aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Christianity Today on Brokeback Mountain
Christianity Today reviewed Brokeback Mountain, demonstrating that the film is indeed generating broad discussion. These are the Discussion Starters at the end of the review:
1. The tagline for Brokeback Mountain is, “Love is a force of nature.” Do you agree? Do we get to choose whom we fall in love with? Do we get to choose our sexual orientation? Why or why not?
2. Scripture says homosexual sex is sinful (Lev. 18:22, 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). How should the church engage those who hold different beliefs about homosexuality? Should Christians expect all people to be heterosexuals? Why or why not? What does this mean for how Christians should treat gays?
3. Ennis’ parents died when he was young. Do you think the loneliness he experienced as a child played into his attraction to Jack? If yes, how so? When he got married, why didn’t Alma’s love satisfy his need for companionship?
4. Do Ennis and Jack love each other because they’re gay, or are they gay because they love each other? Explain. Had they never met, do you think one or both of them would have happily lived a heterosexual life? Why or why not? What does that say about the nature of sexual orientation?
5. Ennis and Jack determine that their bond is no one else’s business. Can love-gay or straight-stay secret and be and/or remain healthy? Why or why not?
6. How should Christians approach films that depict gay relationships? What, if anything, can we learn from such movies? About the gay culture? About ourselves?
Whether they’re actually being discussed or not, these are the kinds of questions I like to see Christians asking each other.
AND ALSO: Christianity Today’s is not the first or the only review to call the sex scenes in the film “graphic.” There is no nudity during the sex scenes in the movie; what makes them graphic is that they involve two men rather than a man and a woman.
The scenes are not graphic, they’re honest. And tame by heterosexual standards.
Taking the credit card issuers to task
An editorial in the NYTimes today:
[C]redit card companies aren’t all that interested in customers who pay their bills in full every month. They really want the so-called revolvers, people who don’t cover their balances and pony up those juicy interest payments and fees. The tighter repayment provisions in the new law will encourage companies to trawl for even less-qualified customers.
This is all a stark reminder of just how one-sided the new bankruptcy law is. While access to Chapter 7 bankruptcy has been sharply curtailed in the law, which went into effect in October, credit card companies are welcome to keep stuffing mailboxes with pre-approved cards.
Legislators ignored the five billion solicitations for new cards sent out last year alone. They pretended that the blame for the rising number of bankruptcies and delinquencies lay solely at the doorstep of debtors who recklessly used bankruptcy courts to dodge their responsibilities. This year, we’ve set a record with more than two million people in this country declaring bankruptcy. And many of their doorsteps are littered with direct mail offering new, high-interest cards.
At the very least, the credit card industry shares responsibility for this surge in bankruptcy filings. And with the reams of data and advanced risk-modeling tools available to financial companies, it is fair to argue that they deserve the better part of the blame.
I only wish there was someone listening.
Mom fights the RIAA
After $24,000 in legal bills, this mother of five vows to fight on by herself. Her former lawyer says she doesn’t really need him:
It was Easter Sunday, and Patricia Santangelo was in church with her kids when she says the music recording industry peeked into her computer and decided to take her to court.
Santangelo says she has never downloaded a single song on her computer, but the industry didn’t see it that way. The woman from Wappingers Falls, about 80 miles north of New York City, is among the more than 16,000 people who have been sued for allegedly pirating music through file-sharing computer networks.
“I assumed that when I explained to them who I was and that I wasn’t a computer downloader, it would just go away,” she said in an interview. “I didn’t really understand what it all meant. But they just kept insisting on a financial settlement.”
The industry is demanding thousands of dollars to settle the case, but Santangelo, unlike the 3,700 defendants who have already settled, says she will stand on principle and fight the lawsuit.
“It’s a moral issue,” she said. “I can’t sign something that says I agree to stop doing something I never did.”
Follow on screen instructions
Among the 21st century Christmas toys opened here this morning:
A couple Nintendo DSs - with picto chat, a touch screen drawing pad and keyboard linking up to 16 kids in 4 chat rooms - an iPod shuffle, a digital camera, an updated Furby ("an emoto-tronic friend"), the retro Rock’em Sock’em Robots (not the newer wireless version) and a Darth Vader voice-changer mask.
When kids press the belly...one of seven musical beats is heard. When they turn his right ear, they can add up to seven rhythms; his left ear alters up to seven melodies. Other sound effects are added when they touch a “flicker” switch. Kids “create” their own music by altering the tempo… [W]hen you connect iZ to an iPod or other musical source. The character’s wide eyes bounce to the beat, and its colorful flashing horn nose responds to the music.
Me, I went for the 20Q pocket mind reader. Actually, I brought them. After a friend in NY got me one, I went out and bought them for the kids:
The artificial intelligence behind the game is a neural-network, similar to a human brain. A brain, or neural-network, is built from neurons connected by synaptic connections. A human brain has about one hundred trillion (100,000,000,000,000) synaptic connections. The 20q.net online version currently has about ten million (10,000,000), and the pocket version has about two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000). The game uses the neural-network to choose the next question as well as deciding what to guess.
Meanwhile Doug’s having troubles installing the iPod software on the PC, “Failed to complete installation??? uh oh...”