Thursday, May 31, 2007

Check this Spot

When I started blogging, it was at the Drupal-based site, Writing Up. I loved the community that grew up there. Drupal sites are made for community, chatting, enjoying other like-minded people. I loved it.

Then it collapsed.

I tried making all of my other blogs into something like Writing Up. All of them combined didn't make it quite the same. I never imagined that Writing Up would be so hard to replace.

Thankfully, another fellow-blogger at WU felt the same. And she did something about it. She replaced it.

You'll find my main blog at communati, at least for now. If it turns out to be as good as it looks it is going to be, "for now" could turn out to be a very long time.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007


To me, having peace of mind is always a high priority when I spend a lot of money all in one place. That is what I like about the way Monex Deposit Company arranges things for investors. They will help you take care of everything you need, and they have a reputation that you can rely on. That goes a long, long way with me.

For over thirty years, MDC has been a leader in helping investors set up their purchases for gold bullion, silver bullion, and other precious metals. They help investors arrange everything that is needed in the transaction -- that means everything from buying the precious metals, to transporting, and even storing the investment if needed. With MDC, everything is taken care of from beginning to end, allowing the buyer to rest secure in the knowledge that their gold, silver, or precious metals are in good hands.

And, on top of it all, gold, silver, and precious metals are all good, secure investments to make. The prices are set to rise, and one way or another, precious metals are always a secure investment. I like the peace of mind this brings to the whole investment process.

If you are the same way about liking a secure investment that allows peace of mind, then I can confidently point you toward MDC to you when you are making your purchase of gold, silver, or precious metals.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

An Invisible Sun

The Police are starting a world tour... after all these years. I am hoping to get to view their concert either here or in Shanghai, or even both. I love that band.

One of the songs on their CD that is being released in conjunction with the tour is one of my favorites, "Invisible Sun." The line "There has to be an invisible sun that spreads its heat to everyone" is one that often gets stuck in my head. It came to mind today in a discussion with some friends. They said that no matter what they always just believe there is something good "out there" looking out for us.

And it made me wonder... why? Why does there have to be some benevolent giver of good things "out there"? Why can't we just believe in cold, empty space?

What makes us think there has to be invisible sun spreading its light and warmth out there?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Life is so Unfair

This was originally posted at my old blog site, which seems to be experiencing technical difficulties most of the time these days. I am reposting the old material on my newer blogs, just in case I lose the old one altogether.

A few weeks back, Inklings wrote a blog that has stuck with me, and out of which several good discussions with "real life" friends have since grown, as well as the excellent thoughts shared in the discussions around here about that topic. In that blog, Inklings talks about life's unfairness, and about personal responsibility, and how we always have a choice in what we do with what we are given.

About the time I read that article by Inklings, I had recently seen the 2002 film Max, starring John Cusack and Noah Taylor. The DVD's cover has a line that becomes important in the film: "ART+POLITICS=POWER." The film's story centres around Hitler's need to make a choice between politics and art as a life path. I guess we know, from history, what he chooses. But the suggestion seems to be there -- he could've chosen otherwise, and the world would've been so different if he had.

What I first heard about the movie some time back (besides that Cusack was in it) was that it is a sympathetic look at Hitler. I don't know if "sympathetic" is precisely the word I'd use, but it is a look at what might have gone into forming Hitler into the creature he became. It examines the conditions in post-war Germany: the poverty of many of the soldiers, the racism and propaganda going on, the extreme class distinctions between rich and poor -- the whole deal. It also looks at Modernism in art, and how so many within that movement sought to divorce politics from art, ignoring the things going on around them. This impetus forces the decision that it seems Hitler "must" make in the film -- art or politics. In the end, of course, it is demonstrated that his real goal was power, and he seeks to meld art and politics into a means of gaining power. "Politics is the new art!" he shouts over and over in the film, to a very chilling effect.

