Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category


I got a new dog! He’s a blue heeler and his name is Charlie. My brother asked me why I picked the name Charlie, especially since I kind of wanted a futuristic post-apocalyptic nuclear sci-fi warrior name for my dog. He is the same breed that was featured in The Road Warrior, after all.

Well, first, I think Charlie is a good name for a dog of any modern or futuristic era. Charlie is a great name for a futuristic post-apocalyptic nuclear sci-fi warrior dog, because if you lived in a futuristic post-apocalyptic wasteland, you would want to name your dog something reminiscent of better days (unless you were a bad guy – then you would name your dog Blood or Ripper or Killface or something).

But besides that, I have some other reasons:
• Charles Xavier is the leader of the X-Men
• Charles Mingus is one of the greatest jazz players to have ever lived
• Willy Wonka is one of my favorite movies (the old one, not the new one)
• Charlie is the name of the star dog from All Dogs Go To Heaven
• Charlie is the name of a character from the Street Fighter series
• Names that end in the “ee” sound remind me of the words “happy” and “friendly”
There are other reasons, too, but the number one reason would be that it just seems to fit. I tried out all sorts of names, but when I called him Charlie, everything seemed right with the world.

Welcome to the family, Charlie!


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Hey, guys! Check out this dog breed. Lord willing, I’m going to get one on Thursday!!!

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Today I went with Josh to meet a friend at a coin-op arcade downtown. It was SO FUN!

Back in the day, I was an arcade junkie. My job in high school was right next to an arcade, so I was in there before shifts, after shifts, and during my break. Marvel Vs Capcom – I owned that machine. Anybody cared to step up to the plate, they were gonna be losin’ quarters… FAST.

Then came college, and the corresponding “lack of money / lack of a good arcade” combo. Computer games and X-Box stole my attention away. I can’t say I’m too disappointed, since arcades are EXPENSIVE… but every once in a while, it’s nice to revisit those experiences.

There is nothing like being in a coin-op. Everywhere you turn you see a sweet game you wish you could play. Every few minutes you hear someone go, “OOOOOOOOOOOH!” in victory, or, more often, defeat. I have to admit, I miss the unspoken social codes and key phrases like, “I’ve got next.” But most of all, I miss the fear of having a total stranger step up to challenge you, and the thrill of totally kicking his butt.

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Order 66: Overpowered?

My good friend Joshua and I have discovered a new love lately: Star Wars Risk. But there’s a problem we’re starting to notice with the game: Order 66. Basically it allows one team to completely annihilate the other. You can’t call Order 66 until a certain number of turns have passed, though. I personally think it ads a fun element to the game, because the Republic has to try to beat the Separitists within a certain number of turns. Still – we’re thinking Order 66 may be too powerful. Look at the following examples. Here is the board just after Order 66 has been called (Joshua is blue and black, and has won two planets, whereas previously he only had one remaining planet on the board):

And here is the board after Order 66 has been finalized. Note how he has completely decimated my red and yellow armies in one move:

On the up side, it gives me a chance for an instant win, but really, if I don’t win in two turns, he will have so many reserve armies that there will be no chance for me to win. Therefore we both vote Yes, Order 66 is too powerful.

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Craig sent me this link to an incredible 8-Bit art show. These were my favorite pictures. For those of you who never played video games, the first is a picture of Link, with Ganon lurking in the background. Awesome. The second is a portrait of Pac-Man.

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This is why I love going to comic book movies on opening night.

You guys.

Batman is awesome.

I saw The Dark Knight on opening night and again the next evening. It is SO GOOD. I can’t express to you how awesome it is. Seriously. You have to see this movie.

And I quote: “The Dark Knight kicked the CRAP out of Batman Begins!” – Josh Pruett

It was better the first time, I do have to say. This movie has lots and lots of little plot twists, and a lot of the fun of it was when something would be revealed, and you’d be like, “No WAY!” The second time I knew what was going to happen so I wasn’t gripping my seat as hard. But it was still fun, because I got to appreciate Heath Ledger’s mind blowing performance a little more.

