May 2011 Archives
Also, if you're wondering if I'm embarrassed, making such a big deal over an insignificant-in-the-cosmic-sense-of-things TV show, the answer is no, I'm not. I'm a blogger, and that's how we roll.
- And speaking of falling off a bicycle, we sort of did that last weekend. Well, what we did was more like falling with our bicycle, but the result was the same. Remember Artie Johnson's recurring tricycle schtick in Laugh In? Yeah, we repeated that exact thing on a neighborhood street, thanks to shoes that suddenly wouldn't unclip from pedals as we pulled up to a stop sign. No injuries and no damage resulted from our slow-motion descent to the pavement. That's one advantage of riding a recumbent; you're much closer to the ground when you embark on stupid bike tricks.
- We're gonna need a bigger hard drive. High-end camera maker Hasselblad has announced a new model that produces 200-megapixel images. And we thought HD video took up a lot of storage space.
- Whenever you start thinking your workplace is insane, go visit this site for a reality-check. [Warning: bad language and disturbing mental images throughout] Be sure to read the About page; context is everything for this slice-of-working-life blog.
- As we consider the implications of worldwide natural disasters, an obvious question is "where do you go to be safe?" According to a study published in the New York Times, the answer is "not Dallas." In fact, of the eight "Highest Risk" metropolitan areas, four are in Texas, including Corpus Christi, Houston, and Austin. Two of the lowest risk areas are in Oregon, but as the previous bullet point proves, not all significant dangers originate with Mother Nature.
It's interesting to note that Odessa appears to have a slightly higher risk of natural disasters than Midland. There's no explanation provided; the reader is invited to supply his or her own theories.
- Here are some work samples from a photographer who specializes in closeups of snakes, very pretty ones, at that. Some of you know better than to click on that link; the rest of you will be rewarded by some captivating images.
- The show will undoubtedly depict casualties in graphic fashion. What will be the effect of such scenes on viewers with family members or friends who are in actual harm's way?
- The doctors will surely be able to save some lives in the show. How does that play with viewers whose loved ones weren't saved? And when the inevitable medical failures occur, is there a "multiplier effect" for the grief and trauma of those who suffered loss in real life?
- Are there ethical implications of having actors portraying soldiers and being paid many times more than the salaries of those men and women in the military who are not acting but serving in the same roles?
- If the story lines play out true to "Hollywood" form, there will be subplots involving "foxhole romances," and dark humor. Will those things trivialize the real life-and-death drama of the ongoing war? And while there's no doubt that humor is a healing and strengthening technique even in times of intense stress, does it matter that such humor is originating from a writer's imagination? (I don't know if any of the show's writers have served in the military, and specifically in Afghanistan. That could make a difference in the answer to some of these questions.)
- Will the show's writers be able to keep their personal opinions about the war out of the story lines, or will Combat Hospital be a vehicle for propagandizing a specific political viewpoint? And if the program promotes an agenda or perspective that's the slightest bit at odds with American military goals and strategies, how might that feed the enemy's own propaganda machine and morale?
And here's how out of touch I am: I didn't even know Michael was no longer on "The Office."
The Transfiguration: The most intriguing passage in the Bible?
May 14, 2011 7:16 AM | Posted in: Faith
- When I was a corporate drone, I was part of a small team that went to the headquarters office in Los Angeles to make a presentation to corporate staff. At that time, my employer was one of the ten largest companies in the U.S. During a break in the meeting, we were standing around shooting the breeze with some of the corporate guys, including the CEO, and I thought, "how cool is this, to be hobknobbing with a guy who makes more in a week than I do in a year?" Now, multiply that feeling by about a billion, and perhaps we get an idea of what Moses and Elijah were thinking as they conversed with the CEO of the Universe.
- On the other hand, were they talking to Jesus God, or to Jesus Man, if you know what I mean? They were discussing "His departure," which I interpret to mean His crucifixion and death, so perhaps divinity took a backseat to humanity in this instance.
- Anyway, I would love to know the nature of the conversation. Were Moses and Elijah encouraging Jesus? Were they comforting Him, or giving Him advice? Did they really know the details of what was about to happen? And if they did, how did they find out? Does God conduct staff meetings and share things like that with a few special folks? And what was Jesus saying to them? "Yeah, I'm really dreading my little trip to Jerusalem. I don't suppose you guys want to come with me...? These guys I have now have good hearts, but man, they fall asleep easily." OK, seriously though - what did they talk about?
- A couple of verses later in this passage, Dr. Luke refers to the departure of Moses and Elijah, and even that intrigues me. Elijah already had a reputation for dramatic exits, but this sort of sounds like they just...walked off? To where? Was there a stairway to heaven? An escalator? Am I being too literal? Perhaps.
- And, finally, while we have a lot of details about what happened to Jesus following this event, I don't recall reading any other reports from or about Moses and Elijah. So, I wonder if they went back to the Father and filled Him in on the confab. Of course, He already knew all the details, but perhaps it was for their benefit, although to what purpose I can't imagine. It's not like they needed anything else to bolster their faith, for example. I mean, you're already in heaven, getting your marching orders directly from the top.
