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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Walking already - I think it's nap time

We've made it through a good portion of the grogginess of post-surgery blues and the joy of a liquid lunch - I think I can see a cheeseburger in my wife's future very soon! Unbelievably, the professionals from the hospital's torture - er physical therapy - department came by to take her on a leisurely stroll...



Now it's nap time. I feel a little guilty about being sleepy but getting to bed after midnight and getting up at 3:30 a.m. to get ready and come to the hospital makes for droopy eyes. She is on her side with the leg and knee supported by pillows and the lights are dimmed.

I will endeavor to stand watch without falling asleep. Thinking of that reminds me of Mark 14:37.

Still, I am wondering about autumn in Florida. I've heard of temperatures in the single digits and below zero up north. Here today? Roughly 78 degrees...


The chapel caught my eye on the way back to the room. It seemed a shame not to make use of such a peaceful place - the beauty of the stained glass and the words of Psalm 20 were just what the doctor ordered.


And for a certain author friend, I almost saw a Seabird when I looked at the chapel window the first time. 

Thanks to everyone for their prayers...We really appreciate it!

X

Praising the Great Physician

No, I don't mean Dr. Hartsfield - although he is a great surgeon!

My lovely wife is out of surgery and Dr. Hartsfield reports all went according to plan, and for any surgery, that's a good thing! She'll be in recovery for about another hour or so and then it's upstairs to our luxury suite overlooking the parking lot. And tomorrow begins the hopefully short road to recovery, with tortu, er I mean physical therapy and...Pain Management!



I've always thought pain management was an oxymoron, or at least an undesirable activity. I mean, I understand what pain management is and why some folks need it but I want to eliminate my pain - not manage it.

Of course, I'm a wuss, so...

What do you think?

X

Third time is the charm

As I write this entry, I an in the lobby of Gulf Breeze Hospital, a member of the Baptist Health Care family of medical centers.


My wife is undergoing a partial knee replacement - her third knee surgery this year. After two 'scopes, an injection program and copious physical therapy, our doctor has decided that this is the best option for her to finally get over the knee problems that have been a thorn in her side for so long.

I'm a little slow, so asked the doctor to draw me a picture. Amazingly, it looked a lot like the one below:

You see, the problem is, my wife had torn her meniscus a couple of times and the knee joint had reached a point where the top bone was rubbing on the bottom bone. Friction in a joint, especially a load-bearing joint, is not a good thing.

Basically, they are going to readjust the knee joint, put in the two pieces you see in the x-ray image above, and sew it all back up with staples holding the 3-4 inch opening together.

Amazingly, she will be walking on it today!

Most likely we will have an overnight stay so the staff can make sure everything is going according to plan and we'll get to go home tomorrow.

We are praying for a full recovery according to God's good plan (plan bon dew in Creole). And once Nance is all better, I'm going to go in for some adverb therapy.

X

Saturday, November 20, 2010

You want to know what faith is?

So many people today question faith. What is it? What, or who, should we direct it toward? How do we cling to it in the worst of times? Over the last ten years I thought I had made some progress in understanding the answers to those - and many more - questions. This morning, I discovered I don't know squat.

If you want to make that discovery for yourself, read this article about a man named Chad Arnold. The journey that this man - and his family - have been on moved me to tears. As I read, I thought of Bible passages I have learned that spoke to what he has gone through, what he's going through and what he will go through. It's not that God's Word is insufficient in Chad's case - quite the opposite - it's just the thought of, "What can I possibly say that could connect with what Mr. Arnold has gone through?"

He is a walking illustration of what the Bible is all about. Sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph. You want to know what faith is? Just read about Chad and his brother Ryan and all the rest.

Chad's blog continues to document this story as he and the Arnold family continue to live through the loss they've experienced. I am astounded by their faith and challenged by their lives.

What do you think?

X

Friday, October 22, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane...

Not that I've been verbose lately, but I'll be offline for the next week or so. I'm part of a team that is headed to Mirebalais to lead a revival, teach Bible school for children and generally minister to the community there.


This is something new for my walk of faith and I'm looking forward to what God has in store for us in Haiti.

Tonight is going to be a rush of shopping, packing, and last minute study and preparation. But come tomorrow, I'll be on the plane and in God's hands.

If you're the praying kind, please pray for safe travel, no tropical disturbances, and our hearts. These folks have been through so much - we want to have a positive impact on their community.

Bon voyage...

X


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Football is barbaric...sometimes

Or what the Americans call football; it's a rough sport. I'm fine with that.

What I'm not fine with is punks taking cheap shots. Punks like T. J. Ward.



Fox Sports reported that Ward was fined $15,000 for the hit. That's like you fining me $15 for beating the crap out of someone for no apparent reason. Not much of a deterrent, if I was inclined to be a thug.

And of course, Ward said he wasn't trying to hurt Shipley. They always do.

I think Jordan Shipley was a gifted receiver at Texas; don't know much about him as a Bengal but I'd guess he's got a fair few years ahead of him in the No Foul League, er, NFL.

How many times do we need to watch as players stand around after such vicious hits while the object of their destruction gets carted off to the hospital.

Anyone remember Darryl Stingley?

The play in the video above is clearly helmet-to-helmet: a serious foul now in the NFL. Didn't stop Ward from tagging Shipley though, did it? And these players spend more than $15,000 on a night out. Chump change.

Shipley was lucky, he just suffered a concussion. Lucky; right.

What do you think?

X

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The next book I buy...

...will be a copy of the new release from Dr. David Jeremiah, The Coming Economic Armageddon.

Now I'm not the Chicken Little type, but I think Dr. Jeremiah has made some good points - some scary points. Undertaking a year of research, he has put together some statistics - real numbers - that point to the inevitability of the U.S. economic system crashing.

Many non-Christians out there may sigh, roll their eyes, and say, "Oh boy, another end times scenario from the Christians...yawn."

But in listening to Dr. Jeremiah on the radio the last couple of days, he has dispassionately reported the numbers - numbers about our economy that are dismaying in the least, and frightening at worst. He's not making these up - this is information that is out there for anyone who spends the time to find it. Our debt load, our devalued currency, our inadequate tax base...

Whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim or believe in something else entirely, if you are American and have a stake in our country's continued viability, you should read this book.

X

Saturday, September 11, 2010

To believe in God...or not

Greetings, blogosphere. I've missed you. Seriously.

New responsibilities at work have kept me from posting at all since the World Cup. My goal has always been to get at least one post up a week, so that should tell you how busy life has been.

I think today's entry is of suitable import to merit extra effort and a return to regular blogging.

As I prepared for our small group session this week - on making a case for God's existence - I looked around the Internet and read a few opinions on God. At the Philosophy Talk blog, I read Ken Taylor's post and many of the comments that followed. There was something almost cavalier about the author's dismissal of God's existence and I wondered at the depth of emotion displayed across the spectrum of belief as people commented.

I can't force anyone to believe in God and I can't convince or argue anyone to a belief in God. Each of us has to make that decision on our own. Jesus died on the cross and defeated death so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. All I can do is share that with anyone, and whether they choose to accept Him (or not) is their decision.

Responding to Mr. Taylor's post, I asked, "Would the atheists be happy if God forced himself on us? If we were all little white-robed-wearing proselytes with no free will?"

Who knows?

