Friday, March 30, 2007

A hero's welcome

Homecoming statue in San DiegoIf you need a good cry, click the link on the title of this post.

It takes you to a video of U.S. Navy Ensign Bill Hawes as he surprises his 6-year-old son and his son's first grade class by returning early.

Apparently the whole class had been writing to John's dad while he was deployed in Iraq. John Hawes had no idea his daddy was coming home early and no idea he was coming to his school, apparently. So the tears are genuine.

It made me think of a lot of analogies - especially fathers and sons, Christ's return for his children, the parable of the prodigal (okay it's the return home thing).

It also brought home the personal costs of the war in Iraq - families separated for months or years, people dying, tears of loss instead of joy.

So be forewarned - if you don't have any tissues in the house, get some. If this video doesn't make you cry, then hold the lilly tightly while they close the casket.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Get my gun ... NOW!

I just watched the footage of Karl Rove trying to get his groove on at the White House Correspondent's dinner. You know, Karl Rove, the man so white that his skin looks blue in sunlight.

There he was in a tux, with some dude rapping, and Karl was trying to bust his move.

Note to history: Old, balding, doofy-looking white men cannot dance and should not subject the rest of humanity to the abuse of watching them. One would think with all the years of dancing around the truth, Karl would have aquired a sense of where the beat is.

Unfortunately for those of us who saw the tape, The Lord High Counselor and Architecht of all that's wrong with the world has proven the old adage about the line between Miami and Rome - those below it can dance and those above it drive big cars and make money.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thaz jus sick

Wrecked Ferrari Enzo (c) LA Times.

Eddie Griffin, the star of the spoof flick Undercover Brother crashed a $1.2 million Ferrari Enzo during practice for a charity race in California. Click the link on this post to see a report and the crash.

The race was associated with the movie Redline, and included Jackie Chan and other celebrities. When he totalled the bright red Ferrari, which looked strikingly like the one on the poster for the new movie, Griffin said the undercover brother is fine, he just can't drive.

The car belonged to the movie's producer. If it's a publicity stunt, I hope the guy has good insurance. Also two Porsches were destroyed during filming of Redline; they were valued at $500,000 each.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

New Life

Japanese Magnolia blossumI took this shot of a Japanese Magnolia downtown today. It is a gray foggy day in DC, and this little flower was blooming on a tree outside the Switzer Building in Southwest.

It reminded me of something I read one time by Thomas Merton. He said something like a tree glorifies God by being a tree; it is what God created it to be. But what about us? We are not as God created us to be. We bear the marks of our forefather's rebellion against the Most High.

How do we glorify God? One answer to that vexing question is to allow Him to live His Life in us. Jesus told His disciples that "apart from me you can do nothing."

This point was brought home to me this week when I read an interview with singer Chris Rice. The interviewer asked him how he lived life on the road as a musician and a minister. He said that he didn't think that being a performer or singer was any different from being a businessman or a doctor or a housewife - you still have to bring glory to God regardless of where you are.

I had the thought "who you are now is who you would be in ministry because it is who you are." That was humbling. How I behave at work - in the godless world of journalism - would be how I would behave in ministry - where I would claim to represent God. Because that's who I am.

Thankfully in the same magazine, there was an article about reflecting the character of Jesus. It used the beatitudes in Matthew 5 as descriptions of the person in whom Christ lives. The first quality? Poor in spirit - in need of a Savior. And the promise? For theirs is the kingdom of God.

In Luke, Jesus read the passage from Isaiah that said he came to bind up the broken hearted; to free captives; to give sight to the blind. In Hebrews it says Jesus came to deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

So there is hope. I am not what I will be; but I have One who will continue the work he began in me. Then I can be a channel of His life to others.

A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.
Thomas Merton

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tony and the Gay Lobby

Indianapolis Colts Coach Tony Dungy has some gay and lesbian fans saying that they are "disappointed" after he said that he believes marriage should be one man and one woman.

