Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Chiefs' 2011 NFL Draft

I've not been able to watch the draft as much as in previous years but here's a rundown on what the Chiefs have done in this year's draft:

  • The Chiefs traded down to pick 27 (from 21) but Baltimore, who was supposed to pick 26th, let the clock run out while they worked on a trade with Chicago.  Oops!  Kansas City jumped up and took WR Jon Baldwin before either of the other two teams could do anything.  Baldwin is a big (6'5", 225) receiver and, though not our biggest need, is a great catch as far as physical talent goes.  As far as character… well, I'd give him 3:1 against getting arrested his first year.  Final words:  Dwayne Bowe x2.
  • Do you remember Steve Wisniewski, who played 13 years with the Raiders and now is their new offensive line coach?  Wisniewski's nephew, Stefen Wisniewski, another top-rated offensive lineman from Penn State, was drafted by the Raiders in the second round.  I know the Raiders make goofy picks but this one should be really good and a good story to boot.
  • Have you seen K-State's improvements they are making to Bill Snyder Family Stadium?  Drawings and such are here.  K-State's RB Daniel Thomas went to the Dolphins at the end of the second round.
  • The Chiefs' second round pick was a highly decorated four-year starter from Florida State, C/G Rodney Hudson.  Hopefully this is our next Will Shields.
  • In the third round, the Chiefs took a guy who should have been a first rounder but has been more of a thug instead, in Georgia LB Justin Houston.  I guess the Chiefs are willing to roll the dice when it comes to character issues.
  • No Jayhawks drafted.  No surprises. 
  • The Chiefs drafted Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi in the fourth round.  No pressure on a guy who might have a lot of potential.
  • Final total: 9 players, four on offense and five on defense.  Specifically, a QB, a running back, a first-round wide receiver, and second-round guard, two defensive linemen, two linebackers, and a DB.  All areas of need were addressed (at least on paper).

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ron Swanson on Art

My favorite person in (fictional) government giving an opening speech at an art show:

"Welcome to Visions of Nature. This room has several paintings in it; some are big, some are small. People did them and they are here now. I believe that after this is over, they'll be hung in government buildings. Why the government is involved in an art show is beyond me. I also think it's pointless for a human to paint scenes of nature when they can just go outside and stand in it. Anyway, please do not misinterpret the fact that I'm talking right now as genuine interest in art and attempt to discuss it with me further. End of speech."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Random Thoughts 4/27/11

Sorry, this post didn't go up as scheduled on Tuesday and I didn't even notice (being sick and all).  Pretty timely, though, as I wrote the note about Trump's birther conspiracy just hours before the actual(?) birth certificate was released.

  • Whew, I've been out of it for the last few days.  Back in the blogging saddle now.
  • We had a good turnout at church on Easter Sunday with over 200 people attending.  That's pretty good for us!  It's not a record but it's a much better attendance than normal.
  • Great iPhone case for Star Wars and Apple fans… Steve Jobs encased in carbonite!
  • Let me guess, you were hoping that you could see the special extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies in theaters?  Well your wish has been granted.  The films will be re-released in theaters in June.
  • Chris Coker organized the fastest, easiest, and all around best Easter egg hunt ever at Church on Sunday.  It was quick, simple, and well organized.  Good job, Chris!
  • Some of my spare time the last few days has been sent running my virtual pawn store on Facebook.  It's a silly diversion but, for free, the price was just right.
  • The NFL Draft is about to begin (Thursday evening), not that we'll necessarily have an NFL season this year.  Hopefully things can get worked out but it's not yet looking good.  The draft this year is spread out again across three days.  This is a lot better than the seven or eight hour mega-broadcasts they used to do.
  • I am not getting up at 4am Friday to watch the Royal Wedding.  I'm interested… in a historical, trivial kind of way, but not that interested.
  • So are we going to bomb Syria now?  Or is our president picking and choosing by letting weaker nations lead the way?
  • Let me reiterate my anti-conspiracy theory conspiracy theory.  Trump is both nuts and on to something here.  The President was almost certainly born in Hawaii.  We've seen his certificate of live birth, witnesses remember the event and the unusual name, and it was recorded in the newspapers at the time.  But what if the official document has something else embarrassing on it?  And what if releasing that information puts him one step closer to releasing information that is even more embarrassing, such as a college thesis and mediocre grades boosted or ignored by affirmative action?  I think disqualifying the President based on birth information is a dead end.  On the other hand, finding damning information about his radical associations and views could alienate the electorate.  I think this is what the Clinton team found: a natural-born citizen with radical leftest views in college, just like Hillary.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Random Thoughts 4/21/11

