Monday, August 31, 2009

The Old Lion and His Faith

Senator Ted Kennedy passed away last week, and his death has brought accolades from people all over the political spectrum. Even former political rivals on the right eulogized him as a "worthy adversary" with more than one Republican saluting his dedication to the American people and the citizenry of Massachusettes.

I grew up nominally Catholic, and in our 3rd grade CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, essentially Sunday School for Catholics) class, I remember having a discussion about then Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, her Catholic faith, and her support for abortion. I don't totally remember what my CCD teacher's specific response, but I did walk out with the general impression that my teacher thought negatively of Ferraro's inconsistency between her faith's doctrines and her political platform.

Naturally, some of those same things applied to Ted Kennedy, someone who is painted as someone who valued his faith, even if not always evident in the public eye. And like Ferraro, his stance on a number of policies stood in stark conflict with church teachings. In a rare allusion to his faith, Kennedy said the following in 1983:
"I am an American and a Catholic; I love my country and treasure my faith. But I do not assume that my conception of patriotism or policy is invariably correct, or that my convictions about religion should command any greater respect than any other faith in this pluralistic society. I believe there surely is such a thing as truth, but who among us can claim a monopoly on it?"
And it's this principle (which is a mantra often repeated by politicians) that I still cannot fully grasp. If your faith is, as definition would dictate, something that defines truth and the way in which you view the world, how can you possibly check that at the door? Doesn't faith (or lack thereof) necessarily alter one's way of looking at the poor and defenseless? Doesn't faith color one's perspective on crime, punishment, justice and mercy?

I acknowledge the complications of representing constituents in a pluralistic society, but then what is the politicians' remit? To support positions of the plurality of his constituents and their respective moral and religious principles? To simply be a referendum proxy? I think if we dig a litle deeper, we find that all politicians are influneced by "religion" in their votes - it's just a matter of which one - and the list of religion includes humanism, nominal Christianity, and "I'll just do whatever I think can get me re-elected."

As for Ted Kennedy, Godspeed. 47 years in the Senate and your dedication to education and poverty issues deserve to be saluted.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Killing Free Speech with Your Wallet?

A number of companies have withdrawn advertising from conservative commentator Glenn Beck's television show on FOXNews, leading to cheers from the liberal left and calls for a "reverse boycott" (boycotting the companies that "bowed down to left-wing special interest groups") from those on the right. The advertising moves came largely through the efforts of, a black political coalition which objected to President Barack Obama being called "a racist" by Beck.

Some who have conservative leanings are up in arms. They scream about the threats to "free speech", a charge a little bit wrongheaded as free speech provides legal protection, but not protection from financial implications of companies exercising their "freedom of expression" by not advertising on a given show. Of course, conservatives can retaliate using their "freedom of expression" by boycotting the companies that pulled out of Glenn Beck's show. To the contrary, one might argue that this is freedom of speech at its finest.

I'll also tweak both sides of the political fence by saying that people tend to hide beyond the First Amendment and scream "suppression of free speech!" somewhat selectively. During the second Iraq war, a handful of conservative activist groups were identifying and calling for boycotts of movies starring Hollywood actors and actresses who were vocal in their opposition of the Iraq war, along with calls for then President Bush and Vice President Cheney's removal from office. The response of the actors and actresses revolved around the "terrifying return of McCarthyism" and "witch-hunts". So to be fair, it's a "witch hunt" to organize people to tell people not to go to your movie because they don't like your views on Iraq, but it's legitimate to pressure sponsors to not advertise on Glenn Beck? What's the difference? Somehow I don't see Sean Penn blasting of a "witch hunt".

I know, I know. Strong opinions are okay, but Glenn Beck "crossed the line" (whatever that is). Here's the official release from CVS:
We support free speech of all kinds, and vigorous debate, especially around policy issues that affect millions of Americans. But we expect the speech and the debate to be informed, inclusive and respectful, in keeping with our company’s core values and commitment to diversity. In our view, Mr. Beck crossed the line.
Good luck defining that line. And try convincing conservatives that Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann somehow don't cross it on a daily basis.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's In a Ranking?

The latest U.S. News and World Report college rankings just came out, and as usual, it comes with the usual hand-wringing around the validity of the rankings and how their effect upon recruiting and matriculation incentivize wrong-headed behavior by college administrators.

