Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hiatus

So many people are taking a break from blogging right now, so I must throw the proverbial hat in the ring as well. I'll be visiting family down in Florida, including this guy if he isn't as busy as he was in April. I'll have my laptop with me, but I don't know if I'll be able to figure out how to Wi-Fi down there, so...

Happy birthday, Harry Potter

If he weren't fictional, the Boy Who Lived would now be 26 years old.

In his honour, visit the site of his creator, J.K. Rowling.

Monday, July 30, 2007

my house

Last year on this date, I was talking about purchasing my first home. What a year it has been since then! We closed in mid-August. The house was ours on September 1, but we didn't officially move in until Here's what we've done to the house:
  • All rooms in the house were painted a different color than what they had been.
  • The carpet spreading across the living room, dining room, and hallway was removed, and the floor boards were given a nice dark stain.
  • Metal closet doors were removed, replaced by white wooden doors.
  • We put new linoleum flooring in the kitchen and bathroom. (Yes, one bathroom in the house. I live with three females, so imagine how tough it is sometimes...)
  • We replaced the sink in the bathroom.
  • We removed all the old kitchen cabinets and put in new ones, enlarging the kitchen. And, by "we," I mean Pete the English Guy we hired through Lowe's.

The rich and the poor (in manners)

I rather like this article by Peggy Noonan. A taste:
The gap between rich and poor is great, and there is plenty of want, and also confusion. What the superrich do for a living now often seems utterly incomprehensible, and has for at least a generation. There is no word for it, only an image. There's a big pile of coins on a table. The rich shove their hands in, raise them, and as the coins sift through their fingers it makes . . . a bigger pile of coins. Then they sift through it again and the pile gets bigger again.

A general rule: If you are told what someone does for a living and it makes sense to you--orthodontist, store owner, professor--that means he's not rich. But if it's a man in a suit who does something that takes him five sentences to explain and still you walk away confused, and castigating yourself as to why you couldn't understand the central facts of the acquisition of wealth in the age you live in--well, chances are you just talked to a billionaire.

Surveillance cameras

Privacy has its limits. We have them in Indy - are you being watched in your town?

Human Tetris

I wouldn't do well at this.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill

This list strikes me as something likely found within the pages of People or Us Weekly magazines, not on The Hill website where supposedly serious information is disseminated. But I guess the superficiality of physical appearance doesn't really compare to the superficiality of some politicians.

Indiana's own Brad Ellsworth, who left behind his job as a sheriff to serve the Indiana 8th district in the House of Representatives, tops the list. His physical attractiveness, which makes "women of all ages and political persuasions swoon ," is of the kind to make even Jack Kennedy jealous. Had Ellsworth been alive in Kennedy's time, no doubt Marilyn Monroe would have deemed him more intriguing than certain fellows with New England accents.

Ask not for whom the cat purrs. He purrs for thee...

Oscar the cat has an unusual ability: he senses when some Rhode Island dwellers are about to die.

Motivational posters for emerging Christians

Funny stuff. From the Pyromaniacs, natch.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Albert Ellis, 1913-2007

Albert Ellis, the recognized father of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), has died at age 93.
“The trouble with most therapy is that it helps you to feel better,” he said in a 2004 article in The New York Times. “But you don’t get better. You have to back it up with action, action, action.”

Very true, Dr. Ellis.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"

I was tempted to pick up J.K. Rowling's most recent book last Saturday at 12:01 AM. I chose not to order the book in advance so I could have my options open. I changed my mind when I passed by the local Border's bookstore and saw the crowd of people. After spending time with the family on Saturday morning and afternoon, I went to the nearest Wal-Mart and bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. That's my copy there in the picture. (Spoilers abound if you chose to go any further....)

I greatly enjoyed Deathly Hallows. It seems a fitting end to one of the more incredible series of books in history. I don't know that I'd rank it up there with Lord of the Rings or C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, but it's pretty close. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a greater trio of friends in literature than Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Tom Riddle, AKA Lord Voldemort, joins my list of favorite literary villains, alongside Madame DeFarge of A Tale of Two Cities.

