Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dave Barry's Gifts

This list may give you some ideas for those hard-to-buy family members and friends. I'm thinking of getting #11 for my new house.


Today is the first day of Advent, the beginning of the year on the Christian calendar. May it be for you a season of thanksgiving and hope - thanksgiving for the First Advent, and hope for the Second.

More on Advent:

Christmas on TV

TV Guide has a listing of all the Christmas-themed shows that will air between November 25 and December 17.

(TY, Denny Burke)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

the mental cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars

An increasing number of soldiers are returning to military bases and their homes with psychological problems.
More than 3,000 of the 15,000 troops returning home, [Dr. Bret Logan, deputy commander for managed care at Fort Campbell], estimated, probably will experience headaches, sleep disorders, irritability, memory loss, relationship strains or other symptoms linked to stress disorder. Medical staff at Fort Campbell say they also worry that there will be a new surge of suicides — an escalating problem in recent years, largely related to the stresses of war. Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and chairman of, said more soldiers will have stress-related problems, and the military must be vigilant in diagnosing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder to head off more serious issues.

horse and buddy

The five-year-old son of a friend from college is featured in this photo.

Friday, November 28, 2008

the cult of celebrity

Stop and think: what magazines do you pick up when you're shopping at the grocery store? Do you grab a People or an Us Weekly? Perhaps an OK or a Hello!? Do you subscribe to these types of magazines, sifting through them as soon as they arrive in the mail?

Maybe you're only a casual reader, looking for a diversion while pushing your shopping cart through the check-out counter. Perhaps you peruse them when you're resting from working out at the gym. Maybe you watch Entertainment Tonight or Extra! now and then. Or perhaps, there's something more going on...

The American historian and educator Daniel Boorstin once wrote, “Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.”

We have just experienced an historic presidential campaign of unprecedented proportions, our economy is in peril, our military struggles to fight two wars, and our health care system is facing impending collapse. With all of these pressing issues weighing on the hearts and minds of America’s families, what seems to be on the covers of every magazine and tabloid these days? Celebrity nonsense. Does anyone really care which teen-aged pop star will give birth next? Do we need to know every happening inside the birthday party of a power-couple’s toddler? Is the diet that worked for the soap opera star really going to work for anyone else?

As long as there have been people who pulled away from the proverbial pack, there have been people to follow them and idolize them. However, scientists have only recently defined the psychological phenomenon of “celebrity worship” as a type of parasocial relationship that can have unhealthy and addictive elements.

Read the rest.

Black Friday

Are you out there in the world, spending lots of money on clothing and electronics and toys and such? You're supposed to be, you know. Just be careful.

As Smokey the Bear might say: only YOU can prevent an economic depression.

UPDATE: Everyone is talking about the Wal*Mart stampede. I swear, that story makes me ashamed to be human. What is so important about a Tickle Me Elmo or a $3 DVD that people trample and stamp out a person's life for it? Black Friday, indeed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Are you preparing the bird?

My mother-in-law is making our bird ready. It's a 21-pounder.

absolutely zero

That's my answer to Mark Daniels' question.

Is depression a sin?

Tim Chester tackles an important question, one that I've been asked before. I think he handles it pretty well.

(TY, Justin Buzzard)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ADHD: good, bad, or neutral?

The smashing success of 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps has brought a new angle to the debate about the positives and negatives of mental illness.
Children with the disorder typically have trouble sitting still and paying attention. But they may also have boundless energy and a laserlike focus on favorite things — qualities that could be very helpful in, say, an Olympic athlete.

For that reason, some doctors are pushing for a new view that focuses on the potential strengths of the disorder. Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, a psychiatrist and author whose books include “Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder From Childhood Through Adulthood” (Touchstone, 1995), says the current “deficit-based medical model” of the disorder results in low-self esteem.

“It’s not an unmitigated blessing, but neither is it an unmitigated curse, which is usually the way it’s presented,” said Dr. Hallowell, who has the disorder himself. “I have been treating this condition for 25 years and I know that if you manage it right, this apparent deficit can become an asset. I think of it as a trait and not a disability.”

Michael's mother Debbie - who had almost as much TV-screen time as her son - took part in a discussion on coping with the disorder. Debbie is also featured on this page on Facebook.

