"We are quite the best country in Europe. In my lifetime all the problems have come from mainland Europe, and all the solutions have come from the English-speaking nations of the world," said Margaret Thatcher in her first speech at a Conservative Party conference since stepping down as prime minister in 1990. Lady Thatcher was inspired to speak by a particular cause. What?
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Wednesday's Question (No. 316)--"Don't Do It, Deacon Don!":
Deacon Don Thomas of the Lily of the Valley Church of God in Christ in Fairbanks, Alaska, defends what he does to reach the community: "Yeah, we want to compel people to come to Christ, but at the same time we don't want to intrude on people. I think there's a big difference." What does Deacon Don do?(Question courtesy of Charlie Glassenberg.)
"Nude choir."--Brooke Saucier
"Well, that explains the 'You May Already Have Been Saved!' letter that came yesterday."--Jon Delfin
"I think keeping your church in Alaska is an excellent method of giving the impression of nonintrusiveness."--Michael S. Gilman
"Kids these days. Isn't the threat of eternal damnation compelling enough?"--Dennis Cass
"You know, Fairbanks is such a small town, he probably wouldn't have to do much besides hit the bars talking about Christ dying for your sins and shooting a good game of nine-ball, and folks would just follow him. It would be something to do, and once they got bored with Don's sermons, they could eat him."--Kate Wing
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A method adopted by demure advertisers who don't wish to intrude is to ask permission. When you buy something online or fill out a warranty card, there's often a little box at the bottom: Check here if you wish to receive announcements about our new products and services that may delight and amuse you. Some go further and involve other people: Check here if you'd like us to sell your name to strangers who will send you information about utterly unrelated products that will frighten and confuse you. They never ask you to volunteer for the really good stuff: Check here if you'd like more information about Claire Pospisil, say. I believe they use a similar form for undergraduates having sex at Cornell. Check here if you'd like me to unbutton your blouse. Check here if you'd like me to touch you there. Check here if you'd like Jesus to save you from burning in hell for what we just did so pleasantly to one another. Deacon Don, help!
Deacon Don used "Voice Blast," a technology for sending phone messages simultaneously to an unlimited number of people, reports Bradley Foss of the Associated Press.
And it's not just Deacon Don. Ball clubs are calling thousands of season ticket holders, schools are contacting everybody's parents, and disaster-prone regions are planning emergency warning systems. But some consider blast voice mail a nuisance and, when unsolicited, an invasion of privacy.
"It's just, like, phone spam," says Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters Corp. A former database analyst for AT&T, Catlett started Junkbusters in 1996 to help consumers defend themselves against telephone marketing.
In January, when Dick Clark left messages on the answering machines of residents in Washington, D.C., and Detroit to promote the American Music Awards on ABC, a front-page story in the Washington Post described his pitch as a "telephonic assault" on the public's ear. "The geriatric old fool should be dragged out to the Mall and trampled by wild horses," the Post did not add.
The Telephone Consumers Protection Act of 1991 prohibits automated ads to residential phones without prior consent, but allows blast voice mail for institutional investors, schools, and emergency services, and compelling people to Christ. Hallelujah.
ThoughDead, He's Still Got It Too Extra
The release of the latest batch of Nixon tapes shows that death has not softened the old anti-Semite, except in the sense that he's dead. Some samples:
- On Max Frankel and the New York Times: "Don't give them anything. And because of that damned Jew Frankel all the time--he's bad you know. Don't give him anything."
- On Daniel Ellsberg: "Incidentally, I hope to God he's not Jewish is he?"
- On American communism: "The only two non-Jews in the Communist conspiracy were Chambers and Hiss. Many felt that Hiss was. He could have been a half, but he was not by religion. The only two non-Jews. Every other one was a Jew. And it raised hell with us."
- On Pentagon Papers Judge Murray Gurfein: "He's a Jew, a liberal. But I think tough. I think tough. But he may be sucking up to the liberal left. In New York, you just can't tell what happens to those guys."
