Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rebuttal to Poorly-Written Opinion Piece

Guns do not save or secure lives sneers Darren Sieber, frowning at the camera through his lip ring and glasses. I've seen more articulate attacks against handguns, but something about this adolescent parroting of anti-gun spin made me want to write a rebuttal. Darren is not the target of this post, although it is addressed to him. It is intended more for any brain-numbed student who is tempted to nod in agreement with Darren, except that the pent-up saliva might dribble out of their slacking jaws.

Claim: "Texas gun laws are no less lax than that of other states."

This is completely false, and an examination of other state laws will make it clear, especially in New England states such as Massachusetts. Other states have only recently enacted "Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground/Make My Day" laws which repeal a requirement for homeowners to retreat before using deadly force.

Claim: "1,000 people die every day due to guns."

What that statistic fails to account for is the estimated 1,369 uses of guns to prevent crimes. This is a extremely liberal reduction from the 2.5 million defensive uses of firearms estimated by criminologists.

Notably, your own website's statistics show that America ranks BELOW nations such as Europe and Asia, of which most nations have harsher gun restrictions or even outright bans than America. (Side note: your website obviously carries with it a bias, which is not wrong, but it should be pointed out in the interest of fair disclosure. In a minute, I will cite the National Rifle Association, which is pro-gun, and which should be as valid as the anti-gun websites used in the opinion piece.)

Further note that countries such as Switzerland and Japan have extremely lax firearm laws, and also a very low rate of homicide, showing that guns cannot directly be linked to gun ownership.

Read more here: http://www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?ID=78

Claim: "Sure, we can continue to blame guns for homicides, suicides, war deaths and freak accidents for as long as we like."

The inarticulate mockery of the claim "guns don't kill people; people kill people" was entirely ineffective; the point remains, inert objects such as firearms possess no inherent ethic for right or wrong. Thus, guns cannot be blamed for deaths any more than automobiles, knives, carbon monoxide or cliffs.

Claim: "[G]uns are wrong. They are deadly, unethical creations that do not save or secure any number of lives that could build a reliable statistic."

This too is incorrect. Perhaps before taking one side of an issue, you should investigate the other side. Researchers have shown that firearms are used defensively between 700,000 and 2.5 million times a year. (The estimate given several paragraphs up was based on a reduction to 500,000 defensive uses.)

I checked the statistics regarding gender and gun use from the anti-gun website, and found no citation for them. Pending further clarification, these cannot be either confirmed or denied. Regardless, if a woman carries a gun, it reduces her likelihood of being murdered by about 3 to 4 times compared to the reduction of men carrying firearms. Obviously, this is because physically, women tend to be less muscular than men.

Claim: "Of gun-related homicides, 90 percent occur amongst men."

This makes sense, given that around 88% of the prisoner population is male. Also, males are more likely to carry a gun to defend or protect their house or family. However, this number is irrelevant to whether or not to ban or more tightly restrict guns.

Claim: "It's much easier to end an argument, unhappy life, child's crying, spousal cheating or a robbery with a simple click."

If all guns were to vaporize tomorrow, you are only removing one means to an end. In effect, you are trying to stop someone from arriving at a location by blocking off a main street. You are still leaving dozens of side streets open. Guns are not the most effective method of murder; they are difficult to obtain, can be easy to trace (ballistics, etc.) and also create a large noise. Poisons, asphyxiation and other such methods of murder could be considered easier. A determined killer will not be halted because one weapon option has been removed.

Note also that ending a child's crying is in no way comparable to ending a robbery; the comparison is repugnant.

Claim: "America [is] the leader of gun fatalities."

Note this untruth was already disproven above, according to your own statistics. Note that American gun ownership is at an all time high; right-to-carry states are increasing their shall-issue status. And American crime overall is at the lowest rate in decades.

Finally, all readers are welcome to visit the following website to read daily uses by civilians of firearms to save a life or prevent a crime:

http://claytoncramer.com/gundefenseblog/blogger.html


Some follow-up points I wrote on Free Republic after submitting this to the paper's comments section.

