Monday, March 9, 2009

The Great Depression Laughs at Our So-Called Recession

Stories such as THIS make me laugh at all the doomsday news on the television, today. So it is as bad as the Great Depression, huh? Ask H.C. Stanley.

Really, we are such a nation of crybabies. I am not making light of the fact that things are tougher economically, but the simple fact is that even in the current recession we have it so good, here. The poorest of us think we have it bad if we only own two or three color televisions and one cell phone. What, no Tivo?

I think that it is time we grow a little bit of perspective, here. Most of us have had to reduce the number of luxuries that we have been accustomed to, but at least we are not standing in food lines or hunting for skunks to eat. We still have places to live that offer more shelter than a tin roof and some cardboard.

Heck, we gripe if we have to work 40 hours in a week. We can't imagine being open six or seven days at twelve hours a pop. We are spoiled, ungrateful, and in the glaring eyes of history, incredibly silly.

It is not that I don't want things to be prosperous, but we should really take stock of exactly what we have. It is incredible to see the bounty of resources. It is shocking to see how we selfishly squander them, and then cry foul when they aren't poured out of some heavenly coffer until we are drowning in the weight of our own gold.

Like I said . . . it is time for some perspective.

Friday, March 6, 2009

GI Joe, Media, And Violence . . .

Here is an interesting study that links cartoon violence with real-life aggression. Other insightful studies can be found Here, Here, and Here.

My four-year old is totally into G.I. Joe. I mean, the kid absolutely loves the toys. He has both the 3 1/2 inch figures, and about seven of the deluxe 12 inchers. His favorite is Duke, the Norwegian blond leader of the pack, who J refers to as G.I. Joe, himself. It doesn't matter how often I attempt to explain that G.I. Joe is a team, he just shakes his head, pitying my ignorance. For he knows that G.I. Joe is a real American hero, not a group of heroes.

Recently, I saw that the original cartoon was on Netflix. I decided to show J the G.I. Joe that I grew up with. There is something so geeky cool about watching your kids discover the nostalgic sweetness of something that really floated your boat as a child. Sharing in that moment of exploration and magic is akin to Doc Brown's Delorean time machine. For an instant, you see through their eyes.

Two things struck me as I watched the first episode of season 2 with my son. First of all, I remember the show being cheesy, but I didn't remember the animation being so terrible. Second of all, the show still had that annoying habit of making sure that it showed us that each of the pilots parachute out of their planes right before the missiles hit, and the only bad guys that truly are destroyed are the Cobra robots.

I remember being really upset by this, as a kid. It was a cheat. I knew, even back then that they had to show they guys surviving. There was some kind of morality code that they had to live up to. You couldn't show people being off-ed on a kid's cartoon (at least not until Optimus Prime died during the opening of The Transformers: The Movie). But this all got me thinking about the effect of violent media on my son.

I know the debate is long, and tedious. There are many who would rightly argue that violent media, alone, does not necessarily lead to violent behavior. But we now have a wealth of studies that conclusively show that violent content does contribute to the desensitization of a society towards violent behavior.

Media does have an effect on its culture and life does imitate art. When you take someone to a primal level, manipulating emotion and challenging values, you will effect the way they process information. It is called conditioning.

Is it the effect of a particular societal morality on an individual that then leads them to seek out violent media? Is there some moral genetic flaw that exists in those prone to aggression? We can argue over whether the chicken came before the egg. But what can not be argued is that media certainly influences behavior. All one has to do is go to the mall to see the illustration of the point.

After we finished watching G.I. Joe, J wanted to wrestle. He was Joe and I was Cobra. Was he a little extra aggressive, aiming at highly sensitive spots with greater ferocity? Maybe, just maybe . . . but it certainly made me think . . . and guard my sensitive spots . . .

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A bit of wisdom for you

I don't know who wrote this or what their belief system is, but I like it. It sums up a few of the major problems with the attitudes of Americans in this day and age.

What do you think? Is it wisdom, or just 'fancy talk'?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hey, I saw this Guy at the Arcade . . .

Have you seen this man:

If so, the Japanese police would like to speak with you. According to THIS article, the police in Japan have now resorted to the Wii in order to create this composite of a hit and run driver. That's right, they created a Mii of the guy and are using it to hunt him down.

