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A Year of STUPID COVID

That is what we call it in the office here at church. Stupid COVID.

Today (March 11) seems to be the day we as a nation are marking the one year awareness of C-19. As a caveat, I would like to say I distinctly remember being aware of it by late January and all through February. I think what we are remembering is when people recognized how serious it was with the cancellation of NBA games and the public announcement that Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive for COVID-19.

I know when I took it seriously — it was March 4 when Sony MGM announced they were postponing the release of No Time To Die, the newest James Bond film and probably Daniel Craig’s last turn as 007. I remember my thought process very clearly — studios are designed to make money, and if they see the risk of releasing it in April then this must be quite the problem. The second real stand-up moment for me was March 13 when the NCAA announced it was cancelling the annual basketball tournament. March Madness is a huge money maker for these colleges. Cancelling it was serious. The best way to judge what people really think and feel is to follow the money. These two cancellations were demonstrable that people were afraid enough to throw money away.

At present, a year down the line, I am very optimistic about the future. It seems like the vaccines are working. Case numbers are down. People are rolling up their sleeves. I am very hopeful that by May or June we can be back to something like normal.

Since everyone else is dong it, let me make some observations about the past year.

  1. I am very impressed with the vast majority of Americans in general, people in my community in specific, and our church in the extreme. Most of us have gone above and beyond to help others, to take precautions, and to support the decisions that needed to be made.
  2. At the same time, the number of people who flippantly put other people’s health in jeopardy and show no concern for their neighbor disgusts me. COVID-19 has showed us who people really are and what they value.
  3. The pandemic has already changed us and how we interact. I’m pretty sure for the rest of my life when I fly or am in a crowded space, I will put on a mask. I know it has changed government and our expectations of it. It has also changed church. I don’t know if we will ever be completely comfortable in a potluck or really crowded classrooms ever again.
  4. Let me speak about that government business for a second. For a variety of reasons, the pandemic demonstrated we were not ready for it. It was humbling for our nation, which is okay. Pride is a sin, and recognizing weaknesses is an important part of growth. My fear is there will be an overreaction in the other direction which will be too much reliance upon government to solve every personal issue. Wisdom will find that sweet spot of competency and preparedness.
  5. Still on the government bit — I fully support the COVID relief bill which just passed through Congress. However, we need to start thinking right now of how we are going to pay for it. My recommendation is we tax hard and fast the tech industry, particularly digital communications. These were the platforms that made a killing during COVID-19 because we all had to use their products. While restaurants and airlines and cruise ships and cinemas and concerts were closed Amazon was making mad bank. We should tax them specifically for recovery. After that, something like a 1% added income tax for everyone until the national debt is paid. That’s my big idea.
  6. The most valuable workers in our nation are medical workers, grocery store workers, truck drivers, childcare/education workers, and of course police officers. When the pandemic hit, these were the people we needed the most to keep us fed, supplied, and safe. How many parents now realize the work their school does for their children? All of us, I bet. I would like for our pay structures to reflect this. I’m not against athletes, entertainers, and CEO’s making as much money as they can negotiate for, but I am against the pathetic salary structure of people we so desperately need. We will have the money to do this, because pent up demand is going to set the worldwide economy on soaring heights. Soaring.
  7. Our church faired very well through this and I adamantly believe our church is the greatest church in the world. We took a super-cautious approach from the beginning. Nevertheless, I will freely admit it has been the hardest year of ministry I have ever experienced. It has taken a toll on my soul. Some of it is the amount of work we had to do to reinvent almost everything we did in order to maintain ministry, but most of it is the very negative, hateful, and personal attacks people have made. The number of people who have hurt me is very small, but the cuts are deep because they are relational.
  8. As to church in general, I think the church in American, at least, coming out of this will be smaller, poorer, but stronger. Some people who got out of the habit or who have filled the gap with other things, will never come back. Some folks who are angry at cautious protocols will stop giving. That’s okay, but the Lord is always using the ebb and flow of life to separate the wheat and the chaff.
  9. I am thankful for Zoom and Facebook Live because it has helped us stay in touch and connected. However, we have learned in the pandemic that remote learning and digital classrooms are a poor substitute for in-person instruction. This is true of schools and churches where learning is key. My perception is these technologies will be helpful in the business world because transformation and learning is not the goal, but information exchanges.
  10. Many people who learned to work from home will never return full-time to an office environment. Many people who used to travel for work will see their travel diminished as they’ve learned to do it from home via conference call. This will change the workplace and our culture, particularly parenting. What we have to do is remember that until the modern world, this was normal. Everyone worked from home before the Industrial Revolution.
  11. We are not out of this yet. In Texas, 202 people died yesterday from COVID-19 and 1,477 in the United States. We need to keep vigilance until we have the necessary 70-80% of the population vaccinated. That means masks, distance, hand sanitizer, and caution until at least mid-April. The weather here is getting better, so we are moving our worship services outside again in two weeks. Why? Because it is safer. Ignore the politicians and instead remember the words of Jesus and love your neighbor. Don’t be selfish and don’t give into the fatigue. Now is the time to stay vigilant. Don’t be afraid, but exercise love and self-control.

Roger Moore, Peace, Rest In

Rest in peace, Roger Moore.

The sad part of modern life is we mourn the loss of celebrities, but we really don’t know them as people. We only know them as their character. Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia. Leonard Nimoy is Spock. Robin Williams is . . . everything.Unknown

It is not disrespectful, therefore, to remember the passing of a beloved icon with a tip of the hat to the work they did. As such, I am certain family and friends of Roger Moore will mourn him the way I hope to be mourned when my time comes. But I, I will mourn him by remembering him as Bond. James Bond.

Moore’s Bond was different than Sean Connery’s. Connery was tough first, slick second. Connery and Daniel Craig play Bond more like Fleming wrote him. Moore reinvented the character as a happy-go-lucky kind of guy who enjoyed wisecracks and managed to do his job as a side-effect of his good time. He fit the 1970s, and his Bond was goofier, but far more playful. His bond was more sexual, carefree, and smiled. Moore wore the tuxedo better, but looked out of place in a fist fight. He could sell a scene with his eyes, and in so doing invite the audience in on a little escapism.

On that note, here are his turns as Bond from best to worst, in my personal opinion.

  1. Live and Let Die–His first movie was his best. Trains. Sharks. Crocodile farms. Exploding people. New York City. Jane Seymour.  An espresso machine. Paul McCartney. Perfect.
  2. The Spy Who Loved Me–The underwater car was brilliant. The submarine scenes were a little forced, but who cares.
  3. The Man With The Golden Gun–The film drags a little, but fun none the less. Moore is over-the-top Bond in this one.
  4. A View To A Kill–Horrible movie, but loads of fun. Moore was too old to play Bond at this point, but Christopher Walken as the bad guy was inspired. Let’s just forget about the Beach Boys in the opening escapade, but the Duran Duran theme song more than makes up for that. High Duran Duran coolness factor. (Click Here for more Duran Duran)
  5. Moonraker–The Bond book by this same name is one of my favorites. The movie was cheesy and beyond bad, however Moore makes it so much fun with his witty banter and the fun in Rio.
  6. For Your Eyes Only–Honestly, Moore feels a little stale in this film. Only the scenery of Greece saves it from complete and total failure. The plot is intricate, but all the actors are beyond bad.
  7. Octopussy–I hate this movie. The Tarzan yell is inexplicable. The Fleming short story by the same title is fascinating and spectacular. This movie is a terrible mashup of several Fleming plots and none of them work. But Roger Moore gambling and making his getaway through the streets of India is enjoyable and reminds us of why even as the worst, of the Moore films, it is still a good evening.

QUESTIONS ABOUT APPLE VS FBI

I am not a legal expert. I am not a tech expert. Pluapple-vs-fbi-4th-amendments, the ‘facts’ of Apple versus the FBI keep changing ever few hours. That given, I have some questions.

  1. I get the fact about liberty–I value highly individual liberty–but when a court orders it, doesn’t that mean due process has taken place?
  2. People might be over-reacting to Apple’s refusal. Isn’t it possible they are appealing in order to take this all the way up the chain of appeals to get a final answer.
  3. Why is this public? I always assumed that covert operations were supposed to be, well, covert.
  4. On the same topic, why does our FBI and Homeland Security not have the kind of resources to take care of this in-house? Don’t most of you assume that the FBI should have people who can hack an iPhone?
  5. Again, related still, did the FBI think to ask a sixteen-year-old girl? I bet she can figure it out.
  6. What do you think Steve Jobs would do? I just watched the Steve Jobs movie (not a very good movie, but an interesting look at Jobs) and I think he would drive up right to the White House and demand to talk to President Obama about this. Second thought, he would have POTUS come to him.
  7. Who is picking this fight–the U.S. Government or Tim Cook?
  8. How do you think this would play out in the media if a Republican were president right now? Yeah, I thought so too.
  9. Does it bother anyone else that ISIS terrorists find the sleek design and friendly user interface of Apple products as irresistible as I do? What does that say about me?
  10. Couldn’t we solve this just by calling James Bond and having Q work on it? But which Q?

 

 

images from memory-alpha.wikia.com, smithsonianmag.com, telegraph.co.uk, and photographyisnotacrime.com

LUKE SKWALKER VERSUS SPOCK

Its ridiculous.

I know that, so don’t point it out and indulge me.

I was wearing one of my favorite Christmas presents this week, which is a black t-shirt with LLAP on it. Of course, LLAP is short for the Vulcan greeting and salutation, “Live long and prosper.”

Somehow in the course of the day, I began to think about who I would rather have in a pinch–a Jedi or Spock?

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In my honest opinion, Luke Skywalker is the greatest of the Jedi because he defeated Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and only had about forty five minutes of training from Yoda to learn everything. There might be other, greater Vulcans than Spock, but he is the one I know the most about, and he is the only Vulcan who has the coolness factor.

Just to clarify, when I say Spock, I mean Leonard Nimoy as Spock.

So, Luke Skywalker and Spock are in a pitched battle against each other for survival. Who do you got?

I got Spock. I think if they were at odds with each other, Spock would win nine times out of ten. Here is why.

  1. Jedi are stupid. Their abilities make them intellectually lazy. That is the only explanation I have for why they didn’t spot Palpaltine as Sith, or why Yoda and Kenobi didn’t both go after Palpatine together, then Vader.  Why divide up like that? Oh, I know, stupid.
  2. It might take time, but Spock would invent some kind of device that would neutralize Skywalker’s lightsaber.
  3. Do you think Jedi mind tricks would work on Spock. Of course not.
  4. Vulcans have their own paranormal mumbo jumbo going for them, which would offset some of Luke’s Jedi powers. Spock did one time mind meld with a brick, remember?
  5. In a world with Jedi, Spock would have a blood sample with midi-chlorians, find a way to kill them, and thus end Skywalker’s powers. He could defeat Skywalker without having to kill him.
  6. Spock would dodge one slash of the lightsaber, then put a Vulcan nerve pinch on Luke. Game. Set. Match.

I’m sure I missed something, but I think Spock would make quick work of the Jedi master. Now, give me some time to think about James Bond versus Harry Potter.