Thursday, August 30, 2007

the mournful beast

She looks a little sad. Is she depressed?

the latest "one to watch" at the U.S. Open

Ahsha Rolle. She's on to round 3, after defeating 17-seed Tatiana Golovin.

UPDATE: Rolle didn't survive the 3rd round. She's out. :(

"Become a Better You"

Back in April, I mentioned that Texas pastor Joel Osteen was about to publish another book, Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life. I haven't read the book, of course (it will be released on October 15), but I can only imagine what it contains: various self-help platitudes sided with Bible verses to make it seem more Christian. Honestly, what more can he bring to the self-help/self-improvement aisle that hasn't already been brought? Peruse this list and see how many books are there that offer advice on ways for one to improve one's life. You'd think everyone in America would be self-actualized millionaires by now.

Michael Spencer, never one to mince words, writes a letter to CBD about their endorsement of Osteen's latest book.

the lowdown (or downlow) on jeans

In a growing number of communities, a person wearing sagging jeans can be charged with a criminal offense.
JAMARCUS MARSHALL, a 17-year-old high school sophomore in ansfield, La., believes that no one should be able to tell him how low to wear his jeans. “It’s up to the person who’s wearing the pants,” he said.

Mr. Marshall’s sagging pants, a style popularized in the early 1990s by
hip-hop artists, are becoming a criminal offense in a growing number of communities, including his own.

Starting in Louisiana, an intensifying push by lawmakers has determined pants worn low enough to expose underwear poses a threat to the public, and they have enacted indecency ordinances to stop it.

Males in Delcambre, Louisiana who are charged with this crime (let's be honest, these are males that are doing this - I've never seen a female wear their pants below their hips) may have to pay a $500 fine or spend six months in jail. The Louisiana town of Mansfield has lesser fines and a reduced time in jail.

The article mentions that the phenomenon of sagging pants began in prison, when inmates often wore baggy clothes without belts (this was done out of fear of suicide). It doesn't mention, however, that inmates often took someone wearing sagging pants as a sign that he wanted sexual relations. We've all learned this week that tapping one's foot in a bathroom stall can be seen as a sign of sexual desire. In today's world, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find something that isn't associated with sexuality.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Castro votes Democratic?

Okay, not really. He's just saying that he believes a Clinton-Obama ticket would be "invincible." However, he wanted to make sure his fellow Cubans knew he is no fan of democracy.
"Both of them feel the sacred duty of demanding 'a democratic government in Cuba,'" Castro wrote. "They are not making politics: they are playing a game of cards on a Sunday afternoon."

Castro went on to say he prefers playing Clue on Sunday afternoons.

what is his marital status again?

Devlin Barrett, a writer for the Associated Press, has written this article about Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City: Bloomberg: unwed fathers boost poverty.

Barrett must really want his readers to take notice of Bloomberg's marital status, because he mentions it twice: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a divorced, billionaire dad..., and Fathers have been missing from the table," said the mayor, a divorced father of two who made a fortune creating an eponymous financial data firm. Apparently Barrett didn't think his readers would catch it the first time, so he had to type it again.

the puppet master dance

You can learn a new dance from Frodo Baggins himself. You can dance like the little hobbit, or you can dance like the green-striped guy (which is how I usually dance) - it's entirely up to you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

life lists

Do you have one? If so, what are some of your life goals?

A handy resource guide, at least for the traveller, is this book, specially made for such lists.

we had a lunar eclipse this morning

Did you see it?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hoosier politics

I sometimes think I don't spend enough time talking about things pertaining to Indiana, my current home state. So that I may remedy the situation, I direct your attention to two political Hoosier stories.

1. Mayor Bart Peterson does indeed have a challenger for the fall - Greg Ballard. He has a website and a blog (through Blogger!).