Secularists seem to want me to take responsibility for my own life, yet, when I do that and make the most important decision anyone can make, they mock.

Blaise Pascal had a personal experience that revealed to him the existence of God. Then he chose to present the case for belief in a mathematical, reasoned way. And people still mocked him.

I'm not saying that Pascal's Wager is the best foundation on which to believe in God - far from it. But for those that are seeking meaning in this life, it is one of countless arguments for at least considering the truth of God's existence.

The Bible, from beginning to end, is the story of God's effort to redeem mankind. Over and over, time after time, humanity turned away from God to our detriment. Over and over, time after time, God gave humanity another chance.

Finally, as was His plan all along, God said (Disclaimer: I am paraphrasing here), "Here's what I'll do - I will make the ultimate sacrifice and blot out all the terrible things humanity has done, is doing and will ever do. All anyone has to do is believe in Me, accept that what I have done will re-establish the bond I had with humanity in the very beginning, and those who choose to receive My free gift will be with Me for eternity, in peace."

Remember when you were a child and were punished for disobedience. You didn't like that but if you were honest with yourself you admitted that you had messed up and deserved to be punished.

Hell wasn't created for us but as we continued to disobey God over the centuries, it was clear that of the two places available to spend eternity, it was the most suitable for the disobedient.

But you say, "That's not fair!"

What's not fair about it? When you were a kid your parents told you, "If you do this then here's what will happen."

God has told us over and over, time after time, what will happen if we disobey Him. He has given us free will, as well as the full knowledge and awareness of the consequences should we choose to be disobedient.

I'd say that's pretty darn fair. If we had no idea - if we went through our entire lives without the Bible or church or any knowledge of God and His eternal plan - and we ended up in Hell because we had stolen a pack of gum when we were 14, then that would be unfair.

But He has revealed His plan to us; He's given us the rule book; He's told us everything we need to know in order to believe in Him and re-establish our relationship with Him. He's given us the road map to Heaven.

And He has given us free will to choose how we will live our lives. To paraphrase Rod Serling, "There's a signpost up ahead, and on it are two destinations."

Which will you choose?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dogpile!

I usually don't like to kick a person - or, in this case, a country - while they're down but let's face it, Les Bleus deserve it. Les Bleus - The Blues - France's national football team, lost badly today to tournament host South Africa in the last Group A match from the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The scoreline read 2-1 but in reality South Africa controlled the match from start to finish. It didn't help that French midfielder Yoann Gourcuff was sent off in the 25th minute, leaving his countrymen to defend against a motivated South African side for the remaining 75. In truth, Bafana Bafana (South African term for 'the boys') should have scored more. Doing so might have seen them through to the knockout stages in place of Mexico, but it wasn't to be.

So much for the good ol' days...


How could the 1998 world champions fall so far? Let me throw out a few nuggets...

  • Coach Raymond Domenech, after a 2-0 thumping by Italy dumped France out of the 2008 European championships, proposed to his girlfriend in the post-match interview. Nothing like being self-absorbed after an embarrassing team loss.
  • Prior to this year's world cup, Domenech prepared a full program for his 24-player squad: mountain bike training, weights, swimming and hiking. It doesn't look like they kicked many balls in the Alps...
  • Prior to the aforementioned 2008 European Championships Domenech admitted his team selection was influenced by astrology. Maybe that's why two of his best options, Arsenal regular Samir Nasri and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, weren't even selected?
  • Earlier this year, French winger and all-around (not-so?) good guy Frank Ribery was implicated along with Benzema and several teammates in a prostitution scandal involving a minor. Yikes!
  • Once Les Bleus actually got to the World Cup, they managed to score a grand total of one goal in three games. Striker Nicolas Anelka was dismissed from the team after allegedly making derogatory remarks concerning/to Coach Domenech during the halftime break of France's humiliating 2-0 loss to Mexico. 
  • In protest, the entire French team refused to practice this past Sunday, apparently in a display of solidarity with the dismissed Anelka. Jean-Louis Valentin, the French team director, resigned afterward due to being 'fed up' with the team. You think?
  •  Fitness coach Robert Duverne also stormed off the practice field Sunday, tossing his accreditation away in anger after an argument with French captain Patrice Evra - who, by the way, didn't even play against South Africa today. Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!

What a complete and utter train wreck.

At least, for the French, c'est finis. Now the rest of us can focus on really important matters - like the USA beating Algeria in a must-win to make the knockout round after being denied a clear winning goal against Slovenia by Malian referee Koman Coulibaly. Not that I'm bitter.

And speaking of dog-piling; the Irish, who were eliminated in a World Cup qualifier play off by, of course, Les Bleus, reportedly donned somberos and downed tequila shots after Thursday's win by Mexico over the French. Erin go bragh!

This World Cup has more drama than a WWE Smackdown. If this doesn't bring in the fans, I don't know what will.

But to the French...boux houx...and au revoir!

X

Monday, June 14, 2010

Morality Play or Discrimination?

According to this report on MSN, a teacher was fired from a private Christian school for having sex outside of marriage. The teacher is now suing the school on discriminatory grounds.

At the risk of offending all free thinkers out there, I think the firing is justified, and here's why:

a) It's a private, Christian school
b) The teacher signed an employment application which clearly states, "...that as a leader before our students we require all teachers to maintain and communicate the values and purpose of our school."
c) The Bible is clear that sex outside of marriage is a sin

It should have been no surprise to the teacher that engaging in sex outside of marriage would put her employment at risk.

I am not setting myself up as a judge here. I'm merely expressing my opinion that considering the values and policies of her employer, the teacher should have been aware of at least the possibility that things could go this way.

I suspect that as a result of the pending lawsuit, the school will be required to spell out in their policies and procedures the types of behavior that are not allowed - that is, if they are allowed to keep some level of autonomy regarding said policies and procedures.

This whole situation is sort of a shame because, if you're a Christian and an adult, you should know these things already.

What do you think?

X

Friday, June 4, 2010

Freaky Friday...

...no, not the one with LiLo.

You can tell it's a World Cup year when they have videos like this one out...



Short post today but honestly, it's quality over quantity, wouldn't you say?

X

Thursday, May 27, 2010

You can't have it both ways...

Last year I picked up a book by Bill Wiese entitled 23 Minutes in Hell. I read it, shared it with  friends and then it started collecting dust. I happened upon it this morning and spent a few minutes browsing through the beginning again...


This question arose: How many Christians believe in Heaven but don't believe in Hell?

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a mainstream Christian church that actively discusses Hell these days. The Bible says, "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death." [Revelation 20:14]

As near as I can tell, Hades is not Hell - it is a place where our spirits go to await judgment. For those who are saved, it is a place of rest...Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." [Luke 23:43]. And for those who have not accepted Christ as their savior, well, I think Mr. Weise's book sums it up very succinctly.

It's not going to be pretty.

We all seem to love the books and stories that talk about Heaven and listen intently when people share their near-death experiences and how peaceful, etc. they were. And that's all well and good, but if we are to take God's word at face value - as the Truth - then we can't have Heaven without Hell.

If you'd like to know more, pick up a copy of Mr. Weise's book. Alternately, there are several videos of him floating around on YouTube.

