Thursday, July 28, 2011

Random Thoughts 7/27/11
  • The Chiefs have signed WR Steve Breaston to a 5-year deal, presumably to start.  I've always like Breaston when he was in Arizona, which is the connection to current Chiefs coach Todd Haley.  A lot of KC fans wanted Sidney Rice (who went to Seattle) or Santonio Holmes (who stayed with the Jets), but Breaston will work.
  • Oh, guess what?  Satellite data is disproving man-made global warming.  Not only does CO2 not trap nearly as much heat as we thought but man-made CO2 doesn't seem to increase humidity or cloud cover as was speculated.  Hmmm… shocking.
  • Of course facts will never sway the true believers in global warming climate change, because this thinking goes so much further than the thermometer.  Their holy prophet, Al Gore, has convinced them that the infestation of humanity is bad for the planet and they'll never believe otherwise.  Large families (i.e. more than one child) are bad, abortion is good.  Development and industry is bad, central planning socialism is good.  These people want to reduce the population (sparing themselves of course), destroy capitalism (as long as they still get their iPhones), and control the tiniest details of your life (because you're not as elite as they are).
  • Here are 50 Great Learning Apps for Kids for the iPad.  I really think that tablet computers and the internet will be the future of home school education and education in general, although Shannon ran into a school teacher recently who claimed that public schools were almost over the fad of computers, et al.  We've used as a supplement for years; that's only going to increase.
  • Oh look, church camp for atheistsSeriously.  The truth is that unbelief is just as much a religious belief as faith.
  • I know football season is starting, and I'm currently putting together all of our stuff for fantasy football (hold August 29 open guys!), but I'm really looking forward to college basketball.  KU isn't even supposed to have that great of a year, but college basketball has been really fun in recent years.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Not Liberal Enough?

The first time I heard a liberal friend say that President Obama "isn't really very liberal," I almost fell out of my chair.  Not liberal?!  Or do you mean not liberal enough?  And not liberal enough for whom, Che Guevara?  Joseph Stalin?  Chairman Mao?  Not for one minute, do I believe that our President isn't a dyed-in-the-wool left-wing progressive.  But I'll admit that he's doing a terrible job of getting anywhere with that.  Here's my take on why:

First, he's a politician.  If he had been too blatantly left-wing he wouldn't have been elected by a population which has less than 20% who self-identify as liberal.  I think this explains his opposition to gay marriage and his declaration that the abortion issue was "above his pay grade."  He's savvy enough to pick his battles… usually., he's a terrible leader.  The man may be a condescending, Ivy-League intellectual who has strong socialist and revolutionary ideological roots… but he can't make the Washington machine actually do anything.  His liberal credentials were great – and in 2008 he captured the imagination of a lot people for a lot of reasons – but he's been completely ineffective, even when his party controlled both houses of congress.  What excuse does he have other than ineptitude?

So now, I'm hearing the buzz from all corners saying that the President has disappointed liberals.  Okay.  Here's my suggestion:  Run a third-party candidate.  If the Democrats are too moderate for you, go get a real revolutionary like Cynthia McKinney or even Al Gore or some other left-wing whack-a-doodle and run them for president against your own guy.  That's how conservative purists lose elections react to poor leadership.  Divide and be conquered!

Go for it!

Apple Store Way Too Nice

This is similar to my experiences at the Apple Store, where the employees are ridiculously patient and kind, but I never brought a goat with me.

