Saturday, September 29, 2007

Go Purple?

Go Wildcats! Really; I'm not kidding. I even meant to wear purple today (but forgot).

The Jayhawks don't play this week, so I was following the other team from Kansas on the radio in my office as the Wildcats beat #7 Texas 41-21. It's the first time ever that K-State beat a top-10 team on the road. Good for them!

Yet K-Staters often assume that a Lawrence-born Jayhawker like myself must hate the Wildcats. But why? I don't feel that the rivalry is that big a deal. K-State men's basketball has only beat the Jayhawks seven times since 1984 and only once in the last thirteen years. Even in football, KU is ahead 63-36-5 over the last hundred years. So I don't get too worked up over the Wildcats; in fact I root for them anytime they're not playing KU. We're all from Kansas right? My feelings for K-State are nothing like the full-fledged schadenfreude I have for the Missouri Tigers.

When I lived in Missouri for 6 years, no one seemed to notice or care that I rooted for K-State in the Fall, for KU in the Winter and Spring, and against Mizzou always. But I move back home and the partisan bickering is at a fever pitch. Nowadays I root for college teams following this order of preference:

1.) The Kansas Jayhawks whenever they play.
2.) Any team from Kansas against another state.
3.) The Big 12 North against the South*.
4.) The Big 12 over any other conference.*
5.) Teams on KU's schedule against teams KU won't play.*
6.) The Underdog.*

*Excluding Missouri, of course.

So congratulations, K-State, on your victory. And may you go down in flames next Saturday (when you play KU).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Random Thoughts 7/28/07

  • Knight Rider is unfortunately being remade as a possible upcoming TV series next year (sans Hoff). Yeah, that's what we need. Your weekly viewing schedule can now include: Battlestar Galactica, Bionic Woman, Flash Gordon, and Knight Rider remakes on TV and then Transformers, Scooby-Doo, Miami Vice and the Dukes of Hazzard remakes in movie form. Tell me again what progress we've made since the late 70's/early 80's? Upcoming TV remake movies include the A-Team, CHiPs, Speed Racer, Dallas, Get Smart, and GI Joe. Ugh. Why do Hollywood writers even get paid? And why are they going on strike next year?
  • I was offered race tickets to the NASCAR race this weekend but I can't go. I actually would consider going, it's a huge thing with some folks and I've never been to anything like it. Oh, and I liked the movie Cars. But we just couldn't make it work this time around; things are way too busy ministry-wise. Oh, well; we still appreciated the offer!
  • Fantasy football is a fickle mistress. For the first two weeks of the season I didn't have a single player (out of eighteen) who was injured. Not a one. Now, two weeks later, fully half of my guys are hobbled with injuries. That's the way it goes.
  • I saw a short blurb in the news today about a baby girl born in Siberia this week. Little Nadezhda was delivered by Caesarean section and weighed in at a robust 17 pounds 1 ounce!
  • I've had two good visits in two days with Larry F., the former preacher here at WCCC and a good friend. Larry is a bookworm like no other and was borrowing from, lending to, and handing down books to me. It's great to have an older, sometimes-retired preacher in your corner when you need a resource or someone who's read a certain resource. Larry can always point me in the right direction.

Black Lions and Purple Cats

The Army's 28th Infantry Regiment, the Black Lions, sponsors an award to football players. The award is given to a player who shows "an unselfish concern for the team ahead of himself." Ian Campbell of K-State was given the award and will wear the 28th Infantry's unit patch on his jersey this year. Campbell is the first college player not from West Point to receive the award (the 1st Battalion of the 28th Infantry is based at nearby Ft. Riley, Kansas as part of the 1st Infantry Division).

The Black Lion award is given in honor of Don Holleder, a star football player at West Point who was later killed in Vietnam. Holleder gave up his role as an All-American end, to move to a non-passing quarterback role for the good of the team. West Point went 7-1-1 and beat Navy that year. Though drafted by the Giants, Holleder chose to stay in the Army which eventually led to his death years later in Vietnam.

