Thursday, June 29, 2006

hunka, hunka burnin' flag

The Senate did not approve a vote on a constitutional flag-burning amendment. I have to say that I like Doug's sentiments on this.

I've always thought it funny, though, that people argue the act of burning the flag is something that is protected as free speech. I guess that burning the flag is a symbolic way to protest something, and is stronger than just saying, "I don't like [insert here] about America!"


Wow. I'm shocked. I've posted what is probably my explosive thing to date, and no reaction from any kind of Peanut Gallery. Maybe I need to make a clearer statement: While I myself have never participated in flag-burning and would never do it, I think it's patently ridiculous that some Americans believe it is patriotic to make a constitutional amendment against flag-burning.

There. Let's see if anything happens now....

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"American V: A Hundred Highways"

I'm truly excited to hear that Johnny Cash's final "American" recording is being released on July 4. Entertainment Weekly reveiwed the disc and gave it an A-. You can read the review here.

The review mentions that Cash seemed to be very cognizant of his impending death. The album is said to be "contentedly bleak."


2 to die in final "Potter" book

More deaths to come to the world of Hogwarts....

Author JK Rowling has said two characters will die in the seventh and final Harry Potter book, but she has been careful not to reveal which ones.

She told the Richard and Judy show that she had long known how the series would end, because she had written the last chapter "in something like 1990".

"One character got a reprieve, but I have to say two die that I didn't intend to die," she said. (BBC News)

Any guesses? It's pretty certain that You-Know-Who will perish in the final book, so I don't believe this is who Rowling is referring to. I would say that Snape (who will be revealed as actually a good guy) and Hagrid will perish, both in a sacrificial manner.

I also believe that we haven't read the last of Dumbledore. You may recall that Dumbledore has a strong association with phoenixes. And what do phoenixes do? When they die, they burn up but are resurrected from their own ashes.

Did you hear that Rowling received an honorary degree from Aberdeen University in recognition of her contributions to the research of multiple sclerosis? Yep, she did. Her mother lost her battle to the disease.

What was the best-selling book of 2005? You don't have to guess... do you? You should know it's this one.

Brownie takes on a classic novel

I've recently been spending some of my hard-earned cash on classic novels. The gigantic bookseller Barnes & Noble currently has a collection of classic novels in small, hard-cover editions. These books are, in a word, cheap - most cost around $6.00, which is quite a thing for hard-cover books. For the past week or so, Barnes & Noble has given these books what can only be called the Wal*Mart treatment - the price has been knocked down by 20%. Needless to say, I have been taking advantage.

I've been able to get some great titles....
  • Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre
  • Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter
  • Herman Melville's Moby-Dick
  • Robert L. Stevenson's Treasure Island

..... to name a few. As you can see, those are some great books there. Both Moby-Dick and The Scarlett Letter are in the running for consideration as the quintessential American novel. Treasure Island and Alice in Wonderland have been made into Disney movies, although I have to say that I wonder what Carroll would think of the animated version of his tale (he'd probably want to throttle Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum).

First up to read is Fyodor Dostoevsky's masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov. This seems a daunting task, no? After all, it's a meditation on family, murder, morality, redemption, and God. One of the more famous lines from the novel is this: "If you were to destroy in mankind the belief in immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of the world would at once be dried up. Moreover, nothing then would be immoral, everything would be permissible, even cannibalism." It's intimidating and it's not for the faint of heart, but I'm up for the challenge.

I'll keep you posted on how far I've gotten with it and what I think about it. If you've read it, don't hesitate to tell me what you think.

Related: No, I haven't forgotten that I once posted about purchasing this book and wanting to evaluate it. I still haven't read it, but it's on my list for the summer.

Also related: If you're a "Lost" fan, then you'll know that Brothers Karamazov gets a mention when Locke offers reading materials to NotHenry.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Answer: He's the "Jeopardy!" champ with a website

Question: Who is Ken Jennings?

See? Right here.

Ken's site contains a list of appearances, some FAQ's, a blog (yeah! a blogger!), some writings, and a promo for his book Brainiac.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kos, Ann Althouse, and La Shawn Barber never have this problem....

Click on the strip if you need a larger image to read better. The strip is "Pearls Before Swine," which is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

"Homosexuals were created by God to love people of the same gender."

The U.S. Episcopal Church has elected a new leader in Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Evidently, she has realized that it's quite a thing to be both a leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church and a woman at the same time, so she has made statements that would raise the eyebrows of only the most Puritanical of persons.
Interviewed on CNN, Jefferts Schori was asked if it was a sin to be homosexual.

