Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Random Thoughts 1/31/12

  • Sorry for not blogging much recently.  It's been really busy…
  • The men's retreat at Mission Lake Christian Camp is this Friday and Saturday (6pm to Noon Saturday).  It's only $25 and Shannon is cooking!  Please let me know if you'll be there, ASAP.
  • I haven't watched Saturday Night Live in years but it's noteworthy that Kansas City native Jason Sudeikis is leaving the show after seven years.  Congrats.
  • My tolerance of Newt Gingrich is waning day by day.  I just don't trust him; he might be a good president but oozes a scumbag-vibe that I can't ignore; President Obama is going to look a thousand times more appealing than Newt.  I think he can articulate conservative principles better than anyone else but I don't believe that he actual is a conservative.  I think he's a political animal first and foremost… just like Romney telling Massachusetts voters whatever they wanted to hear.  Yuck.  Why can't more people get behind Santorum?
  • Coal-powered cars?  That's what everybody is calling green these days.  Read this brief article here.
  • Ok, so did you see the "We are Mizzou" music video?  Go ahead and watch it here, I'll wait.  Kind of weird, huh?  Strangely fixated on Kansas for a school that has supposedly moved on.  Anyway, check out this video response from KU which seems to nail the definition of satire exactly (the MU video description says "few can grasp satire" even though the video doesn't seem to be satirical).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Random Thoughts 1/26/12

  • According to a recent poll, one in five German young people don't know that Auschwitz was a Nazi death camp.
  • Television is awash in bad ideas but this one just screams train wreck.  "The Office" is going to spin off a new show called "Schrute Farms" about Dwight Schrute and his bizarre family.  I've always been a fan of "The Office"'s quirky humor and Dwight is central to that… but I can't imagine how this show could revolve around a character that's not very sympathetic.  The early comparisons are to "Cheers" and its spinoff "Frazier" but Kelsey Grammar's character was lovable, not creepy.
  • "I go to church but I don't let it affect me!"  46% of people in a recent Barna survey reported that attending church in their past has had no affect on their lives.  Wow!  Granted, the "attended in the past" group might include a broad swath of folks who never really gave Christianity a chance.  But in the same survey, 61% can't remember any insight gained from their last church experience, which may speak volumes about the lack of teaching in many churches.  It may also show that many people don't seize the opportunity to grow in by studying and learning.
  • Last week I challenged our board members to list three people they could invite to church.  You give me the list within one week or I'll come asking for it (the due date is today!).  Then we both pray for each of the people and sit down and discuss each person: why they don't already go to church, how we can best minister to them, whether I can help directly or indirectly.  
  • Here are 40 shortcuts and tips for you iPhone.
  • We are NOT having a Super Bowl party at the church this year.  We have for several years in a row and probably will most years in the future, but not every year.  This is one of those years.
  • I'd vote for almost anybody over Obama, but Newt Gingrich gives me the creeps.  I think he has done a better job than most of articulating conservatism, but that doesn't necessarily make him a true conservative.  In fact, he comes off to me as a purely political animal who will adapt to any niche that will have him.  I want to give him the benefit of the doubt (he reportedly is a newly repentant convert to Catholicism), but it's hard to trust someone who oozes manipulation.  I heard someone say today what I've been thinking for awhile:  he's a Republican Bill Clinton without the charm.  That might still make for an effective president… but, ewwww.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ten Misconceptions

Here's a great little educational video.  I love this stuff: common sense, facts, and humor.

Warning: the video contains one mild expletive.  And yes, it is a bad word in spite of the number of people saying the word in front of their preacher in the last year or so. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yeah, We've All Been There

So surely by now you've seen the spoken word performance, "Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus." But just in case you've been under a rock for the last week, here it is:

First, let me say there's some good stuff in there.  I think when I was younger I said a lot of similar things from the pulpit, but without rhythm. 

Second, the young man here sounds like every 19-year-old Bible college student I've ever known, who is super passionate, has had a semester of Church History, and thinks church will be so much better when he or she is in charge instead of the "frozen chosen."  Human hypocrisy and apathy are infuriating but sometimes the most self-righteous people are young, passionate Christians who throw out the baby with the bath water when it comes to structure and tradition.  As others have pointed out, American churches today probably have a bigger problem with a few cooler-than-thou 30-year-old hipsters, than with all the 60-year-old traditional Republicans, because it's the younger, disaffected group that's abandoning absolute truth and using fuzzy definitions.

