Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rapture practice

I remember as a kid going to some church camp, and there was a band or a group of some kind that had us lift our hands in the air, jump up and yell, "rapture practice!"

We did. But later that night, in a motel room with my friends, we made fun of it. Laying there to go to sleep, we slapped the headboards and said "horizontal rapture practice!" I don't remember the other jokes, but there were lots.

It was interesting to watch people yesterday on twitter, the newest way to show how clever you are. The rapture jokes flew so fast that you could not read them all, and that I got my camera to record it.

I know people were making fun of a silly, prideful and probably disingenuous proclamation: The world was going to end at 6 p.m. But there was more to it than that.

Because we're human, and we were just a little bit scared.

Thankfully we have a wonderful ability to laugh in the face of death and fear. Here's hoping we never lose it. I have a feeling it's crucial.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The making us stupid ship already sailed

I find it hilarious that New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller discovered the Internet recently, and he's a little worried about it.

Yeah, Twitter. That's what's gonna get us.

Pacino and Steve Martin at DPAC

Al Pacino will hold a Q&A session at the Durham Performing Arts Center Friday evening, and Steve Martin will play a bluegrass concert with "The Steep Canyon Rangers" Saturday.

Pacino image via DPAC.

Tell me that wouldn't be the greatest double interview in Hollywood history. Also, per yesterday's Indy, Steve Martin tickets are sold out, with some left for Pacino.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gay marriage, Jesus, divorce, hypocrisy

I wrote a trio of stories yesterday about North Carolina's "Defense of Marriage" act, and the rally for it, and the press conference against it, at the state capitol.

It has always seemed to me that, if you want to limit someone else's rights, no matter how odd the exercise of that right seems to you, you need to have a really good reason.

Are we the kind of society where "God says it's wrong" is reason enough? Maybe. But you better be sure God says it's wrong.

I do not pretend to know God's will. He seems to leave us mysteries, and let us figure them out as best we can. And I'm no scholar, but I've yet to find Jesus condemning homosexuality in the Bible.

Pastors at yesterday's rally pointed to Matthew 19: 4-5, in which the pharisees are trying to trick Jesus into contradicting himself on holy law:
3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
As ralliers said, here we have an affirmation of marriage between a man and woman, which is what the bill in question would put into North Carolina's constitution. But read three sentences further:
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Here you have not just a positive affirmation of marriage, but a specific condemnation of most divorces.

So I guess my question is, how come 2,000 people didn't show up at the state capitol yesterday asking for a constitutional amendment outlawing divorce? For that matter, how come no one asks their government to turn the other cheek?

We don't even dip our flag to other nations. Remind me, was pride one of the virtues Jesus preached, or is it possible that we are a nation of many hypocrites?

Monday, May 16, 2011

FEMA grants are secret, but not loans

As the recovery process continues across the south for people devastated by recent tornadoes, I'd like to highlight something odd about the way the federal government distributes recovery money.

If you get a grant to help you rebuild your home, the federal government protects your name and address from public information requests. If you get a loan, it doesn't.

I wrote about this last year in Georgia. Despite the fact that a federal appeals court has ordered FEMA to release the addresses of disaster grant recipients, the agency refused to do so. But the Small Business Administration, which operates a disaster loan program closely tied to FEMA, provided a database of its loans within a matter of days.

So grant money comes with privacy. A loan you have to pay back doesn't. And that's despite the fact that a federal court has specifically told FEMA it's in the public interest to release enough information so that others can determine whether the right people are getting grants.


So far in North Carolina, FEMA/SBA have given out $4.4 million in grants and $2.1 million in loans, the Associated Press reported late last week.

There's another $10 million or so coming to offset costs local governments incur afte a storm. Cleaning up debris, for example, and paying police officers overtime. That money is also a matter of public record, as it should be.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Scotty McCreery at the Garner Lowes

I went down to the neighborhood grocery store today to see American Idol Scotty McCreery, largely because my wife was covering it for NBC 17.

The kid's got a great voice, but even more impressive is what a pro he is, particularly considering he's 17, and he wasn't famous four months ago.

Pictures below. Hiring editors take note: I was absolutely willing to elbow little girls in the face to get these shots through the crowd. Ultimately that proved unnecessary.

For the record, I would not elbow any little girls in the face for pictures, except maybe in New York. And I got permission to photograph these kids from the adults accompanying them, though I did not ask their names.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"We" didn't do much at all

From The New York Times:
I made tuna casseroles, lasagnas and brownies to take to the tender new war widows, always feeling inadequate, awkward and guilty about my own good fortune. I handed over my flimsy foil pans and stood before these women in stupid silence. I kept my funeral dress freshly dry-cleaned and hanging in my closet, never knowing when I’d need it next. Halfway through the second Afghanistan deployment, I had to buy a new funeral dress, so picked and worn was the old one. ...

For nearly a decade of war, it hasn’t felt much like “we.” During this, the longest war in our nation’s history, a war fought by less than 1 percent of the population, the rest of the country has seemed mostly to ignore those of us in the military community, tuning in only for our scandals or deaths. And so “we,” in the context of victory, most accurately applies only to the very small number of men and women who have given more than any of us had a right to ask.
- Rebekah Sanderlin, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Perdue: No worries on those 5 Dems

During a visit to a local high school this afternoon, Gov. Bev Perdue said she's not worried about the five Democrats who voted for the Republican House budget last night, giving it a veto-proof margin.

Perdue said she spoke to these Democrats beforehand, and knew how they planned to vote. Obviously Republican Speaker of the House Thom Tillis did, too, because his office put out a press release lauding the "bipartisan" budget within moments of the vote.

Said Perdue:
"In no way does it affect my ability (to negotiate). ... They will be with me when the going gets tough. If we have to make hard decisions I can take that to the bank."
We'll see. The budget moves to the Senate now. Long way to go before the governor vetoes this budget and things get real.

Perdue: What me worry?