He did an incredible job as the Joker. I know people have been making a lot of contrasts between him and Jack Nicholson, so let me just throw in my two cents. Jack played a different kind of Joker. Jack’s Joker is very much the old style comic, very humorous and crazy. Heath’s Joker is NOT crazy, and is SCARY, and while he’s goofy, it’s almost like he’s saying, “I dare you to laugh at this,” while holding a knife to your throat. They’re both good in different ways, but the main difference is that Jack Nicholson played Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Heath Ledger played the Joker. There was no Heath Ledger in his performance. He was completely the Joker. So in my opinion, he did a better job.

I do have some questions about The Dark Knight, mainly concerning plot and the possibilities for a sequel. But I can’t ask them yet or you’ll all get mad at me for ruining the movie for you. I guess I’ll wait a few weeks and then do a Dark Knight recap/inquisition article.

Go see The Dark Knight.

Will and Anna made a new friend in the lobby.

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Ryan Davidson is a close friend of mine from back in the Jr. High days. He keeps an awesome blog with great insights into politics and religion. He recently wrote this post, which I liked so much that I wanted to share it with you. More of Ryan’s work can be found here.

I’ve been mulling over an idea for a week or so now, but the article I blogged about earlier today combined with this article from the MeFi comments has finally motivated me to write about it. Additional motivation comes from The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart, a book which I’m reading and which Bill Clinton apparentlyreferenced in a recent address.

The basic thesis of The Big Sort is that Americans have been segregating themselves on the basis of ideology–a divide that tracks class and race to some extent–since about the mid-1960s. The primary evidence for this self-sorting is traced to electoral maps from 1976 and 2004, which show a fairly dramatic increase in the number of “landslide” counties, i.e. counties where one presidential candidate won by at least 20% of the vote, a 60%/40% split. The vast majority of counties in the country were Republican landslides, but the few counties that Kerry did take by large margins are all major urban areas, so the number of people living in a landslide county for either side is quite large.

The author then goes on to suggest that we’ve been segregating ourselves so effectively for so long that the nation is devolving into different cultures that have little contact with other cultures and increasingly find those cultures incomprehensible. Listen to partisan Democrats and Republicans for about five minutes and this should be intuitively correct: it sounds like they aren’t even speaking the same language. They’re talking right past each other.

Compare the talking points of left and right and you’ll see what I mean. They’re just completely incompatible. The degree of self-serving fact selection and suppression is just stunning. They don’t even live in the same world.

But I’ve been finding that this isn’t just true for politics either. It’s also true for religion. The author discusses this as well, but he’s only really interested in its effect upon the political landscape, which in my view is a rather trivial exploration of religion. I’ve been at a Catholic institution for two years now, and I find Catholic thought to be almost impossible to engage. Why? Because the basic assumptions about reality are different than mine. I emphatically don’t believe that any two people can simply apply their reason and come up with the same result, and serious Catholics emphatically do believe that. I believe that sin is a disfiguring of human nature whose influence extends to every act; Catholics believe–or at least talk as if they believe–that sin is producing “evil” in the world and though intent is relevant, the category of sin applies to individual acts not to persons. Those who distinctions make discussion on high-level issues like jurisprudence and ethics all but impossible.

But it’s not just that either. Fundamentalist Protestants are even harder, as their view of Scripture is so radically different. They seem to approach the Bible as a list of propositions which may be used cookie-cutter style, as ingredients in a recipie designed to give them what they want. I view Scripture as an actual document, written by a actual people, who actually had a concrete purpose for what they were writing, and wrote just as you or I would write. As a result, I believe Scripture should be read as if it fundamentally makes coherent sense. This creates a pretty strong limit on the kinds of conclusions that can be reached from Scripture, a limit fundamentalists simply don’t have.

In some sense, I find that same division between myself and both ends of the political spectrum. I believe that people are evil, but by grace aren’t as evil as they might be. Both liberals and conservatives believe that people are basically good (conservatives might object here, but their policies belie their protestations), only they differ as to the social policies necessary to bring out the good in people. Liberals think that if given appropriate molly-coddling and social service that everyone will just play nice. It just isn’t true. Conservatives believe that if given the opportunity to make choices, people are capable of making the best ones. That isn’t true either. So not only can liberals and conservatives not really talk to each other, but I can’t talk to either of them.

