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Monday, January 31, 2005

Blah Blah Blah

Went to the doctor- I was right. It's a sinus infection. I'm going back to bed. Go visit the blogs in the sidebar. Quietly. Very quietly.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Site Updates and Stuff

Well, I managed to pull myself up out of the fog long enough to tweak the template. You'll notice a few new items in the sidebar. I've added the attendees to the Texas Blogfest under the banner, and I added to the blogroll.
And Russ helped me with the code (after Spats mentioned the idea) so that my blockquotes are in these pretty little boxes. Yeah, I know... they're gonna turn me into a geek if I'm not careful.
Go check out some of the blogs I added to the blogroll!!!

Interior Palpebra Cartography

This morning, after far too little sleep, I had a breakfast meeting with the 3 other people who hold the same volunteer position as I do at church and the guy who is interviewing for a job on staff at the church. He would be our staff contact. The associate pastor wanted to make sure we could work with/for this guy. Makes sense to me.

After that, I met Hubby and had lunch with him and some of the guys he works with. Nice guys.

Ran through Wendy's and got bacon cheeseburgers for the boys. Took some allergy medicine and promptly fell asleep on the couch.

There are a lot of cool things about living in Central Texas, and a few very bad things. The very, VERY bad thing? Austin is the allergy capitol of the country, if not the world. The largest concentration of cedar trees in the world (yes, the whole wide world) is in and around Austin. And guess what I'm very allergic to. You guessed it- cedar. And guess what season it is right now... yup. Cedar. I really need to buy stock in Kleenex™.

I have a lot of stuff I need to get done. And I'll get around to it. But, right now, I think I need to assume crash position again. Posting might be light for a few days... just until I get a handle on this allergy thing.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Desperate Times and All That

What do you do if you're trapped in your car in an avalanche? Well, if you're Richard Kral, you get drunk and well... wizz your way to freedom.
A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it.... He had 60 half-litre bottles of beer in his car as he was going on holiday, and after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it, local media reported.

Rescue teams found him drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains.
I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. He's just lucky he didn't die of alcohol poisoning or got frostbite on certain body parts.

The Music Meme

Well, ZiPpo tagged me, so I guess I'm it. I can't help but think he might be a bit disappointed by this post. So, I guess I'll apologize in advance. You have been warned.

So, this post is supposed to be about my musical tastes. Hmmm... where to begin... Well, growing up, my dad was in a band, and they would practice in our basement. I would sneak downstairs, sit on the bottom step, and listen to my dad and his friends play. I know they played a lot of stuff (50s and early 60s foundation of Rock'n'Roll kind of music), but there are two things that really stick out in my memory. Credence Clearwater Revival and Wipeout (yeah, it's not the original by The Surfaris, but it was the only free playable I could find). Wipeout probably sticks out in my mind so much because my dad was the drummer. In my 4 year-old mind, that was my daddy's song. Everyone else was just there to back him up.

I can still tell you what my first two (non-little-kid) music recordings were. KISS's Destroyer and The Carpenters Greatest Hits, both on 8-track. My favorite group when I was in grade school was The Bay City Rollers (I had a crush on them before I really knew what a crush was. Owned every album they made. Watched their Saturday morning kids' show religiously.) When I hit junior high, my taste wandered over to Supertramp, Rush, Triumph, etc. Throw in a bit of Jethro Tull and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and you have my musical influences up to high school. (My dad had started listening to some country- Alabama and Ronnie Millsap, but I thought country music was for "old people".) I was in high school at the height (pun intended) of pop metal and the hair bands. Bon Jovi ruled the school, so it seemed. Mötley Crüe was what we listened to when we wanted to be rebellous. But, throughout high school, the cassettes that lived in my tape player were usually my Night Ranger tapes. The first concert I ever went to was Night Ranger's Midnight Madness tour, with The Georgia Sattelites opening for them at Six Flags over St. Louis. Then, my best friend and her boyfriend took me to their Seven Wishes concert for my sixteenth birthday. Ah, yes... I remember it well.

I went to college in Oklahoma, so you can blame that for my sudden change in musical taste. My freshman year, I was still listening to the metal bands (I found the best music to study physics to is Dokken... who knew?) but I also started listening to classical (Rachmaninoff is best for doing math homework, and Mozart is good for typing English papers.) Then I started dating this guy who listened to... *gasp*... country music. But he also had KISS's Destoyer cassette, so he couldn't be all bad, right? So, he slowly lured me to the dark side with "light country" like Restless Heart, then gently, so gently, introduced the "heavier" stuff until I was hooked on Travis Tritt and Garth Brooks, and I had turned my back on my first love, rock'n'roll. Towards the end of college, I had stretched even further, going through a Christian pop music phase, adding cassettes of Michael W. Smith and Audio Adrenaline to the mix.

Then about six years ago, we started going to the church we currently attend, and I started working with the associate pastor and music minister. As part of my "job", I had to listen to a lot of pop and rock music. So, now we can add Creed, Nickleback, Lincoln Park, Train, and Vertical Horizon to the mix.

So, have I come full circle?

OK... I say all of that because the first part of the meme isn't applicable to me. I know I should, but I don't have iTunes or any other music service on my computer. I'll get around to it- I promise.

That being said, here are the answers to the questions:
1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
Nine. Yup. I have nine music files on my computer. 7 of them were given to me by the same person. I feel so... uncool right now.
2. The last CD you bought is:
Rascal Flats Feels Like Today
3. What is the song you last listened to before this message?
Jo Dee Messina's "My Give a Damn's Busted"
4. 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.
1. Wipeout (The Surfaris) 'Cause it's my dad's song!
2. Sister Christian (Night Ranger) That one song can bring back all the joys and sorrows of high school. It's the song that can "take me back."
3. I Hope You Dance (Lee Ann Womack) It's a wonder wish for everyone, not just your kids.
4.Everything I Do, I Do It For You (Bryan Adams) That was the first song Hubby and I danced to at our wedding reception.
5. Beth (KISS) Yeah, it's a lousy way to treat your wife, but when I was little, I just thought it was cool that there was a song with my name in it.
5. (I'm adding this one myself- out of curiousity) What's in your vehicle's cd player right now?
I have a 6 disk changer:
1. Toby Keith's Greatest Hits II
2. Rascal Flats Feels Like Today
3. WideAwake Live at The Lucky Lounge
4. Montgomery Gentry You Do Your Thing
5. Terri Clark Greatest Hits
6. Aerosmith Honkin' on Bobo
6. Who are passing the stick to (three people you're sending this to)?
1. Spats (my partner in crime for the blogfest)
2. Eric ('cause I can't wait to be amazed- I've heard some of the songs on his computer)
3. Joe R. (I'm just curious)

Not The Brightest Bulb in the Box

Someone must have forgotten to tell this guy that if you're going to phone in a bomb threat on the Super Bowl, you should probably not leave you name and cell phone number.
A man accused of leaving voice mail on the City Council president's phone saying "killing 100,000 people would get people's attention," was arrested Thursday, accused of making a bomb threat....

The message began, "Hi Elaine." A man who said his name was Albert Strickland left a cell phone number police traced to Jacksonville resident Albert Ray Strickland, 56. He was charged Thursday with threatening to discharge a destructive device -- a felony. No bomb was found in his Hyde Park home.

In the message, the man said Jacksonville didn't deserve the Super Bowl and said he wanted the mayor, city council and members of law enforcement to resign. He said police had tried to kill him several times. In the message, the man described himself as a scientist intent on stopping the Super Bowl, that he believed in the Big Bang theory and was "obsessed with the size it needs to be." The police report indicated that officers who interviewed Strickland said his voice matches that in the recorded message.

Strickland is being held at the Duval County jail and is scheduled for a first appearance Friday afternoon.
Being held in the Duval County jail? Do they have padded cells and backwards jackets? Just sayin'....

Of Dreams Lost...

Darth reminds us (well, points out that Michele reminds us) that today is the 19th anniversary of the Challenger accident. Was it really that long ago?

A little background. When I was little, I wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to be a scientist and walk on Mars. OK, not just when I was little. My first major in college was astrophysics. (Then I met calculus, but that's another story.)

My love of space began in 3rd grade, when Miss Hall taught a science unit about outer space. I don't know what she said or what she did, but she did something right. My interest in space started then, and just grew over time.

