Saturday, September 30, 2006

Titans to Start Young; I'm a Little Surprised

Titan's rookie QB Vince Young (pictured) will make his first start tomorrow against the Cowboys.

I suggested such a move after the Chargers game two weeks ago. Kerry Collins, like the rest of the team, played very poorly in San Diego and was outshined by Young, who took only a handful of snaps. After that performance, starting Collins made no sense to me; in fact, not starting Young seemed foolish. But alas, the coaches didn't take my advice. Collins started the following week against Miami, played the entire game, and played pretty well.

So I'm surprised that Young is getting the call to start now. I'm glad the Titans are giving the ball to Young; but after being so insistent that Collins was their starter, why is the staff benching Collins after a solid performance?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Finally, Comfortable Weather

I could see my breath this morning. It was wonderful.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Josh's Stats for Thursday

Unless the contestants are pokey, there are 61 "answers" on an episode of Jeopardy. When I watch, I like to keep track of how many I get right. Now that we have a hoop at work, I've been shooting several free throws each day. Today I decided to shoot 61 free throws so that I would be able to compare my free-throw accuracy with my Jeopardy score. Here's how I did:

Jeopardy: 37/61; 61%

Free Throws: 42/61; 69%

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

T.O.: Suicide Attempt?

ESPN: Police report: Owens hospitalized after suicide attempt

The Smoking Gun: Terrell Owens Suicide Attempt

Feedback for Tennessee Senatorial Candidates

To Harold Ford, Jr. and the Democrats:

  • Did Bob Corker, as mayor, really have any control over how many 911 calls were answered in Chattanooga? Come on.

  • A church is not a proper setting for a negative campaign spot.

  • Stop pretending that there are magic answers to all of our country's problems. I'm all for alternative fuels, but corn will not solve our energy problems. And while I support the work of the 9/11 commission, simply saying we should adopt all of their recommendations is too easy, without first examining each recommendation, determining what we would have to do to implement it, and looking at the long-term impact of doing so.

To Bob Corker and the Republicans:

  • The legal voting age is 18. Stop talking to us like we're 5.

  • Saying that Harold Ford, Jr. is the most liberal Tennessee congressman is meaningless. Think of a more substantial criticism of your opponent.

  • Not included among the seven major issues on your website are energy, education, and healthcare (though the latter is addressed briefly in the section on jobs). That's a problem.

To everyone involved in any race this fall:

  • Stop using the term "illegal immigrants." Say "undocumented immigrants" or "persons who have entered the country illegally." We should never suggest that a human being is inherently illegal.

Meyer Discovers the Past Tense

Language development in young children is fascinating. I recently became aware of Meyer's grasp of the past tense when I noticed that he says "falled" instead of "fell" and "comed" instead of "came." Obviously, he's not just repeating what he's heard us say; he's applying the "add ed" rule to all verbs, regardless of whether they have a regular past-tense form. The exceptions are "was/were," "had," and "did," which are so ubiquitous that Meyer learned them as distinct, individual words, instead of as past-tense forms of other words.

Read what Meyer has to say on the subject.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Can You Learn About Art Without Seeing Naked Statues?

Apparently, some Texas parents think so:

FRISCO, Texas -- An award-winning Texas art teacher who was reprimanded after one of her fifth-grade students saw a nude sculpture during a trip to a museum has lost her job.

The school board in Frisco has voted not to renew Sydney McGee's contract after 28 years. She has been on administrative leave.
The teacher took her students on an approved field trip to a Dallas museum, and now some parents are upset.

The Fisher Elementary School art teacher came under fire last April when she took 89 fifth-graders on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Parents raised concerns over the field trip after their children reported seeing a nude sculpture at the art museum.

Hat tip: Cole Wakefield

Do these offend you?

This is silly. If you sign a permission slip allowing your fifth grader to visit a major metropolitan art museum, you have to expect that he or she will see an artistic rendering of someone naked. Contact the Frisco Independent School District and tell them to reinstate andor formally apologize to Sydney McGee.

I Actually Got Chills

Thanks to ESPN, the NFL, and the city of New Orleans for an excellent Monday Night Football experience last night. Green Day and U2's pregame performance was excellent, aside from the cheesy transitions from song to song. U2, of course, is required by international law to perform at any major sporting event connected to a crisis of historical proportions. Green Day, on the other hand, seemed like an odd choice. I'm surprised that organizers chose such a polarizing band. And though Green Day is more than a decade removed from being a snotty punk band on Lookout Records, and though they no longer have qualms about selling out, I was nonetheless surprised that they consented to play a pregame gig at the Superdome. At any rate, Green Day was there, with U2 and a New Orleans horn ensemble, and the resulting supergroup was excellent, particularly their cover of "The Saints Are Coming" by Scottish punkers The Skids. (Apparently, the two groups recently laid down this track at Abbey Road and will be selling it to raise money to replace instruments lost in Katrina.)

