Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bookses, Precious, Lots of Bookses!

I must have become either more interesting or less interesting of an adult than my younger self would have pictured. When I visited a library stock sale today, I browsed through several different sections, including sciences, reference, medicine, poetry, classic literature, fiction, textbooks, etc. Nothing caught my eye.

Then I found the politics and history table. I began scanning titles, and then randomly snatching books up as they appealed to me. They were really cheap ($0.25 for paperback, $1 for hardback), so I got the following:

Creationism on Trial by Langdon Gilkey

World Civilizations, Fourth Edition, Volumes 1 & 2

The Way Things Ought To Be by Rush Limbaugh

See, I Told You So by Rush Limbaugh

How To Get Elected - An ancdotal history of mudslinging, red-baiting, vote-stealing and dirty tricks in American politics by Jack Mitchell

The Bill of Rights and Landmark Cases by Edmund Lindop

The Middle Ages Volume 1: Sources of Medieval History by Brian Tierney

The Harbrace History of England - Ancient and Medieval England Beginning to 1509 by J.R. Lander

So either I've becoming really boring, or really interesting, but I doubt my younger self would have expected me to turn out this way!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The End of All Things (Rescored)

I'm spoiling myself with super-quick video projects, but I had a lot of fun throwing this clip together. Having just recently discovered the British sci-fi equivalent of Star Trek, Doctor Who, I've enjoyed and catching up on the episodes from 2005. Happily, the show's composer recognized that a lot of his music was too good to go to waste just in the show, and so put out the soundtrack. The music I used for this particular video came from a scene I cannot describe without spoiling plot details, and which I myself would not have seen but for YouTube.

When I heard this track (as when I hear most any orchestral musical themes), I ran over matching scenes from past movies I've seen, or other cinematic scenarios that are put into my mind by the music. When I heard this track, I thought of the climax of Return of the King, which of course already had its own spectacular musical score. It didn't take long to find a satisfactory version of the sequence on YouTube, and from there it was simply a matter of downloading the clip, converting it from .flv to .mov, importing it to Windows Movie Maker, and cutting out some of the talking and orchestrating it according to the music.

I'm rather pleased with how it turned out.

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Ain't Nothing Funny When A Soldier Cries

The other day on the Dr. Laura show, I heard the latter half of a man who called in to the Dr. Laura show seeking advice about how to act with his father, who was dying of some terminal disease, and who did not accept his son for who he was as a member of the armed forces. Dr. Laura sadly advised him that, while the father managed to have a good son, he was unwilling to accept his son, and the son would have to live with that - and that he would die unhappy and alone.

This truth obviously impacted the man, and before he hung up, he came close to tears as he implored the listener not to believe what the media reports, because "I'm doing good things over there. I mean, I'm teaching little kids how to play baseball" and his voice began to crack. Dr. Laura calmly advised him that she and every other intelligent, patriotic American knew and believed this. (In my opinion, she should have affirmed this fact even more fiercely than she did. I would have, forcefully, angrily, severely insisting that the jerks who dare suggest otherwise are idiots at best, traitors at worst.)

I rarely hear anything on the radio that moves me to tears, but his heartfelt plea cut me to the quick; it reminded me of the line from the John Michael Montgomery song "Letters From Home":

"There ain't nothing funny when a soldier cries."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Needing Credibility? (Part 3)

Someone else on the comments section of a Lincoln Journal Star letters area has appropriated my internet name in order to mock me.
daveloneranger wrote on September 13, 2007 11:44 pm:
" Why is everybody always picking onme? Is it because I drag my mother in to defend my beliefs? Or is it because I like to twirl a baton on the intarwebs? In summation: People who enroll in Uion college know what they're getting into. Let them choose if they want their kids to be taught things that will prepare them for the real world or not.

The "drag my mother in" comment is because my mother maintains a rare presence on Free Republic, and stopped by a thread about Sean Hannity kicking me off his program. The lowlifes at DarwinCentral continue to drag her into the discussion as a means of ridiculing me. (Amusingly, they fault me for making them who they are today!) I have little doubt that it was one of them who wrote the comment.

It's such a good feeling to know people care.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Needing Credibility? (Part 2)

Letters to the Editor of the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal-Star, September 5, 2007

One of the letters appearing in the paper is written by Gerry Harbison, a former adversary of mine on Free Republic (banned after threatening a lawsuit) who went under the nickname "RightWingProfessor."

And in the latest attempt to link to me (for good or ill), further down the page, we find the following comment:
DaveLoneRanger wrote on September 5, 2007 5:14 pm:
" If it isn't written in the plain English that Jesus used in the King James version, it didn't happen. "
Interestingly enough, folks, that ain't me!

