Thursday, July 31, 2008

How much is too much?

The usual suspects were outraged at the news that Exxon-Mobil announced the largest quarterly profits EVER for a US corporation!!!

Yes, well. Exxon-Mobil did in fact record profits of $11.68 billion ... on $138.1 billion in sales, or 8.45% net profit. Excluding a one-time court settlement, profits were still only 8.66% of sales, about average for US corporations.

But it's too much for some reason, and our "leaders" in Washington are calling for Exxon's blood. A "windfall profit tax" is a key part of the Democrat's energy policy (which also includes suing OPEC to lower crude prices). Are profits over 8% now windfall profits, or is there something special about oil money which makes it especially eeeeevil?

But rather than doing any actual legislating, Speaker Pelosi has sent Congress home to make impassioned reelection speeches about $4 a gallon gas and Exxon's profits.

Sloth, envy, and stupidity may very well get votes, but they're hardly a solid foundation on which to build an energy policy, conduct foreign policy, or run a country.

Problem solved! (UPDATED AGAIN)

John McCain has recently run an ad criticizing Barack Obama's celebrity status as insufficient reason to elect him President. Obama responded by claiming McCain is a racist.

"So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me ... You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You know, he doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills, you know."
Skip over the fact that only George Washington is on the dollar bill, and Franklin and Hamilton were never President. And definitely look over the interesting insertion of "other" in that sentence. When was the election, again?

Here's the main thing: We know from Obama himself that he doesn't want to make race an issue in this ra ... uh, sorry -- campaign -- so he must have been referring to the engraved portraits used on U.S. currency. So, to help break things out of this stalemate, I've solved the problem to which Obama refers (with help from the WSJ):


Feel free to add this to whatever bill you think this deserves. Now that he looks the other Presidents, I guess we have no reason not to vote for him.

You're welcome.


UPDATE: Behold the new $10,000 bill. Now he looks like those "other" Presidents.



Who needs Salmon Chase? He was in a Republican administration, anyway. And the larger bill may just come in handy yet.


UPDATE 2: Oops, he did it again. Obama's camp initially tried to say that his response wasn't about race at all:
"He was referring to the fact that he didn't come into the race with the history of others," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday. "It is not about race."
Right. Anyway, Obama's chief strategist admitted on "Good Morning America" that Obama was talking about his skin color. So, I guess it's "Sorry for the ridiculous lies, ugly slander, and cheap shots which we routinely accuse others of employing."

But at least Obama gets the benefit of tarring McCain (Did he just say "tar"?) with an outrageous accusation of racism which will be remembered long after the retraction is forgotten. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.

Equal opportunity lying

Sen. Ted Stevens (R - Alaska) has been indicted on seven felony counts of failing to report gifts from an Alaskan oil services company. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but I certainly would not be surprised at the truth of the charges against the "king of earmarks." Stevens has played an aggressive form of pork-barrel politics for way too long and at too great expense to the rest of the nation. The GOP should have pushed him to retire, but Stevens held a safe Senate seat, was a good fundraiser, and was popular in Alaska for bringing home the money.

Note that Stevens is charged not with improper use of office, but essentially lying about the nature and value of gifts received. Federal prosecutors are again indicting someone for false statements, which underscores the adage, "It's not the crime, but the cover-up."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When does dishonesty become pathological?

Those hundreds of billions of barrels of oil shale -- enough for decades of use? Don't need 'em. Just inflate your tires properly and get a tune-up. I inflated my tires and tripled my gas mileage!



Do you think he makes up stuff like this just to see how people will react? Does he think people will believe anything he tells them? He's been getting away with it long enough, I seriously wonder if he's becoming a pathological liar. Maybe he needs to keep telling bigger and bigger lies, secretly hoping to get caught because that will mean people aren't as stupid as they appear to be. Maybe he's like a gang leader who secretly hates the people he leads because of their gullibility and treats them like the morons he believes them to be. Or maybe he does it because he's done it so much and so often that he doesn't even have a sense of objective truth anymore. The truth is simply what he says at this moment, even if it has nothing to do with verifiable reality, plain facts, or even what he said yesterday.



(h/t: Gateway Pundit)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The once and future Sippican

This amazing YouTube video has come back from 30 years in the future to show us what our friend Sippican will have been up to. Enjoy!




(h/t: BoingBoing)

Google reminds us

Today is Beatrix Potter's birthday:




Happy birthday, courtesy of The Perry Bible Fellowship:

Good bye, America. It was nice knowing you.

