They teach extra-mile sportsmanship in Texas!

Wow. Another great, inspirational story about a young man with developmental disabilities. This story has THREE “Wow that’s amazing” parts.

  1. Mitchell Marcus grew up loving basketball, and at Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas, he got to experience it as a team manager. That would probably been cool enough to report about.
  2. But at a recent game, at the end of the season, his coach gave him a wonderful gift, and let him suit up with the team. Near the end of the game, the coach put Mitchell in to get some live play in a real game. He had even instructed the rest of his own players that, no matter whether the game’s outcome was looking like victory or defeat, Mitchell was to receive a pass to shoot at least one shot during the game. In an interview after the game, the coach stated that yes, he was willing to forego a victory to ensure Mitchell a chance at a dream play in a real game. THAT was a really cool thing for the team to do for Mitchell.
  3. However, the real “Wow” moment happened after Mitchell had actually taken several shots, and unfortunately he had missed them all. On the last attempt, a pass to Mitchell flew off his hands and went out of bounds, with only seconds remaining in the game. The opposing team took the ball out of bounds. However, the other team’s player inbounding the ball, shouted out Mitchell’s name, then passed it to HIM! Mitchell caught the pass, turned around, and made the shot. The crowd went wild!

Please watch the video report below, and be grateful along with me that young people are still learning great values like sportsmanship, individual respect, and love for their peers.



Future technology — but not too distant future (probably!)

[I] was introduced to the video below through the Coursera MOOC (massive open online course) in which I am now enrolled. The course is about “E-Learning and Digital Cultures” and I, plus about 260,000 classmates (yes, it’s really that massive), have been exploring how learning intersects with past, present, and future digital technologies in our culture.

The course has asked us, the students, to consider whether past, present, and future technologies of the emerging digital culture have been or will be utopian (i.e., contributing to or even causing a “better” or “higher” culture and society) or dystopian (i.e, contributing to or even causing a “worse” or less-desireable version of culture and society). In this video, Microsoft is obviously inferring that the future appears more utopian with the new technologies. The optimist in me wants to embrace this view. However, in the course we have also explored how technology potentially has a dark side, potentially being disruptive in a negative way, giving certain privileged segments of the population unfair or even potentially oppressive power. For an example, see my earlier post about whether we should trust Google. As a university professor, I now include a review of these cautions about Google in my own courses on computer network design, security, and privacy).

I found the video below, produced by Microsoft, quite engaging and thought-provoking. I’m mainly wondering how long (or, how short) the time will be before we see most or all of them in common use in our homes, education providers, and businesses. I think you will enjoy it, too.

(6 minutes)


I’m taking my first MOOC — Massive Open Online Course

[I] just signed up for the first MOOC I’ll have been any part of. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. Several different educational consortia now offer quite a few such courses. The course I’ll be taking is E-Learning and Digital Cultures, from a team of “tutors” at Edinburgh University in the UK. A course description from the Coursera website:

“This course will explore how digital cultures and learning cultures connect, and what this means for e-learning theory and practice.”
More info at:

The course starts next week, and runs for five weeks. I just received an email confirmation from the course team today, and they shared that they now have over 260,000 participants enrolled in this one session alone!

One of the hallmarks of MOOCs is that they are nearly all free, as this one is. It is coordinated by a consortium of universities founded by two faculty members from Stanford University, named Coursera, at

Here is a short video overview of the course:

(3 minutes)

I recently discovered The Piano Guys, and I’m hooked!

[I] was recently watching a Fox News morning program recently, and they introduced a set of guests I was not familiar with at the time. They are five talented music professionals that got together “by accident” in a small music store in Utah (although I think they now believe it was divine Providence) and started making original music and entertaining videos together. They now have a very substantial website at where you can enjoy their work.
Part of what amazed me about their talent is how they turn a single piano into a veritable symphony by each of them “playing” a different part of the instrument at the same time. You’ll have to watch the video below to see what I mean. Be sure and notice how their cellist uses a cello bow to stroke the wires of the piano to get a background note, plus all the percussion opportunities the various members of the group take (such as banging the keyboard cover up and down!).

Watch this same clip that hooked me, and learn a little more about the group members themselves, as well as watching their amazing music performance live in the TV studio.

(5 minutes)

Finally, here is my favorite of their pieces I’ve heard so far. It’s a moving combination of classical instruments (piano and cello) and African rhythm and lyrics. Read the story about how and why they created this piece at:

(5 minutes)

If God Made the Universe, Why Is It The Way It Is?

In the following video, astronomer and pastor Dr. Hugh Ross gives some of his personal testimony, and provides a brief history about the why he wrote the book, Why The Universe Is The Way It Is. Next he shares why he later created a video series by the same name for small-group study. In this 9-part multimedia series, Dr. Ross shares Scripture, stunning satellite photos, and the most recent scientific findings to explain the great love story that is our universe.

I am hosting and co-presenting this series in monthly sessions over the next nine months. We will be gathering at MidAmerica Nazarene University on the second Tuesday of each month, at 7:00 p.m., in the Ramsey Auditorium of Smith Hall (Room 200). Everyone in the area is invited to attend. Admission is free, and there will be free refreshments and door prizes. Please join us!

