Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"He shall, from time to time..."

Didn't watch the SOTU - too busy napping to prepare for work. Read the transcript - nothing too exciting. Yes, "the state of the union is strong," but doesn't every president say that? I think only Abraham Lincoln could have said (in 1862), "The state of the union is extremely weak, what with all those southern states seceding and all, but wait a few years and it'll pick back up again."

Actually, if you want to read the addresses by all past presidents, follow this link. You can read the addresses from George Washington's first on January 8, 1790, to George W. Bush's address last year on February 2, 2005.

Coretta Scott King, 1927-2006

MLK Jr.'s widow has passed on.
Coretta Scott King, who turned a life shattered by her husband's assassination into one devoted to enshrining his legacy of human rights and equality, has died, former mayor Andrew Young told NBC Tuesday morning. She was 78.

Young, who was a former civil rights activist and was close to the King family, broke the news during a phone call he made to the NBC "Today" show. Asked how he found out about her death, Young said, "I understand she was asleep last night and her daughter tried to wake her up." (MSNBC)

Cindy for Senate

Cindy Sheehan is apparently considering trying to take Senator Dianne Feinstein's seat in California. She's got a site which boasts that she's received 11,762 votes in favor of her running.

So, the only qualification she has to be in the Senate is that she opposes the war? I guess if someone gives her lots of money, she'll then be as qualified as Kennedy for a Senate seat.

UPDATE: Cindy was invited to the SOTU speech last night, but got herself arrested for wearing an anti-war shirt. She was removed from the Capitol before the speech began.

UPDATE 2: Cindy was un-arrested.

what belongs in the World of the Unexplained

I went on vacation with my parents every year. We took a 2-week vacation every June because Dad had a mandated vacation period from his factory job at that time. On these vacations, we would typically travel far from our home state of Ohio - we'd go to up to Maine or down to Florida or over to Montana and New Mexico. I saw a lot of the country this way, and I'm very grateful to my parents for our trips. We didn't stay at expensive hotels or large resorts, but we had a lot of fun.

We went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a long weekend every August, usually just before I had to start back at school in the fall. I don't quite know how Mom and Dad became "hooked" on visiting Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but it almost became a spiritual pilgramage for us, like we were heading off to Mecca or to Grand Rapids. We usually stayed in the same motel every year - for many years we were at the Robert E. Lee Motor Lodge, then we stayed in cabins by Baskins' Creek and only minutes from downtown Gatlinburg (I sound like an advertisement, don't I?). We would take at least one trip into the park, visiting Cades Cove or climbing to the top of Clingman's Dome or eating lunch by the Chimney Tops. I haven't been to Gatlinburg since 1998, but my parents still go every year- they typically visit for an extended weekend in November, so they can see the holiday sites or go to some shows.

The town of Gatlinburg is one of the tackiest places you'll ever visit - and I love it. It is overblown with attractions, shows, shops, and people with the strangest fashion sense imaginable. Some of the attractions that have been there for years are the World of Illusions, the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum (my sister was in town when the fire destroyed the museum on July 14, 1992 - she watched the blaze from her hotel room - the museum was rebuilt and reopened three years later), and the Space Needle.

One attraction that I didn't visit but wanted to was something called the World of the Unexplained. I never knew what went on in that place, but I'm pretty sure that if it was still around today, the World of the Unexplained would have featured this.

Hollywood's "Brokeback" love affairs

NOTE: This was originally posted on December 19, 2005, but I decided to re-post it, with some changes, in light of the Oscar nominations that will be announced later this morning.

One of the most talked-about (read: controversial) movies of the year is "Brokeback Mountain." The movie tells the story of two individuals who meet after being hired to watch over sheep in Wyoming. They share a passionate summer together, but then they go off to marry other people but maintain a decades-long relationship. The controversial part is that the lovers are both men. The movie is directed by Academy Award winner Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") and stars Heath Ledger ("A Knight's Tale") and Jake Gyllenhaal ("Donnie Darko") as the star-crossed lovers.

The main tag-line of the film is Love is force of nature. What do the producers mean by this? Basically, a force of nature is something that can't be stopped, like a tsunami or a tornado. The producers are saying that these two characters, Ennis and Jack, are powerless to stop their feelings (is it love or is it lust? You decide) for one another - Jack even says to Ennis, "I wish I knew how to quit you!" They have no choice but to physically consummate their passion, and to continue doing so at great personal costs not only to themselves but their spouses and children as well.

The art house crowd is in love with this film. It has been nominated for seven Golden Globes, including Best Picture-Drama (winner), Best Director (winner), and Best Actor for Ledger. It has already picked up a few awards from the Boston Society of Film Critics and New York Film Critics Circle, among others. It will most likely pick up several Oscar nominations when those are announced on later today. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, his highest rating. Christianity Today also gives a review, with some good discussion questions to ponder.

While I could write about the film's homosexual-themed story, I'll leave that to others (check out "the straight dude's guide" and read how Fred Butler wonders what all the excitement is about). I would rather point out that affairs (homosexual, marital or otherwise) are nothing new in Hollywood, and certainly nothing new to the critics that see movies and give out awards. Consider these Oscar-winning movies from the past 20 years that focused, either as a major point in the plot or as a secondary device (such as way of letting the audience know what the character is like), on extra-marital affairs. What should be noted is that in each case, tragedy is linked to the affair.

  • Chicago (2002) - Married Roxie Hart murders her lover who won't get her a job in the theater. Velma Kelly kills her husband and sister because they were sleeping together. While the deaths are tragic in and of themselves, Roxie and Velma beat the system and become darlings of the Chicago theater.
  • American Beauty (1999) - Lester Burnham considers an affair with his daughter's high school classmate Angela Hayes. His wife Carolyn has an affair with Buddy Kane. Lester is killed by a man who thinks Lester had a sexual relationship with the man's teenage son, and whose own homosexual advance Lester rebuffed.
  • The English Patient (1996) - Katharine Clifton has a steamy affair with Count Laszlo de Almasy, even though she's married to Geoffrey. Both Katharine and the Count are dead when the credits roll (she starves/dies of thirst; he commits suicide after being severely burned).
  • Schindler's List (1993) - Oskar Schindler cheats on his wife with numerous women; she actually leaves him at one point because he can't guarantee that he would stay away from women. The affair points to one of many failures in Schindler's life.
  • Out of Africa (1985) - Karen Blixen, whose husband is a womanizer, carries on a doomed affair with big-game hunter Denys Hatton. Denys dies in an accident.

Two recent Oscar winning films also deal with love affairs where one of the lovers was already linked with someone else before the affair began. In "Titanic," Rose was engaged to Cal before she met Jack. In "Shapespeare in Love," the Bard finds his muse in Viola, who just so happens to be engaged to Lord Wessex.

