"Patzer sees check, Patzer makes check."

- Bobby Fischer
Can A Pro-Lifer Take The Ice Bucket Challenge?

Yesterday one of our teenagers at church asked if she could use a bucket and ice that belonged to the church so she could take the "ice bucket challenge". I knew nothing of it up to that point. Seemed like a dumb idea, but hey, I'll help anyone do something dumb if it won't hurt them. So some of the youth and I went to the church kitchen got a bucket, and some ice and filled it with water. Another teenager got out his cell phone to film her and her intro speech said something about the "ALS icebucket challenge". Huh? What is this?

So come to find out this thing has become viral and has raised a phenomnelan amount of money for the ALS foundation. The idea is that you either donate $100 or dump ice water on your head and then challenge other friends to do the same...on video.

Kinda fun. Kinda cool. (both literally and metaphorically). At least I thought so.

...and that I also had been challenged. Dude I know challenged me to dump ice on my head. Hey, I'm not gonna back down from that... especially for a good cause, right?

Then I found out that the ALS foundation supports embryonic stem cell research.

Religious News Service reports that as of Tuesday, August 19, 2014, the ALS Association has received $22.9 million in donations since July 29, compared with $1.9 million during the same period last year. This is largely due to the viral popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a simple dare thought up by ALS patient Pete Frates in which participants nominate one another to either videotape themselves being drenched by a bucket of ice water or donating $100 to ALS research.

But anti-abortion advocates are raising the alarm that some of the ALS donations could be going to fund embryonic stem cell research. Rev. Michael Duffy, in a blog post on Patheos.com this week that went viral, warned challenge participants to make sure to fund a "morally acceptable alternative" to the ALS Association, the leading ALS research firm. LifeSite News also reported that ALSA runs its clinical trials with a consortium that uses stem cells originating from electively aborted fetuses.

The ALSA website does tout the benefits of "all kinds of stem cell research." However, ALSA spokesperson Carrie Munk explained to RNS in an email this week that the organization primarily funds adult stem cell research. "Currently, The Association is funding one study using embryonic stem cells ... this research is funded by one specific donor, who is committed to this area of research,” she said. “The project is in its final phase and will come to an end very soon."

CharityNavigator.org gives the ALSA four stars, its highest rating. Forbes.com reported comments from Barbara Newhouse, ALSA's president and CEO, about what they were planning to do with the donations. "My answer is this: invest prudently in helping people with ALS and their families and caregivers in the battle against the disease, while resolutely pursuing all avenues to extend, improve and ultimately save lives."

So what should I do? I went to the ALS website and found this statement.

In her excellent post, Dr. Georgia Purdom gives a thoughtful Christian response. In her conclusion, she writes:
While it is great to raise awareness of this disease, the ALS Association and some of the researchers they support are willing to destroy lives in order to attempt to save lives. This is not an ethical position that a Christian can consistently hold. In light of these concerns, I want to urge you to be careful about whom you offer donations to, especially when it comes to medical research.

Here's another excellent post on the subject.

Lifenews closes their article this way:
ALSA, which is otherwise an excellent organization promoting a very good cause, funds “ethical” research that involves the destruction of human beings to supposedly benefit other human beings.

Wow. A good friend of mine answered the ice bucket challenge by posting his own video on facebook explaining that we should be supporting pro-life research and urged people to donate instead to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute - http://www.jp2mri.org/ ...and THEN he dumped an ice bucket on his head.

Something seemingly fun and good, turns out not to be. Another reason for Christians to be careful and discerning.

The Start of Military Action in Crimea?

I hope this isn't true: Ukrainian soldier 'killed' as troops storm Simferopol base

Ukraine's military says a base in Crimea has been stormed with one serviceman killed, following Russia's signing of a treaty to incorporate Crimea. The Ukrainian premier says the crisis has now become a military one.
I have a special place in my heart for the Crimean region of Ukraine.

Regarding the geopolitical implications, or what's to be done, if anything . . . I don't know. But I do know that a lot of native Ukrainians don't want to be Russian (regardless of the results of the sham vote this weekend) and by far most of the Crimean Tatar people, for whom the memory of Stalin's brutal, murderous deportation is still fresh, don't want to be Russians. My heart especially goes out to them. They are a beautiful people and they've been through more than most of us can imagine.

Lord have mercy.

It's Gone...

