20 December 2012

Sixty Seconds to What?

Imitating one of my favorite blog authors, the Housewife Theologian, I'm naming my blog post after a song.  But I bet its a song that neither she, nor many others who read this blog, will remember.  It is a tension-filled piece of background music in the Clint Eastwood western, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. (You can play a segment of the song here.) You know the scene...where Eastwood and at least two other bad guys are standing there, looking at each other out of the corners of their eyes, waiting for the first guy to draw.

It is an appropriate song though, as it is almost midnight here.  That makes it sixty seconds to the end of the world, if the whole calender thingy is true.

But I don't think so.  An ancient native calender might be your idea of how to predict the future, but it's not Mayan.


Spam Attacks

As much as I hate to do so, I'm going to have to reinstate the dreaded captcha thing for comments:  I'm getting overloaded with spam attacks. 

Perhaps I can remove it in a few weeks if things slow down.

17 December 2012

My Heart Breaks for Families in Newtown

Some of the numbness is wearing off.  Since the events of last week, since the shootings happened, I've been pretty numb.  I think this is a psychological defense that we have; a defense I have as a parent. I'm afraid if I felt the full weight of what happened, I'd lose my mind.  Thank God for small blessings, including psychological anesthesia.

But now some of that numbness is wearing off, and I can think more about what has happened, and it is not an easy thing to do.  I have four kids.  I have pictured in my mind what it might be like to be one of the parents of a child who lost her life at school that day.  My kids are at school right now.  Are they sitting attentively in class while the teacher explains how to conjugate a verb? Are they laughing with their friends in the cafeteria? Will the school day today end like the last one, with smiling kids coming in the house to tell me about their day?

Or will it end like the day did in Connecticut last week?  I think about what that might be like...coming home to the still-unmade bed where she got up that morning; lying there and smelling the unmistakable smell of your child and knowing that it is fading and will never be back again. The sibling, looking at the Legos that he was playing with along with the sister that will not be back to finish the fort, and not able to make any sense of it. The grandparent, with the cute packages already wrapped and under the Christmas tree, with her name on the sticker, packages which won't be opened by the one for whom they were lovingly prepared.

I hurt so much for those families.

I found this statement from a pastor in Newtown, in this blog post.  It helps, a bit. But I don't know anything that can really help other than the strength that God Himself can provide an individual at a time like this.  Here's a quote from the blog-

It has to be noted that this kind of sin and horrible loss is not absent in the pages of Scripture. Job had his family murdered by the devil, and Job responded with a heart of faith: “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” And Job’s faith in the sovereign hand of God must remain ours now.

At the same time, we remember that Job also asked “why?” as we are prone to do. We must realize, however, that God never answered Job’s why question, nor did he permit Job to question his wisdom. Instead, God simply pointed Job back to his own glorious character, sovereignty and wisdom. And Job found a place of blessedness when he rested there. His blessing came by resting in the glorious purposes of God. I think we want answers, but God does not give us answers. Instead, he reveals his character and glory. And that is faith—leaning on the sovereign hand of God. Not knowing why, but knowing who to lean on through the loss. God does not answer our questions; he IS our answer.

I have opinions, and some strong ones, on what should be done to prevent this.  I have strong opinions on the wrong responses as well, and these are the very things that I see starting to happen within the government and in the media as well.  But right now is probably not the time to focus on how to respond to the foolishness of a secular culture and a secular government, as much as it is time to weep with those who weep, and try to find good things (God-glorifying things) to say to those who have questions they can't answer, and of course to pray for the relief from pain through which the families of those kids are now walking.  It's every parents' worst fear, and it is a pain that cannot really be imagined, I think, until it happens.  And even then, there are no words to describe it.

If it weren't for God's grace, and the assurance I have in Christ; if I lived in a world of nihilistic existence, I would not retain my sanity.  I could not maintain a grip on life itself, and the only question left, like Hume had to ask, would be when to effect my own demise. This grace and this assurance are the message we must continue to communicate to those in our (very demonstrably) lost world.

Humanistic solutions will fail.  Secular methods of comfort will remain cold and empty. Only the assurance of a reason to exist; of a loving and sovereign God, can begin to help us answer the questions we have or provide us with any comfort in life and in death.

The Problem With Works-Based Salvation, in Simple Terms

I think today's Calvin and Hobbes cartoon illustrates a great deal of what Martin Luther was trying to say in his Heidelberg Disputation, but says it in a lot simpler terms.

If you want the longer version, I highly recommend two books.  The first is the classic by Gerhard Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross.  The second is Alistair McGrath's look at the same material, Luther's Theology of the Cross.

I'm planning to re-read Forde's book, as it is one that can't be absorbed fully on the first (or likely the second or third) reading.

I'm working on McGrath's book now.  Good stuff.  But Calvin (the kid, not the theologian) says it pretty well above.

05 December 2012

Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Handbasket?

I really like what Doug Wilson says here.

And this is the position the American people are now in. We have thieves in Congress and in the White House because we have thievery in our hearts. Because we have larceny in our hearts, wanting to pay off 2012 debts with 2022 money, we put up with Bernake's monkeyshines at the Fed. Because we have larceny in our hearts, we hear a politician say that the rich should pay their "fair share" and we reflexively say yeah! -- in the name of justice. Thus we call rank injustice justice (Is. 5:20), and we do it because there is larceny in our little piggy hearts. Because we have larceny in our hearts, we call it greed when someone wants to keep the money he made, and we don't call it greed when we want to take it away from him. But we are the ones with sticky fingers -- and we have sticky fingers because of our sticky hearts.

