Tuesday, January 31, 2006

7000 Hits

I sat down before the State of the Union Address to check if I'd passed 7000 hits yet and lo and behold…

I was the 7000th hit! And I didn't even need to hit the refresh button hundreds of times (my "Plan B").

Thank you for reading my blog; 7000 hits (30 per day for several months now) was a major milestone and one that came about two weeks sooner than I had expected.

I'm still impressed that anybody reads this other than my immediate family but thanks again.

Random Thoughts 1/31/06

  • Arena League Football was not nearly as compelling as I thought it would be. I've heard great things about actually being at the game, but it doesn't translate well over to TV. It's a sport, like Hockey, that will benefit immensely from high definition television. If everybody was watching HD, the Arena League could show wider shots of the playing area so that we could actually see what's happening. As it is now it's like watching the game through a straw. No wonder the live experience is so much better than the telecast.
  • Thank you Christiane Amanpour for your opinion, you can go now. The CNN correspondent declared that Iraq is a disaster. It is? The Meuse-Argonne Offensive (that's World War 1) saw over 26,000 Americans killed – in one battle! That's disastrous. Over 10,000 Americans were killed in the Battle of the Bulge (WW2), an actual disaster where American units were overrun and surrounded. That's a disaster. What Christiane probably means is that it's dangerous and people are dying, but more Americans were killed on a successful D-Day (2,500 on June 5-6, 1944) than in three years of fighting in Iraq. We would have to stay in Iraq for another 80 years (at current casualty rates) to equal the deaths in Vietnam. Is Iraq a disaster? We've freed over 25 million people from a murderous dictator. We've protected the establishment of freedom and democracy in a part of the world where they said it couldn't happen. We made a difference in history. That's not a disaster.
  • The Society for Hand Held Hushing (SHHH) has cards to give to loud cell phone users. Most of the cards rebuke the offenders by saying "your conversation about *fill in the blank* is interesting but we don't want to listen to it!" Funny, but the site has several profanities so I won't link to it directly. I say anyone who uses a Nextel walkie-talkie in a restuarant ought to get a tranquilizer dart in the neck after their first offense. I don't want to hear your side of the conversation, why would I want to hear both sides?
  • God bless Sam Alito, a well qualified and fair jurist. Will Roe v. Wade be overturned now? Probably not, but it should. In an objective evaluation, Roe v. Wade is bad law. Using the Supreme Court to create law is undemocratic. The Congress, accountable to the people, makes law, period. The Democrats should pass a law providing abortion protections if that's what they want. And Alito and Roberts wouldn't do anything about it, since the Constitution doesn't say anything about abortion. Hence, what may undo Roe v. Wade would also protect an actual abortion law. That's what I like about Alito and Roberts, they're not political operatives. They follow the rules even when they don't like it. And that's integrity.
  • As the last holdout, having never watched one episode of Survivor, I may actually watch the show this Thursday. I'm not a big fan of reality TV; in fact the news, documentaries and a few sports make up 95% of what I watch. But I've had several people recommend it to me, saying that I'd like the psychology and "strategery" involved. We'll have to see.
  • George Barna is openly against the local church? Yup. His new book Revolution is promoting Christianity sans the local church. Kevin Miller aptly critiques the book and the position in this book review.
  • The Academy announced the Oscar nominations today. Yeah, I'm stunned. I thought the Academy would mostly reward movies with stirring themes of truth and justice and recognize box office success instead of touting small, unpopular films that dwell on perversion and misery, supporting an agenda that only appeals to about 20% of Americans. What was I thinking?
  • Did you know that cell phones can be used to track you like a radio transmitter on an animal? The Department of Transportation wants this info to see which roads you use. Maybe other departments could check to see if you're speeding or if you're at home or where you spend you time. That's not creepy is it?
  • If you're bringing cookies for church, please refrain from peanut butter. It's gross. Also there are kids in the church that are allergic to peanut butter but have generous little friends who like to share. That's a bad combo, so watch out.
  • I heard a new phrase: "an edentulous threat." Edentulous means toothless. I like it. It's too obscure to actually use, but I like it.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Fields are White

I was just reading an article that mentioned that 74% of Americans do not go to church.

I couldn't find any specifics defining how infrequent one's attendance needs to be to be labled as a "non-church goer." What about "CEOs" (Christmas and Easter Only)? What about five times a year or once every other year? I'd like to have more details.

Nevertheless, a lot of people don't go to church. If only we made some real effort to evangelize, every healthy church would run in the hundreds with new churches popping up all the time. There certainly is no reason for churches to compete with one another.

An Unaborted Rationale

I've been exasperated of late trying to understand the thinking of pro-abortion folks. Unfortunately, I don't know many people who have an articulate position for abortions.

I know the foolishly ignorant who are for it – non-thinking, head-in-the-sand types who don't ask questions and actively refuse to learn. But if you can get them to stop long enough to broach the topic, they'll wither under the bright light of rational conversation.

I know the pathologically selfish who are pro-abortion. They regret their own children and resent any kind of intrusion into their lives. If push comes to shove, they don't deny that abortion is killing a child… and that's scary.

I know one-track activists who are for abortion. To them abortion is not a real subject in and of itself but a pawn on the chessboard of politics and/or feminism. They don't see a child at all, they only see the mother's body, which is an unscientific and unsupportable claim.

At the moment of conception, a new and unique strand of DNA is created. It's not the mother nor a part of her body, in fact in may even have a different blood type. It is not a fish or an animal or a virus, rather it is human DNA, unlike any other that has every existed in history. It is truly one of a kind, already containing all of the code it will ever need to be a complete and whole person. It is nourished by nutrients and oxygen as it will be for many decades to come, and though is it dependent on its mother, that dependency will fade as time passes (hopefully before college).

What possible justification exists for killing this person? If you are not ignorant, selfish, or distracted, what rationale do you have for killing these children?

Population control?

Racism or some form of elitism?

I'd really like to know.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Same Bat Time? No.

NFL football is moving around next year. Sunday night games will now be on NBC at 7:15pm (formerly on ESPN at 7:00), and Monday Night Football will be on ESPN at 7:30pm (formerly on ABC at 8:00). I think moving up the Monday Night time a little is excellent for those of us in the Central or Eastern time zone. A lot of us wake up Tuesday morning to discover we missed last minute heroics.

The NFL will also be showing eight live regular season games on its own NFL Network, including a third Thanksgiving Day game. That's right ladies, almost eleven hours of solid football! From 11am until ten at night, all the men will be incommunicado!

The stuff of memories! Good times, good times…

Introduced to Jesus?

In an interview with Christianity Today (p74, December, 2005), journalist Patricia Raybon talks about her daughters. Raised in a Christian home, one daughter became pregnant out of wedlock and the other converted to Islam. When asked what kind of home life they had she answers,

"[We went] to church every Sunday. For my girls, that meant youth activities, choir, that whole profile. Clearly, I wasn't introducing my children to Jesus. Once you know him, you don't walk away from him. What I introduced them to was institutional church, to organized activities under the roof of a church. Whatever I did, I thought I was doing the right thing. It did not turn out that way."