I can't possibly say any of this better than Kevin DeYoung,

"People love Oprah and The Shack and ‘spiritual, not religious’ bumper stickers because the mood of our country is one that wants God without the strictures that come with traditional Christianity. We love the Jesus that hates religion.

"But the only problem was that Jesus did not hate religion.  He was a Jew, went to services at the synagogue, observed Jewish holy days, did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them, founded the church, established church discipline, instituted a ritual meal, told his disciples to baptize people and to teach others to obey everything he commanded, and insisted that people believe in him and believe certain things about him."

Read DeYoung's firm but gentle critique here[Highly recommended]

DeYoung has been corresponding with the young man from the video and it seems that he's had some positive affect on the young man.  Like all of us, we need a mentor to balance us out when our zeal outpaces our wisdom.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


We need to strike a balance here but this isn't it.

I want to protect copyrighted information.  If I create something, I don't want my work stolen so that someone else can money off of it or so that I can't.  But at the same time we already have many laws in place to protect intellectual property.  The SOPA legislation (Stop Online Piracy Act) is just a ridiculous power grab by Hollywood that will go down in history alongside the attempt to ban VCR's and MP3 players.

This law could force facebook to censor the video of your kid's birthday party because you sang "Happy Birthday" or get bloggers like me sued for linking to a video that contains a pop song.  And that would be the first step…

If you're illegally downloading a Hollywood movie online… it's already illegal and you should stop.  If you're stealing music online, it's already illegal and you should stop.  But SOPA won't prevent these things, it'll just shut down YouTube and blogs where these things might happen.

Watch this informational video:

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Random Thoughts 1/17/12

  • The Kansas-Baylor game last night was incredible!  This is supposedly a "down year" and yet KU absolutely handled a top-5 conference opponent.  That's some incredible coaching by Coach Self.  I also noted on Facebook that the real story of the evening was the new haircuts of formerly shaggy players Connor Teahan and Jeff Withey.  They both look like they're ready for job interviews now.
  • Speaking of job interviews and Jeff Withey, the 7-footer had probably his best game in a Kansas uniform against top talent and in front of almost two-dozen NBA scouts.  That has to help him.
  • Speaking further of job interviews, here's one of the best articles I've ever read about what is looked for in a job interview.  This is must read for job searchers (and HR types too).
  • Veteran talk radio host Mike Shanin is stepping down from his daily radio show "Shanin and Parks" on 980 KMBZ.  He'll become the business editor for the station and do political commentary while his role as co-host will go to KCTV investigative reporter Dana Wright.  I've always liked Shanin but the only thing I know about Wright is that she has four kids and is a huge Jayhawk fan.  That's a good start I suppose.
  • Will the show be called "Parks and Wright" or "Left and Wright"?  Scott Parks is the resident RINO on 980.
  • According to the latest Gallup poll, Americans self-identify as middle-right.  40% call themselves conservatives, 35% call themselves moderate, and only 21% call themselves liberal.  Also of note is that 76% of Independents are also middle-right.
  • Surely Rick Perry cannot possibly be as dim-witted as he appears.  I'd like to like Perry but I can't get over how frequently he seems unable to recall correct information.  There are times he seems be unaware that he's getting a word wrong as he parrots someone else's talking point.  It's embarrassing.  Add that to his uncanny resemblance to George W. Bush, in his mannerisms and accent, and I'm just not sure why Perry's even in the race.
  • Whenever Newt Gingrich bothers to think, act, or speak like a conservative, he's the best spokesman for conservatism since Ronald Reagan.  I'm thinking he's at 100% about 60% of the time.  It's too bad that his ego, his arrogance, and his anger seem to get in the way the rest of the time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's a Tiara!!!

This was the funniest and most adorable moment on TV last week.  From the show "Big Bang Theory," it's the scene where Sheldon buys a gift for his fellow nerd and girlfriend, Amy.


