Friday, June 29, 2007

Word of the day

Blurt.


Another great onomatopoetic word.It just sounds rude. "Honey, help! I blurted!"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Common Sense on Illegal Immigration (UPDATED)

In honor of the Senate's killing the President's broadly unpopular immigration bill, here's a reprint of something I wrote last Fall ...


Yesterday I mentioned my delight at discovering the writing of Jack at Texas Music. I spent a little time scrolling back through Jack's archives and found another gem on the problems (and suggested solutions) to illegal immigration. [note: the blog I mentioned now appears to be defunct and all the archives have been removed.]

Jack is no policy expert. He's a cop with what appears to be a fair amount of common sense. He's also had some firsthand experience dealing with immigration. So that means he's as qualified as anyone to talk about the subject.

If you or I lived in Mexico under corrupt and inefficient government, with rampant unemployment, low wages, poor living conditions and no social services, we'd be crossing the border, too -- especially if the potential benefit is high and the risk is relatively low. But that's Mexico's problem, not ours.

There's no problem at all with people coming to America to work hard, become Americans, and contribute to our country. There are people here illegally who do want to do those things. But there are also illegal aliens who have no interest in America beyond the wages they can earn and send home. And plenty of violent criminals and illegal drugs flow through our porous borders as well. And of course there are people who come with the intent to work but things go wrong and they turn to crime and/or drugs. So we have to do something to get our borders under control.

The Mexican economy is propped up by illegals sending (and bringing) money back home. Mexico therefore has no desire or incentive to stop the flow of illegals. So Jack's suggestions are aimed at doing what we can on our end: Change the system to make illegal immigration less desirable.

1. Do not offer an amnesty program. That only encourages more illegal immigration and discourages people who have followed the rules. If the current path to citizenship is too slow and inefficient, then those problems need to be addressed. But don't provide disincentives to doing what we'd really like people to do.

2. Stop granting citizenship to children of illegals born in the U.S. This is so startlingly obvious, I don't know why we don't hear more about it. There's no doubt that people cross the border to take advantage of the system. Regardless of what you think about our social safety net, it's caviar on a platter compared to what there is in Mexico. But if you are here illegally, then your kids are, too, and they shouldn't be allowed to benefit from the social services paid for and intended for American citizens.

3. Punish the employers who hire illegals. It's not that there aren't Americans to do the job, it's that Americans aren't willing to work as cheaply or under the same conditions as illegals. If it makes goods and services more expensive for us, so be it. We had to go through the same thing 100 years ago with fair labor laws, and the American economy didn't collapse because employers had to stop working people 12 hours a day and employing children in sweatshops. Businesses either have to adapt or die. We will not reduce the supply of illegal labor until we cut off the demand.

Your thoughts?


UPDATE: An important question in the debate over immigration is what to do with the millions who are already here illegally. I didn't spell this out when I originally wrote this piece, but it was meant to be implicit in the first point. Fix any problems in the current process leading to citizenship. If people are here illegally with no intent or desire to become citizens, then they shouldn't be here.

People complain about large corporations coming into small towns and taking profits out of the community. Shouldn't we be even more concerned when the wages of illegals disappear over the international border? If you live and work here, then pay your taxes here to help support the system. If you have no interest in doing that, then what business do you have here?


UPDATE II: For "Another Think" on immigration issues, see Charlie Lehardy's two recent, thoughtful pieces here and here.

Word of the day

Vacuous.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Snark

I haven't much felt like writing lately. I'm tired of the poisonous miasma that seems to have become the atmosphere of the internet. Serious discussion seems to quickly fall into ad hominems -- people who disagree are not just wrong but evil. And most who don't want to have a serious discussion have little to offer but sarcasm and snark.

Cal at Done With Mirrors offers a great description:

Snark is not opposition. It is not honest invective or keen satire or moral outrage. It dulls the blades of all those.

Snark is the smacked ass smirking at the hand that slapped it.

... Snark is the chirp of minds that choose to be small yet won't cease to feel important...

... Snark gives the lazy thinker an excuse to write anyhow, sans imagination, sans purpose. It finds no truth, exposes no error. It is wit borrowed on interest and spent wastefully. It debases the coinage of commentary.
And it debases those who read it and follow its siren song. I don't like the person I find myself becoming when I visit certain sites. So I visit fewer and fewer of them. I'm tired of snark, anger, hate, and the assumption of bad motives.

