Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Jon Stewart on Larry King Live

Jon Stewart gave an excellent interview to Larry King last night. Crooks and Liars has the video (QuickTime).

Click here for transcript.

Assorted New Poll Numbers: Not So Good for Administration

CBS News: Bush's approval falls to 34%; Cheney's falls to 18%; only 30% approve of handling of Iraq war; 51% think the President doesn't care about people like themselves.

Zogby: 72% of American troops in Iraq want us to pull out sometime in 2006; 29% think the U.S. military should leave immediately; nearly 90% "think war is retaliation for Saddam’s role in 9/11." (Considering Saddam had absolutely no role in 9/11, that last figure is especially disturbing.)

Survey USA: In 36 states a plurality of citizens feels that the administration's domestic wiretapping program clearly breaks the law.

My question: How does the average American mend this broken relationship with his or her leader? Forgive my cynicism, but do we just wait a few years then select one of two candidates who are no more inspiring than the man currently in office?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Meyer Likes His Salad

Read more at Little Meyer.

Tony Campolo on Colbert

Progressive evangelical leader Tony Campolo was on The Colbert Report this evening and gave an excellent interview on the dangers of claiming Jesus' teaching for one political ideology. If you missed it, try to catch the rerun tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. CST/8:00 EST.

Half of Britons Talk to Their Cars

Another reason why British people rule*:

LONDON (Reuters) - Nearly half of motorists regularly talk to their cars, giving words of encouragement ahead of a long trip and lavishing praise for a job well done at journey's end, according to research on Monday.

A survey of 2,000 owners also found 40 percent thought their car had a personality and was capable of being upset whilst 19 percent worried about how their car was feeling.

The use of whilst in the above paragraph is yet another reason British people rule*.

*As a result of the dissolution of the British Empire in the twentieth century, the British don't rule nearly as much as they used to.

Remodeling: Phase 1

As you can see, I've changed the look of this website. And you can now get here by going to either www.joshtinley.com or scrambies.blogspot.com. If you are still interested in going to the site once known as Josh Tinley.com, you can still get there by going to www.joshtinley.com/default.html, but I don't know if I'll continue updating it.

Feel free to give me your input, but don't complain too much, because I'm not finished yet.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sudan Man Forced to "Marry" Goat

In case you're interested, the BBC has the story.

Irrational Violence Knows No Religion

Violent protests continue in Nigeria over the infamous Danish newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. For weeks, Muslims in Nigeria have directed their anger toward the country's Christian population. Now the Christians are fighting back, and things are getting really ugly:

AN enraged mob of Nigerian Christian youths has slaughtered dozens of Muslims in two days of rioting in the southern city of Onitsha. . . .

Nineteen corpses were seen scattered by the side of the main road into the city across the Niger River bridge, where a contingent of soldiers had set up a roadblock to hold back hundreds of rioters armed with clubs and machetes.

The bodies had been beaten, slashed and in some cases burnt. Around the bloodied corpses lay scattered the caps and Islamic prayer beads associated with the northern Hausa tribe.

See also: What Is the Role of Islam in Recent Outbursts of Violence?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Autistic Teen Scores 20 in Three Minutes of Varsity Game

Until recently Jason McElwain, who is autistic, was the manager of the varsity basketball team at Rocester New York's Greece Athena High School. As a gesture of goodwill, coach Jim Johnson gave Jason a spot on the roster for the team's final game of the season. With the game in hand and four minutes remaining, coach Johnson sent in Jason. The autistic senior missed his first shot by about six feet. His second shot, a lay-up, was also a miss.

But his third shot, a three pointer, went in. So did his fourth, fifth, and sixth shots—all three pointers. In a span of about three minutes, Jason hit six three pointers and one two-point field goal (his foot was on the line) for a total of twenty points.

CBS News has more.

More People Are Turning to Food Banks

From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 25 million Americans turned to the nation's largest network of food banks, soup kitchens and shelters for meals last year, up 9 percent from 2001.

Those seeking food included 9 million children and nearly 3 million senior citizens, says a report from America's Second Harvest.

While our nation is supposedly enjoying job creation and economic growth, more and more people are unable to eat. (I, I must confess, am not one of those people; I've been eating way too much lately, rendering my intense daily workouts moot.) I am no economist, but I understand firsthand the financial insecurity caused by rising costs of necessities such as energy and healthcare; I also know that wages, when adjusted for inflation, have been dropping. (See also this and this.)