The state of California has outlawed trans-fats.

For the 10,000 foot view apparently inspired by nothing in particular, see this thoughtful piece by my friend Sippican.

A tech from the DHS will be by next week to get a urine sample and take your blood pressure.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday music

Sung at church today by a father and his son playing guitar.

Category confusion?

My wife and I were at a local school for our daughter's "graduation" from Safety Town -- a two-week afternoon program in which the kids learn to wear bike helmets, stop at red lights, and not drink poison. Why didn't we think of that?

Anyway, I arrived a few minutes early for the program and went to use the restroom. I was confronted by these two options for my toilette:


It's a little hard to read the signs, so I took a closeup of each. You may use the bathroom on the left if you're a woman:


And you may use the bathroom on the right if you're a teacher.


I looked all around. There were no other restrooms nearby.

Apparently someone pointed out that this presents a problem for non-female non-teachers (about 50% of the US population), so someone helpfully slapped on the male/female sign.

For a moment I felt like a trespasser in Amazonia. I wondered if a group of pencil-weilding warrior-teachers was going to accost me and carry me off to the matriarch's office.

Are the demographics in education that skewed? Before they put up the extra sign, did the males have to go out behind the gym to do their business? Or did they have to hold it in all day?

I'm glad they finally made the concession to the Y-chromosome set. But I wonder if the teachers are still miffed at having to share what was their private retreat.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dissent will not be tolerated (UPDATED AGAIN)

Obamabots have swarmed YouTube in order to flag the following video as "inappropriate." We can't have heretics spouting blasphemy about the Obamessiah, now, can we? Free speech for me, but not for thee.




Quasi-fascist antics like this should make the skin of democracy-loving people crawl. Beyond all the mounting evidence of Obama's own thin skin and egomania, this guy's followers really creep me out.

"We are building a religion" -- indeed.


(h/t: Instapundit)


UPDATE: For the full-strength Kool-aid, go to the Obamamessiah blog and read through the quotes:

... a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany ... and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama.

I have thrown myself into a new world—one in which fluffy chatter and frivolous praise are replaced by a get-to-the-point directness and disciple-like devotion.

Barack Obama is the Platonic philosopher king we’ve been looking for for the past 2,400 years.

You'll have to measure time by `Before Obama' and `After Obama.'
These people are serious -- seriously delusional and seriously frightening.


UPDATE 2: I'm pretty sure this is satire, but who can tell anymore?

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

The sad part is that it could be written (or said by Chris Matthews) totally straight-faced.

(h/t: Althouse, who's starting to get repulsed by all the fawning adulation among "journalists")

Truly free

Callimachus links to a beautifully poignant story of a freed slave who used his influence to help his former master and other Confederate veterans.

As a boy on the Laurens County plantation, Bill Yopp went everywhere that Thomas Yopp went.

Hunting. Fishing. Even off to the Civil War.

"Like Mary's little lamb," he said later.

After the war, Bill traveled the country and world, rubbing elbows with royalty and the rich, and befriending powerful politicians. The twice-wounded Thomas returned home and lived most of his remaining years in poverty.

In 1920, Thomas Yopp died in the Confederate Soldiers' Home in Atlanta. Bill Yopp, his longtime friend - and former slave - was at his side.

The New York Times ran a three-paragraph obituary. Two of the paragraphs were about Bill, his devotion to his friend and former master, and his compassion for other forgotten soldiers of the Old South.

The tale is much deeper and richer than my ability to summarize. You owe it to yourself to read the whole thing.

I think Bill Yopp did what he did because he was free long before the Civil War ended. There's no way he could have done those things with a heart full of anger and bitterness. And to simplify his relationship with Thomas to one of unthinking servility is to dehumanize Bill. Give him the dignity of respecting his own informed morality and choices.

Bill Yopp was truly free. And because he was free, he was able to love and bless. And if Bill Yopp could be free even as a slave and live as he did, there's hope for you and me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A personal hell

Via The Corner, Ann Althouse links to a story by the National Enquirer which tells of John Edwards meeting his alleged mistress in the early morning hours at a hotel in LA. Edwards' wife is battling cancer, and the Senator has previously denied allegations of marital infidelity.

Now, this is the National Enquirer, so perhaps we should be slow to accept the story at face value. Except that there are little details in the piece which ring true. And the Enquirer has gotten things like this right in the past -- OJ Simpson, Gary Hart, and Frank Gifford come to mind.