Because we have larceny in our hearts, we cannot follow any economic arguments that have square shoulders, an upright posture, and an honest face. Who do they think they are anyway?

By the way, and I simply make this point in passing, it will do no good to get off this charge by appealing to our cultural memories of Robin Hood. He was not robbing the rich to give to the poor. He was robbing the tax collectors in order to get the money back to the people who had earned it in the first place. The Sherwood Forest hideout had a Gadsden flag flying over it.

28 November 2012

Nosler 7th Edition Review

Here's the second part of my two-manual review (Hornady 9th ed. is here).

Nosler 7th edition Reloading Manual
This is a big book compared to the first six editions of Nosler's manual. There are over 860 pages in this edition.  There is a good bit of information on their bullets, including very good cutaway photos and fired bullet photos, which may be a bit propaganda, but also can be helpful if a particular hunter is fussy about what he wants his terminal ballistics to look like as an end result.  They included a larger basic reloading section than in the past, (though still not anything like Lyman's, the best manual for the beginner, in my studied opinion).  There is a larger powder burn rate chart than found in most manuals, with 178 powders.  Each cartridge has a one-page write-up by a well-known gun celebrity, gun writer, or Nosler staff member (except 14 cartridges that have been moved to the appendix as obsolete cartridges), and as in the past, one of the features of a Nosler manual is the in-chart accuracy recommendations at one of three load levels, plus an overall 'best powder
tested' notation for each cartridge.  I've found from past experimentation that the accuracy loads found in the Nosler manual tend to match my own reality better than some of their competitors.

There are universal drop tables to 600 yards by ballistic coefficient (not enough to plan a shot with, but good enough to get you on paper if you are long-range shooting).  There are also energy tables and there's now a one-page manual for Nosler's ballistics app for iOS products (everybody now seems to have an app for the iPhone, even the shooting sports.  I can't imagine taking my iPhone out just before shooting at a trophy elk, but that's a topic for another, probably humorous, blog post.). They also throw in a handy glossary at the end of the manual.

As usual, Nosler tends to focus more on rifle cartridges than handgun cartridges, but their handgun bullet selection continues to grow.  Here are the changes since the 6th edition.

New cartridges (rifle)-
17 Remington
17 Remington Fireball
204 Ruger
5.56x45 NATO
6.5 Creedmoor
6.5 Grendel
6.8 Rem SPC
300 AAC Blackout
30-40 Krag (dropped from 6th, in prev.)
30 TC
308 Marlin Express
308 Norma Mag (dropped from 6th, in prev.)
300 RCM
378 Wby Mag (dropped from 6th, in prev.)
416 Ruger

New cartridges (handgun)-

Deleted cartridges (rifle)-
375 Wby Mag
444 Marlin
450 Marlin
458 Win Mag
458 Lott

Deleted cartridges (handgun)-
454 Casull

The Hornady 9th Edition Reloading Manual

I've handloaded for many years, and I'm an NRA-certified metallic cartridge reloading instructor.  So when a new reloading manual is released, it is a cause for celebration, at least in my mind and in the minds of a few internet-reloading buddies.

So today, I was very happy to see my MidwayUSA order come in.  It had not one, but two brand new manuals in it:  one from Hornady (their 9th edition) and one from Nosler (their 7th edition).  I use a bunch of both bullets, so I'm happy to see the new data and write-ups for their products.

A few years back, I started posting reviews of new reloading manuals on Amazon.com and MidwayUSA's web site for the benefit of new reloaders or folks who were unfamiliar with these particular books.  I'm doing the same with these, so I thought I'd post the reviews here for the small handful of fellow reloaders who read my blog.

Hornady 9th edition Reloading Manual
The new Hornady 9th edition is bigger than ever, with over 915 pages total. There are the usual prefaces and introduction pages, and in this edition about 50 pages of basic reloading instructions, which come with some very nice color illustrations and cut-away drawings of internal ballistics and such.  There is an adequate (but not great) powder burn rate chart with 146 powders, a primer chart (useful), and a basic description of each of their bullet types (and a chart with min/max velocity recommendations...a very important and useful feature, especially for hunters).

Each cartridge has a very brief write-up (no celebrities, just Hornady staff writers/manual editor) with some basic history and a few important details about the cartridge.  The data itself is in the same format as past manuals with velocities in 50- or 100-fps increments rather than exact numbers, which is a better way to report it, in my opinion, since handloading is a stochastic (and not a deterministic) science. I've answered quite a few questions from new reloaders about why their manual says they should be getting 2864 fps from a load and they are only getting 2832 fps in their rifle.  The velocity ranges help keep that detail a little clearer.

One thing Hornady has never done is give in-chart accuracy recommendations, though they do give some recommendations in the write-ups of each cartridge for a preferred powder or two.  If they are using pressure test barrels primarily, this makes sense.  When using a specific gun for which a cartridge is popular (like the 30-30 Win in the Winchester Model 94 for example), an accuracy recommendation makes more sense.

