Thursday, December 28, 2006

Final post of 2006

I'll be taking a break from blogging until next year.

May you have a Happy New Year!

Satan's Rapture

This site is just incredibly... sad... on so many levels.

I laughed hysterically at this: Santa Effigy dolls.

Adrian's 2006

Dr. Warnock (he's a psychiatrist!) reviews his year.

the true and the beautiful

Frank Turk has an article about the tendency of the Christian to disdain "the true and beautiful," especially in the artistic realm; reading it is worthy of your time. Here's a sample:
Listen: if there's anything on Earth (or in the Heavens) which we Christians ought to know something about, it's Love and Death. In fact, we should be the ones who are exclaiming the fact of Love in Death. We shouldn't be establishing a suicide cult but extolling the fantastic fact that Christ died for our sins because God Loved, and Christ was resurrected in order that death would be destroyed.

There's more art to be made in that one sentence than all the movies Hollywod has ever turned out, and more than either NYC or LA could turn out in music and TV in 10,000 years. Why? Because there is Truth and Beauty in that statement, and it doesn't force us to make false moral choices or reduce our expressions to some gloomy, dismal, atonal text.

The great topic of art belongs to us. The great purpose of art is not, as someone once said, to frame a lie which seems pleasant, but to frame truth by analogy -- and the greatest truth-by-analogy of all time is the Bible.

Inevitably, the discussion in the meta turns to music and someone brings up U2.

More on this topic by: Jan, Mark Daniels, DrKnoxPJ, Jerry Solomon & Jimmy Williams

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

death of a President

Gerald Ford, the president who took the oath at an "hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts," has died. His wife Betty read a statement by the family yesterday. Mr. Ford was not the president when I was born, but he's the first president I remember (although barely, since I was five-and-a-half years old when he left office).

His White House biography can be found here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

exactly

Thomas Sowell has it right.

The next time you hear some Hollywood-type - be it a talk show host, movie "star," or TV personality - talk about the disparity of riches in this country, ask them how much of their paycheck they'd personally be willing to give up so that - let's say - inner-city school music teachers could take home more money.

Oprah can talk about the horrible plight of AIDS-stricken Africa all she wants (and I agree that it is a terrible thing), but is she really going to sell her multi-million dollar homes (including her Hawaiian getaway) and live the simple life in some Chicago suburb? I don't think so.

so much monitoring, so little time

Sites like this one and this one remind me of what Regina King's character says in Enemy of the State after hearing a congressman on TV talk about the need for monitors to check on those who monitor (or spy) on nations hostile to the U.S.:

"Well, who's gonna monitor the monitors of the monitors?"

Monday, December 25, 2006

fools, embiciles, and bloggers

If you enjoy reading blogs - and especially, if you're a blogger yourself - you should read this article by Joseph Rago of the venerable Wall Street Journal.

An excerpt:
The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.

More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren't much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.

Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . .
Ouch! Stings, doesn't it?

Mr. Rago is right, of course, about the size of the blogosphere and the propensity for pontification. There are so many blogs out there, and the quality can be severely lacking. A blog may be a Mortal Human in the TTLB Ecosystem, but that doesn't mean it's worthy of your time. Technorati may show a blog having hundreds of links, but that doesn't many every single linker visits that blog routinely. I don't give equal attention to every blog on my blogroll; there are some I visit more frequently than others.

Why is this? Because, looking at blogs and deciding what to link to is entirely subjective. At the risk of sounding like a certain issue of Time, you have the power to choose what too read and what to look at. I realize that what I'm typing is nothing original or extraordinary, but it is quite accurate.

I do believe Mr. Rago is being overly cynical, however. Blogging - much like art- is subjective. People blog for a variety of reasons, whether it be a foodie sharing the menu from her most recent party or a politico listing all the reasons why his party is the best and your party has nothing but decadent and corrupt leaders. The artist uses some form of media - whether it be sculpture, music, or some other form - as a means of expression. I blog as a way to put concrete words to fluid thoughts, to keep in touch with family and friends, and to share my faith. If you blog, you have your own reasons for posting what you do.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt conducted an interview with Rago (who's only 23!), and he was able to hold his own.

"After December Slips Away"

There are many things to enjoy on First Call's Beyond December, but I really like this song. Christmas has come and gone this year, but it doesn't mean for the believer that she can just pack up the manger scene and forget about the meaning of Immanuel until sometime late next year.


From "After December Slips Away"
(Lowell Alexander/Bonnie Keen)

The season comes but once a year
A gift of precious wonder
For all who hold it dear
But past the sights and coloured lights
Lord, far beyond DecemberI will remember

After the carols fade away
After the Yule fire dies down
When there are no longer dreams to open and see
Because You are hope and joy and peace
Because You're the only gift I need
In my heart the season will remain
After December slips away

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Who Dey??????

Who, indeed. The Battle for I-74 is over: 34-16.

Thanks, Jay - you called it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

"...does not possess the sexual characteristics of a woman"

Intriguing story out of this month's Asian Games.
An Indian runner who won a silver medal in the women's 800 meters in the Asian Games this month has failed a gender test and is expected to be stripped of the medal, according to reports Monday.

Santhi Soudarajan took the gender test in Doha, Qatar, after the victory. The test reports sent to the Indian Olympic Association on Sunday said Soudarajan "does not possess the sexual characteristics of a woman," The Times of India reported. The test was administered by a medical commission set up by the games' organizers.

There are no compulsory gender tests during events sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federation, but athletes can be asked to take a gender test. The medical evaluation panel usually includes a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, and an internal medicine specialist.

The article makes no mention of the specifics of the test. It also gives no explanation as to how one calls for a gender test to take place. There is, unfortunately, no picture of Soudarajan accompanying the article.

More: Here (including a picture of the athlete).

My Elfamorphosis

Hey, I just made a total elf of myself. Check me out by clicking the link below.

http://www.elfyourself.com/?userid=27c03d48f0085164473ba61G06121800

Marketing 50 Awards

Advertising Age has announced the 50 biggest marketing successes in 2006. Among the picks are Crocs, Dunkin' Donuts, Fanta, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, Crystal Light on the Go, Scrubbing Bubbles, and Lunesta.