If you're convinced that there is a Hell and that you don't want any part of it, well, read Romans 10:9 - That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Everyone has free will - you can pick where you spend eternity. To paraphrase the French Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, "Choose wisely."

What do you think?

X


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And then there were 23...

U.S. Men's head soccer coach Bob Bradley has named his final 23-man squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as announced on the US Soccer web site. Here is our team:


GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (2010), Marcus Hahnemann (2006, 2010), Tim Howard (2006, 2010)

DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra (2006, 2010), Jonathan Bornstein (2010), Steve Cherundolo (2002, 2006, 2010), Jay DeMerit (2010), Clarence Goodson (2010), Oguchi Onyewu (2006, 2010), Jonathan Spector (2010)

MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (2002, 2006, 2010), Michael Bradley (2010), Ricardo Clark (2010), Clint Dempsey (2006, 2010), Landon Donovan (2002, 2006, 2010), Maurice Edu (2010), Benny Feilhaber (2010), Stuart Holden (2010), José Torres (2010)

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (2010), Edson Buddle (2010), Robbie Findley (2010), Herculez Gomez (2010) 

All in all, I'm not too surprised at the choices Bradley made. There are quite a few debutantes to the World Cup stage and, amazingly, only four of the final twenty-three ply their trade in the MLS domestic league. This speaks to the depth of international experience this team boasts and should give fans of the beautiful game here in the U.S. some hope that we will post a good showing this go-round.

I think it's a bit much to ask for that the US team will penetrate deep into the draw, but a strong second place showing in the group stage is almost expected. Unfortunately, that will most likely earn us a meeting with a slightly injury-depleted but still dangerous Germany, the projected winner of Group D.

As always, our international hopes will be hanging on the pace and presence of Landon Donovan. The difference this year is that he has some help. His scorching hot scoring partner from the LA Galaxy - Edson Buddle - made Bradley's cut, and a rededicated DeMarcus Beasley from Scotland's Rangers should offer plenty of speed on the left wing - a prospect we've been waiting years for.

Physically, we look strong in the middle of the park with Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, but there are still questions all over the defensive end.

I'd like to see the proposed starting eleven in action for the final friendly before the team departs. I believe that game will show us a lot of what we have to look forward to. ESPN will be broadcasting the game against Turkey on May 29th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Tune in and support those Yanks!

X

Monday, May 24, 2010

No trumpet playing band...

Ever have one of those days that fairly screams, 'Beautiful!'? Today started just like that. It's already getting hot in Florida - I'm talking in the nineties during the day with, maybe, a low of seventy-two. But this morning, the humidity was down and it felt cooler. I left for work and drove through the tree-lined, residential streets of Bagdad. The window was down, the air was cool. The oak trees were a vibrant green and the early-morning sky was impossibly blue. After thanking God for such a great day, I turned on the radio and heard this song...

The Doobie Brothers - Listen to the Music

Maybe it's because the Doobies were my first concert, maybe it's just because this song and this morning went together so well - who knows - it just fit. Traffic was light, the wind was cool and the sun rose at my back while I drove to work over Escambia Bay...perfect.

I'm no stranger to horns and synthesizers - I love jazz and new wave from the eighties - but this morning, the pure guitar sound of the early Doobies was just what the doctor ordered.

I liked the Doobie Brothers with Michael McDonald - he has such a great voice...

The Doobie Brothers - What a Fool Believes

But there is something about the early Doobies - straight forward guitar and vocal harmonies with a solid backbeat - that harkens to a simpler, more innocent time.

What drives the soundtrack of your life?

X

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In a big country...

I just finished listening to this solid example of Eighties Scot's Rock, or whatever that particular genre was called. We just called it New Wave.


The chorus of the song goes like this:

And in a big country, dreams stay with you,
Like a lover's voice, fires the mountainside..
Stay alive..

(I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered

But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered)

I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert,
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime..


In my youth I never paid much attention to lyrics - I was an American Bandstand kind of kid - if it had a good beat, and you could dance to it, that was enough for me. Heck, a lot of the songs I listed to, you couldn't tell what they were singing anyway.

But for some reason, I thought about this song today and then it came on the Internet Radio at work. I'm not shilling for them so I won't tell you which one. But they do have a nice New Wave station or two.

In a big country, dreams stay with you...

America is the big country. Not the biggest country, but the big one - the one everyone seems to want to get to; even today. When I was what is referred to as an expatriated American, we had a saying, 'The States are a great place to be from.' That was merely a chic statement at the time but true nevertheless. Even in Beirut, all the folks I ran into were not unhappy that I was American. They thought it was cool.

 They didn't have MTV in the old days...

But you can't stay here with every single hope you had shattered...

How often, especially during the King Bush the Second years, did you hear some flaming liberal from Hollywood spout off about moving to France? About as often as one of those tightwad conservatives replied, "Need any help packing?"

If America, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, now has a busy exit door, is there another Big Country? Environmental disasters; natural disasters; military disasters; political disasters; social disasters. Sounds like the sixties...almost.

But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime...

I don't think the majority of American people want much - despite the calls for Obama's head when he bailed out Wall Street and Detroit and left us holding the bag. It's telling that many of the rabble-rousers had voted for him just months previous. No. It would've been nice to give the billions to the people - how about $50K per family? Wouldn't that have stimulated the economy? Oh, I forgot...if the banks aren't loaning money, that's bad. So if we didn't need the loan...

We just want to live and breath and see the sun in the wintertime. Icelandic ash notwithstanding.

We live in a big country where dreams can still stay with you. Dreams that don't come from Washington.

What say you?

X

Monday, May 17, 2010

And that's how you do it, kids...

There are a lot of stories - good and bad, inspirational and insipid - leading up to this summer's Football World Cup. For the uninformed, this year's tournament marks the 19th edition of what has become a global footballing phenomenon - and the first World Cup held on the African continent.

Injuries have dominated the news as the major European club seasons are wrapping up. Charlie Davies (F), Oguchi Onyewu (D), and Clint Dempsey (M) of the US team all went down with injuries during their respective seasons. Of the three, only Dempsey and Onyewu have recovered sufficiently to be invited to the pre-World Cup training camp by US Men's Team coach Bob Bradley. Sadly, Davies, who was nearly killed in a violent automobile accident last year, has not returned to full fitness, although he is well along in his recovery.

David Beckham, who fills a dual role playing midfield for U.S. club Los Angeles Galaxy and Italian giants AC Milan, went down with a freak tear of his Achilles tendon. The injury will likely prevent Becks from participating in his record fourth World Cup.

Germany, certainly one of the teams to watch in this year's footy-fest, were stunned this weekend as captain Michael Ballack went down with torn ankle ligaments, thanks to a late challenge by Kevin-Prince Boateng, in Chelsea's FA Cup victory over relegated Portsmouth. Fans of conspiracy theories will no doubt be exploring the coincidental timing of Boeteng's tackle - especially since he plays for Ghana, who are in the same World Cup group as the German squad.

Even non-players are getting in on the action as English Football Association Chairman Lord Triesman has stepped down from his FA post as well as the chair for England's 2018 World Cup hosting bid. Apparently, Lord Triesman was secretly taped speculating on whether the Spaniards and Russians were in cahoots to bribe some referees...or something like that. And of course, that bastion of British journalistic integrity - the Sunday Mail - appears to have thrown in some questions concerning Lord Triesman's relationship to his outer - and former personal aid - Melissa Jacobs.

