Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tacit Jimmy Carter Endorsement = Major Boost For Obama?

Sometimes I wonder how we ever get ourselves wrapped in the self-loathing paroxysms about how forward-thinking the Europeans are. Seems the online Telegraph sees the man who recently resurrected his penchant for placating anyone who would drop a nuclear bomb on Jerusalem as the pinnacle of electoral moral wisdom:

Former President Jimmy Carter has given Barack Obama a major boost by calling for the bitter Democratic nomination battle to end on June 3rd and speaking glowingly of his ability to “transform the image” of America.

Mr Carter did not formally endorse Mr Obama but in an interview with The Daily Telegraph made crystal clear where his sympathies lie. He even sketched out the kind of inaugural address the first black United States president could deliver.

I'm not so sure Mr. Obama is relishing the attention from Carter, whose primary accomplishments include 444 days of prostrating himself in front of Iranian hostage takers, giving away the Panama Canal, double-digit inflation and around-the-corner gas lines. Not to mention his one notable swipe at terrorism: beating down a vicious, marauding rabbit with the oar of his rowboat.

Alas for Obama, this backhanded endorsement comes just as Carter buttressed the statements of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright on larry King just as Barack was cutting the final ties with them.

Interesting, to say the least.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Man's Got His Finger On The Pulse Of . . . His Pulse

I've been between jobs, and I've been a heartbeat away from losing one. But I've never used the tiny interval between my heartbeats to complete a job like Russian micro-miniaturist Vladimir Aniskin, who apparently had a decade to sit around and figure out how to manufacture a chess set small enough to pack around in one of your capillaries:

A microscopic chess set no bigger than a match head could be the smallest board game in the world. The board is 3.5 mm by 2.5 mm and the gold and silver pieces are 0.15 mm and 0.3 mm high.
Of course the crux of why I find this story so ridiculously compelling:

He uses powerful microscopes and equipment that he designed himself and says that he must work between his heartbeats to create the tiny pieces.

Leave it to those pesky, "Got all the time in the world" Russians. It seems Mr. Aniskin hasn't batted an eye, flitting away a third of his lifespan on this stuff. His protoypes are none-too-unimpressively weird as well:
The chess took six months to complete and he has about another 40 works to his name. His first was a grain of rice inscribed with 2,027 letters. “The rice grain took three months, camels in an eye of a needle took two months and camels in a horse hair also took two months,” he said. “Even with these simpler jobs it is still time-consuming.”

Mr Aniskin, 30, works at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science in Tyumen, specialising in developing microphobes for aerodynamic investigations.

Cool. Weird, but cool.


Justice Prevails!



While the Dark Knight was busy fighting corruption in Gotham and preparing for his upcoming movie release, the regular cops were bringing down a more mundane type of criminal.  This Denver, Colorado man was sentenced to 21 months in prison and was ordered to pay $715,000 to the IRS for tax evasion and sending hudreds of thousands of falsified spam emails.  While this is not likely to make much of a dent in the spam you receive, perhaps a few more of these convictions will do us all some good.  Let's at least hope this joker learns his lesson.


Josh R

When Internal Polls Don't Jibe With Conventional Chatter

Some kind of internal polling alarm in the Obama camp is signaling a four-alarm conflagration. Why else would he begin to publicly disown his own pastor of twenty years, calling into question his recent statements, referring to them as “rants, not grounded in truth?” It’s not like the old statements he passively defended were “non-rants” and “based in the truth.”

One thing is becoming clear despite the allegedly smitten Obama-esque demeanors of the super delegates: The only person in the situation that doesn’t seem to be changing his opinions is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Like him or hate him, his ranting delusional myopias are consistently delivered and defended by him—unlike the man that has assented to his preaching for the last 20 years. The initial 5th amendment pleas, claims of ignorance, and surgical attempts to separate himself from the church that has galvanized his view of middle America are ringing hollow. And it seems Obama understands this, and is willing to sever permenantly his relationship with his pastor in the name of securing the Democratic nomination.

It would also seem that between the two, the only one with any measurable character of belief is also Rev. Wright—who seems less than thrilled that his apprentice now seems willing to throw him under the bus, as it becomes apparent that Obama’s phenomenal rise will have to ultimately be sustained by the updrafts of his own beliefs—and no one wants to elect someone with a backdrop as negative as the one Rev. Wright provides.


President Bush Handles Media At End Of Presidency The Way He Should Handled It At Beginning Of Presidency

Talk about a case of being frustrated by the lateness of the attack. I don't know if anyone else heard this this morning, but it was about time our President fashioned a corded whip, and beat the merchants of arrogance out of the temple. I simply smiled as he plowed headlong into to their "just descended from Mt. Olympus" pomposity.

