Friday FaithPost (Part 2): Psalm 35 and Colbert’s Journey

Tuesday morning, as I was unloading the dishwasher at 5:30 am, I discovered a clip from Colbert’s show the night before. Apparently starting a Leap Day tradition (which won’t have a “2nd Quadrennial” version until February 29, 2020), Colbert’s guest, director Spike Jonze shot a moving opening segment for the show. Before you view it below, read these verses from Psalm 35:

But at my stumbling they gathered in glee,

they gathered together against me;

ruffians whom I did not know

tore at me without ceasing;

they impiously mocked more and more,

gnashing at me with their teeth…

Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me,

or those who hate me without cause wink the eye.

You have seen, O LORD; do not be silent!

O LORD, do not be far from me!

 

Here’s the video. I particularly like the re-imagined version of the show’s theme.

Do you see the “ruffians?” How about the God-figure who frees him and leads him to paradise?

Stuff You Should Know: Powerful Video on U.S. Wealth Inequality

To say that the internet and devices to access it are powerful tools is a gross understatement. Not being a guy who can crunch numbers, but who is nevertheless interested in data and statistics, I am grateful that the internet offers ways to find, present and then communicate data to the world.

A favorite recent example of this threefold use of data is this “interactive heatmap” infographic displaying the most common birth date in the U.S.  (the answer to the question is below the image):

Birthday Heatmap

The answer? September 16th!

Data and presentation tools can be used for much more than answering trivia questions. In the hands of skilled practitioners, data can be used to show the need for social, political and economic change. Take about six minutes to watch this video, which clearly shows how much wealth the “one percent” in America holds. Perhaps more interestingly, the video also shows how vastly different the actual wealth distribution is from either what the public thinks it is or what people surveyed think it should be.

 

So what can you and I do about this? Honestly, I don’t know.  What I do know is that this massive disparity cannot be sustainable for much longer. And that remedying it will take significant courage, sacrifice and commitment to fairness and justice. Do we the people have what it takes?

Friday FunLink – Hilarious “Darth Trump” Star Wars Parody

Unlike last Friday, my midterms are finally at the copy machine, so I have a moment to share a truly astounding Friday FunLink video.

As I’ve posted previously, I’m a big Star Wars fan. I’m counting down the days until a week from today when finally, finally, finally I can see Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.”

Until then, I need to settle for this extremely well-done video which combines something I really like with someone I really don’t. So, thanks to Slate, take a 7 minute break to refresh your memory about Star Wars IV, V, and VI and also about some of the always interesting things The Donald has said. Be sure to watch while in a place where you can laugh out loud!

 

And be sure to watch until the end (or just forward to there) as the Trumpization of the final scene of Return of the Jedi is priceless – and it showcases the last sequential image we saw in the Star Wars universe.

Sun(fun) Night – Farewell Teddy & Meet Fr. Andrew Trapp and His Guinea Pigs

I learned about this story during last summer, but I’ve not gotten around to writing about it until now. I’m choosing to share it tonight because guinea pigs are on my mind.

First, the sad news. Prior to this afternoon, we had two guinea pigs, Jack Black (on the right) and Teddy (left):

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Teddy had been ailing for a while with weight-loss. Last Monday, the vet ran x-rays and found a large, untreatable bladder stone. As he was in noticeable pain from it, the vet gave us pain medicine for him as all we could do for him was keep him comfortable until his condition worsened.

During the week, he continued to lose weight. Today, he was in even greater pain and was making horrible “squawking” sounds. We made the agonizing decision to take Teddy back to the vet to be euthanized.

I had a few moments to hold him, take photos and then to say goodbye.

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I feel quite sad about Teddy’s departure as he was a good friend to the family and his “brother” Jack. We had these pigs for more than five years and they were great companions during some tough times. We’re going to watch Jack to see if he’d benefit from getting a new friend or if he’ll be okay alone. Teddy, I’ll miss you…

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The good news is that there are plenty of cute guinea pig photos and videos on the internet. Perhaps none is as unusual and funny as this one from the saintfactory channel on YouTube:

After I received this video from our great hay supplier: Small Pet Select, I did some exploring. Turns out that the owner of these guinea pigs and video producer is a young, Catholic priest. His website/blog is Saint Factory: God Wants to Make You a Saint. According to the site, Fr. Andrew was ordained in 2007 to the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. He sounds like the kind of priest and person I’d like to meet – not only because he loves his pigs (named Carmy & Claire after Carmelite and Poor Clare habit colors), but just because.

