Monday, July 31, 2006

lowrider bikes at the beach

I spent the day Sunday hanging out at my cousin’s birthday party at her home in Newport Beach. Her house sits right on the boardwalk near 35th. I spent the day snapping pictures of the locals and want-to-be's ridding by on their low-rider and beach cruiser bikes. I have put my expanded collection up at my flickr blog.

I'm disappointed in the quality of these shots. I had difficulty shooting in the bright afternoon sun while standing in the shade of a porch. I need many more days of practice to get this type of shot down.

My friends Neil and Craig had a running conversation about if some of these bikes are stock or custom . Look at this bike and let me know what you think.

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Top 4 Common Misconceptions About The Big Bang

An explanation of what the Big Bang is, and isn't, for the rest of us. Jon Voisey at Angry Astronomer has put a great deal of effort into explaining what the Big Bang theory really is while debunking some common misconceptions.

The 4th misconception is my favorite: The Big Bang doesn’t leave room for God

This isn’t a scientific argument, but rather a philosophical one which is completely beside the point. However, since I see it used frequently, I’ll go ahead and address it.

The Big Bang, like all science, doesn’t have any implications either for or against God. What it may do, it place constraints on how God did things and these may run contrary to scripture. However, there’s two important questions here:

First off, is the scripture right in the first place? And, second, assuming it is, are you interpreting it correctly?

Voisey closes with:
I hope that clears up a few of the misconceptions people have been having, and I’m pretty sure that most people reading this blog were already familiar with all that, but perhaps this has given you a bit more detailed information that you can use next time someone throws out their strawman Big Bang

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Conservative Pastor Punished For Avoiding Politics

After advocating that the church essentially stay out of partisan politics, pastors in his own denomination, the Baptist General Conference, mounted an effort to evict him from the denomination.

It is a small world - Pastor Brad at 21st Century Reformation just posted on the same controversial topic, followed by an even more in-depth post further expanding his ideas (also posted at redbluechristian). Theocracy is a bad thing - only, pastor Brad says it much better than I ever could. Of course, that could be because I'm and Atheist and he's a pastor.

Pastor Brad posted in large part because of an argument er... make that a discussion, we had last week. My position is that the Conservative theocracy is dangerous and must be opposed by Christians who recognize the danger. Atheists have no credibility inside the Christian community; they can only say "look at the problem". Other Christians can say "this is wrong". So Pastor Brad has said its wrong - I wonder how long it will take before the backlash starts?

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Debunking The 9/11 Myths

This link proves that something good can come from being on a Libertarian email distribution list. Popular Mechanics - Debunking The 9/11 Myths is a good layman's look at the lunatic fringe conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11. Heck, normally it is fringe libertarians spreading these types of conspiracy rants.

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stencil on Sunset

I shot a few pictures of Stencil, Sticker, and graffiti on Saturday. I've posted a few other shots to my Flickr account.

I have a funny story associated with this picture. I parked in a loading zone to shoot this. Sunset was empty so I figured nobody would care. I took a dozen photo's in about 10 minutes, then left. As I was sitting in my truck changing lenses, a parking enforcement officer tapped on my window. He wanted to write me a parking ticket. A lied and said I had been taking a cell phone call. He busted me - he had been watching me take this photo. We talked for a few more minutes. I did my best "cut me a break" act. It worked! He ended up saying, "I'll cut you a break, and here it is. No ticket if you give me your cell phone number.” I gave him a friend’s number and booked it out of there.

Note to friend - when Jeff calls, be nice. I think he’s your type.

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Not in Waco

There is one thing that I can be absolutely take to the bank. This NWS billboard will never be displayed in Waco, Texas. The product advertised is Joe's Jeans. I just wish Joe would put his jeans back on. I mean, who needs to see Joe’s ass while driving down Sunset Blvd?

Why "not in Waco?". If you have ever been there, you would understand.

See the full set of six picture here.

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TOP News Photos of Past Decade

I love photography. It has the ability to capture the heart and soul of a moment and then burn it into your psyche, indelibly branding a moment in time. It does not have to be a picture by a trained photographer. A picture my sister took of her daughter will always say Christine at six to me. A picture I took of my great-grandmother will always evoke a memory of show tunes played by piano with infinite patience on hot summer days. Photography is powerful – these photos are some of the best of the best.

My favorite is "God help us". I felt helpless watching the Katrina mess. I still do.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Roller Rapper was spotted in Hollywood today

This is wrong on so many levels. First, what the hell is the Roller Rapper? To my horror, I found that Robby Love a.k.a. the Roller Rapper, is on tour across American. I happened to run into his film shoot on Hollywood blvd this afternoon. He was skating near my truck, or more accurately, moving his feet and wiggling his ass within a few feet of my widow. Like I said, wrong on so many levels. My second thought was “gay”.

I was stuck in traffic and forced to endure his show. The “film crew” tried to wave me off when they saw my Nikon, but I persisted. It took five minutes to clear this rolling mess, yet I could not put it behind me. Something nagged at my mind the rest of the day. Who is this guy? Accourding to his website, Robby Love says he combines his love of roller-skating with '70s-style funk to create pop music that celebrates fun without sex, drugs and violence.

I checked his website, he likes the ladies, or so his says, wink wink. If you don't believe me, watch his video (warning, it will burn your eyes). Think bad rapping, roller disco, 3rd grade lyrics, and an even worse video. Bobby Love is no singer, or a rapper, or even American as far as I can tell. He can skate, but so what. He is just creepy strange - the kind of person I keep away from my kids.

A few choice quotes from iFilm:

The Roller Rapper- In another bold move destined to set white culture back two decades, Robbie "Roller Rapper" Love is out on a mission to make music child friendly by removing everything cool and substituting it with an overbearing sense of terribleness. Watch him spin around and sing poorly over generic beats while looking like a bad joke of a human being. I guess that's something. Strangely, for a guy wanting to remove sex from music, his music video has a lot of scantly clad women, not to mention a fair share of baffled black people."