Maybe it's time to revist the old Tinley Fair Wage Plan. I would like to emphasize especially the "wage ratio" component of my plan:

The wage ratio is the cornerstone of the Fair Wage Plan. The ratio of a company's largest annual salary to its smallest annual salary for a full-time worker would be fixed. I will need to do further research to determine what a reasonable wage ratio might be, but say it's 10. If a company's least-paid full-time worker earns $15,000 per year, the best-paid executive would only be allowed to make $150,000 per year.

With a wage ratio, when executives succeed, low-level workers succeed, and vice versa. Thus increased wages would necessarily be a result of economic growth.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Scripture That Makes Vegetarians (Like Me) Squirm

King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. . . .

Solomon offered as sacrifices of well-being to the Lord twenty-two thousand oxen and one hundred twenty thousand sheep.

—1 Kings 8:5, 63

Fortunately I have the Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA) to back me up.

The Bible depicts vegetarianism as God’s ideal, and the diet conforms to the central biblical principle of stewardship. In Eden, all creatures lived peacefully, and God told both humans and animals to consume only plant foods (Gen. 1:29–31). Several prophecies, such as Isaiah 11:6–9, foresee a return to this vegetarian world, where the wolf, lamb, lion, cow, bear, snake, and little child all coexist peacefully. Christian vegetarians, while acknowledging human sinfulness, believe we should strive toward the harmonious world Isaiah envisioned—to try to live in accordance with the prayer that Jesus taught us, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

OK. The CVA's argument is built on proof-texts and a simplistic understanding of the biblical narrative, but their website does demonstrate that being a vegetarian is not inconsistent with being a Christian. My favorite biblical proof-text in favor of vegetarianism is Romans 14:2-3:

Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them.

So, according to the Apostle Paul, I'm weak, but you're not allowed to bug me about it.

What Is the Role of Islam in Recent Outbursts of Violence?

I am somewhat of a postmodern pluralist and multiculturalist. I seek to understand other faith traditions and cultures and to respect them for what they are before passing judgment or comparing them to my own.

That said, I'm struggling to get my head around recent reactions in Iraq and the greater Muslim world to the destruction of the Golden Mosque and to blasphemous Danish newspaper cartoons. Iraqi Shiites are rightfully angry about the bombing of the mosque; and Muslims throughout the world are justified in being offended by the now infamous cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. I cannot, however, condone the violent response to either.

The western mind better understands the reaction to the Golden Mosque bombing. Though no one was hurt in the initial attack, the destruction of a sacred pilgrimage site is an act of terror, intimidation, and disrespect. Christians today probably wouldn't respond so violently to the destruction of one of our shrines; but Christians of past eras likely would have. On the other hand, I think that Americans would be calling for blood if one of our sacred shrines (e.g. The Statue of Liberty or The Lincoln Memorial) were desecrated, even if no one were hurt. Of course, Americans would favor an organized and calculated (at least in theory) national response. Sectarian groups in Iraq don't really have that option.

The cartoons work differently. When that which is sacred to Christian Americans is intellectually or artistically disgraced, we do lash out in rage. No one is killed, but millions of people instinctively compose semi-literate, vitriolic comments on blogs and message boards and write less-than-informed letters to their local newspapers. That guy from the Catholic League inevitably pops up on FOX news, Pat Robertson says something entirely irresponsible, and the American Family Association plans some kind of protest. The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society carelessly says something that seemingly condones the sacrilige and to which the Institute on Religion and Democracy over-reacts. The American-Christian response to blasphemy isn't nearly as bloody as the Middle Eastern-Muslim response, but it is almost as ridiculous.

Still, the question remains: Why the violent and destructive response to sacrilige in the Muslim world? In the cartoon riots most of the people who have died have been protesters, not perpitrators. And the Shiites in Iraq are threatening their nation's alreay fragile infrastructure.

I think many people are asking, What does the violence we are seeing have to do with Islam? I think that certain aspects of Islamic scripture and tradition could be used to justify such violence and bloodshed. Of course, certain aspects of Christian scripture and tradition could be (and have been) used in the same way. Islam is not entirely innocent here, neither is it entirely at fault.

The post-Ottoman Empire political history of much of the Islamic world has been written by outside forces. (See, for example, the Sykes-Picot Agreement.) A history of arbitrary borders, puppet regimes, and populist revolts have left many Muslim nations without the democratic systems, civil liberties, and strong local security that make peaceful whining and protesting realistic. Violent demonstrations in the United States, by contrast, are often tempered by our freedoms of press and assembly and a trust in our electoral system. Moreover, Muslims in the Middle East and South Asia feel less secure and more vulnerable than the average American Christian, who is among a majority in the most powerful and influential nation in the world.

