Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sadie, 3, explains death by sword

We were watching the end of "The Count of Monte Cristo" on the ABC Family channel as we waited for "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" to begin.

I had forgotten how violent "Count" is. At the end, Jim Caviezel's character thrusts a sword through Guy Pearce's character, who then falls to the ground, impaled.

Sadie, 3, saw this, but she had a rather enlightened response.

"That's not good," she said. "God said we can't do that."

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Our 'knowing' is shaped by cultural and social forces

A recent exchange on another blog of mine reminded me of a not-so-new, but seemingly still relevent, perspective on the way we might form pre-rational commitments that seem to shape our “knowing.”

Os Guinness and Colin Brown, following Peter Berger, have put it this way (if I can paraphrase correctly):

Five hundred years ago, in practically any major European city, the tallest building was a church.

Today, in my hometown of Raleigh, N.C., as well as in Charlotte, the tallest buildings are banks.

A thousand years ago, humans were still largely agricultural workers who used the sun and the seasons to mark time (rhythms and cycles).

Today, we have time markers attached to our wrists (minutes and seconds).

Just decades ago, walking into even the plainest church sanctuaries could affect an other-wordly sensation, a feeling of humility, a sense of the grandeur of God.

Today, numerous churches look like strip malls and entertainment centers, inside and out!

Surely these things, along with many more historical changes, influence our assumptions and shape our basic approaches to raw data.

It’s not that there was a “golden era” in the past when more things were done better, but rather (1) that we cannot help being formed by social and cultural forces because they become part of our mental furniture throughout our developmental histories, before we even realize what’s happening, and (2) that we operate on assumptions (or pre-rational commitments) shaped by social and cultural forces.

If social and cultural forces change, then won’t the shape of our data-processing change?

Is there such a thing as knowledge that is completely independent and unaffiliated?

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Beer-and-cheese pairings!

Have gouda with your bock.

Have feta with your pilsner.

Have limburger with your lager.

See many, many more beer-and-cheese pairing suggestions at this great site.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Recently read

The Last Battle: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 7 The Last Battle: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 7 by C.S. Lewis

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I finished reading this to Maggie and Audrey last night. Lewis probably couldn't have ended the series any better. (It won a major award for childrens literature in England when it was originally released.) The affirmation of Plato was an interesting reiteration of a comment that appeared earlier in the series.

View all my reviews.


Optimist: Poems Optimist: Poems by Joshua Mehigan

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Outstanding craftsmanship with resonating senses of certain experiences. This collection of poems was hailed by John Hollander.

View all my reviews.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Home-schooling home-brewing

Home-schooling encourages practical understandings of subjects like agriculture, botany, chemistry, and cultural heritage, especially when Dad breaks out the home-brewing kit.

-- from a post at my Brain Wave blog

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Home-Schooling Advantage: A Dad's View

1. When the car breaks down on the side of a highway, it's a moment for expanding the kids' vocabulary.

2. Technological advances have made home-schooling easier. For example, most basic cable plans include access to PBS Kids, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, and The Golf Channel.

3. Courses include Advanced Topics in Popular Culture, which is easy to teach when Dad is driving and really wants to listen to The Flaming Lips on the minivan's sound system.

4. A visit to the grocer’s produce section is an educational field trip, therefore tax-deductible.

5. Home-schooling encourages practical understandings of subjects like agriculture, botany, chemistry, and cultural heritage, especially when Dad breaks out the home-brewing kit.

- Colin Foote Burch
(c) copyright 2009 Colin Foote Burch

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Monday, January 5, 2009

It's going to be BIG

Read all about it here.

Visit the official Web site here.


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Sunday, January 4, 2009

An amateur poem: 'Losing River View Farm'

I originally submitted this poem in 2006 as part of my poetry applications to the master of fine arts in creative writing programs at both Queens University and Vermont College. I had also applied to both programs in creative nonfiction. The two schools accepted me in creative nonfiction, and both rejected me in poetry! I completed my MFA in creative nonfiction at Queens University, Charlotte, in May 2008. In the following poem, I tell a gut-wrenching story from my own life. From the standpoint of composition, I crafted the same number of syllables into each line, with a shift to fewer syllables per line in the last section, to represent the change I was describing.

Losing River View Farm
By Colin Foote Burch
(c) 2009 Colin Foote Burch

My lost love is two Flemish-brick chimneys
Connected by 300-year-old wood –
A remote farm house forever lost when
My grandfather bled into his bed and
The family knew henceforth the doctors
Would be too far away from River View.
We sold it, not before digging, peering
Through the house and barn, through decades of dust,
Through books and forgotten military
Uniforms and defiled clocks, over
The courses of weekends as my grandfather
Wobbled about, trying to regain his
Strength, trying to say good-bye forever.

There’s no silencing his regret or ours.
My uncle planned to retire down there.
That house tied me to the past’s bubbling fount,
And to a family history that
Gave a spiritual and ancestral
Home, just two or three miles from All Saints church,
Where my (namesake) great-grandfather still rests
Among Burches, Dents and Blackistons. Lost:
Our family land, our family farm,
In the state where I was born but lived for
Only three months, native Marylander.

There are some memories we can only
Remember while in this old house – even
In the new addition, built cozy to
The bedrock of Flemish brickwork. Here we
Watched football on the old RCA set,
Here we dozed nightly by the fireplace, here
We dipped Aunt Barb’s “Mississippi Mud’’ dip
And thought we could skip dinner. The large room
Of the new addition, living room and
Kitchen, was where my grandmother cooked eggs
And bacon and apples in a skillet.
Through the door way was the old house, the high
Ceiling of the old dining room, with its
Fireplace in the corner, where we piled a
Table for Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.

There are some memories we can only
Remember while in this huge yard – those
Weaving runs through the boxwood rows, pursued
By our small black mutt; tossing the Frisbee
With a girlfriend to whom I would propose;
Picnics years ago under the cedar,
Before the tornado took it; Grandpop’s
Story of the water tower’s age-old
Skeleton – his summer duty as a
Boy was to clean the tank that’s been gone for
Decades now, while the lingering smell of
Honeysuckle on the quarter-mile lane
To Burch Road floats everlasting and strong.

There are some memories we can only
Remember while in this place – among the
Places where they were born, wood floors and walls,
Boxwoods and smokehouse as witnesses. In

My dream, water was flowing off the
Property into Canoe Neck Creek –
Not onto the property, not high
From storm or tide – flowing off the land,
A rolling gush down the gully now,
Between the grass and the crops, near the
Remnants of the old pier, into the
Great creek, a flow of thousands of small
Memories, indistinguishable
And tumbled together and drown in
The creek’s greedy memory, its mud
And water never sharing the past,
It will remain silent and stingy
As motorboats and water skis splash
The waters where our crab pot once sat,
Grandpop’s “Crustacean Hilton,” last home
To meals we cracked on the screened back porch –
A later tradition but one
I will always remember.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Not new, but amazing: video of 'Center of the Sun' by Conjure One

If you haven't heard "Center of the Sun" by Conjure One featuring Poe, you really should listen to the song once or twice before viewing this video, because the story that forms in your own imagination will be different.

That being said, the video is an amazing use of anime, and very moving.

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