Thursday, January 29, 2009

SOMETHING STIMULATING TO THINK ABOUT

If – in order to create harmony and work together with people you disagree with – you make concessions and compromise and the group still openly opposes your plan, why bother keeping continuing to compromise?

That's the question that we discussed tonight in the House of Jack referencing the Obama stimulus package. Democrats added in all kinds of corporate tax cuts and other things to appease Republicans and attempt to bring everyone together. The GOPers, on the other hand, voted 100 percent against the stimulus package. Okay, so they are opposed. I get that. What's the point of keeping those concessions in the bill if the Republicans are not going to compromise? It's an important question that democrats need to answer.

The word on the street is that Rush Limbaugh has stated that he hopes Obama will fail and that republicans should vote against everything. I hope that is not why the GOP voted unanimously against the bill.

I'm happy with the fact that the dems compromised and tried to include tax cuts that would appease the republicans. I think that's important. Now that they have refused to even come to the ball field, I'm not sure what the next move should be.

IF EVERYDAY ITEMS WERE DESIGNED BY MC ESCHER

Cracked.com has a really cool post where readers have contributed their own Escher-esque pictures. It's worth a gander cause it's a hoot. Look closely, some of these are tricky.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

THE TAX CUTS DID A LOT OF GOOD OVER THE LAST 8 YEARS

The Republicans in the House voted Obama's economic stimulus package down. No surprise. The argument is that there weren't enough tax cuts. We've had eight years of Bush tax cuts and all the while the economic situation has deteriorated into a quivering puddle of debt and dysfunction. How will those tax cuts help now when they didn't help before?

Talk amongst yourselves.

I JUST NEEDED SOME METAL


I'm sure you'll find this a bit weird, but I felt a bit restless tonight so I shuffled back to the computer to blog and surf and whatnot. I pilfered about the iTunes library trying to find the right thing when Metallica jumped out at me. Amazingly, metal is what I needed to … calm down?

I know, it doesn't make sense.

But it worked. I felt much better. It's been a while since I've had a hit of Metallica and I grooved while I played. Go figure.

Music is a technique I discovered years ago. I tend to get distracted, but when I close the door and crank the music and I can focus and work for hours – sometimes to the point that I completely ignore things going on around me.

Research studies support the use of music to help youngsters work and focus. I suppose that is a by-product of our current society. I listen to music when I drive, work, think and write. The only exception is math and reading. That's why I will use music in my classroom. No Metallica for the kiddies.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

BIG FAT ZERO

Much is made about all of the wonderful lesson a child learns when playing competitive sports. I'm not one to buy into all the nonsense as I see how those lessons influence our professional sports teams. So many of the sports headlines I find disappointing at best.

Despite that fact, I decided against posting anything about the Christian School that destroyed a small, private school (100-0) whose expertise is in disabilities. I just didn't have the heart.

That changed not 10 minutes ago when I read a story about the coach (Micah Grimes), who has since been fired. The coach's own words have compelled me to write. In a statement he allegedly published on flightbasketball.com, Grimes said the following, among other things:

"Although a wide-margin victory is never evidence of compassion, my girls played with honor and integrity and showed respect to Dallas Academy. We honor God, ourselves, and our families when we step on the court to compete."

I've often said that there is no such thing as a Christian politician. I am wondering if I need to add "coach" to that statement. No, I don't think so. But it does go to show you that just because someone claims Christ does not mean that there actions are Christian. How he thinks he honors God, his school or his team with such actions is beyond me.

I think the most angering part is that the coach is so arrogant about it all. Later in his statement, he claims he is leaving his job with integrity; he is mistaken.

The Christian school got it right when they posted strong remarks rebuking the behavior on their homepage. Humility and apology go a long way if you are willing to accept your mistakes.

Grimes does little to enhance sports or Christ.

WANTED


American Idol took a backseat for once. It helped that the daughter had a friend over to spend the night. So we didn't need to bother with family TV. The girls are hold up in daughter's room playing with toys. In went our Netflix copy of Wanted.