When the STS first launched in 1981, we watched it on tv at school. I collected all the information on the shuttle that I could. I had The Space Shuttle Operator's Manual memorized. And, in the following 5 years, I never missed a launch or landing (I was mysteriously sick and unable to go to school those days. If my parents and teachers ever figured it out, they never mentioned it.) In the spring of 1985, I went to Space Camp Level II (now called Space Academy), where I was the first female commander of the year, and I received the "Outstanding Camper" award (which my friends quickly reminded me meant that I was the biggest "space case" there that week.)

So, that morning in 1986, I was as school. "Huh? I thought you said that you stayed home to watch the launches," I hear you ask. Why, yes, I did say that, didn't I? Well, you see, I had checked the weather forcast, and I knew (or thought I knew) that they wouldn't launch because it was too cold. So, I went to school. Walking through the halls, I heard someone crack a joke about NASA standing for "need another seven astronauts." The person who told the joke then saw me and immediately apologized. I asked them what they were talking about, and the response was "you don't know?" I went into my next class and asked my teacher what was going on. Mrs. Henry told me there was an accident, but she didn't know the details. I asked to be excused, and I called my mom.

I remember standing in the hall at the pay phone, crying, yelling at my mom that it had to be wrong, because they couldn't have launched. It was too cold. There had to be a mistake. There was no mistake.

I spent the rest of the day at school, but I didn't stay in any of my classes. As soon as the teachers would see me, they'd hand me a pass to the library. I spent the day in front of the tv. Shortly after I got home from school, the guy I was dating at the time (who lived in another town and went to a different high school) showed up at my house, not only to make sure that I was ok, but to try to talk me out of being an astronaut because it's "too damn dangerous."

As time went on, as more information was made public, I have to admit that I was angry. But not at the right person or group of people. I was angry at Christa McAuliffe, the teacher/astronaut that was on that flight. I blamed her, just because she was there. In my (immature) mind, if there had not been all of the publicity surrounding her, they would have been more willing to postpone the flight. They would have waited until the weather warmed up. The O ring wouldn't have failed. No one would have died. But it wasn't her fault. I know that now. But I still feel bad that I blamed her for so long. That wasn't fair.

Spring Break, 1988, my freshman year of college, I went back to Space Academy (I think they call it Advanced Academy now). While I was there, we watched an engineering video of the accident and the after-accident reports. Come to find out, I was right. Because of the temperature, the O Ring had become rigid and did not perform properly. It was a design flaw that the right people had not noticed until it was too late. It still strikes me as ironic that a 16 year old girl knew, but the people who could have pulled the plug didn't.

I wasn't the hot shot that time at the Academy - my dreams of going into space were already fading slowly into the background. I was trying to find my new dream. I won't lie to you and tell you that my dream of going into space has been totally lost. If given the chance, oh, yeah, I'd go. But I'm a bit older, hopefully a lot wiser.

Flying into space, conquering that (last?) frontier, is the dream of a lot of people. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask), those "space cases" who dream of weightlessness and walking on a dusty red planet are constrained by those whose feet are firmly planted on the Earth and who have to worry about money and politics and public relations.

Mean- spirited? UN-American? I guess That's Me!

Mexico has threatened to sue the state of Arizona in international court over Prop 200. They say it's mean-spirited and unAmerican. Hmm... wow... I guess I'm a big meanie, then.
Mexican officials have repeatedly complained about Proposition 200, which went into effect Tuesday. The statewide measure denies most taxpayer benefits to illegal aliens and requires state workers to report applicants for such benefits who may not be eligible. It also requires anyone registering to vote in the state to show proof of citizenship and bring a government-issued ID to the polling place.
Now, why in the world would Mexico be concerned about imigration law in another country? Oh, yeah... maybe it's because the illegal aliens that this would affect are funneling millions if not
billions of dollars into the Mexican economy. By denying benefits to people who are consciously breaking the law, they might just keep some of those criminals from coming here in the first place. Which would be a bad thing for Mexico. I mean, why should they work on jobs and their own economy when they can rely on the United States to pick up the slack for them?

In related news, Arkansas governor is a little confused about where Christian compassion ends and upholding the law begins.
The bill seeks to forbid public assistance and voting rights to illegal immigrants. Huckabee says it "enflames those who are racist and bigots and makes them think there's a real problem'' when there is not...

Huckabee, also a Republican and a Baptist minister, said Arkansans should welcome hardworking immigrants of all races. He singled out Holt, who often talks of his strong Christian beliefs. The governor said "I drink a different kind of Jesus juice. My faith says don't make false accusations against somebody. In the Bible, it's called don't bear false witness.''
Uh... how does saying that you need to need to be a legal citizen to vote equal making false accusations against someone? And what's Jesus juice?

Last time I checked, Jesus was all in favor of obeying the law (see Matt 22:21; 1 Tim 2; etc). So... shouldn't someone who claims to follow the teachings of Jesus also wish for the laws to be obeyed?

I'm all in favor of legal imigration. You sneak over the border, I want you booted out so fast your head spins. You do things the right way, following the rules, then I'll welcome you with open arms. If I have to obey the law, so does everyone else.

A Little Needy, aren't we?

This guy is just begging for attention. And, unfortunately, people are giving it to him.
St. Louis School Board member Bill Haas, who also is running for mayor, says in a Web log that loneliness, depression and financial problems have led him to consider suicide....

Haas writes that his online diary, called a blog, is "a little bit of a cry for help, and a lot just coming to peace with my passing, and sort of a last note." The blog entry - which covers two and half printed pages - provides extensive details about Haas' life, his bouts with depression and his money troubles. It says his "last day" may come sometime this spring or early summer after he euthanizes his three-legged cat and other pets.

The Web posting is extraordinary even for Haas, whose political career has been marked by the outrageous. He has moonlighted as a sex columnist while a member of the School Board, ran ads for a rich wife to help pay for his 1997 mayoral bid, applied for a reality TV show called "American Candidate," sought election to Congress, the state Legislature and the circuit attorney post, and continues to bombard the city's media daily with meandering e-mails.
I'm not really sure what to make of this guy. I mean... he's obviously an attention hog who craves the limelight and has an over-inflated sense of his own importance. On the other hand, he's a man who needs some serious psychological help. By his own admission, he has contemplated suicide in the past, and "since 1974, Haas wrote, he has twice checked himself into a hospital to 'catch my breath' and has been on and off prescription medication to treat depression."

So, is his blog one last desperate cry for help? Or one last "look at me!" moment? I just don't know....

Who Is the Greatest American?

AOL and the Discovery Channel are asking Americans to vote for their choice as the Greatest American. Who will it be? Go vote!

Oh, the Irony!

Imagine the irony if this ended up swerving and hitting us...
The week he died, science-fiction humorist Douglas Adams was honored with an asteroid named after one of the characters from his classic "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Now, almost four years later, Adams has his own name in the heavens as well...

Asteroid Douglasadams was among the 71 newly named celestial objects announced Tuesday by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass...

When Adams died of a heart attack in 2001, at the age of 49, tributes came in from around the world — but one of the biggest tributes was actually announced just days before his death: the naming of an asteroid after Arthur Dent, the Earthling at the center of the "Hitchhiker" story.
This is what happens when geeks grow up...

What She Said

So, I'm driving around town, listening to the radio. The new Jo Dee Messina came on, and OMG, I have found my new theme song. Now, before you start telling me how "unChristian" it is... is it? Well... here... you decide for yourself... (her web site is currently playing the song when you load the page- your mileage may vary depending on when you check the link)

My Give a Damn's Busted (well, part of the lyrics, at least)
I really wanna care, I wanna feel somethin'
Let me dig a little deeper... Nope... Sorry... Nothin'

You can say you've got issues. You can say you're a victim.
It's all your parents fault, After all you didn't pick em
Well maybe Oprah's got time to listen. My give a damn's busted.

(*Well let me get this straight now) Your therapist said
It was all just a phase, A product of the prozac
And your co-dependent ways, So uhh ... who's your enabler these days
My give a damn's busted.

(*Oh you're tellin' me) It's a desperate situation,
No tellin' what you'll do. If I don't forgive you,
You say your life is through. Well honey... give me somethin' I can use.
(My give a damn's busted.) (*Ahh you knew I was gonna say that, didn't ya.)
Nope. Nothing unChristian in those lyrics. It's a condemnation of the victim mentality that has taken over our country. Blaming someone else for your problems is never a good thing.