Before I sign off for the night, here’s another one of his hilarious videos:

Okay, okay…one more ridiculously cute piggy video:

Friday FunLink – Mind-blowing Beatles Drum Tribute

After the tragic, yet essential video about the refugee crisis, I thought an upbeat, ultimately trivial one would work for this Friday’s FunLink.

When I came across this video on the always interesting Open Culture, I knew it was a keeper. And I think its awesomesauciness speaks for itself:

Happy First Friday of November!

Stuff You Should Know: The European Refugee Crisis and Syria Explained in Just 6 Minutes

I’m starting a new feature which I’ve been thinking about launching for a while. The name comes from an excellent little book by the highly esteemed John L. Allen Jr. – “The Catholic Church: What Everyone Needs to Know.”  Typically any book with the subtitle “everyone needs to know” should be taken with a measure of suspicion – who is this author and why does he think I need to know this? Of course John L. Allen Jr. is an expert on today’s Catholic Church and thus I’ll trust his judgement.

So here I am posting about what I think you should know. Pretty presumptuous, right? Perhaps.

But hear me out. I’m a fellow teacher to readers, many of whom I imagine are teachers, connected to the world of education and/or people of faith. I peruse the web daily to learn and discover information, links, and resources which inform both my teaching and my life of faith. So, what I’m sharing in this category are only the items which I think are most valuable for my personal and professional life. Perhaps you’ll find them valuable too.

We’ve been praying daily in my classes for relief for the continually escalating refugee crisis in Europe. Pope Francis asked us to pray for this as one of his monthly requests (last June) and he’s used particularly strong words to exhort people of faith to hospitably welcome refugees.

Before class prayer yesterday, I showed my students this graph, which I think speaks for itself:

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Tomorrow, as a companion, I’m going to show the photo at the top of this post.

But today, I showed this excellent video. It covers much ground in about 6 minutes and is a must-see for anyone who wants to understand this crisis. I particularly like how it notes and summarily dispels some key objections that many in Europe and elsewhere are using to block the entrance of refugees. Really, please take 6 minutes and watch this now. It’s that important…

 

Eye-Popping Video on How a Virus Spreads and How to Stay Well

You likely learned (or perhaps taught) in Biology class how a virus multiplies inside of a cell. Chances are though that you’ve never seen this process like it’s illustrated in a new video from NPR:

 

Convinced that you should indeed get a flu shot this season? What else can you do to stay healthy this winter? From CNN comes The Ultimate Cold and Flu Survival Guide.

And you can also enact this “immodest proposal” from Ozy: “Don’t Shake On It” because:

Beyond the power politics, handshakes are also natural vehicles for spreading infectious diseases. They’re ticking germ bombs — with the CDC estimating that nearly 80 percent of infections are transmitted by hands, which teem with millions of bacteria and viruses. This led Dr. Tom McClellan of West Virginia University to laud a safer salutation — the fist bump — while other health officials promoted the elbow bump during Haiti’s cholera outbreak, Mexico’s swine flu scare and the recent Ebola epidemic.

The Moon Passing in Front of the Earth (Taken from 1 million miles away!)

Tonight, Sunday, in about 25 minutes, the Moon will be in the Earth’s shadow.  If the clouds are parting here in Central Ohio (I need to go outside and see), we’ll witness a total lunar eclipse of a relatively rare Super Moon.

The live shot at Time’s website shows this image at about 9:32pm EDT:

Super Moon Eclipse

So, I thought this to be a good time to share an even rarer site – the moon passing in front of the Earth – as recorded from a million miles away! You can find the website with description of the special event over at PetaPixel. The video itself is here:

 

One of the really interesting things about this is that the view is of the rarely seen reverse or “dark side” of the moon.  Enjoy the lunar spectacle!

Remember to Cry With Your Students on Patriot Day (September 11, 2001)

Sincere thanks to Mark Barnes and his Brilliant or Insane blog for sharing this video and invitation to educators.  I appreciate that he speaks of how he was brought to tears and the way his students responded to this show of emotion.

This day has personal meaning for me as my brother was in one of the WTC Towers on 9/11/01.  His was the second building attacked.  Thanks be to God, that he survived and fled to safety before the towers collapsed.  Although he doesn’t talk about it, I know his life was forever changed that day.  For me, I had an agonizing couple of hours when my family did not know whether he survived.  My wife, exactly six week old son, and I lived then in New Jersey, not far from Manhattan.  Communities all around our town mourned the loss of commuters who died that sunny, early-fall morning.

My freshmen students, like my son, were infants that day.  So please tell them about your experiences 14 year ago in order to remember, to celebrate life, and to work for peace and justice in order to counter evil in our world.