Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 Year in Review

From Dave Barry...

Funny as usual...

How weird a year was it? Here's how weird:

# O.J. actually got convicted of something.

# Gasoline hit $4 a gallon -- and those were the good times.

# On several occasions, "Saturday Night Live" was funny.

# There were a few days there in October when you could not completely rule out the possibility that the next Treasury secretary would be Joe the Plumber.

# Finally, and most weirdly, for the first time in history, the voters elected a president who -- despite the skeptics who said such a thing would never happen in the United States-- was neither a Bush nor a Clinton.

Of course, not all the events of 2008 were weird. Some were depressing. The only U.S. industries that had a good year were campaign consultants and foreclosure lawyers. Everybody else got financially whacked. So, we can be grateful that 2008 is almost over. But before we leave it behind, let's take a few minutes to look back and see if we can find some small nuggets of amusement. Why not? We paid for it, starting with . . .


Saturday, December 06, 2008

New Age? Old Age

Great series of posts about what's wrong with New Age religion and philosophy from Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs Blog:

There's no way in one blogpost a to discuss the wide variety of beliefs and practices that are typically associated with New Age spirituality. New Age thinking is so diverse, so fluid, and so unique to each individual practitioner that it is probably not possible to make any general statement about the religion of the New Age that could not be challenged by someone pointing out significant exceptions to the rule. Nevertheless, a few common features dominate so much of New Age spirituality that they need to be highlighted as key characteristics of the mainstream of the movement.

Pantheism, for example, is the common belief of many, but not all, in the New Age movement. This, of course, is the view that God is everything and everything is God. (God is immanent in this view, but not transcendent.) Thus the universe itself—all of nature—constitutes the true God, so that there is no valid distinction between the Creator and creation.

Other New Agers would hold instead to panentheism, the belief that God is in everything and everything is in God. The difference here is that panentheists retain some notion of a kind of divine transcendence, so that God is thought to be Someone or (more likely) something—an impersonal force—bigger than the universe.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


A scholar has been charged with defacing 150 books from the Bodleian Library at Oxford. A bad act to be sure... "priceless"? I almost always feel that's an overstatement.

To the untrained eye the damage is barely visible. Yet within the handbound pages of books charting how Europeans travelled to Mesopotamia, Persia and the Mogul empire from the 16th century onwards, the damage caused by one Iranian academic to a priceless British Library collection is irreversible.

Leading scholars at the library are at a loss to explain why Farhad Hakimzadeh, a Harvard-educated businessman, publisher and intellectual, took a scalpel to the leaves of 150 books that have been in the nation's collection for centuries. The monetary damage he caused over seven years is in the region of £400,000 but Dr Kristian Jensen, head of the British and early printed collections at the library, said no price could be placed upon the books and maps that he had defaced and stolen.

"These are historic objects which have been damaged forever," said Jensen. "You cannot undo what he has done and it has compromised a piece of historical evidence which charts the early engagement of Europeans with what we now know as the Middle East and China

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yeah... I'm Gonna Go See This

I hope it's as good as it looks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

This is Sad and Sobering

Alzheimer's is a scary possibility for older folks -- it is terrifying any earlier. Here's this sad report from The Wall Street Journal.

Brian Kammerer, the 45-year-old chief financial officer of a small hedge fund, called his wife one day from a cellphone in the men's room of his Manhattan office building. A colleague had just asked him for something, he whispered, but he had no idea what it was.

"It clicks and it holds papers together," he said.

"A stapler?" Kathy Kammerer asked.

"I think that's what it's called," he replied.

Soon after that exchange in early 2003, the father of three was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, capping nearly five years of uncertainty and fear about his increasing forgetfulness and difficulty with language.

While most people who get Alzheimer's are over 65, Mr. Kammerer is one of about 500,000 Americans living with Alzheimer's or other dementias at an atypically young age. Alzheimer's takes a long time to develop -- usually, it isn't diagnosed until 10 years after the first symptoms appear -- but more Americans are identifying it early, thanks in part to aggressive screening programs pushed in recent years by groups including the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, a national alliance of caregivers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veteran's Day

Thank God for those who sacrifice for our freedoms -- both abstract and practical as well as our safety. Here is a great post from John Piper over at his Desiring God blog...

When soldiers came to John the Baptist and asked, “What shall we do”—meaning, “How shall we respond to your call to repent?”, John answered, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14).

From this we learn that repentance did not demand ceasing to be a soldier. The tensions between being a follower of Jesus as a soldier are essentially the same as the tensions of being a follower of Jesus in all the other authority structures of society that God ordains for the stability of the world (like business, education, government, and family).

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Church of the State is Not So Welcoming

Despite the problems with the modern church -- and they are many... This look at the Church of State is chilling. Disabled need not apply -- too expensive. The utilitarian chickens are coming home to roost in Australia apparently.

THE Rudd Government is under pressure from all fronts, even Labor colleagues, to overturn a decision denying German doctor Bernhard Moeller permanent residency in Australia because his son Lukas has Down syndrome.

The Immigration Department this week rejected Dr Moeller's application for permanent residency, saying the potential cost to the taxpayer of 13-year-old Lukas's condition was too great.

Politicians, disability groups and the small Victorian town of Horsham, where Dr Moeller is the only specialist physician, were outraged by the decision and have called on Immigration Minister Chris Evans to intervene on the family's behalf.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said the authorities should reverse the decision as soon as possible because DrMoeller was making a valuable contribution to the region, and because Lukas should be treated like any other child.

"In my view, a serious error has been made by the federal authorities," Mr Brumby said. "I think this is a case which needs reversing and overturning. The quicker we can get a review and a decision on this, the better."

Coalition disabilities spokesman Cory Bernardi said Lukas could make a positive contribution to society and that Senator Evans should use his discretion to approve the residency application for the Moeller family.

"It is sad that in this modern day we are still viewing people with a disability, such as Dr Moeller's son, as a burden," Senator Bernardi said. "They can and do make significant contributions to our society."

At least many in the government recognize this as a bad -- horrid --- decision. Whether they are counting the political cost or realizing it's wrong I know not.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Texas Tech 56 -- Oklahoma State 20

They looked really great tonight -- defensively and offensively. I'm getting excited -- which is usually when Tech blows it. Come on guys!

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Post Below Reminds of this...

Nobody expects the Mormon Inquisition!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Get Your Guns Up!

I'm not a rabid enough Texas Tech fan to hate the University of Texas. Grad school engenders weaker loyalties. But tonight's football games was awesome. And as a West Texas boy -- it's nice too see us put it to the tea-sippers from Austin.

Texas Tech Red Raiders 39; Texas Longhorns 33.

Irony and Pivoting in History

Thursday, October 30, 2008

1,000 Words?

A woman named Cindy Jacobs over at The 700 Club declared October 29, 2008 as Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies. October 29 was the 79th anniversary of the Black Tuesday crash that was the symbolic beginning of The Great Depression. As the CBN article writes:

In January of this year, Cindy Jacobs was in a worship service when the Lord spoke to her, “Cindy, the strongman over America doesn’t live in Washington, DC – the strongman lives in New York City! Call My people to pray for the economy.”

This word so shook Cindy; she knew she had to call the people of God to converge on New York City the week of October 29 for an emergency prayer rally to cry out against economic collapse in the midst of shaking.