I'm amazed at her honesty. I've met countless parents who refuse to be held accountable for how their kids turned out, after all, they took them to church each week. Yet this concerned mother not only acknowledges it but correctly diagnoses it. Church doesn't change or heal people. Church doesn't breathe life into your soul. Jesus Christ does.

Friday, January 27, 2006

WMD – The Big Lie?

Here's a little article about WMDs in Iraq. I thought it was a fair and reasonable treatment of the subject. After hearing Maureen Dowd say that, while Clinton's lies were "poignant and endearing," Bush's lies are leading us down a road of trouble. Sorry, Maureen, but you can only say that Bush lied if he knew that WMDs were not a factor. Maybe we should actually look at the evidence.

Random Thoughts 1/27/05

  • We had the good pleasure of having Wanda Bibbs speak at our church last Sunday. She gave a presentation about Grace Center, a Maternity Shelter in Kansas City, Ks. What's a maternity shelter? It's a home for girls who choose not to have an abortion. They are given a room, education, training, and support for up to a year after the baby is born. Few things in life are literally life and death, but this is. It's saving the lives of these girls and their babies; may God bless them all.
  • Speaking of death, I think I have discovered three criteria for what makes a good funeral: correlation, tact, and brevity. First, a funeral that is generic is an insult to the deceased and loved ones; it must match some aspect of the person being memorialized or it's lost its purpose. Second, it must be appropriate for the moment. Most funerals are not a good place for heavy-handed evangelistic appeals, political grandstanding, or group therapy. Funerals are also not a good moment to be irreverent, as it belittles both the deceased and God's promises. Humor can be used in addition to but not in place of reverence. And finally, keep it brief. If the preacher can't say it in 10 or 15 minutes it can't be said, so stop trying. This isn't the place for a seven point homily or a Bible study. Make one point and make it well. It's all that the bereaved can absorb at this time. When I do a funeral service it's usually less than half an hour.
  • The Arena Football League begins their season tonight. The Kansas City Brigade starts with two away games before their home opener at Kemper Arena in February. The Brigade has an all-pro two-way player (tight end/linebacker) and a veteran QB; this could be cool! I've never really watched the Arena League before, but now that they're fifteen minutes from my house, I'd kind of like to go to a game. The games are all televised on NBC, Fox Sports Net, Comcast cable, or WB 62.
  • The Chiefs are still active in this offseason. They are sending Tulsa QB James Kilian to Europe to play football this spring, along with several other scrubs including DE Eddie Freeman. Maybe Kilian will be the young replacement for Trent Green someday! By the way, Green was named to the Pro Bowl today to replace an injured Tom Brady.
  • Sunday we're having a Baby Recognition ceremony. The parents of children born in the 2005 calendar year will be given a charge to raise their children in loving, Christian homes and to teach them to fear the Lord. We have four more boys this year (boys have outnumbered girls probably 4-to-1 in recent years) but we're already up 2 girls to 1 boy for next year.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Are the Preachers Christian?

What would happen if you asked your minister about the basic tenets of the Faith?

You may be shocked to find that he (she?) doesn't believe what you think he should! I was reminded of this recently while reading up on Martin Luther King, Jr. One article was written by a black Baptist conservative woman who was shocked speechless when she started reading King's actual words about Jesus and miracles. King was a theological liberal, just like many ministers, who was too sophisticated and intellectual to believe that the miracles of the Virgin Birth, Deity of Christ, and Resurrection were actually literal! He had plenty of emphasis on social justice but not so much on whether the supernatural is legitimate and whether that matters after this world is gone. A survey of his speeches and papers is pretty damning, such as the January 3, 1964 TIME magazine man of the year article:

(King speaking) "I had doubts that religion was intellectually respectable." At Morehouse, King searched for "some intellectual basis for a social philosophy." He read and reread Thoreau's essay, "Civil Disobedience," concluded that the ministry was the only framework in which he could properly position his growing ideas on social protest. At Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pa., King built the underpinnings of his philosophy. Hegel and Kant impressed him, but a lecture on Gandhi transported him, sent him foraging insatiably into Gandhi's books. "From my
background," he says, "I gained my regulating Christian ideals. From Gandhi I learned my operational technique."

Immanuel Kant impressed him?! Good grief. Really, this didn't surprise me. I regularly have to wade through books, journals, websites, and entire universities full of theologians that don't believe the Bible at face value. They're too smart for any of this superstitious stuff and instead delve into all kinds of convoluted conspiracy theories to explain away the Bible.

*cough* Da Vinci Code *cough*

There are precious few institutions that still train ministers to believe in a supernatural (as opposed to naturalistic) view of scripture. This trend started in Europe a few centuries ago and has been popular in Universities here for over a century. I no longer expect most ministers I meet to be what I would call a believer in Jesus Christ, but rather more of a fan of Jesus of Nazareth's philosophy.

My only real question is why? Why be a minister at all if you don't really believe? Why not just be a social worker or join the Peace Corps? Why? As near as I can tell, the ministry is not lucrative and can be incredibly draining. But I feel compelled by God and called to this ministry. My confidence in the supernatural is all that keeps me going sometimes and if you took that away, I'm not sure that I'd see the point to all of this.

So what are these guys up to? Why don't they do something else? How do they carry on in light of the compromises they've made? It makes me suspicious of ulterior motives.

Blame the Troops, Part 3

Well, it's been a few days and not only is Joel Stein not sorry he doesn't support our troops he still doesn't understand why he's so wrong. Even after having his veneer of logic stripped away, Stein remains resolute, led by his emotions and his politics in spite of the evidence. Everyone has the right to their opinion, but not all opinions are created equal.

Here's a link to Michelle Malkin's article "25 Ways to Ignore Joel Stein And Support Our Troops"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Nice Place to Visit, but…

China's president, Hu Jintao made the list of the World's Top 10 Worst Dictators.

Says Parade Magazine,

6) Hu Jintao, China. Age 63. In power since 2002. Last year’s rank: 4

Although some Chinese have taken advantage of economic liberalization to become rich, up to 150 million Chinese live on $1 a day or less in this nation with no minimum wage. Between 250,000 and 300,000 political dissidents are held in “reeducation-through-labor” camps without trial. Less than 5% of criminal trials include witnesses, and the conviction rate is 99.7%. There are no privately owned TV or radio stations. The government opens and censors mail and monitors phone calls, faxes, e-mails and text messages. In preparation for the 2008 Olympics, at least 400,000 residents of Beijing have been forcibly evicted from their homes.
We (the US) say all kinds of nice things about China because we're so heavily invested there and vice versa. In fact, we're becoming so symbiotic that war with China may never be possible (that's a good thing) because it would destroy both countries economically (bad thing). The truth however is that China is probably the most unhelpful country in the world compared to what they could be doing globally or even for their own people.

The only glimmer of hope is that they have discovered capitalism, and by capitalism I mean greed. Good old selfishness and materialism may break the communist grip on power before anything else.

