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August 22, 2007

A Via Lactea

The quarterback sometimes known as Ron Mexico has pleaded guilty to federal dog-fighting charges and faces at least one year in prison and who knows how long a time away from football. (As Tony Kornheiser put it, Vick is "radioactive.")

As bad as the Vick story was, it wasn't the saddest or most horrifying story involving a professional athlete this week. That dubious honor goes to this story:

Eddie Griffin, who played five seasons in the National Basketball Association, died last week when the sports-utility vehicle he was driving collided with a moving train in Houston, authorities said. He was 25.

Dental comparisons were used today to identify Griffin, whose body was badly burned in the crash, Jennifer Coston, deputy chief of investigations at the Harris County, Texas, medical examiner's office, said in a telephone interview.

Griffin disregarded a warning signal, drove through a railroad arm and struck the side of a moving freight train on Aug. 17, according to a news release from the Houston Police Department. Griffin's vehicle was consumed by flames, and he died at the scene.

Continue reading "A Via Lactea" »

Here’s something you probably never thought you’d hear

"I can't sleep at night with all those drunken churchgoers next door!"

August 21, 2007

That’s Why They Call it a BANANA Republic

From the New York Times via The Plank:

Moved by claims that it will help the metabolism and productivity of his fellow citizens, President Hugo Chávez said clocks would be moved forward by half an hour at the start of 2008. He announced the change on his Sunday television program, accompanied by his highest-ranking science adviser, Héctor Navarro, the minister of science and technology. “This is about the metabolic effect, where the human brain is conditioned by sunlight,” Mr. Navarro said in comments reported by Venezuela’s official news agency. Mr. Chávez said he was “certain” that the time change, which would be accompanied by a move to a six-hour workday, would be accepted.

Where to begin. Actually Michael Crowley knows: with the movie Bananas. No, not the classic

I object, your honor! This trial is a travesty. It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.

Or this:

I had a good relationship with my parents. They very rarely hit me . . . I think they hit me once, actually, in my whole childhood. They, they, uh, started beating me on the 23rd of December in 1942, and stopped beating me in the late Spring of '44.

But this:

From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence! In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half-hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old are now . . .  16 years old!

Continue reading "That’s Why They Call it a BANANA Republic" »

Blog-a-Book: Dostoyevsky on intercession

PrayinghandsDo you ever feel overwhelmed when you try to pray for other people? I'm afraid I do. It's not that I don't want to pray for others -- I love doing it and consider it a privilege to offer what little help I can in this way. It's just that sometimes the realization of just how many people are in need, and how great those needs are, that comes when we start to pray for them can weigh on the heart.

And let's not even go into the guilt of promising to pray for someone and then realizing you forgot to do it.

These words of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's, quoted in The Book of Uncommon Prayer, may take a little poetic license with theology, but they offer very real encouragement and refreshment for intercessors -- not by minimizing the numbers or the need, but by showing us that our contributions, small and faulty as they seem to us, may mean more than we ever knew. I love this passage and plan to keep going back to it whenever I start feeling bogged down and frustrated in my prayer life again; I hope many of you will be blessed by it as well.

. . . Remember also, every day and whenever you can, repeat to yourself, "Lord, have mercy on all who come before Thee today." For every hour and every moment thousands of people leave their life on this earth, and their souls appear before God. And so many of them depart alone, unknown, in sadness and sorrow that no one will mourn them, or even know whether they had lived or not. And so, perhaps from the other end of the earth, your prayer for their repose will rise up to God, though you did not know them, nor they you. How touching it must be to a soul, coming in fear before the Lord, to feel at that moment that someone is praying for him, too, that there is still a fellow creature on earth who loves him. And God will look upon you both with more mercy, for if you have so pitied him, how much more will He who is infinitely more merciful and loving than you. And He will forgive him for your sake.

Dire Wolves

Both the Asia Times columnist "Spengler" and Rod Dreher have weighed in on "The Politics of God," by Columbia professor Mark Lilla, which ran in this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

I have little, if anything, to add to either Rod's or "Spengler's" comments. I agree with the Crunchy One's assertion that American Christianity has become something of "an ideology justifying middle-class living" rather than the "fanatical" religion that Lilla obviously fears even more than Islam. Or, as "Spengler" put it,

Lilla does not love Reason; he merely hates Christianity. He is beaten, and knows he is beaten, but cannot bear to surrender to Western Christians; instead, he proposes to surrender to the Muslims, particularly to Professor Tariq Ramadan.

That would be the same Tariq Ramadan whose grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood. Normally, pointing out the relationship would be a bit unfair, but as Paul Berman wrote in "Who's Afraid of Tariq Ramadan?" Ramadan is "nothing if not a son and a brother and, especially, a grandson . . ."

The point is that Lilla and company are so anxious to depict Christianity as the threat to liberal pluralism that they imagine (or invent) Muslim alternatives where there are none. If Christian insistence that the public square cannot be religion-free is a threat to secular liberalism, what would you call the demand that "existing European secularism" be modified to accommodate a "properly Muslim life?"

In any case, read all three.

Schizophrenic star

Kidman Then we have Nicole Kidman stating that anti-Christian elements in the new film adapation of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass, in which she stars, have "been watered down a little":

"I was raised Catholic, the Catholic Church is part of my essence," Kidman said.

"I wouldn't be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic."

I appreciate Ms. Kidman's respect for the Catholic church, something you don't see a lot of among stars of her caliber, but I think she ought to read her scripts a little more carefully. Though it may be possible to water some things down in the first part of the trilogy, by the time they get to the third one there'll be no disguising that the death of God and the end of religion are the whole point of the exercise. To eliminate that would be (to use a comparison Pullman would detest) like taking Aslan out of Narnia, so I'm not holding my breath until it happens.

Schizophrenic weekend

Headlines on IMDb this morning:

"Raunch Wins at the Box Office" (that would be the hugely successful premiere of Superbad)

"Wholesomeness Wins on the Tube" (that would be the phenomenally successful premiere of High School Musical 2)

Try and figure that one out.