- And speaking of that, this just occurred to me: why did God send those two, instead of His angels, like He did after Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness? Was it important for Jesus to converse with other humans (albeit glorified ones)?
if anything they need to PAY BACK the money theyve stolen from us over the past 10 years
why not just stop importing oil, and stop putting money into terrorist pockets thus making our country vulnerable.
Pshh there should be a law against gas going above a certain price. And if for some reason it has to go above that set price for any length of time the oil companies should be fined and that money should be paid back by them to the American people during income tax as their way of saying sorry we are ripping you guys off here's your money back.
NOPE. Everybody I know is STRUGGLING. Why should THEY GET A BREAK-OF ANY KIND??? Let the ppl that go to work-EVERYDAY-get a break!
they make profits, why shold they get a break!
- The profit margin in the oil and gas industry is 6-8%. Perspective: this was lower than all manufacturers as a whole, and much lower (by a factor of 2-3x) than pharmaceutical and computer manufacturers. [Source]
- The oil industry generates almost $100 million PER DAY in revenue for the US Federal Government [Source]
- Between 2004 and 2008 the industry incurred more than $300 billion in income taxes, more than half of which went to the US Federal Government [Source]
- Oil prices are NOT SET BY OIL COMPANIES. [No source required; it's just fact, like the sun rising in the east]
- ExxonMobil is frequently used as the poster child for all the things wrong with the oil and gas industry. In the last three months of 2010, they earned a little more than 2 cents per gallon on gasoline, diesel and other finished products made and sold in the US. And gasoline sales made up only 3% of the companies net income. And as far as taxes go, over the past five years, ExxonMobil incurred a total U.S. tax expense of almost $59 billion, which is $18 billion more than it earned in the United States during the same period. [Source]
- And, finally, in case there's some lingering doubt, the US is not, has never been, and never will be (thanks to many factors, not the least of which is our own federal government) a member of OPEC. Sheesh.
- Think the EPA isn't out of control? First, they* want to shut down the oil and gas industry in West Texas because of a lizard, and now they're going after the U.S. Navy, claiming bin Laden's burial at sea is an egregious example of ocean pollution.
- OK, maybe that's a bad example; hard to disagree with that judgment. But it's interesting to note that BP was all in favor of the burial at sea, so they wouldn't be the only ones responsible for scum in the ocean.
- You were warned, weren't you?
- Julianne Hough was the featured entertainer at last Saturday's American Cancer Society Round-Up at the CAF Hangar. You probably know her best from Dancing With The Stars, which she has abandoned in order to pursue careers in music and movies. She's billed as a country musician, though, and while my definition of country music is pretty broad and flexible, I just couldn't stretch it far enough to encompass most of her music. Much of it was so pop-ish as to be indistinguishable from every other young energetic blond female singer on the scene today.
- That's not to say she isn't talented - she is, very much so - but her musical choices didn't work for us. Ironically, the most country-sounding songs were also the ones that rocked the hardest, and those were very good indeed. It's hard to say what demographic she's shooting for, but I'd like to see her stay a little edgier. She'll never compete with Gretchen Wilson or Miranda Lambert in that regard, but even Carrie Underwood can play the bad girl (or mad girl) when it suits her.
- Frankly, Julianne was upstage by the other act that played before and after her, Midland's own The Rankin Twins. They graduated from Midland Lee High School a few years ago and are now based in Austin, with one CD to their credit and another coming out this week (May 14th, to be exact). Their music is danceable rockin' country, even if they have one of the geekiest-looking backup bands in the business. And to top it off, they're Aggies. Whoop!
- One last thing about Round-Up (which is a hugely successful fundraiser for the ACS...the live auction alone raised more than $200,000 Saturday night): the CAF Hangar is a marginal venue for such an affair. I'm sure the organizers couldn't predict the 99 degree temps that were present at 7:00 p.m., but they surely suspected that the non-air-conditioned facility wouldn't be too comfortable, as they provided cardboard fans at each table. And to add insult to [imagined] injury, they appropriated all the men's restrooms for the women, and place a few porta-johns outside for the guys. And did I mention that they didn't light them? I'll leave to your imagination the condition of those facilities at the end of the evening, factoring in the effects of the open bar.
- The drought continues in West Texas. It's so dry that the deer are coming into town looking for water. In fact, someone slammed one with their car last week, just down the road from us (on Mockingbird Lane just west of Hwy. 349, for those who live around here).
**OK, technically it's debatable whether this qualifies as a joke. Give me a break, will ya?
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- The Dark Design - The third installment of Philip José Farmer's Riverworld saga. Riverworld is ridiculously audacious in scope and complexity, and should be on the must-read list of every aficionado of speculative fiction [or, sci-fi geek, if you prefer]. (iBooks edition on iPad)
- Freddy and Fredericka - I read Mark Helprin's hilariously insightful novel about the future king of England a year ago (read my brief review here). It seemed like a logical choice to accompany the hype surrounding the royal wedding. And it's even better the second time around. (Kindle edition on iPad)
- Low Country Summer - This is, frankly, a chick-flick novel, authored by Dorothea Benton Frank. I'm reading it because the publisher, HarperCollins, sent me a copy to review. Don't tell anyone, but it's pretty darned good. Watch for a complete review within the next few weeks. (Treeware version)