Fast and stylized, Wanted had just what an exhausted boy-brain needed to get away from it all albeit in a pulsating pool of blood, shrapnel and mind-bending bullets. There were plenty of heavy nods to the Wachoski brothers' Matrix trilogy with the thankful absence of Keanu Reeves.

Rotten Tomatoes had no rating on this movie, which surprised me, but IMDb gave it a 7 out of 10.

SNOW DAY MUSINGS

I've taken advantage of the snow days today (and tomorrow), typing my fingers to the nub. The daughter and I took a break to game on the Wii. That's good stuff on a cold wintery day. We also took the 6-pound Bichon-Yorkie mix for a walk around the block. He's got a red winter coat, but it was still cold. 

I'm tired of typing and working and thinking; I need a brain break. I have plans to watch Wanted tonight unless the wife and daughter veto that so they can watch American Idol. Talk about a brain break. Sheesh. That's okay, I don't mind. 

Sounds like the local blogging awards are coming up. Larry at Simple Thoughts created a Blogaroni site. You can learn all about it there. 

ISN'T THIS WHAT GOT US IN THIS MESS TO BEGIN WITH?

I'm not happy about Citi wanting to buy a French jet for $50 million. Aren't the banks supposed to be in dire straights? If memory serves Citi also used money to put their name on a ball park. This liberal is feeling like the pooch is getting screwed here. I wish they would put some regs on these financial institutions.

Judas Priest! I just can't bear it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

THINKING ABOUT THE RED CARPET NIGHT


I’m a bit of a Johnny-come-lately with the Oscars, but I haven’t noticed any other local blogger’s reporting, so I might as well have at it. This semester’s schedule puts a big damper on the daily blogging, which is fine and dandy with me. The education I am getting is invaluable.

Back to the Oscars … Heath Ledger took another posthumous nod for his role in The Dark Knight. He’s up against Josh Brolin, Milk; Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder; Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt; and Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road.

The only one of those films I’ve seen was Tropic Thunder. Downy did a nice job, but nothing compared to Ledger. Tropic Thunder wasn’t what I thought it would be; I expected it to be funnier, but it took a more serious tone toward the end.

Slumdog Millionaire seems to be this year’s cult favorite, garnering all kinds of attention. It’s been playing at our favorite indy theatre, The Moxie, for a while now. Unfortunately, we have not yet made it over there to see it (or any other flick at the new locale). I’m hoping this summer will allow me the time to go back to The Moxie.

Another film that has seen the spotlight is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which holds no interest for me. Seeing another – and likely less captivating – version of Forrest Gump does nothing for me and I don’t want to end up regretting another Oscar season filled with the winners like the Titanic. I’d prefer something different, better, more significant to take home the statuette.

My life doesn’t feel very glamorous right now and I would enjoy a break from the economy, war, corrupt governors, and vacant Senate seats. An evening of red carpets, flashy dresses that show a little leg and cleavage, and the best of film sounds just right. We look forward to the Academy Awards and our Oscar watch party, although this year may look more like a potluck dinner.

Click here for a list of the nominees
Click here for a printable ballot

Saturday, January 24, 2009

ALL EGGS ARE NOT EQUAL


Skinny Kitty and I bought some Eggland's Best eggs the other day, swapping them for our usual grocery store dozen. They were more expensive and I wondered if there could be a real difference in eggs.

There is … in color, taste and shell. The EB yolks are deeper in color, the shells are thicker and the taste is ... well you can taste these eggs. We've decided that better eggs are better for us and we are choosing the expensive eggs for our household. The EB egg container's are recyclable, too.

NEWS-LEADER ADDS LINKS TO VOICES SECTION

I took to the Intertubes this morning reading the Voices section of our local newspaper, when I came across some little linky-poos. That's right. Beneath each entry on the main Voice page were links to the article(s) that the writer was responding to. The same links also appeared in the sidebar of that actual stories.

Righteous!

