Wednesday, January 31, 2007

medical insurance for Maryland

Looks like Maryland is jumping on the insurance for all residents bandwagon.
Maryland lawmakers are drawing up ambitious proposals to provide medical insurance to hundreds of thousands of residents without coverage, stepping into the national debate over who should pay the soaring costs of health care.

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) will call for expanded coverage of the state's 780,000 uninsured -- one in seven residents -- in his State of the State address today, aides said, highlighting a proposal that would bring more of the poorest residents into public programs and require private insurers to allow young adults to remain on their parents' plans until age 25. (WaPo)


I miss this show. *sigh*

My favorite episode was when they showed Teenagers From Outer Space. Nothing is scarier than a giant lobster. There's even a blog for a documentary that's being developed about the film.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hillary to W: Don't be Buchanan to my Lincoln

I know this blog is coming dangerously close to being All Hillary, all the time, but I have to mention this article by Lee Harris on the New York junior senator's time in Iowa this past Sunday. It's too good to pass up. Mr. Harris brings up President Lincoln, which I think no one could ever do when discussing Hillary Clinton, but he does it with aplomb.

a familiar face

For reasons unfathomable, I was watching Bravo's Real Housewives of Orange County the other day, and I noticed that my sister in Cincinnati bears some resemblance to one of the housewives, Jeana.

My sister is not like Jeana, who seems to be obsessed with money and material goods. She also "appeared" in an issue of a certain magazine run by Hugh Hefner, another thing my sister has never done.

being like Jesus

The church had a pastor who appeared more interested in politics than the pulpit. When the congregation had the opportunity, they let the church by the church.

Monday, January 29, 2007

"The Illusionist"

Eisenheim the Illusionist (Edward Norton) sits in a chair on a bare, gas-lit stage in front of a packed audience. His coal-black eyes are mere slits. His brow is furrowed. He seems almost feverish, as if he were about to be in the full throes of a consumptive coughing fit. We see numerous police officers among the crowd, led by Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti). As Eisenheim sits and stares intently, a shadowy image to his right begins to appear. At that moment, Inspector Uhl takes to the stage and proclaims that Eisenheim is to be arrested for threatening the Austrian empire.

So begins the gorgeously filmed The Illusionist. It received an Academy Award nomination for cinematography, and no wonder. At times the film appears to be lit only by the lights of Eisenheim's theatre stage. There is a very specific softness to the scenery, as if you were looking at the world through an 1880's sepia-toned photograph. The performances are softened as well, becoming crisp only when the character wants to get a point across. Although some visual effects are used in the film, arguably the most arresting effects are the eyes of Norton himself. When he commands a volunteer to his stage to look only at him, she has no choice. His stare is so intense that it would be impossible to look at anything else. The score, composed by Philip Glass, completes the film so fully that it seems a crime that it wasn't nominated for an Oscar as well.

The film may be called The Illusionist, but the true focus is on Giamatti's inspector and not the illusionist himself. The events are seen mostly from his point of view. When we learn of what happened in Eisenheim's peasant past and of his forbidden love affair with Countess Sophie von Teschen (a revelatory Jessica Biel), it is because the inspector has questioned countless witnesses. Uhl attends every on-screen performance of Eisenheim, so we see the stage from his vantage. We see Uhl taking command when necessary, and showing obeisance to the conniving and rumoured-murderous Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). Leopold believes Eisenheim to be both a fraud and a threat to his (future) reign, and so he sends Uhl to arrest him. When Uhl finally solves the mystery at film's end, we solve it with him.

It would, of course, be a grave mistake to reveal the central mystery of the film, for that would ruin the surprises. It is safe to say that although the main mystery of the film is solved at the conclusion, The Illusionist leaves plenty for the audience to ponder long after the disc is returned to Netflix.

More reviews:

* Warning: Spoilers ahead*

It is impossible to consider this movie in any substantial way without thinking about the central storyline. Eisenheim and Sophie begin a forbidden relationship while still in their teens; a chance meeting on the street leads to a love affair. Eisenheim is from a poor family and Sophie is an aristocratic duchess, so naturally they are not to forge any form of relationship. Eisenheim leaves Vienna for many years in order to study the arts of magic and illusion. After returning to Vienna to begin performances, he reconnects with Sophie, who is now involved with Crown Prince Leopold. It becomes evident that their desire for one another is as strong as ever, and the two engage in sexual relations (the cinematic equivalent of saying, See? They are in love! They're having sex!).