[Please pardon the name of the website this comedian uses; I call it "My "Darn" Channel"]

Monday, July 25, 2011

Random Thoughts 7/25/11

  • The NFL lockout is over!  That means we'll get a full season of NFL football this year.  And that means we'll have Fantasy Football too!
  • Here are some great satellite pictures of famous sports stadiums, including a pair that you might recognize…
  • K-State is rebranding itself as, you guessed it, K-State.  Only now it's official.  "K-State" means Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas and only that.  Of course, who was the competition, Kent State?  Kennesaw State?
  • I went to the Apple Store this morning because my iPhone 4, which I'd had for almost eleven months, was acting up.  Specifically, the home button was beginning to fail, functioning erratically for quite some time now.  I walked in, an Apple "genius" looked at it for 30 seconds, and decided that I should get a brand new phone!  He activated the new shiny phone, deleted my grimy, scratchy old phone, and voila!  I didn't even have an extended warranty or anything.
  • Overheard while the kids played at the Altic house today:  "Opera contest!!! LAHHHHHHHHH!!!"
  • Have you seen McDonald's instructions for using their WiFi?  It's just one more example of why you should use a Mac.  It's so much better!
  • It sounds ridiculous but the funniest thing I've seen on TV recently is a cartoon the boys watched, "LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace."  It was really funny, in a Star Wars-inside-joke, geek kind of way.
  • Overheard while the kids played at the Altic house today:  "Ow! Ow!  It hurts!  Graham, stop biting my toes!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Random Thoughts 7/21/11

  • I hate that weak, shaky feeling you get in your arms after trimming with the weed-eater for an hour.  You think you're fine until you have hold a heavy object over your head or sign your name, but no, my muscles have been vibrated to death; they don't work anymore.
  • 99 weeks of unemployment is bad for you.  More specifically, the perpetual dole causes depression and anxiety in those who don't work because they'd rather take unemployment than a job that pays them much less than they're used to.  Hello unintended consequences!  Welfare destroys the personal dignity of an individual.  In most cases the best thing for a person is to limit or take away those government benefits they think they need.  That safety net too quickly becomes a web.
  • I installed OS X Lion on my MacBook Pro yesterday but before I did, I made a copy of the 3.5 GB installer file.  If you buy Lion you can install it on all of your computers (very cool) but you have to re-download it each time (not cool).  This can take three or four hours depending on how fast your internet is.  So I made a copy and networked it over to our iMac when I got home last night.  It transferred in about two minutes instead of four hours.  Awesome.
  • Exposure to the American flag "primes voters towards Republicans."  This is just like the report a few weeks ago that said Fourth of July parades made people vote Republican.  Because resenting your country is for modern Democrats!
  • Here's another video blog on Facebook from Peter Jackson on the set of The Hobbit.
  • The NFL almost has a deal done to play this season… almost!  If things work out today, we are planning on a fantasy football draft on August 29 (with other dates in the that time period still being considered).
  • Read Imprimis at

Too Many Aborted, Part 2

This is just genocide –– like the Nazis, but slower.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Random Thoughts 7/19/11

  • It's a bad week for the printed word, sort of.  Due in part to the internet and the increase in e-books and e-readers, like the iPad, Reader's Digest has put itself up for sale and Borders book stores is going out of business.  Companies like Barnes & Noble and Amazon sell more digital books than paper books and that's not counting the thousands of public domain digital books that are freely available.  It's too bad; I love the feel and smell of a paper book; if you take care of it a good book can last a hundred years.  Even though I read e-books and love the convenience of a library in my pocket, I don't have any confidence that an e-book I own today will still be accessible to me ten years from now.
  • OS X Lion, the latest version of the operating software that runs Mac computers is likely due out tomorrow.  I'm very excited but I'm more excited for iOS 5 for my iPhone due out this fall.
  • The law of unintended consequences strikes again.   Windmills in Pennsylvania are killing tens of thousands of bats per year, which would otherwise eat millions of insects, which is now costing farmers millions of dollars (about $74 per acre) to deal with the insects.  Oops. 
  • Over a third of the 454 White House staffers make six figure salaries, twenty-one of them making the maximum $172,200.  Really?!  And 75% of them got a raise last year. 
  • This twenty-minute video is worth watching; it profiles Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry – his background and family, his heroism, and his award ceremony.  It's very touching and inspiring.
  • If you get an email from "Allen Daves, minitser of the gosple of chirst" containing a couple of long, small-type PDFs full of wild-eyed, out-of-context pseudo theology… RUN!!!!  I actually read through these ramblings, and my brain is about to melt.  Not only does the guy desperately need spell-check, but it's hard for him to get through a single, angry paragraph without either condemning standard, historical doctrine or proposing an old heresy.  It would be hard to be more wrong than this guy; it's a train wreck of typos and heterodoxy.  But you've got to ignore him.  What else can you do with a fanatic who has spent thousands of hours stringing together King James Version verses to come up with a whole new systematic understanding of Christianity?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thorin Oakenshield