- We are constitutionally guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms.

- Cars kill more people than guns do, but we don't ban them, and we will put a kid behind the wheel a decade before we will permit them to own a firearm.

- Every day, millions of guns DON'T kill people. They are safely tucked away in closets, glove compartments and drawers, an added measure of security just like an unused fire extinguisher; ready if you need it, but not usually needed.


**Addendum**: Freeper Blood of Tyrants sustained a correction to my post; Japan actually has very stringent gun laws.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Is Pollution the Solution?

So let's assume global warming is a problem. THE problem, according to some alarmists.

What can we do to fix it? I have a suggestion: POLLUTE TO YOUR HEART'S CONTENT.

Burning Fossil Fuels Has A Measurable Cooling Effect On The Climate

Blocking sunshine with aerosol may help avoid global warming

Pollutants ward off global warming, study finds

Less pollution may boost global warming

Scientists: Pollution could combat global warming (Link and summary of original CNN article, which was removed.)

Air trends 'amplifying' warming - Reduced air pollution and increased water evaporation appear to be adding to man-made global warming.

Does cleaner air make hurricanes worse?

Pollution May Slow Warming; Cleaner Air May Speed It, Study Says

Will a Layer of Silt in the Sky Save the Earth?

Dust May Dampen Hurricane Fury

Come on, people. Our air is cleaner than it has been for a decade. Pollute, and do your part to spare the people of New Orleans another hurricane.

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Are Plants Killing Our Planet?

In the debate over global warming, one point that is sometimes overlooked is the historical cycles of global warming measured by scientists. While some of these old-earth "dog year" numbers don't reconcile with young-earth creation, they still suggest that the earth was warming and cooling far before humans. What caused this pre-human global warming? What was around back then that pumped greenhouse gas into the air and polluted the atmosphere?

How about plants?

Study: Emission of smog ingredients from trees is increasing rapidly

'No solution' found in more trees

Deforestation Caused Global Cooling (Original article removed; archived title remains)

Scientists find plants cause global warming (Original article removed, archived post on Free Republic)

Nature can help reduce greenhouse gas, but only to a point

Models show growing more forests in temperate regions could contribute to global warming

And as an afterthought, here's another solution for global warming: Nuclear war

**Update August 14, 2007**
Trees Won't Fix Global Warming (Archived)

**Update November 4, 2007**
New global warming villain fingered: Trees

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

What Do Women SEE in This Guy?

Bill Clinton Raises $70,000 Without Breaking a Sweat

Among the unusual details of this most unusual fund-raiser is that everyone was given a long-sleeved white cotton T-shirt to wear over workout clothes. Usually people wear as little as possible for spinning, which involves riding a bike in standing and seated positions, and at alternating levels of resistance, while music plays.

“People tend to wear sexy spandex outfits with midriffs showing,” Ms. Krupp said. “But in deference to the president, we wore these shirts that said, ‘Exercise Your Vote.’ ”

...

“He was incredible, he was engaging, exciting, warm, brilliant, phenomenal."


If they were in deference to the president, why did they cover up?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Flashback: Article Published for popular Creation-Evolution News Site

The Perfect Shock Absorber – An Amazing “Feet” of Design

[Guest article]  The wonders of the human foot should make you stand up and take notice.  The Los Angeles Times reported the findings of two professors, Edward Glaser, a podiatrist from Tennessee, and Dr. Nancy Kadel from the University of Washington.

“It’s ingenious,” says Edward Glaser, a Tennessee podiatrist who switched professions from mechanical engineering to podiatry because of his admiration for the foot’s function.  “As a machine, it’s an engineering marvel.”

    The foot is built to walk on everything natural – grassy knoll, pine needle forest floor, volcanic rock – uphill and down.  It is constantly balancing, changing direction and absorbing a pounding equal to 3.5 times the body’s weight, only to spring back in time for the next step.


