Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shad - "Compromise"

Blog Title, as Explained by Stephen T. Colbert

A dear friend Mary Louise brought me the Stephen Colbert issue of Rolling Stone from America, and I loved the article.  Here's a particular part of the interview that I feel perfectly sums up the title and reasoning behind my blog:

Did you ever go through a period where you lost your faith?
Yeah.  It was a college angst thing.  But once I graduated from college, some Gideon literally gave me a box of The New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs on the street in Chicago.  I took one and opened it right away to Matthew chapter 5, which is the opening of the Sermon on the Mount.  The whole chapter is essentially about not worrying.  I didn't read it--it spoke to me, and it was an effortless absorption of the idea.  Nothing came to me in a thunderbolt, but I thought to myself, "I'd be dumb not to re-examine this."
What caused you to go through that dark period?
Well, I had very sad events in my childhood.  The death of my father and my brothers [his father and two brothers died in a plane accident] was an understandably a shattering experience that I hadn't really dealt with in any way.  And there comes a time when you're psychologically able to do so.  I still don't like talking about it.  It still is too fresh
Do you think experiencing that has helped what you do in any way?  Or made it more of a challenge?
Not to get too deep here, but the most valuable thing I can think of is to be grateful for suffering.  That is a sublime feeling, and completely and inexplicable and illogical, but no one doesn't suffer.  So the degree to which you can be aware of your own humanity is the degree to which you can accept, with open eyes, your suffering.  To be grateful for your suffering is to be grateful for your humanity, because what else are you going to do -- say, "No, thanks?"  It's there.  "Smile and accept," said Mother Teresa.  And she was talking to people who had it rough.  That's not how you make jokes, though.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I know I shouldn't be offended or bothered.  It makes complete sense in a way-- I haven't talked with particular people in years and don't know if I will talk to them in the future.

But it still hurts to know someone removed me from their facebook friends.

In the end I think it comes down to different ways people use facebook.  I know many use it for only their friends that they're actually in contact with.  That probably makes the most sense.  I tend to be more of a pack-rat--I figure even if I am not in contact with them now at one point we were closer, and I want to know what's going on in their lives.  It seems like facebook is perfect for the even more distant relationships.

But at the same time it makes a lot of sense to focus in on the close friends.  We'll see.  Maybe I'll change my mind soon.

Live Monsters of Folk - "At The Bottom of Everything"

One of my favorite songs ever.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm going to be a father.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

My wife and I found out a few months ago that she is pregnant.  Needless to say, we both were quite shocked.  And terrified.  And excited.  If it's possible to feel all of that at the same time.  But I did.

I don't know why, but I haven't really talked about this much.  I don't know of it's because we know many people who are pregnant at the moment, or because every time I write it down or talk about it I feel like things are more and more set in stone. 

And it's not that I don't want to be a father.  I'm incredibly excited--more and more every day.  But there's this fear that goes with it.  This terror.  I don't feel ready.  I don't have it all together.  How on earth can I be a father?

But then there's this excitement of teaching and sharing life with a son or daughter.  The idea that I can take them to museums, read them great books, share ideas and thoughts with them,  take them to amusement parks, travel with them, and so on.  It's pretty exciting.

I'm already working on a playist for our kid as far as music goes.  This sounds corny, but that alone is pretty cool. :-)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Tallinn, Tallinn, Take Me In...."

As you probably know, Beth and I had the great opportunity to visit friends in Estonia for Thanksgiving!  We hadn't taken a vacation since being in Moscow, so we figured this would be a good chance for a mini-trip to a nearby country. So last Tuesday, Beth and I boarded the train for an 18-hour ride to Tallinn. The trip itself went really well (Beth and I got a room all to ourselves, which was a surprise), except for the 4:00 a.m. wake up call from customs.

Here was the first thing we saw when we left the train in Tallinn:

At the train station we were greeted by our good friends Andrea and Shera!  They gave us a tour of Old Town in Tallinn.

After some sightseeing we went with Andrea and Shera to pick up Josh and Megan at the airport (they had been in Budapest for medical reasons--please keep them in your prayers).  We spent the evening catching up and hanging out with them as well as the Thompson family.

Thanksgiving was celebrated at Andrea and Shera's flat, and was a blast.

Over the next few days we toured a castle an hour outside of Tallinn, the Christmas Market in Old Town, and so on.

We were also able to visit the President's house.  According to Josh, every birthday Estonia's president invites everyone over for tea.  And by everyone, I mean every Estonian who wants to come.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

What an incredible trip.  Here are some pictures from Josh and Megan's BALCONY.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Early Christmas Present

Wow oh wow.

Moderated Comments

I really don't know where to start.  But I agree with most commenters--if this is your attitude towards children, it's probably best not to have them.