"I don't believe so. I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Each one of us comes into this world with a different collection of things that challenge us and things that give us joy and allow us to bless the world around us," she said.

"Some people come into this world with affections ordered toward other people of the same gender and some people come into this world with affections directed at people of the other gender."
Oops. Okay. Maybe she has made statements that would raise more eyebrows than just those of the most Puritanical.

More on Jefferts Schori's election here.

Gays in the church seems to be a popular thing right now:
A Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) national assembly voted Tuesday to create some leeway for gay clergy and lay officers to serve local congregations, despite a denominational ban on partnered gay ministers.

A measure approved 298-221 by a Presbyterian national assembly keeps in place a church law that says clergy and lay elders and deacons must limit sexual relations to man-woman marriage. But the new legislation says local congregations and regional presbyteries can exercise some flexibility when choosing clergy and lay officers of local congregations if sexual orientation or other issues arise. (Christian Post)
Sharp words from Mark LaRoi regarding Jefferts Schori: "Her teachings are a cancer eating away the life that remains in that church, and if she remains as it's head, those who follow her will follow her to destruction." Ouch!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Riff is the newest F.O.B.

He's the newest Friend Of Barney, that is. He's "hip," listens to raggae and jazz, and dines on celery with cheddar cheese and raisins.

My oldest daughter is six-and-a-half years old now. I thought she'd be beyond Barney by now, but now and then she asks to rent one of his videos from Blockbuster or the library.

We'll see if this energizes those kids that Barney hangs out with. They've been pretty lethargic lately.

Related: If you go to Barney's page on the PBS Kids website, you'll see the following slogan: Let's have fun with manners today.

Now, I've gotta tell you: I've never thought that good manners were fun. Good manners are important, good manners are an example of what sets us apart from animals (have you ever heard a cheetah say to a zebra, "Excuse me for what I'm doing, but I'm only eating you because I haven't had a thing to eat for a week and I'm utterly famished. Plus, the missus would totally put me in the doghouse if I didn't bring her something. So, please give me your leg so I can chow down - I have a fork and steakknife and everything."), and good manners are what every child should have.

But are they fun? No. Fun would be wrestling with my daughter, or kissing my wife, or going bowling. Fun would be riding the Beast at Kings' Island at dusk. Fun would not be making sure that you use the proper fork to eat your salad.

Silly Barney. You should know what fun is - and isn't.

Does anyone really care?

About this, I mean. The whole NBA season seemed so blah this year. I guess I feel that way because my Pacers had a struggling year and they were out in the first round of the playoffs, but I can't help but believe that it's not just me that thinks this way.

I'm sure that the good people of Miami are happy, and there will be much celebration tonight. But, then again, it's Miami... they usually don't find much trouble in coming up with reasons to party.

For you Floridians who visit the blog (and I know who you are), are you happy that a team from your state won? Would it have been better (or worse) if the Magic had won?

pursuing gratification

If you took the time to peruse through the little blog here, you would discover that many posts touch on (in some fashion or another) pop culture. You will probably be able to tell that I derive no small form of amusement - and sorrow - from what our culture values. What a specific culture values will naturally change from time to time, and it seems at this stage that we, collectively as Americans, value what Francis Schaeffer identified as "impoverished" values: personal peace and affluence. Personal peace concerns our regard for our own lives, and our desire to be left alone so that we can live our own lives in the manner we see fit.

A large part of affluence is having what we want, when we want it. We want to make sure that we are doing well (at the very least) in our lives, and that we have enough money (and all that goes along with it) to sustain our level of wellness. It doesn't matter that we didn't work for it and we didn't earn it - we "deserve" it just the same, and so you must give it to us... now. We become like Gollum, clamoring after our own precious and screaming, "We wants it! We must haves it now!"

I had never heard of columnist Suzanne Fields before today. I've no idea whether she has ever made a statement or profession of faith. What I do know is that she discusses the very thing I'm talking about here - check it out.

Monday, June 19, 2006

how celebrities eat

If nothing else, this site reminds you that in one very important way, celebrities are just like you. Once you've checked it out, come back here.

You back? Okay. Well...

Did you find it even slightly fascinating? If so, why? It's just a bunch of pictures of famous people eating. Something that they do every day - and so do you. Would it have been less fascinating if the pictures were of non-famous people eating? If you think that it was fascinating, what does that say about you?

