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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?


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Landon is on the board

Just a short post to mark the first English Premier league goal of Landon Donovan's tenure at Everton FC.

Sure Landon isn't the first American to score in the Premier League, but he's been carrying so much baggage from a long career of international expectations, it's a notable achievement. Young Mr. Donovan is only 27, so one hopes there are plenty more to come... X

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Church isn't all it's cracked up to be

I attend church. I serve in church. I teach in church. So what am I doing writing a blog about church not being all that?

Church: -noun
1. a building for public Christian worship.
2. a body of Christians worshipping in a particular building or constituting one congregation: She is a member of this church.

I live in Santa Rosa County Florida - reportedly one of the areas in the United States where there is a very high per capita incidence of churches. I don't have handy access to demographics - folks charge for that sort of data now - but by all accounts, despite our large number of buildings to worship in, 4 out of 5 people in Santa Rosa county are considered unchurched. 


I started thinking about that today and here are my thoughts...

1. A lot of people used to go to church but someone in the building offended them.
2. Most kids around here grow up in the church but life is a lot funner elsewhere
3. Some number of people believe any church is more or less a cult and they want nothing to do with that sort of thing.

Recent Southern Baptist statistics reveal that membership in a large majority of Southern Baptist churches is plateaued or declining. The majority of membership changes are reflective not of new believers but of believers transferring their memberships from other churches.

If this is true, why did they move?

Number 1 above reveals my opinion. People get offended easily. They treat the church like some sort of social club that is designed to make them happy. If they're not happy - they leave. This also plays into number 2 above - we church folk are pesky; always telling kids about how bad music, movies, boyfriends/girlfriends, habits, etc. are. No teenager wants to be told that God doesn't like all that fun stuff. So they say, "I'm outta here!"

So what should the church be?

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.[Acts 2:42]

Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, [Acts 2:45-46]
There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. [Acts 4:34-35]
Does that sound like our churches today?

The church is not the building - it's the people. If the people in the churches would but realize that their purpose in being there is not to gain personal happiness, but instead to share the love of Christ with those in need...well, I think you get the picture.

So, yeah, church isn't all it's cracked up to be. But it's not God's fault - it's ours. 

God gave us the model for church and as usual, we've taken that model and distorted it, trying to remake church into what we wanted it to be.

Is this church?

The Crystal Cathedral

According to the information available on the Internet, it cost roughly $17 million to build Southern California's Crystal Cathedral. Imagine how many needs could have been filled with that money. 

Some would argue that we musts have buildings where the faithful can gather for worship and discipleship and where we can invite people to hear the Word of God. I agree - but $17 million?

Build a $4 million building and use the rest to house the homeless; feed the hungry, clothe the needy...

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? [Isaiah 58:7]

No wonder people think we're a bunch of greedy hypocrits.

Don't just go to church - be the church!

What do you think?


Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday foraging...

Football is known as The Beautiful Game. Stream regulars know that when I say football, I mean soccer. The trailer below is from what looks like a worthy film about the worldwide impact of Football. Please take a few minutes and watch...

It doesn't matter what you call it, Football, Futbol, Futebol, Calcio, Fussball, or whatever,you will never see American football being played like this around the world. There is something about the Beautiful Game that is so simple, yet so profound.

I was driving in to work this morning in a very thick fog. So naturally, I thought of Mel Torme.

Although, perhaps a more appropriate song would be A Foggy Day in London-town...

In case you don't get the connection...Mel was known as the Velvet Fog due to his distinctive voice.

Although I love the Beautiful Game, there is another football game this weekend that will be interesting. That's right: The Vikings vs. the perennial basement-dwelling New Orleans Saints. I tried to come up with an exciting video that would capture the anticipation of this year's NFC championship, but all I could find was this:

I thought it went on a bit long...but - with all due respect to anyone who might be offended by Hitler humor - the concept and a few of the lines were funny.

Well, after that bit of dark humor, I think I need to close on a lighter note...

Bill Cosby is the man. I love a comedian who can tell jokes/stories without having to resort to crude language or rude themes.

Happy Friday...


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Health care, schmealth care

People a lot smarter than me could lay out a detailed and workable plan for successfully overhauling the nation's health care system. But who do we leave it up to? Congress? What qualifies them?

From what I've heard, President Obama's stated goal is to make health care both more available and more affordable.

More available means more people will be covered by private insurers - since the public option is off the table. And to make sure more people are covered by private insurers, it's going to be illegal not to have health insurance.

And I'm not sure how they plan on making it more affordable, although, Obama has said that by passing health care reform legislation, the budget deficit will decrease over the next ten years.

How's that again?

Will Obama pull one of these?

I have an idea. Why don't we move to a flat tax system?