Scandal, injury and intrigue aside, the best story I've seen so far is the next chapter in the Oguchi Onyewu injury tale. After rupturing his pateller tendon in a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica, "Gooch" hasn't been able to play for his club, AC Milan.

 For the love of the game

In an incredible gesture - Onyewu has signed a one-year, unpaid extension with the Italian Serie-A third-place finishers. You heard me right - unpaid. Can you imagine A-Rod, Peyton Manning, or LeBron James opting out of their salaries after sitting for a year due to injury? Isn't that what insurance and contract guarantees are for? In these days of prima donna sports personalities, Onyewu's loyalty and commitment to his club and contract are exemplary. In fact, here are AC Milan's exact words, ""This is an exemplary gesture that deserves our sincere congratulations."

I don't know about you but I'll be cheering a little louder for Gooch as the U.S. men take the field on June 12th.


U.S. Men defeated Spain 2-0 in 2009 Confederation's Cup

How about you?

X

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

That's Outrageous!

In the past couple of weeks, I've heard enough outrage and umbrage over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to, well, fill the Gulf of Mexico. Don't get me wrong, I am appalled at the impact this spill is going to have on the Gulf ecosystem.


At the same time, I'm trying to be a little pragmatic - with anything mechanical, there is always a risk of failure. Frankly, I think the oil industry has done very well in cleaning up its act. How many wells are in the gulf? How many hurricanes have they weathered? I can't remember another major disaster like this. Folks refer to the Exxon Valdez - but that was a ship - and that was wholly a result of human error. We don't know what caused the Deepwater Horizon explosion yet, but I think we're talking apples and oranges here.

The biggest thing that jumped out at me as I watched President Obama this weekend - and it was reinforced by subsequent news reports - is that we're not addressing the larger issue.

No doubt we need to clean up this spill and hold the oil companies - not just BP - responsible. But what about seizing the day? What about taking this opportunity to draw a line in the oil sheen-coated sand and say, "Enough is enough." Wind, solar, battery, fuel cell, even nuclear (or nucular, if you like George). We have plenty of energy alternatives that can be developed. We've already got several companies producing road-ready, fully-electric cars.

I would so drive this car

Granted, models like the Tesla S (pictured above) are still expensive, but how much would it take to bring this technology to the masses? It's reported that BP is spending $6-7 million A DAY on the oil spill in the Gulf - and that's going to go on for some time.

Can you imagine what we could accomplish in terms of alternative energy technology if we spent $6-7 million a day in a concerted effort?

I don't mean to minimize the tragedy of the Gulf spill and the ongoing risk to a huge natural habitat along the Gulf coast - but I think we're missing a larger opportunity. Let's take those broken eggs and make an omelet, people.

What do you think?

X

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rich man, poor man...

I was glancing through the comments at the end of this article on the challenges facing U.S. Men's soccer coach Bob Bradley, when I came across a comment that highlights a monumental truth regarding soccer in the USA.

A soccer oracle with the odd name of SignGuyDino hit the nail on the head when he opined, "In the world, soccer is the poor kid's game.  In America, it's the rich kid's game."

I thought about that for a minute and realized the truth of it. Our oldest son just finished his freshman year in college. He didn't play club ball growing up and only played three years on his High School team. yet even with that lack of experience, he was able to get a partial scholarship to play at a small NAIA school in central Florida - Webber International University. But let me tell you, that is one expensive college. Is our son getting some great coaching and a great education? Absolutely - but it ain't cheap.

Our younger son, still a junior in High School, has been playing for the local club team, FC Santa Rosa, to boost his skill level. We are struggling to keep that dream alive. At $70 per month for club dues, it's not too pricey as club soccer goes, but the start up costs, uniform fees, tournament costs, etc. all add up. And in this economy, with a spouse who fell victim to layoffs, yeah, it's expensive.

I think what SignGuyDino was trying to say is that if you go to just about any other country in the world, soccer is played at the street level. Kids grow up playing the game anywhere they can. The professional leagues have academies to draw in the better prospects. National teams sponsor camps and other opportunities for kids of all age brackets - not just to showcase their talents,  but also to offer real and valuable advice on what they need to do to improve.

Soccer is the world's game and it's looked upon across the globe like we look upon football, basketball, and baseball in this country - as a way to escape the poverty of the streets through excellence in athletic endeavor. I'm tired of hearing couch pundits rip American soccer - and I'm guilty as charged, although I still play the game - but many of their rants have substance, if not style. That dino guy also said that, '...in the U.S. soccer is played with a soccer mom mentality,' and he's right. We need to get serious about building a national organization to develop soccer in America. We need private companies and public organizations to help finance the growth of the sport in this country. We won't need the gravy train forever; once the sport takes off and the infrastructure is in place, then we'll begin to see the U.S. emerge as a real challenger on the biggest stages of the world's biggest sport.

What do you think?

X

For more in-depth commentary on the Beautiful Game than I can offer, check out the great blog by Ives Galarcep - Soccer by Ives

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Greed is not good

Last week, I was driving to work and heard a report on NPR noting the expansion of the annual NCAA Basketball tournament to 68 teams from the current 64.

I don't watch much basketball - pro or college - except for the Gators. But after their amazing back-to-back championships in 2006-2007 it's been a little slow in Gainesville for Billy Donovan and the Gator Nation. At least we've had Tebow.

No doubt there are a plethora of pundits who could, would and will expound on the value of adding additional participants to the round-ball love-fest referred to as March Madness.

Personally, I believe it's all about the money.

In the 1987 film Wall Street, Michael Douglas' Gordon Gecko is famous for saying, "Greed is Good." 



I couldn't picture them making that movie today. The only people we would see at the theater would be wielding torches and pitchforks - not tickets.

NPR reports that the NCAA signed a 14-year, more than $10.8 billion deal that will expand television coverage beyond CBS - although they will still have sole possession of broadcast rights for the coveted Final Four. More than $10.8 billion? Does NPR not know how much more or is the NCAA just equivocating? Greed.

Another reason I don't care for the expansion of March Madness - and believe me, it won't stop at 68 - is that it plays into the new mentality that everyone is a winner. I'm all for self-esteem, but if we want everyone to be a winner, why play? I wonder how the organizers and sponsors of the NIT Tournament reacted to this news. Where will the teams come from that will be added to the NCAA tourney? I'm guessing from the NIT pool. So the NCAA gets better and the NIT, well, doesn't.

Not to mention that with a bigger pool of competitors, the NCAA and CBS will have to come up with a new name.  Either that or just pretend - like Major League Baseball - that the old one still applies. Boy's of Summer? March Madness? With more teams, I can't see the NCAA tournament fitting into March.  Oh wait. The final this year was played on April 5th. Too late.

I'm sorry to be all Johnny Raincloud about this. Coupling a sport I really don't have much interest in with a Trump Taj Mahal full of money...

 Could you fit $10.8 billion in this building?

... none of which benefits the players, is just a recipe for disaster. But here's a suggestion: next March, how about just going outside with your kids and playing basketball. That's free and a lot more enjoyable. Isn't that a mad idea?

What do you think?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Ginger Prince once more...