For the record, I'd rather look at pictures of my daughters' stuffing their faces with hot dogs than of Uma Thurman doing the same thing.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Emerging Church books

Andrew Jones has listed his top 10 books on the emerging church. If you are a fan of the emerging church movement/conversation, then by all means pick these up. If you aren't a fan, you should also read through these because the emerging church movement/conversation appears to be a force with which to reckon.

His top 3:
  1. Emerging Churches, Eddie Gibbs & Ryan Bloger
  2. Shaping of Things to Come, Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch
  3. Out of Bounds Church, Steve Taylor

Related: The new Southern Baptist Convention president, Dr. Frank Page, answers some questions about (among other things) the emerging church. Read here.

taboo and the arachnid

Spider-Man has done the unthinkable. He has outed himself (no, not that way).

What is the world coming to?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

teary-eyed at the local cinema

I am man enough to admit it. I have cried before while watching a film - maybe not out and out blubbering, but I've shed a few tears. I find Hoosiers to be incredibly touching. When I first saw it, I was very emotional at the end of LOTR: ROTK. I refuse to watch Brian's Song because I fear I would go through a box of kleenex.

It happened again yesterday. And I was watching X-3: The Last Stand, of all things. No, I'm no fanboy when it comes to X-Men - I was into the Archie comics as a youngester, basically because I thought that Betty and Veronica were both very fine. But, I have greatly enjoyed the X-Men movies and I own the first two on DVD.

The movie did pack some genuine emotion, something I wasn't expecting from a movie directed by Brett Ratner. I was expecting some overblown action sequences, and of course they were there. I was expecting quick pacing and a poor use of the editor, and that was there. But, I did not expect emotion. If you've seen the movie, you'll know there's a scene in particular that I'm referring to. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it.

I'm adorable

It's true. I AM adorable. NZ Bear has done his computations, and the TTLB ecosystem says so. Sure, I'm small and gerbil-like, but I am adorable.

Now, what I don't get is how TTLB can say that I have 142 links, and Technorati (go to the >Blogs that link here section on the right) says that I have "247 links from 219 sites." Apparently, some sites are linking to me several times, and I have a ranking of 8,235 on Technorati. As you can tell, there is a discrepancy between the number of links in TTLB and the number of links in Technorati. 142 clearly doesn't = 247. 142 doesn't = 219, either.

I used to be marauding. Once upon a time, I was even large. But, I should be thankful that I used to be flappy, and slithering, and crawly, and flippery, but I am not anymore. I don't believe I was ever slimy or lowly.

"I want to live again.... I want to live again..."

I will be out for the better part of this evening, so I won't be able to watch the latest list from the American Film Institute - this year, it's "100 Years, 100 Cheers." AFI examines the movies that have been deemed the most inspiring - 100 films culled from 300. I'm betting that Rocky, Shawshank Redemption, and It's a Wonderful Life will be near the top.

Here are the past "100 Years..." lists, and the #1 film for each (starting at most recent):

  • ... Quotes - "Frankly, my dear...", from Gone With the Wind
  • ... Songs - "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz
  • ... Heroes & Villains - Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird & Dr. Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs
  • ... Passions - Casablanca
  • .... Thrills - Psycho
  • ... Laughs - Some Like it Hot
  • ... Stars - Katharine Hepburn & Humphrey Bogart
  • ... Years - Citizen Kane

I'm sure that Ann Althouse and the crew from ALOTT5MA will be live-blogging the show.

Update: Well, Ann apparently had other shows to watch, but Adam at ALOTT5MA did indeed see it.

The top five:

  1. It's a Wonderful Life
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird
  3. Schindler's List
  4. Rocky
  5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Although I'm not a Hoosier myself (I'm a Buckeye), I was pleased to see Hoosiers make it in at #13. I was surprised that Shawshank only made it as high as #23 - I thought it would have cracked the top ten.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Good Brownie said he would buy the flowers himself...

You're Mrs. Dalloway!

by Virginia Woolf

Your life seems utterly bland and normal to the casual observer, but
inside you are churning with a million tensions and worries. The company you surround
yourself with may be shallow, but their effects upon your reality are tremendously deep.
To stay above water, you must try to act like nothing's wrong, but you know that the
truth is catching up with you. You're not crazy, you're just a little unwell. But no
doctor can help you now.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

"Did you watch the Weather Channel? What does the Weather Channel say?"

Hurricane Katrina may have hit American shores last year, but the children who were affected by it continue to suffer the effects.