The Lord further said, “October 29 was Black Tuesday, the day the stock market crashed, and Satan wants to do it again.” We must be proactive in prayer. At the beginning of the year many intercessors began to hear from the Lord that without divine intervention, a major shaking was coming to Wall Street. This would spread until there were food shortages. Some think that 2009 would be worse than 2008. Of course, it goes without saying that this would affect markets around the world.

Here's a photo of the event courtesy of Wonkette:

Bad theology aside... and given the fact that our nation needs prayer mightily... this really is a bad symbol. Praying before a golden bull -- even if not praying TO the golden bull sounds bad -- and looks even worse.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Government Bailout?

Who says government largesse can replace good old-fashioned Christian charity and good works? This woman redeemed another woman's house at a foreclosure auction.

Two strangers were brought together by a leap of faith and one piece of property that was among 200 North Texas homes up for auction at the Dallas Convention Center this weekend.

While the misfortune of others lured hundreds of bargain hunters to the foreclosure auction, "Tracy" said she came to find closure. The woman took her seat among a sea of investors and strangers to say goodbye to her Pottsboro home, which is located just west of Denison.

"It means so much to all of us," she said of the rural residence that she lost to foreclosure. "It's not just a house."

At the fast-paced and energetic event, Tracy's tears did not go unnoticed.
Tracy was crying when Marilyn Mock saw her.

"She was crying and I asked her what she was upset about," said Marilyn Mock, of Rockwall.

When Tracy's home, listed as "No. 73," came up for auction, Mock raised her hand and bid. With no picture of the property in the auction book, Mock had only Tracy's word on the home's value.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I have no words...

***UPDATE*** The singer's name is Billy Jonas and he seems to have changed the lyrics a bit to "Love prepare me" instead of "Lord", but it's still high on the "creep factor."

h/t: The Corner

Monday, October 20, 2008

Looking for Subglacial Mountains

The above is a rendition of the Gamburtsev Mountains -- buried under 4km of ice in The Antarctic. An expedition is going to attempt to measure and learn more about these "ghost peaks". The last frontier on earth above water? Perhaps.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Some Gave All

Jack T. Walker -- KIA 10/4/1943 -- click to enlarge

My sister Jennifer and her husband Ben traveled to Italy recently on vacation. They had an extra hour or so on their tour so they took a detour to the Rome-Sicily Cemetery where Allied WW2 dead are buried. My great uncle Jack Walker was killed in the Italian Campaign on Oct. 4, 1943. My Papa (Grandfather) and his brothers idolized Jack. I think he was killed by a mortar -- the stories seem fuzzy now. Finding out what exactly happened is pretty near impossible on this side of life. My Mom lived in France for a few years in the 1950s and they visited Jack's grave, which was the last time he was visited until Jen and Ben last week. I'm grateful to him, didn't know him, but he had a helluva brother in my grandfather. If Papa idolized him, then Jack must've been quite a man.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Economic Crisis in 10 Minutes

John McCain needs to get this message out. Democrats are mostly if not completely responsible for our current woes. Obama ain't evil -- he's incompetent and attached to some bad folks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

China -- the New Belgium?

Peter Hitchens has a fascinating (and depressing on many levels) story in the Daily Mail on what he sees as China's growing slave empire in Africa. Here's a taste:

The diggers feared - and their evil, sinister bosses had worked hard on that fear - that if people like me publicised their filthy way of life, then the mine might be closed and the $3 a day might be taken away.

I can give you no better explanation in miniature of the wicked thing that I believe is now happening in Africa.

Out of desperation, much of the continent is selling itself into a new era of corruption and virtual slavery as China seeks to buy up all the metals, minerals and oil she can lay her hands on: copper for electric and telephone cables, cobalt for mobile phones and jet engines - the basic raw materials of modern life.

It is crude rapacity, but to Africans and many of their leaders it is better than the alternative, which is slow starvation.

It is my view - and not just because I was so nearly killed - that China's cynical new version of imperialism in Africa is a wicked enterprise.

China offers both rulers and the ruled in Africa the simple, squalid advantages of shameless exploitation.

For the governments, there are gargantuan loans, promises of new roads, railways, hospitals and schools - in return for giving Peking a free and tax-free run at Africa's rich resources of oil, minerals and metals.

For the people, there are these wretched leavings, which, miserable as they are, must be better than the near-starvation they otherwise face.

There's a lot more at the link above. An interesting angle is that China' move into Africa is not out of some racially bigoted paternalism mixed with greed. It is strictly rapacity. The mine bosses sometimes beat the workers, in the opinion of some, because they seem to think the Africans disrespect them because they're not White. Communism, greed, and cultural ignorance between the West and the Chinese. Who gets caught in the middle? Africans.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Kirk Cameron on his new movie Fireproof. This almost cancels out the evil that is Keith Olbermann. I bet Cameron catches a lot of flak. I admire all the more for it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wally Hilgenberg -- R.I.P.

Wally Hilgenberg passed away at age 66 from Lou Gehrig's Disease. Here's a bit from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on his passing:

Hilgenberg, 66, died Tuesday at his home. He was surrounded by his wife, Mary, four children and many of his 14 grandchildren.

"It was beautiful," youngest daughter Kristi said. "We held Dad's hands, we prayed together and he went peacefully to see his Maker."

Being a kid in the 1970s and growing up in Texas, I'm a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. Therefore I hate the Washington Redskins first and the Pittsburgh Steelers second -- by default. Another great team of the 1970s was the Minnesota Vikings. Fran Trakenton, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Chuck Foreman and others were the stars of that team. An unsung player on that team was linebacker Wally Hilgenberg -- #58 in the photo above. They were in 3 Super Bowls in the '70s and the Cowboys were in 5 so they were always playing each other in the playoffs. Hilgenberg was a great player and sounds like a great guy off the field as well. I'm relieved and blessed to now he was a believer in Christ.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Quo Vadis?

Here's an interesting post from Doug Wilson over at Blog and Mablog on those who idolize America and those who hate America. Here's a taste -- check out his blog...

One of the things we have to get straight is the right relationship of the Church to various manifestations of earthly civil government. And in our setting, in our time, we have to come to grips with American hegemony in the world. That fact is a given -- how shall we respond to it?

One common mistake is that of anabaptist pseudo-separation. Another is when the existing (unbelieving) structures coopt the Church -- in a grotesque reversal of the image at the end of Revelation, the Church brings her honor and glory into the city of man. The former is the Church against culture, and the latter is the Church under culture, and both are unbiblical and unacceptable.

Christians are called by Christ to infiltrate every level of every society they find themselves in, and to do so without the idolatrous commitments that surround them on every hand. If they are living in a time of empire, it is not ungodly compromise with empire to do this -- think of Daniel and Joseph, just for starters. At the same time, temptations to capitulate before the idolatrous pretensions will be common enough -- think of Daniel's three friends.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Offensive and Attractive

This is a quote from Mark Driscoll posted over at John Piper's blog (emphasis is Piper's):
The curious paradox of the atoning death of a bloody Jesus rising above the plane of human history with a mocking crown of thorns is that he is offensive in an attractive way. It is the utter horror of the cross that cuts through the chatter, noise, and nonsense of our day to rivet our attention, shut our mouths, and compel us to listen to an impassioned dying man who is crying out for the forgiveness of our sins and to ask why he suffered. Tragically, if we lose the offense of the cross, we also lose the attraction of the cross so that no one is compelled to look at Jesus. Therefore, Jesus does not need a marketing firm or a makeover as much as a prophet to preach the horror of the cross unashamedly.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Floyd at Threedonia links to a great article from the Globe and Mail about a recent ambush of French paratroopers by Taliban fighters.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is More Like It!