But what I like about the movie -- at least one of the things -- is that it doesn't let the man off the hook for what he did. The movie shows the social forces that went into the making of the monster, if you want to look at it that way, but it also shows that the man was personally responsible for what he became. There were social forces at work, the film recognizes. But it is also the irresponsible use, by Hitler in the film, of his own art and politics, that ultimately leads him to make the decisions he does. It seems to demonstrate that there was a choice, and in the exercise of a single choice, he set down a path from which he never turned back.

It was a chilling film, and has stayed quite close to the centre of my thoughts these several weeks since watching it. I especially liked, when I saw it, how it intermingled with the thoughts Inklings presented in her blog about taking responsibility for the directions that we do take in life, rather than sitting back and whining about things.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

For the Golfer

Here's a website just for the golfer. It's got all the accoutrements one could need for a good game of golf: golf balls, golf clubs, golf shoes and golf wear, and all that good stuff. I think you'll find there everything you could want to make your walk around the golf course just right.

You can get everything you need here, and what makes it even better is that you don't have to spend a small fortune to do it (nor a large fortune either).

So, whether you are a pro, a wannabe-pro, or just a golf-lover of the more ordinary kind, you'll find all your golfing needs at Golf Balls and Accessories.

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Some Thoughts on One of My Favorite Pet Topics

I am afraid that my original blogging site is not going to last much longer. It has been down more than up recently, it seems, and that has resulted in many bloggers leaving. Pity. It was so fun back in its heyday.

I am transferring a lot of my posts from there to my other blogs. This one was originally found here. Over at that site, I'd written rather a lot, in both posts and comments, on reality and illusion and their relationship. This post was just some random thoughts I'd collected along the way.

I guess it's no secret that I have a little pet topic that I often like to revisit, that being our perceptions of reality and illusion. I am particularly interested in how this question intersects with the arts. One of the things I loved about Malcolm Campbell's novel The Sun Singer is his exploration of the connection between reality and our perceptions and representations of reality.

I've written enough blogs about this topic already, probably, but the topic always attracts my attention when I come across it. I don't have the energy or the clear head at the moment (I'm in a jetlagged fog) to post a well-crafted blog on the topic. But I have recently come across a few things that might be of interest to anyone who doesn't mind exploring my pet topic a bit further with me.

David Slavitt writes in his article "My Movie Years: George, Zsa Zsa, and Others" in the most recent issue of Boulevard:

What movie stars are for, after all, is to provide an iconography for our private lives. From their enlargements, distortions, and simplifications, we find a kind of clarity.

Heidegger, Husserl, and Merleau-Ponty are not the philosophers for the masses, or even Ortega y Gassett. Those are Bruce Willis and Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts. We project. Or, more accurately, we ingest, find our representatives and incorportate them, taking what we can of their styles and stances as a way of facing the vicissitudes and opportunities of life.
(p. 83 of No. 64)

This all reminded me of some recent posts by Celebrity Talk, such as this and this. It brings to mind an older post of hers too. (And searching for an older post of hers is a quick reminder of how prolific a writer she is!)

Slavitt has more:

It is only slightly awkward to be writing about a movie star I never met, but it is more accurate, more representative. How many ordinary people get to hobnob with film stars, after all? It is irrelevant. The part they play in our lives does not depend on personal contact but is a matter of mostly projection and fantasy. The actual human being has little to do with the transaction. (p. 84-85)

That brings to mind a very profound observation by my godchildren recently. Here's the conversation, roughly:

Them: [singing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik]
Me: Wow! You know Mozart!
Them: Of course we know Mozart, we hear him every day. He's on Little Einsteins.
Me: Yeah, I like Mozart. He is one of my favourites.
Them: He's not real, you know. He is a cartoon.

Cute/funny as that is, it is the same notion expressed by Slavitt. How real are these personalities which seem to become so much a part of our lives, though we've never seen them? Are they just cartoons? I guess I would say that in our lives, yes, they are just "cartoons," despite whatever reality they are attached to elsewhere. It is an odd thing, isn't it? This detachment from reality of the media personalities we allow into our lives and our homes.

