It means "writings." I write things.

10:38 AM

Let me clarify

Posted by Brad Polley |

Seeing as how my latest post on advertising set of a firestorm, I feel like I need to clarify what I am trying to do with my posts on advertising.

I agree 100% that the problem isn't capitalism. Capitalism has its problems (as do all economic systems), but I don't think that we should up and go to over to socialism either. I believe that the problem is materialism and a "gotta have it now" culture that we live in. There are always deeper problems than what appear on the surface. One of the most brilliant aspects of Jesus' teachings is that he was always focusing on the deeper reasons behind things, and not just the surface stuff ("You've heard it said...but I tell you...").

My issue is that hardly anyone in our culture looks beneath the surface of anything anymore. Most people can't see past their noses because it would take too much time to do so. So what happens is that people fall for all sorts of crap, not realizing that their problem is much deeper than being gullible. My hope is that by calling out the tricks behind some of these advertising campaigns, people will wake up and see that they're being duped, thus stopping them from continuing down the path of materialism and greed. I understand and agree wholeheartedly that the problems are deeper than the advertising, but my hope is that by calling it out, people might just look a bit beyond the end of their noses.

9:05 AM

Token holiday greeting

Posted by Brad Polley |

Merry Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa. Peace to you and yours. May you gain many pounds, attain many things, and enjoy your day(s) off of work.

10:02 AM

The ole' best-of list

Posted by Brad Polley |

It's that time of year when numerous bloggers wrongly assume that anyone cares about their opinions, and they start putting out their best-of lists for the masses to ignore. And, seeing as how my post yesterday was apparently the equivalent of punching the baby Jesus in the face, I'll write something today a little more on the lighter side. Here's my list of the best albums I purchased this year. Keep in mind, most of these albums aren't technically new, but they were new to me. Also, these aren't in any sort of order.

1. Cease to Begin - Band of Horses
The lead singer is a mix of Perry Farrell and the dude from the Shins. The songs are quite beautiful as they speak of a longing for home and trying to call a new place "home."

2. Mutations - Beck
Mostly acoustic album by Beck. Great driving cd.

3. Hvarf/Heim - Sigur Ros (pronounced see-er rose)
This really might be my favorite band on the planet. They're Icelandic and they sing in Icelandic. There is not another band out there with the ability to make my breathing slow down (in a good way). This is a two-cd set of live stuff, the second album of which is acoustic.

4. The Shepherd's Dog - Iron and Wine
Iron and Wine's newest album. Absolutely great.

5. The Crane Wife - The Decemberists
I'm new to this band. I will own more of their stuff. You would swear upon first listen that they just walked off the streets of Dublin. However, they're from Portland.

6. Violence In the Snowy Fields - Dolorean
Just a nice, mellow album.

7. The Swell Season - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
Both from Dublin. Both awesome. If there is one album on this list that you absolutely should buy, it's this one.

8. American Recordings V: A Hundred Highways - Johnny Cash
Who would've thought that an album who's songs all deal with death could be so beautiful. This was recorded shortly after his wife's death and shortly before his own. His shaky voice will make you want to cry.

9. Live At Massey Hall 1971 - Neil Young
Just Neil with his guitar and piano. In my opinion, Neil at his best.

10. Icky Thump - The White Stripes
They go back to their roots, but with more maturity. And yes, Meg is terrible drummer, but they wouldn't be this good if she was amazing. Jack's vocals and guitar are the main focus, so back off of poor Meg. I'm constantly amazed at the amount of sound they put out with just two people.

12. Sky Blue Sky - Wilco
These guys are also in the running for my favorite band. This album has less "experimental" qualities to it, it's more straightforward that some of their other stuff. It's just a great album to put in while driving to relax.

Honorable mention:
( ) - Sigur Ros
Takk - Sigur Ros
Agaetis Byrjun - Sigur Ros (are you starting to see how much I like this band?)
Kicking Television: Live in Chicago - Wilco
Chutes Too Narrow - The Shins
In the Reins - Iron and Wine with Calexico

9:51 AM

Adventures in advertising...part...ummmm...whatever

Posted by Brad Polley |

If you've read my blog at all, you know how I feel about advertising. Basically advertising sets out to lie or, at the very least, bend the truth in order to convince you that a turd is actually a diamond, thus causing you to spend money they you may or may not have in order to purchase said turd. I saw a credit card commercial the other day for a new American Express card that promised to put a fraction of the money you spend with the card into a savings account.

On the surface, this card looks like a great idea. Wow, I get to save money when I spend money. Keep in mind that credit card companies are the ultimate in evil (pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies running a close second) and their whole goal is to make a buck. So on the surface, it looks like American Express is losing money by offering this deal. They come out looking like great saviors because they are willing to sacrifice profit in order to help the good customer save money. Newsflash: It's a gigantic steaming pile of lies packaged in a tight coil and handed to you through your tv screen.

