Saturday, November 23, 2013

The computer of death

Our computer, which has struggled ever since getting hit with a virus a month or so ago, is on its last leg.  At least the hard drive, or the good folks at HP say.  I'm not entirely convinced, but being a novice tech fellow, I have no choice.  Like a person with no knowledge of cars at a garage.  An error 303 came up, and the HP folks said that was it, dead hard drive.  The computer wouldn't reboot and simply sat idling.  So we ordered a new hard drive.  Then at around 3:00 AM last night, bang!  It came on.  It keeps freezing, but so far reboots have worked.  Still, the HP folks (the ones who sold me the hard drive) insist there's nothing else we can do.  They said there is no other repair options, and continuing to use it could lead to worse results.  Don't know.  But right now, as if blogging wasn't scarce enough, I have one more thing to keep me from using this thing too much.  Sad part is, I don't know we'll be able to get all the programs over to a new hard drive.  Pray to whatever saint is the patron saint of technology.  Tune in to see what happens.  Any suggestions, and I'm all ears.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

MSNBC hearts misogynists

That's right.  One at least.  Once again, at the forefront of the growing trend of Leftist bilge, MSNBC's host Martin Bashir unleashes a contempt laden, thinly veiled sexist screed at Sarah Palin that would make most misogynists cringe.  The point of the emergent post-Christian secular Left (never to be confused with classical liberalism) is that hate and evil are good, as long as you are the true Super-Race.  Sexism, racism, anti-Semitism - these are good, when directed at the real subhuman scum.  Homophobia is still off limits, of course, since the LGBT normality movement is the most convenient weapon with which to bludgeon those unwanted features of the Bill of Rights.  I mean, I'm no fan of FOX News, and not much more a fan of CNN (or any other news outlet).  But compared to the unbelievable hatred and bile spewed by a staff of self absorbed spoiled brats with a contempt for fellow humans that would shame a Nuremberg rally, these other outlets shine by comparison. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

America through outsider eyes

I had to post this.  It's a list of things that folks from other countries are amazed, or puzzled, about when it comes to living in the good old USA.  One of the greatest blessings I had as a Protestant minister was dealing with the International Missions field.  Because of that, I came into contact with a wide range of people and got to know folks from Africa, Asia, S. America, Europe, the former USSR.  I met many in grad school as well.  Enough to learn that others don't always see the US as we do.

My favorite story was from a friend who was Nigerian.  We were chatting about his first experiences in the US.  At the time (early 90s), he had just come to America a short time before, and was still getting used to things.  As we talked, he told me about the one thing America had that blew him away.  Trains.  He said our trains were freaking huge!  In Nigeria they have left over medieval train equipment.  But in the US, he said the first time he saw a train go by he almost jumped backwards.  Even though my Dad was a train engineer, I never really thought about how unique our rail system was.

And the list goes on.  Not all of it was complementary.  Some of it involved being shocked at how critical Americans are of our own heritage and our own culture.  But one thing for sure, they managed to point things out and comment on topics that I never thought about. 

The end is near

That's right. My schedule should be slowing down in the next week or so.  Thanks for folks coming by and thanks for the emails and updates.  I've seen several good ones, including musing on the bizarre state of affairs around Obamacare and some interesting tidbits from across the Atlantic from some readers there.  I'll get to things when I can. 

For now, it comforts me to see that John C. Wright is on the same wavelength I'm on when it comes to our bowing before the greatest boon to Islamic Evangelicalism in history.  If I may, in the utmost humility, disagree with Mr. Wright however.  The reason that Islam is protected and Christians aren't is because of the revolutionary nature of liberalism.

If there's one thing the age of Enlightenment revolutions taught us, it's that in order to have a revolution you must completely war against everything you are revolting against. Liberalism, like the alien that pops out of John Hurt's chest, is a parasite on the very civilization it seeks to destroy.  And its main method is to constantly focus on the evils of the Christian West, while downplaying the bad of any other civilizations.  A great 'grass is greener' approach you might say.