I find it so helpful that the News-Leader adds those links so that we can read the original posts that spark such controversy – most of which centers around gay issues and religion.

A Rose to the News-Leader for providing the links and making their news more accessible and relevant. I wonder if this dude had anything to do with it?

The newspaper business is a cut throat industry. The stress is high, the workload difficult and it seems sometimes that no one is happy with your work. We did it for a while, but are much happier with our new chosen profession. I have sympathy for the folks who continue to plug away snapping photos, writing articles, and covering government meetings while the newsroom continues to cut positions.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

HOPE, CLASS, INTELLIGENCE: WHAT A DIFFERENCE AN ARTICULATE PRESIDENT MAKES

Class and intelligence. It is refreshing to have a President give hope to a nation. We have not had that as a people in so long. It is hope and faith that hold a nation together and the Obamas understand this better than most. With hope, we can make positive changes and make life better for all Americans. Right now things are not good for anyone.

I think back to Reagan asking us if we were better off now than we were four years ago. With two wars and a toilet for an economy I think we can all agree that we are much worse off than we were eight years ago.

No wonder the kids in the classroom noticed that Bush looked so sad as he left.

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS


"My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

"I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.

"At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

"Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

"These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

"In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

"For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

"Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction. This is the journey we continue today.

"We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed.

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.

"We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short.

"For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

"Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government. Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

"The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.

"And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

"Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please.

"Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

"We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

"We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

"As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.

"And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours.

"It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

"This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

"So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood.

"At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: "Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]." America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words.

"With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

Monday, January 19, 2009

HELPING STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN DEMOCRACY

If you are a teacher and you wish to help your students participate in tomorrow's historical inauguration, then click yourself right over to Librarianism Chronicles where you will find links to all day news coverage, facts, inauguration firsts, traditions, lesson plans and crafts.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

POETRY IN THE ELEMENTARY CLASSROOM


One of the goals for teachers is to make learning authentic and relevant to our students. The purpose of such is so they will engage in the process of learning because they understand why they should learn and value that education.

We will soon begin a unit on poetry and I can just see the boys roll their eyes as they envision classic rhymed poetry about blue pools of water, love, flowers and rainbows. The very thought makes me want to puke, too. Sure, we have plenty of great poetry by Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, both of which I own and use. It's great, but there is much more to poetry than that.

With coupons in hand, Skinny Kitty, daughter and I headed to Borders to see what we could see. They didn't have too much in the way of poetry, but I did find a great gem: Hip Hop Speaks to Children. This is a poetry anthology edited by Nikki Giovanni and features both the poetry and voices of many of today's great poets and rappers.

Talk about making poetry relevant to children, this book hits home how poetry can be valued and appreciated by the 21st Century student. I am excited to use it. There is some powerful stuff inside – deep emotions, complex thoughts. It's wonderful. The book also comes with a CD of many contemporary poets and hip hop artists reading their own works and the poems of others.

For your reading pleasure, I offer you one of the pieces from the book, which comes from rapper Tupac Shakur and is read by Nikki Giovanni on the accompanying CD.

THE ROSE THAT GREW FROM CONCRETE

Did u hear about the rose that grew from a crack
in the concrete
Proving nature's laws wrong it learned 2 walk
without having feet
Funny it seems but by keeping its dreams
it learned 2 breathe fresh air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else even cared!

Oh yeah, poetry is relevant to the contemporary student. For your information, it has long been accepted that "the normal rules of grammar do not apply in poetry".

TEACHING IS CRAZY HARD ON THE FEET

Teaching is rough work on the feet. The days of sitting behind a desk or podium and lecturing students are gone, long gone. These days the classroom is full of active learning on the part of the students and constant interaction and evaluation on the part of the teacher. While students are hard at work, we teacher-types roam the room ensuring that (1) learning is taking place, (2) that the students are grasping the concepts, (3) that the students are being properly challenged, and (4) the curriculum design is meeting the needs of the students while achieving the goals in the Grade Level Expectations (GLE) set forth by the State of Missouri.