While I think it's fair to debate the legitimacy and the inherent "good" in rankings, I'm not going to provide the "holier than thou" response that rankings don't matter, because it's clear that they do. They matter insomuch as demand for schools is largely influenced by the rankings, colleges adapt to make their rankings higher, and it's naive to believe that companies and graduate schools don't take into consideration the college of a given applicant, which tends to tilt more favorably towards those who graduate from higher ranking schools.

I'll give an example of a friend who went to Rutgers University, who in the context of discussing friends who went to Ivy League schools scoffed, "My point of view is that where you go to college doesn't matter." I let it go, but I couldn't help but think, "Baloney. If you really believed that, you would have gone to Middlesex County College and saved yourself thousands of dollars."

The typical argument debunking the relevance of rankings or prestige is that there are people who went to Podunk Regional College that are CEO's or are presently serving as the chief surgeon at Whatever Medical Center. Absolutely. The premise is not that getting a degree from a non-prestigious or non-highly ranked college will doom you to a life of poverty. Similarly, the premise is not that getting a degree from Harvard or Yale guarantees you "success" or that you'll never be bypassed on the corporate ladder by aforementioned Podunk Regional College graduate. The premise, or at least my theory, is that holding a degree from a highly ranked school can more likely give you a better chance of getting opportunity (whether it be an interview or a new job position) compared to those without such a degree. But once the horses are on the proverbial racetrack, the degrees don't matter and then it becomes a matter of how one performs in any given position.

A related theory is that having a degree from a college will set the "floor" of your success, but the sky's the limit for anyone. Personal work ethic, skill, talent and serendipity ends up being the great equalizer regardless of where one went to college. The theory goes that while a person from a less prestigious college will generally do no worse than X (defined as success in a given field), people with a higher ranked degree will generally do no worse than more than X. Again, the theory allows for exceptions, especially on the upside end.

Look, I'm not an apologist for rankings - I'm just making a point that they actually matter. It can be argued that the rankings of the schools is arbitrary and self-perpetuating, and one can make a pretty convincing argument that most of these rankings do a terrible, terrible job of valuing the quality of teaching. Hmm... don't you think that should overwhelmingly be the most important factor in assessing a college?

So when Dartmouth College (congrats to all my Big Green friends) tops the category for "commitment to undergraduate teaching" but somehow scores out of the Top 7, does anyone else think there's something wrong here?

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's About Winning Football Games, Stupid

The storm regarding the Philadelphia Eagles' signing of dog-killing felon Michael Vick has by now subsided to a small roar, but it's safe to say that this event not only shook the sports world, but also inflamed the emotions of everyone on each side of the debate. The arguments raged: His barbarous acts earned him a lifetime ban... He paid for his crime so he ought to get a second chance... The dogs that he hung on fences and subsequently electrocuted were given no second chance, and neither should Vick...

I can understand why fans of the Eagles are so excited about Vick's signing. He's still a dynamic talent, and while it's fair to say that he's out of football shape and hasn't played in two years, it's also true that (unless he roomed with Boggs at Shawshank Prison) he's been able to avoid the physical beatings associated with taking the ball under center and getting drilled by defensive linemen and blitzing safeties. He's going to improve that football team, no doubt about it. Even if McNabb remains that starter, does anybody really believe that Kevin Kolb will be the first guy off the bench come Week 6?

As far as all the drama and controversy, I find it interesting that the venom over Vick so far exceeds the punishment that Leonard Little faced after killing a 47-year old mother and wife while driving drunk, which I had alluded to in a previous post. I'm not at all condoning what Vick did, but I am surprised at the relative outrage. Michael Vick runs and dogfighting operation and kills a number of dogs, and people understandably and rightfully protest. Leonard Little kills Susan Gutweiler and he's welcomed back into the league without, at least as far as I can tell, the same about of outrage. I'd be interested in seeing what happens when Donte Stallworth, who also killed someone while driving while intoxicated, comes off his season-long suspension.