That's why the Twin Towers had barely fallen when the overwhelming response by Westerners was 'That was the most horrible thing I've ever seen!  What could we have done to make them hate us so much?' (Emphasis mine).  It's our fault.  It's always our fault. The history of America is one of genocide, slavery, racism, bigotry, sexism.  The history of Europe is the same.  And of course the legacy of Christianity is no better.

These things must be attacked to convince people to throw them out with the baby and bathwater and replace them with the promises of the Secular Left.  And so Islam, by virtue of not being part of the heritage that needs destroyed, gets a pass.  Oh sure, there is some condemnation where things get really nasty.  But it always - and I mean always - comes back to the evils of the Dying West.  Which is why it's dying.

So Mr. Wright gets it right in noticing the trend - almost.  He just seems to avoid or miss the overall reason.  The West must go.  And the only way this happens is if we convince ourselves that it alone is the cause of the world's sufferings, and therefore it alone must be destroyed.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A good news story if there ever was one

Is found in this story about a five year old boy who wanted to be Batman.  Read and enjoy.  If people were like this more of the time, imagine what the world would be.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Conservatives love capitalism

So I'm sure they'll be heartened to know that Target is among those stores leading the way to ditch this laughable notion of families and get together celebrating God's blessings on refugees seeking religious freedom in the New World.  And the really great part is that these stores are doing it for the all important bottom line.

One of the great tensions of our age is that conservatives, including religious conservatives, are among the last true defenders of Capitalism and the Free Market (not necessarily the same thing).  And yet there are few areas more dedicated to promoting godless hedonism, debauchery and the right to slaughter endless hordes of hapless unborn in the name of sexual debauchery than modern corporate America. 

Of course not all business owners or corporations worship money, promote animal debauchery and could care less about God.  But a sizeable portion of corporate moguls today are quite proud of their godless support of leftist hedonism and narcissism.  After all, that's where brainless consumers come from. 

So Target is simply one of many joining the wave.  I said some time ago that Thanksgiving would go the way of everything else linked to the dying Christian West.  And it won't be replaced with anything good.  It will be the lowest animal cultural denominator.  But at least it will be an animal culture with the latest smartphone.  And for that, American religious conservatives who so zealously support the Market can be proud.

Monday, November 11, 2013

To the veterans

Those living, those dead, those gone before, those who gave that last full measure of devotion - and especially my favorite veteran (I love you Dad): Thank you.

And when he gets to heaven
To Saint Peter he will tell,
One more marine reporting sir,
I've served my time in Hell.
                      From the grave of a marine killed during the Pacific campaign of WWII

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Islam's greatest boost

I've often said that the 9/11 Terrorist attacks that happened on September 11 in the year 2001 were the best thing to ever happen to Islam.  Two ill-conceived and executed wars, in which most casualties were the result of Islamic insurgents, have allowed Islam to emerge as a religious faith on the move, in which we respect, learn about, discover and even promote it against our growing loathing and disgust for all things Christian.  Before 9/11 it was still an obscure religion seen as a threat to modernity and progress by religious and secular alike.  Since 9/11?  You could do worse in our pop culture than be Muslim.  Despite an historically unprecedented level of restraint on the part of the US, we're told that Muslims by the millions have been slaughtered by endless mobs of bloodthirsty Americans.  Or at least you'd think.  Meanwhile, we continue to unpack Islam, learn about Islam, focus on Islam, assume the best and give the benefit of the doubt to Islam. 

And now, a brand new Marvel Comics Hero is about to be introduced who is, guess what, Muslim.  No problem with that of course.  If it were a small, isolated story.  But when put against the overall narrative of the last 12 years, you can see that Islam has truly won, and the terrorists achieved what Japan had only hoped for on that sunny December 7th all those years ago.  As for the progressives who seem to embrace this approach and support such things, there can only be one of two reasons.   Either they are that scared of a real threat, as opposed to the supposed threat by those little old ladies in the country church.  Or it's true that progressivism is truly the enemy of the Church, and sees it and only it as the sole enemy that needs defeated. 

