Saturday, August 31, 2013


I may have just figured out why my brother always arrives late everywhere he goes…

Friday, August 30, 2013

Random Thoughts 8/30/13

  • In less than one month, I'll be the parent of a teenager.  Huh.  That escalated quickly.
  • Have you seen this fourth-grade worksheet that says "the government is like your family?"  Actually used in classrooms in Illinois, it teaches kids that "government sets rules and takes care of you," just like your family.  The worksheet even has a cartoon of Uncle Sam holding a star-spangled child.  
  • And that's not creepy at all, especially in light of this story of yet another persecuted German homeschool family.  Armed government officials in Germany raided their home and took away their four children for no other crime than homeschooling their children.  The government cannot tolerate a family that does not turn its children over to the state to mold.
  • Why do we even have preseason NFL games?  I'm not saying that the teams don't need practice.  In fact, I'm sure even the stadium personnel and referees need some "live fire" practice.  But why are they full-on games charging full-priced tickets?  It most certainly is NOT a full NFL experience.  I watched a game last night where many of the "real players," i.e. the guys who will actually play during the regular season, didn't play at all.   And why would anybody in their right mind pay to watch the backup punting unit over and over again?
  • What if the NFL developed a televised, in-stadium preseason scrimmage?  Teams can travel, tickets can be sold (perhaps at discount), but the actual game will be modified.  Give each team 10 plays to score as many times as possible, then switch sides.  Each team can start at the 50 yard line unless that's deemed too hard or too easy – the goal being to produce a few scoring drives each series for the fans to enjoy.  No punting will be allowed.  Field goals may not be tried until the tenth and final play of a team's possession.  If you're out of range, try a Hail Mary; the fans will love it.  No game clock is necessary, just the 35 second play clock, with a time out after scoring plays.  Scratch kickoffs too.  Let the first team take a series of 10 plays, then the backups can have a series of 10 plays.  Give four or five sets of ten to each team and you have something approximating the length of an actual game.  This would be more audience-friendly, more action packed, and frankly might give the coaches a better glimpse of those backups doing something other than lining up in yet-another punt formation.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Random Thoughts 8/29/13

  • So the pan-Arab socialists are fighting the radical Islamists in Syria… and we absolutely MUST pick a side and get involved?  And apparently we favor the side affiliated with Al-Qaeda?!  Seriously?  I just can't get over the hypocrisy of the Americans who were against the Iraq war but are now wanting us to bomb Bashar al-Assad, who in every way is only a fraction as evil as Saddam Hussein was.  Did Assad illegally gas hundreds of his own citizens?  Hussein gassed thousands.  In fact, you'd be hard pressed to name any offense or violation of international law in which Hussein was not orders of magnitude worse than Assad.  There's even a chance that the WMD being used in Syria now might have come from Iraq.  So how could you protest war in Iraq and cheer bombing of Syria?
  • Worse than that, this particular crisis in Syria feels like it prompted because our own President's vague rhetoric.  Why are we against Syria's regime and for the rebels?  Aren't both sides corrupt and murderous?  Where is the national interest?  Why doesn't our president articulate the goal here?  To me the argument feels non-serious, a bit like amateur hour.  I'm worried Russia, China, and Iran look at it the same way.
  • News flash: a job at McDonald's is not supposed to support a family.  They are meant to be low-skill, entry level jobs or second jobs.  If you want $15/hour you need to better yourself and work somewhere else or advance in the company.  Entry-level McDonald's employment should be temporary.  No child's father should work at the bottom rung of a fast food joint as a career.  Raising the minimum wage is the same as paying him to stay there.  If you pay a living wage for entry level work, droves of people will hover at the bottom for a lifetime, unchallenged to better themselves.  How is that good for anybody?
  • If we bomb Syria, do we owe starving and imprisoned North Koreans an apology?
  • We have our fantasy football league up and running.  My intentions were to draft running back early and often.  So naturally, most of my team consists mainly of wide receivers.  So much for having a plan.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Random Thoughts 8/23/13

  • I did not realize that people hated Ben Affleck.  Or at least they hated him once he was announced as the next Batman.  Now they hate him.  I guess I missed the memo.
  • Prolific crime and mystery author Elmore Leonard died this week.  TV watchers know him as the creator of the character Raylan Givens of "Justified."
  • Our fantasy football draft is Monday.  Whoa, I am NOT ready.
  • "Downton Abbey" airs in the U.K. next month but we don't get it in the U.S.A. until January 5th.  How on earth are we supposed to avoid spoilers on this side of the pond?
  • It makes perfect sense but I did not know that you can light a crayon just like a candle.  And it'll burn brightly for several minutes.  Huh.  Of course.
  • Our Wednesday Family Night services have begun again at church.  We serve a meal at 6pm and we have classes and other activities at 7pm.  I don't understand why people skip this part.  The opportunity to serve and learn and fellowship is crucial to their growth.  Yet I know several good folk that just never seem to make it.
  • My kids just finished their first week of homeschool for the year.  We've switched over to a different curriculum and the older boys have already read a handful of books in just a few days.  The reading list they'll conquer over the next few years almost looks impossible but they'll be better-read than 99% of their peers.
  • My favorite part of homeschool so far is that they have to write a paper every day, even in grade school.  Handwriting, composition, grammar, spelling, creative writing, and (when we make them read it out loud) speech gets more attention than I thought you could possibly give those subjects.  And the wit we get to see everyday in those one page essays is irreplaceable. 
  • The new church cleaning crew just left the building a few minutes ago after giving me a tour.  They did the best job I've ever seen (by a paid crew).  Not merely adequate but really thorough.  I sure hope they keep this up!  We've had disappointing results in the past.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Prettier Than Frank Caliendo