Why is this happening? There are arguments to be made that it didn’t used to be this way, and though partisan politics are certainly nothing new to American history (remember 1861?), this seems to be one of the first times in American history where it has become increasingly difficult to actually get anything done.

This has happened before. A long time ago, actually, and it happened because of another tower. There, the survivors of the Biblical proclaimed their defiance against God by building a tower. Why was this defiant? First of all, God had commanded humanity to disperse and fill the earth, but the rulers of men (probably Gilgamesh) realized that their fame would diminish if humanity was scattered. So the tower was built in part to make a name for them. But also, the culture had just experienced a flood. Where do go in a flood? To high ground. So if you build a tall enough tower, the thinking goes, God won’t be able to wipe us out again. Not only is this rank defiance, but it also ignores God’s promise not to flood the earth that way again.

What does God do? He frustrates their language. He makes it impossible for them to talk to each other. Many ascribe the origin of differing human languages to this story, but I think that’s a superficial reading. I think what it really represents is God’s striking the human ability to band together. The real curse of Babel isn’t different languages as much as factionalism. Whenever humans band together to set themselves above God, we will always dissolve into factions before we have a chance to succeed.

America has done this. And no, it isn’t because we allow gay marriage or because we don’t pray in schools or because there are nekkid women in movies. Those may be symptoms, but they’re not the problem. The problem is that we, on both sides of the political spectrum, are constantly violating the First CommandmentYou shall have no other gods before me. We are, in essence, attempting to do without God, but more to the point, we give the glory due to God to ourselves.

“Before” doesn’t just mean “prior to” or “ahead of.” It also means “in the presence of,” just as one appears before a House subcommittee. We shall have no other gods in His presence. As he’s omnipresent, that means anywhere, so basically no other gods at all. The Left’s god seems to be man himself. “Just give people enough support and we can do anything! We’re all good inside!” The Right’s god is man too, though they come about it a different way. Tim Keller has some insight here, as did John Gerstner, who said “The thing that really separates us from God is not so much our sin, but our damnable good works.” The Right seems to think that by legislating a proper moral society, banning homosexuality, and punishing criminals, God will just have to reward us. He’ll just have to love us. We’ll play by his rules because that’s the name of the game, but we’re really what it’s all about.

Now Jesus faced the Right and the Left in his day too. The Jewish authorities had divided pretty neatly along lines that are fairly easy to recognize today. The Sadducees were the wealthy, well-educated cultural elites. They took a largely secular view of the world and of their religion: the spiritual aspect was appreciated, but the supernatural was all-but-removed. The Sadducees were collaborators with the Roman occupiers and thus held rather exalted positions of power. The Pharisees were the 1st century equivalent of the Moral Majority: solidly orthodox and conservative Jews who find their ready equivalent in most Evangelical churches today–particularly those of the Baptist stripe. They believed the Bible and were largely correct in their understanding of it. Jesus directs most of his ire against the Pharisees, but that’s because they’re the ones who were supposed to know better. the Sadducees were justwrong, and he told them so. He wouldn’t even engage with them. But the Pharisees, who were in the right about the Bible, had their own problems, in that they viewed the Bible as a way of making God like them, not a way of loving God by loving others.

In short, the Right, just like the Left, just like every other faction and subculture in America today–including no small portion of the church–want God’s benefits, but not God. Not a sovereign God who can tell you want to do, who is to be obeyed not because He is rational or because He is loving but because He is God. The Sumerians didn’t want God either. And just as God smote their culture, so has ours been stricken. The only answer is the gospel.

This is in part why I’m finding The Big Sort interesting but somewhat unpersuasive. Though it overstates its case in places and has some arguably unremarkable statistical data do anincredible amount of heavy lifting, the authors have latched on to what I believe is a real trend. But they don’t speak my language.

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