Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"I have been blessed by God. And if I'm blessed, there is one reason and one reason only, and that is to help others."

Take a guess as to who the above quote is from.

While you are at it, guess who painted the picture below.

Unless you guessed a 12 year old girl from Illinois, you would be wrong. Meet Akiane. She did both. Akiane is a 12 year old who began drawing when she was 4, and painting at 6. She claims that her paintings are visions from God that she then puts onto canvas. Her story is a bit much for me to even try to put into words. The best thing I can do for you is tell you to watch her CNN interview, and then explore her website. She is remarkable.
How many times do you blink in a minute and four seconds?

One of the most anticipated events in all of comedy is the State of the Union address. It is amazing the amount of great material they can get out of that. My favorite bit by David Letterman from after the speech was the Cheaney/Pelosi blink count. Watch it. It's hilarious.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What a culture we live in.

The movie Spanglish provides some beautiful insights into the hideousness of certain aspects of our beloved American culture. The movie is about a wealthy American family and their Mexican housekeeper and was on the Bishop's Top Ten list for 2004. Most poignantly it shows a stark contrast between what Mexico and America expect from women. The film did show one aspect of American culture that was not so unappealling. Our modern American culture allows husbands and fathers to be sensitive and loving rather than just "macho." Now I don't want to hear any comments about what a pansy I am! I can watch sports and drink a beer like nobody's business, but I still love my wife and son all right!

And of course you can't beat the greatest line of the movie, "We understand guilt. We're Catholic!"
Christian values in the movies.

Here is an interview with Barbara Nicolosi about Christian values in the movies, about which she is one of the foremost authorities. The whole article is great, from the perspective of a parent there is one thing about her father that particularly resonated with me:

"My father’s theory was that if you exposed children to beautiful things, they would lose their taste for barbarism."

What a beautiful theory. I think I agree with this pretty strongly. Too often I think we worry about what we shouldn't watch rather than focus on what we should watch. The same is true for adults also. I know the more I watch good movies and listen to good music, the less taste I have for the mediocre.
Free memory card!

Until January 27, you can get a $27 512 SD memory card with a $27 rebate at Buy.com.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It's about time!

The creator of the "Girls Gone Wild" videos was recently fined $500,000 and sentenced to 200 hours community service for exploitation of minors. It's a shame that it is not more serious than that, but at least it's something.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Want to be on Jeopardy?

Jeopardy is running an online test to look for contestants on January 23-25. Anyone can register to see if they have what it takes to be the next Ken Jennings.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The music world fights back!
2 Pro-life music videos.

Once again we come to the time of year that reminds us of all the children who should be here but are not. On this annual solemn occasion I offer you a few rays of sunshine to pierce the darkness of the culture of death.

Music has always had a profound effect on the culture of the world, and the world of today is no exception. The problem of course is that a disturbingly huge portion of today's popular music only adds to the destruction of sexuality and the dignity of human life. Two beautiful exceptions are Nick Cannon's Can I Live and Flipsyde's Happy Birthday. Can I Live is the true story of how Nick Cannon's mother planned to abort him, but changed her mind before going through with it. Happy Birthday is a father singing and apologizing to his aborted son.

Watch them. Share them. They are worth every second.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

BCS Debate Part II:

In yesterday's post, I discussed the historical reasons for why the BCS is a system built for failure. Today, a look at one of the possible solutions: go back to the old system.

The "old system" according to me can be defined as a world with very few bowl games pitting conference champions against each other with some polls saying this team or that team is "the best." It's a national championship in the sense that "high school national champions" are champs: some people who are supposed to know something said they were. This system encourages rivalry games (Big Ten v. Pac-10, etc.) and tradition, as well as accentuating conference play. Bowl games would be rare experiences for any but a "dynasty" team, and would put the focus on those regional rivalries instead of the more national focus of today's system. I like this system more than what we have, mostly because it is sings TRADITION like a fat Russian and doesn't pretend that the "national championship" is what really matters. The rivalry games matter and that's where the focus is.

Having said that, this system is gone forever. There's too much money to be had, and it's likely that we will continue to see the expansion of mediocre bowls, not a contraction. It still doesn't solve the problem of a long lay-off, but then it doesn't need to because the really important conference games are over before the bowl game is played.

Even though it's gone, I prefer old school honesty to BCS pretension.

Stay tuned tomorrow for another possible solution...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Woot.com, some serious deals and a sweet business model

Woot.com has come on a big hit in the last year, and if you haven't seen it you might want to jump on the bandwagon - but do it before noon or don't bother. Woot has gained popularity because of it's simple model - just one item for sale every day, sell 'em till they're gone (what is woot?). They generally handle electronics, but sometimes there are some random subjects for sale, like pope hats. They don't back order, and once an item is gone, it's gone. There's no schedule for what's coming up next, but the deals I've seen have been very competitive. A great site to check out for spontaneous buys at great prices.

For those afflicted with spontaneous buying disorders, see the post below on financial guides.
The Great BCS Debate...Part I

Here at 40:20 we don't enter into many debates, but I think it's time to change that. I'm throwing down the gauntlet on the BCS as a total wackjob and that there are only three solutions that are viable. In this first post, why the BCS system is a sham.

