Not Again

idol.pngSome folks in Florida have erected a new 10 Commandments idol in front of the Dixie County courthouse.

*sigh* Here we go again. We can look forward to the ACLU suing Dixie County, to pastors around the country denouncing the ACLU and using this event as a demonstration of how “oppressed” Christians are in the United States, to the courts eventually deciding in favor of the ACLU, and to a few months of peace before some nutjob tries this again.

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: A block of granite that size costs $20,000. How many people can you feed with $20,000? How many gospel tracts can you buy? How many missionaries could your church support for a year with $20,000?

This isn’t about spreading the gospel or doing any kind of good. It’s about building the egos of the donors and the Dixie County commissioners. Don’t believe me?

Former Commissioner John Driggers broached the subject on behalf of an unnamed county resident, asking whether the board was “bold enough” to allow the monument to be placed at the courthouse. After then-county attorney Joey Lander told the board he would defend any lawsuits stemming from the decision for free, commissioners voted in favor of allowing the project to proceed.

Joey Lander and John Driggers are using the ten commandments as a publicity stunt. Maybe, just maybe, this time conservatives won’t fall for it like they did the Roy Moore publicity stunt in 2003.

But who am I kidding?

Home Improvement for the Holidays

This Thanksgiving break, my dad and my brother Jason (and to a lesser extent, I) have been making some improvements around the house. We’re almost finished fixing Jason’s room. Over the past few days, we’ve:

  • Taken out the ugly yellow light which was hanging from a chain and plugged into the wall
  • Installed track lighting
  • Fixed the cracks in the ceiling caused during the previous step
  • Ripped up the red shag carpeting, revealing a beautiful hardwood floor underneath
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  • Repainted the stained, yellow-white walls to a dark blue (in progress)

All in all, a busy week. My brother’s been taking videos throughout the process, which you can see in the videos section of his myspace page.

Anderson County’s Finest

An Anderson County sheriff’s deputy is on administrative leave tonight after his gun was fired during a gun safety class.

The gun fired Wednesday morning after a student grabbed it as the deputy told them how hard it was to take a gun from an officer’s holster, Sheriff David Crenshaw said.

The student’s finger apparently was small enough to get inside the holster and pull the trigger, the sheriff said.

No serious injuries, thankfully.

The Hidden Messages in the Zune Installer

The great folks over at Engadget installed the software for the Zune, Microsoft’s answer to the iPod, onto one of their computers and blogged about it. As I was reading the (rather unfavorable) review of the program, I couldn’t help but notice some subtle messages hidden in the installation wizard, which I have highlighted below.

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Please, stop now, before it’s too late.

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The Zune will attack your soul.

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It hurts…

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The Zune! It’s almost as good as getting kicked in the crotch!

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The Zune! It’s not just for white people!

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Thumbs down for the Zune.

I Love Photoshop

Last week, I finally, finally, purchased my very own copy of Photoshop, and I’ve been playing with it ever since. I’ve been needing it for some time; I’m interested in graphic design, but I don’t have the necessary skills with Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to make graphic design my job.

Mainly, I lack practice. The only access to Photoshop that I’ve had since I graduated is at one computer at work, and that only for job-related stuff like making buttons for our website. So, I finally shelled out ~$800 for the Adobe Creative Suite 2 Standard Edition, which include InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop.

Before I bought the software, I thought the price was exorbitant. Now that I have it and have been learning how to use it, I can see why they can get away with charging that much. Nothing else out there compares with Photoshop. It is some of the most well designed software I’ve ever had the pleasure of using, and it’s powerful stuff too.

I’ve discovered the fantastic video podcasts at PhotoWalkthrough.com, which teach viewers how to harness the power of Photoshop. For example, using the stuff I learned from Tutorial 1 (as well as stuff I learned from my Graphic Design class that I took in college) I turned this photo of a walkway in front of Spartanburg’s Episcopal Church of the Advent from this:

…into this…

It’s a pretty neat effect, I think. I’m looking forward to learning more from the rest of the tutorials.

The Right Way to End Poverty

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to a meeting called “Small World/Big Future,” in which Erik Peterson discussed seven major trends that he predicts will change the world between now and 2025. These trends include changes in demographics, improvements in technology, and rapid information distribution, among others.

During his speech, Mr. Peterson, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies mentioned a commonly cited statistic: More than half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. To me, this is almost unimaginable; how can you survive on so little?

So, clearly, much of the world is extremely poor. Organizations have developed to help people out of poverty by giving them money, clothes, medicine, and so on. While these are good and noble things to do, these organizations have failed to actually stop poverty. The problem can be summed up in the old cliché “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.”

You can’t just send food, water, medicine, and money; you have to help local people generate their own income. Many times, there are people in these developing nations who want to start a business, but simply can’t afford to because they can barely survive on their current incomes.

That’s where Kiva.org comes in. Kiva is a non-profit organization that helps connect people the United States and other wealthy nations with these entrepreneurs. Kiva lets you loan small amounts of money to these entrepreneurs to get their businesses started. (I do mean small amounts of money; some of these entrepreneurs only need $250 to get started.) Once they’re on their feet, they’ll repay you with interest. [ED-Thanks, Scott!]

This isn’t just charity; it’s an investment. And, frankly, investing in these nations is the most sustainable way to help them pull themselves out of poverty.

Photo Hunt

My mom invited me to play this Photo Hunt game that she’s been in for the past couple of weeks. Each week, different bloggers find pictures that fit a specific theme. For example, this week’s theme is “Windows.”

It looks like fun, so I think I’ll play along.

PSHunt

Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.
Photo Theme. Join the blogroll. Visit participants.

This is from the front of the Advance America building in Spartanburg, SC. I enjoy walking around Spartanburg, taking photos of whatever strikes my fancy.