Monday, February 25, 2013

Tamny: Congratulations To Ben Affleck, Hollywoods Greatest Failure


WE LIVE IN A WORLD OF BAILOUTS FROM BIRTH TO CRADLE. If it's not one nanny to cover our failures, it's another. It's why the federal government totters on the brink of bankruptcy, if not collapse, and why our world often seems to never learn from its and our mistakes.

Enter the intrepid John Tamny this morning to recapture the magic of failure and how it can often lead to success beyond our wildest dreams---if we allow it to run its course. Our world would be a better place if we and our obese government spenders would learn failure is not a dirty word. Hope you enjoy this great piece on how the world really works:

In a television interview from last December, Barbara Walters asked the wildly talented actor, screenwriter and director Ben Affleck how today's Affleck would advise the one of yesteryear on how to navigate stardom. Implicit in Walters' question was the assumption that he would tell the Affleck of old to avoid the myriad errors that had reduced him to a Bentley driving, J-Lo dating, and bad script choosing joke.

As National Review's Ross Douthat put it about Affleck in a review from last November, after winning a screenwriting Oscar for Good Will Hunting, "Affleck spent the next decade embodying Hollywood as we wish it weren't. He starred in bad action movies, mediocre dramas, lousy comedies, and bloated Titanic wannabes. He made not one but two bad movies with Michael Bay...."

The brilliant Douthat was if anything easy on Affleck. Left out by him was the straight-to-video disaster Man About Town, the execrable Surviving Christmas, and then even when he re-teamed with a major talent in Kevin Smith, the end result was the painful to watch Jersey Girl.

So bad was his output that Gigli, though long-listed by filmdom's coroners as evidence of Affleck's death as an actor, was arguably not nearly as bad as the critics said. The problem for the wildly overexposed Affleck of the early 2000s was that the attachment of his name to any project was the equivalent of admitting in advance near certain box-office death.

Back to Walters' question, rather than answer as most might have expected, that he would steer the living, breathing definition of career suicide away from all manner of bad scripts and embarrassing tabloid covers, Affleck essentially said that his failures made him, that he wouldn't change much of anything, that failure is ultimately the best teacher of all. Affleck's answer was correct. Fast forward to the present, and after a string of best picture and best director wins amid an award season that has brought us to Oscar night, Ben Affleck scored the biggest win of all with Argo's Academy Award Best Picture nod.

Very strangely Affleck wasn't nominated for Best Director, but Argo's win points to a great talent in Affleck having revived his career in such a way that even his most ardent critics must be clapping. Affleck's amazing story of redemption speaks to the beauty of letting failures run their course.

Indeed, what a shame if Affleck's various career (and some would say, personal) errors had been cushioned, or bailed out as our political class so often does for banks, businesses and individuals.

If so, as in if the clapping had continued even as Affleck continued to participate in financial and critical duds, it's easy to make the case that he would not presently be the toast of Hollywood for having directed 2012's best picture. That's the case because the bailing out of failure serves to perpetuate the very actions that lead to failure in the first place. Affleck's certain blessing was that each career decision in the new millennium regularly brought new meaning to the term "box office poison."

Affleck was allowed to reach straight-to-video bottom, but the end result was a very happy one. Though it's fair to presume that Affleck long had designs on becoming a director (George Clooney once referred to acting as "paint" versus the truly difficult work that comes with being a director) even before his various big screen acting mistakes, the fact that the movies he acted in were less and less bankable surely played a role in his re-invention as a director. In 2007 Affleck helmed the critically acclaimed Gone Baby Gone, in 2010 he directed (this writer feels the story was unrealistic) The Town to similar good notice, and then 2012 brought the release of Argo such that Affleck's career revival was complete.

Allowing once again for the near certainty that Affleck would have eventually directed films either way, it's not mere speculation to suggest that his decline as an actor sped up his desire to reinvent himself as a director. And when we consider the harsh treatment he received from the media amid his tabloid joke phase, it's fair to similarly speculate that the aforementioned press he received greatly boosted his focus as he sought to prove his countless critics wrong. Considering failure in the perhaps more broad commercial sense, bailouts of businesses and individuals aren't just cruel for them taking place on the backs of the prudent who are forced to pay for the mistakes of others, they're most cruel for robbing the recipients of same of the certain teacher that is failure.