I am disturbed by the reactions of several Muslim persons and groups to recent events, but I do not blame Islam. Throughout history religion has fueled violence, but other cultural and political factors always are also at play.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pluto Might Have Rings

From Space.com:

The two moons discovered around Pluto last year were likely formed from the same giant impact that created the planet's much larger satellite, Charon, scientists say.

The idea suggests that other Kuiper Belt Objects might also harbor multiple satellites and raises the possibility that Pluto is encircled by rings fashioned from debris ejected from the surface of the tiny moons.


Family Values

The Smoking Gun.com has obtained the marriage contract created by Iowa man Travis Frey, who is currently facing charges for trying to kidnap his own wife. He had drawn up for his wife a "Contract of Wifely Expectations," which is one of the most disturbing and repulsive documents I have ever read. Proceed with caution.

Did You Know . . . (Fred Phelps Edition)

. . . infamous funeral protester, preacher-of-hate, and abusive father Fred Phelps was raised a Methodist? When Phelps was growing up, his family was active in Meridian, Mississippi congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, one of the three Methodist denominations that merged in 1939 (during Fred's boyhood) to form The Methodist Church.

Phelps actually traces the development of his warped theology back to a 1946 Methodist Revival in Mississippi. According to Wikipedia, the sermon preached at the revival that Phelps credits with his conversion was a rather tame homily on the parable of the great banquet (Luke 14:15-24). Absent from this sermon was the violence and hate that Phelps became famous for.

Fred Phelps went on to start an unaffiliated Baptist church of his own, a congregation in which 90% of the members are related to Phelps by blood or marriage and that is considered by many a cult. I suppose old Fred is just another example of "mainline decline."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I Will Not Be Watching Love Monkey This Evening . . .

. . . because CBS pulled it. Technically, the network put the show "on hiatus," but Love Monkey's future isn't promising. I am discouraged that our major television networks purge themselves of interesting shows such as Ed, Joan of Arcadia, and Love Monkey, while flooding their primetime schedules with more crime dramas, medical dramas, and reality shows. Don't misread me: I enjoy a good crime drama or medical drama—my two favorite new shows are House and Grey's Anatomy. (And I can't believe that Meredith slept with George, knowing that she'll only have to break his heart.) I would just like more diverse, more creative primetime offerings.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Virginia Cops Get Frisky

Police in Spotsylvania, Virginia like to do a very thorough job of investigating prostitution rings. From WaPo:

According to court documents, Spotsylvania detectives paid three visits to the Moon Spa in January and received massages, baths and sex acts on four occasions. Smith previously told The Post it was not the first time his agency has employed the full-contact method, which he said is essential because many prostitutes avoid verbally incriminating themselves. Several legal and law enforcement experts said the practice is rarely used, if ever, and might amount to breaking the law.

In their news release, Smith and Neely said that undercover officers often purchase illegal drugs to build cases against dealers and that the "same lawful investigative technique" was used in the prostitution cases. A Virginia law banning drug possession exempts law-enforcement officers who possess narcotics as part of their job duties. The prostitution statute makes no such exception.

Happy President's Day

Though his administration has largely ignored environmental issues for five years, kudos to President Bush this President's Day for taking seriously the need for conservation and alternative energy sources. He voiced his concerns in his State of the Union Address a few weeks ago and has gone on the road in support of the energy initiatives he introduced in the SOTUA. From CNN.com:

One of Bush's proposals would expand research into smaller, longer-lasting batteries for electric-gas hybrid cars, including vehicles you can charge by plugging in to a regular electrical outlet. The president will highlight that initiative with a visit Monday to the battery center at Milwaukee-based auto-parts supplier Johnson Controls Inc.

Proposed increased investment in the development of clean electric power sources are the focus of a stop later that day at a solar panel plant in suburban Detroit. The United Solar Ovonic plant in Auburn Hills, Michigan, plans to dramatically increase production capacity.

Time will tell whether the President's words will come to fruition in his administration's policies and actions, but for the time being I commend him for taking a step in the right direction. And this year, I will celebrate President's Day by dropping off my recyclables.

