Saturday, December 29, 2012

Random Thoughts 12/29/12

  • Whew, the year is almost gone… again.
  • Some of us were thinking about the fiscal cliff back in early November (and before then also).  Welcome to the conversation, everybody; it's good to get informed.
  • I really appreciate simple iPhone apps that do their job well.  One you may have overlooked, that has some new features and works really well is myLite, a basic flashlight app.  One of the first apps I downloaded for my first iPhone, it's still one that I use on a daily nightly basis.
  • Here's an interesting article (if you like history or architecture) showing great New York buildings that no longer exist.  Just scanning down the list, the 1960's was a bad time for famous buildings in the Big Apple.
  • This video is kinda long (23 minutes) but it's an excellent look into what makes a computing experience good or bad.  Now that computers are everywhere in our world, I hope lots of designers watch this amusing rant against Windows 8.  It helps that I've never been a fan of MicroSoft Windows.
  • This was my first losing season of fantasy football… in almost 20 years (though I have been .500 a few times in that period).  For most of the season I was in the top three scoring but I was in the top two teams for points allowed all year.  Basically, a lot of teams had their best weeks the week they were playing me.  Yay.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where Only the Irony is Delicious…

Our local dirty-spoon in Bonner Springs.

Random Thoughts 12/20/12

  • My sweet Tanner had a birthday this week (Tuesday) and turned 11!  All he wanted for his birthday was a metal detector.  Of course.  That's not homeschool at all.
  • I took Shannon, Brennan, and Tanner to see The Hobbit Tuesday.   Part 1 (of 3) is everything a Tolkien fan could hope for.  We saw it in traditional 2D at 24 frames-per-second and it was perfect.  It seems like too dark a movie for 3D and I'm not a fan of wearing those plastic glasses and getting a headache anyway.
  • The Christmas shopping for the kids is basically done now with just a few more presents to wrap.  Spreading out the shopping (and spending) over several months is a good thing and I'm already tracking ideas and online prices for next year.
  • Our Google Fiberhood has expanded by a few miles (good for our neighbors) and been delayed a little bit (bad for us).  We supposedly will be hooked up by February.
  • Yes, more gun laws will make a difference.  Just like laws against alcohol and drugs fixed those problems.
  • Global warming failed us again.  We had our first serious snow today.  Blizzard conditions this morning and cold and icy all day.  But it's Kansas so it'll melt tomorrow… maybe.  In Russia they're having the worst winter in 70 years.  So it could be worse.
  • I think some people are going to profit off of the panic and foolishness about doomsday in the next 24 hours.  I'll have a video go up on my blog after midnight Friday night about why the world didn't end yesterday.
  • See Union Station's Christmas decorations here.
  • The bodies of the "In Cold Blood" killers were exhumed in Lansing, KS, to collect DNA for a murder case in Florida 50 years ago.  Kansas hasn't executed anybody since these two were hung in Lansing in 1965.
  • That video you've seen with the giant eagle snatching and almost carrying away an infant… is a fake.  It was created by a 3D animation workshop.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No Apocalypse This Friday

Stop worrying about the Mayan prophecy of doom that supposedly is due this week.  They didn't predict any such thing. 
The Mayan calendar runs out this Friday, on the 21st.  My calendar on my office wall runs out the 31st.  Both are intended to roll over and begin again.

It is mildly interesting, in a trivial kind of way, that the Mayan calendar does roll over, like an odometer, to all zeroes on Friday.  But the assumption that this foretells cataclysm, disaster, and the end of the world is something that other people (not the Mayans) started importing into the conversation in the mid-1970's.  The Mayans actually expected events to take to place on future calendars beyond this one, many thousands of years into the future. 

Furthermore, when we say that the Mayans predicted the end of the world, we assume that they believed in such a thing.  Many cultures have no concept of an apocalypse, judgment day, or end of the world.  Many non-Western cultures (specifically without influence from Judeo-Christian sources) believe in a cyclical world of reincarnation or rebirth that continues, in one form or another, forever.

Either way, there is nothing to fear from the Mayans this week.

  • Here's some background info from NASA.
  • More from NASA here.
  • And a number of resources here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

There are Answers…

This Sunday's sermon, already planned weeks ago, is about King Herod, an evil man who murdered innocent children.  We will discuss evil in the world, why bad things happen, and God's answer to tragedy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Random Thoughts 12/11/12

  • Yes tomorrow is 12/12/12 .  Bloggers (and other nerds) love that.
  • US 71, from Joplin to KC, becomes Interstate 49 on Wednesday.  I drove from Joplin to near-St. Joseph, Missouri and back every weekend for over four years.  It's going to be really, really hard to call that highway anything other than "seventy-one."
  • It looks like I'm going to wait until next Tuesday to see The Hobbit.  Normally, I'd be lining up on Thursday night for the midnight showing, but I want my older two boys and my wife to go with me, so seeing a noon-showing on a Tuesday makes more sense.
  • Highland Christian Church's mission team gave a sizable gift to our church camp.  God bless them!
  • Google Fiber is coming… and I can't wait.
  • Michigan is now right-to-work.  Hmmm…
  • Oh, good.  An Angry Birds movie is coming in 2016.  Just what we need.  Will this be coming to theaters or directly to the little bitty screen on your phone?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Random Thoughts 12/6/12

  • Javon Belcher's murder-suicide is such a terrible tragedy, leaving so many affected people.  The orphaned child, the family, those poor coaches and staff that witnessed the tragedy.  I think I passed the point of disbelief when the NFL made the Chiefs play the next day.  Why couldn't that game have been postponed or canceled out of respect for the lost?
  • Here's the writer's guild list of award nominees.  As someone who appreciates good writing, this list is sometimes a bit better than the typical Golden Globe, Emmy, or Oscar lists.
  • Google Fiber seems to be making progress in our neighborhood, er… fiberhood.  In recent weeks the crews have been running the fiber optic cable under ground to each house.  Personally, I can't wait to get rid of Knology (formerly Sunflower), which has been the most unreliable internet service I've ever used, going all the way back to dial-up.  But our neighborhood had very few internet options… until now.
  • Apple is now officially rich enough to lose money make computers in the U.S.  Supposedly, an entire line of computers (the Mac Pro?) will be made in the United States… at least for awhile.  Right now Apple products are designed in California, components are made around the world, and the machines are assembled in China, where skilled workers can be had for a few dollars an hour.  The same type of skilled worker (which may or may not exist in this country) is going to cost significantly more, meaning Apple can only afford to produce the product with the largest profit margin (the high-end $2500 Mac Pro), minus the profit margin
  • There's concern amongst early reviewers that the 48-frames per second speed of the new Hobbit film is distracting and unattractive.  I plan to see the film in plain-old 2D and traditional 24-frames per second, so hopefully I won't even notice what they're complaining about.
  • So the NFL is considering getting rid of the kickoff in football, to avoid the violent collisions (and frequent boredom) associated with the play.  What would replace it?  The team that scores, instead of kicking off, would go back to their own 30 with the ball on 4th and 15.  They can go for it or punt.  Hmmm…

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Random Thoughts 11/29/12

  • I was recently introduced to musician Sufjan Stevens and I'm not quite sure what to make of him.  Every time I start to think, "wow, this guy is a musical genius," then the very next song sounds like awful noise to me.  Hmmm.
  • Politics drew my attention away from the World Series of Poker this year.  Phil Hellmuth got his 12th bracelet (and then his 13th when he won the main event in the European WSOP in September), Phil Ivey made five final tables, and several other previous winners and pros had great showings.  The main event had a final table with eight of the nine seats held by Americans and Greg Merson won his second bracelet and $8.5 million.
  • Hellmuth's European victory not only extends his record number of WSOP wins but also makes him the first and only player to win both the American and European WSOP Main Event.  If you're not convinced he's a great poker player… just ask him.
  • I watched LucasFilm's World War 2 movie about the Tuskegee airmen, Red Tails.  On the one hand, the special effects were brilliant.  I've never seen such a seamless presentation of WW2 air combat and it gives me high hopes for the future of war movie visuals.  On the other hand, it was perhaps the most poorly written dialogue of any WW2 film I have ever seen.  From start to finish, the spoken lines seemed to be generated by a random war movie cliche generator.  Just twenty minutes in I wished the audio would fail so I could watch it as a silent movie.  In fact, I'm certain a party game could be played by watching the movie muted and having the viewers improvise dialogue; randomly inserted war movie talk like "get him!!!" "no!!!" and "take that, Hitler!!!" would be little different then what was actually written.
  • Part of the problem with Red Tails is that it was written and directed by men with precious little movie experience and very mixed results in television.  The writer has had his last four television series canceled out from under him in their first seasons.
  • Here's a funny commercial starring Panthers quarterback Cam Newton:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Random Thoughts 11/27/12