If you think that doomed love affairs are fairly new to Hollywood, think again. One of the most beloved films of all time, the Best Picture winner at the 1939 Academy Awards, focuses on the trials and passions of a determined Southern woman. Scarlett O'Hara, the main character of "Gone With The Wind," spends much of her time pining for the person she perceives as her true love, Ashley Wilkes. Ashley is married to his cousin and Scarlett's best friend, the saintly Melanie Hamilton. Ashley comes close to having a romantic encounter with Scarlett, but stays faithful to Melanie.

Hollywood loves nothing if not a torrid and doomed love affair. Erik Lundegaard of MSNBC believes "Brokeback" is the favorite at Oscars this year.

Related: Masculinity and Its Discontents in Marlboro Country

Related 2: Check out Oscar ads here, here, here, and here. Note that none feature Gyllenhall and Ledger together, but three ads show each with their movie wives (two of which portray the marital relationship in a blissful, dreamy way).

UPDATE: "Brokeback Mountain" received eight Academy Award nominations, including many of the big ones (Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress). Also up for Best Picture are "Capote", "Crash", "Good Night, and Good Luck", and "Munich."

Monday, January 30, 2006

entering unknown territory

Pastor Brian Orme writes of his account into that mystery of mysteries - the women's bathroom.
All I could think about was screaming women, security guards and making the news...creepy man hangs out in women’s restroom with 2-year-old-accomplace...story at eleven.
AN ASIDE: Brian and I attended the same high school and college; he graduated three years behind me at each place.

I'm back! (So, did anything good happen while I was away?)

Wow. I don't post for a week, and so much happens that I could have discussed.

- the Cape twins, aka Kerry and Kennedy, try in vain for a filibuster (only 25 voted for it - tee-hee!) on the Alito confirmation vote

- Federer and Mauresmo win singles in Australia - and Hingis (a player I used to love to hate, but I'm glad she's back) wins mixed doubles

- "American Idol" has huge numbers - some good singers, and some not-so-good

- "memoirist" James Frey tries to act penitent with Oprah, and Oprah says yes, truth does matter

- "Lost" continues to show why it may just be the most *Christian* show on TV - or at least Christian-friendly

- My oldest daughter became a fan of this show (I must admit, I like it too), but she still insists that she'll be a rock star when she grows up (she likes this show also)

- Phil Johnson folds his blog and opens a group one

- Richard Hatch from "Survivor" thought he could take the million without giving one red cent to the government - silly fat naked guy, what were you thinking?

- the SAG awards are handed out (and "Brokeback Mountain," a supposed Oscar shoo-in, wins no awards - the ensemble award went to the cast of "Crash") - congrats, "Lost" cast!

- Santino Rice from my daughter's new favorite show has his own site

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

a blogging break

I'll be off work - and away from a computer - for a little while, so posts will be non-existent for about a week. See you on the flip-side.

"When we refuse to take a stand against sin, we become nothing more than saltless servants of our culture."

Joe Carter takes on Brian McLaren and his apparent wishy-washiness with the Scriptures.

MORE: Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle joins in.

MORE STILL: Mr. McLaren responds.

Canada conservatives win!

Much to the dismay of liberals everywhere (including the silliest one of all, who write a letter practically begging Canadians to vote for the Liberal party), "Canada has swung to the right in a general election after 12 years of Liberal rule increasingly overshadowed by allegations of corruption." (BBC News)

More from Crusty Curmudgeon, Angry in the Great White North, Captain's Quarters

Monday, January 23, 2006

Why should I be fat?

It's good for our economy.
In some ways, we are better off in this Fat Economy. Many people work in easier, better-paying jobs, which help pay for their big homes in the suburbs. Women don't have to spend two hours preparing dinner every night; many have risen to unprecedented levels of corporate and political power. Flat-panel plasma TVs hang over fireplaces, which can be lit using the same remote control for flipping channels. But the unintended consequence of these economic changes is that many of us have become fat. An efficient economy produces sluggish, inefficient bodies.

"The obesity problem is really a side effect of things that are good for the economy," said Tomas J. Philipson, an economics professor who studies obesity at the University of Chicago, a city recently named the fattest in America. "But we would rather take improvements in technology and agriculture than go back to the way we lived in the 1950s when everyone was thin. Nobody wants to sweat at work for 10 hours a day and be poor. Yes, you're obese, but you have a life that is much more comfortable."

RELATED: Weight control drugs up for review
Two new approaches to weight loss are up for review by federal regulators. And they represent vastly different solutions to the nation's obesity epidemic -- for consumers and for the companies behind the drugs. One, called Acomplia, would be a prescription pill to control appetite by blocking the same brain receptors that stimulate the "munchies" in marijuana smokers. Some financial analysts see Acomplia as the most promising new drug of the year, and they predict eventual multibillion-dollar sales for its maker, the French company Sanofi-Aventis. The other, with the proposed name Alli, is a weight-loss drug that works by blocking the body's absorption of fat. Since 1999, it has been sold in the United States as the prescription medication Xenical.


Fourteen at Gallery of the Absurd believes that today's "celebrities" are just like the Sea-monkeys that you could buy in comic books years ago.

Were the sea-monkeys real? I've read my fair share of comics, but I never bought them - my parents wouldn't let me. I guess they are - they're a type of brine shrimp.

my ttlb ecosystem rank

Yes! I'm moving up in the world!

When I first left my old blog to come here, I was but a Crawly Amphibian. After a few weeks, I wormed my way past the Slithering Reptiles to become a Flappy Bird.

As of today, I'm an Adorable Little Rodent. Yeah!

Ahhhh, the simple pleasures in life...

BTW, have you joined the ecosystem? If you got a blog, you should. Come on, you know you want to. Adam? Dusty? Leach? It's time.

ALSO: Just in case you've ever wondered who my "blogfather" is (the one who got me interested in blogging), it's these guys. Okay, this was very bad grammar, but I don't know another way to word it.

UPDATE (1/24/06): Woo-hoo! I'm a Marauding Marsupial!

"This is almost as good as being an Oprah book."

Is "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower" the next "Night"?
Twenty-four hours after Osama bin Laden told the world that the American people should read the work of a little-known Washington historian, William Blum was still adjusting. Blum, who at 72 is accustomed to laboring in relative left-wing obscurity, checked his emotions and pronounced himself shocked and, well, pleased.
"I was not turned off by such an endorsement," he informed a New York radio station. "I'm not repulsed, and I'm not going to pretend I am." He patiently reiterated the thesis of his foreign-policy critique -- that American interventions abroad create enemies. (WaPo)

I like Jimmie's take on this.

risings costs of college textbooks

College textbooks are becoming so expensive that many students, already paying high fees beyond the amount shelled out for course credit hours, get by without them.
Textbook prices have been rising at double the rate of inflation for the past two decades, according to a Government Accountability Office study. In Virginia, more than 40 percent of students surveyed by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia said they sometimes just do without.