Harry lived on, able to enjoy a life with Ginny and their children. Hermione and Ron stayed together as well. Voldemort met his sticky end. There were losses as well, most notably Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, and Fred Weasley. I wasn't upset by their losses as I was when Harry's faithful owl and Dobby the elf passed.

I have to confess that my favorite character is Harry's Potions teacher, Severus Snape. Snape is Rowling's greatest creation, and one of the most complex characters of any media (literature or film). He appeared to walk on two paths at once, siding with both the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters. He seemed so villainous in all of Half-Blood Prince and for most of Deathly Hallows. He proved himself on the side of right when Harry gathered up Snape's memories as he died and placed them in the Pensieve. I suspected that Snape was in love with Lily Evans Potter, but I thought that there would be more to it than that. However, Snape's love was enough to have him give his ultimate loyalty to Dumbledore. "The Prince's Tale" was my favorite chapter in the book, and possibly the whole series.

I probably have more to say on this book particularly and the series as a whole, but I'll stop for now. Why don't you check out what some other people are saying ----

the terror of the beast

Those eyes!! Those horrible eyes!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

maybe he considers staying in a Motel 6 as equal to sleeping in the wild...

Over at his blog Smart Christian, Dr. Jackson draws our attention to Bear Grylls, host of the show Man vs. Wild. What Dr. Jackson doesn't mention are the allegations that Grylls' show isn't entirely authentic. Chief among the allegations is that he spent the night in hotels. The Discovery Channel has said the show will be "100% transparent."

A reality show being unauthentic? This is not shocking news, people. Even that Posh Spice "special" had its moments.

health insurance premiums on the rise

According to an article from my hometown paper (since I own a home in Indianapolis, I suppose I must consider it my hometown!), the price of health insurance is on the rise.
Summer and early fall are the times of year when employers negotiate next year's premiums with health insurers.

Indiana may be harder hit than many other parts of the nation.

Nationally, PricewaterhouseCoopers is expecting medical costs for PPOs and HMOs each to rise about 9.9 percent in 2008, still well above the rate of inflation but lower than the 2007 increase of 11.9 percent for PPOs and 11.8 percent for HMOs.

Local insurance brokers say they are expecting rates to increase anywhere from 10 percent to 15 percent for PPOs and HMOs, the two most popular types of plans.

"It's a pretty consistent message that your costs are going up, and it's a double-digit increase," said Steve Gregory, director of business development for DeTrude and Co., an Indianapolis insurance broker.
For the record, the hospital that employs me is very concerned about my, shall we say, lifestyle choices. I don't have to pay as much for insurance since I don't smoke and my cholesterol levels are good. However, I would have even less to pay if I dropped a few more pounds. Many companies, and not just hospitals, are taking this approach.

As a side note: No, I haven't had the chance to see Sicko yet. I know that it can be found in some places on the Internet, but who has time to watch it when you've got a daughter who wants to visit the Webkinz site? Besides, I'm torn about seeing it, since it's made by the same man who has made ridiculous statements like these here and who has used this woman as a pawn.

Ah, Doug - I see you've linked to it, too.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Case

Dismissed.

No doubt, many of those opposed to the Bush administration will not see this as any form of exoneration. In fact, I'm quite certain they will suggest that this decision has been clouded by some kind of relationship with the administration, specifically a relationship with the Vice President himself.

Book

Review.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

FoodTV controversy

The Bravo network has had several competitive reality shows with controversial competitors. Keith had to leave the third season of "Project Runway" when it was discovered that he had (1) brought design books with him and (2) spent time away from the other contestants to check up on email. Cliff had to leave the second season of "Top Chef" when he physically held Marcel while other contestants acted as if they were going to shave Marcel's head.