The Nixon Library issued a statement saying the president was not anti-Semitic. Then we all had a good laugh and went out to dinner.
ChrisKelly's Me-Wonderful-Me Extra
Participants were invited to submit actual examples of authorial self-praise as smug and fatuous as Warren Adler's: "My novels ... explore the mysteries behind love and hate, the darkly amusing, deeply disturbing and ultimately unanswerable questions that they inspire."
Read more of Warren Adler's insights into the work of Warren Adler at www.warrenadler.com. The home page appears to be printed on parchment, so you know he's a real writer.
" 'When I cleverly coined the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism." ' (William Safire, every third column.)"--Daniel Radosh
" 'It's a weird book. It doesn't move the way normal books do. It's got a whole bunch of characters. I think it makes at least an in-good-faith attempt to be fun and riveting enough on a page-by-page level so I don't feel like I'm hitting the reader with a mallet, you know, "Hey, here's this really hard impossibly smart thing. Fuck you. See if you can read it." I know books like that and they piss me off. I loved the book, but I think anyone with 200 pages of footnotes in a book of fiction is in fact saying "Fuck you, see if you can read it." ' (David Foster Wallace, about Infinite Jest [weighing in at 1,088 pages, including 200 odd pages of footnotes] in Salon.)"--Andrew Staples
" 'What I try to write about are the darkest things in the soul, the mortal dreads. I try to go into those places in me that contain the cauldrons. I want to dip up the fire, and I want to put it on paper. The closer I get to the burning core of my being, the things which are most painful to me, the better is my work.' (Babylon 5 writer Harlan Ellison.)"--CK
" 'You see what happens with Bill Faulkner is that as long as I am alive he has to drink to feel good about having the Nobel Prize. He does not realize that I have no respect for that institution and was truly happy for him when he got it.' (Not, strictly speaking, self-praise, but it is Ernest Hemingway in Selected Letters 1917-1961, edited by Carlos Baker, Pages 768-769.)"--Dan Dickinson
" 'My fault is honesty.' (Jesse Ventura. Not, strictly speaking, a writer. But killing himself with pills might accelerate his reincarnation as a 38DD bra, so better to let him swim along in his pool of piety.)"--John Barnicle
" 'Someday someone's going to dissect my whole life through my work. When I finished writing (the opening episode of Wasteland) I cried because I so felt for the main character. ... It's fun, but it's really sad.' (Kevin Williamson in Entertainment Weekly.)"--CK
" 'What I mean to do, by evoking the people whose lives and work I have admired, is not to dictate the terms of virtue but to invite other people to reciprocal thoughts about what seems to them to be inescapably good or important, and how to put that into a life.' (Jedediah Purdy on himself, in a recent Slate 'Dialogue.')"--Arthur Stock
" 'One of the smartest things I did was call a management coach. She gave me this advice: Stop worrying about yourself and concentrate on how to make Nickelodeon a good place for all our employees to work. That was a transforming moment for me. ... At the center of everything I did at Nickelodeon was honoring creative people.' (Geraldine Laybourne, not strictly speaking a writer, writing in the New York Times with the help of some other writer just to turn out 500 words. Laybourne now honors creative people at Oxygen Media by making sure that they don't have health insurance so their creativity isn't stifled by taking their kids to the doctor. And no pensions means no complacency. Refusing to become a Writers Guild signatory, Oxygen Media uses only scab writers. No union. No benefits, but plenty of honor.)"--Ed.
" 'The reason War of the Roses has become a classic is that it deals with these unanswerable questions. And I have a feeling the moviemakers caught that. They got it from my book like a virus. ... That's what makes it enduring. It deals with the eternal mysteries of life. Why do people love? Why do they hate? How are people attracted to one another? What breaks up relationships? From my point of view as a novelist it came out of my subconscious, but it has found its way into popular culture.' (Warren Adler)"--CK