 Simply put, without failure there is no success; failure merely a harsh word for the experience we all seek in our constant drive for self-improvement.

In short, the bailouts of 2008 and beyond didn't just cost all of us in simple dollars, they also robbed us of a much greater economic recovery for those who erred not learning from their mistakes on the way to fixing them, not to mention poorly run companies built on bad ideas not being stripped of horrid management so that they could be run better, and employ more people. As evidenced by the numerous awards Argo has received, Affleck has happily proved his critics wrong in his path back to the top of Hollywood's pyramid.

Affleck would still be rich and comfortable had he not been allowed to sink to the depths of Hollywood jokedom, but thank goodness his very public fall wasn't cushioned. Yes, he'd still be Ben Affleck, but he would arguably not be "Ben Affleck, director of Best Picture winner Argo."
Amen John.  The key is learning from our failures and at some point not repeating them to as great an extent. Bailouts beget more bailouts beget more bailouts.

When will our government ever learn from the Ben Affleck's of the world?

Sunday, February 24, 2013



Please note: Several weeks ago, I began a new and very challenging work project. It has involved me being away from this blog, out of the city and offline a lot more than usual. I have no idea what the future will bring as I balance this new addition to my schedule, but don't think it will preclude my writing here some, even if not as much as possible. I give thanks to God that I have something new that captures my interest to such an extent.  It's all Grace.

Thanks for coming by.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

For Most Women, Biden Is Correct---Buy A Shotgun (and Know How To Use It!)

I REALLY HATE TO ADMIT IT, but Joe is right on this one: If you're a woman who  wants to defend yourself,  buy a shotgun or a little Smith and Wesson pistol.  I have both.  Forget the high capacity AK and AR nonsense with far too much power to decimate the neighborhood and blow out your eardrums, and just go with a shotgun and let the fun begin.

No one messes with a woman for long that they think has a gun and knows how to use it. Might use it on them.

My father taught me decades ago: never pick up a gun unless you're damn well willing to use it right then and there.  If you're ambivalent, then don't pick it up.  I took his wise words to heart.

Long, long ago, I was about to be invaded late one night by a crazed man who knew I was at our river house alone. I heard his footsteps coming closer to my open, screened window in the pitch black dark of a hot summer night. I was almost asleep.

In a split second I heard his footsteps and knew what I had to do:  He was outside, could I kill him? 

I jumped out of bed, grabbed my gun.   I screamed in the dark and started loudly banging some drawers:  I know you're out there!  If you come any further I will kill you!

I said loud and clear I would kill him,  not just shoot him, but kill him.

There was a moment of silence after I screamed. Then he ran like hell.

Joe's right. It doesn't take a high powered assault weapon.  All it takes is a determined woman with a pistol or a shotgun who is willing to use it. Most men  are terrified of a woman with a gun and do not want to be on the wrong end of her barrel . Or double barrel.

If you don't believe me,  just go  ask the sheriff.

Monday, February 18, 2013

All Presidents Are Not Created Equal : George Washington & Religious Liberty

A GOOD PIECE TODAY AT THE FOUNDRY on how George Washington viewed and supported religious freedom in our country's populace contrasted with the way Barack Obama barely tolerates it, acting as if it's an affront and distraction today to the way the country needs to be run  by big government. Whereas President Washington saw the exercise of religion as a fundamental ingredient to moral behavior and a responsible citizenry based on  our founding principles,  President Obama (dis)regards religious freedom as a necessary evil and grundgingly relegates it be narrowly defined by bureaucrats:
All Presidents can learn from Washington’s leadership in foreign policy, in upholding the rule of law, and—especially now—in the importance of religion and religious liberty. While the Obama Administration claims to be “accommodating” Americans’ religious freedom concerns regarding the Health and Human Services (HHS) Obamacare mandate, it is actually trampling religious freedom. President Washington set a tremendous example for the way that Presidents should handle such conflicts. Washington knew that religion and morality are essential to creating the conditions for decent politics. “Where,” Washington asked, “is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?” Religion and morality are, Washington wrote, essential to the happiness of mankind: “A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.”
Religious freedoms and moral choices are fundamental to our way of life. We are losing these to big government dictating what we can and cannot believe in, no matter what our conscience dictates. God help us all.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Final Excerpt: Misrepresentations of the Gospel And Bearing Fruits Worthy of Repentance

