Thursday, May 31, 2007

rumble on the plains

A showdown between lions, water buffaloes, and crocodiles:

"They all look like Hummel figurines."

Douglas LeBlanc writes about this list in USA Today.
USA Today’s “Lives of indelible impact” is one of the stranger lists I’ve seen for some time. The concept is not new, as Beliefnet has published its “Most Inspiring Person of the Year” feature for several years now. Within context, the list makes sense: To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the newspaper is publishing 25 lists of 25 items each.

“Lives of indelible impact” is list No. 10, which makes me want to see what else the paper’s editors will enumerate. The first nine lists were of trends, quotes, books, lucrative stocks, NFL draft moments, Internet breakthroughs, public meltdowns (Jimmy Swaggart’s was tops), TV moments and inventions.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

statue at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis

Originally uploaded by Good Brownie
This statue is on the gravesite of poet James Whitcomb Riley

Islam and Christianity

In light of this situation, it is important to consider the differences between Islam and Christianity. I can't say that I've ever read from the Koran, but if someone has, please tell me: is there anything like Romans 12:9-21 in it?

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

From the English Standard Version.

Facts about suicide

Since I work in the mental health field, I occasionally have the inkling to pass on information. Here are some facts you should know.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24.
  • Of the total number of suicides among persons ages 15 to 24, 86 percent are male and 14 percent are female.
  • Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for all American men.
  • Male are four times more likely to die from suicide than females. Suicide rates are highest among white males and second highest among American Indian and Native Alaskan males.
  • Sixty percent of reported suicide deaths among men involve the use of a firearm.
  • Women report attempting suicide during their lifetime about three times as often as men.
This information is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Visit the National Mental Health Information Center here.

Comrades, we're all in this together

Read this, and tell me how Hillary's plan isn't a pathway to socialism.
Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined a broad economic vision Tuesday, saying it's time to replace an "on your own" society with one based on shared responsibility and prosperity. The Democratic senator said what the Bush administration touts as an ownership society really is an "on your own" society that has widened the gap between rich and poor. "I prefer a 'we're all in it together' society," she said. "I believe our government can once again work for all Americans. It can promote the great American tradition of opportunity for all and special privileges for none."
Can I get a witness on this? Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

goodbye, Cindy

It seems that everyone - even the mighty MSM - is talking about this post over at Markos' place. There are some who bemoan her decision to drop out of the spotlight, while many more are castigating her for not doing so sooner. I'm sure it was a hard decision for her to make, and a hard letter to write. It's not like there's a lot of people out there who would speak openly about the despair and heartache they feel at the loss of a child.

Consider this:

The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried every since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.
I wonder if Cindy considers that the way she views her son's death is the way many Christians may think about the work of Christ on the cross. So many people don't believe in Him. His own followers, except for maybe a few women, left him to hang on the cross. People would rather spend time amusing themselves than following Christ's example of "taking up the cross and following Him."

I've never felt anything, really, but sadness and fear for Ms. Sheehan. Sadness about the loss of her son, and fear that she won't be able to see anything beyond that. She seems to have now given up on the one thing that kept her going. Where does that leave her?

(Thanks to Mark Byron for linking to this post. If you haven't stopped by his blog, you need to - he has a great way with words!)

to foreclose, or not to foreclose

Sherri Caughman's story isn't atypical:

Sherri Caughman prides herself on being the kind of conscientious New Yorker who does her homework before making any major purchases. So when Ms. Caughman, 44, a supervisor in the city’s food-stamp program, decided last November to buy a two-family house in Jamaica, Queens, she took a class on buying real estate, researched the property through city records and vetted the terms of her mortgage with her former sister-in-law, a real estate broker.

Ms. Caughman was also counting on help from her elderly parents, who would move into the downstairs apartment and help out with the mortgage on the $515,000 house. But three days after she closed on the house, her parents decided to move back to South Carolina. Suddenly, Ms. Caughman, who makes $40,000 a year, was left to pay a $3,699 monthly mortgage.

“I don’t want to lose my home,” she said, fighting back tears as she picked at a spinach salad in a Long Island City cafe during her lunch hour. But she fears that she will have to sell her house and find a less expensive place to live. “I’m just starting over. That’s the hard part.”

One thing Ms. Caughman could have used more of is perhaps a little common sense. Making only $40,000 a year, how could she realistically think she could afford such a home? Was there nothing else available that cost a little less? I realize that the real estate market is pretty high in New York City, but surely she could have found something in a more realistic range. One thing is sure: her parents' move to South Carolina greatly affected their relationship.

