Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Way Things Go

In 1987, Peter Fischli and David Weiss made a film called The Way Things Go. In 2003, Honda made a car commercial. Certainly any similarities were purely coincidental. Regardless, both were breathtaking.

This film took 606 takes. On the first 605 takes, something, usually very minor, didn't work and they would then have to set the whole thing up again. The crew spent weeks shooting night and day. It took three months to complete and cost six million dollars. Everything you see in the film (aside from the walls, floor, ramp, and complete Honda Accord) is parts from two disassembled Honda Accords.

When the ad was shown to Honda executives, they liked it and commented on how amazing computer graphics have gotten. They were surprised when they found out it was for real.

In 2003, Fischli and Weiss threatened legal action against Honda.

(HT: Arloa)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Why Marry?

That is exactly the question that Europeans seem to be asking themselves as marriage rates decline across Europe. This article notes that it is especially the case in one particular country:
In France, the country that evokes more images of romance than perhaps any other, marriage has increasingly fallen out of favor.

Growing numbers of couples are choosing to raise children, buy homes and build family lives without religious or civil approval of their partnerships. In the past generation, the French marriage rate has plunged more than 30 percent, even as population and birthrates have been rising.

"Marriage doesn't have the same importance as it used to," said France Prioux, who directs research on changing social trends for France's National Institute of Demographic Studies. "It will never become as frequent as it once was."

Marriage is in decline across much of northern Europe, from Scandinavia to France, a pattern some sociologists describe as a "soft revolution" in European society--a generational shift away from Old World traditions and institutions toward a greater emphasis on personal independence.

But French couples are abandoning the formality of marriage faster than most of their European neighbors and far more rapidly than their American counterparts: French marriage rates are 45 percent below U.S. figures.
As noted, many couples are instead opting for civil partnerships or no formal arrangements at all, while still raising children and functioning as a household.
The increase in out-of-wedlock birthrates is even more dramatic: Last year, 59 percent of all first-born French children were born to unwed parents, most by choice, not chance. The numbers were not driven by single mothers, teenage mothers or poor mothers but by couples from all social and economic backgrounds who chose parenthood in the absence of marriage vows.
The question is, what ramifications for society does this trend hold?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Did You Know?

Domesticated turkeys can easily drown when it rains because they tend to look up to see what's hitting them and their tiny, oval-shaped nostrils are "perfect funnels" for falling rain.
I thought you should.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


A buzz-phrase of six years ago was 'compassionate conservativism'. Is it even possible, though? Many liberals voiced the underlying perception that liberals are more generous to those less fortunate, and thus compassionate, than conservatives. They went so far as saying that there was no such thing as a compassionate conservative.

While it can continue to be debated whether liberal, moderate, or conservative political policies are more 'compassionate' or effective in pursuing social justice, now we are able to see which type of person is more generous.
Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University whose work involves public policy and philanthropy, has written a new book called Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide: Who Gives, Who Doesn’t, and Why It Matters. His boldface conclusion? As summarized in this interesting article, Brooks found that “religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities, irrespective of income.”

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Wanted: Man to Save Earth in 2036

Yes, it's true.

Astronomers have for awhile now known that there is the potential for an asteroid to collide with Earth and wreak havoc on our planet. They know it has happened before. Now, a smallish asteroid called Apophis has been identified as a possible threat to Earth in 2036. While it likely will miss Earth, further refinements to the modeling being done are necessary to determine for sure.

This is where science fiction meets science, however.
[NASA] is drawing up plans to land an astronaut on an asteroid hurtling through space at more than 30,000 mph. It wants to know whether humans could master techniques needed to deflect such a doomsday object when it is eventually identified. The proposals are at an early stage, and a spacecraft needed just to send an astronaut that far into space exists only on the drawing board, but they are deadly serious.
Bruce Willis, are you available?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Getting Bigger

It is estimated that on October 17 of this year, the population of the United States reached 300 million people. That's a lot of people, but our country is geographically big enough that it still makes us only the 172nd most dense country in the world, which is also less dense than the world is.

Still though, it begs the question, where do all these people live? Now we can see:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On being a single-issue voter

John Piper says,

Being a single-issue [voter] does not mean that only one issue matters. It means that some issues may matter enough to [disqualify someone].
For him, being a one issue voter is not an issue. And so it is in my political views. As we watch returns come in on this election eve, I thought it was worth reflecting on my own political viewpoints.

There is no doubt that one issue is by far most important to me when it comes to my personal political position. Abortion. Since 1973, when Roe vs. Wade was decided in our country, 47,282,923 abortions have occurred. Currently, approximately 1.3 million lives are ended via abortion each year in our country. Any issue that costs lives is extremely important. However, when it's an issue that literally is costing millions and millions of lives, it is of utmost vital importance. Can you imagine our country with almost 50 million more children over the last three decades filled with the potential to do great things?

Globally, it is estimated that 1,225,000 abortions occur each month. In about the last 75 years, it is estimated that 945,000,000 total abortions have occurred globally. So in less than four years, we will have reached the point when more than a BILLION babies have been killed on our planet. No other issue comes even close to affecting the same number of lives. It is the genocide of our age, and ending it is the single most important issue facing us today.

With that understood, it is difficult to cast a ballot for any candidate who does not endorse ending this travesty in our country no matter the other issues. This one issue is my litmus test. That being said, I am not beholden to any one party or ignoring other issues. If good candidates who are pro-life run, I will seriously consider their credentials. I cannot in good faith consider pro-abortion candidates in the same way.

It is, therefore, pretty straightforward for me. I, being pro-life, look at the candidates before me and vote for the pro-life candidate. If they both are pro-life, other very important issues such as global poverty and hunger, fair wages, Third World corruption, Darfur, earthly stewardship, and fiscal responsibility must be examined. But for this era, so long as pro-abortion policies continue, I will remain a single-issue voter.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The End of an Era

I remember waking up each morning I stayed at my Grandma's house (as we didn't have our own TV) in the summers and watching The Price Is Right with my siblings. It was a tradition that brings back fond memories. Now the show will be different.

This coming summer, the longtime host of The Price Is Right, Bob Barker, is retiring. He has hosted the show since September 4, 1972, making it the longest-running daytime game show in television history.

Will the show seem the same without Bob?