As for the game, I thought it would be close, but that the Falcons would ultimately prevail. I knew I was wrong after the first series, when the Saints blocked a punt and ran it in for a touchdown. While the Saints' blowout win can be partially credited to the emotion of playing their first regular season game in the Superdome since December 2004, I think they proved themselves to be a better team than most people realized. Reggie Bush brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the offense that can't be quantified, and Drew Brees is making case for inclusion among the league's upper echelon of quarterbacks.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Biological Siblings, Nudity

Left to right: Reggie and Naomi; Kate and Meyer:

Learning From Pharisees

In the waning years of the first century, the Pharisaic tradition began its metamorphosis into the Rabbinic tradition. Nineteen centuries later, much of our knowledge about the Pharisees comes from the Gospels, and this once influential Jewish sect has become a symbol for self-righteousness and hypocrisy. To call someone a “Pharisee” is to label that person too pious for his or her own good—to suggest that one is consumed with the speck in another’s eye, while ignoring the plank in one’s own eye.

Read the rest at Save Yourselves From This Corrupt Generation.

Congress: Faith Without Works Is Dead

This November, when you vote for your U.S. Senators and Representatives, don't just focus on candidates' political philosophies. Focus as well on whether a candidate will actually get any work done. The current Congress isn't getting much done. From the New York Times:

At best, it appears that just 2 of the 11 required spending bills will pass, and not one has been approved so far, forcing a stopgap measure to keep the federal government open. No budget was enacted. A popular package of business and education tax credits is teetering. A lobbying overhaul, once a top priority in view of corruption scandals, is dead. The drive for broad immigration changes has derailed.

An offshore oil drilling bill painted as an answer to high gas prices is stalled. Plans to cut the estate tax and raise the minimum wage have floundered, and an important nuclear pact with India sought by the White House is not on track to clear Congress. New problems surfaced over the weekend for the annual military authorization bill. And numerous other initiatives await a planned lame-duck session in mid-November or a future Congress.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bad News From Darfur

From Reuters:

GENEVA (Reuters) - United Nations human rights monitors on Friday accused Sudan's army of dropping bombs on villages in North Darfur, killing and injuring civilians, and driving hundreds of people from their homes.

"All indications are this kind of attack is continuing."

Monitors also reported continuing rapes and sexual violence against women by military or militia known as Janjaweed around camps for the displaced in South Darfur, Diaz said.

Write the President and remind him of the urgency of this situation.

Related: We Need to Do Something About Darfur Now! (September 15, 2006)

Best of Seven: Week 2

This week, I talk about the end of the Atlanta Braves' division-title streak and its historical significance, the Oregon-Oklahoma debacle, Vanderbilt, the Titans, and Michelle Wie. The show is about one-hour in length and, in terms of production quality, is much better than last week's show. I still haven't gotten around to setting up a proper Best of Seven podcast or designing a logo. Still, you can download the first episode to your iPod or MP3 player, or burn it to a CD. Let me know what you think and where improvements can be made.


best_of_7_0602.mp3 (MP3)

best_of_7_0602.m4a (iTunes)


I am wasting measurable amounts of time each day on MySpace. An intervention may be in order.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Kansas Educator Borrows Teaching Method From Junkies

From Salina, Kansas (where one stops for gas and a quick lunch along I-70 on the way from Kansas City to Denver):

SALINA, Kansas (AP) -- A high school science teacher was suspended for allowing students to use the same instrument to draw blood from their fingers as part of a class project, district officials said Tuesday.

About 50 juniors and seniors in two science classes at Salina High School South used the same lancet, or small pin, to prick their fingers on Monday, said Carol Pitts, spokeswoman for the Salina school district.

Parents, say to your children, "If a crazy science teacher asks you and your classmates to pass around a needle and prick your fingers, grab the needle, say, 'No way, crazy science teacher,' and walk briskly to the principal's office." (Running with a bloody needle isn't wise.)

I Have a Flight Coming Up; May I Please Carry a Bottle of Water or Cup of Coffee Onto the Plane?

From an interesting article from The Register (UK) about the supposed liquid explosive threat:

Certainly, if we can imagine a group of jihadists smuggling the necessary chemicals and equipment on board, and cooking up TATP in the lavatory, then we've passed from the realm of action blockbusters to that of situation comedy. . . .