Roland Garros 2007

Roland Garros - or the French Open to us non-Frenchies - started over the weekend. Did you notice? Are you even a fan? I love to watch tennis, but I really don't play. I wasn't all that interested in the French until a few years ago, probably when Roger Federer was just getting started. Speaking of Federer, he has my permission to fall down if he wins it this year. It's the big tournament he hasn't won.

knock me out in the ballfield

It's always nice to see the Cincinnati Reds win - especially over the evil Pirates - but you don't want this to happen. I hope Ryan is okay.

from swimsuit to Armani suit

43-year-old Tom Westman was the winner of Survivor Palau. He proved to be one of the toughest, most competitive, and - dare I say it - nicest contestants in the show's history. Thanks to a bitter Coby, he was one vote shy of being a unanimous winner. Before he spent 39 days on an island, he worked as a firefighter in New York. After his win, he spent some time on the lecture circuit and even did some modeling for Caribbean Joe.

What is Tom doing these days?
From fighting fires in New York City to winning $1 million on the grueling reality TV show "Survivor," Tom Westman has embraced excitement and challenge and tasted fame. But now he's a rookie working in relative obscurity at The Hartford, sporting a suit and tie instead of a fire hat or the shark-tooth necklace he wore in his bare-chested days on "Survivor: Palau."

He's pitching group life and disability insurance to brokers, who mostly don't know - or care - that he skewered a shark with a machete to feed his starving "Survivor" tribe on the Pacific island of Palau.

Why did he take the job?
"I always did feel that there was something else out there," Westman said. "I had a nagging sense that something had missed me, and corporate America is something I wanted to be part of."

How many people do you know decide to enter corporate America because it's something they always "wanted to be a part of?" Ah, well... whatever endeavor you pick, Tom, you've proven that you'll do just fine.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hollywood in Naptown

Every year around this time, several celebrities and Hollywood actors make their way to the bricks of Indianapolis. For some reason, they like to see automobiles go really, reallly fast. This year was no exception - even McDreamy showed up.

Ashley Judd, whose latest movie Bug sounds very intriguing (from a mental health point of view, natch!), likes Indy so much, she decided to stick around for a few days. Why? Her husband, Dario, won a little race you probably haven't heard of.

Memorial Day 2007

From the president's speech:
Today we honor the warriors who fought our nation's enemies, defended the cause of liberty, and gave their lives in the cause of freedom. We offer our love and our heartfelt compassion to the families who mourn them. We pray that our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they made.

For seven generations, we have carried our fallen to these fields. Here rest some 360,000 Americans who died fighting to preserve the Union and end slavery. Here rest some 500,000 Americans who perished in two world wars to conquer tyrannies and build free nations from their ruins. Here rest some 90,000 Americans who gave their lives to confront Communist aggression in places such as Korea and Vietnam.

Many names here are known: the 18-year-old Union soldier named Arthur MacArthur, who grabbed a falling flag and carried it up Missionary Ridge; the Tuskegee Airmen who defended America abroad and challenged prejudice at home; the slain war hero and President who asked that we "assure the survival and success of liberty" and found his rest beneath an eternal flame. Still others here are remembered only by loving families. Some are known only to God.

Now this hallowed ground receives a new generation of heroes -- men and women who gave their lives in places such as Kabul and Kandahar, Baghdad and Ramadi. Like those who came before them, they did not want war -- but they answered the call when it came. They believed in something larger than themselves. They fought for our country, and our country unites to mourn them as one.
Putting politics aside, it's a nice speech and perfectly fitting for a day like today. Still, it's not this - but then again, what is?

who do you like?

I think we've seen this slogan before, but I can't remember where. Ah, yes... now I recall. It was a bit before my time, but I certainly know about it. I even visited his old home.

Friday, May 25, 2007

she's done

Rosie O'Donnell, who said this spring that she wouldn't be returning as a co-host of The View next year, is leaving early. It seems that her spat with the lone conservative, Elizabeth Hasselback,was too much. As you can see by looking here, Rosie has made many controversial statements during her one-year stint with Baba Wawa's crew. She's come a long way from her days as the "Queen of Nice," hasn't she?

Crossway Book Report

The Crossway Book Report has interviews with the authors of several newly published books. I'm probably most excited about Mark D. Robert's book.

(Thanks, Justin)

30 years ago today...

My love affair began.

Related: A blog-a-thon!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

death by broccoli

I've always respected vegetarians, but I've thought of veganism as ridiculous extremism. Now, there's a good reason to fear veganism: it can kill you.

"I'm New Jersey governor John Corzine, and I should be dead."

We have to go back!

***** Spoils abound here, so don't read if you haven't seen the finale *****

Lost continues to deliver explosive series finales. This time it was literally explosive, as Sayid, Jin, and Bernard attempted to foil the Others' abduction plans by blowing them off the island. The episode proved to be a game-changer, indeed - Jack's flashbacks were actually flash-forwards, and we see his meltdown following his return from the island.

What does this mean for season 4? Will we have more flash-forwards? Will we see how Jack and Kate (and presumably other Lostaways) leave the island? Will we find out who was in the coffin that nobody, except Jack, cared to see? Will Jack shave off his beard?