The other thing I find ridiculous is this notion that the Eagles did this largely for societal redemption purposes. From owner Jeffrey Lurie to front office men Tom Heckert and Joe Banner to coach Andy Reid, you hear this mantra of giving second chances to a young man who will now have the opportunity to be an agent for social change. Baloney. The implication that this was the primary driver is almost insulting. Michael Vick was signed by the Eagles because they felt he could help them win football games. That's why Vick was given a second chance, and that's why people like Leonard Little are given second chances. To chalk this up to anything else but a desire to win games is simply disingenuous.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Can You Keep The Mule?

The classic game show 'Let's Make a Deal' is returning to television, with comedian Wayne Brady replacing the legendary Monty Hall as emcee. I vaguely remember watching 'Let's Make a Deal' in my youth, which I believe was on syndication along with such other second-tier shows such as "The Joker's Wild" and "Card Sharks". It wasn't nearly as exciting as "Press Your Luck" (with the Whammies) or intellectually stimulating as "Sale of the Century", but sure beat watching soap operas.

The show, which had a charm even with its tacky set decor, made two impressions upon me:

1) Always make the trade for the U.S. Savings Bond with President McKinley. Multiple times Monty would offer up the McKinley savings bond for a set of appliances or something similarly modest, and usually the poor sap would turn down what would be revealed to be a bond worth $5000 at maturity.

2) The "gag", or loser prize was often a donkey. As the curtain flew open, the poor beast just stood there in front of a floral background while the trumpet played circus music. But couldn't you turn to the host and exclaim, "Yeah! I happen to own a farm and this donkey is exactly what I needed. Thank you!" Or pump your fist and say, "Yes! I just won myself a $1000 animal. Is that bridle included or should I just rustle up some rope from the stage?" Didn't this sort of scenario happen in The Simpsons when Bart won an elephant?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

College Education ≠ Job Guarantee

Please don't be thrown off by the title of the post. I'm certainly not advocating that people don't go to college. I'm not suggesting that colleges are universally doing a lousy job at equipping people for the global job market and that people should simply go to a trade school. In fact, there's clear data about the effects of the current economic downturn, and it's skewered significantly negatively against those without college degrees. If you want to make yourself more marketable, a college degree is a must, definitely in light of the continuing trend of decline in manufacturing jobs in the United States.

My point is that I find it interesting that there is a sense of contractual obligation, at least by some, in terms of how a college secures a job for an individual who has paid large sums of tuition and has been given a degree by that given school. Take, for example, the recent case of a recent graduate of Monroe College who sued her alma mater for failing to assist her in job placement.

The recent graduate, Trina Thompson, is alleging that Monroe's "Office of Career Advancement did not help me with a full-time job placement. I am also suing them because of the stress I have been going through." I find this lawsuit a little ridiculous. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that no assurances of employment are made upon enrolling in a college. A college is tasked with providing a good-faith effort in teaching skills which will make a student more employable, and also provides non-obligatory services, such as job placement, to support finding a job post-graduation. But to imply the job placement is guaranteed is ridiculous - no college can completely guard against a terrible job economy or an applicant's terrible interviewing skills or bad breath. If there's any college that provides that post-graduation job guarantee, it deserves to be sued.

Frivolous lawsuit aside, I do wonder if universities are providing the skills necessary to compete in an increasingly competitive global economy, where American workers can no longer be entitled to get paid multiple times what a similarly skilled worker can do elsewhere in the world (a point made in Robyn Meredith's excellent book on the Indian and Chinese economies, "The Elephant and the Dragon").

One point of view is that we should better synchronize, even regulate, university degree majors and concentrations with job demand, something which is done in Europe with a handful of fields. Or as an example, the government should accredit a limited number of degree slots in a particular field to limit an overabundance, in let's say, IT managers, in light of plummeting demand for that resource - leading to less unemployed people holding degrees not in demand. Of course, projecting the future job market is difficult and many cringe at the thought of bigger government bureaucracy.

Some argue that we should go to more of the "trade school" route, where theoretical subjects and courses in the liberal arts are eschewed in favor of practical "hands on" skill learning - even to the degree to making the co-op or educational internships a core part of the curriculum. The point here is to avoid researchers for major pharmaceutical companies learning classroom chemistry which they don't use (see previous post), replacing it with lab work.