Five best sequels

I know, this isn't a movie blog.  But it's my blog and I can write what I want.  My post on Halloween movies for the kids remains a favorite, so why not cheaply exploit what works?  Plus my schedule is such that I've had little time to keep up with things, the news, events or whatever.  I don't like commenting just to comment, and certainly not if I've had no time to think things through or investigate.  So, since my older two just watched one of the better movie sequels a week ago, I thought I'd kick this weighty and important topic around.  Haven't had a chance to gather our somewhat haphazard Halloween pics yet.  Will post on that strange whirlwind of whirlwinds when I can.  But now, that question we've all been asking about to be answered - what do I think are the best sequels of all time?  Especially since rehashed ideas and endless sequalizing or presequels are what Hollywood seems capable of today

First, a note.  Sequels do not typically have a lot of respect.  Usually they're seen as cheap exploitation of what worked the first time.  Usually they are inferior to the original products.  In most cases they don't capture whatever magic made the first one work.  Even the list here, reflecting on those typically considered the best sequels, typically don't outshine the originals.  In most cases, the sequels are worse, sometimes far worse, than the originals.  And that can include being promoted as 'prequels'.  Among the worst ever made was Phantom Menace, a movie so bad that it almost tainted the entire franchise.  It's also worth noting I'm not considering pre-planned sequels, or manufactured franchises (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter).  Those aren't sequels.  You knew they would happen.  These are movies that followed ground breaking or outrageously successful movies
that stood on their own, and then forced the movie makers to think 'how can we follow that?'  These are the ones they followed in ways worthy of their predecessors.

The Godfather Part II

The most celebrated and awarded sequel of all.  Garnering more Academy Awards than its predecessor, The Godfather.  True, The Godfather is considered by many to be the best overall movie ever made.  It put Brando in the fraternity of legendary performances.  It's flawless in every way.  Everything works.  It's the perfect movie.  If Citizen Kane is considered the greatest movie because of its impact and the story behind its making, Godfather is simply the best.  So how does one follow that? 

Not easily.  The production was fraught with problems.  Neither Brando nor  Richard Castelleno would reprise their roles for less than a zillion dollars, so the studios said no, we'll do without. Michael Gazzo stepped in with a character meant to fill Clemenza's shoes, but the storyline still reminds the viewer 'that was supposed to be Pete.'  The scene that should have had Brando is also clearly lacking Brando, even if it's minor.  The storyline of the post-Godfather plot is essentially the Godfather all over, with the conflicts, the family turmoil, and the obligatory climactic assassination sequence.  The development of Michael's relationship and fallout with Fredo is the highpoint.

But it's the 'prequel' version of the story, and De Niro's portrayal of the up and coming Don, that gave it the heft.  Roger Ebert once said the sequence in which young Vito stalks Don Fanucci through the streets of a crowded festival is one of the best ever filmed.  I'm inclined to agree.  Many things went against making this sequel, but through it all, and due to some wonderful filmmaking, especially in the 'prequel' sequences, solidified this film's standing as the best sequel ever made.

Bride of Frankenstein

Perhaps the only sequel considered to be better than its predecessor.  And that's saying something.  Whether better or not, it's tough to say.  But certainly great in its own way, and able to do what sequels should do: point back to the best of the first, while going in new directions and expanding on what the first movie offered.

Like the original, it is based on a stage play of the book, not the book.  But it borrows from various elements in the original novel to weave a story that begins to look deeper into the ethical, philosophical and perhaps even theological ramifications of the first.  I saw a scientifically funded special on PBS that tried to say, among other things, that Frankenstein was never about scientists going too far.  It was, in fact, about silly religious people standing in the way of progress. 

I've read the book and watched the movies.  It's about what happens when man plays God.  And this movie looks to the question with more gusto and yet more subtlety than the first.   Karloff is given lines, and he continues to show a monster that deserves at least some sympathy.  In fact, Karloff is now not the monster at all.  The true monster is Doctor Pretorius.  Thesiger brought a new level of evil to this film.  In many ways the movie is crueler, meaner in its portrayal of violence and death.  In many ways, it's everything the first movie was, but magnified. 

In the end, it does what the great sequels do.  It manages to link to the original, without merely copying the original and making a formula.  It doesn't mimic, and just retell the story.  It takes what was there the first time and builds on it, going to new levels and following paths established by the original.  