August 20, 2007

’If I’m killed, I know I’ll be with Jesus Christ’

Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, recipient of BreakPoint’s first Wilberforce Award in 1988 and my personal hero, was a well known exiled leader of the Philippines against dictator Ferdinand Marcos. What is not well known, especially to his countrymen, is his conversion to Jesus Christ. Inspired by Chuck Colson’s Born Again, Aquino was in his prison cell when he surrendered his life to Christ. But his conversion took away none of his heartfelt concern for his nation. Aquino vowed he would one day return to the Philippines, stating that “If I’m killed, I know I’ll be with Jesus Christ." He did go back exactly 24 years ago tomorrow, on August 21, 1983, and he was shot and killed as he got off the airplane.

Aquino’s decision to return despite the risk of death made him both martyr and hero. But it was his faith in Christ that strengthened his courage to return and made his conscience not let him do otherwise. As Chuck Colson says in his new book, God & Government, “One can never quite calculate how one conversion like Benigno Aquino’s in a lowly prison cell may set a motion a train of events to shake a nation.” His return and his death sparked the well-known People Power revolution in 1986 that toppled Marcos and inspired democratic change not only in the Philippines but also around the world.

As the late Jaime Cardinal Sin of the Philippines said, “it is hard for our doubting hearts to believe that spiritual power -- which is peaceful, prayerful, humane, forgiving, willing to suffer on the side of the poor and oppressed -- can change society. We know the gospel affects the lives of individuals, but can it make an impact on institutions and governments, where the heartless realities of power pierce like a knife?” The answer to this question is, yes, it is possible. Because in the end, aligning our will to Christ compels us to surrender the worst times and the most difficult political situations into the hands of the sovereign God.

(For more, see Chapter 23, God & Government by Chuck Colson.)

Blog-a-Book: Cooking up a Dilemma

Cyrano2 Act II of Cyrano could be entitled "Poetic Justice." All 11 scenes of the act take place in the bakery of Ragueneau, the cook and aspiring poet who wraps his pastries in sonnets he has written. He is preparing to host a gathering of fellow writers and daftly composing a new work in the midst of managing his bakers -- not unlike the handiwork of the rhyming, duelling Cyrano, whose recent exploits have already become legendary. Poetically (ahem), the bakery is the location of Cyrano's meeting with Roxane.

And as women are prone to do to men whom their beauty has captivated, Roxane punctures Cyrano's aura of confidence and suavity. Thus far, she seems to be the only one capable of doing so. The extent of our hero's swagger is brought fully to bear when he, while waiting for Roxane, confronts a musketeer who is flirting with Ragueneau's wife. The musketeer doesn't dare even offer up a quick verbal jab about Cyrano's nose.

Still, at least three times in this act is Cyrano left speechless on account -- directly or indirectly -- of his adored. When she enters the shop, Cyrano is prepared with a letter announcing his affections, and he draws some hope when Roxane thanks him for humiliating her would-be fiance. "So, madam, it was not my nose...that was behind our quarrel, but your fair features. Good."

Continue reading "Blog-a-Book: Cooking up a Dilemma" »

The Zen of ESPN

This month, on the Enervation & Stupidity Promotion Network's (ESPN) Baseball Tonight, they are "celebrating the top home [three] runs in the history of each current major league team."

They're about halfway through and so far it's amazing how many of those of those home runs just happened to be hit after August 17, 1979: the day ESPN first went on the air.

To be fair, ten of the thirty teams came into existence in 1969 or later. So it's likely that most of their most memorable dingers would have happened post 8/17/1979. That still leaves twenty franchises, sixteen of whom date from the turn of the twentieth century before the invention of radio, never mind television.

Even if you allow the Baltimore Orioles (formerly the St. Louis Browns) and the Twins (formerly the Washington Senators) to amend their birth certificates to 1953 and 1960, respectively, that still leaves 14 teams that are more than 100 years old. Surely, ESPN will take this combined 1500-plus years of history into account.

Alas, it seems the answer is "no."

Continue reading "The Zen of ESPN" »

Re: A God by any other name

Dave comments on Kristine's post about calling God "Allah":

I'm disappointed that the current poll running on this blog asks such a simplistic question regarding whether Christians should be willing to call God 'Allah'. It is as though some people think our English word 'God' is somehow His proper name.

It is no different than asking whether Christians should be willing to call God 'Dios' or 'Dieu' or 'Dio' or 'Gott' or 'Бог'  or 'Shangdi' or 'Shen'.

That's not exactly the issue (as another commenter, Paul, points out). We're not talking about language differences, but differences in the name and the person. It's like asking what you can call someone named "John." If he happens to be in Spain, it would be fine for people there to call him "Juan," the version of "John" with which they're most familiar. However, it wouldn't be okay for them to call him "Fred," because that's not his name.

Unfortunately, MSNBC, source of one of the stories we posted about this, doesn't seem to grasp the distinction at all.

Re: His Cheatin’ Heart


You know, I'd never had the desire to play Second Life until reading your post. Now, I'm thinking that I might need to give it a try. No, no ... not for something twisted like creating some cretinous virtual existence like Hoogestraat's.  But rather to create a completely different twisted, cretinous virtual existence.

I think I'll create a character -- let's call him Vike Mick, to pull something completely out of the air -- who will create a new gambling business: bad dog-owner fighting. I'm thinking something hip like Bad Ownaz Kennelz might be just the kind of name to give my "business" the street cred I secretly crave.

Roberto might want to get in on this action too. Heck, anyone who's had rotten experiences with bad dog owners (again, the dog isn't bad -- it's an animal -- the owner is the problem) might find this a hoot.

We can all meet in Second Life, set up some kennels, and stock them with bad dog owners (surely, Second Life isn't so namby-pamby that we can't actually kidnap people, right? Or surely there's a place in Second Life with a judicial system so perverse that it will sentence bad dog owners to dog owner fighting, right?). Then, we can make them fight each other to the ... well, maybe not the death.

Maybe just to tears. Whoever cries first loses. Ya diaper baby!!

Anyhow, all I'm saying is that I think I'm on to something here...

Family Matters

Family matters... at least to a majority of American teens. Surprised? If so, I'm sure you'll find a few other statistics from a recent poll by the Associated Press and MTV a bit of a surprise.

For instance, how about the finding that more than half of those surveyed reported that they thought religion and spirituality played a "very important part" of their lives, if not the "single most important part"?

Or that 92% voiced a desire to get married in the future?