Therefore, we do not sit unless it is lunch time. To be very honest, the amount of time I sit throughout the day (not counting lunch) is no more than 15 minutes, usually completed in 1- to 2-minute sessions. No kidding. That means the old feet are getting quite the workout throughout the day. Some of us need that much exercise (and more) so that is a very positive thing.

As sneakers are not allowed in my school, I am left wearing dress shoes and those are not conducive to standing on concrete all day. After one week of coming home with my dogs a yelling and whining, I decided something must be done. I sought out a pair of high quality shoes that teachers, nurses and doctors might wear.

I found a pair that are especially good for feet, knees and backs. If they work – and I've heard they work well from the one person that I know who owns them – then I will report back to you.

FYI: Things are going great. I am very happy and I am learning a lot from a great group of master teachers.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

SOME POSSIBLE MOVIES FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE

Jason Rohrblogger offers up his spicy political comedy with this Top Ten Movies About the Bush Administration. Very funny. My favs include:

6. National Lampoon's Summer Invasion
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Mindless Despot
12. Oil Reservoir Dogs

The list of alternatives is long and much too funny for one blog post. Be that as it may, enjoy your tribute to the pitiful and destructive Bush dynasty.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CREATE A HYPERLINK ALREADY

I don't get to read the newspaper everyday, but I do enjoy perusing the opinions page. Why, I don't know, as it seems it is nothing more than an anti-gay Sunday School class. Be that as it may, I still like to read it.

On any given day some opinion-holder is writing in response to someone's previous opinion letter. Unless you read it everyday, and what's the point of that when you have a scaled back paper and a skeleton crew of a newsroom? – you have no idea the references.

Anyway, if the paper spends all this time posting the articles online, why do they not create a hyperlink to the previous opinion letters to which the current writer speaks? It seems like the sensible and newsworthy thing to do.

Monday, January 12, 2009

THAT'S WHAT I CALL A RIGHTEOUS BITCH-SLAP

Boy, did I need this article today – a good raucous laugh before I start the semester. This Metcalf feller has a funny sense of humor and snaps a hearty white towel on the buttocks of the pious hypocrites that often write for As The Bible Turns section of the News-Leader.


SLUMMING, WRESTLING & A DARK KNIGHT

No doubt you've at least heard the Golden Globes were held last night. The film that was a huge hit at The Moxie, Springfield's indy theatre, was the big winner of the night. It's on the Netflix queue along with The Wrestler.

Good times or bad, we enjoy the Globes and the Oscars – especially the Oscars. Basking in high society is kinda fun for us poorer folks. At least that's so in our house, but Skinny Kitty and I have both been thespians at one time.

You can imagine my excitement to see Heath Ledger win, even if it is posthumously. That acting job was rad.

Did you notice that all the ladies were in gold last night and many of the men had the larger, butterfly bow ties. Interesting.

Click here to read this Yahoo story on the Globes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

NAILING UP OUR OWN 95 THESES

Blogger Chris Brewer is serving up piping hot plates of criticism and humble pie within two different posts of his regarding the church and it's missions. The posts along with the comments are an interesting read, perfect for the soul interested in philosophical church discussions.

The one thought that continues to permeate my mind, while reading it all, is the same one that I posted in his comments:

What would today's church look like had Martin Luther heeded much of the advice given to Chris in his blogs?

The big picture: Should Christians offer criticism of the way the church (read that as any church) conducts itself or should we stay our tongue? What is the role of the Christian? Did Jesus remain quiet when he saw wrongs in the church? We aren't Jesus either. What's a fella or lady to do?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

BURN AFTER READING


There's more to the blogging life than politics. That's what a friend of mine and I decided today during a quick chat among friends. He brought it up and I agreed. Sometimes you just have to write about something else. Blogging should be fun, enjoyable, a cathartic release; the personal blog should not be a chore and it should not be something you do to please others.