  • The Discovery Channel canceled "Dirty Jobs" with Mike Rowe.  It's curious that it happened just weeks after the pro-work spokesman was accused of stumping for Mitt Romney.  Hmmm.   "Dirty Jobs" was one of the few shows on TV that promoted an actual virtue… with a twelve-year old's sense of humor.  And now it's gone.
  • Jeff Withey had a triple double, i.e. double digit points, rebounds, and blocks, last night!  That's only the second time (officially) in KU history that a triple double has happened (although there may have been three other instances in the 1950's before blocked shots was an official statistic).
  • Speaking of KU, the team is losing one of its freshmen players.  Zach Peters who played well this summer but has been suspiciously absent is leaving Kansas and the game of basketball due to injuries.  He's had multiple concussions and a rotator cuff injury and, after visiting home for Thanksgiving, decided to leave school and stop playing sports.  Peters was a 6-9 forward.
  • The Chiefs are in position to get any quarterback they want in the draft.  But this isn't going to be a good draft for number-one-overall QBs and Kansas City has been reluctant to draft first round QBs in the past.
  • Christmas shopping for my 3 and 6-year olds is a thousand times easier than shopping for my older boys.  The desires of the older boys are significantly more sophisticated, i.e. expensive and particular.  The little guys aren't too picky. We have a limited budget and a big family, so those older kids are going to have to lower their sights a bit.
  • College conferences are changing again and there's lots of speculation.  I love the version that adds to the Big 12 two football schools (like Florida State and Clemson) and two basketball schools (North Carolina and Duke).  I can't imagine that actually happening but, still, it would be amazing.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Random Thoughts 11/24/12

  • In preparation for The Hobbit, my older two boys are watching The Lord of the Rings (special extended edition) with Shannon and me.  That's about twelve hours of awesomeness, in about two-hour sittings each night.
  • Now that the Christmas tree has been erected, my little girl is running around telling all of us "Merry Christmas!" over and over again.  She's adorable.
  • I recorded and I've started watching Ken Burn's "The Dust Bowl."  Absolutely fascinating, especially as someone who grew up in the Midwest and knew lots of people who could tell these same stories.
  • Jayhawk basketball is really here, along with the cold weather.  I love this time of year.
  • I went most of the day on Thanksgiving without proper WiFi.  *sigh*  …the sacrifices we make for family. 
  • Speaking of sacrifices, at least I've got one person fooled.  But she's pretty sweet.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Random Thoughts 11/20/12

  • I had a nice surprise today.  I got the mail at the church and there was a package, addressed to me, from Amazon.  But I hadn't ordered anything.  I opened it and immediately recognized two books from my Amazon wishlist.  Someone had gone to my list and anonymously gifted two books to me!  How thoughtful is that?!  These two books were a delightful surprise.  Thank you!
  • What were the two books?  The first was David L. Robbins' (one of my favorite novelists) Broken Jewel, an historical novel about a WW2 prison camp in the Philippines.  The second book was Shakespeare's Richard III from the Arden Shakespeare series.  Arden presents the plays with extensive footnotes and, in this case, about 200 pages of historical background and analysis.  Just plain awesome.
  • Rock chalk, Jayhawk!  It hurts losing that game to Michigan State but still the Jayhawks, though young, look immensely talented.  One of my Jayhawk friends sent me this re-tweet: "Man, we better hope our first nine guys don't all go down or we are gonna be in big trouble!"
  • I've been shopping for a couple months now, but now I've begun organizing my Christmas shopping spreadsheets in earnest.  Tis the season!
  • Here's a new drone built by Boeing.  Absolutely fascinating.  Their goal is a communications drone that flies for 10 days at a time.
  • I was genuinely sad for K-State last week.  Good luck the rest of the way, wildcats.
  • I went to my first Tim Hawkins concert last week.  That guy is pretty funny but he's an amazing musician.  
  • Altic family holiday decorating schedule: Thanksgiving night, put up the Christmas tree.  Christmas night, take the tree down.  When I was a kid we put the tree up on Christmas eve and took it down on Valentine's.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

KU Adds Another Big

KU added a seven-footer to the 2013 recruiting class.  Joel Imbiid is new to the game of basketball but appears to be natural and some think he'll end up being a top-20 prospect by the time he enrolls at Kansas.

Imbiid is now part of a hugely talented recruiting class, which will play next fall, that includes (thanks

Brannen Greene, 6-7, 200, Tift County High, Tifton, Ga., ranked 24th in the nation 
Wayne Selden, 6-5, 225, Tilton (N.H.) School, ranked 25th
Conner Frankamp, 6-foot, 160, Wichita North, ranked 30th
Frank Mason, 5-11, 160, Massanutten Military Academy, Petersburg, Va., ranked 133rd

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Last Stage: Acceptance

I promised myself I wouldn't blog while I was angry…

As an American patriot and amateur historian, I'm genuinely heartbroken and disappointed.  As a Christian, I had really low expectations of human folly government to begin with, so like the British told their citizens during the blitz, I'll "Keep Calm and Carry On."

The Bad News:
My new iPhone wallpaper.
So how badly did I misread the tealeaves?  Yikes.  In part, I suspect that I was hoping.  I was hoping that a decent number of Americans wouldn't vote for themselves more stuff, wouldn't desire more government interference, would understand basic economics, and wouldn't believe silly propaganda promoting envy and bitterness.


Remember, elections are more thermometers than thermostats.  If we determine that our society has an increased desire and tolerance for a welfare state, central planning, and/or class envy, then this election didn't cause it, this election revealed it.

I feel like this election confirms what we've known for a long time: the influence of Christianity on this culture is diminishing.  The Christianity that gave us laws and freedom and science and culture is being shown the door; the Christianity that protected women and children and ended slavery is being dismissed.  Our society seems to be turning away from God and toward Government and that change has been a long time coming, long before President Obama was ever on the scene. 

Who do you blame for cultural rot over the last century?  Hollywood?  The Democrats?  The Republicans?  No.  The blame falls squarely on the Church.  While the Church grows in places like communist China, it shrinks in America – not because of real persecution but because of laziness and disobedience.

The Good News:
• You weren't waiting on perfected government to give a green light to the Church, were you?  Christianity is still true as nations, cultures, and languages come and go.
This isn't the end of America; Christians won't be thrown to the lions tomorrow.  America is huge and resilient.  If things get very bad, we can peaceably change our government every four years.  And next time, more people may be convinced of conservative values.
• A little persecution is a good thing for the Church.  Peace with the world is often a result of compromised values.
• Perhaps some Christians will stop placing hope in a false god that makes promises it can't keep.
• Perhaps some Christians will be shocked into action, to evangelize and pray like they never have before.
• Christians in the first century were told to pray for their leaders, Roman emperors, who were much worse than any president we could ever elect.  This Sunday at church we'll pray for God's blessing on our leaders.  And we'll mean it.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Friday, November 02, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Election Prediction

Okay, we're six days out and here is how I think it'll shake out:

Millions of people who voted for Obama in 2008, did it so they could seize the opportunity to vote for the first black president.  Some did it to prove to themselves (and others) that they weren't racist.  Some were just caught up in the positive movement of the 2008 campaign, while others were voting against former President Bush and the Iraq War.

The political landscape is completely different today.  While candidate Obama made people feel good about themselves, President Obama is deeply polarizing… and a little disappointing.  Most of the polls this season have assumed a voter turnout similar to 2008, when Democrat enthusiasm was at its peak (yet still show a Romney lead).  But the strong Republican showing in the 2010 mid-terms might be a better indication of how things stand today (giving Romney an incredible advantage).

I think millions of people who voted for Obama in 2008 will not vote for him this year.  The novelty is gone.  Some will sit out, some will vote Republican, and some will vote for a third party.

