Carnival of Christmas

...is now up over at Adam's Web.


Dude, you're getting a Dell?

Megan McArdle is in Dell Hell.


Yes, that's me, the Grinch

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas - all of it: The deeply Christian holiday with four weeks of advent and the lighting of candles, the joyous celebration of the birth of Christ with the remembrance that God fulfills all his promises in his time. Also love the stuff that has next to nothing to do with Christ, but has become part of the cultural holiday - the sounds, the colors, the flavors, the TV specials, and of course Santa.

All the other stuff, I am certain, I'll enjoy until the day I die - except after December 30th: by then I've usually had my fill - but Santa is special in our house, primarily because we have young children. There's something magical about Christmas for me, even as an adult, that has always made it special. The idea of Santa Claus is a way to communicate this sense of wonder and magic to children who aren't ready or able to perceive it in the same manner that we do. And there's something about our children's belief in Santa that says they're still innocent, still childlike.

So it was quite a disappointment to us when our oldest discovered the "truth" about the jolly red elf last year while reading a Judy Blume book - sorry, I don't remember which one - and quickly decided to enlighten her brother. OS looks up to his sister a great deal, but with some effort we managed to save Santa for him for another year.

So how did I almost steal some of that magic? Fast forward to last Monday: My wife asked me to pick up a Christmas present for our youngest - from Santa, of course - before picking up our oldest from a book club. She had also asked OS if he wanted to go along for the ride. Neither of us considered this foolish at the time. So we went to the store, and I told him we were going to help Mommy out by doing some Christmas shopping. I believe I might have also mentioned that it was for his brother. When we found the gift, he asked me, "Dad, isn't this the kind of gift Santa would bring?" The best I could come up with at this point was that Santa gets really busy at this time of year and sometimes he needs a little help. The boy is a very inquisitive kid, and he's reached an age where he's bound to start asking questions like that, but I thought I'd handled it pretty well.

When we got home with OD and I put the two of them in bed, I came downstairs to relate the experience to my wife (who had realized her strategic error in sending the boy along with me). As she pointed out, he was bound to talk about this experience tomorrow - the kid remembers trivial things like who ate what for breakfast last Thursday - and the more he talked, the more he'd dwell on it, until he came to a conclusion we weren't prepared to hear. This was something that needed to be nipped in the bud. Within minutes, she'd called her friend down the street and arranged to have OS walk the gift down himself the next morning. "No, son, your silly dad got confused. It wasn't for your brother, it was some shopping I was supposed to do for your buddy's mom, for her nephew. And Santa does his own shopping, dear."

I don't know if you'd buy that story if it was told to you, but we went to see Santa today. Had a caroling/storytime event at the local park. We were sitting in the shelter house, gathered around the glowing embers in the fireplace, and Santa walked in during the last song. What were the responses of our children? The oldest asked if she had to sit on his lap, but she was persuaded. OS had his wish list memorized, and couldn't wait to rattle it off. (He practiced in the car on the way there.) YS is only two, and mostly wanted the candy canes being handed out. And YD - the four-year-old - asked why he didn't come down the chimney. She's the one I'd want to ask that question.

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No, really, I'm still here

Sorry, the site hasn't gone completely idle, but I've had commitments. Got a handful of posts in my head, waiting for time to flesh them out.

Meanwhile, Jay Tea at Wizbang has a nice post up about the probable retirement of the last two WWII-era battleships, if you're interested.


What did you do today?

Saturday was my wife's annual all-day holiday shopping trip with her girlfriends. The kids and I took a vote, and I got to be in charge (by a very narrow margin). We had a good time, nobody got hurt, and I even managed to get some work done.

In the morning, after we all ate and dressed, we had a parade through the kitchen and living room. It started out as just the younger two (and myself following along, because Younger Daughter insisted I join). We marched around with their toy drums and... Well, frankly they were all percussion instruments, so you can imagine. But once I was in, I was all in, and decided to be the loudest one. (How often do you get asked to be in a parade? You could put me in the Macy's parade next week, and I wouldn't have as much fun.) I'm a little hoarse now, but I'm sure there's no connection.

Got a call from a neighbor asking to borrow our slow cooker. Actually she asked whether I would need it. She asked why I laughed at her. I told her she was welcome to it, and that while I probably could use it, it wouldnt come up unless the microwave was broken and our freezer was empty.

We had an early lunch because Oldest Daughter had a girl scout field trip in the afternoon. My wife had thoughtfully arranged transportation so I wouldn't need to leave twice and cut short Youngest Son's nap. I'd meant to watch THE GAME this afternoon, but I confess I lost track of the time when Older Son asked me to play with him. I admit that if I had kept track of the time, I would have tuned OS out after an hour, and that would have been a crime. He got my (mostly) undivided attention while YD got some quiet time. (Nearly four years old, and she's outgrown the daily nap, so educational TV it is.)

By the time I realized the game was on, it was halftime, and time to pick up OD at school. I also had errands to run. First to the video store to return a one-night rental: Sahara. I've rented some stinkers in my time, and this wasn't one of those. But it did require some suspension of disbelief.

Anyway, errands to run: we picked up OD and went to the local everything store. Everything: specialty groceries, tools, toys, garden, automotive maintenance, dinner plates, construction supplies, holiday goods, and the kitchen sink. They even have a dining room for one of these. But this trip was just for motor oil and filters: time to ready the family transport before our holiday drive over the river and through the woods.

Then home to see the end of the game. In the time we'd been gone Michigan got their first lead of the game, then extended it by a field goal, but the Buckeyes had come back to within 2. (Not everyone in Toledo is an Ohio State fan, but we are in my family. These things are in the blood, you know.) I watched the final touchdown drive, with only YS (just shy of 2 years old) joining me to cheer the team on.

Freezer pizza for supper. (My wife had run down the list of things available to eat in the house, should there be a blizzard between here and Detroit to prevent her from returning to buy foodstuffs on Sunday. She's very thoughtful, and knows I wouldn't think of preparing food myself until it was time to eat.) Then a quick clean-up of the downstairs -- fourth time in one day, I think. The older two were very helpful, YD less so (no snack before bed for you young lady). Baths for all, bedtime stories and prayers for the younger two. Back downstairs for a game with the older two.