    With its 26 bones and 33 joints, the foot is a biomechanical masterpiece.  “There’s something wonderful about it,” says Dr.  Nancy Kadel, professor of orthopedics and sports medicine at the University of Washington.  “It’s a flexible shock absorber, then it’s a rigid platform that propels you forward.  It adapts to sand when you walk on the beach.  Then you climb onto rocks to look at the tide pools, and it drapes over the rocks.”


Despite expressing wonder and awe at such magnificent design, the article soon dips into speculating about its evolutionary origins, claiming that the foot took millions of years to take shape.  It cites the Laetoli footprints
(02/03/2006, 07/20/2005, 03/12/2003) and Australopithecus aferensis
(09/20/2006, 04/27/2006) as evidence of ancestral evolution.

Despite the usage of the term design by Dr. Carol Frey, an assistant professor of orthopedics at UCLA, this is yet another example of evolutionists beholding exceptional design yet refusing to
acknowledge its source in an intelligent cause.  The article admits, “Gaps in the fossil record don’t allow for pinning down exactly when hominids stood up and walked on two feet,” so it’s unclear why they proceed to assert evolutionary ancestry, or why they cite Laetoli footprints and Australopithecus aferensis as examples of foot evolution. 

The Laetoli prints are clearly human footprints.  They reveal essentially no difference between the foot that made them and today’s modern foot structure.  Fossils of Australopithecus (which evolutionists assert was from about the same time frame) bear no relevance to the evolution of human feet, because whether they walked upright is controversial, based only leg bones, not foot bones.  Connecting fossil dots fails to account for exactly how the interoperational complexity of the foot could have evolved.  “Ancient” snapshots in time show little or no change.  How did the first modern shock-absorbing structure for upright balance come about?  Accidental mutations? 

All changes would have to be drastic, perfect and simultaneous.  As any podiatrist will tell you, one little toe bone out of alignment in the structure of the foot can be very painful.  That would most certainly make any hopeful ape considering making the transition from knuckle walking to the “full and upright
position” stop dead in its tracks.

Now Who's the Racist?


Obama the 'Magic Negro'

...[Obama is] there to assuage white "guilt" (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest."

Islamic Terrorists Using Web Forums to Propagandize

Islamist Website Instructs Mujahideen in Using Popular U.S. Web Forums to Foster Anti-War Sentiment among Americans

"Raiding American Forums is Among the Most Important Means of Obtaining Victory in the Fierce Media War… and of Influencing the Views of the Weak-Minded American."


  • Indicate You Are an American

  • Invent Stories About American Soldiers You Have [Allegedly] Personally Known

  • Make Americans Feel Frustrated With Their Government


So the terrorists recognize the value of internet forums in subverting the will of the American people. Perhaps they should check out DemocratUnderground, the liberal counterpart to Free Republic. Perhaps they already do.

Regardless, they'll likely be easy to spot. You can usually spot someone pretending to be like you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Military Surge Working?

U.S.: Use Of Deadly Roadside Bomb Plunges

After warning that the threat of deadly EFPs, or Explosively Formed Penetrators, was growing at an alarming rate, the U.S. military now says there's been a "dramatic" decrease in the use of the powerful roadside bombs.

Gandalf Saves Boyscout

Rescue Dog Leads Searchers to Boy Scout

A rescue dog led searchers Tuesday to a 12-year-old Boy Scout, who was weak and dehydrated but alive in the rugged North Carolina mountains, about a mile from the camp he had wandered away from four days earlier.

"He was a little disoriented, but he was great," said Misha Marshall, the South Carolina Search and Rescue Dog Association volunteer whose dog, Gandalf, found Michael Auberry on a wooded ridge.

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Me. Thankfully.

"The world is under threat of drastic and harmful change because of manmade global warming."

"The Iraq war is too costly, and was political to begin with, and we should pull out."

"Evolution is a fact because the evidence overwhelmingly supports that claim."


The preceding statements are three of the easiest statements you can make. Any fool can make them, and there is a lot of public sentiment to back you up. In other words, it's really easy to stand with a crowd.