I used to think that the internet would lead to a Chinese revolution. Not so much now. Google recently agreed to censor itself in order to make a buck. The company, whose motto is "don't be evil," will now not allow the citizens of China to search the internet for terms like "democracy," "human rights," and "freedom."

Way to go.

Hero Animation

The Army has posted a video demonstrating the actions of Sergeant 1st Class Paul Ray Smith who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism in Iraq. Smith, who died defended his troops, is the only soldier (so far) awarded the MOH since Somalia in 1993 (there are others under consideration).

This video is interesting because it puts the reports and witness accounts into a video game. Why a video game? The game is used to generate the animation while voice acting is added to create a computer generated movie. This process (and the genre that uses it) is called "machinima" (machine + cinema/animation), which is popular on the internet with foul mouthed, I-live-with-my-mom but work-out-of-the-basement animation studios (Yes I'm talking about Rooster Teeth).

In this case the animation creates a fairly accurate portrayal of what happened the day that SFC Smith gave his life. It's certainly not the full story, but the video might inspire some to learn more here.

Here's my original post about SFC Smith's Medal of Honor from last April.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My Rapt Attention

If you love aviation, there is one plane out there that is sure to set your heart a flutter, the most advanced fighter plane in the world, the F-22A Raptor. First conceived in the 1980's this aircraft is now a reality, operating in active duty squadrons and flying missions.

This plane is jaw-dropping for several reasons.
  • Stealth. You don't know this plane is there until something explodes.
  • Radar. The radar on this thing is incredible. Not only can it reach out and find targets at incredible ranges, but somehow it doesn't give away the presence of the Raptor (exactly how is top secret). Even more, this radar can be focused on enemy electronics, such as a radar station, and the energy will fry the electronics! This is like science fiction.
  • Avionics. This is a flying supercomputer (actually several supercomputers) networked with other aircraft and satellites. The computer and pilot work together to manage volumes of information, showing every unit on the ground and in the air, friend and foe.
  • Speed. The F-22 is the first fighter that can fly supersonic without using its afterburners; this is called "supercruise." The airspeed the older planes could achieve for only five or ten minutes, the Raptor calls normal.
  • Maneuverability. The Raptor has vectored thrust, which means it can point its exhaust in different directions. This gives it the ability to turn tightly, do somersaults, and other aerobatic maneuvers that no American plane has been able to do before (the Russians have been doing this for awhile). This alone will get me to stand in the sun all day at an airshow.
  • Cost. Yes the plane costs over $100 million dollars (the exact figure depends on how many we end up making and could be two or three times this amount). But each F-22 replaces several other aircraft. Instead of a team of twenty aircraft with four or five different jobs, you send two planes to do the whole thing. It's significantly cheaper on several levels.
  • Lethality. Each Raptor should be able to shoot down six or more planes on each mission until the bad guys stop putting planes in the air. And they may never have even caught a glimpse of the F-22.
Here's some more information on the Raptor (click to enlarge).

Note: This was post 350. Thanks for reading.

Blame the Troops, Part 2

This is how you suffer fools gladly. Hugh Hewitt doesn't get mad; he doesn't call Joel Stein names. He simply forces this foolish young liberal to actually think through the position his emotions led him to. This is a masterful job. It's classic.

Read the transcript of Hugh Hewitt interviewing Joel Stein over Stein's article about not supporting our troops. Click here to listen to the interview. It's easier to see what is accomplished by reading the interview but listening to Stein stumble for answers is pretty damning also.

Blame the Troops

You must read this article about NOT supporting our troops.

It's an opportunity to read the truest thoughts of an actual Michael Moore liberal. See how arrogance, ignorance, and a deficit of principle come together. You'll be appalled at how unwise an intelligent person can be.

And this guy, Joel Stein, is insufferably partisan – why is bombing Serbia ok but going to Iraq is some kind of dirty trick? The answer, for him, is that a Democrat sent us to Yugoslavia. But 10 years later, a lot of historians are wondering if we picked the wrong side in that one (yes, the Serbs were scoundrels but take note that a few of the "foreign fighters" we've killed in Iraq are the same innocent Muslim Kosovars we were protecting ten years ago).

The real core of the liberal position is arrogance, only they are smart enough to discern when the military should be used, if ever. Any use of the military by conservatives is evil because traditional America is evil. Afterall, how could the "dark side" possibly do good?

Time doesn't permit me to rebut each line of that article, though I sure want to. But I trust that most people can just read it and know that something is amiss. That red flags are going up and an uneasy feeling that if this guy, or someone like him, made the calls, we would be in grave danger.

The Pressure's On

I just returned from the Jay-rod's house. His wife, eight months pregnant, is in the hospital where they are trying to stop her from having their little girl prematurely. I was house sitting, while their boys slept. When I returned, Shannon, seven months pregnant, was distressed and had an elevated blood pressure reading. It's half past twelve and we may be heading to the hospital if it doesn't come down. Yikes!

UPDATE: The Andersons are home and Shannon made it through the night without a trip to the hospital at all. Shannon's pressure has spiked a few times and her doctor has been notified but it seems to come down as easily as it goes up. We're not worried that it's actually preeclampsia yet.

UPDATE 2: Shannon's blood pressure at 11:30am, 116/54. Let's hope it stays that way.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Godspeed Glenn

I went to the funeral today of a preacher I've known for most of my life, Glenn Kailer. Glenn was a genius and a likable eccentric. And though he was only an acquaintance, he was partly responsible for my interest in preaching.

Glenn gave excellent seminars on creationism (as well as writing books and hosting a radio show). He was an intellectual and perfectly analytical but he also had a wit and an optimism that made him much more entertaining than the material would have allowed otherwise. As a student, I was impressed. Here was someone with real intellectual honesty taking a hard look at the facts and being let toward God, not away!

My interest in creation, intelligent design, science and the Bible was propelled by Glenn Kailer. At age 54, he has gone home to be with the Lord.

Godspeed, Glenn, and may the Creator's mysteries be unfolded before you.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

High Pressure

Pray for Shannon, she went in to the hospital for awhile this evening because of her blood pressure. She's basically needs to stay off her feet as much as possible for the next couple of months (which should be no problem with three boys running around). We'll have to make arrangements for her to quit work and though it's most likely to cause intense boredom, it can be quite serious, so please keep her in your prayers.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Note to Self

Ah, it turns out that KU's coach Bill Self is not completely worthless. The Jayhawks just beat a decent Nebraska team 96-54.

Congrats 'Hawks, you needed it. For those of you who broke an ankle jumping off the KU bandwagon, thanks for lightening the load. For you who nearly jumped off the roof, you remembered that "the world is round" (what goes around comes around) and you stuck with it through what will be known in KU basketball history as the Week of Shame. Now, let us have a moment of silence for those who did jump…

We know KU is not great but that they have the potential for greatness. Personally, I'm excited again for the rest of the year, win or lose.

In the meantime, bask in the schadenfreude… Duke finally lost!

