Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Die Birtherism, Die

In honor of the one year anniversary...of my last's a tidbit that should shut up a lot of annoying criticism of our president.

Birtherism, the belief that President Obama wasn't born in the USA, has at last been debunked. Obama has managed to clear up a big controversy and give himself a popularity boost when he is in dire need of it. If only his budget weren't dire as well...

True Believers will never be satisfied, no matter what Obama does, but the fact remains that his presidency is legitimate. And, as Ed Morrissey puts it, "maybe we can focus on all the ways Obama is failing as President."

One can hope.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Ready for a real downer? A homeless man puts his life on the line to help a woman being assaulted. He is stabbed and collapses in his pursuit of the attacker. Dozens of passersby do just that - pass by - without even calling 911. The man was not reached in time and died for his efforts.

A bit more uplifting is the interview bit afterward. The psychologist tries to make sense of the situation, but naturally misses the most logical explanation. He mentions a couple of possibilities:

1. Passerby Effect
2. Deferral of Responsibility
3. Desensitization to Violence

But misses that the heart is desperately wicked. Who can know it?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Apple Releases Another Ridiculous Gadget

Many of Apple's devices have a lot of appeal. I admit that. In fact, I wouldn't mind owning an iPhone or iPod Touch some day when I'm independently wealthy. But this...this is just gimmicky. Let me count the reasons that iPad is not that great:
  • It's a weird size. It's not a laptop replacement, nor does it replace your iPod Touch (which, by the way, has similar screen space). It's more of a flashy, "Look what I can afford to buy from Apple" sort of device.
  • It's expensive. Only $499 my foot. Try $399 or $349, Apple.
  • It can't play flash or download programs that are not approved by Apple.
  • It has no specific purpose (that I've seen). Why should I buy it? (Besides "It's shiny and made by Apple," of course.)
  • And the list goes on.
I am sure there are numerous other features that I'll never know about. Then again, Apple has as much right as anyone to find a way to make some money as anyone. I still wish they had come up with something cooler.

Palette cleanser and clever analogy:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thinking About Poetry

During my time preparing to take the Literature in English GRE Subject Test in November 2009 (go here and here if you're hankering to study for this mammoth exam), I was forced to take time for poetry. True, I had read a few things here and there (some of Paradise Lost, for example) and I had had the good sense to write some poetry of my own (no comment on its general quality), but it was not until fall of last year was I forced to prove whether I believed poetry was as cool as I knew it was supposed to be.

It was.

While I still struggle to read enough poetry (I already struggle to read my Bible enough!), what I have read has enriched my mind.

Poetry, like asparagus and consumer math, is one of those things that you are supposed to enjoy, but don't particularly care for. "Let the literature people read poetry. I'll a fantasy novel." While there is nothing wrong with a good fantasy novel (like this one I just read), digesting such a volume barely scratches the surface of what you can glean from reading.

What is the place of poetry in the life of a believer?

As a Means of Glorifying God. This is probably the most obvious to anyone who has been in a church long enough to notice the pattern of communion services. "Of course it should glorify God," you say. "Everything should." Does this mean that all poetry written by believers should be sacred? Does every poem about my struggles need to end in a moralizing expression linked directly to a Bible verse? While there's nothing wrong with such an expression, I don't believe it to be necessary for a poem to explicitly glorify the Maker of Language for it to glorify Him at all.

We know that God is a God of order (I Corinthians 14:40). Shall the creations of our hearts and minds not reflect that order?

A greater poet than I put it well when he wrote
I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; prose—words in their best order; poetry—the best words in their best order.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Table Talk (July 12, 1827)
One of the things that makes poetry as beautiful, as strange, as enjoyable, as disturbing, or as powerful as it is—is order.

As a Mode of Human Expression. Though you may consider the highest form of human expression to be creating new software code, I politely disagree. Poetry, to me at least, speaks more directly to and of the human condition than anything I know. As plumbing as a novel can be, there is something special about poetry that elevates it to one of the highest positions of art possible. Even poetic satires seem better than many of their prose counterparts.

I recall listening to my church's youth pastor deliver a message from a Psalm (I forget which one) where the Psalmist did not turn the initial expressions of exasperation and despair into a concluding positive message. One of the points that my friend drew out of the passage was this: God values sincere human expression. It makes sense: God loves us and understands what we are going through. Jesus Christ lived 33 years as an earthbound human being, so He would know!
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. — Hebrews 4:15 (ESV)
As a Means of Expanding your Brain. Let's face it, not all poetry is easy to understand. In point of fact, most of it will not jump off the page and decry its meaning to you and any innocent bystander.

Aside from warding off premature senility, reading poetry improves your ability to express your mind—to think! Just like knitting and playing first-person shooters, thinking is an activity which, if neglected, becomes difficult to successfully pick up on a whim. The more you do of it, the better you become.

Simply because a poem takes effort to digest does not mean that it is not worth that effort.

So next time you are assigned Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens as required reading, don't grumble. You may be able to find something interesting in a poem written by one of those Poet Individuals. Even a poem that is particularly bad may provide some instruction (i.e. what not to do).

While I do not consider myself fully initiated into the ways of poetry consumption, I do believe that poetry is worth the time. For Christians poetry is a means of glorifying God, expressing human feelings, and expanding our brains. I still have much thinking to do on this matter before I can consider my ideas on this matter fully formed, but until then, I not planning on dropping the poetic ball. Or pen.

A Few Poetry Resources:
The Art and Craft of Poetry
Poetry Writing Tips

Friday, February 26, 2010

Reveling in the Simplicity of Reducing ObamaCare to Ridicule

Once you get past the vagueness of the bill, you are faced with financial disaster, as Republican Rep. Paul Ryan pointed out very effectively at the recent Bipartisan White House Summit:

I love that video.

For a few of the more humorous moments of the Summit, take a peak at the videos in this article. All I can say is, very smooth, Mr. President.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A New Definition of Homeschooling

Well, not technically, but discovering that a Philadelphia school actually gave out laptops with school-controlled webcams in them does make you wonder.
Blake Robbins and his 18-year-old sister both attend Harriton High School and were among the 2,300 students in the district to receive the Apple laptops. All students and their parents had to sign a “memorandum of understanding” to take the laptops home with wording that explained the rules and regulations that came along with the computers. The paperwork did not include the disclosure that the school district had the ability to remotely activate the embedded webcams at any time, without student’s permission.

Last November, Blake Robbins was called to the office by the vice principal to talk about what she called his “improper behavior” at home. Vice Principal Lindy Matsko allegedly cited as evidence a photograph taken with the computer’s webcam that had been activated in Blake’s bedroom. Robbins claims that the Matsko accused him of selling drugs when she saw him holding up what she believed to be pills. The 15-year-old says he was simply holding his favorite candy, “Mike And Ikes,” which are small oblong, chewy jelly beans.
Anyone for some real homeschooling?