Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chris and Amy's Summer of 2010

With some of my extra time I put this together. Just a photo slideshow. Here you go!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Decline of Western Civilization

The other day I started buying up several different Christmas albums while I was killing some time. I've been a fan of the first few Now That's What I Call Christmas albums and a friend of mine had mentioned the other day that they were up to five Nows, so I decided I might check some of them out. I didn't really recognize many of the track listings, and I was surprised to see one in particular - Lady Gaga's version of Christmas Tree.

It sounded weird to me. Lady Gaga did her own take on O Christmas Tree? So it piqued my interest, I listened to the snippet, and I got really annoyed. I'll spare your eyes from its obscenity by posting the actual lyrics, but if you can't help yourself, click here.

It's probably not even that different from most contemporary music out there, but labeling that piece of garbage a Christmas song had an especially grating effect on me because you couldn't get any further from the actual meaning of Christmas than by having something so incredibly offensive as this song is.

On a similar note, I downloaded the Glee Christmas album without even listening to anything off of it, assuming that I'd like most of it anyway (when it costs so little, it's pretty easy to just put down a little money and get whatever). Then I noticed that their version of Baby It's Cold Outside is sung by two guys, and I got grossed out again.

I jumped off the Glee train a couple months ago. I just can't stand how much Finn gets vilified because he's the only person that has any problem with Kurt's flamboyant and over-the-top homosexuality. If any heterosexual were that blatant and obnoxious about his sexuality, it would be just about as off-putting as Kurt's homosexuality is. I just hate it. And, again, I just can't stand the amount of criticism that is leveled at Finn because of his beliefs. How's that for tolerance? Anyway, just annoying is all.

That's enough of my ranting.

Moving on...Amy happens to like really nice, well put together Christmas lights. I think I'm mostly on board with that, but sometimes when I see an incredibly ugly, haphazard Christmas light arrangement, it kind of just really warms my heart. Am I alone here? There is this house over by our place where the lights are just kind of thrown on the bushes and trees and it looks so funny to me. It really looks like it was put together by some overly-annoyed teenager who was forced to do it. It looks like the kid just threw the strand of lights as far as he could up on the tree and then just plugged it in. I want a picture of it. Anyway, so I thought it was funny to see this paragraph in an article I was reading last week:
In cultural news, is it me or are Christmas decorations becoming distressingly tasteful? With each passing year, TMQ observes fewer homes lit up with gaudy multicolored flashing lights, more homes alight with softly glowing, tasteful white lights. Tuesday Morning Quarterback strongly opposes tasteful, and not just as regards cheerleading outfits. Overdone displays of garish pulsing colored lights helped make this country great. Inflatable flashing Santas are good too -- right now there's an inflatable abominable snowman on TMQ's lawn. Tasteful holiday lighting is another sign of the decline of Western civilization.
Back to music: I did end up finding some pretty good Christmas music. I got some Michael Buble songs, and I was surprised that the crooner hasn't put out his own Christmas album yet. He has the right kind of style for that, doesn't he? I also bought some of the Nutcracker arrangements. I am really interested in seeing that one next year. The music is just amazing. Any recommendations on other Christmas albums? I've already got David Archuleta's, Andrea Bocelli's. But anything else? Let me know.

I think my favorite song this Christmas season has been It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. In church someone played a violin arrangement of it and it was really good. There are some pretty interesting versions of this song, the funniest being Aaron Neville's. Anyway, here is one version by Ella Fitgerald:

Have a great week, dear ones!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Good Writer

No, this is not a creative writing post. I wish it were. Maybe I'll write something over the holiday break. This is back to politics, the root of this blog.

This is about Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe. I don't remember how I came across his stuff, probably over at Real Clear Politics, but he's a really great writer. His pieces are clear and to the point, and never more than a few minutes worth of reading. And, what's more, he's as solid as they come when it comes to morality and decency, which it turns out, I really love in my columnists.