On the other hand: Daily Kos has this story about the administration's plans to sell to the highest bidder 730 acres of "disposable public land" in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

The Future

Next week or later this week, I will be merging Scrambies and Josh Tinley.com. So, whether you type in www.joshtinley.com or scrambies.blogspot.com, you will end up at the same place. You will not need to update any links, and I will not be deleting any content. I just think it is silly for me to maintain two homepages that regularly point to each other; and I don't update Josh Tinley.com enough. This blog (possibly with a new look) will be the focal point of the merged website; a column on the left or right will include links to all the Josh Tinley.com pages as well as the vanity-inspired Josh-related news items that currently populate my personal site.

My question for you is: Should I call the new site Josh Tinley.com? Scrambies? Scrambies (www.joshtinley.com)? Something totally different? Should I try to pretend that this site is anything more than a forum for me to express my opinions, post pictures of my kids and cats, allow visitors to download mediocre music I've recorded, and bore you with my various interests? Do you want me to masquerade as someone who provides up-to-the-minute news and analysis, or are you more interested in Meyer's latest finger painting?

Let me know. I value your opinion, in as much as it influences my own.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Snow Pictures

Snow fell in Nashville last night, and it even stuck. We got pictures:

P-Rob Feels the Heat From Fellow Evangelicals

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- Fellow conservative religious leaders have expressed concern and even open criticism over Pat Robertson's habit of shooting from the hip on his daily religious news-and-talk television program, "The 700 Club."

Read more.

Anyone Can Drive in Tennessee

A year or two after moving to Nashville I was shocked by the ease with which I exchanged my expired Indiana license for a valid Tennessee one. Nonetheless, the Tennessee Department of Safety has bigger problems than me.

In recent years all discussion about to whom the State of Tennessee should issue a driver's license has centered on illegal immigrants. I think we need a moratorium on this debate so that we can focus instead on why we grant licenses to blind people. From The Tennessean:

Virginia Anderson's eyesight has diminished to the point that she reads her mail with a magnifying glass. Her hearing is so poor she often can't hear someone call her name from across the room. She uses a wheelchair much of the time, and arthritis in her hands makes her unable to grip a pen.

But none of that was enough to keep the 85-year-old woman from leaving a Department of Safety office recently with a renewed and valid Tennessee driver's license. . . .

State law dictates that drivers need to take a vision test for their first Tennessee license only.

"If you stay in Tennessee for your entire life and don't get your license suspended or revoked, there's no requirement for you to submit to a vision test," said Tim Stringfield, director of the Department of Safety's driver's licensing office.

Workers at Tennessee's licensing centers can't deny a renewed license or request a vision test based on a person's age, said Stringfield. However, police officers, doctors, licensing workers or even concerned citizens can ask that the state check a driver's abilities.

More vision tests would lengthen already long lines and require more staffing and more money, Stringfield said. It also would mean that fewer people could renew their licenses over the Internet or by mail, he said.

A solution to the problem of long lines that doesn't involve blind people driving is opening more license branches. You can put them in strip malls and limit them to certain functions, such as license renewal.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The 'Ville Could Be Getting a New Convention Center

From The Tennessean:

Nashville should build a $455 million downtown convention center to remain competitive in the convention business, according to a long-awaited report to be released today.

The facility would be built south of the Gaylord Entertainment Center and offer 375,000 square feet of exhibit space — more than three times what's available at the Nashville Convention Center. Funding to cover $36 million a year in debt would come from a host of tax and fee increases aimed primarily at visitors, though Davidson County residents also would feel some impact.

The city needs a newer, bigger, more flexible building to attract a much larger share of the conventions and meetings market, key leaders of a mayoral study committee told The Tennessean in an exclusive briefing. They said it would generate $700 million a year in direct visitor spending and $16 million in new local sales tax revenue.

If this goes through, I'll be able to walk to the new convention center from my parking spot at work in a matter of minutes.

While I'm eager for Nashville to get a new convention center, I am worried that they'll try to fund it by upping the already brutal sales tax in Davidson County. I also have to admit that I still get lost in the existing convention center.

More on Mike Davis

My sister sent me a link to this excellent article from ESPN.com, "IU's Davis Has Himself to Blame" by Jason Whitlock. It will help the lay person better understand recent events in Bloomington.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Scrambies Endorses Jonny Cat®

I don't usually endorse products, but I feel that I must voice my support for Jonny Cat® brand litterbox liners. They're sturdy and boast a thick, red drawstring that never snaps. Thanks, Jonny Cat®.

Now I must tend to the dirtiest job I do in a given week.

