The best, most entertaining resources on the NSA leaks

When it comes to the political news this week, I’ve felt a large range of emotions. I’ve felt just a little bit of “I told you so” vindication, joy over the attention the media is giving to it, anger at the government, pride in some brave politicians, and frustration over the fact that no one else in my life seems to be paying attention to this or even care.

I’ve also felt a certain futility in grasping all off this and being able to distill it in a concise, communicable way. I’m going to do my best next week on this blog, but in the end, I don’t think I could do better than these three shows in doing so.

First, nothing helps ease the shock of learning that your government is storing your entire digital life than a little laughter. And to that end, there’s no place better for that than The Daily Show. Jon Stewart is gone for the summer, but he is being ably covered by John Oliver. This clip below is Oliver’s first night hosting:

Full episode: [Daily Show] [Hulu]

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Resurrection Gives Us Joy in Lent & Death

La-Pieta-IYes, as cliché as it is, I’m watching the new Bible mini-series on the History Channel. I’m actually enjoying it. A few things are odd (the ninja angel, for one), and they made some interesting choices on what to leave out (was the extended Sodom sequence really worth cutting out the entire Exodus story, Wilderness wandering, and golden calf rebellion?). But there is still a sense of ownership, that this is our story.

(Side note: for those of us that study the Bible and don’t necessarily think historicity is the highest purpose for which it was written, it’s encouraging to still feel that feeling of identity-formation when encountering our story–even when it’s seen as “just” a story.)

Anyway, a review of the show is not why I’m writing today. I just had a brief thought I wanted to share.

In Episode 1 of the mini-series, we see Pharaoh’s son die at the end of the plague sequence. Watching him carry the pale, lifeless body of his son, it reminded me of Michelangelo’s la Pieta (a version of which you can see above). It was actually quite moving, and I was surprised that I only realized now the sadness of this part of the story. Continue reading

Space Jam’s 1996 website is still up. You’re welcome. [casual fri]


Prepare to have your day made. A friend on Facebook recently posted this link to the original movie website from the 1996 film Space Jam. It’s full of cheesy jokes, dated references, attempted slang “cool” talk, and some of the worst html website design I’ve ever seen. Oh, we’ve come so far in such little time.
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A Note to All Philadelphians: you CAN beat the Parking Authority

There are few city institutions in this country more hated than the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Despite the name, they are the private organization on contract with the city to manage parking in the city. They make the laws, set the rates, set the penalties, enforce them, and have a financial incentive to making you fail at being a responsible parker in Philly. It’s understood that parking tickets will be a regular part of life in Philly. The PPA is the primary subject in A&E’s show Parking Wars, and their relentlessness and lack of empathy is so bad, that it’s had an effect on local tourism.

They call themselves the most efficient parking authority in the country, but had to be forced to follow-through on the requirement for them to give their profits to the public school system in Philly (they did this by claiming that they were suddenly “no longer profitable”, even as they kept more than a quarter of their profits in reserve bank accounts). Since then, they’ve been forced to reform a bit, but they continue to directly ignore recent court requirements that attempt increase their fairness, because, as is known, the appeals process is extremely problematic and confusing. So are the signs (just look at that one above)!
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Leonardo diCaprio & Kirk Cameron: BFFs (Laugh of the Day) [casual fri]

The other day, I wrote a pretty serious and in-depth post on the place of the darker things of this world in art, especially profanities. in the middle of the post, I put two rather intense videos as demonstrations of my point. They were both videos from films depicting serious husband/wife fighting. One was from Kirk Cameron’s “Christian” movie Fireproof, and the other was from the film Revolutionary Road, in which Leonardo diCaprio plays the husband. Adding to the irony, both of these movies came out in the same year.

It wasn’t until later that I was reminded by a friend that these two actually worked together early in their careers, on the TV Show Growing Pains. If you want some weird contrasts that can’t help but make you laugh pretty hard, feel free to re-watch the two clips below, as well as this clip of the two of these guys doing a scene from Growing Pains. In hindsight, it’s pretty hilarious.
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Christians & the Art of Profanities in Art

This post is not a defense of Christians cursing in their everyday lives (I wrote that post a few years ago, though I think at some point I may need to revisit some of what I said there).

This post, rather, is about the merits of Christians creating (or doing) art in which there are profanities (this also has implications on other “worldly” things in art like sex and violence, but they won’t be my main focus today). I’m writing this to prepare some people for the stories I plan on writing for this blog. I talked yesterday about how I’m participating in StoryADay September (Update: I’m done), and hope to post an original, completed fiction story every weekday in September. Concerning that, I wrote:

I will not be doing “Christian art” or “prophetic art” or “evangelistic art” as I write and post here. I will simply be trying to create Beauty in words and character and story in a way that is original, interesting, and stirring.  My stories tend to be rooted in reality as much as possible, and so they will probably include “real” things like sadness, violence, sexuality, cursing, or other things that challenge many Christians’ sensibilities. Know this ahead of time.

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