One thing is apparent in his point: The clueless are every bit as dangerous as the malevolent.


Calvary Christian School: Media Love

Calvary Christian School of Indianapolis gets some media love from the local paper, The Indianapolis Star, as it moves into its new 110,000 (!) square foot building.

Says the article:

"It was a real school before, but now it's a real school," said Candace Barcus, a middle- and high-school Bible teacher who attended the school growing up. "I walk down the hallway and get teary eyed."

Calvary Christian started in 1946, so I'm guessing it's the oldest Apostolic/UPC K-high school in existence..?

Monday, April 28, 2008

James Simm's Live Recording -

April 28, 2008
Dateline: Old St. Charles

8:04 p.m. - He's deep into a song from his "Life & Love" CD w/most of the crowd singing backup.

8:07 p.m. - "We're going to slow it down a little bit. This is good coffee drinking music." A largely instrumental piece ensues, night club like.

8:11 p.m. -The crowd again sings backup as James sings "Paint a picture of your love...portrait of our life...let the words be colors that flow..." Wild clapping.

8:14 p.m. - James introduces the next song asking if you've ever messed up a good thing. This is an area he's obviously building in confidence. Soon enough, he's playing & singing w/backup singers. "Speaking of heaven..." he says then, "When we all get to heaven, it'll be more tears to cry, when we all get to heaven."

8:22 p.m. - He calls up a couple friends to sing with him - Hugh Holt & Angie Glen (Apologies if I misheard). Angie has a sweet, soft voice with great range, while Hugh belts out "It's been way, way too long" to great response. Not sure if the instruments aren't drowning out the lyrics for those of us who don't have the songs memorized. End w/"Welcome Home" "Welcome Home."

8:27 p.m. - "One last song - God is our home, the place we can all go..." Gonna be "You're the only one I got, I got you," the first track from "Life & Life." Angie sings lead. The crowd sings everything. Wicked groove hypnotizes us as Angie sings "You're the only one I got, I got you."

8:30 - "Thank everyone for coming!" Then he introduces everyone in the band and signs off.

Sadly, there is neither an encore nor a request for me to share my deep love for playing the bongos in public. Otherwise, a great night of Christian music that mesmerized at least one table of non-believers into absorbing the entire set.

The Concert Begins

7:50 p.m. - It begins w/James thanking Wayne Francis for coordinating the night w/Picasso's, then they start in with "Melody of Love."

7:55 p.m. - A mention of the "L Word" (Love, silly) & a mention of an engaged couple before starting the next song which... well, I can't make out the lyrics.

7:58 p.m. - He talks about appreciating flowers in the park & God's creativity, which is what we're gonna sing about now. "Lord you're so beautiful, beautiful to meeeeee." The remaining table of non-believers has stopped playing their cards & are totally engrossed in the song. The chorus cranks up and just about everyone's clapping, hands over head.

Side Note
* Turns out the piano is not a piano, but a keyboard inside the shell of a piano.

James Simm's Liveblog

So, thankfully they're still setting up instruments & doing sound checks at Picasso's, as we arrived 20 mins late. This now makes us unfashionably early but allows for sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes looks at the 3 backup singers, w/full accompaniment (a real piano, drum cage, bass, bongos, full sound board,et al).

This is a big deal, as they're videoing it (they're doing a live recording, probably for CD/DVD. Strange then, that he didn't ask me to sing a duet...). There's over 40 people here, which considering they've taken over the main lower floor means we're all enjoying mosh pit-like intimacy.

More soon, w/pix assuming my beautiful photog will snap some good ones.

Liveblogging Tonight: Simms & Brewer

Nita & I will be attending a special concert (open to all) highlighting the amazing music of James Simms tonight at Picasso's Coffee Shop in Old St. Charles (MO). It's my understanding that there will also be a gallery showing of Pentecostal artist Ricky Brewer as well, so expect some liveblogging around 7 p.m. tonight, April 28.

Read 90&9's review of the most contemporary CD ever created within the Apostolic ranks here.

The Youth Congress video produced by AEM, the live "sweating beneath the tent" NAYC video
& the NAYC Gateway booth vid, & the SFC anthem.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

This Is An Awareness Test

Click on the video and test your awareness (less than a minute) . . .

My brother sent this to me a few weeks back and I just love how true the concept is.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Director Of Really Bad Movies Now Writing Even Worse Books

Sooner or later this had to happen. And tragicomic fallout remains to be seen.

