Memphis Zoo

IMG_0035

So this past weekend I decided to accept an invitation to go to the Memphis Zoo. I was a little hesitant as I had heard the I-40 bridge across the Mississippi River had been block by BlackLivesMatter protesters, but apparently this demonstration had been resolved.

IMG_0041

Upon a recommendation from a friend, our first stop was Central barbecue. The decision to eat here was a good one as their pork barbecue, ribs, sides, and cheesecake were all very good. It is normally a good sign when a restaurant requires a parking attendant to direct traffic.

IMG_0045

I think I recall some distant historical trivia about Memphis being one of the ancient Egyptian cities, and this fact probably contributed to the African theme of the zoo. Granted, I do not think I have gone to a zoo or similar venue since my trip to the Baltimore Aquarium in middle school, so I guess I was due for some animal education. I was surprised the ticket price was fairly cheap at $15… I guess I am accustomed to $50 amusement park tickets.

IMG_0049

There were quite a few different areas in the park divided into regional classes. These included China, Africa, the Tetons, cats, primates, etc…It was definitely enjoyable walking around the park; however, I am not sure how I feel ethically about zoos as these animals didn’t really seem to be happy there. Granted, during one of the sea lion shows the narrator discussed how most of these animals were rescued from bad situations, so that is a positive story. In a small way, these animals in there cages reminded me of my work cubicle. Lack stimulation and freedom, these animals seemed bored and lazy; I guess I can relate. After four hours walking around the park, we called it a day.

IMG_0054

My friend and I did make a stop at the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid before the trip home. I am not the biggest outdoorsman, so I wasn’t really interested in buying a boat, hunting clothes, or anything else they were selling, but they did have some neat educational exhibits about duck hunting. A trip up the elevator to the top of the pyramid did lead to some nice views of the Mississippi River and industrial Memphis. IMG_0056IMG_0059IMG_0061IMG_0071IMG_0064IMG_0075IMG_0078IMG_0079IMG_0087IMG_0090

Advertisements

Recent Reads

Foxcatcher

It seems like a lot of my recent posts have involved books. I’m not sure what this fact reveals about the current state of my social life, but hey, it’s summer, right? One of my recent finds was Foxcatcher, which details the wrestling careers of two brothers. I remember seeing the movie trailer a while ago, but I never saw the movie. I think the book was displayed at my local library at the time because of these brothers’ Olympic achievements coinciding with the ongoing Olympic trials.

The first part of the book is okay. The first chapters mainly detail the Schultz brother’s wrestling careers through school, college, and then the Olympics. They both had quite a bit of success at all levels, but were eventually forced to seek sponsorship and financial support from outside sources. John DuPont then enters the story. An heir to the DuPont chemical company, this man has great wealth and is able to start his own wrestling team called Foxcatcher, named after part of his Pennsylvania estate. Mark joins this team for a period of time and enjoys some success; however, Dave Schultz becomes a victim of John DuPont’s eccentric and dangerous behavior when he is shot and killed. Definitely not the happy ending one would wish, but the book does give a glimpse into the world of wrestling and elite-level athletics.

The Rosie Project

Another of my recent book readings was the result of my attendance at a local book club. Now I have never been a member of a book club, but since I read quite a bit, I figured it was a natural fit. By a majority vote of 2-1, it was decided The Rosie Project would be the next book to read and discussed. I was unfamiliar with this book or its sequel, but it involves a geeky genetics professor and associated characters. It begins with this professor designing a questionnaire in an attempt to find a suitable spouse. Eventually he is introduced to Rosie who answers nearly every question incorrectly according to Dr. Tillman’s preferences, but she piques his interest because she does not know the identity of her real father. Because of this information, the Rosie Project begins. Don and Rosie must collect DNA from most of the male members of her mother’s medical school class in order to narrow the field.