Ten months after Katrina, its emotional effect on children is proving to be long and lasting. Two studies of children affected by the hurricane have found high rates of depression, anxiety, behavioral problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A Louisiana State University mental health screening of nearly 5,000 children in schools and temporary housing in the state found that 96 percent saw hurricane damage to their homes or neighborhoods, 22 percent had relatives or friends who were injured, 14 percent had relatives or friends who died, and 35 percent lost pets. Thirty-four percent were separated from their primary caregivers at some point; 9 percent still are. (WaPo)

An 8-year-old girl expresses belief that a category 8 hurricane will hit on June 15. Two boys who lost their father during a bus crash that occurred while evacuating the city still won't speak about what happened.

No doubt these children will keep mental health clinicians in New Orleans and the surrounding areas busy for the next several years.

Monday, June 12, 2006

"It’s so wonderful to hear that song again, he grabs more and more items – cookies, an organic soft drink, he’s a retail psychologist’s dream."

Richard writes about songs in the supermarket.

Speaking of which, what song do you like to hear somewhere - maybe flipping through a radio or in some store - that you wouldn't necessarily put on your iPod? For me, one that comes quickly to mind would be "Hear I Go Again" by Whitesnake.

the suicides at Gitmo

Three detainees at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, hanged themselves in their cells yesterday morning, the first inmates to die at the remote island prison since it opened in early 2002, according to military officials.

Guards found the three men unresponsive and not breathing in their separate cells in Camp 1 shortly after midnight yesterday, according to Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, who heads the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, and Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., who commands the Guantanamo Bay prison. The detainees had apparently used their clothing and sheets to fashion makeshift nooses in what military officials believe was a coordinated suicide pact. All left suicide notes written in Arabic, the officers said.

Military officials were not releasing the names of the detainees yesterday, but said two were Saudi Arabian nationals and one was a Yemeni national. Harris described them as having close ties to terrorist organizations in the Middle East and said their suicides were "not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetric warfare against us." (WaPo)

The folks at Kos and other liberal/progressive/leftwing blogs will tell you that the suicides are just another result of the Bush administration's perceived (mis)handling of the war in Iraq in general and the horrible conditions at Guantanamo Bay in specific. There is a report that these suicides were part of an effort gain attention.
"This is a determined, intelligent, committed element," Craddock said. "They continue to do everything they can . . . to become martyrs."

More reporting on this story here, here, and here.

Mental illness & diabetes

One in five persons with a mental illness will develop diabetes. Needless to say, this is of great concern.

For decades, psychiatrists have worried primarily about patients' mental states, making sure they did no harm to themselves or others because of unrelenting voices or a smothering depression.

Far more of the mentally ill, however, die today from diabetes and complications like heart disease than from suicide. Given that mental health specialists are often the only doctors a mentally ill diabetic ever sees, some have begun to debate the customary limits of psychiatric practice, deciding to pay much more attention to physical ailments.

In particular, psychiatrists must confront the fact that diabetes, marked by dangerously high blood sugar, is often aggravated, if not precipitated, by some of the very medicines they prescribe: antipsychotic pills that have been linked to swift weight gain and the illness itself.

"It's bad enough that these people have mental illness, and then they take treatments and they bring on diabetes," said Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of the psychiatry department at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Treating the diabetic mentally ill can be formidable. The regimen of blood testing, dieting and exercise that controls Type 2 diabetes is often beyond the attentions of the mentally ill. For patients, the task of taming two debilitating illnesses can haunt their lives. Michael Schiraldi, 44, a Manhattan man who has both schizoaffective disease and diabetes, said his mental illness, now stabilized, was the lesser of his concerns.

"I can't really control the diabetes," he said. "I might die from it." (NYTimes)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Blogging "for God" in Indiana

Christian bloggers from the great state of Indiana get a mention in today's edition of the Indy Star, which you can peruse here. One of those interviewed for the article is John Hays, senior pastor of West Morris Street Free Methodist Church - his blog is called Bike Hiker, and it's linked to the right over there under the heading Indiana Bloggers.

Neil Cox of Indy Christian (check for the link on the right!) was also interviewed for the article. He gave five reasons to "blog for God."
  1. Everyone else is doing it.
  2. My pastor mentioned the 'B-word' from the pulpit.
  3. Marketing professionals are recommending that CEOs should blog.
  4. Anti-abortion bloggers now are a well-networked and powerful group.
  5. Urban pastors are suddenly empowered if they can quickly and easily put up a Web site.

For you Christians out there that stop by here, I'll let you think about what's missing from Neil's list and give an opportunity to add your own in the comments. If you are of another religion and you blog, feel free to leave a comment as well.