Just when you thought a decently written DaVinci Code written by Dan Brown, distilled into an inarticulate cinematic morass by Ron Howard, couldn't get any sillier. Now, the man who gave the culturally-enriching masterpiece, Basic Instinct, has co written a book claiming that Jesus was the product of . . . um, the unwanted, invasive advances of a military Roman Lothario:

In his upcoming biography of Jesus, "Basic Instinct" director Paul Verhoeven will make the shocking claim that Christ probably was the son of Mary and a Roman soldier who raped her during the Jewish uprising in Galilee, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

And it seems at the outset, that the sort of "rage" and "humanity-reducing threats to one's person" are not going to be the order of the day (as if they ever are in any large scale are when Christians are mocked). Perhaps even Mr. Verhoeven's enthusiasm has caused him to run the ball too far into the anti-Jesus end zone, and spiked--the only raging coliseum applause existing in his own head. At least according the the Catholic League's president, Bill Donahue:

"He's been working 20 years trying to sell this argument and hasn't come up with anything. This won't make a dent with Christians, nor with scholars somewhat wary of the biblical account. It's a European version of Hollywood. He should go back to Sharon Stone's legs."
Hopefully, the whole of Christendom will sit back and let these things roll out on their own with little or no protest. No one, not even the rank unbeliever, is really interested in such bitter rewrites of Jesus' life. To try to stop it in any way will merely contribute to the same protest purchases that took erstwhile paupers like the 2LiveCrew and made them into incidental millionaires. No sense in bankrolling one that already is.


Old Gray Lady Denies Being Old, Gray

As much as economic downturns are generally bothersome to me, I must admit; watching the New York Times' self-vaunting, journalistic Babylon come crashing down has all the hallmarks of a vicarious schadenfreude:

"New York Times Co (NYSE:NYT - News) Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr told shareholders on Tuesday the company is not for sale, disputing media reports.

This company is not for sale," he said, calling recent media reports suggesting otherwise "ill informed."

Speculation over a sale has dogged the company over the years, most recently resurrected as its share price falling close to 20 percent in the past 12 months.

The cutbacks and stock losses suffered by the paper in the last few years will of course, be fully attributed to whatever economic blame can be leveled at a sitting president, but no matter. Any paper that pats itself on the back for compromising our national security simply needs to die off--even if they again, deny the presence of the weapons--of their own mass destruction.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Morrissey Review's Ben Stein's Movie, Expelled

Ed Morrissey, writing on one of Michelle Malkin's side blogs, Hot Air, posts his review of a pre-screening of the upcoming move, Expelled, produced by Ben Stein.

Stein's movie, one that attempts to chronicle the rabid, intellectual intolerance of academia, is already making waves, and panicking the atheists as a going concern. My favorite quote from the review:

. . . In this, the film does an excellent job of demonstrating atheism as a belief system. Atheism as represented by Richard Dawkings and others in this film gets exposed as exactly the kind of belief system they claim to despise. They can’t prove God exists — and they can’t prove God doesn’t exist. They make the common fallacy of arguing that absence of evidence amounts to evidence of absence.

I always knew there was something inherently likable about that guy Stein. An affable personality attached to an ironclad faith. Something frequently mistaken for "intolerance" in and of itself.


Da Boss says Ya Got Thoity Days, And Then...

Wow!  This woman received a letter in the mail from her pastor telling her, of all things, that she was behind in her tithes.  This was not just a friendly reminder, however.  It stated that she had only paid tithes twice in the past year, and she had thirty days to cough up the tenth or she was going lose her church membership. 


It seems like Jesus preached about tithes once.


Josh R.

Howard Dean Panicking In The Cockpit

If there's ever been a better illustration in recent history about the cost/effect ratios of faux populism, I can't think of one. Democratic National Committee chairman, Howard Dean, is demanding that the "Superdelegates" make their decision now--in order to keep from losing another three months to John McCain.

“We cannot give up two or three months of active campaigning and healing time,” the Democratic National Committee Chairman told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We’ve got to know who our nominee is.”

Fair enough. But for a party who's spent the last eight years contesting the legitimacy of the Bush Presidency on Floridian margins to demand that the rest of the state primaries are ignored outright? Pure poetry of incompetence. Way to advocate for the Vox Populi, too.

