Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Links

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Awkward Punctuation: When a Single Quotation Mark Directly Precedes Double Quotation Marks

I find quotes within quotes cumbersome. (Quotes within quotes within quotes, in my view, are unacceptable. I would advocate rewriting and reworking text to avoid third-generation quotations whenever possible.) What most irritates me when quoting someone who is quoting someone else is having to close both the primary and secondary quotes at the same time at the end of a sentence. For example: Kermit said, "Scooter told me that Gonzo said, 'I've lost my chickens.' "

Style manuals disagree on how to treat a single quotation mark directly followed by a double quotation mark. Some prefer a space (' "); others do not ('"). In my opinion placing a space between the single and double quotation marks always looks awkward. Moreover, Microsoft® Word® has fits with this construction. Many fonts differentiate between initial and closing quotation marks. When quotation marks are preceded by a space, Word assumes that they are beginning a quote and automatically makes them initial (or right-side-up) quotation marks. (See the illustration above and to the right.) When writing for the web, one cannot always control when one line ends and the next begins; thus the space sometimes pushes the double quotation mark, by itself, to the next line.

" This, for example, just looks bad.

Omitting the space, on the other hand, fuses the marks together creating what appears to be a triple quotation mark.

My solution: When a single quotation mark directly precedes a double quotation mark, omit the single. (That is: Kermit said, "Scooter told me that Gonzo said, 'I've lost my chickens.") It seems incomplete, but such a rule is not unprecedented. Take for example this sentence: Fozzie asked, "Why are you throwing tomatoes at me?" While the quotation is interrogative and requires a question mark, the sentence itself is declarative (it tells you what Fozzie asked); by rule, declarative sentences end in periods. Logic would suggest the following: Fozzie asked, "Why are you throwing tomatoes at me?". It looks ugly but makes sense. In the interest of simplicity and aesthetics, we eliminate the period. Why not do the same with the single quotation mark?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday Religious Reading

Friday, November 24, 2006

Meyer Lays Down Tracks

Download "If You're Happy and You Know It" by Meyer Tinley (piano, vocals).

Frankly, it isn't one of his better songs, but he played through "The Alphabet Song," "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and "You Are My Sunshine" while I was setting up the computer and refused to play them again when I was ready to record.

A Heathen No More!

Baby Kate gets baptized

Other pictures from this past weekend, courtesy of grandma:

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Dark Underworld of High School Sports

Author Robert Lipsyte has written an excellent column on the pressures, dangers, and politics of big-time high school athletics. I highly recommend giving it a read. Here's a taste:

In late spring, before the end of classes and the start of the "voluntary" captains' weight-lifting sessions, one of the assistant football coaches will take a junior aside and casually say, "You know, if you could put on 30 pounds this summer, you could get a I-A ride."

The kid is no dummy; he knows what that means. The andro and creatine aren't enough anymore. He's seen older kids put on muscle over a summer and start hitting like trucks. They'd spring pimples on their backs and some nasty moods, but those who stuck with the lifting program along with the juice often got their scholarships. On the other hand, he knew that 30 pounds worth of anabolic steroids could cost $5,000.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Understand Security Concerns, But Treatment of Imams Inexcusable

Nothing exacerbates a person's suppressed xenophobic anxiety like stepping on an airplane. While terrorists hail from all races, nations, and faiths, those who take their terror to the skies tend to be Muslims from the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Fear of sharing a flight with people who pray to Allah in Arabic is responsible for the recent incident involving six imams being removed from a US Airways flight in Minneapolis.

I don't want to get into the matter of racial (or ethnic or religious) profiling, because that subject has been discussed ad nauseum on blogs that are much more widely read than this one. But I will say this: I can't imagine how I'd feel if my fellow airline passengers saw me praying and immediately assumed that I was planning to kill them. Sure, I'm oversimplifying the situation, but just a little bit.

Even if one can justify removing these Muslim clerics from the plane, I don't think anyone can justify US Airways' decision not to sell the men replacement tickets. The six men had gone through standard airport security and had been subject to bomb-sniffing dogs and interrogation by U.S. Marshals. After all that, there should have been no question that the imams were not a security threat. US Airways should have apologized and gone out of their way to get the men home to Phoenix. If their flights from Minneapolis to Phoenix have first-class seating, US Airways should have given the men first-class tickets.

Building a Better Josh

I'm willing to concede that my God-specific blog, Save Yourselves From This Corrupt Generation, was a failed experiment. But since the domain ( is paid for through early 2008, I'm using that space build a newer, better version of this site. Drop by to see what I'm up to and to offer suggestions. There's still a lot of work to be done, but you can get a feel for where it's going.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Spinal Tap Frontman Smokes Education Secretary on Jeopardy!


WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says she studied hard to prepare for Tuesday night's airing of "Celebrity Jeopardy!"

In the end, Spellings said she thinks the effort was worth it. She came in second behind the actor Michael McKean, best known for his role as 'Lenny' on the television show "Laverne and Shirley" and for the movie "This Is Spinal Tap."

The article doesn't mention that McKean nearly tripled Spellings' score.