And finally from the barking chihuahua files: A fan was reportedly seen holding a sign that read, "Beat Nebraska… Just like in Football!" That particular sign hasn't been used since 1968 (the last time before this year that KU beat the Cornhuskers on the gridiron) and could have been held by that student's grandparents.

Iran on the Horizon

Here's a sobering examination of what is happening in Iran by Joe Katzman. I have a sneaking suspiscian that the current war in Iraq might be remembered as the low-intensity, low-cost, run-up to the Great Middle East War on our horizon. Says Katzman, "I personally believe that we're very likely to see at least 10 million dead in the Middle East within the next two decades, with an upper limit near 100 million."

Friday, January 20, 2006

Random Thoughts 1/20/06

  • For those of you who read war correspondent Michael Yon, he has a new website with all of his dispatches and pictures. There's a better chance than not that we'll see actor Bruce Willis playing Lt. Colonel Eric Kurilla, whom Yon wrote about, in a movie sometime soon. You can read quite a bit about Kurilla and his strykers in Yon's dispatches from last year.
  • End of the Spear opens today. We watched the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor a few nights ago. Everyone ought to see this (we rented it at Blockbuster). My generation is surprisingly unaware of these brave missionaries and what transpired fifty years ago. I hope everyone can see it.
  • Speaking of movies, The Chronicles of Narnia has earned about $587 million worldwide. That's fantastic! It currently is the 30th highest grossing movie of all time, just behind The Passion of the Christ (27th all-time with $612 million worldwide).
  • There's about half a dozen videos that are floating around the internet showing what happens when you mix mentos and diet coke. Can you say "geyser?" Just do a google search for "diet coke mentos reaction" and you'll see several examples of this simple chemistry experiment.
  • I bet I know two or three people that will be cleaning diet coke off their ceilings within a week.
  • I'm finding that I don't have the enthusiasm to read that I had while reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I flew through all 7 books in a few weeks, but now it's hard to find something as satisfying and compelling as what CS Lewis wrote. I can't wait until the boys are old enough to read the series.
  • Isn't it interesting that Osama Bin Laden's new tape offers a truce? Why would he want a truce? It seems that Arabic for truce sounds a lot like "uncle."

Iron Sharpening Iron

Hey, I just wanted to tell everyone how much I appreciate your comments and critiques. After I've emerged from my under my desk, wiped my tear-stained cheeks, and put the sharp objects away, I find that the tough questions and nitpicks make for a much better blog.

If you find an error (and they are legion), refresh your page because I might be fixing it at that very moment. I try to go over things with a fine toothed comb and I often fix stuff just minutes after it's posted.

And if you think I'm one sequin short of a tiara, just challenge me on it. You won't hurt my feelings (though my wife might hunt you down like a dog). After all, I might have been blogging after midnight (ooh, look at the pretty pixels, they're sooo big) or I might just be wrong. A large part of my confidence is that I'm very conscious of (and humbled by) how my views have matured as I've learned. In fact, I take Socrates' position on wisdom – a wise man is the one who admits his foolishness. I may come off as arrogant sometimes, but it's really more a confidence in the outcome; that objective truth can be known if it's pursued.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hollywood Politics

Do you want to understand why Hollywood Leftists don't understand?

Here's a profound examination of Hollywood's misguided interpretation of politics and history, written by a leading historian, Victor Davis Hanson. Hanson is a professor of the Classics and is an author of an impressive array of history books, some of which I've actually read (I highly recommend Ripples of Battle).

I find it interesting that so many actors are also leftists, especially the rich and successful ones. They are not oppressed. They are not held back. Quite the opposite, they're elite and have benefitted greatly from our democratic free market system. So why on earth do so many of them lean left? [Only 21% of voters identify themselves as liberal, but I'd guess Hollywood is something like 90% or better.] And why are the few actors who lean right, usually not very good actors? Is there significance here?

Do people who make a significant contribution to the world see it differently than those who pretend to be significant? Does a firefighter or a soldier understand something that an actor, who only pretends to be brave and heroic, just can't get?

This may actually be related to the old maxim, "those who can do, those who can't teach." I point it out because a large percentage of teachers also run left of center politically speaking [48% of teachers in one poll identified themselves as liberal, 18% conservative]. Teachers talk about things they've studied but not necessarily done themselves. Does this skew their worldview? And the conservative teachers I know are often folks who have had other careers and other options but choose to teach for the sake of the kids. Hmmm.

Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree, but it is interesting.

Why I Use a Mac

I'll expand here on one of my comments to a previous post.

The question is asked, "Why do you use a Mac?"

Let's start by reversing the question. Why do you use Windows? Did you actually choose Windows or did it choose you? Have you used anything else for any significant length of time (especially in the last five years)?

Since better than 9 out of 10 computers use Windows, I'm going to guess most computer users have learned Windows, and Windows only. It was a difficult learning curve, with countless hours dedicated to computer classes, tech support, and general frustration. The effect of this is that now that you can function, you're not about to start over with something new!

But what if you found out that three fourths of that learning curve was unnecessary? That some computers are user friendly and intuitive? That some computers DON'T crash? You thought you didn't have any other choice. You were wrong.

I have a five and a half year old Mac laptop. I use it hours everyday. I use Word and Excel and I surf the internet high speed. My ancient laptop has not crashed in about three years. Individual programs may crash once every few months but they can be immediately restarted in about two seconds. How about your five or six year old computer?

Generally though I'm not led by pragmatism alone. That's what I was getting at in my comments, which I'll post again here:

The difference between the Mac operating system and most any other OS (like Windows) is a simple matter what approach you take to usability.

The typical interface is simple and straightforward. Which is good until an actual user comes along. We click in the wrong place and make mistakes and then we realize that it's hard to use. The designers then must examine this after the fact and try to fix it. This is called "usability by evaluation". Every product needs it but it's not the only way.

Apple as a company designs their products with "usability by principles" in mind. This means they decide ahead of time what is desirable and who will use it. This makes the interface more user friendly, more robust (idiot proof), and more fun.

Apple designs for the user and not for the technician. This means some experts won't like it, especially those whose livelihood depends on the regular folks needing their assistance.

Using a Mac for me means:

More independence, less hassle; I'm free to do my thing, not what the programmer should have done already.
Better aesthetics prompts creativity.
Fewer and less severe learning curves.
The empowerment of being on the cutting edge of design.
The satisfaction of not following the herd.

You couldn't pay me to use Windows.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Isn't It Bad to be Two Sided?

Anonymous posted:

Wow are you kind of one-sided politically for a preacher? You seem to degrade some actors for their beliefs. Do we not have the right to free speech no matter what we believe is right? Do you really feel this is how a preacher should act? If George Clooney attended your chuch would you treat him differently? Do you think he has less a chance to get into heaven since he doesn't believe what you believe? That post is a joke.

I responded:

[I'll post what you said so that everyone can see it. I'm cool with that.]

Thanks for commenting. YOU'RE BANNED FROM MY BLOG!!! Just kidding.