I definitely understand what you mean by your first point, but frankly the child comes first.  Period.  I've seen too many families where the opposite has happened (mine to name one, so this may be purely anecdotal), and the results aren't pretty.  That being said I think there should be a balance between the two (and in most good marriages there is), but ultimately, the children should absolutely come first.

I think you do have a false dichotomy set up.  I celebrated Thanksgiving with friends, and there were three children with us under 10, and things were incredible.  We talked about anything and everything around them--health care, politics, bands that should play at the superbowl, the KGB, Russia/Estonia relations, etc.  Just because you had a particular experience doesn't necessarily mean that goes across the board (I'm saying that to myself as well).  But I really disagree that people have 10 or more years of mindless activity.  While raising children I still plan to pursue my own interests (from the arts to philosophy), but at the same time using those things to enrich my children.  Kids are a lot smarter than you give them credit.

Finally, I think the biggest reason you've set up a false dichotomy is just because you haven't looked at many of the examples that we see in professors and academics that we know of.  I have many friends I grew up with in middle and high school here in Stephens County who were children of professors at TFC, and not only were they incredibly intelligent and necessary to my theological upbringing, but had great parents too.  It can be done.

My wife and I just found out almost two months ago we were having a kid.  it's been the scariest thing in the world.  The most exciting too.  And I have to say some of the most exciting aspects is simply the idea of raising a kid--getting to teach him things, give him great books, introduce him to music, take him to science museums, and etc.  As terrified as I am, I also couldn't be more pumped.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"higher and higher and higher"

Passion Pit - "Little Secrets"

When I came down the dawn poured into me
I shook em up, the walls came crumbling
my fists kept trembling with these salty wounds
my stolen gold inside the emperors tomb

Now baby wait looks like a lovely face
I built this cardboard neighborhoods disgrace
who let it said that youre my favorite sphere
within the confines of such chemistry

It's the way I see
everything I need
it's no way to be

Let this be our little secret
no one needs to know were feeling
higher and higher and higher

But I feel alive and I feel it in me
up and up I keep on climbing
higher and higher and higher

My face blew up at such a casual sight
this miracle is of ecstatic fright
they'll rush above me to oblivion
outlining white sidewalks with halogen

Oh have you ever felt so gd strong
how come it takes some people so d long
he tried to squeeze the lemon juice to rain
the citrus drawing out the seasons stains

Watch the basin drain
as your life lines wane
and you cant explain
as your friends complain

You've caused all this pain
and you proudly shame
your whole families name

Let this be our little secret
no one needs to know were feeling
higher and higher and higher

But I feel alive and I feel it in me
up and up I keep on climbing
higher and higher and higher

Mother I can tell what you've been thinking
staring at the stars on your ceiling
thinking once there was a power that you were wielding
and now I've hit the mark
staring at the dark
and I cannot help but ignore the people staring at my scars

Let this be our little secret
no one needs to know were feeling
higher and higher and higher

But I feel alive and I feel it in me
up and up and keep on climbing
higher and higher and higher

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monsters of Folk video - "Say Please"

fun - "All the Pretty Girls"

So I call your name, cross my fingers
uncross the others, hesitate.
Oh,I don't think straight with nothing to prove.

I don't wanna say I'm leaving
I will stay until the weekend.
And you can take all your things;
the boxes and rings
and get going.

'Cause I've been waiting for...

All the pretty girls on a Saturday night.
Let it be, and come to me with the look in your eyes.
Well you break and take all the words from my mouth.
I wish all the pretty girls were shaking me down.

So I call(I call) you out(out baby)
Just to feel a little bit better about myself(he does)
And I do(you do), baby I do
'Til their lips start to move,
and their friends talk music
I say "I've never heard the tune!"
But I have, I just hate the band
'cause they remind me of you.

Every single night ends up the same,
I don't say much at all, but I bring up your name.
(Over and over and over)
I think it's striking me out.

All the pretty girls on a Saturday night
Let it be, and come to me with the look in your eyes.
Well you break and take all the words from my mouth.
I wish all the pretty girls were shaking me down.
But not you,
you still wear boots and your hair is too long
and then this one doesn't want to admit she's fallen in love
Oh c'mon, oh c'mon, what's a boy to do
When all the pretty girls can't measure to you?

I don't understand your reasons
Please just stay over the weekend
You can't take all those things
They define you and me
everything we've become,
You're all that I need
Please don't make me face my generation alone.

All the pretty girls on a Saturday night.
Let it be, oh come to me with the look in your eyes.
And you break and take all the words from my mouth?
I wish all the pretty girls were shaking me down.
But not you,
I feel your faith is destroying the world
and then this one never really understood
the 80s is over and done
Oh c'mon, what's a boy to do,
when all the pretty girls can't measure to you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Needed Reminder

Smoke [1918]

By Carl Sandburg

I sit in a chair and read the newspapers.