Hornady was more focused on adding new cartridges than deleting old ones, as can be seen in my list below.  One new thing they are doing makes a lot of sense to me: they are putting data for some obsolete cartridges on their web site.  This saves a lot of money in printing costs, and still allows the reloader with Grandpa's Model 94 in 219 Zipper to get access to loading data.  Good move.  There are five cartridges so indicated in this edition (the 219 Zipper, the 219 Donaldson Wasp, the 7x61 Sharpe & Hart, 270 REN, and the 357-44 Bain & Davis).  Here are the other changes since the 8th edition.

New cartridges (rifle)-
17 Hornet
5.56x45 NATO
300 Whisper
300 AAC Blackout
356 Winchester
416 Barrett
416 Ruger
505 Gibbs

New cartridges (handgun)-
327 Federal Mag

Deleted cartridges (rifle)-
219 Zipper (moved to website)
219 Donaldson Wasp (moved to website)
7-30 Waters
7.92x33 Kurz

Deleted cartridges (handgun)-
7.63 Mauser
300 Whisper (as a handgun cartridge)

(The Nosler review will appear in a subsequent post.)

19 November 2012

One Guess (And the First Three Don't Count)

Here's a picture of my desk at work.  I'll give you one guess what course I insanely signed up for this Winter term.  What was I thinking?

13 November 2012

Some More Post-Election Musings

I loved this post by Trogdor over at the One-Man Peanut Gallery blog.

It is remarkably quotable.  His first point is probably the most important, though it will be missed by most.

Read it.

08 November 2012

A Few Preliminary Thoughts on the Election

As I posted to FB earlier, one theological truth is again proven:  God's purposes in election are mysterious (pun intended).

I couldn't write anything yesterday, because I was so angry.  The funny part was, I wasn't sure with whom I was the most angry.  I was mad at the liberals for further sliding this exceptional country closer to mediocrity, financial slavery, and all that.  But I was also mad at my fellow Republicans for not seeing this thing through.

As more numbers are shared by the media, my second target has been borne out as the more culpable.  Republicans simply didn't get their base out.  Three million fewer Rs voted in 2012 than in 2008. I thought every R alive would be at the polls Tuesday, but many stayed home.  Enough to change the outcome of the election. As they say down here in TX, that chaps my hide.

Yes, demographics are important.  No one should ignore the demographics of who voted for the left, and the importance of making the tent bigger.  But then, how do we do that without compromising our principles?  Do we become pro-choice?  Unthinkable.  At least five million more babies will die in their mothers' wombs during the next four years, and I don't think any election is worth throwing that issue under the bus.  We have to find ways to reach out to a broader demographic without compromising the principles that we find critical to our worldview.

Elections have consequences.  We are getting, and will get more of, what we deserve. Babies will continue to die, and perversity will continue to be celebrated by our decaying society. I don't know how much of that a Romney victory would have changed in the next four years, but there was always hope for some change.

07 November 2012


Too much anger to write anything constructive for today.  Maybe tomorrow, too.

30 October 2012

Wild Boar Loose in Germany

I saw this headline this morning:  Wild Boar Injures 4 in Germany.

Kind of ironic, thinking of the other wild boar loose in Germany some 495 years ago tomorrow, don't you think?

12 October 2012

The Worst Hard Time (book review)

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust BowlThe Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the stories of the individuals and what they went through during this time.  There were many names I recognized who were friends of my parents and grandparents.  I've personally met most of the James brothers, for example. The author's take of them is pretty straightforward and accurate.

What I did not like about the book were the assumptions, placement of blame, and conclusions the author liberally sprinkled throughout the narrative. Many of them could have been written by Al Gore, they were so far to the left. It was obvious the book was written by someone who's never lived in this part of the country, and has no understanding of the mentality, pride, and roots nor any idea how the people think, deep down. In this regard, the book is like reading a history of African-American culture written by a white man. Something is missing. Something important.

The author is also wrong on some facts.  One glaring fact is in the Epilogue:  He says the population of Dalhart never recovered from the Dust Bowl days.  However, by 1943, the population of Dalhart was over 20,000 (three large B-17 training bases had been built around the city for WWII).  The city is not a "windswept dog-eared town", as he calls it, but a thriving and beautiful town.  It makes me seriously wonder if he has ever visited the city the author wrote so much about. The story has a lot of holes...it is very much incomplete, but this isn't unexpected for a book of this type...there is too much history to cram into a readable book if one wanted to cover it all. But I would like to have seen some additional communities and events covered in brief, to give a fuller picture of what times were like in those days. My dad was born in Boise City, OK in 1932, in the heart of the Dust Bowl. I know quite a few stories told first-hand that would have increased the value of this book, but again, not everything can fit that needs to fit. I suppose that's one of the biggest problems an author of a cultural history faces.

I recommend the book for those who want some of the story of the days and events of the time, but you'll have to wade through the politicisms and greenish worldview at times. Three stars might be a bit harsh; three-and-a-half is more accurate. But I don't think I can give it a four.

View all my reviews

05 October 2012

Why No Posts Lately?

One of my faithful readers (there aren't many!) asked why I hadn't been posting much.  Good guess.  Busy.