Monday, November 24, 2008

the most emailed article on the NYT website right now

This one, which can be dubbed "the sexperiment." I mentioned it here, before she did. I rarely blog about something before Ann Althouse, but I feel especially blog-happy when I do.

I didn't beat Ingrid, though - "At the sight of this 'pastor' lounging around on the bed on ABC News, I felt the gag reflex kick in." Yup: I did, too. Although, I have to say, Ingrid, the red color on your site - no, the scarlet color - makes me think of this.

I beat Michael Spencer, but I don't have a letter to send to Pastor Young like he does.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Barack Obama hasn't gone to church since the election

Instead, he's gone to a Chicago gym.

for your consideration

The ads are out for The Dark Knight. While he may not deserve the actual statue, Heath Ledger deserves the nomination. It's difficult to think of a more memorable character this year than The Joker.

Let's talk about sex, baby church, no less.
And on the seventh day, there was no rest for married couples. A week after the Rev. Ed Young challenged husbands and wives among his flock of 20,000 to strengthen their unions through Seven Days of Sex, his advice was — keep it going.

Mr. Young, an author, a television host and the pastor of the evangelical Fellowship Church, issued his call for a week of “congregational copulation” among married couples on Nov. 16, while pacing in front of a large bed. Sometimes he reclined on the paisley coverlet while flipping through a Bible, emphasizing his point that it is time for the church to put God back in the bed.

“Today we’re beginning this sexperiment, seven days of sex,” he said, with his characteristic mix of humor, showmanship and Scripture. “How to move from whining about the economy to whoopee!”

And you thought Christianity was full of prudes...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

it's proper to wear gloves with your suit coat or tweed jacket

I enjoy listening to the New York Times' Bill Cunningham talk about the pictures he's taken. This week, he has several snapshots of elegant men on the streets of New York.

Listen up, men: if you want to be noticed, wear some nice-looking gloves with your suit or jacket when you walk about town. Bill Cunningham approves.

"I thought I had the flu."

If you're going to eat meat for dinner tonight, make sure it's fully cooked. You don't want to require surgery some day to remove a worm from your brain.

the man in the mirror is a Muslim

Michael Jackson has converted to Islam.

O'Keefe on film

Georgia O'Keefe will become the latest addition to the long list of artists who have had a biopic. Joan Allen will play her.

Ed Begley Jr., Tyne Daly, Linda Emond and Henry Simmons have been cast opposite Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons in the Lifetime original biopic "Georgia O'Keeffe." "O'Keeffe," from Sony Pictures TV, will follow the 20-year love affair between the American artist (Allen) and photographer Alfred Stieglitz (Irons).

Jeremy Irons usually plays the villain in his films, but not always. I'm guessing his character isn't going to try to strangle or smother Allen's.

Have you seen an O'Keefe in person? I have.


Wow. Did Michigan know they had a game today?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

you could see this one coming...

Joe may not be a real plumber, but he's signed a book deal to make himself a real author.
Just days before the election, Mr Wurzelbacher insisted he would not seek to "cash in" on his fame with a lucrative book deal from a major publisher.

"Everyone came at me to write a book. They had dollar signs in their eyes," he told Fox News.

"You know I will get behind something solid, but I won't get behind fluff. I won't cash in, and when people do read the book they will figure out that I didn't cash in. At least I hope they figure that out."

The plumber-turned-election-fixture also told Fox that he was short on cash and unemployed.

I guess I can't fault the guy for wanting to make some cash. After all, that's a very American idea, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the most annoying commercial

What's the TV commercial you find extremely annoying? I pick this one, and I'm not alone.

A Cubbies Christmas Wreath

The Brownie Family attended the Festival of Trees in Danville yesterday. The Palmer Arena was filled with Christmas trees and wreaths, decorated by local schoolchildren and different organizations. I'm not a Cubs fan, but I thought this wreath was particularly well done:

"We were teenagers—we didn't want them knowing everything that we were doing."

William Gates and Arthur Agee, the two main characters of the best film of 1994, still keep in touch with each other. Gates pastors a church in Chicago's Cabrini-Green area, and Agree hasn't had steady work but does have a Hoop Dreams clothing line and the Arthur Agee Jr. Role Model Foundation.