What's Sillier Than "Freedom Fries"?

"Roses of the Prophet Muhammad." Apparently, Iranians can no longer order a Danish. From the AP:

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranians love Danish pastries, but when they look for the flaky dessert at the bakery they now have to ask for "Roses of the Prophet Muhammad."

Bakeries across the capital were covering up their ads for Danish pastries Thursday after the confectioners' union ordered the name change in retaliation for caricatures of the Muslim prophet published in a Danish newspaper.

"Given the insults by Danish newspapers against the prophet, as of now the name of Danish pastries will give way to 'Rose of Muhammad' pastries," the union said in its order.

Back to the Tomato For Now

I had second thoughts about the new header I introduced last night, so I've gone back to the old one for the time being. What concerned me about the new Scrambies title art was that my head was so big relative to the rest of the graphic. Scrambies should not be about me (even though it is); Scrambies should be about quality news and analysis.

So let me play with the header, and I'll give you something new in the next couple weeks. I feel that keeping the look of the website fresh is a responsibility I have to you, the reader (and to you and you, the other two readers).

In the meantime, I'll try to figure out how to do "quality news and analysis."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Let Me Know What You Think of the New Header

Also, check out the new front page at Meyer Tinley.com.

And while you're helping me with my informal research, tell me if you think I should go ahead and set up "Scrambies.com" to make this thing more official.

Good night.

Indiana's Mike Davis Resigns

Following the Indiana University men's basketball team's embarrassing loss tonight at Penn State (the team's sixth loss in seven games), Mike Davis hinted that he would step down at the end of the season.

I grew up an IU basketball fan (my dad and uncle are alums), and though my loyalties now lie with Vanderbilt and the University of Evansville, Indiana remains my "number 3" college basketball team. I like Mike Davis; as an assistant, he was an excellent recruiter, bringing to Indiana players from the south—a region whose players had rarely ended up in Bloomington. And unlike his rumored replacements, Steve Alford and Randy Wittman, Davis has actually coached a team to the Final Four.

Still, Indiana has had too much talent these past two seasons to be as average as they have been. After climbing into the top ten in December, the team is now in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for a third straight year (13-9; 5-6 in the Big Ten). Indiana is too proud a program to tolerate mediocrity.

On the other hand, I grow tired of college coaches being forced out after a couple poor seasons. Coaches are too seldom judged on graduation rates or on their relationships with players. A university should be first concerned with the education and development of its students; winning championships should be a nice bonus, not a primary objective.

IRD to Cover WCC Assembly (Thank Goodness!)

Excuse my sarcasm, but I get really tired of The Institute on Religion and Democracy, a Mainline Protestant watch dog group whose activities consist entirely of complaining about what the "liberals" are doing to the church. IRD complains incessantly, and its complaints are laced with venom and sarcasm. The group justifies its vitriolic whining with generalizations and exaggerations about mainline decline. From my perspective, IRD just causes trouble without engaging in meaningful dialogue.

IRD's most recent press release regards the Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. IRD Interim President Alan Wisdom will be in Porto Alegre covering the event, and he's already anticipating what he'll be complaining about. (You can read the press release here.)

Let me know if I have judged this recent press release unfairly. I'm not entirely objective at the moment.

Daily Show Totally Rips Off My Duck Hunt Allusion

Monday, I used the classic Nintendo game Duck Hunt to poke fun at the Vice President's hunting mishap. Tuesday, Jon Stewart did the exact same thing. Watch for yourself (QuickTime video from Crooks and Liars).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tragedy/Prayer Request

From News Channel 5:

Monday, police identified the body of a woman found in a Rutherford County landfill as Monzelle McClinton. A worker found McClinton's body earlier in the day around noon.

McClinton, a mentally challenged woman, was reported missing from her Nashville home Saturday morning.

As I understand it, McClinton lived in the Edgehill Housing Projects and was on her way to work at the Rochelle Center, a nearby organization that serves mental and developmentally disabled adults, when she disappeared. I spend my Tuesday afternoons in the Edgehill neighborhood and know several of the kids who live there; but I have never had the experience of living in this sometimes dangerous and often overlooked Nashville community. I would ask prayers for Monzelle McClinton's family and for the Edgehill neighborhood.

Ashcroft Comes to Town; Defends Death Penalty

From The Tennessean:

Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft endorsed capital punishment as an effective deterrent and lifesaver during a lecture last night at Vanderbilt University.