How do they ensure that they live happily ever after? How do they escape the clutches of Leopold, who has been known to physically assault his lovers and is rumored to have actually killed one of them? They conjure an illusion - fake Sophie's death, implicate the Crown Prince, and reconnect when safety seems assured. Their plan works: Eisenheim's plant of a physician makes the right people believe Sophie is dead; the Viennese crowd, and eventually the police inspector, believes Leopold is responsible; and Leopold commits suicide rather than face the consequences of his assumed actions. Leopold committed grievous sins in his past, yes, and would likely face no punishment since the police inspector "has no authority" in the halls of the emperor, but he did not murder Sophie.

One question to think about is this: what are you willing to do, or not do, for love?

oh, my

If your church is doing a series on sexuality, make sure the ads for it aren't too sexy.

(HT: Challies)

bizarro Wiki

Wikipedia is a useful site with great info, but some of the listings in categories are downright bizarre. Check out the list of names under American Christians, and you will find Moby with D.L Moody just beneath him.

Anyone else find this a bit weird?

Movie reviews

Something that I hope to feature more often on this blog are reviews of movies and books. They may or may not be in the style of a formal review, such as you would read by Roger Ebert or the staff of Entertainment Weekly, but will focus largely on the believability of the actors and their actions, the impact of the movie, and what message (assuming its discernability) it offers.

I will certainly provide some thoughts on current and more recent movies, but I plan to create a category specifically for some more classic movies. This category shall be dubbed Movies I Should Have Seen By Now. As apparent by the title, these are movies that have had some acclaim and have been seen by a wide audience, except by me.

Here are some useful sites if you are a blogger who writes movie reviews. You are probably aware of them already, but in case you aren't, here they are:

the red pill

Anyone who has seen “The Matrix” will remember the moment. Neo stands looking at two pills, one red, the other blue. Morpheus tells him, “You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” It’s a moment of grave decision. Neo swallows the red and his life–even his understanding of reality itself–is forever changed.

And so it is that I now stand with the red pill in my hand.

It’s time for me to confess a 17-year history of depression. Maybe longer. Since it took me a while to realize that I was depressed, it’s difficult to say exactly when it began. I won’t tell you all of the details, because this is my blog and I can say as much or as little as I want. But I will tell you enough.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

what I would want to ask 'Hillary' if I had a conversation with her

Senator Clinton, you recently announced the creation of a presidential exploratory committee, and you have said, "I'm in to win." Just over two months ago, you were re-elected as the junior senator from New York, a campaign during which you said nothing about your presidential aspirations. The other senators who have expressed interest in the presidency, such as Senators Biden and Obama, were elected four and two years ago respectively. If you were to obtain the nomination, you would spend countless days on the campaign trail, far away from the Senate floor. How are the good people of New York, who assumed that you wanted the job for the full six years, not to think that you falsely represented yourself to them when you knew full well that you'd be running for president in 2008 and would only be their senator for another two years?

pork tenderloins and sugar cream pie

The Hungry Hoosier has some ideas on what to serve for your Super Bowl party, especially if you're rooting for the Colts. Go here.

you've been warned

To all my Hoosier readers: can you guess where this warning can be found? Hint: " I know everything there is to know about the greatest game ever invented."

Of the making of many books, there is no end.

Al Mohler discusses the importance of the printed page.

I used to get in trouble in grade school for reading books and not paying attention to the teacher. Tee-hee.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cruise = Christ of Scientology

I just shook my head and thought It figures as I read this.
A source close to the actor, who has risen to one of the church’s top levels, said: “Tom has been told he is Scientology’s Christ-like figure. “Like Christ, he’s been criticised for his views. But future generations will realise he was right.”

10 Greatest Books of All Time

Author Tom Wolfe, who never met a white suit he didn't love, discusses J. Peder Zane's The Top 10. Read the article from Time magazine here.
There are several lifetimes' worth of promising literary leads here—544 books in all. An 85-page appendix providing enlightened summaries of all the works mentioned is worth the price of admission all on its own. But to get you started, here, in all its glory, is the all-time, ultimate Top Top 10 list, derived from the top 10 lists of 125 of the world's most celebrated writers combined. Read it and— well, just read it.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
Middlemarch by George Eliot
I've boldened the two works I've read.

(HT: Joe Carter)

Tony & Lovie

Since I'm a blogger from Indianapolis, I would not be doing my duty if I didn't draw your attention to this article about Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, the coaches of this year's Super Bowl teams.