That's been increasing, said Jennifer Libertowski of the National Association of College Stores; recently, the group found that nearly 60 percent of students nationwide choose not to buy all the course materials.

For those whose parents are writing $40,000-plus tuition checks every year and covering rent for a D.C. apartment, a few books might not seem like a big deal. But for students working to pay for school or for those whose parents sweat every increase in tuition, book prices can be a nasty surprise -- one more thing putting college out of reach. (WaPo)

When I was in college, we often theorized that professors had deals with the writers of textbooks, in that the profs would get some kick-back money for picking certain books over others. We also thought that especially greedy textbook companies made sure to print new editions every three years, so that the money could keep rolling in.

A THOUGHT: Is there a correlation between the rising costs of college textbooks, and a rise in the level of crystal meth use? Just wondering...

Crystal meth on the rise in ER's

The survey of 200 hospitals run or funded by counties in 39 states and Washington, D.C., shows that 47% said methamphetamine is the top illicit drug involved in emergency room visits. Sixteen percent said marijuana, and 15% said cocaine.

"This is a national problem," association spokesman Tom Goodman says. "The costs of methamphetamine are placing a great strain on county governments."

Of the hospitals surveyed, 73% said emergency room cases involving meth have increased over the past five years, and 56% said hospital costs have risen because of the treatment of meth patients.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that can be injected, snorted, smoked or swallowed. Most methamphetamine is manufactured in Mexican labs and smuggled into the USA. The drug also can be cooked up in home labs using cold pills and other ingredients easily purchased. (USA Today)

If you haven't yet talked with your kids about drug use, do it now. I've already started with my six-year-old.

Boy Band updates

Here at Good Brownie, we aim to please. We know that you've been dying to here about the latest exploits of members from your favorite boy bands - *NSYNC, 98 Degrees, and the like. Without further ado, let's get to it.

Justine Timberlake has apparently found enough time to get away from girlfriend Cameron Diaz (they are still together, right?) and put out a new album. His site has some info.

Joey Fatone and Lance Bass are developing a TV series *based* on their lives. Wonder how long it will be on the air before UPN says, "Bye, bye, bye!"

Chris Kirkpatrick apparently has his own little band called Little Red Monsters.

JC Chavez went "Schizophonic," and is now working on a second album. His site is here.

Nick Lachey is learning about life post-Jessica.

Nick's little brother Drew is still quickstepping on ABC.

Jeff Timmons is still singing, and he will be peforming with Jordan Knight (recently seen here) in Massillon, OH, on February 4. Jeff released a solo album, or don't you remember? (It's okay, I didn't)

It appears that no one knows what Justin Jaffre (the only member of 98 Degrees who wasn't hot enough to go around shirtless) is up to these days.

those upsetting Steelers

Sheesh, can no one beat Pittsburgh? Apparently, no team that has home field advantage can. The Steelers upset the Broncos pretty harshly, 34-17 (story here). I wanted Pittsburgh to lose, for obvious reasons, but they have to be respected for having heart and stamina.

Careful, Seattle. You won't have this easy a game two weeks from now.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"Innkeeping is a profession that offers a sense of the human touch and contact with people..."

Leaving the corporate world for life in a bucolic inn is becoming a trend.
Trading a powerful corporate job for fixing toilets is not everyone's idea of personal improvement. But for Brian Henry it also meant swapping clogged highways for empty beaches and managing his own business.

Worn out after 12 years as an executive at Coca-Cola and Andersen Consulting, Henry, 38, changed course four years ago and moved his young family from Atlanta, Georgia, to Pawleys Island, South Carolina, to run the decades-old Sea View Inn.

The electrical engineer is among a growing number of Americans longing for a slower pace of life who elect to stay home as innkeepers, embarking on second careers that can be as tough as any job but often more fun and fulfilling.

"This is a full time job that is very physical because you are on the front lines managing, marketing and sometimes even washing dishes," Henry said. "You can't be an innkeeper and just manage. You have to do it." (CNN)

Sounds nice, huh? The wife and I have sometimes dreamed of running a cute little retro-ish motel. I would like to run one in Gatlinburg, of course.

"Jesus Hates Me"

"Jesus Hates Me" is a play now being performed at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. You can find info about it here.

The play's description:
Irreverent, thought-provoking dark comedy. Ethan, a 20 year old former football star with a bum knee and no bank account, is stuck in dead-end rural Texas. Living with his clinging mother in a trailer on the 7th hole of a Bible-themed miniature golf course, he seeks any means of escape, from Jack Daniels to a bus ticket out of town. Just when he’s most desperate, Ethan is offered an opportunity to work at a gay ski resort in Colorado.
Something tells me that Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, and administrator of this rancid site, would love the title of the play but not the play itself.

"These days I judge all of my actions by my relationship with God of my understanding."

That's actor Chad Allen, star of "End of the Spear," on "Larry King Live" this past Tuesday, talking in response to a caller who asked , "Chad, by whose standard do you think that it's right to live the way you have chosen to live?"

Chad was on the show with Dr. Al Mohler (president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Guy Padgett (openly gay former mayor of Casper, Wyoming - he's now on the city council), and Janet Parshall (a conservative radio host). They were discussing gay marriage, especially in light of the film "Brokeback Mountain." The transcript of the show is here.

Tim Challies has more here.

I think that Dr. Mohler and Ms. Parshall did very well in defending a biblical position on marriage and humanity's need for the Saviour. I thought it interesting that two younger persons were picked who take the pro-homosexuality (and pro-gay marriage) position, and two older persons were picked who take the anti- position. By asking Mr. Allen and Mr. Padgett on the show, it almost seemed that the producers were trying to suggest the idea of we're young, so we have much more progressive and enlightened ideas than these older people who are so stuck in the past and whose views are way too conservative and outmoded for our generation. It would have been a more interesting hour if there had also been a gay person who is against gay marriage (my wife works with one such person).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"Night" for Oprah

Oprah has a new pick for her book club: Elie Wiesel's "Night."
"There has never been any controversy about this book," says Jeff Seroy, a spokesman for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. "It's widely used in classrooms and, next to Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, it's one of the most widely read books on the Holocaust."

The publisher is printing 1 million paperback editions and 150,000 hardcover copies that will carry the Oprah's Book Club logo. Also, Winfrey says her show is sponsoring a high school essay contest based on the book. Details are at Oprah.com

Wiesel, 77 and an American citizen since 1963, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for a lifetime of writing and speaking out against racism and hatred. (USA Today)

Did Costco spill the beans? I was in a Costco here in Indianapolis last Thursday (Jan. 12), and "Night" was among their other books. It does not, however, appear (yet) on their website.

Who will win the presidency in 2008?

Whoever is perceived as the "nice" candidate. The Vodkapundit explains.

Hillary vs. Condi? I'd go with Condi as the more "nice" of the two.
Hillary vs. Rudi? Ummm, adultery isn't nice, but Hill may get trumped in this matchup, too.