Crocs seem to be showing up everywhere. The first person I knew of who wore them is uber-chef Mario Batali. I think he was wearing them when I first watched Molto Mario back in 1999. He wore - and I believe he still wears - a bright orange pair. I was in the locker room of the YMCA after I worked out the other day, and I noticed several guys wearing them.

Let me say as a man who has done his share of housecleaning: Scrubbing Bubbles is a wonder to behold.

Dustin Rides, Day 4

Person of the Year

Time says it's you. No, wait, it's me! Wait! No, it's my mother! No, it's my second cousin once removed on my father's side...

I guess when it's a difficult decision to make, the only right one is to be all-inclusive.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Berlin

Over half a century ago, it experienced a springtime under Hitler and his goose-stepping pals. Then, it was split in two, but came back together when people tore down a wall while listening to David Hasselhoff.

Now, it's like NYC in the 80's.

Dustin Rides, Day 2

statue at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

hot dogs

Even People's "Sexiest Man Alive" eats them. Take a look.

I feel better about myself now. Pour on the chili sauce!

Dustin begins

the angel


"Why I Believe Christian Faith is True"

I grew up in church, so I've always been familiar with the doctrines and tenets of Christianity. My faith started out as a mimic - or clone, if you will - of my parents' faith, but it has grown into something entirely my own. There has never been a time in my life when I did not believe that God exists. Because of this, it is difficult for me to consider the mind of the atheist. It is hard to imagine living in a universe brought about by chance, driven by the random whims of electrical impulses and chemical reactions, wandering about in the Great Vastness with no meaning or purpose whatsoever.

Pastor Mark Daniels of Lutheran Friendship Church (Amelia, OH) emerged from such a universe. Leaving atheism behind, he could have picked one from a plethora of religions and spiritualities. He decided - or perhaps, as my Calvinist friends would say, God decided - that he should embrace the Christian faith. Pastor Mark wrote a six-part essay on why he believes Christianity to be true, and you can find it through here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

why I don't link to World Net Daily

Because the site has ridiculous articles like this one. The title is kinda catchy, don't you think? I didn't realize the Devil cares so much about what we eat.

The dangerous food I'm speaking of is soy. Soybean products are feminizing, and they're all over the place. You can hardly escape them anymore.

........................................

If you're a grownup, you're already developed, and you're able to fight off some of the damaging effects of soy. Babies aren't so fortunate. Research is now showing that when you feed your baby soy formula, you're giving him or her the equivalent of five birth control pills a day. A baby's endocrine system just can't cope with that kind of massive assault, so some damage is inevitable. At the extreme, the damage can be fatal.

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.

The article, written by someone who is not in a medical or health-related field, fails to cite any specific research to support its claims.

Sunni and Shiite

Consider this a primer. I found it most informative.

Also read Joe Carter's How to Distinguish Between Shia and Sunni.

What should a turtle fear?

Humans!

Answer: Dennis Kucinich running for president

Question: What is an exercise in futility?

gay evangelicals

Intriguing article here about evangelical Christians who claim to be homosexual.
Justin Lee believes that the Virgin birth was real, that there is a heaven and a hell, that salvation comes through Christ alone and that he, the 29-year-old son of Southern Baptists, is an evangelical Christian.

Just as he is certain about the tenets of his faith, Mr. Lee also knows he is gay, that he did not choose it and cannot change it.

To many people, Mr. Lee is a walking contradiction, and most evangelicals and gay people alike consider Christians like him horribly deluded about their faith. “I’ve gotten hate mail from both sides,” said Mr. Lee, who runs gaychristian.net, a Web site with 4,700 registered users that mostly attracts gay evangelicals.
Justin believes that God "blesses" same-sex unions - his essay is on that very topic is here. His opening statement is this:
As many of you know, I'm fairly conservative in my theological views. I believe that the Bible is morally authoritative, that sex is for marriage, and that promiscuity is harmful to everyone involved. For many years of my life, I also believed that all homosexual behavior was wrong - whether it consisted of anonymous hookups or committed relationships. I believed, based on what I had read in the Bible, that even the most loving and monogamous of same-sex relationships was evil in God's eyes. But as I studied the Bible, my view on that subject changed. I now believe that homosexual behavior is appropriate within the confines of a committed, loving, monogamous, lifelong, Christ-centered relationship. Essentially, I'm arguing that a Christ-centered marriage is a good thing, regardless of the gender of the people involved.

Ron Belgau, a member of GayChristian.net, believes that a gay Christian must be celibate - his essay on that topic is here. One of his concluding statements is this:
For myself, I finally came back to the view that the Bible forbids gay relationships, in part because though I could see the reasons to doubt the traditional position, I couldn’t see any solid evidence to support the idea that God blesses gay marriages. And the more I sought to find in the Scriptures principles which could be used to support gay marriage, the more I realized that the basic principles in the Scripture for guiding sexual expression would rule out gay relationships.

"United 93"

The New York Film Critics Circle has named it the best picture of 2006. Agree? Disagree? I haven't yet seen it, so I can't say.

Monday, December 11, 2006

2006 [best/worst of] lists *UPDATED*

I love lists, especially the ones that come at the end of a year with a ranking of "best" and "worst." This post will keep track of lists that I've found; it will be updated periodically. No commentary - in this post, at least - will be given on the merits of the lists. If you've seen any that aren't here, please let me know.


THE BEST
10 Best Books of 2006 (NY Times)
Top Ten Books of 2006 (Books and Culture)
2006 LAFCA Awards
Stephen King's Top Music Picks for 2006 (Entertainment Weekly)
The CD's of '06 (Philadelphia Inquirer)
AFI Awards 2006
Best Cars 2006 (CNN Money)
World's Best Awards 2006 (Travel + Leisure)
Best WiFi Hotels 2006 (HotelChatter)
Best Mistakes of 2006 (MovieMistakes.com)

Best Inventions 2006 (Time)

THE WORST
2006's Worst Political Mishaps (c/net news)
World's Worst Polluted Places 2006 (Blacksmith Institute)
Whoppers of 2006 (FactCheck.org)
Worst WiFi Hotels 2006 (HotelChatter)
Worst American Cars 2006 (Forbes)

sun tsunami

That's Cool..... I mean, that's hot. (Call me Paris Hilton)

do you need yardage?