Some choice words:

Dungy and Smith haven't sold their souls in pursuit of the game's Holy Grail, and yet here they are, reminding us that good men can do great things, that nice guys can and do finish first. Dungy learned from Dennis Green and Chuck Noll and passed it on to assistants Smith, Mike Tomlin, Herman Edwards and Rod Marinelli (all head coaches now) that it's OK to enjoy life outside the facility. Dungy and Smith are family men. And they still win.

You won't hear either utter a word of profanity. And they still win. They care about and foster relationships with their players. And they still win. They serve their communities. And still, somehow, they find time to do what it takes to prepare their teams.

Dungy can -- imagine -- spend the Saturday evening before the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots at the mall with his family. Or Dungy, Smith, Edwards and each of their wives can gather for dinner at P.F. Chang's the night before Dungy's Colts and Edwards' Chiefs met in the first round of the playoffs. And yet it didn't halt the Bears' or Colts' journeys to Miami.

Dungy and Smith are Christian men who serve the Lord first and spend nearly as much time serving their communities. Doesn't prevent them from winning. And often. In just three seasons Smith, last season's Coach of the Year, has helped build the Bears into a league power. Dungy has won more regular season games than any coach since 1999. Where does color factor into that?

Also, read Religion uncovered on the gridiron from the folks at

Update: Even a Floridian loves the Colts, and Coach Dungy in particular.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

When should I...?

Call in sick? Call a doctor? Get to the ER?

T.J. Banes of the Indianapolis Star has the answers to the age-old question, "What should I do if I get sick?"

Well, they're her version of them, anyway. You must use your own discretion, of course.

Academy Awards nominees

Here's the complete list of the nominees for this year's Oscars, but I'll list some of the biggies here.

The Departed
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker, The Last king of Scotland

Penélope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet, Little Children

Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg, The Departed

Adriana Barraza, Babel
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears, The Queen
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Babel
Paul Greenglass, United 93
Martin Scorsese, The Departed

I've only seen one of these films. Can you guess which?

robot presidential potential, no more

Funny first sentences on this article from WaPo: Clinton Dives in Media Waters
With a call to "let the conversation begin," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) fielded a handful of pre-selected questions from voters on her presidential campaign's Web site last night, speaking into a video camera as she held forth on movies ("Out of Africa" makes her top three), her football-fanatic brothers and her "nice middle-class upbringing in a suburb of Chicago."

The effort to "humanize" Clinton, as her advisers have put it, was in full swing just two days into her presidential campaign.

These are here advisors wanting her to be "humanized." Apparently they recognize that she's been viewed as cold and emotionless in the past - except for when she's speaking out against the president and his party - so they want her to be more "human."

No wonder she wants to talk/chat/dialogue/converse. Robots don't do that!

how low can you go?

The president's approval rating is now at 28%, according to the latest CBS poll. Three out of four Americans - presumably many Republicans among them - do not approve of what Bush is doing.

Just so you know, I'm not among the 28%.

Five Streams of the Emerging Church

Scot McKnight has a helpful article on the Christianity Today website, Five Streams of the Emerging Church.
  • Prophetic
  • Postmodern
  • Praxis-oriented
  • Post-evangelical
  • Political

His concluding paragraph:

All in all, it is unlikely that the emerging movement will disappear anytime soon. If I were a prophet, I'd say that it will influence most of evangelicalism in its chastened epistemology (if it hasn't already), its emphasis on praxis, and its missional orientation. I see the emerging movement much like the Jesus and charismatic movements of the 1960s, which undoubtedly have found a place in the quilt called evangelicalism.

Monday, January 22, 2007

taco soup for you

My nephew Adam, a seminary student at Asbury Theological Seminary, was recently able to extend hospitality towards Brian McLaren and Steve Chalke when they came to campus. This is what Adam served them.

Adrian Warnock blogged about Chalke and his book The Lost Message of Jesus way back in November 2004, before many people - including me - started blogging.

of course, she's in

Well, here we have it. Hillary for President

Was there ever any doubt about it, really? Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton - oops! I mean, just Hillary (sorry Jack, no jazz hands) - says I'm in it to win it!

Take a look around the site, and you'll see that she wants to be called "Hillary." No stuffy acknowledgement of her current job. No need to think about her surname, as if anyone could forget. She's Hillary, plain and simple. Well, maybe not so plain and maybe not so simple, but there's a familiarity with calling someone by their first name. It's not cold and detached, but much more intimate and inviting. It's like when you graduate from high school - you no longer have to call your five-years-older-than-you calculus teacher Mr. Garrington, you can now call him Fred because as an adult you're on equal par with him. It's almost as if she's saying, "You know, calling me a senator isn't really so important, now that we've gotten to know each other a bit more. Call me Hillary because we're friends now."