I just worked on a post on and off all day....and tried to post it. My login had timed out so it's gone forever.


Arrrrgh. :gwah:

They're Not Fun-Sized

Dear Candy Bar Companies,
Chocolate Candy Bars that are small enough to fit in the palm of my hand are not "fun-sized". Every time I see the side of one of those packages and it says, "Fun-size" I think that you are insulting my intelligence or playing a cruel joke on me. It's like calling a really big bouncer "Tiny" or a chihuahua "Killer". It's funny because it's the opposite.

A Fun-Size candy bar would be one, I don't know, as big as my van. That would be a fun size. But something I can eat in two bites, one if I'm hungry...it's not fun. It's more like a tease. I understand that you don't want to call your candy bars "small". (Maybe the same marketing guys told you that who also changed the term from "used cars" to "Pre-owned".)

So I have some other, much more accurate suggestions:
Smurf Size
Junior Size
Less Guilt Size
Morsel Sized
Two-bites sized
"First of Ten" sized
Halloween sized
Snack Jar sized
"not quite enough" size

"Women's Health"

All politicians, advocacy groups and activists on all sides of the political spectrum tend to spin their words for advantage. But, in my opinion, to get imto truly Orwellian territory look to the abortion rights lobby.

Jonah Goldberg writes today on What 'Women's Health' really means:

When your grandmother gets some bad news, do you tell her: “Well, at least you have your abortion rights”?

Why not? Maybe it’s because whatever you think of abortion, the right to have one is not synonymous with a woman’s health.

But don’t tell that to the liberal group Think Progress. On Twitter, it recently teased some shocking news: “Why 2013 is shaping up to be the worst year for woman’s [sic] health in modern history.”

When I followed to the linked story, there was nothing about a spike in cervical- or breast-cancer rates. Nothing about occupational safety for female workers and no mention of female life expectancy either. Instead, the story was about how the ACLU says anti-abortion laws are on the rise across the country.

Of course, this sort of thing is all over the place. Under the headline “Losing the Global Fight for Women’s Health,” Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, the “Female Factor” columnist for the international edition of the New York Times, writes of the allegedly horrific threat to women’s health posed by restrictive abortion laws in places like Africa, Asia, and Latin America. She makes no mention of the estimated 160 million women “missing” in Asia alone who were killed in gender-selective abortions.

Even the most ardent pro-life activist readily concedes that there are instances when an abortion is in the interest of the mother’s health. But it is bizarre to suggest that women’s health and abortion rights are interchangeable. The biggest killer of women is heart disease, followed by cancer, then stroke. I couldn’t find “lack of a timely abortion” on the CDC list.
Read the whole thing.

Also a good read: honorary Thinkling Stroke, who's lovely wife is expecting, writes of the celebration by many in Texas over the blocking of an abortion ban past 20 weeks: I Don't Get It.
I don't get it. I just don't get it. I haven't investigated all the ins and outs of abortion policy but as I understand it, the most recent legislation that was blocked sought to, among other things, ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in Texas.

I believe abortion at any stage is the taking of a life. Is that not what an abortion is? There is a life that needs to be ended for an abortion to be deemed successful, yes? It's not simply a removal... it's a cessation of life. That's why Kermit Gosnell ensured "fetal demise" (killed live-born babies) in his clinic. Because the mothers chose abortion and he wanted to complete the procedure that was chosen.

Regardless, to focus (more so) on the recent legislation, how could anyone ever disregard the life of a 20 week or older fetus? It blows my mind and sickens my heart.
Me too.

On a personal note, as some of you know I have done volunteer student ministry and ministry to college and young singles at our church for about eighteen years. It's been particularly distressing to see how many past students of ours have taken to social media to exult over this decision and the recent SCOTUS decision on DOMA. I love them, and I'm sure they have a viewpoint that they believe is right, and I very much hope they are still walking with Jesus, but to echo Jeremy, I don't get it.

"What was then the Thinklings"

Inspired by my most recent post, and not quite ready to go to bed, and with a mind to waste some time - unfortunately a hobby of mine recently - I did a search of every post of ours that has the word "Emerging" in it.