I also think a lot of folks will claim they voted for Obama again, even though they didn't.  They feel pressured to be labeled an Obama-voter but they don't have any enthusiasm to actually vote.  This will cause problems because exit polls and opinion polls may show an Obama victory that won't actually be happening.  This is where the lawyers will pounce.

Voter turnout for Republicans will be higher than four years ago (but similar to 2010) while Democrat turnout will be much lower than 2008.  Independents will go to Romney by a 20-point margin.  Polling of early voters already shows this.


Romney will win the popular vote by more than 5 points.

Romney surprisingly wins the electoral vote by taking several of the swing states, including Ohio.
Of supposedly Democrat-leaning states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, Romney takes at least three, maybe four or more.

Because of the surprise victories in the swing states, Obama unleashes a well-organized legal assault calling for recounts in the close races.  At least one state's results get reversed from Romney to Obama a day or two after the election but the lawyers lose steam.

Romney is finally declared the winner but Democrats decry his victory as stolen and illegitimate.  More specifically, his "questionable" victory takes away any mandate to reverse Obamacare and any attempt to do so will be met by cries of a stolen election and, surprise, more partisanship.

Chris Matthews and other liberals will be flabbergasted.  They don't know a single person in their life that voted for Romney and can't imagine how this happened.

  • The Republicans keep the House, solidly.
  • The Republicans take the Senate, 52-48. 
  • Obamacare is undone.
  • The Bush Tax cuts are made permanent.
  • Three Supreme Court justices get replaced by conservatives that will eventually act like liberals.
  • Absolutely nothing changes with abortion laws in this country.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Disney Princess, Princess Leia

Seriously now…

The breaking news this afternoon (other than election and hurricane news) is that Disney is buying Lucasfilm, George Lucas' company that owns Star Wars, for about $4 billion.  Lucasfilm includes Lucas Arts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, i.e. movie-making, video game-making, special effects-making groups that help make several films every year including many of the biggest, special effects-laden blockbusters you see each summer.

The Lucas companies are very large and busy, so in the short term they'll stay where they are, doing what they have been doing.  But the executives have already started planning new Lucasfilm projects under Disney's umbrella, including…

…wait for it…

A seventh Star Wars film, already scheduled for release in 2015.  Seriously.

At first such news is met with gasps and probably groans.  The last three films didn't impress most folks who loved the first three.  But part of this merger is that George Lucas won't be controlling the films anymore; he'll be handing off the franchise to a new generation of filmmakers.  Perhaps less of Lucas' influence would be good.  I'd love to see the guys who write stories for Pixar handling the Star Wars plots and dialogue. 

My boys love "the Clone Wars" cartoon on The Cartoon Network, a show that I think is better than the last three movies.  This cartoon, to me, seems to prove that the Star Wars universe is not exhausted.  In fact, Disney might be just the right thing to breathe new life into franchise.

Random Thoughts 10/30/12

  • I watched and thoroughly enjoyed the 30-for-30 documentary, "No Place Like Home," about the pursuit to buy the original rules to the game of basketball and bring them back to Kansas University.  As a Jayhawk fan, this story of crazy obsession is amusing and endearing.
  • The first exhibition KU basketball game is tonight.
  • One more week of political campaigning.  Then Romney wins.  Then Obama's lawyers sue.  Then life goes on.
  • It looks like publishers Penguin and Random House are going to merge, making the new company the biggest book publisher in the world.
  • Happy birthday to my favorite mother-in-law!
  • My fantasy football team is now a mediocre 4-4, though my team is scoring well.  The problem is that I have a knack for finding perhaps the only team that week that is scoring more points than I am that week.  I'm really good at that.  Grrr…
  • I wish the Chiefs would just go ahead and trade away Dwayne Bowe… it just feels like there's no good that will come of the relationship.  If they can't get a third-round pick, they should take whatever they can get before they end up getting nothing.
  • Yesterday was a field trip day for our family.  I absolutely love taking our five kids out.  They seem so well-behaved and they love each other so much.  It all does the heart good.
  • Good news: "The Office" will not spawn a Dwight Schrute-focused spin-off.  NBC declined to take a series based on the Schrute family farm and B&B.  To me, it sounded like an absolutely awful idea and now it, fortunately, won't see the light of day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Republic, Not a Democracy

This was written by Ron Paul a few weeks ago and makes a great point.  If you think Ron Paul is a nut (which I sometimes do), please try to put that out of your mind and focus on the very sound argument that he makes.

Last week marked the conclusion of the grand taxpayer funded spectacles known as the national party conventions.  It is perhaps very telling that while $18 million in tax dollars was granted to each party for these lavish ordeals, an additional $50 million each was needed for security in anticipation of the inevitable protests at each event.  This amounts to a total of $136 million in taxpayer funds for strictly partisan activities - a drop in the bucket relative to our disastrous fiscal situation, but disgraceful nonetheless.  Parties should fund their own parties, not the taxpayer.

At these conventions, leaders determined, or pretended to determine, who they wished to govern the nation for the next four years amidst inevitable, endless exaltations of democracy.  Yet we are not a democracy.  In fact, the founding fathers found the concept of democracy very dangerous.

Democracy is majority rule at the expense of the minority.  Our system has certain democratic elements, but the founders never mentioned democracy in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence.  In fact, our most important protections are decidedly undemocratic.  For example, the First Amendment protects free speech.  It doesn't - or shouldn't - matter if that speech is abhorrent to 51% or even 99% of the people.  Speech is not subject to majority approval.  Under our republican form of government, the individual, the smallest of minorities, is protected from the mob.

Sadly, the constitution and its protections are respected less and less as we have quietly allowed our constitutional republic to devolve into a militarist, corporatist social democracy.  Laws are broken, quietly changed and ignored when inconvenient to those in power, while others in positions to check and balance do nothing.  The protections the founders put in place are more and more just an illusion.

This is why increasing importance is placed on the beliefs and views of the president.  The very narrow limitations on government power are clearly laid out in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution.  Nowhere is there any reference to being able to force Americans to buy health insurance or face a tax/penalty, for example.  Yet this power has been claimed by the executive and astonishingly affirmed by Congress and the Supreme Court.  Because we are a constitutional republic, the mere popularity of a policy should not matter.  If it is in clear violation of the limits of government and the people still want it, a Constitutional amendment is the only appropriate way to proceed.  However, rather than going through this arduous process, the Constitution was in effect, ignored and the insurance mandate was allowed anyway.

This demonstrates how there is now a great deal of unhindered flexibility in the Oval Office to impose personal views and preferences on the country, so long as 51% of the people can be convinced to vote a certain way.  The other 49% on the other hand have much to be angry about and protest under this system.

We should not tolerate the fact that we have become a nation ruled by men, their whims and the mood of the day, and not laws.  It cannot be emphasized enough that we are a republic, not a democracy and, as such, we should insist that the framework of the Constitution be respected and boundaries set by law are not crossed by our leaders.  These legal limitations on government assure that other men do not impose their will over the individual, rather, the individual is able to govern himself.   When government is restrained, liberty thrives.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Random Thoughts 10/20/12

  • Cinnamon says it allUnbelievable.  I love the reporters restraint until she walks away.  [thanks for the link, Dustin]
  • Here's an interesting map showing how conservative or liberal the books bought from Amazon are, state by state.
  • Missouri might finally win an SEC game next week.  That's good for them.  Meanwhile, on this side of the state line, Jayhawk fans moved on to basketball season a week ago.
  • Read this incredible story about recently-deceased British soldier who was carrying about two handfuls of shrapnel in his body since 1944.
  • Why isn't the Ft. Hood massacre also a terrorist attack?  It only took a month to get around to calling Benghazi a terrorist attack.  I know that
  • So, the boxelder bugs have invaded, I notice, as I flick one off my desk.
  • Collin Klein for Heisman.
  • I'm feeling better and better about Romney's chances in a few weeks.  The question is whether the victory will be lawyer proof.  And will the Senate still be Democrat controlled?
  • If you're still undecided… doesn't that mean you're hesitating to vote for the incumbent?  If two new candidates were running, being undecided late into the race makes some sense.  But when you've had over 4 years to get to know a guy and now you find yourself unsure… it means you're either going to hold your nose and vote for him, not vote at all, or vote for the other guy.  Any way you cut it, the undecideds are not likely to swing toward the President in large numbers.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Random Thoughts 10/18/12

