Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chicken Run {Movie Review}

"Mrs. Tweedy! The Chickens are Revolting!"

"Finally, something we agree on."

In spite of being a little too environmental for my tastes, and having part of the plot being completely foreseeable from near the beginning of the movie, I would still say this is a movie worth watching.

Clay-mation always amazed me. The effort that goes into every second of the film is utterly astounding. Clay-mation is definitely not what I am cut out for; I'm just not that patient!, but I enjoy watching it.

It was amusing in scenes where The Great Escape was parodied; I just am not particularly keen on comparing what happened in a WWII prison camp to chickens on a chicken farm. (admittedly, Mrs. Tweedy's farm is a little over-the-top).

Chicken Run is still an amusing little movie, and all ages should enjoy watching it.

2 out of 5 stars.
Before I had seen The Great Escape I gave it 1 star.

(I'd personally give the movie a PG rating, not the G rating it has.)

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Flawless {Movie Review}

I must say I was quite impressed with this movie. Excellent acting, filming, directing, script, wonderfully executed, and you are completely taken in. I love a movie that makes you think. This one did. At least, it made me think. It is, however, rated PG-13 for brief strong language for a reason. I believe they cursed two or three times in the entire movie, every time was strong. If it was not for the language it could easily be PG.

While the plot itself was wonderful the best part came at the very end of the movie. I was, to be completely honest, shocked at the final message the movie sent to its viewers (mentioned below under "spoilers"). I absolutely recommend seeing this movie.


The final message of the movie shocked me because the entire film had, in a sense, been about a woman making it in a man's world. At the end of the film we hear that the woman actually never discovered herself until after she got out of the business world and stopped trying to "prove" herself to herself and others. She discovered who she was by helping others outside of "work." It was a refreshing message, and to have that delivered after such a great plot and story was very memorable and impacting.

4 out of 5 stars.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Politically Correct Torture

I know this is dealing with a policy that is not currently being discussed, but the article has applicability beyond the one policy.

Politically Correct Torture

Is waterboarding torture?  If it is, we've been torturing our service members for years.  As a United States Naval Aviator, I attended SERE school in the California desert in 1985.  SERE (which stands for Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape) prepares combatants for the possibility that they might be taken prisoners of war.
While many aspects of the training remain classified, I can say that we received treatment far more challenging and uncomfortable than anything the terrorists ever experienced at Gitmo or Abu Grab.  As has been reported elsewhere, waterboarding was common at SERE school as it was in my class.  It was done to help us resist giving up sensitive information in the event we were interrogated by the enemy.  SERE is probably the most impactful training I've ever experienced.
Now, despite decades of its use on American service members, President Obama declares that waterboarding is torture when used on terrorists.  Is it?  Reasonable people cannot disagree whether scalding a person's skin, dismembering him, or beheading him constitutes torture.  Those are undeniably torturous acts that our enemies have inflicted on Americans.  But since waterboarding leaves no permanent physical damage, reasonable people can disagree over whether or not it's actually torture and should be used on terrorists.  I'll address that question in a future column.
What I'd like to address in this column is the shocking inconsistency of the President's position.  Despite being against waterboarding, President Obama does not seem to think that scalding, dismembering, or beheading is torture in all circumstances.  In some circumstances, the President actually approves of such treatment, so much so that he is now exporting it to other countries with our tax dollars.  He's even thinking of forcing certain Americans to inflict it on the innocent.
In fact, the President along with most in his party and some in the Republican Party, think that such brutality is a Constitutional right, which they cleverly disguise with the word "choice."  Choice in these circumstances actually means scalding, dismembering, or de-braining a living human being—which is literally what saline, D&C, and partial birth abortions respectively accomplish.  (Before anyone labels me an "extremist" for making this point, realize that I'm just factually describing what these procedures literally do.  In my opinion, the "extremists" are those who deny these verifiable truths.)
The President might say that the comparison doesn't work because we're not sure about the humanity of the unborn.  He said as much in the Rick Warren debate when he declared that the question of life's beginning was "above his pay grade."  Well, if there's any doubt about when life begins, shouldn't you err on the side of caution and protect what may be a human being?  If you're not sure whether the rustling in the bushes is a deer or your daughter, won't you get a certain ID before shooting?
Actually, there is no doubt about the humanity of the unborn.  We are sure that an unborn child is a human being, and we know this not by religion, but by hard scientific data.  The President knows this.  If embryonic life is not human, then why does he insist on using taxpayer dollars to harvest embryonic cells?  Answer:  because they are human.  Moreover, human bodies and body parts are extracted from the womb by abortion, not just "tissue." Finally, it's a scientific fact that at the moment of conception a new genetically unique human being exists.  You haven't received any new genetic information since the moment you were conceived.  Only four things separated you from adulthood—time, air, water and food.  Those are the same four things that separate a two-year old from adulthood.  We don't allow the killing of two-year old humans; why should we allow the killing of humans just a little bit younger who happen to be in a womb—especially those at full term?
But the legality of abortion is not the main point here.  That's bad enough, but the President is advocating something even worse.  He isn't just allowing abortion to continue, he seeks to promote and subsidize it through the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).  That deceptively-named bill will end the choice of certain doctors to conscientiously refuse to do abortions, and it will end the choices millions of Americans have made to restrict abortion through parental notification laws, informed consent laws, and even bans on partial birth abortion.  All of those restrictions freely chosen by the people of this country will be invalidated by FOCA.  The President also wants to force taxpayers to pay for abortions right here in America.
Why does he want to do this?  Doesn't he know what goes on in an abortion?  I have to assume yes.  He's a very intelligent man.  That leaves us with one of two possibilities, neither of which is good. Either he really believes that scalding, dismembering, and de-braining ought to subsidized and increased, or he is willing to champion these things to please his base for his own political gain.  The former is madness.  The latter is an example of "the ends justifying the means," which leads us back to waterboarding.
Questions for the President:
Why do the ends justify the means if they protect you with your base, but the ends don't justify the means if they protect the American People?
Why do you think that waterboarding the guilty is immoral, but subsidizing the killing of the innocent is the right thing to do?
I'm not intending to be uncharitable, and I hope I am mistaken.  But it appears to me that this President is willing to subsidize the killing of the innocent to potentially save himself, but is unwilling to simulate drowning on the guilty to potentially save thousands or millions of Americans—a simulation that we have performed on our own servicemen for decades.
original image source