  • Good news:  April 21, 2011 has arrived and the evil supercomputer Skynet failed to take over the world.  Whew!  Now we need to survive those Mayan calendars in December of next year.
  • Oscar nominated combat cameraman Tim Heatherington, who co-directed the Afghanistan documentary Restrepo, was killed yesterday in Libya.  Alongside Heatherington, Pulitzer Prize nominated photographer Christ Hondros was also killed in the fighting.  Somehow I think the fighting in Libya, the ineptitude of NATO, and the failure of leadership by our President should get more attention.
  • Check out this neat time-lapse video of a street in downtown Lawrence being converted to a shot put pit.
  • The iPhone 5 is supposedly on its way in September, possibly as an "iPhone 4S," which would look the same but have much faster, upgraded innards.  Mmmmm…
  • Earth Day is tomorrow.  Eat a cow.  Drive an SUV.  Bury some plastic in the forest.
  • The optimistically named Sukhoi Superjet 100 flew its first commercial flight today… for those of you who keep track of such things.
  • I've not been playing basketball for the last few weeks due to sciatic pain and I've been cycling instead (with lots of stretching).  It seems to be working but I'm missing basketball.
  • I'm really enjoying the book Write Good or Die, edited by Scott Nicholson.  It's free on iBooks and only 99¢ on Kindle.  It's a great read for aspiring writers.
  • On Easter morning we'll have a 7am service (worship and devotion) followed by breakfast.  Our Sunday services will begin at the normal time (9am).

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Random Thoughts 4/19/11

  • I'm still ridiculously impressed that my 10-year old beat the computer game "Portal" in just a few sittings. "Portal" is a short game but he's only 10 and he had no cheats, tips, hints, or coaching. When I played it I had several of the tricks spoiled for me, so I kind of knew what I was doing. But Brennan went in cold and still solved all the levels. He also beat "Braid" recently. Now he wants to buy "Portal 2," which was released today. We'll see.
  • Some of you have asked how Shannon is feeling. She's doing great but has a terrible cold today. So don't call her and ask how she's doing because you might be convinced she's dying or something. She's not. But thanks!
  • Here's five iPhone games that every "Angry Birds" fan will love. I can vouch for "Ragdoll Blaster" and I know some people who have enjoyed "Tiny Wings." I wish I had more time for some of these puzzle games; I really enjoy them and they're great exercise for the brain.
  • Please, oh, please, don't make me vote for a goof ball like Donald Trump. If I have no other choice, I'll do it. It'll probably bring about the apocalypse, but I'll do it.
  • Here's a listof the 15 best photo apps for iPhone and iPad. Personally I prefer "Camera+" for taking photos and adding effects, "ColorSplash" for doing the mixed b&w with color effects, and "AutoStitch" for panoramas and oversized pics. I haven't needed anything beyond this, but my photography projects are pretty limited.
  • I'm still trying to devise ways to "sin" against Earth Day this Friday. I'll try to save any driving that I have to do for that day; if gas prices weren't so high I'd let my car idle as an fragrant offering to Gaia, aka "Mother Earth." Maybe I'll burn my brush pile or have another kid or something. That may sound funny but nature-worship is seeping into our culture at a scary fast rate. Laws are being passed based on "sins" against nature and the environment. Regular folks are believing that recycling is a greater virtue than fidelity or honesty. The U.N. is even debating right now whether the Earth should have have human rights!
  • The NFL announces the schedule that-may-never-be tonight. There's a good chance that the season will be postponed, truncated, or canceled this year. As soon as we know what's happening, we'll let our fantasy football league know what to expect.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Random Thoughts 4/16/11