Go ask the Indianapolis Colts for some, and they'll give you lots. They certainly gave a lot to the Jaguars.

James Whitcomb Riley

I visited the burial site of the Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley on, appropriately enough, El Dia de los Muertos. Riley has the honor of being buried at the highest point in Indianapolis, on the grounds of the Crown Hill Cemetery. You'd think that Benjamin Harrison would have had the top spot, but Hoosiers love poets more than presidents. It was very peaceful - and quite chilly - that day.




Riley's most famous poem is Little Orphant Annie.


Very nice view of downtown Indy, isn't it? Nobody was around that day, but there was certainly no spooky feel to my visit. As you can see, there were still many leaves on the trees at that time. That's not the case now. All the trees now look - for lack of a better word - dead.

cry havoc, and let loose the prarie dogs of war

The fight over prarie dogs in Russell Springs, Kansas, has begun.

The Logan County commissioners want the prairie dogs dead. But two ranchers, Larry Haverfield and Gordon Barnhardt, and their allies in two environmental groups want the 5,500-acre colony on their property to flourish, for the good of the land and for the eventual delectation of black-footed ferrets. The ferrets, an endangered mammal, thrive on a diet of prairie dogs.

The ranchers’ defense of prairie dogs prompted bewilderment then anger in this county of about 3,100 people. Here in this red corner of a red state, where the sanctity of property rights is seldom questioned and the sanity of the government is questioned all the time, the prairie dog debate has turned everything upside down.

Some people are demanding enforcement of a century-old state law allowing the county to send exterminators onto the Haverfield and Barnhardt ranches — against the owners’ wishes but at their expense — to protect local property values.

This confrontation is one of several in recent years across the West that pit property owners trying to restore wildlife against local governments who see the actions as a threat to local economic interests. It also reflects the persistent belief in the Great Plains that the prairie dog is not a valued remnant of the short-grass prairie of the past, but a despised pest that eats grass needed to fatten cattle.

Alan Pollom, the director of the Kansas chapter of the Nature Conservancy, called the question of conserving prairie dogs “one of the more vexing problems you can possibly come up with in the arena of wildlife management” because property lines tend to be incompatible with the prairie dogs’ age-old practice of digging new holes and expanding their tunneled colonies across the landscape.
Some of my favorite childhood memories come from the vacations my family would take every year. For two weeks each June, my father's factory would shut down, enabling the workers to have some time off. We would usually go on vacation during that period. We usually went somewhere in the East or South, but two years we vacationed in the West. Although one year was spent mostly in the Northwest and one year in the Southwest, we spent some time in Yellowstone National Park during both trips.

Yellowstone is where I became familiar with prarie dogs. At the time we were there, which would have been around 1982 or 1983, there was a prarie dog town close to the Old Faithful Inn. When I wasn't running around in the bookstore or the main floor of the Inn, I spent time watching the prarie dogs. I found them endlessly fascinating. They didnt' seem to mind living so close to humans, although they didn't like it when I ventured close to their holes. I remember one ranger yelling at me for getting to close to them, but what did I care about some weird adult scolding me? I was in heaven, watching those prarie dogs.

It's been years since I've been to Yellowstone, but I hope the prarie dogs are still there.

Invisible Children

it takes a primary win

I guess since he has a book out and it's flying off the bookshelves and out of the warehouses, she sees the need to put one out as well - even though it's a reissue of one she penned ten years ago, when her hubby was running the country.

I admit: The Wife bought the book when it was published the first time, and I read it. As I recall, it wasn't half-bad and she made some interesting points. She certainly didn't advocate a communist state, as Senator Bob Dole alluded to when he ran against Bill Clinton in 1996.

As for the two senators and their ideas about the presidency, I think we can expect that both will be more active and vocal on the Senate floor than they have previously been. They will want to show that they care about the country.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

for my sister in Florida

I know how you love to look at fall foilage photos (wow! say that three times fast!), so here you go.




Apostle Paul

La Shawn Barber has a great post on the apostle Paul, in which she links to the recent story about the possibility of his bones being discovered.
His letter to the Romans probably is the most important book in the New Testament. The book is short, but Paul teaches great truths about God’s grace and how Christians should live. For example, in Christ, people are no longer slaves to sin or the law, but live under grace. God’s judgment against sinners is righteous. God created government and appointed men over the people, so Christians should submit to the government by obeying the law, etc.

In Romans is where Paul said that believers were “more than conquerors” through Christ, able to withstand persecution because nothing can separate us from Christ’s love for us. Such thoughts leave me speechless.

Amen, La Shawn. Amen.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

living in "A Christmas Story" house

Have you ever watched a movie and found yourself thinking, I'd sure like to live in that person's house?

Brian Jones knows how you feel. He recently bought the house featured in A Christmas Story. While the exterior of the house is as it appears on film, Jones spent $240,000 to make the interior look like it as well. All interior shots in the film were on a stage. Jones charges $5 admission for adults, $3 for kids.

“Now I watch the movie and I catch myself looking at the background for anything we’re missing in the house,” Mr. Jones said.

To make the home feel more authentic, Mr. Jones hopes to install a stereo that recreates the sounds of Mr. Parker in the basement, swearing at the furnace. He briefly considered a Cleveland businessman’s offer to blow artificial smells of food, including Mrs. Parker’s cooked cabbage, through the house’s heat ducts.

Mr. Jones borrowed $129,000 to turn the house across the street into a museum and gift shop. Displays include the comically immobilizing snowsuit worn by little Randy, who famously cried, “I can’t put my arms down!” (NY Times)

Jones and his house were featured in a segment on NBC's Today Show yesterday.

"Striptease, in the way it is practised in this case, is a form of dance combined with acting."

What's going on in Norway? Judges in an appellate court have declared stripping to be an art form, and therefore tax exempt.
The owners of the Diamond Go Go Bar in Oslo had refused to pay VAT of 25% on entry fees as tax authorities demanded. The local authority had taken the club to court over its refusal to pay tax.

Lawyers for the club's owners argued that striptease dancers were stage artists just like sword-swallowers and comedians and deserved the same status.

"Striptease, in the way it is practised in this case, is a form of dance combined with acting," the judges ruled, according to AFP news agency.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Christkindlmarket Chicago 2006

Yes, I went. Here's proof!