In that vein of pleasing myself first and the rest of you butt crackers later, I offer these thoughts about the flick Skinny Kitty and I just watched titled BURN AFTER READING.

Just one more fantastic film from the Cohen Bros. Man those two can flat make a film and they are always choosing different genres and styles. This one I thought was going to be more along the comedy line than it was. Don't get me wrong; it was funny, but more along the lines of a Cohen Brothers dark comedy.

The CIA super was funny as all get out. I liked J.K. Simmons when he was on Law and Order as well as when he played J. Jonah Jameson, the newspaper editor, in Spider-Man. Simmons is a great actor.

We needed that break, my wife and I. We have been busy lately and not seen too much of each other. In this, my last semester in graduate school, we will likely see much less of one another over the next 16 weeks. Netflix movies are one of the things that we can muster on a Saturday night. By that time I am too tired of homework and we can settle down to relax and just be in the room together.

As long as we've been married, sometimes just being near is all it takes to recharge and rejuvenate.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A HOME OF BOXES

Living green is catching on. Even this silly liberal finally joined the recycling world, purchasing curb-side recycling from our trash company. Of course this conservative did it long before we did. Shame on us.

KY3 has a story on Marti Montgomery who is building an energy efficient home in Webster County out of shipping containers. That's wicked cool. We learned of this from Aaron McGrath, another local blogger.

THE ARMY MIGHT BE ON TO SOMETHING

Open Education has a story, with accompanying MSNBC video, of the Army's new approach to recruitment. The $13 million Army Experience Center in A Philadelphia mall replaced five traditional recruitment stations and so far the single Center is bringing in the same numbers. How do they do it?

The new mall installation is the size of three basketball courts, with a Humvee and a Blackhawk simulators, and rows of video games. There is no hard-sell, no uniforms. The recruiters wear khaki pants with black polos, and they answer questions when asked.

As Thomas opines in his post, what would happen if educators used the same techniques and technologies to make the learning environment fun? Deep sea exploration simulations, real-life mathematics applications using engineering and architecture, re-enactments of historical events – the implications are vast and … engaging.

I support using technology to meet and exceed our educational standards required by the state. It works and the research supports it. Learning does not have to be painful. Perhaps if more children enjoyed learning and were able to connect it to real life, they might come to respect and appreciate education, even to the point of seeking it out on their own.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

OBAMA IN COMICS AGAIN


Larry has a fun comic post over on Simple Thoughts of a Complex Mind. If you like Obama or Spider-Man you might want to check it out. Our favorite arachnid is a smart feller indeed.

Here is the Newsarama story.

13 TZAMETI


I just wanted a freakishly cool French film noir, one in which I can imagine Hollywood remaking for an American audience. Reserved in its pace, dishearteningly quiet in its sound track, 13 TZAMETI is the story of a 22-year-old construction worker who accidentally gets thrown into the horrific gambling games of bored old men. Russian Roulette has nothing on this film.

Oh yes, it is subtitled and black and white, although it is not old and the DVD may have offered a dub. I didn't check. Not grotesque or blood-infused like so many Hollywood flicks, 13 TZAMETI is about the characters and the story. although it is plenty thrilling and hard boiled. You can read about it on wikipedia, but I would wait and read it after you've watched the DVD. Classic storytelling and psychological drama at its best.

Dang good rent from Netflix.

On IMdB
Official website

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A DANGLING PARTICIPLE & A MISPLACE COLON

A skiier found himself topsy turvy – dangling naked upside down with his tiwig and berries exposed – during a ski lift mishap last Thursday in Colorado. I so want to post one of the photos, but I shan't. My common decency won't let me. You can click here to see the story and photos from The Smoking Gun.

PITTLING

Today is a day of rest and relaxation I guess. I had plans to read, write, do some research on my thesis and prepare for my conference presentation. I've managed to write some blog posts, but that was not what I had in mind when I decided to write.

I find myself thinking about the upcoming semester and it's making it hard to keep focused on other priorities. So I'm goofing off. I guess that's okay. I am on vacation, but I find it hard to good when I should be working. I guess I don't find it hard enough.