Some things to ponder:
  • Walt has aged quite a bit in the past year, hasn't he? Was he really there on the island - experiencing being in two places at once, as Ms. Klugh discussed - or was he just one of Locke's visions?
  • Speaking of Locke, Ben didn't seem all that surprised that he showed up. Ben even urged Locke to shoot Jack, but Locke being who he is couldn't kill someone he knows. Stabbing Naomi was no big deal, so he had never met her.
  • Was Naomi - and her cohorts on the boat - a "bad" person or not? She said on a previous episode that she had never met Penny, and Penny told Charlie before he swam with the fishes that she hadn't heard of Naomi.
  • I hope that Charlie's sacrifice proves not to be in vain.
  • If Naomi and her gang are bad, what does Ben know about them? Why couldn't he blurt out who they really are?
  • It was sad to see Tom (but not Charlie, really) go the way of Boone/Shannon/Ana Lucia/Libby. He was the face of the Others - Mr. Friendly, or Zeke if you prefer - for a long time. Rather fitting that Sawyer would ensure Tom met his demise.
  • How the mighty have fallen. Ben has gone from being the unquestioned, all-knowing leader of the Others, to Lostaways captive whose many lies (both to the Lostaways and his own people) have been discovered. And, he gets a bloody face to boot.
  • Throughout the flashforwards, Jack spoke about his father Christian as if he were alive. During season 1, Jack found his father's coffin and discovered it was empty. Is Christian truly alive?
  • The 1st and 2nd season finales focused on what would be the prevailing theme for the next season. The 1st season ended with Locke and Jack staring down into the hatch - we got to know all about that hatch, and the existence of other hatches, during the 2nd season. The 2nd season ended with several main Lostaways in the hands of the Others, and the 3rd season focused on who the Others are and what their lives are like. Will the 4th season focus on Naomi's compatriots, and Jack and Kate's return to the civilized world? We'll have to wait until 2008 to find out...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Al Gore's office

Does your office look like this? It makes me wonder what the desk in the Oval Office would have regularly looked like had the Supreme Court handed him the presidency in 2000.


That's how much it costs to buy a gallon of gas - regular unleaded - in Beech Grove these days. The national average is $3.22. What does it cost in your hometown?

my title

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
His Grace Lord Matthew the Sonorous of Porton Down
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

what are we doing in Iraq?

President Bush and his senior military and foreign policy advisers are beginning to discuss a "post-surge" strategy for Iraq that they hope could gain bipartisan political support. The new policy would focus on training and advising Iraqi troops rather than the broader goal of achieving a political reconciliation in Iraq, which senior officials recognize may be unachievable within the time available.

... beginning to discuss... training and advising Iraqi troops...

Shouldn't have this been happening already? Let's send the troops first, and then discuss what they'll do. Does this make any sense? Short answer, no.

treating depression leads to a longer life

From the Grey Lady:
Treating depression in older adults may be a life-saving intervention, a new study suggests. It has been known for some time that depressed people are more likely to die, but it has never been clear that treating their depression would help extend their lives.

Researchers studied 1,226 patients over 60 in the care of general practice doctors; of those, 599 met the diagnostic criteria for either major depression or clinically significant minor depression. The researchers randomly assigned about half the patients to a depression treatment program within the general practice that included psychotherapy and drugs. The study was published in the May 15 issue of The Annals of Internal Medicine.

The scientists found no difference in the survival of people with minor depression in the treated or untreated groups. But after controlling for age, sex, smoking status, education level and current physical illnesses, people with major depression who were treated were about half as likely to die during a five-year follow-up as those who were left untreated. For reasons that are unclear, the reduction in deaths seemed to come almost entirely in the group of patients who had cancer.

the power of story

For more than a century, researchers have been trying to work out the raw ingredients that account for personality, the sweetness and neuroses that make Anna Anna, the sluggishness and sensitivity that make Andrew Andrew. They have largely ignored the first-person explanation — the life story that people themselves tell about who they are, and why.

Stories are stories, after all. The attractive stranger at the airport bar hears one version, the parole officer another, and the P.T.A. board gets something entirely different. Moreover, the tone, the lessons, even the facts in a life story can all shift in the changing light of a person’s mood, its major notes turning minor, its depths appearing shallow.

Yet in the past decade or so a handful of psychologists have argued that the quicksilver elements of personal narrative belong in any three-dimensional picture of personality. And a burst of new findings are now helping them make the case. Generous, civic-minded adults from diverse backgrounds tell life stories with very similar and telling features, studies find; so likewise do people who have overcome mental distress through psychotherapy.

Every American may be working on a screenplay, but we are also continually updating a treatment of our own life — and the way in which we visualize each scene not only shapes how we think about ourselves, but how we behave, new studies find. By better understanding how life stories are built, this work suggests, people may be able to alter their own narrative, in small ways and perhaps large ones. (NY Times)
We all have a story to tell, but we don't all tell it the same way.