  • Tomorrow is Dad's 64th birthday.  Happy birthday, Dad!!!
  • Why am still subscribed to Black Enterprise magazine?  I don't know how it happened but I've been getting these magazines, addressed to me, at the church, for months now.  I'm not sure if it's a practical joke or a mistake or what.
  • Victor Davis Hanson, the renowned historian, asks why President Obama makes so many about-faces.
  • Funny nerd jokes here (Descarte: "I think not."  Ha!).  Had to listen twice to some of them (Unix!), and about a third of them are mildly crude, so be warned.  [Thanks, Dustin] 
  • Here's a couple of iPhone/iPad tips and tricks from Mac|Life.
  • Without too much trouble, other than my slavish and unblinking devotion, I'm closing in on my third free $15 iTunes gift certificate using the ShopKick app.
  • The NFL Draft, which is still happening as far as I know (which is more than I can say for the 2011 NFL season), is just two weeks from now.  I feel good about the direction KC is going.  Don't mess this up, Chiefs!
  • I've been using my new MacBook Pro for several weeks now.  What a pure joy; I'm so blessed.  It's very similar to old white MacBook but it's so much more powerful… and did I mention new?  I average about five years per laptop, so I'm taking very good care of this new machine.  Who knows, will this be the last traditional laptop I ever own?

Friday, April 15, 2011

On Atheists, Part 3

I got another response:

Wrong. I don't believe because the evidence of the universe does not support the existence of a god.

I was a believer for over 40 years. I began to study for the ministry and it was then that I became an atheist. Because I realized that religion (and everything I thought people "knew" about god) was all manmade. I am hardly alone in this experience; it's quite common for atheists to recognize the vacuity of religious belief when they study religion. In fact, for me (and for many believers), this process is very upsetting and traumatic. It's not easy to lose the god you thought existed and accounted for everything.

I had written a longer post but it disappeared. I suggest Dan Barker's book, "Losing Faith in Faith" as a good place to understand the atheist position.

Another is this post here.

Forgive me, but your story breaks my heart. 

First, I read Richard Carrier's rebuke of Christianity and it basically boils down to this: 1) I choose to see the world as material-only, from which I deduce a material-only theory, which, of course, leads me back to (we'll say "predicts") a material-only world.
2) Some people of faith are not well trained in logic and philosophy, so let's knock down their arguments. Most of Carrier's article vaguely refers to what "Christianity would predict" and then he sets up the worst kind of straw men.  Not arguments by Christian apologists (like C.S. Lewis, which he quotes but doesn't refute) but the kind of half-baked "Christian" ideas which my half-baked neighbor would argue as he shoots from the hip.  All through the article I kept saying to myself, "that's not what I would say as a Christian."

In regard to your personal story I can understand what you went through.  It wasn't my experience but I was fortunate to be trained by earnest, intelligent, men of faith.  My professors were heart-felt believers and good men to boot.  And I've known churches with good, sincere, and intelligent people who truly believed.  On the other hand, I've seen and known a lot of arrogant, devious, and cynical theologians who belong to groups or denominations that are built on nothing more than the guilt-driven manipulation of dim-witted people.  If you jumped into that kind of mess with a sincere, earnest heart, I can imagine how it must have shattered your faith.

But this goes back to my original premise.  Most atheists I know don't decide that God doesn't make sense until after they've already been burned by regular old human beings.  The straw that breaks the camel's back is not a metaphysical argument but a fraudulent faith-healer, a manipulative money-grabber, a lying, self-serving preacher, etc.  These hypocrites hurt us and betray our trust and because we held them up as closer to God or, perhaps, our very image of what God must be like, when they fell, God fell too.