  • Romney opens up a 7 point lead among likely voters.  Very nice.
  • It looks like Kansas City will have a new airport terminal in the next five years (two more years planning, two plus years construction).  Kansas City's airport, KCI, was conceived and built just before a major shift in airport design brought about by increased security concerns in the 70's and later.  If you've been to KCI, you'll notice the street is just few yards from the gates, which would be great except that it's a security nightmare.  Modern airports are built to separate the planes and the unsecured world outside as much as possible.  The new terminal, designed with these concerns in mind, will be built on the site of the current Terminal A.
  • Do Kansas City residents actually want a new airport?  That's another question.
  • According to Kansans for Life, I should vote for Romney/Ryan, Kevin Yoder for congress, Steve Fitzgerald for state senate, and Shawn Shipp for state representative.  Sounds like a plan.  Missouri's list (from the August primary) is here.
  • I watched the second presidential debate on tape delay, late Tuesday night.  I almost lost it when President Obama didn't answer the Libya question directly and then took a stand as if he had always been calling it an act of terrorism.  (…)  ARGHHHH!!!!  A few of us actually read the news everyday and watch your press conferences and know when you're telling a bald-faced lie!  ARGHHH!!!!  I think Romney was so stupefied by the President's brazen tack that it three him off his game a bit, no thanks to the mistaken moderator. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Random Thoughts 10/16/12

  • The Jayhawks have landed a top 6-5 combo guard for the 2013 class of freshmen (that's the fourth commitment, for those of you scoring at home).  Wayne Selden came to Late Night in the Phog, spent the weekend quietly calling and canceling visits at other schools and then humbly made an announcement (no press conference) that he has selected KU.  Selden is a beast of a physical specimen and could easily be a top player at KU and early NBA prospect.
  • 2016: Obama's America is getting released on DVD… today.  It's also available to purchase online.  This was the fourth most successful documentary ever and extension of the book by Dinesh D'Souza, The Roots of Obama's Rage.  It's a fascinating examination of who and what has influenced President Obama and why his view of America is a lot different than most Americans.
  • Speaking of documentaries, ESPN will be airing another "30 for 30" documentary tonight, this time about Kansas basketball and the pursuit of Dr. James Naismith's original rules for the game.  It's titled, "There's No Place Like Home," referencing the effort to bring the document to the place Naismith spent the last 40 years of his life.
  • I've gone 3-3 so far this year with my fantasy football team.  I'm actually scoring the more points than any other team in my group (#2 out of 30), but match-ups being what they are, I've had three narrow losses already.  Oh, well.
  • Kansas is getting fancy new high-tech driver's licenses.
  • Why is everyone so convinced that President Obama will do well in the debate tonight?  I think the president will likely struggle considering his record and Romney's momentum.  It was front page news today that Romney is leading in most of the swing states and nationwide among likely voters.
  • Today's Gallup poll shows President Obama is down 14 points among men and compared to 2008, has less support across all groups in all regions.
  • Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Our Problem in Simple Terms

    Here's the problem: the numbers are so large they don't mean anything.  People don't understand the trouble that our country is in.

    First, take the actual numbers.  Be forewarned, there are lots of zeroes.

    U.S. TAX REVENUE: $2,170,000,000,000
    FED BUDGET: $3,820,000,000,000
    NEW DEBT: $1,650,000,000,000
    NATIONAL DEBT: $14,271,000,000,000
    RECENT BUDGET CUTS: $38,500,000,000

    Then, by erasing eight zeroes from each number, change this into a picture of a family budget.  Now the problem jumps off the page at you.


    This family is in serious trouble!

    Almost every voter in America could look at these smaller numbers and come up with the same solution that Paul Ryan has suggested for our country.  But because the national numbers are in billions and trillions, they don't really mean anything to most folks, and we continue to drive over a financial cliff.

    [Thanks to Glenn Beck for the illustration]

    Tuesday, October 09, 2012

    Random Thoughts 10/9/12

    • I know that the 2012-13 KU basketball season hasn't even started yet, but news for next is already trickling in.  The fall of 2013 class is already taking shape with another player committing to be a Jayhawk, namely Frank Mason, a 5-11 Sheron Collins-style point guard.   Extraordinary shooter Conner Francamp (from Wichita) and small forward Brannen Greene will also be joining the team a year from now.
    • I totally understand Eric Winston's outrage at some Chiefs fans cheering the concussion of Matt Cassel.  That said, I'm not surprised at the push-back either.  First of all, there's dispute about how many fans were actually cheering the injury and the rest are offended at the accusation.  Second, long-time KC fans have suffered through bad football and dashed hopes and dreams.  For some fans, there is a lifetime of bitterness involved in watching the current team struggle.  Was cheering for an injury classy?  No. 
    • My birthday was last Thursday, a day on which I had multiple meetings and spent quite a bit of time in my office studying and writing.  Most of our celebrating was done in the days before or after my actual birthday.  But the birthday day itself still felt special for one reason:  Facebook.  There's just nothing quite like getting dozens and dozens of birthday wishes from sunup to sundown.  It's a great shot in the arm!
    • No success finding iPhone 5's.  My local AT&T claims they haven't received a single phone since the day it was released.
    • I've listened daily to talk radio for over 20 years.  But KMBZ's "Dana & Parks" is the one of the worst shows out there, and easily the worst to disgrace 980's airwaves.  Specifically, I can't stand Dana Wright in this kind of format.  Almost every opinion she gives is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, championing government regulation and mocking traditional values.  Her on-air persona is the worst example of a shrill, close-minded, talk-first-think-later liberal I've ever heard on local radio.  And her radio partner, Scott Parks, is not up to the task of counteracting her liberal rants.  He is mostly moderately conservative but he doesn't seem to have the chops to explain conservatism or why he thinks the way he does.  The pair have completely lost me; 980AM only plays after 2pm in my office by accident.

    Wednesday, October 03, 2012

    What Preachers Ought to Say on Politics


    Random Thoughts 10/03/12

    • What does it cost to charge your smartphone?  Less than 50¢… per year!  Specifically, recharging an iPhone 4 costs about 38¢ and a new iPhone 5 costs about 41¢ annually to charge.  I'm not sure why that sounds crazy cheap but it does.  Considering that running a computer or television or Xbox can run you upwards of $50 or more a year, these handheld devices are very energy efficient for what they do.
    • Our church family is struggling through financially hard times, just like everybody else.  A lot of ministers are sweating bullets now, wondering what the future holds, and that insecurity makes them less effective in the ministry they do.  But the folks at Wyandotte have gone out of their way to encourage their ministers.  I know I feel I've been supported and loved and encouraged in every possible way and it makes all the difference.  So thank you, thank you, thank you to my church family!
    • From Lifehacker: things to buy in October.
    • Don't use olive oil on your leather furniture.
    • That NFL stadium in Los Angeles is happening and one of the 32 current teams moving there as soon as 2013 is a real possibility.  Commissioner Goodell sent out a memo to every NFL team telling them that they had to declare their intentions to move to L.A. in the fall of 2013 by February 15, 2013.  Teams like the Jaguars, Bills, Vikings, Cardinals, Raiders, and others have all been rumored at one point or another.
    • Birthday coupons to eat at bd's Mongolian BBQ =  winning.
    • So… the iPhone 5… it turns out it can be kind of hard to get to get your hands on them.  Hmmm…  Challenge accepted!  Fortunately, I'm not in a hurry.