Tax everyone in America - and I mean everyone - making more than $30,000 per year at a flat 10% rate. Do away with that ridiculous, bloated IRS Ponzi scheme.

What is that you're saying? What about all the unemployed accountants? We take some of the TARP money and cross-train them into skillsets that are viable in the 21st century: clean energy, nursing, etc. And we will need a ton of administrative help to monitor the new health care reforms, I'm sure.

I don't have time to parse all the labor statistics, but using round numbers, if there are a total of 200,000,000 workers in the US, and the median income is $30,000, at 10% that means a rough income tax revenue of $600 Billion for the treasury. That's not bad is it? And frankly, it would probably be more than that.

Although the U.S. National Debt Clock shows us over $12 Trillion in the hole, I'm thinking we could whittle that down pretty quick between $600 Billion in income tax revenue and annual sales tax revenue.

I don't know - what do you think?


Monday, January 18, 2010

I called it...

I've only had the opportunity to catch a bit of what Landon Donovan has been doing as he kicks off his loan spell at Everton FC in the Barclay's Premier League. But if first reports and fan reaction are any barometer, the original loan deal between Everton, MLS and Donovan's home club, the LA Galaxy, will be extended.

This ain't LA...

This article, from the Liverpool Echo, intimates as much.

For the uninitiated,  Landon is widely considered the best American footballer (soccer player) outside of the goal keeping position. He has won numerous team and individual awards and has scored more goals for the USA than any other player.

People decry the mercenary nature of professional athletes these days - a position I've taken on numerous occasions. In this case though, I'll make an exception. Donovan finally has an opportunity to flourish with an international club and the more experience we allow him at Everton, the better off we'll be this summer in South Africa. Especially with the loss of Charlie Davies, Oguchi Onyewu and most recently, Clint Dempsey of Fulham, to injury.

So when the request comes - and it will - I urge the Galaxy and MLS to consider the big picture for American Soccer and let Landon stay for the remainder of the Premier League season.

What do you think?


Monday, January 11, 2010

Light (warmth) at the end of the tunnel?

Honestly. I don't know how people function in northern climates.

In NW Florida, it's been incredibly cold for a couple of weeks now. Before you start giggling and pointing, making rude noises, and decrying the stamina and character of Southern citizens, understand that incredibly cold for Florida is in the teens and twenties at night while barely making it above freezing during the day. We live in Florida because we like warm weather - and don't like cold weather.

I thought we might see this scene late last week...

Thanks to Sherry T for providing a little humor on a tough morning (our power went out at about 5:45 this morning; when it was roughly 18 degrees. Props to Gulf Power for getting it running again by 8:00 a.m.)

Luckily, it looks like by Wednesday or Thursday, we may be back to what we consider normal: 40's at night and 50's-60's during the day.  Praise the Lord!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

I dislike equivalent temperatures

It's interesting that I ran across this article today, a curmudgeonly treatise on the relative lack of merit in the equivalent temperature term, wind chill. Although it was a balmy 61 degrees earlier, the wind did make it feel cooler. But lest you think I'm one of those southern alarmists, it will be in the mid-twenties later this evening. I don't care who you are, a negative 40-degree shift in temperature will get your attention.

Personally though, being a Florida resident, I tend to wax Archie Bunkerish on wind chill's - ahem - polar opposite: heat index.

I first noticed the trend toward calamitous weather reporting before hurricane Ivan, circa 2004. If you ask anyone in Florida, the best indicator of whether an approaching tropical storm or hurricane will hit your area is if Jim Cantore is in town.

Have you seen this man?

When Jim is in town, I'm evacuating.

Back to equivalent temperatures. If you read the Slate article, you will be filled with amazing information on the origins of temperature equivalents and the Antarctic adventures of the scientists who developed formulas - that's right, formulas - to determine how much colder it feels when the wind is blowing. Who knew math could find an answer for everything?

The only reason I even read the article is because it's been inhumanely cold in Florida, and will continue to be so through at least the middle of next week. I know, you're thinking inhumanely cold means it's below 60 to us thin-blooded denizens of the Sunshine State.

Au contraire, mes amis. It will be in the teens this weekend, barely breaking above freezing during the day.

And I bet that wind chill is going to be a (polar) bear.

If anyone still thinks I'm just a wuss, come on down here in August and we'll kick back outside and discuss the relative merits of the day's heat index - sure to be above 110 degrees - while you gargle down a gallon of Gatorade and search frantically for your Foreign Legion hat.


My wife, bless her heart, is tired of hearing me bark at the local prognosticators when they break out with, "Sally, it's going to feel like a hundred and fifteen out there today - stay indoors and drink plenty of fluids. And don't forget your sunscreen!"

For Pete's sake - whoever Pete is - they don't even put the actual temperatures on the weather maps anymore - they just put the heat index numbers.