And who would have thought that more than 40% would list a parent as their lifetime role model? This is just the beginning of some interesting findings straight from the minds of our 13-24 year olds. Check it out.

His Cheatin’ Heart

Hoogestraat_avatar Virtual communities are consuming marriages across the country. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, a Phoenix man has a fake “virtual wife,” while living with his real-life wife.

Despite protestations to the contrary, Ric Hoogestraat is committing long-distance adultery with a woman he spends more time chatting with than his real-life wife. To top it all off, Hoogestraat has committed virtual bigamy. Yuck.

Professor Edward Castronova says, “There’s a fuzziness that’s emerging between the virtual world and the real world.” Hooey—the virtual world is an escape from this wonderful, vibrant and some times pain-filled world into a soulless, dreary, software-based world where a person is god. Virtual reality scenarios like Hoogestraat's are really the start of a dehumanizing struggle for total freedom and control over our own natures. They are also a sign that fundamentally people are starting to deny God's creation. He created us as whole beings—body, mind and soul. We're matter and form, body and soul, finite and eternal, which means we're more, not less, than the sum-parts of our bodies. 

If a person like Hoogestraat denies reality and his real-life commitments, he runs the risk of being unable to distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake. Because of this type of subhuman reductionistic behavior, people treat others (real-life others) as implements or tools which ultimately can be used and discarded. 

It might be helpful to view Hoogestraat’s infidelity and bigamy from a biblical perspective. In Matthew 15: 18-20, Jesus says, "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts…adulteries, fornications…These are the things which defile the man.”

Continue reading "His Cheatin’ Heart" »

Colson interview revisited

The interview with Chuck Colson that was posted here in four sections is now up on the BreakPoint site as a complete article. Thanks again to Catherine and to Travis for their work on this!

How Do You Like the Scenery?

Cautionswerving2 I consider myself a safe driver. While I may not follow the rules “to a T" (I have had a few crazy experiences), I am in control of my car and prefer it that way. It’s hard for me to sit in the passenger seat and let someone else drive, especially when I’m not 100 percent confident that we’ll get back out in one piece!

When this happens to me (only occasionally), I find myself, sadly, not relaxing but instead pressing the floor as hard as I can with my foot in hopes that we will stop in time before hitting the car in front of us. I’ve been thinking about this lately. I need to relax more and trust that my friends know what they’re doing! They have been doing this just as long as me, if not longer!

I think this is just the same with God. The question is: Do I trust that God knows what He’s doing? More importantly, Does He know where He’s taking me?

The answer: Of course He does! But the question for me is will I let Him drive and take me to a destination that only He knows, and enjoy the scenery as we go?

Jen Marshall addresses this struggle.

Continue reading "How Do You Like the Scenery?" »

August 17, 2007

Friday ’Make Everybody (or at least me) Happy’ Music

Chambao It's Friday. That means it's time for a (large voice) Must Have Tune of the Week. Except, as much as I long to be like Allen Thornburgh, our musical tastes differ . . . by at least three astronomical units.

My choices have nothing to do with overcoming impulsiveness. My first "must have tune" is about overcoming inertia. It's "Pokito a Poko" (Little by Little, sort of) by the Spanish group Chambao. They call their music "Flamenco Chill." While there's not much "chill" in Pokito (that's more on display in "Sueno Y Muero"), you can definitely hear the "Flamenco" part in the voice of singer Maria del Mar Rodriguez, a.k.a., "la Mari." As she says, "I don’t sing flamenco, but I carry it inside and it comes out naturally in my music.”

My other "must have tune" is possibly the most subversive juxtaposition of music and lyrics ever: the original version of "First We Take Manhattan" by the great Leonard Cohen. The music is pure mindless '80s synth-pop; the lyrics are all a total savaging of the values and aesthetics of the decade that produced synth-pop. When the backup singers sing

I'd really like to live beside you, baby
I love your body and your spirit and your clothes
But you see that line there moving through the station?
I told you, I told you, told you, I was one of those

. . . the contempt practically drips out of the speakers. And of course, no Leonard Cohen song is complete without a religious allusion or two and "First We Take Manhattan" is no exception:

Ah you loved me as a loser, but now you're worried that I just might win
You know the way to stop me, but you don't have the discipline
How many nights I prayed for this, to let my work begin
First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin

Call it overcoming a different kind of inertia.

Sometimes nice guys DO finish first

Jimmy_stewart_stamp With all the conversations we've had about nice guys this week, I would be remiss not to point out that one of the iconic nice guys of our time had a stamp released in his honor today. (Yes, I picked mine up this morning. :-) )

Seeing the ubiquitous praises (watch out for bad language) for Superbad, I've been thinking of Jimmy Stewart lately for another reason as well. Every time we get yet another film or show with guys who are supposedly just so sweet and innocent and adorable trying to get a girl drunk to sleep with her, I hear Jimmy telling Katharine Hepburn (in his Oscar-winning Philadelphia Story role) why he didn't sleep with her: "You were extremely attractive . . . but you also were a little the worse, or better, for wine, and there are rules about that."

Jimmy, where are you? We need you, badly.

On the other hand, these conversations have also brought to mind another fictional nice guy who's so well-loved that he (that is, his real-life alter ego) keeps winning Emmys.

Continue reading "Sometimes nice guys DO finish first" »

As population dwindles, population control lobby marches on

The new documentary The 11th Hour, featuring Leonardo diCaprio as its main selling point, explores such topics as "mankind's place in the animal kingdom, the influence of religion on climate change and the nature of human greed." Also, it makes the case that "having found a way to live and produce food on our own schedules instead of nature's, we've exploded our numbers beyond what the Earth can bear." Sounds like someone forgot to inform Leo of a few inconvenient truths.

If you see this film, we'd like to hear your take. In the meantime, while we're on the subject of the environment, here's the results of our poll on global warming (thanks to Travis):

Continue reading "As population dwindles, population control lobby marches on" »

For the love of Allah?

Religious conversions in prison are not a new phenomenon. As Pat Nolan recently mentioned, it's the time when you're "sucking the carpet fibers" that you will most likely look for, and discover, God. And where else do you see such a large assortment of individuals down on their luck, humiliated, discouraged, disconnected... than in prison?