Millions of men go to war, acres of them are buried, guns
and ships broken, cities burned, villages sent up in
smoke, and children where cows are killed off amid
hoarse barbecues vanish like finer-rings of smoke
in a north wind.

I sit in a chair and read the newspapers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." -Anne Lamott

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I REALLY Hope This Will Be Good

Here's a new trailer for The Road.  It's definitely better than the first, but I still have my hesitations.

Here's hoping!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shad - "The Old Prince Still Lives At Home"

Shad - The Old Prince Still Lives At Home

"Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?"

I just finished this incredible book about a week ago and have started reading it over again.  While Derrida and Foucalt are not too terribly new to me (not to say that I have a firm grasp of the subject), I loved the perspective the book gives on the aspect of how these ideas and main points of Postmodernism can be beneficial to the Church.  It's something I've been having to defend for a while now, so it's always relieving to read when much smarter people can better articulate ideas and thoughts that I've had, but they've been so disorganized and spottty.  If that makes any sense.

To quote a reviewer:

.... the central themes of three major postmodern philosophers are a threat not to biblical Christianity but only to an all too modern, all too complacent Church.  He then argues strongly for a church that learns from postmodernism how to revitalize its premodern heritage.

Needless to say, I couldn't recommend this book more.  It's a great primer to Postmodernism and the Church.

I may post more on this book while I read through it again.

The Very Best!

Yours Truly Presents: The Very Best from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Black Lightning" Trailer

Here's an upcoming movie-- kind of Russia's superhero movie.

The main reason I'm posting is because it was filmed all over Moscow, and there are some pretty neat locations.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Pursuit of Bethy-ness

Some friends from FamilyNet made this video from old footage. I don't even remember it!

The Pursuit of Bethy...ness from Hezbollah Films on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Goodness Precedes Greatness"

One of my favorite musicians, Jon Foreman, just wrote an article for the Huffington Post.   You can check it out there or read it here:

I write songs for a living, which is to say that writing songs helps me to live. The song becomes a place where melody and tempo can cover some truly volatile topics. God, women, politics, sex, hatred, disillusionment- a song or a story can be a deeper vessel and more forgiving than most conversations. Poetry can get under the skin without your permission, and music can offer perspective or hope that might have been hidden before. And so the song becomes a vehicle to cover some serious ground.
These days I have a hard time writing a song that feels bright or hopeful. The unemployment rate is edging up even further and spending is down. Foreclosures are way up and stocks are down. Our headlines are full of war, natural disaster, and corruption. So I go looking for songs of hope and stories that remind me of the incredible privilege of living another day. I suppose I'm looking for a hero of sorts. Someone who rises above the situation and does something incredible.
Remember the guy who threw himself on top of the passenger who had suffered a seizure in the New York Subway? As the train was approaching he jumps down onto the tracks and risks his life to save the life of a complete stranger whose convulsions had thrown him into the path of an oncoming train. Incredible. Have you seen Team Hoyt, the dad who pushes his disabled son through all the marathons? They've even done the Iron Man competitions together as father and son, which makes me tear up. Or the story of Mother Teresa, a woman who gave her life to the less fortunate day after day after day. These are the stories that I want to sing about. These are stories of hope.
Such sacrifice, such patience and such goodness is rare and rightly called heroic. But these are not the heroes of our times. Wesley Autrey is not a household name and neither is Team Hoyt. If you want to know the heroes of our society, follow the money, look at the posters on the wall. We pay them seven digit salaries, we put their songs on our playlists, and follow them on Twitter. These are the heroes we emulate.
Let's face it. Mother Teresa doesn't look that good in a negligee. And Team Hoyt won't sell beer commercials to the networks. But when the ball players and the supermodels end up in rehab, we end up asking esoteric questions about what makes a hero. In the movies the good looking actor who gets the girl is easy to point to. But after he gets the girl, then the house, and then a few kids and then a divorce and then another girl. Then what? After all of the special effects are gone, we're left with an aging mortal who looks a bit awkward on the talk shows. Perhaps we've set our goals too low. Or perhaps we've got it backwards.
I would like to suggest that the best parts of our human nature can be seen in sacrifice or surrender. A mother sacrificing her time for her child, a teacher devoting her afternoons to help students off-the-clock. These are truly our most incredible moments as a species: moments of unmerited kindness. Goodness. Virtue. Nobility. Grace. Morality. These are the truly remarkable moments. Perhaps our current economic climate of debt needs a fresh perspective on worth and value. Maybe our monetary crisis indicates a broader loss of perspective.
We live in the land of plenty, the land of milk and honey, where the lottery of birth has given us the advantage of education, of wealth, and of opportunity. Ammon Hennessy puts it this way, "You came into the world armed to the teeth with... the weapons of privilege." A trip south of the border can be an incredible reminder. We are living in the land of entitlement, one of the wealthiest nations in the history of mankind. And yet, money cannot buy us the true wealth of happiness, or peace, or of a deeper form of a meaningful life.
Perhaps the current climate of uncertainty would be the appropriate time to ask the question: what are we aiming for? Our technological achievements as a species are impressive. Our cities, our advancements in flight and our iPhones are all fairly remarkable. But there is nothing heroic about my cell phone. There is nothing sacrificial about it. Where is the song that's worth singing? What is our measure of success? Renown psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl says that "success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as a byproduct of one's surrender to a person other than oneself."
Maybe the fix is not the money. Maybe two and a half hours in a theatre isn't enough time for a hero to be born. Maybe it takes a lifetime- a lifetime like John M. Perkins. John Perkins is a man who devoted his life to those around him in simple and profound ways. He was quick to forgive, quick to utilize resources to help those in need. He has been a tireless civil rights worker who has endured beatings, harassments, and even prison for what he believes. With the help of his wife, Vera Mae, and a few others, he founded a health center, leadership development program, thrift store, low-income housing development and training center in his hometown of Mendenhall, Mississippi. His is a story of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of patience. He endured the suffering, holding on to a cause greater than himself.
John Perkins has is a song I want to sing. A song of a great man, the story of a legend. How do you replicate this goodness? Do you monetize it? Do you subsidize it? No. It's bigger than Washington, it's bigger than Wall Street. And it looks better than Hollywood. His is the story of a hero, a song of hope. His is a story that reminds me of a goodness beneath the system. Though Perkins was a devout Christian, he was quick to point out that this goodness is bigger than stale religion. Mr. Perkins once said that "many congregations do nothing but outsource justice." John Perkins said it right- you can't outsource justice. You can't farm out goodness to someone else. Your life is yours alone. Those decisions are yours to make.
I am the system. You are the system. We, the system of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, choose goodness. Yes, the system is flawed. Yes, the church is flawed. Yes, Wall Street and Hollywood Boulevard are all fatally flawed. Yes, there will always be those who take the easy way out. But that ain't your game. Your choice is yours alone. Goodness precedes greatness. Maybe the mother will always have more power than the atomic bomb. Maybe under the skin there is a song of hope and meaning waiting to break free. Or maybe not. It's our story. You and I decide with our actions. It can be as small as simple courtesy. Or get involved in your hometown. Find out what the local food bank looks like. Look up the local Habitat for Humanity. What is the world you want? You choose it with every breath.
In our current climate of fear and debt I am reminded of what I hold most valuable in this life: the human souls closest to me. We need each other. Human beings will always be the most valuable natural resource on the planet. The human story is still unfolding. We are telling it as we speak. The human song is still weaving its way towards a chorus, through the suffering, through the fear. We need each other. We need heroes. Let your life be a beautiful song. We need hope. Tell a good story with the way you live. What is the world you want?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

South Carolina Mayor Bans Police Chases

So. This woman is a mayor.

While you're watching this remember SHE IS A MAYOR. And she banned police from pursuing criminals. Not just high-speed chases. All pursuits.

Apparently after a few weeks she reversed the decision.

There are no words.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Make It Fun!

The question is: How do you get people to take the stairs instead of the escalator?

A subway station in Stockholm asked this question, and this was their answer:

I love it how the answer is always the simplest and most childish. But it's great.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"I know I was a scout"

Modest Mouse's new music video for "Whale Song." Really, really good stuff.

"Whale Song" for Modest Mouse from Bent Image Lab on Vimeo.

I guess I am a scout
So I should find a way out
So everyone can find a way out

They keep us in
To pull us out
I'm rising up
Wish I was sinking down
And it's not like
There was warning
We were happy
And it's not like
There was mourning
In the warning

I know I am a scout
I should've found a way out
So everyone can find a way out

I know I am a scout
I should've found a way out
So everyone can find a way out

Instead of seeing a neighbor out
God, I wish I would've found a way out
It's the last time
We were happy
Ever happy

I know I was a scout
I should've found a way out
So everyone could find a way out

Well I know I was a scout
I should've found a way out
So everyone could find a way out

Well I know I was a scout
I should've found a way out
So everyone could find a way out

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Russian through the canopy"

This is an incredible song.  Sadly the rest of their album never lives up (although it's quite good) to this first track:

Cymbals Eat Guitars - "...And The Hazy Sea"

You can download the song HERE.

