Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Observations on the News

  • If Larry Craig can't restrain himself in an airport restroom, he's a poor choice for senator and should resign. End of discussion.

  • If Greensburg can clean up without whining about the government, New Orleans should be able to do the same. (A link was necessary there, as most of us have forgotten about Greensburg--since they didn't whine.) Imagine if the pioneers who built this country had sat around waiting for FEMA to show up every time they suffered a setback!

  • If celebrities are detoxing, relapsing, or recuperating, that's not newsworthy. Few things are more commonplace than a sobriety-seeking celebrity. As a headline, it rates several Z-z-z-z-z-z-z's.

The late Bob Thaves, author of the "Frank and Ernest" comic strip, published a terrific cartoon a couple of years ago. His characters are on the sofa, watching television, and the newscaster's voice announces "And now for tonight's carefully selected news." I liked it so much that I e-mailed Mr. Thaves, asking permission to post it in this blog. He was kind enough to respond a few days later, saying that although my blog was fine, he didn't know where his cartoon might ultimately be used as a result and asked me not to post it.

I certainly understood his reluctance, especially in today's media climate. Much of what qualifies as "news" today, such as celebrity gossip, is not important. It's not news. Much of what is very important, such as stories on the war fronts, either never makes the newspapers or nightcasts, or it's buried on page A-23. That "Frank & Ernest" cartoon remains taped on my refrigerator door, a daily reminder of the agenda-driven distortions we are constantly subjected to in the news we are presented.

I've got news for MSM--I'm carefully selecting my own news.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Faith in Action

Preach the Gospel at all times, using words when necessary.
~ St. Francis of Assisi

Faith without works is dead.
~ James 2:20

Mother Teresa’s crisis of faith apparently comes as a huge and quite newsworthy revelation to MSM. They’ve been asleep at the switch, however. This is a story I first read ten years ago, shortly after her death.

The fact that Mother Teresa suffered an extended spiritual struggle hardly disqualifies her from sainthood. In fact, it makes her even more worthy of the title. It is exceptionally remarkable that, despite her doubts in the face of the harsh realities of her world, she persevered through several decades of ministering tirelessly to the poor, the diseased, the outcast, and the hopeless. Her spiritual calling to bring comfort to the suffering won out over the darkness of her doubts and helped her to succeed in living an eminently Christ-like life.

Who among believers has not doubted? Our Lord himself was not above being tempted to doubt and despair at various times of his life: during his forty days in the desert, during his agonizing decision to sacrifice himself for us, and during his final moments on the cross. Should Mother Teresa be above Our Lord in this respect? And, being fully human, should she not be even more at the mercy of her dark thoughts?

St. John of the Cross, who suffered his own quite significant crisis of faith, called it “the dark night of the soul.” Mother Teresa’s "dark night" is not the point; the point is, she carried on. She continued doing God’s work, year in and year out, despite her uncertainties. In so doing, she shone a light in the darkness and left an example of truly Christian living for the world to follow.

Mother Teresa’s extensive charitable accomplishments challenge me to face my own doubts with active faith rather than passive hopelessness. For as St. John of the Cross writes, in that “dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.”

Mother Teresa’s legacy is a life lesson from which every soul could benefit.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

To Choose the News

I listened to a recording of the President's speech this afternoon. I thought it was a good one. But when I heard him start to draw Vietnam comparisons, I knew that would be the headliner for the evening news.

The Vietnam analogy is irresistably seductive to the left-wing media. It represents our last great military failure--so it must be worked in at every opportunity. And here, President Bush was handing it to them on a platter. The context in which he made a Vietnam comparison--specifically, the carnage that followed our withdrawal--was completely ignored. The MSM equation is: Iraq + Bush = Vietnam. As in math, there can be only one conclusion: disaster.

Also predictably omitted from MSM coverage was the president's reference to the number of Al Qaeda killed and captured since January--1,500 per month. Let's do a different equation, one that wasn't on the Nightly News: 1,500/month x 7 = 10,500. As in math, there can be only one conclusion: success.

It's up to individual Americans to choose which equation is more applicable to reality. For the sake of our kids, I want to see our country win this long and terrible war. I choose my news sources with that hope in mind.

Friday, August 17, 2007

iPod-on Me

Oh, oh, listen to the music
All the time
~ The Doobie Brothers

Sorry, faithful readers, I didn’t mean to be offline all week, but it just worked out that way. You see, last weekend, I stepped into the nanotechnology of the 21st century and bought myself an iPod.

Not to be overlooked is the fact that the iPod was an online purchase. That ordeal, in itself, took an hour or two. I “timed out” at least twice as I pondered my mind-boggling merchandise options. “The click of a mouse” is not always the easy and convenient way to fast results in the brave new cyber-century world of shopping.

I then spent uncharted hours figuring out how to load the music into my iTunes library. I still possess no discernable clue about setting up personal folders or “playlists,” but at last, all 615 of my maiden iPod tunes were loaded in—artists listed alphabetically, which seems to be the default (I think).

Stocking the music library was the least of my worries. When my techno-gadget arrived, I read the tiny little booklet of instructions. Then, I read it again. In fact, I read the mini-manual several times, seeking to establish a comfort zone with the concept of UBS ports and device connections.