The reasons for these problems? Endless tinkering with the DNC's own bi-laws, by the DNC cognoscenti. Although the technical term here would be Progressives. The GOP, despite its mind-numbing and completely frustrating penchant for wearing the patch over the good eye, at least landed on a nominee--the one who got the most votes--a labyrinthine, square-peg/square hole puzzle to the party that created the "superdelegate," the very hallmark of distrust in the very votes for which they campaign.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Royal Caribbean To Build 220,000 Ton Ship--Complete With It's Own New York Style Central Park

No word yet on whether muggers and smog will be stock features, but:

The world's biggest cruise liner is to have a New York-style "Central Park" on the ship, its owners have revealed.

Royal Caribbean is building the 220,000-tonne liner with the working name Project Genesis and the announcement is the latest salvo in the intensely competitive global cruise market.

The company said the park would be "a revolutionary design in which the centre of the ship opens to the sky and features lush, tropical grounds spanning the length of a football field".

Is it just me, or does the continual need to 'up the ante', whether it be reality-based television (marriage decimating polygraph tests) or ships of this gilded magnitude just scream "breaking point?"


Creating Art as Christians

How evangelistic does Christian art have to be?  In order to faithfully produce art as Christians does it have to include scriptures, the name of Jesus, a call to repentance, the plan of salvation, or worship directed specifically to God?  Whether writing books, writing music, painting pictures or producing film, the Christian artist must determine where they are going to draw the line.  These artists have drawn their own line very clearly.


BuzzDixon and Marlon Schluman of Realbuzz Studios are attempting to challenge the general consensus that Christian art these days is more Christian and less art.  After years of watching cheesy rapture movies, viewing unfulfilling angelic television shows, and listening to hundreds of CCM songs that all sound the same some Christian artists have had enough.  Specifically, the Christian comic realm has suffered one less-than-compelling Bible-themed story after another. 


With one eye on the comic book market and another on the Bible, these artists are doing everything they can to create professional, well-drawn, gripping comic stories for teens from a Christian perspective.  But the line they have drawn leaves out the scripture references, the name of Jesus, the calls to repentance, and all the other stuff that “good” Christian comics are supposed to include (remember Chick tracts anyone?).  The Christian values are throughout the stories, but in a subtle way.  Instead of using art to browbeat people with the Gospel, they are simply being faithful Christians producing art.  May they become an inspiration for other artists out there who are also Christians!


(For a similar discussion on what it means to be a faithful Christian partaking of art see this week’s dueling cover stories over at the mother ship.)


Josh R.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Obama Courting The Amish Vote?

I just saw this a few minutes ago. Barak Obama's Pennsylvania-based campaign website actually has a delineated page devoted to the most unlikely demographic--the Amish.

The immediate reaction to this for me was the dubiousness of any real Amish actually being on line, much less concocting avatarless, cutesy screen names.

Either way, it is yet another odd aspect to a rather odd election season.


Us Versus Them?

This April 25th (and it appears to be an annual event) there is going to be a nationwide Day of Silence in participating government schools and colleges.  Protesting the harassment and “silencing” of the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered) community, participants will remain silent for the entire day wearing or passing out cards describing why they are doing so.  The cards challenge the reader to “think about the voices you are not hearing today.  What are you going to do to end the silence?”


Of course one way to react to this would be the approach the American Family Association is taking.  Try to create a fear-based emotional response to this protest in an attempt to silence this segment of society.  But this sort of reaction is exactly what these students are protesting.  It draws the kind of lines that Jesus avoided —us, the pious and faithful against them, the wicked sinners.


Perhaps a better tack is that taken by the Allied Defense Fund in sponsoring the counter-protest, the Day of Truth.  Students wear signs or hand out cards similar to those of the Day of Silence, but with an entirely different message:


I’m speaking the Truth to break the silence.

True tolerance means that people with different—even opposing—viewpoints can freely exchange ideas and respectfully listen to each other.

It’s time for an honest conversation about homosexuality.

There’s freedom to change if you want to.

Let’s talk.


Josh R.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Festival of Faith and Writing 2008

This Thursday through Saturday, April 17-19 I’ll be attending the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids , MI. I’ve requested interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon, Mann Booker Award-winner Yann Martel, Christian favorite Francine Rivers, and the Bridge of Terabitha author, among others. No word back yet, but I'm hopeful.

Whatever happens, I’ll be reporting daily from the conference on sister blog Word.

If you've never attended a literary festival, put this one on your calendar for 2010 (it's bi-annual), as they've always got fascinating programming.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Climate Change Activist Demands, Gets Facts Reversed In BBC Story

I'm not posting this in any way to take umbrage with 90 & 9 Cover Story, although I do admit that it can become tiring trying to explain that just because I don't buy the catastrophic arguments of climate change, that I really do think clean water is most swell and that I don't justify oil spills in the name of increased river-otter viscosity.