These statements stand largely contrary to who I am as a Christian, as a conservative and as an American.

I got to thinking about this yesterday evening while reflecting on a conversation I had with a classmate. We were exchanging ideas about what our next speech would be on. This speech is designated as "informative." I related that I had considered doing a speech on global warming, and she said she had also thought of that. I asked what tack (perspective) she would take on the subject (as if I really needed to know). She said essentially, that we're ruining the planet. I explained that I would have gone the exact opposite, which somewhat surprised her.

When she said she would take the "doomage" position, I should have exclaimed (in a polite yet semi-scornful manner) "how boringly easy!"

Right now, between pressures of "authoritative sources" like Al Gore and "scientific consensus" trumpeted in the media, it's really easy to believe global warming is happening, and we are the cause. There are a great many reasons why that is not the case, and I'm not here to offer a scientific refutation to theories of harmful anthropogenic climate change. I'm saying, any idiot can say "yer killin' the globe, man" and have a hundred white-coats and two hundred news anchors silently nodding their agreement. Nothing could be easier for me than to join in the throng of environmentalists.

I recall Christopher Hitchens appearing as a guest on a show somewhere, and the crowd was very clearly against him. Someone made a joke about President Bush's intellect, and something about weapons of mass destruction. Hitchens pointedly responded that any stupid fool could make these jokes, and many stupid fools do. The crowd didn't like that, but how true is it? Public sentiment is against President Bush, and against the war in Iraq, thanks to a tireless stream of 24/7 negativity on the part of mainstream media, and little to no rebuttal, response or refutation from the White House. Anyone and everyone, from Jay Leno on down, can throw George W. Bush's name in place of "dumb blond" and think they're guaranteed a laugh. They've lost sight of a higher calling and a true mission to rescue the captive and give aid to the downtrodden. (While protecting our own butts too.)

The "consensus" among scientists and other "authorities" is that evolution is true, and we came from monkeys. Evolution has been part of our culture for decades. There was an episode of "Leave it to Beaver" I once saw where big brother Wally was helpfully explaining evolution to the Beav. Nothing could be easier than for me to delve into piles of interpretation, belief and conjecture and emerge with fistfulls of arguments to debunk creationism.

Nothing could be easier than for me to join in the "everybody's doing it" crowd of sexually active singles. Sex is everywhere in the culture today. I can't even look up the lyrics of a Christian song without advertisements splashing across the screen showing females in various stages of undress. Supermarket tabloids and "How-To" magazines offer to give you the dirty rundown of the latest lurid Hollywood scandals, or techniques on ways to drive your man crazy for you. Commercials for weight loss or get-rich-quick schemes flaunt bikini-clad women all the time. (The message: If you join our program, this woman can be YOURS!) Letting go of the shore and going with the social current would be just about the easiest thing to do.

The new film Amazing Grace tells the story of William Wilberforce and how he took on the juggernaut of the slave trade in England. His friend William Pitt tells him "The slave trade has 300 MPs [members of Parliament?] in its pocket. It would be just you against them. But you could do it."

Wilberforce consults John Newton on the subject, and Newton says that it won't be easy, but "Do it. Take them on. Blow their dirty, filthy ships out of the water. ... Do it, for God's sake."

Easy is for suckers, people. Easy is for wimps. It takes guts and a backbone to stand on principle, all by yourself if necessary. People choose to be skeptical of global warming not because it's easy, but because they believe it's true. I support the war in Iraq because protecting American lives is the right thing to do. It's not easy, but it's right. I'm not a creationist because that's easy and comfortable. I've been called everything in the book by evolutionist "professionals" who gnash their teeth and growl "How dare you defy us!" at me. Being a creationist is not an easy thing to be. I'm not whining about how hard it is; this is not about me. It's about how RIGHT is usually hard, something which you probably already know.

