Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Oscars are in

Here's a video you might enjoy. Hilarious how someone can be so ignorant as to keep five students out of a "come one, come all" student event because they wear a McGavick tshirt.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The brainiac

First, the photos are just random photos of people with my name.

Second, I never saw so many links to Ph.D related sites for one Google search. That's my name though. Apparently it's a name common for very smart scientists.

A few examples of technical jargon that intersects with my name on Google:
"Clonal Mosaic Model for the Synthesis of Mammalian Coat Patterns"

"Regional Biases on Microarrays and Quality Assessment"

"Biological Sequence Analysis of Archeal Genomes"

"Integrated Data Analysis for High Throughput Biology"

To top it off...
"The teratogenic and developmental effects associated with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) exposure in zebrafish embryos"
Yes! I am such a smart guy.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Follow the bouncing (rubber) ball

Someone has too much time and energy...or he's just incredibly persistant and methodical. I mean, if I were bored, I certainly wouldn't think of making a 3000 lb rubberband ball.

Read it here--probably a new world record for the man from Eugene Oregon.
(Steve) Milton has posted updates of his ball's growing girth on his MySpace page. He's also uploaded videos of the ball crushing things, such as using a forklift to drop the ball on an old van.

"It was awesome," Milton told The Register-Guard newspaper. "It completely flattened the roof and blew the doors off."

...Dykema (Rubber Band Company) president Lou McKibben said he realized Milton was serious when he got an order for 1,000 pounds of 12-inch rubber bands. He cut him a deal on the remaining 2,000 pounds.

Monday, October 16, 2006

To Russia anyone?

If the job market for the average starting journalist continues to be thick, I think I might have found the perfect place to look for a job.

The latest journalist to be killed in Russia is the business chief of Russian news agency Itar-Tass, Anatoly Voronin. If the pool of reporters and editors keeps getting drained like this, I might as well start looking over there and learn Russian. Anyone interested in joining me?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Invaded...by elephants

I love this guy. Either he has an awesome sense of humor, or he his just looking to pique America's sense of the absurd in his zeal to be elected.

Raj Peter Bhakta is his name and he is a Republican running for congress from Eastern Pennsylvania. He also is known by some (not me) as a former star on the NBC show "The Apprentice." I am ready to lay some heavy bets on his success even without knowing what he's up against. Bhakta, (see the story here) after witnessing first-hand some illegals cross the river at one point, decided this was a rediculous situation. Not knowing how rediculous, he decided to test the the limits: he hired a elephant troupe and mariachi band to go try to swim the river. It took almost an hour of elephants splashing around in the river to bring the Border Patrol to the site.
“To my surprise, the band played on, the elephants splashed away, and nobody showed up,” Bhakta said of the stunt. “I’m astounded.”
Publicity stunt, yes. But why not--it's creative.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Doing the 'brutal math'

A few days ago I happened upon one of the latest WORLD Magazine editions--tucked in the back was the column from Andrée Seu on the simple matter of forgiveness... Or should I say the not-so-simple matter of forgiveness. She titles the piece: "The thing we don't do" for a reason. She basically asserts that we fool ourselves most of the time.

I agree. Fake forgiveness is all around us. In my heart. I know it is at work also because of problems that go unsolved and fester in every church. So what's the problem? Pride. We just can't get used to putting into practice the idea of being willing to be the hurt party--not requiring recompense for a wrong--no emotional satisfaction; or rather, what we think would be satisfaction.

Here's my favorite quote from the column (it's not online in full anymore...ehem, except in the google cache, which I don't recommend using if you don't subscribe...cough):
Forgiveness is a brutal mathematical transaction done with fully engaged faculties. It's my pain instead of yours. I eat the debt. I absorb the misery I wanted to dish out on you, and you go scot-free. Beware the forgiveness that is tendered soon after injury; be suspicious. Real forgiveness needs a time lag, for it is wrought in private agony before it ever comes to public amnesty. All true acts of courage are thus done in secret.
Oh how we desperately need this kind of Christian maturity!

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” –Mark 11: 25-26 (NKJV)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Facing the Giants

I laughed, cried, and cringed, but that's not meant to imply the percentage of negatives versus positives I found in the newest football flick, Facing the Giants. The fact that this film started as a church outreach project should tip the viewer off ahead of time to a set of basic assumptions: first, it is not all going to be pretty and professional--some dialogue (or monologue for that matter) might seem a little stilted, the music might sometimes be melodramatic (especially at the opening scene), and most importantly though, the point of the movie will be to preach Christ to a secular audience...