I watched this video. I'd rather watch the late Chris Farely take a dump after eatting burritos all day. This guy is an idiot. No sex in his videos? Check out the girls in his music video. Scantily dressed, and almost as idiotic as Roller Rapper is. Here's a tip for you, Roller Rapper. Move your dumb 42 year old ass out of your parents' basement, get a REAL job, and quit embarrassing yourself. Please.

A few links:
Rapper rolls in to cheer up kids
Hanging out with ... Roller Rapper Robby Love
Roller Rapper' encourages teens to enjoy positive fun

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A photography day

I took my wife and cousin to see Beowulf and Grendel in west LA today. While they were watching the movie, I took some time to travel the area looking for interesting things to shoot. I found this shot under a bridge near Giant Robot on Sawtelle. I was looking for graffiti or stencil art, but ended up just doing some people watching.

I also went into an open house in Beverly Hills. It was such fun to see how the other half lives. They were asking 3.5 million for the house. I would have been happy with the maids quarters.

I'll post a few more pictures here soon. I shot over 100 pictures today. A good rule of thumb for me is one keeper for every 40 shot. I like a few pictures from todays batch, so I may post some here and some to my flicr blog.

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Speaking of collecting odd things

This random blog "next blogged" to my blog. He collects bandanas - I think. Visit Coleccion de bufandas to see for yourself.

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Do you like signs?

Then is for you! This photographer collects street signs. His blog is full of them, and so is his house. I understand the obsession, I collect pictures of bumper sticker photo's myself - he collects the real signs.

...collecting street signs and traffic lights — the legal way. I buy them from eBay; I dig for them at antique stores and flea markets; and once in a while, a highway department is generous enough to hook me up (albiet not very often).

Bottom line: I don't steal them. So don't call the cops on me.

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Our dogs are fed on Jehovah's Witnesses

I must file this one under; thank god I don't live in the UK. A British woman was ordered to remove a sign that had been in her garden for 30 years. Our dogs are fed on Jehovah's Witnesses. It is a clear case of political correctness gone way to far. Should we really be worried about offending Jehovah's Witnesses? They are second only to Mormon missionaries in total annoyance factor. The JWs are good for at least four early Saturday morning visits per year here at the Mojoey household (that’s 40 visits in the last ten years folks). A sign to discourage unwanted solicitors is much better than answering the door in ones unmentionables. What is this world coming too?

I have a stork in my garden.

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Trouble talking to god?

Well now you too can buy the Prayer Antenna. For three simple payments of 75.99, the Prayer Antenna will be shipped directly to your doublewide.. With this unique prayer amplifier, god is sure to hear every word of your prayers. Hurry, order now, supplies are limited.

If you order today and say you heard here on Deep Thoughts, we will include special prayer recording software at no extra cost. A $100 value if you order within the next 12 hours. Simply record a prayer, then schedule it to be delivered at various times throughout the day. Hit rate tracking is available for a small additional charge.

OK - for those of you with no sense of humor - it is supposed to be art. Bad art, but art nonetheless, so like piss Christ, it must be ok. The prayer software is real – unbelievable, but real.

Hat Tip Presurfer
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Friday, July 28, 2006

Artist Makes Children Cry to Remind Her of Bush

Photographer Jill Greenberg has whipped up a storm of controversy with her new exhibition, End Times. Her concern was to depict what she says reminded her of the "helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation."

-So let me get this straight - because she feels helpless and hates GWB, she briefly tortured toddlers in an attempt to make them cry so she could take their pictures, exploit their pain to get a show, and then make some dough. She sounds like a peach.

Her pictures are nice.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Jesus in a Hawaiian food container

Call me crazy, but when I opened my Hawaiian fried chicken combo tonight, the special sauce had formed an image of Jesus in the lid. My inner Ferengi told me to calculate how much it would be worth to sell this apparition on eBay before I had even reached for my camera. I thought about saving the food too, but I figured it was a mere vessel for this miracle, so I ate it; except for the sticky rice, too many carbs.

My wife could not see it. I traced the outline of the jaw, showed the lips, eyes and nose. I even showed her the outline of his hair. He parts his hair on the right. I’m going to be rich!

Now that I look at Jesus, he could be the Virgin Mary too, or maybe Bob Marley, he was a demigod, that could be worth something. In a certain light, it could be Vishnu. I wonder if Vishnu appears to his believers in fast food containers? It was Hawaiian food after all, I think Vishnu prefers Indian food, oh heck, I could say it was Indian food. Muhammad is out. I undertand Muslims don't like pictures (or cartoons) of the prophet. Muslims please note, this image looks nothing like the prophet Mohammad. I see big money coming my way. Yep big money - or a letter bomb.

Rich I tell you, I’m going to be rich!

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9/11 Caller - Tower Collapses While on Phone

Kevin Cosgrove is on the phone with 911 operators on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center when it collapses. Do not watch if easily disturbed.

I listened to this a few minutes ago. It reminded me of how I felt after I watched Faces of Death a few years ago; numb, totally numb. Kevin Cosgrove died, and if you listen closely, you will experience a small part of the terror he must have felt. What kind of lunatic would perpetuate such a horrific crime? Cosgrove suffered. It is sometimes easy to forget the hell these people went thought that horrible day. This short video brings it all back home.

I remember watching TV after the first plane hit. I thought it was an accident. I watched for a time and then got ready for work. As I left for work, my wife caught me in the driveway to tell me a second plane had hit the other tower. The world changed then, I know I will remember it the rest of my life. This video helped me remember that I was angry at the time, but that time has pushed my anger aside. Why is that? I still want to be angry.