The Picasso looms large over Daley Plaza and Christkindlmarket...
As the light dies and darkness crouches in, it all becomes more magical... The Wife makes another appearance on the blog! Here she is, trying to decide what to buy.

Such wonderful aromas... stollen, spiced wine, strudel, sauerkraut, and many other foods and beverages that don't begin with the letter "S."

“I treat everyone the same, and my hope is that they will see in me the love of God.”

Chaplains: not just for the military.
From car parts makers to fast food chains to financial service companies, corporations across the country are bringing chaplains into the workplace. At most companies, the chaplaincy resembles the military model, which calls for chaplains to serve the religiously diverse community before them, not to evangelize.

“Someone who has never thought about this might assume they pray with people, but the majority of the job is listening to people, helping them with very human problems, not one big intensive religious discussion,” said David Miller, executive director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and the author of the book “God at Work.”

The spread of corporate chaplaincy programs, especially out of the Bible Belt to the North, is part of a growing trend among businesses to embrace religion rather than reject it, Mr. Miller said. Executives now look for ways to build a company that adheres to certain Christian values. Some businesses offer Muslim employees a place and the time to pray during work.

Couldn't we all use a little more support at our place of employment?
“We profess to be Christians and we think, ideally, that should make some difference in not just how we live but how we do business,” said J. M. Herr, chief executive of Herr Foods of Nottingham, Pa., a maker of chips and pretzels.

Imagine... a faith that affects all of life.

Monday, December 4, 2006

To: my neices and nephews

I hope I never become the gross uncle.

Don't you dare say that I already am!!

"one town that won't let you down...."

Ah.... Chicago. It's always a treat to visit the Second City. I haven't been there since earlier this year, and I never realize how much I miss it until I return. I live in a big city, it's true - Indianapolis is the 12th largest in population. But, it's got nothing on Chicago. It doesn't have the vibrancy and bustle of downtown... the museums... the architecture... the sense of history. Heck, it doesn't even have an MLB team, and Chicago's got two!

We had a nice time there. We didn't see Wicked, but we were able to visit some old (and new) favorite places. We had an enjoyable dinner at Frontera Grill, one of Rick Bayless' two restaurants in the city. (Who is Rick Bayless? Go here, please). I ate what is quite probably the best - and spiciest - mahi-mahi I've ever had. We shopped in Marshall Field's, which has really suffered with a lack of variety of available goods since Macy's took over - The Wife was especially displeased with their selection of Christmas dresses (she ended up finding what she wanted at Talbot's on the Mag Mile). We spent way too much money in the American Girl store. We had a late-night dinner of stuffed pepperoni pizza from Giordano's. We slept as much as we wanted to, because the girls were with their grandparents.

All in all, a very enjoyable two days.

The Wife was supposed to work Friday, but the office was closed due to snowy weather. Chicago suburbs got several inches of snow, but downtown didn't have much at all. Instead of the ubiquitous Starbucks, we stopped in Argo Tea for some liquid refreshment after an afternoon of shopping. The Wife sipped a Hibiscus Steamer, and I drank a Raspberry Bubble Tea. Delicious! Here's a couple pictures from our time in Argo Tea.



Can you believe it? The Wife actually allowed me to post a picture of her.

"...the Web traditionally has not been organized around geography. It’s been organized around information space."

Want to know what's happening in a faraway neighborhood you're planning to visit, a neighborhood you're prone to haunt, or perhaps your own neighborhood? Steven Johnson has co-created a site that enables you to do just that - outside.in. The New York Times has an article about Johnson and this site, although it curiously provides no direct link to it. Johnson, author of The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic — and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, also created plastic.com. And, he has a blog!

Twenty-three cities are listed so far, but be forwarned: if your neighborhood is a in suburb of one of those cities, it might not be on the site. The cities are Ann Arbor (MI), Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

My town of Indianapolis, currently 12th in population, is not yet on the site, but Ann Arbor is? It's not even in the top 50 of populated cities.

New Seven Wonders

Vote for what you think should be considered the "New 7 Wonders of the World." You can pick seven of twenty-one sites, including the Statue of Liberty, the Sidney Opera House, and the Taj Mahal. The new seven will be announced on July 7, 2007, or 07/07/07 - as they say in clock repair shops, you've got time.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

blogging for political paydays

There are bloggers out there who've accepted money to say nice things about specific candidates. Is this at all shocking? I should say not, given some of the more superfluous and gushing posts there have been out there in the blogosphere about some politicians. (And some of them were about Ned Lamont. Come on, now... will he really be more than just a blip on the 2006 political soundboard?)

Note that four of the people are "diarists" for Daily Kos. How (un)surprising.

(H/T: Althouse)

Pssst... if you're running for office and you want some inexpensive endorsements, email me. We'll discuss it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

the [WINDY] city

There are a number of people in the blogosphere who loathe any post with a title remotely similar to This is where I am right now, but there are at least an equal number of people who do enjoy them. I enjoy them, and I make one now without shame or embarrassment.

I'm in Chicago. That's right, folks - Frank's kinda town. The Wife is here on business reasons, and I decided to tag along. The daughters are in the loving care of their grandmother for the next few days, so we have no worries right now. Okay, we do have one worry - several inches of snow is coming.

It's very blustery here today, which really shouldn't be surprising. The waves on Lake Michigan appeared to be at least ten feet high. We drove up Lake Shore Drive to get to The Wife's office, and we were almost swept away. I kid you not - if The Wife wasn't a better driver, we would surely be somewhere near Benton Harbor, MI, by now.

It won't be all work. We hope to have a bit of fun, which will probably happen tomorrow night. I'll let you know if we catch any shows - Wicked is here, so we may see about tickets.

50 [Lost] questions

IGN examines 50 lingering questions to be answered on Lost. [H/T: Notes in the Key of Life] I know that Lost has many mysteries, but I would have been hard-pressed to come up with 20 unanswered questions, let alone 50, and yet it seems the folks at IGN have done it.

Here's one more that they didn't ask: What exactly is Danielle Rousseau's story? She's been on the island for 16 years. She claimed that she had to kill all members of her team because they became "sick." She's had time to fully explore the island. Wouldn't she know the location of The Others' village by now? Wouldn't she know there's a second island? Wouldn't she have seen Desmond's boat? I think there's a lot for her to explain, and a flashback episode would be revelatory.