So assuming that it is true, I find it hard to understand the glee with which some are anticipating further revelations and a man's fall. It's a sad, painful, and disgusting situation for everyone involved.

If it's true that Edwards ducked into a bathroom to avoid reporters, rather than that suggesting cowardice on Edwards' part, I think it's a good thing. It suggests that he feels an appropriate shame over what he's doing. And is that's the case, then there's hope for him.

Sin thrives in the dark. It feeds on secrecy, fear, and shame. Those things dont' cause us to sin, but are the fruits of sin which bear more rotten fruit. We fear the light. Bringing it out into the open feels like death, so we stay hidden in the dark and hope no one will find out. But in the dark we're trapped in our ongoing deceit and live in fear and guilt. We're in our own kind of hell. We just think it's better than the hell we'll catch if we get found out.

That's the sad irony. Anyone can escape hell. All you have to do is tell the truth -- the truth about what you've done, and the truth that you are a sinful, selfish, destructive, hurtful person who loves yourself more than you love God or others. That's the thing that feels like death, but actually brings life and freedom.

Now admittedly, this isn't the kind of thing that saying "I'm sorry" can undo. But then, that's true of all sin. The most devilishly destructive lie is the partial truth that will admit wrong but cling to the proud belief that I can do something to make it right. "I'm so sorry. Tell me what to do. I'll make it up to you." But you can't. You can't un-fornicate. You can't un-lie. You can't un-steal, un-gossip, un-hate. You can't go back and have the conversation you should have had, let go of the money you should have given, merit the trust you betrayed, or help the person you ignored. You can't un-sin.

The only possible solution is to is admit your wrong and throw yourself on the grace and mercy of the God whom you've offended. People have a hard time forgiving. We hold on to grudges. But Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins and make it possible for you to be reconciled to God and even changed from the inside out. But forgiveness is not something you earn. It's a gift.

That's the outrageous and scandalous part of the gospel. We love the idea of forgiveness when it comes to our being forgiven. "Forgive others -- as I want to be forgiven? But he doesn't deserve it!" No, he doesn't. And neither do you or I. We are all guilty, everyone of one of us.

And admitting that is the first step to finding true forgiveness. It's the way out of hell.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Economy slows; women, minorities hardest hit

From (who else?) the NYT ("Poor Economy Slows Women In Workplace"):

Across the country, women in their prime earning years, struggling with an unfriendly economy, are retreating from the work force, either permanently or for long stretches.
Down in the sixth paragraph, we learn that, "women are being afflicted on a large scale by the same troubles as men: downturns, layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages or the discouraging prospect of an outright pay cut. And they are responding as men have, by dropping out or disappearing for awhile."

In other words, women and men are struggling in a sluggish economy and are responding in similar ways. But "Poor Economy Slows Both Men And Women In Workplace" just doesn't sell many papers.

Bud killer (UPDATE)

We had some family visiting this past week, and with some friends from church we all went on the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour yesterday afternoon. I'm not a big Bud fan, but our family members wanted to see the place just in case it's not there in the future. I doubt that would happen, but it's possible that cost-cutting might mean dropping brewery tours with free sampling. Anyway, the tour was pretty impressive, if for no other reason than the sheer scale of the operation.

They keep some of the Clydesdales at the brewery and the rest at Grant's Farm (another good St. Louis attraction). These massive horses have appetites to match their size. A mature horse weighs over 2,000 lbs and will go through 30 gallons of water and 50+ pounds of grains a day.

The brewery vats hold millions of gallons of beer in the lagering house. Supposedly if the brewery were stopped, even this would only be enough to supply just the Midwest for 12-24 hours.

And yet a plastic sandal almost brought the mighty A-B to its knees yesterday -- or, the tour anyway. At the Bevo packing plant we were unable to go upstairs to see the lines in operation. Someone's Croc had gotten caught in the escalator and shut it down. No fooling. Those stories you hear about Crocs are apparently true.

Missing out on the tour of the packing plant meant we went to the hospitality room all the more quickly -- not a bad thing, as it was 98 degrees yesterday. At least the beer was cold. Limit two per customer. Free pretzels and sodas for the kids. Since A-B has been the importer of Stella Artois, they had it on tap. It will be interesting to see what brands are on tap in the future.