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Scientists discover evolutionary origin of fins, limbs

This midline -- think of the dorsal, tail and anal fins of a fish - is where the genetic template to produce fins originated, about 100 million years before paired fins evolved and about 200 million years before paired fins evolved into limbs, according to University of Florida genetics researchers.

*** just testing the post function from digg - sorry about the mess ***

Still - it is a great find and another link in the evolutionary chain.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Republican Hypocrisy on Teen Pregnancy

Bob Geiger wrote Republican Hypocrisy on Teen Pregnancy for The Huffington Post. I don’t normally read The Huffington Post, it is a little to far to the left for me to take without a heavy dose of critical thinking. However, anything written that references James Dobson is hitting my news filter these days. Geiger highlights Republican hypocrisy and disregard for the welfare of American teens by passing s.493, a bill that made it a crime to go around parental-notification laws by transporting pregnant minor across state lines for an abortion, without include language that supports education.
"The Secretary of Health and Human Services may make grants to States, local educational agencies, State and local public health agencies, and nonprofit private entities for the purpose of carrying out programs of family life education, including education on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, and education to support healthy adolescent development.'"

This statement was apposed by Republicans who mouthed Dobson’s position that abstinence is the only way to prevent teen pregnancy. To quote Tom Coburn (R-OK) “How many people really think it's in the best interest of young people to be sexually active outside of marriage? Does anything positive ever come from that?"

Abstinence is one technique, and I must admit, it is a good technique. However, it is not the only answer to the problem. It happens to be the Christian answer to the problem, and therein lay the problem. The Dobsonian abstinence position held by the religious right is not supported by science. It is based on a moral postion. No wonder Bush likes it. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) tired to interject evidence to support reduced pregnacy rates tied to education and the use of contraception.

"The U.S. teen pregnancy rate is the highest by far among developed countries, and here is some of the evidence we use to prove this.

"In Germany, the teen pregnancy rate is 16 per 1,000. The U.S. rate is 84 per 1,000. I ask my colleagues to look at this chart which shows several countries teen pregnancy rates compared with the U.S. This is teen pregnancy rate for ages 15 to 19, among developed countries per 1,000 persons. In Sweden, it is 25 young women per 1,000; in France, it is 20 young women per 1,000; in Canada, 46; in Great Britain, 47; and here we are. Are we the winners in this contest? I hardly think so. We have 84 unintended teenage pregnancies per 1,000 persons."

Lautenberg was unsuccessful. The bill passed 65-43 without language supporting funding education. There vote is anther clear example of legislated morality and highlights the current republican disregard for Science and desire to mold America in the Christian image. It is frightening. We must vote these irrational beings out of public office. It is the only solution.

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Evangelical's faulty logic

Have you ever wondered why Evangelical Christians don't support efforts to curb global warming? Read Evangelicals Push Back on Global Warming.:
"Much secular thinking about the environment includes a right to abortion. Why is that?' he asked. 'Well, we want to keep the population down because human beings are nothing but users and polluters."
I am speechless.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Behold - a 21st Century Nutball

Damascus will be destroyed on August 3rd. At least that is the pet bible code lunitic rant at Seculo 21st Century. To quote peterlove144,
There is a very, very high probability that biblical prophecies about the complete destruction of Damascus, the capital city of Syria, will be fulfilled on August 3rd 2006 in consequence of the present war between Israel and hezbollah in Lebanon and northern towns in Israel.
Peterlove144's post is long, complicated, and filled with innumerable bible passages and mysterious references. All proof of only one thing, this guy is a nutball. You see, the kidnapping of Gilead Shalit, the subsequent war in Lebanon, and the price of fish paste at the local 7/11, were all foretold TEN years ago in The Bible Code. All you need to do is see the code man, see the code. Right - I've got some property....

Lebanon is going to be nuked – and the code found in the Peshitta Aramaic New Testament proves it! Is there any wonder why I am an Atheist? Do people of faith actually believe this crap? This theory is absolutely NUTBALL. The Bible Code is complete fiction. Only an idiot would believe this kind of drivel.

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Presidental Shitspeak

Harry Shearer of The Simpson’s wrote a short post about a comedic impression of President Bush he produced to commemorate Bush’s recent gaff. He aired to short rap song on last Sunday’s Le Show. The song is funny. I listen to it once and had a good laugh at the President. But it is also quite hateful. I would think it is typical of the Left’s view of the President as a bumbling frat boy. On a second and third listen, I started to realize the Shearer was reaching. Like many others on the Left, he is hoping to paint the President’s mistake as proof that Bush is an embarrassing oaf. I will not go into why this is so, there is too much available on the web addressing this subject already. I will say that the Liberal Left can be just as dense as the Christian Right when it comes to irrational positions on important issues.

What did Bush say in his off mike moment? “See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over."

The Left is mad because the word “shit” makes the US look bad and makes the office of the President less Presidential. Right – like the whole Monica Lewinsky cigar episode helped our image? Bush said shit, but he also said that the best way to end the war is to get Syria to stop Hezbollah. Which is more important, shit or Hezbollah? (OK – maybe you should not answer that)

If the President drops an S-bomb from time to time, it really does not matter. People cuss all the time, it is a small thing in comparison to some of the other issues of our day. Yet the left, and those who posted comments on Shearer’s blog post, think it is proof of Bush's derangement. I don’t agree with Bush or many of his polices. I don’t like how the war in Iraq is unfolding, nor do I like how the religious right influences Bush’s decisions. In short, I don’t like Bush much. However, Common sense tells me that dropping a S-bomb is not worth press coverage. Yet the Left is acting like he has exposed himself in public. It is nuts.

My favorite comment from the Shearer post:
I lived with an alcoholic crackhead for five years. The woman popped just about every pill imaginable (including stealing my pain medication after I broke my arm), went out of her way to find criminals to hang out with (even brought them home when I was at work), and her parents - who should've known better - enabled her like you wouldn't believe. Now, she's living with a drug dealer.

