Brat Camp

Several times this summer I’ve caught the ABC reality TV show Brat Camp. The show places nine troubled teens in a wilderness therapy camp against their will. They have 40 days to deal with their demons and get home in time for Christmas. The kids have issues with drugs, anger, running away, violence–just about the worst situations you can imagine.

And the show makes me cry.

I’ve talked with other teens who think the show is hilarious, watching these angry, illogical teens rant and swear. And that part is entertaining, if simply because it’s shocking, but I find myself swept into the emotional rollercoaster. I get choked up watching. I think I’ve managed to hold back the tears, but it’s insane how often they well up during the show.

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Getting Away with Murder

According to an NPR story I heard today there’s nearly a 40% chance you can get away with murder. That’s based on the number of murders committed and how many of them remain unsolved. Apparently it doesn’t vary much by location.

You can increase your odds by leaving no evidence and no witnesses. That means doing it at night, outside and with a gun that hasn’t been used in a crime before. A gun also allows greater distance between the murderer and the victim, which minimizes evidence.

All this from Stacy Horn, author of The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City’s Cold Case Squad. You can read an excerpt online.

It seems the getting away with murder bit was just an intriguing hook to keep people listening, but it worked for me. Fascinating stuff, if only I wrote crime novels.

Twin Cities Gas Prices Soar

I hate complaining about gas prices. But here I go.

Gas prices in the Twin Cities hit $2.69 yesterday. $2.69! I never thought I’d be so excited to see $2.49 advertised at a gas station in Champlin. I was so excited I whipped in and filled up, even though I needed less than 5 gallons.

This is ridiculous. Makes me want to add Twin Cities Gas Prices to the list of sites I check every day. Also makes me want to buy a hybrid.

Relevant Redesigns. Finally.

Check it out: Relevant finally posted their redesigned web site. It took them six months longer than originally announced, but it’s up. I can certainly commiserate with a long and massive redesign project, though a six month delay seems pretty brutal. Let’s just hope it’s worth it.

It’s interesting to see what they include and what they don’t. They’ve got a podcast. They don’t have a blog (unless you count the blog-like Slices on the homepage, but with no comments and no permanent links, it’s hard to get the benefits of a blog out of that feature). I’d also be curious about their ad situation. They run banner ads, which seem like some of the least successful online ads. Text ads seem to be a lot more effective right now, or so the hype would have you believe.

Anyway, I’m always intrigued to see what they’re doing. Some of it’s cool, and some of it bewilders me.

Plot Summaries

I had a brain-storm the other day. Or maybe it was just a brain-fart. At any rate, it was an idea: What if there were a web site where you could get plot summaries? Movies, TV shows, books, comic books, the whole shebang. They’d be short, less than a page, and would cover the basic plot points of a work, including the set up and twists and turns and pay offs.

What’s the point? As a writer and creative type there’s just too many stories out there I want to know about. This would give me a chance to digest the basic story without having to spend my whole live in front of the TV or in a book. Of course it wouldn’t be the same experience, of course you wouldn’t get it all, but it’d give you taste. And that’s better than nothing.

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Tony Campolo: To Be a Christian is to Be Opposed to America

You’ve gotta love Tony Campolo and his inciteful rhetoric:

“To be a Christian in today’s world is to be opposed to America,” he says. “Why? America believes in capital punishment, and Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ America says, ‘Blessed are the rich.’ Jesus said, ‘Woe unto you who are rich, blessed are the poor.’ America says, ‘Blessed are the powerful.’ Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.'”

Well, I love it anyway. I still remember when he swore at Bethel and we all gasped.

Podcasting: The Over-hyped Delivery System

I listened to my first podcast on the plane to Cleveland two weekends ago. For those of you who don’t know, podcasting is the latest techno buzzword, right after RSS and blogs, which most of the population still don’t know. Podcasting is basically a delivery system for audio. You sign up for someone’s podcast and whenever they have new content it’s immediately downloaded to your iPod and ready for you to listen at your convenience.

And it’s launched a college radio renaissance. Everyone and their brother thinks they can be a podcaster, much like everyone and their brother thinks they can be a blogger. And I don’t get it.

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Peter Jennings Died

The ABC newscaster of the past 20 years died today. Peter Jennings has been the primary news journalist for my lifetime and he died from lung cancer today. He’s been away from the news for a good four months battling cancer and it’s a shock to hear that he’s gone.

As early as I can remember my family watched ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings (which is what it’s still called today), and I remember seeing him give the world news. Everything from Israel and Palestine conflict, to the first Iraq War to 9/11.