Take for example the parents that are suing McDonalds because their kids got fat eating McDonalds several times a week. I have one question- did they order salads? If not, I'd be suing the school district for not teaching proper nutrition in health and PE. Or, maybe the parents should be arrested for child endangerment or abandonment for allowing their children to eat like that. And, no, ignorance of their dietary habits is no excuse. (I have identical twins who have a 20 lb weight difference between them. I know why. I watch what my kids eat, probably better than I watch my own diet.)

So, you have a situation beyond your control, then I'm all about compassion and caring. You get yourself in a jam and try to blame someone, anyone else... yeah, well... what Jo Dee said.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Just a Heartbeat Away

I know I said that I wasn't posting anything else today, but... I had to.

Michelle Malkin shares with us the good news that Baby Jordan has received the heart transplant that he so desperately needed. And, while I am so happy for Jordan and his family, something that she wrote really set me off.
Miracles do happen. Great news.
Yeah, it is great news. For Jordan's family. But, for some other family, it's not. It's tragic. The most horrific moment of a parent's life. The nightmare that every parent fears. Someone's child died, and in that baby's death, Jordan has a new chance at life.

Somewhere, a family is grieving. All the plans they made, the dreams they had, are gone. They will be burying a child. There was no miracle for them, no great news. Only tears.

I am not against organ donation- far from it. My mother and one of my aunts have been recipients of donated organs (one from a family (live) donor, and one from a cadaver donor). We've been truly blessed by the advances in medical technology and the thoughtfulness of a family we'll never know.

I don't want to take away from Jordan's family's joy. Their prayers have been answered. Jordan has a long, difficult recovery ahead of him, but at least there is hope now. And, honestly, I am truly happy for them.

remember that, sometimes, one person's time to dance is another's time to mourn. (Eccl 3:4). Please, don't forget the other family. Lift them up in your prayers. Thank God for them,that, even in their grief, they were willing to reach out and help another family. Pray that He will comfort them in this time of sadness.

And pray that Jordan's story will touch the hearts of other families, so that, if the unthinkable happens, that they will be willing to step up, and, in spite of their grief, be a blessing to another family.

Remembering the Wannsee Conference and the Liberation of Auschwitz

(In deference to the solemness of this topic, this will be the only post I do today. Please come back tomorrow for more random fun.)

This post was written by Joseph Norland of IsraPundit.)

This article is posted as part of the January 27, 2005, BlogBurst (see list of participants
), to remember the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, sixty years ago, on January 27, 1945.On January 20th, we marked the anniversary of the 1942 Wannsee Conference. In the course of that Conference, the Nazi hierarchy formalized the plan to annihilate the Jewish people. Understanding the horrors of Auschwitz requires that one be aware of the premeditated mass-murder that was presented at Wannsee. Highlighting these events now has become particularly important, even as the press reports that '45% of Britons have never heard of Auschwitz' (Jerusalem Post, December 2, 2004)

The Holocaust, symbolized by Auschwitz, the worst of the death camps, occurred in the wake of consistent, systematic, unrelenting anti-Jewish propaganda campaigns. As a result, the elimination of the Jews from German society was accepted as axiomatic, leaving open only two questions: when and how.

As Germany expanded its domination and occupation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, the Low Countries, Yugoslavia, Poland, parts of the USSR, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Italy and others countries, the way was open for Hitler to realize his well-publicized plan of destroying the Jewish people.

After experimentation, the use of Zyklon B on unsuspecting victim was adopted by the Nazis as the means of choice, and Auschwitz was selected as the main factory of death (more accurately, one should refer to the “Auschwitz-Birkenau complex”). The green light for mass annihilation was given at the Wannsee Conference, January 20, 1942.

The Wannsee Conference formalized "the final solution" - the plan to transport Europe's Jews to eastern labour and death camps. Ever efficient and bureaucratic, the Nazi kept a record of the meeting, which were discovered in 1947 in the files of the German Foreign Office. The record represents a summary made by Adolf Eichmann at the time, even though they are sometime referred to as "minutes".

Several of the Conference participants survived the war to be convicted at Nuremberg. One notorious participant, Adolf Eichmann, was tried and convicted in Jerusalem, and executed in 1962 in Ramlah prison.

The mass gassings of Europe's took place in Auschwitz between 1942 and the end of 1944, when the Nazis retreated before the advancing Red Army. Jews were transported to Auschwitz from all over Nazi-occupied or Nazi-dominated Europe and most were slaughtered in Auschwitz upon arrival, sometimes as many as 12,000 in one day. Some victims were selected for slave labour or “medical” experimentation before they were murdered or allowed to die. All were subject to brutal treatment.

Children, victims of Nazi "medical" experiments

In all, between three and four million people, mostly Jews, but also Poles and Red Army POWs, were slaughtered in Auschwitz alone (though some authors put the number at 1.3 million). Other death camps were located at Sobibor, Chelmno, Belzec (Belzek), Majdanek and Treblinka. Adding the toll of these and other camps, as well as the mass executions and the starvation im the Ghettos, six million Jews, men, women, the elderly and children lost their lives as a consequence of the Nazi atrocities.

Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army on 27 January 1945, sixty years ago, after most of the prisoners were forced into a Death March westwards. The Red Army found in Auschwitz about 7,600 survivors, but not all could be saved.

For a long time, the Allies were well aware of the mass murder, but deliberately refused to bomb the camp or the railways leading to it. Ironically, during the Polish uprising, the Allies had no hesitation in flying aid to Warsaw, sometimes flying right over Auschwitz.

There are troubling parallels between the systematic vilification of Jews before the Holocaust and the current vilification of the Jewish people and Israel. Suffice it to note the annual flood of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN; or the public opinion polls taken in Europe, which single out Israel as a danger to world peace; or the divestment campaigns being waged in the US against Israel; or the attempts to delegitimize Israel’s very existence. The complicity of the Allies in WW II is mirrored by the support the PLO has been receiving from Europe, China and Russia to this very day.

If remembering Auschwitz should teach us anything, it is that we must all support Israel and the Jewish people against the vilification and the complicity we are witnessing, knowing where it inevitably leads.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Lunch and a Movie

Today, Hubby and went out to lunch and to the movies. We ate at a new sushi place, Sushi Japon (on I-35 just north of 290, if you happen to live in Austin and want to check it out.) You can find a good review here.

When we got there, I was a little worried. There were only two other customers seated when we got there (what's up with that?) We sat at the sushi bar (to watch technique as much as anything else). The sushi chef was very nice, and it was fun to watch him work. Hubby got the sushi special (four pieces of nigiri, three pieces of California roll, and three pieces of their special "Crazy Roll"), and I got a selection of three hand rolls (spicy tuna, California, and salmon skin). Both meals came with miso soup. Then Hubby ordered a Tiger Roll (one of his favorites- smoked salmon, cream cheese and jalepeno (wrapped in nori and fried) then rolled in rice and wrapped in rice paper). I ordered a Volcano Roll (crab, avocado, and cucumber roll with spicy sauce and topped with baked scallops and tempura flakes and more spicy sauce). While we waited for our rolls (which, because of the frying and baking, took a little while to prepare), the sushi chef made a yummy, quick salad of cucumber, shrimp, crabstick, and spicy sauce, which he just made for us, just because. I thought that was a nice touch.

In the end, Hubby and I decided that we will definitely return, and probably bring the boys (yeah, my kids eat sushi. They think it's comfort food). We both really enjoyed our lunch. The spicy sauce is actually better than the sauce at Sushi Sake (one of the best places in Austin to get sushi, IMO). I think we each had one little complaint. Hubby would have liked to have spicy sauce on the Tiger Roll (I told him to ask for it next time). I thought the sushi rice could have used a little more rice wine vinegar. But, hey! If that's the only complaints we had, then that's pretty darn good. (Oh, yeah... one more complaint- we were too full to try the plum wine ice cream... oh, well... maybe next time.)

Then we went over to the Highland 10 Movie Theater to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. I hadn't been there since they remodeled (we used to have church there every Sunday back in the day, but I hadn't been back since.) Very nice! Stadium seating, comfy chairs. I was impressed (ok, some days I'm easy to impress... oh, well...)