Believing in God isn't always easy. Wrestling icon and politician Jesse Ventura earned the admiration of atheists when he said that religion is a crutch for weak-minded people. Ventura and the Atheists (good rock band name!) never picked up a copy of Fox's Book of Martyrs to find out who these weak-minded people were. Jesus promised His followers a life of tribulation, hatred and persecution in John 15 and 16. Christianity is the only religion where you don't try to earn your way out of sin, and when it comes right down to it, that's not an easy thing to accept.

A person living for God, or a political conservative (preferably both, but it's not mutually exclusive) is not often an easy place to be.

Being who I am, believing what I believe, is not easy.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

My Encounters with Hollywood Part 2

In my previous entry, I detail being proverbially thrown out on my rear because a cadre of Hollywood big shots thought my brother worked for the paparazzi. Once again, I offer a counter-balanced story on my experience with the good side of Hollywood.

One of the classes I'm taking this semester is public speaking. Always have wanted to take a public speaking class.

The style of presentation we were commissioned to use was "Demonstration." I like to do things a little off the beaten path, so I chose "How to Choreograph a Stageplay Sword Fight" as my topic. (The Master Replicas lightsaber model that I used in my introductory speech seemed to be a big hit, so I brought it back for an encore.) This timed nicely with the release of the sequel to the hit internet phenomenon Ryan vs. Dorkman, although Ryan posted it in the evening, not morning.

But I'm getting ahead of the story. I found my biggest problem was locating authoritative sources regarding stageplay sword fighting. Oh sure, there were a lot of fan websites that broke down the Star Wars sword fights. But there were two extremes; completely unprofessional websites with a lot of information, or very professional websites who obviously weren't in the business of handing out free information; they only provided facts about the classes they offer. And since I couldn't see my way clear to fly to England for sword lessons, I had to come up with an alternative.

I finally found some instructional videos for how to choreograph a fight, how to fence, etc. The videos were made by Tim Weske, who has worked on films such as Princess Diaries II, Peter Pan and Master and Commander, training actors such as Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock and Natalie Portman among many others.

I browsed his site, and since his contact information was on there, I sent him an e-mail with a couple of questions I had from his instructional videos. He wrote back and said he wasn't quite sure he understood my questions, and provided his phone number. I called, left a message, and wound up calling again an hour later, which he promptly returned. I talked with him for almost 40 minutes, getting tips, getting a feel for the swordmaster business, and asking his evaluation (and subsequently hearing behind-the-scenes information and details) of movie fight scenes such as the lightsaber fight from The Phantom Menace, as well as Lord of the Rings fights and the famous Princess Bride duel. (He explained that if the fight scene looked good, then who was he to be critical of it, since that is the goal of any movie fight scene.)

While at times he was slightly critical of Hollywood fight scenes (IE, they were unrealistic, because most duels or fights would be over in few moves), I wasn't quite able to understand if there was a proper balance between a good fight scene and an accurate fight scene.

The presentation went on at the next class, although I must say that his name (and the associated credibility) boosted the speech more than the information did. I hope some day to take some lessons and become educated in the true art of swordsmanship. Maybe with Tim Weske.

Until then, Mr. Weske has my sincere thanks for introducing me to a nicer side of Hollywood, for spending time in conversation, and for letting me pick his brain on swordsmanship.

My Encounters with Hollywood

In my short life, outside of watching movies, I have had exactly two encounters with actual Hollywood figures. I'll elaborate on one here.

The first was the actual, real-life, honest-to-goodness, no-kiddin', sure-'nuff in-the-flesh Orlando Bloom. The actual Lord of the Rings/Pirates of the Caribbean/Troy star was in town. (*Deafened by fangirl screams*)

Orlando was in the vicinity of Versailles, Kentucky filming some scenes for his film Elizabethtown, also named after a town in Kentucky. My brother, then a student and reporter for the local campus newspaper, drove to the area to ask some questions and check it out. It turns out he'd missed the big show mere days earlier, when they actually filmed exterior shots on the street, and lots of townpeople got to watch, and meet Orlando. He (my brother) found out that they were planning to film at a nearby funeral home. He couldn't get close, so he ventured to a next-door Bed & Breakfast to inquire about the filming. The owner showed him the autograph she'd gotten, but little did he realize, he'd made film producers nervous. I'll explain why in a minute.