UPDATE: I forgot to mention that in the stables at the brewery, each horse has its own stall with his (geldings only) name on a plaque above. There was an interesting mix of names -- King, Sergeant, Teddy, Murry. Wait, Murry? Is he the Jewish Clydesdale? "That wagon you want me to pull?" "What, your stall isn't good enough for you now? You never had it so good." "Always with the hay. Would it kill you to give me some oats once in a while?"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A cup of awesome to start your day

From Best of Craigslist:

Autographed Copy of Plato’s Republic
———————————————Date: 2008-07-09, 11:00AM CDT

1st edition of The Republic signed by its author. There is of course a reasonable amount of wear and tear, (light highlighting and underlining, dog-eared pages, back cover missing, etc.), but it is in overall good condition considering its age.

First come first serve

Location: Chicago loop

it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 748263604

(hat tip: Never Yet Melted)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Preacher With A Shovel"

One of many entries from the Troy McClure filmography at the Simpsons Archive

"Hi, I'm actor Troy McClure. You may remember me from such fine films as Here Comes the Coast Guard, The Wackiest Covered Wagon in the West, and Dial M for Murderousness."

I miss Phil Hartman.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Your daily inspiration

(Not original to me)

AMAZING SIMPLE HOME REMEDIES:

1. IF YOU'RE CHOKING ON AN ICE CUBE, SIMPLY POUR A CUP OF BOILING WATER DOWN YOUR THROAT. PRESTO! THE BLOCKAGE WILL INSTANTLY REMOVE ITSELF.

2. AVOID CUTTING YOURSELF WHEN SLICING VEGETABLES BY GETTING SOMEONE ELSE TO HOLD THE VEGETABLES WHILE YOU CHOP.

3. AVOID ARGUMENTS WITH THE FEMALES ABOUT LIFTING THE TOILET SEAT BY USING THE SINK.

4. FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE SUFFERERS ~ SIMPLY CUT YOURSELF AND BLEED FOR A FEW MINUTES, THUS REDUCING THE PRESSURE ON YOUR VEINS. REMEMBER TO USE A TIMER.

5. A MOUSE TRAP PLACED ON TOP OF YOUR ALARM CLOCK WILL PREVENT YOU FROM ROLLING OVER AND GOING BACK TO SLEEP AFTER YOU HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON.

6. IF YOU HAVE A BAD COUGH, TAKE A LARGE DOSE OF LAXATIVES. THEN YOU'LL BE AFRAID TO COUGH.

7. YOU ONLY NEED TWO TOOLS IN LIFE - WD-40 AND DUCT TAPE. IF IT DOESN'T MOVE AND SHOULD, USE THE WD-40. IF IT SHOULDN'T MOVE AND DOES, USE THE DUCT TAPE.

8. REMEMBER - EVERYONE SEEMS NORMAL UNTIL YOU GET TO KNOW THEM.

9. IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.


DAILY THOUGHT: SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES - NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS.

Monday, July 14, 2008

We welcome our new Belgian overlords

For such an acrimonious battle for control over Anheuser-Busch, the end came quickly enough when InBev raised its cash offer from $65 to $70 per share. A-B head August A. Busch IV had tried fighting off the acquisition with xenophobia, lawsuits and a cost cutting plan. The announcement that a takeover at a higher price (with a seat on the new Board for Busch) is now in the best interests of the shareholders makes one wonder if Busch was looking out for the company's interests or his own.

The cost-cutting begun by A-B will certainly be continued by InBev, as they take on $45 billion in debt in the acquisition. There are still plenty of questions around what jobs will be cut, who will run the new company's North American operations, what will happen to A-B wholesalers and distributors, and whether American consumers will be as loyal to a foreign-owned Budweiser brand.

A: Zero

Q: How many foreign languages does Barack Obama speak?

Sorry. Sometimes I can't help myself.

For the record, I tend to agree that it's a good thing to learn a foreign language. I've learned four myself (and goofed around with a couple of others). At the same time, it's practically not that important for Americans, given that we live in a near-continent-sized country and English is the lingua franca of business, science, and diplomacy. And of course there's the obvious double irritation of being lectured to by a man who 1) is said to be intelligent and is a graduate of the nation's elite universities, and yet 2) hasn't bothered to take his own advice.

The man is so tiresome. It's like he's combined the rhetoric of Edwards and the self-righteous moralizing of Gore. And Americans don't usually vote for tiresome people -- witness Congress' abysmal job approval. If ever there was a bunch of ineffective, hypocritical, self-righteous gasbags, it's been the 110th Congress.

If McCain wants to win, he should take a page form Obama's playbook. Obama wants to
tie McCain to Bush; McCain should saddle Obama with the Democratic Congress. "Are these the policies you want to shape America's future? Do you really want these people running the country?"