In broad outline, the researchers report, such tales express distinctly American cultural narratives, of emancipation or atonement, of Horatio Alger advancement, of epiphany and second chances. Depending on the person, the story itself might be nuanced or simplistic, powerfully dramatic or cloyingly pious. But the point is that the narrative themes are, as much as any other trait, driving factors in people’s behavior, the researchers say.

“We find that when it comes to the big choices people make — should I marry this person? should I take this job? should I move across the country? — they draw on these stories implicitly, whether they know they are working from them or not,” Dr. McAdams said.

What's your story?

I have you now...

Just for fun, I was browsing around Kos' site. I stumbled upon this post, written by the man himself. He has apparently outlined his strategy for the Dems to beat the GOP'ers next year - Videotape everything they do. Let's take a look, shall we?
Every appearance by a top Republican official or candidate should be recorded. Every one of them.

All it takes is one "Macaca" incident to transform a race or create one where one didn't exist. As the Montana incident blogged earlier today showed, a video can knock out prospective candidates before they even enter.

And this is no longer about finding one big blunder to put on a campaign commercial. It's about using video and (free) technologies like YouTube to build narratives about opponents, using their own words, at their own events.

It's never too early to start.

We've got a long, difficult slog ahead of us next year. The more material we amass today, the better we'll able to use that video to support our efforts next year.
Brilliant. Nevermind that Democrats say - and do - stupid things during a campaign (remember this?). Also, nevermind about videotaping any Democratic candidate - give them a free pass. Make any excuse for a blunder (e.g., he was tired, she was talking about something else entirely, he was misinterpreted). Ignore any problem. Misdirection is your friend and ally.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"What is the mystique of this oval..."

Pastor John Hay, a fellow Indy resident, has written a poem in celebration of the Indy 500 race.

new breed of Evangelicals?

Many people are talking about this article in today's New York Times, and I suppose it's for a good reason: with the death of Jerry Falwell, it's now hard for the main-stream media to point out someone as the face of Evangelicalism. Billy Graham is someone the MSM has recognized in the past, but he seems to be less mentioned the older he gets. Billy's son Franklin has obtained some prominence, especially in regards to his work with Samaritan's Purse, but he has nowhere near the star power his father once had. Pat Robertson, who thought seriously about seeking the presidency in 1988, has been ignored by most people in the Evangelical community.

Nowadays, the MSM looks at pastors of megachurches and authors on best-seller lists:
Typified by megachurch pastors like the Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., and the Rev. Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago, the new breed of evangelical leaders — often to the dismay of those who came before them — are more likely to speak out about more liberal causes like AIDS, Darfur, poverty and global warming than controversial social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. But the conservative legacy of the religious right persists, and abortion continues to be a defining issue, even a litmus test, for most evangelicals, including younger ones, according to interviews and survey data.

Are these people advancing causes like AIDS, Darfur and poverty because the Bible commands to be concerned about such issues? Or are they doing so because they want to seem cool and progressive?

Not everyone, of course, believes that the political arena is the best place to live out the Christian faith.
Gabe Lyons, 32, is emblematic of the transformation among many younger evangelicals. He grew up in Lynchburg, Va., attending Mr. Falwell’s church. But he has shied away from politics. Instead, he heads the Fermi Project, a loose “collective” dedicated to teaching evangelicals to shape culture through other means, including media and the arts.

“I believe politics just isn’t as important to younger evangelicals as it has been for the older generations because we recognize from experience that politics does not shape the morality of a culture,” he said. “It simply reflects what the larger culture wants.”

What the article doesn't mention is what the main goal of Evangelicalism should be: the preaching of the Gospel. The radical idea that Jesus, God in the flesh, came to seek and save those who are lost.

the U.S. Civil War in 4 minutes

Utterly fascinating. And again, thanks to Metafilter.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Center for Bioethics at Cedarville University

A recent newspaper headline reads: "Researchers extract stem cells from human amniotic fluid." The article explains that scientists obtained stem cells from human amniotic fluid without harming the child or its mother. The extracted cells were then grown into other highly specialized tissues, including brain cells, liver cells, and bone. So goes the weekly stream of news concerning life issues with ethical implications.

How should Christians respond? Should we embrace those breakthroughs with few ethical concerns, or should we condemn them as violations of the sanctity of life? What is the science involved? What does Scripture teach?

To engage complex questions like these from a biblical perspective, Cedarville University launched the Center for Bioethics in October 2006. The Center influences students, leaders, healthcare professionals, and the general public through sound biblical scholarship, compelling presentations, and cultural engagement on key issues in bioethics.

The development of the Center for Bioethics is a natural outgrowth of Cedarville's outstanding academic reputation in the sciences, our commitment to biblical integration, and our desire to engage the culture with the heart and mind of Christ.

The Center is funded solely by individuals and organizations who share the vision of bringing a Christian perspective to this dialogue and who partner with us through prayer and financial support.