The Empire Strikes Back

In polls among young people today, it's said that they consider this the worst of the Star WarsAttack of the Clones comes out well, as does the other prequels.  Some give the original kudos by virtue of being the original.  But something has happened in our modern tech saturated world that has led an entire generation to think that Phantom Menace was awesome, while The Empire Strikes Back stunk up the franchise. 

Nonetheless, obsession with CGI notwithstanding, most movie critics and many fans over the age of 30 remember this as the best of the crop.  Nothing would match the impact of the original.  Star Wars was a cultural phenomenon as much as a movie that changed movies forever (for better or worse).  Star Wars was to movies what The Beatles were to pop music.  When Lucas unleashed his fantasy space movie on an unsuspecting public in 1977, things would never be the same.  Star Wars was everywhere.  And that phenomenon lasted up until the release of Empire in 1980. 

Empire was not as financially successful as Star Wars.  And many were put off by the forced sequel ending.  Still, when the dust settled, it came to be recognized as the best of the bunch.  The final installment, Return of the Jedi, was what it was.  A rushed together merging of about three more movies that had to be crammed together due to the actors' increasing reluctance to come back to that galaxy far, far away.  And it looks it. 

But Empire took Star Wars and went in a new direction.  The acting was still what it was.  The writing was crisper, and the characters unpacked.  If any detractors said anything in 77, it was that the original's story was superficial and the characters underdeveloped.  Empire sought to remedy that.  Relying heavily on Lawrence Kasden for the screenplay and Irvin Kirshner for directing duties, Lucas stepped back from the trenches and it showed.  Better dialogue, a deeper plot, superior writing.  The effects still astounded, especially the legendary Walkers segment.  But by then, the effects that Star Wars had pioneered were standard issue.  And Kirshner knew it.  The magic of that summer in 1977 would never be recaptured.  But Empire, for at least one movie, tried to say that films about spaceships and galactic empires can be more than matinee fare.  They can be quality movies in their own right.  Of all the space movies made in the modern era, The Empire Strikes Back comes closest to showing that is true.


A perfect example of how to make a sequel.  The original movie Alien sent people screaming from the theater.  Blood and gore and a new level of terror took the techno-leap that Star Wars provided and spun it in a different direction.  The movie was what it was: a space whodunit.  According to stories, Harry Dean Stanton, playing one of the Nostromo's ill-fated crew, was reluctant to audition, saying he didn't do sci-fi.  He was told it was a bit like Ten Little Indians in space.  And it was.  The effects were a matter of course.  There was no special scene that says 'look at the neat effects!'  By 79, they're already taken for granted.  But the story, the concept, the art, the sets, the suspense, all worked to make it not just one of the biggest movies of the year, but arguably one of the best movies of all time.

A lazy director or producer, when conceiving a sequel, would try again.  Suspense.  Drama.  A similar story.  Hapless crew runs into alien part II.  But Cameron, who arguably was at the top of his game in the mid-80s, goes a different direction.  Realizing what many directors miss, he knew there was no sense trying to scare audiences again, or wow them with fantastical images of derelict spacecraft and strange alien life forms.  Instead, he goes a different direction.  Action-horror all the way. 

Sigourney Weaver, not keen on reprising her break-out role as Ripley, agreed to come back if the screenplay afforded her a chance to be a strong female and also flex her maternal muscles.  The movie relies on assumptions of the original movie, and in a way not easily explained, makes knowledge of the original optional.  You can actually enjoy it on its own terms.  I know this since I actually saw this movie in theaters before I saw the original on VHS, and enjoyed it all the same.

No longer stealth, suspense, a sense of horror.  This simply takes the kick-butt monster from the first movie, and multiplies.  Then instead of a group of hapless space truckers, you throw in a crack unit of well armed space marines.  Chaos ensues.  Cameron taps some of his favorite stock actors to fill out a well rounded ensemble cast.  From 84's The Terminator come Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton as the scene stealing Hudson ("Game over man, game over!") to help give an extra dimension to what could have been cardboard soldiers backing up Weaver.  Aliens does everything right, and in an unusual way, both credits the original upon which it is based, while being a fine stand alone film.  Not easy.  And seldom accomplished.