Plus, I've been dealing with some very difficult ministry issues which have left me feeling drained. The little energy and creativity I have right now have to go to higher priorities than these ones and zeroes. So since I don't want to be a lazy thinker, I am trying not to write unless I have something worth saying.
"When words are many, sin is not absent; but he who holds his tongue is wise" (Proverbs 10:19)
Or as I heard it growing up:

"Better to close your mouth and have people think you a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

Heh.

Word of the Day

Nadir.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Word of the day

Parabola.


Did you know it's related to parable, parley, parole and ballistics?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

What all the fuss was about

We worked our tails off last week getting the homestead ready for family (funny how they never get any smaller, though). I'm not complaining; just looking at these photos (taken last night) made me realize again how incredibly blessed am I to have such a lovely home and wonderful family. I thought I'd share a few snaps.


The house really is level -- one of those solid ranches from the 60s. Any listing is due to the photographer, not the contractor. I think it will be a while before Sippican gets around to the ranch home. And for all our efforts the dog is unimpressed -- except that new mulch means a nice cool place to lie in the sun.

We've had the good fortune of friends and neighbors who share their day lilies with us. I have no idea what most of these are, except that they're pretty and low-maintenance.



It's funny how these tiger lilies came out more pinkish than red/orange in the picture. Maybe it was the light from the evening sun behind me.

I don't know what these next ones are, except that I like them and my wife said I should get some shots.



I especially like the deep red on this one.



This one doesn't really glow. Again, blame the photographer.


Maybe some of you who know anything about flowers can help provide details. I have a decent eye for layout in the yard, but mostly I'm just dumb labor.

Word of the day

Hubris.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

An Episcopal Muslim Priest

Last Sunday, the Seattle Times featured an article on a female Episcopal priest who's announced that she's both a Christian and a Muslim. This has raised a few eyebrows even in Seattle, but her bishop "finds the interfaith possibilities exciting."

Amba has a great post on the question, "Is it possible to be both Christian and Muslim?" There's a wonderful series of comments that follow, in which others point out the arrogance and narcissism of telling people what their religion ought to believe. It's disrespectful and dishonest to erase the very significant differences (the "beautiful boundaries," as one commenter put it) between major religions, whatever their similarities. It's like marrying a woman and then telling her, "I love you, but you don't suit me; I'm going to recreate you in my image."

The core of being a Christian is not going to church, not reciting certain creeds or statements of faith, not even trying to live a Christian life, but a personal commitment to Christ based on the assertion "Jesus is Lord" -- in all that implies.

Ann Redding has decided where her commitment lies: "In March 2006, she said her shahada — the profession of faith — testifying that there is only one God and that Mohammed is his messenger." That certainly makes her a Muslim. But that also means she rejects Jesus as Lord, which the article alludes to earlier: "She has never believed in original sin. And for years she struggled with the nature of Jesus' divinity." If you don't believe that man needs saving and you don't believe that Jesus as the Son of God is uniquely qualified to be the Savior, then it's hard to see how you can be a Christian in any meaningful sense.

This in fact demonstrates why the ECUSA and other liberal mainline denominations have been losing members and churches for years. If your faith has no commitments, no beliefs, no demands, why would people show up Sunday and Sunday to hear your personal opinions on "spirituality"? Institutional/cultural Christianity is dying. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. People respect you when you stand for something, and if nothing else God deserves our respect.

God is not a marshmallow.

Word of the day

Abjure.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We're back

... and still recovering from a short vacation. It wasn't the time away that was tiring, it was the preparation for hosting 20 out-of-town relatives.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were a blur of activity. I moved about a half-ton of rocks for landscaping and we put in 3 yards of mulch. We moved the kids' play fort, installed some landscaping pavers, trimmed, mowed, seeded, weeded, planted, cleaned, and fixed. I finally finished installing the shower in the basement bathroom (it works) and a door for the basement bedroom. Then the guests showed up.

Last Friday morning we went to Meramec Caverns, one of the largest cave formations in the U.S. We'd been before (about 7 years ago), but it's worth a repeat trip. The formations are so impressive and varied that it's hard for photos to do them justice.

Then Friday, Saturday and Sunday we were at a great YMCA camp nearby. There were plenty of great activities, a lake with a small beach to relax on, and plenty of good food (which we neither had to prepare or clean up). Just about everyone climbed the 50-foot Alpine Tower. Here my intrepid wife (lower right) is about 15 feet off the ground with 35 feet to go. Her sister is above her to the left.