The next morning, my brother, my sister and myself ventured up to the shooting location. Everyone was really quiet, and there were fangirls putting their fandom on display.



Body double/stand-in John Glass was mingling with the crowd, giving what few details he had about his conversations with the high-profile actors from the film, such as Orlando Bloom or Kirstin Dunst.



We later determined that in addition to being able to interact with fans, Mr. Glass was acting as a decoy. He was dressed like, and had an appearance exactly as Orlando Bloom was for the day's shoot.

When a figure in a grey t-shirt walked across the front lawn of the funeral home (shouting an accented "Happy BETH-day" to a fangirl whose hand-written sign said "Orlando, it's my birthday!"), no one took much notice; from the distance we were all at, it appeared to be John Glass. Then as he hid himself behind a strategically-placed van, everyone realized it was Orlando Bloom himself. (Hot dog!) They were actually setting up for an autograph session.

However, some Hollywood nimrod with his head up his -- keygrip -- believed my brother was from the paparazzi, that infernal group of lowlifes that make their living taking embarassing photos of celebrities. One shot of Orlando picking in his nose could feed one of these parasites for a month.

Teeth-grittingly, just as we were getting in line to meet the actual, real-life, honest-to-goodness, no-kiddin', sure-'nuff in-the-flesh Orlando Bloom, some lower-class Hollywood lemmings informed us that we would have to leave the property. To make sure there was no doubts, a local uniformed police officer escorted us. We watched as dozens of tickled, giggling, gloating, bubbly little fan girls emerged from behind the van with autographs, and at a distance, we could see the line end, and Orlando walk off to the catering lines. We later learned that Orlando Bloom had been staying at that very Bed & Breakfast. No doubt Hollywood producers were scared that my celebrity-grubbing journalist brother would procure snapshots of Orlando's undies.



Can't see him? Let me help you.


The actual, real-life, honest-to-goodness, no-kiddin', sure-'nuff in-the-flesh Orlando Bloom, as seen from behind the veil of Hollywood elitism.

Geico Cavemen Could Get Their Own Show


Geico cavemen could star in TV series

Now depending on how this is handled, this could make for either the ruin of a great TV campaign, or the birth of a great new TV series. I personally love the Geico Cavemen ads. I've been a fan of Geico commercials for years, even before the cavemen series. The talent and ingenuity of the series has slowly picked up a fanbase. The series began with three distinguished and affluent cavemen sitting in a well-furnished apartment. One is playing piano, one working on his laptop, the other watching television. All three are dismayed when they see the advertisement with the slogan "So easy, a caveman could do it."

A second promo featured a caveman on set of a Geico commercial being filmed, offended at the slogan and storming off the set.

The series was going to culminate in the "Apology" video (the origination of the "roast duck with mango salsa" order) but the advertisers brought the series back for more.

You can see a complete rundown on YouTube. (Where else?)

The cavemen also started a website, UpwithCavemen.com, to provide for the empowerment of oppressed cavemen fighting cultural bias and prejudice.

Geico also launched an interactive website where you can visit the Caveman's crib, acting as an early arrival for the caveman's party featured in a later commercial. You can snoop around his house, look at his books (complete with scribbled notes) and magazines, and pester him by blowing the electricity, bothering him in the shower, or flipping on his TV without asking.

The cavemen ads are loads of fun. Let's hope that if a sitcom actually comes out of all this, that it can be clean and funny, and not ruin the original ads.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Two Sides of Hollywood

In a recent blog entry, I complained about the lack of virtue within Hollywood. To be fair, I offer the balanced perspective.