Just like everything else, the weather channel and the various news outlets are gussying up the weather to impress the masses and reel in more advertising dollars with their dynamic meteorological derring-do.

I'm of the same mind as Mr. Engber, the author of the aforementioned Slate article - just give me the temperatures folks - I can figure out whether it's going to be hot or cold.

Let me know how you feel about temperature equivalents!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Somali Pirates are Wussies...

...compared to Japanese fisherman.

I don't spend a lot of cycles reading about whaling conservationists and the like. But I happened across a couple of videos and a report today of the Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru No.2 and the ultra-high tech Sea Shepperd vessel Ady Gil getting in a bit of a scuff up.

Pictures (in this case, videos) are worth a thousand words.

My initial reaction was, "Dang!"

In the first video, I'm guessing it was filmed by another Sea Shepherd vessel, MV Bob Barker, you can clearly sea the Shonan Maru No.2 veer toward the Ady Gil. But it's the second video, filmed from the deck of the Japanese vessel, that to me is the most dramatic. There are two sides to every story but I can't see how the Japanese sailors can justify ramming the million-dollar stealth boat (seen below in less dangerous days).

You can read more about the attack here.

More about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Agency here.



Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Global warming?

There seems to be two sides to the argument over whether the crisis championed by ex-US Vice-President Al Gore is real. I've been pondering a brief commentary on this subject for some time, but never really had a supporting argument one way or the other.

How about now?

Most of the regulars here at The Stream know that I'm a bit of a footy fanatic. No, I don't have an obscure personal fetish - I love the beautiful game: football, or soccer if you must. Whilst reading some quick updates on the sport courtesy of Fox Soccer, I came across this statement at the end of an article noting the cancellation of two Carling Cup games today:

Meteorologist Stephen Davenport of the MeteoGroup said the country (the United Kingdom, that is) could be witnessing "one of the coldest winters of the last 100 years.

Oh really? According to Al Gore, we're in the midst of a global warming crisis and the UK is experiencing perhaps their coldest winter in a century? Makes one wonder.

I can personally attest to the fact that it's not warm in the Sunshine State - Florida - for the uninitiated. My gratitude to for the image below, showing current temperatures across the US at 3:20 EST. 

That's right; in the middle of the afternoon, it's 40 degrees and sunny in northwest Florida - at least where I am. And that cute phrase that the Weather Channel likes to use? Feels like 34.

34?!? In the middle of the day? When it's sunny? For heaven's sake, it's only 58 degrees in Miami. I don't think they even own jackets in Miami. Unless you count those thin cotton ones like Crocket used to wear.

I bet it wasn't 58 the day they shot this promo.

It may be an inconvenient truth that we need to wake up and light the furnace - the earth has warmed and cooled for thousands of years; it's kind of the cyclical nature of things. Gore may have A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, but I'm more concerned about a plan for me to stay warm tonight at my son's soccer game. Forecast temperature at kickoff? 35 degrees (feels like 28).

Maybe Mr. Gore can come watch the game in his guayabera and loafers - no socks of course - apparel befitting the dangerously warming climate we'll be playing in. Of course, if he gets chilly, I'll offer him my foot warming pads - I'll be (mostly) snug under two pairs of long johns, two shirts, two pairs of socks, a hooded sweatshirt, two pairs of gloves and a wooly hat.

I'll be drinking the hottest coffee I can find but I'll be sure to offer Al a nice cup of iced guarapo, since he'll be warmer than the rest of us.

Anybody else worried about being too warm tonight?


Monday, January 4, 2010

The Tower of Babel

History has a way of repeating itself...

Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

This article on CNN highlights the inauguration of the (latest) tallest building in the world. The newly-renamed Burj Khalifa is a cloud-scraping 828 meters high - that's more than half a mile tall.

There are several interesting facts in the article about the previously-named Burj Dubai, starting with the new name. The majestic tower is named after Khalifa Bin Zayed, the president of the United Arab Emirates -- and ruler of Abu Dhabi, the Emirate that let about $10 billion out of Dubai's debt balloon.

Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL's Houston Texans pays a cool $10 million a year for the naming rights to that edifice. Not that having his name on Dubai's latest paean to capitalism was the sole benefit for Sheikh Kalifa, I'm sure.

Having lived in Dubai, I was there for the birth of the construction boom in the mid-to-late 90's. My wife and I lived literally a stone's throw from the site of the first real showpiece on Dubai's construction skyline: The Burj al Arab.


Nowadays, after the Palm, the World, a new golf resort sponsored by Tiger Woods and countless other high profile projects, one has to wonder about the wisdom of reaching so relentlessly for the stars. I have applauded the Maktoum family - the rulers of Dubai - for their foresight and industry in turning Dubai into the business and tourism hub it has become. However, there has to be a limit doesn't there?

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

What do you think?