My wife and I are the president of the local Canyon Eagle Booster Club, which means we are in charge of concessions at Kimbrough Stadium (cap. 20,000) each Friday night.  That keeps us pretty busy.  (But we are hoping to raise close to $100,000 this year for Eagle athletics, so it's worth it.)

Additionally, the twins are on varsity football this year (Juniors), so that keeps us busy. 

And we have a 7th grader playing football and an 8th grader who's a daughter.  That keeps us busy.

I'm really not sure how I have time to go to work.  But I still do.  The thing that is giving way right now is writing on the blog and sleep.  Hopefully I'll pick writing back up a bit after football season is over.  I've been told I can catch up on sleep when the kids are grown.

I'm starting to think the Waterboy's momma was right:  "Fooseball is the devil."


06 September 2012

Book Review: The Intolerance of Tolerance by D. A. Carson

The Intolerance of ToleranceThe Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is an excellent survey of the political landscape and explains why so much emotionalism is put forth as thought in today's cultural debates. From the cover- "Carson traces the subtle but enormous shift in the way we have come to understand tolerance over recent years - from defending the rights of those who hold different beliefs to affirming all beliefs as equally valid and correct. He looks back at the history of this shift and discusses its implications for culture today, especially its baring on democracy, discussions about good and evil, and Christian truth claims."

He concludes that real tolerance is not well tolerated today, and gives a good discussion of how we can deal with the continued slide away from the better definition of the term (and our resulting behavior toward those with whom we disagree), and how we can recover the real meaning and intent of the concept of tolerance.

I highly recommend the book.

View all my reviews

31 August 2012

Lincoln On Abortion In Light of the New Tolerance

What would Abe Lincoln have to say about abortion in this country?  I'm not positive, but I think I have an idea.  Below, I adapted a paragraph from a speech he made on March 6, 1860, in New Haven, CT on slavery to the idea of abortion.  I think it fits our culture rather well, being descriptive of the fear (in the New Tolerance) of pronouncing anything as propositionally wrong; this is the position of the so-called 'pro-choice' advocate.

What we want, and all we want, is to have with us the men who think abortion[1] wrong. But those who say they hate abortion[1], and are opposed to it, but yet act with the Democratic party -- where are they? Let us apply a few tests. You say that you think abortion[1] is wrong, but you denounce all attempts to restrain it. Is there anything else that you think wrong, that you are not willing to deal with as a wrong? Why are you so careful, so tender of this one wrong and no other? You will not let us do a single thing as if it was wrong; there is no place where you will allow it to be even called wrong! We must not call it wrong in the Red[2] States, because it is not there, and we must not call it wrong in the Blue[3] States because it is there; we must not call it wrong in politics because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call it wrong in the pulpit because that is bringing politics into religion; we must not bring it into the University[4] or the other institutions[5], because those are such unsuitable places, and there is no single place, according to you, where this wrong thing can properly be called wrong!

[1] original word was ‘slavery’
[2] original word was ‘Free’
[3] original word was ‘Slave’
[4] original words were ‘Tract Society’
[5] original word was ‘societies’

21 August 2012

Is Pedophilia A Version of Homosexuality?

I commented to a recent post on Facebook on this topic.  The punchline of the FB post was this-

Can you think of a more inappropriate place for a gay man or boy to be than surrounded by other boys? Why don't we just let child molesters teach kindergarten?

The context of the comment was a response to a recent Atlantic editorial piece that suggested that Boy Scouts be killed like rabid dogs for the BSA policy which prohibits homosexuals from serving as Scoutmasters. It was a typical leftist hit-piece and really deserves no consideration at all, other than as an example of the hypocrisy and the hate on the far left.  It was addressed by a response on Brietbart, and this is from where part of the quote came.

But I also have some problems with the implications of the comment.  Here's how I addressed it in my FB reply-

The argument from the left is that pedophilia and homosexuality are not the same thing. I think that's a true statement, to the degree that it is a sentiment more than a viable descriptor of reality. Pedophilia crosses a lot of other demographic lines than just sexual orientation. The problem is, statistical facts don't favor the sentiment wholesale. The probability of someone being a pedophile is pretty low. The probability of someone being a pedophile given that they are a homosexual is still pretty low, though it is much higher than the probability of being a pedophile given that they are heterosexual*. Correlation does not imply causation, and we shouldn't conclude that being a homosexual is a cause of pedophilia. However, we do know the statistical relationship is different, so we need to try to understand what the underlying causal factors are.

This is a complex problem and deserves a careful analysis, but in the mean time, children cannot be put at risk while we figure out the best answers to the important questions on causality.

There are two mistakes, both of them harmful, that can be made in this situation: (1) to wrongly accuse non-pedophilic homosexuals of wanting access to children for pedophilic reasons, or (2) allowing pedophiles access to children because we don't want to wrongly accuse someone of being a pedophile.

I hope the lesser of two evils is clear to everyone.
[*homosexual and heterosexual are meant in terms of the offense, not status in their 'normal' life...if 'normal life status' is considered, it appears more child-offending males are married than are single...this doesn't really add any information for obvious reasons]

The whole point of my post is this:  we can't equate pedophilia with homosexuality any more than we can equate it with heterosexuality.  Placing a gay man who is not a pedophile around boys is no more dangerous than placing a straight man who is not a pedophile around girls. Nonetheless, there are questions around this issue that remain to be resolved. One of the most daunting tasks is to find research which has been conducted in a neutral manner without an a priori agenda.  Try an internet search and see how many articles you can find that are not from either the far right or the far left, and clearly so. Isolating facts is difficult.  And all the agendas are decidedly not helpful to those seeking a legitimate answer to the questions.