To learn more about the Center and how you can be involved, visit

This information taken from the Cedarville University Torch, Spring-Summer 2007, pp. 16-17

she's in!

Milka Duno has become the third woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. She holds the 29th spot, behind other female competitors Danica Patrick (8th) and Sarah Fisher (21st). Congratulations, Milka!

"rich bloggy goodness" blogging

Tim Challies, who runs one of my most favorite blogs, has a series on blogging and the blogosphere.

And to think - he's a Canuck! (Just a loving jab, Tim!)

"...a great way to talk to children about God is through the wonder of his creation."

At the River Oaks Community Church in Carmel, Indiana, a little creativity goes a long way. I've seen this kind of art work done in many churches, including my own.

(Thanks, Indy Christian)

Friday, May 18, 2007

"The fact is... we're all really Church Ladies at heart."

Dr. Al Mohler muses about the film industry, the tobacco industry, and our own personal moralities.

"It's like a cult."

People love a house by Sears.

Related: Ah.... owning a second home can be such tyranny. I wouldn't know about that, but my sister who lives near Cincinnati does - she has a second home in Panama City Beach, Florida. Would she care to comment about what it's like?

an "evangelical leader" likes Fred Thompson

Who is the unnamed person mentioned in this article?
The Brody File just got off the phone with a prominent Evangelical leader who has come to know Fred Thompson. He told me that he's very impressed with him and so are other Evangelical leaders. This leader didn't want to be identified because now is not the time to go public but suffice to say that he seems to be on board with the Fred Thompson campaign.
I'm guessing James Dobson. He clearly doesn't care for Giuliani.

some presidential history...

Which administration has been viewed as the most corrupt?

Hint 1: I'm referring to a Republican administration.
Hint 2: It's not the current one.

I'm no Michael Moore fan but...

I've only watched one of Michael Moore's films, the Academy Award winning Bowling for Columbine. While I thought it raised some interesting ideas about our country and its (seemingly) obsessiveness with firearms, I thought it fell short in many areas. His interview with Marilyn Manson about Columbine was particularly maddening. I haven't viewed Fahrenheit 9/11, but I've heard and read so much about it, I don' t see the need to.

I truly hope Sicko is good. I expect it to be provactive, like his other films. I guess I'm most excited because I work in the healthcare industry, so it's something I'm greatly concerned about.
The movie, screened for TIME, is double-barreled Moore, a mix of familiar numbers (47 million uninsured Americans, the ever rising cost of care) and chilling moments (the 18-month-old baby who dies of a seizure when she’s denied emergency-room access, the husband and father with kidney cancer whose insurer won’t pay for a bone-marrow transplant). Together, they will have many moviegoers angry enough to gouge holes in their armrests. (Source)
I wonder if the film shows which hospital denied access to the baby with a seizure. I can tell you for certain that many hospitals aren't like this. At the hospital where I work, no one is denied care in the emergency room, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

100 Movies. 100 Quotes. 100 Numbers.

(Thanks, Metafilter)

If you must know, here is the complete list of movies.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

health care warranty

Intriguing proposition:
What if medical care came with a 90-day warranty? That is what a hospital group in central Pennsylvania is trying to learn in an experiment that some experts say is a radically new way to encourage hospitals and doctors to provide high-quality care that can avoid costly mistakes. The group, Geisinger Health System, has overhauled its approach to surgery. And taking a cue from the makers of television sets, washing machines and consumer products, Geisinger essentially guarantees its workmanship, charging a flat fee that includes 90 days of follow-up treatment. Even if a patient suffers complications or has to come back to the hospital, Geisinger promises not to send the insurer another bill.

Geisinger is by no means the only hospital system currently rethinking ways to better deliver care that might also reduce costs. But Geisinger’s effort is noteworthy as a distinct departure from the typical medical reimbursement system in this country, under which doctors and hospitals are paid mainly for delivering more care — not necessarily better care.

Will this endeavor help to deliver better care? It looks like they have a system in place:
In reassessing how they perform bypass surgery, Geisinger doctors identified 40 essential steps. Then they devised procedures to ensure the steps would always be followed, regardless of which surgeon or which one of its three hospitals was involved.

From screening a patient for the risk of a stroke before surgery, to making sure the patient has started on a daily aspirin regimen upon discharge, Geisinger’s 40-step system makes sure every patient gets the recommended treatment.

the reason why I don't regularly watch "American Idol"

What happened last night was a travesty. I wish the person all the best, though!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What's God got to do with politics?

Here is the transcript from tonight's Larry King Live. The panel was composed of Al Mohler, David Kuo, Jim Wallis, Barry Lynn, and David Gergen.

Jerry Falwell 1933-2007

He was found this morning in his office. I saw him once, when I was driving around Liberty University with some friends; he was getting into an SUV with Doug Oldham. I wasn't a fan, but I know several people who have been affected and felt ministered to by him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family - lineal, church and colleagiate - at this time.