Here are the lyrics.  Good luck with that.

o you know how many cities had been built on the mainland and the trains there how they'd glide over the marshes and the hazy sea carrying business men in starched collar shirts who peered out windows that would fog faster than you could wipe them man why are there mountains when the last fire dies we rebuild with foundations set just slightly higher on compacted ash and bone spiraling skyward at the GWB will you take the wheel for a while I'm suddenly real tired we two running our course your summer version was so fresh and fertile emerald green the wind in your hair like wind Russian through the canopy and I was green too with robust f---ed envy and the way suspension bridges shake when you're stopped behind trucks sailing into 1999

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Sufjan Stevens - "There's Too Much Love"

I hope this means there's a new album on the horizon....

Epic Science Fail

I'm sure you all have seen this.....  but it's still utterly hilarious.  And embarrassing.

But I'm used to it.  And I'm constantly trying not to get discouraged.

**Is there something oddly (or OVERTLY) sexual about that?**

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Thao!

I fell in love with Thao a little over a year ago. She's got a new album coming out in October called Know Better Learn Faster.  Her title track is free to download HERE.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Misha Glenny on International Organized Crime

Now that I've shared how safe we are, here's a talk about how there's still so much work that needs to be done.

I know I constantly go on about how we live in very fortunate times. We do. But I say all that only because I want an accurate picture of our times. I do believe things are improving, but I also believe that with these improvements we can continue to curb the injustice in the world. We need to be aware.

Steven Pinker and the Myth of Violence

You know that feeling you get when you have believed something but never felt to have the authority to say it yourself?  But suddenly you find someone who is knowledgeable and says the same thing?

It feels really good. :-)

I think this goes back once again to believing that there were ever "good old days."  In reality, we're safer now than we've ever been.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Hero Has Died

Father of ‘green revolution’ dies at 95
Called father of ‘green revolution,’ he’s credited with saving millions of lives
The Associated Press
updated 2:00 a.m. ET Sept. 13, 2009

DALLAS - Agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug, the father of the "green revolution" who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in combating world hunger and saving hundreds of millions of lives, died Saturday in Texas, a Texas A&M University spokeswoman said. He was 95.

Borlaug died just before 11 p.m. Saturday at his home in Dallas from complications of cancer, said school spokeswoman Kathleen Phillips. Phillips said Borlaug's granddaughter told her about his death. Borlaug was a distinguished professor at the university in College Station.

The Nobel committee honored Borlaug in 1970 for his contributions to high-yield crop varieties and bringing other agricultural innovations to the developing world. Many experts credit the green revolution with averting global famine during the second half of the 20th century and saving perhaps 1 billion lives.

Thanks to the green revolution, world food production more than doubled between 1960 and 1990. In Pakistan and India, two of the nations that benefited most from the new crop varieties, grain yields more than quadrupled over the period.

Farmer-friendly economics
Equal parts scientist and humanitarian, the Iowa-born Borlaug realized improved crop varieties were just part of the answer, and pressed governments for farmer-friendly economic policies and improved infrastructure to make markets accessible. A 2006 book about Borlaug is titled "The Man Who Fed the World."

"He has probably done more and is known by fewer people than anybody that has done that much," said Dr. Ed Runge, retired head of Texas A&M University's Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and a close friend who persuaded Borlaug teach at the school. "He made the world a better place — a much better place. He had people helping him, but he was the driving force."

Borlaug began the work that led to his Nobel in Mexico at the end of World War II. There he used innovative breeding techniques to produce disease-resistant varieties of wheat that produced much more grain than traditional strains.

He and others later took those varieties and similarly improved strains of rice and corn to Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa.

"More than any other single person of his age, he has helped to provide bread for a hungry world," Nobel Peace Prize committee chairman Aase Lionaes said in presenting the award to Borlaug. "We have made this choice in the hope that providing bread will also give the world peace."

Using wheat to improve lives
During the 1950s and 1960s, public health improvements fueled a population boom in underdeveloped nations, leading to concerns that agricultural systems could not keep up with growing food demand. Borlaug's work often is credited with expanding agriculture at just the moment such an increase in production was most needed.

"We got this thing going quite rapidly," Borlaug told The Associated Press in a 2000 interview. "It came as a surprise that something from a Third World country like Mexico could have such an impact."

His successes in the 1960s came just as books like "The Population Bomb" were warning readers that mass starvation was inevitable.

"Three or four decades ago, when we were trying to move technology into India, Pakistan and China, they said nothing could be done to save these people, that the population had to die off," he said in 2004.

Borlaug often said wheat was only a vehicle for his real interest, which was to improve people's lives.

"We must recognize the fact that adequate food is only the first requisite for life," he said in his Nobel acceptance speech. "For a decent and humane life we must also provide an opportunity for good education, remunerative employment, comfortable housing, good clothing and effective and compassionate medical care."

In Mexico, Borlaug was known both for his skill in breeding plants and for his eagerness to labor in the fields himself, rather than to let assistants do all the hard work.

He remained active well into his 90s, campaigning for the use of biotechnology to fight hunger and working on a project to fight poverty and starvation in Africa by teaching new drought-resistant farming methods.