The death penalty can be credited with deterring some criminals — if not statistically, at least anecdotally, Ashcroft said.

The death penalty also can be credited with—if not statistically, at least anecdotally—the execution of mentally ill persons and persons whose guilt is in question. Ashcroft is correct in saying that there is no statistical evidence that capital punishment deters crime, because there is none.

For more on how the death penalty fails to deter violent crime, see this fact sheet from the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing (TCASK), or listen to the recent Christian Dissent interview with TCASK Jesuit volunteer and associate director Alex Wiesendanger.

Monday, February 13, 2006

VP Shoots Friend While Quail Hunting: Where Do We Go From Here?

Now I hope that Vice President Cheney runs for president in 2008. I'm curious to see whether any of his opponents will play the "shot-a-dude-in-the-face" card.

In the meantime, the VP needs to limit his bird-hunting activities to the following:

Fortunately, Cheney's hunting buddy Harry Whittington is doing well. Of course, the forgotten victims in all of this are the quail.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Audio of Final Christian Dissent Live

Here it is. I leave you with pictures:

Saturday, February 11, 2006

New Meyer Artwork

Defense Spending: Scrambies Looks at the Numbers

I have long been frustrated by the amount of money the United States spends on national defense. Even more disturbing, I think, is the tendency to label as "weak," "unconcerned with national security," or "a damned hippie" anyone who questions how much revenue is allocated for defense. While, I understand the need for a strong military, the U.S. does spend more on its military than all of the other countries on the planet combined. Critics are right, in my opinion, to question whether the hundreds of billions of dollars our federal government spends on defense is used wisely and efficiently.

Knowing that military expenditures have increased substantially under the current administration, I thought I'd look at the ratios of defense spending to both education and health spending and how these ratios have changed over the years. I had assumed that the defense-to-education and defense-to-health ratios would have risen since Bush II took office, but I was mistaken. Both ratios have actually decreased significantly under the past three administrations. (One might say that both ratios have decreased since the end of the Cold War.) Check out this chart I made on Microsoft Excel:

Spending figures for FY 1984-2005 and projections for FY 2006 from the White House's historical tables. Trendlines are exponential functions.

Of course, I have done a very simple analysis of recent federal budgets; Slate suggests that the amount allotted to the military in the FY 2007 budget, $439.3 billion, is a misleading figure—that the actual amount budgeted for defense is as much as $580 billion. Still, my personal research keeps me from putting much energy into attacking the President's FY 2007 budget.

Does Anyone Still Love Me?

I haven't gotten any comments in, like, a week.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Christian Dissent Live: The Final Episode

This Sunday, February 12, Christian Dissent Live will broadcast its final show. We are not being cancelled, nor were we intimidated into calling it quits. Cole and I both decided that we needed to devote our time and energy to more important projects, and church folk can count on hearing from both of us soon. As for Joey, he's one of the Nashville-area's hottest young writers. Expect big things from him.

Cole has more.

Slice That Doo, Huckachoo!

Yesterday evening my wife, Ashlee, dreamt that she gave birth to our second child, Kathryn "Kate" Resha Tinley (currently a fetus), by Caesarean section. In the dream I was present in the operating room cheering on the doctors with the chant, "Slice that doo, huckachoo!"

I don't know what Ashlee's dream means; nor do I know what is meant by "doo" or "huckachoo." I do know that, were a C-section being performed, I would not be in the room.

Evangelicals Split on Global Warming

As you may know, I receive press releases from the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), the latest of which praises the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) for its decision "NOT to endorse campaigns or legislation regarding global warming." Despite the NAE's decision, the New York Times reports that 86 evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren and the presidents of several evangelical colleges, signed a statement backing a "major initiative to fight global warming." (Hat tip: Thunder Jones.)

Personally, I am convinced that global warming is a reality, though I still have questions about the extent to which human technology has caused climate change and whether humankind can slow or reverse the rate at which the temperature is rising. As you probably know, I am not a scientist and am not qualified to speak on these matters. I will say, however, that I am pleased that so many influential Christian evangelicals are taking global warming seriously.

As an aside, I found interesting the following statement on the subject from interim IRD President Alan Wisdom:

Churches should be reluctant to attach the name of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to contemporary political agendas that lack a clear scriptural mandate and consensus among the faithful.

