Friday, February 27, 2009

The Planet is Doomed!!

Thanks to the crazy presidential election coverage and the crazy economy, Americans are watching more television than ever before.  For the average American, viewing time has gone up from 145 hours a month to 151 hours a month.  That works out to about 5 hours every day



Of course, lack of money is the driving motive, but the methods are dramatically increased for many.  People are watching more TV because people have more TV sets.  The average U.S. household now contains more TV sets than people.  This allows each person in the house to watch their own special shows.  Add to this the fact that more people are utilizing TiVo and other DVRs.  This allows them to watch time-shifted television instead of just relying on what is playing when they are ready to watch as in the olden days.  Add to this the fact that it is becoming more popular to watch television over the internet.  Add to this the fact that people are watching even more on their cell phones.  It's no wonder people are watching more television! 


I believe that TV, like any technology, is a tool that is morally neutral.  However, hearing such statistics makes a media fast sound both spiritually and mentally healthy (not to mention thwarting the evil schemes of aliens).   Imagine what we would have time for if we were not constantly distracted by music, social networking sites, sports, celebrity gossip, and all the other media junk we tend to feed ourselves.  How much time do you waste on mindless entertainment each month?  Just something to think about...


josh r

Rumination On Purpose

"Christianity has fought, still fights, and will continue to fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the Son of God. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing."
G. Richard Bozarth, ‘The Meaning of Evolution’, American Atheist, p. 30. 20 September 1979.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Aps You May Know . . . (Chaplaincy Division)

UGST graduate and fanatical Risk player Michael Krog sent this on the verge of becoming another Apostolic chaplain:

Hello all,

Attached are pictures of my promotion and "pinning on" ceremony of the Chaplain's Cross. Brother Gerald Truman, the first UPC-endorsed Chaplain in the US Military, is the one administering my Oath of Office. He pinned the cross on me and Jen pinned my new rank.

Jen and I are very excited about reporting to Ft. Campbell next week. Please join us in prayer for a smooth transition and for the Unit I will be incorporated into. Thank you everyone for your love, support and prayers during the past few years.

Praise the Lord for His goodness and direction!

God Bless,
CH (CPT) Michael Krog

Congratulations on yet another Apostolic shining a light in an important career field!

Aps You May Know . . . (Creative Division)

UPCer Rick Brewer shared the disappointing news that he didn't win the Rascal Flatts CD cover contest:

Hey guys,

I wanted to write those who had not received word on whether or not I had won. I did not. However, I have to say I enjoyed seeing the support and help from everyone involved. The emails, blogs, posts and other forms of interaction I had with everyone made it an uplifting couple of weeks. I'm sorry I could not bring you all home a win, but there will be a next time! Thank you sincerely for all your time and effort!

Take care!

Hey Rick - you made the Final Four! That's plenty to be proud of!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Well, D-day has arrived and I am still not fully employed. So I'm sitting here trying to decide how to word the "Dear John" (or Ed, as the case may be) letter to my landlord telling him that I'm moving out at the end of March. Next comes the packing, finding a storage unit, changing the address on anything mail related, etc. Oh joy.

I've got to admit that I'm a bit disappointed. Somewhere deep inside I think I figured that God would swoop in at the last second and drop a job in my lap, or a check in my mail or something. Of course that could still happen and then all I'll have to do is find a new apartment.

On the upside, I've made it since last Thursday without having a complete breakdown.

I'm trying to decide if my struggle with all of this relates to my having issues with trusting the Lord or with my innate nature (aka being a control freak). Many years ago a friend accused me of not trusting the Lord over an issue and I adamantly denied it claiming that I totally trust the Lord. I know that he doesn't intend anything evil/bad/unprofitable/fill-in-the-blank-here for me; I just struggle with wanting to know what he does intend so that I can prepare for it and be at peace over what comes next whatever it may be. It's an argument that I've repeated at multiple times over the intervening years.

But everything that is going on in my life right now is forcing me to reexamine this question and ask "is it possible to really trust the Lord AND be a control freak?"

Monday, February 23, 2009

A New Week, A New Approach

OK, so it's not really a "new" approach it's more of a refocused approach.