Have you seen Hoop Dreams? You need to rent it - now! - if you haven't. When you consider the number of athletes who achieved their dreams by joining a professional team, there are untold numbers who did not.

Snoop Dogg schools Martha Stewart

the kids are online and alright

A new study finds the Internet isn't such a dangerous place after all:
Good news for worried parents: All those hours their teenagers spend socializing on the Internet are not a bad thing, according to a new study by the MacArthur Foundation.

“It may look as though kids are wasting a lot of time hanging out with new media, whether it’s on MySpace or sending instant messages,” said Mizuko Ito, lead researcher on the study, “Living and Learning With New Media.” “But their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They’re learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page.”

The study, conducted from 2005 to last summer, describes new-media usage but does not measure its effects.

Wouldn't you be interested in a study measuring the effects?

only 2 more months...

death and resurrection in the political arena

I'm not so sure the president-elect can say he's looking for "hope" and "change" when he's picking up former DC dwellers. Perhaps he is just showing off his abilities by resurrecting the political career of someone once thought dead.
Democratic sources said Mr. Daschle has accepted the job. But aides to Mr. Obama said a formal announcement would not be made until after the national security and economic teams were unveiled. Mr. Obama’s transition team did announce Wednesday that Mr. Daschle will oversee the new president’s health policy working group.

Mr. Daschle was initially considered for White House chief of staff, but Mr. Obama chose instead to name Representative Rahm Emanuel of Chicago. If confirmed, Mr. Daschle could end up being the point man on any efforts to overhaul the country’s health care delivery and insurance system, a tall order, health policy experts say, because of the current economic situation.
UPDATE: Uh, oh. Perhaps Daschle won't have an easy time in the confirmation hearings.

What kind of Christian are you?

Janet Cosgrove isn't "one of those wacko 'love your neighbor as yourself ' types." She's one of those regular Christians.
My faith in the Lord is about the pure, simple values: raising children right, saying grace at the table, strictly forbidding those who are Methodists or Presbyterians from receiving communion because their beliefs are heresies, and curing homosexuals. That's all. Just the core beliefs. You won't see me going on some frothy-mouthed tirade about being a comfort to the downtrodden.

Hey, Panama City...

According to Google, you are experiencing a chilly 54-degree Fahrenheit temperature right now. I bet your citizens are breaking out the winter parkas they bought on a ski trap in Colorado, right?

And speaking of the weather in Colorado...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Camille Paglia on the election

Paglia explains what really happened a couple weeks ago.

She professes her admiration for Sarah Palin:
I like Sarah Palin, and I've heartily enjoyed her arrival on the national stage. As a career classroom teacher, I can see how smart she is -- and quite frankly, I think the people who don't see it are the stupid ones, wrapped in the fuzzy mummy-gauze of their own worn-out partisan dogma. So she doesn't speak the King's English -- big whoop! There is a powerful clarity of consciousness in her eyes. She uses language with the jumps, breaks and rippling momentum of a be-bop saxophonist. I stand on what I said (as a staunch pro-choice advocate) in my last two columns -- that Palin as a pro-life wife, mother and ambitious professional represents the next big shift in feminism. Pro-life women will save feminism by expanding it, particularly into the more traditional Third World.

As for the Democrats who sneered and howled that Palin was unprepared to be a vice-presidential nominee -- what navel-gazing hypocrisy! What protests were raised in the party or mainstream media when John Edwards, with vastly less political experience than Palin, got John Kerry's nod for veep four years ago? And Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, for whom I lobbied to be Obama's pick and who was on everyone's short list for months, has a record indistinguishable from Palin's. Whatever knowledge deficit Palin has about the federal bureaucracy or international affairs (outside the normal purview of governors) will hopefully be remedied during the next eight years of the Obama presidencies.

Looking for some good photos?

You'll find more than a few here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

a new look for a classy old hotel

My favorite hotel in Miami Beach (okay... it's the only hotel in Miami Beach where I've stayed...) has finally completed its refurbishing. Martha Stewart was there, taking an exorbitant amount of pictures of hair.