The idea behind it is that you use the card more than you normally would because hey, you're putting money in a savings account when you use, thue increasing their profits more and more. Every time you use a credit card, they collect a fee from the store where you use it. When you use the card more, their profits increase. The thing about it is that you continue to spend money that you probably don't have, with the illusion that you're actually saving money. The problem is that, in the long run, you're losing tons of money because you're spending more than you are saving. The small fraction of money that they deposit into an account will never offset the thousands of dollars that you spend to accrue that savings. The result? You sink deeper and deeper into debt, and you continue to line the collective pockets of American Express investors. Rest assured, someone is getting rich when you use one of these cards, but it sure isn't you.

10:56 AM

Holiday pictures of the boy

Posted by Brad Polley |

I thought that I would increase your feelings of mirth and good will in this lovely holiday season by giving you a few more installments in what I like to call the, "Cutest kid in the universe" series. We put our Christmas tree up the other night and this is a picture of him "helping" (and by "helping," I mean shoving ornaments into the tree and trying to pull the lights off)

And here's just some pictures of him being adorable. I know I say this all the time, but seriously, how can you deny his cuteness?

9:46 AM

"Now I'll be famous."

Posted by Brad Polley |

Having worked a 15 hour day yesterday, I pretty much just came home at 10:00 pm and went to sleep. I hadn't watched any news or anything and hadn't heard anything. This morning, I got to my office and started reading about a 19 year old kid who decided it would be a good idea to go into a mall and kill 9 people, and then himself. This is one of those stories that will continue to unfold, and people who knew him will start coming out of the woodwork to talk about different aspects of his life.

To this point, the only details they have are that he was just fired from his job at McDonald's, just lost his girlfriend, and had a criminal history of misdemeanors including drug use and alcohol possession. It is also known that he was kicked out of his parent's house and that he was living with a family that decided to take him in; a kind of foster situation.

He left a note which had these words printed, "Now I'll be famous." This seems to be a pattern I've seen in almost every "teen shooter" situation; a need to be recognized and acknowledged.

So where does this desire come from? I believe we all have an inate desire to belong to something larger than ourselves, and to be recognized as human. I think it's wired into us. I can almost guarantee that details will start coming out about his high school experience. He will probably be described by former classmates as "introverted," "weird," "quiet," and as being on the fringes. He was probably bullied, or at the very least marginalized.

In his mind (and maybe just in general) he was denied his basic human right, to be seen as human and worthy of love. His girlfriend broke up with him, he lost his job, his family kicked him out. I'm not saying that he had nothing to do with those things that happened, but look at that series of rejection. Every rejection leaves a wound.

Here's my question and a challenge to anyone reading this who claims to be part of the Church. Where was the Church in all of this? We sang an old song at my church this past Sunday called, "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love." One of the lines in that song states this, "We will guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride." In other words, we'll assure that every person is treated as a human being (and yes, I realize that the Church, by and large, sucks at this). Maybe all he needed was for someone to guard his dignity and save his pride. Who knows, maybe someone tried and he rejected it, I don't know. My guess, however, is that no one tried. It seems to me that no who feels connected and fully human is capable of doing something like this.

I'm filled with nothing but sadness for this kid. I feel sadness because I understand his need to be accepted and loved. I understand his need to be recognized as a person. I've been blessed enough to be surrounded by people who fulfill that need in me, he obviously wasn't. It's time we in the Church start finding these kids, and adults too, and surrounding them with love and acceptance, even in the midst of their messy lives.

9:39 AM

May the glorious democracy reign supreme

Posted by Brad Polley |

One thing I've heard from Christians since the beginning of the Iraq war is how wonderful it is that Christians in Iraq are now free to worship. Of course, they ignore the fact that the Iraqi Constitution names Islam as the official religion of the country (so much for freedom of religion). Anyway, what most people don't realize is that Iraq has had a thriving Christian community for almost 2,000 years, and that the community even flourished underground during Saddam's reign. In a 60 minutes interview this week, a church bishop who has been in Iraq for 9 years and he commented on the current situation for Christians in Iraq. Here's a bit of the interview:

White is among the last Christian ministers here, a savior with crosses to bear. Larger than life, stricken with MS, and by his own reckoning, driven a little bit mad.He was first sent to Baghdad by the Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, well before the Christian persecution.

"You were here during Saddam’s reign. And now after. Which was better? Which was worse?" Pelley asked.

"The situation now is clearly worse” than under Saddam, White replied."There’s no comparison between Iraq now and then," he told Pelley. "Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians. Probably ever in history. They’ve never known it like now."

"Wait a minute, Christians have been here for 2,000 years," Pelley remarked.

"Yes," White said."

And it’s now the worst it has ever been," Pelley replied.

Christians can't ignore this. They can't continue to support a war that is leading to more and more death and persecution for our brothers and sisters. If you feel like you have to support the war, fine, but don't pretend like these kinds of problems don't exist. We have a President who is supposedly a devout Christian, and he has said nothing about this. It's time to pray that God will protect our Iraqi brothers and sisters, and it's time to pray for an end to this never-ending quagmire.