Dungy was speaking at a dinner sponsored by an Indiana Group affiliated with Focus on the Family. Tickets for the shindig were about $75 each and the Super Bowl winning coach said he agrees with that organization's position supporting a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

According to the reports I saw, the local and national gay lobby is now upset that the coach would even appear at the banquet.


I think the Gay and Lesbian lobby folks need to wake up. Tony Dungy is a conservative Christian; he has made no bones about that. He has always said he wants to do things "the Lord's way." He even said that after the Colts won in Miami. And both he and Bears Coach Lovie Smith were praised for the way they handled their players.

So why do the gay lobbyists think that coach Dungy would change his beliefs simply because his team won the Super Bowl? Would he have been expected to change if the Colts had lost?

Tony Dungy has consistently stood for his faith; part of that faith says that homosexuality (along with pride, greed, rage, extra marital and pre-marital sex, and lying) is sinful. So why would the coach be expected to tone down what he has always stood for? Because some fans don't like it? Wouldn't that be compromising his character and denying the very thing that made him such a great coach to begin with?

So the argument is not with coach Dungy; the argument is with the Biblical morality he proclaims. Why don't people just be honest enough to say "we want to do what we want to do regardless of what the Bible, or God or Tony Dungy says." At least that would be honest.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

What is it good for?

I saw another photographer shooting a similar shot to this in the daffodils along the GW Parkway. It kind of hearkened back to the flower children days. But I shot it anyway.

During the demonstration I talked to a woman from Iran who was part of the protest. She has lived in the United States for 27 years and works for the U.S. government. But she was against the war. She said that murder was wrong regardless of who was doing it. I don't think that's what our troops are doing over there; perhaps it is the so-called "insurgents" that blow people up in buses or on their way to the market or to worship that she's talking about. I don't know.

I asked her if she didn't think it ironic that someone from Iran would be against a war in Iraq? She said that Iran did not start that war and that she hopes there will not be a U.S. war in Iran.

I asked her about Ahmedinajad and his government. She said that he doesn't have the support of most Iranians. She said that her own mother, who still lives in Iran, didn't even vote because she did not think it would make any difference.

Ironic isn't it. A lot of Americans feel the same way.

I also walked across the Memorial bridge to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I talked to some Vietnam Vets who were near the Memorial and the bronze statue of the three soldiers. These particular guys (and their wives) were from southern New Jersey. The guy I talked to said his group was there to make sure nothing happened to the Wall.

One of the demonstrators with a sign walked up and some of these guys were telling her to get lost. I was amazed that the women seemed like the ones ready to throw down. The white-haired guys with the handle bar moustaches were mostly just telling this woman off. But one of their wives was ready to kick some ass, no question asked.

But neither one of them seemed to be able to talk to one another; they seemed to be ready to talk at one another, but not to one another. Passion I see is catching.

Cold tunes

These two guys Ryan (from Texas with the banjo) and Keith (from Gaithersburg, MD) were at one of the splits of the GW Parkway playing music. They weren't really protesting the war. Keith said he was protesting the protest because he considered it "mental masturbation." And when a motorcycle policeman asked them to move so they would not get hurt, they did. So did I.

Demos 4

This guy was out there in a suit and scarf and his hat with a sign. He was pleading with the police saying things like "we don't want to fight you; we don't want confrontation; we're all Americans; isn't this America?" I don't know what happened to him, but the police didn't seem to react to his shouts.

More demos

This is what the demonstrators looked like. The "shields" they have are made of traffic barrels cut into sections. They had bandanas to counteract teargas. They were shouting "our streets, our streets!" and other slogans.

Demo Photos

This is the time when the two sides started to confront one another. The police rolled up and began putting on the body armor, helmets, gas masks, etc. I saw one officer with a large black canister with a valve on it. Guess what that was?