We've given extraordinary credit to a collection of jihadist wannabes with an exceptionally poor grasp of the mechanics of attacking a plane, whose only hope of success would have been a pure accident. They would have had to succeed in spite of their own ignorance and incompetence, and in spite of being under police surveillance for a year.

Read the entire article.

Hat tip: Wonkette

Monday, September 18, 2006

Holton Receives Stay of Execution

Fortunately, a federal court isn't sure whether the state of Tennessee should kill a severely mentally ill individual. From A-Wheezy at TCASK:

Daryl Holton has received a stay of execution from the Sixth Circuit Court. The panel agreed that a reasonable showing of Holton's mental incompetence had been made and therefore called for a full hearing to determine Holton's mental competency!

For today, all the Nashville vigil and protest plans are therefore called off. However, the fact that a man with such clear mental illness came within twelve hours of execution is a clear indictment of our capital punishment system. As a state, we should be offering treatment to people with mental illness, not executing them. Cases like this explain why the American Psychological Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the National Association of Social Workers, have called for a moratorium on executions. Our system is simply incapable of properly understanding or dealing with defendants with serious mental illnesses.

Five Things the Titans Need to Do

If you pay any attention to the NFL, I don't need to tell you how bad my Tennessee Titans are. Complaining at this point is too easy. Instead, fans need to focus on what the team can do right now to lessen the pain. Here are some suggestions:

  • Start Vince Young and LenDale White next Sunday: Personnel decisions won't have much of an effect on the Titans' fortunes this season. I mean, what's the difference between one win and two? Does it matter who throws the ball at a defensive lineman's chest or who gets tackled two yards behind the line of scrimmage? The Flaming Thumbtacks have no reason not to get these young players some valuable first-string experience, especially considering that Young and White appear to be the best players at their respective positions.

  • Let go of Jeff Fisher: I love Jeff Fisher and think he's an excellent coach, but the Titans need a sea change right now; not only has the team become a mainstay in the NFL's lower echelon, but they are also showing little promise for the future. Sure, the Titans have some promising young players, but these players are being formed by a culture of losing, resignation, and futility. A new face on the sidelines might be a necessary first step toward transformation.

  • Trade Keith Bullock and Craig Hentrich: These guys are veterans who've had great careers. They don't deserve this kind of suffering.

  • Give every season-ticket holder a plane ticket to Baltimore and two seats at a Ravens game: That way, Titans faithful can watch all of the good players their team has gotten rid of.

  • Petition the NFL to release the team from the league for a year or two: This season's Titans, Raiders, Texans, and possibly Packers have no business being in the NFL. Sure, every sports league has bottom-feeders, but having three, maybe four, teams that are substantially inferior to their peers and have little hope of winning more than two games gives the NFL a great opportunity: Put these teams in a special, developmental league until they can rebuild and again be competitive.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Meyer: Another Identity Theft Commercial on YouTube

Meyer's back with another Citi Bank identity theft commercial:

We Need to Do Something About Darfur Now!

From The Independent (UK):

Rasha Ibrahim Adam and her children may be about to die - just as she thought they had all escaped to safety. . . .

She was one of the 50,000 people who swelled the scorched camps for the "internally displaced" in the past month - bringing to about 2.5 million the number of children, women and men now homeless in a conflict that has dragged on for three years without an end seemingly in sight. Until now, that is. Because an end is in sight for the Darfur camps - where at least 300,000 black African farmers have been slaughtered by the Khartoum government and its Arab proxies, the Janjaweed militia, whose name means "devils on horseback". . . .

The 7,000 troops of the African Union, who have been desperately trying to protect the camps, have been told by Khartoum they must leave Darfur at the end of this month when their mandate runs out. Sudan has defied a UN resolution that mandated an improved 20,000-strong blue-hatted UN force to take over.

Instead, it is sending 10,000 of its own troops to the region for what human rights observers fear will be a brutal "final solution".

In a situation already described by the UN as the "world's worst humanitarian disaster" the genocide so long denied by the Arab government in Khartoum may be about to happen.

Why aren't American media outlets covering this story? It pops up every few weeks, but there's no sustained coverage. Say what you want about George Clooney, but were it not for him, Americans might be ignoring this genocide entirely. And given the magnitude of the problem in the Sudan, you'd think we'd put at least as much diplomatic muscle behind this crisis as we did the conflict in southern Lebanon and northern Israel. (Don't get me wrong, the Middle East deserves our attention, but its problems are minor compared to those in Darfur.)

More from Africa Action.

Contact our President and urge him to take action now.

