Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm talking to the man in the mirror, and he's turning 50

Can you believe it? Michael Jackson is 50 years old! Well, most of him is. I don't think his nose is a teenager yet. Anyway, here are some photos to look at. Don't stop 'til you get enough.

the passing of a friend

It's truly a strange thing to not really think about someone for nearly two decades, then to hear of his passing and be unable to stop thinking about him. One of my friends from high school, Heath Hartline, recently went to be with the Lord after a brief battle with colon cancer. You can read his obituary here. The picture exactly portrays how I remember him - a smiling, friendly guy.

God rest you, Heath.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

a truly historic day

It's a day where we remember this speech, given two score and five years ago...

And, it's a day where a man of African descent accepts the nomination of a major political party for the presidency of the United States.

Monday, August 25, 2008

the 28th Olympiad

I've been preoccupied with many things to devote much time to blogging these days, but I do want to reflect back on the Summer Olympics. China did exactly what it wanted to do: provide incredible venues for the Games, give us some ceremonies to remember, and totally dominate the medal stand. I can't say that I'll think back fondly on the closing ceremony (BTW, wasn't that Jackie Chan singing with that boy band?), but I can't imagine how London can top what Beijing was able to produce for its opening ceremony. I have to point out, however, that China could have done so much more by showing a willingness to be "open," instead of silencing dissenting voices and arresting those who dared pray.

But we must return to the opening ceremony. 2008 drummers in unison? That fantastic scroll? That perfect-looking girl lipsynching to the words sung by some buck-toothed girl? Those enhanced fireworks displays? The host nation may be a Communist, but the opening ceremony incoporated much of China's cultural, historical, philosophical, and (yes) religious history. Will London attempt anything like that, or will we just hear a lot of music by the Beatles, the Who, and the Stones? If the closing ceremony in Beijing gives us any indication, we'll be seeing lots of umbrellas and double-decker buses four years from now.

Many of the athletes became household names, but none more so than Michael Phelps of the U.S. and Usain Bolt of Jamaica. Phelps dominated the first week, winning eight gold medals in as many events. If you want to know how to beat somebody by 0.01 seconds, Phelps shows you how. He's the current cover-boy of Sports Illustrated, striking a pose similar to the one made by Mark Spitz in 1972 when he won a mere seven gold medals. If Phelps was the god of the waters, then surely Bolt was the god of the air. Every time he ran in a final, he won a gold medal and destroyed the world record. Apparently, he also has the power to improve a few Hollywood films. I had to stop and think: how fast can someone really run?

The U.S. team sports did very well. There's been much talk about the supposed "redemption" of the basketball team, but I have to think that they were fairly lucky to beat Spain out for the gold this time. I am much more impressed by the men's water polo team, who secured a silver medal when they weren't even supposed to get very far. I am much more impressed by the men's volleyball team, who won gold for a coach who had lost his father-in-law just as the Games were getting underway. I am much more impressed by both beach volleyball teams, who knew what it was like to turn golden while wearing skimpy clothing in the Beijing sunlight (well, the women wore skimpy clothes...). I am much more impressed by the men's gymnastic team, who lost two of their star players - the Hamm brothers - just before the Games began but were still able to secure the bronze medal (thanks largely to this dude's efforts).

Anyway, thanks, Beijing. We've seen how China does the Olympics, and now it's the Brits' turn.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama finally makes his choice

The world finally knows who Barack Obama wants to be a mere heartbeat away from the presidency. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. It seems a bit odd that America's first biracial presidential candidate, a self-proclaimed 'citizen of the world,' would pick the same kind of person that so many others have done: a white guy. Picking a woman would probably have pleased the many Hillary supporters, but then again, they may have been unhappy with anbody whose name wasn't Hillary Clinton.

I guess Obama reallly didn't mind being called "bright" and "clean," huh?

Speaking of interesting choices, Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz (which is still on my bookshelf, unread), will be praying this coming Monday night at the Democratic National Convention. He gave an interview about his agreement to pray here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Driscoll on Harsh Language

Question: Does the Bible exhort believers to always speak as God speaks?

Monday, August 11, 2008

you mean, he's not Bach?

If they handed out medals for guest-blogging, Frank Turk over at Justin Taylor's place would get the gold for this piece on Christian bookstores. Go read it now and you'll understand the meaning of my title.

the difference between summer & winter

I look at these guys and I think, There's no way I could be an Olympian.

Then, I look at these guys and I think, Yeah, maybe I could.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

a collapse at Arches National Park

One of Arches' arches has collapsed.

Thanks to Ann Althouse for this info - she has a photo-tour of her trip to the park. I visited Arches National Park with my parents and grandmother in the early 1980's.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

fried bananas foster cheesecake

That's the signature food of the Indiana State Fair this year, and it's free of trans fat. Three fried cubes of cheesecake, accompanied by ice cream and caramel sauce. The bargain price of $4. You're always expected to pay outrageous prices for fair food. I wonder how that tradition got started...

I digress. Back to the cheesecake. I liked the creaminess of the vanilla-flavored cheesecake, coupled with the layer of bananas foster. The creamy ice cream and fried cheesecake went very well together. Whipped cream would have made the dessert even more enjoyable. That, and if it was $2 instead of $4.

You can make your own dessert with this recipe.

donkeys at the Indiana State Fair 2008

The family and I had enjoyable time at the fair last night. The weather was pleasant and the crowds weren't crushingly overbearing. We were able to hear a few songs from Carrie Underwood's concert, including "Jesus, Take the Wheel." Our daughters didn't become bored and they didn't complain of tiredness. All in all, a good night.

The Cute One was fascinated with the donkeys. We went through the horse barn and she petted a few. After we left to enjoy an elephant ear, she begged us to return to the horse barn.

Friday, August 8, 2008

the Games have begun!

Did you watch the opening ceremony? If you didn't, you missed quite the show, so here are some photos for you to enjoy.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

faith and science

See? They can go together. On a wall, at least. Notice that Mother Teresa's head is both higher and bigger than Einstein's. Was the artist trying to say something by positioning them this way?

From the outside of this downtown Indianapolis store.

McCain, Obama & pop culture

Entertainment Weekly, the go-to mag for all things related to pop culture, interviewed both presidential candidates. John and Barack offered some intriguing revelations. Among them:
  • John "kind of like(s)" Dexter, "although it certainly has a macabre side to it." When the star of the show is a serial killer who only kills bad people, it's going to be more than just a little macabre. (I must confess: I like it, too.)
  • Barack and Michelle must not have too many date nights that involve dinner and a movie. The last film he saw in the theater was Shrek the Third.
  • On their iPods: Frank Sinatra and Sheryl Crow (for Barack); ABBA and Usher (for John)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman on "GMA"


One of the best things to do during an Indiana summertime is to visit the State Fair. This year's fair is being held from today through August 17. I think you have to visit at least one day if you're going to call yourself a Hoosier.

The American Idols Live! Tour isn't stopping at the fair like it previously has - they were here last month. The fair will offer a good amount of entertainment, including some Idols of yesteryear like past winner Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Bucky Covington, and Chris Sligh. Sorry, no Sanjaya...

I plan on attending this Friday, and I'll post a few pictures for you. If you, too, plan on visiting Friday, here is what you will see.


Evan Bayh says he wasn't asked to join the ticket.

Joey Cheek denied China visit

Joey Cheek, one of my favorite athletes from the 2006 Winter Olympics, planned to go to China but has been told his travel visa has been revoked.
The Team Darfur co-founder had planned to fly to China on Wednesday to join dozens of Beijing Olympics athletes who plan to draw attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan... Cheek, a speedskating gold and silver medalist at the Turin Winter Olympics, had planned to attend the Beijing Games to help draw attention the ongoing genocide in Darfur.
Cheek released a statement:
I am saddened not to be able to attend the Games. The Olympic Games represent something powerful: that people can come together from around the world and do things that no one thought were possible. However, the denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur. Team Darfur’s main efforts have been to advocate for an Olympic Truce for Darfur, and to raise awareness about the crisis and ask for lasting peace on behalf of the children of Darfur.

The Olympic Truce captures the spirit of the Olympics: around the Games, the world should come together to work for peace and speak out against conflict. The Chinese government’s efforts to suppress athletes, even those who are competing in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, who speak about essential human rights issues, is a violation of that core Olympic spirit.

The 2008 Olympic Games begin this Friday, August 8, in Beijing, China.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pierre Berès, 1913-2008

I occasionally peruse the obit section of the New York Times, and I was intrigued by this one on Pierre Berès, a book collector and seller. He died last Monday at the age of 95.
“We have lost a legendary figure in the world of art, collecting and publishing,” said the French culture minister, Christine Albanel.

Mr. Berès had already staged a memorable exit from the world of books in 2005. Closing the store he had run since the late 1930s on the Avenue Friedland, near the Arc de Triomphe, he put his collection of 12,000 books up for sale. In a series of six sales at Drouet, the auction house, spaced out over two years, records fell as bidders lined up for treasures like the first edition of Rimbaud’s “Season in Hell,” inscribed by the author to Verlaine.

The sale realized more than 35 million euros. Mr. Berès headed off to retirement in his modern villa in St. Tropez, but not before making a final grand gesture. Unexpectedly, he removed from the sale and donated to the French nation an edition of “The Charterhouse of Parma” that included Stendhal’s revisions, undertaken after he read Balzac’s criticisms of the novel’s opening pages.

I've always been intrigued with the idea of owning a bookshop. Berès excelled in acquiring and selling desirable rare books. I guess if you're going to retire from the bookshop world, 35 million euros is a good number to live on.
Mr. Berès excelled at creating a personal mystique. “I do not seek, I find,” he once proclaimed, cryptically, about his uncanny knack for turning up rare editions.
What's your personal mystique? If you have one, would other people say it is "excellent?" If you're going to live a life, you might as well make it an interesting one.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

what Christian civility isn't

One of my reasons for blogging springs from a desire to speak my mind. I always hope to be respectful of other people's opinions, but that doesn't mean I must agree with them. The blogosphere is notoriously uncivil at times, even among bloggers who name the name of Christ. I hope to take Richard Mouw's teachings on Christian civility to heart.
Christian civility does not commit use to a relativistic perspective. Being civil doesn't mean that we cannot criticize what goes on around us. Civility doesn't require us to approve of what other people believe and do. It is one thing to insist that other people have the right to express their basic convictions; it is another thing to say that they are right in doing so. Civility requires us to live by the first of these principles. But it does not commit us to the second formula. To say that all beliefs and values deserve to be treated as if they were on par is to endorse relativism - a perspective that is incompatible with Christian faith and practice.
From page 20 of Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World.

"I have become a symbol of America..."

John McCain brings the presidential campaign to new heights (or the lowest depths?) with a new ad, attempting to use Barack Obama's own words against him:

In your mind, did McCain succeed? I think it's a risky move. McCain has tried to show Obama's recent European trek as a negative: Europeans like him, so this proves that he'll be a terrible president. I can't see how being liked and/or respected in Europe is an automatically negative thing. I have problems with Obama for other reasons, most notably his horrible views on prolife issues, but not because he's a celebrity.

Sitemeter woes

I have a Dell computer. Because I have a Dell, I have Microsoft. Because I have Microsoft, I use Internet Explorer. Because I'm linked to Sitemeter through this blog, I haven't been able to access it (or any other blogs powered by Blogger) because Internet Explorer and Sitemeter have been having... problems. So, for the past few days, I haven't been able to blog.

Things seem to be better now. Criminy, Internet Explorer can suck at times.