Paul Scholes scored a dramatic goal on Saturday to give Manchester United an injury-time victory on Derby Day. The tie at Eastlands was fraught with drama if not goal-scoring panache. United are the Cardiac Kids of English Football, albeit a bit long in the tooth these days. But oh how many times have I sat in downcast misery as the clock struck 90 minutes - only to erupt in rapturous glee the next as Solskjaer or Keane or Cantona or fill-in-the-Red-Devil-hero-of-the-day here, has wrenched a victory or crucial draw from sure defeat. This time, a day after signing a one-year contract extension, the 35 year-old Scholes provided the honors.

The Ginger Prince in flight

There is still work to be done. Even with an inspired win over their City rivals and Chelsea's somewhat shocking loss to in-form Tottenham Hotspur, United have tough games ahead in their quest for an unprecedented fourth Premiership crown on the trot. Ironically, that challenge starts next Saturday at Old Trafford against the very same Spurs that have gifted the Red Devils with championship hope once more.

So while crimson-clad fans the world over rooted their hearts out for Spurs this past weekend, next week will be spent throwing them under the proverbial bus. With any luck, the Ginger Prince will be in the driver's seat once more.

What do you think?

X

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Magical Mystery...

I don't know. Maybe I'm more in tune with the Vatican since watching Angels and Demons. This morning, up pops the news that the seat of Catholic power has made peace with the Beatles.

I had always imagined amazing and secretive meetings in the cloistered confines of Vatican City. Bishops, Cardinals and the Holy See praying and strategizing on how to blunt the progress of atheism and spread the love that is Jesus and His Holy church.

Frankly, I'm a little disappointed.

Someone in the Vatican has actually been keeping track of the anniversary of John Lennon's 1966 famous - or infamous - quip that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

Forgiven?

Forty years since the breakup of the iconic band, it's time for the Vatican to issue an official forgiveness proclamation?

Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano paid glowing tribute to how the Fab Four's melodies transcend their mortal sins and "...live on like precious jewels."

Amen.

What do you think?

X

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cell phones are evil

I just walked across the parking lot to pick up something for lunch - all of maybe two hundred yards one-way - and noticed a young lady pulling out of the drive-through lane whilst putting her food down, driving, glancing around for other traffic, and ... talking on her cell phone.

This just struck me as wrong on several levels.

1. Isn't it rude to both the restaurant employee and the person on the other end of the call to be on the phone as you place your order, pay and pick up your food at the drive-through window?

2. Personally, I find it annoying and a little painful to have to hold my cell phone between my neck and my ear so I can use my hands for other things (like driving and shifting gears). I would imagine others would as well.

3. Pulling out of the drive-through lane while trying to accomplish several things at once tends to take a little away from all of them - something that seems a tad dangerous when one of them is paying attention to your surroundings while operating a motor vehicle.

I don't subscribe to the thought that cell phones are evil because they contain some inner demonic properties, as show in this video...



On the contrary, I believe cell phones are evil because of the cultural, societal and behavioral changes they engender in us humans.

Before everyone gets all defensive, I'll admit that I am the first to embrace all that is cool about cell phones. I've been using them since you needed a bag to carry one around.  But I still get cranky when I see people blatantly ignore rules and/or common sense in the use of their mobile phone.

Ten years ago, I was flying to Riyadh and was perturbed to note how several passengers, on our final approach to King Khalid International Airport, already had their cell phones out, on and dialing. This despite the clear instructions from the crew to wait until we were inside the terminal building to use cell phones. I tell you, if I had died because someone couldn't wait to call their buddy and say (in Arabic), "Hey, Mohammed; guess where I'm calling you from?" I would have been some cheesed off.

Since then, the airlines have caved. I have determined that the use of personal electronic devices is not really dangerous because of wireless signals causing potential interference with the aircraft's navigation systems - it must be that they're more worried about said personal electronic devices becoming personal electronic missiles in case of some mishap on approach/landing.

Still.

In the common sense category, is driving a motor vehicle while organizing your lunch, talking to your friend and trying to note any potential hazards to navigation really a good idea? Or has multitasking become so de rigueur that merely doing one important thing at a time is considered slacking?

I put today's observation in the same category as the woman I passed the other morning who was reading a book while driving down the interstate. My gosh, is driving so downright boring that we need to engage our brains in some random activity in order to stay awake?

Seriously?

According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association, 21 states now ban texting while driving. My state (according to the table at the GHSA website) has no bans in place. Not even for school bus drivers.

I wonder where the kids get the idea that using a cell phone is OK while driving?

Even more amazing, Florida (my state) as recently as 2005 had a law banning localities from banning cell phone usage. (Business Week). Is that not evil? The state banned individual communities from enacting safety laws to protect the taxpayers.

Perhaps the cell phone isn't actually evil. Maybe it just brings out the latent evil in all of us. With lawsuits stemming from inappropriate photographs taken with cell phone cameras to the latest sexting craze, it's obvious that humanity will strive to find evil uses of this, and other, technology.

What do you think? Are cell phones evil?

X

Friday, April 2, 2010

A moment of lunar-see

Earlier this week, I was driving to work and saw the moon so close I thought it was crashing to earth. The sun had not yet broken the eastern horizon and our nearest satellite hung in the brightening sky like a luminous silver ball, looming low and large in the western sky.

I couldn't help but be awed by the beauty of the dawn. But there were other elements to the morning. Beauty in the shape of the aforementioned full moon, silver against the sapphire morning sky. Undulating fog as I crossed the bridge, heading due west into God's night light as it slowly set. I had never seen fog like this: I wasn't driving through it - but off to the south it rose and fell across the bay and the hidden barrier islands as if shaping itself into some kind of spectral roller coaster.

Alongside the beauty lay function - the still-new looking bridge; three lanes of pale concrete stretching across the watery blue expanse, making my journey so much shorter. We appreciate the purpose of this span even more than before - since its predecessor had been tossed aside like so many Lego blocks by the force of Hurricane Ivan. My old car still humming along, taking me to work and the slim aluminum light poles...dark now in the morning but ready to light my way home at the other end of the day.

And ugliness. The belching smokestacks of the chemical plants north of the bay. How much ugliness do we endure for the sake of modern convenience? Much more than I see in my world. Perhaps that's the trick: the better we hide the ugliness, the more we are willing to tolerate it. But this morning, white and gray smoke plumed forth from the stacks, inexorably craning into the impossibly blue sky like the pillars of Olympus - if they had been designed by some heartless, soulless character from an Ayn Rand novel.

Beauty; function; ugliness. A microcosm of our world. God created this blue planet for us to live on and care for. He gave us beauty and function, but I think that we have far surpassed ourselves as creators of ugly. Do we turn from it? Do we embrace it? Do we use it as motivation for change?

What do you think?

X

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I know where the Holy Grail is...

...sort of.

I watched a very interesting program on History International last night that opened with an investigation of the Kensington Runestone. The Kensington Runestone is a large slab of rock with enigmatic runes carved into the surface on several sides. A farmer, Olof Ohman, found the stone entwined in the roots of a tree he felled on his farm in 1898. The Ohman farm was located about two and a half miles northeast of Kensington, Minnesota.

What does this have to do with the Grail?

It was late, and I was tired, but as best as I could follow, the Kensington Runestone is purported to have been buried in Minnesota in the year 1362. You heard right - 130 years before Columbus discovered the New World, some other Europeans were in MN. It's pretty clear that Norse explorers had been to what is now known as North America prior to Columbus but again, what does that have to do with the Holy Grail?