Reading through the Thinklings archives backwards is kind of like being an archaeologist who is slowly unearthing the layers of a civilization that has gone to the dogs more recently but which shows an ever increasing vibrancy the further down you go. I came upon this long ago post of Jared's which lists a number of our blog-pals of yore. I began testing links to see who is still out there. I was gratified to find that Marla Swoffer is blogging again, but then I came across this

Speaking of the Inklings, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the way my blog got its wings was when it was noticed by Jared Wilson, ringleader of what was then The Thinklings, a group blog, which though all male, I considered kindred spirits. They were the first ones to spread "the conversation" to my fledgling blog. (mind you, when I use that phrase, it has nothing to do with anything "emergent")

We got called a "was" by someone who hasn't blogged in seven years! O how the mighty have fallen . . .

It's not her fault. She has a point, even if unintended.

(it's also ironic though completely coincidental that the quote above contains the word "emergent" :-)

I leave you with this.

a picture of a monkey

Good night blogosphere. Jesus loves you

You Want A Job, Eh?

I've been tasked in recent months with finding employees for my company. Here are some helpful hints for people who are looking for a job.

- If you leave a phone number, make sure your voice mail box isn't full.

- If you don't have voice mail, get it.

- If you send me an email, I probably won't respond if the domain name is from a video game cafe.

- If you leave me a voice mail, I'll be more apt to respond if you sound coherent and fully awake.

- If you ask me to call you in the morning, it might be a good idea to be available in the morning.

- If you set up a time for an interview, you probably don't want to show up an hour late.

- If you do show up an hour late, you might want to have a good I-had-to-save-a-baby-from-certain-death type excuse.

"So What If Abortion Ends Life?"

As a follow-up to this post, Mary Elizabeth Williams writes at Salon.com: So What If Abortion Ends Life?. A snippet, below:

Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.
I think we're entering a new phase in the abortion debate, one in which the pro-choice side is going to become more comfortable with the, in my view obvious, admission that abortion is the murder of a human being, while still defending the practice even more strongly than before. As Ms. Williams writes, "All life is not equal".

It's sobering to realize that support for abortion rights is on the upswing in our country, after a number of years where it looked like the tide might be turning toward the pro-life position. At least now there will be more honesty in the debate, but what can you say to someone who agrees with your basic stance that abortion is murder but supports it anyway?

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Women In Combat

We are the unmanliest nation ever.

We are a nation of wimps and cowards. We kill the weakest among us on purpose.

And we now we will let our women fight our battles.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has decided to lift a ban on women serving in combat, a senior defense official said Wednesday.

Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, "are expected to announce the lifting of the direct combat exclusion rule for women in the military," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

"This policy change will initiate a process whereby the services will develop plans to implement this decision, which was made by the Secretary of Defense upon the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," the official said in an email.

In February last year, Panetta opened up about 14,000 combat-related jobs to female troops for the first time in an incremental move.

I think the best response to this was written by John Piper 5 years ago. (Yup, that guy again.)

If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he’s a wimp. He should be ashamed. For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea. Part of the meaning of manhood as God created us is the sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of our women.

Here's his whole article. It's great.

I am deeply, deeply disturbed by this. I have never served in the military but God has blessed me with some close relationships with many. I was raised a military brat. I have been around soldiers all my life. Over the past 30 years, I have spoken to many, many, many of them about the reality of combat. Some of what you are about to read comes from things I learned from them.

It is wrong for women to be in combat. This will not be an exhaustive list. I'm just getting started. The very idea of this disturbs me to the depths of my soul.

1. What happened to a society that said, as they did on the H.M.S. Titanic, "Women and Children First"? Now we say "Women and Children First" but we mean, "Women, go fight and die in combat before me" and "Children, die before me because I am not willing to put an armed guard at their door." The average office employee has better security than the very child they dropped off at school that day.(As an aside on another topic, but not unrelated: if we were a manly nation, every dad who sends his kids to school would volunteer to take regular shifts of guard duty at his child's school.)

2. What will happen to a society that allows its women to fight its battles? What's next? Are you ready for your daughters, yes, your daughters, to register for selective service when they turn 18? Because that's what's coming. It's inevitable.

3. What will happen when a woman is captured in war? Rape. Almost a guarantee. She WILL be sexually assaulted. The very people who condemned someone for talking about "legitimate rape" and now support this move are condemning every future female POW to rape.

