Tuesday, September 30, 2008

(ir)relevant to our culture

Does anybody remember Nitro Praise from the mid to late 1990s? I had a friend/ roommate in college who LOVED Nitro Praise (NP from here on out). He's this geeky kind of guy who would never go to a dance club, but who would blast NP all day long if you would let him. If you haven't heard of NP before, let me fill you in: It was a series of Christian CD's which took contemporary praise music and set it to dance club beats (mostly techno type stuff). Imagine a song like "As the Deer" set to techno. Its not pretty. Its actaully a bit annoying and not very enjoyable. But Christians were way into it because it felt okay to listen to dance music because the songs were all praise songs.

So why am I talking about NP? A few weeks ago Matthew Paul Turner blogged about a new video game called Guitar Praise. That's right, folks, Guitar Praise (GP). GP is a Christian copy of games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The official website says this:

"Strap on the guitar and play along with your favorite bands—tobyMac, Relient K, Flyleaf, Newsboys —and more. SHRED the riffs…THUMP the bass…BLAST that solid Christian Rock!"

You get to 'rock out' to shredders like Petra, Chris Tomlin, and the Newsboys. There are a couple of rockin' bands on the song list (like The Crucified - one the best metal bands ever, Christians or not), but most of them are songs that I could never shred, thump, or blast. Apparently the same company that makes GP also makes a game called Dance Praise.

Anyways, I have serious biases against 'christian entertainment'. It just simply is not (in my opinion) the way we should live as believers, continually separating ourselves from our culture. I read an observation recently, maybe in Relevant magazine, about how Christians in general are not counter-cultural, but have become merely another sub-culture.
So instead of innovating, many 'christian' products tend to be knock-offs of regular products (Guitar Praise for example). I tend to be biased against things labeled 'christian' because many are cheesy and often of low quality. I didn't say 'all things' but many, even most. So if I can help it, I never set foot into 'christian' retail stores.

I see no need for a plumber who comes to Christ to become a 'christian plumber'. In the same way, I see no need for an artist who follows Jesus to label everything they create 'christian' or for a believing software designer to call his products 'christian software.' Etc, etc, etc.
There is something beautiful about simply being a follower of Jesus.

Friday, September 26, 2008

what flavor is that ice cream?

Just when I thought I had heard everything, I read yesterday that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has petitioned Ben and Jerry's ice cream company to substitute the cow's milk in its ice cream with human breast milk!! This is no joke. You can read the official letter on PETA's website.

PETA thinks that by doing this they will reduce the suffering of dairy cows. A blogger named Sadie Stein responded to this by saying, "Apparently no consideration is given to the lactating women who would need to be "milked" to make a single pint of Cherry Garcia..." (link) . Sadie also posted part of Ben and Jerry's reply to PETA: "We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child."

PETA got this idea from a Swiss restaurant which had planned to use 75% breast milk in their cooking. However The Times Argus, a local Vermont newspaper (
Ben and Jerry's is based in Vermont), went more into depth and reported that the Swiss restaurant called Storchen "ran afoul of health regulators in Switzerland. The restaurant made headlines in Europe when it began advertising in German newspapers looking for human breast milk, but the plan was scrapped after government inspectors threatened to take legal action." If you want to read about how crazy the Swiss are about animal rights, check out this great article in Salvo magazine. Some people have too much free time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

look carefully...

Do you see the guys standing and sitting next to the policeman? These are not a photoshopped. They are an art form practiced by a Chinese artist named Liu Bolin. He mixes painting (of a person) and photography to produce camoflauge. Here are links to more of his photos:
Design Boom
Galerie Bertin

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I heard this on the TV news a couple of days ago then yesterday read this article from the Washington Post. The FDA is banning generic drugs made in India, for what amounts to no good reason. The article says,

"The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it was halting importation of 28 drugs made by the giant Indian generic drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories because of manufacturing deficiencies at two of the company's plants.

Douglas Throckmorton, a physician with the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said there was "no evidence of harm to consumers" from drugs made at the Dewas and Paonta Sahib plants, both in India. He called the import ban 'a preventive action.'

FDA officials said numerous tests of the drugs have found they are not contaminated, sub-potent or unsafe and urged patients taking the drugs not to stop."

There something really fishy about this to me. Here's how I see it: There is nothing wrong with these drugs. They are cheaper than American brand name drugs. American drug companies aren't happy. So they're pressuring the FDA to have these Indian drugs kept out of the country. Conspiracy theory? Maybe. But it also might be true. The pharmaceutical lobby is one of the most powerful ones in the nation. They put lots of pressure on government officials. Why? In short so they can continue to make money. Greed makes me sick.

You might think I'm being paranoid, but it wouldn't be the first time a special interest lobby has changed governmental policy. How about the food pyramid and the USDA's recommendation for healthy eating? Take milk for example - it does a body good right? That's what the adverts say right? And how much milk and dairy products does a person need? What about meat, how much do we need? Are people actually being encouraged to eat healtheir? Is the food pyramid based on what we need or is it based on what special interests groups have paid the government to promote?

Here are a couple of articles if you're interested in reading more:

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe that money runs our government and that legislators aren't concerned about the best interests of our nation, but themselves. There, that's my soapbox for today.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Last week we had the great privilege of having a vacation at the Jersey shore. Here's a pic of Adelle (L) and Carmen (R) getting doused by the waves:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

serious and not so serious

First the serious. On any given night there are about 73,000 homeless people on in L.A. In a really awesome article called "Finding L.A.'s Hidden Homeless" the LA Times describes the things homeless people do to meet their housing needs.

Next, the not so serious. This has to be my dream cheeseburger - the Krispy Kreme bacon cheddar burger:

Monday, September 1, 2008

my kind of greeting cards

Finally! Greeting cards that truly express the way feel and that I would gladly spend money on. They're called "Unmentionables" and are described like this on the web site:

"Are you too nice to tell jerks how you really feel? Then let these little monsters do it for you. With this handy booklet in your pocket, shabby waiters, chatty strangers and loud-cell-phone-talkers have finally met their match."