So what are a few of the facts that cause one to question the causality?  Well, the first fact with which I can find almost no disagreement is, almost all sexual abuse of pre-pubescent children is committed by males, not females. The other fact which is fairly stable in the research, though it has fluctuated over time, is that about a third of sexual assaults on pre-pubescent children are on boys.

Determining which child-offenders is a heterosexual and which is a homosexual is difficult.  Self-identification is risky.  And arbitrary labelling is probably not very accurate.  For example, how do we choose to label the offender: by the gender of his victim, or the fact that he has a wife?  If he molests boys but is married (like the recent offender at Penn State), is he homosexual or heterosexual?  What if an offender (who is male) molests both boys and girls?  What do we do in the (rare) case of a male offender who is homosexual with his adult relationships but molests girls?

All these are going to be very difficult questions to answer. In the mean time, our duty to protect children outweighs our duty not to offend homosexuals who are indeed not pedophiles.

This is a divisive topic that deserves more thought.  It won't be easily answered because getting to the root of what causes pedophilia is not an easy task.  It is made even harder when the experts cannot consider 'sin' as part of the problem.  But it is a necessary task, and for many more reasons than simply finding the best policy for the Boy Scouts of America concerning who can be a Scoutmaster.

When the Law of Unintended Consequences Works in Your Favor

You may remember the scuffle earlier this year when Vanderbilt University passed a discriminatory policy (discriminating against evangelical Christian groups) in the name of tolerance.  Well, not surprisingly to those of us know know something about the history of Christianity and what happens when the church is persecuted, this ruling is furthering the Kingdom of Christ.

Here's a quote from a recent blog post by Byron Yawn-

...I have a message for the faculty of Vanderbilt: THANK YOU. Thank you so much for implementing this policy, because you have taught my church members who are students at your campus things I couldn’t have taught them in years, and you have done that in just a summer.

This demonstration of white collar persecution has succeeded in lighting a fire under their faith. Essentially, you have brought the gospel to life for them. You have turned these students into fervent prayers for Vanderbilt, interceding for the students there and for the gospel. You have provoked them into becoming fervent evangelists. They know now first hand that they are surrounded by people who are alienated from God. The fact that Christian groups are no longer allowed to meet on campus provides incontrovertible evidence that their campus leaders are hostile towards Christ and His church.

You have given them a small and appropriately Americanized view of what opposition to Christ’s church looks like. It has caused the students who love the Lord to realize that college is not a game, but an opportunity to reach the lost.

Gotta love those secular humanists at Vandy for helping to stamp out moralistic therapeutic deism and replace it with gospel-saturated Christianity.

15 August 2012

When Justice Becomes Injustice: Penn State

This morning, I heard on Al Mohler's podcast, The Briefing (which I listen to every day, and recommend you do too) that Penn State is now in danger of having their accreditation yanked by their regional accrediting agency because of findings in the Freeh Report.

Nuttiness has moved to insanity.

If this happens (which isn't likely, but possible), that means we can now add to the list of people punished for the perpetrator's sins (remember, I won't use his name on this blog)-

all 44,000 (ish) current students, and however many future students enroll until the sanctions are lifted.

How are they being punished?  Try using a degree from a non-accredited institution to get a job, or even worse, to transfer credit to another school.

Now, I'm not a softy on punishment for crime.  I'm a bit of a redneck, in fact.  I'm of the opinion that the perpetrator didn't get what he deserved.  He'll likely get some ridiculous number which will translate to a life sentence.  Think about that.  They are sending a homosexual pedophile to prison.  That's like sentencing a sex addict to house arrest at Hugh Hefner's place.  My idea of a sentence is that he should be fed (slowly) into a wood chipper, genitalia-first. So you can't argue I'm opposed to tough sentences for actual crimes.

Let's look at the list of who's been punished so far-

  1) the perp (that's a good thing)
  2) the school president and athletic director (fired, awaiting trial; probably a good thing as they bear some culpability
  3) Joe Paterno (probably should have lost his job, but many of the other penalties were over-zealous)
  4) Every football player at Penn State since 1997 (all victories erased; absolutely terrible injustice...what did they have to do with the crimes?)
  5) Students and supporters at Penn State since 1997 (same as the previous point with regards to athletics)
  6) Local businesses (who will suffer greatly under the football sanctions for the next four or more years)
  7) The local economy, and thus everyone in State College, PA (you don't yank sixty million dollars out of a small-town economy and expect nothing bad to happen in that small town)
  8) The victims of the perpetrator (yep...with the insanity of the broadcast punishments, don't expect the unfortunate victims to go peacefully into the night...some kooks will blame them for the hardships that are unfairly brought on those listed above...this won't be fair but it will negatively affect the victims of the crimes of the perpetrator)
  9) The Truth (everyone is afraid to speak up for the not-guilty who are being punished right now...people like me, but who have a bigger voice, will take a lot of flack for defending Penn State even though Penn State is not a pedophile)

And just as importantly, look who is not being punished so far-

  1) Other minor players who directly facilitated the abuse (because of the lack of time and thoroughness of the Freeh Report, and the school's insistence to grab it and run with it (no pun intended), a careful investigation of the details has not yet happened...this almost surely means that some of the more egregiously guilty are walking away without sanction).
  2) Individual trustees who, in the interest of covering their own rear-ends, have not pursued remedies more favorable to the innocent.

Criminal activity has taken place in college athletic programs in the past.  Remember the Baylor basketball player being murdered by a teammate over an alleged drug deal?  What about the rapes we hear about on an almost-annual basis out of some of the other powerhouse schools?  Where's the precedent for what happened to Penn State?  Is the rape of a co-ed any less damaging to that person than the rape of a child?  Is the murder of a student any less criminal than what the perpetrator did?  All of them are terrible.  All of them deserve a swift, but accurate, application of justice.  But should we vacate Baylor's 30-win season in basketball because of what happened there in 2003?  That's within the time-frame of how long Penn State suffered.

Before we are done, we may see as much injustice in response to the crimes as we saw in the crimes themselves.  And that's criminal.

13 August 2012

Mass-Media Worship

I tease my kids (though with a sense of irony) about watching their favorite shows on Disney Channel and such.  I walk in from work, and finding them watching an episode of the latest teen idol fad doing something inane, ask them how many brain cells they've killed today.  They look at me like I'm a dork.

We've restricted these shows to no more than an hour a day during the summer, and one episode during the school year, and that only after the homework is done.  But they don't seem to get it, in spite of my repeated explanations.  Of course, I was the same way, except the shows were Gilligan's Island, Hogan's Heroes, The Brady Bunch, etc.  I didn't get it either, and didn't figure it out till much later.

Here's a pretty good way to stating the point...I just wish I could get my kids to agree.

09 August 2012

Neat Article on Allyson Felix's Father

Most everyone knows that Allyson Felix won the gold medal in the women's 200m in London.  Not many know about her dad.  He's a professor at John MacArthur's Master's Seminary.

Here's a neat short article about them.

Here's another article with some more details about her life.

01 August 2012

You Cheat, You Lose

I'm very amused by some of the reactions to the expulsion from the Olympic Games of 8 badminton players who cheated.  (Yes, cheated...purposefully losing a match to improve your draw in the next round is cheating.)

Then, in a classic effort of self-justification, some are blaming the problem on the tournament format.  That's like Adam blaming God for giving him the woman.  Didn't work then, won't work now.

Here's a summary story.

Have Some Chicken Today

Chick-fil-a Report: The restaurant on Coulter in Amarillo is a madhouse. It sits in a Lowe's parking lot, and when I got there at 10:55, the CFA lot was full and the Lowe's lot (about 4 acres) was a third full, all parked in the CFA corner. Lines were out the door, but service was brisk and everyone inside was much more friendly and conversational than normal, even for the TX panhandle. Lots of smart-phone cameras...expect to see film from many on the various social media outlets later.

The Amarillo Police Department was present, but so far there wasn't any trouble.  Based on the Twitter traffic I'm seeing, there doesn't seem to be much of a boycott...more of a buycott.  In at least one city (Wake Forest), the crowds are so large, the police are having to direct traffic.

I bought CFA for the entire office. Stand up for the first amendment and go to Chick-fil-a today! 
This isn't about religion folks, it's about free speech.

30 July 2012

Why I'll Never Rent a Car from Hertz Again (and neither should you)

Long story short:  I rented a car from Hertz when we were in Seward, Alaska on vacation.  There's a notice of a mileage restriction buried in fine print in the contract.  I had a conversation with the rental agent about where I was going, which was well over the mileage limit.  She never mentioned it to me.

I was charged more than an additional day's rent for our pleasure drive over to Kenai.  The rental agent at the desk when I returned the car admitted they messed up, but wouldn't fix the problem.

Of course Corporate just stood behind legal language rather than engaging in even minimal customer service.

Don't rent from these people...you'll regret it.  I certainly did.

And I should add how friendly and customer oriented the folks at both Avis and Enterprise were when I rented later in the trip.

23 July 2012

(Some Of) The Problems With the NCAA Sanctions Against Penn State

The recent announcement of NCAA sanctions against Penn State regarding the sex abuse scandal are very disturbing.  Here's a few of the reasons why-

1) Too soon- The NCAA is famous for taking too long to make final rulings on athletic scandals.  The complaints are not unjustified...Reggie Bush was almost to NFL retirement before SoCal got the word on what the sanctions would be with reference to the improper benefits he received.  Part of the reason they took so long on these various decisions is due to the nature of the beast: asking people with full-time 'real' jobs to meet and make important decisions affecting hundreds of other people is simply not a time-efficient process.  But part of the reason was also a good one-they were thorough. They gathered all the facts that could be gathered from all the pertinent people and made a decision based on the data, with enough time passing that emotions played no role in most cases (the SMU death-penalty decision could be argued otherwise, but that's another blog post).

2) Punishing the wrong people- A decision that involves a sixty million dollar fine will have serious financial repercussions on a lot of good folks who had nothing to do with the wrongs that occurred, and could have done nothing to prevent or stop them.  Keeping PSU out of conference championships and bowl games will cost hard-working folks their jobs. In short, what happened was, they caught the serial killer and summarily executed his family and friends as punishment.