4. What happens when a woman is put under the command of men in her own military from her own country? Rape. Sexual Harassment. Abuse. This is already happening. It will continue to happen. And it will only be worse in combat situations. (I am NOT excusing the behavior of our own men in this case. What I am saying is that we are putting our women at unnecessary risk. If you send your ten year old out into the night in a large downtown city where there are untold dangers and your child is harmed, the bad guy is responsible...but so are you.)

5. What happens when women in combat are required to relieve themselves or shower in the same areas as the men? I don't even have an answer for that question. But if this idea doesn't bother you, then nothing else I say will either. Oh, and you have no decency. (And because I have decency I won't mention the hygiene issues related to not being able to actually get clean for literally weeks or months at a time.)

6. Will the women in combat be required to have short hair as their male counterparts for reasons of cleanliness and discipline? I don't know the answer to this one either. (There is no way to brush your hair free of critters when you are in the field for months.)

7. What happens when a woman gets her face blown off while charging an enemy compound? Will the male soldier nearby get distracted because her womanly screams make it impossible for him to carry out his mission? (Answer: Yes. Yes, he will. If he doesn't, it's only because it will have to be conditioned out of him at bootcamp.)

8. What does it say about us that we are somehow OK with even the risk that our daughters, our mothers, our sisters will have their guts spilled in a battlefield? This one makes me speechless.

9. What happens to unit cohesiveness when two men start fighting over the same woman in their unit? Or when two woman start fighting over the same man in their unit? Don't tell me sexual politics won't happen. Have you ever been in an area where men and women spend a lot of time together. Come on. Get real people. But office politics and gossip don't result in death. (Not normally). Combat is not an episode of "The Office" or "L.A. Law".

10. Are we absolutely certain, that physical requirements won't be reduced? No marine wants to be carrying 160 pounds of gear because the woman in front of him can only carry 80. And none of us wants our soldiers to be left unarmed because there wasn't a man available to lift the 50 Caliber machine gun into place. (OK, the new ones are lightweight and only weigh 41 pounds, but you know what I mean.)

11. Can a woman sneak up behind a guy, pull his head back and slit his throat? Would you want your daughter or your son's wife to be the kind of woman who could?

12. When a squad leader is deciding which man or woman to send over the wall or into the enemy occupied building first, is he going to be influenced by the pretty face amongst the ugly ones? Is he really going to be able to send her in, instead of a man? With all due respect to the professionalism and courage of our soldiers, it's hard to imagine gender not influencing command decisions on the field of battle. I'll tell you now, I couldn't send a woman in. If I were a soldier in the army this is going to become, I would be unable to carry out my orders fairly to the best of my ability if a woman were under my command, because I would NEVER put her in harms way before me. And I would shield her body with my own. AT least, I hope that I would have the courage to. If I wasn't willing to sacrifice myself to protect her, then I would be a coward.

And now, with every single woman that enters into combat duty, I'll wonder if I'm a coward for not taking her place. American women in combat means that I am raising my sons to protect and defend women who will not want to be protected.

I could go on and on. But I weep for us. I really do. I'm crying for your daughters. I'm crying for my granddaughters yet unborn and for their daughters.

"Son, You're A Neanderthal"

Have you ever known anyone who found out when they were a teenager (or older) that they were adopted? What usually happens? Identity crisis, right?

Who am I? Why was I given up for adoption? Who are my birth parents? Can I meet them? (These are normal things to ask...and I'm quite empathetic to both parents and children who are in that situation. May God bless adoptive children and their parents everywhere. However, that's not what this post is about.)

Imagine the reaction you would have if your parents sat you down one day, to tell you that you were cloned from DNA extracted from fossils and that your real parents and your identical "twin" from which you were cloned died a hundred thousand years ago. Now that's an identity crisis!

A Harvard scientist has said it would be possible to clone a Neanderthal baby from ancient DNA if he could find a woman willing to act as a surrogate.

The process would not be legal in many countries and would involve using DNA extracted from fossils.

George Church, a genetics professor of Harvard School of Medicine, said that the process was possible and that far from being brutal and primitive, Neanderthals were intelligent beings.

They are believed to be one of the relatives of modern man and became extinct 33,000 years ago. He added that altering the human genome could also provide the answers to curing diseases such as cancer and HIV, and hold the key to living to 120.

He told Der Spiegel, the German magazine: "I have already managed to attract enough DNA from fossil bones to reconstruct the DNA of the human species largely extinct. Now I need an adventurous female human."