A little background. Phantom is one of my favorite musicals/operas. Hubby and I have seen it several times. We watched the black and white French movie with subtitles; we saw a comedy play based on the story. Then Hubby gave me tickets to the Broadway production about 11 years ago, and then we saw it when it was performed at Bass Concert Hall in Austin. I have the Michael Crawford-as-the-Phantom soundtrack. I can almost sing every word of every song along with the cd.
Get the idea?

Well... I loved it. It wasn't perfect, but... it was close.Emmy Rossum was wonderful as Christine, and Patrick Wilson did a darn good job in the part of Raoul. Gerard Butler was a good Phantom, any any weakness in his singing was overcome when he was angry (he does a really good angry Phantom). Mini Driver was a riot as Carlotta, and the rest of the cast was good. Jennifer Ellison, who played Meg, was a stronger singer than most I've seen in that role.

From an artistic perspective, it was simply amazing. The cinematography left me in awe. I was drawn in when the chandelier was raised, and it just got better from there.

Like I said, it wasn't perfect. They changed some of the lyrics to spoken dialogue, and it improved the flow (some things just don't translate well from stage to film). There was one time, however, when they probably should have changed to spoken dialogue. If you don't know the story, I don't think I'm going to be giving any "spoilers" by saying that the final scene in the labrynth (when Raoul is there) should have been spoken. While it makes sense on stage, on the screen it just looked... silly.

But the rose was a nice touch, don't you think?

All in all, it was a great afternoon. Good food, good movie, good company. What more could a girl want?

This Would Almost Be Funny...

... if it wasn't for the fact that he wanted to kill people.
The young Saudi man told investigators this month that he wants revenge against the Iraqi terrorist network that sent him on the deadly mission that he survived.
Poor guy, right? He was just an innocent pawn, right? He didn't want to join the insurgents, fighting against coalition forces, right? Uh, no...
Shaya's video statement describes the journey of a young man ready to die in his zeal to drive Americans from Arab lands.

Shaya says he left Saudi Arabia for Syria in late October, right after the start of the holy month of Ramadan. A smuggler he knew as Abu Mohammed took him over the border into Iraq and into the hands of other Islamic extremists who call themselves mujahedin, or holy warriors.... Shaya moved to Baghdad in December to prepare for his final mission, which he expected to be as the suicide pilot of a bomb-laden car.

So, he wanted to martyr himself for the cause. Then what's the problem?
But on Dec. 24, he was given a preliminary job of driving a butane-gas delivery truck that was rigged with bombs. It wasn't supposed to be a suicide mission.

“They asked me to take the truck near a concrete block barrier before turning to the right and leaving it there,” he says. “There, somebody will pick up the truck from you,” they told him.

“But they blew me up in the truck,” he says.
I still don't see the problem. He wanted to be a suicide bomber. They made him a suicide bomber. Everything is as it should be, right? Well, no.
Shaya told the interrogators that he regretted his mission now.

“I want the Iraqi people to live in peace,” he says, and he can no longer support Osama bin Laden because “he is killing Muslims.”

As for the Zarqawi network that sent him on the mission that left him permanently disfigured and in prison, he says, “I want revenge for what they have done to me.”
I'm not buying it. I think he regrets that he lived and got caught. There may be some anger towards the terror organization, on religious grounds. (I'm by no means an expert, but don't they have to do certain rituals before they go "boom" in order to guarantee receipt of the 72 virgins raisins?) By tricking him into this, they were going to deny him his "just rewards." I can see him being a little bitter about that. More than that, I think he's mad because the suicide bomb coordinators obviously didn't trust him to get the job done. They felt like they had to press the button themselves.

That's gotta hurt the pride a bit.

Hitting close to my old home

Michelle Malkin linked to a St. Louis blogger today, and the subject matter hit a little close to home.

My dad's cousins live in East St. Louis, and a couple of years ago, they were surprised to find out that their father and mother had voted. Surprised because Uncle Vinnie and Aunt Elaine passed away a LONG time ago. Then again, they also found out that they had voted, as well. Funny- they didn't remember voting.

They were told not to worry about it. It was no big deal. Yeah, right. That was gonna happen. They pushed the issue, and there was an investigation. It got wrapped up into the bigger investigations in the area. (FYI, the byline in that last piece is my hometown- where I was born and raised.)

What's truly sad about the whole thing is that no one is surprised by any of this (well, except for Elaine and Vinnie voting- that was a surprise!) Everyone knew that there was corruption in East St. Louis. In the same way that everyone knows there's voter trouble in Chicago and St. Louis on a regular basis, and Wisconsin and Washington in this last election. But nothing happens, nothing changes, unless someone rocks the boat. Until someone says "Enough is Enough!"

And, yeah, I'm proud that members of my family got involved. That's just cool.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A Battle In The Mind

The Mom in me is having an argument with the Pundit in me, and it's getting ugly. Thought I'd let you have a ring-side seat for the brawl.

Let's start with the facts.
1. The First Amendment of the US Constitution states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

2. A woman was given a warning because of a... well... rude bumper sticker she had on her car. She claims it's a First Amendment issue.

3. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.

4. Lawmakers are asking the FCC to investigate a radio station for airing a tsunami relief song parody.
Those are the facts. Here are a few more details. First the woman and the bumper sticker:
Shasta Bates, 26, was standing in the shopping center store when a man walked in and started arguing with her about a bumper sticker on the back of her truck that had "F--- Bush" in white letters on a black background.

"He was saying it was very sick and wrong and you shouldn't be doing that," Bates said. "He was very offended by it. I said, 'You didn't have to take it so personally.' " McCrimmon, who had followed the officer into the store, said Karasek wrote down the woman's license-plate number and then told her: "You take those bumper stickers off or I will come and find you and I will arrest you." Colorado ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein said that the alleged threat of arrest clearly violates First Amendment protection.
Now the radio station stuff (I couldn't find the actual lyrics to the song, but, well, it was bad):
Several New York City Councilmembers gathered on the steps of City Hall to denounce the station which played a song that used racial slurs when referring to Asians and had lyrics about God laughing at those drowning in the waves.

Now City Council members want the Federal Communications Commission to take action. Queens Councilman James Gennaro said station management has to be responsible for their product.

The station's owner issued an apology after it pulled the song off the air. The station added that the seven-person staff has agreed to contribute one week's pay to the tsunami relief efforts.
Now, I'm sure you're sitting there, trying to figure out why "Mom" and "Pundit" are having trouble getting along. Maybe it's because "Pundit" thinks that the government needs to stay out of almost everything, and "Mom" wants to protect her babies.

I may surprise people on my opinions about the radio station (or not- some of you know me pretty well). "Pundit" wins hands down. ("Mom" would have a say in this if my kids listened to radio stations like the one that played this. But, they don't, and I know my kids. They would have maybe chuckled at first, but, in the end, it would have made them mad.) Everything that needs to be done, has been done. The radio station has apologized. The crew who recorded the song has made a donation to tsunami relief. And the market will do the rest. If people (not lawmakers, but The Public™) are truly upset with what happened, then they will contact the radio station, and the radio station will get rid of that lineup. That's the way it works. The FCC need not get involved (in the same way that they really didn't need to get involved with Janet's "wardrobe malfunction"- CBS lost enough revenue on its own without the FCC's fines.

Now, the bumper sticker. This is where the battle lines are drawn. "Pundit" says that this woman needs to be able to express her political opinions without regulation (but "Pundit" would also like to point out that the woman's choice of language takes away from the power of her opinion and shows her as simple minded, but we digress). "Mom" wants something done, NOW! Yes, this woman has the right to voice her dislike of the President (according to the article,"She said she put the sticker on her truck because she disagrees with Bush's stance on homosexuality and 'other issues.'" ) But this woman does NOT have the right to display profanity where my kids might see it. Does she? I mean, they can't go to R-rated movies (and, last time I checked, that particular word gets an auto-R) without an adult, and you can't say that word on tv (well, you're not SUPPOSED to be able to say that word on tv). So why should she be allowed to have that on her bumper?

Well... seems the Supreme Court had something to say about that:
"The Supreme Court considered a case about 30-some years ago where a person was prosecuted for wearing a jacket that said, 'F--- the draft,' on the back. The Supreme Court said states could not prohibit people from wearing such a jacket," he said. "They said, 'One man's profanity is another man's lyric.' "
"Mom" is real unhappy about this. So, the Supreme Court said, in a nutshell, that anything goes, as long as it's framed as political speech. There's no place for decorum, or decency, or common sense?