Now, it's Food Network's turn to have some controversy on their competitive show, "The Next Food Network Star." Josh Garcia, who went by the nickname JAG, made it to the final two, but was forced to leave after it was revealed he had lied about his past. This statement was show at the end of the show:
“Several months after this episode was taped, Food Network learned that JAG had misrepresented facts about his military service and his culinary training,” the network announced in an on-screen message. “He said he had served in Afghanistan and that he had graduated from cooking school, neither of which is true. When given the opportunity during a press interview, JAG did not set the record straight. Food Network asked JAG to come to New York to discuss the situation.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sinead O'Connor's "Christianity"

I read with great interest a recent interview conducted by Christianity Today with musician Sinead O'Connor. I think she has a mesmerizing voice, and her rendition of Prince's Nothing Compares 2 U is one of the most haunting songs I've heard. Her infamy certainly increased following a performance on Saturday Night Live, when she tore in half a picture of Pope John Paul II while urging the audience to "fight the real enemy." She has seemed to mellow in the years since then. Even though her CD's haven't burned up the charts since I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, she continues to be prolific.

O'Connor is promoting her new album, Theology, which is reportedly inspired by the Old Testament. As if this wasn't strange enough, the album is supposedly being promoted to Christians. (Gareth Higgins, writing for Beliefnet, proves himself to be a fan.) Read this interview, and see if there is anything remotely Christian about O'Connor's spiritual beliefs.
What does Jesus mean to you?

O'Connor: I've had a lot of faith in Jesus ever since I was a little kid. I always joke with my friends that I have a cab company called "Jesus Cabs." And I tell my friends, "If you ask Jesus for anything, it will happen. But you have to believe that it's going to happen."

What about now? Where do you stand in your faith in Jesus?

O'Connor: I think everybody has an individual relationship with Jesus. I kinda really do believe in this Trinity thing, that God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all one thing. I understand Jesus as being an interceder, someone you ask when you really need a big favor from God. I also feel that Jesus is inside everybody. It's almost like an energy or a thing that lives inside of us.

Bible action figures

It seems to me that these completely trivialize the Gospel, making the central figures of God's Word as nothing more than mere playthings. How are we to see them otherwise?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Spoil her, and she'll put a hex on you

She is not kidding around. She is serious.

Just a few more days....


Get this and other HP countdowns at LeakyNews.com

I want to be Bob Dylan

Here's a shot of female actress Cate Blanchett playing male performer Bob Dylan in the upcoming film I'm Not There, directed by Todd Haynes.

She's not the only one playing Dylan in the film. He's also portrayed by Richard Gere, Christian Bale, and Heath Ledger.

Bob Dylan was recently in town, but I wasn't able to attend the concert because the tickets sold out very quickly. Perhaps next time (out of mind)...

the hopes of Bill Clinton

Bill introduced Hillary on a campaign stop today. "My wife... I hope, the next president of the United States." Interesting phrase choice... I hope. Hearkens back to one of his old campaign slogans, doesn't it? "I still believe in a place called Hope."

may your death be a nonviolent one

Betty Williams, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end conflict in Ireland, had some very unpeaceable thoughts towards the current American president. She spoke them at the International Women's Peace Conference in Dallas, Texas.
"Right now, I could kill George Bush," she said. "No, I don't mean that. How
could you nonviolently kill somebody? I would love to be able to do that." As
she made her point, she chuckled and some members of the audience laughed.

What was she thinking? She obviously now believes she wasn't thinking clearly at the time, since she has apologized for those remarks. It would have been better to urge the president to find more peaceful resolutions to matters than what has been done in the past.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

what you can do... and one thing you can't

Read this editorial from last Friday's Tribune. No, wait. Let me post it for you in its entirety.
If paying taxes was like ordering off a menu, most people wouldn't eat their veggies. Retirees whose kids are grown could opt out of spending to educate the current generation of kids, and young workers could choose not to contribute to Social Security. Don't want to pay for emergency health care for illegal immigrants? Leave it off your plate. Hate the idea of building a fence along the Mexican border? Just say "no, thank you."