Jaws II

The first movie to break 100 million dollars, Jaws should have bombed on ten different levels.  The successful novel was not exactly Pulitzer Prize material.  The mechanical shark didn't work.  Difficulties with Teamster unions and location shooting plagued the production.  A young Steven Spielberg actually wore a suit to the final shoot for fear the crew would throw him in the water out of frustration if he didn't look dressed for some important meeting.  Robert Shaw famously called the script "a piece of shit", and only agreed to play the part of Quint the shark killer after his wife insisted.  Richard Dreyfuss went about incognito after the film was done for fear someone might recognize him as being in that dreadful shark movie.

And then?  Movie magic.  Right timing.  The Summer of 1975.  Beach season.  Swim season.  Sharks.  Need we say more.   The mechanical problems helped, and forced Spielberg to rely on Hitchcockian suspense and imagination through most of the movie.  It also forced him to come up with a 'shark's POV' approach that only added to swimmers' apprehensions.  The acting was superb, with the three principal actors giving wonderful performances, and Shaw's now legendary monologue, which he co-wrote to give Quint a reason for his obsession, still standing as one of the best in movie history.  Though it didn't get the Academy Award for Best Picture (losing out to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), it blew audiences away, caused drops in seaside resort business, and taught Hollywood the power of a seasonally oriented release, soon to be known as the Summer Blockbuster.

So how do you top that?  Well, you don't.  For obvious reasons, not all of the top three actors can return.  In fact, Dreyfus had moved on and only Roy Scheider agreed to reprise his role as Sheriff Brody.  Some suspension of belief was needed.  After all, given the events of a couple years earlier, why on earth would the town not listen to the man who said 'there's a shark again!'  You'd think the entire town would snap into action.  In some ways, Jaws II shows what not to do in a sequel.
And yet, it works.  It basically does what might have inspired Cameron with Aliens.  Instead of trying for suspense.  Instead of acting like the audience didn't know what a shark was.  It just said 'OK, we'll throw a lot of teenagers out in the shark infested water and see if audiences can take the thrills and excitement.'  And they did.  A brilliant tagline meant to invoke the original's appeal (Just when you though it was safe to go into the water...), helped explain what this movie was doing. It sought to capitalize on a great thing.  It wasn't the best, and yet at the end of the day, it was enjoyable in its own way.  If a sequel can do anything, it has to pay homage to the original while making itself enjoyable.  Jaws II does this better than most.

There are others that are acceptable, and some - such as the Comic Book sequels - sometimes hold their own, even if the movies themselves and their content make a truly captivating film nigh on impossible.  I'm thinking Spiderman II, which is a pretty good movie as movies go, much less as comic book movies go.   But these are the top five IMHO.  And up until recent years in the internet age, there were only one or possibly two that I could see serious students of film disagreeing with.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Obamacare and the Common Era

So how does a nation get convinced that either Obama didn't lie, as the NYT's now destined to be infamous editorial suggests, or come to the point where it just doesn't care if he lied?  The answer would be known as PC.  Political Correctness that is.  You see, Political Correctness is basically enforced dishonesty.  It's either saying you can't do or say something even if you believe it, or it's saying that you must  say something is true even if it isn't (or vice versa). 

Case in point, the Common Era.  Otherwise seen as C.E. or B.C.E.  That is replacement for B.C. and A.D. for reckoning the years.   It wasn't necessarily the result of PC censorship.  Though some point to European usage as far back as the 18th century, it had its origins as we use it most prominently among Jewish scholars who refused to use a designation pointing to any lordship of Jesus.  By the 20th century, it was still a minority usage.  Even my secular textbooks published as recently as the mid-80s used the BC/AD designation.

But somewhere, between the mid-80s and now, during the dark years of the anti-Christian West movement of Multi-culturalism and the rise of the PC, the designations became embraced, and eventually mandated.  Now it's everywhere.  Just about any scholarly work published now, including some by Christian authors and publications, uses CE/BCE.  In school, my boys were told in their World History class to use that, rather than BC/AD, citing possible offenses at those more exclusive and antiquated terms (and using the ever popular "because of the troubled history, it can cause stress to some people today").