And, could it be said that this woman has violated some right of someone else with her bumper sticker? (ok, I'm not sure which one- any ideas?) I just can't imagine that it's ok to subject people who do not care about this woman's political view to this kind of language. (And, yes, I would be just as offended if it said "F--- Clinton" or "F--- Kerry". It's not who the message is about that's the problem- it's the way the message is delivered that is the problem.) If there is a rally, I can choose to listen, or I can choose to walk away. If there is a political commercial on tv, I can watch it, or I can turn the channel. I would argue that she's forcing her opinion on every person who drives behind her, and she's subjecting them to language that has been determined (by some governing bodies across the country, but not all) to be offensive and not in the public interest.

So, where does all this rambling lead to? Didn't I say that I want as little government involvement as possible? Well, last time I checked, the First Amendment says you can say what you want, but it doesn't say that anyone has to listen. I want government to intervene when my right to not hear what you have to say is violated.

Too Bad, So Sad

Michael Moore's wager that if he kept Farenheit 9/11 out of the Academy Awards' documentary category in hopes of getting the nod for Best Picture backfired on him this morning. The Oscar nominations were announced today, and, guess what? Mikey's little lie didn't even get nominated for Best Picture.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think the Academy was judging based on artistic merit. But they haven't done that in years.

Well, couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Too bad, so sad, and all that.

Would You Like Some Cheese With That Whine?

Senate Democrats began their childish outbursts debate on Dr. Condi Rice's nomination as Secretary of State today. Here's a sample of their rants talking points:
"I don't like impugning anyone's integrity, but I really don't like being lied to," Dayton said in opposing Rice's nomination on the Senate floor. "Repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally." Dayton accused Rice and other Bush administration officials of "lying to Congress, lying to our committees, lying to the American people."

"There was no reason to go to war in Iraq when we did, the way we did and for the false reasons we were given," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

"But she is responsible for her own distortions and exaggerations of the intelligence which was provided to her," Levin said.

"Dr. Rice is responsible for some of the most overblown rhetoric that the administration used to scare the American people," Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said.
Now, if Senator Byrd had ended his sentence with "heard in this Chamber" instead of "that the administration used to scare the American people," I would have had to agree with him. I mean, I have heard the Senate Democrats spew some of the most overblown rhetoric I've ever heard, all inspired by Dr. Rice. And the hits just keep coming!

Many people are starting to play the "what if" race card, and I'm not sure I can buy into it hook, line, and sinker. Granted, if Dr. Rice was a minority woman who happened to be a Democrat and the Republicans were calling her a liar, then sure, the Democratic party would be up in arms. But, the way things are right now, Dr. Rice could be a Caucasian male, and the Democrats would be doing the same thing. They just plain hate her. They know they can't stop her confirmation, so they'll have to settle for slinging as much mud at her as possible and besmirching her as much as possible.

As I was saying, want any cheese with that whine? I was thinking of some Chabichou du Poitou or some nice Beaufort. Something nice and... French...

Stuck in a Rut, Ted?

Ted Turner threw a temper tantrum compared Fox News's popularity to Hitler's election prior to World War II.
While FOX may be the largest news network [and has overtaken Turner's CNN], it's not the best, Turner said.

He followed up by pointing out that Adolph Hitler got the most votes when he was elected to run Germany prior to WWII. He said the network is the propaganda tool for the Bush Administration.

"There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy. Particularly when the news is dumbed down," leaving voters without critical information on politics and world events and overloaded with fluff," he said.
Here was FoxNews' response:
A FOXNEWS spokesperson responded: "Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network and now his mind -- we wish him well."
This sounds like nothing more than sour grapes. It must be difficult for him. I mean, he had to sit there and watch his baby, the propoganda that is CNN, fall by the wayside once FoxNews began showing the world what "fair and balanced" really means.

But this also shows a scary fixation Ted has. Back in 1996, he had to apologize (although I'm not sure why the apology was given to the ADL and not to Mr. Murdoch) for comparing Rupert Murdoch to Adolf Hitler.

Man, you make enough money. Get your thorazine prescription refilled.

More Twin Fun To Look Forward To

From the "Thank Heavens they aren't that old yet" file, I see that I have this to look forward to in about 5 years:
Identical twin brothers have steered safely through their driving tests after making a small but identical mistake with the same examiner.

Adam and Scott Barker passed their tests with one minor mark after stalling at the same set of lights.
For some reason, that doesn't surprise me. Scares me, yes. Surprises me, no.

The Little Sneak

You know you're getting old when your children's technological knowledge surpasses yours.

T1 went up to type out his weekly writing assignment on Hubby's computer. That's when I hear, "Mom!!! Come Here!" Evidently, when he typed in his name as the top of the page, WORD automatically replaced it with "Dork". About the time T1 is telling me this, T2 was sneaking away, trying not to laugh.

Hubby comes home, and T1 told him what his brother had done. Hubby just looked at T2 and said, "Really? I don't even know how to do that."

*Sigh* I now know how my parents feel. And the boys are only eleven.

Living Fearlessly

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is the probable nominee for Chief Justice if/when Justice Renquist leaves the Court. Based on some of the things he said last weekend, he's not even trying to get the liberal vote. (And, no, I'm not saying that like it's a bad thing.)
The justice... told a largely Roman Catholic crowd of 350 at the Holiday Inn Select that there's nothing wrong with "traditional Christianity."

"God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools ... and he has not been disappointed."
Is it wrong to "Amen!" a Supreme Court Justice? And I suppose a hearty "Preach on, Brother!" would be out of the question, as well.
"It is not irrational to accept the testimony of eyewitnesses who had nothing to gain. There is something wrong with rejecting a priori (deductively) the existence of miracles."
I know it may seem at first that I am making fun of this, or taking it all too lightly. On the contrary! To see a man with his power an authority, with his knowledge and intellect, making these kind of statements, I'm happy. I'm excited. I fear a little less for what our country is becoming.
"If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world."
Those are tough words to heed. I mean, who wants to be called "stupid"? Who wants their ideas mocked? But he's just taking some of the things Jesus said to heart:
"Not only that--count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens--give a cheer, even!-for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble." (Matt 5:11-12 The Message Bible)
But, in all honesty, the fact that Justice Scalia is willing to be a fool for Christ is not enough of a reason to want him as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I mean... I know a lot of people who are willing to boldly and fearlessly live their lives for Christ. They don't have the proper credentials to be a Justice, much less the Chief Justice. No, there is another reason I would love to have this man in charge of the highest court in the land:
He has described himself as an "originalist," following the Constitution as written by the Founding Fathers, rather than interpreting it to reflect the changing times.
That's why I like him. He doesn't look to international law (like Justice O'Connor) or view the Constitution as a "Living Document" (like a couple of the Justices). To Justice Scalia, the Constitution is what it is- the framework of our nation's government.

The fact that he is a devout and vocal Christian is just icing on the cake!

Where Did He Come From?

I am blessed with two really cool kids. Hubby and I will tell you that all the time. But sometimes they just prove it.

Yesterday, T2 stayed home from school with the yucks. Dr. Mom's preliminary diagnosis is wicked allergies (I'm allergic to Central Texas, so my nose is a good barometer of such things). This morning, he seemed not great, but ok. So, he scooted off to school with his brother.

About an hour ago, the phone rings. It's the school nurse- he's not quite as ok as we thought he was. Hubby went to get him. He had a snack, and now he's napping.

What does this have to do with his being a cool kid? Maybe "cool" isn't the right word. "Good", maybe? "Sweet," perhaps. "Caring," definitely. What did my sweet baby boy ask me when he got home? Not, "Mom, do we have any food?" but "How are you feeling this morning, Mom?"

Yup. We've got good kids.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Talk to Me!

Thanks to Jerry (a kind reader who actually reads the sidebar), I have added the ability for you, my 3 or 4 faithful readers, to IM me on Yahoo and AIM. The little icons on the right will tell you if I an online with either of those services. If you are signed on to those services, you can simply click on the icon in the sidebar, and it will open an IM window.

So, talk to me!

The Courage of Their Convictions

I was watching FoxNews this morning (surprise, surprise), and they were covering the March for Life Rally in Washington, DC. What stood out to me was the number of women who carried signs saying "I regret my abortion." The amount of courage... I was floored by what I saw.