Dr. Al Mohler has a nice eulogy on the man from Lynchburg. Skip the comments, though. It's amazing what people will write when they sit alone in their homes, typing on their computers Statements have been made that people would not say in public, face-to-face meetings. I seriously doubt the vast majority of the vicious comments would be said in person to family members and friends of Falwell.

More: Falwell was a fundamentalist.

Also: Larry Flynt, creater of Hustler, issued this statement:
The Reverend Jerry Falwell and I were arch enemies for fifteen years. We became involved in a lawsuit concerning First Amendment rights and Hustler magazine. Without question, this was my most important battle – the l988 Hustler Magazine, Inc., v. Jerry Falwell case, where after millions of dollars and much deliberation, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in my favor.

My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. He would visit me in California and we would debate together on college campuses. I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling.

The most important result of our relationship was the landmark decision from the Supreme Court that made parody protected speech, and the fact that much of what we see on television and hear on the radio today is a direct result of my having won that now famous case which Falwell played such an important role in.

a closer view of the beast

Capgras syndrome

Capgras syndrome is the belief that a loved one has been replaced by someone who looks, sounds, and acts just like him/her. Tony Rosato, a former Saturday Night Live cast member, has been diagnosed with it.

You could work in the field of mental health for years, and still learn something new.

(HT: Metafilter)

the shape we're in

Once again, Time magazine has revealed the 100 people whom the editors perceive as most influential in the world right now. They are broken into five supposedly distinct categories: Artists & Entertainers, Scientists & Thinkers, Leaders & Revolutionaries, Builders & Titans, and Heroes & Pioneers. I say supposedly because in last year's issue there was much cross-over, especially between the artists/entertainers and everyone else.

Let's take a closer look at some of those who showed up in the categories, shall we?

Artists & Entertainers
  • Justin Timberlake brought the sexy back... whatever that means. I just don't get his appeal.
  • Martin Scorsese won an Oscar many believe was long overdue. I've had The Departed for about a month now - still haven't watched it.
  • America Ferrera is no ugly betty.
Leaders & Revolutionaries
  • Tzipi Livni has the best name. She previously advised Ariel Sharon.
  • Omar Hassan al-Bashir is the dictator of the Sudan and the butcher of Darfur. He's proof that it's not just good people who make the list.
  • Omigoodness, Hillary is here? Shocked! Shocked, I am! And, yes, her main rival made it, too.

Heroes & Pioneers

  • Oprah gets in this category for opening a girl's school in Africa.
  • Drew Gilpin Faust is the first female president of Harvard - you know, where Elle Woods attended law school.
  • Tony Dungy was the first African American coach to take his team to the Super Bowl. Hmmm... where is that team from?

Scientists & Thinkers

Builders & Titans

  • Pony Ma is the main Internet guy in China.
  • Lakshmi Mittal runs the world's largest steel company.
  • Rhonda Byrne wrote a little book that Oprah loved, sparking a phenomenon. Not necessarily a good thing, because the book offers nothing that hasn't been said before.

Surely there are some religious leaders sprinkled around, right? Let's see:

  • Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria for the Anglican church - sharp critic of the Episcopal Church
  • Benedict XVI, Pope of the Roman Catholic Church

So... two. Two religious leaders. Both Christians - no Jews, no Muslims, no Hindus. Interesting...

Here is last year's post about the Time 100 issue of May 2006.

a "Brokeback" education

I guess this is what happens when you confuse a classroom with Las Vegas. An eighth-grade substitute teacher decided to show the film Brokeback Mountain to her students, setting off a controversial firestorm. She told her students, "What happens in Ms. Buford's class stays in Ms. Buford's class," but some of them thought otherwise.

A girl and her grandparents have sued the Chicago Board of Education, alleging that a substitute teacher showed the R-rated film "Brokeback Mountain" in class. The lawsuit claims that Jessica Turner, 12, suffered psychological distress after viewing the movie in her class at Ashburn Community Elementary School last year.
While films certainly have a place in the education of students, there is no reason to show a sexually explicit, R-rated film to a class of kids who are many years under the age limit of 17, whether it focuses on a homosexual relationship or not. Students' family members have every right to be upset by this.

And, really, what was the psychological distress the grandparents are talking about here? Did she wake up at night, screaming? Did she start having anxiety attacks whenever she saw a man wearing a cowboy hat? I'm not being frivilous here. These are important questions to ask in order to assess the level of trauma experienced.
"It is very important to me that my children not be exposed to this," said Kenneth Richardson, Turner's guardian. "The teacher knew she was not supposed to do this."

What shouldn't the children be exposed to? R-rated movies? Movies centered around a homosexual relationship? Movies with curse words? What does Richardson mean?