Out to the garage to change the oil. I spilled half a quart of fresh oil on the floor, and didn't have enough kitty litter to soak it up (no cats, you see). So that'll be part of tomorrow's adventure. Everyone in bed by nine, and me downstairs to ensure that my office desktop will work off-network when I take it to the customer's site on Monday. Put on Return of the King (last year's Christmas present) for the first time. I'd been holding out telling myself I'd re-read each book before watching the movies again. Didn't live up to that one, though. I've still got 400 pages to go. Anyway, the computer checked out fine, and the movie still ends the way I remember it. My wife came home about five paragraphs ago, and it's almost one now, so it's time to call it a night. Thanks for reading, and drop me an e-mail some time.

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Markets work. (aka: Steve Forbes may be right)

I mentioned this a few months ago. Forbes predicted an oil price drop way back in August. Looks like it's happening. Only question is whether it will keep going.

And for the record, gas prices are back to within 20 cents of where they were a year ago, despite an increase of almost 100% from November to September. Here's the DOE stats for Ohio.

Hat tip to David at Constitutional Brothers
Coldheartedtruth asks Are those hearings helping gas prices ??
Brian at FutureWire sees a different forecast
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Joke of the day

I usually hate these in my e-mail (usually) because it's an intrusion on my day. But since you came to my site, perhaps you're looking for a distraction.

Two boys are playing hockey on a pond in a Cleveland park when one of the boys is suddenly attacked by a crazed Rottweiler. Thinking quickly, the other boy takes his hockey stick,shoves it under the dog's collar, twists it and breaks the dog's neck,saving his friend.

A reporter is standing by, sees the incident, and rushes over to interview the boy. Young Indians Fan Saves Friend from Vicious Animal, he starts writing in his notebook.

"But I'm not a Indians Fan," the little boy replies.

"Sorry but since we're in Cleveland, I just assumed you were," says the reporter and starts writing again. Browns Fan Rescues Friend from Horrific Attack, he writes in his notebook.

"But I'm not a Browns Fan either," the little boy replies.

"Sorry but since we're in Cleveland, I just assumed you were," says the reporter and starts writing again. Buckeye Fan Rescues Friend from Horrific Attack, he writes in his notebook.

"I'm not a Buckeye Fan either," says the boy.

"Oh... I assumed everyone in Cleveland was either for the Indians, Browns or a Buckeye fan. What team do you root for?" the reporter asked.

"I'm a Wolverine fan," the boy replies.

The reporter starts a new sheet in his notebook and writes:
Little Bastard from Michigan Kills Beloved Family Pet


If you're looking for content...

Sorry, but I've been otherwise occupied. We've started to partition our basement in hopes of finishing it this winter. That's been taking most of my time lately. I've got three of the four stud walls in place, with the fourth one started. This probably wouldn't be a big deal if it was something I did often, but let me tell you: I wake up sore.

Been spending some time here lately, when I've had the chance to web surf. Did you know Julie Newmar has patents, plural? Her name is given as an example search. Who, you ask? You know her.



Have you voted today?

I was voter number 21 in my ward before coming to work this morning. Our county has just purchased electronic touch-screen voting machines. As I pulled into the parking lot at the precinct, the radio was filled with doomsday reports of the poll workers not being ready 30 minutes after the scheduled opening. The parking lot was congested, but not full, and there was no apparent line (in contrast with last year, when people were lined up out the door in the rain at 7am).

I entered the building, a church around the corner from my home, and found that of the three wards in my precinct only mine had a line. Not a respectable one - only three people ahead of me. When it was my turn, I gave my name and address, was handed a card not unlike a hotel key, and directed to one of two available voting machines. I inserted the card, and finished voting in less than 2 minutes, reviewed my choices, confirmed them. I returned the card to the poll worker who'd given it to me, thanked her, and left.

Here's my problem. One of the issues on the ballot here in Ohio - Issue 2 - is intended to allow any registered voter to vote by mail or in person up to 35 days before an election. Ostensibly, this is because it's too burdensome to have to wait in line to vote in person. (Nevermind that one can get absentee ballots under existing law.) The thing is, last year Ohio had a record number of voters participate, with a near-record turnout percentage at over 71%. People were undeterred by inclement weather or by long lines. This year we're asked to pass a ballot initiative to make it easier to vote, but there will be (likely) less than half as many actual voters. Are they staying home because of the prospect of long lines? I think not.

Do you plan to vote? If not, why not?



Eternal vigilance

Tomorrow is election day. Please exercise your right. It's probably cost you almost nothing, but don't make the mistake of treating it that way.




Saint Marcy joined most of her party to support the first amendment!

Well, that would be a surprise, but it's not what happenned.

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UnChristian Lit?

I originally posted this on Oct 10, but am moving it to the top today for the benefit of La Shawn Barber's readers who may be visiting for the first time. Welcome!
And for those of you who haven't seen it and are interested, check out her column on the Harry Potter series at Townhall.com

La Shawn Barber had a lively discussion going earlier in the day about what makes literature Christian. La Shawn specifically mentioned Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia (which I've read) and Rowlings's Harry Potter books (which I'm reading). The problems some people might have with these, are the use of magic and sorcery in the books. Sorcery is clearly proscribed in the bible.

The biblical references I've found for magic or sorcery mainly make a point of God's anger at people who practice it. I see in sorcery an attempt to accrue power or esteem for oneself, separate from God. This isn't far removed from the original sin, a desire to supplant God's rule with our own. But does that mean that the protagonists use of magic in a fantasy story makes the story incompatible with Christianity, or even unChristian?

I ask it that way because many things may be compatible with Christianity without actually being Christian. For example, Bill Bennett's Moral Compass and Book of Virtues are compatible with Christianity, but not specifically Christian (nor unChristian).

So there's a spectrum of possibilities here. I would suggest that works of literature (or art) can be Christian, compatible with Christianity, neutral, or unChristian. How do we identify where a work falls in the spectrum? The first question I would ask is whether the author professes to be a Christian. The answer to this question by no means determines the nature of the work, but it can certainly inform our decision. I would expect that for a work to be called Christian, its author must profess to be saved. This seems like a necessary condition, but is not sufficient to call the work Christian.

Does the author intend the work to be Christian in nature, or only to appeal to a Christian worldview? I assume here that a work which does not appeal to people's faith can be only neutral at best.

The answers to those questions can be found by reading little more than a review of a book. Beyond this, it becomes very much a judgement call on the part of the reader. Just as there are Christians who disagree over the meaning of specific portions of biblical text, it is up to the individual Christian to prayerfully consider for himself whether the material he reads is informed by and in agreement with God's Word.