Fight! Hit hard! There's a lot at stake -- and the Obamessiah is not The One to lead.

h/t: The Corner

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Terror at Home

Here's a great story from The Irish Times on the notorious and vicious gang MS-13. "Bad news" is exponentially understated. We should be using military assets against these guys. I realize the Constitutional reasons why we do not, but maybe an exception needs to be made.

When they kill somebody, it's not just a case of three bullets in the head, it's usually by repeated use of a machete whereby heads and limbs are severed and left rotting in the mid-day sun as a chilling reminder to rival gangs not to mess or intrude on their territory. Tattooed from head to toe with gang logos, members also have their own five-finger salute in the shape of the letter M.

Drug smuggling from South America earns the MS-13 hierarchy what is estimated at several hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Robert Clifford of the FBI told USA Today in 2005: "MS-13 are the biggest domestic threat to US security." The problem has worsened since, with M-13 committing rapes, smuggling drugs, raiding houses, extorting money from small businesses, intimidating witnesses and savagely murdering and beheading whoever gets in their way, putting the activities of the Italian and Russian Mafia as well as the Chinese triads and Japanese Yakuza gangs in the shade.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


A few years ago, Gene Robinson, an Episcopalian Bishop in New Hampshire came out of the closet as an openly practicing homosexual. He was preaching in the UK this summer and a parishioner or whatever decided Mr. Robinson was unfit to preach whatever gospel he's peddling. This is remarkable. Heresy needs to be confronted -- like this? Perhaps.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sarah Palin on Late Late Show

I like Craig Ferguson's show a lot through I still watch Conan O'Brien more often. Anyway, Sarah Palin was on last year and it's funny. This has probably been going viral, but oh well.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Palin

I read this over at Doug Wilson's blog -- Blog and Mablog (I love that title) on McCain's pick of Sarah Palin to be his running mate. I love the part about Obama and evangelicals who would vote for him (emphasis mine).

On the level of political strategy, this was absolutely a brilliant move. Not only was it brilliant, it was brilliant on multiple levels.

First, all the early returns indicate that this has moved discontented evangelicals from "stay at home mad" voters or "hold your nose" voters to enthusiasts. I am not counting here the bedwetting evangelicals who were willing to support Obama, the most radical pro-death candidate to ever reach the national stage. I am not counting them because they don't count. Among real evangelicals, the kind who read their Bibles, the response to Palin has been striking. As I read the responses from various directions, I can only describe it, in terms of its impact, as an electrifying choice. Think about it. McCain has picked a stridently pro-life, devout Christian evangelical as his running mate. There is nothing else he could have done to mobilize conservative Christians for this election, and he decided to do it.

But her appeal goes well beyond evangelicals. I saw one news commentator this morning say (quite accurately) that Sarah Palin appears to have been manufactured in a "vote-getting laboratory." She is an appealing woman in numerous ways on multiple levels.

To deal with the obvious first, she is a pippin. She is a beautiful woman who wears her hair up and has those schoolmarm eyeglasses. So there's the hot for teacher vote, neglected so many times and so callously throughout our nation's troubled history. I am joking, and this is fun to joke about, but anybody who thinks it an insignificant vote-getter is blissfully unaware of the hidden twelve-year-old boy in half the electorate.

And she is the ultimate red-stater -- gun enthusiast, drill for oil now, for Pete's sake, devoted mother of five, athlete and former beauty contestant, son shipping out to Iraq soon, and "I baked a pie this morning, anybody want some?" In addition, her husband is not a mousy little pencil neck -- a commerical fisherman, an oilman, and snowmobile racer. As the governor, she calls him the "first dude."

She steals a good bit of Obama's message of "change" because she made her name by toppling a corrupt Republican establishment in Alaska. There is plenty more of that in Washington, so why not? Obama could try to come back at her with the "too inexperienced" argument, but she has more experience than he does, and she is number two on the ticket and he is number one. So, as a shrewd political move by McCain, this was right up near the top.

Follow the above link to read the rest. I think the Palin pick is a genius move too. Is she experienced enough? Perhaps not -- probably not, but to beat Obama a gamble has to be made. I'm assuming as a sister in Christ she prayed about this a lot before taking the slot. That doesn't mean she'll do well -- it just means she's supposed to be there.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Everything You Need to Know About the Democratic Party

Jay Nordlinger over at The Corner linked this article from the Newark Star-Ledger on a delegate to the Democratic national Convention. Here's the kicker:

Maysoon Abdelhady says she is the perfect Democratic National Convention delegate.

"I was recruited because I'm a woman. I'm a Palestinian. I'm a Muslim. I'm disabled and, because I'm 30 and still not married, people think I'm gay.

"I told all that to the head of the New Jersey delegation but she said, `Excellent--you fill every quota we have!'"

That's just perfect. Not because she's passionate about her party or country and not because she's hugely informed on the issues -- she fills a niche by things she can't help.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blue Like Democrats

Donald Miller -- author of Blue Like Jazz -- prayed the closing prayer at tonight's Democratic National Convention. I'm glad he got the opportunity, but since when did the Democrat party platform become a prayer or creed we recite like the Lord's Prayer or the Apostle's Creed?

Color me unimpressed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Bridge Too Far...

Christianity Today -- online version -- reports on a recently aired UK reality show entitled Make Me a Christian. The Christians who were duped into this think the show is more harmful to the faith than helpful. Gee. Ya think?!? I'm not saying someone can't come to Christ in 3 edited episodes, but when the contestants are a lap dancer, a lesbian, etc. -- the show -- as many reality shows are -- is shown for what it is -- a gimmick.

I'm sure my brothers and sisters over there had the best intentions. I've read enough Theodore Dalrymple and enough UK media to see that they have the same moral rot as the rest of the West. But this is no joke and if British lap dancers and lesbians have the same profiles as American versions -- there's some deep unhappiness there that needs healing.

Also as usual -- the show focuses on sex and makes Christians look as if we're focused only or mostly on sex. Here's the Daily Telegraph story of a vicar from the show who sought to have her parts edited form the show. There lies the rub. Christianity is not a series of "Thou shalt not"s -- though holiness and morality are part of being a true Christ follower. It's difficult to convince me or others one's a sincere believer while living in direct and open and continuous violation of a fairly clear rule in Scripture (and I'm not talking about the more arcane parts of Leviticus -- that's a whole other series of posts) -- say adultery, gossip, lying, homosexuality, drunkenness, etc. This show seems to reduce the faith as "don't sleep with your boyfriend" "don't sleep with your girlfriend", etc.