I hardly "degraded" Clooney. I (indirectly, by way of a funny cartoon) called him a moron. He's a big boy, he can take it. He's a great actor (I loved Oh Brother Where Art Thou) but he keeps displaying his ignorance when he comments on politics – to the point of hurting our troops. If you don't believe me ask them, I have. The far left is over represented in Hollywood and has been for 50 years or more. It's nothing new. But that doesn't mean we have to like it.

But what gets me is how you seem awfully intolerant of my right to express myself. Don't I have free speech too?

But that's just it, I don't think you do feel I have the right to speak on this because I'm a preacher. Preachers should be non-threatening, white-haired, permissive grandfather-types. You know , kind of like God – all love, no teeth.

That's where we really disagree. I believe that my job is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. If I don't get under your skin or step on your toes at least a little… I'm not doing my job.

Now go ahead, ask me why!

In other words, "anonymous" is confusing love with approval. I had an encounter this evening that illustrates that point. A man I know wanted something that I knew was not good for him. He was insisting but I stood firmly in the way. I could have let it go, but it would have certainly hurt him and others in the near term. So I earnestly disagreed with him, because I do care for him. Apathy would have led to silence. I loved him and the other people involved too much to NOT disagree.

A Basic Rule of Life: Not everyone who tolerates you loves you.

Corollary to the Rule above: Toleration is not a prerequisite for love.


I have about ten more points I'd like to make here; this is a great line of discussion! But it's late so we'll continue later.

Feel free to comment!

It's a Girl!

My brother and his wife had a baby early Sunday morning, the 15th. A healthy 9 pound baby girl named Clara Jean.

I didn't want to say anything too soon and ruin Dustin's chance to tell as many people as possible. The funny thing is that some folks back home may not even know he has kids and now he has three!

Congratulations Brother! You guys have three of the most beautiful children I've ever seen…

In fact, I think I prefer the pictures of them to the real thing. ;-)

Quick Hits 1/17/06

  • Here's the new Macintosh commercial introducing the new Macs with an Intel processor inside. Here's a link to probably the best, and most inspirational, Mac commercial of all time.
  • Don't forget the movie End of the Spear is coming to theaters January 20.
  • Yikes, can they say that? Hillary race-baits the GOP saying they run a plantation and the New Orleans mayor says his town will be "chocolate" again. I'm fairly sure that if a Republican made either of these statements, or anything like them, they would be run out of town on a rail.
  • I can't wait for the Oscars [insert eye-rolling here]. The Golden Globes were mostly predictable with a good portion of the winners representing particular social and political agendas, especially Paradise Now, a movie to help you "understand" suicide bombers. I'm sure that movies like Brokeback Mountain and actors like George Clooney will likewise do well with the Academy. Reminds me of this classic poster.

  • Here's a glimmer of hope for you Firefly fans out there. By the way, did you know Joss Whedon is a third generation tv writer, writing for Roseanne, and creating the first Toy Story movie, Titan AE, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You can't pigeon-hole this guy!

Salving My Pain

Here's some stats I cited from the comments of an earlier post [Note: living in the past is an effective method for ignoring your present trials]:

  • KU has 2 wins in 7 NCAA championship game appearances since 1939 (4 national championships total).
  • The rest of the Big 12 combined? 2 wins in 7 championship game appearances. Oklahoma A&M (OSU) won twice in 1945 and 1946.
  • The only Big 12 school with a championship game appearance since 1951 other than KU? OU in 1988 (which lost to Kansas).
  • K-State is the only other Big 12 north school to appear in a championship game in NCAA history, losing in 1951.
  • KU has the fourth most NCAA tournament appearances in the nation (34) and the fifth most tournament victories (73).
  • Loony Conspiracy Theory of the Week: During the Second World War and Korea, agricultural schools were actually in cahoots with local draft boards, stacked with alumni farmers, who passed out Class II-C agricultural deferments like candy to particularly tall farm boys, keeping them out of the army and available for midwest college basketball teams. I'm still trying to figure out if UFO's were involved.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Humiliating, Part 2

Oh goody… the Jayhawks lost another game to a close rival.

This time it was Missouri, in overtime. The Mizzou fans rushed the court after the game.

Good grief.

Fortunately I don't still live in the state of Mizzery, surrounded by Mizzealots like I was for five years. Being a KU fan in Missouri was like hiding from the mob in the witness protection program. And more than once I woke to find a severed Jayhawk head on the pillow beside me.

But now I'm encircled by K-State fanatics here in Kansas. They're everywhere. Which isn't that bad. Mostly friendly folk, the worst they would do is slow down traffic with their tractors or send you a threatening message written in a cornfield.

But I'm definitely outnumbered. Apparently 9 out of 10 KU grads get speeding tickets leaving the state as fast as they can. And KU fans are not nearly as common as you would think. KU has an air of sophistication that doesn't perfectly fit this midwestern state (and by sophisticated, I mean snobby). Maybe the school is a little too pretentious… or too hippy… or too communist. Whatever it is, I'd venture to guess there are more locals who prefer K-State, or actually went there, than not.

Either way, for those of us born in Lawrence, have children named Phog, or are doing the Mangino diet, this has been a bad week.

Color Blind

I am not racist but I'm not exactly color blind either. I wish I could say I was color blind; I'm just not.

I certainly don't hate or resent other races. I don't mistrust them, fear them, or avoid them. I'm offended by how common racial prejudice is in my grandparents' generation but its poison has been diluted in the boomer generation and I feel that overt, hateful racism has become a backward minority position in my generation. Thank God. [Note: a recent poll says 75% of Americans see significant progress in race relations, including 66% of Black Americans]

But I'm not color blind. I honestly do notice if someone is asian or black or whatever, in large part due to my genuine fascination with ethnicity and family histories. You're part Czech? Hmmm, that's cool. I'm not bothered by your family history; I'm fascinated by it. For instance, I know a guy whose mother is Japanese, but sometimes people try to speak Spanish to him, thinking that he's Hispanic (he just has dark hair). I think that's really interesting… and sorta funny. Is that wrong?

Would there be less stigma attached to my curiosity if I was more diverse myself? I have some German background and a lot of generic English; entirely Anglo-European, as far as I know. My wife is thoroughly Scotch-Irish, red hair and all, and my kids can get sunburned indoors. A lot of people would look at us and see a bunch of white people. But in God's eyes there is really only one race, the human race. We are all created in God's image and offered salvation through Jesus Christ.

Each person, regardless of race, has equal value imbued by God. When our differences cease to be threatening, then maybe they can be appreciated. If that will not happen on this side of Glory, then may we all at least be color blind.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


KU lost to K-State today 59-55. In men's basketball.

You've got to be kidding.

KU only shot 26% from the floor in the second half and was out rebounded by a K-State team that had been so poor this year that their coach's job was seriously on the line. Not now. KU had won 31 games in a row against the Wildcats but now the Jayhawks dropped a twelve point lead in the second half to the last ranked team in the Big 12. And KU has beat ranked teams this year! What's going on?!

As a Jayhawk fan, this is disgusting. And embarrasing. It's hard to think of them as a good team after this.