You see, I know women who have had abortions, friends I grew up with. I have seen the pain, the grief, the shame that accompanies this "legal procedure." Very few people are privy to this small piece of their lives- it's not something they want people to know about. But, you see, I was there. I saw them hide it from their families, praying that they would never know what their "Baby Girl" had done. I witnessed the moment when one of them realized that it was more than just a tissue mass. I watched as they silently grieved, smiling on the outside, unwilling to let more people in on their dirty little secret. I know how hard it was for one of them to tell her future husband about her past. I felt her terror after she miscarried and feared that she may never carry a baby to term.

These women I know are not weak. Far from it. Their reasons for having abortions are varied (one "wasn't ready" and the other was told of possible medical problems with the baby and panicked). This happened years ago, and they've tried to put it all behind them, as best they can. There is a pain that will never go away- a scar that never quite heals. No matter how much they regret the decision they made, I don't think that either of them would have the courage to stand on a stage and confess that particular sin to the world. Not that they are Pro-Choice - far from it. They are both very Pro-Life. They just wouldn't go quite as far as the women I saw today on tv.

I believe that technology will eventually put abortion out of favor as time goes on. As babies survive and grow into happy healthy children with less and less time in the womb, people will be less likely to approve a procedure that destroys a life that can live in the real world. In the end, I believe that anything more than the "Day After" pills and possibly selective reduction will be frowned upon. At least, that is my hope.

Until that time, I am so grateful for women like the ones I saw on tv. Maybe, a young woman who is thinking about having an abortion will see one of these women expressing their regrets, and she just might think twice and ask more questions. That will have to be enough for now.

The Old Super Secret Spy Organization Trick

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon has put together a new espionage unit to lessen its reliance on the CIA.
The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld's written order to end his "near total dependence on CIA" for what is known as human intelligence. Designed to operate without detection and under the defense secretary's direct control, the Strategic Support Branch deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.

...Pentagon officials said they established the Strategic Support Branch using "reprogrammed" funds, without explicit congressional authority or appropriation. Defense intelligence missions, they said, are subject to less stringent congressional oversight than comparable operations by the CIA.
An official in the Pentagon leaked this information to the WaPost, and the story was picked up by news services around the globe, along with the Pentagon's response.
Defense Department spokesman Lawrence DiRita, however, said there was "no unit that is directly reportable to the secretary of Defense for clandestine operations as is described in The Washington Post article." "Further, the department is not attempting to 'bend' statutes to fit desired activities, as is suggested in this article," he added in a statement.
Honestly, what was the Pentagon supposed to say? "Sorry about that, Chief. We kept missing it by that much. Would you believe there is no super secret spy unit?" "No." "How about half a unit?" "No." "How about 3 guys and a camel?"

Today on FoxNews, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D- CA) was talking about the need for Congressional oversight and an investigation into this spy unit. When asked if there was any concern over who leaked the information, she said there was not. Huh?

Yes, I know there is a need for Congressional oversight. But I also know that there is a need for secrecy, and certain members of Congress have been known to flap their lips for political gain. And, in the world of espionage, lack of secrecy can mean death for our agents. So, she cares that this unit (which may or may not even exist) is out there not being micromanaged by Congress, but she doesn't care that, if this more-than-top-secret unit exists, someone within the Pentagon leaked it to the press. Someone with a high enough security clearance to know about an espionage unit that isn't supposed to exist. And that doesn't bother anyone besides me?

We need, especially in today's world, to have a group of men and women who fly far below the radar, who are not the most savory and upright of citizens, who can get down and dirty with the bad guys and get the job done. Do they need oversight? Yeah, I guess they do. Do they need their existence exposed on the front page of the Washington Post? No. I haven't decided which bothers me more- the leak itself or the fact that an irresponsible journalist put these people's lives in danger for the glory of the byline. Am I bothered by the supposed existence of this spy unit? No, it actually makes me feel pretty good.

I suppose, in a perfect world, all super secret spy stuff would fall under a select Congress committee (stuff like this makes me think that having a few career politicians around isn't such a bad idea, but then that feeling goes away.) This group of Congresscritters would go to the military (and the CIA, for that matter) and say "Don't tell me that we have a super secret group of spies." "We have a super secret group of spies." " I asked you not to tell me that."

But, no. This is the US Congress we're talking about. They're more along the lines of "Zis is Congress. Ve don't do super secret here!"

A Telling Tape

An audio tape, supposedly by our favorite bad guy, Al-Zarqawi, has pretty much laid on the line much of what we already suspected. Radical Islam, or even fundamentalist Islam, is not compatible with democracy.
The speaker attacked democracy as a springboard for "un-Islamic" practices, claiming that its emphasis on majority rule violates the principle that all laws must come from a divine source.
Now, I know that a Saudi cleric recently encouraged Muslims to reject terrorism.
One of Saudi Arabia's most influential clerics urged Muslims to eschew terrorism, saying attacks on the innocent were not in accordance with the teachings of Islam.

"Islam is a religion of moderation. Extremism has no place in Islam," Sheikh Abdurahman Al-Sudais of the Masjid'l Haram (Grand Mosque) said in a sermon delivered for Friday's Eid'l Adha (feast of sacrifice).
Let's see what happens now. These clerics are now stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they reject the ideas put forth on this tape, then they, by default, embrace democratic elections, which are not the policy in Muslim countries. If they embrace the ideology on the tape, then they are in essence embracing the radical and extremist ideologies of the terrorists.

This tape will not help the insurgents. If anything, it will encourage Iraqis to go to the polls. They are upset enough, having the country ripped apart by these insurgents. They know that if the terrorists hasn't poured over their borders, they would be well on their way to peace by now. Being told that the tyranny they lived under was more of Allah's will for them than free elections would be just a bit too much for them to swallow.

Let freedom ring.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

"Here's Johnny"

Thus was the announcement this morning at the Pearly Gates.

Johnny Carson passed away today due to complications from emphysema.

RIP, Mr. Carson.

The Rules

Today, I read Mad Mikey's post on The Rules™™. At the time, I thought to myself how nice it was that I didn't really need The Rules™™. I was wrong.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am going to post The Rules™™ on the side bar. If you ever need a reminder, The Rules™™ will be there for you to refresh your memory.

Here is my version of The Rules™™. (Yeah, I mostly copied/pasted most of them from Mikey's post. Why mess with a good thing?) Learn 'em. Live 'em. Love 'em. Or you're gone.

1. My Blog, My Rules.

2. Dissent is tolerated. This means that you can disagree with me on what I post about. Try to keep it on topic, don't ramble for no apparent reason, and don't call people names when you get flustered.

3. Jerks are not. This means that if you copy/paste entire articles or personal manifestos, or come across like a bezerk pre-schooler in your comments, it'll be delete/edit/ban city for you.

4. Keep foul language to a minimum, if at all. Use common sense on this one - if anything, use lots of asterisks: * * * There are a couple of people who can use foul language on this site. If I haven't given you permission, you're not one of them.

5. I reserve the right to be a jerk and to cuss. And when I am, I'll admit it and/or warn you.
6. I reserve the right to ban jerks and spammers. Here in my house, I am the Queen and can act accordingly.

7. Spellcheck is your friend. I'm not a perfect typist, but I at least try. Good grammar and proper use is always appreciated.

8. I reserve the right to change/add/delete/ignore The Rules™™ as I see fit. See Rule #1.

9. When in doubt, see Rule #1.

There you go. Simple, really. Like I said, Learn 'em. Live 'em. Love 'em. Or you will be gone.

My blog. My rules.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Co-opting Jesus for Political Gain

(I'm in a mood. This will probably be a long rant. You have been warned.)

On Thursday, some of the people protesting President Bush's inauguration are upset by what they call Bush's co-opting of Jesus for his own political gain.
"He's always talking about symbols of evil, using Jesus as a political pawn," said Rod Murphy from a group called, "10,000 Jesuses."

"The GOP and Bush sound like they have a mandate from Jesus, and I am sorry, but that is not the Jesus that I grew up with," Murphy told Cybercast News Service, noting his opposition to the war in Iraq.
Remember the name of Murphy's group. I'll get back to them in a minute.
"[Bush] talks all the time and his fundamentalist base about ... Jesus," said Ben Stern of Potomac, Md. "He makes his faith very public, yet at the same time he is doing things I consider -- and I am not even a Christian -- that Christian doctrine ... is in opposition to," said Stern, who carried a sign reading, "Who Would Jesus Bomb?"