For my part, if you want to know, I've made the following categorizations in the context of this post:
  • Star Wars series (movies, but the classification holds): neutral (God as an No God, but a powerful, everpresent "Force" which can be manipulated by individuals who are sensitive...)
  • Dr. Bennett's anthologies (Book of Virtues, The Moral Compass): compatible with Christianity (some of the stories are specifically biblical, others are drawn from other traditions or from true accounts of individuals)
  • Tolkein's Lord of the Rings: compatible with Christianity: compatible with Christianity (Tolkein was specifically opposed to using the fiction as allegory, but there is clear moral value in the tales, with definite right and wrong)
  • Rowling's Harry Potter series: I would also classify as compatible with Christianity, for the same reason I would classify Tolkein's work as such
  • Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia: I would classify as Christian lit
Are there inconsistencies? Maybe. Change my mind.

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Well now that's done.

Harriet Miers has been withdrawn as nominee for the SC. Rightly so.

Looks like Charles Krauthammer was right. Powerline has the scoop, and Captain Ed has commentary.

Previously blogged here: here. Tags: ,


Porkbusting, V

As I wrote a week ago, I've written to all of my representatives in Congress regarding the need for fiscal responsibility in our nation's capital. Last week I got a response from Senator DeWine. Today I received a reply from my congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur (D, OH-9).

Anyone want to guess what form that reply took? Well, it came by snail mail, and it was neatly typed on her Congressional letterhead (which we paid for). If her correspondence had been intended to score style points, she would have won big. Since my interest was in fiscal responsibility, an e-mailed response would have been fine.

Fine, that is, if it had actually responded to the content of my remarks. From her first paragraph:

...The suggestions that I have received from my constituents are very valuable, and I am passing them on to the proper authorities.
As her letterhead so proudly proclaims, she sits on the House Appropriations Committee. If she isn't the proper authority, then who the heck is?

The second paragraph is mainly informative, on the appropriations bills already passed to provide assistance to victims of Katrina, along with a suggestion to check back at her website for more information on how to help those affected.

The third and fourth paragraph, though, are where she truly shines. They take up more than half the letter, and cover two main topics:
  • mishandling of the disaster response by DHS and FEMA
  • "unwarranted" higher energy prices, which she believes merit an investigation by the Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission
Never mind the content of those two items. She's right about the first one, the disaster was managed poorly by FEMA (which is part of DHS). Congress has the oversight responsibility to see that those mistakes are avoided in the future. Replacing the FEMA director was part of that. It came off as a big attempt to blame the administration in response to an e-mail (from me) which wasn't asking for any blame.

On the second item, energy prices, I disagree vehemently with her position but am not a whit surprised at the content of her statement - only the context. I didn't ask about gas prices or FEMA. I asked what she would propose we do to cut unnecessary spending to offset the costs of recovery in the South. From her completely off-topic response, it's clear to me her office didn't even bother to read my e-mail. Perhaps she thought I'd be so happy to get official congressional stationary that I wouldn't notice that her letter was filled with self-righteous finger-pointing instead of an honest interest in her constituent's input.

That's what you get when the same person has been in office for 20+ years and hasn't ever faced a challenger who could come within 30 points of her.

Update 10/31: I support the Fiscal Watch Team Offset Package. link


How much is your blog worth?

My blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?

Sound like a lot? Maybe if this is the only blog you read.
The top blogs on the TTLB ecosystem are:

Hat tip to La Shawn Barber, whose site is worth a cool million!


Porkbusting, IV

So it has now been roughly four weeks since I contacted both Sen. DeWine, Sen. Voinovich, and Congresswoman Kaptur regarding the need for fiscal responsibility. I got an automatic response back from DeWine within about two days, saying he appreciated my input and that he'd like some time to look into my questions before responding.

Late this afternoon I received an e-mail back from his office which was cordial but didn't really answer the specific points I addressed. I had mentioned specific pork in my district, and asked:

If you do not agree that these programs are less important than either our obligation to those affected by Hurricane Katrina OR our budget deficit, then perhaps you could suggest another program which could be delayed or cancelled to help accommodate relief and rebuilding efforts.

In our church, we have no obligation to pass a balanced budget for the year (though we try). We also have no legal obligation to spend less than we receive in offering in a given year. However, when we see that there will be a shortfall, in our church as in our homes, we delay spending on items which are not necessary. It is frustrating beyond words that a majority of our elected representatives can not agree to do the same. Please consider what action you would be willing to take to reduce the looming increase in the deficit.

I don't know what is more frustrating: that in thirty days only one of my representatives has bothered to respond at all, or that it took him thirty days to completely avoid answering the question. The text of the response he sent is reprinted below in total (emphasis is mine):
Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns with the costs of the relief efforts in the Gulf states following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I appreciate knowing your views on this issue.

As you know, the combined force of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in one of the largest national disasters in our Nation. I am committed to providing the full amount necessary for a comprehensive recovery effort that meets the short- and long-term needs of the Gulf region and its residents. I agree that as stewards of your taxpayer dollars, Congress must take steps to manage relief funding efforts in a fiscally responsible manner. I also feel that it is important that we have a team of inspectors general to evaluate all funding provided for the relief effort to make sure that the money is spent wisely and efficiently.

In addition, I am extremely proud of the National Guard troops, government workers, Red Cross volunteers, and citizens who have generously provided their assistance in the rescue and recovery efforts. I commend their efforts and keep all of the victims and their families in my thoughts and prayers.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime.

The thing is while he believes "Congress must takes steps to manage relief funding efforts in a fiscally responsible manner", he didn't say what sort of steps he would endorse. He said only that there should be a watchdog group "to make sure that the money is spent wisely and efficiently". Only an idiot would disagree with that. The man took 30 days to completely ignore the specifics of my request. Why would I expect anything better?

Update: To give DeWine the benefit of the doubt, he did vote in favor of Sen. Coburn's Amendment No. 2165 to kill the bridge.
  • Jon Henke writes that one problem with our system is that it rewards tax cuts and spending.

  • John Hinderaker covers the defeat (82-15) of Senator Coburn's attempt to kill the Bridge to Nowhere (Ketchikan, Alaska).
My other posts on this topic are here, here, and here.



Unwelcome news

Our phone rang one night last week while we were cleaning up after dinner. My wife answered the phone and took it outside so she could hear over the kids. She was out for a while, and when she came back in the house, I heard her tear-choked voice calling me.

For most of us, the sudden death of a small child is only a fever dream from which we wake in the early hours of the morning. For one family in our town, though, it's now an unwelcome fact of their life. The call was from the director of our 3-year-old daughter's preschool. A classmate of YD's had died suddenly while under anesthesia for a tonsillectomy, as we were told later. The boy was four years old, and one of only eight in the class. The teachers had known him from the previous year's class as well, so you can imagine how close they were to him. Our daughter is young enough that his absence is not much more significant than if he had moved away, but we have talked to her about her classmate being with God now.