I guess this ends my notes and scattered reflections for the moment. I've posted enough about it elsewhere, with more fully developed thoughts. Other blogs I've written that address these ideas include these:

Real or Imagined, What is the difference?

Paying a Visit, again

I Don't Know Much About Writing

Rip Off Reporting

The Enemy of Thought

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Have You Answered the Question Yet?

I've been trying to get a discussion going on some fun-to-explore questions, taken from Gregory Stock's The Book of Questions

I don't have as many answers to this one yet as I hope to get, but I am going to get the index started here, so that they are easier to find. If you've answered this one, let me know, and I will add a link to your answer.

an answer worth more than a dime

Silken's Answer (a nicely done rhyme!)

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Distance Learning

When I was doing my undergrad studies, "distance learning" was a whole different ball game than what you see today. I used to see commercials on TV for it, and it involved filling up a bunch of tests on a piece of paper and mailing it back to a school somewhere far away. It wasn't thought, in those days, to be a very reliable mode of education, for obvious reasons.

Times have changed. Today, e-learning has transformed the whole educational landscape. And Capella University is one institution that really has taken advantage of the opportunities provided by e-learning capabilities. Capella University offers its students many excellent degree programs, including 82 undergraduate and graduate specializations.

Capella University is an accredited university, meaning that their degrees are reliable and recognized. Capella University serves students from all over the world, including all 50 states, and more than 50 countries. If you'd like to pursue online studies, then you really need to check Capella University out.

For more information, you can visit the website at (or click the link above), or call 1-888-CAPELLA (227-3552).

***This blog post was based on information provided by Blogitive. For more information, please visit***

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bug Movie Preview

I've been reading about Lionsgate Films' new bug movie coming out. The film will star Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr.

Check out these great movie posters and see if it doesn't get you ready to go and watch the movie too:

This one gives me a feeling that reminds me of how I used to feel when I would see posters for Silence of the Lambs back when it came out. It is eerie, creepy, and sort of gives you chills to look at. I think this film will have a lot of that same feel. The trailer calls it "disturbing," and that is just how it strikes me too.

That poster is just gross, isn't it? It is exactly the sort of thing that will attract all horror flick fans to go in and sit down and get themselves scared half to death. It looks to me like Bugs is going to be the horror film of the summer. Any fan of scary movies won't want to give this one a miss.

I think the duo of Judd and Connick will be a fun one to watch. Wasn't it Copycat, back in 1995, where Harry Connick Jr. played the bad guy? I think that is the one I am thinking of -- anyway, he makes a good bad guy, and I think he is going to feel right at home in this horror movie. I don't think he is the thing we're supposed to fear in the film, from the preview, but I do think he's going to fit in well to add to the eerie atmosphere.

As for Judd, I think she's going to be a nice match for Connick. I liked her in Double Jeopardy, which I think was her best role to date. Bugs looks to me like it might top that one. I think this one is set to be a big hit this summer.

If you aren't into being scared half to death by a movie, then I'd advise you to stay home from this one. If, on the other hand, fear is a form of thrill for you, then it looks like you'll have a fun summer ahead.

What do you think? Are you up for it?

You can view a preview of the film at You Tube. I think once you do, it will whet your appetite for more!

This is a sponsored post If you'd like to write sponsored posts on your blogs too, click the tab below and sign up with Pay Per Post today

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Customer Relationship Management

If you are looking for an innovative crm package, check out these offered by AIM Promote. Unlike other customer relationship management software packages, AIMPromote's is not overly complex and confusing.

And, best of all, you can use it in such a way that you only make available to your organization those features which are most useful. That's very helpful, because you don't have a lot of excess baggage to wade through in order to get to all the good stuff that you can put to work for your business.

Let AIM Promote do all the detail work here. That will free you and your team up to focus on making (and closing!) sales.

Call AIM Promote Toll-Free at 1-888-251-4635.

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Small Business Solutions

I have been using an internet telephone software for quite a while now. It has become the main way that I keep in touch with my family and friends overseas, and also with my friends and colleagues when I travel. For personal use, the free software I use is ideal.

For a regular business traveler, though, the free technology I use would not be sufficient. VoIP Small Business Phone Systems would be a more ideal solution for the business traveler, keeping her or him in touch with the home office on as regular a basis as needed. And, unlike the free stuff I use, it won't be constantly getting cut off or having other strange and not-so-wonderful things happen here and there.

If you're a frequent traveler, check out Xpander Communications. They specialize in setting up and servicing small business phone systems for companies looking to improve and explore new technologies such as Voice Over IP.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

A short story

It seems my main blog site might be about to give up the ghost, as the site is down more than up these days. I'll be transferring lots of posts over to my other blogs from that one. This is one of those.

Take a look here and here.

I don't know why I ever allowed him to bring her back to my house. She's the cause of it all, really. I've tried not to believe the rumours and old wives' tales, but how not to? They are so clearly living themselves out before my own eyes.

I've done it all right all of my life. I never deviated from what I was supposed to do. I married young, had kids, raised them right. All of it just as expected of me.

I don't understand, then, why they aren't taking care of me like they are supposed to. I mean, that's the whole purpose of having kids, to have someone to take care of you when you are old. Fat lot of good they've done me, my three.

But it would be different if not for her. I should've known from the beginning that his bringing home that foreigner would cause some sort of mess. I just never imagined my open-minded allowance of it would lead to her casting curses on me. When the neighbours said she'd started some black magic voodoo in my own home (his house... but still my home), I was the first to defend her. I knew my baby wouldn't have brought some sorceress back. But maybe she bewitched him.

Something has, anyway. He used to be so obedient, but ever since these curses started, he's been so unreasonable. And now he's turned his brother and sister against me too. When I tried to tell them about the scorpions searing through my bowels, my girl turned away, and her youngest brother actually laughed. If he would've just looked into the toilet bowl when I passed them, like I asked him to, he'd know. But she's blinded them all.

And now the insects have crawled into my skull. They itch and sting at me behind my eyes, but no one listens. The kids have tried to put me in a straight jacket (they think I don't know what kind of doctor they are referring to?). They've even gone so far as to bring That Man back into all, but I never doubted he'd take the side of some witch against me. He's done it for more years than those kids would ever realize anyway. Did they really think He'd add weight to their case?

But no. I'm done with That Man. I'm done with the little witch and her magic tricks too. No more scorpions jiggling in the guts, or insects circulating in the skull. I'm even through with those scheming little wretches I've raised -- let 'em get their grubby hands on the inheritance if they're so eager for it.

This is it. I'm at the top of the world now. Twenty-five floors below, I see two characters shimmering on the concrete, like a target.

自由。 Freedom.

It's one target I won't miss.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

From the Book of Questions... Would You?

I have been seeing a lot of tag-type games going on in different blogging communities, such as this exercise or this one. I decided I would start up a game like that too and use it on various blogs that I keep. It should be a fun way to keep the blogs interesting, and to keep conversations rolling between different sites.

What I am doing is taking questions from Gregory Stock’s The Book of Questions (1985) and posting my answers to those question. I’ll then tag a few other bloggers to post their answers, with a link back to my original post. They will then tag a few other bloggers to asnwer the question, include links back, and so on.

I’ll start with this question:

For a person you loved deeply, would you be willing to move to a distant country knowing there would be little chance of seeing your friends or family again?

My answer:

My first instinct is to say “no way.” I have friends who have married people from overseas and followed them to other countries, leaving behind their familiar, comfortable life and starting over again. I don’t think I would do this for a few reasons. The biggest is that I think it puts a whole lot of pressure on “a person you loved deeply.” That is a big expectation, for one person to be able to fill up all the holes that would be left in leaving one’s own family and friends. It seems to me to set up a strain on the relationship from the outset. So, while I would be more than willing to move to a distant country for many reasons, doing so for the sake of one well-loved person, well... perhaps not.