The battle in which Holleder was killed is documented in the book They Marched Into Sunlight, by David Maraniss. The book will be turned into a movie produced by Tom Hanks and directed by Paul Greengrass (Bourne Identity, United 93) due out sometime next year.

Tom Hanks is also executive producer of the sequel to Band of Brothers (2001), called The Pacific. Production on the mini series started last month and is slated to air on HBO in 2009.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Puppy Love

We took our beagle, Sophie, to the vet yesterday to be fixed (broken?) and we had to leave her overnight. It nearly killed us.

How can you possibly miss a pet so much? It was painful for that silly dog to be absent all day. I even missed taking her out to pee in the middle of the night!

Shannon said it best on her myspace page:

"We have all missed her something awful. …not to mention her beautiful brown puppy dog eyes. I do believe I'm smitten. I think it was good to miss her. I realized how much she adds to our lives. Not having her here was like missing a family member"

UPDATE: Sophie is home and doing well, mostly resting. The vet said that his old partner was an even bigger K-State nut than the new one and he used to bandage the wounds of pets belonging to KU fans in purple K-State bandages just to be mischievous. We'll have to watch out for that.

Background Check

Why is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not your average nutty politician? Because the President of Iran is profoundly a product of his specific brand of religion and it's important we understand it. Amil Imani lays out a nice overview of what this guy is about and warns that being an Ahmadinejad-alarmist might be more reasonable than dismissing him as unhinged. He says:

"…Ahmadinejad is far from unhinged. As a matter of fact he is firmly hinged to a set of beliefs that dictate his views of the world, and inform him how he should deal with it from his position of power. An unhinged man has the potential of becoming once again hinged. But, there is very little that can be done to a person who is inseparably hinged, and Ahmadinejad's views are firmly rooted in the most orthodox philosophy of Shiism."

"Being unpredictable, self-contradictory and inconsistent are major symptoms of the mentally unhinged. By these standards of insanity, Ahmadinejad emerges as completely sane. He is fully predictable, consistent and has shown no self-contradiction. He does not even pretend that he misspoke or apologize for his outrageous statements. He is not a typical politician who practices the devious art of doublespeak, deception and change of position to suit his immediate convenience."

The whole article is worth a read to be up-to-speed on an often misunderstood character in the news.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Strange Little Man

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, spoke at Columbia University this week. It's amazing (disappointing?) that he got the applause that he did from an audience of American students and academics.

Yet you can always count on Cox & Forkum to give you the best political cartoons on any given subject. But lately I've come to appreciate their blogging as well. Go look at this cartoon and then sit in stunned silence at the quotes from liberal website the Daily Kos like this one: "I know I’m a Jewish lesbian and he'd probably have me killed. But still, the guy speaks some blunt truths about the Bush Administration that make me swoon..."

I'm for free speech but that doesn't include the right to be granted a forum. And kudos to University President Bollinger for exercising his right to free speech by calling Ahmadinejad out for what he really is.

Random Thoughts 9/25/07

  • I tend to resist fads. Especially ones that are known to be ugly mid-fad. So I've determined to be the last person to wear Crocs if at all possible. However, if anything were to sway me over to the dark side, it might be these so ugly they're almost cute Jayhawk Crocs. Maybe. Just make sure you hide pictures of you wearing Crocs from your kids – that's blackmail material on the order of parachute pants, mullets, and leg warmers. We did buy Crocs recently for Graham; he wears them sunup 'til sundown, including naps. But the under-two crowd is not known for their fashion sense.
  • Note on Croc dangers from
  • Brennan's birthday is tomorrow. Our little boy turns seven! That's hard to believe. He's already able to talk over my head on his silly Bionicles.
  • I'm watching Ken Burns' documentary, The War (2007), a little bit each night. Of what I've seen, it's not mesmerizing like his Civil War and Baseball documentaries, but there's still a lot of good in it. In just the first episode there were half a dozen new things I'd never heard before–and I'm terribly nerdy when it comes to World War 2. Ken Burns should be commended for finding new material, and presenting it in a new way, on a subject that otherwise has been documented to death.
  • We live in a Microsoft world. You really need to have Word (and it's good to have Excel and Powerpoint) or something compatible to it to survive. Word is powerful and ubiquitous. But it's also costly: Office 2008 for Mac is coming out in January for $400 (or $300 for an upgrade). What do you do? I've been meaning to try the available open source knockoffs that are mostly compatible but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I just don't think I can bear forking over that much money to Microsoft.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Philly Cheesesteak, Part 2

