Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Just up the street from me, there's a neighborhood beauty salon. Nothing special
about it. Except for a sign that used to be in the front window, until the sun faded it to invisibility. "Want to be sexy?", it asked. "Then come in and get a sexy haircut!" Below that, the phrase that gave the title to this post: "Miracles Happen Daily!" And you know what? They do.
I try not to get involved in what one person or another chooses to believe. Strictly speaking, as a Christian I should be trying to induce anyone who isn't to join up. But I also believe the best way to encourage others to consider your belief system is to be a good example to the world. Then, if someone asks questions, feel free to answer. So, to those who don't believe in a Supreme Being as the cause of miracles, look on the following as a few observations [based on true stories] on how "miracles" happen daily. If you do happen to believe in a Supreme Being, that's o.k., too.
A planeload of people survives a water landing in the middle of Winter. A still-alive person is found in a collapsed building after an earthquake. A man goes over a powerful waterfall with no protective devices, and lives to tell his story. The big miracles still happen, contrary to many peoples' belief. The big ones fascinate us, force us to wonder how what we consider "impossible" can be, leave us puzzling over their significance in our world and our life. But, just as true fans of stage magic prefer the small tricks that can be done on a table-top to larger illusions, many fans of miracles relish the small wonders that happen, well, daily.
Consider Mark Tondreault, of Florida; in two years, he survived a lifetime's worth of illness, emergency surgery, and excruciating recovery. By no means is the story over; Tondreault faces still more therapy. But he's grateful for a "second shot at life". Now, the non-Supreme Being-ists reading this are certainly thinking that Tondreault should be more grateful to his surgeons [and a few in the other camp are probably puzzled that an "SB" would choose to intervene in the life or death of an admitted alcoholic, whose drinking was certainly responsible for some of his illness]. For what it's worth, I agree that Tondreault's medical team deserves credit for his continued survival. For that matter, Tondreault has a strong sense of survival that certainly helps. But, in the face of the "impossible" [or, at the very least, the extremely unlikely], the "M" word certainly comes to mind, either in its traditional or colloquial usage.
Then there are the "random acts of kindness" that turn out spectacularly well. Take Matt Steven. A blind kid takes his team's free throws during a CYO tournament. And winning the championship with one. There's a lot going on here: let's follow the chain slowly, so we don't miss anything. First, Steven's brother taking him along to practice. Then, encouraging his free throw shooting, so he'd practice, and make such a situation possible. Steven's being allowed to travel with the team. The team making arrangements to allow him to take its free throws, not only with the referees, but every other team in the tourney. The other teams agreeing to the arrangement. The fans in attendance, for not sabotaging the situation [remember, people tapping on their seats, or making it impossible for Steven to hear his aural cues from the backboard, would have ended the experiment before it began].I'm probably leaving a link or two out, but you get the idea.
Miracles. They do happen daily. And not just in beauty salons.
Posted by Mike Riley at 1:00 AM
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Anything spectacular is probably propped up "behind the scenes" , one way or another. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" is just good advice when you want to be dazzled. If you want to be dazzled by this post, ignore the next few sentences. I'll let you know when to look again.
The Reuters News Service is one of the world's largest news syndication companies. One of its most popular features is "Oddly Enough News" which, as the name implies, presents unusual, odd, or strange items in the news [the sort of thing that 90's talk-show host Arsenio Hall immortalized as , "Things that make you go, 'H'mmm'"]. Periodically, Reuters allows civilians like you or I to join an e-mail list that gets you each installment. For writers of "Humor" blogs [had you forgotten?], "Oddly Enough News" is a Godsend for inspiration, video, and, when needed, filler. Then again, why do you need filler, when a blogger with an average sense of humor [and I am nothing, if not a blogger with an average sense of humor] can ramble out a few "riffs" based on the original articles? Case in point [okay, eye-averters out there, get ready to be dazzled!]:
I don't know why, but it seems politics are a bit more "colorful" in Europe than here in the US. I'm not exactly sure why; maybe it's the beautiful backgrounds available to protest before [like the canal-based beef at right], or a multiplicity of cultural traditions giving our European friends more to protest about. Perhaps it's just a panache that comes from living in the Old World. In England, for instance, the Local Government Association has asked the powers-that-be in London to lay off 200 words or phrases that they claim, "muddy the communicative waters". Former PM Tony Blair referred to his nation's taxpayers as "stakeholders", according to an article from Reuters; more than a few of them had a fantasy about where to drive the stake. (I have to confess one bit of English Politico-jargon does hit home with me; namely, the term "cascading", referring to the act of sending an e-mail from layer to layer of government. It just sounds so picturesque!)See how easy it is to write a post item with a bit of inspiration? But I'm not done yet...
In Italy, meantime, stars of the adult film industry frequently take notable "legitimate" roles in politics. A decade or so ago, a major star of such films ran for, was elected, and served at least one term in Italy's Parliament. And earlier this week current porn star Laura Perego [left] stripped to her panties in Milan's stock exchange, in what was termed a "protest" against the world-wide economic crisis. Ms. Perego, who also chose to wear a painted-on Italian flag to demonstrate her concerns with national issues, was quoted as shouting "Italy is down to its underpants!", before being taken away by police. Now why is it that America's "dirty movie" stars can't seem to be bother to speak out?
In France, on the other hand, worries over finances have taken a huge bite out of, well, so I don't scandalise anyone, let's call it the "marital aid" industry [and no, I'm not talking about rebate checks for France's married population]. This goes against everything I've ever believed about such times; I would have thought S-E-X was one of the few things most people could afford to do.
Changing gears, Japan is taking a typically high-tech approach to the high cost of supermodels; a Japanese firm has invented a robot mannequin, capable of walking, posing, and strutting its gear-driven "stuff": [the robot supermodel actually does a couple of things; it saves untold millions in modelling fees, and it fills the slot in the list of World Famous Supermodels reserved for Japan (seriously: has there ever been a Japanese, or even Asian supermodel that found success outside her home region?). At least as graceful as a drugged Kate Moss [and more coherent], the Robo-Model looks like a win-win all around. Domo arigato, dear Ms. Robato!
You don't need to make good humor up. Just read your local newspaper [or news feed].