Still no job, still no prospects for a job but somehow I just know that it only means that when God opens the right door it is going to be simply amazing. See, I can ice skate on those waves, just like Peter.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Russell Would Have Been In This Picture, But The White Railing Ruined It

My good friend Russell (who, once upon a time, was going to run for office with me on what was going to be a groundbreaking bi-racial ticket) took his grandmother, Isaac, to the Inauguration. Isaac also happens to be the founder of our local NAACP chapter, and is also a very sweet lady. Somehow, she scored an inaugural ticket that also landed her in the second-tier, loge section.

I didn't realize that I might actually be able to see Russell and his grandmother on the Giant, ten-trillion Gigapixel, multi-stitched patchwork photo that is making the rounds. I called him up to ask him where he was sitting, and within the hour, Russell was at my place of employment with a photo album in tow. Man did he have some cool stories.

Their proximity and placement killed the chance for the hi-res thing, but Russell did manage to get a nice series of pictures of Alicia Keys (who was sitting in front of him), right along with Samuel L. Jackson, Don King, and Dustin Hoffman. That would be a bit surreal in and of itself.

Click on the picture to see an unbelievable pixellated composite. And before you write off this thing as a panoramic oddity, start clicking on an area (say the President), and see just how close it brings you. Amazing. Just for kicks, try to see the faces of the people pictured farthest away. Still recognizable.

Oh, and if you have a dial-up modem, just forget it.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quote For The Day

Nobody saw more clearly than the great political thinker de Tocqueville that democracy stands in an irreconcilable conflict with socialism: "Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom," he said. "Democracy attaches all possible value to each man," he said in 1848, "while socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

To allay these suspicions and to harness to its cart the strongest of all political motives—the craving for freedom — socialists began increasingly to make use of the promise of a "new freedom." Socialism was to bring "economic freedom," without which political freedom was "not worth having."

To make this argument sound plausible, the word "freedom" was subjected to a subtle change in meaning. The word had formerly meant freedom from coercion, from the arbitrary power of other men. Now it was made to mean freedom from necessity, release from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice of all of us. Freedom in this sense is, of course, merely another name for power or wealth. The demand for the new freedom was thus only another name for the old demand for a redistribution of wealth.

-F.A. Hayek, The Road To Serfdom

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stories for Our Time

Author Michael Lewis (Liar's Poker) is also an insightful journalist with far reaching interests who's comfortable in the long form.

For me, he wrote the definitive (accessible) piece on how the financial bubble burst, and the multiple stupidities involved, by focusing on a man who saw it coming - and made millions betting on its arrival while everyone else continued to only proclaim sunny skies ahead. It's all in The End of Wall Street's Boom:

"There was only one thing that bothered Eisman, and it continued to trouble him as late as May 2007. “The thing we couldn’t figure out is: It’s so obvious. Why hasn’t everyone else figured out that the machine is done?”"

Eisman shorted everything and everyone because no one could explain how everyone was making money. (Shorting is betting the price will fall.) That's good advice in any area.

And In The World of Sports

What are the characteristics of a basketball player who rarely scores points, makes assists, or blocks shots, but almost always ensures your team wins. Lewis covers it as a whodunit in The No-Stats All-Star:

"In the statistically insignificant sample of professional athletes I’ve come to know a bit, two patterns have emerged. The first is, they tell you meaningful things only when you talk to them in places other than where they have been trained to answer questions. It’s pointless, for instance, to ask a basketball player about himself inside his locker room. For a start, he is naked; for another, he’s surrounded by the people he has learned to mistrust, his own teammates. The second pattern is the fact that seemingly trivial events in their childhoods have had huge influence on their careers. A cleanup hitter lives and dies by a swing he perfected when he was 7; a quarterback has a hitch in his throwing motion because he imitated his father. Here, in the Detroit Country Day School library, a few yards from the gym, Battier was back where he became a basketball player. And he was far less interested in what happened between him and Kobe Bryant four months ago than what happened when he was 12."

Both are great articles that tell you a lot about our world today.

A Month in the Life . . . Collideoscope Style

I've been pretty much MIA from Collideoscope for months and months now. As many of you know, I was finishing my Masters degree and I'm happy to report that as of December I now posses a M.S. in Global Affairs!

That's the bright side.

The down side is that I've spent the last two months looking for a job, and probably to no one's surprise, have had zero luck so far. It's not all bleak, I'm working part-time for a wonderful organization and getting some paid experience in the field (which is much needed and appreciated). Anyway, the bottom line is that I've spent way too much time sitting in Borders, drinking coffee and trying to find ways to fill my days.