As many as 10,000 Americans withhold all or part of their federal income taxes because they object to U.S. military policy, especially the war in Iraq, according to the New York-based National War Tax Resistance Coordination Committee. This is typically framed as an act of civil disobedience, not unlike Henry David Thoreau's one-night stand in the Walden jail for refusing to pay a poll tax because of his opposition to the Mexican-American War.

Thoreau got a lot of mileage out of his brief incarceration, which inspired an essay later embraced by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi. But today's tax protesters rarely go to jail -- the Internal Revenue Service prefers to quietly garnish their earnings instead. So the public relations payoff is negligible, as is the actual effect on the Pentagon's budget. There are effective ways to oppose the war as a matter of conscience without stiffing your fellow taxpayers.

You can vote. You can run for office. You can march up and down Michigan Avenue wearing a sandwich board and barking into a megaphone. You can cover your car with anti-war bumper stickers, write your congressman, impeach the president, start a blog or bury your local newspaper in letters to the editor.

But pay up.

Last I heard, only members of Congress can "impeach the president." Us common folk can't.

Gloria's goof

Gloria Steinem has an interesting post over at HuffPo where she discusses "chick flicks" versus... well, the term she uses isn't polite. I'm not half as intrigued by her arguments, though, as I am by a typo she made which wasn't caught.
Indeed, as long men are taken seriously when they write about the female half of the world -- and women aren't taken seriously when writing about themselves much less about men or male affairs -- the list of Great Authors will be more about power than about talent.
What about short men?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Oprah's books

I just picked up a copy of Middlesex, the latest book picked by Oprah to join her illustrious bookshelf. It's a book I've wanted to read for some time now because it reportedly touches on the intriguing themes of gender and identity. The cheapest copy I could find was at Costco, and I was able to get there earlier today. I've read a few of Oprah's past picks, including The Good Earth and her very first one, The Deep End of the Ocean.

Oprah's website has a page for each book she's picked since she resumed her book club a few years ago. Many of the pages focus on the author's life, an examination of the book's characters and themes, and reactions from readers. Compare them with the link that you get for A Million Little Pieces, Oprah's most controversial selection.

Are you reading anything interesting this summer?

Webkinz

Are these the new Beanie Babies? Read here.

one trick pony

Cindy Sheehan once said she was going away, but I guess she's reconsidered that tactic and found it to be... well, when you're not doing anything special, no cameras are going to follow you. Sheehan has decided to run for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's seat if she doesn't introduce articles of impeachment against President Bush within the next two weeks.

Really, what does Sheehan think she can offer? If she would happen to be elected, Bush would not be in the Oval Office anymore. She has never held any kind of office, although it wouldn't be the first time someone with no previous political office made a power grab. I believe the odds are better for San Francisco to fall into the Pacific Ocean than for Pelosi to introduce impeachment articles, so Ms. Sheehan will be running independently.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Ten tidbits 3

01. Joe Carter is a sanctified jerk. He said so himself.

02. Who's that in your rear-view window? It's God.

03. Phil Johnson discusses Benny Hinn, a person who makes any topic more interesting than it was before.

04. I'll do a cameo in Ugly Betty for far less than what Posh Spice was paid.

05. The Daily Mail asks, Won't anyone stand up for God? They refer to books on the best-seller lists, one of which is Christopher Hitchens' God is Not Great. I believe Pastor Mark Roberts answers the DM's question.

06. Dan Edelen argues for the church to teach to mastery.

07. The best headline. Ever.

08. Finally! Men and women are seen as equals. When they talk.

09. After his father's death, Pastor John Piper went through his papers and found these words of wisdom.

10. Are you single? Looking for someone? Check out this map. (TY, Doug Masson)

Wimbledon 2007

Venus Williams wins 4th Wimbledon title The big news in the world of tennis today is Venus Williams' win over Marion Bartoli, 6-4, 6-1. Bartoli stunned Justine Henin in the semi-finals but proved to be no match against Venus. Venus now has as many championshp trophies from the All-England Club as Billie Jean King. Only Martina Navratilova (9) and Steffi Graf (7) have more. Venus is a two-time champion of the U.S. Open.