There's probably a balance. As some of my friends would say, it's one things to do things right. It's equally or more important to make sure that people do the right things, and do things rightly - this is where classical education and the liberal arts show their strength.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Redemption in Teaching

I read with great pleasure an article in the Hartford Courant which detailed the efforts of a number of displaced workers who have navigated their careers towards teaching in the midst of layoffs from science and technology companies. Many of these folks are people who used to work at my present employer before the restructuring of our research and development organization.

It's great to hear how the obvious trauma and discouragement in lost jobs can be addressed in win-win programs such as Connecticut's "Alternate Route to Certification" summer program, which takes laid off professionals and gives them a fast-track to certification to teach in public schools. People need jobs, and my understanding is that there's a paucity of teachers in certain fields. Having a wife and many friends who are educators, I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who devote themselves to sharing their knowledge and skills with the next generation.

I've always considered a 2nd career in the latter years of my career, never assuming for sure that I'll be running the rat-race in large company until retirement. My wife has suggested that teaching is something that might be a good fit - I've always enjoyed teaching Sunday School and other opportunities to teach, including Junior Achievement and "Take Your Children to Work" programs - and it's something that I might consider doing as an adjunct someday in a college. But another entrepreneurial side of me would also consider ministry management and leadership, where I can devote myself full time to either church or missions work. Or maybe even counseling, given my affinity to pastoral care. We'll see - it's likely I have some ways to go before that time.

I'm not surprised that more than being glad that their getting a paycheck, a number of people enrolled in the program are truly enjoying themselves and their new career path. Consider this from a scientist from a major pharmaceutical company who had accepted early retirement to enroll in the certification program:
"I'm having a blast doing this. It's new, it's fresh. It changes every day. … Boy, it's sort of endless here. Anywhere from going back and reviewing chemistry I haven't seen in more than 30 years, to classroom management."
I'm only half-joking when I hypothesize that trying to manage the politics of giant-sized egos in a changing business environment probably is a proxy of classroom management. I've sat in more than one meeting where I've seen colleagues act childishly, including one where a colleague waved his arms around angrily and insisted that adherence compliance processes be exempted from his bonus paycheck or else he was going to have his team to purposely abstain from certain work responsibilities. Could telling Sally to stop passing notes during class be more challenging than dealing with things like that?

I also found it interesting that the program participant will be reviewing chemistry he hasn't "seen in more than 30 years". Given that this gentleman worked at a major pharmaceutical company presumably doing, uh... chemistry, should we be doing a better job in ensuring that school curriculum is relevant to the skills that are demanded in the current job market? More on this on the upcoming post.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Organic Food Hoax

After, at the insistence of my wife, spending a premium on Earth's Best and Gerber Tender Harvest baby food for my two children, I feel a little a little vindicated and a little violated after a report from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine concluded that there is no evidence of significant health benefit in eating organic foods over conventionally prepared foods.

The study, a review of over 50 years of research and reports in the field seems to confirm a suspicion that I had that aside from providing foods that may have less allergens than conventionally prepared foods (which is only significant for those who have specific food allergies), you're largely paying a premium for a benefit which is essentially meaningless. It's sort of like paying twice as much for a maplewood chair that is constructed by hand. It's cool, but doesn't make it any stronger or better designed.

The article goes on to say that growth in the purchase of organic foods has slowed as budgets get tighter in the restrictions. I wonder if a recovery in the economy will lead to people going back to throwing money away necessarily, or a realization that "hey, we've eaten non-organic for the past 12 months. We're feeling great and realize it's more what you eat as opposed to how that food was how that food was produced." But who am I to say? I'm the guy who likes KFC and Long John Silver's.

My sense is that as long as there's people who are willing to buy, there will be companies who will be more than happy to create a market which largely doesn't need to exist.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Finger-Lickin' Good Knockoff

Kudos to Long Island foodie Ron Douglas, who has apparently cracked the secret recipe for KFC's chicken, including the legendary 11 herbs and spices which give it its legendary flavor. Douglas, a fast food aficionado just like me, quit his financial services job to raise his kids and reverse-engineer some of his fast food favorites. Hmm.. nah, I probably shouldn't even consider that.