WHO'S WATCHING THE WATCHMEN?


Two months from now the highly anticipated movie, based on the mucho celebrated graphic novel, will debut to what I suspect will be packed seats. Can you believe I've never read it? I don't even own it. And I call myself a comic book fan! I'm going to remedy that this week when I pick up my comics from Stu. He's got a nice hard bound edition in the store that I think I will nab.

Natch, I want to read WATCHMEN before the movie, which might be hard with my packed collegiate schedule this semester. I want to do it. A Jack operative sent us this nice trailer plus commentary. We will pass the link on to you, along with some other linky-poos that you might find interesting.

Official Watchmen Site
Watchmen on IMdB
Watchmen on Rotten Tomatoes

STUDIES SHOW ABSTINENCE-ONLY DOES NOT WORK

Open Education, a comprehensive educational issues website, just posted a story on the success of abstinence-only education in schools. According to the research studies cited, the program does not work too well, which is a shame, because abstinence is the only fool proof pregnancy and disease firewall.

If abstinence-only programs in school really worked, then good conservative Christian girls like Bristol Palin would not get pregnant. Even God-fearing, righteous teens have a sex drive and it gets the better of many of them. Unfortunately, it happens. Teen Palin’s circumstance is not isolated even among Christians.

The most disturbing and scary research study to me involved a promise. The study compared those who took the virginity pledge and those who did not. The rate of teens having sex was the same. But that’s not the biggie. The study found that those who took the virginity pledge were less likely to protect themselves (condoms and other birth control) when they did engage in sexual intercourse. Judas Priest!

I would suspect that many of the kids who took the virginity pledge were Christians. Furthermore, most probably had every intention of keeping their promise until they either (1) fell in love , (2) became so horny they just said “screw it”, (3) they became disillusioned and isolated thinking that everyone else was having sex but them (which is not accurate), or (4) perhaps they were brought up believing that masturbation was also a sin, and since they are doing that anyway they might as well do the real deed.

Whatever the reason, the results of the study may lead one to conclude that abstinence-only could actually be harmful if so many students are going to have unprotected sex.

I have two male teen cousins, both of which have had school-based puberty education. What both of them have taken away from the course is this: You will get STD’s from kissing so don’t do it. Scare tactics work for a while, but they are not long lasting and when students realize they have been duped, then the teenage mind justifies by saying everything they learned from that person or class is garbage. Not good.

I think it is important for teens to know that other teens lie about having sex. Not everyone who says they have done it actually have. They also need to know that abstinence is perfectly fine. I had several friends in my college fraternity that were virgins (and they were not gay). There is nothing wrong with that. However, kids need real information about how to protect themselves if they choose to engage in sexual contact.

That’s hard for a lot of conservative Christians to swallow because they think education equates to acceptance. If played correctly, parents can use that to their advantage by letting the school provide the information and the parents provide the religious guidance.

Links to this and the other studies are provided in the Open Education article.

Monday, January 05, 2009

BOY REPORTED MISSING AFTER 10 YEARS

Here's a doosie for you from CNN. Adam Herrman, 11 or 12, was last seen 10 years ago. He had a habit of running away and the last time his adoptive parents didn't bother to report it to police. He's still missing. He had been in their care, as a foster child, since the age of 2.

Was he 11 or 12? Why are they confused about this? That's weird.


STUART SMALLEY IN THE US SENATE?


After months of recounts of 2.4 million ballots in Minnesota, government officials are set to declare Al Franken the winner. Of course Republicans have promised exhaustive legal battles to draw it all out. After W's legal wrangling and stealing of his first presidential election, I don't blame the repugs for fighting. Voter disenfranchisement does occur and the libs aren't any better. That's because there's no such thing as a Christian politican. When it comes to politics it is a win-at-all-costs game.