#1 and #2 Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet again. No one's better on clay right now than Nadal, as the last three French Opens have proved. No one's better on grass right now than Federer, as the last four Wimbledons have proved. Who will win this time? Tune in tomorrow...

Ugly Andy There's nothing to say about this, really. I've always thought that Roddick would prove to be a one-hit wonder - he's only won one championship, the U.S. Open in 2003. To have the match in his hand and give it away is completely... well, let's just leave it unsaid.

Update: Federer wins the title for the fifth time straight, beating Nadal if a five-set stunner. This was truly a final match for the ages. Federer said he thought Nadal came close to beating him.

Friday, July 6, 2007

fantastic drives

America has its share of fantastic drives: roads that are fascinating and fun. The drive from Miami to Key West is one to take during your lifetime - and I've already done it. This is another one.

Can you think of any?

American sense

Pastor John Hay has referenced some quotes from Thomas Paine's Common Sense, the pamphlet that really roused those early Americans to take action against the Brits.

Thomas Paine was no Christian. He said so in his work Age of Reason:
I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.

blogging principles

I know it's been nearly two years since this blog-feud began, but Adrian Warnock's principles for God bloggers - which came out after the feud concluded - are worth reading... and keeping.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

11 years ago....

She said, "I do!"

Update: Where did we celebrate our anniversary? Here, the site of our rehearsal dinner.

Monday, July 2, 2007

ten tidbits 2

1. Andrew Rilstone examines Richard Dawkins' best-selling book The God Delusion. (TY, In the Agora)

2. Christianity Today picks up the story on the split in Great Britain regarding the concept of atonement. Brit blogger/psychiatrist Adrian Warnock (he's a friend on Facebook - I don't even know the guy, and he invited me to be a friend! how great is that?) gives a quote for the article.

3. Some physicists are saying there was a time before the Big Bang.

4. Newsweek asks, are the major religions essentially alike?

5. LaShawn Barber denounces the liberal left's interpretation of "black pride."

6. Lemming is reading Nancy Drew books, and loving it.
In Chapter One, a pigeon crash-lands in Nancy's yard. A humantarian, Nancy is concerned for the creature's physical safety and well-being. OK, I buy that - pigeons may be public annoyances, but neither do I wish death upon such creatures. Nancy, as a compassionate being taking care of defenseless creatures sets a good example for the impressionable readers, fine.

Following a quick examination of the bird (Nancy somehow knows that no bones have been broken) her first reaction is, and I quote: I'll wire the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers and give them the number stamped on the bird's leg ring.

OK, so the idea of sending a telegram is quaint and now impossible - the book was written in 1933, revised in 1966, so that's a nice historical moment/touch for 21st century readers. At the same time, WHAT eighteen year old knows to contact such a group? Knows what their ID badges look like? Even knows that they exist? Combines this with an in-depth knowlege of botany?

7. Two posts on why Evan Almighty, which seemed targeted to a Christian audience, flopped, by Denny Burk and Tim Challies.

8. You heard about this bit of news, correct? For an example of the reactions from the Left (cries of shock, outrage, and protest) and the Right (moderately pleased), see respectively here and here.

9. I was a fanatic - confessions of a former radical.
When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network - a series of British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology - I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.

By blaming the Government for our actions, those who pushed this "Blair's bombs" line did our propaganda work for us.

10. Goodbye, Beverly Sills.

jonzin' for java

As you can see, my addiction isn't so bad.


Mingle2 - Free Online Dating
Now, Coca-Cola? That's another matter entirely...

July 2, 1776

The Declaration of Independence was adopted on this date in 1776. John Adams, who would become the first vice president and the second president, wrote the following to his wife:
The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.

The Declaration was adopted two days later, which became the celebrated Day of Independence.

(The above picture was taken of the American flag at the Civil War museum in downtown Indianapolis. Note the number of stars.)

Sunday, July 1, 2007