UPDATE: Is Tom nice enough? He's considering running, you know, even though people in his home state, like, voted him out of office or something.

SCOTUS upholds Oregon law for physician-assisted suicide

The Supreme Court upheld Oregon's law on physician-assisted suicide yesterday, ruling that the Justice Department may not punish doctors who help terminally ill patients end their lives.

By a vote of 6 to 3, the court ruled that Attorney General John D. Ashcroft exceeded his legal authority in 2001 when he threatened to prohibit doctors from prescribing federally controlled drugs if they authorized lethal doses of the medications under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act.

The ruling struck down one of the administration's signature policies regarding what President Bush calls the "culture of life" and lifts the last legal cloud over the state's law, which is unique in the nation. It also frees other states to follow in Oregon's footsteps, unless Congress acts to the contrary.

It is unclear how many states would join Oregon; assisted-suicide initiatives have not fared well in recent years. Still, coming a year after efforts by Republicans in Congress to block the removal of a feeding tube from Terri Schiavo, and after Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. faced questions from the Senate about their views on end-of-life issues, the court's decision could energize the political debate. Roberts dissented from the ruling, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. (WaPo)

It was surprising to hear about this, considering the court's slant. I wonder how Alito would have voted if he had been on the bench instead of Day O'Conner.

As a Christian and a healthcare worker, I am saddened by this news. I am employed as a crisis counselor, and the majority of people that I see struggle with suicidal thoughts. This ruling goes against what I have been taught: to assist people, no matter their circumstances, in finding reasons for living; to hospitalize people if they are deemed to be at risk or suicide. I can't imagine saying something like, I know that your spouse left you, you're out of a job, you have no friends, you have no money to pay rent, and your children want nothing to do with you. If only you had a terminal illness, then I could hook you up with some doctor that could kill you, oops I mean, end your terrible suffering...

The case itself is here. Kennedy's opinion here, Scalia's (Roberts and Kennedy joined him)dissent here, Thomas' dissent here.

More from Independent Conservative, Althouse, Mark Byron, Shrinkette, Al Mohler

Schools monitoring student blogging

Schools are beginning to look at the website/blogging habits of their teenage students.
In recent weeks, several Washington area schools have taken action against the use of blog sites, in particular Facebook.com but also the sites MySpace.com and Xanga.com, which allow teenagers -- and sometimes younger children -- to post details of their lives for all to see.

Sidwell Friends School in the District recently prohibited students from using their school e-mail addresses to register for access to Facebook, a widely used networking site for college and high school students. Before the holidays, Sidwell, Georgetown Day School in the District and the Madeira School in McLean wrote to parents to warn them about use of the site, and the Barrie School, in Silver Spring, recently asked a student to leave over the misuse of a blog.

Exclusive private schools such as these have so far been more aggressive than public schools in specifically targeting the use of blogs, but local public schools have begun to warn parents and students about the dangers of Internet use. Fairfax County will hold seminars on the subject for parents this week, and Arlington County, at the suggestion of a parent who is a computer safety consultant, plans a similar meeting next week. (WaPo)

This would be funny if it wasn't tragic:

Ironically, many teenagers are outraged or embarrassed when parents or other adults go to their sites. "I think they see it as a violation of their personal space," said Madeira's Cole. "They feel as if their diaries are being read."

It's not like a diary that they can keep under lock and key, or in a secure place. These students are using the internet - if they can go to a specific site, so can anyone else. Sexual predators can easily get on-line to entice someone into a physical meeting. Sites aren't visited by just the nice people.

Is exercising one of your New Year's resolution?

This info should certainly make you consider it.
Older men and women who exercised even modestly three times a week or more reduced their risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's, a study reports Tuesday. The study adds to a growing body of scientific research that suggests exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the body, says Eric Larson, the study's lead researcher.

The findings also hold out the hope that daily exercise might delay the onset of Alzheimer's and thus reduce the number of people with the disease, he says. Alzheimer's, which is increasingly common after age 60, causes memory loss, confusion and behavioral changes. (USA Today)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Benjamin Franklin, they say it's your birthday

If he were still living, Poor Richard would be 300 today.

Also celebrating a birthday today: Jim Carrey, James Earl Jones, and Betty White.

"They don't respond when things are bending, but they get very excited when they break."

Silence isn't golden, Mr. Speaker.
With his affable demeanor and his open-door policy, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert remains unchallenged in the most powerful post in Congress, even as a growing corruption scandal roils the Republican leadership and more Congress-watchers say the speaker bears some responsibility for the troubles that have developed on his watch.

As details emerged about unsavory dealings between lobbyists and lawmakers -- including his top lieutenant, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) -- the House speaker stood on the sidelines. As DeLay's legal peril mounted, Hastert backed him at every turn, attempting to change House rules to allow an indicted leader to stay in power and even altering the leadership of the ethics committee, which had been exposing misconduct by the majority leader.

Only now has Hastert publicly moved to address the ethics controversy, leading a push to tighten rules on lobbying and persuading Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) to temporarily relinquish the chairmanship of the House Administration Committee. (WaPo)

If you're not involved, you need to denounce those who are and "clean" the House. If you are involved, then do the honorable thing - you know what that is.

50 Most Influential Christians

Whether you agree with who made the cut or not, the Church Report has its list.

Bishop, thou art loosed!

(HT: Justin Taylor)

UPDATE: Joe Carter has more.

7 Seven's

It appears that I've been tagged by Kevin Jones to give up seven lists of a personal nature. So here goes.

Seven of my Favorite Movies: see my profile

Seven Preachers/Speakers I Like:
1. Dale Kurtz, former pastor at the church I formerly attended
2. Mark Vroegop, a college friend
3. Erwin Lutzer, pastor at Moody Bible Church
4. Paul Dixon, chancellor at Cedarville University (my alma mater)
5. Chuck Swindoll
6. Joseph Stowell, former president of Moody Bible Institute
7. Warren Wiersbe

Seven of my Favorite Books: see my profile - you be the judge as to whether I'm kidding about the last book ;)

Seven of my Favorite Cities: (no particular order)
1. Miami, FL
2. Hamilton, Bermuda
3. Chicago, IL
4. Boston, MA
5. Gatlinburg, TN
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Orlando, FL

Seven National Parks I've Visited: (I've been to many more)
1. Great Smoky Mountains
2. Acadia
3. Grand Canyon
4. Yellowstone
5. Dayton Aviation Heritage (before it joined the NPS)
6. Glacier
7. Badlands

Seven Favorite TV Shows: (past and present)
1. Lost
2. The Electric Company
3. The A-Team
4. Knight Rider
5. Looney Tunes on Saturday mornings
6. The Smurfs (yes, really), also on Saturday mornings
7. Seinfeld

Seven Restaurant Dishes I Could Eat Constantly:
1. any course from Tru (bring tons of cash if you go there)
2. deep-dish pizza from here - Chicago's best!
3. Garrett's popcorn (Oprah loves it, and so do I)
4. Panera Bread's bleu steak sandwich
5. roasted pears on pecan crisps at Cafe Tu Tu Tango in Orlando
6. gyros from just about anywhere, but especially Mickey's in Oak Park, IL
7. the Oreo dessert at T.G.I. Friday's

I invite anyone else who hasn't yet participated to do so, especially to my relations - you know who you are.