The circumstances of this child's death were part of an ordinary occurence, a very unusual result but a known risk nonetheless. Of our four children, both sons have undergone general anesthesia: one for a hernia operation, and one for tubes in his ears. My wife and I have each had occasion to be put under. The medical staff have always dutifully mentioned the risks, but this is a risk we've always been able to ignore. Four times in eight years one of us has been unconscious on an operating table, and not once have we seriously considered the dangers. It's safe to say we won't be so cavalier the next time one of us goes in for a routine procedure.

In the meantime, tell your loved ones that they are loved.


Now with more Feedster

No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster


What's in it for the maverick?

Ramesh Ponnuru notes on the Corner, that John McCain has endorsed Ken Blackwell for Ohio governor in 2006. Blackwell's site mentions a list of other politicos who've also endorsed him, including Zell Miller and Steve Forbes.

Blackwell was instrumental in Bush's campaign here in the Buckeye State, and it's a sure bet McCain is looking to secure his support for 2008.



Template change

My wife (my most faithful reader) said the black template looked like early 90's internet. So I've updated a little. Please let me know if this is any easier or harder to read.

Through no effort of my own...

Update, 8pm: easy come, easy go.

I've been promoted to Crawly Amphibian, and have jumped some 6,000 places in the rankings. In fact, this is despite going over a week between posts. N.Z. Bear must be purging the rolls.


Where do they get this stuff?

OS said to YD this evening, for no particular reason,

Are you ready for the pain?
The boy is not yet six. Apparently heard from someone in his kindergarten class.

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Lots of chatter on the usual sites right now about how poor of a choice Harriet Miers is for the O'Connor seat on the Supreme Court. My reading preferences skew to the right, so the complaints I've seen mainly fall into two categories: that the president is letting down his base my nominating someone without solid conservative credentials, or that the president is resorting to cronyism.

The first complaint is only partly true. This president has been solidly supported by a social conservative base through two elections. He's had the support of fiscal conservatives as well, but it's been a long time since he's had any credibility on that score. The MSM has derided him for tax cuts, and the fiscal conservatives among us have grudgingly accepted the big government proposals (like Medicare prescription drug benefits) because they tended to be accompanied by (hollow) promises of Social Security reform.

Though he's been supported by the conservative base, it hasn't been because he's been a small-government conservative. He hasn't been about making government smaller or more responsible. He hasn't needed to be. The only thing he needed to do was be more conservative than Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Not a difficult task. And after 9/11, the people who were hawkish on the war on terror tended to be people who are more socially and fiscally conservative. So by projecting a stronger image on Iraq, the president was able to secure the enduring benefit of the doubt from conservatives. Enduring, but not without end: there are a number of things we've learned to dislike about this administration, such as the nonexistent priority level of border security, the aforementioned complete and total abandonment of Social Security reform, and the lack of will to use the veto.

As to the cronyism charge, that has two different sources that I see. From the Left, they're searching for a new way to undercut the nominee. Their last attempt (complain that he didn't have enough of a public record to ensure he was "qualified") failed miserably, in that it resulted in John G. Roberts being sworn in as Chief Justice, and a number of senior senators looking like the partisan hacks they are - and amateurs to boot. So they've decided instead to take a different tack. This time, rather than bemoan the nominee's limited public record (in this case no judicial experience), they have chosen to attack the president by suggesting that the choice is inappropriate since he has a history of working with the nominee.

At the same time, the right-leaning pundit community is also crying cronyism. This President has a well-known preference for appointing people he feels comfortable with. He has the right and the responsibility to do that (and we all have the right to wish he'd picked someone else).

That said, maybe the guys who looked so incompetent during Roberts's hearing were right about one thing, with regard to the wrong nominee: we don't know enough about this person.

As of today, there's a roundup of the latest at Blogometer

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Look, I'm the last guy to say anything bad about the idea of a female president. The idea, that is. Someday, it will become a reality. When it does, we'll have as good of a chance of getting a Hoover as a Lincoln. Women aren't better, but they are different from men. That said, is Geena Davis's Mackenzie Allen the best Hollywood could come up with?

Apparently, the message we are to take to heart after watching Commander In Chief is that a woman isn't likely to be elected president any time soon, and that her best shot at the Oval Office is by means of the 25th Amendment. (If I were a woman, I'd be insulted at this.) And that a woman would be willing to call in the Marines when as few as two lives are on the line to prove she's got resolve. And that she would send her child to a school where the kids are taught to sing America the Beautiful in French. (I barely made it through the show after that.)

The politics of a presidential candidate choosing a running mate not of his party -- and someone who has broad and significant political disagreements with him -- is nothing more than a fantasy of the politically disaffected. (Considering it's easy enough for a Republican to select a running mate he disagrees with from within his own party.)

Let's pretend for a moment that the circumstances of her ascendancy to the White House are even possible. The most offensive thing to me was that the character of the Speaker of the House (a Republican), who "makes Genghis Khan look like Mahatma Ghandi", is so repulsed by the idea of a woman in the Big Chair -- or so power hungry -- that he will apparently stop at nothing to persuade her to resign, including embasrassing her before a joint session of Congress. That's right, all Republicans are moral reprobates stuck in the 50's. They have an insatiable lust for blood, and they prefer to keep women barefoot, pregnant, and baking cookies for the PTA bake sale. This is the tired, cartoonish cliche which ABC presents as groundbreaking entertainment?

I'm not much for reality TV, but here's hoping the Amazing Race doesn't jump the shark this season.

The show was liveblogged by Charmaine at Reasoned Audacity.

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Powerline notes that French police have arrested nine alleged terrorists who were planning to bomb the Paris subway.

Early reports indicate that the bombers were motivated by France's support for the U.S. war effort in Iraq.
Imagine what they would do if France had actually supported the war effort in Iraq.



If a moonbat gets arrested on Pennsylvania Avenue...

and no one's around to hear it, would anyone care?

No? What if there are camera crews?


Porkbusting, III

I got an e-mail yesterday from the office of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) with some additional options (aside from cutting pork) to offset the cost of rebuilding the areas affected by Katrina. I'm not personally that knowledgeable about Senator Coburn, but a quick google gives some good MSM references. He appears to be conservative and a budget hawk.