Is there a void in your life on Wednesdays's at 9:00PM that even handsome Taye Diggs can't fill? Yeah, there is for me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"O Holy Night"

To hear a most excellent rendition of this classic yuletide tune, go to Denny Burk's blog and give a listen.

Bike Hiker prepares to bike in India

Pastor John Hay, whose blog Bike Hiker is on my list to the right, received a mention in the Indianapolis Star the other day. Read it here. He'll be cycling for six weeks in India beginning December 26, and he hopes to "raise $600,000 for Umri Christian Hospital" in central India.

Update: Bike Hiker asks for one thing from Santa before he departs for India - snow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"The Nativity Story"


The Nativity Story will soon be released to a movie theater near you. As the title suggests, the film tells the story of events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Two of the actors in the film are Academy Award nominees: Keisha Castle-Hughes (Mary, mother of Jesus) and Shohreh Aghdashloo (Mary's cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist). Alexander Siddig, who was Dr. Bashir on Star Trek:Deep Space Nine, portrays the archangel Gabriel.

Will Nativity reach the same crowd that went to see The Passion of the Christ? Possibly.

The Nativity Story is the first feature film to debut at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI was not present. Castle-Hughes was reportedly not invited, since she is pregnant at only 16 years of age.

Christianity Today: Stepping out of the wings.

Father Z enjoyed the film.

Dr. Al Mohler believes it is In Season and On Message.

Jan was disappointed.

Monday, November 27, 2006

about Michael Richards

I really have nothing to add to any conversation about him that hasn't already been said.

But I will remind us of James 3:1-10:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

I realize, of course, James is talking to believers in Christ here, but I think the point he's making about the tongue being a "restless evil, full of deadly poison" is applicable to everyone - and Mr. Richards especially.

10-1

Yep, the best record in the NFL this year. You know it, folks.

So the Colts lost Edgerrin James last year. Big schmeal. We got Addai - and the man is GOOD.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

what does a mega-church do when she's lost her nationally-known pastor?

The Denver Post has an article on the biggest fall-out from Ted Haggard's sins: a flock has lost its shepherd. What happens to a church when the senior pastor is forced to resign? When that same pastor is a nationally-known figure who sometimes speaks with the President of the United States, who will be next?

Just as the country braces for societal changes with the aging of the baby-boom generation, the American success story that is the evangelical megachurch also sits at a crossroads, facing a future without the leaders responsible for its success.

"This will be an increasingly important question," said U.S. News & World Report contributing editor Jeffery Sheler, author of "Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America." "We are approaching a period in the next 10 or 20 years where, for reasons other than scandal, pulpits will be opening up. What will this bode for the ongoing vitality of these strong, growing churches? Will they survive?"

The short answer is ... it depends.

Because the megachurch is a relatively new phenomenon, no empirical study exists on what happens when a founder leaves.

But evidence suggests megachurches that have experienced regime change are less likely to grow and more susceptible to conflict, said Scott Thumma, a megachurch specialist and sociology professor at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.


Interesting... regime change. I didn't know that a church leadership could actually be considered a regime.

UPDATE: Some people looking to pastor a church stop by here - if they're savvy with the internets, that is.

Oh, the weather outside is....

In Indianapolis, the temperature is supposed to reach 63F today and 65F tomorrow with no rain for the next 3 days. What a great way to close out November!

Oh, my! Snow flurries in Orlando!

Look at how good I am!


I'm all for doing a good deed, but should it turn into a photo op? Can you really call shopping - even if the proceeds benefit someone else - a good deed when you're getting something tangible - like a shiny red iPod - for yourself?

I'm suddenly thinking of the first four verses of Matthew 6, part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
I don't necessarily expect Oprah to be aware of this statement by Jesus, but Bono should be since he claims to be a Christian. Bono should know that Jesus isn't saying, "If you're a big rock star, feel free to use your influence,say my name a few times, and talk about how a 'real' follower of Me would take care of the poor. Do it on the red carpet whenever possible!"

Notice this paragraph from the article (underlining is mine):
Some of the media questioned the motives of the celebrities involved — was it more about drawing attention to themselves or the cause? Or is it “cause marketing” at its best, when companies align with charitable campaigns to boost their image? In the end, it’s doesn’t matter. And the brilliance of (RED) is the goods are cool.

Actually - in the end - it does matter. It matters what you do, and it matters what your motives are. Whatever reward Bono may have been seeking, he's already found it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday busy-ness

So, are you reading this after you've been out of shopping? Or, are you reading this because you're avoiding shopping?

I'm still at the in-laws today - if you must know, they live in Danville, IL. I came over yesterday morning after work - yes, I worked in the wee morning hours of the holiday, which is why I have a couple posts yesterday. I have to work again tonight, so I'll be driving back to good old Beech Grove. The Wife and daughters will stay here another night, then return home sometime on the morrow. Today, however, they will be shopping in Champaign, only about 45 minutes away. Champaign is the home of the University of Illinois - the Chicago Bears played games in the football stadium there during the season - a few years back - that Soldier Field was being re-fitted.

Thanksgiving meal was very fine. Plenty of bird and side dishes to please everyone. My favorite side dish were the sweet potatoes with crunchy-oat topping (instead of the usual marshmallow). I had pecan pie for breakfast today, and it tasted even better than yesterday.

I'm reading Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point this weekend, and I hope to finish with it soon. I may post a little review of it next week, but for now I'll be like Mr. Spock and just say this: Fascinating!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

of genes and human things

We are more different than alike!
What have scientists discovered today?

They have found that each of us is more different genetically than we previously believed. Instead of being 99.9 per cent identical, it may turn out to be more like 99 per cent identical - enough of a difference to explain many variations in human traits. Instead of having just two copies of every gene - one from each parent - we have some genes that are multiplied several times. Furthermore these "multiple copy numbers" differ from one person to another, which could explain human physical and even mental variation.

Why does this matter?