As near as I can tell, the program on History International made the case that it was actually the Templars that buried the stone. The program investigated various sites in Newfoundland and the United States where artifacts and other runestones have been found. This included a trail of clues that led to the storied Oak Island Money Pit in Nova Scotia.

No one has been able to breach the ingenious booby trap that floods the pit with sea water when explorers get to a certain depth. There are many theories about what lies at the bottom of the pit - money, jewels, priceless documents, and yes - even the Holy Grail.

I started thinking about that this morning. Let's say one day someone devises a way to beat the trap and recover whatever lies at the bottom of the pit. Let's allow that it is an ancient cup of Hebrew origin. What will that mean? People will accept it as the Cup that Christ used at the Last Supper. Others will argue unto death that no one can prove he actually drank from it.

In the end, what will be gained?

It is not the cup that holds meaning for us - it is the search within all of us for life's meaning. What is God's plan for our lives? The Grail is just how that search is objectified for some.

Now, if they find the Ark of the Covenant, that would be a different story!

What do you think?

X

Monday, March 29, 2010

RIP Robert Culp

I'm not much for worrying about what happens in Hollywood, but wanted to note the passing of another of the old guard of actors (Culp was a writer, too).

I Spy was way ahead of its time - a great show and a great example. Isn't it amazing how they were able to make an entertaining show without resorting to F-bombs everywhere?

So long, Mr. Robinson...


Friday, March 26, 2010

Life is crazy busy...

...but there is still time to stop and find the peace that passes all understanding. And it doesn't hurt that you can have a chuckle while you're doing it!

For those who remember the old (and blush-inducing) Sir Mix-a-Lot tune, this one is better!!



What do you think?

X

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

There goes my tan line

I read in this CNN article how Obamacare will impose a 10% tax on indoor tanning beds. Score one for the home team! Of course, with every seemingly positive piece of legislation, there is always one group of folks that is disgruntled. In this case, it's the lofty-sounding Indoor Tanning Association. Indoor tanning must be bigger than I thought - maybe that's why their industry association is cheesed-off about their members having to pay a 10% tax - which of course means indoor tanners will have to pay an extra 10% to get that golden glow without the annoyance of getting sand in their drawers. I don't see any impact on the indoor tanning industry - I think they're whining because customers who can barely afford indoor tanning today will have to give it up.

I guess that means the doctors who treat skin cancer will have less work, too. Hang Obamacare! It's ruining the economy.

The CNN article also mentions another option that was considered: putting a tax on elective cosmetic surgery. With all of the Botox parties and whatnot, I would've thought that idea to be a slam-dunk.

Apparently Congress disagreed and instead slapped those Huns over at the Indoor Tanning Association with the 10% levy. I suppose all the beautiful people over at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery have a little more stroke on Capitol Hill.

What do you think?

X

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ray of hope for US Soccer

The last year has been hard on the US Men's Soccer team in terms of injury. Davies, Onyewu, Dempsey, Holden...I've probably missed some more, but the first three are key players for the national team ahead of this summer's World Cup.

Today, I'm breathing a little bit easier. Clint Dempsey who has recovered from his knee injury and is working his way back into the first team at Fulham in the Barclay's Premiere League scored a sick goal to overcome a 3-1 deficit and seal the Cottagers advance into the quarter-finals of the Europa Cup - Europe's second-tier club competition.



A picture is worth a thousand words...

It may have been an attempted pass; it may have been blind luck, although many pundits are assigning glowing adjectives to Dempsey's strike.

Whatever the case, with Clint rounding back into form, things are looking up...

What do you think?

X

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Erin Go Bragh!

It's that time of year again; when all the wanna-be Irish erupt into a frenzy of green and proclaim their Irishness. I blogged a bit about Ireland yesterday without even really thinking that today was the day everyone get's all het up about.

Thanks to History.com, I learned that the first St. Patrick's Day parade did not take place in Ireland but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

But who among today's revelers knows the origins of St. Patrick? The son of wealthy English parents, St. Patrick was reputedly taken captive by Irish bandits, who also plundered his parent's estate. During the ensuing six years of captivity, St. Patrick turned to Christ for comfort. According to writings, God came to him in a dream and said it was time to leave, after which St. Patrick escaped and returned to England.

However, in another dream, an angel came to St. Patrick and told him that he must return to Ireland for missionary work. After fifteen years of study St. Patrick did so, ministering to Christians and converting the Pagans. Many believe that St. Patrick is responsible for bringing Christianity to Ireland.

So, far from the green beer and raucous parades, today should be a day spent in prayer and thanksgiving. Perhaps the party atmosphere comes from the original celebrations of St. Patrick by the Irish, which included church services in the morning and then feasting in the afternoon.

Although much about St. Patrick is clouded by the mists of time, it's clear that he was used in a great way by God to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a beautiful land.

What say ye?

X


Thanks to Joan Schroeder and her article on Helium for background on St. Patrick.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mysteries from the past...

I am, perhaps oddly, drawn to Irish things. My grandfather, the late Dermot Peter Paul Patrick Joseph Dunne, came over on the boat from the Emerald Isle - so perhaps it's not so odd after all.

I have yearned to return to Ireland ever since spending time there when I was in secondary school in Cirencester. Alas, opportunity has not opened the door. But now, I have something new to hope for: a chance to visit the burial mound at Newgrange...


This article from National Geographic describes the popularity of the oldest known burial site in Ireland - older than the Great Pyramid at Giza as well as Stonehenge.

What makes Newgrange, and other mounds scattered around the River Boyne, so intriguing is their alignment with the sun during various times of the year. At Newgrange, the winter solstice sun shines through a tiny window above the door at dawn, illuminating the floor of the the burial chamber at the end of a sixty-foot passageway.

For about seventeen minutes, twenty people a year are drawn at random and descend the passage to witness this amazing feat of ancient engineering. Although I'm not sure if it's the saints that go marching in, I would like to one day be in that number.

Why was the tomb aligned with the Winter Solstice? How did the builders design and construct such a precise structural alignment? Was it simply to honor their dead kings? Were they celebrating the rebirth of the sun? I don't know, but I'd like to go and have a look anyway.

Wouldn't you?

X

Monday, March 15, 2010

US Soccer continues missteps...

Well, I was wrong. Way back in January I sort-of predicted that Landon Donovan would extend his loan spell at Everton after a great start with the Toffees.

The BBC has reported that his loan spell has officially ended on schedule.

I still believe this is a bad move.

This is a world cup year; we've had some significant injuries to top US players and despite Dempsey's return to action with Fulham last week, and the positive reports regarding Charlie Davies and Oguchi Onyewu recoveries, I believe the US national team's form heading into the most important summer in US Soccer history is a concern.

If I were Bruce Arena (I should be so lucky), there is no doubt I would be taking the hard line to get Landon back to the Galaxy ahead of the MLS season - especially with news of Beckham's Achilles injury. No matter what folks think, Becks makes an impact for the Galaxy and without him on the pitch until mid-summer, it's even more crucial to get Donovan back.