For prison officials, religious conversions often mark a positive turning point in an inmate's behavior. Suddenly the inmate has something to live for and devote their time to, instead of wallowing in directionless bordom. In addition, some religions promote healthy morals that inmates seek to follow -- all in all, a positive thing.

But there is a growing concern regarding the number of Islamic conversions taking place behind bars. Why? Well, there's always the perceived threat that first a convert to Islam, next a homegrown terrorist.
A recent report from the New York Police Dept. even defines prisons as "Radicalizing Cauldron[s]", and lists several examples of past terrorists who used their time in prison to convert and grow extensively in their knowledge of the Islamic faith.

One needn't look far in the world news to find other examples, such as Australia's recent crackdown on a major Islamic prison gang, or a first-hand tale of Muslim recruitment in a British prison, or of African-American recruitment at a youth facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

So are these examples cause for alarm? Not really. While it's true that the rate of Islamic conversions are up, this doesn't automatically mean that all are anxious to pursue a path of violence. As Chuck Colson has rightfully stated, only 10%-15% of Muslims participate in the violent Jihadist movement. So let's not panic quite yet.

But as Christians we SHOULD be evaluating why so many inmates find the Islamic faith appealing.

Continue reading "For the love of Allah?" »


Edwin Duterte, the creator of OneKeyAway, commented on my post about his service that lets singles determine their capability with others by completing a questionnaire and digitally encoding the answers in a necklace that, when worn in the proximity of someone else wearing one, shines green for capability and red for incompatibility.

According to Edwin, the news article I linked to contained some misquotes that he clarifies and expounds on in his comment.

The reporter asked me why I started the company and my response was that prior to starting my company I focused on career more than anything. Of course I had relationships, but I was career-minded and everything had to take a back seat.

I was a great businessman. I could make deals based on business matters. Then one day I figured that I'm 30 years old and wanted a relationship...many people now do the same thing. At that point you ask yourself:

How do I find a relationship. What do I do? How do I do that? Where do I go to meet?

Continue reading "Re: ZAPPING" »

Blog-a-Book: Amy Tan, rebellious Christian teen

Quill_pen OK, that entry title is a little misleading. I don't think Amy Tan is a Christian in the "born-again" sense that most of us here would understand, but her father was a Christian and she was raised in a Christian church. As she entered her teen years, she began to stray from the straight and narrow -- for example, reading "forbidden books, including Catcher in the Rye, which I had to buy twice because Christian family friends confiscated it from me."

When Tan got caught reading a book on sexuality, her mother enlisted the help of the pastor. Tan writes in The Opposite of Fate:

The minister, whose son had turned me down when I asked him to a Sadie Hawkins Day dance, came to our house to give me good counsel. He said, "If you can just be patient, if you can keep your virtue, one day, God willing" -- here he swept out his arms, envisioning the heavenly promise -- "hundreds of young men will be lined up around the block, waiting to ask you out!" And I thought to myself, Exactly what kind of fool does he take me for?

Besides the glaringly obvious question of why Christians who can't read Catcher in the Rye are going to dances, Tan's story is sadly familiar. In our rush to defend God, we sometimes twist the whole "all things work together for good" thing into a genie-in-a-bottle kind of Christianity. If you can just hold onto your virtue, God will bring you the perfect spouse, or a hundred boyfriends. It's too bad that Tan's skepticism led her away from the church, but she was right to assume there was something foolish about the pastor's statement, well-intentioned though it may have been.

Continue reading "Blog-a-Book: Amy Tan, rebellious Christian teen" »

Blog-a-Book: ’A Tale of Two Cities’ springs back to life

Two_cities As promised, Gina and I are taking over A Tale of Two Cities from Catherine and will be talking about some of the great themes in the book. One of the things that makes Dickens a genius as a writer is the way he takes a theme and weaves it through an entire book. The very first thing we know about Pip in Great Expectations is that he is an orphan, and it turns out that being alone in the world is a major theme in that novel. The opening scenes of Bleak House introduce us to the chancery court, a place that will symbolize the fruitlessness of hanging one's hopes on improbable dreams.

Likewise, A Tale of Two Cities opens with its own theme. The first section is titled "Recalled to Life," referring to the enigmatic message that informs a banker that one of his clients has been released from prison in France after years of captivity, years in which he had often been presumed dead. This restoration of life where none was thought to be found is one of the major themes of the book. Dickens builds on his theme in the early chapters by referring to the American Revolution, the birth of a new country, and of course his entire book is set in the French Revolution, from which would spring a new French republic where there had once been a monarchy. In the days of the revolution, it would have been difficult to imagine that anything lifelike could emerge from the carnage.

In chapter 5 of the first section, set several years before the French Revolution took hold, Dickens wrote of a cask of wine that breaks in the street, causing the starving Parisians to crawl in the dust to catch a few drops:

The wine was red wine, and had stained the ground on the narrow street in the suburb of Saint Antoine, in Paris, where it was spilled. It had stained many hands, too, and many faces, and many naked feet, and many wooden shoes. The hands of the man who sawed the wood left red marks on the billets; and the forehead of the woman who nursed her baby was stained with the stain of the old rag she wound about her head again [after using it to soak up some wine]. Those who had been greedy with the staves of the cask, had acquired a tigerish smear about the mouth; and one tall joker so besmirched, his head more out of a long squalid bag of a nightcap than in it, scrawled upon a wall with his finger dipped in muddy wine-lees--BLOOD.

The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there.

Continue reading "Blog-a-Book: ’A Tale of Two Cities’ springs back to life" »

Who wants to be burdened with a reeking corpse?

Matt comments, tongue-in-cheek, under Kim's post about calling God "Allah": "Well for the sake of democracy, shouldn't all Muslims start calling Allah God instead, since there are more Christians in the world than Muslims?"

Something tells me that might not work out so well.

August 16, 2007

What if Einstein were alive today?

Another one for the "What if so-and-so were living today?" ongoing series (which Chuck Colson draws on in today's BreakPoint commentary). You have to have a Times Select subscription to read the entire article, but here's the money quote:

If Einstein were around today, he would likely be scolded every other time he opened his metaphor-laden mouth for giving aid and comfort to the creationists.

The difference between this piece and previously quoted ones is that in this case, the writer is probably correct.