SIN LURKS IN OUR HEART AND GRABS US BY THE THROAT TO DO ITS BIDDING. Remember what God said to Cain about his sin? Sin lies at the door And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. (Gen. 4:6) In accepting misrepresentations of the Gospel that render sin anything less than this, you will never learn of the fruit of repentance. The Apostle Paul defines his post-conversion life simply: in Christ he now does works befitting repentance. (Acts 26:20) This idea that we repent and we serve is also reflected in the words of the last of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, who prepares the way of the Lord by warning the religious people of his day, Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand! (Matt. 3:2) and after repenting to bear fruits worthy of repentance (Matt. 3:2)

And Jesus himself warns us against failing to count the costs of discipleship or of testing us in the faith, when he says, Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to me in the day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never know you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'(Matt. 7:21-23).

The Christian life is a life imbued with the supernatural power and authority of God. God is the God of salvation. We do not control God by saying magic words or attending church. Conversion is a heart-affair. Before we can come to Christ, we must empty ourselves of the false pride, blame-shifting, excuse making and self-deception that preoccupies our days and our relationships.

Before we can come to Christ, we must come to (fallen) ourselves.

After my conversion, every day and every part of the routine of my life was a faith test. I had formerly been the most popular teacher in gay and lesbian studies. I was already scheduled to teach for the fall semester Introduction fo Women's Studies and Feminist Pedagogy. I would have to follow through and teach these classes, but would have to find a way to teach them as a Christian. Who would take such courses? Who would now sign up for these once popular offerings?

----Rosaria Butterfield Champagne (pp. 36-37)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

CATO Responds To SOTU: Reality Verses Demagoguery


VERY WELL DONE LINE ITEM CRITIQUE OF MR. OBAMA'S SPEECH BY CATO EXPERTS.  Well worth watching, if you haven't already. Our president lives in a world of make-believe, where he thinks he  can defy the laws of gravity, not to mention the enumerations of the Constitution.  In the beginning, middle and end, it won't work and will only saddle taxpayers and the economy with greater burdens until the whole economic house of cards comes tumbling down.  And it will.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

V-Day Riddle


Know what it is?  Of course you do! Chocolate pumps which retail between $30-55. Story here. Being made by a chocolatier in Dallas. Where else!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Quick Grammys Fashion Review


Sadly can't say the same for either of the couples below. J Lo was showing way too much thigh--the Angelina look simply doesn't work for her and she verged on looking vulgar and very unfeminine.  Nicole had a bad wear day.  Keith's grunge shoes were an embarrassment to himself and the event.  No country music fashion statement justifies that look at an event where many man wore black ties.

Taylor---who has good fashion sense and style---looked sassy, glamorous and  not too over-exposed, as did Carrie----both Nashville girls......


The biggest disappointment was Adele who simply cannot carry off such a wide-angle large print number without going paleo for at least a year and leaving  the sugar,  wheat and clotted creme behind. Otherwise, she's got a beautiful face and gorgeous hair. Then there's that voice.

Below is one of the cutest outfits of the evening. Rihanna carries it off well!

Finally,  Chrissy and John looked well-matched on the red carpet. She managed to pull off the Angelina look better than Angelina herself.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday: Easy, No Cost Christian 'Believism' Verses The Extremely High Cost of True Conversion

CONTINUING EXCERPTING FROM ROSARIA CHAMPLAIN BUTTERFIELD'S BOOK on her unexpected, difficult conversion to Jesus Christ while a successfiul lesbian college English professor and the radical change (over an agonizing period of time) that followed.  Today she is married to a reformed Presbyterian pastor (a man) and lives in North Carolina:
Making a life commitment to Christ was not merely a philosophical shift.  It was not a one-step process.  It did not involve rearranging surface prejudices and fickle loyalties of my life.  Conversion didn't 'fit' my life; it overhauled my soul and personality.  It was arduous and intense. I experienced with great depth and power the authority of God in my life. In it I learned---and am still learning---how to love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind.  When you die to yourself, you have nothing from your past to use as clay out of which to shape your future.

Because conversion, in scripture and in my personal experience, is arduous and transformative,  I fear the consequence of the easy believism that typifies much of modern evangelical culture.  I live now in a neighborhood that often seems like the Disneyland of evangelical culture.  I have neighbors who are members of one of the big churches in our community.  Their church has a fast food restaurant (so no one gets hungry),  a well-known coffee chain (so no one gets sleepy or feels deprived of creature comforts), and a Moon bounce (so children will think God just wants you to have fun).  That same church organizes a church-sponsored pool (i.e. gambling pool) around the NCAA final four.

When we compare what we did at church, what we learned in Bible study and what we mean when we call ourselves followers of Christ,  our vocabulary may be the same, but the meaning behind the vocabulary is vastly different.  And when it comes down to how we parent our children, the differences are profound....These churches define themselves as purpose-driven and seeker-friendly.  And their annual budgets, as missionary friends pointed out to me, could feed all the AIDS orphans in Africa for years.  Just the Sunday morning doughnut budget would make a big dent in the problem of Third World poverty!

The purpose-driven movement makes conversion a simple matter of saying the magic words---a mantra that makes Jesus the Mr. Rogers of the conscience.  In his popular book, The Purpose Driven Life, author Rick Warren represents conversion in these words:  Jesus,  I believe in you and I receive you. (p. 59).  There is a pit of falsehood in placing our faith in our words rather than in God's compassion to receive sinners to himself.  Warren falsely (and dangerously) assures us of salvation.  He writes:  If you sincerely meant that prayer,  congratulations!  Welcome to the family of God! (p. 59) How do I judge my own sincerity?  The saving grace of salvation is located in a holy and electing God, and a sacrificing, suffering and obedient Savior.  Stakes this high can never rest on my sincerity.

When I read something like this (Warren's book)  I do not recognize Jesus, the Holy Bible, my conversion or myself at all.  Recently, on vacation in South Carolina, my husband and I went to a 'community church.'  My conservative Reformed Presbyterian pastor and husband noted when we got back to the hotel room that we had just witnessed a service that contained a baptism without water, preaching without scripture, conversation about disappointment and pithy observations about financial responsibility without prayer, the distribution of flowers and trinkets without grace, and a dismissal without a blessing.  Everyone was smiling though, when it came time to walk out the door.

This church's conversion prayer was printed in the bulletin.  It read like this:  Dear God, I'm sorry for my mistakes. Thanks for salvation.

These misrepresentations of the Gospel are dangerous and misleading.  Sin is not merely a mistake.  A mistake is taking the wrong exit on the highway. A sin is treason against a Holy God...

Rosaria Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert  (pp. 34-36)

To be continued......

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dr. Benjamin Carson Speaks His Un-PC Peace On Education, Obamacare & Taxes @ National Prayer Breakfast


IT'S ON DRUDGE AND NEEDS TO BE SEEN AND HEARD AGAIN AND AGAIN. So wise, so articulate and so worthy of being taken to heart. Let's hope our hard-headed, free-spending president was listening.

Being Un-PC today takes incredible courage to stand up and say what you believe in (in a civilized way), because the PC Nazis have perfected the art of massive intimidation and righteous indignation/ offense,threats of rejection and retaliation, shunning and outright slander if you don't see things their way. If we don't start having courage to stand our ground----even if there's not a shred of truth to it---we will lose this country.  And our First Amendment rights will be diluted beyond recognition.

Standing up, often standing alone and letting the chips fall where they may is one of life's most difficult and scary challenges.  But we have to do it just like Dr. Carson did here.

 May God help us to do it early, often and frequently.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Several Links Worth Passing On


I'VE BEEN LALLYGAGGING AROUND THIS WEEK in mangroves, along beaches and  rails-to-trails.  Weather wonderful though a bit cool for paddle boarding or swimming.  Nonetheless,  I'm starting to want to get out of the sun and back online to see what's going on in the world.

For starters here are a few pieces that have caught my eye and interest:

Stuart Schneiderman @ Had Enough Therapy? has a bullseye piece up Are Republicans Too Polite For Politics?  This piece needs to be read, reread, lived and breathed for the next few years. His points are well taken. Conservatives need some pit bulls who can take on elites with shock and awe. If we don't and soon, we'll all be migrating to Santiago, Chile.

Seems  I've read far too many stories lately of young people committing suicide while taking psychotropic drugs for attention deficit disorders---now being prescribed to kids at-the-drop-of-a-hat even above objections of their parents.  This story today in NYPOST of a woman in Manhattan jumping off the George Washington Bridge is the latest.  She certainly seemed to have a number of 'undealtwith issues' going on in her life.

However I have to question the growing automotic flight to drugs for any and every nouvelle fashionable diagnosis.  It seems if you're hyper, you might  be helped to cut down on sugar, wheat and caffeine and get regular exercise.  The  pathologizing of lack of discipline and bratty, entitled behavior followed by prescribing of long-term chemical quick-fixes is taking a heavy toll on society as we sadly see more suicides----almost unheard of in my generation---- and chronic unhinged and immature behavior.

Mark Perry @ Carpe Diem  finds unexpected innovative ways to make money---in his Markets In Everything genre.  Today Mark has found a humdinger in China:

Rent-a-Boyfriend in China: “Because so many Chinese live and work away from their native towns and villages, and travel home only once a year for the New Year holiday, the treasured family time is weighted with pressure to show what you’ve accomplished over the last 12 months. For many young women, showing up at home with a pleasant-looking, well-behaved boyfriend – even if your family never sees him again – is better than enduring two weeks of questions about why there’s no marriage or kids on the horizon.”

Well, the Chinese women can now rent boyfriends to take home for the holidays, see stories here, here (quoted above) and here. There are more than 300 boyfriend-rental services currently listed on the Chinese shopping website Taobao, here’s an example: “Boyfriend for rent, 300 yuan a day [$48], holding hands and hugs free, appropriate kisses 50 yuan, talking to old people 30 yuan an hour, others we’ll talk about it when we meet … Accommodation and transport costs paid by the woman.”
Perry also posted a YouTube of Ronald Reagan in 1961 speaking out against Obamacare--- regaling Americans on the dangers of socialized medicine and how it would lead us down the slippery slope of socialism and worse. Here's the clip if you're interested,

Wouldn't President Reagan be horrified and saddened today to know we've let the horse escape from the barn and it may be too late for closing it now?

Finally, over at National Review Online, an amazing story on the forward and insatiable march of 'progress.' Here we learn of Brown University's new policy of paying for students' sex change operations at college. Are you speechless yet at this brave new world we now find ourselves living in? I confess, I am.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Can Beyonce Still Cut It?


I ADMIT, I'M NOT A BIG BEYONCE FAN. Actually not even a little Beyonce fan.

In fact, last night I couldn't bear to watch her during half-time at the Super Bowl (and yes,  it wasn't a hard decision against Downton Abbey) because there was little doubt she'd be desperately over-compensating in her performance after all the criticism she got from lip-syncing at the presidential inauguration last month.

Evidently she did not disappoint in the over-the-top Las Vegas-style show she put on. Then the lights went out for twenty minutes. But it wasn't her fault, mind you. Nevermind that the power had blown twice during her rehersals last week. THIS power outage had nothing to do with the two previous ones.

Anyway, I was interested  to see a review today in The Telegraph on her comeback after taking a year's materity leave.  She's just reunited with Destiny's Child for a new Love Songs release and Neil McCormick reviews it asking is Beyonce is still the world's top diva?:
BeyoncĂ© is the kind of star who wants to please all of the people all of the time, an instinct that led her to mime rather than risk a bum note. That’s an impossible position to hold for long, and one that suggests a woman without real substance. She will have to do better than this to remain at the head of the pack.
Somehow, I can't see Beyonce at the top any more. It's like when the stock market peaks and every last non-participant finally piles in, but in truth, the party already ended and heading downhill.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Remi Adeleke: I Am Second


FOR SOME REASON I CAN'T EMBED REME'S TESTIMONY. Until and unless I find a way, I'll have to link to it here.

Next week, I hope to continue Rosaria Butterfield's book.


If we follow Christ, our bad things turn out for our good, our good things cannot be lost, and our best things are yet to come."

----Pastor Tim Keller

Saturday, February 2, 2013

News From the Ranch: Winter Edition


RANCH DAME SENT ME THIS YESTERDAY FROM JACKSON HOLE ON HER SMART PHONE. It's beautiful, yes, but I prefer to wait till early summer to go back. There sure isn't much snow there yet this winter which means most likely another bad fire year unless something changes drastically in the meantime. Still the beauty is always incomparable.

Weekend Matinee: Paperman


THIS SHORT LITTLE FILM IS UP FOR AN OSCAR THIS YEAR. Think you'll find it fetching as I do!

H/T Tim Challies

Friday, February 1, 2013

Times of India On Definition of Real Manhood

I COULDN'T AGREE MORE. Anything else is only make-believe.