Showing posts from November, 2010

Birthday of Pong

The guy on the TV tells me that Pong appeared on the market today in 1972. My fond memory of Pong. A professor at the college I attended was exemplary in asking students to his home. He had a Pong game on his TV. Most of us didn't play it: we just watched it, fascinated that we could control something on the TV screen.

Pong was unblievably simple by today's standards: literally just a ball bouncing back and forth against two moving "paddles." Compared to what goes into video games today, it's laughable, of course. But in 1976, we sat mystified.

Just Want to Say

Had a nice time with our son at home. I shouldn't say this, but I'm very proud of him. No, I take that back. I should say it. All parents should tell their kids daily that they love the children and are proud of them. It would probably clear out a lot of jails.

Free speech, Responsibility, the Internet, and Anonymity

That title just about says it all, I guess.

There is a place in the Smoky Mountains National Park, above Gatlinburg, where Tennessee meets North Carolina. There's a sign there, even, just so you know. Nearby there is a another sign that says, "Free Speech Zone" where visitors are encouraged to use their First Amendment rights. I have a picture of myself standing in front of it posted on my bulletin board outside my office.

I like to think I am pretty much an absolutist when it comes to the interpretation of the First Amendment, although I believe it was meant as a protection from the government for political, philosophical, legal, educational, and religious speech, not just an excuse for people to be ugly and profane. Unfortunately, we have to take the good with the bad on it. I don't think those five categories of non-obscene speech are a problem, usually. They aren't for me, but they are for some.

However, nothing in the First Amendment absolves the users…

Old Movies Redux

Any reader of this blog knows I like old movies (and I'm not talking about the '90s). I'm talking '30s, '40s, '50s, even '20s, preferably black and white. Color movies of those periods are way too technicolor and almost make me nauseous with the intensity of the color, although I will watch some of them.

Why do I like them? They were a lot more subtle, for one thing. A couple having sex is implied with a small gesture, not a lot of nudity and bumping and groaning. Since the point of the sex is simply that they had it, we don't have to be privy to the technicalities. They usually told a story more simply, without a lot of side issues and scenery and unnecessary characters. The women were incredibly beautiful, and they wore great clothes (reason enough for me, as I think I am a fashion designer at heart). The lines are great. Who can do better than "Round up the usual suspects?" in Casablanca. Or Bette Davis in All About Eve, "Fash…

Movie Review #27 (Not Really)

My son introduced me to Hulu a while back. There are actually a few good movies on there to watch, if you can put up with the commercials (which are oddly placed). Most of them are horror movies, B flicks, cheesy stuff, documentaries, and indie films. But a few good finds have come to my attention.

One that I watched the other night was Pieces of April. The set-up sounds like a Lifetime movie, but it's much better. April is the estranged daughter of an ostensibly middle class, happy family. She has a brother and sister near her in age. Her dad is patient and long-suffering. Her mother, we learn, is a difficult woman, who may be so difficult just because she always has been or maybe because she is dying of cancer--probably both. April is estranged because, well, she had a drug problem, she had boyfriend problems, she had .... problems. It's not entirely clear (and this is what makes the movie intriguing for me) whether she is the problem or the mom, or the dad.

But …

Facebook Revisited

I have become a victim of Facebook's changes in privacy settings. Alas, I took them for granted. I have since gone in and changed mine so that I am not accessible to everyone on the planet, and I am going to defriend some people--in fact, a lot of them. I have 350 friends and I don't even know who some of them are. That's not good. They will probably be offended, but I should get the number down to fewer than 200. I got that many so I could advertise the book. I also took down personal information.


My mother has been in need of a hysterectomy for a while now. Finally, on November 19, we 'got it taken care of.'

Many thanks to the marvelous staff at Memorial Hospital of Chattanooga, TN, and to her surgeon, Dr. Stephen dePasquale. We are waiting for the pathology report, but the surgery part is over and she has survived it despite a heart attack two years ago (albeit mild).