ZAPPING -- the answer to dating, looks, and compatibility

Since we're already talking about dating, relationships, looks, etc., here's one for you to think about:

A Los Angeles-based company called OneKeyAway is hoping to match singles by using newfangled technology that will indicate compatibility by a necklace they wear at parties. Guests complete questionnaires and the results are digitally transferred to a device they wear around their neck. When they get into proximity with someone whose data is compatible with theirs, the device flashes green. Not compatible? Red.

In a recent news article, Edwin Duterte said he started the company because at 5 feet tall he had trouble meeting women and wanted a way to emphasize compatibility over physical attraction.

Sounds sort of nice after our culture's over-emphasis on physical beauty. Yet he and other interviewees then go on to say:

"I didn’t have a clue how to meet people," said Duterte, 37, who moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago. "All the relationships I had took a back seat. When you’re so into work, you lose your skills."

Aida Diallo, an outgoing 33-year-old from Los Angeles, wouldn’t say she’s lost her people skills—just her time.

"Here’s the thing," said Diallo, sipping a cocktail and scouting the crowd at an upscale bar in downtown Los Angeles. "I have zero time to meet people but I want to be married at some point. I’m trying to meet someone interesting."

Continue reading "ZAPPING -- the answer to dating, looks, and compatibility" »

Re: Nice guys

Marty Gina and Lori,

These comments about whether or not romance between two good, kind, and faithful if imperfect people would be interesting or not remind me of the 1955 Academy Award-winning movie Marty, starring Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair as two lonely, plain, ordinary, everyday nice people in working class New York City who meet and fall in love, despite the pressures of supposedly well-meaning friends and family.

After resisting his friends' attempts to get him to dump her so he could have a "sure thing" with a beautiful "odd squirrel," and enduring the jabs and retorts of his family and friends about what a "dog" the girl is, Marty finally follows what he knows is right and says:

You don't like her. My mother don't like her. She's a dog. And I'm a fat, ugly man. Well, all I know is I had a good time last night. I'm gonna have a good time tonight. If we have enough good times together, I'm gonna get down on my knees. I'm gonna beg that girl to marry me. If we make a party on New Year's, I got a date for that party. You don't like her? That's too bad.

I love this movie, maybe because it hits a little too close to home, since more often than not I've seen the look of disappointment in the blind date's eye the second he lays eyes on me because I'm not physically the woman of his dreams (and you know what -- I'll bet she's not either once you take away the airbrushing, cosmetic surgery, and computer-enhanced features), and since there's "no chemistry" he immediatey dismisses me as nothing more than a "pal."

As I re-watched it again earlier this week, I had to wonder if a movie like this could even get made today, and if it did, how physically beautiful would the "ugly" people who portrayed them be? Even in 1955, while Ernest Borgnine was no Cary Grant, I wouldn't consider him a "fat, ugly man," and Betsy Blair (who at one time was married to Gene Kelly) was no dog.

Continue reading "Re: Nice guys" »

Why do nice guys have to finish last?

Eclipsecover Under my post on her Becoming Jane review, Lori commented,

- I don't think the moviemakers or most filmgoers even would notice the difference [between a good man and a bad one]. I mean, the figurative Darcy's and Wickham's in our minds are all confused these days. Sexual experience in itself is glorified, so at some level, the filmmakers assume we will honor Tom Lefroy in Becoming Jane for his rakeish-ness. (Is that a word, and am I speaking Austen gibberish?) [Ed. note: Sounds like a word to me! :-) --GRD]

- My other thought was exactly along the lines of what you posted, Gina -- is romance between two good, kind, and faithful if imperfect people not interesting? I think at first glance most people would say no. And I think at some level that was Austen's genius, making us see and feel the emotional upheavals, trauma, failures and even redemption in very normal, good lives.

You're right, Lori. That's exactly the kind of story many of us are starved for and can't easily find (outside of the classics, that is). And it's particularly galling when contemporary authors and filmmakers give us nothing but "bad boy" protagonists and then inform us that women don't like good guys. If they'd portray some once in a while, maybe some of us could have a chance to demonstrate that this always isn't true. As I've said here many times, don't believe every generalization you hear.

Candice Watters has a thought-provoking post along similar lines over at The Line, regarding the novel Eclipse and the increasing blurring of the line between good characters and bad:

Continue reading "Why do nice guys have to finish last?" »

A God by any other name

More on the topic of Kim's post below: This bishop from the Netherlands is encouraging Christians to start calling God "Allah" in the name of harmony and peace.

Tiny Muskens, the bishop of Breda, told the Dutch TV program "Network" Monday night he believes God doesn't mind what he is called, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported.

The Almighty is above such "discussion and bickering," he insisted.

Then again, Scripture does tell us that He is a jealous God. I know missionaries sometimes use "Allah" to refer to Jehovah God, but something about that just doesn't sit right with me. I don't see anyone in Scripture trying to be culturally relevant by saying, "Jehovah or Ba'al -- what's the difference? God doesn't care which name we use." In fact, we're told that God's name is very important to Him.

What do you all think? Is this a case of making the true God known through a different language or is it watering down Jehovah God to the least common denominator?

I Feel Like Vomiting

Goodness gracious, even some Roman Catholic Bishops are losing their staunch faith in the Trinity. Bishop Tiny Muskens is urging his parishioners to call God Allah for the sake of "tolerance."   

No room for middle ground

How's this for a loaded series of questions:

Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate?

So asks the website for For the Bible Tells Me So (thanks to our Centurions group for the link), a new documentary about "the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families -- including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson" and how they "handle the realization of having a gay child." As if the previous questions -- which ironically make the filmmakers seem more interested in widening a chasm than narrowing one -- weren't enough, the rest of the film's synopsis makes it quite clear that there is no room here for middle ground:

Dan Karslake's provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. As the film notes, most Christians live their lives today without feeling obliged to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath or eats shrimp (as a literal reading of scripture dictates).

There will be more here on the film (which Karslake says seems to have been triggered by "a divine force" that brought him together with his filmmaking partners), as I hope to be able to catch a screening or obtain a review copy at some point. If you're able to make it to a screening in your area, we'd like to hear your feedback as well.

August 15, 2007

Revenge Served Cold

Wrath_of_khan Ah, Kirk, my old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space.