After talking to Kent, I've decided to start blogging about this experience. Personally, I'm hoping that it helps me process my feelings, thoughts and faith as I try to figure out what the next phase of my life has in store. I warn you in advance, I have every intention of being brutally honest and open. I welcome your feedback and input.

So let me bring everyone up to date on exactly where things stand.

I'm 31, living in New York City, just completed a Masters degree and am semi-employed. I have exactly one week to find a job or I have to tell my landlord that I'm moving out at the end of March. If that happens I will be moving in with a friend for the month of April while continuing to look for a job. Long-term - no job - scenario . . . if May rolls around without employment I am packing up my life and moving back in with my parents in Los Angeles.

I have no idea where God wants me to go or what he wants me to do with the next phase of my life. See, unlike with some people, the Lord has never written anything on my living room wall (lucky Belshazzar), he's never had a visiting evangelist (or my pastor for that matter) prophecy over me and I've never received a letter in the mail which directed me where I should go. Consequently, it's just me, a lot of prayer and moving toward an open door until the Lord either closes it or takes me through it.

I'm just beginning to wonder what you do when you've run out of options and there isn't an open door?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

American Idol Alert!

Yes, we've had Apostolics almost make and make the American Idol cut in the past, but now we're told an ex-Apostolic is still in the running.

Excerpted from an email:

"Michael Sarver is from Jasper, TX and is in the top 36 on American Idol. Michael was formerly raised UPC too. Vote for him on American Idol and pray that he returns to his roots and can be a witness to others. Anyway, more than being famous, I pray he gets back in church."

I'm told his mother still attends a UPC church in August and was on the show tonight.

Irony Alert: Sloganeering, Atheist Bus Breaks Down

I post this, thinking that the atheists themselves got a sort of retroactive chortle out of the entire picture:

GENOA, Italy, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Atheists' first rolling advertisement in Italy got off to an ignominious start Monday when the bus touting their doubt in God, perhaps inexplicably, conked out.

No sooner had the bus -- carrying the message "The Good News Is There Are Millions of Atheists In Italy; The Excellent News Is They Believe In Freedom Of Expression" -- headed out onto the streets of Genoa than it developed a battery problem and had to head back to the depot for repairs, ANSA reported.

''By pure chance,'' a member of the Italian Union of Atheists, Agnostics and Rationalists told the Italian news agency, ''the vehicle left the depot bright and early but had to go straight back because of a 'curious' problem with the batteries."

My favorite phrase in that cross section above? "By pure chance." Tell me they had a straight face when they said that, because I for one think it was a cleverly devised way to surf the moment. And a well done one at that.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Save Money Now!

In tough times, it's always wise to figure out money-saving ideas. Here's a comprehensive article on how to "Save $50 a Day (and Feel No Pain)."

Take your time & go through it. Every little bit helps.

Trending Southward: Is Another Holocaust Possible?

Granted, you normally have to be paying hyper vigilant attention to actually catch the frequency of this kind of reporting. But this one was a bit too stark to be missed. For anyone wondering whether or not I gave more than a fleeting thought to my title question, please understand, I did. And since it truly appears that America will be emulating the European model in nearly every way and to its demise, this should be disconcerting at the very least:

The Anti-Defamation League said Tuesday that a survey it commissioned found nearly a third of Europeans polled blame Jews for the global economic meltdown and that a greater number think Jews have too much power in the business world.

The organization, which says its aim is "to stop the defamation of Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all," says the seven-nation survey confirms that anti-Semitism remains strong.

The poll included interviews with 3,500 people - 500 each in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Spain.

It says that in Spain, 74 percent of those asked say they feel it is "probably true" that Jews hold too much sway over the global financial markets. That is the highest percentage in the survey.

Add this in with Geert Wilders' being out-and-out banned from the UK (and subsequently arrested and deported) for merely being critical of Islam in cinema, and the picture is gloomier than I wish it was. If these numbers continue to climb and the metastasizes to the west, we might just see the final full court press to abandon Israel completely.

Of course, the Bible simply lays it out as a default mechanism.

Maybe it's just me. But do. You. Feel. It. Getting. Colder?


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Katy Perry's Pentecostal Past

So while Katy Perry's Grammy moment had her shouting through her "I Kissed a Girl" hit while simultaneously struggling to dance without noticeable rhythmn, the song was easily (sadly) one of the big hits of 2008.