Bush has not acted like a Christian, according to Stern, because of the "amoral way he is [defecating] on the little guy and, you know, racial minorities."
I'm sorry, Mr. Stern, but, if you're not a Believer and probably have not spent a lot of time studying Scripture, then how would you know how a Christian acts? In addition, it's pretty obvious that you know little about President Bush's policies if you feel he [defecates] on the "little guy" and racial minorities. President Bush has nominated more minorites to high level positions within his administration than any other President... ever.
..."He always says that he is talking to God, but what he should be doing is saying, 'I am wrong and I need forgiveness," Richter said, referring to Bush's policies in Iraq.
I bet he does confess his wrongs and ask for forgiveness from God. But I'll also bet that freeing millions of people from tyranny is not one of the things he thinks he did wrong.

So, I wanted to find out about these people who were protesting. Presuming that they are believers, I really wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Silly me! Here's the 10,000 Jesuses web site. Here are a few of their unbiased "Christian" concepts (with my $.02 thrown in):
We're still looking for a few good Jesuses ....

It's important to let Mr. Bush and the American media know that their talk of 'values' is misplaced. The idea is to take back the symbols of Christianity for those who actually practice it in spirit, if not in name. (So, are you Christians? Or do you just invoke the name of Jesus Christ when the mood strikes you?)

Jesus, the idea of Jesus and the man, has become a profound symbol for many Christians. (No, He's not a "symbol" to me- He is my Lord and Savior. No symbolism there.) ...Recently, in the last decade or two, we've witnessed a hijacking of Christian terminology and thought by institutions on the far right of the political spectrum. (No, recently, in the last decade or four, secularists have done everything in their power to REMOVE Christ from the mainstream community.)

... We don't believe, for example, that 'the Christ' would appreciate a church that supports the pre-emptive war on Iraq (not even to save millions of innocents from tyranny and potentially a forced religiosity that demeans and demoralizes its "believers"?), our use of napalm (renamed Mark 77 to avoid controversy) and cluster bombs. We don't think he'd like a church supporting an administration that ignores international conventions on torture (ignore? They didn't ignore it- there was an investigation ongoing before it was made public. The people who committed the torture are being prosecuted). Nor do we think he'd much like the rapacious culture the fundamentalists align themselves with when supporting Republican radical free market ideology (by the way, we also don't believe Jesus would shop at Wal-Mart, which has a history of using Haitian laborers who toil for 12 cents an hour).("radical" free market economy? So... in your world, Jesus is a communist? Too bad that's not Biblically backed up). We don't think he'd approve of churches that support an administration whose tax code disproportionately hurts the poorest in our nation, while helping the very richest. (Written by somone who obviously never read and has absolutely no understanding of the tax code in this country.)

On the other hand, we think that Jesus would accept gays and women who have had abortions and he'd be furious with the clerical hypocrites who would suggest otherwise. (The Church is open to all sinners - ie- all of us- all have fallen short of the Glory of God.) In fact, like the merchants of old, he'd probably cast those clerics from the temple. Just call it a wild hunch. (I agree with this, to a point. The Church needs to be open to all, but... no where in Scripture does it say that we are to be tolerant of sin. When one goes to Church, it is presumed that one goes in order to become closer to God and turn away from sin. A person active in the gay lifestyle is sinning. A woman who has had an abortion has not only sinned, but is also hurting. It is the moral obligation of believers to minister to her and help her heal as much as she can. Anyone who shuns her (presuming she's not planning on having more abortions) should be cast out.)

...One idea we've had is to march on the mall dressed as Jesus, 10,000 Jesuses to represent the dramatic differences within Christianity itself on what it means to be Christian. Perhaps, more realistically, we should have 10,000 prophets or 10,000 saints because many religious traditions bleed into Christianity, just as Christianity has influenced many other institutions, religious as well as secular. (So, you're saying that you're not really as interested in a personal relationship with Jesus, just a dramatic interpretation of your views of the Almighty. Hmmm... sounds a bit like what you're accusing President Bush of.)

A few enligtening examples:

* Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor," and "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." He did not say, "Ensure the wealthiest elite in our nation get the easiest tax load; especially when this cuts funding to educational and health programs that help the poor." (Jesus also said "render unto God what is God's" and that it was for the individual to help the widow and orphan, not government.)

* Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." He did not say, "Make your living building death machines at Northrup Grumman or Boeing or GE. Ensure your wealth even further by authorizing and condoning no bid contracts in the crassiest example of war profiteering in this century." (Jesus also said to protect the innocent and fight evil.)

* Jesus said, "Turn the other cheek." He did not say, "Drop 500 lbs bombs on the civilization centers of ancient Mesopatamia." Nor did Jesus say, "torture prisoners in a sexually humiliating manner to advance the cause of nation building. Or, shoot wounded soldiers in the head while they lie before you, supine and desperate." ( First, Jesus was talking about personal, one-on-one relationships, not nation against nation. God allows for just war. Read the Old Testament.)

* Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin caste the first stone." He did not say, "Condemn those who disagree with you as being Godless heathens who will be thrust into the bowels of hell for not accepting Jesus as their personal saviour." (Actually, Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.[John 14:6])

* Jesus said, "I pass judgement on no man," He did not say, "Judge all those whose religion you do not understand or whose sexuality you fear."(Jesus said "For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. [John 5:26-27] As for "religion you do not understand", see John 14:6)

* Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment: love one and other." He did not say, "love only people who go to church." Nor did he say, "love only white, non-gay, Christian borne-again Americans with good grooming habits and no history of pre-marital sexual relations." He did not say, "Love only people who may know the verses of the Bible, but who have forgotten how to throw the merchants out of the temple and so support one of the most repressive and intolerant regimes in America's history." (Jesus did say to love one another. That is the fulfillment of all of the Commandments.)
You violate your own mission statements by your words and actions, Mr. Murphy. You condemn that which you do not understand. You provide no proof of any of your allegations, and you pass judgement without supporting evidence. You stereotype a group of people that you in no way understand.

I resent being told that, because of my beliefs, I am racist and homophobic, that I dismiss the needs of the poor in favor of the almighty dollar, that I am a hateful warmonger. You don't know me. You don't know President Bush.

Several years ago (during the Clinton administration) I began a system of prayer (I tend to need a lot of structure- long story for another day). One day a week, I was supposed to pray for "our leaders"- everyone from the Secretary General of the UN all the way down to our city's mayor and the city council. I had no problem, with one exception. I had this mental block when it came to President Clinton. It turned my stomach to even think about praying for God's blessings for that man. So, one day, I prayed about my problem with praying for him (yeah, I know. Weird. Just wait. It gets weirder.) Now, I'm not going to tell you that God literally speaks to me on a regular basis, but... that time, in my head, I heard Someone say "It's not your job to change him, just pray for him. You do your job, let Me do mine."

So, Mr. Murphy, if you really feel that President Bush (and other evangelicals) are misrepresenting Jesus, take your case to Him. Pray that the President will know God's Will. Not your will, God's Will. Don't commit the same sins you accuse him and the rest of us of committing.

"Just" pray, Mr. Murphy. Prayer, when done with a sincere heart seeking God's will, is so much more powerful than angry words or marches or protests. Prayer changes hearts, minds, lives.

UPDATE: Evidently, Mr. Murphy (or one of his friends) noticed that I had linked to their site, and has offered an insightful look at how they think Jesus would answer questions in an interview. You can read this "interview" in the comment section below. Honestly, I would have preferred if he had just left a link and not EATEN MY BANDWIDTH, but I wanted everyone to see exactly what he believes. His "humorous" look at Jesus turned my stomach. I find it neither humorous or an accurate account of Scripture. This person obviously hasn't studied the Bible and has conveniently chosen verses out of context that match up with his socialist/feel good/tolerance ideology. If any of you would like to fisk his "interview", feel free. I'm not inclined to give him and his little troop of blasphemers any more attention.

I know that when my time comes, I will have to answer for what I've said, what I have taught, and what I have done. So will everyone else. The only difference is that I know I'm flawed and in need of a Savior. I don't know if the 10,000 Jesuses feel the same way. And that is pretty sad.