Hmmmm. I'm not sure what to even say, here. I hope they catch this guy. He looks evil. At least he didn't look like this:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Please read me.

I think it’s pretty obvious to anybody who reads this blog that I’ve been on a spiritual journey recently. It all started back in July, so if you don’t know what I’m referring to, go read the archives. I’ll wait for you.

Everyone caught up now? Great.

Something drastic, crazy, and (dare I say it) revolutionary has been happening in my mind and I think it’s time to share it. It all started at Christmas…..

*****insert dream-like flashback sequence with jingling bells*****

Since Doc and I have been going through this whole ‘Counter Pop Culture’ paradigm shift at the same time, he helped my sister pick out a couple of books to get me for Christmas. When I opened up the package on Christmas Eve (there in my parents’ house in Wichita, Kansas), I didn’t know what to make of them.

Both books were non-fiction and were centered around the topic of modern Christianity. When we got back home, I put them in my “to read” stack (along with a couple of Orson Scott Card books, the new Codex Alera book from Jim Butcher, and a few others) and they sat there.

I read “Ender In Exile” by Card (a brilliant, wonderful book), which made me want to go read some of Card’s older stuff. Because of this, I continued to ignore my ‘to read’ stack.

But then I talked to Doc on the phone. “You know that book Devon got for you called ‘Pagan Christianity’?” he asked. “I bought it for myself too and I’ve been reading it. You have to read it. It’s very interesting.”

I wasn’t really in a non-fiction mood (Orson Scott Card writes such great fiction I didn’t want to stop reading it), but upon this advice I picked up the book.

Let me interrupt myself here and say something important: “Pagan Christianity” is a dense book. There are very few pages that have no footnotes, and some pages are more than half-way taken up by footnotes. Every other sentence requires a check at the bottom of the page for documentation, clarification, or simple expansion of the ideas being discussed.

This can be a pain at first, because it tends to interrupt the flow of thoughts a bit. But then after a while, it becomes comforting. Why? Because it is very clear that the authors did a ton of research before writing it. They are able to reference almost every statement because they have read the source material.

This is very important, because the book is controversial. VERY controversial. I’m just over half-way through it, and it has changed the way I perceive organized religion in our country. If there weren’t footnotes, quotes, and documentation throughout, I might be willing to dismiss some of the book’s points. But with the evidence right in front of me, I have no choice but to really weigh the evidence.

By this point you are probably confused. Is this a sequel to “The Da Vinci Code?” Is it a new translation of “The Satanic Bible?”

Nope. But the book calls into question every facet of modern Christianity that has bugged me for so long.

For example, why do we meet at church buildings? Is the idea of a church building, funded by members, Biblical?

Why do we have preachers/pastors? Is it a Biblical calling, or a man-made disaster?

Why are modern worship services structured the way they are? Why do we follow a ‘song, prayer, song, communion, song, sermon, song, prayer’ format?

Why do we get dressed up for church? Did the first-century Christians do this? (No.) Why do we? Is it possible that we do it for one reason, but it is perceived as another?

How come we sit silent in a pew while a preacher speaks, when it is clear from the Bible that the first-century church never did this? As it has been said (concerning the body of believers) “The preacher is God’s mouth, the rest of the congregation are His ears.” Is a preacher somehow ‘closer’ to God, therefore they know more? And since when did God make a division between clergy and laity?

What about the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ that is used these days? What happened to baptism? Why was it removed from tradition? Can the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ really bring effective change in a person’s life?

Why is tradition more important to modern Christians than Biblical truth? Why does nobody question what is ‘normal’ in 21st Century Christianity?

And perhaps most pressing on my mind – why are modern churches full of politics, theatrics, and grandstanding? Are modern churches so large that they’ve lost focus on what Christians are supposed to really be? Is it better to attend a church of 500 members and know a few of them, or to worship with a small group of believers on a regular basis and know all of them?

If you consider yourself a Christian, I urge you to read this book. I felt worried about the state of religion in our country before read it. Now I’m flat-out worried.