A.N.S.W.E.R. Photos

Police in riot gear confront demonstrators at the GW Parkway

So the next few posts are some photos I took of the ANSWER anti-war demonstration today at the Pentagon. I happened to arrive at the Pentagon just about the time the police were confronting demonstrators blocking the southbound lanes of the GW Parkway. I was one guy at one place at one time. And it didn't hit the fan while I was there, but I understand it did later.

Mostly dead...

disgusting toilet(c)
disgusting toilet by
Okay brace yoursevles. My dander is up about something.

The place I work - have worked for 18 years - the Voice of America - is cutting funding to radio so much that they were in danger of not having newscasts on the air today (Saturday) for the first time in 65 years.

Apparently if one of the shift chiefs had not gone to the Director - Danforth Austin - repeatedly and asked for money, the radios would have gone dark for at least eight hours. No newscasts, nothing.

And this on a day when an anti-war protest led by Iraq war veterans and their families is going on. Not to mention all the other stuff that happens worldwide. They finally brought in some contractors to fill the holes and the director coughed up the $$$$$$$$$$.

All because the so-called leaders of the Voice want to divert money - your tax money and mine - to broadcasts to Iran. They seem to think that if we spend enough on good-looking tv hostesses and satellite broadcasts to Iran that will keep Ahmedinajad and his cronies from building a nuclear reactor and blowing some Americans to hell.Luna Shadzi of VOA Persian TV


They point to the fact that Russians listened to VOA during the cold war and that was one of the elements that helped thaw and eventually end the Cold War. Okay, I'll give them that. But that was radio.


Now the illuminati are not willing to spend the bucks necessary to get VOA a slot on Sirius or XM Satellite. Nor are they willing to invest in FM. No they want to spend it all - 75 million additional dollars last year and God knows how much this year - on Persian television.

Our reporter covering the anti-war demonstration couldn't even file a live report from the Pentagon because the Radio side did not have a slot for him. Why? Because the show was going to be recorded and played back two hours later because there as no staffer there to cover the next show.

And this when the so-called head of the division has nine people - all VOA Staffers who used to work in radio - working exclusively on a television broadcast to India of all places. And the Indian broadcaster they are supposedly selling the product to doesn't even have to run it. But these staffers are paid by the Treasury Department, just like those of us who work our asses off trying to provide news content for a worldwide audience.

Did I mention the tv folks don't work anywhere but there? They are forbidden by the head of the department from working in radio. If we had them doing radio, maybe we would have enough people to do the job. But this group - GS 13s and 14s all of them - are all off on weekends.

So that's my rave. Either turn it off or pay for it. Stop with the death of a thousand screws. Man up or leave it alone. The whole world is waiting. Does Al Jazeera put up with this crap? I think not.

And the sun returns

So the march is on. The sun is shining but it is still cold. I hope to get out of the office in time to get some photos of the marchers as they head across to the Pentagon.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Blog Slog....

Saint Patrick's Day minus one is cold, wet, raw, dull and gray in DC. The weather forecasters are calling for snow in the mountains near here, and the big march on the Pentagon scheduled for Saturday is likely to be a mess. The rain is a reminder that Winter is still here regardless of the time change.

Two days ago it was 80 degrees.

I went to the so-called "tent city" near the Capitol where organizers of the anti-war march set up camp. No one was there. No one but me and Spanish TV crew. No organizers of the rally, no celebrities, not even someone to watch the tents in case someone came to rip them off.

But the memo that my office sent this week said as many as 50,000 people are expected to take part in the demonstration. Granted, they are supposed to start near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the other end of the mall and march across the Memorial Bridge to the Pentagon.

So maybe the tent city was abandoned on purpose. Or maybe the people were hanging out at the local Starbucks or some other wi-fi friendly place.Capitol Tent City by dbyrd

But regardless of how many people show up, I hope they dress warm. March winds around here can drop the temperature suddenly.

When they were filming Forrest Gump here several years back it was supposed to be a summer's day. They had everyone out by the Lincoln Memorial with shorts and t-shirts and hippie-dippe tie-dyes. There was only one problem - it was FREEZING. People's legs were turning pink. They were shivering. It was not good for the shot. Eventually they changed things so people would not catch pneumonia.