~ Khan, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Khan personifies revenge, doesn't he? Imagine the damage someone like Khan could inflict with the help of the Internet and the latest twisted business idea. For as little as $20 a month, subscribers to this "revenge service" can wreak financial havoc on their enemies. Victims have their utilities shut off, their bank accounts closed, and their credit rating tanked out.

There is no shortage of evidence for the depravity of man today. There is nothing new in making money by victimizing others. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but for some reason, seeing "revenge packages" for sale disturbs me.


Fresh Take on the King

Elvis Elvis Presley is once again raised from the dead and is now seen on TV networks for the 30th anniversary of his death. I listen to Elvis a lot (so much that my 2-year-old daughter can now sing “Hound Dog” -- shameless admission), so I don’t mind the nightly features on him. The public is very familiar with the king of rock 'n' roll, so the challenge for any TV network is to present a new and fresh look at Elvis that viewers haven’t seen and will be interested to see.

This reminded me of the metaphor Christian author Rob Bell came up with when he saw an Elvis painting on velvet -- which happens to be the title of his book, Velvet Elvis. He says that we all need “a fresh take on Jesus.” It’s a call for a new way to live, explore, discuss, share and experience a new understanding of the Christian faith for today’s generation. To expand Christ’s territory and reach out to today’s people in creative and innovative ways traditional churches have failed to do, or cannot do.

I haven't read the book, but what comes to mind about Bell’s “fresh take on Jesus” or my own interpretation of velvet Elvis is similar to the mainstreaming of everything Christian, such as the emergent churches that meet at movie theaters or online, fashion-magazine-format Bibles, Jesus action figures and rap hymns. They say this is to reach a wider contemporary audience for Christ, but some say it trivializes what is sacred and divine, conforming it to the unholy world.

What's your fresh take on this?

Christians and culture: Where and how do we draw the line?

Under yesterday's post on Chris Rice, Ellen wrote in "to raise the question, is being culturally out of touch a double-edged sword?"

As a stay at home mom of two pre-schoolers, my husband and I allow very little of popular media and culture into our home. We don't own a TV and don't miss it, either. On the other hand, how do we stay informed without clogging our minds and those of our impressionable young children with junk [du jour]?

I'm glad to have found in The Point access to stories and concerns of the day and a forum in which to discuss them. Thanks for the input and the outlet. I'd love to discuss the issue of staying informed, engaged and in dialog with the wider, secular culture without selling out to that culture.

First of all, Ellen, welcome aboard, and thanks for both your compliments and the thoughtful questions that you brought up.

They're questions that I've often considered too. I admire people who minimize the presence of media in their lives. They stay away from an awful lot of muck. But then again, sometimes there are gems in that muck. So then one wonders, are the gems good enough and plenteous enough to be worth searching through the muck for? And if so, then as Ellen says, how do you keep the muck from contaminating you?

(Yesterday was Bad Pun Day; today I seem to have come down with Excessive Metaphoritis.)

Continue reading "Christians and culture: Where and how do we draw the line?" »

Jesus vs. Mr. Darcy

Darcy1 Thanks to Roberto's SoMA link, I ran across this fun little tongue-in-cheek piece with an idea for a Jane Austen book that would really attract some attention:

Then it hit me: “Jane Austen Meets Jesus.” A title combining two of the biggest selling names in publishing, along with a movie deal, just might be my $200-million-dollar-winning Powerball ticket.

Immediately, the book started to write itself. Here’s the story: Jane Austen travels back to first-century Palestine to see if Jesus measures up to Mr. Darcy, her paragon of manhood from “Pride and Prejudice.” Jesus may have been the savior of the world, but was he tall and noble, sweet-tempered and charming? And, true, Jesus may have known how to turn water into wine, but did he know, for instance, that when he met a lady in the street he was supposed to wait for her to bow before he tipped his hat to her?

Read and enjoy -- but keep in mind that Lori's book, exploring among other things Jane's commitment to Christ, is one that really does stand out from the Austen-mad crowd. :-)

More thoughts inspired by Austen (at least partly) to come . . .

Why Are So Many People in Prison?

That's the question that Glenn Loury, a presenter at the first Wilberforce Conference, tries to answer in Boston Review. You might not agree with his take. (I do. Then again, I agree with Loury the vast majority of the time.) Still, I strongly recommend the piece if, for no other reason, to get some perspective on how just how wasteful, in every possible way, our mass incarceration state has become.

According to a 2005 report of the International Centre for Prison Studies in London, the United States—with five percent of the world’s population—houses 25 percent of the world’s inmates. Our incarceration rate (714 per 100,000 residents) is almost 40 percent greater than those of our nearest competitors (the Bahamas, Belarus, and Russia). Other industrial democracies, even those with significant crime problems of their own, are much less punitive: our incarceration rate is 6.2 times that of Canada, 7.8 times that of France, and 12.3 times that of Japan. We have a corrections sector that employs more Americans than the combined work forces of General Motors, Ford, and Wal-Mart, the three largest corporate employers in the country, and we are spending some $200 billion annually on law enforcement and corrections at all levels of government, a fourfold increase (in constant dollars) over the past quarter century.     

Never before has a supposedly free country denied basic liberty to so many of its citizens. In December 2006, some 2.25 million persons were being held in the nearly 5,000 prisons and jails that are scattered across America’s urban and rural landscapes. One third of inmates in state prisons are violent criminals, convicted of homicide, rape, or robbery. But the other two thirds consist mainly of property and drug offenders. Inmates are disproportionately drawn from the most disadvantaged parts of society. On average, state inmates have fewer than 11 years of schooling. They are also vastly disproportionately black and brown.

In the comments to Ezra Klein's post on Loury's piece, a reader asks if "anyone [is] asking the candidates what they're going to do about that?" I'm glad he asked: A certain southern governor, who did better-than-expected in a recent political event, opposed a "three-strikes" law in his own state by saying that it was "the dumbest piece of public-policy legislation in a long time." He explained that "we don't have a massive crime problem; we have a massive drug problem. And you don't treat that by locking drug addicts up. We're putting away people we're mad at, instead of the people we're afraid of."

He's right, of course.

August 14, 2007

Re: Egregious Kiddie Lit

Gina, your post about the "doozies" of nineteenth-century kiddie lit gives me a chance to say (write) something I should have said (written) earlier: even though there's plenty to criticize about the way we treat (or mistreat) our kids, the past was no trip to Disney World, either.