At any rate, since the e-mail was more or less a press release, and I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else, here's the gist:

Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jim DeMint (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV), and John Sununu (R-NH) announced at a press conference earlier today that they plan to produce a legislative proposal to find savings and called on the president to work with Congress to help those in need without passing the fiscal burden on to future generations.

Savings Options Compared to Congressional Budget Office Baseline Estimates

Significant savings can be found if the federal government curbs its lavish spending habits. The following table shows the differences, in billions of dollars, between the August 2005 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) "baseline" spending estimates and different spending scenarios.

Freeze non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending at 2005 level for next 5 years.$17.3$37.5$138.1
Reduce non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending by 5% for one year and maintain that level thereafter.$38.9$80.7$246.1

There's more in the file, and I'd be happy to pass it along if you e-mail me.

Update 9/26: Contacted Senator Coburn's office, and found there isn't currently a copy of the document hosted anywhere else, so I'm reposting the bits I liked below.

Examples of Wasteful Washington Spending
The following examples of wasteful spending were uncovered by the Senate subcommittee on federal financial management, chaired by Senator Tom Coburn.

  • At least $45 billion each year is being wasted in improper payments by the federal government and that amount only covers a limited number of federal agencies. If the 3.9% rate of known improper payments is applied to the entire federal government, elimination of these improper payments could save taxpayers at least $100 billion each year.
  • The General Services Administration, the chief procurement agency for the entire federal government, charges middle-man fees of almost $20 billion to purchase $66 billion worth of goods and services for the government. That equals a middle-man fee of nearly 30%, even though the private sector usually charges less than 5% for the same services.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the nations accounting watchdog, has seen cost overruns of $47 million on its building projects. The SECs building project costs, estimated to total $22 million, have instead tripled to $69 million.
  • The U.S. Agency on International Development spent less than 10% of its $90 million malaria budget to purchase products that treat or prevent malaria. The agency spent less than 1% of its malaria budget on drugs to prevent or treat a curable disease that is the leading killer of children in Africa.


  • Freeze non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending at FY2005 level for the next five years.
    • 1-YEAR SAVINGS: $17 billion
    • 2-YEAR SAVINGS: $38 billion
    • 5-YEAR SAVINGS: 138 billion
  • Reduce non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending by 5% for one year and maintain that spending level thereafter.
    • 1-YEAR SAVINGS: $39 billion
    • 2-YEAR SAVINGS: $81 billion
    • 5-YEAR SAVINGS: 246 billion
  • Implement the February 2005 Office of Management and Budget proposal to reduce or eliminatespending in over 150 federal programs.
    • 1-YEAR SAVINGS: $15 billion
    • 5-YEAR SAVINGS: $77 billion
  • Reduce or eliminate "pork projects" and earmarks from the highway bill
    • 5-YEAR SAVINGS: $24 billion

  • Tags:

    Keep praying

    As Rita continues to approach the coast, it appears to be weakening slightly. Here's the National Hurricane Center's forecast for the region. Wherever you are, your prayers for those affected are needed.



    Porkbusting, II

    VOA News - Republicans Suggest Spending Cuts To Offset Katrina Costs

    That speaks for itself. The article doesn't say which Republicans, except that they are members of Congress, and that they definitely do not include Tom DeLay.

    See my original post and the Porkbusting home page here.

    Update: Instapundit reports Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana is leading an effort to have spending cuts offset the cost of rebuilding.

       According to WISH-TV in Indianapolis, some Democrats are asking for tax increases to offset the cost. Haven't seen any names attached to that yet, but some Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, at least, are outdoing some Republicans (like DeLay and Alaska's Don Young).

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    Disabling Blogroll

    Ran into some long refresh times after changing my Blogrolling preferences, and couldn't access the BR site to repair it. I'll restore links when their site is back up.

    Update: Blogrolling is back up.
    Update II (9/21): And down.
    Update III (1pm): And up. Somebody take away their yo-yo. Actually, it looks like they were doing server maintenance, but should be done now.




    Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, has put forward the challenge to the blogging comunity to come up with a list of congressional pork which could be cut to fund the Katrina relief effort. Lets just say I'm happy to do my part. Took me all of 5 minutes to find this local gem.

    1. The first item is local - mostly intra-city - public transportation.

    2. The second item includes $2 million to rehabilitate a bridge which crosses the river into downtown Toledo. Not that the bridge doesn't need it, but why is that not the city's responsibility? It's not really clear from her press release or the final version of the bill what the remaining 6.4 million was for.

    3. The third item listed on her press release is reconstructing a major highway interchange, at a cost of $2.4 million, but it appears to have been increased to $5 million by the time the bill cleared the Senate.

    4. The last item is for a safety upgrade to US 24, which has been overburdened with traffic due to poor management of the Ohio Turnpike (I-80) by the turnpike commission.
    I'll accept the need for federal funding to support the infrastructure that faciiltates interstate commerce. Why does the city of Toledo need federal funding to rebuild a city-owned bridge? Are you happy about paying for it?

    How about TARTA? Most people in Toledo don't ride TARTA buses, let alone the rest of Congresswoman Kaptur's district. Let alone the rest of the country!

    Bottom line: I could understand an argument that some of that money should come from the federal government. But I'd like to see Congresswoman Kaptur and Senators Voinovich and DeWine argue that the money would be better spent here than in NOLA. Total pork from NW Ohio: up to $17.9 million.

    Update: Well, since posting this, I've gotten a brief hit from senate.gov. Hopefully some senate staffer has read this and passed it along. The idea is definitely getting some inside-the-beltway attention.

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    Okay. GearMommy was watching the awards show in the other room and called me in because she knows I like the original Star Trek series. William Shatner was on, ostensibly to sing for a segment called "Emmy Idol". He read the opening lines to the theme of the old show: "Space: The final frontier..." Then they had a professional opera singer (I assume) sing the theme (which has no lyrics) while he stood up there looking out of place.

    Maybe that's better than this. Good Lord! Hey he won an Emmy, though.

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    Counting my blessings

    Wednesday was a great day. Of course, it was my birthday, so it should have been. Not that I put a lot of stock in my birthday. Haven't really, for years. As a kid, your birthdays are significant, because there have been so few of them. At some point in your life, God-willing, birthdays become significant again, because there have been so many. I've got a ways to go before that happens. Anyway...

    The alarm went off at 5:30, and I awoke to the realization I had a dentist appointment at 8:30 and could sleep in. Nobody wakes up glad to have a dentist appointment in their future, but when it means an extra hour of sleep, you make an exception. (That's one.)