So Dustin was in Philadelphia over the weekend and went to eat lunch at Rick's Steaks on Saturday (the inside of Rick's doesn't look much like the outside, does it?).

So this is what an authentic Philly Cheesesteak with sweet peppers looks like at Rick's. Dustin also sent me a picture of the aftermath which I'll refrain from posting here (NSFW). But if you can imagine throwing this greasy sandwich to a pack of wild dogs… well, you get the idea.

I'm not sure why Dustin didn't order it with Cheese Whiz or American, which is the correct type of cheese to have on your Philly (not Swiss, Senator Kerry). But mozzarella or provolone is acceptable too, I'm told.

44,444 Hits

I happened to look at my computer before church yesterday and, for no reason in particular, I checked the count on my blog and found the counter at 44,444. Not that big a deal but I thought it was cool enough to take a screen shot of it. I guess I'm always a bit surprised that anyone reads this, but thanks so much for coming by.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Big Boy Legos

Brennan turns 7 this next week. We're having a birthday party for him Sunday afternoon at the McDonald's at the Legends (we scheduled it after the Chiefs game so that the whole family would come).

Brennan is growing so fast and his passion right now is building Bionicles. We bought him a few Bionicle robots and he inherited a bucket of parts from a friend so at any given time we have half a dozen robots in different stages of construction. They're kind of an advanced Lego system (in fact, they're made by Lego) and all three older boys like to build robots with them.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wildcats and Dogs

We're taking our puppy, Sophie, to the vet again this week. We decided to have her spayed this Wednesday.

When I took her the first time, three weeks ago, I had a moment of hesitation. Sophie wears a crimson and blue Jayhawk tag around her neck. Probably not the best choice in this part of country where many veterinarians went to school at Kansas State. Sure enough, I met the vet and he's a young graduate of K-State. I expressed regret over my dog sporting a Jayhawk and he responded, "Don't worry. We don't blame the dog."

This Wednesday we're going to deliver our Jayhawk-ornamented Sophie into the hands of the enemy. We'll see if don't try to brainwash her during her overnight stay.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Philly Cheesesteak

My brother is on a business trip to Philadelphia, a city to which I've never been but I've always wanted to visit. I told him to check the Liberty Bell for secret treasure maps and to otherwise enjoy himself.

Dustin, make sure you have cheesesteak sandwich for me!

Terrible Two

Our sweet little Graham, that dear baby who has been all smiles… is going over to the Dark Side. The "terrible two's" are beginning to set in. He's suddenly moody and disagreeable for the first time ever. He's even started hitting his older brothers.

"Two" doesn't necessarily represent the child's age but rather the duration. For each of our boys, it seemed to be a two year temper tantrum beginning at 18 months and lasting until after their third birthday (Elijah is just coming out of it). They were constantly out of sorts, frustrated and angry, irritable and moody. What a joy!

Just in Case You Weren't Sure

Three out of four murdering communist revolutionaries support Hillary. Viva la Hillary! (And, dude, get a haircut.)

My question is this: Does Hillary, who is obviously(?) not communist, care that the far radical left lays claim to her or are they just more votes to her? Or perhaps the "Che Cult" is just a "harmless" reminder of the 1960's and the roots of the McGovernite Democrats?

[Thanks to Hot Air for the pic.]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It Bears Repeating

I hear a lot of foolishness: "Bush keeps changing strategy in Iraq" or "Bush just keeps doing the same thing expecting different results." Really? Some folks seem to be ignorant of the difference between strategy and tactics, and what it means when they see something shift. If strategy is the overall scheme and set of goals, then our President has been firm and unwavering. If tactics are the methods used on the local level to accomplish the strategy, then our military and it's leaders have continued to adapt and overcome, e.g. General Petraeus' COIN operations implemented this year.