Monday we all went to the City Museum in St. Louis. It's hard to accurately describe it because it's like no place I've ever seen. Imagine an old multi-story warehouse taken over by artists, designers, and kids and redesigned with the only purpose being to have fun. Every surface is covered with creatively recycled industrial materials. There's a bus hanging off the roof. You climb up steps and rebar tunnels to an empty plane suspended 50 feet off the ground. Another open tunnel leads to a 20 foot slide. There's a huge ball pit where kids at heart can do exactly what they're told not to do elsewhere -- whale on each other. And that's just the outside.

Inside, on different floors, there are caves, tunnels, slides, and dark caverns to explore. There's a cool aquarium, a mini-circus, tons of salvaged cultural artifacts and architectural elements. There are walls made of soda bottles, walls made of engraving plates, safety deposit boxes, and woven wood. There are hands-on art activities and a glass-blowing studio. It's truly amazing.

I'm not the kind who thinks that "vacation" means activity has to be crammed into every available moment. I'd be very happy to lie on a beach with a good book. But I also like to take advantage of things I don't normally get to do -- like scale a 50-foot tower or crawl through underground tunnels with my kids. The prep work was exhausting, but the vacation and the time with family were great.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Friday, June 08, 2007

Word of the day

Whippersnapper.


From that excellent resource, the Online Etymology Dictionary:

1674, apparently a "jingling extension" [OED] of *whip-snapper "a cracker of whips," or perhaps an alteration of snipper-snapper (c.1590). Cf. also late 16c. whipperginnie, a term of abuse for a woman.
Which leaves unexplained why this became a cry of anger and frustration of old people towards young upstarts, or why this seems to have passed into disuse.

But feel free to leave your favorite antiquated slurs in the comments, you rapscallions.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mugged by reality

Aging hippies in the Haight neighborhood are getting tired of "gutter punks" using their flower pots as bathrooms and selling dope in front of their expensive homes. From the LA Times:

"I'm sick of stepping over gangs of kids, only to be told 'Die, yuppie!' A lot of us were flower children, but we grew up," said Robert Shadoian, 58, a retired family therapist. "There are responsibilities in this world you have to meet. You can't be drugged out 24/7 and expect the world to take care of you."
Holy karma, Batman! What is it about earning a degree and leading an adult life that makes one less positively disposed towards aggressive punks panhandling for pot money? Republicans are rarer than hen's teeth in San Fran, so that comment probably qualifies Shadoian as a reactionary.

One of the best quotes, though, is from an ex-hippie who channels Grandpa Simpson to fondly misremember his youth:
Evans, 64, says they should get help, clean up or go home. "I used to be a hippie. I wore beads and grew my hair long," he said. "But my generation had something these kids do not: a standard of civilized behavior."
"Hey, when we were dirty, homeless, drugged out, antisocial losers, at least we were polite! I just don't know where these kids get this 'Tune in, turn on, drop out' stuff."

But the best part? Not even the hippies want hippies living around them. There's hope for the 60s generation yet.


(h/t: BoingBoing)

Word of the day

Foment.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Word of the day

Glamour.

Addicted

Some of you may remember that I simply can't get enough of Louis Jordan. He was a wonderfully talented singer, musician, songwriter, and entertainer, and was one of the biggest stars in R&B and popular music from the early 40s to the early 50s.

Jordan starred in a few movies, too. They were simple vehicles for promoting his latest hits, but clips of the musical portions show just how great a musician and showman he was. In this clip of "I Know What You're Puttin' Down" from Reet, Petite and Gone, however, it's not Jordan but an absolutely lovely young lady who steals the show. She's the one to watch.

What great way to start the week. Enjoy.

Youth outreach concert

Saturday was our first youth outreach concert at church.

We have a great location and a nice, large field at church for outdoor activities. God hooked us up with several local Christian bands (rock, metal, rap, hip-hop, gospel) who were willing to come and play so they could tell kids what Jesus has done for them. The music was fantastic, we had lots of adults volunteer to help out, and the kids kept saying they couldn't believe a church would put on a concert like that.

The only negative was that it rained off and on all week (as late as Saturday afternoon), and we weren't sure we'd even have a concert. Even though the skies cleared Saturday afternoon, I think the weather kept a number of people away.

Now I'm just sore from using muscles that have lain dormant for too long. My wife said, "You keep forgetting you're not twenty-five anymore!" But we had a blast, met some new friends, started some new relationships with kids in the community, and learned a lot for the next time around. Awesome!

Friday, June 01, 2007


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