But that's short sighted. MLS exists to grow the sport in this country. This year, that means the best showing possible in South Africa. With Donovan's stellar form - surprising to some - in the Premier League, the Galaxy should be looking at the longer view.


Congrats on your success overseas Landon - it was long overdue. I hope you get the chance to return to the Blues. You deserve it. The Everton fans want it. And US Soccer needs it.

What do you think?

X

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My name is Xanthorpe and ...

... I watched the Oscars.

For the first time in I don't know how long, I watched the annual I love myself fest that Hollywood foists on us. First off, I respect the ability it takes for people to memorize large chunks of information and then imbue the recitation of said chunks with the gamut of human emotion. Heck, to cry on cue?

But lately, the Oscars have just gotten way out of hand. Gift baskets that cost more than the annual household income in most non-developed countries; political and social diatribes that go way beyond Thank You. And a steady parade of hosts whose primary goal seems to be outdoing their predecessors.

What I liked about the 2010 Oscars:
  1. Coming away with the knowledge that there are movies out there that I need to watch - namely Blind Side and Up
  2. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin making fun of George Clooney
  3. Sandra Bullock winning for Blind Side (and her acceptance speech)
  4. James Taylor
  5. Finding out Matt Damon won an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay for Good Will Hunting
  6. Tim Robbins talking about Morgan Freeman
I'm sure there were other entertaining moments, but...

What I did not like about the 2010 Oscars:
  1. The pre-game show known as Red Carpet something-or-other. Never have I seen a more nauseatingly obsequious bunch of kiss-kiss in my life.
  2. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as co-hosts. I really liked Steve Martin early in his career. Now? Not so much. Alec Baldwin? Dean Martin was smooth - Alec Baldwin is slimy.
  3. Actresses who feel the need to reveal. Enough said.
  4. Miley Cyrus' dress - besides being totally unflattering and unsuitable for a young lady of her vintage, she looked very uncomfortable in it.
  5. Constantly panning to James Cameron as his ex-wife won all the major awards for Hurt Locker. Good for her but dang! Let's leave off trying to stir the pot already.
Overall, I suppose it was adequate but I just can't help missing the Oscar telecasts I grew up with. Stars were stars - think Bogart, Cagney, Wayne, Stewart, Fonda, Newman, and on the lady's side, Davis, Redgrave, Hepburn, Crawford, Gardner, Garland, Welch. And many more.

As for the hosts, I don't think you could top Bob Hope and Johnny Carson. Billy Crystal was okay, but it hasn't been the same. When Hope and Carson put on a tux and walked out on stage, they owned the house. I don't think you can say that about Martin and Baldwin - they were just accessories. 

I'm not promising to watch the 2011 Oscars...I may be cleaning the bathroom.

I'll leave you with a classic clip and you can let me know what you think of this year's telecast - and what your favorites are from years past.



What do you think?

X

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ones and Zeroes vs. Tangible Assets

As a conservative, I'm a failure.

Not in an I'm gonna be Al Gore's buddy now or I can't wait to get a poster of Mike Papantonio on my wall kind of way. No, it's more insidious than that: I'm a huge fan of NPR.

Oh, I've still got my core values intact, but I do get a large majority of my news and views on the world from Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne in the morning and Melissa Block, Robert Siegel, and Michele Norris in the afternoon. Every once and awhile, I catch Fresh Air with Terry Gross - that one really hurts, because I just know she's really a liberal.

Less damning perhaps is my affinity for weekend fare such as Car Talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and my personal favorite: Whad'Ya know? with Michael Feldman. I swear, I'm going to Wisconsin one day - just to try and get on that show.

This morning, I heard a segment entitled Tina Brown's Must Reads. I have no idea who Tina Brown is or why her opinion should shape my reading habits, but I listened anyway. Amongst the chatter about books and articles I would expect NPR to promote, Ms. Brown highlighted a NY Times article Publishing: The Revolutionary Future by Jason Epstein.

Mr. Epstein discusses a variety of angles on a topic that is getting a lot of traction as electronic publishing seeks to supplant the traditional tomes of yesteryear.

I found his article interesting reading, not just from the standpoint that at some time in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future I'll be seeking a publisher for my own novels; but also because moving from the printed word to an ephemeral world of digitized works is a philosophical and social issue as well as a business and marketing one.

Let's say that 100 years from now printed works are all but gone - decayed on shelves, tossed in the dustbin...forgotten. All the great literary works and non-fiction texts have been converted to online libraries.

And then the lights go out.

Catastrophe or opportunity? The loss would be catastrophic for sure. But future writers would be assured of continuing relevance in our increasingly sterile and digital world.

What do you think?

X

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cultural flip flop

I was driving home from work a couple of days ago, listening to Fresh Air on NPR as Terry Gross interviewed Ken Gormley, the author of The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr.

I'll tell you right off the bat, I just know that Terry and I wouldn't get along all that well. I like her show - she's a good radio interviewer, but she leans way too far left for my comfort. That said, her interview with Gormley was interesting fare.

I don't have a lot of time for recreational reading but Gross' interview on Tuesday night was inspiring enough for me to almost buy Gormley's book. You can read about the interview here, if you're so inclined.

What I got out of the interview is that whatever evidence of misconduct Ken Starr and others dug up about the once-Governor of Arkansas and then-President of the United States Clinton, the most important outcome of the Starr investigations and subsequent impeachment hearings was the polarizing effect they had on American politics.

In other words, it was purely incidental that Bill Clinton continued to live an immoral and unarguably adulterous lifestyle while rising to and occupying the most powerful office in the world. The largest apparent travesty was the violent wedge that drove Republicans and Democrats farther apart - and how that continued chasm colors every effort to pass legislation today.

Although I, perhaps naively, believe that our President should be above the moral fray - notwithstanding Carter's admission to Playboy that he had committed adultery in his heart - most people I spoke with at the time considered Clinton's dalliances inappropriate but nothing to get worked up about. Sort of a boys will be boys attitude; consenting adults, and that sort of thing.

Fast forward to the present...

Tiger Woods has been vilified in the press for pretty much the same behavior for which we gave our 42nd President a pass. Whoa. What changed?

Were Tiger's objets de l'amour consenting adults? Check

Was Tiger in a powerful, public position? Perhaps a check - certainly Tiger's brand and image made him the most recognizable sportsman worldwide.

Was a wife in the dark as to her husband's behavior? Debatable - who knows what Hillary knew? But the public revelations of said behavior certainly warrant a check.

Tomorrow, Tiger is making his first public statement since revelations about his numerous dalliances surfaced. It will not be a press-conference, per se; more along the lines of round one of seeking forgiveness, regaining public approval, and Tiger positioning himself to move on.

To Tiger I say, "Be patient."

Bill Clinton is all over the place these days. Raking in public speaking fees, heading up worldwide charitable organizations, hanging out with decision makers at international conferences.

Water off a duck's back.

People want to love Tiger. Everyone loves a success story. But if there's one thing I've learned about the always-fickle American public, it's this: As much as we root for someone to succeed, we are equally quick to turn on them like a pack a snarling hyenas. An ugly truth to be sure, but the ugliness doesn't make it any less true.

What's my point? If we can forgive Mr. Clinton for lighting his cigar in the nation's living room, certainly we can forgive a mere golfer; someone who makes his living hitting a little white ball.

I don't know. Am I crazy? What do you think?