    When I awoke an hour later, I found Younger Daughter sleeping on the floor beside our bed as she's been doing for a few weeks now. She has trouble sleeping in her room, and must have come into the room in the middle of the night. Quietly! (That's two.) I tip-toed around her to get to my clothes. In my dresser drawer are a pair of hand-made cards from Older Son and Oldest Daughter.

    Came downstairs, read the cards they made. I am the luckiest guy in the world. OS's card is a simple "I love you Dad" in crayon on the back of a neatly-decorated coloring book page, written in perfect kindergarten letters. OD's is a postcard with a pencil drawing of Harry Potter and a hand-drawn "HP" postage stamp in the corner. It bears a glowing note of love and appreciation for me, and compares me favorably to her favorite young wizard. (Three and four.) If that was all that happened for the day, it would have been enough.

    Did my normal morning routine as well as I could without leaving the house to go to work. Ate breakfast and enjoyed a glass of juice as I read an extra chapter of Paul's letter to the young church of Rome. I read more than I usually would, since I had the luxury of time. (Five.)

    Sat down to write for a little while, and was greeted at about 7:45 by OS, who had seen my car still in the driveway from his bedroom window. Got a hug as if he hadn't seen me for two days. (Six.) Time you spend with your kids is always special, even when it doesn't feel special. It's important even when they resent you for being there. But when they are happy and surprised to see you, it's thrilling. Kissed the family goodbye, and off I went to the dentist.

    And what happened there? The hygienist had thought she saw a "shadow" on one of my rear teeth, but it didn't show up on X-ray, and the dentist gave me a clean bill of health.(That's seven, before 9am.) "Merry Christmas," he said.

    Actually, I said, happy birthday.

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    Nuclear Option

    The NY Times has a story up now, saying senate Democrats are frustrated over Roberts' confirmation hearings and unsure how to vote.

    Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York Democrat whose vote will be among the most closely watched in the Senate because of her possible White House bid in 2008, agreed.

    "I have found it is very difficult for Democrats to influence this White House on anything, and so I don't count on them paying attention to our legitimate concerns," Mrs. Clinton said, adding, "They will do what they think is in their interest, however they define it."
    I think they've still got a tiny sense of what's in their best interest, but it sure would be entertaining to watch them try to filibuster.

    It's really sad that this has become about picking a justice who will give the kind of decisions they agree with, rather than someone who understands their duty to interpret the law with respect to the Constitution.

    Technorati tags: , ,


    Fine art of the non-apology apology

    ScottG has an update on the latest episode in the Crescent of Embrace drama.

    Check it out here.

    Technorati Tags:


    Absent actual content:

    Really? Really??

    I've got a decent post or two percolating right now, but still trying to flesh them out.


    A worthwhile proposal

    Instapundit has some recommendations for disaster preparedness which should be implemented, city by city and county by county, across the country.

    One excerpt. The rest, you should read for yourself:

    Put somebody in charge. Politicians and bureaucrats thrive on diffusion of responsibility, because it helps them escape blame (as they're trying to do in the fingerpointing orgy that's going on now). Somebody needs to be clearly in charge. Right now it's mostly state governors, but this needs to be made inescapably plain, regardless of where it is. I don't agree with Mickey Kaus that we should ignore federalism and just put the President, or the FEMA Director, in charge and empower them to override state and local officials, but even that would be better than leaving no one in charge.
    As I see it, "ignoring federalism" would require a an act of Congress (at a minimum) to clarify the intent of posse comitatus to allow federalized use of the national guard to engage in police actions on American soil. Parties (e.g. 1, 2, 3) disagree whether such actions are proscribed by law. Absent congressional action, the Supreme Court could be asked to step in to prevent the President from using NG units in this manner.

    But aside from what it would take to make this legal, we need to really ask ourselves if it's the right thing to do.



    So gas should be cheaper in Iraq than here, right?

    I think everyone expects that. As the political situation there stabilizes, the oil supply from Iraq will increase. (According to the Department of Energy, Iraq's all-time peak oil production was in December 1979, at 3.7 million barrels daily. As of May '05, daily production had reached a level of 1.9 million barrels. Clearly, more can be done in the future.)

    But the price difference between gasoline made from Iraqi oil, refined and sold here and gasoline sold in Iraq should basically consist of the cost of transportation plus the difference in refining costs and taxes.

    So guess what Iraq does. I don't know how old this policy is, and whether it dates back to Saddam. There's no question, though, that its results are clear. Even to a member of the MSM. The policy I'm talking about isn't the one in the headline. It's down about 6 paragraphs.

    This is the new policy they're enforcing (with questionable success), which is mentioned in the headline.

    To save fuel, and to general confusion, the government has ordered half the capital's car fleet off the roads on any given day.

    Tuesday was the first day of the new rule, and only cars with licence plates ending in an odd number could take to the streets.
    This is the policy that caused the problem, which they've done nothing to address. The emphasis is mine.
    Shortages have become inevitable, creating queues and a thriving black market for gasoline, which, because of subsidies, officially costs just over one U.S. cent per liter.
    If that isn't a typo on Reuters' part, then that works out to less than 4 cents per gallon. Most cars here could fill up for less than a dollar. Does anyone have an incentive to reduce their usage of a product when they pay so much less than it costs to produce?

    It doesn't matter whether the subsidy is a direct subsidy supported by payments from the government, or whether it's in indirect subsidy in reaction to an attempt by a government to control the price. In either case, demand will increase. And if the subsidy is indirect, as I described in my earlier post, there's no incentive for the supplier to maintain a supply equal to demand. The result is a shortage.

    Update: Iraq the Model has some more information about the new driving limits. Notice what he says abot the price. There's a black market (due to the shortages). And the new policy is having the impact of reducing the black market price -- to about 40 cents/gallon, if my math is right.

    Tags: or


    Happy Labor Day

    I'll be without internet access this weekend for the annual extended GearFamily vacation. If you've stopped by for updates, please drop me a note in the comments or by e-mail, and I'll talk to you next week.

    Meanwhile, have a great holiday weekend.



    Steve Forbes has been saying the oil market bubble is going to burst.

    "I'll make a bold prediction... in 12 months, you're going to see oil down to 35-40 usd a barrel," he said, according to Agence France-Presse.
    I wonder if he'd care to revise that now. My gut says it would be good if it the price of oil was cut in half, especially with some major rebuilding expenses around the corner. But I wonder whether that would cripple the oil refineries the way 9/11 did to the airline industry.
    "I don't think it's going to go to 100 usd but if it does the crash is going to be even more spectacular," he said. "It will make the hi-tech bubble look like a picnic -- this thing is not going to last."
    Sounds like Forbes thinks it might.


