Archive for January, 2005

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Book Lovers’ Paradise

January 27, 2005

There are those who like books, others who find them useful, and those who look upon them as a necessary evil, but an annoyance. Ecclesiastes reminds us that “of the making of books, there is no end”. That was written 2,700 years ago, so obviously the more things change, the more they remain the same. But there is a special breed of people who love books – also known as bibliophiles.

Here at “Open the Gates” we definitely fall into the last category. If you are in any of the other categories and feel like upgrading, we want to highlight some of the great online spots that will help you with your growing interest.

Now with the obvious ones. The following sites are places to buy books that are in your average bookstore:

Amazon (www.amazon.com)

Barnes and Noble (www.bn.com)

Borders (www.borders.com)

But, perhaps you don’t want to buy any new books. Used ones are available at so many different places. My favorite is Abe books (www.abebooks.com)

Abe Books hosts thousands of used book stores all on one site. All you have to do is type in the name or author or both and it automatically checks the inventory of all these stores. I recently found a textbook I needed valued at close to $100 for less than $5. It came in four days.

Amazon.com and Half.com are also sites where you can get used books at cheaper prices.

For those readers who live in Sacramento, the public library is often overlooked. Or if not overlooked, then most people use it poorly. I have gone down to the Library only to find that the book I want is gone. The best way to do it is to go to www.saclibrary.org. The full library catalog is at that site.

There are a number of sites that tell us about books and which new ones are best to read. My favorite places are:

Arts and Literature Daily (a site that is dedicated to the arts and is updated daily).

New York Times Book Review (requires that you register at their site).

That should get you upgraded to a more bibliophile approach.

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Jaci Schneider Sees it

January 26, 2005

Following up on the previous article is this one from an “on-the-scene” reporter.

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Tsunami Exploitation Efforts

January 26, 2005

In this week’s roundup of Christian blogs and articles, I found this news from the front lines of the Tsunami relief effort. As was spoken in last Sunday’s message, sometimes it is easy to get discouraged about man’s inhumanity to man. But God is still on the throne, even if mankind doesn’t act like God exists.

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Not Spongebob!?

January 26, 2005

Dear Dr. D. has overstepped the bounds of decency and plumbed the sordid depths of Bikini Bottom. I refer, of course, to the hideout of that lascivious demon of the watery deep – Spongebob Squarepants. Yes, the defender of the faith, James Dobson has determined that the cartoon with the parallel pants is the new destroyer of moral values.

Read this assessment and weep. Don’t we have real problems to deal with? Aren’t there dilemmas of the flesh-and-blood type to take on that don’t include excoriating the toons? Apparently we’ve cleaned them all up.

We’re starting a “Free Spongebob” movement. Who’s willing to make the t-shirts?

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Comments Please!

January 26, 2005

Dear Readers of this Blog:

We surpass the 1,000 visit mark almost every week now, and even accounting for the seven or so times I post, that leaves at least 993 times that others read this spot. One reader commented to me that she sees so few comments left by readers. Why is that? she queried. I assume that most reading this blog do so for the entertainment and educational value and not as a forum to spend time responding to. But some of the greatest things we learn come from interaction with others who have different opinions.

Opine away and post those comments. It is painless, even if we, or someone else, disagree.

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Meet a Liberal Evangelical

January 25, 2005

This is a horse of a different stripe: and I don’t mean the idiotic movie that just came out. This man, Jim Wallis, employs his Christian faith and beliefs and comes to the same conclusions as most other Christians on moral values. But he does not agree with how America’s Conservative swing is handling the poor, the downtrodden and other countries.

Read his reasoning and the movement he heads in this article.

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Someone Should be like Ike

January 25, 2005

One favorite target of historians is President Eisenhower. Though he has never been listed by anyone as a great President, Pat Buchanan has some hard evidence to suggest that by accomplishing what he did he made America a great nation. Read his comments in this article. Here is a sample of what he has to say:

He built up U.S. armed forces to where we were invincible. When the Hungarian Revolution erupted, Ike refused to send troops beyond the bridge at Andau. America stayed out, and the revolution was snuffed out by Soviet tanks. But there was no war between America and the Soviet Union.

When the British, French and Israelis launched an invasion to retake Suez from Nasser, who had nationalized it, Ike ordered the Brits and French out, threatened to sink the pound if Prime Minister Eden balked, told Israel’s David Ben-Gurion to get out of Sinai or face the wrath of the man who had commanded D-Day. All obeyed.

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Bowling for Hypocrisy

January 20, 2005

Does anyone see anything just slightly out of line with this article:

NEW YORK — Filmmaker Michael Moore’s (search) bodyguard was arrested for carrying an unlicensed weapon in New York’s JFK airport Wednesday night.

Police took Patrick Burke, who says Moore employs him, into custody after he declared he was carrying a firearm at a ticket counter. Burke is licensed to carry a firearm in Florida and California, but not in New York. Burke was taken to Queens central booking and could potentially be charged with a felony for the incident.

Moore’s 2003 Oscar-winning film “Bowling for Columbine” criticizes what Moore calls America’s “culture of fear” and its obsession with guns.

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No One Versus Wade

January 18, 2005

The famous “Roe” of the Supreme Court landmark decision, wants her case vacated. In legal terms, this means she wants to have the case itself, and the implications of its conclusions disregarded from now on. You can read her reasoning in this Fox News Report.

Even if the Supreme Court does so, it can still allow someone else to file a lawsuit on the same merits as the original case. It can also allow the laws which came out of that lawsuit, and which are based upon its arguments, to stand, which effectively means that nothing will really change for the time being.

What is fascinating is that this woman was used as a pawn in a legal machine and knows now that she is made the fool. It reminds me of many cases where the people involved in the lawsuit are made to feel less important than the publicity that surrounds it. Think of the little girl in Sacramento whose father wanted to use her as the basis to have the words “one nation under God” stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance.

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The Watercooler Revisited

January 18, 2005

A few weeks ago, we noted that there would be much discussion at the “water cooler” about America’s apparent stinginess at giving to the Tsunami relief funds. But, it seems now a different discussion is circling the klatches, one that is much more meaningful and has a better history.

What caused the Tsunami? Enlightenment, science-oriented people say “a subduction of this planet’s plates”. That’s not what people are asking. Disasters of this magnitude cause people to seek deeper meanings. And not everyone is as intuitive as you might think. We want answers in cataclysm, and we want to make some sense of this world. Maybe even we want someone to blame.

This article in the NY Times addresses why this is happening. Note that the author does not lean kindly in a Christian direction (calling us “those who see the Apocalypse in every disaster). But he does have the situation rightly analyzed, so you may want to read it. (Also, be aware that you must sign up for the NYTimes online in order to read this article. But, for now, signup is free).

The upshot of it all is this: People want moral absolutes and moral cause and effect, and if there isn’t any obvious connections to moral meanings, we will search until we find one.

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