He's written a few articles recently on "Islamophobia" (the quotes are very much on purpose) and the American disinterest in genocide. One that I really thought was good was this one you can find by clicking here about Atheism and its aggression against religion. Here's an excerpt:
For in a world without God, there is no obvious difference between good and evil. There is no way to prove that even murder is wrong if there is no Creator who decrees "Thou shalt not murder." It certainly cannot be proved wrong by reason alone. One might reason instead -- as Lenin and Stalin and Mao reasoned -- that there is nothing wrong with murdering human beings by the millions if doing so advances the Marxist cause. Or one might reason from observing nature that the way of the world is for the strong to devour the weak -- and that natural selection favors the survival of the fittest by any means necessary, including the killing of the less fit.

To us today, believers and nonbelievers alike, it may seem obvious that human life is precious and that the weakest among us deserve special protection. But would we think so absent a moral tradition stretching back to Sinai? It seemed obvious in classical antiquity that sickly babies should be killed. "We drown even children who at birth are weakly and abnormal," wrote the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger 2,000 years ago, stressing that "it is not anger but reason" that justifies the murder of handicapped babies.

The God who created us, created us to be good. No, reason alone is not enough to keep human beings humane. Only if there is a God who forbids murder is murder definitively evil. Otherwise its wrongfulness is no more than a matter of opinion. Mao and Seneca approved of murder; we disapprove. Who are we to say they were wrong?

The God who created us, created us to be good. Atheists may believe -- and spend a small fortune advertising -- that we can all be "good without God." Human history tells a very different story.
And here is the article. Anyway, he's just really good. You can subscribe to his column via his website (here) and he sends out an email about once or twice a week that are really, really good reading.

Incidentally, atheism is the oddest thing, isn't it? One of my friends, her dad used to say "if you've decided to leave the Church, why can't you just leave it alone?" Anyone who spurs any religion tends to harbor a great amount of resentment and automatically become pugnacious preachers against the cause they used to so readily believe in. Atheists are just as guilty of this as anybody.

In any case, if you're looking for your local atheists in the Provo area, they meet up at the Coffee Pod off of Bulldog Tuesdays at 8pm.

Which reminds me of this dialogue:

H: Are you an anarchist?
A: You mean, am I a member of...
H: An anarchist group, yes.
A: Anarchists have a group?
H: I believe so, sure.
A: They assemble?
H: I don't know.
A: Wouldn't that completely defeat the purpose?

I just love that. Anyway, if you have a minute, check him out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Remember Blogging?

There was a time when I felt compelled to blog at least once a day (weekdays, at least). It's weird to think that I have just kind of fallen off when it comes to my blog. I think it used to be a way of reaching people that I thought I maybe wanted to know, but didn't yet. I liked the thought that I had a voice that reached further than just hearing distance, but to people I haven't before seen or met, or heard, for that matter.

I would write about politics and sports and whatever else I fancied. I really did write about almost everything. And not only did I keep up with a steady stream of posts daily, but I did it for a very long time. I'd say up through this past summer I had been steadily dishing out posts since I first started this blog, and that may have been somewhere around 2007, maybe even earlier. I was kind of obsessed.

That's just a part of my personality. I get really excited about things. I get into something and I stick with it for a good while. I'm not sure what that may be lately. I'm back into running. I've been creeping around 20 miles a week now for a couple weeks, and I finally feel great again when I run. I was in marathon shape back in the beginning of October, but not running at all consistently for about 7 or 8 weeks has a way of deleting all fitness that you have. It goes away so fast, but thankfully, I feel like I'm back. I don't have a marathon picked out yet, but I'll find something.

School is otherwise good, and my life is very good. Actually, yesterday I had lunch with Elder Zwick of the 70 for our department Christmas devotional. Maybe I'll talk about that at some point.

This is very journal-ly, but I feel like I owe it to my adoring public to let them know of my blogging status, and it is this: lazy.

I used to write down my ideas for posts, and then I would always get to them within 24 hours. Now I don't want to write opinion things, and I don't think I'll ever really get into blogging as a form of keeping people updated on me, but I still do want to write and keep up that craft. And the thing that intrigues me the most is...creative writing.

But who knows if I'll ever actually devote a sufficient amount of time for that.

Have a great weekend, everyone.