    Recriminations: Katrina

    Rod Dreher has a very interesting comment on the Corner. Why weren't they better prepared? Seems like they had no excuse.

    Just heard from a Louisiana source in the medical industry that New Orleans hospitals were advised after 9/11 to move their generators from the first floor to the third floor -- presumably to protect them in case terrorists dynamited the levee. Obviously, they didn't do this, which is why the hospitals are evacuating now.


    Junk Science

    CNN reports the state of Hawaii has decided to cap wholesale prices for gasoline.

    The refiners weighed in against it last month, calling it a bad idea.

    "Chevron continues to believe that price caps are bad public policy which will not be in the best interest of Hawai'i's consumers, and that free markets perform most efficiently and effectively in balancing supply and demand," the company's filing stated.
    and in stronger terms:
    Tesoro, Hawai'i's other refiner, opposed the price cap outright.

    "Price controls of any type or design do not work and will create harmful market distortions that may increase the risks to Hawai'i consumers and the economy and may jeopardize the viability of Hawai'i's refining industry," Tesoro wrote.
    They're absolutely right, but the state "consumer advocate" pooh-poohed their complaints.
    The state consumer advocate, the only other party to weigh in on the caps, suggested changes to the price cap formula currently being developed by the PUC. John Cole, executive director of the state consumer advocacy office, wrote that the caps could increase the risk of gasoline shortages and lead to the closure of a local refinery and some gasoline wholesalers among other things. However, the office generally supported implementing the caps.

    "The regulation of wholesale gasoline prices is a first in this country and the risks outlined above are just that — risks," Cole wrote. "They are not certain to happen."
    Read the whole artice in the Honolulu Advertiser.

    How is it that the "Dismal Science" gets treated like such a mystery? Some things about economics are complex, but the law of supply and demand is pretty simple ECON101 stuff. Any time demand rises relative to supply (or supply shrinks relative to demand) the price of the goods will rise until there is a balance.

    So what does a lower price do to demand? What happens when your favorite cereal goes on sale? You buy more. What happens when Big 3 automakers give employee discounts to everyone? They sell more cars. Whatever the commodity is, when you lower the price without lowering the value the demand will increase.

    What does an increase in demand do to supply? That depends. If the suppliers have capacity to increase output to meet demand without additional unit cost, they will likely do so to increase profit. If the suppliers must make a large investment (build another refinery) with delayed returns (x years to build, including cutting through bureaucratic red tape; additional y years to pay off initial investment) and uncertain levels of risk (what will the total supply and demand be in (x + y) years) then they may be very reluctant to take the risk .

    And we are resource-limited in this country, when it comes to refineries. So when demand rises due to an artificially low price, the suppliers are reluctant to make the investment to increase capacity. They then have a choice. Let's assume, for argument's sake, that Hawaii accounts for 1% of all gasoline consumption in the country. Now let's also assume that the demand for gasoline in this country is 1/4% more than the total available production capacity. (That is: 1/4% of the demand is unmet. We'd use more if it were available, but it isn't.) The refiners can supply Hawaii its full demand at a lower profit margin (or possibly a loss) or they can take 1/2 of what would be sold in Hawaii and deliver it to the mainland, where it can be sold at full price. The result: the mainland gets its full demand met, while Hawaii gets only half its demand met. This is a shortage, and not a little one. This is the kind which would cause governments to be overthrown in non-democratic nations.

    (I haven't bothered to account for shipping costs here. Obviously, it may be cost prohibitive to send oil to Hawaii to be refined, then ship it back to the west coast for distribution. But it would be in the refiner's best interest to refrain from shipping refined gasoline to Hawaii. The capacity of Hawaii's refineries may be the limiting factor in determining the portion of the available product supplied to Hawaiians.)

    Just about everyone over the age of 10 should understand profit motive, though many have sadly accepted the idea that the people with the least right to determine the profit margin are those who have an interest in the company.

    It is from that group that the question is posed:
    Why can't the refineries continue to meet the demand in Hawaii at a small loss, since they would continue to profit in the rest of the country?

    The assumption implied by those who ask is that the lower price in Hawaii is subsidized by the company. Maybe so. What happens when California decides to fix the price as well? The market for gasoline in the state of California is obviously larger than that in Hawaii, and it would be nearly impossible for the refiners to simply absorb the loss. They must then either pull back from the California market or increase the price for everyone else.

    (It gets worse still, in the case of California. Let's say the CA market for gasoline is 15% of the total national consumption. They can only pull 1/2% out to sell at a profit, leaving 14.5% to be sold in CA at a loss or not at all. It is almost inconceivable that suppliers would continue to sell such a large portion of their product at a loss, if there is a profitable market elsewhere. It's possible that they would respond by withholding almost all shipments to California, supplying less than 20% of the demand, as compared to 50% in the Hawaii example.

    There's really no question that in the California example, a shortage would result, and that the cause would be the effort to directly control prices. The difference between the actual price cap in Hawaii and a hypothetical price fix in California is only a matter of degrees. In either case it is wrong. Bad science. Foolish meddling. Just plain morally wrong.

    Update: Kip Esquire has a great post on this from a few days ago.

    Update 8/29: McQ covers the impact of Katrina on the situation.


    Freedom of Speech

    La Shawn Barber has this as a side comment about the limitations of Freedom of Speech, pertaining to the termination of radio talk-show host Michael Graham.

    I support Michael Graham but disagree with the implication that his First Amendment rights were violated. The amendment protects citizens from government suppression of speech.
    La Shawn is spot on. The protections of the bill of rights are limitations on the powers of government, specifically the federal government. The free speech clause of the First Amendment states that you have the right to say what you want without fear of legal recriminations.

    That doesn't mean you can expect to be paid to say things against the interests of your employer. Michael Graham's employer is ABC, which is owned by Disney. Regardless of how you or I feel about what Graham said, his employer has the right and the responsibility to its shareholders to take action against him if they feel his actions reflect poorly on them. As an immense global corporation, Disney has much to lose if people were pressed by CAIR, for example, to boycott them.

    This is nothing new. The truth is, people lose their jobs over much less, eg: people who blog on company time, people who speak publicly against their employer or their peers, etc. Graham's position, though was such that he was paid to give his opinion. This is a valuable position to be in, so long as your employer is interested in hearing your opinion. There should be nothing to stop him from finding similar employment elsewhere, should someone be interested in paying to hear his opinions.



