Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Let's (re)read the Bible

Here's a story glistening with plot devices of sex, religion, ancient history, mystery and contemporary controversy. And note: I proved myself wrong on a religious note, however that leads to a larger inquiry that warrants intellectual exploration...

Recently, a conversation (without coffee) arose over homosexuality and the Bible. Those of you know I've never much embraced church or religion, let alone the practice of Scripture in my life. While that is gradually changing with age and marriage and the eventual start of a family, I remain a skeptic at heart - the journalist inside.

Anyhow, a friend made the comment about not wanting any homosexual males near her son. Rational: the Bible forbids this type of activity; it's wrong. I disagreed, and we debated the issue for a good hour or so, but in doing so my curiosity intensified. So, research ensued. A Google search of words "homosexuality," "Bible," and "forbid" revealed 353,000 results.
After reviewing a dozen or so, here's the one I found the most informative: an article by a Biblical interpretation professor at the Auburn Theological Society in NYC. His point: Yes, the Bible condems homosexuality - "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." -- Lev.18:22

Ok then. However, author points out that our attitude toward Scripture has changed numerous times throughout history and we must JUDGE FOR OURSELVES. The issue is precisely whether that Biblical judgment is correct. For example, the Bible sanctioned slavery and nowhere attacks it as unjust. Are we prepared to argue that slavery today is biblically justified? What about prostitution, polygamy, levirate marriage, sex with slaves, treatment of women as property, marriage to 11-year old girls? All were allowed then, but are condemned now by modern society. How is we can be this selective on which Biblical sexual mores to follow?

Personally, aside from Bible readings, I don't agree that homosexuality is morally wrong. Do what you want, just don't push it off on me. Not interested. I'm not promoting or favoring this sexual orientation, but people shouldn't be shunned and ashamed by their sexual orientation. If parents teach their children this is wrong, and forbid it to be around their children because it's so wrong, what happens if and when those parents face that conversation with their own child. Do they then disown that child, or have tolerance - going against what they'd taught?

My view is that society is creating a larger problem. By condeming this activity, we're creating a whole chaotic world of psychological issues for children who face these issues. These kids grow up thinking it's wrong, and they're damaged goods, and have to suppress feelings and desire and pretend to be someone they're not. Get married to the opposite sex. Have great children of their own. Then, one day down the road as an adult, that person is caught having a homosexual relationship, or is arrested for downloading pornography on that front. Or molesting. Hey, ask the priests and ministers about that one.

What ever happened to tolerance????? Apparently, it's not in the common versions of the Bible, and hardly promoted. Is that practical to our modern society? I don't mean to speak heresy here, but c'mon.... It's a bunch of stories by then-reporters, who (if they're like any other writer who's ever existed) has made mistakes on something - misspelled a word, got someone's name wrong, misunderstood something that was said. Who's to say that hasn't happened at some level here? It's just a consideration to keep in mind as we read this Scripture and take it word for word, preaching to our children. Faith is one thing. Yes, I believe there's a Higher Power and life of some sort after death. Possibilities exist, and that brings me more hope than anything. But faith shouldn't hold a denominational stake, an "or else" clause in it. That's not faith.... It's more akin to blackmailing the soul.

Now endeth the lesson... Let debate and criticism ensue...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Line of duty

Two Greenwood police officers were shot - one seriously - during a minor traffic stop late Wednesday. Here's the story from the Indy Star. Apparently, one clocked a speeding car and attempted to stop the driver, who pulled into a McD's parking lot. Shots were fired, and it looks like one was shot about four times, including once in the abdomen about an inch below his vest. He's in serious but stable condition at the hospital after surgery overnight. The other officer was treated and released for a bullet to the upper leg. The 18-year-man was shot and killed at the scene.

All they were doing was pulling over a speeding car before 11 p.m., and this is what happens. People complain about police pulling them over for these violations, and not going after "real criminals." Others whine on similar notes about how officers shouldn't waste time at night pulling people over for these types of violations, that not everyone out at this hour (or later) is doing something wrong. Well, this should prove those critics wrong. Maybe this guy was on his way from shooting someone else. Or coming back from a drug deal. Or maybe he'd just robbed a store somewhere. Who knows - and these officers prevented that; unfortunately by taking bullets themselves. Everyday, we have these men and women risking their lives for us. And this stupidity is what can happen. Makes you appreciate them pulling over speeders all the more. Especially, when they're able to come out of it alive. We owe them so much. So thank you, police everywhere.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Newsworthy week thus far

In the legal world, Tuesday was a busy, blockbuster-worthy day at the Supreme Court of the United States. Their decisions: Libby final arguments that bring up the differences of blogging and journalism; Guantanamo detainees’ rights; Court throws out $80 million verdict against Big Tobacco and with it makes a crucial ruling on punitive damages; issues a predatory selling decision; and another on the federal habeas standard for review before the High Court. Wednesday was yielding decisions, too. Clincher: many are coming out 5-4, signaling a divided court and even some mixing between conservatives and liberal-like justices. Interesting days in the legal world.