Since this is tied to me old opponent, I'm laying dollars to doughnuts that Gerry or someone close to him on the frevolutionist retreat website DarwinCentral is responsible. Cute, boys. Thanks for continuing to add to my reputation and ego!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Amazing Grace Review Sums It Up Perfectly

Amazing Grace Review

The names William Pitt and William Wilberforce probably don’t mean much to anybody who doesn’t have an interest in 19th century English politics, the Napoleonic wars, and the abolition of the British slave trade, so you can’t blame the makers of Amazing Grace for naming it after a hymn that might be familiar to 21st century audiences. And although the hymn, written by the slave-ship-captain-turned-Anglican-priest, John Newton, is sung twice, during the film, and treated to a magnificent military drum and bagpipe rendition in the closing credits, it’s not what the film is about.

Amazing Grace follows the struggle of English politician and Abolitionist, William Wilberforce, as he struggled for 20 years to end the British slave trade from Africa. Although described in the history books as a slight and sickly man, he gets the superhero makeover in this edition, played with sincere earnestness by Ioan Gruffudd, better known for his turn as the super-flexi Mr Incredible of the Fantastic Four franchise.

Wilberforce’s struggle is brought to life by a cast representing the cream of male English acting talent (women is this film are generally decorative, albeit supportive), which includes Albert Finney as John Newton, Rufus Sewell as the activist Thomas Clarkson, and Michael Gambon as Charles Fox. Directed by Michael Apted, (who bought us Enigma, the film that managed to make geeky code breaking mathematicians cool) if the film has a fault, it’s the confusion created by telling much of the story in flashback. But this was a minor irritation. The film was spectacular in a way that only the English can do historical epics. It looked and felt real, and managed to make what could have been a very dry topic, engaging and entertaining.

I enjoyed this film immensely. Not knowing much about this period of history, other than the general acceptance of the fact that somebody, somewhere, must have put an end to importing slaves from Africa, I was quite on the edge of my seat as Wilberforce tried again and again to get his bill passed through parliament. One could even argue that despite casting a man best known as a superhero who once played Lancelot, in a film about a man historically reputed to be weak and sickly, they weren’t that far off the mark. Wilberforce, in his own way, was a superhero of his time. And if that it was Apted’s intention to have his audience believe that, then he achieved his aim, very will indeed.

This review summed up many of my own impressions of the film perfectly, so I decided to post it here. Amazing Grace was one of the best films I saw last year, a wonderful and inspiring account of the struggle to end slavery in Britain, with charming side plots about Wilberforce meeting and marrying Barbara Spooner.

Fortunately, the film is FINALLY coming to DVD on November 13.

I also have it on good authority that the First Lady, Laura Bush, thoroughly enjoyed the film, and the President recommended it to the Queen's attention.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Et tu, Jack?

"Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator. In most modern scientists this belief has died: it will be interesting to see how long their confidence in uniformity survives it. Two significant developments have already appeared—the hypothesis of a lawless sub-nature, and the surrender of the claim that science is true. We may be living nearer than we suppose to the end of the Scientific Age."

- C.S. Lewis
, Miracles, 1949

Christendom is rife with compromisers. But I didn't expect an author beloved by millions (and one of my personal favorites), C.S. "Jack" Lewis, to be among them.

I've been reading through The Problem of Pain, in which C.S. Lewis dissects the theological quandary of how a loving God can allow pain in the world. Indeed, though I am but halfway through the book, already I have been able to apprehend the theological significance - almost necessity - of the occurrence (or ability) of the existence of pain.

Alas, in Chapter 5, "The Fall of Man" Lewis demonstrates that he has accepted evolutionary history without question, and thus recognizes the necessity of dispensing with the literal translation of the Genesis creation account.

While Lewis is cogent and logical in his reasoning and deduction (pointing out how the first sin was almost certainly was a sin of pride, because it was the sin of turning inward - to self - instead of heavenward, to God, a sin that is conceivably within reach of a human untouched by actual carnal temptations), he illustrates the absurd lengths which must be extended to reconcile the Word of God and the grand theory of evolution.

Et tu, old friend?

One thing's for sure. Where Jack is now, he has most assuredly converted to creationism.

Further reading about C.S. Lewis and evolution:

C.S. Lewis and evolution

C.S. Lewis on materialistic thoughts


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Chronicles of Narnia Custom Preview

It took me several weeks to get this right. I experimented with a few different ideas, including the "speed up" effect (originally intended to speed up the shot where General Otmin crests the hill and signals the rest of the gruesome army, which got too messy to cut, and then the pan-up shot of the White Witch from Edmund's point of view when he first meets her) but it made the video go haywire, and it refused to convert to WMV format. I would have liked some more time to include shots of Susan and Lucy, but I was working within the constraints of the music timing.