New Photoshop Contest at Worth

A lot more here. Theme classic art and the movies.

h/t: BoingBoing

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I'm so proud to teach at an institution that produces such folks. I am truly blessed to not only teach, but to teach at CBU. Via my friend and colleague Jeff Mooney's blog is a post from International Justice Mission about 3 of our students who kayaked the entire Mississippi River to raise awareness about human trafficking:

Three men have just completed an incredible kayak journey down the length of the Mississippi River to raise funds for International Justice Mission and awareness for its anti-trafficking casework. Timothy Cahill, Ethan Johnstone and Justin Blomgren began their voyage in St. Paul, Minnesota and paddled 1,703 miles to New Orleans, Louisiana, where they arrived nearly two months later.

The trio set out on May 12, 2008 with the goal of raising thousands for International Justice Mission and educating people about trafficking in every town they stopped in as they traveled to New Orleans. The men, who met each other as students at California Baptist University, were inspired by IJM’s casework history of partnering with local authorities to free victims of human trafficking.
The rest is here. Also be sure and follow the links around. IJM does a lot of good and great work on a host of issues including human trafficking.

h/t: SoCal Theologica

It's Official....

Some Obama voters -- "followers" -- have lost their minds and found their religion. Oh my... get a load of this and watch the whole thing for full contact creepiness.

h/t: Dirty Harry's Place.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dying Alone

Modern society, obviously, has a lot to offer in entertainment, stimulation, standard of living, etc., etc. There is a huge downside to modern urban society too. Part of that is a trend in more and more people dying alone -- with neither friends nor family. We're connected via Facebook or MySpace or IM or whatever, but with direct deposit, ACH automatic withdrawal for bills, online shopping, etc. people seem to be more disconnected than ever. The Guardian has an interesting story on this phenomenon in the UK.

There is a balance between individualism and community. While I love individual liberty and all that I think we may have moved too far towards individualism. Not only is it dangerous, it's sad. I think this phenomenon is also at play in the Church (with several exceptions). We so do not want to judge or be judged that there's no accontability or support

Obamessiah (continued)

Yesterday at Rick Warren's Presidential Forum at Saddleback Church he asked Obama when babies get human rights. The Obamessiah's answer? "That's above my pay grade." It's nice to see him pick up some military lingo. It's also nice to see him sidestep the issue. Now besides being dishonest, he's a moral coward. If you want to be President then those concepts are in your job description -- at least in government as he sees it -- where the government is the purveyor of morality.

Obama supports the most extreme forms of abortion, abortion on demand and even voted against a bill to protect infant survivors of abortion procedures. McCain ain't perfect to be sure, but he knows a life when he sees it -- and when he's unsure -- he errs on the side of life.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Proud Papa

Yesterday I took my family to Knott's Berry Farm -- an amusement park in Anaheim (and makers of delicious boysenberry products and jams, etc. in your grocery store). We had a great time though it was a long day (as it always is with 3 lovely little kids!) and I definitely recommend it as an alternative to Disney if you're "Disneyed out", looking for extreme roller coasters, or want to have fun and also want to save a couple of hundred bucks. That being said -- I love Disneyland and it is superior.

Anyway... my 5 year old daughter Sabrina rode her first major roller coaster -- the Sierra Sidewinder. Here's a video that captures it pretty well I cribbed off YouTube. My little girl is growing up.

Now we're going to gear up for California Scream and Space Mountain at Disneyland (when we get back to Disneyland).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Kids Get a New Day Off from School!

The California Legislature -- both houses -- recently passed legislation making May 22 Harvey Milk Day. Who is Harvey Milk? He was a San Francisco City Supervisor killed by a whack-job ex-Supervisor named Dan White in broad daylight in the City Hall. White also murdered the Mayor. He should have gotten the death penalty, but he only got 5 years after his lawyer put up the infamous Twinkie Defense. Dan White drank so much Coca-Cola and ate so many Twinkies that he had a biochemical imbalance exacerbated his depression amounting to a diminished capacity. So the jury -- the Lord only knows why -- gave him 5 years in prison. White eventually took the coward's way out after paroling.

So why does Harvey Milk get a day? He was openly gay. So now they want a day to celebrate in schools -- Gay Lesbian, and Transgendered issues. Great. May 22 will now be a permanent vacation in my house. The worst part is that now I'm going to have to listen to my Dad say "I told you so" about a million times.

The bill (AB 2567) is here. Here is the relevant part for my kids -- the part that gets them a day at the beach or Disneyland or whatever:
SEC. 2.  Section 37222 of the Education Code is amended to read:
37222. (a) The following days in each year are designated and set
apart as days having special significance:
(1) The second Wednesday in May as the Day of the Teacher.
(2) April 21 of each year as John Muir Day.
(3) April 6 of each year as California Poppy Day.
(4) May 22 of each year as Harvey Milk Day.
(b) On each of the days designated in subdivision (a), all public
schools and educational institutions are encouraged to observe those
days and to conduct suitable commemorative exercises as follows:

(4) On Harvey Milk Day, exercises remembering the life of Harvey
Milk and recognizing his accomplishments as well as the contributions
he made to this state.
(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that the exercises
encouraged in this section be integrated into the regular school
program, and be conducted by the school or institution within the
amount otherwise budgeted for educational programs.
SEC. 3. Section 6721 is added to the Government Code, to read:
6721. The Governor shall annually proclaim May 22 as Harvey Milk
I will not sit for this. Does that make me intolerant? So be it. It does not make me hateful or phobic. It does mean I am in charge of what goes in and out of my kids' heads.

I actually live in a pretty red part of California so it will be interesting to see how the parents at my kids' school react.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Al Mohler on the New Atheism

Dr. Mohler has a great blog (on the blogroll at right) and he has a new book on the New Atheism. I love science and it has a great many truths to tell and yet to discover. It is, however, not our only source of true knowledge and can often be a source of fallacy and falsehood. Science once told us the world was flat, that the Earth was the center of the solar system, that Blacks were genetically inferior to Whites, etc., etc. (that humans have made the Earth warmer). The new Atheists are fundamentalist and evangelical in their cause. Here's a snippet of Dr. Mohler's book -- from his blog:

In terms of our own evangelistic and apologetic mandate, it is helpful to acknowledge that only a minority of those we seek to reach with the Gospel are truly and self-consciously identified with atheism in any form. Nevertheless, the rise of the New Atheism presents a seductive alternative for those inclined now to identify more publicly and self-consciously with organized nonbelief. The far larger challenge for most of us is to communicate the Gospel to persons whose minds are more indirectly shaped by these changed conditions of belief.

The greater seduction is towards the only vaguely theistic forms of “spirituality” that have become the belief systems (however temporarily) of millions. These are people who, as Daniel Dennett suggests, are more likely to believe in belief than to believe in God.

The Christian church must respond to the challenge of the New Atheism with the full measure of conviction and not with mere curiosity. We are reminded that the church has faced a constellation of theological challenges throughout its history. Then, as now, the task is to articulate, communicate, and defend the Christian faith with intellectual integrity and evangelistic urgency. We should not assume that this task will be easy, and we must also refuse to withdraw from public debate and private conversation in light of this challenge.

In the final analysis, the New Atheism presents the Christian church with a great moment of clarification. The New Atheists do, in the end, understand what they are rejecting. When Sam Harris defines true religion as that “where participants’ avowed belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought,” he understands what many mired in confusion do not. In the end, the existence of the supernatural, self-existent, and self-revealing God is the only starting point for Christian theology. God possesses all of the perfections revealed in Scripture, or there is no coherent theology presented in the Bible. The New Atheists are certainly right about one very important thing—it’s atheism or biblical theism. There is nothing in between.

His new book Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists is below:

It's almost cliche now but Atheists have just as much, if not more, faith as most Christians.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I don't usually follow tragedy TV, but the case of 3-year old Maddie McCann who was taken from her parents' hotel room has crossed my radar screen. Now it looks like she was purchased by a Belgian pedophile ring "on order". This is evil incarnate.

I have a 5 year old daughter. I do not know what I would do. This girl will end up dead or being passed on to other pedophiles after she outgrows the age this sick European POS desires. Most likely she'll end up dead or as a prostitute somewhere in Eastern Europe. I pray for her rescue and for her parents. I would be tortured.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Just to be Clear

It's sad to have to even explain this, but since many are too intellectually challenged to think logically or are just plain intellectually dishonest.... I would love to have a minority President of the United States. Just not Barack Obama. He is not ready, he is arrogant, he is plainly ignorant on many subjects. He is a socialist first and foremost and I really think he does noit appreciate what America has been, is, and can be. There are many Blacks who are qualified: Colin Powell, Condi Rice, JC Watts, Harold Ford, Michael Steele, Thomas Sowell, Walt Williams, and I'm sure many others who are slipping my mnd right now. Can the Democrats do no better than Obama?

Sunday, August 03, 2008


I love this. Gerard Baker, Editor of The Times of London reading an op-ed he wrote with musical and visual accompaniment.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

This Guy is Sleeping on the Couch

A husband's revenge -- and a pretty good (and dangerous) prank.


Blaise Pascal: Still Relevant

I'm slowly making my way through Pascal's Pensees -- see sidebar at right. In between beaches, looking for houses, and other summer activities reading has been slow. Anyway... I came across this -- among other tidbits and it speaks volumes about post-modern culture; political, Hollywood, academic, et al. From Pensees # 78:
Imagination. That is the part of the human being which dominates, this mistress of error and falsehood, and all the more treacherous because it is not consistently treacherous. For it would be an infallible rule of truth if it were an infallible one of lies. But while it is more often false, it gives no indication of its quality, indicating in the same way both truth and falsehood. ....
This proud, powerful enemy of reason, which enjoys believing that it controls and dominates it to show how much it can achieve in every realm, has established a second nature in man. Imagination has those it makes happy and unhappy, its healthy and sick, its rich and poor. It makes reason believe, doubt, deny. It abrogates the senses, it brings them to life. It has its fools and its wise men, and nothing upsets us more than to see it satisfy its guests more fully and completely than reason. Those skillful in imagination are more pleased with themselves than the prudent can ever reasonably be pleased with themselves. They look imperiously on others, they argue boldly and confidently; the others only timidly and warily. Their vivacious expression often wins over the opinion of their listeners, such is the esteem those wise by imagination have with their like-minded judges.
Does that not perfectly describe many in our cultural, educational and governmental intelligentsia today? They make emotional and clever arguments that sound great and silence those who are afraid to be labeled racist, sexist -- against Change. The populace -- done a disservice by our compulsory educational scheme don't know any better and tend to buy the excess of imagination (as Pascal uses that term) as opposed to the reasonable (or rather "reasoned") one. This is neither a liberal or conservative problem though liberals tend to suffer (or benefit in the short run) from it. It has also eaten through the Church.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tony Romo.... Dude.

Here's a great piece on Tony Romo and his lack of change over the years. Surprising and darn near miraculous given his dating of Jessica Simpson. I know what he "sees" in her. I just don't get what he sees "in" her. Maybe there's a depth there. That wouldn't be surprising if Romo's personality is really this down to earth and given the media's penchant for drama in lieu of a celebrity's mundane side.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Turkish Theater for WWIII

Here's a nice rosy piece from The Asia Times on the coming WWIII in the Middle East. I'm skeptical, but this is interesting.

Here's a taste (read the rest!):
As the price of oil increased rapidly in the past three years, Saudi influence has grown. The rapid decline of the US into a credit crisis has also prompted the need for rich friends in high places, particularly to rescue moribund banks and continue buying bonds issued by bankrupt federal agencies. It now appears that instead of a share of US banks or its corporate that "lesser" Arab rulers may be happy with, Saudi Arabia has been slowly pushing the US to capitulate its Turkish fiefdom.

After stabilizing the Islamist government, the true costs of this bargain for Turkey will become more visible. As the US Army plans to leave Iraq, it will leave in its wake an independence-seeking if not functionally autonomous Kurdistan that embraces territory in the north of Iraq and Iran as well as the eastern part of Turkey. On its western front, Turkey has already been outmaneuvered by Greece on its claims on Cyprus by using the illusory carrot of potential European Union membership.

Turkish nationalism will thus receive two severe blows in the next few years. Coalescing at the center, it is likely that Turks will turn to religion for succor, much as Pakistanis did after the creation of Bangladesh. That they will become cannon fodder in the age-old conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite forces is another matter.

In perhaps less than a decade from now, Saudi Arabia could well control and call on two Wahhabi-inspired armies on either side of Iran, and seek to deal a death blow against the Shi'ites when a convenient excuse presents itself. It is only after Islamic forces consolidate around the Wahhabi establishment that the next phase of the civilizational war against the West will begin.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mozart Under the Stars

My Mom's in from Texas so we took in a bit of L.A. culture (it does have it!) We had a great evening at the Hollywood Bowl last night. The LA Philharmonic had Mozart Under the Stars and it was incredible. A nice cool evening, picnicking at the Bowl, and great music.

The program:

1. Overture to La clemenza di Tito
"Ch'io mi scordi di te"
Piano Concerto No. 17, K. 453
"Exsultate Jubilate"
Symphony No. 38, K. 504, "Prague"

The mezzo-soprano was Isabel Leonard. Beautiful voice, technique, etc. The pianist was Orion Weiss who was also fantastic -- fluid and commanding.

The Bowl is a MUST if you ever visit L.A. in the summer. It is a great venue, there's not really a bad seat in the house, and it's affordable if that's a concern. The views and sunsets are beautiful and bring a picnic basket -- everybody eats at the Bowl.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No One Knows the Day or Hour

Man is pinned to a diner counter by a car -- barely a scratch.

Here's the video. There's a brief commercial there -- it's the BBC's fault.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Media and the Academy Get Another one Wrong

Right after the invasion of Iraq in March/April 2003 Iraq was looted blind of all of its cultural heritage showing that Bush Chimpy McHitler, Rummy, and Dick Hallicheney were evil and insensitive. Right? Right? Wrong.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal on July 15 -- reports of such looting have -- wait for it -- been wildly exaggerated.
A recent mission to Iraq headed by top archaeologists from the U.S. and U.K. who specialize in Mesopotamia found that, contrary to received wisdom, southern Iraq's most important historic sites -- eight of them -- had neither been seriously damaged nor looted after the American invasion. This, according to a report by staff writer Martin Bailey in the July issue of the Art Newspaper. The article has caused confusion, not to say consternation, among archaeologists and has been largely ignored by the mainstream press. Not surprising perhaps, since reports by experts blaming the U.S. for the postinvasion destruction of Iraq's heritage have been regular fixtures of the news.

Of course these mistakes were made in good faith by objective scientists in government and academia because they care about getting it right and not grinding axes. Right? Right?!? Wrong.

Considering the political impact of such data, one would expect the experts to approach the subject with scientific circumspection, using numbers sparingly and conservatively. Too often they seem to have done the reverse. So now, as a matter of course, their method, their probity in sifting the evidence -- do they have a political agenda? -- has come into question.

It's a question that equally hangs over the deliberations of a meeting that took place recently in Dublin of the World Archeological Congress. The members reportedly considered a lengthy statement urging colleagues to refuse any military requests for a list of Iran's sites that should be exempt from possible air strikes. Finally they settled for a shorter July 11 press release. Among other things, the final press release says that WAC "expresses strong opposition to aggressive military action . . . by the U.S. government, or by any other government." The release quotes WAC's president as saying that WAC "strongly opposed the war in Iraq and . . . we strongly oppose any war in Iran" and that "any differences with Iran should be resolved through peaceful and diplomatic means."

If as scholars, archeologists take a priori public positions on political matters, what are we to make of the field-data they produce? How impartial can it be? And with their own credibility marred, who is there left as an impartial body of experts for the public to turn to?

The archaeologists' mission to southern Iraq took place in early June. Besides Prof. Stone, the experts included John Curtis, head of the British Museum's Middle East Department; Paul Collins, a Mesopotamia specialist at that museum; a top German expert; and Iraqi experts. It was conducted through the British military, which is in charge of the area, using a helicopter and armed escorts to visit the locations. They included such celebrated "cradle of civilization" sites as Ur, Eridu (the earliest Sumerian city), Warka (Sumerian Uruk), Larsa (a Babylonian city), Tell el-Ouelli (ancient Ubaid) and Tell el-Lahm (an Assyrian site).

According to the Art Newspaper article, "The international team . . . had been expecting to find considerable evidence of looting after 2003 but to their astonishment and relief there was none. Not a single recent dig hole was found at the eight sites, and the only evidence of illegal digging came from holes which were partially covered with silt and vegetation, which means they [were] several years old." Furthermore, the most recent damage "probably dated back to 2003," to just before and after the invasion when the Iraqi army maneuvered for the allied attack. (According to other experts, looting probably took place when the Iraqi army first moved out of areas near sites to counter the invasion.)

Avoid this McDonald's....

Back in April.... the British Columbia Human Rights Commission (the same outfit persecuting Mark Steyn and this man -- Ezra Levant) ruled that a McDonald's employee at a restaurant on marine Drive in Vancouver, BC had a human right to NOT wash her hands. Nice.

This one's for monkey...

Obviously -- given my huge readership -- it's for the masses.... but monkey (and thud too) will appreciate this little tidbit about his favorite Prime Minister (or his staff rather).

I'm thinking of an old joke about thinking with the right part.....

Star Wars -- Fine Art

A website -- (get it? pictures words, etc.) -- hosts photoshopping contests every so often -- usually with a lot of clever and well-done entries. They just finished a Star Wars/fine art (well -- they did allow a Thomas Kinkade knockoff) contest. Below is a taste:

A lot more here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Reason #2,341,979 to NOT vote for Obama

He will accelerate us on the road to fiscal disaster that Bush and the GOP Congress started us on with their fiscal irresponsibility. Here's a depressing essay from the Hoover Institution on The Coming Tax Hike.

I'm not an economic expert by any stretch, but I read a fair amount of history. Growing government and increasing taxes has never (or should I say rarely?) increased the standard of living or freedom of a people. Why would folks vote for Obama? I have no idea (I have some ideas actually). I'm beginning to think he is God's judgment on us. I hope Obama would read these books....

Friday, July 18, 2008


Over at Dirty Harry's Place, Harry has a post about the 1970s where he extols the virtues of the opening to The Rockford Files. I loved that show and watched it with my parents often. I, however, am partial to this opening...

I know a lot of bad stuff happened (Watergate to Jimmy Carter), but it still seems like it was the last best time to be a kid: unstructured time, the Dallas Cowboys (Steelers notwithstanding), Star Wars and great TV.

Your Hummer Sucks.

My Lamborghini LM-002 SUV will do 130 -- 110 in the sand.

The Bible is Better than "Being There"

Interesting post by Tyler Kenney over at John Piper's Desiring God blog on why we have an advantage through Scripture that the Israelites did not have vis a vis believing.

1. Scripture interprets the biblical events for us.

2. Scripture’s interpretation is inspired.

3. Scripture appeals to our inner being.

There's a lot more at the link.

Krauthammer nails it on Obama.

Charles Krauthammer expertly and eloquently summarizes Barack "Jesus" Obama's sense of self-importance in today's Washington Post.

His closer:

For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is?

We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when "our planet began to heal." As I recall -- I'm no expert on this -- Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.

Self-Defence in the UK?

Interesting post (with more links) over at Samizdata on perhaps the restoration of the right for the British to use force in defending themselves. Let's hope so. When you can't beat down a burglar in your own home without fear of prosecution you are -- by definition -- not free.

Stories from Britain of homeowners being arrested for "assaulting" burglars and muggers trickle out here and there. If Brown's gov't makes this change back to the way things ought to be, then it's a step in the right direction. It's important because those things often seem to find their way stateside.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No One Knows the Day or Hour...

This woman catches a lightning strike on camera -- close. Apparently she was not struck directly, but caught a finger arc.... She is blessed to be alive.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Don't Tread on Me

I detest speed and red light cameras. I think they are unfair unsporting and totalitarian. South Swindon in the UK has become the first municipality to remove speed cameras. OK. They didn't do it out of principle, but because they weren't receiving the revenue, but who am I to complain? Now, if only the Riverside, CA city council would do the same with our red light cameras. I never run red lights -- really -- but it is the principle. I want discretion, the benefit of the doubt -- humanity in dealings with the government. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Latest DVD... Vantage Point

I saw Vantage Point last night. Not a great movie, but a good one and Dirty Harry is right... it is a movie conservative can watch without feeling sucker-punched. There were no real statements about the war on terror -- just that it was a reality. Sigourney Weaver's character even scolds a reporter for editorializing in what is supposed to be a straight news report. I appreciated that. The movie is a bit weak on plot and character development, but it is fast-paced and there are a few twists and turns. I'd give a deeper review, but it's not a deep movie. That is a good thing. I wanted to be entertained -- and I was. How can a review get much more positive?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Can you feel it?

Football season is almost here.... I cannot wait.

1977 Cowboys Roster ... poster I had on my wall.

A note of appreciation...

I would like to take this moment to note... that one of the great and under-appreciated perks (besides 9-month contracts paid over 12 and getting paid to read books) of being a college professor is having full-time online access to the Oxford English Dictionary. All hail the OED!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Strange Carafes

Perhaps you woke up thinking, "I would love to pour my juice/wine/milk from a carafe that looks like an antler." Ok. Here you go.

Friday, July 11, 2008

End of Britian: An Ongoing Series

Jonah Golderg has all the links over at The Corner.

As Jonah says... Churchill is spinning in his grave.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Shape of Temptation

Sorry -- no cheesecake pictures here.

My friend and colleague Jeff Mooney -- an Old Testament scholar -- links to a blogpost by Tim Challies at The post is on "the shape of temptation" as written about by Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke in his book An Old Testament Theology. Waltke writes that Satan tempts us the exact same way he tempted Eve -- so that encounter is our model for how temptation works.
We are as skilled in leading others into temptation and tend to follow Satan's model when we do. Here are the 5 basic steps with a taste of Tim's commentary:
1. Be a theologian. "...Satan is a theologian who despises God with every bit of his being. When he turns to Eve and says, “Did God really say…?” he brings Eve into a dialogue that opens her mind to a new realm of possibility, one she would not have thought of on her own. He knows God well enough to know what God has said and done.
2. Turn commands into questions. Satan takes the command of God and rephrases it as a question. “Did God really say?” What was a clear statement suddenly becomes hazy. Posing as a theologian he asks, “Are you sure about this, or is this only Adam’s testimony as to what God said? Are you sure? How do you know? Is this really a command? Can we discuss this a little bit? Is it possible that you misinterpreted what God said? Is it possible that there is some context here we’ve ignored?” Waltke says, “Within the framework of faith, these questions are proper and necessary, but when they are designed to lead us away from the simplicity of childlike obedience, they are wrong.” And so we see Satan raising questions of interpretation and authority necessarily designed to create doubt and confusion and to lead away from the simplicity of a childlike obedience."
3. Emphasize prohibition over freedom. "Satan carefully and deliberately distorts, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden” into “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” He overlooks the great freedom God gave Adam and Eve and instead overstates the one prohibition."
4. Doubt God’s sincerity and motives. "Satan casts God’s motives as self-regard rather than love. “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He convinces Eve that God is limiting her, that He is not giving her the full measure of humanity. He is holding back, reserving for Himself things that she deserves to know and to experience."
5. Deny what God says is true. In the final step, Satan flatly denies what is true. “You will not surely die.” The fruit of all of the doubt and the resentment is unbelief. If God’s words happen to hinder us from becoming what we want to be or from doing what we want to do, Satan convinces us that we can safely ignore them."
Tim Challies' post has more good stuff on temptation. The above is just a taste.

Satan expertly breaks Eve down, gets her to take God out of her decisonmaking equation, and it's all over but the cryin' by the time she does the same to Adam. This pattern has been followed endlessly and is still the model for temptation. That make it all the more pressing to steel ourselves to protect us from temptation (fleeing it is good advice) as well as to prevent us from becoming tempters.

The book is here:

h/t: Jeff Mooney

Nanny-State: American Style

Want to play Wiffle ball? Want to make your own makeshift Wiffle-ball diamond like days of yore? Not so fast kemosabe. A group of kids built a makeshift Fenway Park to play Wiffle Ball on unused public land and the neighbors are hassling them because of "nuisances" "liability" and "traffic and drainage". Adults need to pull the stick out of their collective backsides. From the New York Times story:

After three weeks of clearing brush and poison ivy, scrounging up plywood and green paint, digging holes and pouring concrete, Vincent, Justin and about a dozen friends did manage to build it — a tree-shaded Wiffle ball version of Fenway Park complete with a 12-foot-tall green monster in center field, American flag by the left-field foul pole and colorful signs for Taco Bell Frutista Freezes.

But, alas, they had no idea just who would come — youthful Wiffle ball players, yes, but also angry neighbors and their lawyer, the police, the town nuisance officer and tree warden and other officials in all shapes and sizes. It turns out that one kid’s field of dreams is an adult’s dangerous nuisance, liability nightmare, inappropriate usurpation of green space, unpermitted special use or drag on property values, and their Wiffle-ball Fenway has become the talk of Greenwich and a suburban Rorschach test about youthful summers past and present.

I didn't wear an official Little League uniform until I hit 6th grade -- yet I played baseball almost every warm day that wasn't footall season. Gloves doubled as bases and when we had too few players someone might be full-time pitcher or play for both teams until some other kid ambled along. Bats? Shared. Gloves? Shared. Drinks? Why out of the water tap at the park or near whatever field we played in.

Kids activities are too organized and not only is it NOT fun if you or your kid is not professional-grade amateur -- it's expensive. Hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars a year. Give kids, bats, ball, and gloves and a bit of guidance and they'll figure it out. One of us checked out Joe Niekro's book out of the library and we taught ourselves to throw knuckleballs.

Parents (and our enablers in law offices, police stations, et al.) are afraid of injury, liability, child molestors, etc. All those things are possible, but not at all probable. Even worse -- it seems to be an insidious striving for equality. Everybody has to have the same awful experience.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

2 Books Down... One Up

Just finished 2 books...

Weigel's Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action is a crisp little book. It packs a huge wallop in 157 pages. He outlines 15 lessons all of us in the West (the U.S. specifically of course) should draw from 9/11. He was preaching to the choir with me, put he puts things so succinctly it is a great refresher (a "call to action" as the title says). This is a great book to buy for others -- especially for those who are possible 9/11 Republicans -- Dems who are reasonable... Hitchens, Ron Silver types. Maybe not Hitchens as Weigel is a devout Catholic and advocates religion as one of the major cultural tools to fight this war. I'm using this as one of the texts in my Terrorism course this Fall.

Max Boot's book, War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History 1500 to Today is also fantastic. I loved Boot's Savage Wars of Peace and this one did not disappoint either. I knew alot of this information already, but Boot ties it all together neatly and with great insight. Victor Hanson has a lock on culture and war, but Boot deftly deals with technology, economics, culture, etc. to show the transformation of the way wars are fought -- and how today's wars are also similar to yesterdays' wars. Suffice to say that technology is not the end all be all... good soldiering and competent officers will always be required.

Book I'm currently reading (and have had on my list for 20 years):

Monday, July 07, 2008

What's Next? Ultimate Fighting Trivial Pursuit?

I give you Chess Boxing. They've just crowned a new world champion too.


Mathematics student Nikolai Sazhin, 19, competing under the name "The President'' knocked out a 37-year-old German policeman Frank Stoldt, who served as a peacekeeper in Kosovo until recently.

The loser said he was simply too punch-drunk to fend off checkmate.

"I took a lot of body-blows in the fourth round and that affected my concentration. That's why I made a big mistake in the fifth round: I did not see him coming for my king,'' he said.

Berlin is home to the world's biggest chess boxing club with some 40 members and it is in an old freight station here that the two men settled the matter early yesterday.

The match began over a chess board set up on a low table in the middle of a boxing ring.

Stripped to the waist, wearing towels around their shoulders and headphones playing the lulling sound of a moving train to drown out the baying crowd, the men played for four minutes.
Then off came their reading glasses and on went the gloves and the mouthguards.

For three minutes they beat each other and then, when the bell went, the chess board was back in the ring and they picked up the gentlemanly game where they had left off.

It's gotta be better than watching poker. Here's a ESPN Sportscenter story on it.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Nanny-State Madness

The UK is now reaching into subjects' kitchens. Britons are wasting too much food. Be that as it may... is it really government's job to police this -- or really even deal with it? Does not PM Gordon Brown have nothing better to do?

All due respect to my sometime readers monkey and thud....

UPDATE (07/08/2008): PM Brown had a 6-course lunch and an 8--course dinner at the G-8 Summit yesterday. I'm sure he cleaned his plate. Waste not -- want not.

Terrorist: Criminals or Mortal Threat?

The New York Post gives yet another example of the difference between the average street criminal and our Jihadist Islamist terrorist foes.

At about 5 p.m. yesterday, an unidentified thief with a police record broke into a red van that had been parked at 53rd Street and Second Avenue in Brooklyn's Sunset Park for about a month, a source told The Post.

He was stunned when he looked inside - it was filled with gas cans and Styrofoam cups containing a mysterious white substance with protruding wires and switches.

The street is lined with brownstones, and there's a ballet studio and a small Muslim school. So he drove the van 15 blocks to 37th Street and parked it at a desolate waterfront location behind the Costco store and next to some little-used piers.

Then he got out and called a cop he knows from his run-ins with the law.

"He did the right thing," a high-ranking officer said. "And he possibly saved a lot of people's lives."

Another source said cops are unlikely to file charges for the break-in.

Story by Larry Celona.

I like the redemptive nature of this story as well. Don't get me wrong -- today's street criminal is no walk in the park, but even then, most are not psychopathic killers bent on destruction. This guy is probably a long-time loser, has a record and is addicted to drugs or alcohol. None of that justifies his conduct or excuses him from liability, but he's not a clear-eyed radical from the middle class bent on wanton destruction. If all else is faulty -- Bush's policy of treating terrorism as a national security issue and not a criminal justice issue was spot on.

Those Big Bad Corporations

They hate the environment and the poor -- except when they are cutting down on trash AND helping to feed poor people.

At least one grocery chain, Albertsons, has developed a corporate policy and program for donating the kind of extra inventory and perishables -- everything from computer disks to fried chicken and milk -- that used to go straight to the trash at a cost of $3,000 a year for one Eastvale store.

"The program was developed because the cost of trash fees has skyrocketed along with everything else," said Jim Gonzales, store manager of Albertsons in Eastvale. By donating all types of foods that are still good but a day past their sell-by dates, store officials hope to cut their trash expenses in half this year while helping out community members in need, he said.

Known as Fresh Rescue, the program maintains rigorous health and safety standards, store spokeswoman Lilia Rodriguez said. Qualifying nonprofits must either transport the food in refrigerated vehicles or use cooling systems and thermal blankets to keep the food fresh on its way to those in need, she said.

"The feedback from the families and groups involved has been overwhelming," Rodriguez said. "Clearly it's the right thing to do."

From today's Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Good for them... This is how free market capitalism is supposed to work. Albertson's will get fresher food at a lower cost than any gov't food program and with little to no graft I wager.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


I saw this on BoingBoing. I'm not sure what to say.... It's maker is unknown. Puns make me smile.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Whither the Babies?

Europe's decline is a hot topic these days. Russell Shorto has a story in the New York Times Magazine on Europe's demographic collapse and an oddly sinister concept called "lowest-low fertility". Is a PD James' Children of Men scenario on the far horizon?

In the 1990s, European demographers began noticing a downward trend in population across the Continent and behind it a sharply falling birthrate. Non-number-crunchers largely ignored the information until a 2002 study by Italian, German and Spanish social scientists focused the data and gave policy makers across the European Union something to ponder. The figure of 2.1 is widely considered to be the “replacement rate” — the average number of births per woman that will maintain a country’s current population level. At various times in modern history — during war or famine — birthrates have fallen below the replacement rate, to “low” or “very low” levels. But Hans-Peter Kohler, José Antonio Ortega and Francesco Billari — the authors of the 2002 report — saw something new in the data. For the first time on record, birthrates in southern and Eastern Europe had dropped below 1.3. For the demographers, this number had a special mathematical portent. At that rate, a country’s population would be cut in half in 45 years, creating a falling-off-a-cliff effect from which it would be nearly impossible to recover. Kohler and his colleagues invented an ominous new term for the phenomenon: “lowest-low fertility.”

There is Really Nothing New Under the Sun

Gene Weingarten, of the Washington Post, won a Pulitzer Prize (in part for "originality") for an article he wrote last year on world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell playing tunes at the subway for change. Turns out it wasn't so original. Not because he plagiarized, but because life is so wonderful and interesting.

You may like or dislike my columns. You may think I am a fine fellow or a jackass. But there is one fact you may no longer dispute: I am a brilliantly original thinker.

I would not say it if I didn't have proof, namely, the Pulitzer Prize. I won it for an article I wrote last year about what happened when a world-famous violinist played for spare change, incognito, for three-quarters of an hour outside a subway station. Playing his priceless Stradivarius, violin virtuoso Joshua Bell, a onetime child prodigy, made a few measly bucks and change. Most people hurried past, unheeding. It was a story about artistic context, priorities and the soul-numbing gallop of modernity.


In the days that followed, I obtained a copy of the original article from the long-defunct Evening Post. The main story, bylined Milton Fairman, was on Page One, under the headline "Famous Fiddler in Disguise Gets $5.61 in Curb Concerts." The story began: "A tattered beggar in an ancient frock coat, its color rusted by the years, gave a curbstone concert yesterday noon on windswept Michigan Avenue. Hundreds passed him by without a glance, and the golden notes that rose from his fiddle were swept by the breeze into unlistening ears ..."

We learn from this story that two of the handful of songs played by Jacques Gordon were Massenet's "Meditation" from "Thais" and Schubert's "Ave Maria." Two of the handful of songs played by Joshua Bell last year were Massenet's "Meditation" from "Thais" and Schubert's "Ave Maria." Of the hundreds of people who walked by Gordon, only one recognized him for who he was. Of the hundreds of people who walked by Bell, only one recognized him for who he was.

I telephoned Bell -- he, too, had not heard about this other street corner stunt. But, though Jacques Gordon died two decades before Bell was born, Bell knew of him. The two men had shared something intimate. From 1991 through 2001, Bell played the same Strad that Gordon had once owned, the same one Gordon had played on the Chicago streets that day in 1930. For 11 years, Bell's fingers held the same ancient wood.

That which has been is that which will be,And that which has been done is that which will be done.So there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NAS)

Why Pray?

A common question -- especially for Calvinists. If God knows the future then why bother -- what difference does it make? Dan Phillips over at the Pyromaniacs' Blog has an interesting post on that.

Here's a taste:
If God knows what He is going to do, and has known since before the first tick of the cosmic clock, and if His will is settled and absolute and unalterable, then what possible impact can our prayers have? And even more to the point, what possible purpose could they serve?

I've made sufficient peace with that issue on two fronts:
  1. God says to do it (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17, etc. ad inf). If I believe Him, that's sufficient in itself. If I don't believe Him, nothing will suffice.
  2. God carries out His sovereign will through means. My prayers are parts of those means (cf. Ezekiel 36:37-38). It isn't mine to divine His sovereign will, but to pursue His revealed will (Deuteronomy 29:29, and see #1 above).

  1. And his conclusion:

    Here, in one final enumeration, is what I take from this:

    1. God gives believers' prayers a significant place in His plans.
    2. We should never downplay the importance of approaching God in prayer, Biblically understood.
    3. It is the height of folly to let circumstance or human reasoning discourage us from bringing our petitions to God. In other words...
    4. Let God say "No, I have a better plan," rather than, "Since you did not ask (James 4:2b)...."

Much more in this post plus, there's always a lot of good stuff over there.