2. U.S. Rep Julia Carson announced her plan to run for office in 2008. Even though she's been plagued with health problems and has missed votes on the House floor, she thinks she should still be able to drive around Washington.

the parting of the Whites

I want to say from the beginning that this story saddens me. I'm not linking to it because I want to make any proclamations, declarations, or condemnations. There are certain sites in the Christian blogosphere that seem to relish reporting these kinds of stories, if only to show how "their" kind of Christianity is so much better and more true than "some other kind." I'm linking to it because I think it stirs up many issues with which Christians must wrestle. I have many questions about this, and no answers.
Randy and Paula White, the founders and co-pastors of what has been one of the nation's biggest and fastest-growing churches, plan to divorce.

Members of Without Walls International Church reacted with tears and a chorus of "Oh, no's" after the Whites' announcement at Thursday night's service.

Randy called Paula to the podium about an hour into the service. He was somber; Paula appeared choked up.
I'd be interested in knowing about the sermon that Randy preached. What do you speak about just before you tell your congregation that you're divorcing your wife? Did Randy think, Well, these people are here for a sermon, so I'll give them one and then we'll tell them we're divorcing?
"It's the most difficult decision I've ever had to make in my entire life," he told the congregation, describing Paula as an exceptional woman, mother and preacher.

She pledged to return frequently to preach.
Randy had been married before, so is he saying that divorcing his first wife was not a difficult decision?

If Randy is going to continue to pastor at the church (and I see no biblical basis for him to be able to do so), why would Paula return every so often?
The Whites, who've been married nearly 18 years, said in interviews that the split is amicable and comes after visits to counselors over several years.

They blame two lives going in different directions.
If they've been married for so many years and have done so much together, how do their lives go "in different directions?"
He and Paula said the split involves no third party on either side.
What biblical basis enables them to continue their "ministry" if they are divorcing for reasons other than adultery?
(Without Walls church board member Alick Clarke) partially blamed the couple's breakup on their devotion to preaching a prosperity message, exhorting followers to give more money to the church in order to be blessed with greater wealth.

"Too many ministries have become big business. That message is desecrating the church today," said Clarke, adding that he was disturbed to learn that with revenues at $40 million last year, the church was $22 million in debt.

"That's just not right."
Well said, Mr. Clarke.

For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.

Great article by Naomi Wolf on the subject of porn. A sample:
The reason to turn off the porn might become, to thoughtful people, not a moral one but, in a way, a physical- and emotional-health one; you might want to rethink your constant access to porn in the same way that, if you want to be an athlete, you rethink your smoking. The evidence is in: Greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity.

After all, pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.

Of course, the Christian can not escape the moral implications and soul-destroying power of pornography.

He loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah

Were the Beatles talking about Jesus? The pastoral staff at this church seems to think so. If you can't make it to the Tulsa church to hear the series, consider reading this.

Decision Card

The decision card at my church doesn't look like this one. Click on the various options.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Open season

Yes, kids, the U.S. Open has come once again. The last of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments starts later today in not-quite-NYC Flushing Meadows. The fun of Arthur Ashe Kid's Day has faded with the sunset, and the athletes will now get down to business.

With the still-strong Venus Williams, the formidable Justine Henin, and the lovely Maria Sharapova, the women's draw should prove to be very entertaining television. As for the men.... well, I have to admit that I've grown bored with Roger Federer. I admire his abilities and accomplishments, but let's face it - perfection just isn't exciting.

Friday, August 24, 2007

the believer's blessing in Christ

Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things and heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guaranteer of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (ESV)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

the buff presidency

What do you want your national leaders to look like? Do they need to be fit? Does it matter if they have "let themselves go?" William Howard Taft was our heaviest president, and I don't think his weight would make him electable in these modern times. With the exception of Bill Clinton, our recent presidents have been fairly physically fit. George W. Bush jogs regularly, and it shows. However, I don't think that "W" would do what the 54-year-old Russian president Vladmir Putin has done: take off his shirt to pose for cameras.

of the making of many books, there is no end

How many books did you read last year, if any? This article claims that one of every four adults didn't read a single page of a book.
The survey reveals a nation whose book readers, on the whole, can hardly be called ravenous. The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn't read any, the usual number read was seven.
There seems to be two ways to take this information: snarky or serious.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Justin Taylor has the roundup.

