Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Word And The World

When blogger Andrew Sullivan comes across politicians who make a standard practice of fusing their ideologies with the Christian Gospels, he labels them Christianists. The term is an intentional play on Islamist--a common label for the violent individuals at the heart of radical Islam.

A few weeks back,
Sully commented on a particularly heinous display of Christianist activity--at Ken Lay's funeral:

In the funeral for corporate thief and crook, Ken Lay, we
have a spectacular display of what is wrong with contemporary Republicanism. We have the famiglia paying their respects to a loyal money-man - Bush senior, Baker, Mosbacher. And we have the exoneration of malfeasance by the Christianist doctrine that if you're on our side, you can do no wrong. Ken Lay up there with Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr? And the amazing thing is that this is sincere. Christianist spiritual hubris - fused with political and financial power - is phariseeism remade.

Which brings me to today's pleasant surprise. A preacher I love to listen to via the Internet is the subject of
a piece in today's New York Times. His name is Greg Boyd. I first encountered him in Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ.

Boyd's an interesting and brilliant character, and I eventually looked him up on the Internet and began listening to his sermons online. More than once over the past few years I've had questions about interpretations of Scripture, and I've e-mailed Greg Boyd with those questions. He has always gotten back to me with extremely helpful thoughts.

One of Boyd's cautionary bits of advice to today's Christian Church is to watch carefully how we mix our politics with our message to the World. His worry is that our message can only be hurt by such a blending. A quote from today's Times piece:

In his six sermons [titled, "The Cross and the Sword"], Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or
fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

“America wasn't founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was
founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn't bloody and barbaric. That's why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Boyd lambasted the “hypocrisy and pettiness” of Christians who focus on “sexual issues” like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

“Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”

Greg Boyd's sermons can be heard online

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Cheers To The Honey Badger

You've gotta love a little animal that, without so much as an opposable thumb, makes dinner out of some of the world's most dangerous snakes. According to a two-year-old story in National Geographic, he'll chase a cobra up a tree or square off eye-to-eye with a puff adder--and come out the victor:

One night we saw a young male collapse. He'd been struck in the face by a puff adder just before he bit its head off. We expected that he would die. But after two hours he woke up, groggily finished his meal,and later trotted off into the sunrise. We witnessed other encounters in which honey badgers appeared resistant to even the most potent venoms, though we don't yet understand the physiology that protects them.

Here's to you, Mr. Honey Badger. Mammals everywhere--especially those with snake phobias brought on by Animal Planet viewing binges--salute you.

In The Matrix

Our guy Myers Dupuy cracks me up. CST readers know him from a few of his humorous observation pieces like: Free Fallin' with Haagen-Dazs; and A Triathlon Story (or Voodoo Brine for the Soul).

Yesterday, Myers zapped me an e-mail pointing out one of the lesser known benefits of ping pong:

I play some daily ping pong with a guy here at the office, and while it's not a work out, that “sport” does wonders for the reflexes. I find myself catching things that fall off a desk, like a cup of water before it tips and spills. I imagine as I move through my day that I'm in my own Matrix movie just looking for little reflexive miracles of no material consequence that yet fill my day with joy.

I get this stuff from Myers all the time. When they start writing the sequel to
Office Space, they need to follow Myers around for a few weeks and gather in the gold. Seriously.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Back To The Future

I was recently given a box of old radio and television industry magazines. I'll probably scan quite a few of my discoveries over the coming months and share them here on the CST Blog.

The first item that caught my eye is from the February 1961 edition of Radio-Electronics magazine. The author of the article, Manfred von Ardenne, speculated that, for safety reasons,
cars of the future would be driven backwards! The driver would face the rear of the automobile and would enjoy full head-to-foot shock absorption safety as well as a 210-degree view of the road ahead via a closed-circuit television camera system. The cameras would even boast infrared filters for improved vision in the fog; and, in the event of camera failure, an emergency periscope would be available to the driver.

In an effort to tip his hat to his target demographic, Ardenne was careful to note:

It is quite understandable that [this] solution [to auto safety] has been suggested, not by someone in the automotive field, but by an electronics engineer closely associated with the television industry.


True, True

Slate's Dave Jamieson laments the Death of the Baseball Card.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Beautiful Old Radios

A few years back, I decided to restore my late great grandmother's antique Truetone floor radio that had been sitting in my parents' garage for well over a decade. Now I'm working on my wife's great grandmother's Emerson table radio. I don't know that two projects makes a hobby, but I'm definitely heading that direction.

The radio to the top right is not one of my projects. That's expert work, and I'm a novice at best. But I thought I'd link to, where radios like the above can be viewed and purchased. I haven't come across an online vendor with a more beautiful selection of old wooden, plastic, and bakelite radios.

You'll find a lot of radio fans who love the sound of an old tube radio tuned to an AM music station (Big Band or Jazz, for instance). Many old radios offer a warm and bassy sound. Unfortunately, the new HD Radio technology for the AM dial causes
a good bit of interference on old radios. So some owners and collectors of antique radios choose to buy low power AM transmitters to send music from their iPods, stereos, or computers to their old radios. I haven't yet done this with an AM transmitter, but I understand the sound is terrific!

Maybe the best little transmitter for this purpose is the "
Alfredo Lite" made by Chris Cuff. It's roughly the size of a Walkman and costs around $125. The "Alfredo Lite" is specifically made to broadcast in C-Quam AM Stereo; however, it's also ideal for sending an extremely hi-fi AM signal to your antique radio.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Interesting Visuals In My Backyard

It's not every day that you look out into your suburban backyard and see a grey fox sniffing around...