Yes, between divorce, our porno-culture and absurd yuppie pressure, we are robbing many of our children of their innocence and even their childhoods. But we, thankfully, don't send our kids off to boarding school as soon as they can breathe on their own; we don't send them to work in boot-blacking factories before their voices change; and we don't feel free to beat the snot out of them for the slightest infraction.

This was the badly stated point of my earlier post: each era has its strengths and weaknesses. There are things we can learn and things we should reject. Nostalgia, with its selective account and descriptions, keeps us from doing that.

Can a Christian Be Gay, part 2

Under Regis's original "Can a Christian Be Gay?" -- which continues to collect comments even though it's scrolled off the homepage -- Brian comments, "I feel like I am being talked at, talked about, and talked over." I don't know that this was anyone's intention, but Brian, I'm sorry you feel that way, so let me try addressing some of your concerns directly if I can.

Here's the impasse we seem to have reached: The bloggers here, and I think the majority of the commenters, believe the Bible teaches that homosexual practice -- let me define that clearly, as a number of definitions have been tossed around and debated; I mean sexual relations between two members of the same gender -- is a sin. You have stated that you believe that the Bible teaches no such thing, and so any such belief is based simply on prejudice. Have I got this all correct so far?

Some time ago -- so long ago, I'm afraid, that to relocate the comment would take me more time than I have -- you provided your interpretation of the scriptural passages that most of us believe caution against the practice of homosexuality. To the best of my recollection, though, you gave no basis or background for this interpretation. If you would be willing to restate that interpretation and supply a basis for it, then perhaps we could start to move this conversation forward instead of constantly talking past each other. Thank you in advance.

’Peep of Day’ and other egregious kiddie lit

Good Lord. That's the book Marilla was planning to borrow from the minister to teach Anne about faith in Anne of Green Gables? I always thought The Peep of Day sounded so innocent!

But it's too true that some real doozies came out of the children's literature of that period. Don't even get me started on Elsie Dinsmore, who drove one reviewer -- and not a reviewer from our own irreverent age, but a reviewer in 1896 -- to write, "Better surely to kick a wilderness of babies than to wallow in self-righteousness like this!"

Regular or Extra Crispy?

One of my favorite religion/culture sites is SoMA. SoMA stands for the "Society of Mutual Autopsy." Autopsy as in "a seeing with one's own eyes." The journal takes its title from Kierkegaard's maxim that "all faith is autopsy."

A recent piece introduced readers to Favell Lee Mortimer. I'd never heard of her, either. Apparently, she was a very successful "Victorian children's writer." After reading the following snippet from her most successful book, The Peep of Day -- subtitled Or, a Series of the Earliest Religious Instruction the Infant Mind is Capable of Receiving -- I'm ecstatic that I grew up in the latter half of the twentieth century.

How kind of God it was to give you a body! I hope that your body will not get hurt... Will your bones break?--Yes, they would, if you were to fall down from a high place, or if a cart were to go over them . . .

How easy it would be to hurt your poor little body! If it were to fall into the fire, it would be burned up. If a great knife were run though your body, the blood would come out. If a great box were to fall on your head, your head would be crushed. If you were to fall out of the window, your neck would be broken. If you were not to eat some food for a few days, your little body would be very sick, your breath would stop, and you would grow cold, and you would soon be dead.

A long way from "Jesus Loves Me," no? Imagine someone said this to your four-year-old in Sunday School. Yikes!

Mortimer's travel books seem to say, "If God is no respecter of persons, why should I be?" Thus, she calls the Italians "ignorant and wicked," and says of the Swedes that "nothing useful is well done . . . The carpenters and the blacksmiths are very clumsy in their work." Almost needless to say, she doesn't think much of Jews, of whom she writes, "[Jews] try in every way to get money. It is they who keep all the inns--and wretched inns they are, because the Jews are very dirty."

Continue reading "Regular or Extra Crispy?" »

’Now and Not Yet’ Review

Nowandnotyetlarge I’ve been blogging off and on about Jennifer Marshall’s new book. Now my fellow intern Alyce and I have recently written a review on the book in a discussion format which is up on the BreakPoint website. If you’d like to read more about the book and get the dual perspective of two twenty-something women while being entertained with a lively discussion, click here!

Thanks, I think

I was glad to see that Chris Rice got a very complimentary mention in this week's Parade -- and tickled to see him called a "rising heartthrob" (way to go, Chris!). But a comparison to James Blunt? Oh, dear. Call me unsentimental, but "You're Beautiful" invariably makes me long to take a hatchet to the radio.

(Believe it or not, I almost wrote "a blunt instrument" before I caught myself. Ouch. BAD pun.)

Speaking of Chris Rice, for all of those waiting for my review of What a Heart Is Beating For -- I think that would be Beth -- I haven't forgotten about it. I've just been (a) mulling over what I want to say and (b) trying to find time to write it all down. I know we're just talking about a little blog review and not the make-or-break piece in the New York Times, but like most Chris Rice albums, this one provides ample food for thought, and I had to listen to it several times to try to figure out my feelings about it. Stay tuned -- okay, I give in, this is just meant to be Official Bad Pun Day and there's nothing I can do about it -- and I'll see what I can come up with in the next few days.

Okay, as long as we’re sharing dog pictures . . .

Shelties_christmas You just have to see my (cover your eyes, Roberto) babies, too. I'm so insanely jealous happy for you, Lori. Mine are all gone now and I miss them so much. Bess looks like a sweetie -- enjoy her!

How can you not love that face?

Bess I agree, Roberto, an out of control dog is a terrible thing. But seriously, they LOVE their owners, really! Okay, I'm biased. This is soon-to-be-mine Bess. And yes, she feels emotion. I'm sure of it.

August 13, 2007

Re: The Atomic Bomb (& Russell Kirk)

Being stuck in NYC last week (and what's so great about NYC?? give me DC anytime!), I missed last week's A-bomb dust-up on The Point. Coincidentally, though, while sulking in my hotel room, I read Ross Douthat's take down of Alan Wolfe's TNR "hatchet job on [Russell] Kirk" and this jumped out at me a bit:

Would that be the same Russell Kirk who feuded bitterly with Frank Meyer over what the Right ought to stand for, opening the first great schism in postwar conservatism? The same Russell Kirk who opposed, in the name of conservatism, half the pet causes of the actual-existing American Right, from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki down through the Cold War "garrison state" (his phrase) to the first Gulf War?