I've always had a soft spot for impressionists but I'm especially awed by Christina Bianco's ability to impersonate female singers.  Adele, Cher, Judy Garland, Bette Midler, Julie Andrews,  Christine Aguilera, and Celine Dion are so spot on that, like all really great impressionists, you actually start to see that famous singer emerge from Bianco's face and mannerisms.  It helps to know famous Broadway singers like Patti Lupone (who I had to look up) and Kristin Chenoweth but even if you just recognize a few, the act is still impressive.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Random Thoughts 8/13/13

  • Wow.  You have to read this apology letter to President Obama by Matt Walsh.  To me it seemed the rodeo clown was in poor taste, but not more so than the years of vicious and vulgar abuse heaped on President Bush. [Thanks, Dustin]
  • I know I should be preparing for football season but I can't help myself, I'm counting the days until college basketball begins.  Rock chalk!
  • I spent over an hour waiting in a government office today.  I accomplished nothing.  I'll have to go back tomorrow.  How every person doesn't walk out of there a limited-government, deregulation libertarian, I'll never know.  I'm normally a law-and-order Republican but being nearly smothered to death by the fat behind of government bureaucracy could make me wish for anarchy.
  • 51º tonight… in mid-August.  Stupid global warming.
  • New "Duck Dynasty" tomorrow night.  We hadn't watched the show at all until a month ago, then we binge-watched the first three seasons.  It's funny and clean; it's a little dumb at times but it is funny.
  • Kris Jenner, of all people, made a great point about the American Dream.  That said, are the Kardashians really a good example of people "working hard?"  As I understand it, Mrs. Jenner married into money and fame, twice.  Her daughter got famous under rather unscrupulous circumstances and, for the most part, none of them have worked in the sense of producing anything or providing any kind of service.  They're just famous for being famous… and apparently that keeps them very busy.  [To be fair, now that they're capitalizing on their fame, they do employ a lot of people.  It's not quite the same thing, but still.]  So, the final score is tied:  President Obama 1 (pop culture icons are usually not good role models = true), Kris Jenner 1 (the "land of opportunity" is absolutely about high aspirations and crazy dreams being achieved through hard work = true).

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Random Thoughts 8/7/13

  • After a month of resting my knee, I'm going back to play basketball late tonight.
  • My wife got a phone call today asking if we would be interested in having our children do a medical study (flu-shot study for children as young as 3 years) for $500 each.  Hmmm…  My gut reaction (and Shannon's) is that loads of bad parents are going to risk side-effects and inflict pain on their children for cash.  Yikes!  First of all, I wouldn't consider even asking my younger two (ages 4 and 7) because I can't picture explaining it to them in a way they could understand.  It would feel so unethical.  Second, though my older boys (9, 11, and almost 13) can understand the benefits, both personally and generally, i.e. even if you get a placebo your involvement helps other people, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I took a single penny of their fee for myself.  I'd like to think that lots of other parents feel the same way.  Somehow I doubt it…
  • KU will play on ESPN on Monday nights four times this year, twice at home.  Games are Jan 13, Jan 20, Feb 10, and Feb 24.  Oklahoma State gets four dates as well; Texas, Texas Tech, TCU and West Virginia were not included at all.
  • For the second time this summer, KU coach Bill Self has been asked about eventually going to the NBA.  And, for the second time, he hasn't denied interest but apparently hasn't been offered a situation worthwhile enough.  I think KU fans should feel nervous if Self wins another championship and/or his son graduates in three years.
  • I watched King Kong (1933) last night.  It's not a bad movie but, yikes, the special effects are almost comically bad now, 80 years later.  Additionally, the acting was painful to watch at times but that's a harder thing to judge after this much time has passed.  After 80 years there's a bit of a cultural gap that creates distance between the actor and the viewer.  Things like tone, movement, inflection, etc. can be as specific to a time and place as fashion is.  I think if you created a script and sent it back in time to various decades to be filmed the same way with the same costumes and props and technology, that you could still identify the decade in which it was filmed by the average actor's acting style.