The professor claims that he could introduce parts of the Neanderthal genome to human stem cells and clone them to create a foetus that could then be implanted in a woman.

Professor Church helped start the Human Genome Project that mapped human DNA and is well respected in the field. His comments will surprise most geneticists who believe that cloning humans is unacceptable. It is illegal in Britain.

Professor Church said: "We can clone all kinds of mammals, so it's very likely that we could clone a human. Why shouldn't we be able to do so? Neanderthals might think differently than we do. We know that they had a larger cranial size. They could even be more intelligent than us. When the time comes to deal with an epidemic or getting off the planet or whatever, it's conceivable that their way of thinking could be beneficial. They could maybe even create a new neo-Neanderthal culture and become a political force. The main goal is to increase diversity. The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity."

Professor Church said the technique would involve artificially creating DNA from fossilised material and introducing this into human stem cell lines.

Cloning a person so that they could be a scientific and public curiosity for life. That's just so wrong on so many levels. I hope that such a thing really isn't possible.


The Texans have had a great season and are sitting at 11-1.

Right now Tom Brady is kicking our collective behonkuses. 28 to 0. We look awful. Either that or the Patriots are just awesome.

I'm going to be getting an earful from Jared, I just know it . . .

Last Words

If you knew you were going to die within the next few seconds, what would you say? Here's what a few Texas Death Row inmates have had to say throughout the years. . . .

Beunka Adams, #999486
First, I want to let my mom know not to cry, there is no reason to cry, everybody dies. Everybody has their time, don't worry about me.

Jesse Hernandez, #999425
I can feel it, taste it, not bad.

Milton Mathis, TDCJ #999337
When I knock at the gates, they will open up and let me in. To my mom and everybody, I love you. I can feel it right now. My life, my life.

Robert Carter #999091
To the Davis family, I am sorry for all of the pain that I caused your family. It was me and me alone.

Some of the most sobering last words come from those who deny their guilt, right to the end. The question arises, if they're denying wrongdoing before meeting God, maybe they're telling the truth?

Keith Thurmond, #999435
All I want to say is I'm innocent, I didn't kill my wife. Jack Leary shot my wife then her dope dealer Guy Fernandez. Don't hold it against me, Bill. I swear to God I didn't kill her. Go ahead and finish it off.

Steven Woods, #999427
You're not about to witness an execution, you are about to witness a murder. ... I never killed anybody, ever.

Gary Graham #696
I would like to say that I did not kill Bobby Lambert. That I'm an innocent black man that is being murdered. ... Keep marching black people. They are killing me tonight. They are murdering me tonight.

Finally, how beautiful is the testimony of those who died at peace with the Father through Jesus Christ:

Mark Stroman, TDCJ #999409
Even though I lay on this gurney, seconds away from my death, I am at total peace. May the Lord Jesus Christ be with me. I am at peace.

Ronford Styron #999124
Y'all be careful. Lord Jesus, I see your Spirit, it's o.k. I love you.

Clayton, James #921
I would like to take this time to, ah, to use this moment an example for Christ. I would like to follow his example and leave with peace in my heart and forgiveness. There is no anger in my heart about this entire situation. I just want to testify to all of y'all that I have loved you. I appreciate your concern and genuine love for me. God bless you. I love all of all. Jesus is Lord.

Richard Foster #815
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. So for the life for which I live now in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I love you, Annie. You have been the best friend I have ever had in the world. I'll see you when you get there, okay? I am ready, Warden.

Karla Faye Tucker #777
Yes sir, I would like to say to all of you – the Thornton family and Jerry Dean’s family that I am so sorry. I hope God will give you peace with this. Baby, I love you. Ron, give Peggy a hug for me. Everybody has been so good to me. I love all of you very much. I am going to be face to face with Jesus now. Warden Baggett, thank all of you so much. You have been so good to me. I love all of you very much. I will see you all when you get there. I will wait for you.

The above post isn't meant to be a social or political statement on the death penalty, but, rather, a reflection on the temporal nature of the tremendous gift of life.

We'll all be there one day, only a breath away from His tangible presence.

Yeah . . .


This culture is media-saturated. Mindless media consumption -- especially among the young who are, by all accounts, more impressionable and pliable -- is a contributor not only to general moral and ethical decay, but to childhood obesity as well.

Here are some frightening statistics from Weight of the Nation (click on the graphic to enlarge):

(A link to the full size graphic.)