Congratulations K-State. You deserved the win and played well. Good luck with the rest of your season and good luck March 4 in Manhattan; you might sweep the series.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Thrown for a Curve, Part 2

For those of you who don't read the comments…

The question was posed whether ultimate frisbee is a sport. Just playing catch or throwing it to the dog, probably not. But one glance at an actual game of ultimate frisbee and you'd recognize it as a sport.

Here's my comment from earlier:

Usually, a sport means a competition that requires physical exertion/skill. Ultimate would certainly qualify, it's an organized game between two teams that closely resembles hockey or basketball or football.

Are games, like golf, bowling or pingpong a sport? Well there is competition and skill involved, so a case can be made, but since physical strength and speed are lesser factors, most folks would shy away from the term sport.

The truth is that there is a spectrum of competition with chess and tic-tac-toe on one end and football and rugby on the other. The ones that demand more strenth, endurance or physical skill tend to receive more respect. Tiddlywinks, not so much.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thrown for a Curve

I took a message by phone today: "Tell Jay-rod I got a frisbee from animal control."

Uh, ok. That's a good thing right?

It turns out the youth group has been playing a lot of ultimate frisbee. What is "ultimate" you ask? For starters it's a real sport and there's a website, www.frisbeedisk.com, where you can find frisbees for ultimate frisbee and frisbee golf and you can read 30 frisbee trivia facts. There's also a site with the official rules.

Personally, I was always a fan of boomerangs and the aerobie ring.


How large is your vocabulary? Is it voluminous? Or capacious? Or commodious?

Actually this may not be an easy question to answer. Linguists identify four different sets of words that you know based on how each word is used or received. You have a listening vocabulary, a speaking vocabulary, a reading vocabulary, and a writing vocabulary. I'm guessing that my reading vocabulary is the largest and my speaking vocabulary is the smallest, although I imagine it could be different for some folks.

Obviously most people can understand more words they hear and read than they can actually use in a sentence. Some people refer to this as your active vocabulary (what you can use), versus your passive vocabulary (what you can understand). Vocabulary tests almost always measure what you can recognize from multiple choices, which is quite a bit different than what you can articulate out of the clear blue sky.

Once we pick the vocabulary we're talking about, however, we still can't answer the question of how big a vocabulary can be because we may not yet be sure what a word is.


Yes, the strictest definition of a word would be a string of letters with space on either side. But what about a word's various forms like go, going, gone, goes, and went? Are each of these "words" or are they just forms of the main word go?

Linguists call that base form a lemma. In English, the ratio of total words to lemmas is a fairly low 1.6:1 (a 1000 word document only represents about 625 different lemmas). This would mean that Shakespeare's works, though they included 29,066 word forms, probably only used about 18,000 lemmas. This is based on something called the "Brown Corpus," a million word sampling of words from English documents that gives us a fair idea of how frequently words are actually used. And some words are used a lot more often.

We actually use just a handful of words to do most of our communication. Almost half (49.6%) of the Brown Corpus is just the repetition of the 100 most frequently used lemmas, while 58% of the lemmas are used only one time out of a million words. The few common words are so important that, according to this, if you want to understand 80% of everything that's written, you only need to know 2854 words, representing only 2124 lemmas.

That's right, you could function with only 3000 words. Well… almost. Those rare, low frequency words are key to comprehension. If you didn't understand the last word of the previous sentence, that sentence was worthless to you. Therefore the more words you know, the better off you are.

So even though the modern English language might contain about 170,000 lemmas (about 250,000 words total, maybe half a million counting technical terms), the average person only uses about 5000 words on a daily basis.

And though they may know more words than that, they may never find occasion to use them.

By the way, if you'd like to test your word power, I recommend www.wordsmart.com's wordsmart challenge. To improve your vocabulary you can buy a word-of-the-day calendar or use Reader's Digest's "Word Power", but the single best way to learn is to use the dictionary. When you encounter a new term, stop and look it up. You can't get a better return on your investment of time than this simple discipline. And this way you automatically insure that you'll only be learning words that you'll actually encounter in life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cheating Our Kids

The system is broken and it's hurting our kids.

John Stossel, probably my favorite true journalist (in contrast to the ideologues and propagandists who call themselves journalists), has a great little article explaining why American schools don't work. It's really quite simple. Read it here.

The tv version of the report will be on ABC this Friday night (1/13).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

End of the Spear

Just seconds ago I saw on tv the trailer for the movie End of the Spear for the first time. I don't know if I've ever had a movie trailer affect me so. I had goosebumps and an overwhelmed feeling as I quickly figured this must be a movie about Jim Elliot and the other missionary pilots killed years ago in Ecuador.

I had no idea until now this movie even existed.

The very well done website is located at www.endofthespear.com and the movie is being released January 20th. Go here to see the trailers, read about the movie, download MP3s and screensavers, and find lots of other information.

Not many theaters in the state of Kansas are showing this film and not all of these are confirmed yet, but hopefully the gaps will fill in at the last minute. The Legends 14 and a few other local theaters are confirmed.

I'm going for sure! Who's with me?

Random Thoughts 1/10/06

  • Apple released its new computers today with faster processors made by Intel. But that didn't include a new consumer level laptop as I had expected. The professional-level laptop, the MacBook Pro, is $2500 and way out of my range. I was hoping for something in the less ambitious $1000-$1200 range to replace my five-and-a-half year old laptop at work. I guess I'll have to wait a little longer.
  • Some folks from our church left for Indonesia today. They'll spend five months there helping the missionaries and doing various things. Jarod and I saw them off at the airport and I pray the Lord keeps them safe.
  • I wonder if the Apostle Peter ever got mistaken for a bouncer? I had a repairman come to the church the other day and ask if he could speak to someone from the church. I told him I was "from the church." He looked at me and asked if he could talk to the preacher. I told him I was the preacher. He gave me a look somewhere between startled and disappointed. In my experience, however, the more a guy looks like a preacher, the less he'll act like one when he's "off the clock." The men I most admire, including the Lord, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Rich Mullins, Brother Lawrence, and Socrates were less than impressive at first glance or put people off by not meeting shallow expectations. But upon closer examination you find something stronger and truer than what you first desired. In the end, I'm not here to win people to me personally; I'm here to win them to the truth.
  • If the state raises taxes to give more money to schools so that the schools can do more to raise our kids properly, but you don't want the state to raise your children, can you just opt out?
  • In my books I do some underlining as I read so that I can find notable passages at a later point. Shannon commented that she liked reading the Chronicles of Narnia after me because she could see which parts resonated with me. But in some books I underline (or make notes in the margins) because I disagree. You should see my copy of Charles Darwin's Orgin of Species! I just finished a book that needed some serious caveats, if not flat-out warnings, and so I wrote a one in the front cover (something about a dungheap). It's not that those books are useless, it's just that they need to be put in their proper context.

Nerding It Up

I went by Barnes & Noble today to spend a gift card I had received for Christmas (this is what nerds get in their stockings). Normally, I would want to buy an expensive book (hey it's not my money) that I normally wouldn't buy myself, but the prices there were awful high and I knew I could save 25 or 30% online. So I ended up buying several smaller books.