...or will it? More on that later...

Facing the Giants is the story of Grant Taylor, a failing highschool football coach, who also happens to drive a junk car, live in a house that smells something fierce, and to top it all off, he and his wife are coping with the prospect of infertility. As his troubles begin to climax and his job and dreams are threatened, God teaches him important lessens that strengthen his, his team's, and ultimately the entire school's faith. The film explores the many ways that other characters are changed by the change in Grant's life as he puts his faith to work in his life and job.

First things first--here's the good.

Watching it is an enjoyable experience. It packs a powerful emotional punch, timing several parallel plotlines to climax and resolve in similar (albeit clichéd) fashion, at the same time. There was some profundity, enough humor, and the football action was surprisingly well done. The acting, although not polished, is good for two reason's: the language is spotless no matter how emotional some scenes got and still carried enough authenticity to pass muster.

The moral of the film can be summed up thus: Keep trusting in Christ, work in any calling as unto Him, giving him the praise for the results, and he will bless you, doing the impossible if need be. Do your best, leave the rest to God.

Some memorable lines:
"How can I miss someone so much when I haven't even met them?"
-Brooke Taylor

"You can't not make the team any more than if you don't try"
-Larry Childers
Facing the Giants provides a lot to chew on however. The most apparent problem is the one I alluded to at the top. This film preaches to the choir. While I don't pretend to think that God can't use a movie like this, it still is only going to appeal to a Christian audience. It was easy for me to get involved with the characters precisely because I could relate to them on a spiritual level. It just won't have that initial affect on a nonchristian. This just highlights for me that movies cannot take the place of the preaching of the gospel from the pulpit. I mean really, there are parts where the mini contemporary sermons make even me yawn.

There's another set of problems that form the basis for what annoyed me the most. Basically Giants takes hold and utilizes some of the favorite bad habits of the mainstream evangelical psyche.

First, while the film does everything to put the lack of Christ at the root of our culture's problems, it completely ignores the church's role in the process. The film portrays two communities--the family and the Christian school--so exclusively one would think the church didn't exist, or is needed for that matter.

The second "bad habit" comes when we see coach Taylor receiving an extra-biblical revelation from an eccentric man who every day walks the school halls praying for the children... "I just felt led to give you this message" is something I've heard countless times. Does this mean that people should just wait for their own little private revelations in order to get through tough times? To learn something from this film, must viewers hope they will just get that big break in the form of a prophet who can tell them verbatim what they should do? All I can say (with plenty of irony) is "good luck."

Third and finally, the turning point for the apathy-filled school ends up being a classic "revival." Students crying their eyes out, breaking up into spontaneous small groups all over the football field, kids dedicating themselves to Christ in the midst of a huge emotional upheaval. This tends to be the idealized pinnacle of gospel success in the minds of many ministers. Again, how realistic is this really? I won't deny any possibilities, but (excuse me while I become opinionated) beyond the fact that similar scenarios rarely appear except after the latest school shooting, I have always been very suspicious of such displays because real mindful "decisions for Christ" (to borrow a phrase that means nothing without regeneration) from kids aren't anymore likely under that kind of emotional stress than someone making the proper calculation in order to avoid a car accident based only on their emotional reaction to the scare.

So you've heard enough about what I think…with no spoilers I hope. If you enjoy football action, enjoy a feel-good movie or are just thankful to find a clean movie that doesn’t amount to Veggie-tales, by all means, go watch Facing the Giants.


Friday, October 06, 2006

The ideal (almost)

Here's a screen shot of what I get to see when I use Mozilla Firefox. Just so we are clear on why I wasn't able to see some of the problems. And who knows, perhaps seeing this will create a few more firefox believers.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Updates and frustrations

Two things: (please be sure you refresh so you can see the latest version)

1: I have uploaded a new color scheme. Let me know if it works for you.

2: I had a number of interesting complaints...so I decided I'd better check what my blog looked like with Internet Explorer (I usually use Mozilla Firefox). What I saw scared me! If that is what you had all been seeing, than my apologies. The text was a mess. Oddly enough (this seems like a glitch) it was because of a piece of text editing code in one of my posts...it's weird that it changed my template--don't know how or why.

Keep the complaints coming if you have the chance and are annoyed enough.