"Bully" Movie

It has arrived. And I'm glad.

If a documentary is what it takes to get people (especially parents, teachers, coaches and administrators) to take notice, then so be it.

Me? I don't need to see the movie. Unless you want to see me weep for 90 minutes straight, don't show it to me. I think the movie is really for people who don't realize how bad bullying really is, which, in my biased perspective, is almost everyone. I had trouble watching the trailer without crying. If you have seen the movie, please comment here and let me know what you thought. The filmmakers seem to want to encourage bullied kids too, but I don't know that it would do that. It's the response from parents and teachers and maybe even other kids that would encourage a bullied child. They know how bad it is already. They just want others to know. And by the way, it's not so simple as just telling someone one. Believe me. That's why I think this movie is so important. The evil of bullying really has to be seen to be believed.

I've been reading the reviews ...and the reviews consistently point out two things:

1- "Eye-Opening" - the movie only shows one child actually being bullied on camera. They followed this kid, Alex Libby, around for a year (the child you see in the trailer) and the students got so used to the cameras, they bullied him on camera. At one point, the filmmakers couldn't be passive observers anymore, so they showed the footage to the parents and administrators. The 4 other kids talked about are:
-an eleven year old boy who killed himself because of bullying.
-A seventeen year old boy who killed himself because of bullying
-a girl who threatened people on a bus with a gun because of bullying
-a lesbian teenager who is interviewed on camera about her experiences being bullied for being gay.

You do get to see an administrator tell two kids to apologize to each other and shake hands. You know how to spot the bully? The one who apologizes with a smile. the administrator then lets the bully walk away and chews out the bullied child for not similarly apologizing and shaking hands.

So I think it's good that this movie shows the utter cluelessness of so many adults about what's really going on.

2- "The Rating Controversy" - Of the reviews I read, most of them spent half or more of their space talking about Harvey Weinstein's stupid battle with the MPAA. The MPAA rated it "R" because of 5 swear words spoken to Alex by the bullys. The Weinstein company is mad about it because they are saying that means kids won't see it. So they appealed and lost the appeal by one vote. Weinstein's response? He released it without a rating. This means that many theaters won't show it due to policies about showing unrated films. Wrong choice, Harv. Let it be rated "R". Do you think that's going to stop kids from seeing it? Really? It may limit it a little while at the theater, but once it goes to DVD and HBO and Netflix, you really don't need to worry. Today's parents are going to let their 7 year olds see it. (either through permission or inatttention)

It bothered me that so much press was spent griping out the rating. The point of the movie is to draw attention to a great evil. Let's just focus on that.

This theme of parental difficulty in getting satisfactory responses from those in authority positions in schools is one of "Bully's" constant refrains. Adults are portrayed as clueless and ineffectual, reduced to either "kids will be kids" platitudes or hand-wringing sentiments such as, "This is an awfully complicated and difficult situation."

When it comes to showing what some kids go through on a daily basis, "Bully" concentrates on the situation of 12-year-old Alex Libby of Sioux City, Iowa. Ironically, precisely because the Sioux City school board takes the bullying problem seriously, it allowed filmmaker Hirsch broad access to East Middle School and to the buses where much of the bullying of Alex takes place.

Since the kids on the bus were used to treating Alex with impunity and because Hirsch shot with a small Canon 5D Mark II, no one held back from hitting and cursing Alex just because a camera was present, which is where the footage that gave "Bully" its R-rating comes from.

Hirsch clearly developed a strong rapport with Alex, a bright, aware kid with an awkward manner who seems to confide in the filmmaker more than in his own parents. Alex is desperate for friends, and he doesn't want to make waves, so he spends quite a bit of time trying to downplay the extent of his bullying, until Hirsch takes the unusual step of showing adults some of the footage he has shot. LINK

I am glad that the filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, who was himself bullied, is on a crusade with this film to get the message out.
“You have an inherent human right to not be bullied and to be safe at school,” Hirsch said during a pre-screening in Chicago. “Keep knocking on doors until you find someone who will fight for you. That is your right. The film is intended to create a whole lot more empathy and awareness. ”">LINK

The following quote ends on a positive note, so read on.
“It’s a very personal film,” Hirsch told NBC News. “I was bullied when I was a kid. So it’s like that project that you carry with you in your pocket and you say ‘One day I’m gonna make this film when I have the guts and I have the courage.’”