While I congratulate Mr. Douglas on his achievement, I temper my enthusiasm because I have no desire to make, let's say, KFC fried chicken or Long John Silver's fish and chips, at home. For one, neither is terribly expensive, and the price more than makes up for the work and mess that I'd surely cause if I were to try to do this at home. Furthermore, I've come to the realization that a lot of recipes, especially those with many ingredients (11 herbs and spices) are fundamentally cost-inefficient and wasteful, because you inevitably purchase an ingredient that you use 5% of which you never use again.

Besides, in the occasion that I prepare meals for guests, I'd much rather prepare them my penne a la vodka, lasagna, or garlic chicken as opposed to something they'd suspect I picked up at my local fast food drive-thru.

I remember more than ten years ago I found a recipe for Long John Silver's fish batter on the Internet and gave it a shot, with my deep oil filled pan and some scrod fillets. Not a good experience.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Bizarro "Karate Kid"

I recently had a chance to watch Gran Torino on DVD, and wow, that's a great movie. There's probably a part of me who has an affinity towards it largely for the prominence of Asians (Hmong) in the storyline, but it was engrossing, wonderfully acted, and redemptive. I certainly don't think there's another movie which contained so many racist language and epithets that I've enjoyed so much.

It crossed my mind that the movie had some interesting parallels with The Karate Kid, another favorite of mine. Kid gets roughed up by other kids, and an other guy of another race steps in to save his hide. An unlikely, but heartwarming, cross-cultural relationship develops between kid and older man of other race, encouraged by a plucky relative of the kid. Tensions escalate between kid and aforementioned bullies, and the old guy becomes instrumental in finishing the problem once and for all.

In fairness, there's a lot of variation in the details, so (SPOILER ALERT), I'm going to take a stab of what The Karate Kid would look like if it was truly a race-flipped version of Gran Torino, keeping the characters and some context consistent:
  • Daniel LaRusso is encouraged to join a local Reseda, California street gang, The Cobra Kai, whose leader, Johnny Lawrence rides around in a pimped-up Kawasaki motorcycle.
  • Despondent after not making the soccer team, LaRusso relents and considers joining the Kai. After failing his initiation to steal his apartment handyman's vintage car, Daniel is pressured to try again.
  • After he resists, the Johnny and Dutch from the Cobra Kai beat the crap out of him. Before they put a bullet in his head, he is saved by drunken handyman Mr. Miyagi, who points an old rifle at Johnny and Dutch from his days as a highly-decorated WWII veteran in Europe, threatening to "shoot holes your faces, then go in the house, and sleep like baby", noting that "Miyagi used to stack white fucks like you five feet high in Germany, and use you for sandbags".
  • Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel how to be a man, not by painting fences and waxing cars, but by showing him how to "man up". In a memorable scene, Mr. Miyagi coaches Daniel how to win the heart of Ali, a high school love interest:
Mr. Miyagi: You know, Miyagi know you were a dipshit the first time I ever saw you. Then Miyagi thought you were worse with women than karate... Dogshit.
Daniel LaRusso: It's Daniel.
Mr. Miyagi: What?
Daniel LaRusso: It's not Dogshit, my name is Daniel.
Mr. Miyagi: Hai... well, you blow it with that girl who was there. Not that Miyagi give two shits about piece of Dogshit like you.
Daniel LaRusso: You don't know what you're talking about.
Mr. Miyagi: You wrong, white boy, Miyagi knows exactly what Miyagi talking about.
  • In a tragic scene, Mrs. LaRusso, is unable to start the beat-up station wagon without someone else propelling it in neutral, and is overtaken by a the Cobra Kai's on their motorcycles. While not shown on screen, it is made clear that Johnny and Dutch beat and rape Mrs. LaRusso.
  • Mr. Miyagi, unable to calm a furious Daniel with his "special massage trick", locks Daniel in the maintenance room and goes off by himself to confront the Cobra Kai's in their dojo.
  • Standing in front of the Cobra Kai's, Mr. Miyagi fakes pulling out his WWII rifle, and instead assumes the "crane kick" position. The Cobra Kai's pull out automatic weapons and mow Mr. Miyagi down.
Well, maybe I should just appreciate the merits of the two movies individually.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Wirelessly-Delivered Faith

I found it interesting that President Obama, like me, is apparently a sucker for using the latest mobile technology to avail himself to the means of grace. A recent article on MSNBC reported that the President receives daily devotionals on his Blackberry from White House faith director Joshua DuBois.