First I bought The Art of War, a 2500 year old book by Chinese general Sun Tzu. My old copy was borrowed and never returned, so this is a replacement copy.

Once you read Sun Tzu, fortune cookies will pale in comparison. For example one of the key concepts from Sun Tzu is found in Art of War VI:29 "Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards." Hmmm… true, so true. I can use that in chess or football or invading third-world countries! See what I mean? A vague platitude and some lottery numbers seem kind of shallow after that.

If this interests you then your nerd-ification is nearly complete. I also bought a history book called Carnage and Culture by Victor David Hanson. I read his book Ripples of Battle last year and was fascinated by his synthesis of events in western history, connecting things in a way that makes perfect sense. History need not be boring, and I figure there are two ways for an author to make it interesting: 1. You can make it personal by zooming in on individual stories (this is why we like movies, biographies, and historians like Stephen Ambrose) or 2. You can zoom way out and connect the dots to bring the big picture into focus, explaining the why instead of just the what and how. This is what Hanson does and the effect is fascinating.

Then finally, I wedged myself firmly into nerd-dom with four volumes of Shakespeare: Julius Caesar, MacBeth, The Merchant of Venice, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Each volume is an Arden Shakespeare edition with commentary and footnotes because, really, what's the point if you can't understand what's being said. The average person has a vocabulary of about 5000 words but Shakespeare uses over 29,000 different words, many of which he invented. So a little help is perfectly reasonable.

Jayhawks In Their Road Uniforms

Flying to Denver: Free

Having your brother-in-law take you to a KU game in Boulder, Colorado: Free

Staying in his hotel room and then flying home: Free

Leaving your jealous family at home: Priceless!


Yet another church member is going to skip Wednesday Family Night to go see a KU game. My own father, dear ol' Dad, is flying to Colorado to see the Jayhawks play in Boulder with my uncle. Uncle Steve had an extra ticket and Dad can fly for free, so it's a done deal.

Again, how do I get left out of these things?

6000 Hits

Thanks for reading and posting comments on my blog. I hope you find something interesting when you come here.

I've been thinking a lot about the benefit my boys will have by having this record of my daily thoughts. If I got ran over by a truck tomorrow they would have a pretty clear idea of what kind of man I was. The thought of that has been hovering in the front of my mind for quite awhile now.

We're right on track to pass 7000 hits by February 11. We need to continue at about 30 hits a day to reach that milestone (that's the pace we've been at for the last two months or so). By the way, I should pass 350 posts in a few weeks, which is good. The rule is that the more you post the more often people will come back to read your blog. So I'll try to keep up on that.

Monday, January 09, 2006

KC Sports Thoughts 1/9/06

  • The Chiefs had their press conference today to announce the hiring of Herm Edwards. There's quite a bit of ill-will toward Edwards in the national media for getting out of his contract with the Jets. Carl Peterson simply robbed the Jets blind, tampering with a coach that was under contract with two years left and only paying a fourth round pick for him. I think the Jets must have wanted out and were willing to take something over nothing.
  • I like Edwards but a lot of people don't. Some think he was disloyal and a malcontent and a crony of Carl Peterson, which means nothing will really be new here. On that note, some folks don't think he'll truly be in charge here and they are waiting to see if he'll get his own coaching staff or be stuck with Vermeil's staff. In the end, I think Chiefs fans are only slightly less discontent than Eagles fans, the worst, most fickle, fans in the NFL.
  • The KC Brigade (our new Arena League team that we stole from New Orleans – is there a theme here?) is scrimmaging with another team today. Their first home game is Feb 12 and I can't wait to actually see one of those games live. It would be reeeeally neat.
  • Some friends at church admitted that they skipped Wednesday night church to go to a KU basketball game. Grrrrr… You had KU tickets and didn't take me with you?! I was actually offered KU football tickets from someone at church and had to turn them down in order to have Thanksgiving with my in-laws. Life is not fair.
  • Quinn Snyder, MU's punk-kid basketball coach, criticized KU's star freshman basketball player Brandon Rush, saying that the University of Missouri wouldn't recruit a great but troubled player like Rush because, get this, "we have standards." Quinn said this. Seriously. By the way, a search of google news for "Quinn Snyder," "Missouri," and "standards" got zero hits.

Fixed my Table

A big thank you to David T. for helping me fix my table. Now some of you are picturing in your mind's eye a hammer, a bottle of wood glue, and maybe a can of wood stain.

Silly readers… my wife can fix that kind of table.

But David and I were working on the HTML table, the long lines of computer code, in my Home of the Brave post last week. I'm a computer-geek wannabe of the worst kind and part of my purpose for doing this blog was to force myself to learn some HTML code. So every now and again I push myself to do something I don't fully understand -- so I'll have to learn it.

Fortunately there are people like David that can come along and help me when I need it. But his help isn't cheap… now I'm obligated to not charge him for officiating his kids' weddings!

[Highlight the space below for a super-secret wedding planning fact!]

Actually I don't charge anybody for weddings, it's already a part of my job. But if someone does want to give me gift, it's not supposed to be the father of either the Bride or the Groom, it's supposed to be the Best Man who pays the preacher's honorarium. Like that ever happens!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Anti-Christian College

Here's a good article about the blacklisting of Christians in the University setting, written by a college professor. Read it here. There's a also a brief report about an Italian atheist that is suing to prove that Jesus never existed. Good luck there, buddy; even he admits that if he won it would "be a miracle."

We were discussing skepticism at Bible Study the other night. It seems that the Biblical answer to world history and archaeology is almost always rejected out of hand as the wrong answer, often without even giving it a consideration. I can imagine the inner monologue of a secular scholar looking at some issue of ancient history: "Well, since I know the Bible is wrong, what do the facts point to as the next best option?"

Archaeology has never proven the Bible wrong. Never. But archaeologists have dismissed the Biblical account in dozens of places. They flat out reject it. In fact, they would laugh at you for believing the Biblical version of events.

Does evidence exist to support everything in the Bible? No, of course not. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Do you have to accept the possibility of miracles to read the Bible as is? Yes. And that can be frustrating because a miracle is a one time event that can't be tested scientifically, but that's the nature of history. There's a lot of unlikely, improbable events in history that nevertheless happened. In fact, recorded history is almost entirely made up of unusual and singular events. We generally don't write about trips to the grocery in history books.

If God does exist it is possible that he has interfered with history, despite the protests of scholars. If God has intervened, then the stories of the Bible are much more plausible. Considering the reliability of the texts themselves and proof that does exist, the skeptic requires a lot of blind faith.

Home of the Brave

Here's someone worth knowing. His name is Master Sergeant Suran Sar, an immigrant from Cambodia, naturalized U.S. citizen, with twenty years in the Army (15 years as a Green Beret Special Forces soldier). While fighting terrorists on the border of Pakistan, Master Sgt. Sar won the Silver Star for fighting and killing the bad guys and saving his special forces teammates, all after being shot in the head!