Of course, this all comes as the world continues gushing over Ana's body, Britney's new bald look and rehab entrance, and now Britian and Denmark withdrawing from Iraq. News-hounds should be going wild, from courts to entertainment and foreign affairs coverage. All's at play - and it's only Wednesday!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Winter soundtrack

Spring hasn't sprung. Sinatra is playing on my iPod as this blog begins -the irony piles on heavy like the snow this past week, as the song on selection is: You Make Me Feel So Young. Ah, spring. Wouldn't that be nice. Hey, "Fairy tales do come true, it can happen to you..."

After a week in Indiana where a foot of snow has fallen, and we're still digging out and dealing with the aftermath, this song is the ultimate irony. Snow-stuck trucks, buried newspapers, pantcuffs full of snow (thanks, Suz), and missed work has made this one heck of a week. I'm ready for spring-time weather. What did that groundhog say again?

Anyhow, today was a day of massive indoor, spring-cleaning type cleaning of the house. Organizing, dusting, vacuuming, and all that good stuff. Nice. At least it looks good inside, whatever the ice and snow images are outside. After a long day of doing this, we treated ourselves to a dinner at Texas Roadhouse, using a holiday gift card from Suzi's bank and eating a $45 meal for $9 (awesome!). That's the way to do it.

Nothing particularly interesting on tap tonight, just getting lost in some music and hanging out at home. A friend from Michigan called earlier about an upcoming camping trip in July, so I'll likely call him back and that'll be my dose of warm weather activity-thinking for this weekend.

Sunday should bring some outdoor work, more shoveling and the continued saga of digging out from our late winter weather... So, sorry, Frank, spring's not yet sprung... And after shoveling, I don't feel so young, I'm not a happy individul, and this weather definitely isn't happening in Monterey. Maybe it's time to switch musical generations, when there's hope of Thunder Road, Purple Rain, Lightening Crashes, and anything else but a Bad Moon Rising in the winter.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Winter storm

TUESDAY UPDATE: The snow has arrived. Apparently, the forecasters were partially right: it's historic, in relation to the past two years. We have about 6 inches on the ground, along with layers of ice. Essentially: more north of Indy you go, more snow. Farther south, more ice. As the vening sets in, they are calling for more snow. About 3 more inches, they say. I enjoy how police tell everyone to stay home, and during these snow emergencies, they'll arrest you for being out unless it's some pre-determined authorized reason (emergency, food, medical, work). Most didn't go into the office today- we worked from home. Spent the early morning shoveling the driveway, then came inside to work. Looked outside, and the shoveled driveway was a sheet of ice. The snow ended about 7 a.m. with about 6 inches here, and freezing rain began about the same time and hasn't stopped; it's expected to go until more snow after sundown and into tomorrow. All schools are closed. Businesses shut down for the day. It's been a day in limbo... as Indiana's workforce mostly works remotely from their homes. Now, we get to prepare for tomorrow. Will it be another snowday?

Weather reports are coming in. We're supposedly set to be on the receiving end of this winter storm late Monday/early Tuesday. Word is anywhere from 6-12 inches of ice and snow could be expected. Wonderful. While we're still without a snowblower, our shovel is shuddering for action. At least now, I'm personally prepared with a winter hat, hooded sweatshirt and boots all resting and ready for action.

This all comes here after 120-136 inches of lake-effect snow hitting parts of upper New York. Yikes. While this isn't related to what's coming for Indiana, it's all being called "historic." Just wonderful. Snow-plow people tell us not to leave work early so that roads won't be jammed and they'll have a chance to clear snow and ice without traffic worrries. Of course, leaving at regular times means us commuters will get home much, much later in the evening. While I understand the point, I'd rather not leave at 5:30 p.m. and arrive home at 8 p.m. I'd rather risk the earlier venture home - regardless of what they say.

