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    Ron Lester Has the (Varsity) Blues

    Ron Lester Has the (Varsity) Blues

    Palm Sunday is an annual reminder that what goes up must come down. As if we needed reminding.

    Remember Varsity Blues? Honestly, I don’t. I never saw the movie. But it was a huge success at the box office, and, as a Friday Night Lights knockoff, it really couldn’t miss, especially since it starred Paul Walker, James van der Beek, Ali Larter, and Scott Caan. The most unforgettable performance, though, (I’m told) came from one Ron Lester, who played the enormous offensive tackle, Billy Bob.

    At the time Varsity Blues was filmed, Lester weighed close to 500 pounds, which, combined with his…

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    The Curated Life of Gwyneth Paltrow

    The Curated Life of Gwyneth Paltrow

    People really hate Gwyneth Paltrow. Last year, Star magazine named her one of “Hollywood’s Most Hated Stars.” But, that same week, she was also named the “World’s Most Beautiful Woman” by People Magazine.

    That juxtaposition confused Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, presumably because he prizes beauty above all else. But, to the non-beautiful, the juxtaposition isn’t all that difficult to explain: People hate Gwyneth in part because she is beautiful.

    Apparently there are other reasons to hate Gwyneth. Indeed, Vanity Fair commissioned an article exploring the reasons why people hate Gwyneth, reasons that Carter summarized well in this paragraph:

    Half the female…

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    Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Equal Marriage

    Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Equal Marriage

    On Sunday, The New York Times Magazine published an article by Lori Gottleib about marriage equality. No, not that kind. This article had the search-engine-optimized headline: “Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?” Like many New York Times trend pieces, the article combines social science data with anecdotes from anonymous friend-sources to provoke its navel-gazing core demographic of 18- to 46-year-olds.

    Well, consider me provoked.

    The core premise of the article is this: In marriages where household duties are equally and gender-neutrally divided between the spouses, the spouses are less likely to have sex. That premise is drawn from a study…

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    Don’t Gimme Shelter

    Don’t Gimme Shelter

    If I burden myself with a little help-mate during my adventures, it is not out of sentiment or caprice – it is that he has many fine qualities of his own that he has overlooked in his obsession with me. Indeed, any reputation I have for mental acuity and sharpness comes, in truth, from the extraordinary contrast John so selflessly provides.

    –Sherlock, Sherlock, Season 3, Episode 2

    Two items appeared on Andrew Sullivan’s blog Sunday morning that seemed, in proximity, to sharpen each other. The first item repeats a suggestion by Tom Ehrich, an Episcopal priest, who wrote in the Washington Post…

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    You Won’t Deserve to Be Here

    You Won’t Deserve to Be Here

    Last week, an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education spread like wildfire through Facebook News Feeds. That doesn’t happen very often.

    The article, a commentary by Kevin Carey entitled “Welcome, Freshmen. You Don’t Deserve to Be Here,” begins at Stanford University’s freshman convocation. We can sense that the freshman are nervous about matriculating to such a mythical institution. Maybe, after meeting their brilliant, fellow freshmen, they are wondering whether they have what it takes or whether the admissions office improperly evaluated them. So the dean stands before the freshman and attempts to comfort them with these words: “”We have made…

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    You’re Just Too Good To Be True?

    You’re Just Too Good To Be True?

    After his election, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg famously undertook a great experiment in improving humanity through the use of new laws, banning outdoor smoking, trans fats, and, most controversially, Big Gulps. Since some of us have serious doubts about any law’s ability to change human behavior, we might be more tempted to find solace in Bloomberg’s latest initiative, which is focused on transforming hearts rather than actions: a campaign to improve the self-esteem and body image of young girls:

    The $330,000 campaign, called the NYC Girls Project, kicked off Monday with bus and subway ads starring 21 amateur models of…

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    Nick Saban is Human (Like Me)

    Nick Saban is Human (Like Me)

    The first part of this series focused on Coach Saban, Purveyor of The Process, whose commitment to excellence can be received as judgment by those too weak to try. In the second part, we looked at Nick Saban, Winner of Championships, who seems uninterested in the glory that accompanies his accomplishments. In this third and final part, I want to consider Nicholas Lou Saban Jr., the man.

    By using The Process, Mr. Saban has managed to limit the flaws in his football team. That much is undeniable. The principles underlying The Process, however, are not limited to football. In fact, Saban…

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    Could Nick’s Saban’s Process Make Me a Better Person?

    Could Nick’s Saban’s Process Make Me a Better Person?