One of the stars of the film is Alex Libby, who was 12 at the time of the filming. He is pretty courageous too. Alex is seen being punched, poked and ridiculed on the bus. “They push me so far that I want to become the bully,” he said in the film. At one point during filming, Hirsch was so worried about Libby’s safety, he decided to stop shooting and give copies of his tape to the school and Libby’s parents.

When Libby’s parents confronted school officials they were essentially told not to worry. But they were right to worry, just as so many of us parents do. “I didn’t tell them what was going on, which was my mistake,” Alex told NBC News the other night at the Los Angeles premiere of the movie. “I should have told someone. I wish I would have told someone. But I didn’t until Lee came along.”

Alex Libby’s parents were with him on the red carpet in LA and all three attended the screening I was at in New York. I told Alex’s dad how much he reminds me of my own young son. Philip Libby told us the film had brought Alex out of his shell. “Before it started he was in a deep place that we just couldn’t reach him – and Lee and the film and the whole process has just kind of brought him out of that darkness and broke him out of his shell and gave us our son back,” he said.

Indeed, Alex himself says his life is much better now, thanks to a new school in a new state. And he’s proud to be a part of a film that might help other kids. “I’m glad I’m actually making a difference. It’s amazing. I mean, I was always the shy kid, back when I was in middle school. I would never thought I’d be this kid who’s out there trying to change something. But breaking from my shell has been an awesome experience. I realized how awesome I am,” he said.

Yeah, Alex. You are awesome. :-)

I wish every bullied child would be able to finally figure that out.

How I Watched The Super Bowl

I'm quite proud of what we did...so here it is.

We watched it at church. Our church invited friends and neighbors. We had tons of food and three big screens set up. It was fun. But here's the best parts(and the reason I'm bragging):

1. We blacked out offensive commercials. Yup. We had a dude in the back with his finger on a button. Sunday afternoon, I printed out a list of the commercials in the order they would appear. Because so many commercials are released ahead of time now, we had a pretty good idea which ones to black out... So all the stuff you had to sit through, or hope your kids didn't notice...we never even saw it. Awesome, right? But we did get to see the good commercials. ("Where's the cat?" LOL!)

2. For Halftime - we showed two video clips. (This one about how football points to something much greater, and this one about how Simon Peter experienced grace.) Then for the remainder of halftime we played "Scene-IT" 80's edition. We just played the video trivia questions on the screen and I threw a piece of candy to anyone who got an answer right. It was a blast and far better then whatever you all had to watch. Oh, and I read later about some singer flipping you the bird. I missed that too. :-)

Now for some commentary about those two reasons my watching experience was better than yours...

1. Offensive commercials - This really irks me. The NFL, NBC and yes, even the advertisers are total jerks for this. Can they not imagine when they are designing a "sex sells" commercial that parents might be watching football with their kids (ages 6-12). There were probably (at least, at minimum) a million children watching.

Seriously? Is this what these advertising company employees, commercial writers and directors, and company executives who ordered and approved and paid for the ads would want their own children to be watching? The sheer crassness of this offends me to the bone. It makes me wonder if they are even human. I think that we should all write letters to the offending companies and tell them that their offensive advertising GUARANTEES that we won't ever use their products. And then follow through. Do not support those advertisers. Jerks. I should be able to watch football with my ten year old son without having to cover his eyes.

2. Half-time performers that do something obscene. OK, so MIA or whoever flipping the camera the bird is the first incident since the wardrobe malfunction. It will happen again. And NBC is blaming the NFL who produces their own half-time shows ever since the wardrobe malfunction. (That half-time show was produced by MTV, surprise, surprise.) And the NFL is blaming NBC for not having better time-delay and censorship equipment. It will still happen again. The moron who flipped the bird is getting publicity and name recognition out of this. That benefit needs to be taken away.

I have a very simple solution for this problem. Have all performers sign a contract ahead of time. Think about it. For the performer, this is the single biggest audience they will EVER have. It's a huge opportunity for any singer to sell albums. So before allowing them to perform for half-time include in their contract a "no obscenity" clause that says that if they do anything obscene that they will pay for all fines and costs that their action costs. (for apologies that have to be issued, for FCC fines etc, the lawyers that have to deal with the FCC, the salaries of the guys that have to monitor the delay feed with their finger on the pixelate button etc...) In addition, if they do anything obscene they will have to give 5 million dollars to a children's charity AND 50% of all profit that performer earns for the next 12 months goes to a children's charity. And they will do 500 hours of community service for the children of incarcerated people.

If the NFL and NBC were serious they would do something like that. But they won't. Jerks.

How Future Generations Will Remember Us

(from Failbook)

Beginning to Check Out, Politically

The other day I was at work, standing in one of the areas that has TV broadcasts running. I saw this story highlighted on one of the 24-hour news stations:

"President Obama signs executive order cutting government waste"

A number of people were nearby as well and we all started laughing. I mean, really, is that all it took? An executive order? We're saved!!!

All kidding aside, I think there is a profound moral component to the way a government spends money. I also believe that committing our grandchildren to suffocating debt is immoral. The American government has, for decades, spent more than it takes in, but I thought that the recent unprecedented deficits - deficits over a trillion dollars that make past overspending look like pocket change - coupled with the mind-numbingly scary sovereign debt crisis around the world would wake us up as a country. I was wrong. There have been no significant spending cuts seriously and realistically enacted by our congress or proposed by our executive branch. What's strange is that private businesses deal with this all the time. When they face a debt crisis, they cut spending. Our government seems incapable of this.

Meanwhile, the party I don't generally vote for is performing the kabuki theater of "stimulus", "super" committees, and executive orders outlawing bad weather and the post-Christmas blues. The party I generally vote for can't find anyone in our entire 300,000,000+ population who has the experience, gravitas and ethics to have chance of being elected president.

And I don't think anyone on either side is really serious about dealing with the immorality of our over-spending.

The reason, of course, is that we electorally punish them when they behave responsibly.

"Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us." - P.J. O'Rourke

P.S. The upshot of all this is I'm beginning to check out politically. My consumption of, for instance, political blogs and news has gone down dramatically in the past few months, and I'm happier for it. But I will pray, and I will vote, and I hope you will too. I think doing those things is important.

Dude, Prepare for Later Now

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, "I have no pleasure in them."
-- Ecclesiastes 12:1

Ah, youth! I remember, in the prime of my life, overflowing with the confidence and vigor of pure, automatic trust in my teenage athletic abilities, stepping into the huddle of one of our Saturday football games and saying to Mark, our all-time quarterback, "Just give me the ball. I will score." And Mark let loose a beauty of a pass -- few things look and feel so beautiful to a teenage football-playin' boy than a perfectly thrown pass in the dazzle of an autumn afternoon squirmish -- and I on the furious run brought it to safe harbor in my arms like a baby, racing past the staggered defense on skinny wheels, thirty yards, twenty yards -- he.could.go.all.the.way -- ten yards, five yards, touchdown. I did what I said I would, because I knew I could. Ah, youth!

But the evil days come, creeping in inch by inch, day by day, as metabolism sneaks out of the house overnight, easing the sports car out of the driveway and disappearing. Were I to enter that huddle this coming Saturday and speak with honesty, I should say, "Just give me the ball. I will run out of gas ten yards in, pull up with a muscle cramp, and collapse with two high ankle sprains."

I'm trying, really I am. But compared to the halcyon days of youth, the days have come in which I say, "I have no pleasure in them." Things creak when I get out of bed. I don't even know what they are.

Remember your Creator, the Teacher says. Remember him in your youth. Because youth is passing, fading. It is vanity, meaningless, chasing the wind. Even if you're fast, dude. So it is imperative, in the days of vim and vigor, to prepare for later now. Place your lasting joy in lasting things. Enjoy what you've got while you've got it, but set the termination of your affections on the treasure you cannot lose.

If you fail to prepare for later now, you will wind up a pathetic relic to the past. Before you know it, you're not reminiscing but lamenting. Do you wanna be that guy looking up time machines on the Internet and electrocuting your gonads, eating everybody's steak and ruining their lives? Or leaning against the wall of the high school hangout, a total creeper? They're not laughing with you; they're laughing at you, dude.

Ah, youth. Rejoice in it, for now. Rejoice in the Lord always.

The Doorbell

If you think I'm being political here, you're wrong. This isn't primarily a political issue. It's a moral issue.

And since ours is a government of the people, those of us who have been of voting age for more than a few election cycles are complicit.

[H/T Instapundit]

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