Turns out, she grew up Pentecostal:

"Couric pointed out that growing up with her preacher parents meant that she often spoke in tongues, channeling messages from God — which Couric added is a Pentecostal practice. "It's exactly that," Perry, who will be performing at the show on Sunday, explained. "There was a movie called 'Jesus Camp,' and I watched it and I went, 'Oh my gosh! I didn't know they had behind-the-scenes footage of my childhood!' " "

Her album is hooky, so it's perfect pop. It's just sad to see her choosing pseudo-lesbianism to get noticed.

Someone somewhere needs to do a study on all the people who grew up Pentecostal & then had their pop star moments.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kadma Party For Israel?

Looks like the preliminary predictions for the Israeli election were off--at least by a slim margin:

With voting stations officially closed, exit polls at 10 p.m. suggested that
Kadima would win the general elections on Tuesday.

However, due to the dramatic rise in support of the Likud and Israel Beiteinu, it seemed that Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu would have a better chance than Kadima head Tzipi Livni of forming the next coalition.

Not sure exactly how the parliamentary stuff works with them. Maybe the Prime Minister's job is contingent on a plurality of seats. We'll see. read the rest, here.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Apostolic Rascal Flatts Cover . . ?

Graphic Designer (and sometime 90&9 Youth Congress reporter) Rick Brewer has a chance at being the winner of the Album Cover Design Contest being run by the Rascal Flats. Fans were asked to submit their creations and the group narrowed the nominees to four possibilities. The winner, as voted by you, gets to see their creation produced for millions.

This contest has already garnered attention from USA Today, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, & Street Insider.

Take a moment and vote for his cover (It's the top left design). You can vote every 24 hours, so help a fellow Pentecostal out!

Netanyahu Poised To Win Israeli Election

At least that's how it looks from some of the targeted polling and research by The Jerusalem Post. And since platforms regarding national security tend to ring a whole lot clearer over there than they do here, one can understand why:

"Jerusalem will not be divided and Gamla will not fall again," Likud chairman and prime ministerial candidate Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday during a tour of the Golan Heights.

Accompanied by Likud members Moshe Ya'alon, Yossi Peled, Bennie Begin and Efi Eitam, Netanyahu arrived in the North to participate in Tu Bishvat tree planting.

"If Kadima wins," he said, "we will not have the Golan Heights and will only continue ceding territory. Peace is made with the strong, not the weak. Israel with the Golan Heights is a strong state and not a weak state which gives away its assets."

And even the dullest of military tacticians or even an array of guys that infuse Tzun Tzu rhetoric into their paintball tournaments know that self preservation and safety for one's people will not include a real estate deal that cedes the hills that overlook the valleys. And Tuesday, the world will find out whether the Israeli population assents to the primary crux of the election--that the Kadima party will try to advance the cause of peace by handing over the Golan heights. And the world will see whether or not Israel has learned the lessons of Gaza.

But Israel, for all their vain, backslidden fog, still seems to understand that they are surrounded--literally--by nations that want to eliminate them. Thus a less-euphonious-but-no-less-audible reverberation of the need for the strong man to guard the house.


Wikipedia: Authored By A Core Group Of 500?

It never occurred to me that Wikipedia's giant, user-edited database may actually garner most of its updates from a benevolent cabal of Trivial Pursuit Goliaths. And that's what my favorite tech-blogger, Jeff Atwood, tries to iron out:

When you visit Wikipedia's entry on asphalt, you get some reasonably reliable information about asphalt. What you don't get, however, is any indication of who the author is. That's because the author is irrelevant. Wikipedia is a community effort, the result of tiny slices of effort contributed by millions of people around the world. The focus is on the value of the aggregated information, not who the individual authors are.

But who is that community? According to Jimmy Wales, most of the work on Wikipedia is done by a tightly knit Gang of 500:

The links in the quote go to the places Atwood references. But check out the lengths he goes to to check the veracity of this.

Only a programmer . . .


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Alas, Poor America, I Hardly Knew Ye

So the pressing question of the day is this: When more journalistic and intellectual energy is devoted to Jessica Simpson's weight gain controversy than a Congressional mortgage that spends more money than we ever borrowed between the revolutionary war and the Carter Administration, what exactly does it say about our country?

Instead of endless reporting on something that isn't a flaw, just a collateral effect of affluence, comfortable living, hormones and age indexes (something that may affect a career), perhaps our media should focus their energies on an emerging weakness that may have a profound effect on our nation. A president's pedestrian rhetorical ability invested with preposterous spiritual gravity.