I think that most religion is false.  I think it's man made and mostly lies told by people who've been lied to.  But that doesn't mean God is not real.  Only the god invented by the liars falls when the lie is exposed.  The one real God remains.

In a nutshell, don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Random Thoughts 4/14/11

  • It's hard to believe but my precious son, Tanner, was baptized last Sunday.  He's only nine years old but he has one of the sweetest dispositions and couldn't be more earnest.  He's my first child to make a decision for the Lord and we couldn't be more happy!  [I wanted to wait and post some pics but that'll have to wait.]
  • Josh Selby, the one-and-done supposed-phenom who had a mediocre, truncated, and disappointing single season at KU, is now officially going to the NBA.  **Yawn**  What a waste.  Selby averaged 7.9 points as a reserve off the bench which he thinks will translate into an pro career.  Now he's helping the Jayhawks by making room for others who want to be here.
  • So tax hikes are now "spending reductions in the tax code"?  First, I agree with the internet chatter that this is the most Orwellian statement made by a U.S. President since "New World Order."  Second, this statement is meaningless unless you start by assuming that money belongs to the government first.  This view then lets you believe that when taxpayers get a tax break they are keeping more of the government's money, i.e. government spent money by leaving it in your pocket.  Thus, a spending reduction in the tax code will necessarily involve emptying that pocket.
  • Here's a great video from Peter Jackson, director of the Hobbit movies, about the beginning of filming.
  • My eldest son, Brennan, has legitimate nerd cred.  In just three sittings, he beat the game "Portal," which has some relatively challenging levels, especially for a 10-year old.  Real nerds (now including my son) out there know, "the cake is a lie!"
  • I've started cycling again, having made several circuits in the last few days.  After completing one such exhausting ride, I texted, "Back home having my usual heart attack/stroke."  This was supposed to go to my wife, who would have picked up on my humor.  Instead I inadvertently texted it to a church member.   Oops.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Random Thoughts 4/12/11

  • KU recruited another big man, a 6-8 Canadian player named Braedon Anderson.  He's a late bloomer and might be a project, but who knows.
  • Texas is working on a law to increase the speed limit on some highways to 85 mph.  You've got to be kidding!  Who needs to drive that fast?  Once I'm going 75-ish, I lose that feeling that I need to hurry down the road
  • I recently watched Gallipoli (2005), a documentary on the WW1 campaign of the same name (and not to be confused with the early Mel Gibson movie, which is also pretty good).  The documentary was depressing but it's one of the better ones I've seen, telling the story of the British and Australian soldiers as well as the story of the Turkish soldiers. If you need a feel for the tone, listen to the song "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda."  [lyrics here] The 100th anniversary is coming up in a few years and this film would be an excellent place to start for students of the First World War.  To my surprise, the documentarian happens to be Turkish. 
  • Happy birthday, Craig.
  • So Mitt Romney is running for President again.  Hmmm…  He would be the front runner by a mile if not for Romney-care back in Massachusetts.
  • The new Hobbit movies are being shot by director Peter Jackson at 48 frames per second.  At this speed, double the norm of 24 or 30 fps, motion looks more real than ever.  A lot of movie nerds are hoping this will become the new standard, and movies will look better than ever.  We've been at 24 fps for almost 90 years.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On Atheists, Part 2

Thanks for responding to my post about atheism.  I'm a shrewd, skeptical person by nature who has very carefully come to have faith in a Creator of the Universe.  I don't believe in werewolves or Zeus or other things that are derivative of man's imagination, including many people's ideas about God.  By definition these things are lesser than man because man invented them or invented their supposed attributes.  When I refer to God I'm speaking of another category altogether; I mean that nagging possibility of an intelligence that exists apart from the mind of man, independent and transcendent.  I mean the idea of a God from which we would be derivative.

Also, while we're defining terms, I mean to use the term "agnostic" in the normal sense, i.e. a person that does not claim belief or unbelief because they do not know.  In that sense, atheists are not also agnostic.