The music is also a little more tinny than I would have liked, but it sounds way better on Windows Movie Maker. I think the program has difficulty with layered sound, even though I set it to take audio only from the audio overlay, and muted the other clips.

One thing's for sure, I have a greater appreciation for the people responsible to make official teasers, previews and trailers!

Incidentally, "Tribute" by Armen Hambar is one of the best movie trailer pieces I've ever heard - and I've heard many.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hedgecock, Cunningham Up - Drudge Down

Some radio shake-up news has trickled down the wires today. The Enquirer is reporting that independent media mogul Matt Drudge's late-night Sunday radio show is being retired, and "common man" personality Bill Cunningham is moving to take the slot.

And from Free Republic via KOGO radio in San Diego, the word is that Roger Hedgecock, former mayor of San Diego, and now radio host (including guest-hosting the Rush Limbaugh show) will syndicate on Saturday afternoons.


Monday, September 03, 2007

The Utter Inanity of Walker Texas Ranger

Several years ago, Chuck Norris's Walker Texas Ranger used to be all the rage.

Or so I'm told. I wasn't watching shows like that back then, and I can't be relieved enough. I've caught snatches of different shows before while channel surfing, and been entirely unimpressed with the supposed macho exploits of Mr. Norris in his capacity to enforce the law. Everyone seemed to think he looked uber-cool in his long duster, cowboy hat, scraggly "beard" and jeans which were doubtless given an Elvis-style customization so that old Chuck could more comfortably deliver those mind-blowing roundhouse kicks. Kicks, by the way, whose resulting impacts could both break the sound barrier with a resounding (dubbed-in) *smack!* and yet still leave the bad guy unmarked in any way. (Except perhaps a token trickle of blood on the face.) The bravado that leads him to sock, slug, punch and kick guys (who have already dispelled all doubt as to the fact that they are thugs, bullies and jerks - the screenwriters take care to let you know, "these guys needed it") and even the occasional girl, are beyond realistic, and it makes me wonder how the show survived for nine seasons.

I say he looked like a dopey goof.

I recently took a look at some of his exploits as featured by late-night television host Conan O'Brian, where Conan picked some good-natured fun at the snippets he was free to show after a corporate merger.

Conan Walker lever

Conan - Walker Texas Ranger Lever

Conan Walker lever 3

Extreme Walker Texas Ranger clips!

Some objectionable words are used in the commentary.)

If I hadn't seen the show a couple of times for myself, I would have thought the clips were intentionally taken out of context to make the show look bad. Fortunately, I know it's not.

Fans nonetheless compiled a list of hilarious "Chuck Norris facts" in his honor, sardonically painting him as a godlike superhuman.

Then word began spreading that Chuck Norris (gasp!) held conservative views. So someone stuck him with a computer and asked him to write columns for WorldNetDaily. One of his first columns dealt with the Chuck Norris facts, rather platonically.

Then some wise guy had the bright idea of sticking the karate star in front of Fox News Cameras as a subhost for Sean Hannity. The results were less than impressive...Norris is a fighter/athlete/actor. He is NOT a pundit, and he is NOT a novelist! (Reliable sources inform me that the book does not sell well in stores.)

Propping Norris up as a superhuman is funny. Propping him up as a deep-thinking, insightful conservative pundit is kind of embarrassing, and not really doing justice to Mr. Norris.


Dang! Missed the Alaskan Whiskers Competition!

From the Juneau Empire - Alaskans compete in facial hair contest
Hundreds of shaggy men competed Saturday to see who had the bushiest, longest and most sculpted whiskers in the World Beard & Mustache Championships.

About 250 contestants took part in the competition in Brighton, England, lining up before panels of judges to compete in 17 different classes of facial hair.

Ever since I grew a mustache, I've been teased and ragged about it by family and the occasional acquaintance. That's why one of my favorite moments of the goofy, lovable blue superhero The Tick is when he wakes up with a mustache and is thrilled to death about it. Tick frames the issue perfectly for the uninitiated:

"'Rugged.' 'Self-assured.' 'Adult.' These are the words that describe the man who wears a mustache. Yes, it says to the world 'I am a man of action!' Ahh, but action tempered with maturity! Like a fireman! Or somebody's dad!"

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Top 20 Most Bizarre Experiments

The Top 20 Most Bizarre Experiments of All Time

This made for some long, but very interesting reading. It's interesting that certain evolutionists enjoy accusing me of being anti-science. I doubt that they would also advocate this kind of research, yet these experiments were performed for the sake of science.

Freaky Spiders

Sprawling spider web engulfs North Texas park trail

Paging Shelob...cleanup on aisles 7 through 18.