"We still have a large number of miserable, hungry people and this contributes to world instability," Borlaug said in May 2006 at an Asian Development Bank forum in the Philippines. "Human misery is explosive, and you better not forget that."

Norman Ernest Borlaug was born March 25, 1914, on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, and educated through the eighth grade in a one-room schoolhouse.

"I was born out of the soil of Howard County," he said. "It was that black soil of the Great Depression that led me to a career in agriculture."

He left home during the Great Depression to study forestry at the University of Minnesota. While there he earned himself a place in the university's wrestling hall of fame and met his future wife, whom he married in 1937. Margaret Borlaug died in 2007 at the age of 95.

After a brief stint with the U.S. Forest Service, Norman Borlaug returned to the University of Minnesota for a doctoral degree in plant pathology. He then worked as a microbiologist for DuPont, but soon left for a job with the Rockefeller Foundation. Between 1944 and 1960, Borlaug dedicated himself to increasing Mexico's wheat production.

In 1963, Borlaug was named head of the newly formed International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, where he trained thousands of young scientists.

Borlaug retired as head of the center in 1979 and turned to university teaching, first at Cornell University and then at Texas A&M, which presented him with an honorary doctorate in December 2007.

"You really felt really very privileged to be with him, and it wasn't that he was so overpowering, but he was always on, intellectually always engaged," said Dr. Ed Price, director of A&M's Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. "He was always onto the issues and wanting to engage and wanting your opinions and thoughts."

In 1986, Borlaug established the Des Moines, Iowa-based World Food Prize, a $250,000 award given each year to a person whose work improves the world's food supply. He also helped found and served as president of the Sasakawa Africa Foundation, an organization funded by Japanese billionaire Ryoichi Sasakawa to introduce the green revolution to sub-Saharan Africa.

In July 2007, Borlaug received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor given by Congress.

He is survived by daughter Jeanie Borlaug Laube and her husband Rex; son William Gibson Borlaug and his wife Barbie; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Plans for a memorial service to be held at Texas A&M were pending.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

"they'll call me Freedom"

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag
And then it goes back, and then it goes back
And then it goes back

Born to a throne, stronger than Rome
But Violent prone, poor people zone
But it’s my home, all I have known
Where I got grown, streets we would roam
But out of the darkness, I came the farthest
Among the hardest survival
Learn from these streets, it can be bleak
Except no defeat, surrender retreat

So we struggling, fighting to eat and
We wondering when we’ll be free
So we patiently wait, for that fateful day
It’s not far away, so for now we say

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag
And then it goes back, and then it goes back
And then it goes back

So many wars, settling scores
Bringing us promises, leaving us poor
I heard them say, love is the way
Love is the answer, that’s what they say,
But look how they treat us, make us believers
We fight their battles, then they deceive us
Try to control us, they couldn’t hold us
Cause we just move forward like Buffalo Soldiers

But we struggling, fighting to eat
And we wondering, when we’ll be free
So we patiently wait, for that faithful day
It’s not far away, but for now we say

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag
And then it goes back, and then it goes back
And then it goes back

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag
And then it goes back, and then it goes back
And then it goes back

(Ohhhh Ohhhh Ohhhhh Ohhhh)
And everybody will be singing it
(Ohhhh Ohhhh Ohhhhh Ohhhh)
And you and I will be singing it
(Ohhhh Ohhhh Ohhhhh Ohhhh)
And we all will be singing it
(Ohhh Ohh Ohh Ohh)

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag
And then it goes back, and then it goes back
And then it goes back

When I get older, I will be stronger
They’ll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag
And then it goes back, and then it goes back
And then it goes back

When I get older, when I get older
I will be stronger, just like a Waving Flag
Just like a Waving Flag, just like a Waving flag
Flag, flag, Just like a Waving Flag.

Monday, September 7, 2009

"you'll never see..... this face again."

This was just too funny. I'd be pretty upset if someone threw out my bacon too:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

forgive everyone

One of my favorite songs off of their new album:

fun. - "Take Your Time (Coming Home)"

Take your time coming home.
Hear the wheels as they roll.
Let your lungs fill up with smoke.
Forgive everyone.

She is here and now she is gone
We had plans, we can't help but make love.

It's a beautiful thing when we you love somebody,
And I love somebody.
Yeah I love somebody.

Take your time coming home.
Hear the wheels as they roll.
Let your lungs fill with smoke.
Forgive everyone.
I don't think I'd been misled,
it was a rocknroll band,
I'm still standing,
Take your time coming home.

See, of everyone who called,
Very few said "We believe in you."
The overwhelming choice said
I'm just a boy inside a voice
and if that's true, if that's true, if that's true,
then what the ____ have I been doing the last six years?
How did I end up here?
How did I find love and conquer all my fears?
See, I made it out.
Out from under the sun.
And the truth is that I feel better because I've forgiven everyone.