X

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Conmemoratio

A light has gone out in the literary universe. One might not put Dick Francis in the same conversation as Poe or Shakespeare or Dante or some other revered author, but for me, he
was a novelist - and a great one at that.

 
Dick Francis, courtesy of www.dickfrancis.com

Mr. Francis was a very successful National Hunt jockey in the UK. He won over 350 races and was champion jockey in 1953-1954. Upon retirement, he published The Sport of Queens, an autobiography, before going on to write forty-one bestselling novels. Among his numerous accolades, Francis won the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s Cartier Diamond Dagger and is the only three-time recipient of the Mystery Writer of America’s Edgar Award for Best Novel, winning for Forfeit in 1970, Whip Hand in 1981, and Come to Grief in 1996, the same year he was make a Grand Master (lifetime achievement).

In my early days of reading - we're talking junior high school here - Mr. Francis' works were ones that I devoured eagerly. My father's library had all sorts of highbrow fiction and non-fiction, but alongside Alistair McLean and Helen McInnes, Dick Francis novels like Nerve, Flying Finish, and Blood Sport were thrilling peeks into the world of (mostly) British horse racing - with a mysterious and often murderous twist.

Over the intervening years, I occasionally picked up a Francis novel, always knowing that it would be a rewarding and entertaining read. There are very few things in life that are a dead cert, but a Dick Francis novel is one of them.

Thank you, Mr. Francis, for all the hours of exciting reading you provided for myself and countless other fans.

X

Friday, February 12, 2010

Book plug Friday...

Just a quick plug for a great book, Seabird by Sherry Thompson.



Buy it here...

I read Seabird several years ago and am looking very much forward to the next chapter of the Narentan Tumults in the form of Earthbow - due out any day now.

You can read  R. L. Copple's review here and in case you missed last year's Seabird blog tour, check it out for great reviews and links.

What are you still doing here? Go and read Seabird!!

You'll be glad you did.

X

Monday, February 8, 2010

Top 3 SB XLIV Commercials

OK - there must be terabytes of print on the Internet about the Super Bowl today - if not more. Here is my contribution...

#3 - Focus on the Family: A lot of folks are tearing this one down, but I applaud Mrs. Tebow - she put her baby's life above her own. Isn't that what all mothers do?



#2 - Doritos Dog Collar - This didn't make most top 10 lists but I thought it was hilarious. I like dogs, I like Doritos and, well, I don't know - it was just funny to me.



#1 - Betty White Snickers: This is just hilarious. Betty White is so funny..."That's not what your girlfriend said."

Too much...




Honorable mentions: Puxatawnee Polomalu, Kia, Hyundai... What are your favorites? Which ones did you hate?

X

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fair play isn't dead

For all the haters out there - you know who you are - that say soccer (football) is a sport filled with posers, hooligans et al, here's your sign!



Credit 101 Great Goals for finding this one and The Beautiful Game for highlighting it.

That's right, these are two teams from the professional league in Iran, as 101 puts it, 'one of the 'Axis of Evil'. Normally in football, if a player goes down, play is allowed to continue unless there appears to be a serious injury. In any case, it's usually the referee that blows the whistle to stop play (Rule highlight: That's why there is extra or 'injury' time at the end of each half).

In this case, the opposing keeper was down for the count and the loose ball fell to an opponent who had worked his way into space and was preparing to shoot into an open net. Instead, the striker kicked the ball into touch (out of bounds) and pointed to the injured keeper.

Fair play, indeed.

X

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bad ideas seem to go together

Listening to NPR this morning, I noted that President Obama will be holding a town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire to talk up his small business bail out. I suppose that compared to the Wall Street bailouts, $30 Billion can be considered small, but what will America ultimately get out of this latest effort to get the economy moving again?

I hate to be Johnny Raincloud here, but I'm guessing, 'Not much.'

I saw a quote on MSN Money the other day that said something like, 'If no one is lending, and no one is spending, the economy is in recession,' or something along those lines.

Think about that.

Let's say the President wins approval for his small business bailout and we inject $30 Billion into the coffers of community banks - the target of the money. What happens then?

You get a long line of businesses that aren't doing well lining up to borrow money so they can, ostensibly, expand and create new jobs. But if these small businesses are not doing well right now, what sense does it make to give them loans to hire more people?

Refer to the quote above - I don't care if we give $30 Billion and meet the party of the first part - i.e. someone is lending. Small businesses need people to buy their products. So no matter how much money we lend them, if no one has the money to buy their products, they will just go under later, rather than sooner.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, wouldn't it have been more stimulating to the economy to take the TARP money, this next $30 Billion and all the other bailouts and just divide it up among American families?

I'm no fan of the Government being everyone's rich uncle, but c'mon. According to this NY Times article from this time last year, the U.S. Government has spent a total of roughly $4 Trillion investing, lending, and insuring. that's 4 T*R*I*L*L*I*O*N dollars. And those are figures from a year ago. You do the math...

That's almost $13,000 per person in the United States according to the US Census Bureau population clock. If we take this a step further, there were almost 100 million tax returns filed in 2007 that were classed as taxable by the IRS (see stats). There were another 47 million returns classed as untaxable - I'm guessing people who had earned income but owed no taxes.

Under an individual bailout plan - as opposed to a corporate bailout - if we bailed out taxpayers who filed a return, you're now looking at about $28,000 to each taxpayer.

Which bailout do you think would have been more effective? Paying $28,000 to each taxpayer or bailing out the banks and other corporations? I don't care how much money we give GM and Chrysler, if taxpayers don't have money to buy cars, they don't make any money and a year or two from now, we're back in the same boat we were in before the bailouts.

By putting the bailout money in the taxpayer's pockets, they can get caught up on mortgages, buy new cars, etc. We remove a goodly number of toxic mortgages, the banks are healthier, people can afford to buy cars and other whole goods and companies don't have to lay so many people off - which in turn puts more tax dollars in the treasury.

I don't know, am I crazy? What do you think?

X


Friday, January 29, 2010

The Marlboro Man is 65?

Nothing much in the entertainment world shocks me - mainly because I ignore it completely - but as I read the paper this morning I noted that Tom Selleck was 65 today. Wow.

 
Would you have a gunfight with this man?

Actually, I can't find anything that confirms Mr. Selleck was ever the Marlboro man. I think I remember him in old Stetson cologne ads and I did see an unconfirmed post that indicated he did do ads for Winston and Salem cigarettes, but sorry - he's not the Marlboro man.

Most of us probably remember him best as that cooler-than-cool private investigator, Magnum P.I.

 
I always wanted the car...

Man, I must be getting old.

On a side note, just a quick rant about celebrities in general. 

Do you remember when a star got his hands and/or feet imprinted in the concrete in front of Grauman's Chinese theater - along the so-called walk of fame?

Back in the day, you had bonafide stars like Bette Davis, Bob Hope, John Wayne, etc. setting their prints into concrete immortality and getting their star on the famous sidewalk.

Nowadays, who do we get?

 
Is this what passes for a star today?

No offense to Ms. Spears, but I just can't put her in the same class as, say, Lauren Bacall:

 

Yes, I'm getting old. But to me, class never goes out of style. 
I don't worship celebrities; don't even think about them that much. But when I do (think about them, that is), I prefer mine classic.

What do you think?

X