Golden Globes 2005

I watched only bits and pieces of the show. I saw the beginning, and did not think that George Clooney's statements about Jack Abramoff were in any way funny. (I'm no Abramoff fan - I just didn't think Clooney was funny) I heard Dennis Quaid's statements towards the ends of the show as he was presenting Brokeback Mountain, and I thought he was very crude. More sex jokes... I was glad that Lost won, and the wife was happy for Geena Davis - oh, how the wife loves Commander in Chief (I believe it's taken over the spot in her heart that was previously filled by the cancelled American Dreams).

Most of the wins were predictable, and many of the wins were for films that focused on either politics of aspects of sexuality. Nice to see Steve Carrell win for The Office. Phillip Seymour Hoffman won for Capote; he's won multiple awards now, so it appears he has the momentum for Oscar night. Hollywood loves those gays!

Yea, S. Epatha and Reese!

Entertainment Weekly and Ann Althouse both live-blogged.

UPDATE: I thought Clooney was completely crude, but the writers at EW thought he was riotously funny and identified his statements as one of the 10 best things about the ceremony. How non-surprising.

Relevants, Reconstructionists, & Revisionists

Ed Stetzer of Baptist Press News Service has some nice observations on the "emerging" phenomenon. He concludes: "Let’s affirm the good, look to the Scriptures for answers to the hard questions, and, yes, let’s graciously disagree when others hold views contrary to our best scriptural understanding of God, Bible and church."

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Surely God is mad at America."

Pat Robertson said something very similar to this. Now, it's New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's turn:
"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day. "Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves." (Yahoo! News)

(H/T: LaShawn Barber)

More from Sister Toldjah, The Moderate Voice, Sundries Shack, and Betsy's Page

A Year in Cities

You're dying to know, aren't you: what cities did Matt visit last year? Well, here's a listing (besides my hometown of Westfield) of cities where I spent at least one night (following Jason's and Hanna's meme).

  • Dayton, OH
  • Danville, IL
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Nashville, TN
  • Orlando, FL
  • Panama City, FL
  • Cullman, AL
  • Washington, DC
  • Tilton, IL

Not a very impressive list, now that I look back on it. I didn't make it to my new favorite city, Miami, last year (I went in 2003 and 2004), but the wife did. I didn't even go to my old favorite city, Chicago (again, the wife did - several times).

I spent nights in the most cities in 1992 and 1993, back when I was traveling with a college quartet. Most of the cities in 1992 were in Michigan - I got to know that state more than anybody who doesn't live there should - and in 1993 I was mostly in Virginia and Pennsylvania, with one night in Atlantic City, NJ (yes, I did go into a casino, Trump Taj Mahal - no, I didn't gamble).

UPDATE: I've been to Chicago this year - yeah! Okay, technically I stayed in Rosemont, but that's close!

God, money, and Ralph Reed

Did Ralph Reed forget about these verses when he made his ascent to political prestige?

Matthew 6
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Reed may be in trouble for emails that he had sent regarding past clients of Jack Abramoff.
Reed served as executive director of the College Republicans from 1983 to 1985 and led a revival of the Christian right in the 1990s. He founded a grass-roots lobbying firm in 1997, bringing in millions of dollars in fees, chaired the Georgia Republican Party in 2002 when the GOP took over the state, and served as Southeast director of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. At age 44, he still has the choirboy looks that have been noted in dozens of profiles over the past 20 years. But the first major dent in Reed's carefully cultivated image came with the disclosure in the summer of 2004 that his public relations and lobbying companies had received at least $4.2 million from Abramoff to mobilize Christian voters to fight Indian casinos competing with Abramoff's casino clients. (WaPo)

Reed's current political aspiration is to be the Lt. Governor of Georgia. (See his site here) Reed has a blog, which was last updated on 1/11/06 - he discusses the Alito confirmation hearings and the $1.8 million in campaign contributions he has received, but nothing in regards to Abramoff. Reed is the founder and president of Century Strategies.

MORE: From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Supporters ask, is Reed worth the gamble?

Martin Luther King Day

Though a flawed person (as we all are), Dr. King was able to accomplish much and speak passionately for civil rights. May his dream continue to be our own.

The Seattle Times has a great site devoted to MLK Jr.

Coretta Scott King on the meaning of MLK Day:

It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. No other day of the year brings so many peoples from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America. This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples' holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream.

Visit the park.

From his final speech, given the day before he was murdered:

Well, I don't know what will happen now; we've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life - longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I'm so happy tonight; I'm not worried about anything; I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

tears among the cornfields

Not perfect, not SuperBowl bound.

ALSO: the bad news Bears

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Confirm Samuel Alito

Yep, that's what WaPo says to do. Listen up, Senators!

"A Supreme Court nomination isn't a forum to refight a presidential election." Remember that when you vote, Senator Kerry. But, you did vote against John Roberts, so we know what we can expect out of you.

WaPo also reveals what really mattered doing the Alito hearing when it comes to matters of 'choice': the choice of fashion.

Thank goodness for Katie Brazelton, Ph.D.

If it weren't for her, millions of women would find themselves leading pointless, purposeless lives. I feel sorry for all the women of the past two millennia who haven't had the benefit of Brazelton's "wisdom." She's written some books and founded a company that appears to have been created to piggy-back off Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life." You can find info about her here.

With Pastor Rick Warren’s blessing, long-time Saddleback Church staff member, licensed minister, and author Katie Brazelton, Ph.D., reaches out to women, helping them to expand upon and enhance the journey that draws each woman closer to God. Even if you haven’t read Dr. Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life (also a Zondervan book), you probably know someone who has –over 22 million people worldwide have been touched by his remarkable book. It has changed millions of lives and continues to be one of the most popular Christian books ever published. For every woman, there are steps to take beyond this bestseller, making the Pathway to Purpose™ for Women series an ideal follow up. (Pathway’s Series Foreword by Kay Warren is a must-read about how the principles in these books changed her life forever!)

Note that Kay Warren, wife to Rick, is a big fan of the books and how they "changed her life forever." I would think that Kay would write about how coming to Christ was a life-changing event for her, but apparently Brazelton's books had a more profound effect.

Funny that Warren only wrote one book, but Brazelton had to write three books so women could "find purpose" in their own lives.

Why won't Larry David see "Brokeback Mountain"?