People like that never change, because they think they don't have to. As long as you can get away with it, that's all that matters.

In the President's case, however, he's just just drunk on alcohol, he's also drunk on Power - the worst addiction there is.

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Wacky theories about the war

Die has a great post on wacky theories about the war. They collected interviews with Israeli-bashing personalities from all over the globe and summarized them with links back to the original content. The article is great read and serves as an eye-opener on those who believe that Israel is the bad actor in this tragedy.

Mohammad Tabaar writing for the BBC
"From Iran's perspective, it is better to confront Israel in the future. Butfrom Israel's point of view, this can be seen as pre-emption."'

Prof. Jorge Hirsch
“As the nuclear holocaust unfolds, some will remember the Lebanon conflict andsubsequent Iran war and blame it on Israel.”

Noam Chomsky
'The arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation."

Sheikh Muhammad
“As a Muslim ummah we are supposed to condemn and object to all forms of aggression and oppression. As a Muslim, we are not allowed to attack others but at the same time we are not supposed to remain an 'easy target' for others. So what is going on has not been initiated by Muslims because Muslims did not occupy any nation or drive their people away. It is the legitimate right of people under occupation and aggression to resist and defend their own lands and families.”

Hassan Nasrallah speaking for Hezbollah
“The Israeli media is talking about Maroun Al-Ras as if it is 'the conquest of Stalingrad.' What actually happened there, according the number of martyrs and the Israelis killed and wounded, is a reflection of the weakness of the Israeli Army.”

My favorite quote is from the comments:
Eric posted:
MY theory is that every thing is happen because the end of the world is at hand as a christian i believe that this was all writen the bible. ***nutball***

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Monday, July 24, 2006

God is Imaginary - 47 simple proofs

An interesting site that attempts to prove that God is completely imaginary. The good people at God is Imaginary put a lot of effort into the site. They actually have 47 proofs. I've never got past the first proof on my own. You know the one I’m talking about - prove it.

(I actually thought the website was God is Imagery - I was disappointed when there were no pictures)

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You are a pirate

You are a pirate - oh, make it stop.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

It’s a game stupid

When does doubt start? It is a question I often ask myself. When did I start to lose my faith? I can point back to a time in late 77 or early 78. I was starting to discover the joys of rock music when my youth pastor Walt Pitman went out of his way to show me the hidden satanic messages in some of the most popular music of the day. I remember sitting on the floor of the youth meeting room listening to Led Zeppelin backwards trying to hear the hidden subliminal message in Stairway to Heaven. My friends all claimed they could hear "Oh here's to my sweet Satan". Not me, I heard music played backwards. Pitman went on to interject Christian rock music into my Consciousness – doubt quickly followed. Christian rock music blew. Rock, played by musicians who had a passion for their music talked to me. My youth pastor’s message of evil intent did not ring true.

The second blow came when Dungeons and Dragons was declared verboten. I was an early adopter. By 77, I had already been playing avidly for a few years. D&D was a game, no devil worship, demonic possession, or heavy violence occurred in any game I participated in (and there were hundreds). One geeky kid build a complex puzzle, other geeky kids tore it to pieces. It was glorious and safe fun conducted with coke, potato chips, and pimple cream. Then one day the Youth Pastor declared it evil. They actually asked us to burn our books. My Christian friends stopped playing. Another crack in my faith developed. I knew from experience that D&D was tame – they (they church) were lying to me.

I no longer play D&D – AOE III has replaced that obsession. I would play D&D again if given the opportunity; it is a fun and a harmless waste of a few hours time.

I was researching AOE III when I followed a link to a D&D post that looked odd: Harry Potter and Dungeons & Dragons: Like Peas in a Pod? it is a few years old, but brings back a few of my 1970 era memories. Are D&D and Harry Potter really evil? I don’t think so. Ah - the doubts begin again.

I decided to check with the ultimate moral authority in America today – that un-credentialed religious morality expert Dr. James Dobson.

What is your position on D&D? (He is against it)
"D & D" includes many elements that are occultic in nature. We’ve even been told by some who were formerly heavily involved in the game that it eventually brought them into contact with demonic activity

What is your position on Harry Potter? (He is against it – subtly)
Our advice comes from verses such as Philippians 4:8 which says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

His website then points you to a review of the movie that states:
First, Rowling's stories—unlike Lewis' or Tolkien's—are neither a Christian allegory, nor do they subscribe to a consistent Christian worldview. And second, we live in a culture that glorifies and promotes witchcraft and the occult. No matter what the essence of Harry’s magic, the effect of it is undoubtedly to raise curiosity about magic and wizardry. And any curiosity raised on this front presents a danger that the world will satisfy it with falsehood before the church or the family can satisfy it with truth.

I can translate - if Dobson says its bad, put on your thinking caps and look a little deeper - it is most likely OK.

Got to go - it's time for another thrilling game of AOE III - I think I'll be Spanish today. Dado como un cerdo!

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The lies we tell ourself

According to Nick Jahn of Portage, Christians are suffering a period of religious persecution. You see, last year he put on a “Critical Mass” day full of Christian activies and music at Pauquette Park. The event was a failure. He blames Atheists of course. Ah… whatever.

Looking a little deeper, one can sense that 18-year-old Nick might be blame shifting, and managing the message, in case his second attempt at a day of smoke, drug, and alcohol free musical bliss is a failure. Nick was quoted as saying:
"In general, society looks down on religion, saying don't push your religion on me. But they're pushing their religion on me --the atheist part of society. Atheism is a religion too, that says there is no God. It's a two way street."
OK, he is an 18 year old kid, so I will cut him some slack. First, atheism is not a religion. The 3% of Americans who claim to be atheists simple deny the existence of god. Most of us do not care that much about what Christians do, as long as they are not trying to mold us in their image. There is no two-way street here. It’s an eight lane freeway with a few stranded atheists on the meridian. Your problem is not atheists; it is the great mass of the un-churched. That segment of population who are not practicing Christians and who do not care enough to define themselves as atheist or agnostic. They are the MTV-Sportsline-CSI generation, too caught up in self-interest to attend a Christian music event or to explore their lack of faith beyond reading the Da Vinci Code. They sure as hell don't care what you do.