A 9% approval rating is more than zero, but not by much. Just let him keep talking.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

$9 a pack

No, really. That's what people are now paying for the privilege of smoking in New York City. The City just raised cigarette taxes to $2.75 a pack. I believe that's more in taxes than the entire cost of a bargain brand pack here in Missouri. In other words, the tax rate on cigarettes in NYC is 44% -- before sales tax (disclosure: I am not a smoker).

How can anyone justify such outrageous tax rates on a simple consumer product? One reason might be the City's desire to discourage people from smoking. But if that's really the goal, then why not just outlaw smoking? They outlawed trans fats. Surely one can make the case that smoking is a greater public health threat than trans fats.

Might one reason be that cigarette taxes are a money machine for politicians? There are roughly 6 million adults in NYC. If 20% smoke 1.5 packs a day, that equals $5 million a day in income -- or $1.8 billion a year. But that money goes to help offset the higher costs of healthcare for smokers, right? Actually, it turns out that smokers' lifetime healthcare costs are lower than those of non-smokers because they die younger.

Governments have gotten so used to the income from cigarette taxes that many can't afford to outlaw smoking. If they did, everyone else's taxes would go up to cover the shortfall.

So governments are caught in delicate balancing act -- condemning smoking for health reasons while desperately needing people to keep smoking for financial ones. That seems like a rather stupid position for government to be in.

In fact, why don't we just get rid of the old "sin taxes" and get government out of the business of simultaneously discouraging and taxing booze and smokes?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Catch them while they're young

It's a tight race in Western Europe to see who can commit cultural suicide the fastest. The French and Dutch are no slouches, but the British certainly seem to be giving it their all.

From the Telegraph:

The National Children's Bureau, which receives £12 million a year, mainly from Government funded organisations, has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care.

This could include a child of as young as three who says "yuk" in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.

The guidance by the NCB is designed to draw attention to potentially-racist attitudes in youngsters from a young age.

It alerts playgroup leaders that even babies can not be ignored in the drive to root out prejudice as they can "recognise different people in their lives".
Having a preference for certain people or foods is now evidence of racism. But can dark-skinned babies be racist if they don't like lighter-hued caregivers? And will children of Indian descent be labeled as racists if they like curry?

These are important questions, because if they're not taught early enough, they may show disturbing signs of cultural insensitivity, such as the British youths who would not bow down and pray to Allah. Sadly, the worst punishment they could receive at this date was only detention. However, the astute teacher made sure the entire class missed their recess, so the anger of their peer will hopefully have taught them their lesson.

Fortunately, the British justice system is keenly aware of the need for cultural sensitivity.
The most senior judge in England yesterday gave his blessing to the use of sharia law to resolve disputes among Muslims.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said that Islamic legal principles could be employed to deal with family and marital arguments and to regulate finance.

He declared: 'Those entering into a contractual agreement can agree that the agreement shall be governed by a law other than English law.'
Lord Philips' did state that punishments and divorce rulings would have to comply with British law, but that seems like whistling past the graveyard in a society that's learning to live with honor killings and police "No go" zones in Muslim neighborhoods.

Speaking of the police, Tayside's finest sent out a public awareness postcard with a puppy on it, and were quickly criticized for being insensitive. But they're learning:

A spokesman for Tayside Police said ...

'We did not seek advice from the force's diversity adviser prior to publishing and distributing the postcards. That was an oversight and we apologise for any offence caused.'
The assimilation of immigrants into an existing culture is an age-old challenge. The point is not to be unnecessarily or intentionally insensitive. But when you keep apologizing for your own beliefs, traditions and values, it raises the question of whether you really believe your culture is worth maintaining and defending.

Muslims feel no need to apologize for their culture. I wonder why traditionally Christian ones do, and what Britain will look like in 20 years, given these trends?


(h/t: Never Yet Melted, Gateway Pundit, JoshuaPundit, Rachel Lucas)

Monday, July 07, 2008

To hell with honor, service, and justice!

Quick quiz:

Guess what happens when an elite Boy Scout group spends four years planning and preparing for an extensive service project at their own expense in a national forest and a group of filthy hippies comes in at the last minute and demands to have a drug-fueled bacchanalia at the same location?

Let's see -- the choice is between honoring our commitment to a group of admirable young citizens who are trying to make a positive contribution to society at significant personal expense and commitment, or giving in to a bunch of immature, narcissistic hooligans (yes, I said hooligans -- I'm over 40) who will trample public property, pollute the environment, and break any number of laws in the process.