Because his brain would tell him he might go gay.
I just know if I saw that movie, the voice inside my head that delights in torturing me would have a field day. "You like those cowboys, don't you? They're kind of cute. Go ahead, admit it, they're cute. You can't fool me, gay man. Go ahead, stop fighting it. You're gay! You're gay!"

Not that there's anything wrong with it.

That's funny, Larry, but I can think of better reasons for not seeing it.

Breakfast food in the dark

You wake up at 3:00 AM to a tremendous thunderstorm. During a particularly bright lightning flash, the power goes out. You lay in your bed, in the dark, listening to the howling round and the pounding rain. After several moments, you realize that you're very hungry. You want something to eat, but what? It's dark, there's no power, and the only candle in the house is the one your spinster aunt and her cat gave you last Christmas. What do you do? How do you find food in a darkened house?

You sigh with relief. Your worries are in vain. You stumble downstairs to the kitchen. You open the fridge. There's no power to turn the fridge light on, but it's not necessary. You see what you want... green bacon.

Dime Store Guru is back!

Rob Asghar returns to the blogosphere.

He's a Christian and a Democrat. Do you think those two things are mutually exclusive? I do not, because I see a Christian who's a registered Democrat every time I look in the mirror.

RELATED: Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill in Seattle has a blog.

my Frappr! map

Have you joined? If not, do so right now!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

"I'm personally not OK with pornography. I definitely think that it adds to the moral decay or our culture."

Stephen Baldwin, probably best known for his role in "The Usual Suspects" (we can't forgive him for "Bio-Dome", now can we) and as a younger brother to Alec, takes on smut in his neighborhood.
On Friday, Baldwin, 39, stood outside the "adult entertainment" shop and photographed workers and their vehicles as they got the store ready to open, according to an account in the Journal-News of White Plains, N.Y. Baldwin told the paper he planned to stand outside the store every day and photograph the license plates of the store's patrons to aid in tracking down their identities. He vowed to take out a full-page newspaper advertisement once a month to publish those names. "I won't stop until it shuts down," he said. He has said the store will attract crime, lower property values and hurt the quality of life in the largely middle-class town, which is known as something of an artist's enclave. (Editor & Publisher)

Way to go, Stephen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"End of the Spear"

ADDENDUM: I originally posted this on January 10, but I thought I would re-post for today since the movie will soon open in theaters.

And now back to the original post but with updates:

The sudden deaths of five American men who risked all to preach the Gospel to one of the most violent tribes in the Amazon River basin made headlines around the world. Fifty years ago today, the men were speared to death on a sandy beach in an eastern Ecuadorean jungle by warriors from a Stone Age tribe known as the Auca. Americans were glued to their radios to hear reports of Ecuadorean and U.S. Army search teams heading down the Ewenguno River into Auca territory. Graphic photos of the men's bodies in the river and those of the anguished widows gathered around a kitchen table were immortalized in Life magazine.

The deaths of the five men and subsequent -- and successful -- efforts by the relatives of the slain missionaries to convert the killers to Christianity is dramatized in a new film. "End of the Spear," a 111-minute feature shot in the jungles of Panama, premieres in 1,200 theaters nationwide Jan. 20. (Washington Times)

This film should be most interesting to watch. It shows perspectives from missionary families that return to the area and from a Waodani (then called Auca) character named Mincayani. I wonder what my more conservative and 'religious right' brothers and sisters think about the casting of Chad Allen, who considers himself homosexual, as both Nate Saint and Steve Saint, one of the murdered missionaries and the son he leaves behind. You may also recall that Chad Allen played the role of "Matthew Cooper" on the series "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman."

Greg Wright gives a review.

UPDATE: Click here for Mr. Allen's website. You'll see that he is quite vocal in his support for "gay rights."

Randy at Contend 4 the Faith has more here. So does Jason Janz at Sharper Iron.

UPDATE 2: Just look at how many are posting on the controversy. Thanks to Technorati.

when a memoir belongs in the 'fiction' category

James Frey, author of "A Million Little Pieces," had his book featured as the most recent pick for Oprah's Book Club. The memoir of Frey's time in rehab still sits on top of the NY Times' paperback nonfiction best-seller list. Frey has claimed that everything in his book is accurate, but this has come under dispute by the managers of The Smoking Gun. Frey has fired back at these accusations through his site.

UPDATE: Frey will be on Larry King's show tonight. We know that Mr. King will furiously grill Frey over these allegations...

UPDATE 2: Oh no, he didn't con The Oprah, did he?

UPDATE 3: The transcript of the interview between Larry King and Frey can be found here. I didn't see the interview, but I read the transcript. Frey acknowledged several times that "things were changed," and he hasn't been in touch with Harpo Productions (Oprah's company) producers since the controversy began. He reminds Larry that the book is mostly about his time in a treatment center and how he wrestled with his substance abuse.

Frey said, "I still feel very, very comfortable calling it a memoir." Don't you feel better knowing that he is comfortable with his own book?

Frey also said several times that a small portion of the book is in dispute. But why make any embellishments or changes if they don't contribute to the main theme of the book, which is telling the story of his time in substance abuse treatment? Why make it sound like he committed more criminal acts than he did?

Near the end of the program, The Oprah herself called the show (as if this was such a surprise to Larry and his producers) and said this:

I wanted to say because everyone's been asking me to release a statement. I first wanted to hear what James had to say and I didn't want to have that colored by any personal conversation that I had. As he said, he's had many conversations with my producers, who do fully support him and obviously we support the book because we recognize that there have been thousands and hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been changed by this book. So the truth is this. I read and recommend books based on my connection with the written word and its message. And, of course, I am disappointed by this controversy surrounding "A Million Little Pieces," because I rely on the publishers to define the category that a book falls within and also the authenticity of the work. So, I'm just like everybody else. I go to the bookstore. I pick out a book I love. If it says memoir, I know that -- that maybe the names and dates and the times have been compressed, because that's what a memoir is. And I feel about "A Million Little Pieces" that although some of the facts have been questioned -- and people have a right to question, because we live in a country that lets you do that, that the underlying message of redemption in James Frey's memoir still resonates with me. And I know that it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book and will continue to read this book. And, you know, one of the things James says in the book, for all the people who are going through any kind of addiction, is to hold on. And I just wanted to -- you know, I have been calling this number and it's been busy, trying to get through to say to all those people out there who have received hope from reading this book, keep holding on, because the essence of that, I don't doubt. Whether or not the cars' wheels rolled up on the sidewalk or whether he hit the police officer or didn't hit the police officer is irrelevant to me. What is relevant is that he was a drug addict who spent years in turmoil, from the time he was 10 years old, drinking and -- and tormenting himself and his parents. And, out of that, stepped out of that history to be the man that he is today, and to take that message to save other people and allow them to save themselves. That's what's important about this book and his story.

