The Movie Taken & Human Trafficking

I landed a review gig this week for the movie Taken. I was more excited about the opportunity for paying work and didn’t care much what movie it was. I hadn’t heard anything about the flick, and the basic premise of a man tracking down his abducted daughter didn’t sound all that appealing (predictable much?).

But as the credits rolled I cried.

This is the third time I remember crying in the movie theater (care to guess what other movies prompted waterworks?). I readily admit that I cry more easily since becoming a parent and I don’t see many movies in the theater, but it’s still a rare reaction.

It wasn’t so much the movie that moved me, but a simple realization. The movie is about an ex-CIA agent who tracks down the men who abducted his daughter in order to sell her in the slave trade. I realized that most victims of human trafficking don’t have Liam Neeson to go all CIA operative on their captors. They have nobody. There is no rescue filled with tears of joy. There is no happy reunion.

That is the reality of human trafficking. And it’s in your backyard: less than two years ago there was a human trafficking bust about a mile from my house.

If you want to do something about it, the International Justice Mission and One Voice to End Slavery are a good places to start.

Gene Robinson: Not a God-Fearing Christian?

The Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation last week following his appearance in Washington, D.C., to deliver the invocation at Sunday’s inaugural concert. His prayer wasn’t carried by the live broadcasts, which prompted a flurry of protest (sounds like it was an organizational snafu, not an intentional snub). For those who don’t know, Robinson is the gay priest who was elected as a bishop in 2003, causing the current upheaval in the Episcopal church. Though I attend an Episcopal church which is still reeling from that 2003 decision, I’m not that familiar with Robinson and his theology.

He had some interesting things to say on NPR as they took callers and he answered questions. Some things I agreed with, some I didn’t.

But one of the most bizarre was an exchange with a woman who described herself as a “God-fearing, Bible-believing Christian.”

Continue reading Gene Robinson: Not a God-Fearing Christian?

A Philosophy of Profanity

I heard a bizarre story on NPR yesterday about 15-year-old McKay Hatch who started the No Cussing Club. It has 30,000 members worldwide. Hatch has appeared on TV with Jay Leno and Dr. Phil, and the kid has a book coming out. All centered around the idea of not swearing.

I don’t get it.

Now it’s no secret that I’ve pushed the boundaries of acceptable language and paid for it. For quite a long time I’ve questioned what defines profanity and defended certain uses. In the end, I’ve concluded that cussing is a cultural issue. Swear words are culturally defined and vary between societies. What people considered profane a few hundred years ago is standard English today. What’s taken as normal conversation here could be incredibly offensive in another part of the world.

“It just makes me feel really offended and stuff,” Hatch says. “It just doesn’t make me feel good.”

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Freezing Bubbles in Minnesota

After vaporizing water a week or so back I thought I should try another cold weather science experiment. This time? Freezing bubbles. It was only -7 this morning when I tried it, so not as cold as it could be. But the bubbles still froze.

It’s hard to see from the video, but when my dog Mazie bites the bubble, you can hear a distinctive crunch. Frozen bubbles.

Freezing Bubbles from kevinhendricks on Vimeo.

For best results, blow bubbles upwards so they have more time to freeze. The frozen bubbles are like thin gossamer cellophane and are very fragile, usually shattering on impact, so it’s hard to get a good picture. Plus, floating bubbles aren’t exactly easy to photograph in the first place. Also, the colder, the better. I imagine doing this at night would have been better, both for pictures and faster freezing bubbles.

For really amazing frozen bubble pictures, check out this set of photos (via boing boing).

And yes, Mazie enjoys eating bubbles.

The ‘W’ Birthday Cake

The 'W' Birthday CakeWe had Lexi’s birthday party on Saturday. There’s nothing like a bunch of three-year-olds running around the house. The highlight for me had to be Lexi’s ‘W’ birthday cake.

‘W’ has always been Lexi’s favorite letter. It’s one of the first letters she recognized. When we asked her what kind of cake she wanted, she wanted a ‘W’ cake. So there it is, in all it’s alphabetical glory.

As a bonus, a w-shaped cake has an excellent cake to frosting ratio.

Choose Adoption

I don’t like talking about abortion. Today’s the 36th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and it’s hard to avoid those discussions today. I don’t like those discussions because it’s such divisive issue and I see both sides of it. I can’t stand the bitterness and anger and hatred that inevitably floods the conversation.

I’d rather focus on something we can all agree is good, like lowering the number of abortions. One way to make that happen is to encourage and support pregnant women as they choose adoption.

With that in mind I love this comment from Ruth Graham, daughter of Billy Graham, who helped her daughter navigate two unplanned pregnancies:

“No life is a mistake. God has plans for each life. And there are no illegitimate children—there are only illegitimate acts. And I believe that birth mothers are very courageous. They are living in a society that tells them they don’t have to carry to life. It’s legal in this country to have abortion, but they choose life. They lay down their lives; literally, their reputations, their figures, their school careers, sometimes their families kick them out. And the Lord said that there’s no greater love but that a man lay down his life for his friends, and these young women lay down their lives for their children. And I applaud them.”

The brave women who place their children for adoption instead of choosing abortion need to be celebrated.

I Have An Abundance of Caution

Thanks to the flubbed oath on inauguration day, President Barack Obama retook the oath of office yesterday out of “an abundance of caution.”

That’s an awesome phrase. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

So we should have a T-shirt: I have an Abundance of Caution.

I Have An Abundance of Caution

Once upon a time I thought i’d be cool to make a T-shirt of the month. I never quite got there because I’m not much of a designer and I’m no Threadless. But I can dream, can’t I?

20 Minutes at a Time

Earlier this week I read an article by Cory Doctorow (of Boing Boing fame) about how he’s able to be a productive writer in an age of distraction. It’s definitely a worthy question. In some ways I’ve answered that question with National Novel Writing Month, but that’s not a very sustainable solution (nor is it all that more productive; I’ve yet to truly polish any of the three novels I’ve written during NaNoWriMo).

One of Doctorow’s suggestions is to have a short, consistent schedule where you do nothing but write. Even if it’s just 20 minutes, as long as you do it every day you’ll accomplish a lot. I’m beginning to realize how true that is, for more things than just writing.

Think of all the enormous tasks in this world is accomplished not with some Herculean effort, but with the small, slow drip of consistency. Winning an election, overturning a social ill, writing a blog, landing a job, landing on the moon, earning a degree, making a friend.

It’s hard to do. Even as I’ve had this idea in my mind all week I haven’t found those 20 minutes for my writing. But I have found 20 minutes for other projects, and it’s proving beneficial.

It’s the old tortoise and the hare: Slow and steady wins the race.

Enjoying the Inauguration with Twitter

I watched bits and pieces of the Inauguration today and caught much of Obama’s speech on NPR. But I really enjoyed much of the festivities through Twitter and the various reactions, comments and snippets. Apparently I wasn’t the only one enjoying Twitter: Traffic was up five fold.

The breadth of opinions was hilarious. One person would be euphoric about an Obama presidency and the next person would be taking potshots at hope and change. One person loved the inaugural poem and the very next tweet called it a flaming failure.

It was also great to see people’s personal reactions, what lines of speeches/prayers/poems stuck with them, what made them laugh, what made them cry (quite literally).

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The Radical Words of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.Last week I talked a bit about Martin Luther King Jr. being a radical. Today it seems appropriate to look at some of his radical words.

On love vs. hate:

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

On nonviolence:

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” (Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1964)

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