You already know the answer -- because we're apparently afraid of saying "no" to a bunch of punks, and know we can count on the Scouts to respond with the maturity and honor we've not shown them.

I'm sorry, but some skulls simply need cracking. Where are the Chicago police when you need them?

I have spent my entire life living under the ugly shadow of the miserable, hippie-dominated decade from 1965-1975, and I'm sick to death of it. Human beings are made in God's image. We are designed for glory, honor, and immortality -- not looking stupid, smelling bad, listening to crappy music, twirling in circles, and throwing up on ourselves. I weep for our country when we disparage honor, service, and self-sacrifice and instead empower and encourage the worst kind of whining, selfish, stupid, ugly and eternal adolescence.

Why does western civilization seem intent on destroying itself?


(h/t: Never Yet Melted, who also has details on the 400-person riot which ensued when police attempted to arrest a hippie. Funny, I can't recall reading about any Boy Scout riots.)

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Greatest Show on Earth

I've always thought that the character of Richard Henry Lee -- with all his pride, energy, braggadocio, good-heartedness, and internal contradictions -- was a pretty good symbol of America.



As usual, we're going to celebrate the birth of our country by eating and drinking a lot, playing games, and blowing stuff up.

Happy Independence Day!


UPDATE: I forgot earlier to post the note that Richard H. Lee did in fact submit the resolution "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Good news from Colombia

From the NYT:

Hours after Colombian commandos in disguise infiltrated the FARC terrorist group in a daring rescue operation, three American hostages were flown to safety in the United States and another freed captive, a French-Colombian politician held for six years, was reunited with her family.

... On Colombian television, Ms. Betancourt wept and smiled as she recounted a chain of events that seemed scripted for film, complete with Colombian agents infiltrating guerrilla camps and borrowing Israeli tracking technology to zero in on their target, before rescuing 15 hostages in all.
One fo the most encouraging points is the news that this was a Colombian-led effort.

I haven't followed the political situation in Colombia too closely, but this certainly seems like a major shift in momentum. Not many years ago, the media gave the impression that FARC was taking over Colombia, and the military and political structures were powerless to stop them. While FARC is still the largest South American armed rebel group, the article goes on to state that the group is indeed weakening and is perhaps going the way of the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru.

Along with progress in Iraq, these are reasons to celebrate significant gains against armed terrorist groups. That this mission was the result of five years of planning underscores the difficulty of infiltrating these groups and the importance of patience and perseverance.

Just because...

Another great pop culture mashup -- Boba Fett doing "Flashdance"



(via Neatorama)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Update on Mom

Well, I can't say I'm rested and recovered, but at least I'm back.

Let me explain. No, that would take too long. Let me sum up.

When the rehab center in Florida released my mom, a couple of things fell through the cracks. The nurses apparently didn't get the info that Mom wasn't going directly to assisted living, but was spending a few days with us -- so they didn't give her any of her medications for pain and a thyroid condition. We also later found out that they'd told Mom (whom they'd diagnosed as having early stage dementia) that she had a urinary tract infection, but they didn't tell me.

Sunday night/early Monday at my brother's house, Mom wakes up moaning, feverish, incoherent, and incontinent. We take her to the ER where they get her stabilized. She sleeps most of the day while we wonder if she's going to need nursing care and not assisted living. By Tuesday, though, she was back to her normal self, and Wednesday we were able to get her into her apartment. In the middle of all this we were unpacking her things and dealing with innumerable legal, financial, insurance and medical details.

Wednesday and Thursday I was at a church conference which was positive and encouraging, but tiring nonetheless. A seminary student preached Sunday, so I was off -- except we met at 6 am on Thursday to go over his message (he did a great job, by the way). Saturday was tennis and working on more details of Mom's move, belongings and upcoming estate sale at her house in Florida (wish us luck on selling that albatross). And this week is Vacation Bible School.

I feel like Lilly von Schtupp.

Speaking for both of us, my wife said the other day, "Don't you feel like you'll never be not tired again?"

Actually, things aren't that bad. Mom is getting settled in her place and meeting new friends. I think she'll be fine, if she'll give it a chance. She's in a nice place with good people. And though we're tired, we've got loving people around us (including my brothers and their wives), helping to fill in the gaps and carry the load where we can't. We're being cared for even as we care for Mom, and we've experienced God's love, strength and encouragement in many ways. That certainly makes all this less overwhelming.

Thanks for your prayers and concern.


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