The Amy-character, basically the female version of Sheldon, is quickly becoming one of the best characters on the show and this was probably our favorite Amy-moment so far.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Random Thoughts 1/12/12

  • Congrats to Bill Self on his 250th win at Kansas or about twenty-nine and a half wins per season over the last eight-plus years.  Overall, he’s 457-154 in 19 seasons at KU, Illinois, Tulsa and Oral Roberts.  [Thanks, KUsports.com]
  • 17º and blowing outside at noon.  Yup, there's the winter we've been missing. 
  • We planned to smoke some ribs today.  When we planned it, the temperature was about 60º.  That has a week ago…  My wife is going to be a frozen popsicle when I get home.
  • How serious is the organized crime, drug-cartel problem in Mexico?  47,515 people have died in the drug war there in just five years.
  • Had my blood pressure taken this morning and it was 110/70.  The nurse took it three times, looked at me and said, "must be because you're at home."  Actually, in spite of my weight and stress levels, I've almost always had pretty decent blood pressure, usually 120/80.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Random Thoughts 1/10/12

  • Here's a great short documentary (about 20 minutes) about a North Carolina barbershop where people play bluegrass music in the back room.  Absolutely fascinating… and the music is great too.  It's called "Pickin' and Trimmin.'"
  • The BCS is broken.  It's been broken.  It needs fixed.  Now.
  • I say start with an 8-team playoff system, in almost any format, but I'd settle for four, knowing that it'll eventually expand.
  • This is the funniest Doritos commercial I've seen in years.
  • We've had a very mild La Niña winter so far (no coat today!) but if it's going to get cold, it should at least have the common courtesy to snow.
  • iPhone touch screens do not like Puffs Plus tissues with lotion in them.  Just so you know…
  • The church camp has a board meeting tonight.  I hate driving to these things (2-3 hours round trip depending on where it is) but I love the camp and really enjoy seeing the other board members.

Five Musicians, One Guitar

Here's a great little music video where five people play one guitar simultaneously.  I bet you've never seen that before.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Random Thoughts 1/7/12

  • Well, last year's calendar ran out… so I got a new one.  I guess that puts me one up on the Mayans.
  • Sweden recently recognized copy-and-paste (like on your computer) as an official religion.  Seriously.  There's a group there that's formed a church around the idea of the free-exchange of information being sacred.  So they hold all information sharing as something holy.  I wonder if they will freely share their own bank account information or if their religion only extends to other people's information, privacy, and copyrighted material?
  • We had a great prayer meeting for missions this morning.  Our church prays for our missionaries, in detail, every month.  We also give 20% off the top to missions, which for a small church is significant figure.
  • Facebook and other social media is listed as evidence in one-third of U.K. divorces and one-fifth of divorces here in the U.S.  Primarily, it seems to be the place that the lawyers dig up dirt on you, finding what you've done and where you've been, especially as reported by friends.  But I'm guessing some of the reasons behind the divorce in the first place might be found there as well.
  • It's being reported that the Colts owner will definitely draft Andrew Luck to be Peyton Manning's backup.  Is that an embarrassment of riches or too many eggs in one basket (and chefs in the kitchen)?
  • K-State slapped down what has been a very good Mizzou basketball team today.  Congrats, Wildcats!

Entertainment in 2011

Here's a sample of the entertainment I enjoyed in 2011:

Films & Television

  • Best Films I saw in 2011:   My favorite film, largely because of the subject matter, was The King's Speech (2010), which I saw early in the year and absolutely loved on so many levels.  Close contenders included True Grit (2010), The Social Network (2010), The Town (2010), The Fighter (2010), Winter's Bone (2010), 127 Hours (2010), Super 8 (2011), and Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011).  This was good year for tough, difficult subject matter in the hands of excellent actors (or James Franco).
  • Good Films I saw in 2011:  X-Men: First Class (2011), Tangled (2010), the perfectly-executed, no-CG The Muppets (2011), Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) which I liked as much as the first one, and Captain America (2011). 
  • Classic movies:  After finishing the AFI's Top-100 and avidly watching Turner Classic movies, I can't say that in 2011 I saw a classic film, for the first time, that's worth mentioning.  But you never know what long-lost gem you might uncover.
  • The Worst Film I Saw in 2011:  Cars 2 (2010) - Really Pixar?  You let this get out the door?  Really?!  Granted, Cars 2 suffers by comparison to other Pixar greats but this film deserves to be panned for being the first shameless money-grabbing merchandizing effort from the studio.  Dis-honorable mention: the overrated Black Swan (2010), the boring Elizabeth the Golden Age (2007), and the brain dead, banal, and unnecessarily crass Transformers 3 (2010).
  • Films I didn't expect to see or like in 2011 but really did:  There was some surprisingly good sci-fi in Source Code (2011) and Knight and Day (2010) was much more fun than I had been told.  Just behind these two was The Adjustment Bureau (2011) and Limitless (2011) which were both interesting little stories.  Honorable mention goes to the well-crafted Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), the well-acted Adventureland (2009), and animated underdogs Despicable Me (2010) and Megamind (2010).
  • Great Documentaries I saw in 2011: Gallipoli (2005), 30 for 30: Run Ricky Run (2010), Ken Burns' Prohibition (2011), and Al Pacino's Looking for Richard (1996), which was the best treatment of Shakespeare I've seen on film.  One other that I reluctantly add to the list is The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (2009).  There's nothing wonderful at all about following around a drug-addled welfare family but it is a tragically interesting tale when you can bear to watch it.
  • Films I wanted to see but didn't: War Horse, Hugo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tree of Life, and The Troll Hunter.
  • Best television shows in 2011:  It was an odd year in which not a single episode of the BBC's "Sherlock," or AMC's "Mad Men" aired but there was still a lot of great shows to watch.  We went to the library and, starting with the first episode, caught up on both "How I Met Your Mother" and "House."  Both became favorites of ours.  Others include:  "Big Bang Theory," "Castle," "Community," "Dirty Jobs," "Top Shot," "American Pickers," "American Restoration," "Pawn Stars," "Parks and Recreation," "Grimm," and "The Walking Dead."

Books, Games, & Miscellaneous
  • Best fiction I read in 2011:  I continued my pursuit of all things Sherlock Holmes with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1891), The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893), and The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (1904).  I read these on my iPhone where I can instantly access a dictionary and wikipedia to help with some of the unknown turn-of-the-century British vocabulary.  I also enjoyed Anthem by Ayn Rand (1937) and Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville (1853).
  • Best non-fiction I read in 2011:  Reading non-fiction is kind of what I do for a living, but here's a few extra-curricular non-fiction pieces:  On Loving God by Bernard of Clairvoux (1130), Radical by David Platt (2010), Radical Together (2011) by David Platt, Do the Work by Steven Pressfield (2011), Four Weeks in the Trenches: The War Story of a Violinist by Fritz Kreisler (1915), Write Good or Die edited by Scott Nicholson (2010), and The Great Dirigibles by John Toland (1957).
  • Games I played in 2011:  This year was a slow year for board games and console video games.  Part of the reason is that during the months we were moving, things like board games were boxed up and out of reach.  Also the i-devices dominated our spare minutes from morning to night.  iPhone games I enjoyed this year include: "Reckless Getaway," "Zombieville 2," "Jetpack Joyride," "Where's my Water?," "Spymouse," "Tiny Tower," and "Burn the Rope."  Excellent games, every one of them.
  • Best Apps of 2011:  Not counting games (see above), I want to single out a few great apps.  The app that got the most "wows" from people looking over my shoulder was the "NCAA March Madness On Demand," streaming basketball games LIVE to my pocket.  It was superlative in every sense.  "Genius Scan+" with "Evernote" has also been incredibly useful.  I can capture notes, documents, post-its, warning labels and more to send or save as my needs demand; I keep finding new ways to use these two apps. 
  • Favorite Restaurants in 2011:  Without a doubt my best meals were the few I had at bd's Mongolian Barbeque (sic) and Longhorn steakhouse.  I know those are old staples for me but I don't go to either one very often and they do so many things right.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Group Activity?

I came home to find my three older boys playing a game together, sort of. All three were playing the video game "Plants vs Zombies," sitting shoulder-to-shoulder… but not really together. They were playing separate versions of the same game, one was on an old Nintendo DS, one on his iPod, and one on our family iPad.

I'm not sure why they were sitting together but I'm going to go ahead and call it "family time."