Brings to mind a question: what kind of impact will this have on the legal world? Will court proceedings be continued as people fail to show or arrive later than scheduled times? Does that mean default judgments or leniency from the judges? Are lawyers and firms prepped for this, especially after the damaging windstorms socking the city two years ago? Interesting. Will have to ask.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Oversensitive ad critics

Yet another example (or two) of a society being way-too sensative. Two groups each objecting to a pair of ads aired during the Super Bowl. Apparently, one GM ad about a suicide-dreaming robot spurred outrage from a suicide-prevention group while another Snicker's commercial showed two guys sharing a candy bar so much they join in a kiss - only to be shocked what they're doing after the sweet is gone and jumping back, doing something "manly" by ripping out some chest hair. This one drew fire from a gay advocacy group claiming it promotes homophobic behavior. Can't say I see or agree with that point, but can't say I even cared for the commercial.

Oversensitivity never ceases to amaze. First, it's banning the Pledge because some kids and parents got all bent out shape. Then, it became banning schoolyard games like tag and kickball because some parents felt their child "might get hurt." Now this. C'mon people. I fear for the next generation. Personally, I thought the Snicker's commercial wasn't that good - just not creative.

But I rather enjoyed the GM one. It was "cute." The ad, called “Robot,” opens with the yellow-colored machine in question dropping a screw while working on a GM assembly line. It’s kicked out of the plant and finds work waving a “Condos for Sale” sign and holding up a speaker at a fast-food joint, all the while appearing saddened by watching shiny, new GM vehicles drive by. As the song "All By Myself" plays in the background, the despondent robot leaps off a bridge into the water below, only to wake up inside the darkened factory and realizing it was all a dream and realizing how important quality control is.

I like it. But no, apparently critics claim it encourages people to consider suicide as a solution to their problems. GM is accused of "making fun" of depression and suicidal behavior. Yep, I'm sure that's what GM was thinking when it made the commercial. Even more disturbing is how people were voiced their shock and said, if a child would have committed suicide after viewing the ad, they would consult an attorney to sue GM... These are probably the same people suing schools when their kids kell during a game of tag or got pummeled by a dodgeball. Now, the kids will grow up being depressed because they can't handle the real world off the playground, and ultimately, end up feeling like the robot. All thanks to the parents.

Sad commentary on society. I almost miss the days when people rightfully griped about Janet Jackson exposing herself and wanting more broadcast care by the FCC.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Railroad crossing dangers

Common sense tells us drivers that we should take caution when approaching a railroad crossing. Mom used to say, "Stop, and look both ways." Easy to do. But, most don't. Here in Indianapolis, especially in more rural and now-urbanizing once rural areas, crossings are unmarked with flashing lights and many do not have blocking arms, bells, or everything I'm used to living up in Southeast Michigan. Sadly, it's taken the tragic death of two young boys to put some attention on this issue. Granted, the driver in a family SUV apparently didn't stop or look, and jetted out in front of a train - resulting in the boys' death, but not the driver or other person in the gas guzzler. Yes, that driver should have stopped. But, maybe something else could be done to help ensure or encourage more safety and caution at these dangerous crossings. Critics are already complaining that bad drivers will still be bad drivers, even with added safety measures. It's not the guv's job to protect every stupid person who doesn't use common sense. I concur in part: Some will probably still try to beat the trains or do something unsafe to save a few precious minutes of their drive. But, maybe a change would alter one driver's thought-process, make them slow down and think twice about their speed and behavior approaching a crossing. Maybe one life could be saved. That possibility should be worth the effort.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

First snow

Our first snow of consequence fell Tuesday, accompanied by the continuing, now-infamous "Arctic chill" embracing the Midwest. We received about 7 inches on the southside of Indy, and while the light snow was a blessing for shovelers, it was a nightmare for commuters. Snow fell between 11 a.m. and 5 a.m. and the interstate for most of the afternoon were dubbed "unusable." That didn't stop me. I used one to get home, though it took from 3:30-5. Made it safe at an average speed of about 20 mph, sometimes reaching about 35 mph. Came home to shovel.

Of course, complications arose at every turn. My usual handy icescraper went missing, and I had to use a combo tool of the older, flimsy wooden one and my gloved hand. Then, the rearwindow defogger apparently is unconnected, so my rear vision was icy and ultimately blinded on the long drive home. To shovel snow, I changed clothes and discovered my winter hats are all gone, along with the heavy down coat I once owned, and my sole hooded sweatshirt had been left in the washer and was quite soaked. So, I ventured out with a makeship snow-shoveling outfit that included a purple headband belonging to my wife - neighbors loved it, I'm sure.