Another curious thing that isn't mentioned in the article is the reason behind showing this particular movie. Did the teacher have some kind of agenda, desiring to preach the virtues of tolerance and understanding? Did she want to teach the belief that love doesn't hold to any particular gender? Did she just have a crush on Jake Gyllenhall? The article doesn't say.

in honor of the recent Mother's Day...

I'll point you to an example of the complete opposite of a good mother.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Comedy comes to Friendship Church

If you live inthe Cincinnati area and you have this Saturday evening (May 19) free, consider attending this event. It's at the church pastored by blogging friend Mark Daniels.

is God not great?

Christopher Hitchens' new book, God is Not Great, received a review in the New York Times, which you can read here.

Theologian and blogger Doug Wilson and Hitchens are having a lively debate, courtesy of Christianity Today. They are responding to the question, "Is Christianity good for the world?" You can read part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Wilson's site is Blog and Mablog.

dumb ideas in crime

A men was sentenced to prison for faking mental retardation and accepting disability payments. What busted him? He didn't behave as if he was developmentally disabled when he went to court for a traffic violation.

The article mentions that he began receiving benefits when he was 8 years old. There must have been something going on with him to receive benefits at that age, because it's highly unlikely an 8-year-old would be sophisticated enough to keep up such a ruse for years.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

a winter wonderland

It shot up to the mid-80's today, so it's nice to take a look back - four months ago - to see what the outside world was like then:
My youngest daughter enjoys being outside, any time of the year.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

a human Lincoln

I'm currently reading Joshua Shenk's Lincoln's Melancholy, a fascinating account of the depressive periods our 16th president often experienced. I'll talk about it more fully once I complete the book, but for now I want to mention some things I hadn't known about Lincoln before.
  • He proposed to several women - and was rejected - before marrying Mary Todd
  • He loved to tell stories and jokes, particularly "dirty" ones
  • He enjoyed reading poetry that focused on death and loss
  • He liked popcorn and oysters

Friday, May 11, 2007

in the locker room

For some time now, I've been going to a local YMCA to work out. Like many people, I use the facilities to clean up - I don't like to drive home sweaty. Unlike some of the other Y's in the Indy area, the one I use now has no 'privacy barriers' in the shower area. Although I've never measured them so I can't be sure, the shower spickets seem to be about 18 inches apart. This means that if I was so inclined (and I'm not), I could reach out and... well, you know the rest of the line so familiar to telephone users.

I will admit that I don't really have a problem with this set-up, which is different from saying anything remotely like I'm glad it's this way. I don't really think about what I do there. I go to the locker, I remove my clothes, I put a towel around my wait, I walk to the shower area and do what I have to do, I put my towel back around my waist, I walk back to my locker, and I dress. No big deal.

What I do have a problem with is the presence of other guys there. Specifically, the guys who act like the shower facility at the local YMCA - which anyone can join if they have the money - is their own personal bathroom. You people who use the Y (or some other gym-type place) know what I'm talking about - the guys who act as if they are in a nudist colony. I'm sure there are some women who do this, but I'm willing to bet that their numbers don't compare to the men.

The guy who enters the sauna with a towel, lays it on the bench and sits down. The guy who flatly ignores the sign about wearing a swimsuit in the whirlpool. The guy who prefers to shave au natural. The guy who walks to the shower area with a towel around his neck instead of his waist... something I really don't get.

These are the men I'm talking about. If you're guilty of this behavior, please stop. You're in an area where there's going to be nudity, including your own. But you don't have to act like you're the only one there. A little cover-up goes a long way.

the beast at peace

This photo shows two of Angel's favorite activities at once: chewing a rawhide bone and being on our couch.

"happy" brownies

I've eaten my fair share of brownies, but I've never had one with marijuana. Some people do find enjoyment in them - even cops.

(HT: Althouse)

my home

This was taken last fall, shortly after we moved to the area:
It is certainly not how things look around here now.

Chocolate crunch brownies

Every so often, I feel the need to post something that's truly brownie-related. Here's a nice recipe for you, from The Wife's family cookbook.

4 eggs
1 cup butter (you could use margarine, but why would you do that?)
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 cup flour
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli works especially well...)
3 cups Rice Krispie cereal

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar; add eggs. Stir in cocoa, flour, vanilla and salt. Spread onto a greased 9X13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until brownies test down. Cool. Spread marshmallow creme over cooled brownies. In a small saucepan, melt peanut butter and chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in the cereal. Spread over marshmallow layer. Chill before cutting. Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

fire hydrant

It's funny how you can find something beautiful in the mundane and seemingly-ugly:

you got to know when hold 'em, know when to fold 'em...

Tony Blair has picked his time to walk away - or run, if you prefer - from 10 Downing Street: June 27.

He came to power in 1997, and proved to be very valuable to England when she lost one of her biggest stars - Diana, Princess of Wales. Calling her "the people's princess," he accurately judged the mood of the nation when the House of Windsor did not. Ten years later, he's stepping down after taking some hard knocks for his stance on Iraq.