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    Random Thoughts 9/27/12

    • This is what we've really needed: every NFL quarterback matched up with a look-alike muppet.  Some of these matches are stretches but a few are spot-on.
    • From the perspective of a long-time Fantasy Football commissioner, I don't like Thursday night NFL games every week.  In most leagues you can't conduct business, i.e. trades, adds, drops, waivers, etc. when the games are "active."  In a typical week, this was Sunday noon thru Monday night (less than 36 hours), leaving you Tuesday thru early Sunday morning (5+ days) to manage the league's business.  But with a Thursday game, a league's business is mostly frozen from Thursday evening to late Monday night (over four days), leaving a smaller window for management.
    • The regular NFL refs are back, getting paid up to $200,000 plus benefits, or about $4,000 an hour!  The real NFL refs are special because they have extra unblinking eyes, clairvoyance, the wisdom of Solomon, and can slow the passing of time with their mind powers.  Now we'll never have another blown call!  Yay!
    • My wife made a minecraft block as my son's birthday cake.  That thing must have weighed 50 pounds!
    • I got my bd's Mongolian BBQ birthday gift certificate today!  It's a wonderful time of year!
    • DVR technology is awesome.  This week a bunch of our new shows have started back up.  However, we've been gone late every night this week.  So we have several hours of shows waiting for us, which we can watch on our own time, skipping the commercials.  Other than the mild risk of spoilers from friends, this is the way to go!
    • I've been getting more involved in our home schooling lately.  I always assumed that as the boys got older that I'd be more involved but it turns out sheer quantity has brought me to the table.  Graham (#4) is now a full time student and so most mornings you can find me practicing the alphabet and counting to one hundred with my funny little six year old.  These are not the advanced subjects of American history and civics that I had imagined teaching but I've enjoyed it!
    • Other school subjects I still imagine teaching my kids as they get older:  The Complete Tolkien Collection, The Koine Greek Alphabet and You, Antebellum American Political Theory,  Beyond Narnia: the Complete C.S. Lewis Collection, Causes of World War 1 (with a field trip to the National WW1 museum), Philosophy 101, Introduction to Archaeology, The Exhaustive World War 2 Timeline, Beginner's Annotated Shakespeare, Survey of Church History, American Film to 1927, American Film after 1927, The History of the Ancient Near East, The Complete Visual History of American Military Ranks and Uniforms, Evolution and Origins Philosophy through History, English Literature, The History of the Roman Empire, Survey of European History, and American Football to 1970.
    • Did I miss anything?

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    Random Thoughts 9/25/12

    • I've recently watched a few Civil War documentaries that leaned heavily on the letters of people of that day… and listening to these begs a question.  In a time when many folks didn't finished 8th grade – if they had any formal schooling at all – how is it that they all sound like poets compared to the way people talk and write today, when 56% of the country has attended college?  The 19th century vocabulary and diction seems so advanced, even from just average people.  In contrast, go read some Facebook or Twitter posts and weep.
    • My oldest turns 12 tomorrow.  Wow.
    • Just remember that the NFL referees with 10 or 20 years of experience also make bad calls each and every game.  Thus, I don't think the pressure is on the NFL at all, even after the Packers/Seahawks game last night.  Rather the league sees a bunch of rookie referees that will get better every week.
    • I wish the more experienced referees were in the game, but the (union's) notion that these guys are so special that they can never be replaced… is nonsense.  Eventually the scabs will gain experience and be equal to the union guys.  Someday.
    • If you get a black iPhone 5, you're going to want to get a case.  The black coloring can scratch off the aluminum with normal use.  Some examples online are pretty minor but a year or two of going in and out of your pocket may rub the paint off all of the edges and affect resale value.
    • Sci-Fi struggles on television.  Look at the last few years, filled with big budget, poorly written dramas, that have struggled to find and keep an audience: "Terra Nova," "The Event," "FlashForward," "V," "Jericho," and now "Revolution" and "Last Resort."  "Heroes" went dramatically downhill after the first season and "Lost" fans were famously un-thrilled with the answers they did or didn't get.  Even the legendary 1960's "Star Trek" only survived three seasons before cancellation.  With an occasional exception, American network television is not a good place for science fiction and fantasy.  Life and death, save-the-world story lines don't work well with the business of television which insists on quantity over quality to be profitable. 
    • However, genre-TV (sci-fi, fantasy, historical drama, etc.) can work on cable and online, where the business model is completely different (though admittedly the budgets are much smaller).
    • Tonight is the banquet for Hands of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center.  I'm a big fan of their executive director.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Hobbit Humor

    The fantastic Hobbit trailer released yesterday had five different endings… here they are all together in one place.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Random Thoughts 9/19/12

    • It was terribly sad to hear about the loss of NFL Film's Steve Sabol yesterday, who passed from brain cancer.  I was surprised that he was already 69 years old, but it's still tragic.  Interesting trivia: Steve Sabol has won more Emmy awards in more categories than anyone else in television, ever.
    • Granted it helps if you like football, but NFL Films Presents is still (and has always been) one of the best shows on TV (hidden away late on Tuesday nights and on Wednesday afternoons on ESPN2).  Sabol's absence will be felt.
    • New Hobbit trailer on facebook, here.  HD version here.
    • I upgraded to iOS 6 and it looks great!  That maps are surprisingly nice (I didn't think I'd be impressed by that).
    • AEG, the company that manages Kansas City's Spring Center (among other venues, like the Staples Center) is up for sale.  Supposedly, whoever buys AEG will inherit the 35-year contract with KC.  The Sprint Center never attracted an NBA or NFL franchise but otherwise has been very successful and profitable.
    • Do people who call in false-alarm bomb threats actually get away with it?  Are there still pay phones out there somewhere?
    • Both of our church volleyball teams played for the first time last night.  It didn't go very well, but I think we still had fun (I only had three nervous breakdowns).  These things work out as we get more in sync with our teammates.
    • I really didn't think that replacement refs would make a noticeable difference.  I was wrong.

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Random Thoughts 9/17/12

    • I'm eager to get a new iPhone, and I am eligible to upgrade, but I'm not going to wait in line overnight.  I'll just hold off a few weeks and get one after the initial rush.  No worries.
    • I'm just as excited to see the refinements to iOS that are coming out this week.
    • Yet another reason why my wife is a-ma-zing!
    • A new Hobbit trailer comes out this week.  I link to it when it hits.
    • The Wii U, Nintendo's next video game console, comes out this Thanksgiving with the hefty price tag of $350 and games that may cost upward of $60 each.  I can imagine upgrading the Wii at some point, perhaps, but it's hard to justify this kind of cash when games on the iPad and iPhone cost 99¢.
    • You can search Google for an actor's "bacon number," i.e. the number of connections it takes to link an actor to Kevin Bacon through shared screen credits, a la "the six degrees of Kevin Bacon."  The problem is the Google knows every credit for every actor and Bacon has been in approximately a gazillion films, so most searches return a bacon number of 1 or 2.  The trick is finding actors with a number of 4 or more.  Just go to Google and type "bacon number justin bieber" to find a celeb with a bacon number of 4.
    • I prayed for the President by name in church last week and a few people thought that I endorsed him or encouraged voting for him.  Whoops.  I didn't intend that at all.
    • The most commonly stolen vehicles in Kansas City here, starting with the Honda Accord.

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    Doing the Right Thing

    A good friend of mine posted this on Facebook recently and words can't describe how I much I appreciate it.  This is the attitude that Christians should be working toward: an increasing desire for worship, Bible study, and fellowship.  I see so many Christians skipping church, or coming late and leaving early… I pray this appetite would increase in their lives.

    Had a rough start this morning. I overslept so I missed church service. Then that mean ol' conscience of mine kept telling me I could still make it to Sunday School. I didn't have time to wait on a fresh shirt so I wore the grubby one I had on (and brother, it was grubby!!!).  After Sunday School they had a baptism, and, grubby or not, I don't miss baptisms. It was then that God shined a light on me. One of the little guys of the church decided he wanted to sit with me during the baptism service. I can't even begin to say how absolutely thrilled and honored I was at that. Thank you my Dear Heavenly Father for the rewards we receive for doing the right thing.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Random Thoughts 9/11/12

    • Eleven years ago today on a bright, clear day exactly like this one…
    • Few headlines can top this: "NBC's Today Show Skips Moment of Silence For Kardashian Interview."
    • Conspiracy nuts are out in full force today.  Gag.  Really now.  Do you really think that there are that many people loyal to President Bush that none of them have talked in eleven years?  Really?!  And you think that Bush pulled off a 9/11 conspiracy but couldn't "find" WMDs in Iraq?  Conspiracy theories are for weak-minded people who want sensationalism in their life to distract them from reality.
    • Real life conspiracies get leaked, betrayed, and revealed.  People whistle-blow, testify, get interviewed, write books and screenplays, and try to cash-in on their 15-minutes.  If anything about 9/11 was a conspiracy we'd have had years worth of hundreds of involved people lining up and trying to sell Bush and Cheney down the river.  Not a bunch of nobodies giving "expert" opinions about how buildings are supposed to collapse (or not) when hit by jetliners.  Good grief.
    • The next iPhone will likely be announced tomorrow.  Does anyone want to buy two 16GB black iPhone 4's in excellent condition?
    • Here are 375 ebooks that are free to download.
    • GM loses $49,000 on every Chevy Volt is sells.  Oops.  The loss is even worse on a Volt that gets leased.
    • I lost my first week of fantasy football.  What stinks is that most of guys had great weeks but I played a team that did fantastic.  In those situations I wish my players would have had their worst performances rather than waste it in a losing effort.  Oh well.
    • Here are some Google search tips: 20 Google shortcuts and 10 more Google shortcuts.  I've often used the world time, weather, and movie showtimes.  Google definitely makes the internet awesome but they also have trouble not being evil.  It turns out that nobody gets sued more than Google for stealing intellectual property.  Check out this story about smart phones, tablets, Google, and Apple's board members.
    • Thanks you, Zach, for cheering me up.