Where do I personally stand? I'm a credobaptist.

Yo Gabba Gabba!

Although I certainly monitor the programs my daughters watch, I usually don't sit down and watch the shows with them (unless they ask me to, of course). However, I think this is one show I may have to make time for ---

Trippy fun!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hurricane Dean

Please pray for those in Mexico who are about to face Dean's fury.

Snow wants more dough

The lead story in this grouping focuses on the increasingly loud sound of crickets at Camp Casey. As intriguing as all things Cindy Sheehan are, I was more interested in the second story, where these words are found:
White House spokesman Tony Snow intends to leave his job before the president's term ends in January 2009. Speaking on Hugh Hewitt's radio show last week, Snow, a Fox News Channel personality who took a serious salary cut to become Bush's press secretary last year, said he needs more money than his $168,000 White House wage. Snow, who is battling a recurrence of colon cancer, did not name a departure date.

"When I have something to announce, I'll let everyone know," he told us via e-mail.

I'm wondering two things.

(1.) How much is the deductible for health insurance obtained through the White House?

(2.) How much money does Tony Snow need to make? $168,000 a year would make life quite comfortable for me.

Everybody into the pool!

File this under "Things We Already Knew"

The magical duo of Siegfried and Roy have announced that they are gay.

Pat better have the maniacal laugh down pat

It's not just the Republican senators who want to be in movies. Democratic senators do, too. Or, at least, one does - Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. He's going to be in the next Batman film, The Dark Knight. He's done some voiceovers on Batman cartoons.
The longtime Batman fan would reveal little about his role other than he is called the "distinguished gentleman."

"It's a pretty tense scene," said Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It's going to be a very interesting one."

Ten tidbits 4

01. Matt Schmucker asks an intriguing question: Is the idea of eternity and the believer's ultimate end simply lost to the modern church?

02. Does Jesus want us to have universal healthcare? J.P. Moreland says no.

03. Can't get enough of Starbucks? Go here to get the gossip. Really, no one can get enough these days. Even if you can't stand the hot viscous stuff, you've certainly been inside a Starbucks at least once in your life. Don't lie and say you haven't...

04. Daniel Pulliam at Get Religion examines a story by Eileen Flynn on the emerging church.

05. What not to name your blog. For the record: I have only been called "Brownie" a few times in my life - a college roommate tried to give me a nickname, but nothing stuck. Does it qualify as something "not to name your blog?" That's for you, dear reader, to judge.

06. 2008 Presidential Election Candidates on the Issues.

07. How do you become a better writer?

08. Pastor John Piper believes the prosperity gospel to be deceitful and deadly.

09. Back to the future, new urbanism style.

10. Joe Carter, whose regular postings of "33 Things" are the inspiration for my "Ten Tidbits," is getting a book published. It's on my list!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Seaside Interfaith Chapel

No trip to Panama City is complete without a visit to the little town of Seaside, only a half hour away. Seaside, founded in the 1980's, is considered one of the first New Urbanist communities. Many of the outside shots of "The Truman Show" were filmed here. CBS featured Seaside in a story a new urbanism shown on the 8/5/07 edition of their "Sunday Morning" show.

This is the Seaside Interfaith Chapel, created to "look like" a chapel without actually using any form of religious symbolism - no cross, no star of David, no crescent moon.

the State Fair odd couple

I've gone to the Indiana State Fair every summer that we have lived in this state. I think it's a trip everyone should take, especially if you have kids. The excitement of the rides on the midway... the odd mixture of animal and food smells... the glorious bites of fried dough....

One thing I noticed this year, that I hadn't before, is when it comes to animal barns, the rabbits and the chickens get the shaft. The larger animals have their own barns. The Swine Barn, which always has the world's largest and second largest boar. The Horse Barn. The Cow Barn. The Sheep Barn. But the rabbits and chickens? They have to share. All because they're small and take up less space, so there's room for them to be grouped together. Size discrimination exists even in the animal kingdom.