If people do not attend the festival it is because it was poorly planned, poorly booked, or poorly advertised – or all three. If by some miracle the apathetic un-churched masses show up for your event, the music had better be technically perfect and good, or the fickle public will leave. I suggest a little SRV, played by an all-Christian band of course, followed by a recreation of Jesus’ first miracle. You might succeed in putting on a good show and saving a few souls at the same time.

Of course, if you want to get a few Christians together in a park on a Saturday morning to slap each other on the back and talk about how the Atheists are bringing you down, have at it. However, you are lying to yourself, and that is not exactly honest now is it?

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Hot day

It was 104 at my house in Buena Park Saturday. Of course, we visited my sister in Temecula to celebrate my Niece’s baby shower. It was 112... and humid, and crowded, and really wet because of the rain, and scary because of the thunder and lightning. At least my sister has a nice pool. The kids loved it.

It's about 2:00 AM Sunday morning as I post this. My house is still over 90. I really need to buy air-conditioning. This is miserable.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Counter Strike in China

I was in China on business in early July. Never one to stay at the hotel myself, I ventured out into Suzhou to see what the locals did for fun. A work acquaintance had asked me if I played Counter Strike (CS to those in the know). I was evasive in my response, but learned that it was popular with the locals. They play in Internet Clubs, which turned out to be a Chinese version of The American style Internet Café. I asked the hotel staff for a recommendation, and then set off in a cab for a CS adventure.

I arrived at a small building cramped with computers and all manner of people after a ten-minute cab ride. I asked the attendant if I could rent a computer, he obliged. For 80 RNB I was given access to the internet on a Chinese computer for three hours. I saw that nearly everyone was playing CS, so I looked for the icon. After a short wait, I was allowed into a game. That was when the fun started. A group of young people had noticed my activities. As soon as I logged into CS, they started clapping, screaming and pointing. By the time the first game started, 15 people were leaning over my shoulder while trying to watch my every move. I died at the hands of a sniper after 27 seconds; the room went wild.

I was alternating between team CT and team T (the good guys and the bad guys). Every five minutes a coke would appear in front of me, my picture would be taken, or I would be offered a very nasty Chinese cigarette. I think I was killed by every person in the room at least one time. At one point, I was sure they were saying, “after you, no I insist, after you” to each other, right before a bullet would find me. I play a sniper myself and killed a bunch of these CS nerds during our time together, but the real joy was in seeing the kick they got out of kicking my ass.

After three hours, I quit and headed back to the hotel for a little R&R. Besides, America was waking up, so I had to hit my email.

- My son Mike and I play CS all the time (last night till 1:30 AM). It is our bonding game. I love it.

- Richard (if you read this), I still think you win the Tech Geek of the Month award for July.

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Cool Link - Names through time

I came across this surfing. It is very cool. The Baby Name Wizard: NameVoyager

Friday, July 21, 2006

Gay marriage and divorce

In May of 2004, I wrote a short post celebrating the marriage of Julie and Hillary Goodridge and their landmark first ever legal same-sex marriage. At the time, I hailed their marriage as a significant step forward for civil rights in the United States. In the back of my mind, I wondered about the new crop of gay marriages. I wondered when we would see the first gay divorce. I guessed maybe five years down the road. I was wrong.

Over half of all marriages end in divorce, why would a gay marriage be any different. I had 50 hits on my origianl post today. When I followed up to see why, I found that gay trailblazers Julie and Hillary Goodridge are separated and heading for a divorce. That’s right, after a little more than two years, the Goodridges are calling it quits.

What does this mean? It means absolutely nothing! In my heart of hearts, I had wished them a happy and healthy marriage. After all, there is a child involved. The fact that they intend to divorce simply cements their normalcy. So many of my acquaintances, though few of my friends, are already on their second and third marriages. Why would we hold gay marriages to a different standard?

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Why did god give me eyes?

...and a camera?

Sorry, I had to post it. Whenever I see an ass bigger than my own, I have to post it. It is bigger than my own right?

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DIY Panoramic Video Tests

This clip is care of Video Thing. It is one of the coolest things I've seen in years. I've got to get one.

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Day Light

I was drawn to the golden color. I mean - it looks golden to me.

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A cell phone moment

She looked at peace. When I walked by she seemed pissed.

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A red window

A security window inside an old factory in China.

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Collins and Kant

Francis S. Collins is a former Atheist, now Christian, with a interesting message. Collins believes that science and religion are compatible. Collins position is reminiscent of the 17th century philosopher Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason – which describes separate spheres of influence between the metaphysical and physical. Simply stated, science cannot be used to explain religion any more than religion can be used to explain science. The two spheres of influence are separate; one sphere can be used to explain the physical, the other to explain the metaphysical. One does not preclude the other. Therefore it is possible for the Pope to support the Theory of Evolution, and for a scientist to be a practicing Christian.

Of course, if you have no faith – well... you’ve still got a problem.

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Dobson: Gays Will Destroy the Earth

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday. He defended Dobson’s postion of defining marriage as between a man and a woman. He said that Dobson really cared about the children, which was why he worked so hard to protect marriage. I disagreed, and despite having my position called venomous, stated that Dobson was motivated by a believe that gays were actually mentally ill and therefore needed to be helped toward normalcy or cured, much like Bush’s idiotic stance on abstinence and contraception. Dobson is not protecting children; he is hurting a segment of our population that does not share his world view. Dobson does this by funding legal action and by making public statements like this one.

"Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage," Dobson said. "It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."
Dobson is overselling his point. Destroy the world? It looks like his issue might be with gays after all.

I love being able to say “told you so”.

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Tim Gruber - Visual Journalist

I found this via Digital Photograhy School in a telling stories post. In Search of the Right Road. I would like to do something like this featuring graffiti.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

RIP - Dorothy Halton

I experienced an African American religious service today at the funeral of my friend and co-worker Dorothy Halton. I must say, I was moved by the uplifting and joyous celebration led by the Baptist pastor. He nailed it. It was amazing.

About 60 coworkers arrived by bus to express the love and admiration we all felt for Dorothy. Many retirees who had not talked to her in years were also present. Dorothy cared for all us and never missed a chance to tell us.

My favorite Dorothy story: I was walking into work one morning with my head down and a bad attitude. It is quite common for me to get “bad news” support calls on my drive in. This morning it had been particularly bad. The time was 8:00 AM and I was already thinking about escaping to the park for a cigar. Dorothy stopped me as I walked by her desk and grabbed my forearm. She liked to rub the hair on my arm for some reason; it was her way of saying hi. On this day she did her normal rub, a simple back and forth motion executed with her right hand while her left hand held my mine in a light handshake. She always followed with a smile and the phrase “I love you Joseph, and Jesus loves you too”. However, that day Dorothy did something a little different, she recited a short poem.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

I found out later it was a Wordsworth poem. She told me she had memorized it to lift the spirits of somebody she knew who was down. I guess I qualified as down that day. It sure lifted my spirits. Dorothy was good person. I will miss her.

RIP Dorothy Halton

Obama - I like this guy

I came across this while researching James Dobson Obama Says You Gotta Have Faith. What can I say? I like this guy. I suspect he will make a fine President some day.
I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.
I recommend reading the whole speech. It is uplifting, even for a man with no faith. Why? Because a man like this will look out for my rights.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Aperture 78

In 1978 I took a photography class. I failed with a solid “F”. I made no effort to learn from the photography instructor. He was a hack who coached the football team; photography was his teaching chore. He took lousy and uninspired snapshots. He taught his students the same thing. I was not interested.

I stole (actually borrowed without permission) a hardback art book called Aperture 78 from the reference material intended for the class. The work of Joel Meyerowitz was featured on its pages. Meyerowitz inspired me to start my life long love affair with photography. I had forgotten about the magazine, and about its impact on my young life, until my recent visit to Bookman Used Books. The book looked like an old friend to me, I did not know why. I paid $7.95 and took it home.

I spent the day today trying to recover from a bad case of jet lag. In my idle time, I reread Aperture 78. I don’t remember when it clicked for my, but suddenly long lost memories came flooding back in. I had spent endless hours in a darkroom and even more hours stalking images with a borrowed camera trying to produce images like Meyerowitz. High School is largely a blur for me, a hard knock on the head and many long years have chased everything but the highlight events from my memory. I remember learning to love photography now. I remember studying this book as if it held some kind of absolute truth. My teacher told me I was wasting my time – he suggested that perhaps I should take a shop class. (I had already failed shot by then)

I tried to recreate the look and the unique color of Meyerwitz’s images. In some cases succeeding, in others failing miserably. It did not matter. I had fun learning. I moved on to other things in life, but I never lost my love for creating a good image. It was nice to recapture that magic today.

I checked in on Mererowitz while writing this post. He has remained active and very productive. He was at ground zero on 9/11. His stunning images are well worth your time.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

mmm... KFC

I'm suffering from a bit of the jet lag this evening. Work is going to be a bitch tomorrow.

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Bookman used books

Bookman in the City of Orange is a great little used bookstore. I was able to find two vintage Aperture magazines at a very reasonable price in their photography section. The selection is deep. Their photography section had several rare art book publications for under $30 each. I was in heaven. Bookmans in Tucson is better, but this store is much closer.

Bookman takes trades for store credit as long as they need the books. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly. The store's best feature is its want list. You can signup for it at their website. They will notify you when a copy of the book you are interested in arrives at either of their Orange County stores. The service is pretty cool.

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Life Hack - Defogging a lens

I have just returned from a business tip to China. While in China, I was troubled by rapid internal fogging of my detachable Nikkor lens due to high humidity and temperatures in Shanghai. My Nikon D70 was useless for days at a time. At first, allowing the camera to acclimate took care of the problem. However, walking from building-to-building caused a series of rapid humidity and temperature changes, which eventually resulted in a fogged internal lens element. After 15 hours of waiting, the lens was still partially fogged. My camera was unusable – well it could take pictures, but the results looked like a something a 1st year art student would try to pass off as art.

I was able to fix the problem because I remembered an old life hack from years ago when I fixed a manual camera that had been dropped in a lake. I asked directions to a good photography store, and then jumped in a cab for a short ride across town. I purchased ten 10g bags of silica desiccant for 20 RNB (~about $2.25). When I retuned to the hotel, I asked for a large Ziploc style plastic bag. I detached the lens from my camera, attached both lens covers, and then placed the lens in the Ziploc bag with all ten packets of silica desiccant. I hanged the bag from a coat hanger in a dark closet so it would not be subjected to the air conditioner. After about two hours, the internal fogging was gone. I kept the whole camera in the plastic bag for the remaining two days of my trip when it was not in use. When I wanted to shoot pictures, I waited for the camera and lens to acclimate before removing them from the bag. Since acclimation allowed the lens to reach the same temperature as its surroundings without the humidity, fogging was minimal.

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Construction Project - Suzhou PRC

My latest trip to China was decidedly unproductive from a photographic standpoint. The high humidity played hell with my equipment, rendering my primary lens inoperable for days at a time due to internal fogging. I was able to shoot a few photographs in Suzhou after I figured out how to defog My lens. I’ll publish my lens defogging life hack in another post. I had a chance to tour a few under construction factories in Suzhou economic development zone. I was able to shoot a few technical pictures for my work and managed to shoot a few pictures for my own pleasure too.

