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Service To A Cruel God

Today’s news that the convicted Boston Marathon bomber had been formally sentenced to death didn’t surprise me. That awful atrocity from April 2013 cut short the lives of three people (one was an eight-year-old boy) and left 260 others injured, some maimed. They gunned down a fourth victim during the manhunt that followed the bombing.Boston-MarathonThese were despicable acts perpetrated by two radicalized Islamic individuals. (No, I have no intention of using either of their names.) Today’s proceedings in a Massachusetts courtroom included three hours of statements from victims and families of the victims before the convicted bomber broke his two-year silence. Continue Reading →

Three Minutes To Midnight

Perform a Google search for the term Doomsday Warning and a curious mixture of results pop up. On one side of the coin stand the naysayers who earlier this year advanced the symbolic Doomsday Clock two minutes because of concerns about global warming / climate change / or what people sometimes call weather.DoomsdayClockOn the coin’s reverse are other naysayers (so-called preppers and survivalists, economic forecasters, purveyors of precious metals, etc.) who are just as certain we’re moving closer to midnight … but their basis for saying so differs from the Doomsday Clock crowd. Continue Reading →

Heroes Or Villains?

The trailer for the DC Comics superhero film, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a hot item this weekend. Watch the trailer here. As a one-time fan of both Batman (the Christian Bale film series from 2005-forward) and Superman (the George Reeves television series of the 1950s), I’m not particularly enthusiastic about forthcoming productions. For me, I want my superheroes to remain the way I remember them.superman batmanThe upcoming film was originally set to release in 2014 and then was delayed to be released this year but was once again pushed back, this time until 2016. The delays are puzzling and the story line has been, so far as I can tell, kept under wraps but the title is intriguing. Are Batman and Superman going to participate in the ultimate challenge and meet face to face in the UFC Octagon? Continue Reading →

A Devouring Angel of Light

One of my friends has a loved one who suffers from chronic, unrelenting pain, a physical issue that rarely ebbs and can’t be controlled by medications (since the guy chooses to remain aware of and active in the world around him). The man has a family and wants to hold onto his job, even though working sometimes pushes the limit of his capabilities. When his pain – on the scale of 1 to 10 – reaches 11, relief won’t come with pat answers or “I feel your pain” catchphrases.   knob-pain-mImpossible as it is to adequately understand someone else’s pain, we’ve all had occasions where our own pain has seemed momentarily unendurable. A woman in labor for thirty hours knows the pain and exhaustion that are usually relieved upon delivery. But even a minuscule splinter can cause terrible and unremitting pain which one might consider unendurable … until the splinter is removed. (I suppose in that sense we must conclude pain is relative.) Continue Reading →

Walking Dead At Downton

On the surface, the two shows (The Walking Dead and Downton Abbey) could not be more different. What they do have in common is – at least here in the central time zone – both shows air at 8 p.m. on Sundays. That requires some juggling, yes, so maybe things are getting slightly muddled in my brain … did Lori have a baby or was that Edith? (Both.) Was Matthew Crawley killed by zombies or a car wreck? (The latter.)downton_abbey_simpsonized_by_adn_z-d6qw7zh

I know, I know! I’ve probably stepped on everyone’s toes by suggesting any of the above. But the huge casts involved in both productions make for some interesting contrasts, don’t you think?Walking-Dead_Simpsonized-by-ADN_hi-660x293Unfortunately, though the shows have been running about the same amount of time, the Simpsonized images (shown above) don’t offer a good comparison for the number of characters. Both shows have numerous recurring (or minor) characters, while Downton appears to have relied on special guest characters whereas Dead has not. Continue Reading →

Deconstructing Fifty Shades of de Sade

Here we are … celebrating Valentine’s Day 2015. It’s a long weekend due to the so-called Presidents’ Day holiday … which was initially a celebration for George Washington’s birthday (the 22nd) … but then was expanded to include Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (the 12th) as well … and when Congress suggested honoring all US presidents with a single holiday to be known as Presidents’ Day, they never actually approved the bill! Still, Presidents’ Day became the default – though unofficial – name anyway! So, Happy Presidents’ Day / Valentine’s Day or Happy Valentine’s Day / Presidents’ Day or if you prefer … Saturday!ValPresDayThis is also a highly-anticipated (by some) blockbuster movie weekend. According to BoxOfficeMojo’s forecast headline, “‘Fifty Shades” To Dominate Valentine’s Day Box Office, the film will “set a handful of box office records” this weekend. The same website’s Friday Report employs an apt headline:  “Moviegoers Submit to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.Continue Reading →