Best of Seven: My New Sports Talk Show

I've decided to do a weekly sports talk show, and I've decided to call it Best of Seven. The first episode (actually recorded Monday evening) is finished, though it isn't terribly good. But I'll get better, and I think this first episode does offer some good insight. I plan on setting up a Best of Seven podcast in the next week or so; in the meantime, you can download the first episode to your iPod or MP3 player, or—because this week's show is 43 minutes in length—burn it to a CD. Regarding the length, I will work toward extending the show to an even hour or shortening it to 30 minutes. (So let me know if either I bore you or you can't get enough.)


best_of_7_0601.mp3 (MP3)

best_of_7_0601.m4a (iTunes)

Wesley Blog Is Back

After a three-month hiatus, Shane Raynor has resumed posting at Wesley Blog, the popular web portal for United Methodist (and other Wesleyan) bloggers and Internet geeks. Welcome back, Shane.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

2003 UB313 Gets a Proper Name

According to Wikipedia, the larger-than-Pluto dwarf planet formerly known as 2003 UB313, or "Xena," has been officially named "Eris." Its moon, formerly nicknamed "Gabrielle," has been named Dysnomia.

Titans News: Volek to Chargers After Sunday's Game

ESPN's Chris Mortensen just reported on Mike & Mike in the Morning that the Titans will trade back-up (and now third-string) quarterback Billy Volek to the San Diego Chargers—a move that has percolated in the rumor mills for weeks—following Sunday afternoon's Titans-Chargers game.

Two years ago, as the Titans were making the transition from the pride of Tennessee to its shame, I thought Volek showed a lot of promise. He put up some big numbers, made some SportsCenter-caliber plays, and seemed to have good chemistry with the team's young receivers. I'm not sure what's happened since then, but I know I speak for several other Titans fans when I say that I know longer get excited about Billy Volek. I think he'll make a solid back-up for the Chargers, but I don't think he fits the Titans' plans for this year or the future.

My question: What are we getting in return? Is Volek worth, say, a third-round draft pick?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jesus: A Sense of Humor?

A nasty message that I recently received related to an article I wrote for a church-affiliated website has prompted me to put together this simple poll:

View MicroPoll
Web Survey

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Lot Has Changed in Five Years

I got married, made the cover of the Nashville Scene, finished a master's degree, got a fourth cat, got a real job, bought a house, had a baby, made peace with God and joined a church, started blogging, had another baby. On September 11, 2001, I was a much different person than I am today.

Honestly, my memories of that morning are a little fuzzy. I was a full-time divinity school student, but didn't have classes on Tuesday. I was working on a paper when Ashlee called me and told me to turn on the television. I called my good friend Mike, who had just moved to Nashville, woke him up, and told him to turn on the television. I took a walk. I tried to convince my boss at the Sylvan Learning Center to cancel classes; she couldn't. That afternoon, I went to work. One hour, I worked with two teenage girls and a second grade girl. The teenagers' naturally alarmist response to that morning's tragedy freaked out the second grader, who didn't seem to grasp what was going on. I don't recall any of the other hours.

I remember being freaked out for the next several weeks. I felt a combination of fear, compassion, and solidarity with those people in our world for whom terror is a part of their daily lives. I didn't want life in the United States to return to normal; because normal seemed naive.

Still, months later life had returned to normal. The nation was at war, but many Americans were not directly affected by the war effort. We weren't asked to sacrifice, and we became casual observers. Soon the War on Terror was overshadowed by the War in Iraq; soon our fears, our pride, and our unity was superceded by fruitless political bickering.

My life has change drastically since 9/11, but I'm not sure 9/11 has been responsible for any of those changes. September 11, 2001 stands out on the timeline of my life; it's one of those moments that divides the time continuum in half—into "before" and "after." Still, if I'm honest with myself, I must say that I don't think about 9/11 much anymore, and I can't say that I woke up this morning with a sense that today was different or special. 9/11 happened in another time, another world–a world that bears little resemblance to the one I now live in.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Meyer Has Dinner With His Meerkat

This evening, Meyer prepared a nice meal for his meerkat. Read about it at Meyer's blog.

Meyer's Favorite Commercial

Meyer enjoys those Citi identity theft commercials so much that he's started imitating them:

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Me With My Daughters

With Kate (top) and with Naomi (bottom). Pictures courtesy of the Photo Booth software on my MacBook. (The top picture is a little scary, but Kate likes the punk rock.)

Friday, September 08, 2006

OK, I'm on MySpace, but I'm Not Proud of It

OK, I've reluctantly set up a MySpace page, and I need friends. (Right now, the MySpace guy is the only one I've got.)