Thanks, Dad!

I just saw a video of this on FoxNews. President Bush (41) came through for his son at the prayer service Friday morning.
President George W. Bush, who rarely carries a wallet, is caught empty-handed when the offering plate came around during a church service.

It happened during Friday's national prayer service in Washington.

Vice President Dick Cheney quickly offered some cash.

However, Bush refused and instead accepted help from his dad, former President George H.W. Bush.

OK, this is just too funny, and too cute. Growing up, my dad would always hand me some cash when it came time for the offering at church. And, honestly, every time he goes to church with us now, he tries to do the same thing. Doesn't matter that we can afford to give to the church on our own- it's a Dad thing.

I bet some of the LLLs will have a field day with this. And that's too bad. I think this is a sweet family moment. It shows that, no matter how old you are, and no matter how powerful you might be, parents are there for their kids. (Yeah, yeah... I know... mountains out of mole hills and all that... work with me here.)

And I just think it's cool that my dad and the former president have this in common. Makes me like President Bush (41) even more.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Word of the Day

I'm sure most of you remember four years ago when the MSM was all atwitter with a new word- "gravitas." Do you remember? Supposedly, President Bush lacked "gravitas"- a serious or dignified demeanor. He lacked a certain weightiness, according to the pundits. (In all honesty, I think the DNC just went through their thesaurus, looking for a "big" word that Average Joe wouldn't know, but would be too embarrassed to look it up, in order to insult President Bush without sounding bitter.)

Well... the MSM has pulled a new word out of their Insult Bag. This term's word is "hubris." Go ahead... look it up... I'll wait...

You're back? So, now you know that "hubris" means "overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance."

The pundits couldn't say "Dang, that W sure is an arrogant SOB." That would have been... gauche. So, they hide their petty insults in lofty words, hoping their maladroit and nescient postulations would somehow seem polished and enlightened.

Too bad it just makes them look pedomorphic and mordant. (See? I can use a thesaurus, too.)

Oh, my!!!

A baby weighing almost 17 pounds was born in Brazil on Tuesday.

You read correctly. Seventeen pounds. Needless to say (right?) he was born via C-section. Having carried eleven pounds of babies at one time, I can only think of one thing to say... "Day-ummm"

Getting on with the next four years

Well, the Inauguration is over. We can get on with the VRWC agenda now, right? Just checking...

Listening to the President giving his speech, a couple of things stood out to me:
  • "Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty," he said, "though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt." (amen! Preach on!)
  • "So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." (ending tyranny in our world- wow!)
  • "Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way," (which has already started)
  • "Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill and would be dishonorable to abandon." (too bad many Liberals don't understand honor)
  • Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.
The greatest achievements in the history of freedom? Wow. OK... bring it on.

Critics will say that this speech lacked modesty and humility. Whatever. Now is not a time for modesty and humility. President Bush needed to put the world on notice, and he did - we're not backing down. Our way of life- freedom, honor, security, liberty- is the wave of the future. We are a young nation still, but we are the ones who got it right.

OK- time to do my Inaugural shopping...

Happy Anniversary!

Thirty-eight years ago this morning, my parents got married. Let's see... some of the highlights:
- Mom got sick at the rehearsal dinner (something about Grandma's tuna not sitting well... not sure of the details on that one)
- The wedding was in the morning, followed by a breakfast for the bridal party.
- If I remember correctly, Mom then took a nap.
- A regular reception occured that evening.

In the thirty-eight years that have followed, I think they'd agree it's been an adventure.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A Parent's Fear

When I was little, my dad wanted to move to Mexico. Not because he had this incredible fondness for enchiladas or is fluent in Spanish, but because he was afraid of this.
Another custody battle involving a child in line for adoption took a heart-tugging turn in Atlantic Beach in northern Florida Saturday. Three-and-a-half-year-old Evan Scott was taken from the only home and parents he's ever known and given to his birth mother.
That was my dad's biggest fear when I was a baby. He was even worried about putting my birth announcement in the paper out of fear that my birth parents would find out where I was and want me back. They didn't, but he had no way of knowing that.

I cannot imagine what Evan's birth mother went through, giving up her child like that. But to rip apart a family like this... on a technicality (the birth father, who was abusing the birth mother, never signed off on the adoption)... it's just wrong...

The Scotts are appealing the decision, but... because of some weird laws in effect at the time, there may or may not be much hope. Governor Bush has said there's nothing he can do, so it's up to the courts now...

Messin' With My Head

Last night, I slept with the tv on ( I do that about half the time). When I went to sleep, I had the tv on channel 46- FoxNews. When I woke up this morning, channel 46 was CNN Headline News. (yeah, I know- ew.) I finally found FoxNews (on channel 47).

From what I can tell, our cable company is doing a rebuild in our area. Our internet access and tv service has been a bit spotty (due to work on the lines, I guess). As part of the rebuild, they're moving all the channels around (to annoy me, I'm sure).

If they had added a bunch of channels, that would have been one thing. But, as far as I can tell (by checking out the TV Guide Channel lists) they didn't add anything- they just moved everything around.

This may seem like a rhetorical question, but I'd really like to know the answer. Why? Why move everything around? Why make your customers re-program everything (tv, TiVo, etc)? Why not leave the channels alone? It's not like you re-arranged them to make them more convenient- it's not in any logical order (as far as I can tell).

Well... it's all about me. They're trying to drive me nuts. Little do they know it's a short drive.

Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, filed a bill this week that would require school districts to measure and report student's body mass index on their regular report card.
"We should be just as concerned with students' physical health and performance as we are with their academic performance," said Van de Putte.

When the measurement, which calculates body fat based on height and weight, indicates a student is overweight, the school would provide parents with information about links between increased body fat and health problems, Van de Putte said.
You see, evidently, we parents are so stupid we can't tell if our kids are overweight. We don't know that little Johnny might have a problem with the Twinkies if we're buying "huskies." We haven't quite figured out when "baby weight" becomes "a weight problem". Main Stream Media hasn't drummed into our heads the importance of eating a healthy diet. We need the school district and the all-knowing State to tell us that our kids need to drop the spare tire.

Yes, childhood obesity is becoming a problem. And children need to get off their collective rumps and play outside more- that would probably cut the problem in half. But parents know if they're children have problems with their weight- they don't need some well-meaning school nurse to tell them. If anyone should talk to parents about a child's weight, it should be the child's doctor, not the school district.

He Lost... AGAIN

Chief Justice Renquist stopped Michael Newdow's attempt to stop a prayer from being said at the Inauguration. He also rejected Newdow's request that he recuse himself. CJ Renquist gave this order without comment.

Mikey, it's over. Get over it.

How hard is it to understand this?

Today on FoxNews there was yet another liberal pundit who was bemoaning the $40 million that is being spent on the Inauguration. Once again, we were told about the poor soldiers in Iraq who aren't protected and how much better it would be if that money was spent reinforcing Humvees and giving our armed forces better equipment.

That $40 million isn't part of the federal budget. That money is privately donated. The President has no control over those funds. He can't give it to the military. It's not his to give. If it wasn't being spent on the Inauguration, it wouldn't be spent on anything in the federal budget. It's NOT THEIRS TO SPEND. (The money spent on security is already figured into the budget. It's not an additional cost.)

When adjusted for inflation, President Clinton's Inaugurations cost more than President Bush's Inauguration. Sure, we weren't at war. But that's not really the point, is it? It's not the government's money to begin with.

Oh, yeah. One more thing. Enough with the whole "FDR and chicken salad sandwiches" business. When FDR served chicken salad at his inauguration in 1945, yes, we were at war. But, more importantly, he was very ill. In fact, he passed away in April of 1945. He probably didn't feel like celebrating more than that.

Can you honestly tell me that the media would pay attention to the cost of the Inauguration if Senator Kerry had won? Didn't think so.

The Vote Is In

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee just voted 16-2 to recommend Dr. Rice as the new Secretary of State.

The two "nay" votes? Kerry and Boxer. Are we surprised? Uh... no.

Yesterday, Senator Kerry acted as if he was still on the campaign trail, and Senator Boxer did a very good impersonation of an uninformed spoiled brat. So much for his own party following Senator Biden's recommendation to just "get over it."

Now, Dr. Rice's nomination goes to the full Senate for confirmation, which she will get by an overwhelming margin.

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