Modern medical technology is a wonder. We can all find things to complain about the health care system in this country, but it's because we have been led to expect such high standards and accessibility.

That being said, having a loved one in the hospital is very time- and emotion-consuming and the experiences has made me rethink my priorities. But this morning I am very thankful, appropriate for this week.

Excerpt from Novel, Traveling Through

Chapter 1

Carlie Geraldson blew air upward out of her mouth, lifting her damp bangs. Why hadn’t she held out for a car with air conditioning? Even if it was only necessary one month out of the year, this was definitely the month. She glanced at the car’s digital clock and noted the minutes since either Emily or Josiah had asked how much more driving there was. They didn’t like riding and were probably hotter than she was.
The last road sign had announced fifty miles to Cincinnati, and their destination was a suburb on its east side. She entertained the fantasy of detouring Cincinnati, and then Brownsville, to keep going to the mountains and then the Atlantic coast, bypassing her assigned goal of arriving at the new parsonage and starting to unpack. She knew as much about the country beyond the Ohio River as she did about the church that Jeff, her husband, would soon be pastoring. She’d been following Jeff, who was driving the rented moving truck, for 300 miles from western…

Marriage and Scriptures

Today the quarterly wanted me to teach my Sunday School class about marriage.

Ok. I have, as far as how many ladies come off and on, about 15 people in my class. Today there were nine. Good crowd. Of those who come, three of us are married, one of which is a second marriage. One lady has never married. One is widowed. The rest are divorced. And I'm going to teach Ephesians 5:22 to them?

I wrote a long, doctrinal lesson. I might post it here soon. I learned a lot about marriage. But on Sunday morning I knew this wasn't going to work (I had inklings all week it wasn't.) So I punted. We had a good discussion, and I hope I didn't offend anyone.

Say marriage to most long-term Christians and the first verse they come up with is "Wives, submit to your husbands." And oh, yes, there's a verse in there about the husbands' loving the wives like Christ does the church. But the section starts with "wives, submit" so that must be the most …

A word from Nooma

For those who don't know, Nooma DVDs are little programs by Rob Bell. Rob Bell is an interesting character. I don't want to state something about him and his doctrinal position that is not true, so I'll just say that I find him provocative. I previewed a Nooma DVD the other night for use with our BCM group this week.

It was about time management. He pointed out that Jesus did not do everything that people asked him to do. This morning our pastor spoke on Mark 8, and it became very clear in that text how right Rob Bell is on that point. Jesus was not a circus performer, although the Pharisees et al wanted him to be. Show us a sign, they say, on our cue. No, I won't, Jesus says, after he has just miraculously fed 4,000 Gentiles (in contrast to the 5,000 plus Jews in an earlier chapter). For the Pharisees and even his disciples, it's as if whatever Jesus did was never enough. More, more, they say. Our way! No thanks, Jesus responds. I am calling the sh…

Another One of those Just Wonderings

I am a big Christianity Today fan, but sometimes....

Their advertising is off-the-wall. Advertised today is a book by Brian McLaren (who may or may not be heretical) called "A New Kind of Christianity."

Am I the only one who sees the oddness in that title? Is he saying we've been doing it wrong for 2000 years? Who died and made him the authority. Oh, please.

We are all Marxists now

One of the fundamental tenets of Marxism is alive and well in some parts of the Republican/conservative parties.

Marx wrote that "Mankind's consciousness is determined by his economic and social conditions." I am paraphrasing, but as Marx wrote in German anyway and I can't read German, despite two years in high school, it would be a paraphrase anyway, as direct translation is usually unreadable, especially from the German. Anyway, what he is saying is, "It's the economy, stupid."

And that is the same thing the Republicans said this time around. They benefited from many voters' frustration with economic conditions, which are not even remotely addressed in the constitution.

True conservatives live by principles and say, "Our economic and social conditions are determined by our (cultural, spiritual, intellectual) consciousness."

Probably Shouldn't, but this fascinates me