Plugging A Movie

As actors Seth Rogen and James Franco prepared to plug their new movie, The Interview, for its release on Christmas Day, they probably didn’t expect Sony studios to pull the plug on them. But that’s exactly what happened.

interview1The film, billed as an “action-comedy,” is described by reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes as a “guilty pleasure,” “fast and buoyant,” a collision of “the profane with the profound,” and an “admirable” film that “deserves to be seen.” When my grandson arrived home from work this afternoon, he was genuinely miffed that Sony announced it had scrapped the completed project. Continue Reading →

GroupThink On Campus

At Oxford, no less! The story this week shows how discourse on college campuses has become utterly homogenized. It began when the Oxford Students For Life (OSFL) announced they planned to sponsor a traditional debate on the affirmative motion:  “This House Believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All.” Two individuals were scheduled to deliver their responses to this motion. Arguing in favor of the motion, historian Timothy Stanley is an author and blogger who writes for the UK Telegraph. Disputing the motion, Brendan O’Neill is a columnist and blogger who writes for the UK Spectator and edits Sp!ked, an online magazine.oxford debateThe debate was scheduled for Tuesday night, November 18th. When the chosen venue at Christ Church (the Blue Boar Lecture Theatre) withdrew its permission for the event and another venue could not be booked, the event was cancelled. If you want to read more about the controversy, these are some helpful links:  summary at BuzzFeed, the Oxford Students For Life website, a report detailing the “College Censors” vote to withdraw their permission, commentary by O’Neill after the event was cancelled, another summary from vox.com, and finally, links to the statements with which Stanley and O’Neill planned to present as their debate opened … if they hadn’t been banned from the public square.

I also want to include the blow-by-blow commentary of Executive Director of Right to Life Peter D. Williams, who carefully dismantles (with numerous additional links) the claims of those whose efforts successfully quashed this exercise of free speech. Continue Reading →

Doomed To Repeat

Apparently, there are several people who have observed some variation of the quote:  those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Among those to whom this concept is attributed are Edmund Burke and George Santayana.HistoryBookHistory

As a child, history didn’t make it to my Top 3 list. I’ve come to believe that was because my teachers weren’t especially jazzed about it either. It was simply like Latin to them … a dead language, but part of the core curriculum they were required to teach. Later on, when I had a history professor in college who clearly loved history – it was embedded in his DNA, I think – his love was so contagious, every one of his students found they loved it too.

In the years since that history class, I’ve learned just how much I love history. However, one of the things that disappoints me is The History Channel. So often I’ll sit down to view a program I thought I’d enjoy, but much of what is presented is a fantastical approach to history! Conjecture is okay in its place (if you have some reasonable basis for conjecture) but I’m bothered when people naturally think if something has aired on The History Channel, it’s completely factual. Viewers are hoodwinked into believing what’s presented on some programs, without ever knowing it’s not based in fact! Continue Reading →

Radicalized

Horrific things don’t happen in the middle of the country … at least that’s what we who live in the middle of the country have believed for as long as I can recall. Life is usually quiet and laid back and mostly carefree.tornado6

Don’t get me wrong. I know bad things do sometimes happen. Parts of this region are known as tornado alley. I would never minimize the horror of a tornado, but storm shelters and weather warnings have helped us prepare for such events. We’ve learned to look at and read the sky.

But then one day, something almost insignificant happens and everything changes. A troubled man gets fired from his job. This happens almost every day in dozens of places across the middle of the country. Individuals are let go because they can’t quite do the job or the boss no longer needs them or there’s a personality conflict that can’t be resolved or for lots of other reasons. Usually, when a person’s fired, he or she is miffed, slams file cabinets on his or her way out the door and that’s the end of it. Sometimes, they choose to file lawsuits for wrongful termination. Continue Reading →

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