Anyway, here's a shot of some blue-ribbon winning rabbits:

2 white rabbits
Originally uploaded by Good Brownie

Here's one of the many chickens in the barn, which surprisingly wasn't as noisy as you would think. Of course, we were there in the afternoon - I can't imagine what it's like when the sun is rising.

Originally uploaded by Good Brownie

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cajun corn fritters

I took the family to the Indiana State Fair on Tuesday. The Sweet One went to her first day in the second grade, and got out early because the school ran for only half the day. Just like last year, we decided to spend the other half of the day at the fair.

One of the big food items at the fair this year is the cajun corn fritter. The corn fritter isn't cajun by itself, it has a little help from the accompanying cream sauce.

Not as much corn in the fritters as I would have liked, but they were still delicious. The sauce, which appeared to be composed of sour cream, cajun seasoning, and jalapenos, had just enough heat.

Here's how I looked after eating the fritters:

what does he sound like?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

a reptilian danger

An Australian man, trapped by crocodiles, waited in a tree for a week before he was rescued (TY, Althouse). He only had two meat sandwiches to satisfy his hunger while he waited for salvation. He saw the crocs in the day and heard them at night, so he knew they didn't stray far from him.
His problems began after he fell off his horse while out in the northern Australia outback.

Dazed and bleeding, he climbed back on his horse and hoped it would lead him home. It was only when he regained his senses he realised he had been taken deep into a crocodile-infested swamp.

"I had to get off the horse and fall on the long 8ft (2.4m) high swamp grass to clear a path, when I fell straight into a crocodile nest," he told Brisbane's Courier Newspaper.

"That spooked me. There were some monstrous tracks and the big ones are never far from the nest.

"I couldn't go back, it was too far and too dangerous, so I headed to the nearest high ground and stayed there, hoping someone would come and find me before the crocs did."

As I mentioned earlier, I had my own reptilian encounter when I went to St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, Florida (see the third picture in this post). Alligators have flatter snouts than crocodiles, so you can determine the creature in the water is definitely an alligator. It was just lying in the water near the shore, and there didn't appear to be any nests around. I felt fairly confident in my safety for two reasons: (1) there were other people around me, gawking and snapping pictures in silence - I was fairly confident I wouldn't be the alligator's first choice if it decided to attack; and (2) numerous trees, with branches low enough for humans to climb, lined the path to where the alligator lay.

Of course, I'm not the only one who's met Florida gators in the wild. Thomas had a very close encounter with one: "And we got chased by an alligator AS BIG AS ME! Dad was so brave he carried me away from the swamp and we got away."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

the invisible touch

For our viewing pleasure, let's watch Hillary's TV spot:

Wow. Stunning, no? She wants to help out all "The Invisibles," from mothers to soldiers in Iraq.

A few things come to mind:

(1) What exactly does she mean by "invisible?" As her husband pointedly illustrated the need for definition when he told us that it all depends upon what the definition of "is" is, we need a good definition here.

(2) If someone is "invisible," how is she able to see them? Does she have special glasses?

(3) With her six-and-a-half relatively unremarkable years of public service (and you can't really count eight years as First Lady), how is she the best one qualified to serve "The Invisibles?"

Monday, August 13, 2007

my mortgage is a reasonable $4000/month!

Do you live in an expensive city?
Forget coffee when it's time to sober up. Instead, check out the real estate listings in New York or Los Angeles.

There, buyers pay $1 million for a property that might fetch half that elsewhere. The disparity illustrates how affordability has been spiraling out of control in places on the East and West coasts.

For example, in the first quarter of 2001, 42.3% of homes sold in Los
Angeles were available to the median earning household. But in the irst quarter of 2007, only 3% of homes sold there were affordable to those households earning the median income. This is based on data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo that assumes a 10% down payment, a 6.1% mortgage, and tax and insurance costs calculated by the Federal Housing Finance Board.
Housing prices may be going down, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to secure a loan. Pretty soon, only celebrities will be able to afford to live in Los Angeles. Perhaps that's how they want it.