Tactics can be tedious. Talking about tactics and procedures involves a lot of "shop talk" that we outsiders to the military or diplomatic circles struggle to keep up with. But the overall strategy is something that every man, woman and child needs to grasp. This has been the single biggest failure of the Bush Administration: who has articulated our purpose and goals like a Winston Churchill or even a Ronald Reagan? Why has it been left up to the MTV generation to just "get it" and agree to go along?

There are some who will regularly spell out for us what has happened and why it matters. Just recently I've read articles like this at

Then there's Iraq. The idea of taking down the nastiest dictator in the Middle East had lots of support, until someone actually did it. Few in the U.S. government like to admit it, but this is a very clever strategy. It's known, since antiquity, as "taking the war to the enemy." Setting up a democracy in a region that has none (at least among the Arabs), and suffering nearly 30,000 casualties (so far) to help it get established, is bold. Al Qaeda hates democracy, and considers it un-Islamic. Planting U.S. troops in Iraq, and holding elections put Shia Arabs in power. Al Qaeda howled even louder, as Sunni Moslems (which al Qaeda represents) consider Shia Moslems to be heretics. Now al Qaeda was forced to turn its attention from attacks in the West, and concentrate on its own back yard. That went very badly for the terrorists. Practicing their usual tactics on Moslems, even if most of the victims were Shia, hurt their popularity in the Islamic world. Eventually, even their Sunni Arab allies in Iraq turned against them.

Michael Yon mentioned the disconnect between our strategy and the public perception of it in a recent dispatch:

I watched during the Senate hearings on 11 September 07 as some Senators attempted to corner General Petraeus, insinuating that the war in Iraq was a distraction from the fight against al Qaeda. It was clearly that during the initial invasion, but not today. These photos were taken at the center of what al Qaeda claimed to be their worldwide headquarters. Listening to some of the Senators’ questions, the true magnitude of the gulf between what is happening in Iraq and what people in America think is happening in Iraq became apparent. Some Senators clearly had been doing their homework and were asking smart questions—if negative at times—but others seemed completely ignorant of the ground situation here, which adds nothing meaningful to the debate.

But some folks seem have no concept of how Saddam figured into all of this, except that he was bad somehow. And useful idiots muddy the waters further by pointing out the obvious, "Saddam didn't attack us on 9/11." We know. Nobody thought otherwise; but thanks for adding nothing to the debate in an effort to besmirch what we're really doing. They don't care to know what's really happening in Iraq and why it really matters. They want to humiliate a resolute President, they want to humble a daring and decisive military, and they want America itself to be taken down a peg or two because the the America that is is not the America they want.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Prince Caspian

Here's the one-sheet for the next Chronicles of Narnia film, Prince Caspian. Caspian was actually my least favorite Chronicles book (which is kind of like identifying your least favorite chocolate) and I was disappointed by the first Narnia film. But I'm still rooting for its success so that more Narnia movies will be made.

Several weeks ago I wrote:
The next Chronicles of Narnia film, Prince Caspian, will be released May 16, 2008, six months later than anticipated. But the Narnia film is going to be huge with 1500 special effects shots, nearly twice that of the first movie. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader film will begin shooting in a few months and is expected to be released May 1, 2009, with more Narnia films (the Silver Chair, perhaps?) released each year depending on box office results.

The order of the films are dictated by the age of the actors. Caspian includes the same children from the previous film, so time is of the essence.

The boys and I begin reading Prince Caspian later this week.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fantasy Mediocrity

I'm in two fantasy football leagues and I'm 1-1 in both of them. I've alternately had a great week in one and bombed out in the other, two weeks in a row and I don't really see an end in sight. The way this season is adding up, we may all go .500. But that's fantasy football–there's a lot of (bad?) luck involved.

In a competitive fantasy league, you can expect the best teams to win two-thirds of their games and the worst teams to win one-third. Luck is such a large factor that you just don't see many teams outside of these margins. In fact, when a guy boasts of being undefeated three years in a row and a seven-time fantasy champion, I'm immediately suspicious: "So you play in a league with your grandmother, a 1st grader, and a guy in a coma, hmmm…"

Over the course of a dozen seasons, I've managed to win about 65% of my games and I've never won the championship. That's okay though, I enjoy it and I know, barring luck, that's about as well I could have done.

Walk Softly…

The weather has been beautiful the last few weeks as Summer gives way to Autumn, but cool weather means open windows and open windows mean more flies. At least the oppressive heat of summer leaves our homes, offices, and cars hermetically sealed against the elements. But here in Kansas we get a few weeks of nice weather in the Spring and a few more here in the Fall and that leaves us vulnerable to nasty little pests.

So how do you banish these filthy harbingers of death and pestilence? Simply carry around a plastic flyswatter, the crucifix and garlic necklace of fly repellent. As long as I am physically carrying a flyswatter, twirling it around my finger, there are no flies to be seen. As soon as it set it down out of reach, I have flies buzzing right in my face.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Last year I thought I was cured. Not one sniffle, not one scratchy throat, not one watery eye. I figured after thirty years of allergies and hay fever and such, I'd finally outgrown them.

Maybe not.

We opened up the house last week and turned off the A/C, and I've been sniffling and sneezing ever since. I've discovered that Claritin-D (desloratadine) has almost no effect on me whatsoever, while Benadryl (diphenhydramine) works great but knocks me out–I had a brief, three-hour nap this afternoon.

In years past, my allergies lessen as the Autumn sets in, so I should be okay in a few weeks. But in the meantime, aren't allergies fun?

Friday, September 14, 2007

44,000 Hits

Hey we hit 44,000 hits today. Thank you for reading.

Traffic is down a bit the last couple of months (about 55-60 hits per day) but I appreciate everyone returning to check out what I've got here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hollywood in Iraq

Hollywood is making its anti-war surge with several anti-troop flicks in the works. Soldier-smearing Brian De Palma just won best-director at the Venice Film Festival for a virtual-remake of his previous anti-American-soldier defamation movie, Casualties of War (1989). De Palma's recent smear, Redacted (2007), spotlights one of the worst incidences in Iraq with the writer/director's stated intention being to expose the wrongs our troops are doing and end the war. Then he turns around and says this garbage is somehow "pro-troop." It is? Making American soldiers look like deranged animals is pro-troop? I guess I don't get it.

I'd recommend listening to one of the few film-makers that actually is "pro-troops" (in part because he actually went to Iraq himself), Pat Dollard. Pundit Review radio interviewed him and it's worth a listen.

Sensitive Ears Warning: if you go to Dollard's website or watch his upcoming documentary, Young Americans (2007), you will be exposed to a large dose of soldier-language. Be warned. Be smart. It's extremely uncensored. But the filth in our troops' mouths is still less degrading than what's coming out of the minds of the Hollywood Left.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The DOH Effect

I'm doing a lot of administrative work today, preparing a new directory and working on a minister's report for the next board meeting. And I've spent a lot of time dissecting attendance reports, counseling notes, etc. looking at who is attending church and how often they're here.

Of the reasons that people miss church, most reasons fall under the umbrella of the DOH Effect (pronounced like Homer Simpson's annoyed grunt, D'oh!). Hundreds of needs and activities get prioritized over going to church, leading a family to miss church at the Drop Of a Hat.

Often heard drops of a hat include:

"Our kids needed to be in three different peewee football leagues and a Sunday morning popsicle-stick-art show." DOH!

"I had a really busy Saturday and needed to sleep in." DOH!

"My best friend didn't save me a seat and when I arrived fifteen minutes late she totally didn't even say hi to me and I think her kids are only pretending to like my kids and so I didn't even have the energy to deal with it." DOH!

"The Chiefs were playing at Noon." DOH!

"My alarm didn't go off." DOH!

A guy I used to know always said that the easiest thing in the world to do was to talk yourself out of going to church. That's the truth. By my count, as much as 2/5 of our active membership misses church multiple times each month. Some of those absences are totally legitimate. But many of them are unnecessary.

So does it matter some folks miss every other week? Yes. Church is one of those things that has a cumulative effect. One individual service may or may not do anything for you. But the total impact of week after week of forming relationships, building trust, serving people's needs, and hearing God's Word is immeasurably valuable.

[Update: I wrote more over at the church's blog.]

For Those of You Keeping Score at Home

As of the game last night, the Kansas City Royals are officially out of the playoffs for this year. The Royals have lost seven in a row and 10 out of the last 13. Ugh.

Sorry for being the bearer of bad news.

Random Thoughts 9/12/07

  • There's good reading here, as Ralph Peters lays out some good info. He says, "…al-Qaeda is suffering not only a massive defeat but also a strategic humiliation." With the Sunni Arabs of Anbar, "We're not the enemy anymore." That's amazingly good news, the kind of good news you hear and then realize that your grandchildren will read this news in history books yet to be written.
  • In the same article mentioned above, Peters says, "In war, alliances and goals evolve, often surprisingly. Gen. Petraeus' current strategy, outlined to me during an office visit, might be summed up fairly in three goals: al-Qaeda shattered, Iran excluded and sectarian violence reduced to a level that would allow the Iraqi government to function. On the first count, the progress has been startling. On the second, U.S. forces are holding the line. As for reducing sectarian feuding, that, too, has been a success story — to the point where some U.S. officers believe that we'll soon transition from a counterinsurgency role to less intensive peace enforcement and peacekeeping operations."
  • The boys have me swooning with joy. They are so well behaved we can often postpone or entirely cancel the after-nap, pre-dinner spanking. Yesterday Shannon and the boys picked me up at the office to take me to lunch and Elijah talked my leg off. They were all so good and so cute and so polite… in fact, I wonder if they're not up to something. Hmmm…
  • I'm still working my way through the AFI top-movies list, with several movies in the queue on my Tivo. I'm looking forward to my first Charlie Chaplin movie, Modern Times (1936), especially after enjoying my first Buster Keaton movie, the General (1927). I didn't think I'd like a silent film comedy but I was wrong. Sometimes the older films are just better. All the King's Men (1949) is a sharp, Oscar winning film, and probably the second best politically-centered movie I've ever seen, while the remake, Sean Penn's All the King's Men (2006), ranked as the #1 worst film of '06 according to Ebert and Roeper.
  • More comments on Petraeus' testimony here and here. Also here at the Long War Journal. By the way, I was really impressed with Ambassador Crocker too.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Patriot Day

May God bless you and your family. And may he keep our loved ones safe from harm.

Monday, September 10, 2007

General Petraeus's Report

Michael Yon says, "The outcome of the war in Iraq, and to some extent the greater War on Terror, will largely depend upon our decisions today. The outcome is too important for quick words. Many will try to be the first to report on the report, and their reports likely will be the most unreliable."

Yon goes on to say that the perfect people to have comment on the Petraeus Report are infantry battalion commanders. I agree, but I'm biased. Here near Ft. Leavenworth, Lieutenant Colonels grow on trees so we're a bit partial to guys at that level.

I was able to listen to most of the General's testimony today and I've looked at the charts and accompanying graphs and charts. There's nothing in his testimony that surprised me. I also heard the sniping and grandstanding from our elected leaders. I can't think of time I've been more disappointed.

Meanwhile, those who want America to lose are running a despicable ad in the New York Times calling General Petraeus "General Betray Us." Hmm… classy. You're questioning his integrity. Nice. How do these people sleep at night?

Tonight at 8pm Central on Fox News Brit Hume will interview General Petraeus, don't miss it.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Music Man

I tortured the congregation this morning by singing in my sermon… twice. I normally stay away from singing in public – I have an excellent sound guy that mutes my lapel mike whenever the singing starts. But today I actually sang a cappella at both the beginning and the end of the sermon. That's way outside of my comfort zone.