One practical benefit is that it could lead to a new understanding of some of the most difficult, incurable diseases. Although it adds an extra layer of complexity to our understanding of the human genome, the discovery could lead eventually to new insights and medical treatments of conditions ranging from childhood disorders to senile dementia. Scientists are predicting for instance that the knowledge could lead to new diagnostic tests for such diseases as cancer.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving in America


Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Some links:

Psalm 95:1-7

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Brownie's accent

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The Inland North
The West
The South
The Northeast
Philadelphia
Boston
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Yes, this fits me to a T. I live in Indiana, but I'm originally from Ohio. Besides being told I have a voice for radio, someone once said I have a face for radio.

I'm interested in finding out how my sister in Florida would do on this quiz. She lived in Ohio for much of her life, except for a couple years in Tennessee in the late 1970s. She's lived in Panama City since Spring 1997, so nearly ten years now. The last time I heard her speak for more than just a few minutes, she had the same accent she has always had (a "Midland" one), except she would sprinkle "ya'll" throughout the conversation.

whose purse was stolen under the watch of the Secret Service?

The President's daughter Barbara. Her cell phone was taken, too.

So... does this mean that the Secret Service protects her life, but not her wallet?

blogging university presidents

It seems that it's becoming vogue for a university president to blog, although it's questionable whether it is true blogging or just PR work. The president at my alma mater does - does yours?

UPDATE: Ann Althouse, a blogging university professor, has lots to say about this article.

the site many newscasters visit

Here

And to think: he's a 21-year-old man going to college and living near Baltimore.

If you think you're too young to do something of significance, think again.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

a blog's value


My blog is worth $33,872.40.
How much is your blog worth?

Sam Harris links


Doug Wilson has written two letters to Mr. Harris, author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. You can read them here: one and two.

Pastor Rich Vincent has a review of Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation, which you can read here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

voodoo against Bush

I don't think this worked. How (un)surprising.

say [no] to abstinence??


Scarlett Johansson has become the latest Hollywood actor to critize President Bush, this time over his beliefs regarding sexuality and abstinence (here). She apparently believes that he is "too unrealistic in his opinions on the topic."

Let's see what she has to say for herself, and then we'll go phrase by phrase in an attempt at translating what she is actually saying. (Hopefully, we won't get lost....)

Here's the statement in the article in full:

We are supposed to be liberated in America but if our President had his way, we wouldn't be educated about sex at all. Every woman would have six children and we wouldn't be able to have abortions.
Now, here we go:

"We are supposed to be liberated in America"

TRANSLATION: We are supposed to do what we want in America (just like they do in Holland!), even if that means aborting children to cover up our "mistakes." So what if we forgot to use a condom one night. We want to experience the pleasure of our actions without worrying about any consequences. America is all about every child a wanted child, right?

"but if our President had his way,"

TRANSLATION: See? I'm being nice. I'm acknowledging him as the President, and not just some dumb Texas cowpoke who had Karl Rove steal the elections from Gore and Kerry.

"we wouldn't be educated about sex at all."

TRANSLATION: Sixth graders wouldn't have sex education classes, and so they wouldn't learn about the proper way to have sex. Plus, no condoms would be passed out in the hallways.

"Every woman would have six children"

TRANSLATION: Women, as a rule, are incapable of showing any type of restraint, especially in regards to sex. If some guy asks for sex, a woman can't help but give in to him. And nine months after they have sex, she'll give birth to sextuplets. This will happen every time.

"we wouldn't be able to have abortions."

TRANSLATION: Like I said, we wouldn't be able to take care of our mistakes.


ALSO: Check out this sentence in the article: "A staunch Christian, Bush is vehemently anti-abortion and is seeking to have the operation made illegal in all US states." Really? How is he doing that, exactly?

MORE FROM: Townhall Blog, Political Pit Bull

Proof that Rick Warren is the latest "evangelical Christian" to suck up to those with political power


Pastor Warren is inviting Senator Barack Obama to "preach" at Saddleback Church on December 1, apparently as part of a service centered on World AIDS Day. I don't know if this is an attempt to form a relationship that he can access if Obama runs for president in two years, or what it might be.

No, this blog will not become consumed with what Rick Warren is saying/doing. I won't promise that it won't, but I'm letting my yea be yea and my nay be nay.

"i'm tired"

No, not me. My nephew. He has a published poem over at The Ooze blog - check it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

i'm bringing this up only because someone would berate me if i didn't


Yes, I know about this.

Yes, I was saddened - but not crushed.

Unless you're a Bears fan, your team hasn't done better than - or even equaled - the Colts this year, so don't bore me with the ha-ha-they-lost comments.

And, no, you don't get to leave a comment here.

''Come on, vamanos, everybody, let's go!''

If you have a child under the age of 9, you've no doubt heard those words sung in your house at some point. They are sung on every single episode of Dora the Explorer, theNick Jr. show that dares explore the world with maps and blue-coloured bulls and monkeys wearing red boots.

The voice of Dora is supplied by a refreshingly-normal 16-year-old girl, Kathleen Herles. You can read an interview with her here.

My 2-year-old daughter is just becoming aware of Dora. She can recognize that little gal anywhere, even on tubes of toothpaste!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rick Warren, priest

Check out the headline for an article on the Syrian Arab News Agency site:
American Priest Says no Peace without Syria

When did Rick Warren start answering to Rome? I didn't know priests could wear Hawaiian shirts...

Warren met with Syria’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Badr al-Din Hassoun. The article states that he "expressed admiration of Syria and the coexistence he saw between Muslims and Christians." I wonder if he mentioned the Gospel at all...

Warren reportedly said that 80% of Americans were against the Iraq War. Really? Where did he get that number?

Toys for Tots says NO to Jesus dolls

I'm with Mark on this.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

confessions of [the juice]

Legendary professional football player, actor, and murderer O.J. Simpson plans to tell how he would have killed Nicole Brown Simpson if he was going to do it.

Yeah, right.... if. Nevermind that he actually did commit the murders of Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Apparently, there's a book coming out, too. He is reportedly going to receive $3.5 million for the book, which should be halved and directly deposited into the Brown and Goldman bank accounts.

UPDATE: I remember seeing signs on restaurants during the trial: Try our O.J. - it's a killer.

UPDATE 2: Sane people have prevailed! Book and interviewed cancelled.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"...a direct reflection of the lack of adequate beds and coordination between the criminal justice and mental health systems.”