The problem?  According to any academic publication, government publication, or anything else, it is now 2013 C.E.  What does that mean?  It means 2013 of the Common Era.  What makes it common? Well, I don't know.  Through some happy coincidence, it is a common year that just happens to mirror the same roll of years that point back to He Whose Name Cannot Be Mentioned.  So not too long ago, it would be 2013 A.D.  That's Anno Domini.  That means the 2013th year of Our Lord. 

I know, I know.  Jesus wasn't born in the year one.  But we all know what the reference point is.  At least those of us over the age of 25.  Younger folks might be shocked to find out.  But we adults know to what the year number 2013 is supposed to point.  Yet we just can't say it.  It's deceptive.  It's dishonest.  It's enforced thought control.  It's saying 'we don't care if it points back to the date Jesus was once believed to have been born, you can't say it.  You must say that in instead.' 

Growing up, we were told that's what the totalitarian states of the 20th century did.  That's what the Communists did.  They demanded that you call a square round, whether it was true or not.  Not only because a non-round  square or the birth of Jesus might be inconvenient.  But like the military or football, you start with the basics.  You start with the fundamentals.  If through sheer threat of possible intimidation, much less outright persecution, you can convince even believers that they must adopt the less than honest and forthright designation '2013 of some vague common reckoning even though we know what it points to', then you can get them to accept other less than honest or up front "truths". 

Get a generation to accept that we have to call squares round whether it's true or not, and you'll get a generation willing to accept anything, whether it's true or not.  It's not lying.  It's not even false.  It is a Common Era because that's what everyone calls it now.  But it still points to that event that cannot be named, and does so almost proudly.  If they picked a different starting point, like the year 371 AN (After Newton), then at least that would be honest.  We would have surrendered and accepted some other designation.  But that's not what happened.  It kept the historical reference point - the birth of Jesus Christ - but simply demanded we call the year something else.

No big loss.  No big defeat.  Heck, Catholics and Protestants now use CE/BCE.  But like many wars before, it is the first skirmish, the  first nudge away from being honest and standing on up front honesty that has led us to this point.  A point where our president can lie to overturn American society, ruin the lives of millions, be shown to have lied, and yet in the end of the day, it's no more than a parlor discussion, if it's even that. 

It's more than lying.  Lying is a sin they say.  But it's also honesty.  To not lie but accept and promote untruths is a willingness to accept deceit and falsehood as the MO of society.  It's better than lying in the way Gulags are better than Extermination camps. Once that happens, expect a lot more of what we've seen here.  A country where truth will be the last thing demanded, expected, or much less offered.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I'll be back

Just really, really, really busy.  Mandatory overtime continues so that the company can avoid hiring new people with benefits.  Several emails and articles worth looking at and posting about in the future.  But for now, pax.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Enders Game and the end of liberalism

As I watch a CNN roundtable on Climate Change, featuring Mayor Bloomberg, I'm reminded that liberalism is more or less dead.  What we call 'liberal' is anything but.  This is a movement of tyranny and oppression, and like most of the revolutions of the grand enlightenment promise, it hands out meat and circuses in return for slaughter and the destruction of freedom and liberty.  As Mr. Bloomberg sings the praises of Communist China, and calls on America to get with the act and accept the gospel of MMGW (which includes beating Christian West into the dirt and raising a Leftist, Socialist ruling class), I can't help but see what's happening, and the tools, threats, scare tactics and promises wrapped around a thousand issues to advance the cause.  Climate Change is simply one of course.  PC (popular censorship) is another.  Bullying.  Smoking.  Big Guns.  Obesity.  You name it.  The arsenal from which the SL can draw in order to strip away all freedoms and liberties is unending. 

And it does so by gleefully and happily discarding all of those laughable notions of tolerance, diversity, open mindedness and respect for other opinions that 'liberalism' once celebrated.  A case in point is the upcoming film Enders Game.  I know nothing of the book, the movie, or anyone other than Harrison Ford.   I've heard that Orson Scott Card, the book's author, has come under fire for his non-Leftist views.  I've also heard that he actually considers himself a liberal.  Sort of like the liberal I once considered myself until I sniffed around and began to notice a familiar stench to this liberal revolution, one that has been smelled before.