I hope my post was provocative without being unnecessarily antagonistic.  But I am convinced the evidence for a God is pretty overwhelming.  We're surrounded by evidence; the parts of my body are infinitely more complex than the computer in front of me.  And I don't just mean that they're more complex in their structure or processes (which they are) but every cell is more complex in its information.  Somehow this organized, coherent, useful data in my DNA exists in a world that supposedly has no direction or intelligence.  Does information spring out of mindlessness?  Does life spring from inanimate material?  Organized information is evidence of intelligence (e.g. SETI).  Engineering is evidence of an engineer.

Beyond this, we have a moral component.  Humans everywhere have a basic knowledge of right and wrong.  We don't normally murder those we love or disrespect those we want to impress; we've never sung songs praising cowardice and failure.  People don't always honor these standards but, when we don't, we feel guilt and remorse.  Why?  I suggest that we know there is a higher moral standard than mere nature, red in tooth and claw.  Atheism has historically had a hard time arguing why natural man should be so unnaturally moral.

In the end, I don't suppose that I'll convince you to swerve from your faith anymore that I will swerve from mine.  But I ask that you'll fairly consider both sides with an open mind.  What if there is a God who created this somehow and can assign value to you as a living being?  What if he has expectations?!

If you're like most of us, this doesn't really come down evidence and arguments and philosophical debates.  The real reason we don't believe in God is this: we don't want to.  It's not about evidence for or against God; it's more often about peer pressure and fear and bitterness and pride.  In our own minds, to stop believing is a reprieve from authority and accountability.  We can live like we want because, in the end, no one is going to question us on it.


Responses from a friendly atheist on the internet:
First, how can someone say they believe there's no God? How do they make that claim, not having searched every corner of the universe at every point in time?

The same way I can say I believe there are no werewolves, even though I haven't searched every corner of the earth.

At least an agnostic is honest enough to say he just doesn't know.

I don't claim to know either, but I don't go around claiming that theists can't know for sure and should also be re-categorized as agnostic.

Theist: believes 1 or more gods exist.
Atheist: someone who is not a theist.

I'm not a theist. There are no gods that I think exist. I'm an atheist.

I'm also agnostic, because agnostic refers to knowledge, not belief.

But an atheist has such a big chip on his shoulder that he claims for himself god-like knowledge about the existence of God.


I assume you're an atheist regarding, say, Zeus. You don't think Zeus exists, or any of the other thousands of gods, except for one. I just don't stop at that last one.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

On Atheists

Atheism is a cocky move. It's mistaken… but it's incredibly gutsy.

First, how can someone say they believe there's no God? How do they make that claim, not having searched every corner of the universe at every point in time? How did they test this hypothesis exactly? At least an agnostic is honest enough to say he just doesn't know. But an atheist has such a big chip on his shoulder that he claims for himself god-like knowledge about the existence of God. In a way, he's saying that he is like God to know the truth about all reality everywhere and proclaim with authority that there is no God.

Like I said, cocky.

An atheist actually spends more time thinking about God than most believers. The difference is bitterness. The atheist believes in God so much that he blames almost everything on him. The atheist's response is to give God the silent treatment. Have you ever shunned someone? It takes a lot of concentration to not accidentally acknowledge them or speak to them. The atheist, consumed with bitterness over the pain they've experienced (probably from random events and the very human mess that people make), can't wish cancer, child abuse, failure, and broken hearts out of existence, but hey, God is already invisible. And why didn't he step in and give me a fairy-tale happy ending?!  So the atheist's plan is to punch back at God by shutting him out.

Shun God. Stew in bitterness against him. Mock him. Ridicule him. Direct your angst and rage toward him.

Go ahead and try.  I only wish Christians had this much passion about God.

The only good thing about atheists is, if they confront the real sources of their bitterness, they make powerful and devout believers later on. Some of the best Christians were trying hard to be atheists when they were 20.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Other Way to Spend Government Money

My new hero this week is Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chairman of the house budget committee.  Watch this video…