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Silent and Sounding

When I can't feel you, I have learned to reach out just the same
When I can't hear you, I know you still hear every word I pray

The experience of God's presence should not be confused with the existence of his presence. Unfortunately, this confusion is all too often the case.

When we don't "feel" God, we wonder what is wrong. I think this is normal, but it is something we should work to correct within ourselves. God does not change with our mutability. He is constant. He never leaves.

By him, all is. He holds everything together. He sustains the universe.

He is there, and he is not silent.

Even when we don't have the experience of his presence, it is still present.

I think Michael Ward's explanation of silence in his book Planet Narnia nicely relates to the silence we often feel occurs with God:

"For Lewis there were two kinds of silence, the good and the bad. The bad kind features in the title of the first volume of his Ransom Trilogy (1938-1945), Out of the Silent Planet. The silent planet is Earth, out of which comes the hero of the trilogy, Dr Elwin Ransom, on a journey to Mars. He discovers that, in the language of Mars, Planet Earth is know as thulcandra. Earth is thulc ('silent') because she does not join in the music of the spheres. Earth's presiding 'the Bent One' who has nothing to say or sing to the other planetary angels. Earth's silence is a dumb silence, a dead silence.

"Mars and all the other planets are also silent, as far as the inhabitants of Earth are concerned, but for a different reason. It is not because these other planets are sullenly mute that they are not heard. On the contrary, they are not heard because their singing in is perpetual. As Lewis explained in an address entitled 'Imagination and Thought in the Middle Ages':

[The music of the spheres] is the only sound which has never for one split second ceased in any part of the universe; with this positive we have no negative to contrast. Presumably if (per impossible) it ever did stop, then with terror and dismay, with a dislocation of our whole auditory life, we should feel that the bottom had dropped out of our lives. But it never does. The music which is too familiar to be heard enfolds us day and night and in all ages.
"In the pre-Copernican model of the cosmos the planets were silent and sounding at the same time: their music was not heard on earth because it was always heard. And it is this sort of silence, a pregnant silence, resonant with significance," that I believe God's presence is to us. Unlike the singing of the planets, however, sometimes God allows us to "feel" him in a more experimental way than normal life accustoms us to. These times should be cherished, but we should not think we are less spiritual when we only have his perpetual, sustaining presence in our lives - what an undeserved blessing and magnanimous gift!

Song lyrics from Brooke Fraser's Faithful
Michael Ward, Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis, (Oxford: Oxford Press, 2008), 21-22.

original image source

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