    The Disappointment of Uncertainty

    My ankle hurts everyday.  My knees don't throb at the end of the day.  My shoulders don't ache.  My other ankle is not in constant discomfort.  It's just that one joint, my left ankle, the one I've broken at least once and sprained half a dozen times or more.

    So I went to my doctor and had X-rays taken.  Then I went to a specialist.  Then I paid to have an expensive MRI done.  Up to this point, the expectation was that the MRI would show the broken bits of bone inside my ankle, in addition to the damaged ligaments, all of which would then be repaired surgically.

    But this morning I went to get the results of the MRI and the doctor found it wasn't as bad as he expected: no loose bone fragments inside the joint, nothing requiring immediate surgery.  That's good news… sorta.

    I don't want surgery; I'm not sure how I could afford surgery.  But the "good" news lay on me like a wet blanket.  What was causing the pain?  Generally speaking, a loose and damaged ankle.  An ankle damaged enough to warrant fixing?  No, just bad enough to hurt chronically.  Will physical therapy solve the problem?  Not likely but it could help a little.  Will shoe inserts fix it?  Not directly, but it could help a little.  Would surgically tightening the ligaments make the pain go away?  Perhaps but not definitively.  Is there any definitive solution to the aching joint, like what was originally suspected?  No.

    I kept asking the doctor, why, if there's no significant damage, I keep having such prominent pain in that joint?  There's lots of scarring.  The ligaments are stretched out.  There's a bit of fluid in the joint.  There are tiny bits of loose bone around the ankle.  But beyond keeping it stable, supported, and attempting to strengthen it, there's not much else that can be done.


    Monday, September 10, 2012

    Random Thoughts 9/10/12

    • For DirecTV subscribers, yesterday only, we had a free sampling of NFL Sunday Ticket.  Watch any NFL game you want!  But the best part about this was DirecTV's Red Zone Channel.  This is pure genius; it's a channel that switches back and forth among all the games to show you everything interesting.  You see every touchdown, every big play, with a host narrating the switches.  Most of this is live but when the games go to commercial you get highlights.  I watched six hours of football and zero commercials.  It was wonderful.
    • Dreamworks Animation released their schedule today, including: How to Train Your Dragon 2 in June 2014, Penguins of Madagascar in March 2015, Kung Fu Panda 3 in March 2016, and How to Train Your Dragon 3 in June 2016.
    • Rep. Joe Walsh told Sandra Fluke to "go get a job.  No doubt; a 30-year old professional student tells America to pay a $10/month bill for her.  It's awful how many people don't know how to take care of themselves and want the government to do it for them.
    • Most Christians don't read the Bible every day.  I'm shocked (not really).
    • There were some nasty tweets about Cardinal Dolan at the DNC last week.

    Thursday, September 06, 2012

    God? No!!!

    I was floored to watch the DNC try to reinsert language mentioning God into their platform.  The mention of the name of God has been reduced by the Democrats year after year and finally it hit zero.  So when they tried to reinsert a mention (along with language acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel's capital –– about which I remain dumbfounded that there is any question on that matter; their governing body meets there) they struggled to get the necessary two-thirds vote.

    Watch the procedural disaster here as the leaders ignore the vocal dissent against including these two changes:

    The delegates do not want God mentioned and/or they do not want Israel supported (CSPAN shows a pair of pro-Palestinian delegates).  How do Jewish Americans support this party?  I also have trouble believing that Christians can support this group, not only because of the increasing distance from Biblical Christianity and Israel but for the moral decline of the Democrat party, especially in regard to abortion.  I think a lot of good Christians are Democrats but I don't see how the moral stands of the Democrat party match their personal values.  I'd think it would directly contradict those Biblical beliefs at several crucial points.

    How do Bible-believing Democrats not feel that the party has left them long ago?  How can a party say it's pro-women and then honor men like Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy like they did Wednesday?  Isn't that at least a little ironic?  How can it stand for minorities and then allow former Klan members like the late Senator Robert Byrd, or defend its stand against civil rights in the 1960's and for slavery in the 1860's?

    As a Christian there are days I can barely tolerate American politics, let alone the Republican party.  But if Republican positions are sometimes only partly Christian, it feels like the Democrats are steadily becoming anti-Christian.  How could this have happened?

    All of this leads congressman Allen West to make a campaign commercial using the footage.

    Tuesday, September 04, 2012

    Random Thoughts 9/4/12

    • Grandpa took four of his grandsons to the KU football game the other night.  Brennan, Tanner, Kelby, and Elijah went with Grandpa to Lawrence to watch the Jayhawks.  I'm so happy that my kids have access to him on such a regular basis. What wonderful memories.
    • I wonder how the Democrats think their message will play to most Americans?  They reworded their party platform from 2008 and took out the name of God.  It also removes language recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which you wouldn't think would go over well with American Jewish people.  The platform calls for taxpayer-funded abortions. Homosexuals will be overrepresented at the convention at a rate nine times higher than what the last census shows in the general population.  Food stamp use has climbed to a record 46.7 million people.  Household income has dropped almost $5,000 in four years.  Gas has more than doubled.  The national debt passed $16 trillion today.  Unemployment remains higher than what Obama said would cause him to be a one-term president.  The President has not done a very good job, almost every number is against him.
    • In the convention this week, every time the Democrats say "we need to act" or "we need to care," they almost always mean "we, the government."  The Dems say government is the solution while the Republicans have moved back to a position on limited government.
    • It's amusing to watch Democrats get interviewed about President Obama's record.  They get asked a question about whether Americans are better off than four years ago and, within the first sentence, they're talking about the "hateful rhetoric" of Gov. Romney.  Wha?  How did you get there so fast?  Answer the question!  Did they send out a memo that says everyone must absolutely NOT talk about the last four years?
    • I'm supposed to finally get that MRI on my ankle Thursday.  I went to a specialist and found out that I have a couple of problems with my ankles, one of which will require surgery, which will require the MRI.  So I'll be having surgery, likely before the end of the year… unless things change again.
    • Michael Clarke Duncan, who played John Coffey in The Green Mile, died yesterday.
    • NFL officially football starts tomorrow!
    • New iPhones should be available by the end of the month.  Shannon and skipped the last update (the 4S), so we're pretty eager to see an upgrade.  We're crazy about our iPhones.

    The Soviet Perspective

    So I was reading an online interview with a former Soviet Army prison guard.  He was in the Red Army, a guard at a gulag in Siberia, and a Soviet citizen until he got political asylum in 1989 and came to live in America.

    In the interview, people from all over the world asked him questions about life under communism and what Soviet prisons were like.  He described the bleak hopelessness and frustration of living in that world and the shock of coming to America for the first time.  He also detailed his success of rising from a gas station attendant in L.A. to become a small business owner.  Finally someone asked the retired old man the question we were all wondering about:

    "As an Armenian yourself, what's your opinion on the Kardashians?"

    His answer:

    "They are a shame to our people, and a rotting influence on our young women."


    Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Random Thoughts 8/29/12

    • I made it through my fantasy football draft, both as a player and as a commissioner.  As a player, I was drafting ninth out of ten and wasn't lucky enough to have anyone special fall to me at the ninth slot.  That said, I felt like I drafted really well through the middle and late rounds, with three or four players falling to me well below their average draft position (good value for me!).
    • As a commissioner, we changed venue for the first time in five years, going from Dave & Buster's to Great Wolf Lodge.  GWL gave us full run of half of their restaurant and lots of extra perks, including free mini-golf and discounted access to their water park.  I thought the food was great and the actual set up of tables (we run three simultaneous drafts for our three conferences) was much better than I expected.  Thank you Great Wolf Lodge!
    • Here's an awesome list of the most disappointing movies of all time.  It's mostly sequels that have let us down and failed to live up to expectations but there are a few originals in the mix here too, based on the hype that preceded the film or the expectations from the source material, e.g. bad movies adapted from great books.
    • Artur Davis, Mia Love, and Nikki Haley all gave great speeches last night at the Republican convention.  I liked what Ann Romney and Chris Christie did, but neither one of them wowed me.  In fact, Christie disappointed me a little because he was so focused on himself and wasn't the firebrand.  I missed both Santorum and Walker.
    • Susana Martinez gave a great speech tonight (she was the first speech I heard in its entirety after getting home from church).  I'm listening to Paul Ryan now…  he's got some great lines that I'm really enjoying.  Go Paul Ryan!
    • We're studying the Sermon on the Mount right now in Bible study on Wednesday nights.
    • I'm getting a second opinion on my ankle tomorrow.  Maybe some answers…

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Random Thoughts 8/24/12

    The sincerest form of flattery…
    • So much for that MRI; I knew this couldn't be so easy.  Insurance decided against paying for it, so I decided against doing it.  It's very frustrating not knowing the specifics of why this ankle never healed properly.  Oh, well.
    • The verdict is in: a jury has found that Samsung blatantly ripped off Apple's designs for things like the iPhone.  It's not a huge surprise; some companies don't even try to innovate.  They just copy.  Now it cost them $1 billion.
    • Kummerspeck.  From the German, meaning excess weight that you gain from emotional overeating. It literally means "stress bacon."  That's an awesome word.
    • Watch Orson Welles talk about the con-artistry of fortune tellers and what's called a "cold reading."
    • Also did you notice how much Orson Welles in the 1970's (without facial hair) looks like Rush Limbaugh today?  Wow!  Must be a radio thing.
    • I'm wanting to watch that 2016 movie about President Obama.  It sounds a lot like the 2004 pre-election documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, but this time with actual truth added in.  I have Dinesh D'Souza's book on my Amazon wishlist and just haven't gotten around to getting it yet; watching a movie would be a bit easier to fit into my schedule.
    • Fantasy football draft in three days.  I'm not ready!
    • Here are clues to the third season of "Sherlock."  Hopefully PBS doesn't give us the chopped up and shaved down version to fit in more commercials version this time.
    • How do you know you're not a very good politician?  When you find yourself apologizing for your position on rape.  Wow.  Claire McCaskill must have sold her soul to the devil (again).
    • By the way, Todd Akin may be a good person and a good conservative but a good politician wouldn't be so clumsy and tone deaf and a good citizen would get out of the way and let another conservative take that crucial Senate seat.  If this had happened a month ago, he wouldn't be on the ticket in the first place.  His only hope is that 80 days from now, no one will remember or care (which, believe it or not, is possible).

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Random Thoughts 8/21/12

    • I went to the doctor today about that ankle I hurt last year.  I've been having lots of problems with it for several months now; I might have broken it, might have torn something, we don't really know what's wrong yet.  I had X-rays today that didn't show anything obvious and we've scheduled an MRI that might clear things up.  
    • Incoming KU freshman Milt Doyle, a highly touted guard from Chicago, has left the team and won't be attending Kansas this fall.  Coach Self was very gracious in interviews about the departure but the truth is that the Doyle was buried so deep in the depth chart that the coaches probably asked him to redshirt.  Instead, he chose to leave.
    • Doyle's departure probably means walk-on Justin Wesley will receive a scholarship again this year.
    • My blood pressure this morning, in spite of having five kids: 128/78.  Nailed it!
    • Fantasy football starts next week with our draft on Monday night!  Yay!
    • Great quote: "Mitt Romney, when he's nominated, will be the most experienced executive to be nominated since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, who ran a university and the Allied war effort."  That would be a nice change.
    • Last week a writer shocked the world with an article in which she argues that her mother should have aborted her.  Specifically, she says, "I wish I'd been aborted," and supports that argument by detailing her abuse and the poverty her family endured.  This article, however, does a great job of analyzing her article and showing why her argument is actually anti-choice because it insists on abortion in these cases.
    • Read the original character descriptions for the show "Friends."
    • This is officially the last season of "The Office."  Unfortunately it's at least a year too late for a once great show.

    Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Watermelon Technical Video

    I don't care what you say, this is comedy at its driest funniest.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Guh-ood Lookin'

    So I showed my wife who Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was.  Big mistake.

    Previously I'd described his role in congress and the house budget committee and his various positions on issues that were important to us and she gave me kind of a ho-hum response.  Then the next day I paused the television when he appeared on the news…

    "Hey, sweetheart, that guy right there is Paul Ry…"

    "Whoa!  He's good lookin'!"

    She emphatically (and unnecessarily) pronounced both o's in the word "good."

    "Well, I don't know about that.  His policies though…"

    "And Romney's good looking, too!"

    At this point, I'm wondering if at some point in the last four years I might have accidentally hinted that Sarah Palin was perhaps slightly more attractive than a troll.

    My wife adds, "It's not that it should matter, but people are shallow, and these guys are rrrrrrreally handsome.  They look fantastic.  I'm really excited about this election now!"


    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Random Thoughts 8/14/12

    • Wednesday Family Night, our Wednesday night church program, begins tomorrow.  I'm continuing to teach from the harmonized life of Christ and lasagna is on the menu for tomorrow.  Dinner at 6, classes, worship practice, et al. at 7pm.
    • Did you notice that former Jayhawk Sasha Kaun won a bronze medal as part of the Russian Olympic basketball team?
    • The Jayhawks won two exhibition games in Switzerland last week and then lost two in France, including one where Coach Self didn't play the upperclassmen at all.  Interestingly, in that loss, freshman Perry Ellis, who didn't even start, lead the team with a double-double (16 points and 12 rebounds), four for four from the free throw line, and he had a steal.  Everybody else looked pretty mediocre against the professional French team that included an actual NBA player.
    • Paul Ryan.  Yes.  Perfect.  Now we're talking.
    • Famed writer-director Joss Whedon tries to stop independent filmmakers… sort of.
    • A former college classmate of the Barrack Obama thinks the President cheated in an surprising way.  Hmm…
    • Watch Paul Ryan dismantle Obama-care in six minutes, in front of President Obama.
    • Here's the best video game Easter egg/practical joke ever.  I wonder how many folks fell for that?

    Tuesday, August 07, 2012

    Random Thoughts 8/7/12

    • This is incredible: an abortion doctor went into an angry rant when pro-life people knocked on his door.  The doctor said, “I as a taxpayer do not wish for those babies to be born, and brought up, and kill those people in Colorado,” and “Let me see you adopt one of those ugly black babies.”  Wow.  Unfortunately, it's not news that the pro-abortion view overlaps significantly with racist eugenic philosophy.  To some, the plan is to kill those babies (he kept using the word "babies") to prevent crime, to save tax money on welfare, to get rid of the undesirables.  Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger openly campaigned for the reduction of undesirable populations (i.e. blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, the disabled, etc.).
    • I voted today and proudly showed my photo I.D.  I didn't feel disenfranchised or discriminated against; it felt only right to prove that I was who I said I claimed to be.
    • Zynga is kind of the sleazy dirtbag of video gaming.  Remember "Farmville" or "Mafia Wars"?  Zynga stole those ideas and got sued for them.  But the company has repeatedly produced note-for-note copies of successful games in what amounts to little more than thievery.  I'm not kidding, it's blatant copycatting.  Now they're big enough that suing them is too expensive (unless you're a big company like EA).  The only games they didn't blatantly rip off are the ones they've bought outright and relabeled as their own ("Words with Friends," "Draw Something").  I've played both of those games, but every time I see the Zynga splash screen, I feel dirty inside, like I'm contributing to hacks and piracy… because that's what it is.
    • Voter fraud can have a huge impact.  A little voter fraud in Minnesota (ineligible convicts voting) helped turn a tight election, which made Al Franken the 60th Democrat in the Senate, which made Obamacare filibuster-proof, which may send us over a cliff financially like Greece.  All because of a few hundred questionable votes.
    • I stepped on a toy last night and put all my weight on it.  That left a nasty little bruise on my foot, at the rear of the fifth metatarsal, and is hurting more than the typical lego-after-midnight injury.  Ouch!
    • We've had over twenty days of 100+ temps this summer and over 70 days of drought.  Yuck.  This reminds me of summers as a child when the grass would die in July and we'd shoot bottle rockets out of the deep cracks in the ground.