I don't want to start anything, but if you're familiar with IRD, you know that they are in the business of attaching Christ's name to contemporary political agendas. In fairness to IRD, I confess that I sometimes do the same.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Depressing, Guilt-Ridden Lives of Parents

My sister (who, as it were, has no children who aren't cats) alerted me to this story, originally from Live Science.com:

Any parent will tell you kids can be depressing at times. A new study shows that raising them is a lifelong challenge to your mental health.

Not only do parents have significantly higher levels of depression than adults who do not have children, the problem gets worse when the kids move out. . . .

The depressing results seem to be across the board in a study of 13,000 people. No type of parent reported less depression than non-parents, Simon said.

So if you're a parent and you're depressed, your depression probably has something to do with your kids. Naturally, you will ask yourself whether your experience as a parent has been worth the strain on your mental health and accuse yourself of not truly loving your children. As a result, you will feel guilty about these feelings, and your guilt will exacerbate your depression.

Have fun.


More from Diana Butler Bass in The Practicing Congregation (Alban Institute, 2004)

As Protestant theology "froze" around the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, the Protestant vision of congregations also "froze" around the social congregation of the same period. The years 1870 to 1950 proved so successful for the Protestant mainline that both the theology and the congregation patterns of that time were enshrined as the tradition of "the Protestant establishment." Because of their very success, the traditions of established Protestantism lost the flexibility and creativity of earlier generations. Did such inflexibility lead to the decline of the 1960s? And, as a result, could the second half of the twentieth century, with that decline and its conflicts, be understood as a thawing-out of the old patterns—and the development of a new culture of being church?

So if you are part of a mainline congregation that is out of touch and fails to appeal to younger generations, you have an excuse (and a motivation to be creative and flexible).


Scientists Stumble Upon Rare Patch of Pristine Wilderness

From the jungles of Indonesian New Guinea:

OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- Scientists said on Tuesday that they had found a "Lost World" in an Indonesian mountain jungle, home to dozens of exotic new species of birds, butterflies, frogs and plants.

"It's as close to the Garden of Eden as you're going to find on Earth," said Bruce Beehler, co-leader of the U.S., Indonesian, and Australian expedition to part of the cloud-shrouded Foja mountains in the west of New Guinea.

I'm surprised to learn that there are such places, especially in a country as populous as Indonesia. Beehler adds, "I suspect there are some areas like this in Africa, and am sure that there are similar places in South America." I can only pray that humankind can muster the restraint to leave these realms of virgin wilderness alone.

Photo: Berlepsch's six-wired bird of paradise

In related "lost world" news, illustrator Lynette Cook has made a career out of painting extra-solar planets, which earthlings know to exist but will likely never see.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I Got Nothing

Discipline tells me that I need to leave my few faithful readers with something substantial before Tuesday becomes Wednesday, but nothing gets my gooch right now. I will recommend this Newsweek article about The Colbert Report, but I don't know that my recommendation warrants its own post.

Actually, now that I'm thinking about The Colbert Report, I will say that I now prefer the new cable news spoof to its mother program, The Daily Show.

Monday, February 06, 2006

When Lying Becomes a Profession

An article I was editing today at work introduced me to Alibi Network, a company that helps clients create elaborate schemes to deceive family members and employers. The company's specialty is concealing extramarital affairs, but Alibi Network is also equipped to help clients ditch work or fabricate résumés.

Maybe I'm getting old, but I'm offended that such a company exists. I would feel better if Alibi were simply helping people stick it to the Man; but this organization helps people lie to and cheat on their spouses. Here is an example of what Alibi Network does:

Ann is our client and she has an extramarital affair. It is a short-term discreet encounter and Ann does not want to break her marriage and disappoint her children over it. Obviously, Ann needs an alibi to justify her absence over weekends. Therefore, she contacts Alibi Network each time she wishes to spend time with her partner. Ann accesses our website and chooses an alibi that would best suit her situation (e.g. seminars, conferences, trade shows, etc.). After we receive all the information (e.g. date of the alibi, type, delivery method) we analyze several possible alibis.

This is the type of thing that Christian family groups need to get worked up about.

Meyer's Best Report Card Ever

My Politically Correct Response to the Muhammad Cartoon Riots

In case you haven't been paying attention: "Tens of thousands of Muslims around the world have staged new rounds of protests—some resulting in deaths—over published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed" (From CNN.com.)

As a "progressive" American, I feel obliged to point out that not all Muslims are participating in violent, even fatal, protests over the now infamous Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. I might go as far as to say that "true Muslims" do not condone such dangerous and deadly behavior.