With the so-called "wintry mix" forecast for Saturday along with winds out of the Northeast at about 25 MPH, the chill will make hiding in a darkened pub with a glass of warm Guinness much more favorable to standing in the rain-snow-ice holding a homemade sign.

It will also test how much they believe in what they are protesting and how much it is just something to do because their friends are doing it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

As the warmth returns ....

Daffodil by Dbyrd
daffodil CU
Originally uploaded by byrdmn2.
one of the sure signs that Spring is right around the corner is the daffodils in DC. This year they are very welcome. February was quite bitter (even though I did manage to escape the cold for some of the time). Even this week temperatures were in the single digits at night and it seemed like everything was hard frozen. It made you want to draw your head inside your parka like a turtle going into his shell.

But not today, thank God.

Today the temperature is in the 60s in DC, and the flowers - and the tourists - are beginning to return. We had the whole Scooter Libby BS trial and talk of Bush pardoning him and Newt Gingrich admitting an affair and all the other inside the beltway crap that occupies the pundits.

But the flowers don't care at all. Neither do the birds. It doesn't matter to them that the time change is two weeks early or that Bush is in South America or that the Beltway Madam is threatening to sell her phone list.

Nope. All they care about is sunshine, water, and maybe a little mulch and horse manure.

Jesus said we are not supposed to worry about our clothes, because God will care for us. In Matthew, Jesus said to consider the lilies of the field - they neither toil nor spin, but even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like them. And then he asks "if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"
a Crocus at the Smithsonian
Hmmmmmm. An interesting thought. Some of us seem to think that we have to earn God's kindness. Oh, we might not say that openly; we will mouth the right words, but deep in our hearts, we're afraid. We're afraid that maybe God is really angry at us after all. That he won't take as good care of us as he does the grass and the birds. That he will let us fall into destruction.

Our culture places a big emphasis on performance - a person's value is determined by what they do, not who they are. It's insidious - it happens in commericals, in radio and television, on the Internet, etc.

But God's evaluation of us is based on Jesus' righteousness. The performance bill has been paid - by Christ, because we could not pay it and because of His great love for us. To think that our deeds could somehow earn God's favor is foolish; if that were the case we are all destined for hell. But we can be as righteous as Jesus by accepting - putting our trust in - what He has done for us.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

One last blast

snow tree
Originally uploaded by byrdmn2.
of winter. This shot was actually last year, but this morning (Thursday March 8, 2007) my yard looked pretty much the same.

So I slogged out into the single-digit cold (they actually said it was five degrees in Manassas!) and got to the train in time to get to work.

I can't wait for the warmer weather to get here. The temperature is supposed to rise this weekend.

I started doing TV at VOA this week. Not permanently, but on an ad-hoc basis. Also the big kahuna got promoted to an even bigger kahuna and now the whole state of things is in an even bigger state of FUBAR.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBut I did get to see Tiger Woods live this week. He served to remind me that golf season is underway and that soon the trees will look like this.

Hurry the day.

Friday, March 02, 2007

This is not a thaw ...

Tiger Swallowtail
Originally uploaded by byrdmn2.
this is Spring! It's almost time for the butterflies to come back. After a cold month of February, today it's almost 60 degrees in Washington (on Friday march 2, 2007).

The buds on the Cherry Blossum trees near the tidal basin and the Washington Monument are swelling and the first of the daffodils are poking their pointy heads out of the now unfrozen ground.

It is good to feel the warmth return to the earth. It feels like life if being breathed back into the creation. Fall is beautiful with its plethora of colors and winter even has a certain attraction with its long nights and clear views of the stars at night.

But I have had enough Winter. Time for the Old Man to go back in his hole for another eight months. Let the life return.

10 My lover spoke and said to me, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. 11 See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. 12 Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. 13 The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me." (Song of Songs 2:10-13)