He will stay on in Downing Street until the Labour Party elects a new leader - widely expected to be Gordon Brown.

Mr Brown, who is expected to launch his leadership campaign on Friday, paid tribute to Mr Blair, saying: "I think I spoke for millions when I said at Cabinet today that Tony Blair's achievements are unique, unprecedented and enduring."

He said people would remember "how he led the country after 7 July, how he responded for the world after 11 September in America, how he responded to the tragic death of Princess Diana".

Related: Five Americans who changed Tony Blair

More: The Blair era ends

suicide food

As a mental health worker, I find this site utterly appalling. As a carnivore, I find it... deliciously appealing.

(H/T: MSNBC's Test Pattern)

Help me....

No, I haven't seen "The Man Behind the Curtain" yet, but I did read the synopsis of the episode at MSNBC and Wikipedia. (I know. It's pathetic, really, that I can't wait a few hours to watch it for myself - I have to find out what happened.) I also went to here for the pictures of the real man behind the curtain.

If you haven't watched it yet and don't know what happened, please stop reading now. As they say, here come the spoilers. *******

Come now. Do you truly believe this is the end of John Locke? He is probably the most pivotal character to the show. He was the original man of faith on the island, even before Eko came along. He really isn't going to be relegated to the Lostaway graveyard, like Boone, Shannon, Ana Lucia, and Libby, is he? The island has such a hold on him, both mentally and physically - it has seemingly given him the power to walk again. Why on earth would we think this is the end of him?

Ben shooting Locke? No shock here if you've been paying attention to how the series has been unfolding and how this particular episode was presenting. Locke challenged Ben. Ben doesn't like his authority threatened, so he'll do what he thinks is necessary to maintain it.

As for Ben, I have to say I'm befuddled as to what his plan is now. We now know why he was so adament that Locke kill his father - Ben had done that very deed himself. And, surely he couldn't have been so suprised that Locke would have filched the tape recorder. One thing we can say about him is that he isn't crazy in the conventional word. How else to explain all the happenings in the room when Locke turned on his flashlight, and that mysterious appearance of Jacob?

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper has thoughts similar to mine.

Update: I've seen it. I was totally creeped out by Jacob's voice.



Originally uploaded by Good Brownie.
The sign of the Royal Donut shop on Vermilion Street in Danville, Illinois

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

this is where I am right now

I'm typing from home, dear readers. That's right - my own house. The Brown family finally has a computer up and running in its home. It's a mish-mash set-up, really. We got a Hewlett Packard system with a Samsung monitor. AT&T came by today to set up our hi-speed internet system.

So, you will now see normal time stamps for my posts. I won't have to post only at weird times anymore, like 4:49 AM - although you'll still see those from time to time.

"She provides beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives."

Sign a petition to "Save Paris." Or not. I know my life would be completely dull with her.

You see that label down there - "celebritneys"? I totally stole that from Ann Althouse. I doubt she'll mind.


Chihuly glass at the Children's Museum of Indiana

Originally uploaded by Good Brownie.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Like E.T., rhinos are so ugly that they've attained "cute" status. See?

if you are a billionnaire mayor...

...and you feel the need to wear shorts in public, don't look like this.

the life of an extra

Think being in a movie is a glamourous thing? Apparently not. Maybe it is if you're a big star like Nicolas Cage, but not if you're an extra in his movie.

I am flat on my back in one of the oak-paneled rooms in the Library of Congress, where the sequel to 2004's "National Treasure" is filming. The crew is setting up a shot in the grand reading room, and we extras (or "background actors," if you will) are consigned to this smaller holding area. Cattle in a pen. Twelve-thirty to 3:30 a.m., there on the floor. Heaps of tired meat.

This is the "wait" part of "hurry up and wait."

One of my coworkers was an extra in Blue Chips because they filmed in his hometown's high school. He's never watched the film, so he doesn't know if he can be seen in it or not.

Do you want to be an extra in a film? Go here.

shameless name-dropping

I was able to see Heather, an old friend from college, this weekend. We talked about how we can't believe our 15-year reunion is next year, how her band is doing (very well) and how she'll be busy recording in the fall.

See, Cindy Swanson? You're not the only one who knows people in the Christian music world. (hee-hee)

the Hoosier controversies

Ah, Indiana. We have so many things happen here, don't we?

We have billboards all over the city that some people have thought worthy of defacement.

And we have license plates that have received notice by the folks way out in L.A.

Stealing sermons

I hope your pastor hasn't done this.

"Celine Dion is exactly at the top of my list of 'singers I push the scan button in my car and hope to hear'."

Brian Megilligan was able to explore where Celine Dion hangs out in Vegas. He has photos, so check it out.

"Honor your spouse, respect your children, pay attention to them when they come home and hug them before they leave."

Pastor Brad Williams has good advice for all of us. Love your neighbor, even if he/she is in your family.