Okay, I'll just say it: anyone can leave a comment. However, I'm especially interested in hearing from Christians on what they think this list leaves out.

By far, this is the most fascinating stretch on the information highway right now


Well, it's probably fascinating only if you're a rabbit, like the evil bunny in my backyard that pretends to be cute but eats my freshly planted posies.

Friday, June 9, 2006

the perfect men's final at Roland Garros

It's what the fans have been wanting.

Federer vs. Nadal.

No. 1 vs. No. 2.

I'm giddy.

Nadal beat Federer at Roland Garros last year in the semifinals, but Bud thinks Federer has the edge this year.

Federer has his own website. Nadal has one, too.

Update: Congrats, Justine! Quite an accomplishment, winning three French Open championships of the last four years.

Update 2: Congrats, Rafael Nadal, for your great defense of the championship. Of course, Federer's poor play made it easier for you, but you are nevertheless held in great esteem. Your humble words at the award ceremony speaks volumes about you. And, no matter what Bud Collins says, you haven't ruined tennis this year by denying Federer's attempt at getting a Grand Slam.

Three series to check out...

Dan Edelen completes his series, "Unshackling the American Church."

Pastor Mark Roberts has a continuing series on The Da Vinci Code.

iMonk and centuri0n play Q&A about Christian retail on both their blogs - go here for iMonk and here for cent. (Links to both of them - they should be happy)

What is the only true justice?

Harvey "Two-Face" Dent would say it's the random toss of the coin, but a Florida federal judge says it's a simple game of rock, paper, scissors.

"The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location of the . . . deposition," he ruled, so long as it was within Hillsborough County.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

"I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."

Oh, Ann.

Ann, Ann, Ann.

I think we've had enough of your antics. You started out well - really, you did - with your book about the Clintons. But as time has passed, your statements have become increasingly full of vinegar and bile. You may have some useful and constructive things to say (like this, which is spot on), but it's hard to overlook all the crazy statements about your desire to see people tortured and hauled off to Gitmo. And now, we have this. All because you have a new book out, which you made no bones about in this bizarre piece. You have Hillary talking about you - but maybe that's been your goal all along, to get important people to talk about you. You even went on Today - which is now without Katie "Eva Braun" Couric - and called Matt Lauer "testy"! (Don't you know that he's not testy but "glib?" Go talk to Tom Cruise and he'll set you straight...)

Allow me to humbly offer some bit of advice.

You seem to have a respect for - if not downright love of - the Bible, and that is to your credit. You quote from it, and that's good. However, the better thing to do would be to abide by what the Bible says, not just recite what it says. Maybe you should peruse over Ecclesiastes 3, and pay special attention to what the Preacher says in verse 7 about there being a time for silence.

That might work for you, too. Heaven knows you've been talking enough lately.

More on Ann:

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Thinkin' 'bout Brownback

What strikes you as the most intriguing thing mentioned in this WaPo article about Kansas senator Sam Brownback?

  • He has no problem talking about his faith. It has become somewhat fashionable these days, but of course many would talk of their faith and then say something like I won't let it affect my political decisions, which is total "bill tush" because they can't help but allow personal opinions to affect policy matters.
  • He thinks that having surgeries to remove some melanoma "was a great season in life."
  • He grew up in a Methodist church, attended a nondenominational evangelical church for many years, and recently became Catholic.
  • He attends church twice on Sundays - once to Mass, once to the same nondenom church where his wife is still a member.
  • He talks about his desire to love somebody instead of judging them.
  • He calls WaPo a "primarily liberal publication" to its face and totally gets away with it.
  • A "divine intervention" caused him to push for an African American history museum in the Smithsonian complex.
  • Reading the Koran has deepened his appreciation for his Christian faith.
  • When talking about running for president in 2008, he says nothing about believing that God wants him to be president.

The article concludes this way:

Brownback says he imagines future generations walking the halls of Congress and nobody knowing who he was. He imagines people passing a "Brownback Room" and someone saying, "Who was he?"

Perhaps someone else might answer that Sam Brownback was a complicated man, who thought himself a servant and a potential president at the same time, who imagined his life forgotten even as he dreamed of a room named after himself.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Surviving 06.06.06

Well, I did it.

Did you?

Two of yesterday's "obligatory" posts: Jollyblogger & Mark Daniels

Also: What's the likelihood of there being more people like this grandfather? Great quote: "I don't believe the world is going to end because I have 12 years left on my mortgage. I don't think the bank would allow it."