Look at the picture of her wearing a red coat, the color most associated with Nancy Reagan. See how she smiles - so welcoming! She's in a pretty floral couch, sitting by the window, waiting for you to share a cup of tea with her.

And what happens around the tea cups? Conversation! Why, this is exactly what Hillary wants. Read the words....
  • "I'm not just starting a campaign, though, I'm beginning a conversation..." (from the video)
  • "...I want you to be a part of this important conversation..."
  • Hillary is starting the campaign with a national conversation...
  • "Because the conversation in Washington has been just just a little one-sided lately..." (from the video)
  • Soon we'll launch our official blog, a crucial part of our exciting national conversation and the place to go to learn more about Hillary.
  • "Let's talk. Let's chat. Let's start a dialogue..." (from the video)
See? She loves talking! Talk, chat, converse, comment, chew the fat... The thesaurus could give me hundreds more words, but I won't get carried away.

More from Ann Althouse & Mark Daniels & Jollyblogger

cornfield bloggin'

The current issue of INtake magazine (based out of Indianapolis) has a nice section on Indy blogs. You can read the article here. Several of the blogs listed are on my "Indiana" blogroll to the right. Congratulations on the mention, fellow bloggers!

get Tom Brady off the brain

That's what Peyton Manning needed to do to win the AFC Championship. In 2003, he couldn't do it. In 2004, he couldn't do it. Finally.... finally... on January 21, 2007, Manning did it.

How many emotions can you go through in one game? Fear, disgust, anger, anxiety, jubilation. Too many to count. A historic game, indeed.

The Boston Herald puts it as simple as possible: Colts Prevail: Indianapolis 38, New England 34. Sorry, clam-chowder-heads - better luck next time.

Oh, and congrats to Da Bears. It was fun to watch two teams coached by Mike Ditka go at each other, and Ditka's original team prevailed. I lived in Chicago for a short time and The Wife is from Illinois, so I have some affinity for Chicago teams. But, in 2 weeks, I'll be rooting for the Blue and White!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Trumanist Christianity

Scot McKnight asks, Are you a Trumanist Christian?

speaker of the house of style

Nancy Pelosi is creating a lot of buzz - not for her position as Speaker of the House, but for her sense of fashion.

Lauding someone for their style on Capitol Hill is a lot like celebrating the best surfer on Florida’s Gulf Coast — it’s all relative, and some would argue irrelevant. Washington has never embraced fashion (nor, for that matter, has the fashion world embraced Washington), and for understandable reasons. In political circles, fashion is a loaded term, smacking of frivolity and vanity.

So, to a large extent, politicians have been fashion agnostic, sticking stubbornly to their dark blue suits, red power ties, multicolored scarves and lacquered hair.

But with the ascent of Nancy Pelosi, 66, widely recognized and admired for her Armani and easy fashion savvy, the days of the dowdy Washington dress code may be numbered. At least that is the hope of a number of women on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats, who see Mrs. Pelosi, the new speaker of the House, as a fashion leader, too. (NYTimes)
Can she really be a Woman of the People if she's banging the gavel while wearing an Armani suit, clothing that most Americans can't afford?

Even Speaker Pelosi has her limits. Her staff members, after repeated requests, declined to talk about her clothing choices for this article. In a recent interview on “60 Minutes,” Mrs. Pelosi said her husband often buys clothes for her.
This is truly unbelievable. Many men do not buy clothes for themselves, much less for their wives.

Lauren Solomon of LS Image Associates asserts, "You don't have to grow up to look like a librarian, but you don't have to look like a hooker, either." Surely women have more choices than that.

(Photographs by Charles Dharapak/Associated Press; Aharaz N. Ghanbari/Associated Press; Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images; Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images; Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

what kind of intelligence does Brownie have?

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.
(HT: Ochuck)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Review: a Starbucks breakfast

Since I've talked about the growing competition that Starbucks is creating in the breakfast food market, I decided to put my mouth where my money is - so to speak. (That doesn't sound quite right, does it?)

Yesterday morning when I left work, I decided to try a Starbucks breakfast by ordering two of their newest offerings: the cinnamon dolce latte, and an eggs florentine sandwich.

The sandwiches, sent frozen from centralized locations to the stores where they can be heated in ovens made specificaly for the sandwiches and nohing else, come in several varieties. I decided upon the sandwich that seemed to be the healthiest. After all, I can get an Egg McMuffin from Mickey D's with sausage and bacon already, so why not pick a sandwich that has something the fast food joints usually don't: leafy-green veggies.