Not a very encouraging article from today's New York Times about the situation in Florida of some criminals with mental illlnesses.
In Miami, an average of 25 to 40 acutely psychotic people live in a unit of the main county jail that a lawyer for Human Rights Watch, Jennifer Daskal, described as squalid after visiting last month. Seventeen such inmates are currently waiting for state hospital beds, said Valerie Jonas, a county public defender, adding that the number has been as high as 30 in recent weeks.

Ms. Daskal said that some of the unit’s 14 “suicide cells” — dim, bare and designed for one inmate — were holding two or three at a time, and that the inmates were kept in their cells 24 hours a day except to shower. None of the mentally ill inmates receive group or individual therapy, she said in an affidavit.

Officials with the Department of Children and Families have argued that the agency cannot be held in contempt when it simply has no more beds, and that it could not have anticipated this year’s sharp rise in commitments. In June 2005, they said, only 125 inmates were waiting for hospital beds, of which 38 percent had waited longer than 15 days.

The problem is two-fold: lack of hospital beds, and luck of funding. Space and money - it always seems to come down to that, isn't it? Tragic. This problem is not unique to Florida, and that's the greater tragedy. Ronald Honberg, the legal director for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, believes it to be a "national problem," and he is right, of course.

NAMI has the latest information on Congressional decisions about mental illness research and programs. NAMI also lets you know what you can do.

It appears that one prison resorted to torturing a mentally ill inmate, resulting in death.

Jack Palance


Somehow, I missed hearing about the passing of actor Jack Palance over the weekend. The Wife and I tend to watch Entertainment Tonight, but they've been obsessed with Anna Nicole Smith for the past two months and haven't had the time to "report" on anything else.

Palance is perhaps is most known to the modern audience through his role as Curly in City Slickers, for which he won an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor category. He famously peformed a one-handed push-up when he took the stage to receive his reward.

I most remember Palance through his role as the crime boss in Batman and his years of hosting Ripley's Believe It or Not. Watching that show enabled me to listen regularly to his gruff, smoky and mysterious voice, which melded perfectly with the whole Ripley's theme. I loved hearing him say at the end, "... believe it... or not."

Mr. Palance, you will be missed.



Monday, November 13, 2006

elton on religion

Pop music star Elton John recently participated in a chat with Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters. Much of their talk focused on homosexuality and the music scene. During their conversation, Elton said the following:
From my point of view I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it. I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in Sunday school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book. But the reality is that organised religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.
What seems to be apparent from all this, especially in light of past statements and actions?
  1. Elton believes that one of the biggest wrongs in this world is that there is "hatred and spite against gays."
  2. Elton believes that since religion has historically "banned" homosexuals, religion itself should be banned.
  3. Even though he apparently subscribes to no "organized religion," he is still somehow able to say to a few photographers, "You should all be shot."
  4. Two years ago, he called some Taiwanese photographers "vile, rude pigs." This does not mean, however, that he is a "hateful lemming."
  5. It is apparent that Elton doesn't realize what the teachings of Jesus were actually all about.
  6. It seems that Elton wants everyone to think as he does in this matter, even though those people would then become one of his "lemmings."
  7. Elton most likely "celebrates diversity," especially when everyone thinks as he does.
  8. It does not appear that Elton John has ever demanded - or even merely requested - that he himself be banned.

what NFL team has made history by being 9-0 two years in a row?

Hmmm.... I just don't know.

Maybe.... this one

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

you'd think she'd be celebrating...

No, she goes and does something silly... yet again.

Piper on pdf

Want to read John Piper's new book What Jesus Demands From the World, but can't afford to get it right now? Go here.

NFL power rankings

Notice the team at the top?

theme for yesterday's elections



gone caput ?

Whatever happened to this blog? It started as an interesting idea (although one must quibble with the title of the blog, when one considers that there are/were both Protestants and Catholics participating), it is/was moderated by Hugh Hewitt (genuine "Godblogger" or mere political polemicist? you be the judge), it has/had some intriguing contributors (including one from Indiana! Go, Hoosiers!), and there are/were postings on a somewhat regular basis. However, nothing has been written since May 18, 2006, with no explanation as to why.

My guess is it has bitten the dust. We'll have to see if there is a later resurrection.

Election Night 2006

Even though I didn't - because I couldn't - vote, I watched as much as I could of the election night coverage before I came to work. I'm at work now, that's true, but it's been a slow night so I've been able to ramble around the Internet for a spell.

It's a historic night. The Republicans were the big winners in 1994 with Newt Gingrich enjoying the ride all the way to the Speaker-ship. It seems that Nancy Pelosi is now heading that way since the Democrats have taken the House. She will likely be the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Indiana's Richard Lugar won a sixth term in the Senate - no suprise, seeing as he faced no opposition from a Democrat and little opposition from a Libertarian (he obtained 89% of the votes). Indiana's nine congressional districts now have 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans to represent them. If you want to make an argument that Indiana is become blue-er, go right ahead.

I'm an Ohioan, so I watched the Ohio results with great interest. I went to college in Mike DeWine's old Congressional district, and I voted for him when he became the junior Senator from Ohio. I felt a tinge of sadness when I saw he'd been defeated by Sherrod Brown. It certainly appears that Ohio is returning to its Democratic roots, with Ted Strickland beating Ken Blackwell to become Ohio's next governor (this win seems more like a repudiation of the Taft administration scandals than anything else). I was pleased to see that Mike Turner kept his congressional seat.

Sorry, Kossacks. Ned Lamont beat Joe Lieberman in the primary for one of Connecticut's seats in the Senate, but Lieberman beat Lamont in the election that really counted. I wonder how those in Congress who compaigned for Lamont will act toward Lieberman now. As for Ned, he can go back to living in obscurity - with all his money.

No big suprise that the Governator was re-elected. Perhaps the good people of California didn't want him to make any more movies, so they kept him in office.

Joe Carter offered his thoughts on what may have affected a lower evangelical turn-out.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

State of the Blogosphere, October 2006

Thanks to Sifrey's Alerts for this.

"For Democrats, even a gain may feel like a failure"

That's the headline for an article at the New York Times.
In most midterm elections, an out-of-power party picking up, say, 14 seats in the House and five seats in the Senate could call it a pretty good night.

But for Democrats in 2006, that showing would mean coming up one seat shy of taking control of both the Senate and the House. And it would probably be branded a loss — in the case of the House, a big one.

For a combination of reasons — increasingly bullish prognostications by independent handicappers, galloping optimism by Democratic leaders and bloggers, and polls that promise a Democratic blowout — expectations for the party have soared into the stratosphere. Democrats are widely expected to take the House, and by a significant margin, and perhaps the Senate as well, while capturing a majority of governorships and legislatures.

I'd say that's an understatement. Many of the left-wing and Democratic (not necessarily the same thing) blogs I've seen have been practically salivating at the polling numbers for this election. Enough with the polls - let's see the results.

You remember 2004? When Kerry was supposed to whip Bush over the head with an Iraq-War club, and the Democrats were supposed to take control of something?
These expectations may well be overheated. Polls over the weekend suggested that the contest was tightening, and some prognosticators on Monday were scaling back their predictions, if ever so slightly. (Charlie Cook, the analyst who is one of Washington’s chief setters of expectations, said in an e-mail message on Monday that he was dropping the words “possibly more” from his House prediction of “20-35, possibly more.”)

Some Democrats worry that those forecasts, accurate or not, may be setting the stage for a demoralizing election night, and one with lasting ramifications, sapping the party’s spirit and energy heading into the 2008 presidential election cycle.

i will not do my patriotic duty today

I will not be voting today.

I know... it's shameful to say. I can barely type the individual letters, much less the words themselves.

I will not be voting. I will not be doing my duty as a citizen of the United States.

Here's why:

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I recently moved from Westfield, Indiana, to Beech Grove, Indiana. A few weeks ago, I went to a local bank to put some checks in my account and to withdraw a bit of money. To provide proof of identity, I passed the teller my driver's license.

When the transaction was complete and she returned the license to me, she asked, "Do you realize your license expired on your birthday?"

DOH!!! I didn't realize it. The sad thing is, my birthday was four months ago. I had been driving for four months on an expired license. I had passed countless police cruisers and sheriff cars. I had driven to Ohio and Illinois. I drove to work and around the city. All this driving... on an expired license.

So, finally, I went to the Beech Grove BMV office to renew my license. The BMV worker asked if I wanted to register to vote. I said that I did, and was informed that I had missed the October 10 deadline to vote. Which I knew already.

So, shame on me. I will not take part in this possibly historic election. I will not get to complain about who - and who doesn't - get voted into office in my district, my county, and my state. I will not be able to say, "I helped this person get elected."

Don't be like me. You go out and vote... if you renewed your license on time, that is.

For your reading pleasure.... some thoughts on the election:

Monday, November 6, 2006

Medicare, part D

Is it working?
For big drug companies, the new Medicare prescription benefit is proving to be a financial windfall larger than even the most optimistic Wall Street analysts had predicted.But those gains may come back to haunt drug makers if Democrats take control of Congress this week. Democrats, who have long charged that the drug industry is profiteering at taxpayers’ expense, say they want to introduce legislation to revoke the law that bars Medicare from negotiating prices directly with drug makers like Pfizer for the medicines it buys. Medicare now pays for drugs indirectly, through the private insurers that administer the prescription program — and those insurers typically pay higher prices than government agencies, like the Veterans Administration, that buy medicines directly from drug makers. (NY Times)
I guess the question more to the point is this one: who benefits?
Part D has raised profits for drug makers both by increasing the prices they receive and by encouraging beneficiaries to fill prescriptions they might otherwise have been unable to afford, analysts say. The biggest gains have gone to companies that make drugs widely used by the Medicaid program, which covers the indigent. Poor people over 65, known as “dual eligibles,” previously received drugs through Medicaid.

Drug makers were legally required to give Medicaid a discount of at least 15 percent, and sometimes significantly more, from their list prices. Now Medicaid recipients over 65 are covered through the Part D program, which does not require the same discounts. As a result, drug makers are being paid as much as 20 percent more for the same drugs that they had already been providing to recipients under the Medicaid program.

The biggest gainer, analysts say, is Eli Lilly, which makes Zyprexa. Zyprexa, used to treat schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses, is widely prescribed to Medicaid patients. Lilly, the sixth-largest American drug maker, reported two weeks ago that its third-quarter sales had risen 7 percent, to $3.9 billion, and its profits were up 10 percent, to $874 million, compared with 2005. According to Lilly’s published review of the quarter, the sales gains resulted almost entirely from Lilly’s prices rising 11 percent in the United States, while actually falling in Europe and Japan.

“We are experiencing a one-time sales benefit resulting from a shift of certain low-income patients from Medicaid to Medicare,” a company spokeswoman, Terra Fox, wrote in an e-mail response to questions about Part D. Ms. Fox declined to quantify how much Lilly had gained from the shift.

But Lilly is hardly alone in benefiting. Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, said its sales soared 14 percent in the United States in the third quarter, while rising only 3 percent internationally. Over all, Pfizer said its profits more than doubled, to $3.4 billion from $1.6 billion, though part of the difference came from high one-time charges last year.
Barbara Dreyfuss argues, not unconvincingly, that Medicare part D was rigged from the start by insurance companies.

Andrew Sullivan

I must admit: Andrew Sullivan intrigues me. He is Roman Catholic, and he believes in the deity of Jesus Christ. He is a gay man who supports same-sex marriage. He also claims to be a conservative who actively supported George W. Bush in 2000, although his enthusiasm for Bush's policies have waned of late (to put it mildly). Sullivan's latest book is The Conservative Soul. After years of blogging on his own, he joined with Time magazine to create The Daily Dish.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently conducted an interview with Sullivan on Mohler's radio program. The transcript can be found here. Mohler wrote an article about Sullivan just over a year ago, which you can read here.

Hugh Hewitt wrote a rather dismissive article about Sullivan, which you can read here. He begins with this sentence: "Andrew Sullivan may be the biggest wasted talent in all of the English speaking world." Hewitt also conducted a radio interview - albeit before Mohler - and you can read the transcript here.

Mark D. Roberts has a series entitled Andrew Sullivan, Hugh Hewitt, and Retrofitted Christianity.