3) Not punishing the right people- Perhaps one of the biggest problems, one that hasn't gotten much mention, is that a hurry-up-and-make-them-pay attitude not only hurts quite a number of folks who don't deserve to be punished, it may very well end up letting the very, very guilty walk away without so much as a sneer.  Allowing the hurried and not-so-impartial Freeh investigation to stand in place of a long-term, outsider-with-no-connections investigation will likely mean that some of the underlings in the system who did know about the crimes and could have stopped them but chose not to do anything, walk away without anyone ever knowing their names or their culpability.  University presidents make important decisions, and should be held accountable for what happens when they cover up a crime.  But those people in the locker rooms who allowed the crimes to continue should not get away without justice, having had their bosses stand in their place at the whipping post.

4) Frightening precedence- The NCAA has acted upon and punished a violation of criminal law.  I understand the argument about how they aren't punishing the perpetrator (who's name I refuse to put in print) but punishing a 'lack of institutional control' instead.  I don't buy it.  If that were the case, the same due process that we've seen in the past would take place, and the punishment would fit the 'crime'. (Funny how flippantly we use that word when it really doesn't apply.) That didn't happen here because retribution doesn't feel good after everybody has gotten past the emotions of an injustice.  It only feels good when there's still blood in the (shower) water.  What the NCAA did was eye-for-an-eye legalism at its finest.  I don't think the NCAA should be operating that way.  Those people are charged with stopping cheating in collegiate athletics (which they absolutely have not done, but again, that's another blog post).  Giving them the precedent to deal with criminal activity, even when restricted to a university setting, should scare the scat out of all of us.

There is a lot more that could be said, but I'll save some of it for later.  Right now, we have two sets of victims to deal with- the real victims of the sexual perversion of the perpetrator of the child rape and abuse, and now the fabricated (but real) set of victims (albeit less severe consequences) of those who are drawing blood from innocent people in the effort to cover their rear ends, stick it to 'the man', or in some way try to feel better about themselves in the aftermath of a tragedy.  And in the process, the first set of victims (the serious ones) may get overshadowed by all the brouhaha.  That would be a third tragedy, but I fear it is unavoidable at this point unless cooler heads prevail.

Let's try and focus on punishing the guilty and supporting the victims rather than hurt a bunch of folks who didn't do anything wrong in the effort to feel better about our (in)actions in light of the scandal.

20 July 2012

Playing the Piano. The WHOLE Piano.

Had to pass this one on.  Some people just play the keys.  These guys play the PIANO.

13 July 2012

Are We Abandoning Our Kids By Over-Programming Them?

This is a blurb from this blog post on The White Horse Inn.  It details some things of import to parents, and notes some bad parenting skill of which I have been guilty in the past.  It is a very interesting read. I think more parents are becoming aware of this problem, though not many of us have a lot of great ideas about how to fix it yet.  Most of us roll with the punches, learning as we go.

One thing I will say: God is sovereign even in this learning process.  While we may not want to repeat some of the mistakes we've made, we also feel grateful to have had the experiences and been able to learn from them.  Perhaps it will work out like many things did in our own (parents) lives- they'll make sure they don't make the same mistakes we (their parents) made, just like we made sure we didn't make the same mistakes our parents made.  In the process, we learn a whole new set of mistakes to make.  How's that for irony?  Anyway, here's the blurb.  Read the whole thing at the link above.

Chap Clark, in his book Hurt, affirms this trend but chooses to use the term “the abandoned child.” He writes, “We have evolved to the point where we believe driving is support, being active is love, and providing any and every opportunity is selfless nurture … Even with the best of intentions, the way we raise, train, and even parent our children today exhibits attitudes and behaviors that are simply subtle forms of parental abandonment.“[1]

Certainly people can evaluate accurately this issue from various angles (psychology, sociology, education, etc.). From a theological position, this parenting style reflects the natural result of life lived intensely under the law. When I mention law in this context, I do not refer to the moral code but to a pattern of life focused on living up to standards through personal performance and effort. A standard of false righteousness- child competence – exists in the culture, and adults employ whatever necessary means (math tutors, batting coaches, personal trainers, academic camps, intense schedules, etc.) to maximize their child’s performance that they may satisfy the expectations.

Researchers have committed much study to the trend of abandonment in teen culture.  The literature has identified an intense sense of disconnection and isolation among teens in their family and community systems.  While researchers consider high-rates of divorce and general family dysfunction as contributing factors, the primary variable among teens with symptoms of abandonment is over-programming and performance-based lifestyles.
[1] Chap Clark, Hurt (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 46-47.

10 July 2012

Need Something to Do?

I was playing with my Logos software this evening and found a little tool that makes word-find puzzles.  Here's one, taken from John 3:1-15, just for fun.  You'll probably have to click it to enlarge it enough to see it well.  Enjoy.

06 July 2012

597 Years Ago Today...

This story is worth repeating.  Go read this blurb on the Logos website about Jan Hus, who was martyred on this date in 1415.

29 June 2012

More on Health Care (or, Moron Healthcare)

There is one logical undeniable ramification to state-sponsored health care:  real freedom of religion and federal control of health care CANNOT co-exist in the same legal system.

We've seen ample evidence of this in years past with Medicare, indigent health care, etc.  We are about to see a lot more evidence for it, including gross manifestation of the truth of the matter.