Fred Phelps on Stewart and Colbert

Preacher, lunatic, disbarred lawyer, and mean-old-man Fred Phelps gives a nice hellfire sermon about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Click here to watch it on Comedy Central's website.

NASA Scientists: We Are Not Alone

Over the past decade or so, scientists have discovered several extrasolar planets. And while these discoveries are fun, most of these far-off worlds are "gas giants" (like Jupiter and Saturn) located very close to the stars they orbit. So anything that tried to live on one of these worlds would both get vaporized by the nearby star and sink to the planet's core. That's no way to live.

After a while, these extrasolar planetary discoveries stopped being sexy. We have plenty of planets in our own neighborhood (eight real ones and three dwarfs)—we don't want more planets; we want aliens! Thankfully, a team of NASA scientists feels our pain:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Earthlike planets covered with deep oceans that could harbor life may be found in as many as a third of solar systems discovered outside of our own, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

These solar systems feature gas giants known as "Hot Jupiters," which orbit extremely close to their parent stars -- even closer than Mercury to our sun, University of Colorado researcher Sean Raymond said.

The close-orbiting gassy planets may help encourage the formations of smaller, rocky, Earthlike planets, they reported in the journal Science.

"We now think there is a new class of ocean-covered, and possibly habitable, planets in solar systems unlike our own," Raymond said in a statement.

The team from Colorado, Penn State University and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Maryland ran computer simulations of various types of solar systems forming.

The gas giants may help rocky planets form close to the suns, and may help pull in icy bodies that deliver water to the young planets, they found.

Mars can't even say it has water. (Not now, at least.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

NFL Picks

I rarely ever pick teams to win before the season starts, but I feel like doing so for the NFL this year. Since the season starts tonight and I don't have much time, I won't be able to explain my picks right now. Anyway . . .


AFC East: Miami Dolphins

AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals

AFC South: Indianapolis Colts

AFC West: Denver Broncos

AFC Wildcards: San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars

First two left out: Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots

AFC Champ: Denver Broncos

AFC Runner-Up: Cincinnati Bengals


NFC East: Dallas Cowboys

NFC North: Chicago Bears

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons

NFC West: Seattle Seahawks

NFC Wildcards: New York Giants, Carolina Panthers

First two left out: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals

NFC Champ: New York Giants

NFC Runner-Up: Atlanta Falcons

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fun With Garage Band

I'm learning how to use Garage Band on my new MacBook. The first track I've laid down is a voice-only demo of my song "Soul on Fire." It's pretty crude, but it does contain multiple tracks recorded at different levels.

Click here to download the demo.

Click here to download the real recording of the song (recorded by Zach Collier in 2001.

Baby Kate and Meyer on YouTube

These movies look a lot better on my computer than they do on YouTube, but I suppose that's how it goes, especially given my limited knowledge of how to edit and compress videos for the web.

Anyway, here's Baby Kate:

And here's Meyer doing an interview with Mommy during his final days as an only child:


Why does Microsoft Word's grammar check get so fussy about reflexive pronouns?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Why Many High Schools Require American History

The "Franklin Roosevelt" doll that was available at Target until early today:

Since Wonkette published this picture, Target has removed the doll from it's online store.

One Late Hit Deserves Another Vigilante Officiating Is That Your Dad, or Is It a Wild Boar?

As much as I think parents should be present at their kids' sporting events, this story is another reason why banning parents from youth athletic contests may be necessary for reasons of safety and sanity.

STOCKTON, California (AP) -- An assistant youth football coach was arrested on charges of felony child abuse after rushing the field and knocking an opposing player to the ground, police said.

Cory Petero, 36, of Riverbank, turned himself in to Stockton police Saturday night following a late hit that turned into a brawl, with parents and children from both teams fighting on the field.

Referee Tim Winek said he had just called a penalty on Brian Wood, 13, a Stockton Bears player.

What a goober. According to the video provided by CNN, Petero, who moonlights as a racecar driver, jumped the fence and made a getaway before later turning himself in.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Four Generations

From left to right: Grandma Gross, Baby Kate, Mom, Meyer, Me, Grandpa Gross

From My Other Sites

Naomi: My Favorite Kitty, from Meyer

God and Mammon: Armor of God PJs, from Save Yourselves From This Corrupt Generation.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Family Picture

Taken by the new MacBook:

Josh of the Twenty-First Century

I'm coming to you right now from an Atlanta Bread Company outside of Indianapolis, IN. My wonderful parents got me a MacBook for my birthday, and Warren Cheswick is absolutely right. These things are easy to use right out of the box. I haven't installed anything yet, and here I am.