And finally, here's the leader of the dwarfs in The Hobbit, Thorin Oakenshield.  Other than the sword he carries, Orcrist, this is the first dwarf to be a little bit of a disappointment.  He looks cool but he doesn't look at all like how he's described in the book.  But do you see that sword?

My older two boys will read The Hobbit this winter and then they'll read The Lord of the Rings a few years later.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Random Thoughts 7/16/11

  • I love teaching at church camp but it is sooooo good to be home.  The teaching, preaching, devotions, Bible study, and talking with kids one-on-one is all right up my alley, but all the outdoor stuff isn't my speed; I hate coming home sunburned and covered in bug bites.
  • In the World Series of Poker this year, which is mostly finished except for the ongoing Main Event, professional poker player Phil Hellmuth placed second in three separate events and made it to day four of the Main Event, just missing the money.  Today is Day 5 of the Main Event and several well-known professionals are still among the 378 players remaining.
  • There are not enough hours in the day to read everything I want to read.
  • The Medal of Honor was awarded to Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry this week, only the second living recipient since Vietnam.  Read about him here, especially the "battlescape" that describes the events surrounding Petry's heroism.
  • There seems to be good movement in the NFL labor talks.  I've been holding off on an email to our fantasy football league all week, waiting for something to happen.  Now it's possible that this will all be worked out by the middle of this week.  Yay!
  • Because you really needed to know what was in A1 Steak Sauce
  • And finally, here's a three-year old explaining Star Wars.  Awesome!

And These Dwarfs make Twelve

And here's two more dwarfs from the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.  This time it's Balin and Dwalin, the first two dwarfs to show up unexpectedly at Bilbo's house.  Balin's tomb in Moria is shown about 80 years later in the Fellowship of the Ring.

Balin and Dwalin

Thursday, July 14, 2011

And Now There Are Ten

These dwarfs keep showing up in two's and three's, kind of like an unexpected party.  With thirteen dwarfs in the story, I'm sure it's hard to make each of them distinct characters for the movie audience.  I think this looks like a job well done. 

This time we get a picture of the rotund Bombur and his brothers Bifur and Bofur.  I love this so far!

Bombur, Bifur, and Bofur

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Dwarfs

Here's yet another picture of dwarfs from the production of The Hobbit.  Seven down and six dwarfs, a hobbit and a wizard to go.

This time it's two of the younger dwarfs, Fili and Kili.

Fili and Kili

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rate the Bible?

I saw this on my iPhone after updating my Bible app, which is titled simply "Bible". Yet somehow it seems wrong to rate "Bible" with anything but 5 stars.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Random Thoughts 7/9/11

  • I'm teaching at another week of church camp this coming week; it should be a great week!  I'll bring my computer and try to blog a little.
  • Here's a great article detailing the Kansas basketball recruits for 2012.  It's a long list, but there's still a lot of time left before any of these guys would show up for classes in Lawrence. Only one player, Zach Peters from Texas, has committed to Kansas for that recruiting class and I'm not sure that really means anything yet.  We're expecting three to four scholarships to be available at the end of this coming season.
  • A refurbished first-gen iPad is only $350 over at Apple's online store.  I really believe that we're moving away from the idea of the family computer, to the idea of each family member having their own device, be it tablet, laptop, smart phone, or some combination thereof.  I really think the future of homeschooling revolves around one tablet per student and, for those purposes, a first-gen iPad will work nicely.
  • I'm preaching on the minor prophets this summer.  Obadiah was last week, Joel is this week.  This is a bit harder than anticipated.
  • Hey, 7/9/11.  That's not as cool as September 10th of this year, or November 11, but still…
  • Okay, here's a little more info on The Hobbit.  This time it's another video blog from Peter Jackson as they finish one block of shooting, send the cast and crew on vacation and scout new locations for the next block of shooting.
  • If you're a Kansas City resident you must listen to this podcast of local sports-talk guy Kevin Kietzman taking a writer from New York, Chris Sullentrop, to task about whether Kansas City is a place where people are lonely and bored. The last few minutes are particularly good.  KC isn't perfect but it's a pretty nice place to live, in my opinion.