So, Oprah thinks that the details of Frey's story aren't all that important. The important thing is that he wrote about his substance abuse, and now many people are being helped by it. Interesting... he's truthful about his substance abuse, so it doesn't matter if he's not ENTIRELY truthful about the other stuff; the actual truth doesn't matter, the emotional truth (whatever that means) does - I guess this is what she's saying.

The Associated Press has more, including reactions from authors Nicholas Cristopher and Mary Karr ("The Liar's Club").

UPDATE 4: Amba live-blogs Frey on Larry King. Best line (when King presses Frey's mother about Frey possibly resuming his drug abuse because of the controversy): "This is disgusting. I'm ashamed to be documenting it. Larry King is such a hyena."

The snarky review by the NY Times nearly 3 years ago.

Susan S. Reynolds writes on how this may change the way we look at memoirs. Wow, you think??

Seth Greenland finds a hero in Frey. Seth figured that his life was too dull to write a memoir, but now he knows what to do: "Because of my vast lack of experience, I had concluded the memoir genre is not for me. It is for this reason I wrote a novel. At least there you're allowed to make things up. But now that I know you can write a memoir the same way, I'm reconsidering."

Rip & Shred with Ted & Ed

Senator "Teddy" rips at Judge Sam Alito - Ed Whalen shreds Kennedy.

Monday, January 9, 2006

He's there, inside your mind

Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of The Opera" has now surpassed "Cats" as the longest running musical on Broadway. (Fffffttt... Down, kitty, down!) It opened in London in 1986, and won seven Tony awards in 1988. Webber's ex-wife, Sarah Brightman, was in the original cast.
"It's overwhelming," Webber told Reuters. "I must confess when I realized how 'Cats' was going I did say to all my friends, 'You realize that something like this could not happen again,' and then, of course, 'Phantom' happened." (Yahoo! News)

I've been able to see a few musicals over the years (if you get the chance to see "Miss Saigon," don't go), but I'd have to say that overall, "Phantom" was the best. The wife and I saw it in Columbus, Ohio, before we were married. Even though we sat in the 2nd balcony, we were able to see everything on stage. Quite an experience.

Jack Abramoff, film producer

He made this classic. And it's sequel.

I got this bit of info from watching "Weekends With Maury and Connie," MSNBC's new show on Saturday mornings. I watched long enough to realize that it's a bad rip-off of "Saturday Night Live," "The Daily Show," and "The Colbert Report" - it took 30 seconds. Don't think I'll be watching this again...

Golden Globes, SAG and more

The Golden Globes, the awards doled out by the Hollywood Foreign Press, has two listings for its nominees in film: Drama and Musical/Comedy. On the Drama side: A History of Violence; Brokeback Mountain; The Constant Gardener; Good Night, and Good Luck; and Match Point. On the Musical/Comedy side: Mrs. Henderson Presents; Pride & Prejudice; The Producers; The Squid and the Whale; and Walk the Line. Winners will be announced on Monday, January 16. While once viewed as little more than an excuse for movie stars to have some good wine and a nice dinner, the Globes have increased in prestige and Oscar-predictability.

The Screen Actors Guild has given its list of nominees for 2005. The films fighting for the top honor (Outstanding Performance by a Cast) are the following: Brokeback Mountain; Capote; Crash; Good Night, and Good Luck; and Hustle & Flow. Winners will be announced on Sunday, January 29.

The Directors Guild has given its list of nominees for 2005. In the running for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film are the following: George Clooney for Good Night, and Good Luck; Paul Haggis for Crash; Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain; Bennett Miller for Capote; and Steven Spielberg for Munich. Winners will be announced on Saturday, January 28. More often than not, the winner of the Directors Guild goes on to win Best Director for the Oscars.

The Writers Guild gives out its 2005 awards for both original screenplays and screenplays adapted from other works (e.g., novels, plays). On the Original side is Cinderella Man; Crash; The 40 Year-old Virgin; Good Night, and Good Luck; and The Squid and the Whale. On the Adapted side is Brokeback Mountain; Capote; The Constant Gardener; A History of Violence; and Syriana. Winners will be announced on Saturday, February 4.

Several films with a political edge (including the two that feature George Clooney) have received nominations. It's also been a good year for films that focus on various aspects of sexuality, with characters seeking their first sexual encounter, wrestling with their sexual identity, committing adultery while trying to be seen as a tragic figure, and attempting to leave sex-based professions. Several films focus on "famous" people, whether they be singers, writers, newscasters or terrorists.

All of the above awards are nice, but they pale in comparison to the biggest prize: going to the Academy Awards and having Oscar come home with you to stay. From the looks of things, three movies will be nominated for sure: Brokeback Mountain; Crash; and Good Night, and Good Luck. It's hard to speculate on the last two, but I'll guess Capote and Munich.

Of all the movies listed, the only one I've seen is Crash. The movie clobbers you over the head with the whole racism-is-really-bad sermon, but it makes many important points about the dangers of looking with blinders on. Characters behave in a dispicable manner in one scene, then act with compassion in the next. I was delighted to see Tony Danza, Loretta Devine, and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi on "ST:TNG") in the film. My favorite character would have to be Terrence Howard's TV director - I loved watching him every second he was on screen. If you've seen the movie, did you guess about the kind of bullets that the store owner's daughter obtained for the gun?

a Christian horror writer

Maurice Broaddus, an Indiana native who reviews movies at his site and occasionally for Hollywood Jesus, writes horror stories. He is also a Christian. He writes about a "theology of horror" here and here.

Maurice mentions something that I never knew before: Wes Craven, director of the horror classic "A Nightmare on Elm Street," attended Wheaton College - he obtained a bachelor's in psychology and education. Isn't that intriguing? I wonder if he ever returns to visit during alumni events.

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Sorry, Cincinnati

I wish you could have beaten those evil Steelers and gone a little further into January, but it wasn't meant to be. Hope Carson heals quickly.

Don't worry - the Colts will take care of them.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

50 greatest gadgets in 50 years

How many of these did/do you own? My personal faves are #7 and #27.

ABA gives Samuel Alito its highest rating

This should make things more interesting in the Senate hearings. How much you wanna bet that Kos and Atrios won't be mentioning it...

78th Academy Awards Host

Will it be Jon Stewart? It seems so.

Evangelical Women of 2005

Concerned Women for America has a list of women deemed outstanding for their achievements. One of the women is blogger Dr. Charmaine Yoest (she's on my blogroll to the right), vice president of external relations for the Family Research Council.

"I am 31 years old and I am slightly ashamed to admit that I dig comic books."

My nephew-in-law Dusty Leggs reconciles the seeming conflict of silliness and seriousness between his love for comic books and a respect for historical figures.

I don't really read comic books or graphic novels these days, but in my youth I was a big fan of Archie. Some of the Archie comics I read were published by Spire Christian Comics - in these comics, Archie and most of his friends are Christians. I believe I still have some of the comics at my parents' home - I haven't looked at them in years, but I know for sure that I have this and this.

