Gran Torino


Movies are something my dad and I have shared for many years now.   When I went away to grad school, I would not only come home every Saturday to watch the latest HBO premier movie, but I would bring back tapes I had recorded from my residence hall’s closed circuit movie channel – movies that weren’t even on regular cable yet.   Each week, I’d bring home half a dozen or so of them, and then Dad and I would make a pizza and enjoy the Saturday HBO premiere.

I’ve also shared some good movies with Dad at the theater.  One of the best was Apollo 13.   That’s one movie that just isn’t the same on the small screen.  Conspiracy Theory was also good fun, and there have been many others.

We had meant to see the new James Bond movie in the theater, Quantum of Solace.   We enjoyed the last one so well on DVD, and we thought it would be a perfect movie to see at the theater with all its action.  But unfortunately, it left our local theater before we had a chance to see it.   We were bummed about it until we saw that Gran Torino was coming out.  We were able to catch that one.

Gran Torino was good.  Tragic and heroic in its quiet, yet explosive kind of way.   It was really enjoyable.   But the real fun of movies is sharing them with someone, like your best girl, your dad, or in this case: both!

Internet cultural dropout

Hello friends.  Yes, this is a new post.  It’s been nearly a year, and some of you may be wondering why it’s been so long.  It’s simple.

I dropped out.

I’m generally a pretty well-adjusted and happy guy.  I’ve always worked hard, enjoyed spending time with my wife, and tried to stay connected to and participate in society and culture.  I enjoyed getting into the blogging scene and experimenting with the medium.  I had no audience, really, except for those who are close to me, but I know my playful attempts to add something to the Internet will be out there in the ether, along with countless other individuals’ similar musings.

But the Internet is a communication medium, and my dropping out probably has more to do with a change I’ve seen since my early days on the web.  I put my first page up in 1995.  Things were very different then.  There was no real formula for contrubuting.  Bright flashing animated graphics, music in the background and links to cool things that popped up on the web were the norm, I guess.  People took care in what they posted, there was a community responsibility to add value to the internet in the process of crafting a presence for yourself.  But somewhere along the way, anonymity took over and the results of that have snowballed ever since.

I first noticed the shift on Usenet news groups.  There, new identities were much easier to create than a webpage presence, and people started assuming multiple identities.  These people were invariably the folks who would be argumentative, stirring up trouble on the news groups, and delighting in lowering the level of discourse.  They are known as “trolls.”  The multiple identities often times were used to back up the original troll identity, pretending to lend support and keep the regular members angry.

Anonymity breeds cruel and hateful behavior.  The more savvy internet contributors get, the further away from the original ethic of contributing positively we get and the more trolls with their “nym” armies start “flame wars” and then enjoy the fireworks.  With no reputation at stake, people who used to post technology articles to social media sites like are now vastly outnumbered by people spouting hostility.  Anonymity on the web = no consequences for hateful behavior.
Even an article submitted telling about today’s solar eclipse is met by trolls.  One comment:

“What’s new in this? Is it the first Solar Eclipse ever? wtf?”

Anonymity breeds cruel and hateful behavior.

That’s just a technology site.  Don’t go looking for intellegent and civil discourse on a site like the Daily KOS.  But news sites aren’t the only thing affected by this.  In fact, anonymity allows for much, much nastier behavior.  For instance, last year a mother created a fake MySpace profile in order to start an online relationship with one of her daughter’s rivals for a spot on the school cheerleading squad.  The resulting harassment inflicted on the teen eventually caused her to commit suicide.

This is not the Internet I knew when I made my first page.  That is why I haven’t spent much time inhabiting it.  But you know, it doesn’t have to be this way.  The web may be anonymity and hostility run amuck, but this little space I’ve carved out can be more.  It, along with the spaces of my friends, family, and kindred spirits around the world can make something better here.  Something that can provide some good-natured fun and elucidation.  Where disagreements don’t end up in name-calling.  To contribute to this web, not to degenerate it.

I’m going to start blogging again.  On my terms.

Christmas all year

JesusChristmas really came fast this year, and even now, it’s hard for me to think it’s over.

I was really in the Christmas spirit, too.  My classroom was decorated to a tee.  I’ve show others extraordinary patience and kindness to others, including forgiving grouchy people who repeatedly ran their shopping carts into me on Black Friday, taking extra time out to talk with people who just need to talk to someone this time of year, and yeilding to people whose road rage caused them to do something unwise.

In fact, now that the holiday has passed, I don’t want the serenity and joy I’ve gained during this intense, but short Christmas season to end.  Christmas may be the celebration of Jesus’s birth, and it’s a time of year that reminds us of the spark of divinity in all of us.  But He’s more than a birthday.  Yes, I hear an odd calling.  I know what I have to do.

I’m going to keep this going as long as I can.

Keeping an open mind

The courts are hearing another complaint brought by parents.

Judge to Rule on Georgia Evolution Disclaimers (Reuters). Reuters – A public school board in Georgia violated the U.S. Constitution when it placed stickers that challenge the theory of evolution on biology textbooks two years ago, a lawyer for a group of parents said on Friday. [Yahoo! News: Science]

If you’re curious about what the stickers that “promote religious dogma” say, this is the text of the stickers: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

Evolution is the epitome of a scientific theory.  Why would anyone be up in arms about that?  Has evolution become the “new religion?”

On a completely unrelated note, don’t forget to watch the Leonids next week. This year should be a good one for this annual meteor shower!

The Leonid Meteor Shower 2004: Modest Peak Expected Nov. 16-19 ( – Next week brings us the return of the famous Leonid Meteor Shower, a meteor display that over the past several years has brought great anticipation and excitement to sky watchers around the world. [Yahoo! News: Science]