Okay, by midweek I was ready to begin my quest for my computer’s magical music connection. Having a rather archaic (2003) Dell, I had to pull the cumbersome computer off the shelf that has been its home these many eons (in computer time). As with the disturbance of any ancient artifact, considerable quantities of dust took flight as it thunked onto the floor. I dragged out the vacuum cleaner for mop-up operations (to my dog’s great interest), then returned to the musical task at hand.

I viewed the forest of wires bursting from the computer’s rear end with no small amount of trepidation. Briefly, I thought of waiting until my IT goddess-daughter next came to visit. But, resolutely, I shook off that longing. I would figure out this techno-task on my own or crash my hard drive trying.

It wasn’t too difficult to find the magical connection. The computer had a white wire connection to a flat little gadget sitting atop the casing, which was marked “reader.” I gingerly pulled out the reader’s connection and noticed that the shape was identical to the iPod’s connector. A-ha! A secret pathway into the “F” drive! (Or, was that the “G” drive? Whatever.)

Sure enough, when I plugged the iPod into the reader’s port, a sudden message appeared on the screen announcing the addition of my personalized iPod. As with a bad dream, I’m not sure of the sequence of events after that. I hit a few keys, toggled the mouse buttons, and suddenly all 615 songs were transmuting themselves into my tiny little iPod.

I bought a teeny-tiny speaker set to match my "nano" iPod. The whole mini-system is now set up, sitting at my elbow and functioning fine. I’m still in the “A” section, and Aretha Franklin is serenading me as I type, bemoaning the fact that she “ain’t got Jack.” I hear ya, sistuh.

I suppose I'll figure out playlists eventually. Maybe I’ll let my IT goddess help me with that part. Meanwhile, excuse me while I jump back a few tracks to the Allman Brothers. I’ve just got to hear “Blue Sky” one more time…

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ultimate Action

I was going to post this review earlier, but I needed to wait for the Advil to kick in.

Don’t get me wrong: “The Bourne Ultimatum” is a really good movie. I mean, it moves--very quickly. So fast and choppily that, if you’re like me, you’re going to end up with a headache.

There is enough action and violence to satisfy the most testosterone-drenched male viewer. In addition, there are a couple of brief, tender flashback scenes of his lost love tossed in as a peace offering, no doubt to keep the female viewers convinced of Bourne’s humanity.

I’m not so sure of that. Even the Terminator looked a lot more beat up than Jason Bourne after one-on-one encounters with an adversary. No matter the amount of physical pounding he takes, the vanilla-faced Bourne always seems to stride off into the crowd with the merest of superficial scratches.

There are also numerous, repetitive flashback scenes of his torturous indoctrination into the Special Ops of U.S. espionage. To the point that I was rolling my eyes in “I get it already, he was tortured!” fashion.

But these are quibbling details. The film is very good, and two hours of my life never moved faster. Paul Greengrass, of United 93 fame, leans heavily on handheld camera techniques, which leads to an almost documentary-style feel in the jumbled crowd scenes. Albert Finney is terrific in a small part during the climax, and we’re left wondering where Bourne will surface (quite literally) in the next installment.

And, considering the money this film is quite justifiably pulling in, there most certainly will be a sequel. That’s a good thing, eminently watchable movies being the rare entities that they are.

I’m left with one question: How did espionage ever take place before the advent of cell phones? The original James Bond managed to save the world while wearing a tuxedo, romancing a “tomato,” (as my father would have said), and quaffing a stirred martini. All that suave competency, without making a single phone call.

Bourne is certainly impressive, an unbelievably resourceful guy you definitely want on your side, but he always looks overly concerned. Super-survivor that he is, even Bourne could learn a thing or two about looking unruffled in the face of death from the ultimate master of spy movies.

Bond. James Bond. Now he was cool.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Weekend Prep

I'm planning to see the new "Bourne" movie this weekend. I'm awfully tired of Matt Damon and his sophomoric political lectures on various talk shows, but I've seen the two preceding films. I'll probably follow it through to the finale, if there ever is one. "Bourne" could be the next "Rocky" series.

I found this Mark Steyn article on James Bond movies and their critics, which made me laugh--as Steyn usually does. It's a good warm-up for the Bourne flick. Movie review, coming soon.

Monday, August 06, 2007

We're In It, Let's Win It

Anyone who says Al Qaeda is not one of the primary problems in Iraq is simply ignorant of the facts.

We could argue until the next ice age over whether going to Iraq was a mistake or not. That doesn't help the reality that we're immersed in this war.

So, let's win it.

Like many Americans, I remember Vietnam and its aftermath. Personally, I don't think our national psyche has ever recovered from that debacle. Those who are fond of comparing the current war to the Vietnam war need to remember that there was no danger to us at home from the North Vietnamese. Lest we forget, that is not the case with Al Qaeda.

So, let's win it.

If you haven't yet read Michael Yon's heart-stopping reports from the battlefield, please read them. They contain all the brutal facts you'll never get from television newscasts. The most important fact being, we are at war with a cold-blooded, ruthless enemy who will murder the elderly, children, infants, the sick, and the helpless, all with equally savage joy.
Like it or not, we're in a war. So, let's win it.