Dr. Ross is founder and president of Reasons To Believe. The mission of Reasons to Believe is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries — consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Discover more at

Please watch Dr. Ross’s testimony here:

3D Scanning on a grand scale, for grand purposes

[I]n an earlier post I wrote about the new technology of 3D printers, by which solid 3D objects can be scanned and reproduced faithfully. I just recently discovered an additional new 3D scanning technology that can scan entire archeological sites with amazing accuracy. Its inventor, Ben Kacyra, is applying it to the recording and preservation of what he calls “heritage sites,” such as Mt. Rushmore. He has recently launched an initiative to complete 500 such projects of worldwide significance during the next five years. He recounts a story of how his team had only recently completed the recording of an ancient African tomb, only to have it destroyed soon thereafter by suspected arsonists. Because of his organization’s efforts, the site is being considered for an accurate reconstruction and restoration project.

My thoughts immediately went to applications for recording, preserving, and sharing for education the most significant sites of biblical archaeology, particularly those at highest risk to destruction or loss for various reasons.

I applaud and marvel at the scale, intricacy, and intentions of this notable and worthy project. Be sure and watch until the very end, when a “live” scan of the presentation room and audience is revealed! Enjoy!

If you think YOU’ve had a rough day, talk to Doug Smith

[T]he following videos have special personal meaning to me. First of all, I grew up in the Texas panhandle, and I am a big fan of Bob Phillips’s Texas Country Reporter program, which he has been producing successfully for many years. He goes to many, many out-of-the-way places and talks to everyday people about their special vocations, hobbies, histories, and myriad other fascinating, down-home subjects.

These video pieces are even more special to me because I personally know the subject of the story, Doug Smith, and he is one of my brother’s best friends.

Doug has a fascinating, tragic, and inspiring story. A few years ago he was a rising presence in the rich history of West Texas musicians (Buddy Holly, Mac Davis, and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, to name a few). Doug plays original music that he himself composed and/or arranged. You see, he has to, because Doug doesn’t read music! He does it all in his head and in his heart.

Doug and my brother Alan became acquainted because Alan is also a hugely talented professional in the West Texas music industry, as a recording engineer and now studio owner. Doug has recorded every one of his many DVD projects under Alan’s direction, and several were recorded entirely in Alan’s own studio in Acuff, Texas. Doug was featured on a wonderful PBS documentary entitled, “There It Is,” and Alan assisted in the show’s production. Doug is even the subject of a page on Wikipedia .

However, a tragic car accident in 2007 instantly paralyzed Doug from the neck down. The experts said he would be fortunate to even breathe on his own again. However, Doug’s indomitable inner strength, confidence in himself, and gratitude for his blessings has enabled him to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Our family had a special blessing when Doug shared his music at our mother’s funeral last year.

Resources for you:

I encourage you to watch this video piece about Doug. The video shows him in Alan’s studio (with the red carpet). Be sure and listen to Doug’s inspiring personal philosophy at the end.

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Here is one more video of another interview with Doug and he talks about the miracles that continue to happen with him in his new life of gratitude. Be inspired as I am!


Amazing 3D Solid Object Printers

[T]echnology continues to amaze me. Here is a short documentary about how a huge variety of working machines, tools, and other objects can be created and reproduced by a resin-based 3D printing system. Just imagine its applications for creating working models, prototypes, visual aids, and even production items for distribution.

Recently I was able to observe one of these machines in action at one of our local high school technology labs. Instructors were using it to help students create visual models of molecular structures.

Want to buy your own 3D printer and try it out? Here are some commercial sources:

Watch this video to see a printer reproduce a working, usable, resin copy of a large crescent wrench. Wow!


A Rant About Customer Service vs. “Personal Security Questions”

I just encountered a pet peeve of mine last night. I was asked to update my account information on my cell phone carrier’s website, and I had to set up one of those now-common sets of “secret questions” for security in order to make a change to my account. While I agree very much with the concept, I think they must be letting 18-year-olds create the lists (no offense to young people here!). One of the lists they gave me, with no other options, was all about my ‘favorites” — my favorite movie, my favorite actor, my favorite restaurant, etc. These are all things that change over time, and therefore are TERRIBLE answers to expect me to provide in six months or a year, when I’m making more changes to my account and my “favorites” have changed! These lists should always ask for static information — where I was born, my brother’s middle name, the year I graduated from high school, etc.

Glenn Beck’s New Online Program and Network

[I] was at least somewhat saddened when I heard that Glenn Beck is ending the spectacular run of his program on Fox News Channel. It is one of the few regularly scheduled programs that I record with my DVR and watch every episode.

Mr. Beck is launching a new program on September 12 in a whole new format, on the Internet. My kind of stuff!

He and his team have produced a stage-setting initial program that I found fascinating. I am excited to see how they will perform thorough research, produce it with integrity and excellence, and deliver it with absolute cutting-edge distribution technologies. It will be great to watch, and even more important, to participate in. That’s because the focus is going to be helping us understand what we can DO to reclaim America’s exceptionalism and become forces for good within our culture, rather than being just entertained or merely inspired.

I invite you to join me. Here is the initial episode:

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