Two More Dwarfs

Okay, I know I should stop, and I can anytime I want, but here's another dwarf hero shot from the production of The Hobbit.  This time, it's Oin and Gloin, Gimli's uncle and father.

Oin and Gloin

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Three Dwarfs

Attention Tolkien nerds!  Here is your first picture of Dori, Nori, and Ori (from left to right, Nori, Ori, and Dori –– but real Tolkien fanatics could have deduced that from their relative ages).  The three dwarf brothers from the The Hobbit are the first ones for whom we've had a clear "hero shot."

Nori, Ori, and Dori

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Random Thoughts 7/6/11

  • I came home to my five-year old telling me "yo momma" jokes.  What in the world?!  My momma is your grand-momma, so watch out, shrimp!
  • I had the opportunity to go down to Ottawa and visit my grandmother on the fourth.  One reason for the trip was to bring her back up to KC for a family get together.  Another reason was so I could trouble shoot, update, and backup her iPad.  I love that my 86-year old grandmother uses her iPad every day, taking it to church and around town.  She emails and plays scrabble (Words with Friends) with us and, for someone who didn't have any significant computer experience and hadn't even typed since 1941, I think she's doing fantastic!  Technology is wonderful!
  • Here's an article about Eurocopter's answer to Sikorsky's high speed helicopterSikorsky has the X2, so naturally the Euro-solution is called the X3.  The X3 is exactly a new design, but rather a major modification of an existing helicopter, specifically adding two forward-facing propellers on each side of the helicopter.  These high speed helicopters not only have military and business applications but also would make a significant impact in search and rescue.  More on the very cool, 300 mph X2 prototype here.
  • My daughter has had her tricycle moved to the kitchen.  There's nothing quite like stirring dinner on the stove while having a metal toy rammed into your ankle by a giggling two-year old.
  • We're getting closer on moving up the road to the other house.  It's all very slow going, but the pieces are starting to fall into place.
  • Please remember that an acquittal in our system is not the same as being innocent.  That verdict worked out exactly like I had predicted for the reasons I predicted it… and it still stinks.
  • Cool iPhone apps that have helped me pass the time in recent months:  Tiny Tower, We Rule, Words with Friends, Burn the Rope, 7 Little Words, and Shanghai Mahjong.

Monday, July 04, 2011

iPad Board Games

The iPad is potentially a great new way to play board games.

With regular board games you have to store and keep track of the box, usually on some shelf somewhere, begging to fall to the floor and scatter little plastic game pieces everywhere.  Then you have to keep track of those game pieces, which have a habit of disappearing.  Then you have to set up, keep score, and then put away the game.  Not to mention the games cost $10-20, and up to $50 for those cool German board games.

But now, for just a few dollars (almost always less than $10), you can get these same games on the iPad, with very few drawbacks and occasionally some new features, like playing with someone who's not even in the room.  Some iPad board games don't let you play against other human players, locally or over the internet, or they handle this so poorly that you'd rather just play against the computer.  But most are worthwhile facsimiles of their card board and plastic counterparts.

Which games are good?  "Scotland Yard" was just released as well as "Ticket to Ride," both of which are favorite family games among us and our friends.  German-made award winners "Settlers of Catan" and "Carcasonne" both have iPad versions, as well as all of the American classics like "Monopoly" and "Risk."  I own "Scrabble" but play "Words with Friends," which handles multiplayer better than almost any iPad or iPhone game of this sort.