UPDATE: I want to qualify the first sentence by saying I believe that (1) graphic novels can touch upon serious issues and (2) some historical figures were downright silly, or at least they dressed that way.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

the origin of the seeker-sensitive and mega church

Bob DeWaay, pastor of Twin City Fellowship in Minneapolis and publisher of Critical Issues Commentary, argues that it all started with this man, who recently passed his pastoral mantle to his son.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Predictions for the Christian Blogosphere in 2006

The folks at blogs4God have 'em.

"So even though a manatee is 3 times your size and 20 times your weight, you want to get into the water beside it."

Natalie Angier writes in the New York Times about how levels of attractiveness affect our response to things, like pandas, manatees, and clothing styles. It's called the Cute Factor.
New studies suggest that cute images stimulate the same pleasure centers of the brain aroused by sex, a good meal or psychoactive drugs like cocaine, which could explain why everybody in the panda house wore a big grin. At the same time, said Denis Dutton, a philosopher of art at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, the rapidity and promiscuity of the cute response makes the impulse suspect, readily overridden by the angry sense that one is being exploited or deceived.

"Cute cuts through all layers of meaning and says, Let's not worry about complexities, just love me," said Dr. Dutton, who is writing a book about Darwinian aesthetics. "That's where the sense of cheapness can come from, and the feeling of being manipulated or taken for a sucker that leads many to reject cuteness as low or shallow."
A person's idea of cuteness (or any level of attractiveness, from the magnificently beautiful to the obscenely grotesque) is cultural to an extent. Many young American girls think that Hello! Kitty is a cute thing, but in Japan, "truck drivers display Hello Kitty-style figurines on their dashboards." I haven't seen that here in American truck drivers but maybe I need to look more closely at their dashboards.

There are some identifiable physical features that help in determining if something is cute or not: small round nose, eyes facing forward, wrinkled skin, to name a few. These features helped America in 1982 to qualify E.T. as "cute," rather than as some ugly alien dude that loved Reese's Pieces.

Monday, January 2, 2006

the final Petra concerts

Oh, to have been here...


Victim's families will confront the killer nurse

This could be the week that Marie Romero finally gets to look Charles Cullen straight in the eye and tell the former nurse and admitted serial killer how much pain he caused by killing her sister. Romero's sister, Catherine Dext, was killed with an injection in June 1996 at Hunterdon Medical Center, where she had been admitted with a ruptured spleen.

"She's going to talk about how this deprived her of her sister and (how) it was a totally senseless, pointless death," said her lawyer, Anthony Macri.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin Thursday for Cullen, who pleaded guilty to 29 murders and six attempted murders during his 16-year nursing career in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. (CNN)

I think this is the most frightening sentence of the article: "The former critical care nurse was able to move from hospital to hospital, despite suspicions he was killing patients, because the institutions did not report their fears to authorities." Who knows how many more nurses like Cullen are out there?

Michael Moore & "Sicko"

You intently watch the trailers when you catch a new flick. You peruse through the Internet Movie Database only to find scarce info about it. You check on the director's website (he won an Oscar - surely you remember that, don't you? - if not, he'll remind you) for updates, but he hasn't mentioned it in over a year. You walk into your doctor's office with trepidation, wondering if he's going to pop out and confront your physician and that irritating chick at the reception desk.

All your efforts are in vain. You sink into your couch and you moan aloud (as if Michael would hear you), "When is 'Sicko' coming out?"

Don't worry.
... reports have said that Moore is using hidden cameras in doctors' offices to expose corruption within the drug biz. And a person close to the project says the helmer was most recently in Miami shooting at a weight-loss clinic.

Bob and Harvey WeinsteinHarvey Weinstein are expecting big things from the film. According to an early draft of the Weinstein Co.'s business plan, generated to drum up investment in the company, the brothers plan to roll out "Sicko" in September, and they anticipate about $40 million in domestic [box office]. (Variety)


The season wasn't perfect.

It was marred by a terrible tragedy, the death of the coach's son by suicide.

But - the final game was an emotional win.

Five days after burying his oldest son, 18-year-old James, Dungy watched Jim Sorgi throw two touchdown passes and got the goal line stand he needed -- thanks to a replay reversal -- in the final seconds to give the Colts a 17-13 victory over Arizona.

"I know those guys wanted to win the game for me and wanted to do it for a lot of reasons," Dungy said. "But I think they wanted to win it for me, and they came up with the effort to do it. It was special." (SI.com)

RELATED: Sorry, Cincinnati. Good luck against the Steelers - I'm sure you'll beat them again.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

The First Day of 2006

What did I do? Let's see if I can break it down for you.

12:00 am - Walk in to work - I get to start the year off at work! Fortune's wheel has turned my way!
2:00 am - Meet with an 11yo girl whose parents brought her in kicking & screaming
2:01 am - Meet with the girl's mom since the girl refused to talk to me
2:50 am - Watch the parents as they leave with their girl
3:45 am - Take several mini-naps, even though I'm tryin hard to stay awake
7:00 am - Watch a severely mentally retarded man come into the hospital almost completely nude (him - n0t me)
7:04 am - Admit the guy into a hospital
8:30 am - Leave work to go home
8:35 am - Notice that the streets are nearly empty for a Sunday morning
9:00 am - Arrive home to find everyone asleep
9:45 am - Children wake up - I feed them breakfast since wife still sleeps
11:00 am - Wife awakens from her lair (our bedroom)
11:50 am - Pick up ingredients from grocery store since wife in mood to make buckeyes
12:00 pm - Pick up ordered food from TGI Friday's (thank goodness they're open today!)
3:00 pm - Lay down for nap while 1st daughter watches cartoons
5:30 pm - Awakened by 1st and 2nd daughters - stay awake to spend more time with them
6:00 pm - Return to bed - and to sleep
10:08 pm - Wake up, realize that alarm was set but never turned 'on'
10:59 pm - Leave for work
11:20 pm - Arrive at work to lobby packed with patients

I can't remember the last time the wife and I 'celebrated' on New Year's. I believe we went to an actual party one time, but that was ages ago. After we started having offspring, we've usually spent the evening at home. One year we feel asleep hours before the Waterford crystal ball dropped at Times Square. Ah, well, p'raps next time...

UPDATED: It would probably help you to know that I work as a crisis therapist at a hospital in central Indiana. I typically see persons who are suicidal, but occasionally see someone with psychotic symptoms.

My momma told me to shop around...

But I don't think she meant churches when she said it.

An increasing number of people, especially youths, are attending services at different churches. Some say it is "consumerist," while others say it reflects the value of choice and a search for the "authentic." Older teens are leaving the churches of their youth - and their parents - to find another house of worship.

Why is this occurring? Jose Zayas, director of teen evangelism for Focus on the Family, may be onto something about these worshippers: "They gravitate to where they feel a connection. They're more pragmatic than their parents' generation. They look at what works for them. I think it's healthy."