Anyhow, the highlight of the day was arriving home to the scene outside. As some may know, we live next to a small pond - one of many in our neighborhood. Well, a white work van had apparently skidded from the road, up the curb and down onto the iced-over water. I arrived home about 5 p.m. to see four Hispanic workmen out in front of the van on the ice, trying to push the van up a steep, 10-foot drop. A neighbor and I laughed, but also voiced concern about them breaking through. Fire and police arrived shortly after as I changed clothes and prepared to start shoveling. News photographers and other passerbys stopped by, some using my driveway to park while taking photos. I took some of my own, of course, especially with a closeup of the "No swimming or wading" sign and the truck in the immediate background. Here's one of them. And another from the front porch.

Towtrucks arrived and dragged the van up from the pond about the time we finished shoveling as the sun was nearing its path down. We've decided that it might be wise to investigate sometype of wooden fence to mark the waters around the neighborhood - nothing to hinder first responders, but enough to at least mark the boundaries and offer caution to those unfamilar with where the waters may lie underneath blanketing snow.

And, it's time to invest in winter attire again...

Monday, February 5, 2007

Not a true "cold weather" fan

Common sense prevailed, so I'm apparently not a true Colts fan willing to endure freezing-cold weather in support of our team. That's fine - at least my ears, hands, and feet will be happily warm. The victory parade first scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday in downtown Indy (a block from where I work) was twice delayed as the team's plane was delayed, and then as players went to take warm showers prior the big pep rally at the RCA Dome. Can't blame them: I'd want to get a taste of warmth before parading out into this weather.

Rather than endure the subzero temps and windchill outside, I decided to venture home. Wasn't my first thought. I'd planned to stay before the delays, but the bitter cold got the best of me even during a quick walk from the parking garage. Of course, that emergency winter hat once sitting in my car backseat has disappeared. Nowhere to be found. My scarf and gloves just don't cut it. Even a trip to one downtown department store was fruitless, as I obviously wasn't the only unprepared downtown worker needing a hat.

Beating some traffic craziness and even more cold weather accompanying sunset, I came home to watch the parade and rally on tv - with my home's heating blasting, warm Homer Simpson slippers, and soup in a breadbowl from Panera. The only coldness will be from the beer I sip. (Which will soon be a case, as I won the previously-mentioned bet...)
Even inside, the coverage was heart-warming. It was great to see the team cheered on in the city streets, fans fighting off shivers and coldness to clap with icy hands and jump up and down to stay warm as they screamed support. Tony Dungy was video-taping, cheerleaders sitting on backs of convertibles waved blue and white pom-poms, players just waved their arms and smiled in excitement. Awesome, worth watching from inside or out.

I've never claimed to enjoy cold weather. And, being a Detroit native, it's great being associated with a winning football team. But some Indy fans have been waiting decades for this - I've only been here three years. Let them have this; it means more. Let that hat in a store, space on the sidewalk near the Circle, and glimpse of the team go to someone else who doesn't mind the cold as much.
What lesson have we learned? Simple: Warmth trumps football fan-craziness, unless you have an emergency winter hat on hand in the trunk.

Sports - the way it should be

Here's the Star's account.
The Indianapolis Colts, fresh from their Super Bowl victory over Chicago in the Super Bowl, returned home to a victory parade in bone-chilling weather tonight and then greeted their fans in a tumultuous, scream-filled RCA Dome. Delayed about two and a half hours because of a late charter flight and a stop at their headquarters, the victorious team arrived in the dome riding atop trucks and on floats borrowed from the city's signature 500 Festival parade.

Last night, about 2,000 people rushed Monument Circle, including homeless fans who'd been watching in the cold. Out of that, six arrests - all of them minor, alcohol-related incidents. Compare that to the fire bombings, riots and fan fights that have erupted in other cities getting a Super Bowl win.

At the rally, Coach Tony Dungy recalled that when Irsay hired him five years ago, they agreed to shoot for the Super Bowl but to do it the "right way." They agreed to do it with "great guys. We're going to win it with class and dignity. And we're going to win it in a way that would make Indianapolis proud. And I think we've accomplished that."

This all highlights what sports is all about - this is the way sports should be played, how victories should be won and what players should represent. These Colts are role models for children. They truly care about their fans and their teammates. And the fans..... support in EVERY situation - they are true, cold-weather fans. This is a time and sports organization that makes a city proud. And Tony Dungy - what an inspiration. A coach, mentor, father. He's a great, and what a pleasure being able to be in this city to witness this.