Captain Cook's claims of incarnation were quickly dashed, when, as Mark Twain put it, "betrayed his earthly origin with a groan." His entire protracted imperialist blueprint was obliterated--right along with him--when the Hawaiians discovered he was but a mortal.

Worth noting, as the days become more and more occluded and tumultuous. What's it going to take for America to lose its Brangelina trance?


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Pentecostal in the White House

Did you know that President Obama is revamping the faith-based initiatives program and that the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is being headed by a 26-year-old Pentecostal minister?

Some background on Joshua DuBois, who calls Nashville home.

And A Follow Up On The Heroic

Seems Captain Sullenberger demonstrated the kind of coolness that doesn't befit the panicked opportunists in the halls of Congress right now. I wonder how a "stimulus bill" might go down if Captain Sully were at the helm?

Off the hook.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Truth Project

On the invitation of someone that attends a denominational church in my town, I have attended for the last two weeks what is in reality, the second and third installments of a modular series called The Truth Project.

This work, produced by Focus on the Family, is a DVD series, each lesson broken down into hour-long segments. The group at large is then broken down into smaller "discussion groups," where what is taught during the lesson can be given at least a small degree of traction in the mind before one leaves.

This program is stunning. And though I am one who demurs from any real criticism of apostolic organizational issues (as I'd have to get in a very long queue do do it anyway), I do feel that this kind of thing is something we rarely see. And since apostolics are entering the world of academia at unprecedented rates, it would be wise to fully comprehend the philosophical, anthropological, musical, and humanistic poisons that await--not the blatant things that assault one's faith at face value, but the subtle "pernicious lies" as Dr. Tackett calls them--that place us in handcuffs we aren't even aware are being applied.

The Cosmic Cube

The video features a one Dr. Del Tackett, who using an apologetics framework derived from CS Lewis' Mere Christianity. The first session I attended involved a central theme of the program, involving the "Cosmic Cube," or "The Box." This box contains every philosophy, moray, theory and prognostication man can possibly conjure to explain the universe. God, of course, lives outside the box, where his Transcendency is ignored, impugned, and explained away. Dr. Tackett-- supremely gifted teacher--illustrates how luminaries like Carl Sagan, Rousseau, Maslow and Hawking, along with a myriad of ancient philosophers--all try to explain a cold, limited accidental existence, while battling with the very voice of creation which proclaims God is who He is.

What Is Evil?

The third installment details the over saturation of Abraham Maslow's teaching particularly his "Hierarchy of Needs." By the time one has written about this goofy, pyramidic chart for tenth consecutive class, Maslow becomes the default standard, even if it is from narcoleptic coercion.

Dr. Tackett doesn't shy away from the world's foremost humanistic thinkers, but plunges headlong into what they've really established. And using Maslow's assertions that there is no "inherent evil" in man, coupled with his "self-actualization" capstone, Tackett exposes alarmingly inconsistent theories, incapable of marrying at the altar of logic. Footage from various adversarial events, interviews from notorious killers claiming "self actualization devoid of a God," and man-on -the-street comments intersperse throughout, giving cultural snapshots of these theories in play.

But his main point being, that even atheists admit to there existing what they call "evil." They just can't see it emanating from a fallen state. And to do so means they have to admit to a "broken" plan, with an "unbroken" one being preferential. Thus an arrow--pointing upward.

I know I ran long here. Click here to view the trailer (see the long version), or the picture to see the events surrounding this. A smart, and scriptural, look at rebuilding our arts and sciences.

UPDATE: Or . . . just watch this:


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Too Funny Not to Share

I've seen this in cartoons, but in real life..?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Pop Music Alert: Beyonce

Okay, I don't live for music & I'm always late to the party on new releases, but...

Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy" makes me ache. Of all her songs (that I've heard), it's the first genuine hit that only she could have sung. (Which is the 2nd level of Greatness.) To me, she's a secular Sandi Patti--amazing voice without a signature sound. (Which is the 1st level of Greatness.)

But, when you're lovely to look at and barely clothed on your album photos, you don't need a signature sound. But that doesn't mean you're doing much besides making money.

So, I've always felt she was overrated and soon-to-be-forgotten; but now . . . maybe not. (Can't say the rest of her new album impressed me, but we'll see what else she sings in the near future.)

The music video is tepid and almost completely disconnected from the song lyrics, so if you haven't heard it, listen closely but don't bother watching it. Then let me know what you think.

Every Parent's Dream

From this week's New Yorker.