That said, it has struck me that I have pretty much done this already, very early on in life. When I was 21 years old, I felt called/compelled to leave my home and family (and friends) to start a new life on the other side of the globe. When I did this, email wasn’t something we had access to (I’d never heard of it then), and travel and phone calls were both expensive. I didn’t know when I’d next make a trip back to my hometown. The day I got on the plane and made that journey is probably the time in my life when I have wept most.

The thing that compelled me to do all of this was the church work that I do... or more precisely, I felt compelled to go and tell a story about someone I love in a place where the story is not very widely known. So, on second thought, perhaps I would be willing to move to the other side of the world for the sake of one person I love dearly and deeply.

Here's a list of bloggers I'd like to see answer this question, and then let them tag 3 more to add on to the list:

Elizabeth Grace

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Conversion of Anne Rice

It seems my main blog site might be about to give up the ghost, as the site is down more than up these days. I'll be transferring lots of posts over to my other blogs from that one. This is one of those.

No, this isn't a Halloween blog (even though it is already Halloween here). It has, in fact, nothing at all to do with Halloween, and it is only a coincidence (or is it a synchronicity?) that I am posting on leaving the spooky stuff behind on Halloween.

The coincidence/synchronicity lies in my having stumbled across an article by Gene Edward Veith in the most recent issue of Christian Research Journal called "From Vampires to Jesus." Veith is quite a prolific writer, and I even have this book of his sitting on my shelves, but I don't think I have read any of his work before this article. It's funny because much of his work revolves around topics and thought systems that are of interest to me, and how they interact with one another.

For instance, this article that I read was about Anne Rice, and her conversion to Christianity. My own faith is no secret around here, I am sure, nor is my interest in vampire stories (even though I prefer Frankenstein) -- and it is the only place I've ever displayed my own attempt at writing one. So the intersection of topics and ideas in Veith's article naturally captured my attention.

Imagine my delight, then, when the article turned to a discussion about the relationship between fiction and fact, a nice coincidence/synchronicity with my most recent post. Veith explores the question in the context of Rice's recent conversion, and the first novel she's released since that time. Before her conversion, Rice was probably best known for her novel Interview With the Vampire. She's churned out many vampire stories over the years, alongside some novels about witchcraft, and what Veith calls "sadomasochistic pornography." (I've often heard it reported that she has a good deal of such writing out under a pen name.)

But she's not discussing her earlier work anymore. She's gone in a different vein now. More recently, she's published a novel, which is planned as the first in a triology, called Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.

But, perhaps not surprisingly, Rice's new work has also stirred up some controversy, as have other issues she's spoken out on since her conversion, as evidenced by this January 2006 article by Carl Olson. She writes the novel in the first person, with the boy Jesus as narrator. I suppose there is something bold or daring about that. But, further, she includes in the novel many apocryphal accounts of Jesus' boyhood, including the working of miracles, though she acknowledges that these are "legends" (I'm quoting Veith quoting Rice).

Here's what Veith has to say about all of this:

In fiction, truth inheres not in the made-up incidents, but in their meaning; not in the novel's plot, but in its theme and the message it communicates. In this sense, Rice is using her fiction to convey orthodox teachings about who Jesus is.

Those legends of the miracles of the Christ child appear in the apocryphal -- and heretical -- Gnostic gospels, but in her novel Rice works exactly against the matter-denying hyperspirituality of Gnosticism. She instead dramatizes the incarnation (that God came in human flesh in actual human history).

Veith points out how Rice captures the potential for confusion and inner struggle in a young boy who is understood to be God in the flesh. I haven't read the novel myself, but that seems to me that it could be a very interesting tension to explore through fiction. Certainly it involves an amount of artifice to accomplish it, but it seems to me a valid way to seek out what might have been the experience of such a boy.

I am interested in observing the reception of the next two novels that are supposed to follow this one. It could (and should, I think) get more and more complex as the boy grows up. The responses to the novels will probably do the same.

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