Let me add this: True Muslims understand that their faith is strong enough to withstand a few cartoons in a Danish newspaper. And no religion (or philosophical worldview) can rationally justify detroying a nation's embassy buildings simply because a newspaper editor in that country had bad taste.

Cole has more at Christian Dissent.com.

Audio of Yesterday's Christian Dissent Live

Here it is. I joined Cole via telephone for the first hour. Cole was alone for the second. We discussed current events, hate crimes and the evangelism and faith development of young people (particularly concerning the Truth for Youth Bible).

Why Shouldn't Gonzales Be Sworn In?

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary today were united in their insistance that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales not be made to testify under oath about the administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program.

My question: What's the point of having a hearing if the key witness is not under oath?

Response to Message in Bottle: "Don't Litter"

From the AP:

NAPEAGUE, New York (AP) -- A boat captain who sent a message out to sea in a bottle says he received a reply from Britain -- accusing him of littering.

The plastic bottle was one of five that Bennett placed in the ocean off New York's Long Island in August.

Last month, he excitedly opened a letter from England, and was stunned by the reply:

"I recently found your bottle while taking a scenic walk on the beach by Poole Harbour. While you may consider this some profound experiment on the path and speed" of "oceanic currents, I have another name for it, litter."

A clever, though unnecessarily harsh, response. Austin Powers enthusiasts will be happy to know that the British respondent's surname is "Biggelsworth."

Did I Miss Something?

Is it me, or were the commercials during last night's Super Bowl uncharacteristically ordinary?

Friday, February 03, 2006

What Makes a Hate Crime a Hate Crime?

A man walks into a bar and asks the bartender whether the bar is a gay bar. The man then walks to the back of the room and watches a game of pool before attacking three patrons with a hatchet and a pistol.

Some details are still unclear, but based on the CNN story, it seems that the man, 18-year-old Jacob D. Robida of Massachusetts (pictured, AP photo), severely (and possibly mortally) wounded three people solely because the victims were gay.

Of course, all violent crimes are horrible, but those who commit a crime toward someone based only on his or her race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion are more dangerous to society than those who commit a violent crime with a clear motive. While no motive justifies assaulting or murdering someone, motives are specific and limit the attacker's potential targets. With a hate crime, by contrast, anyone who is black or gay or an immigrant or a Roman Catholic is at risk, regardless of whether he or she has had any prior dealings with the perpetrator.

Hate crimes, in other words, are a form of terrorism. They intimidate large segments of the population and cause several people of a given race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or faith much fear and anxiety—people who have become potential victims because of something fundamental to their identity.

In short, all violent crime is bad and should be punished harshly. But, I think, hate crimes are indicative of a larger danger to society and warrant especially severe repercussions.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Teen Angst at Its Best

Middle Tennessee's story of the day. From News Channel 5:

A 16 year-old from Rutherford County is charged with stealing an airplane. Police said the boy first stole a feed truck in his hometown of Eagleville.

Police said the teenager stole the truck then drove to the Shelbyville airport, stole a small plane and took to the skies.

He flew to Eagleville but wouldn't land when he saw patrol cars waiting on him. Instead he landed in Shelbyville then took off again. He eventually landed for good in Murfreesboro, where police arrested him.

The teen in question was apparently motivated by a fight with another boy about the girl whose home was buzzed. But the young pilot-thief didn't stop with his girlfriend's house; he randomly buzzed some other homes and faked a nose dive into a police car.

WGNS in Murfreesboro adds:

A Rockvale teen is charged with taking a Cherokee Piper from the Shelbyville Airport, buzzing his girlfriend's home in Eagleville and swooping over Deputy Scott Daniel's patrol car. He attempted to take the plane back to Shelbyville, but took-off again when he spotted police.

My seventeen-year-old self really admires this kid.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

10th Planet, UB313, Bigger Than Pluto

From CNN.com:

German astrophysicists have concluded a space body located in the outer reaches of the solar system is 435 miles (700 kilometers) larger than Pluto, the smallest planet.

Their research puts more pressure on the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to classify the object as the 10th planet in our solar system.

Related: How Many Planets Are Really in Our Solar System? More on UB313, the Kuiper belt, and what makes a planet a planet.

More on Human-Animal Hybrids

Apparently, chimeras, or human-animal hybrids, are more common than I realized. This article from Infowars.com has some good information on part-human mice.

Frankly, the idea of a human-animal hybrid doesn't bother me. On the contrary, I think the idea is totally boss.