This shot is of a construction projects nearing completion. Construction workers are rigging the factory floor for incoming equipment. I like to try to capture the feel of place when I shoot photographs. The really-friggen-hot and too-damn-humid-to-breathe feel of the space did not come across in this photograph as much as the languid indifference of the workforce. Of course, I felt for the workers, it was too damn hot to care about much of anything.

btw - I think Suzhou translates to "the land of a million mosquitoes".

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The Daily Show on Scientology

Scientology - Beck, Tom Cruise & space aliens. I see the connection now. yes - it is all so clear.

hat tip to RG for this fine video link.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Portman To Bare All

It seems that Natalie Portman will appear nude in the new film Goya’s Ghost. I’ve always been a huge Goya fan, he wrote music right? No he was a photographer – oops I mean painter. I’ve always been a huge fan, huge. I’ll have to see this film the moment it comes out just to stay in touch with his art. I’m an artist too – well I take pictures anyway.

Yep, I’m a Goya fan, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I hope my wife does not read my blog.

Mod Tude

What can I say - this guy's attitude was larger than size of his bike.

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Chinese graffiti

The only graffiti I see in China is a quickly scribbled telephone number. They tend to be in desolate places. Most streets have clean up crews of about three people per mile who clean the streets, sidewalks, and shrubbery. My guess is that these street crews are death on graffiti.

I’ve been told this is and advertisement for a travel service. I have my doubts. I think it is more likely to be the Chinese equivalent of “for a good time call”.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Larry Darby disavows atheism

...and all I can say is thank god.

Larry Darby's rants his way through an unintelligent, racist, bigoted, and totally bizarre explanation for why he is disavowing atheism. In case you’ve forgotten who Larry Darby is, please read Good Atheists and Bad Atheists where I make a point of declaring Larry Darby an official ex-libertarian and now ex-atheist nutball. If I could have kicked him out of the atheist club, I would have done so a long time ago. (I am still trying to find somebody who will let me join!)

Sample Rant:
Contrary to expectation, many atheist member organizations or many groups that allegedly represent free thinkers were quick to jump on the Judeo-Marxist bandwagon and dissociate themselves from me, simultaneously demonstrating hypocrisy or rejection of principles of freedom of religion and freedom of speech or freedom to criticize the religion of Judaism. To put it another way, those groups hold that it is OK to criticize Christianity but not Judaism or its influences on American society. The Atheist Law Center held no such sacred cows or taboos… (it gets much worse).
The good news is that Larry Darby appears to be a Christian:
I agree with moral precepts put forth by Jesus of Nazareth and I am Christian in a sense that Jesus of Nazareth would approve.

Larry Darby might just be the most nutball of the nutballs I have profiled over the years. I will have to watch this one very closely. He might just be the clock tower breed of nutball. You never really know.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Blue night in Shanghai

I awoke at 2:00 AM this morning to see Shanghai transformed into a city of blue. I snapped this picture to record the image, it is close to what I saw. I think the blue came from a combination of the water vapor in the air, internal room lights, external flood lights, and some fogging of my window, all combined and reflecting on my window. the blue gradually shifted to black as the morning broke.

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Gate 69A

I am in China this week. This is my "happy to be in another friggen airport" picture. The flight to China is 15 hours. I got up at 6:00 am to make a 10:30 from LA to SF, then a 2:30 to China. I got to my hotel in Shanghai at about 10:00 PM. with no sleep on the plane, it made for a long day.

The PRC blocks direct access to my blog, so I have to cheat to post when I am here. I have to ask, why would and atheist country block an atheist blog? It must be my sense of humor and affinity for free market economics.

btw - when I get around to tagging this it will be tagged as "how to make a picture without getting arrested". Apparently, the authorities don't like it when a big fellow like me stares into his camera for 5 minutes while making a picture. They actually asked me to show them what I was shooting. When I said I was shooting the 60s era lighting fixtures they asked me to show them my camera. I pulled out the mini disk and said “digital”, thinking that they were trying to cop my images (why – I really don’t know). They wanted to see my shots. I slowly scrolled through 10 shots of the same thing - It made for an interesting five minutes. One of the security types asked – why do you shoot this crap? It’s a compulsion buddy – a compulsion.

Why do I attract attention?

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Chinese Subway

I had the pleasure of eating my first subway ham and cheese sub in Waigaochao China today. It was nothing like what we get in the states. For starters, it was served wet with a “hot sauce” that was neither hot nor a sauce. It was more like red flavored mayonnaise. The meat was thin sliced and skimpy as was the cheese. The sub was smaller than normal and significantly lighter too. If I had to guess, I would say it is about 20% smaller than a normal 6 inch sub, call it a light 5 incher. Despite its shortcomings - in the land of questionable meats & eats – it was damn good eating.

I would have taken a picture – but it did not last long enough to pose.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Anne Frank diary burned by skinheads

Via LGF, German Neo-Nazis crash a gala to burn Anne Frank diary. I am speachless.
The neo-Nazis descended on a field in the village of Pretzien, Saxony, where local people were re-enacting a pagan rite celebrating midsummer
They also burned an American flag. I am not sure I understand why, maybe they did not hear about the Congressional debate of a few weeks ago. Burning the flag apparently offends conservative Republicans.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Birthday Brad

My friend Pastor Brad turned 43 today. Happy Birthday Brad!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Had a Dat – Dr. Israel

I picked up the new Sublime DVD "Look At All The Love We Found – A Live Tribute to Sublime" a few days ago at the new Tower Records store in Buena Park. The DVD package has a bonus CD containing 9 live tracks recorded during the concert. Dr. Israel performs a kick ass version of Had A Dat. This one song is worth the price of the whole DVD ($19.95).