    On Monday, I revealed that, because of my susceptibility to human weakness, Nick Saban could never love me. Perhaps it is no surprise that the Alabama coach finds little to love in middle-aged non-athletes. I contrasted this with the good news of the Gospel, that God loves me even though I bring nothing to the table to merit his favor. Everything required of me has already been done by another.

    The Gospel can only be good news, though, if I have recognized that I am unworthy of it. Water only tastes good to someone who is thirsty, after all, and if…

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    Nick Saban Could Never Love Me

    Nick Saban Could Never Love Me

    “Well, it’s no trick to make a lot of money, if all you want is to make a lot of money.”  –Mr. Bernstein, Citizen Kane

    By writing this—perhaps by even thinking this—I am putting myself and my family in great danger. You see, I live in Alabama. In Alabama, as you might have heard, people take college football VERY seriously. People kill trees, they even kill each other, and they worship their coaches like gods. In Alabama, there is only one god (maybe) above Nick Saban. And Nick Saban takes football more seriously than anyone else.

    Last season, only one team beat…

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    The Grace of Beards

    The Grace of Beards

    The College World Series began this weekend in Omaha, Nebraska, and, for baseball fans, there is hardly anything more fun to watch. College baseball players make many more mistakes than their pro counterparts, so every at-bat—every game—is unpredictable. And, with double-elimination brackets, every game truly counts.

    This year, Mississippi State’s baseball team made the College World Series for the first time since 2007. (Full disclosure: I have a rooting interest.) Its current head coach, John Cohen, was hired in 2008. Cohen is known as a very intense, no-nonsense coach, and, prior to this year, he did not allow the team—or any team…

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    Gordon Ramsay Isn’t Jesus, Or, Criticism Is Not on the Menu at Amy’s Baking Company

    Gordon Ramsay Isn’t Jesus, Or, Criticism Is Not on the Menu at Amy’s Baking Company

    Until yesterday, I had never watched an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, but, according to its website, here’s how it works: Ramsay, a notoriously mean chef, visits struggling restaurants, observes them, and then tells the owners how to fix their restaurants. Knowing how I usually respond to criticism, I cannot see how this premise ever works. Instead, I would imagine every episode ending in denial, retreat, and, ultimately, violence.

    In other words, I would imagine that every episode proceeds along the same lines as this episode, which features Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona:

    If you don’t have time to watch…

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    The Law of Lightbulbs

    The Law of Lightbulbs

    Andrew Sullivan alerted his readers to a new study whose results should come as no surprise to readers of this blog. The study came from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and was picked up by grist.org. Here is how grist.org described the study:

    With a fixed amount of money in their wallet, respondents had to “buy” either an old-school lightbulb or an efficient compact florescent bulb (CFL) . . . . Both bulbs were labeled with basic hard data on their energy use, but without a translation of that into climate pros and cons. When the bulbs cost…

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    The Flying Dutchman, Schadenfreude, and Tim Tebow

    The Flying Dutchman, Schadenfreude, and Tim Tebow

    The scientist who yields anything to theology, however slight, is yielding to ignorance and false pretenses, and as certainly as if he granted that a horse-hair put into a bottle of water will turn into a snake.

    –H. L. Mencken

    Saturday was my birthday, and I was showered with a heap of my favorite kind of gift: Stories about triumphant people whose lives have been ruined. I’d like to say that it is theological conviction that makes me read these stories end to end, but it is probably some sort of dopamine-stimulating Schadenfreude. Either way, it is an embarrassment of riches.

    First, the…

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    Going Rogen: Hiding Behind the Cross

    Going Rogen: Hiding Behind the Cross

    About 95% of the way through this video, I decided that I wasn’t going to post about it, because it touches on things about I’ve already written about. But the last 5% compelled me otherwise. The video has some questionable elements, so, if you’re pure of heart (or at work), you may want to skip to the summary:

    For those who didn’t watch, the video begins with a flashback to one year ago, following the completion of Hilarity for Charity 2012. The organizers, including Seth Rogen and Dave Krumholtz, are congratulating each other on a job well done. At the end of…

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    Sorry Not Sorry

    Sorry Not Sorry

    The Vances lived in number seven. They had a different father and mother. They were Eileen’s father and mother. When they were grown up he was going to marry Eileen. He hid under the table. His mother said:

    – O, Stephen will apologize.

    Dante said:

    – O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.–

    Pull out his eyes,
    Apologize,
    Apologize,
    Pull out his eyes.
    Apologize,
    Pull out his eyes,
    Pull out his eyes,
    Apologize.

    James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Chapter 1

    Apologies are not hard; they are impossible. From the time we are children, we are forced to say that we’re sorry for things…

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