    Thursday, August 02, 2012

    Random Thoughts 8/2/12

    • Our Chick-fil-a was swamped yesterday.  I drove by at about 1pm and there was a line down the street and people parking at Kohl's and walking across the empty lot.  That said there were haters, which is ironic because supposedly Chick-fil-a are the narrow-minded ones.
    • Did you hear that former Jayhawk Jacque Vaughn was named the head coach of the Orlando Magic? Vaughn played for them briefly about 10 years ago and now he's the coach.  He's been with the Spurs as a player and assistant coach for the last six seasons.
    • Here's twenty crazy-creative business cards.
    • Yes, they make couches specifically for crazy cat-ladies.
    • Hey, team USA finally caught up to and passed China in the medal count.  USA!  USA!  USA!  I would actually watch more Olympics but NBC shows stuff that is five+ hours old.  After five hours, facebook, twitter, wikipedia, and the radio have spoiled all the results.
    • If you hold opinions different than mine, you still have the right to exist and do business.  This is America.
    • I've actually heard real-life people talking about badminton in the last 24 hours.  Not at a company picnic, mind you, but in normal, regular life.  Wow.
    • My kids are so obsessed with the video game Minecraft that their mother is grounding them from it as punishment.  I'm so proud of my little nerds.
    • KU will play four exhibition basketball games in Europe (Switzerland and France) over the next week or so.

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    Random Thoughts 7/30/12

    • Here's a fascinating little article (with pictures!) of how American Airlines and IBM created the first computerized system to make airline reservations… in the 1950's!
    • The latest rumors have the next iPhone being revealed on September 12 and released a week or two later, a month earlier than most rumors.  Shannon and I skipped the 4S model and are overdue to update.  So we're eagerly awaiting the next offering out of Cupertino.
    • My four boys (ages almost-12, 10, 8, and 6) are getting into Minecraft (I've played off and on for over a year already and recently gave them a tour of my worlds).  Real nerds know what I'm talking about.  CREEPER!!!
    • Three Hobbit movies.  Yes.
    • NFL football has begun.  Training camp is here and it's time to get up to speed on all of the changes to the teams.  This is a great time of year!
    • It's so blazing hot outside that we haven't spent near as much time walking in our neighborhood or playing basketball outside as I thought we would.  But we also haven't mowed the yard but about three times all summer; so there's that.
    • Olympic opening ceremonies:  I loved Mr. Bean in the orchestra; that was perfect.  Dancing nurses and sick children to celebrate socialized medicine… uh… that was bizarre.  It's funny that the Brits made a stronger case for socialism than the Chinese did four years ago.  "Hey, Jude," the song, is older than almost every athlete in the stadium, although that 70-year old Japanese equestrian (the oldest Olympian this time around) probably remembers the 60's perfectly well.

    The Hobbit 3 is Happening

    Peter Jackson has confirmed that the two-film plan for The Hobbit has now officially been extended to a three-film deal.  Having read all of the extra books, I completely believe that there is enough material for three films and then some.  And there is no one I'd trust more to adapt this material to film than Peter Jackson.  Here is what the director said on his Facebook page:

    It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently Fran, Phil and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie – and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’

    We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance. The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.

    So, without further ado and on behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wingnut Films, and the entire cast and crew of The Hobbit films, I’d like to announce that two films will become three.

    It has been an unexpected journey indeed, and in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, “a tale that grew in the telling.”


    Peter J

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Random Thoughts 7/25/12

    • Chris and I went the Wyandotte County Fair last night and handed out invitations to church.  It went alright but not very many people were braving the 105º temps.
    • Here's a rundown on 10 civilizations that disappeared.  Some of these ancient civilizations might have disappeared because of climate change.  Thousands of years ago.  Hmm.  Without SUVs burning fossil fuels they still had dramatic change.  Hmm.  How is that possible?
    • Chad Ochocinco just changed his name back to Chad Johnson.  It turns out his new wife isn't so impressed with the gimmick and would rather be Mrs. Johnson than Mrs. Ochocinco.
    • OS X Mountain Lion is out today.  Yes, please.
    • That third Hobbit film rumor is becoming more real day by day.  Peter Jackson has been having meetings this week about locking down contracts for the actors and securing rights to the source material (the Tolkien estate has not been very supportive of the movies, though they've surely profited handsomely from it).  They're looking at adding another two months of filming to flesh out a third film.  Considering the amount of additional material in the Tolkien books and appendices there's certainly enough stories to draw from.
    • Here are 25 iPhone apps for college students.
    • KU will play every other Big Monday game on ESPN this winter (four games) versus Baylor, at West Virginia, versus K-State, and at Iowa State.  All four games are at 8pm.  KU has played four such nationally televised games each of the last eight seasons and is again the only Big 12 school to be on the schedule more than three times.
    • The Olympics are about to start and, once again, I'm having the worst time feeling any enthusiasm about it.  I'll check the medal count and I'd like my kids to watch some of it, but I'm not that excited yet.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    Random Thoughts 7/21/12

    • No words can express the evil that played out in Colorado Thursday night.  This is not merely a sick society or individual lunacy, it's a display of mankind's capacity for evil.  Just sickening.
    • The state of Kansas is ranked #15 in the nation for being business friendly, rating things like infrastructure, cost of living, cost of doing business, economy, quality of life, etc.  Missouri came in #27, well below most of its neighbors.
    • Hey, Tim.  Thanks for commenting.  Go, Navy!
    • Coach Self announced the other day that Milton Doyle, a 6-4 incoming freshman guard, has qualified academically to play ball for KU.  There had been some concern with whether all of his prep classes would actually count but he's been cleared by the NCAA.
    • I've really enjoyed KU basketball on the radio over the years.  Max Falkenstien, who did the broadcasts for 60 years, retired several years ago and was replaced with Chris Piper.  Now Piper is moving on and will be replaced by Greg Gurley.  Gurley will work alongside play-by-play guy Bob Davis.
    • Fantasy football is back up and running.  So far it looks like we have most of our people back but I haven't heard from everybody…
    • There are so many wonderful ways to use a binder clip
    • And this is the most creative drone concept/prototype I've seen.  When technology mimics nature, awesome things happen.

    Following the Clues

    I wonder how the dog got out?  Hmm…

    I'll bet it has something to do with this little pixie.  As you can see, she knows she's in trouble.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Random Thoughts 7/17/12

    • Even in the midst of one of the hottest summers in years, I'll maintain that man-made global warming is still a ridiculous hoax.  Frankly, I'm skeptical that the earth is actually getting hotter at all, because even though this summer is blazing and has set all kinds of records (in the U.S.), it comes on the heals of about 15 years of no global warming at all.  It's still colder than usual in other locations and we had a crazy bad winter in the U.S. just two years ago.  But even if we were getting warmer, we're talking about a degree Celsius, a fraction of what it has fluctuated in the ancient past, long before the industrial revolution.  So why assume that man is causing it?  And why assume that a communism-esque, anti-capitalism agenda is the solution?
    • Nerds, Peter Jackson loves you.  The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director said he'd like to return next year and shoot more footage, perhaps for an extended edition of the two Hobbit films or maybe even a third movie.  He says there's just so much good material in the appendices (of the books) that they didn't have time to shoot.  Peter. Jackson. Is. Awesome.
    • Rumors are out that Pixar is going to make Finding Nemo 2, due out in four years with a writer and director already attached.  Ugh.  That movie was just about perfect and really, really does NOT need a sequel.  Cars 2 was really not necessary and proved to be the first Pixar movie to not be nominated for any major awards and to get a "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
    • Here's a great list of 50 free iPad apps.
    • I keep chipping away at getting our fantasy football league back up and running but I keep getting interrupted, you know, by real life.  The invite email goes out tonight for sure though.