Thus, I do submit it as further evidence that environmental deception is afoot. And it always seems to come down to the socialists.

Anyway, interesting, how an aberration that became a story intending to launch with:

"Global temperatures this year will be lower than in 2007 ... This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory,"

was suddenly transmogrified into:

"Global temperatures will drop slightly this year ... But experts say we are still clearly in a long-term warming trend --and they forecast a new record high temperature within five years."

And all within the space of one hour and sixteen minutes. This was accomplished how? With a sudden mea cupla by the submitting agency? The hazy fog of a simple syntax error? A Hoax?

None of the above. Seems all Jo Abbess of the UK group, Campaign Against Climate Change had to do was threaten an editor with a reputational Fatwa--i.e., "change the story now, or I'll paint you as a snake-handler."

And the BBC complied. Hastily. Perhaps the most chilling indictment on left-leaning journalism was captured in the last paragraph of Ms. Abbess' story-changing email salvo:

I am about to send your comments to others for their contribution, unless you request I do not. They are likely to want to post your comments on forums/fora, so please indicate if you do not want this to happen. You may appear in an unfavourable light because it could be said that you have had your head turned by the skeptics. Respectfully,


Or was it Roger Harrabin's response?
Have a look in 10 minutes and tell me you are happier. We have changed headline and more.

Apparently, Earth isn't the only climate with changeable features.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

2008 Christianity Today Book Awards

Sister blog Word has a link to the 2008 Christianity Today Book Awards, a worthy list of titles if you're seeking quality reads.

Take a look!

Minnesota: The State That Brings You Lutherans, Garrison Keillor, and . . . Jihadist Madrassas?

Seriously, I thought it was a reactionary fluke when maverick Minnesota voters elected Keith Ellison to the state's 10th congressional district--who then went on to take his oath of office on the Koran.

Now it looks like the Minnesota Board of Education is not only looking the other way while a state-funded Islamic school flagrantly hoardes the children to and fro for compulsory prayers, but contiues to do so despite the fact that a teacher has come forward to say that this is exactly what is happening.

Any thoughts on how long it will take to strip their funding against the backdrop of the seperation clause? I's say about . . . um, never, actually.

Albeit, I take specific comfort in all of this; for the God I serve can't get past the state-funded religo-meter without being tossed out the Gate called Voucher.

Just like He said it would be.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ready for a little perspective?

This link is a map that shows the historical birth and spread of the major religions: Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.  It is a wee bit simplistic, but it does an excellent job of showing the big picture both historically and geographically.  Remember, sometimes the spread of one religion lead to war with another religion.


Want to see 5,000 years of religion in 90 seconds?  Buckle your seat belt and click the link!


Josh R

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Well, You See . . .

it went a little something like this . . .

10 days in Central Europe
3 days in New York, 3 midterms
5 days in California
2 weeks ridiculously sick

. . . and that's where I've been for the month or so. Hopefully things will now return to normal and I'll be around a bit more. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few pictures with you from my travels.

My brother and me in Prague

Prague Castle and Lesser Town as seen from the tower on Charles Bridge

The Hofburg - Vienna

Schonnbrunn Palace - Vienna

Salzburg at dusk

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Avoid Offense At Any Cost...

That seems to be the motto of those running many local government school systems.  This young man , A.P., drew a scene with a cross and scripture reference on it for an art class.  He was told to remove them because other students were making comments.  When he refused, he received a zero on the project.  Of course, when beginning the class, A.P. had to sign a policy prohibiting violence, blood, sexual connotations, or religious beliefs in the artwork.  But you cannot legally sign away your constitutional rights.  The school is arguing that class assignments can be censored, and that his drawing was infringing on the rights of the other students.


Any religious expression in a class art assignment might offend people.  But the school allows other types of religious expression.  Artwork depicting Medusa, the Grim Reaper and demonic figures are posted in the art room.  Additionally, depictions of a Buddha, Hindu figures, a robed sorcerer, and Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Man” adorn various areas of the school.  I guess the thought process goes, “Religious artwork is OK as long as the school approves it, but students shouldn’t be allowed to express themselves religiously while at school.” 


Doesn’t make much sense to me either.


The lawsuit seems a bit more rooted in logic when it says “Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.  No compelling state interest exists to justify the censorship of A.P.’s religious expression.”  Let us hope that logic wins out in this case.


Josh R.