Pundits have been praising Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin
Republican who chairs the House budget committee, for the courage displayed in
his 2012 budget proposal. But their definition of "courage"
must be different from mine.
Much of the most delightfully silly online humor follows
a particular formula: a
single good idea that alters or plays on a pop-cultural artifact; execution
that relies on computer technology, but not too much (some simple Photoshop
work, a couple lines of code); loads of nostalgia.
Tuesday on the CBC interview show Q, Jian
Ghomeshi talked to actor Ed Begley Jr., Hollywood's leading environmental
activist and green-lifestyle enthusiast. Discussing Living With Ed, the reality TV show in which Begley
and wife Rachelle Carson clash over his carbon-footprint obsession, Begley
observed that Carson is the sort of person who cares about the earth but
doesn't go to extremes.
It's great to see David Beckmann convince Mark Bittman to join the fast against attempts to cut federal programs
that help the poor and the hungry. Bittman's dismissal of the religious element
of the effort by Bread for the World and others--"I doubt God will intervene
here"--betrays his unfamiliarity with Christian thought. (I'm tempted to send him
one of my ELCA "God's work, our hands" fridge magnets.) But thanks to Bittman's
involvement, now even the Nation is
giving the progressive evangelical effort positive coverage.
As a church musician, I've been known to program what I thought were familiar Charles Wesley hymns, only to find my non-Methodist song leaders tongue-tied by the ambitious melodies and all-doctrine-all-the-time words. When I have a week off and visit an Episcopal church, the Hymnal 1982's Arthur Sullivan tunes make my mind wander to operetta.
I grew up around evangelical church leaders who were hardcore
about spiritual fasting, sometimes going a week on just water or 40 days on
just fruit juice. (I never made it more than a day.) When I started running in mainline
circles, I was thrown by the way people used the word "fast" to mean giving up
chocolate or beer or television.
The House of Representatives is
voting today on a bill that would prevent public radio stations from paying
their NPR dues with federal money. This follows the video that brought down NPR head Vivian Schiller and
senior VP Ron Schiller (no relation to each other).
It's the most wonderful time of the year for
fans of collegiate (men's) sports. I'm not one, but I can appreciate the thrill
of a single-elimination tournament. I also enjoy the creative ways people use
March Madness to bring attention to other subjects.
This new band's sound has roots in the indie-folk scene, with its moody treatments of simple chord progressions and Americana rhythms. But the larger thread here is classic pop, and The Head and the Heart offers the complete feel-good package.
By now, the no-longer-new food movement has provoked
files full of skeptical responses. Most follow familiar scripts: foodies are
elitist, or environmentally ignorant, or impractical about global hunger.
Alt-country is typically traced to Uncle Tupelo, but the early '90s Jayhawks made better records. Where Uncle Tupelo found scrappy affinities between traditional Americana and punk, the Jayhawks brought '70s country-rock to the alt-rock '90s.
Amid the apocalyptic to-do about Rob Bell possibly
considering an idea that other Christians have considered for centuries, Rachel
Held Evans had a fun idea: an
interview with another Rob Bell, a web designer in the U.K.
Last month, VIDA published a tally
of male and female bylines at a variety of thought-leader magazines in 2010.
The results aren't pretty. At the Atlantic,
men outnumbered women by a three-to-one ratio. The New Yorker was only slightly better, and Harper's and the New Republic
were worse. Worst of all?
With a government shutdown looming due to federal-budget deadlock, House Republicans are proposing a stopgap measure--not a compromise but a short-term enactment of the massive budget cuts passed last week by the House but dismissed by the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House.