This project creates the need for a medical school class reunion, a trip to New York City, and other eventful happenings. The nerdy insight of Don is one of the highlights, as he regularly commits social errors as only a braniac can. Fortunately, this book does have a happy ending with events falling into place for the Rosie Project.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

So I stumbled upon The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo movie a few weeks ago and thought it was pretty interesting. I’m not sure if it was the storyline or European backdrops, but this combination was intriguing. Anyway, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a continuation of this series with main characters Mikael Blomquist and Lisbeth Selena. Blomquist is a well-known journalist whose magazine has been acquired by a large media corporation, and Selena is a prodigy computer hacker with a complicated history. Their paths are intertwined when technology secrets are stolen and swapped via hackers.

Blomquist is considering a change of employment as his magazine, Millenium, is undergoing changes, and the new owners are looking to make changes as well. However, a huge story develops when Frans Balder is murdered. Balder invented technology which was secretly stolen and sold for a lot of money. It’s discovered that large organizations are involved with this murder plot to include the NSA and Sophie, an international technology group. The sole witness to the murder is August Balder, Frans’ son. August is autistic with limited social interaction, but he is a savant who can draw really well and has an amazing mathematical ability. His drawing skills make him a target for those that murdered Frans as they do not want their identity known.

Selena has very good computer hacking skills and is able to look at the secret NSA intranet. She discovers quite a bit of information; however, she is unable to crack one particular code. Her paths cross with August Balder who is able to perform advanced mathematical calculation and actually provided the answer to allow Selena to crack the NSA code. Between an NSA employee’s confession and this secret information, Mikael Blomquist is able to write the story of the century revealing the motivation and people behind the murder of Balder.

I thought this book was good, but I have trouble remembering more than a few characters. I probably lost some of the storyline, but I think I hit the main points. The math and computer science topics are interesting as some of them relate to the reach of the NSA and their activities.

Bohnhoffer- Then and Now

I have been reading the book Bohnhoffer recently, and some comparisons can be made between his time and today. Dietrich Bohnhoffer was a theologian who lived in Germany during the Third Reich. He was part of a resistance movement designed to counter the policies of the Nazi government. His involvement eventually led to imprisonment and execution. Fortunately, his life is well-chronicled in this book, so future generations can learn his story.

By no means should the U.S. government be compared to Nazi Germany, but the church and Christians need to be the salt and light when sinful policies are implemented. Unfortunately, the influence of the church has slowly lessened over the past fifty years. It began with outlawing prayer, the Bible, and Creation in schools, and with children no longer learning right and wrong, the sexual revolution of the seventies was born. The Separation of Church and State is commonly cited as constitutional proof for these types of laws, but this clause was originally intended to prevent the state from interfering with the church.

Unfortunately, when Biblical concepts are not taught at an early age, people do not know the truth or simply choose to ignore it. An influential book for me has been The Battle for the Mind written by Tim LaHaye (yes, the same author of the Left Behind series.) Basically, this book outlines the forces which compete for the thought and beliefs of young people. For example, someone who is constantly exposed to liberal theology, politics, causes, etc… will have a significantly different viewpoint than someone whose influences are different. The book continues by identifying certain realms where this battle occurs such as churches, the media, universities, schools, government, etc… My eyes were really opened to the importance of diligently filtering information after reading this book.

The Battle for the Mind

And, of course, if you want to begin a controversial discussion, abortion is always a reliable place to start. I work in the medical field, so I have a little experience with this topic. I worked with an attending physician who did not prescribe birth control because of his Catholic faith. Granted, there are many forms of birth control with some preventing conception and others terminating the process further down the line, but his prescribing habits were affected by the Catholic concept of sanctity of life. Similarly, the Hobby Lobby and Catholic nun group’s lawsuit against mandated health insurance for birth control is a similar situation. Their religious beliefs regarding sanctity of life prevent them from consciously allowing …

I attended college where the founder was an important figure in the Moral Majority. Granted, I do not remember the eighties, but the basic idea behind the movement was the church needs to have a voice in the realm of politics, current events, etc… When there is no resistance to unbiblical laws, anything goes. This situation is similar to Dietrich Bonhoffer, who realized the Nazi government was committing very serious crimes, and something needed to be done.

In summary, I think it can be dangerous when the influence of the church is lessened. Granted, not every governmental decision will be perfect, but Christians should be actively involved in the realms of politics, economics, business, etc…