Hopefully it wasn't way outside of everyone else's comfort zone.

Fantasy Bleh

The football weekend isn't over yet, but so far the guys on my fantasy team are mostly laying eggs (in both leagues). It's funny, but for fantasy owners there comes a tipping-point where you begin to root against your own guys. You know it'll all average out at the end of the year, so, if it looks like you'll lose anyway, you don't mind your guys saving their effort for another day. Why have one guy have his best game during a losing effort?

And so the luckless fantasy owner goes through a roller coaster of emotions:

Noon – Excited and confident.
1:30pm – Frustrated but hopeful.
3:00pm – Cross-eyed with anger.
4:30pm – Pack it up boys, there's always next week. Just don't get hurt too.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Yon on Iraq

Here's a note from the end of Michael Yon's latest dispatch. about Petraeus' report next week, the decisions our country must make, and the fate of Iraq. As always, he sums things up well:

I am in London today, preparing to fly back to Iraq on 8 September. My plans are to go with the British for a time, then with the American Air Force, and then back with our ground forces. The “big report” on Iraq should be released in a few days. People are likely to make much comment about it–indeed, my next “dispatch” will be about that same report. Already some in the media and in positions of political influence at home are posturing about a report which, if accurate, can only be a reflection of the complex situation on the ground in Iraq.

No one can predict the future, but all who are in a position of authority vis a vis our policy about Iraq should realize that something truly seems to have changed on the ground and momentum forward is accelerating this change. It is possible that fighting will begin to wind down in most areas of the country, as the security gains of the past few months begin to produce more and more of the collateral political, economic and social gains that have been inhibited largely by terror and fear.

And should that occur, we’ll need to decide what our next step will be. If we put our foot on the gas in helping Iraq stand again, Iraq could actually become a strong and firm partner of the United States. But it is equally possible that all the gains made to date will unravel before the eyes of the world, if we point that foot instead toward the door of a premature exit.

But regardless of US election cycles and news fatigue, the timing here will reflect the conditions on the ground. With a premature withdrawal it may only be months before the unraveling begins, but even with our continued presence, it will be years before Iraq can truly stand. It will be years before the Iraqi military is “done.” The Iraqi Army has made tremendous progress, but the task is immense. The commitment should not require all of the resources assembled there now for all of that time, but there is no way around the fact that years are required. If we want Iraq to succeed, we must stick it out. We are succeeding today in Iraq.

Home School Joys

Being sick the last couple of days, I've been privy to the boys' education with Mom. Tanner (in kindergarten) is learning to read and doing great. He's a challenge because he's can be so goofy but his progress is already measurable–learning about vowels and consonants and counting. The only problem is Brennan jumping in a giving answers (I scotch-taped his mouth shut today–just to be funny). Our first-grader is continuing to thrive, doing more memorization and phonics and math than I remember doing at that age. He just recited John 3:14-19 to me from memory, a section of scripture I'd challenge any adult to commit to memory.

What a great job they're doing!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Good News in Anbar

I saw a report this morning that the Iraqi Army pulled out of Fallujah on September 1 because they weren't needed. Did you catch that? They weren't needed in Fallujah! They were able to hand over security to local police and government officials. No American Marines, no Iraqi military, just local cops keeping the peace. In Fallujah!

Why isn't this plastered all over the news? This is a huge victory. A major benchmark. But when I search the news, all I can find is an AP story and Senator Biden saying that the Iraqi police are so corrupt they need to be scrapped and started over.

The actual report was that national police, not the local or provincial police, should be overhauled and converted to a different type of force because of corruption and sectarianism. Corruption and sectarianism is not a new thing in police forces around the world and it can be overcome. A lot of countries actually just live with it (have you ever been to Latin America?). It's just amazing how the mainstream media can find the cloud in every silver lining.

[For anyone interested in a quick historical overview click here.]