The DVD is great – my wife is also a Sublime fan, it was funny to hear her ask “who is that” every time a new band took the stage. Fishbone, Blackalicious, The Ziggens, Los Lobos, Long Beach Shortbus, and Bargain Music to name a few – they all rocked. This DVD is a great addition to my concert collection, and to my Sublime collection.

Speaking of my concert collection, my son and I watched Stevie Ray Vaughan play Texas Flood today on his Live in Austin DVD. We’ve been playing Guitar Hero together and can’t seem to get past the medium level on Texas Flood. After watching SRV play, we have a much better understanding of what it will take. He was a god, we are air guitar mortals.

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Internal Detail - DSC

This picture was taken in the Discover Science Center in Santa Ana. It is a life sized pin wall portrait of some little rug rat. This was a pain to shoot, hand held, low light, with lots of distractions.

An attendant stood to the side. He must have the worst job at the museum. He pushes the pins back in after the kids push them out. Over and over and over again. He must really need the cash.

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External detail - DSC

I took my camera on a family trip to the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana. The building was the most interesting aspect of the trip for me. I loved the colors and the texture. Inside - Oh my god there were a million little kids - is fun for the kiddies. We did the new Dino Quest attraction. It was fun in a not-designed-for-adults-to-have-fun kind of way. My son loved it.

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Have you been fogaled?

Pastor Kevin Sorensen at Random Thoughts from a Clutter Mind posts about the not so Christian antics of Pastor Brad Fogal and his family on NBC's Treasure Hunters. It seems that the Fogals have publicly screwed two other teams, accepted help without reciprocating, and agreed as a family that lying is OK as long as they pray for forgiveness later. Sorensen points out that we should not judge all pastors by the example pastor Brad and his overachieving family demonstrates. I agree - I know a different Pastor Brad quite well; he is not at all like the Fogals.
Sorensen observes - It seems that this family, the Fogals, have back-stabbed, cheated, lied and been caught on camera as saying, “It’s okay to fib a little; we’ll ask for forgiveness later.” The other contestants are now asking one another if they’ve been “fogal-ed” by the Fogal family.
Sorensen goes on to ask the question – why would a pastor even do this?

B-Side at TVgasm has a different take on the Fogals:
Luckily, there was one bright spot in last night's show: the continuing villainy of the Fogal Family. They're shaping up to be the second coming of The Weaver family, and while it will be hard to top Linda, Rolly, Rachel, and Rebecca, this pastor and his clan sure will give them a run for the money. Now, if only we could care about the rest of the show as much.
B-side sees the Fogals as pure evil entertainment. I am not so sure he is very far off the mark. The show seems to be playing up the dark side of the Fogals. I wonder how much of it is editing and how much is the real thing.

Cheese Says observes that the Fogals seem have a lot of faith but are not good people. He asks, should the faithful stand by the Fogals or call them to account?
…but to be dirty after you have been helped out is just plain disgusting. Then afterwards saying a prayer to help you deal with your guilt, I wish the producers would have done a little fun editing with this and after the Fogal’s prayed, there was a little voice from above that said NO to their prayers. That would have been classic.
I've always felt you can gauge the true character of a person by how they respond to stress. I have been in several intensely stressful situations over the years. Like a few years ago when a key business system failed and a friend and I were left trying to save the business for another friend who could live up to his responsibility. Ten days of intense stress and the worst that happened between us was a lighthearted competition to determine who could smoke the most cigarettes and drink the most coffee. What about our other friend then - well, if you cannot trust him, how can he be a friend?

There is an old joke about me that says I only trust people after I’ve got drunk with them. This is not true of course. The real story is that I only trust people after I’ve had a chance to test their mettle under stress. I would never trust the Fogals.

Stephen Winzenburg who writes TV’s Greatest has some insider gossip – perhaps the Fogals are getting the shaft.
Producers love to set up caricatures of people but this was particularly shocking. While the other teams worried about working with each other, the Fogals seemed to be the ones with the most "game strategy," namely the most willing to cheat and lie. What a disappointment for Christian characters.
Nah. The show captured Pastor Brad admitting he would lie to win. You make your own bed...

The Fogals go at it in episode three tonight. My prediction is that they will face the wrath of the other teams and lose. That is not to say that the Wild Hanlons don't deserve a quick death too. They are idiots of the highest order. The Wild Hanlons may take the fall tonight instead of the Fogals, but the Fogals deserve to lose.

The best catch phrase of the show so far "Fogal me once and it is my fault, Fogal me twice.."

One last comment on the show - it blows, but at least you get to solve puzzles.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Talk To Action | Generation Joshua

Talk to Action has an interesting post on Christian Religious Supremacy and the youth group Generation Joshua.
Unlike other efforts which seem to be more about general cultural or religious indoctrination, this effort is explicitly political. Given our constitutional commitment to religious freedom and political pluralism, one would think such direct agitations for Christian nationalism would be more cleverly hidden...
I also found a link to Walter Shurden's Flaming Torch Speech via Dr. Bruce Prescott at Mainstream Baptist. Shurden recognizes the threat that Generation Joshua poses to our religious and democratic liberties. Mixing Church and State, the primary aim of Generation Joshua and the Religious Right, is counter to core Christian values, and counter to American values.

Let me be clear at the outset. I am not suggesting that we are on the lip of any kind of political totalitarianism in this country. I don't believe that.

I am suggesting, however, that there are "American Christians" for whom the adjective is more important than the noun.

I am suggesting that some Christian churches in our country have been transformed into political temples and some pastors have embraced the moniker of "patriot pastors."

I am suggesting that devoted theocrats have an eye on the machinery of national and state governments, and that they make no apology for it.

And I am suggesting that a skewed reading of our nation's history is sending forth armies of buck privates scurrying to wreck Jefferson's wall. ...

Generation Joshua is dangerious - This organization much be watched.

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