Here is an interview that was sent to me.  It's a lot about the book, movie and other things a fan might be interested in.  But it deals with his politics as well.   The takeaway quote is here:

I’m a little baffled by it because I’m a liberal and they’re not. They’re repressive, punishing, intolerant of the slightest variation, absolutely the opposite of what it means to be a liberal. But that’s the way it goes. 

Yes, that's the way it goes.  Those pigs who promise the world can't help but ending up looking just like the humans they once revolted against. 

A Full Rich Week Part III

Mandatory overtime continues, and takes a bite out of almost every aspect of life right now, up to and including blogging.  Nevertheless, as we stumble into November, I want to touch base with that great week we had celebrating our oldest's 18th birthday.  We left off with a cold, blustery day at the Ohio State vs. Iowa game.  The next day, it was up early and to the Renaissance Festival.  Because we had a little left over from our Williamsburg funds, we used it, along with some pretty hefty discounts, to go to the Ohio Renaissance Festival.  It's a big one, and apparently for those aficionados, one of the better.  The main entertainment is full armor jousting (there's actually a world wide sport of it now, I had no clue), the Swordsmen (Bold and Stupid Men), and of course the shopping and eating turkey legs (which wouldn't have been in Renaissance Europe).  There are other attractions, including a Maze, a walk through medieval torture devices (with heavy emphasis on religious chanting in the background), knife throwing, archery, axe throwing.  It's lighthearted and not overly educational.  Still, we've gone several times over the years, and it was a nice final touch on the week celebrating our oldest's step into adulthood.  We did more the next day, but that will be connected to the obligatory All Hallows post to come.  It was one of the most enjoyable days we've had in a year, so expect a flood of pics!

The biggest crowds come to watch the jousts
An action shot featuring two 'champion' jousters
It's real by the way, real lances and real danger.  A few years back, one jouster was badly injured
Larry, Curley and Moe try their hands at a mock-up crossbow
Our youngest gets into the act, a born marksman
Finally yours truly stepped up and showed those amateurs how to really miss a target
Renaissance Fairs aren't known for historical accuracy, but these fellows pulled off the Crusaders nicely.
Naturally our 8th grader jumped in for a photo op.
The three archers; I told him he wouldn't get far holding the bowstring like that.  I was right.
The ever-curious 8th grader, never hesitating to go up and ask questions about a hammer dulcimer
Time for the Swordsmen, where kids get to wave at the queen.  They are the celebrities of the festival.
Bold and Stupid Men!  Chestertonians would be proud.
Our Freshman slides down with our youngest after an annoyingly difficult run through the labyrinth.
There is no way this pic wouldn't be posted.  The oldest and the youngest.
Couldn't get the older two to ride the warhorses, but naturally our 8th grader jumped at the chance
Not only marksman, but a budding equestrian to boot!
Our youngest with his primary playmate play a weird 'throw the wooden frog on a floating water lily' game.
As fire eaters go, he was pretty impressive.
Sporting a real sword he bought, complete with peace string
No, it isn't a real sword.  Thank goodness.
It's a real sword too, and locked safely away for the future.
In his usual understated way, he opted for a dagger.  It fits him.
My lovely and ever suffering wife flanked by our two oldest.
The boys didn't ride this, but the operator made it worth the watch.
Thanks to our 8th grader's dauntlessness, a nice closing pic with the festival headliners.

With respect to public prayer

And all other approaches to the First Amendment's religious liberty clause, America can go down one of two paths.  Either we can have a society that allows for all people of all faiths to openly express their religions through prayer and speech (including those who whose religious belief is atheism).  Or we can have a society that says you can't speak to the issue of religion or express your religion because it offends me, and we need to invoke The Censorship in the name of tolerance.  And that, also, would include atheists making any backhanded digs at religious thought in public places.  I'm all for let's accept the differences, since going the way of censorship, if the evolution of PC Thought Control is any indicator, will likely result in a nation devoid of any freedoms or liberties at all.  That certainly seems to be the trajectory of the last fifty years or so.  And I have no doubt there are those who wish for this, as long as it doesn't impact them.