If you've been to the Miami area, have you stayed in or stopped by the Fontainebleau? The hotel grounds are about a mile north of the infamous South Beach area. If you've never been to the Fontainebleau, you've probably seen it on the big screen - it's been featured in several films, most notably Goldfinger (the James Bond film's opening sequence takes place there) and The Bodyguard (about halfway through the film, Whitney Houston's character gives a benefit concert there).

A few morsels for November 17, 2008

Dan Wallace on 1 Peter 3:7 - does it really give permission for a husband to physically abuse his wife?

100 Tips and Tools for Managing Your Personal Library

LaShawn Barber "briefly" examines what it means to be born again.

It is safe to say that no game in the history of the NFL has ever been like this one.

Los is asking for a caption for this incredibly serious photo.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

the new trailer

I hope this helps you through the chilly months ahead. Well, if you live up North, the months will be chilly. It will only be slightly cool down South.

Speaking of Obama's faith...

Joe Carter doesn't think his faith meets the classical definition of Christianity. Of course, Carter is only examining Obama's faith through the lens of an interview he gave in 2004. Let us presume that Obama has grown in his faith since then.

RELATED: Where will the Obamas attend church once they've settled into their posh new DC digs?

Thinking Biblically about Facebook

Justin Buzzard believes it's possible. He discusses both the dangers, and the opportunities, that Facebook can bring.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Book Review Bloggers for Thomas Nelson

If you enjoy reading books and telling others about them, then consider reviewing books for Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Join Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers today! Any blogger can receive FREE copies of select Thomas Nelson products. In exchange, you must agree to read the book and post a 200-word review on your blog and on any consumer retail website.

Just go here.

Here's the first book I received, which I received seven days after signing up. I hope to complete it and post the review within a week or so. A large number of bloggers have already reviewed this book, but I don't plan to read them until I've finished my own.

the beast doesn't like to be awakened from her nap

She gives the Look of Death to anyone who does it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hillary as Secretary of State?

There is chatter out there about Obama picking Hillary as his Secretary of State. It's a fairly shrewd and gutsy move, I think. Obama probably believes that he has to offer her something since he didn't pick her as his running mate, and Secretary of State is powerful position indeed. After all, she could be left in the Senate running counter moves against him if he doesn't do what she thinks he should do.

Consider: She was his last-standing rival for the Democratic nomination. She put 16 million cracks in the ultimate American "glass ceiling." She didn't drop out of the race until she decided to, even though the numbers had been against her for weeks and weeks. If she's in his Cabinet, being part of the executive branch instead of the legislative branch, he can keep better tabs on her. If she remains in the Senate, her power could grow to the level of a senator like Kennedy.

What would be the advantage for Hillary? She would be part of the executive branch instead of the legislative branch. She's still the junior senator from New York, and doesn't have high-ranking seniority on any committees. She would have regular contact with government leaders from other countries. She would have much more influence over Obama by being part of his Cabinet as opposed to just staying in the Senate.

ALSO: Will Obama offer McCain a little something?

100 spoiled films

In four minutes! Shouldn't that be a record or something?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

applying for a job in the Obama administration

The questionnaire is pretty extensive. Make sure your references are especially good, and you better hope their picadilloes don't come to light.

a former "American Idol" contestant commits suicide

See? It's bizarre stuff like this that make me glad I'm not a "celebrity." I can't imagine what Paula Abdul thinks about that. The woman, Paula Goodspeed, had been stalking her for seventeen years. Seventeen years!

Here's the video of her audition for American Idol:

I'm sure most of those who watched the show found her amusing, like so many of the others who auditioned but clearly lacked any vocal abilities. The audition was over two years ago, so it would be difficult to say that her rejection on the show directly affected her decision to suicide. She probably thought about it, though. Some of the suicidal people that I have talked to have kept track of what they view as failures in their lives. Perhaps Paula Goodspeed did that as well, but it's something that we'll never know.

abortion rates

Justin Taylor has the scoop on the abortion rates during the presidential administrations of William J. Clinton and George W. Bush.
There's a steady stream of folks who continue to perpetuate an urban legend about the abortion rates in the US. (Kept alive, no doubt, by the fact that Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Barack Obama have all cited it.)The idea is that because of Bill Clinton's policies the abortion rate dropped under his administration, and because of George W. Bush's policies the abortion rate rose under his administration.If you break it down, there are actually four claims being made here:

Abortion rates dropped under Clinton.
Abortion rates dropped under Clinton because of Clinton.
Abortion rates rose under Bush.
Abortion rates rose under Bush because of Bush.