Here are the top ten "least affordable markets":

01. L.A.
02. San Francisco
03. San Diego
04. New York
05. Miami
06. Sacramento
07. Las Vegas
08. Seattle
09. Boston
10. Orlando

If you're wanting to live in one of these cities, you may want to check out this list. Med school looks awfully inviting, doesn't it?

Friday, August 10, 2007

the Demo-Kos-ic party

I've been perusing Ann Althouse's blog since I've returned from my little hiatus, and I realized I had missed the whole Yearly Kos thing while I was sunning myself in Florida. In one of her posts, she mentioned some statements made by the Yearly Kos founder himself during a speech (which you can find if you follow the links):
Just a year ago, we were a freakish curiosity.

I stood before you at the first YearlyKos conference and declared that we “had arrived”.

People snickered and mocked me. Those reporters at the back of the room. They were laughing at me. They were laughing at us.

But then Ned Lamont kicked Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic Party.

I had a couple thoughts:

(1.) Why is Kos so jubilant that someone has been "kicked out" of the Democratic Party? Doesn't he care about attracting people to the party, and keeping people in the party who seem on the cusp of disappearing? I don't think the Donkeys can afford to rid themselves of people during this critical time, even those who don't perfectly line themselves up with the ideals of certain liberal/progressive blogs.

(2.) Kos should really ask Ned Lamont if he thinks he did a lot of good (especially for himself) by getting Lieberman "kicked out." I don't believe that anyone is going around calling Lamont "Senator" like they are Lieberman.

Speaking of Ned Lamont, he doesn't want to fade into the sunset. See?

she knows Starbucks

After we dropped off our oldest daughter at a friend's house, The Wife and I decided to pull into a Starbucks for a little treat.

My youngest daughter - who is not yet three years old, mind you - apparently knew what we were doing, for she screamed from the backseat, "I want coffee!"

What have we created?

sweet sweet tea

My father was born among the misty Tennesse mountains in the early 1930's, which technically makes him an Appalachian. He's been living in Ohio since he was nearly ten, so he doesn't have much about him that is Southern in any real sense of the term.

If my father isn't really a Southern man, I'm even less of one. The only claim I have to Dixieland is that I have some relatives still found among the Tennessee mountains and valleys. I certainly don't speak with a Southern accent, and I'm no fan of bluegrass music. However, I love Southern food. Give me chicken fried steak, fried okra and some grits, and I'm a happy man. Even deeper than the food, though, is an abiding love of the luscious, quintessential Southern drink: sweet tea. Sure, it's liquid candy, but my taste buds think nothing is finer.

"It is the most disappointing field of candidates..."

"...looking on both sides of the aisle, that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t remember an election where less people have got me excited from either side..."

So said Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and former chief counsel for President Nixon. Really, I'm inclined to agree.

the P.C.B. wildlife

We are able to see several wild animals on our trip to the Florida Panhandle. Some were right on the beach, and some were found in PC Sister's house.

This reptile was swimming in the pond near the pool at my Cincy Sister's house:

This delicious crustaceon lurked along the shorelines of St. Andrews State Park:

I was about to step in the waters of a black lagoon when I spotted this creature:
And this fearsome beast was at PC Sister's home!

leaving Panama City Beach

I'm back to my real life, after spending eight great days in Florida. The Wife and I took the kids and spent some time on our own and with family members. We stayed at Cincy Sister's second house in Panama City Beach, which she purchased a few years ago. It's about 15 minutes away from PC Sister's place. It's a nice little house in a nice section of town. There is the main room, a kitchen/dining room combo, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a sitting room, and a screened-in outside room. There are two pools and a clubhouse nearby as well. The neighborhood is composed of people who live there full-time as well as the seasonal/sometime dwellers like Cincy Sister.

We mostly ate our meals in the house, purchasing goodies at the beachside Wal-Mart and a nearby Winn-Dixie. We did eat a couple meals out, one of which was at the touristy Pineapple Willy's. I had an oyster po-boy: