Thursday, June 30, 2005

More Developments in the World of Same-Sex Coupling

From The Guardian: The British Methodist Church votes to bless same-sex couples. Of course, the Methodist Movement has British origins. Our cousins from across the big lake have had a profound influence on American religion in the past; maybe they can do it again. Some will accuse the British Methodists of compromising, of being influenced by trends in secular culture. I think that they understand that homosexuality is nothing more than a matter of the type of person one is attracted to; one's sexuality has nothing to do with how God's grace is at work in one's life or with how one extends God's love to others.

In other news Cole Wakefield was quick to point out that, one day after Canada legalized gay marriage, Spain followed suit.

Poetry by Marc McKee

I was Googling some past friends and acquaintances last night, and I found this page of poetry by Marc McKee in Slope, a poetry journal. I got to know Marc when he lived in Bloomington, Indiana and hung around with my friends Eric Dedert and Andy Cook (both members of the band Siphon). Marc and I once saw Beck together (The Roots and Atari Teenage Riot were also on the bill), and he was generous and courteous enough to be a fan of my band, the National Biscuit Company. Marc was a cool guy: He taught at a Montessori school, wrote poetry, read incessantly, drank beers the rest of us hadn't heard of, followed the local music scene, and rolled his own cigarettes. (I should clarify: I have never been a smoker and don't care for the practice, but, for some reason, smoking was cool when Marc did it. Maybe I had a nonsexual crush or something.) Marc, as far as I know, is now a graduate student in the University of Houston's prestigious creative writing program.

Dude

I found more of myself on the News Channel 2 Blog.

Crossing the Mendoza Line (on a Stationary Elliptical Machine)

My weight is hovering right around 200 at the moment, having dipped under the double-century mark once or twice. As recently as last week, I was back up around 205 or 206, but I've made significant progress over the past few days. This, despite my eating large bowls of ice cream two of the last three days and having shortened my workouts so that I can have more time at my desk. (I have a big deadline tomorrow.)

Working out means spending about 45 minutes on an elliptical machine—sort of a stand-up bike that allows you to run without putting pressure on your knees. (My knees, as it were, are shot after years of overweight running with substandard athletic shoes.) When I have time, I also do some weights. My intent is not to get ripped but to build a little extra muscle in those areas of my body that have the most work to do when it comes to burning fat. Occasionally—usually on weekends when I'm not alone with Meyer—I ride my bicycle. Though I don't get to ride very often, my strength and stamina on two wheels have improved greatly, presumably because of my elliptical workouts. (A couple weeks ago, I rode 24.5 miles, 8 of which were on the topographically challenging Natchez Trace Parkway, and I didn't even have to walk up any of the hills.)

Of course, if we Americans used the metric system, which would be the logical thing to do, I would have no occasion to post this, as my weight would be hovering around 91.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Canada Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Wednesday Evening Reading

Jon Stewart's Commencement Address at William and Mary

Jesus' General's response to Craig Fields of the Gun Owners of America

Think Progress on the U.S. House's decision to vote itself a substantial raise while doing nothing about the country's embarrassingly low minimum wage

The Onion: "Vatican Tightens Nocturnal Emissions Standards"

Pacers Draftees

First round, 17th pick: Danny Granger, New Mexico

Second round, 46th pick: Erazem Lorbek, Lithuania

I like both picks. Granger is a 6-8 small forward, with four years of college and solid all-around stats. He will contribute immediately, backing up Ron Artest and stepping in should Artest be suspended for another season.

I don't know much about Lorbek, except that he is a reputible international player who also played a year at Michigan State. I think he's a safe mid-second round pick who could have a lot of potential.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Whoa

Nashville's News Channel 2 operates a blog about blogging in Nashville. One of their bloggers picked up on my post about author Nick Hornby's thoughts on the Harry Potter books. So far, 5 people have commented on the Hornby on Harry thread, meaning that it has received more comments than all 200-or-so Daily Josh posts combined. Neato.

Did anyone notice . . .

that the voice of Tigger and the voice of Piglet (from the Winnie the Pooh cartoons died on consecutive days?

Why Is the President . . .

giving a speech opposite the NBA draft? If he intends to raise his slumping approval ratings (which, as far as I can tell, is the primary objective of tonight's address), he'll need to try harder.

I'm flipping back and forth right now. So far, I haven't heard anything new from the President. I agree, that some nations in the Middle East have recently held free elections is good. I don't know that the Bush administration should be taking credit for this development, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt—the administration's policies may have been a factor. And I know that the goal is to train Iraqi forces so that they can take over the security and anti-insurgency efforts. The Bushies have repeated this talking point several times. But, Dubya, you've gotta show me something. Nothing I've read gives me the impression that Iraqi forces will be prepared to take over any time in the forseeable future. I could be wrong; but, again, they've gotta show me something. And, of course, I'm still hearing nothing about the tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians. Who's remembering them on Independence Day?

From where I'm sitting, who the Pacers will select with the 17th pick is far more important than anything the President might say in the remainder of his address.

Monday, June 27, 2005

A Quick Thought About the Internet (and Blogging, in Particular)

I think that the Internet is one of humanity's greatest accomplishments. It gives everyone the opportunity to publish, to report, to release and distribute recordings, and to connect with people around the world that share one's peculiar interests. I'm also glad to see that blogging continues to gain popularity. A blogger can write or report anything she or he feels like writing or reporting but is expected to provide his or her readers with links to any relevant sources. Other media outlets have neither the freedom nor the accountability that bloggers have.

The problem with blogging is that anyone can rant and rave about whatever is on her or his mind without having to face anyone. He or she also has the luxury of editing these rants as they're written or at any point after they are published. As a result of having a faceless audience and having the capacity to edit continuously, many of us (myself included) have gotten awfully damn smug when we're hanging out in the blogosphere.

Today on NPR

Tennessee Congressman Lincoln Davis made some excellent points in an interview with WPLN, Nashville Public Radio. I took issue with some of what he said, but I agree with him that American politics has distracted itself and lost sight of the issues that really matter.

Then Morning Edition had an interesting, if disturbing, piece on the "Material Witness Law," one of the Justice Department's tools in the War on Terror.

Avian Linguistics

Scientists decipher chickadee chirps. From CNN.com.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

More Nick Hornby on NPR

Nick Hornby, my favorite novelist, was on Studio 360 this morning and said that he was bothered by the popularity of Harry Potter among adults. His point was that the Harry Potter books are good children's novels, but that adults are missing out on a lot of good literature. Of course, Hornby admitted that he had only read The Sorceror's Stone (the first book in the series). Personally, I've been impressed with how the content of the books has matured as the characters in the story have. J.K. Rowling obviously has plenty of fans, but I'm not sure that she gets the critical acclaim that she deserves.

Hornby might want to read the rest of the Potter books. I think he would be pleasantly surprised. I read a lot of books—about one per week. I read popular fiction and non-fiction, obscure fiction and non-fiction, some academic stuff, and a variety of books related to my job. Still, I'm not sure I enjoy reading anything as much as I enjoy reading the Harry Potter books. I love Vonnegut and Salinger and Nick Hornby. I enjoy the creative non-fiction of David Sedaris. I am fascinated by the work popular Bible scholars such as John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg. Still, there's something about Harry Potter. I read all of the existing books in the series about once per-year, and I never get tired of them. Nick, give them a try.

I Got a Comment!

And a well-written, thoughtful comment at that—from someone I don't even know, for that matter.

How Important Is Keeping a Clean Floor . . .

. . . when your one-year-old is hysterically afraid of the vacuum cleaner?

Friday, June 24, 2005

I Still Don't Understand What the Emergent Church Is

I've read a fair amount on the emerging church and associate with plenty of people who identify themselves with the emerging church, but I still don't get what the emerging church is. I kind of think it is a moniker used by those who want to distance themselves from a) Christians whose primary mission involves condemning homosexuality and abortion rights and b) congregations that are traditional to the point of being stuffy, boring, and even irrelevant.

Sometimes I think I'm emergent; sometimes, I'm not so sure. The movement is so vaguely defined that I can't grasp what the emergent church actually is. I'm cool with innovation and questioning and nontraditional ways of connecting with God. I worry, however, that trying to build a movement around these emphases could turn what is now the emerging church into a fad that comes and goes, like the Jesus movement of the sixties and seventies.

I'll just keep doing my church stuff. If I'm emergent, cool; if not, all right.

I Live Next to a Dead Mall

Mike Mullins has informed me that Bellevue Center, my neighborhood mall, is now listed as a dead mall at Dead Malls.com. Also listed is Washington Square Mall, which was my neighborhood mall when I lived in Evansville, Indiana. The question is, Do I kill malls or are they already terminal when I show up?

Do We Have Any Idea What We're Doing in Iraq?

This war is a mess. I hope we can all agree by now that the whole thing was poorly and hastily planned. I think all Americans should all be disappointed that we are pumping so many billions of dollars into Iraq, while the budget deficit grows and while we will almost definitely be cutting funding for education and healthcare, without making more progress than we have. On the other hand, we can't just pull out. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I feel pressured to support the growing bipartisan push to start withdrawaling troops as soon as possible, but my obsessive compulsive nature tells me that we shouldn't pull out of Iraq if doing so means leaving a big mess. Do we need more troops to finish the job? Are disappointing recruitment numbers hurting the war effort, both in terms of personnel and morale?

I find humorous the efforts of liberal bloggers to convince young, conservative war supporters to enlist. But seriously, if we're going to get the job done, someone is going to have to do it. I won't be too critical of war supporters who don't sign up or encourage others to do so because I spend much of my days in a rolly chair in an air-conditioned space. Still, part of me feels that I need to go, that I need to do my part to serve my country and my world. I don't know what I would do, since I'm a pacifist and would never carry a gun. Surely not everything we are doing in Iraq involves shooting or threatening people.

At any rate, I'm all talk. Catch me in a few months. I'll be in a rolly chair, a nice autumn breeze blowing through my window.

Shalom.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Air Thickens

The debate on the Senate floor over an eco-friendly provision in the energy bill got ridiculous Tuesday. In the end, to no one's surprise, the body passed a measure that does basically nothing to reduced greenhouse-gas emissions.

Again, I think we need to name and commit to finding answers for these three questions:

  • Is the climate change we are experiencing extraordinary? Is the current rise in temperature unprecedented, or does it fit within age-old global heating and cooling patterns?


  • Is global warming affected by human activity? Do the chemicals we put into the air significantly and directly affect temperatures? If so, to what degree?


  • If the change in temperature is extraordinary and if human activity directly affects climate change, what can we do to stop global warming?


  • If we cannot have a serious, informed debate on the above questions (and preferably one free of overt political biases), we will never be able to adequately respond to the larger question of climate change.

    The Problem With Door-to-door Evangelism

    The Southern Baptists are in town. Actually, they're always in town since their governing body is based in Nashville. But this week we are hosting a nationwide gathering of the Southern Baptist Convention. To kick things off the Baptists have gone door-to-door, stopping at over 40,000 Nashville homes, trying to win converts.

    Fortunately, they did not come to my house. I cannot stand doorstep evangelists. And now that I have a toddler who runs to the window adjacent to the front door whenever he hears a knock, I cannot pretend not to be home.

    My main problem with door-to-door proselytizers is that they let my cats out. Whenever someone props open my screen door to save me (even though I am a devout United Methodist who goes to church every week), Curtis, my youngest cat, makes a run for it. I think Jesus would want the front-porch preachers to set down The Holy Word and chase after my cat. They don't. Instead, they continue preaching, following me, while I track down Curtis. Personally, I don't want a part of any faith that doesn't show more concern for the well-being of house cats.

    A few years ago, during a seminary-induced faith crisis, I had left the church. The evangelists that brought me back were not those who came to my door in the middle of the afternoon, but those whom I saw getting their hands dirty doing work in the name of Christ that is slowly transforming the community and the world—living the gospel, not just talking about it. For example: Rev. Becca Stevens, who rehabilitates prostitutes and drug addicts; Father Charlie Strobel, who helps homeless persons develop job skills and gives them places to stay during the winter; Rev. Bill Barnes, a tireless advocate of the poor who initiated several programs to assist people living in the Edgehill projects; Harmon Wray, who will go to any lengths to protest capital punishment, and who does so in Christ's name; Jill Shashaty, who is a professional Christian environmentalist; and I could go on and on. The point is: show me Christ; be Christ to the world; and don't let my cats out.


    Related: A positive development from the Southern Baptist Convention gathering.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    If You Were Worried About Someday Living in a Nursing Home

    Dr. William Thomas, an outspoken critic of traditional nursing homes, has envisioned a way to house elderly persons in poor health that is more dignified than the imprisonment method currently employed in many of the nation's facilities. Dr. Thomas calls his vision The Green House Project to give residents more "privacy and control over their lives." Mississippi Methodist Senior Services has become the first facility for the elderly to fully realize Dr. Thomas's ideas. Listen to the NPR piece for more details.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2005

    Reverend Moon's Ties to the Regime in North Korea

    A provocative article from American Prospect Online.

    Has CBS No Shame?

    After replacing Joan of Arcadia with a show on which Jennifer Love Hewitt talks to Ghosts, CBS sold another portion of its soul by creating the reality show Rock Star, where contestants compete to become the new lead singer of INXS. The show is hosted by Brooke Burke, host of the ever classy Wild On E! and Dave Navarro, who, believe it or not, used to play guitar for Jane's Addiction.

    Promos for Rock Star fail to mention why INXS is in need of a lead singer. No, it is not because INXS has not released a successful album in 13 years. You may recall that original frontman Michael Hutchince died about seven years ago. (I may have misspelled Michael's last name; I was planning on checking it with the Rock Star website, but his name was nowhere to be found.)

    Of course, I don't care for reality television in general. I think it is slowly choking the life out of American popular culture. But, my feelings aside, I hope we can all agree that reality television should never be used to replace dead bandmates.

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    NPR Segment on Roadside Religion

    Check this out. The audio should be available later this evening.

    Timothy K. Bael, a Case Western professor who is the subject of this piece, has written a book on quirky, roadside religious attractions, mainly in the rural south. (I only hope that he included the largest cross in the western hemisphere in Groom, Texas.)

    Give Big Shot Bob a Spot on the 2006 World Championship Team

    Spurs reserve Robert Horry hit another big, game-winning shot last night. Some analysts have argued that Horry is the best role-player ever. Is he? I suppose the answer would depend on one's definition of a role-player. Horry, for example, has started nearly half of the games he's played during his career, and was a starter for the Houston teams that won NBA titles in 1994 and 1995.

    Still, Horry is playing for his sixth championship ring, his fourth in a supporting role. After leaving Houston and losing a spot in a starting line-up after his best season in the league (1995-96), Horry has been one of the league's most reliable role-players and a great clutch shooter. (In 2002 he ruined my anyone-but-the-Lakers dream when he beat the buzzer and the Kings with a 30-foot three-pointer.) Sure, he's been on great teams, but playing an important role in five NBA championship runs (and possibly six by the end of this week) speaks volumes for a player.

    Horry will not make the Hall of Fame, and he shouldn't, given that he has averaged only 7.5 points-per-game for his career. Still, he has had an extraordinary career, is a complete player, and is a player who understands his role. USA Basketball should reward Robert Horry with a spot on the 2006 World Championship Team. Critics of USA Basketball have charged that the team's defeat in Athens was due to a lack of shooters, a lack of role-players, and selfish play. Who better to solve that problem than Big Shot Bob?

    Sunday, June 19, 2005

    Ben Folds's Belmont UMC Connection

    My one-year-old, Meyer, gave me Ben Folds's new solo record for Father's Day. As I was scanning the liner notes, I noticed that cello and fiddle on the record were provided by Belmont United Methodist's own Ned and David Henry, of Brother Henry.


    Note: I'll be playing piano and performing an original church song at Belmont's 8:15 service next week. Maybe I'll have the fortune of performing for one or both of the Brothers Henry.

    Friday, June 17, 2005

    Garvis, The Bert Bennys, and The Ivan Henrys

    A gallery of identically dressed bands.

    Thanks to Six Foot 6

    Required Reading From John Danforth

    This is two-and-a-half months old, but it was forwarded to me today. It's a column from the New York Times and St. Louis Dispatch written by Episcopal priest and former Republican Senator from Missouri John Danforth about the religious right's hijacking of the Christian faith and the role of moderate Christians in political discourse.

    What's Happening to Me?

    I caught The Situation, Tucker Carlson's new show on MSNBC, the other night, and I have to say that it is probably the best show of its ilk on any cable news channel. It works almost like ESPN's Around the Horn or Pardon the Interruption: A set amount of time is allotted for each topic, and the commentators have to stay on subject. Sure, The Situation is no McLaughlin Group, but it nonetheless outclasses the other punditry shows on MSNBC, CNN, and FOX News.


    Secondly, I have to take issue with an NPR story on Voice of America (VOA) broadcasting that is critical of Bush Administration appointee Kenneth Tomlinson, who oversees VOA. The piece insinuates that Tomlinson and those he has hired are manipulating news reports to make them favorable to administration policies. You'll have to listen to the segment and draw your own conclusions, but I felt the examples given were weak. For example, I think that getting the postal service up and running in Iraq is newsworthy, even if the New York Times and Washington Post didn't cover it; and I VOA's 2004 coverage of the Iraqi Postal Service was not exactly a pat-Bush-and-Rummy-on-the-back type of report. If anything, the success of the postal system was portrayed as one bright spot amid the darkness of chaos. Given NPR's current problems with Tomlinson, who Bush apppointed as the Board Chair for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), I get the feeling that NPR is grasping for straws to make Tomlinson look like the bad guy. Tomlinson might not be the right guy to chair the CPB, but not because of any issues raised by the VOA story.

    Of course, the Bushies are not above manipulating news for their own purposes (read: Maggie Gallagher, Armstrong Williams, and James Guckert). Still, NPR's report on Tomlinson lacks substance.


    So in one post, I'm praising Tucker Carlson and defending the Bush Administration. What's happening to me?

    Well, in other news, there are still plenty of reasons to be critical of the President and his administration, as these sinking approval ratings suggest.

    And, even though I like what Carlson has done with the new show, this clip of his spat with Jon Stewart is still good for a laugh.

    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    Reasons Why You Don't Want to Be The President's Press Secretary

    Scott McClellan is having a rough day:

    On the Downing Street Memo

    On the Iraqi insurgency supposedly being in its last throes

    (Both from Editor & Publisher)

    It has to be hard to answer for a president who feels that he is above being questioned.

    (By the way, do colleges and high schools still assign Machiavelli's The Prince?)

    Coverage Now!

    The Nashville Scene made its Fabricator column ("Nude calendar spear-headed by soon-to-be cut TennCare enrollees will help cover health expenses") this week's cover story, bringing some laughter to the pain of Governor Bredesen's TennCare cuts.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    Nick Hornby on NPR

    Nick Hornby, the greatest living English-language novelist, is on today's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

    More on Lamar (and Bullet Trains)

    This blogger called Lamar Alexander's office and received an unsatisfactory answer as to why the senator didn't co-sponsor the anti-lynching resolution (which was sponsored by 86 of his 99 colleagues).

    You know, I seriously considered voting for Lamar in 2002. But after hearing his opponent, Bob Clement, address a Tying Nashville Together meeting a few days before the election, I changed my mind. Clement (who knew that he would lose and was getting desperate) promised to push for a nationwide network of bullet trains (like the ones they have in Europe and Japan). I knew that Clement's idea would not come to fruition; but it was a good idea nonetheless, and neither he nor Lamar had said or done anything else to secure my vote. Now that I think about it, I dressed as Bob Clement for Halloween that year.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    What's Going On, Lamar?

    Lamar Alexander, my favorite U.S. senator (this is no big task considering the issues I have with my other U.S. senator, Dr. Frist), is one of 16 members of the Senate not to co-sponsor a resolution condemning the legislative body's inability or refusal to pass anti-lynching legislation during the 80 years-or-so that lynching (especially the lynching of African Americans) was a major problem in the U.S.

    I'm planning to write Lamar a letter, but this info from AmericaBlog is not encouraging.

    When Nano-scientists Go Obsessive Compulsive

    A fascinating NPR piece on microscopic brooms and brushes.

    Astronomers Detect "Earth's Bigger Cousin"

    Monday, June 13, 2005

    A Long Way Down

    Thanks to my sister, Whitney, for letting me know about A Long Way Down, the new book from my favorite novelist, Nick Hornby.

    Supreme Court Reverses Death Penalty Conviction

    Something to make you feel better about the legal system in the wake of the Michael Jackson verdict.

    Dissenting, of course, were Justices Scalia and Thomas.

    As the Economy "Recovers"

    50% of public school students in Tennessee (nearly a million) now qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. This chart shows you who qualifies. Those who contend that the poor are largely responsbile for their own struggles will not convince me that the parents of over nine hundred thousand kids are deadbeats. A single parent with two children could have a job that requires a college degree and still be eligible to sign up her or his kids for reduced-price lunches. And don't try to tell me that the income requirements have been set too high. Given the current costs of housing and transportation in many cities, these levels make sense.

    We need a higher minimum wage, and more cities (including Nashville) need to adopt some form of a living wage. Critics say that requiring employers to pay more will cause employers to lay off workers. But even with the pitiful and inadequate minimum wage we have now, tens of thousands of jobs are being cut and replaced by lower-paying jobs. (In the meantime, of course, the rich have gotten richer.) Something needs to be done now to stop this disturbing trend.

    Sunday, June 12, 2005

    Washington Post on Contents of Memo Released in Advance of Downing Street Meeting

    From the article, quoting the memo:

    " 'A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise." The authors add, 'As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden.' "

    Saturday, June 11, 2005

    Yeah, Yeah, Coldplay Released a New Album This Week

    Coldplay has become arguably the biggest band in the world playing a style of music that I consider a watered down version of The Bends- and O.K. Computer-era Radiohead. The popularity of the band and the ubiquity of their hit songs makes me want to dislike Coldplay, but I can't. Everything I've heard so far from the new record sounds pretty good; and I own Parachutes (their first major release)and still enjoy listening to it fairly regularly.

    Will I buy X & Y (the new album)? Probably not. The relative poverty that comes with raising a one-year-old and four cats requires me to be discriminating when it comes to buying music. I still don't have the newest offerings from Ben Folds and Beck (both of whom would make my list of ten favorite artists ever). Of course, X & Y would make a nice birthday gift.

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    A Fair Critique of Mainline Christian Liberalism

    From Wesley Blog.

    Though I am the type of person commonly identified with "Mainline Liberalism," I think Wesley Blog makes a good point: Many progressive Christian leaders are guilty of making uninformed generalizations about conservative evangelicals. As a result, progressive Christianity is more often defined by what it is not than by what it is.

    For example some of my Sunday school students were upset by the content of an add for the United Church of Christ (mainline Christianity's most progressive, or liberal, denomination) in which the UCC contrasts itself with a congregation that does not welcome same-sex couples, racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities. The kids took issue with the commercial because our United Methodist congregation, along with several other congregations in several other denominations (including some that would be considered "conservative"), would openly welcome any of the people turned away in the ad.

    View the UCC ad.

    I have problems with some of the rhetoric that comes from some of our evangelical, conservative brothers and sisters, particularly that which is directed toward homosexuals and women. But making blanket statements about "those darn conservatives" or "the church today" does no good. All Christians need to work toward providing safe forums to discuss matters of faith. While I disagree with Wesley Blog on a variety of issues and am occasionally offended by something he writes, I appreciate that he links to United Methodist bloggers (like me) whose views of the church differ substantially from his. Wesley Blog's interview with Beth Stroud was also a moment of grace.

    Thursday, June 09, 2005

    Something to Think About as You Write

    This column from The Slot is both nutritious and delicious.

    Know Your Calculator

    Watch Out for Rogue Marine Recruiters

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    Fixing the Evidence for Political Reasons

    If you haven't seen this New York Times article yet, it's not about Iraq, but about global warming. You can read it and draw your own conclusions.

    As Jon Stewart just pointed out on The Daily Show, Bush has told us, since the 2000 campaign, that we need to do more research before we can make policy decisions related to climate change. After five years, Bush still doesn't know enough to do anything about global warming. In the meantime, administration officials are doctoring documents to take the edge off of rising temperatures.

    I am hardly a scientist and will not claim to understand the root causes of global warming. But surely, based on empirical evidence, we can agree that the globe is, in fact, warming. With that out of the way, I think that three key questions remain:

  • Is the climate change we are experiencing extraordinary? Is the current rise in temperature unprecedented, or does it fit within age-old global heating and cooling patterns?


  • Is global warming affected by human activity? Do the chemicals we put into the air significantly and directly affect temperatures? If so, to what degree?


  • If the change in temperature is extraordinary and if human activity directly affects climate change, what can we do to stop global warming?


  • Again, I'm not a scientist. I just read the papers and listen to NPR. Still, the administration needs to take seriously these three questions and make a reasonable effort to find some answers in the next three-and-a-half years.

    The Irony

    Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council applauds Anglican bishops in Africa who do not accept aid from "liberal" American congregations that support openly homosexual Anglican bishop Gene Robinson. According to the conservative Washington Times, this protest is keeping African congregations from meeting the needs of those they serve (people dying from disease, hunger, and so forth). The irony is that the next article on Perkins's website (immediately following the one praising the African bishops) is titled, "Every Human Life Is Valuable." So, every human life is valuable, but not more valuable than condemning gay people. Nice. As it were, Perkins also once paid Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list.

    (From America Blog.)

    See also:
    "More on Justice Sunday"
    "Catching Up With the Beth Stroud Case"

    I hate that the anti-gay movement with Christianity has distracted the church from more pressing matters. Even if one feels that the Bible clearly forbids homosexual relationships as we know them today (and I don't believe that it does), one must recognize that same-sex relations is a very minor biblical issue compared to poverty, healing, liberation, redemption, and even whether to eat food that has been sacrificed to idols. It breaks my heart that homophobia is keeping people from receiving life-saving or life-sustaining aid from Christians who are making an effort to follow Jesus' teachings.

    Given Recruiting Trends, Can We Finish the Job in Iraq?

    From the New York Times.

    See also:

    Daily Kos analysis

    "Downing Street and a Lack of Vision"

    "Serving the Country"

    Roemer Considering Challenging Lugar

    After living the first 24 years of my life in Indiana, I take Richard Lugar's re-election to the U.S. Senate every six years as a given. I do not recall the Democrats seriously trying to unseat Lugar in 2000, 1994, or 1988. (I have no memory of senatorial elections prior to '88, and barely remember the '88 election.) This time around, former Democratic U.S. Representative Tim Roemer thinks he has a shot at defeating the popular legislator.

    As much as I would like the Republicans to lose control of one of the houses (I think diversity in government is important), I like Lugar. Even if Roemer were a formidable opponent (which I'm not sure that he is), I don't know that the Dems should make unseating Lugar a priority for 2006. Dick Lugar is a good guy. Granted I have problems with some of his votes (read: same-sex marriage amendment) and some of the stands he's taken (read: Bolton nomination), but I appreciate that he is not a strict partisan; he thinks for himself and makes an admirable effort to explain himself to his constituents.

    Maybe I'll take back this post when Lugar casts the deciding vote for something I strongly oppose or against something I strongly advocate. Still, I think the Democrats have better places to expend money and resources next year than in Indiana.

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    An Open Letter to Matthew Dotson

    Matthew,

    Your situation with the University of Tennessee is most unfortunate. I know that you wanted to play for the Vols, and I'm sorry that things didn't work out with Coach Pearl. Now, you are left scrambling for a new home, a new school, a new team. I have read and heard that you are considering Yale, Austin Peay, and Belmont, among others, and I would like to suggest another school, one that you might not have considered: The University of Evansville.

    Yes, Matthew, the Purple Aces. If you were to play for UE, you could trade in that pale UT orange for a vibrant orange accompanied by a deep violet. You would be two states away from mom and dad, but you'd only have to drive three hours to come home. Evansville is regularly ranked among the best midwestern liberal arts schools, according to U.S. News and World Report, and the university has an excellent student-to-faculty ratio.

    If you were to play for the Aces, you could become a key contributor, possibly a starter, and you would take the floor in front of 10,000 fans at Roberts Stadium. You would also be playing in the Missouri Valley Conference, a conference that has received multiple NCAA Tournament berths for each of the past seven seasons. You would be almost guaranteed a chance to play in a few ESPN Bracket Buster games during your career.

    As a follower of, and former scorekeeper for, the Hillsboro Burros (my brother-in-law is the coach), I have seen you play for Hickman County on more than one occasion, so I have some knowledge of your skills and potential. I think you would be an excellent addition to the Aces' roster and look forward to seeing you in the purple and orange next season.

    Josh Tinley

    University of Evansville, 1999

    Monday, June 06, 2005

    Recommendation: I Heart Huckabee's

    Anyone who has had an existential crisis will appreciate this film.

    Downing Street and a Lack of Vision

    I have thus far avoid blogging about the Downing Street Memo, a document detailing the minutes of a meeting held by Tony Blair eight months before the War in Iraq. The memo suggests that the Bush administration had decided to go to war long before they told the public that they had exhausted all options and long before Congress passed a resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq. The document has received disturbingly little coverage in the American media, though it was printed in its entirety in The Times of London.

    I feel strongly that Downing Street should be getting more stateside press. Unfortunately, while several unanswered questions remain about the cause of the mess in Iraq, the war has been going on for over two years, and no one is sure when or how we will be able to get out of it. We need to hold the administration accountable for what it started, but we also must look to the future.

    Bear with me: Jim Wallis, in God's Politics argues that "protest is good, but alternatives are better." He uses the example of the prophet Habakkuk, who cried out to God in complaint, frustrated by the oppression and injustice he saw. God responded by telling the prophet to "write the vision." (See the first two chapters of Habakkuk.) Complaint is only constructive if it is accompanied by an alternative vision for the future.

    I have heard and read plenty of arguments justifying the war or explaining why the war was not justified. On the other hand, I have heard and read very little about what to do now, about how to responsibly end this thing some day. Here are some suggestions:

  • We must be more contrite both about the abuse at Abu Ghraib and about the killing of thousands of Iraqi civilians (mostly unintended) by American soldiers. At the very least, a sincere apology will be necessary if we are to regain (or just gain) the trust of the Iraqi people.

  • Deploy more troops in the short term, but give the Iraqi people and the world a clear indication that we plan to leave as soon as possible. Granted, Bush has said plainly that we won't stick around longer than is necessary, but no one believes him. We need to show the global community that we have a viable exit strategy. In the meantime, we must strengthen our forces if we are to secure the nation's most volatile areas and to cut down on unnecessary civilian deaths.


  • I found this article from Newsweek very informative.

    I am by no means an expert on foreign policy, so let me know if I am entirely out of line. Regardless of whether or not my ideas have any merit, the future of Iraq is a subject that warrants serious public debate.

    Teen Employment Crisis

    Teenage summer employment has decreased by more than 10% over the past five years. Yet, the percent of young people who want to work has risen. The MSNBC article (see link) gives a variety of reasons for American adolescents' inability to find summer work. Among them:

  • Competition from immigrants and adult workers recovering from the recession who are not limited to seasonal employment

  • Fewer locally owned businesses that are willing to give a kid a break or that are loyal to seasonal teenage employees

  • Increase in summer school enrollment that makes work scheduling difficult for some youth


  • I wonder if entitlement issues are at play. Are teens saying, "I want to work; but I'm not going to flip burgers or bus tables"? Do college-bound, affluent kids feel that they deserve better? Unscientific observation tells me that several fast food restaurants are hiring and would love to have a few high schoolers join the crew for the summer.

    Of course, I have entitlement issues of my own. Having worked at Wendy's for six consecutive summers during high school and college, I feel entitled to give the current generation of teens a hard time for passing over certain work opportunities. Honestly, I may have learned more from spending my vacations serving Old Fashioned Hamburgers than I did from either high school or college.

    So put on the visor, the nametag, and the grease-stained shirt and get to work, kids.

    You Can't Kill Monday

    I have tried to convince myself that dreading Mondays is culturally constructed silliness. After all, I like my job, and I have no reason to dread the working week.

    But there's just something about Monday. Today, it was the traffic jam that I was trapped in for about 40 minutes.

    Back to work.

    Apathy or Laziness?

    I confess that non-recyclable containers excite me. I feel a sense of relief when I empty the cottage cheese or sour cream and find that the tub is a type-5 plastic, or when the box containing my frozen lunch tears white instead of brown. The number 5 on the bottom of the sour cream tells me that I will not have to thoroughly rinse the tub and add it to the overflowing bin of plastic containers in my garage. And if the cardboard tears white, I won't have to break it down and slide it in among the dozens of folded boxes that sit in the bin next to the plastics. Moreover, fewer recyclable containers means less time spent sorting the containers into trash bags and fewer trips to the drop-off site (which, admittedly, is less than a mile from my house).

    Trust me, I believe in recycling, and I recycle just about anything I can. But how do I explain the joy I feel when cardboard or plastic won't recycle? Maybe I really don't care; maybe the effort that I do put into recylcing is just a front, or a self-devised reason to feel good about myself. Maybe (and this is the more likely explanation) I'm just lazy. Maybe I just don't want to take the time and effort to break down a cardboard box and bring it home from work in my lunch box or to take time removing the curd that clings to the sides of the cottage cheese containers. Am I lazy, or do I subconsciously not care? What do you think about non-recyclable containers? (Respond through this website's rarely used "comments" function.)

    Saturday, June 04, 2005

    The Tinley Family Garden: Your Source for Fresh Produce

    Homegrown onions were a prominent ingrediant in both lunch and dinner today at the Tinley household. So far this season, we have harvested 15 (albeit, small) onions, all of which have been devoured and digested by the family. At the moment, no fewer than 7 tomatoes have popped up in the garden on the side yard. Earlier today I planted red and green peppers, fed them some veggie food (I still find it funny that I give food to my food), and mulched (if you don't mulch, the weeds just take over).

    Not impressed? You probably shouldn't be, unless you know my history with plants. I am a terrible gardener, and I am even worse with house plants. I don't neglect the vegetation in my care; I just struggle with the amount of water to use, where to place the plants, when and how much to prune, and so on. My poor herbology skills have resulted in several plants being scorched, drowned, and frozen to death. Many others have survived without producing flowers and fruit. Given my history, picking 15 onions from my garden is a big deal.

    Friday, June 03, 2005

    Anti-poverty Wristbands Produced in Sweatshops

    Oops.

    I learned about this from Locusts and Honey.

    A Spot for Copy Editors

    I just learned about The Slot: A Spot for Copy Editors. The Slot is maintained by Bill Walsh, a copy editor for the Washington Post. While the site will certainly interest any copy editor, I think it provides worthwhile reading for every person who does any sort of writing. Walsh's Sharp Points are especially informative and thought-provoking.

    Penguins and Baboons

    Some of the youth from my church are on a mission trip in South Africa and have been blogging about their experiences. Yesterday's entry about the South African wildlife was especially entertaining.

    Get Your Free Sandwiches While You Can

    Sadly, Subway is ending its twenty-year-old Sub Club free sandwich promotion. Apparently too many people have been buying and selling counterfeit stamps on e-Bay.

    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    NBA Great George Mikan Dies at 80

    Ballers like me respect the history of the game and mourn the passing of the league's first true superstar.

    Mikan's imposing presence in the paint was the reason for the goaltending rule and wide lane that current-day hoops fans take for granted. As ABA Commissioner in the late sixties, some years after retiring from the NBA, Mikan introduced the 3-point line.

    Monkey Finds Religion

    You Have to Admire Their Consistency

    An interesting story from the New York Times:

    A conservative Christian program called Snowflakes "arranges for women to become pregnant with embryos left over at fertility clinics." Not a bad idea, I suppose, though I personally think that we should take care of all the orphaned babies who are living out of the womb before we go out of our way to save embryos. Snowflakes allows donors and adoptive parents to designate requirements for each other. The examples in the article of such requirements are not encouraging. Still, I'm curious to see what the future holds for embryo adoption.

    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Explain This to Me

    The military is falling well short of its recruiting goals, and recruiters are getting desperate

    BUT

    a soldier wounded in battle in Iraq who wants to remain in the military was discharged because he came out of the closet.

    I'm Not a Fan of Motorsports, But . . .

    I feel a need to comment on NASCAR and former Indy driver Robby Gordon's complaints regarding the relative low-weight of Indy Racing League (IRL) star Danica Patrick. (Today Gordon backed off from his comments, a little.) Gordon—and to be fair, some other drivers—contends that Danica has a natural advantage because she is so much lighter than most of the other drivers and argues that the IRL should require a minimum weight for drivers. Of course, by Gordon's reasoning, the NBA should impose a height-maximum and the NFL should limit the muscle mass of its players. Should there be a size requirement for jockeys and gymnists? (Well, maybe these athletes should have a no-eating-disorder policy.)

    Gordon has said that he will not race at Indy until weight regulations, that would eliminate Danica Patrick from competition unless she put on quite a few pounds, are put in place. Maybe the answer is the MIRL—Men's Indy Racing League—for male racers who feel that their bodies do not enable them to compete on the same level as women.

    File Under Blatantly Unconstitutional

    I've been following this story from my city of origin. Marion County Superior Court Judge Cale J. Bradford has ordered in a divorce case that neither party may expose the couple's son to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." While Judge Bradford neglected to define what beliefs or rituals qualify as "non-mainstream," both Thomas E. Jones, Jr. (who has appealed the ruling) and his ex-wife practice Wicca.

    I am by no means an expert on Wicca or Paganism, but I know that Wicca, despite the sterotypes, does not involve dark arts, black magic, or casting spells. From what I can gather, most people who practice Wicca are looking for a faith that affirms the equality of women and men and the sacredness of the natural world. Many have understandably gotten the impression that religions such as Christianity and Islam are patriarchal and focused on the afterlife at the expense of the world in which we live.

    I personally do not identify with Wicca and am involved with an environmentally-conscious Christian community that is intentional about righting the wrongs of Christendom's androcentric past. Still, Wicca as a religion is not dangerous, and the judge in this case is entirely out of bounds. And frankly, forcing people through a court order to cease certain religious practices or to take up others is a poor means of evangelism.

    Additionally, I am bothered by how often ideas or practices are dismissed or discounted because they are "non-mainstream" or "out of the mainstream." One might argue that humanity's greatest achievements have been the result of someone boldly deviating from the mainstream. If no one challenges the mainstream, we, as a people, will cease to grow.