Heretofore, when a voting debacle has gone this long and the government finally makes a determination after countless recounts, the courts usually turn a deaf ear to the rantings and ravings of the losing side, even if the losing side has a valid case. Having a vacant seat is not good, especially considering our problems. I doubt Norm Coleman's objections will have any impact, but you never know.

Still, cracks me up that Stuart Smalley might end up in the Senate.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

CROCK POT CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

And not the nasty noodle-style trash that some call “dumplings”, but the traditional southern-style drop dumplings. Oh yeah, Titans, that is some good stuff. I made a bang-up batch of the stuff and we were well pleased. I didn’t bother with a picture but I am going to share the recipe for you good readers.


INGREDIENTS
6 preservative-free, antibiotic-free, boneless skinless chicken breasts
Nature’s Seasonings (found in the spice aisle)
1 box organic, free-range, low sodium chicken broth
1 package frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups water
2 cans cream of chicken soup (optional)
2 pouches Shawnee Mills biscuit mix


PROCEDURE
Cover chicken breasts in Nature’s Seasoning then place in large elongated crock pot. Cover with chicken broth and water. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

Remove breasts and shred the meat, then put back in pot. Add frozen vegetables and 2 cans of cream of chicken (optional). The cream of chicken makes it creamy and thick. If you prefer a more brothy batch, then leave it out. It’s great either way. Cover and turn on High.

In a mixing bowl make up the biscuit mix according to the directions. It’s easy, you just add water and mix. Then add the dumplings by spoonfuls into the borth. Recover and leave on High. Cook for one hour or until the dumplings are cooked through.

Cooking the dumplings in the crock pot ensures they are all fluffy and tender.

Dang it is good stuff and reminds me of my grandmother (recently deceased) and my mother. The veggies and cream of chicken are my addition to the recipe. They use fryer chickens, but that adds too much fat to the recipe so I opt for boneless skinless breasts.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

USING SHAZAM! TO TEACH CHRISTIANITY


I finished reading the first three issues of Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! yesterday and was impressed with the depth of which the title can be used. While a passing glance at DC’s Captain Marvel may give the appearance of the characters as a mere reflection of the Superman archetype, even a quick read puts this stereotype to the gallows.

A Quick Synopsis
Billy Batson is an orphan boy living on the streets. He is a good kid and it is his strength of character and resilience that catches the eye of the wizard, Shazam, who promptly leads Billy to the wizards lair atop his glorious mountain. There the wizards introduces the magic of his name to the boy, enabling Billy to merely utter the name and transform into the physically powerful and emotionally childlike Captain Marvel.

Once given the powerful secret of Shazam, Billy finds his long lost orphaned sister, who is also given the secret. Together they fight against the evils of the world.


And How is This Christian, Exactly?
BILLY BATSON AND THE MAGIC OF SHAZAM is an allegory to Christianity. The hands-off, and very intelligent wizard represents God, and the incarnation of Captain Marvel stands as the Christ figure. In their childhood forms, Billy and Mary are representative of the chosen apostles or perhaps the ordinary person who does extraordinary things while still struggling against a harsh world.

Captain Marvel is specifically drawn to fight against Black Adam, the wizard’s first prodigy who fell from grace and now commands the powers of the seven deadly evils (pride, greed, selfishness, laziness, hatred, envy and injustice). He represents, in a very real way, our Satan character.

Just like THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA use Christian themes to tell their stories, BILLY BATSON AND THE MAGIC OF SHAZAM does the same. Unlike many religious titles and comic books, SHAZAM is not trite or heavy-handed. Author/illustrator, Mike Kunkel, allows the characters to drive the story. It’s a great read, one of Johnny DC’s (DC Comics’ kid imprint) top titles.

For those kids wanting a solid superhero story, an engaging good-versus-evil tale, a way to experience a great adventure through the eyes of a child hero, this is it. For those who want to enhance their own Christian beliefs using quality literature then there is story aplenty to explore, although it is not necessary to apply those religious connections to enjoy the story. It stands on it’s own merits.

Click here to view the preview at Newsarama.

Thursday, January 01, 2009