The eggs florentine is made of one egg, havarti cheese, and baby spinach - all three ingredients are tucked between two halves of an english muffin. It sells for $2.95, like all the breakfast sandwiches. The muffin was as crispy as I wanted it to be. While the egg was fairly flavorless by itself (and what can one expect? The sandwiches are not made to order), the harvati cheese was a great complement. The only disatisfaction was that there were only two spinach leaves in the sandwich. Why be so skimpy? It's $2.95, for crying out loud - gimme spinach! The latte was perfect. Not too sweet, just the right amount of cinnamon...

Were you aware? There's a site that focuses on news and info about Starbucks, describing itself as a site "monitoring America's favorite drug dealer."

Ed Levine has nothing nice to say about the sandwiches.

(Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP file)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Is "destiny" an ugly word?

Pastor Brad Williams says No.

His concluding paragraph is addressed to believers in Christ:
The story of the righteous did not end in Genesis; it continues to this day. God is crafting us into something of beauty, if only we will believe and follow. The story of God's faithfulness in your life is, I am certain, filled with drama, romance, and failure, all upheld by a powerful and loving God. We can be certain that there is always such a happy ending for the faithful, and that even though your life may seem dull and uneventful to you, for the heavenly perspective it is filled with grace and glory. I look forward to meeting you at the end of this journey and hearing the path through which the Savior brought you. There is a seat at the Master's banquet for you, beloved. It is our destiny to be there, to know each other, and to adore the King of Kings.


I'm a Mazda RX-8!

You're sporty, yet practical, and you have a style of your own. You like to have fun, and you like to bring friends along for the ride, but when it comes time for everyday chores, you're willing to do your part.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

(H/T: Cindy Swanson)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Is the dream still alive?

In a recent survey of college students on U.S. civic literacy, more than 81 percent knew that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was expressing hope for "racial justice and brotherhood" in his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. That's the good news. Most of the rest surveyed thought King was advocating the abolition of slavery. (WaPo)

Disturbing news, to say the least. Did you read that this was a survey of college students, not ones in high school? Yeah - college students. Students in university have had nearly a decade-and-a-half's worth of education, and they are still ignorant of something as recent as the American civil rights movement.
The recent survey of college students, conducted by the University of Connecticut's Department of Public Policy for the nonprofit Intercollegiate Studies Institute, suggests that schools are not doing as much as they could to go beyond a cursory history lesson. More than 14,000 college freshmen and seniors at 50 colleges and universities earned an average score of 53.2 percent in the survey.
Don't you want to want to take the survey now, just to see how you would do? It would be interesting to see the average scores from the different universities. What universities did the surveyors visit? Did they go to Ivy League schools like Yale or Brown? Did they visit community colleges?
A danger, educators say, is that lessons about King can become repetitive from year to year, especially when using the same theatrical performances and movies. As a consequence, many students know about King's 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech but not about his seminal "Letter From Birmingham Jail," also written in 1963.

That is why each year Deal Junior High rotates the focus of its assembly , Mosteller said.

An excellent idea. If all the grades in a certain school are going to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. at this time of year, then the grades should impart different information and not just rehash the same thing every January.

One sure thing about this: Parents, don't think that you're off the hook when it comes to educating your child, just because you send them to a school. You do your part.

More from: AnotherThink, Mark Daniels, Taylor Marsh, Mark Roberts, Scott Horton

Saturday, January 13, 2007

13 Photographs that Changed the World


Is there a standout among those 13? To me, #4 is the most shocking because the man holding the gun appears to be extremely casual about what he's doing, but you need to read the story behind the photo. The picture may show what's happening, but it doesn't explain why.


Although I've never watched a single episode, I'm seriously considering watching this season. What can I say, I'm a sucker for anything Regina King is in (except for Miss Congeniality 2).

I wish I could get HBO

Then I'd be able to see Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi.

Yes, the name Pelosi is familiar - Alexandra is the daughter of the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Her film focuses on Ted Haggard, who was president of the National Association of Evangelicals before a gay sex scandal forced his resignation.
“I believe in the culture war,” she said. “And you know what? If I have to take a side in the culture war I’ll take their side,” meaning the Christian conservatives. “Because if you give me the choice of Paris Hilton or Jesus, I’ll take Jesus.”

Ms. Pelosi wrote, directed and produced “Friends of God,” which took her through 16 states and the District of Columbia with a small, hand-held camera. It is offered as a series of snapshots, she said, with a focus on conservative evangelicals, including the ministers Jerry Falwell and Joel Osteen. In the film Mr. Haggard explains the allure of evangelical Christianity and extols the primacy of sex among evangelicals. (NYTimes)

Pelosi also directed Journeys with George and Diary of a Political Tourist.