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Church Blog, with Pictures

I added a new post to the church blog with a picture of Jay-rod and company at a big Christian concert this last weekend. Don't forget to check it out. There should be multiple items of church news and commentary each week and in the future there'll be other authors beside myself.

A Millstone Around His Neck (Mt 18:6)

While most church-folks were convinced that Harry Potter was going to wisk our kids to hell, a more sinister series of popular children's books by another British author has slipped in under the radar.

I've only recently been acquainted with Philip Pullman's trilogy of books, His Dark Materials (the first volume is The Golden Compass, which will be released as a movie this December). I had a vague awareness that Pullman had been critical of C.S. Lewis and had written his own award-winning books. I didn't know, however, that Pullman "regularly admits, even boasts, that his series is a blatant, calculated attack on Christianity." (from Christianity Today's website)

Gregg Easterbrook writes,
"Regarding the "Golden Compass" volumes, in them God is a central character -- but is actively evil, obsessed with causing people to suffer. The plotline of the books is that Christianity is a complete fraud and the source of all that is wrong with society; the final "Golden Compass" volume concerns a desperate attempt by the heroic children to kill God and obliterate every trace of Christianity from several universes. I found Pullman's arguments against Christianity puerile -- like recent anti-Christian books by Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, the "Golden Compass" volumes resort to the cheap subterfuge of cataloging everything bad about religion while pretending belief has no positive qualities. Pullman, Dawkins and Harris are anti-faith jihadis: they don't just want to argue against the many faults of Christianity, they want faith forbidden."

Gene Edward Veith describes how Pullman objects to C.S. Lewis teaching Christianity to children by way of the Chronicles of Narnia. He adds, "The irony is that Mr. Pullman's children's stories really are propaganda for his religion, namely, a militant and slightly mystical atheism."

John Thomas writes, "Pullman has a deep-seated hatred for the Christian Church in all its forms (Catholic and Reformed), for priests, and clergy." Thomas' short piece is the pithiest of Pullman's many detractors.

Easterbrook, no choirboy himself, thoughtfully asks "Now that the Golden Compass volumes are becoming big-budget flicks, will Hollywood accurately depict their loathing of Christianity or turn the books into a mere adventure story?" As one commentator said, "Soon, a weak and wimpy God will be overthrown at a theater near you." The question is whether you'll pay to have your wide-eyed children see it?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Chiefs Roster Notes, Part 2

The Chiefs made a few changes this weekend; specifically they picked up two guys off waivers. Now this is fairly uncommon – in fact these two guys, both rookies, are the only players on the roster that were acquired through waivers. One new guy is a quarterback, the other a corner. Kansas City dropped the NFL Europe running back and backup wide receiver. So the Chiefs now have three QBs and three halfbacks, which is about right.

There are now eleven rookies total and twenty-one new faces on the squad this squad, or about 40% of the team. And that's not counting the nine new guys on the practice squad and injured reserve.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The War According to Burns

Ken Burns' new documentary, The War (2007), will be on PBS in a few weeks. Burns is famous for his documentaries on the Civil War (1990), Baseball (1994), and Jazz (2001) among other things and this documentary will be about World War 2. Needless to say, I'm all over that like a duck on a June bug.

You can see a preview of the show here.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chiefs Roster Notes

  • All seven of the drafted rookies made the team.
  • Five of the seven drafted rookies from last year are still with the team.
  • Kansas City only has two QB's, Huard and Croyle.
  • The Chiefs kept four running backs and four tightends but no true fullbacks. Kris Wilson and former linebacker Boomer Grigsby will serve as our fullbacks.
  • Two undrafted rookies made the team this year, CB Tyron Brackenridge and LB Nate Harris.
  • The Chiefs have have two players named Allen, two Edwards, two Harris, and two Johnson's.
  • We have four players listed at 5-9 and none of them are Samie Parker (the shortest 5-11 player ever). KR Eddie Drummond is the smallest guy on the team at 5-9, 188.
  • Nine Chiefs are listed at 300 pounds or more: three defensive linemen and six on the offensive line.