I love the mobile-friendly devotional, either via e-mail or WAP. It's perfect for the commute and you can pretty much do it anytime and anywhere. I wonder which one (via DuBois) President Obama subscribes to. Perhaps Our Daily Bread? A Slice of Infinity from Ravi Zacharias Ministries? Or maybe Scripture Union's WordLive, a personal favorite of mine?

I just hope that he finds time to devote due time attention to his devotional while it's sandwiched between the e-mail from National Security Advisor James Jones regarding unusually heavy Internet chatter on terrorist message boards and another e-mail from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on possibly lifting the federal funds rate a quarter point.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Turning the Other Cheek at the Ballpark

As much as I like baseball, I'm aware that there are complete degenerates that often attend these games, fully tanked up with beer by the third inning. And given that I don't have the inclination to take out a second mortgage to pay for the expensive field level box seats, I have in the past found myself in close proximity to jackasses who are spewing profanity at the players, and then turning their bile towards anyone who has the audacity to look in their direction.

For example, a few years ago, I went with a buddy Dave (a Red Sox fan) to a Yankees vs. Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium. A group of burly guys sat a few rows behind us and were throwing ice cubes and verbally assaulting Red Sox fans who sat in front of them. Dave and I turned around and were greeted with a menacing "turn the f&ck back around, @ssholes!" We smartly just left it alone, but I wondered whether confrontation would've felt better.

I thought about this as I read a sad episode of fan outside of Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park who was killed by three men after a spilled beer escalated into a fight. I don't know if victim, David Sale Jr. was culpable in escalating the tensions. Maybe he actually tried to walk away, but still got jumped by this threesome of thugs.

It's disappointing that I won't feel completely safe at a sporting event, and certainly not comfortable bringing my young children. The explosive combination of alcohol and fan passion is a dangerous one, and unless teams are willing to provide greater security for people inside and outside of the stadiums or stop selling beer (which will happen when hell freezes over), I fear that we'll see more incidents like this.

It also raises the question of the Kenny Rogers' "Coward of the County" question of when to walk away from a fight. My good friend the Urban Christian recently wrote about the "code of the street" and how it complicated advice to a son growing up in urban Philadelphia, where walking away from being disrespected could have negative longer-term consequences. This is perhaps where the nuance Kenny Rogers sings of in the chorus of the song - both "You don't have to fight to be a man," and "Sometimes you have to fight to be a man."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Foreshadowing Six Years Forward

I happened to catch a New York Post headline that Michael Douglas' son Cameron, was arrested for a large amount of crystal meth with intent to distribute.

A few years ago, I watched "It Runs In the Family", a 2003 film which beyond being an mediocre Michael Douglas-produced vanity project in which he casts five members of his own family, outlining the trials and tribulations of three generations of the "Gromberg" family. It also served as the film breakthrough for Cameron Douglas, who played a disinterested teenage sloucher who eventually is busted for growing marijuana in his apartment.

The movie climaxes with a weepy scene where Cameron Douglas' character walks out sobbing remorsefully into the arms of his father, who has bailed him out. Michael Douglas' character, in turn, clutches his son tightly and while choking back tears says, "We're a family. we're gonna figure this out together."

Not making light of their predicament at all, but how does that scene in the movie not cross Michael and Cameron Douglas' minds given their present circumstances?

Monday, August 3, 2009

That's One Way to Discourage Online Porn

A couple of weeks ago, a nude video of ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews began to circulate on the Internet. In addition to the hub-bub around the video itself, which was apparently taken surreptitiously through a peep hole in Ms. Andrews' hotel room (that's pretty creepy... I will no longer do my nude tai-chi in the Marriott), there was also a pretty big side story about the proliferation of viruses and malware that was spread to suckers who were trying to find the video.

It dawned upon me that it's actually a pretty effective method of discouraging the viewing of online pornography. Don't get me wrong, I think the time-tested (and Bible-endorsed) methods of personal accountability is what's key, whether that's done in the form a 1:1 prayer partnership, a men's group, or using tools such as Covenant Eyes.

Having your computer being taken over by hackers in Eastern Europe is a pretty good disincentive, in case the erosion of your soul doesn't quite do it for you.