If you're not up to speed on what a silver star is, here's my own explanation of the military's award system:

DescriptionAir ForceArmyMarines
Showing UpBronze StarPat on the BackPaycheck
BraverySilver StarBronze StarPat on the Back
Notable BraveryAir Force CrossSilver StarBronze Star
Exceptional BraveryMedal of HonorDistinguished Service CrossSilver Star
Sacrificial BraveryTransfer to USMCMedal of HonorNavy Cross

As you can see, the Air Force has a reputation for being quite liberal with the chest candy, and the Marine Corps quite stingy. The War on Terror has just recently passed the Korean War for number of medals awarded (seriously) and in related news, Air Force personnel are all banking left due to the weight of that side of their uniform (they do look a little like third world dictators).

I've heard an excellent explanation for how critieria is determined for the Medal of Honor: The Medal of Honor cannot be awarded for an action done under orders. In other words, you can't get it for doing your job bravely; it must be truly above and beyond the call of duty.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

CNN Misinformation

I found this article over at Blackfive. It's a good read, showing some interesting cultural tidbits in Iraq, some good news about the progress over there, and a damning report on our favorite news outlet.

Here's an excerpt:

CNN has it out so bad for George Bush, that they cannot even bring themselves to accurately report the gains that are being made by us out here. They are complete misinformation artists - and I have seen first hand how they warp and manipulate the "truth" to fit their agenda. I have been on the scene and witnessed a situation with my own 2 eyes, while CNN was standing right next to me (Arwa Damon and Jennifer Eccelston have been our 2 offenders by the way). Then, the story that I read on their website or saw on CNN International did not even remotely resemble the actual scene. The video had been altered, edited out of order, and the narration used in such a way to warp the situation and twist it into what they wanted it to be. It is amazing and despicable.

Philatelic Fits

You've got to be kidding.

Stamps are 39¢ starting next week? Did the USPS need more money for fuel or advertising or something? Nope. A law was passed asking the Post Office to create a nest egg. That's right, extra money. So they raised rates, admitting that it's not currently necessary, in order to comply.

Good grief.

Here's the page showing the new stamp as well as the 2¢ stamp we'll need to go with all of our old stamps. You'll also need 24¢ to send a post card and a flat rate envelope is now $4.05 (up twenty cents).

Here's a question that may date you: What is the smallest denomination of stamp you can remember using? Hint: It's tripled in my lifetime.

If you can't remember, here's a history of postal rates. I've also discovered a large number of watchdog sites and generally disgruntled websites (probably the fruit of those who don't quite go postal). If you don't appreciate the USPS you certainly will never be lonely.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Army Pictures 2005

Here's a slide show that everyone needs to watch. It is a selection of photos from the Army this last year. It stirs the emotions and makes you proud of the job these men and women are doing. There's a lot of tender emotions as you see these brave soldiers in action.

There's also an overwhelming desire to buy a Chevy pickup.

You'll see what I mean.

Breakfast of Champions

Elijah is beginning to talk regularly and has already mastered a limited vocabulary, mostly consisting of "mine," "no," and "grrrrrr."

Today he was rifling through one of the cabinets and brought two cans to Shannon asking, "Um bite? Um bite?" What was he wanting? He handed her canned pink salmon and elderberry jelly. Yum.


The other day Brennan was explaining to Tanner that dinosaurs "don't poop and pee 'cause they got different bottoms from us."

Shannon overheard this and tried to explain that everything went potty no matter what kind of bottom it has.

Brennan's eyes widened and darted back and forth. Dumbfounded, he asked, "Does God and Jesus poop and pee?!"

*long pause*

"Ask your father."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Can You Say Road Trip?

This is a map of the states I've been to. As you can see a lot of my travel (and I'd like to think of myself as well traveled) has been by air. I've basically been to all four corners of the country and Hawaii but if a few of those trips had been by car (especially Florida and Massachusetts; not Hawaii) I could have added another dozen states or more.

Follow the link below and create your own map. If you have a few road trips under your belt I'm sure you could do better.

create your own visited states map

P.S. Isn't it nice to see California, Washington state, and Massachusetts as red states? Someday, maybe… someday.

Darth Lego

Now follow me on this:

This is a video, based a video game, about Star Wars, re-imagined as Lego toys, with the villain Darth Vader conducting an orchestra of storm troopers, playing the Imperial March from the movie.

It made me laugh.

Lego Symphony
Watch it now on StupidVideos!

Go Chiefs?

The Chiefs ended their season 10-6 but will be watching the playoffs at home. It would be easier to take if fans didn't expect them to be better than this and most folks agree they could've easily been 12-4.

Now Dick Vermeil has retired and the Chiefs will have to hire a new coach. Herm Edwards (head coach, Jets) is a favorite prospect but he'd cost draft picks since he's under contract in New York. Local radio hosts favor Oklahoma's Bob Stoops with Norv Turner (recently fired from the Raiders) as the offensive coordinator. That may be dreaming, as Al Saunders is more likely since he's already an insider, has Vermeil's blessing, and might be significantly cheaper.

I'd sure like them to get somebody that would stay long term, but that may be asking for too much.

We now know the 2006 schedule for the Chiefs. They play their own division rivals twice (Broncos, Raiders, Chargers), the AFC East (Ravens & Bengals at home and Browns & Steelers away), the NFC West (Cardinals & Rams at home and 49ers & Seahawks away) and two more 2nd place AFC teams (Jags at home and Dolphins away).

My first reaction is that the Chiefs better improve their pass defense. They'll play quarterbacks like Carson Palmer, Matt Hasselbeck, and Marc Bulger and the great receivers of teams like the Raiders, Cardinals, Rams, and Bengals along with other standouts like Chris Chambers, Antonio Gates, Hines Ward, etc.

Of course every year we hope the Chiefs will improve their defense. Who'd of thunk it in the mid-90's that we'd be concerned about defense every year?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Sick of This

My family and I have been sick the last few days. It seems to be a weak version of the flu. We've been really run down and tired with some of the usual "sicky" symptoms. Elijah slept a good 14 hours Sunday going into Monday and I came in a close second. The good news is that none of us have been down and stayed down -- we all have our upswings each day. So if this is really the flu, we've gotten off lucky.

That said I watched a documentary today about the avian flu and it's potential to become a worldwide plague killing hundreds of millions of people and bring civilization to a screeching halt in a few short weeks after the breakout. Ugh. Let's pray that if it happens it won't be that bad.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Overheard At Home 1/1/06

Just today:

"Under no circumstances do you EVER need to scream the ABC's! Do you hear me boys?!"

"Brennan, do not "pet" your brother!"

"Tanner, you can't just eat biscuits."

I Don't Listen to the Lyrics

UPDATE: (Sunday afternoon) I wonder how many people were accused of public intoxication last night that were actually singing the correct words?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Uh, ok. But if you had trouble, it only goes downhill from here.

We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine;
we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne

We two hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne

And here's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

What? I don't even have a guess here! Is that even English?!!! Oh well…

Happy New Year!!!