Hollywood is an incredibly powerful force that shapes and creates perceptions and social trends. I have no direct data, but I'm guessing the gradual decline in basic morality can be linked with the acceptance of more sexualized films. Shows like Dragnet or Perry Mason encouraged college attendees towards the field of criminal justice. MacGuyver sparked an interest in engineering majors. And modern shows like CSI have caused a surge of students enrolling in forensic science programs.

Special effects are better than they've ever been, but even before then, TV could make anything look "cool." Cigarettes for example. It's often startling to see older shows such as The Andy Griffith Show or Perry Mason where everyone smokes.

But this was supposed to be a balanced perspective.

There is a silver lining in the clouds of Hollywood, and it seems to have gotten wider the past few years. The recent and semi-recent Christian movies Hollywood has given us is an ever-mounting list, and includes

    The Chronicles of Narnia
    End of the Spear
    Passion of the Christ
    Facing the Giants
    One Night with the King
    Amazing Grace
    Bridge to Terabithia
    Lord of the Rings


Thanks to the recent success of such films, more are on the way. Ted Dekker's book Thr3e was recently made into a movie. (I can wait to see the film; the book was stupid.) The Ultimate Gift opens this Friday, and I'm looking forward to it. I have yet to see Bridge to Terabitha, but I did meet the author at a C.S. Lewis conference in Wheaton, Illinois two years ago. Amazing Grace is a fantastic movie about the life of Christian activist William Wilberforce.

Regardless of the politics or personal philosophy of the morally-bankrupt Hollywood elite, the films have been spectacular achievements, a cut above the bland "Christian films" like the Left Behind films and their kind. ("WE MADE A DVD," screams the ecstatic, poor Christian producer. "LOOK! IT'S GOT ACTORS AND EVERYTHING!")

Hollywood may think it is serving the almighty (d)allah, but it is achieving some good in the long run.

Coins, theft and chewing gum

I've got three questions for you.

Question 1: What do you do when you find a coin and/or a dollar bill on the ground?

Question 2: What do you do when you're about to give a major presentation for a speech class, and your memory stick containing all of your visual aids is stolen?

Question 3: What do you do when you set your computer charger down, and pick it up to find the heat of the electricity has melted someone's dried chewing gum onto the converter?

On Question 1: It's an interesting little moral quandary, finding money on the ground. Once I found a five-dollar bill in front of the grocery checkout. Not knowing what to do, and not wanting to keep it, I handed it to the cashier and explained that someone must have dropped it. I can't be sure, but as I walked away, I think she pocketed it. I found a quarter lying in the parking lot the other day, and left it lying there. But I began thinking; is it stealing if you pick up a coin? Likely as not, someone else will come along and grab it anyway, and it's extremely doubtful that the owner will come looking for it. So what do you do? Well, a day or two ago, I found a dime on the floor and went ahead and pocketed it. I guess that's one paralyzing moral puzzle solved. But I'm still undecided on coins you see at the bottom of the urinals. To dive or not to dive, that is the question...

On Question 2: Yes, it really happened. I had a 1 GB Cruzer Micro USB memory stick, about an inch long, with all of my video presentations, including my video on Hollywood sword fights, a PowerPoint presentation, and two small video clips of my brother and myself in a short choreographed fight (using what my pathetic and now-extinct little detractors would call a "baton"). What to do? Answer: rush out to the car and grab your backup memory stick. Ha! Foiled YOU, you memory-stick-stealing creep!

I don't think the speech went very well, and while I can't blame the thief for it, I still can't help but wonder what jerk of a student would steal a memory stick, when he himself would be furious to have the added anxiety of losing his entire class presentation minutes before the presentation is being given? Once, on the way out of math class, I called after one student that he forgot his iPod. He thanked me profusely, saying he would have been so mad if he'd lost the thing. He then proceeded to relate to me a story where he found someone's iPod, pocketed it, and sold it to his roommate for $40! I ask again, what kind of jerk of a student is that?

On Question 3: A paper towel soaked in paint thinner soon removed the gum from the charger, but once again, I'm left to contemplate and marvel at the gross inconsideration perpetrated by classmates against their fellow students.