Now I'm not scared
of a song
or the states,
or the stages.
I'm not scared.
I've got friends,
took my call,
came courageous.
Now I feel like I am home.

One more thing, I keep having this dream
where I'm standing on a mountain
Looking out, on the street
I can hear kids in low-income housing singing
"We're through with causing a scene"
I don't know what it means
But I too, I'm through with causing a scene.

She is here and now I think she's ready to go.
For every love that's lost I heard a new one comes.

So come on with me, sing along with me,
Let the wind catch your feet.
If you love somebody,
you'd better let them know.

Take your time coming home.
"It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Me I'm not a gamble; you can count on me to split"

My step-brother Clay Leverett toured with Bright Eyes in Fall 2007. Beth and I were able to see him and the band in Birmingham, Alabama. It was quite a show.

Here's a really great performance featuring Gillian Welch and David Rawlins. I unfortunately caught it a few verses in, but I still like it. The lyrics are posted after the video.

I know that it is freezing but I think we have to walk
I keep waving at the taxis; they keep turning their lights off
But Julie knows a party at some actor’s west side loft
Supplies are endless in the evening; by the morning they’ll be gone.

When everything is lonely I can be my own best friend
I get a coffee and the paper; have my own conversations
With the sidewalk and the pigeons and my window reflection
The mask I polish in the evening, by the morning looks like shit.

And I know you have a heavy heart; I can feel it when we kiss
So many men stronger than me have thrown their backs out trying to lift it
But me I’m not a gamble you can count on me to split
The love I sell you in the evening, by the morning won’t exist.

You’re looking skinny like a model with your eyes all painted black
You just keep going to the bathroom always say you’ll be right back
Well it takes one to know one, kid, I think you’ve got it bad
But what’s so easy in the evening, by the morning is such a drag.

I’ve got a flask inside my pocket we can share it on the train
If you promise to stay conscious I will try and do the same
We might die from medication, but we sure killed all the pain
But what was normal in the evening, by the morning seems insane.

And I’m not sure what the trouble was that started all of this
The reasons all have run away but the feeling never did
It’s not something I would recommend, but it is one way to live
Cause what is simple in the moonlight, by the morning never is
What’s so simple in the moonlight, now is so complicated
What’s so simple in the moonlight, so simple in the moonlight

"The Fantastic Mr. Fox" Trailer

Maks 2009

Maks is an airshow and exhibition held once every two years in Moscow. It is held over a week with a few days open to businesses and the weekend open to everyone. Beth and I were able to go this year and it was definitely a highlight.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Newfound band: Movits!

Someone introduced me to this band just yesterday. I think I'm hooked!

Movits! - Fel Del Av GĂ„rden

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bon Iver - "Flume"

One of my favorite artists of last year. Fantastic stuff.

I am my mother's only one
It's enough

I wear my garment so it shows
Now you know

Only love is all maroon
Gluey feathers on a flume
Sky is womb and she's the moon

I am my mother on the wall, with us all
I move in water, shore to shore;
Nothing's more

Only love is all maroon
Lapping lakes like leary loons
Leaving rope burns
Reddish ruse

Only love is all maroon
Gluey feathers on a flume
Sky is womb and she's the moon

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back and Faking My Own Death

Just got back from an incredible week at the English Camp.   I'm hastily working on a video of the week.

But in coming back I found this new Jon Foreman song I was pretty impressed with:

You were talking late last night
What would you live like if you had died
And been reborn with a second chance to live
Would you loose your fear of being dead
And be afraid of something else instead?
Maybe you'd be more concerned with living the life you lead

- Chorus -
You can fake your own death
And live the life you've always been afraid of living
Fake your own death
And come alive
Fake your own death
And live the life you've always been afraid of living
Fake your own death
And instead of dying start to live your life

I don't need no fancy flowers
I don't need a big production
When I die
Paddle my ashes out to sea
I don't want to lose you honey
But every story has an ending
When I die
I know that your love's gonna follow me

- Chorus -
You can fake your own death
And live the life you've always been afraid of living
Fake your own death
And come alive
Fake your own death
And live the life you've always been afraid of living
Fake your own death
And instead of dying start to live your life

Monday, August 3, 2009

Are We In Control of Our Own Decisions? Our Cognitive Limitations

This is a very interesting video on how our decisions can be inherently affected by the choices we are presented.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I'm 24 today.

