Thursday, September 29, 2005

This is just wierd.

I don't think the human body was meant to contort that way.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Fox News website has a news report up that reads "North Korea to Drop Nukes." As of now, it's on the right side of the screen under the banner "Free Video." At the same time, the Headline at the Dallas-Forth Worth Star-Telegram reads "Deal to drop nukes is reached." Editors: either you aren't doing your job, or you have a sick sense of humor.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

"The Medium is the Message" - Marshall McLuhan

This is the first of a number of rants about media. In recent years, the popular question about the media has been "Is it biased?" However, my question for a long time has been "Is it any good?" I'm lightly touching on that, and other questions here, but I'm guessing there will be many more. Comments, as usual, are welcome.

With the help of a few friends, I put a satellite dish on top of the house. I'm not done yet, but I've got enough done so that a few channels here and there can be seen.

What I'm working on is called "Free To Air" satellite, that is, channels that haven't been scrambled. While most common cable channels are scrambled, many interesting radio and TV stations can be seen just by putting up a dish for free. So far, I've seen a few interesting things.

Before I get too much farther, please realize that I don't mean "interesting" in the way most Minnesotans mean it. It seems "interesting" is Minnesotan for "weird," "bad," and usually "wow, that was terrible, but I'm from Minnesota and we're nice, so I'll refrain from calling it that." When I say "interesting," I mean it.

Anyway, there are numerous religious channels for free. Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Scientology all show up in one form or another. After watching some of the Buddhist and Christian channels (I'm waiting until I finish the installation before I can see the Muslim and Hindu stuff), I'm convinced that any religion is going to look silly and incomplete on television. If you want an honest view of Christianity, please do not turn on the TV. If you want a good view of Buddhism, please don't take a celebrity's word on the matter. And if you want a view on obscure Jewish sects, for the love of Metatron please don't ask Britney Spears.

The question of whether or not TV reflects or changes culture has been raging for decades. Personally, I believe the TV is a fun-house mirror, and those that spend too much time admiring what they see won't be able to view the real world rationally. Those who look will, even if temporarily, forget they are looking at a distorted mirror. Those who hope their religion (or their non-religion viewpoints) will be well-represented should not get their hopes up. You can't take a tradition that includes thousands of years' worth of text and ritual and expect it to translate well into a medium that is primarily used for entertainment. And TV is entertainment, right down to the words chosen by a script writer and the self-grooming an anchor does seconds before he goes on the air (another fun facet of owning a dish -- you get to watch unedited "live" news reports.) Even that which is not meant to entertain must still conform to the standards of an entertainment medium. Few ugly TV preachers exist, and -as I learned recently- the Buddhist monks and the Scientology peddlers always have a welcome and encouraging smile on TV as well.

Anyway, the picture on the top is from Dhammakaya TV, which is from a Buddhist temple in Thailand. They have a little broken English now and then, which is quite nice, but they still haven't explained why singing crocodiles in drag pop up now and then during speeches by monks. Anyone with knowledge in Southeastern Asian languages is invited to help me out, since I'm at a loss. Check out the site at the link above, the little "animated" videos are worth the time alone.

Well, that's my first media rant. Since I work in radio, I'll be ranting about that technology sometime soon.

Friday, September 09, 2005

I guess in the war for truth, I'm fighting on the wrong side. I'm part of the Post-Modern problem, one of those who say that words means what I say they mean.

On the sidebar, there is this link called "Free MP3 of the Week." That's probably not going to be exactly true. I'll update it, but probably not every week on the 7th day. Sorry.

Anyway, check it out when you can. This week it's a few songs from Hammock, a band that's either post-rock or ambient, depending on who you ask. It's fairly slow, lush, quiet, harmonious, and well worth your time to download. I heard them on a Public Radio show called "Echoes," awhile back. Apparently, they've also been on Music From the Hearts of Space, but since the local Hipster public radio station won't play that show, I wouldn't know that first hand. Speaking of which, I should really work on my rant about the state of radio in the Cities. At least 5 Public Radio stations and a major college station, and no one can run cool shows like Afropop Worldwide, Hearts of Space, Echoes, or Thistle and Shamrock.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Hammock. Download and enjoy. I'm off to bed, with a reminder not to blog so long after my bedtime.

EDIT: I got a comment saying that the MP3 link at the right wasn't working. It should be now.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Jesus Saves -- you at least 15% on car insurance.

(HT: to Horn+swoggled)

In a bid to raise money for a new fitness center and upscale coffeeshop, a Dallas church has agreed to accept a sponsorship for its weekly sermons. The deal involving Great Life Community Praise Center and Geico Insurance is believed to the first-ever agreement between a church and an advertiser, for a message delivered inside a worship service. But Pastor Dan Wilkins insists that his church's Gospel message will not be compromised.

"I guarantee you, we'd never do a deal that would force us to change our message," Wilkins said. "But this sponsorship with Geico is a perfect vehicle for the good news that Jesus can make their lives better."

Read the whole thing. Like all good fiction, this story has some basis in truth.

However, this kind of idea isn't new. 50 years ago, a Baptist church decided to fund a B-Movie director, in hopes they could use the revenue to spread the gospel via film. The director? Ed Wood. The movie? Plan 9 From Outer Space, unofficially the worst movie ever made.

Still, I'm sure someone out there is thinking of a plan to increase revenue in the church. I wouldn't be suprised to see an ad or two between announcements on those gigantic video screens that are all the rage these days. They have to be paid for somehow...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

To set the tone for this blog, this is my favorite 'news' story of the morning:

Suicide Grasshoppers Brainwashed by Parasite Worms

I didn't mean to do this.

Initially, I signed in just to leave a comment on someone's blog. I had no intention of starting one of my own. Now, a few hours later, I find myself sitting with a blank blog, wondering why I followed through with all of the registration and the like. I even gave it a name, "The Inbetween Time." It sounds po-mo cool, and I'm guessing it'd make a good name for some emergent church somewhere.

Anyway, we'll see how often this gets updated. Expect spurts, rambles, links to weird news stories, attempted fiction, pictures, haituses (sp?), theology, heresy, and a mixing of all of the above.

Since I don't have much else listed, a bit about me: I live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, although I used to live in Iowa, Mankato, Alaska, and near Worthington for a short time. I work overnight for The Skylight Satellite Network, which is a part of Northwestern College and Radio, along with KTIS. I've worked in radio in one way or another, since I graduated from college, so it's kind of nice being able to work in a field you've had interest in for almost 20 years. Radio was my big hobby for years, and it still is, but thanks to big city electrical interference, it's been supplemented by other hopelessly nerdy things like computers and stuff like that. Fortunately, I've been getting out this summer to local parks and nature centers to bike and hike, so at least I'm trying to break a few stereotypes.

I grew up in a Covenant Church, moved to a Reformed Church, went to a "non-denominational" (read: traditionally Baptist, but ecumenical) College, worked with a Lutheran-run radio station, and now usually go to a non-denominational (read: contemporary slightly-but-not-really-charismatic) church, except when I visit an Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Confused? So am I, which is part of the fun.

Well, let's see what happens.