"Don't let faux Klingons send real Americans to war."

That's insulting. Everyone knows that Republicans are more like this group.

Can you make good decisions for the country if you're single and childless?

I agree with Andrew Sullivan on this.

Consider: if Secretary of State Rice was a single and childless man, would Senator Boxer have said the same thing?

Terrible days in Baltimore history

March 28, 1984.

January 13, 2006.

Vinatieri, you're worth whatever they pay you, and then some.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

the president's speech

To read the speech as the president prepared to give it, go here.

Go here for the Democratic Party response.

Justin Taylor has an interesting spin on President Bush's speech on Iraq, treating it as a Q&A session. Read.

Hugh Hewitt believes Bush was "at his best."

Was Bush scared?

"Abortion is absolutely a political and philosophical issue."

John Rabe disagrees with the late President Gerald Ford's thoughts on abortion (here). You can't give a much bigger cop-out than to say, "Well, I'm personally against [X], but I don't think we have to politicize it. Politics have nothing to do with what I personally believe."

Looking back now on all the coverage about President Ford, the recurring theme driven by Brian Williams and his kind was it's so great that Jerry Ford was such a normal person. Yes, that's exactly what we want from our presidents - someone average. Can you imagine what our country would be like today if the greatest thing one could say about George Washington - or Abraham Lincoln - is how normal he was?

UPDATE: Pastor Mark Daniels has some thoughts about my second paragraph. Welcome, Better Living readers!

egg-and-cheese wars

Mmmm. Looks like breakfast is the meal that many food franchises are focusing on, and Starbucks is joining in. After all, if you can't make money off commuters, students, and moms-who-just-dropped-their-kids-off-at-school out there, who can you make money off of?

Let's take a glance over the article, 'kay?

Last Wednesday at a Starbucks in Times Square, Katie Voss, a nursing student, was drinking one of the chain’s new coffee creations, a cinnamon-flavored low-fat latte. Ms. Voss, who was visiting from Maryland, said she visits Starbucks every day — up to three times a day, in fact — but rarely eats anything.

“I’ve been burned too many times by that pastry case,” she said.

Neither of the whole-grain, trans-fat-free pastries — a cinnamon loaf and a banana muffin — that Starbucks introduced that day were sufficiently alluring to change her mind.

“I try to fill up on coffee here,” she said, “so I won’t be tempted to get an Egg McMuffin before lunch.”

Right away I'm thinking: she's a nursing student, and she can afford to get Starbucks coffee up to three times daily? And, Ms. Voss apparently has eaten countless pastries in the past. How can she do this? Does she have a part-time job? If she does have a job on the side, you know it's off-campus somewhere, because campus job pay is notoriously low. If she only had Starbucks twice a week, think of all the money she'd save for other important college things, like keggers.

Starbucks has realized that it has historically offered only cold breakfast items, like muffins and scones and bars. Now, it's offering hot sandwiches - gussied-up Egg McMuffins, if you will.
The breakfast sandwiches, with upscale ingredients like peppered bacon and sun-dried tomatoes, are being gradually rolled out across the country as part of a concerted — and some say long overdue — effort by Starbucks to improve its food. “We are going to be all about premium and upscale ingredients, bold and layered flavors,” said Kathleen Kennedy, the chain’s recently hired director for food research and development.
You're going to be all about upscale prices to pay for those upscale ingredients, too. You may get some business execs to buy those sandwiches, but I can tell you that college students' tastebuds aren't especially developed (what else can explain all the Domino's Pizza boxes and empty cans of Milwaukee's Best?), so they aren't going to care if the tomatoes are sun-dried and the bacon has some pepper on it.
The bakery items are still produced at about 50 different bakeries, and shipped daily to the stores. Some items, especially seasonal ones like the wintry Cranberry Bliss bar and new ones like last week’s Five Fruit Banana muffins, are made in one or two locations, shipped frozen, and simply thawed before serving.
So that's where the bakery items come from. I'm still upset that the Cranberry Bliss bar is only offered the last two months of the year - who wants to join me in a petition?

blogging tips

The Tall Skinny Kiwi has 15 blogging tips for 2007.

Useful stuff, that.