Twenty four oceans
Twenty four skies
Twenty four failures
Twenty four tries
Twenty four finds me
In twenty-fourth place
Twenty four drop outs
At the end of the day
Life is not what I thought it was
Twenty four hours ago

Still I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And I'm not who I thought I was twenty four hours ago
Still I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You

Twenty four reasons to admit that I'm wrong
With all my excuses still twenty four strong

See I'm not copping out not copping out not copping out
When You're raising the dead in me
Oh, oh I am the second man
Oh, oh I am the second man now
Oh, oh I am the second man now

And You're raising these twenty four voices
With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies
In twenty four parts
But I want to be one today
Centered and true

I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
You're raising the dead in me
Oh, oh I am the second man
Oh, oh I am the second man now
Oh, oh I am the second man now
And You're raising the dead in me

I want to see miracles, see the world change
Wrestled the angel, for more than a name
For more than a feeling
For more than a cause
I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You
And You're raising the dead in me
Twenty four voices
With twenty four hearts
With all of my symphonies
In twenty four parts.
I'm not copping out. Not copping out. Not copping out.

No Direction, Period

This video was shown to me recently from some good friends, and it is hysterical.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"you can't silence my love"

I'm still a big fan of Switchfoot. They've got an album coming out in October-- and this is them performing the title track "Hello Hurricane." Lyrics to follow.

**btw, sorry about the audience in the background... they sound awful there in the beginning**

I've been watching the skies
They've been turning blood red
Not a doubt in my mind anymore
There's a storm up ahead

- Chorus -

Hello hurricane
You're not enough
Hello hurricane
You can't silence my love
I've got doors and windows boarded up
All your dead end fury is not enough
You can't silence my love

Every thing I have I count as loss
Everything I have is stripped away
Before I started building
I counted up these costs
There's nothing left for you to take away

Hello hurricane
You can't silence my love

I'm a fighter fighting for control
I'm a fighter fighting for my soul
Everything inside of me surrenders
You can't silence my love

Hello hurricane
You can't silence my love

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

there's war in my blood

I've got a girl
She tastes like rain on my tongue
She's got the moon in her hips
And her eyes burn up like the sun
I'm gone from my girl when I leave her alone
There ain't nothing that I'm running from
There's war in my blood
I've still got wars to be won

Maybe something sweet
Somewhere between a flower and a gun
And where my girl is now
Someday that's where I want to be from

But love is a dollar that's already spent
Love is a song that's been sung
There's war in my blood
Love ain't the tune that fills these lungs

So here's my consolation
The opponent is enough
It takes two to go to war
And only one to fall in love

I had a girl
I know precisely what made her run
Her skin looked like the sky
Made my heart beat itself like a drum

I long for my girl
And I meet her in my dreams
I tell her she'll always be my only one
But there's war in my blood
There ain't a thing love could have done

There's war in my blood
There's war in my blood
There's war in my blood
There's war in my blood

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lost Videos

These videos were shown at Comic-Con, I believe.

What do they mean for the next season of Lost? Do you think this means Faraday's predictions were true?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Exilic Living

A good friend of mine posted a video today.  It's 60 minutes long, but please, please, PLEASE watch it.

Here is his post and subsequent video:

It was my privilege to participate in an international church planting conference in 2007 where Michael Frost was the keynote speaker. Unfortunately his first talk is not recorded here. However, it is important to know that he began the conference with a talk on the post-Christian reality that: had already come about in Australia; was a functioning reality in Europe; and was in the process of becoming reality in North America. (Note: these talks were delivered almost two years ago. During that time, trends have not, in my estimation, slowed or reversed course.)
In this follow-up talk he covers material from a book he coauthored with Hirsch–Exiles. Frost borrows some ideas from Brueggemann about the Hebrews living in Babylon and the resulting exilic literature. This may serve as a roadmap for how we can live a radical faith in our postmodern, post-Christian context.
The content shared here may disturb and disorient some. For others, it may begin or advance a process of reorientation that leads to meaningful change. I would encourage you to invite your spouse, your friend(s), and/or the team with whom you are seeking to share your journey of faith to watch the hour-long video with you. Grab some pastries, doughnuts, bagels, ramen, and/or something else to fit your palate and budget, fix enough coffee or tea to let them know you are serious about this activity as you have prepared in advance in order to honor them. Then view the video and set aside at least another hour to discuss it. Below the video are some possible discussion questions.
BTW – If given serious consideration, this is not easy material. Also, parts of the presentation are NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN.

Frost Video 1 - Wednesday, December 5, 2007 from Moscow Summit 07 on Vimeo.

Here are some questions he posted for discussion:

  1. In what ways does our context merge with post-Christendom?
  2. If we were to view ourselves as exiles, how would that change our praxis? How might it change our living out the Great Commission?
  3. What aspects that Frost shares do we consider implementing now? What does that look like?
  4. What do we need to revisit in the future? When do we plan to come back to this?
  5. Would the lost community around us agree with our discussion / conclusions to the above questions? How could we verify this? Is that a conversation we are willing to begin?
  6. What other questions should we be asking right now?
  7. How serious about this are we? Honestly?