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