Here's more from Atlantic columnist Daniel Epps.

Health Care Snippet

Doug Wilson noted this little factoid on his blog today-

"Obamacare was upheld as a tax. This means several things. First, the Constitution requires tax bills to originate in the House, and Obamacare originated in the Senate. A suit should be filed on that basis. Second, this means that Obamacare can now be overturned in the Senate with 51 votes instead of the 60 that were required before."


28 June 2012

Health Care Law and The Future

Since the SCOTUS has ruled in favor of Obamacare (not entirely unexpected, though one of the names on the positive side of the decision was), the question becomes, 'What now?'

Here's my prediction:  This decision won't be as bad as we fear.  I predict that without the SCOTUS to run against, there's now a fair-to-middlin' chance that the democrat incumbent in the White House could lose the election, which is a historically rare occurrence.  I also think this will lead to 10-15 additional GOP wins in House elections, and one or two wins in the Senate.

All that said, we now have a SCOTUS precedence that the federal government can tax the people in any amount for any reason.  That is certainly is a problem.

We'll see how it goes in November.

22 June 2012

A Day That Should Live in Infamy, but Doesn't

Today marks the 71st anniversary of an event that should live in infamy in world history, but is rarely mentioned outside Eastern Europe.  The event resulted in the deaths of more people than any other event in the history of the world, excepting the Great Flood.  Today is the anniversary of Operation Barbarossa.

Barbarossa was the code name for Adolf Hitler's plan to invade and conquer the Soviet Union. 3.9 million German soldiers faced 6 million Soviet troops; by the end of the operation in 1945 there would be between 20 million and 30 million dead, including civilians.

We don't think much about this in the West, but these events shaped the world as we know it, and today must bring painful memories back to millions of people.  I watched a movie with my oldest boys night-before-last:  Enemy at the Gates.  This is a dramatization of a story within the story of the Battle of Stalingrad.  It is about a Russian sniper, Vasily Zaitsev.  It is a fascinating story with a good amount of historical accuracy in spite of being a dramatization.  This movie is NOT suitable for small children...the level of violence is excessive.  But for older teens it gives a good idea of what the war was like on the Eastern Front.  For those who know little about this aspect of the Second World War, I recommend it.

Here is a trailer for the movie-

18 June 2012

Land of the Midnight Sun

We just got back from two weeks in Alaska.  Here's a photo I took at midnight, just after our plane took off from Ted Stevens Airport, on Friday-

They aren't kidding about midnight sun.

I'll post some more on this in the next few days.  Here's our look at Denali from the Talkeetna Lodge-

(I think you can click on these and get a bigger picture.)

01 June 2012

When is Plagiarism Not Plagiarism?

I guess we are seeing the logical results of the culture that's been around in colleges and universities for a long time.  This response, written by the always-interesting-and-sometimes-provocative Carl Trueman, to this web site which provides 'research services' to pastors, is very interesting.

I suppose there are legitimate reasons for pastors to use such a service, but I can't see how such a service could be financially viable if it was restricted to 'legitimate reasons.'  I have a funny feeling, as Trueman hints, that there is a lot more ghost writing going on than meets the eye.  In my mind, this kind of ghost writing for sermons is no different than the purchasing of parts (or all) of term papers by college students.

Well, there is one difference:  college students who buy their papers will answer for their dishonesty, but pastors who don't do what they are paid to do will answer for their dishonesty as well.  I can relate, because sometimes I don't always do everything I'm supposed to do, so I'm guilty of the same thing at times.  What really bothers me is these pastors will also answer for their responsibility as teachers, per the New Testament proscription on teaching, cited by Dr. Trueman.  That's kinda scary.

I don't want to paint all these pastors with a broad brush as dishonest.  Some of the names and faces on the testimonial list are pastors I greatly respect and admire.  I'm sure many pastors really do use this service for viable and legitimate reasons.  But I think they should be very careful in attaching their endorsement of such a service because of the liability of being associated with those who step over the line of appropriate activity.

It will be interesting to see if this story grows some legs.

21 May 2012

Annular Solar Eclipse

Here are some photos I managed to shoot of the eclipse yesterday.  (This was an annular eclipse.  That means the moon doesn't quite cover the entire solar disc, so there's a ring around the shadow.)  Full eclipses are supposedly more rare, but I've seen a couple full solar eclipses, yet this is the first annular eclipse I've seen.

We used a welding mask glass to look at the sun, and since I didn't have the foresight to order a solar filter for my camera, I shot through the same glass.  Not idea, but it's what I had! (I think you can click on these and get larger images.)

About halfway (8:24pm CDST)

Nearly at peak (8:34pm CDST)

 Just past peak, with no filter (darn clouds!) 8:40pm CDST

Jen and Ryan seeing through the glass, and darkly

I still remember my first total eclipse.  I was seven, and we lived in Eastern Colorado.  A couple of families came over to the house and all the kids took turns watching through one of Dad's welding helmets.  It was a big social event. 

There isn't as much interest, especially in kids, as there used to be.  I don't know if technology is to blame (why go out and look when they'll show spectacular views from space on TV?). 
 Is it real?  Who knows...its going around the internet, so probably a hoax

Maybe.  But at least my family enjoyed it together!