“But Dave,” you say, “Stop being paranoid. You always do this – focusing on the negative instead of the positive.”

That’s a New Age, worldly thing to say. Read “Pagan Christianity” then argue with me. I dare you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I couldn't help but post this nonsense...

I haven't posted on here in a few days, but this article lit a fire in my belly.

Read the quotes in the article. Look for substance. Look for facts. Look for REAL ways Obama has changed these people's lives...

It's not there. They all FEEL good. They all LIKE him as president. Yet he's done nothing at all.

I don't understand.

And look at the mess they left behind! Aren't most Obama supporters liberals? Don't they love Mother Earth and want to take care of our environment? Then where did all of that trash come from?


Friday, January 16, 2009

Being anti-gay is anti-American, huh?

This is seriously disappointing. I've always liked Tom Hanks. He's a good actor and seems like a nice, genuine person.

But now he said this and I've lost all respect for the man.

Seriously? Because I have a moral issue with a certain behavior, that makes me un-American? Nice tolerance, Tom.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Hey. Is anyone reading this blog? If you are, please make a comment in the comments section. I have been finding things to post, but have been feeling less-than-motivated recently. Knowing that someone is out there might kick my butt into gear again.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More evidence of media bias

Is it true that teens who take a virginity pledge are just as likely to have sex as teens who do not? Recent stories in the media have said so. They all quoted the same research article.

Unfortunately for them, they were seriously misinterpreting the data.

Read this article for more information. It's not surprising, but it is frustrating.

How odd...

Now that I'm only watching movies that are rated PG or G (with an occasional PG-13 like "The King of Kong"), it's often hard to find a good movie to watch in the theater. A look at the current new releases shows this:

Bedtime Stories - seen it
Marley & Me - not interested
Bolt - seen it
Madagascar 2 - seen it
Tale of Desperaux - sort of seen it

And that's about it. So with several 'family' movies coming out in the next two months, I'm actually kind of excited. I want to see "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" and "Hotel for Dogs" (with the kids, of course) and "Inkheart" and "The Pink Panther 2." It will be nice having so many films to choose from.

So how can this person have a completely opposite opinion?

It makes me wonder if I would have held the same opinion if I hadn't changed things back in July... Was I a film snob? Did I sound as arrogant and annoying as this person?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Two great links...

I don't have time to post full write-ups of these, as I'm busy at work. But you should read both of them and see what you think...

I think it's a bunch of mumbo-jumbo from people who are calling 'guesses' 'facts'.,2933,477084,00.html,2933,476207,00.html

Monday, January 5, 2009

Review: "Gold and the Sand" by Corey Crowder

Well, here's an interesting change of pace for Tooth and Nail.

As I've mentioned on this blog (and on my personal blog), I've been buying a lot of Tooth and Nail Records releases recently. I've found a treasure trove of good bands, and my faith in the label has been restored after several years of crappy releases in the late 90's/early 2000's.

When I saw a new artist named Corey Crowder listed as a member of the T&N family, I found his MySpace page and listened to a bit of his music. What I heard was, quite frankly, almost country music. It had a real folky, rocky sound at times, and other times it has harmonicas. Seriously.

But it's really good music, so I kept my eyes out for the new album and when the release date came... nothing. I checked several stores in the Portland area, but like a lot of smaller T&N releases, I couldn't find it anywhere.

So imagine my surprise when I found it at a Best Buy in Kansas while we were there for Christmas. Oregon is roughly zero miles from Washington (where T&N headquarters is) and Kansas is roughly 2,000 miles away. But they get the album and we don't? What gives?

Anyway, I spent a lot of time driving on that trip and this CD was my mainstay. The music is uplifting, but in a "Sweet Home Alabama" fun kind of way. It's not typical modern country music, nor is it old school hillbilly rock. In fact, when Doc heard it, he thought it sounded like Nickelback.

What the album IS is a great blend of different styles. They're all different from what I'm used to hearing, which makes them sound fresh and alive. Let's face it - there's only so much emo you can hear without it sounding repetitive.

If you're willing to try new genres or if you like Southern Rock/Country/Folk, I suggest giving the music a try. You just might like it as much as I do. ****Note: I'm listening to it as I type this.