Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble, especially a 5 star review, we would greatly appreciate it.

If that’s not a shameless plug for a book, I don’t know what is. In fact, the entire site feels like one big marketing device. Look at it for yourself.

Loyal readers: what are your thoughts?

The End of Multiculturalism

Lawrence Harrison has a great essay out on The End of Multiculturalism, in which he argues that multiculturalism is, ironically, both the root of the George W. Bush administration’s foreign policy difficulties and the causes of major crises here at home. Give it a read.

Book Review: The Shack

I recently read The Shack, which is a novel that came out last spring. In The Shack, a man whose daughter was murdered returns to the scene of the crime, where he meets with three people who claim to be the three persons of the Trinity (Papa, an African-American woman, as the Father; Jesus as Himself; Sarayu, a petite Asian woman who seems to fade in and out of existence as the Holy Spirit). I want to offer a very brief review here.

Plenty of reviewers have summarized the plot on various websites. I want to comment only briefly on the theological questions raised in the book (for a much more complete review, read this excellent one by Tim Challies). The Shack puts words directly into the mouth of God, about topics like sin and salvation. It does so in a way that indicates God may or may not care about faith, may or may not care about sin, and may or may not think the Bible is useful for anything. It also suggests that institutions (including marriage and traditional Christian churches), governments, and economic systems are all inherently things God dislikes; in the book, Jesus even blames all the world’s ills on institutions, economics, and politics.

The Shack is definitely a moving, interesting read. Unfortunately, many readers will see it as “only a novel” (some are claiming it is allegorical, which it is not) and conclude that questioning the theology is unnecessary. Worse, I worry that some will conclude that, because the book is a novel, it doesn’t even contain theology. When God speaks in a novel, however, especially about the fundamental doctrines of a belief system, the novel is theological.

This review is very brief, but I hope it will encourage others to look at The Shack critically, examining it for more than the impact it can have on people’s lives. Ultimately, I think it is a dangerous book, because it presents theological conversations with God, but most readers overlook the fact that the book has theological implications, while simultaneously embracing what it has taught them about God (for examples of this, see most Amazon reviews). The book deserves to be questioned.

For those who need answers to questions about suffering and the evil things people do, I would recommend either the biblical book of Job or The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis.

Horn Morons

There are people in Hyde Park who, apparently, think most of the neighborhood’s residents are hard of hearing. Every couple of days, somebody stops a car on one of the streets near Regents and starts hitting the horn – three long honks, once a minute or so, for about an hour and a half.


Here’s a hint: if you’re trying to get somebody to come out of an apartment, I don’t think he/she/they heard the first fifty honks. If you’re trying to get somebody to move on the road… ditto. And if you’re up to something else… just stop. Please.

More MDU Stupidity

As I have posted before, the allegedly broadband internet service provided by MDU at Regents Park (my apartment building) is mediocre, at best. It just went from mediocre to unacceptably awful.

First, the bandwidth has dropped off again – we’re back down to a level between dial-up and broadband speeds. So, we called to complain, expecting MDU to fix the bandwidth.

We did not expect three guys to let themselves into our apartment while we were getting ready for the day. Imagine our surprise upon exiting the bedroom and finding three guys lounging around the living room and poking at my TV/audio setup.

We also did not bargain for the technicians to setup the modem incorrectly. In order to test our modem, rather than plugging an ethernet cable into the modem, they unplugged the modem, the router, and the TiVo. They then plugged the TiVo into the input port on the modem and the modem into an output port. In other words, they were trying to get an internet connection through my TiVo, without the modem.

Unsurprisingly, that didn’t really work out too well for them. So, they concluded the modem was broken. What do you do with a broken modem? Apparently, you disable the modem and leave the apartment as abruptly as you came, without saying that you’re leaving.

So, MDU guys (1) let themselves into our apartment while we were there, (2) screwed up my network configuration, (3) disabled the modem, cutting off our sluggish connection entirely, and left without warning. They did come back and turn the modem back on, but only after we complained about it to resident relations.

What kind of business are they running at MDU, anyway?


To my incredible shock and amazement, I am not failing out of law school because of my performance in Admiralty, last quarter. After muddling through one of the strangest exams I’ve ever seen, I fully expected the worst grade of my law school career, yet I actually did well. Not complaining!

Another what coming?

After my last post, Sarah pointed out to me that she has only ever heard the phrase “another thing coming.” In fact, she thought I must have made a typo. I, on the other hand, had only ever heard “another think coming,” until about a year ago. My take was that it was a play on words; hers, that it was to be taken less literally, as “something else is coming to change your mind.”

So, Google to the rescue, right? Wrong! The “thing” version has 253,000 hits (and a hit Judas Priest song), while the “think” version has only 50,300 hits. But wait, there’s more! Many of the non-song hits for “thing” are criticizing that version as a mistake for “think.” But… the earliest recorded form may be “thing.” Wiktionary claims that “think” is correct in British usage, while “thing” is the “only common form in US.” This last bit is patently false, as it’s a very common saying in the South, and, like I said, I had never heard “thing” until a year or so ago. This has inspired some impassioned debate over at wordreference, with Americans, Brits, and Aussies all offering different opinions.

So, which is it? Chime in in the comments!

P.S. Personally, I just like “think,” so proper usage be damned, that’s what I’m going with!

The Problems With Voting Machines

There are a number of reasons voting machines currently used in much of the country should give us pause. Whether you’re an open source enthusiast, a conspiracy theorist, or simply a citizen concerned about the risks of human error and glitches, this should demonstrate that we have a long way to go in developing computer-based voting systems we can all be comfortable with.