If you haven't been paying attention in previous years (i.e. Auburn), let me point you to two games this year which showed why the BCS system is a joke: Ohio State v. Florida and Michigan v. U.S.C. I don't want to talk about the whole Florida/Michigan controversy which supposedly has been put to rest, that's focusing on the smoke and not the fire. Ohio State played in that game after 51 days off. 51 days! That's almost two months! No other professional sport (except maybe boxing or horse racing, which are quite different) asks a team to remain at the top of their game and the peak of their performance for two months without a contest. NFL announcers every single year ponder whether wild card teams will have an advantage over Division champs who had only a single week off, and every year we're told that it factored in somehow when that division champ loses (see Baltimore this year). For anyone who watched those two games, there was one thing that was abundantly clear about both Michigan and Ohio State - they didn't show up. I could have told you Michigan wouldn't show up because they never show up to a bowl game or a California game, and certainly not to a California Bowl game, but Ohio State was a surprise. Tressel is too good a coach for that, and I think the system is to blame for the lop-sided wins that characterized the bowl season this year.

The heart of the matter for me is that the current system is built on a bowl structure that was never meant to produce a true national champion. Sure, there have been polled national champions for the past 100 years, but what teams really cared about were the rivalries, the conference games, and the bowls reflected that. The old bowl system was, well, collegial, and is ill-suited to produce a "true" national champion because that's not what it was made for. If your goal is to crown a national champ, you need a different system.

Part II Tomorrow...

Consumers Beware - Scary Vulnerability of US Locks

Every one who trusts the security of people or things important to them to locks needs to read this article from Endagaget. The locks that we've all been thinking were, if not impregnable, at least pretty secure have been shown to be vulnerable to a few seconds of work by an 11 year old girl with no training or special equipment (see video here). The process known as "bumping" (explained very well in the article) is basically taking a low-tooth key, inserting it into the lock, hitting the key with something (a hammer, screwdriver, etc.), and turning the handle. It's that simple, and it worked on my apartment door and will work on an enormous number of US homes. Suffice it to say, I always use the chain lock now and will be paying attention when I get my own home.
Great Book for Finances

I'm sad to admit that, after growing up in a great family and getting a degree that included multiple business courses, I was unprepared for the many options that have appeared in my path financially. What to do about Roth IRA's, Mutual Funds, Health Care Savings Accounts and all the rest has been a big challenge, especially while trying to sort out a little something on the side like law school. I found a great book to help out young Christian people get on the road to financial security. It's called the Sound Mind Investing Handbook and was written by Austin Pryor. I highly this book for the neophyte in financies. The book is not great on budgeting itself, that's a bit of a weakness, but it's really focused on how to grow wealth and how to make sense of all the current options in the market.
Best Current Tip From the Book- Take your money out of savings accounts at the bank and put it in money market funds like the Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund. Money Market Funds give you the same stability and security of as insured banks, but offer a higher return on the money. In my case, it was the difference between getting 1.25% from my bank and 5.10% from the Vanguard fund (my current choice). With the easy access the fund gives you to the money, along with checkwritting options for bill payments, this was a no brainer that will pay some modest but substantial dividends immediately.
"...and the darkness has not overcome it."

There is a light bulb in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department in Livermore, CA that has been burning since 1901! I caught it on a rerun of Mythbusters last night. If you don't believe me check out the webcam. It is very stimulating!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Get your TiVo ready!

National Geographic channel is running a program on January 14th showing multiple births while still in the womb. It shows them kicking each other and playing together inside the womb. I have seen a couple clips of the 4-d ultrasound that they use, and I just cannot see anyway that someone could watch it and say that they are not human or that they don't have a personality yet. It should be worthwhile to watch if you get National Geographic channel. Here is a preview.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What we won't do for our children!

So last night I spent about 20 minutes on my knees in the bathroom cleaning poop out of a pair of pajamas. Of course my wife does this stuff all the time, but it just reminded me of how much we must really love that little guy. I don't think there are enough poopy outfits in the world to make me not want to have him around.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Movie Recommendations.

I got to see The Pursuit of Happyness last night, and it is fantastic. It is an especially powerful example of the love of a father. This movie certainly means more to be than it would have before my son was born.

I also saw 16 Blocks this week. It is by no means the same caliber of movie as Pursuit of Happyness, but if you like suspense/drama movies this is a good one that is morally satisfying. For a police drama there is surprisingly little violence and language, and the overall message is one of doing the right thing even when it is hard. I am pretty sure that there was a guy named Jesus once upon a time who taught us the same thing.
Anybody like music videos?

Anyone who has spent much time on the internet in the past year has probably heard of the band OK Go. I on the other hand have been oblivious and did not hear about their internet exploits until this week. They have built their popularity by putting homemade music videos on YouTube. The thing that makes this significant though is that they are amazingly creative and in my opinion hilarious. Two of the best are Here it Goes Again and A Million Ways.

Also, if you have listened to music at any point in the past 50 years or so you will probably get a kick out of The Evolution of Dance.