    Started a week's vacation by going camping Friday with our older three kids, their two cousins, and my parents. Actually my parents took them camping, and I came along to help even the odds. It was our kids' first real camping experience, and we did all the requisite things: marshmallow roast, spooky stories and campfire songs, fishing etc.

    Since there were eight of us, and my parents' camper sleeps two adults and two kids semi-comfortably, I slept in the tent with Oldest Daughter and Younger Daughter, while Older Son slept in the camper with his cousins and grandparents. (Youngest Son stayed home with Gearmommy, who has only agreed to go camping in theory.) Everyone was overcrowded, and we succeeded in spreading the discomfort around evenly. Until it started to downpour.

    You can't really appreciate sleeping in a tent in the rain with two kids until you understand that this tent was used by myself and my brother when we would take family camping trips, and that it was also used by my parents before they had children. It's heavy canvas, and it leaks at the seams, and smells. It's got a steep pitch to it, and when the rain hits it should run right off, but somehow the waterproofing has long since ceased to function, so that touching the sides causes the water to seep through. So we had effectively packed three people into a two-man tent, and created a sort of no man's land three inches from the wall of tent, all the way around.

    Then factor in that my sleeping bag (not that I needed it in August) was right under the less-than-perfectly closed window of the tent, so that it was dripping on my pillow, and my feet were at the door of the tent, being dripped upon. (Did I mention that it was raining, and that the tent leaked? Well, I have now.) So in a vain attempt to remain dry, and to avoid my own brand of water torture, I curled up into a ball on top of my sleeping bag in the center of the tent, and did my best to not move for something like eight hours. Didn't really work. Of the three of us, my sleeping bag seemed to have absorbed the most water, having been strategically positioned under the biggest leaks. Woke up stiff as a board, too.

    But you know what? I loved it. Not the tent, certainly, but the time. Spending time with my kids, building the kinds of memories I love of my own childhood: of family vacations and campfires, and expanding their horizons beyond their town and school and street and backyard. Teaching them about fishing and hiking, and leaving things in a better condition than you found them. And especially, teaching them that the time I spend with them is as important to me as it is to them.

    Still on vacation for the rest of the week, and the weather's great so posting will be light. Meanwhile, enjoy your week. I will!


    About Me

    I've been asked to give some information about myself, but I'm not sure where to start, or even what would interest anyone but me. So for now, I'll start with what I think someone reading this would want to know.

    Political alignment: conservative. fiscal, social. Registered R, but I vote on principle rather than party. Did I leave anything out?
    Education: bachelor's degree in engineering
    Career: machine design.
    Blog preferences: working on adding them to my blogroll. Bear with me.
    Center of my life on this earth: family, God's #1 blessing to me and my #1 responsibility

    OK, so it's not much. I promise I'll write more. Meanwhile, this is me asking for requests. What would you like to know


    $126 fine and 4 months suspended sentence

    ... is nothing. This guy is going to get what's coming to him, though.


    A good cause

    Chris John Muir would like your help with some traffic to this site. His sister is a patient.

    Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

    Update: Got so impressed with myself for posting an image, that I didn't bother to get his name right! Caught it when I added the copyright info.


    The Tennessee fugitives were caught in Columbus, OH, about 300 miles North of where they killed corrections officer Wayne Morgan. Looks like they'll both be charged with first-degree murder.

    Apparently his wife married him while he was incarcerated. She met him as a prison nurse, but was fired from that job after sneaking food into the prison for him, according to the Canton Repository.


    Things the world attaches to Christianity, I

    Objective Justice has a piece about Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, which I will not link to. Apparently WBC is picketing the funerals of American soldiers on the premise that they died because they were gay. Now Phelps is an extreme case, but he certainly feeds the stereotype that all Christians are intolerant homophobic cavedwellers.


    Give them adjacent cells

    These two will be caught. She'll be in prison for longer than his sentence, even if she doesn't end up on death row.

    Welcome home, Discovery

    Landed on Runway 2-2 at Edwards AFB, about 8:15 ET.
    Glad to have them safe and sound.


    On Parenting...

    We've been parents for a while now, and with more children than most people we know. We've gotten used to hearing things like:

    So, are you guys done yet?

    How many more kids are you gonna have?

    Isn't it hard work having four?

    The first two questions are just rude, but we've gotten pretty good at deflecting the question without embarrassing the person who asked - even though they might deserve it. The third question isn't rude, though. It's genuine, and it's a question every parent must answer eventually. I work outside the home, and my wife is a full-time mom, so our answers to that question haven't always been the same.

    Raising four kids used to mean she would stay home during the day, take them to doctor appointments and preschool, feed them, dress them (the younger ones), and plan the day's activities, etc. My part was to come home after work, play with them after dinner, bathe them if necessary, and read to them at bedtime. On weekends, I would stay home with them while she went shopping in the morning (or Sunday afternoon), and then we would have family time together in the evening. This could all be time-consuming, but not usually hard, and usually pleasant.

    OK, so I've simplified it a bit. There's more to it than that, and it's never completely defined. But we've developed something of a routine which has made manageable the logistics of raising four children. The thing is, parenting is much more than the routine or the logisitcs. As parents, we are challenged to raise our children to be valuable, contributing members of their community. When they're very young, that means teaching them obedience, and then later to value the feelings of others. Those, too, were relatively easy.

    But now our older children have reached an age where right and wrong are more than a simple list of Do's and Don'ts. The thing they most need to learn now is judgement. This is a much more complex thing to teach, because it is subjective by definition. Something tells me this is where it actually becomes hard work.

    More to come...

    Welcome back, Mr. Lileks

    Lileks has brought the bleat back from hiatus. If I haven't read his post by 8am, my day just isn't the same. But he's not quite finished working on the new layout, you've been warned. Screedblog's got a good post on the intelligent design vs. evolution debate, and it's much easier to read.


    First Things

    Welcome to the first day of an experiment. I hope to maintain a fairly regular journal here. What it will become, I don't really know yet, but I anticipate it will include statements of my opinions and beliefs.

    I intend to keep private things private for now, so no names. But here's a little bit about my life:

    I'm the father of four beautiful, wonderful children, and am happily married to the love of my life. I learn from her every day, and I'm a better person for her presence. And she never reminds me how lucky I am to have her. Suffice to say, I am richly blessed.

    From which you may assume that I am a Christian. I claim Jesus Christ as my savior. There are certain things which that should imply about me, and I struggle to live up to those things. There are other implications which the world attaches to the word Christian. I hope to address those in a future post, but it isn't my intention to make religion or faith the sole focus of this blog.

    Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you'll return.