My question: Does anyone know where Kirk declares and explains his opposition to the WWII bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I'm very interested to read his argument, but Googling is not getting me anywhere.

I'll say this: One things that modern Christians and conservatives and Christian-conservatives have in common is that they frequently hold positions that are either unsupported by, or in actual opposition to, their declared philosophy, and do so in partnership with a majority who claim the same philosophy. So Kirk's opposition to "half the pet causes" of conservatives doesn't actually surprise me.

Though it does reassure me that I'm not (overly) crazy...

To be fair, atheists, liberals, followers of other religions ... everyone really ... does the same thing. It's simply the human condition. Few actively challenge their own intellectual consistency enough to discover whether or not their beliefs are preconceptions formed by feelings and conventional wisdom or convictions derived from first principles. And that's a shame.

What does an R rating add?

Superbad Besides the obvious, I mean.

Critic Erik Davis over at Cinematical is pretty sure it adds something. In "Monday Morning Poll: Is a Comedy Funnier When It's Rated R?" he explains:

Superbad is one of those extremely rare R-rated teen sex comedies that doesn't have an ounce of nudity anywhere in it. Instead, we have several references to sex, combined with more foul language than you know what to do with. But, like Jonah [Hill] and Michael Cera told me during our interview, this is how kids talk. This is how real teenagers act around each other. And like with the majority of Judd Apatow's films (whether he's a producer or director), it's funny because it's relatable. I had a conversation with a friend of mine last night, and Apatow's name came up. In my opinion, Apatow and his crew have achieved in two years (on the big screen) what Kevin Smith should have 10 years ago -- writing raunchy, relatable material (sprinkled with pop culture references) that caters to a wide audience.

There does seem to be a trend that way (witness the success of Knocked Up and other recent R-rated comedies mentioned in Davis's article), but is this the future of comedy -- and does it really make it funnier? I wonder. As you can see, I commented (twice) under Davis's piece that I can't imagine an R rating improving on my favorite comedies -- rather the reverse. The thing is, relatability is all very well, but I've always felt that restraint is an advantage as well -- in love stories, dramas, and yes, comedies too.

Just to help test that theory, I found a link to the Superbad trailer and determined to watch it as objectively as I possibly could. I won't provide the link, as the "age verification" system there is, to put it mildly, a bit lax. About, oh, twenty seconds in -- that would be about the point that a joke was made about child sexual abuse -- I experienced a strong revulsion and a desperate desire to turn it off, but I hung in there to the end. (I sincerely hope I heard that joke wrong, or it was out of context, but I think it would still be disturbing in any case.)

The verdict?

Continue reading "What does an R rating add?" »

’Christianity Sucks and Islam is Awesome?’

If you like your sarcasm a bit over-the-top (as I do), check out Doug Giles latest article, "Christianity Sucks and Islam is Awesome?" In the fine tradition of those 18th-century satirists Pope and Johnson, Giles takes the left to task for its grossly inaccurate views of Christianity and Islam. By contrast, Giles praises a new book by Robert Spencer called Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn't: "Bob shows those who can still be shown anything factual the massive and fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity.  They are not equal no matter how much the blah blah blatherers of political correctness purport them to be. Their beliefs are not similar, nor their practices, nor their means to spreading their message -- and to think otherwise, postmodern Pollyanna, could cost you your rear."

If nothing else, the article is worth viewing to see Giles' cartoon "The Secularist's Idea of a Terrorist." (That would be you and me, dear brothers and sisters in Christ!)

A Gay Christian: Overcoming the Lie

Under “Can a Christian be Gay,” reader Jan shares her concern over a gay brother-in-law. Her response brings up three significant issues: one, the recognition by homosexuals that whether their orientation is caused by nature or nurture, their behaviors and lifestyle are matters of choice; two, the fallacy that our private choices have no negative social consequences and, thus, are of no civil or moral concern; and three, the lengths to which some will go for affirmation, even to the point of contorting Scripture to make it approve what it plainly reproves.

My wife has a friend I'll call "Becky," who had been in a committed 12-year lesbian relationship. Immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Becky began noticing married couples with children and realizing, for the first time, how different the social design of man, woman and child was from her relationship. After a couple of sleepless nights she went to pastors in three different denominations to ask whether she should terminate the relationship. All three were shocked at her suggestion and counseled that it would be a mistake: the love for her partner "was a divine gift to be thankful for, not reject!"

Amazingly, that didn't square with Becky (who wasn't even a spiritual person at the time), so she decided to investigate what the Bible said about the matter. After borrowing a Bible from a friend, the first verse Becky read was 2 Timothy 4:3: "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."

Somehow Becky knew she had been told a great lie by, of all people, the clergy. That led to a scriptural study which confirmed her new suspicions about homosexuality: same-sex orientation was a distortion of God's original design, and homosexual behavior a sin.

Shortly thereafter she left her partner and began her Christian walk—a walk, I might add, that has not been without significant struggles and a few defeats, but that nonetheless has been marked by growing confidence in her true identity and increased ability to overcome the pull of the old lifestyle.

Funny Typo of the Day

Dear Point readers,Big_hair

While checking the Yahoo news reports for the local news of my home state, Minnesota, I ran across this lovely lead (which has since been fixed). While embarrassing, it may be funny, and perhaps partly true.

“Parts of Minnesota - already walloped by heavy rains and damaging winds over the weekend - could face large hair, tornadoes and flooding Monday afternoon and evening, the National Weather Service said [emphasis mine].”

Now, can you spot the problem?

I have to admit, I laughed out loud when I read this. Like I said . . . large hair might very well be a result of humid, wet, stormy weather, but trust me, as a journalist, there’s a big difference between large hair and large hail.

Spell-check, unfortunately, won’t catch this one, because “hair” is a word. One might wish spell-check understood context. Maybe that’s the wave of the future.


Yes, dogfighting is barbaric, but . . .

It needed to be said. Good for J. C. Watts (a longtime hero of mine) for saying it.