Only premise 1 is correct.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"...those guys are jerks."

Sarah Palin calls out the unnamed McCain staffers who criticized her:
Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska fired back Friday at the unnamed McCain campaign aides who have been maligning her in recent days, saying that their criticism was “cruel and it’s mean-spirited, it’s immature, it’s unprofessional, and those guys are jerks.”Ms. Palin spoke out upon her return to the governor’s office here, defending herself from a barrage of criticism that has been aimed at her from unnamed McCain aides ever since the McCain-Palin ticket was defeated Tuesday.

The McCain campaign aides complained about the $150,000 that the Republican National Committee had spent on Ms. Palin’s clothes, the way a Canadian comedian was able to embarrass the campaign by calling her and pretending to be the president of France, and the political ambitions she seemed to harbor beyond 2008.

By the end of the week, their complaints had escalated considerably, with Fox News quoting unnamed McCain campaign officials as saying that Ms. Palin had not known that Africa was a continent, not a country, and claiming that she did not know which countries were covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Two things about this:
  1. It's funny how someone has an opportunity to address her accusers in court, but doesn't have that same opportunity when "unnamed sources" in the press speak ill about her.
  2. Can we really say that Fox News is pro-Palin if it's the primary news organization that's stirring up all this? Doesn't Sean Hannity have the power to squelch it?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What will healthcare look like under an Obama presidency?

Since I work in the healthcare field, I would have to say that this is the biggest question I have since America will soon have a Democratic president again. The most (in)famous attempt to overhaul the healthcare system was made by First Lady Hillary Clinton during Bill's first two years in office. That was arguably the biggest reason why the Democrats lost control of the House and Senate in 1994.

"HillaryCare" came to mind when I read this article about the growing number of hospital patients who are unable to pay for their medical services.
While the full effects of the downturn are likely to become more evident in coming months as more people lose their jobs and their insurance coverage, some hospitals say they are already experiencing a fall-off in patient admissions.

Some patients with insurance seem to be deferring treatments like knee replacements, hernia repairs and weight-loss surgeries — the kind of procedures that are among the most lucrative to hospitals. Just as consumers are hesitant to make any sort of big financial decision right now, some patients may feel too financially insecure to take time off work or spend what could be thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses for elective treatments.

The possibility of putting off an expensive surgery or other major procedure has now become a frequent topic of conversation with patients, said Dr. Ted Epperly, a family practice doctor in Boise, Idaho, who also serves as president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. For some patients, he said, it is a matter of choosing between such fundamental needs as food and gas and their medical care. “They wait,” he said. The loss of money-making procedures comes at a difficult time for hospitals because these treatments tend to subsidize the charity care and unpaid medical bills that are increasing as a result of the slow economy.
Four years from now, will we still read articles like this one? Will conversations about the uninsured still exist?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama will be America's 44th president

When you look at it like this, Obama's election is particularly striking. Yesterday was a historic day, indeed.

ADDED: The photo-spread.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008

I'm glad we've finally arrived to this day, mostly so we don't have to see any campaign commercials anymore. If you're interested in that type of thing, Ann Althouse and Andrew Sullivan are live-blogging the results.

My home state of Ohio has gone to Obama. The significance of this can not be minimized in any way, and Mark Daniels explains why.

Monday, November 3, 2008

If Obama wins tomorrow, Christmas will be here sooner than you think

Election Eve

The day is nearly here. It's the day that all Americans, but especially two Senators, have been waiting for. We've been hearing about it ever since the end of November 2006. And now, the next time the sun rises, it will shine on Election Day. America will either have her first biracial president, or her first female vice president.

If you haven't voted yet, there is much to consider. I want to point you to just a few links that I believe will help you in your thinking.