Mr. Noodle, RIP

When I first discovered the New York Times article entitled Mr. Noodle, I thought they were referring to the character on Sesame Street. However, the article actually discusses the recent passing of 96-year-old Momofuko Ando, who helped to develop a food that can be found in practically every campus dorm room - the ramen noodle.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

gift idea

If any family members or blogosphere friends want to give me one of these, I promise I won't return it!

healthcare for all Californians

Might this be translated into something for the whole country?

Busting Myths about Christianity

Dan Edelen has completed his series regarding ten myths that people often have about Christians and Christianity:
  1. Christians are more judgmental than non-Christians.
  2. Christians are stingier than non-Christians.
  3. Christians are more intolerant of other people than non-Christians.
  4. Christians are more short-sighted than non-Christians.
  5. Christians don't know how to have fun.
  6. Christians despise intellectuals more than non-Christians do.
  7. Christians prefer kitsch over important art.
  8. Christian subculture mimics the world rather than creating anything lasting.
  9. Companies run by Christians are as unethical as secular companies, and perhaps more so.
  10. Christianity causes more problems in the world than any other religion.
Here are the links:

Speaking of Trump...

Has the feud between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell affected their shows' ratings? Some people have accused Trump of continuing this feud in order to increasing ratings for the sixth season of The Apprentice.

The View's ratings are up.

The Apprentice's ratings are down.

Hopefully now, Trump will stop talking about how his show is "the #1 show on television." It clearly isn't.

Monday, January 8, 2007

"This is unheard of."

You're right, of course, Martin. Trump's never said, "You're fired," to anyone before, especially not on The Apprentice.

If you go to the show's site, you'll see that Martin has been dubbed The Philosopher. With him being the first to go, does this mean Trump has no room in his organization for thinking people?

"Plutoed" is word of 2006

Have you heard anyone use this word? Seriously... the word of the year? I get why "truthiness" was the word for 2005 - Stephen Colbert made it famous by his constant use of it, and there's a right, sarcastic tone to it. But, "plutoed?" I just don't hear it catching on...

slice of nonexistence

Hmm.... So they've closed up shop here, huh? The letter from Ingrid Schlueter says they are developing a new format. I'm interested to see what it will become. I'm disappointed that they've taken the site down altogether, as opposed to leaving it up and posting Ms. Schlueter's note, but as always, the people at Slice do what they want.

I've always been of a mixed mind about the site. On the one hand, I appreciated their calls of concern about certain segments within the realm of Christendom, namely their postings on Pat Robertson's supposed prophecies and other such idiocies. Certainly we must look at everything with a discerning eye, including statements of those who name the name of Christ. However, I did not appreciate their broad-strokes attacks on the emerging church (although there are certainly questions to be raised, they must be specific questions), their frequent use of strange-sounding names (e.g., Hollow Men) intended to be insults, and their tendency to post only commentors that whole-heartedly agree with them.

Whether this is all an attempt to disrupt sites like this one remains to be seen. I, for one, am hopeful that Ms. Schlueter's new site edifies the body of Christ.

UPDATE: Slice has been reborn as the much more serious sounding Christian Research Net.


If the church you attend has 2000+ members, it can be considered a megachurch. Check here to see if your church made the list.

let us avoid lettuce

It's not just meat tainted with mad cow disease that you should avoid - it's veggies, too.
Lately, though, produce has caused a disturbing number of disease outbreaks; just since September, bacteria-tainted tomatoes, spinach and lettuce have made hundreds of people sick, and killed three. There have been 20 serious outbreaks in the past decade or so, and many have come from crops grown in California, not from imports. Fruit juices, alfalfa sprouts and almonds have also been involved — all of them supposedly health foods, like salad, the things we feel most virtuous about eating.

The known outbreaks are just the tip of the iceberg, health officials say; far more illness is never reported. Most people don’t call the health department about a few days of gut trouble. The government estimates that over all, food-borne microbes — not just the ones on produce — make 76 million people a year sick, put 325,000 in the hospital and kill 5,000.

In a modern country, a rise in disease caused by tainted food seems like a giant step backward in public health. But there hasn’t been much public outrage or even disgust at the notion of filth seeping into the food supply.

Fast Food Nation, with its revelation of the presence of fecal matter in meat used by many fast food restaurants, caused quite a stir a few years back. (I bought a copy, read it, then went out for a Big Mac.... Kidding, folks. I'm kidding. I read the book and waited, like, several days before I ate a Big Mac.) Now, we should be afraid of lettuce and onions also.
In a modern country, a rise in disease caused by tainted food seems like a giant step backward in public health. But there hasn’t been much public outrage or even disgust at the notion of filth seeping into the food supply.

Among the nastiest bacteria is E. coli 0157:H7, which makes a powerful toxin that can cause severe illness and sometimes even kidney failure. This is the germ found on spinach a few months ago, and more recently on iceberg lettuce served at Taco Bell restaurants. It comes from cow feces and was first identified in 1982. Feeding the animals grain instead of hay seems to promote its growth.

The strain is harmless to cows, but in people it is so dangerous, according to the Food and Drug Administration, that swallowing as few as 10 organisms may be enough to cause an infection. About 73,000 people a year get sick from this type of bacteria, and 61 die, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

a return to ethics? we shall see...

Ethics.... Last year was a banner year for it, was it not? Or rather, the perceived lack of it in certain political parties and camps. Maybe the word wasn't blatantly mentioned at every single loud and confetti-filled political stump, or the not-so-quiet diner breakfasts with small town dwellers. But it was there, just the same. The Democrats used it as a sharp sword, slicing in two those who seemed not to have taken it seriously enough. Bush misled us into war with Iraq! The Republicans are corrupt and scandalous curs, feeding off the crumbs dropped by lobbyists! Jack Abramoff picked up the check for people to go see Nessie! Cheney once - and still probably - had strong ties to Halliburton - and doesn't that just sound like an evil, evil company?!

Well, it certainly seemed to have worked. Even now, the Dems are poised to take power in the House and Senate once again. Nancy Pelosi is all-prepared to accept her new role as Speaker of the House, the first woman in history to do so. What will they do after the place their hands on the Bible - and one Jefferson-owned Koran - and take their oaths today?

On the brink of regaining power after 12 years, House Democrats said Wednesday that they would move immediately to try to sever ties between lawmakers and lobbyists who figured into scandals that helped Democrats win control of Congress.

Democrats, who campaigned relentlessly last year on the theme of a Republican culture of corruption, introduced the proposed ethics rules as part of a week of choreography designed to deliver the message that they did not intend to do business as usual in Washington. In some cases, like restrictions on the use of corporate jets, the rules on gifts and travel by lobbyists go further than what Democrats had pledged earlier. (WaPo)
Yes! A return to ethics in the House. Evil lobbyists be banished - only nice lobbyists need knock on the door! And leave those plane tickets to Aspen at home, please - we don't want them.

The Dems tried to hold a news conference about this return to ethics. They said a few words, but eventually were drowned out by someone who should have loved their return to political might:
While Democrats sought to introduce their ethics legislation at a news conference, the antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan and others interrupted with chants of “Troops home now; de-escalate, investigate.” The scene vividly illustrated the pressure that Democrats will face from the left wing of their party to challenge President Bush more aggressively on Iraq. Ms. Sheehan and other antiwar advocates felt they contributed to the Democrats’ takeover of Congress.

Yes, well... many of you Dems made nice with her. Now it's time to pay the piper, so to speak. Or at least, do what Cindy wants you to do, which is to get all troops out of Iraq yesterday.

Anyway, it's a return to ethics. A return to accountability. A return to congresspeople paying for their own checks at CityZen. We'll see how long this lasts...

BTW - did you know soon-to-be-Speaker Pelosi adores the Grateful Dead? You do now.

Bush hasn't seen Saddam's execution

Isn't this a bit odd? The president's goal in Iraq was to (1) remove Saddam from power and (2) replace his dictatorship with democracy. Since the first happened a couple years ago and the second is unlikely to occur anytime soon, the president doesn't want to see how Saddam's life came to an end? I have trouble believing this.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Pat Robertson: Prophet?

"Prophet" Pat Robertson has made predictions for 2007, including "mass killing" sometime late in the year. Apparently he thinks that God reveals things to him, even though Pat has made false predictions in the past (e.g., a tsunami was to have hit the U.S. last year).

Sign Frank Turk's petition. Who knows what it might do....

it better not bite...

Some of my family members thrilled to the latest Rocky film, but I'm more excited about this movie coming out next year. The movie has been in development for years, but now it will finally be made. Hopefully, we'll see some snakes.

In/Out 2007

As Heidi Klum likes to say on one of my favorite shows from 2006 (did I really admit to that? Shhhh! Tell no one!), "One day, you're in... and the next day, you're out."

Anyway, here's the list.

Also: Here is what you didn't know last year, but now you do.

BikeHiker in India

He's arrived.

cutting the fat at Starbucks

Starbucks is cutting the trans fat? That's good news!

They better never get rid of their cranberry bliss bars. In fact, they should offer them year-round! However, if they did, The Wife and I would probably eat so much it wouldn't matter if there was no trans fat.

Ooo! Someone has the recipe!