Now, if only the Pacers and other sports teams, players, and fans can take the hint and spread it around...

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Inconvenient Truth

Pre-Super Bowl movie watching led to more intellectual stimulation and heartfelt concern about real-world issues than I'd expected this Sunday afternoon. The movie was Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which cuts through the clutter and propaganda of global warming. A terrifying look at the facts of what's been and currently is happening to our planet. Now, please note: I'm not a treehugger. A colleague and I used to joke that the 450 inland lakes in our Michigan county should be filled in and paved over with beautiful concrete to make way for more roads. This movie, though, puts the jokes aside and gives real perspective on this huge issue. I've also never been a fan of Al Gore's. But he has a point here with this "climate control slide show" film.

Violent weather patterns with intense hurricanes and tornadoes, climate changes, melting icecaps, polar bears drowning for lack of ice to rest on, more invasive species in lakes and trees - signs seem to be out there. Images come to mind of an early Fall camping trip, when we ventured up to Michigan and lounged by a beautiful lake and enjoyed night-time campfires. What if that wasn't possible? Makes you wonder if we're doing away with this leisure for future generations.

Here's a Winston Churchill quote used in the movie that makes you think: "The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequence."

This all fits in with news Friday about a global warming report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which confirms the scientific consensus that the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is having significant and on the whole negative effects by causing global temperatures and sea levels to rise. Seems the dissent is weaking on all this and scientific evidence continues growing. Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit writes about it in his blog.

Makes you think. Ignoring the political undertones of this film, and whether you believe Gore or not, it helps you clearly see that we (humans) are both the villians and victims in this story, that global warming appears to be real, and we can at least try to do something about it.

Warming up (only in the mind)

We barricaded ourselves inside this weekend because of the frigid cold outdoors. Big question: What's with the cold weather?? We spent Saturday listening to the noisy winds battering the side of the house, and even a quick morning walk outside for the paper led to unusual shivering that led to staying inside. Weather.com says it's 6 degrees outside, but feels like -7 here on the southside of Indy. Of course, back in the Michigan hometown it's 3 and feels like 13 below... (Sorry, mom and dad!) And reports are that Monday is going to be the coldest, not even reaching 10 during the warmest part of the day. That's nuts. Reminds me of one of those crazy sci-fi movies about a new ice age (another great way to pass Sunday time when these are on...). Not too fond of this "massive polar vortex" and Arctic cold blast coming down from neighboring Canooks. Is this a record here? Maybe not. But coldest we've seen in the three years since coming to the Hoosier state. At least we don't have much of any snow.

Of course, then there's Florida..... Bad tornadoes. Prayers go out to everyone there who's been hit by that devastating storm. We should feel lucky here - as it could always be worse....

Bonuses have been massive sleep-catchup and classic movie-watching of The Breakfast Club, Groundhog Day and Fast Times. ("Show Dick some respect!") So now, thanks to my sleep-filled day I'm able to last longer into the night-time hours to write, enjoy movies, sip some tea, and play with the crazy cat.

Sunday is, of course, reserved for newspaper reading and Super Bowl preparation and watching, and of course victory that is no doubt headed to Indianapolis. The game will likely warm everyone up, victory or not. So, Go Colts! - (if for no other reason than to encourage the ensuing warmth that will envelop the city following a win!)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Favorites and not so much

Favorites for the week's end:

- The 1-2:30 a.m. Roast of William Shatner on Comedy Central. Good stuff, though completely unedited language.

- Two plead not guilty to Boston hoax charges.

From fellow blogger Wonkette in D.C.:
The harmless cartoon Lite Brite thingies might just be harmless cartoon Lite Brite thingies, but the prosecutor still has to be very tough and extra-crazy in such a terroristic situation: “Assistant Attorney General John Grossman called the light boards ‘bomblike’ devices and said that if they had been explosive they could have damaged infrastructure and transportation in the city.”
Yes, and if prosecutors were actually barrels of shit wrapped in dynamite, courthouses around the country could be severely damaged and extremely unhygienic.

NFL bans churches from holding Super Bowl parties, and the shameless lawyers are sending cease and desist letters. Warning: no watching on TVs bigger than 55 inches. This should be a fun PR nightmare for this greedy league.

Star headline from Friday: "Judge: Couple qualifies for stupidity defense." Check it out.

Spring is near, the good little groundhog says. (Clap, cheer!) We love you, Phil. And in honor, Groundhog Day the movie was on at least twice on different stations - classic. Bye bye Old Man Winter!