Heavy duty rock 'n' roll brings out the duty in my soul.
—Spinal Tap

Rasmussen: Voters Don't Care for Mormons, Really Don't Like Muslims and Atheists

Rasmussen is busy polling for 2008 and has done some research on whether people would actually vote for outogoing Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who happens to be a Latter-Day Saint:

Forty-three percent (43%) of American voters say they would never even consider voting for a Mormon Presidential candidate. Only 38% say they would consider casting such a vote while 19% are not sure. Half (53%) of all Evangelical Christians say that they would not consider voting for a Mormon candidate. . . . Currently, just 19% of Likely Voters are able to identify Romney as the Mormon candidate from a list of six potential Presidential candidates.

What? You can't tell just by looking? Rasmussen didn't ask whether voters' opinions would be different if the Mormon candidate in question were Jon Heder or one of the Osmonds.

The poll also shows that Americans are much more tolerant of Mormons than of Muslims and non-believers:

Sixty-one percent (61%) of Likely Voters say they would never consider voting for a Muslim Presidential candidate. Sixty percent (60%) say the same about an atheist.

It's hard for me to believe that American voters are so reluctant to elect a Mormon, Muslim, or Atheist to our highest office. Historically, diversity has been a hallmark of the American Presidency. (Remember, Kennedy wasn't Protestant and Buchanan wasn't married.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Weekend Reading

Vacation/Work Trip Pictures

Schembechler Dies on Eve of Michigan-Ohio State Showdown

Legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, who got his start as an assistant under Woody Hayes at Ohio State, died just hours ago, one day before the schools that made him a household name meet in arguably the biggest regular-season college football game ever.

This is unreal. I feel bad for Schembechler's family and friends, but have to admit that the drama and emotion surrounding tomorrow's game gives me chills.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rucker Needs to Be in the Hall of Fame's Scoop Jackson makes a compelling case for inducting Holcombe Rucker—founder of Harlem's hallowed Rucker Park, where street ball was born and where many NBA players cut their teeth—in the Basketball Hall of Fame:

It's been 41 years since Holcombe Rucker died. . . . The park that is named after him is, without question, the most "significant" park in the history of basketball. Its games and tournament have single-handedly shaped an entire culture of basketball, one that doesn't rely on an NBA paycheck to validate greatness.

Read the entire article, it's excellent.

I would add that Rucker legend Earl "The Goat" Manigault also deserves a place in the hall.

Pictured: Dr. J at Rucker Park

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nothing But Nets: Fight Malaria in Africa

Nothing But Nets is an organization that provides African villagers "incesticide-treated bed nets" that protect them from malaria mosquitoes. A little more about malaria:

[Malaria] is a self-perpetuating problem with large-scale impact on societies and economies. Malaria accounts for up to half of all hospital admissions and outpatient visits in Africa. In addition to the burden on the health system, malaria illness and death cost Africa approximately $12 billion a year in lost productivity. The effects permeate almost every sector. Malaria increases school absenteeism, decreases tourism, inhibits foreign investment, and even affects the type of crops that are grown.

Since many of the people who are most vulnerable live on less than $1 per day, a $10 mosquito net is a bit pricey. These nets alone could, according to NBN, reduce total cases of malaria by 50 percent. Nothing But Nets gives individuals and organizations several ways to purchase nets for the villagers who need them.

Here's what's really cool: NBN's five founding partners are Malaria No More, Sports Illustrated, the United Nations Foundation, The United Methodist Church, and NBA Cares. I'm so happy that two of my favorite organizations are partnering for such a good cause.

To be precise, "The People of The United Methodist Church" are listed as a Nothing But Nets partner. To be frank, most of "the people of" the UMC have never heard of this organization. I work for a denominational agency and have regular contact with national church leaders, and I hadn't heard of NBN before yesterday. So, I'll spread the word, and I'll leave the Nothing But Nets sticker on my site indefinitely.

How Can We Truly Honor the Sabbath?

The theme of the National Council of Churches' Youth Worker Summit that I am currently attending is "We Don't Lose Heart." I assumed going into the event that the theme was a thinly veiled reference to mainline decline and the "graying" of the church. I was wrong. "We Don't Lose Heart" actually refers to the need for sabbath rest.

Sabbath is a common focal point at youth ministry events. Local church ministry (youth or otherwise) is hardwork, and many church professionals feel they don't have enough time to rest, to enjoy fellowship with friends and peers, and to spiritually renew themselves. They're right. But they aren't alone.

Unfortunately, sabbath in our culture is a luxury. Not everyone gets paid vacation; not everyone can pay to leave the kids at a daycare facility or with a baby sitter; not everyone has a place to rest. Ministers, though many are paid less than others with their level of professional training, make decent money compared to much of the population, and most get a reasonably good benefits package that includes a continuing education budget and paid vacation. Most church professionals have some opportunities to get away, to rest, to obey that fourth commandment. Many other working Americans aren't as lucky.

Maybe a true commitment to observing sabbath should involve advocating for mandatory paid vacation for full-time workers. (Joe Robinson of the Work to Live campaign says, "The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world without paid vacation laws on the books.") Since many congregations run preschools and daycare facilities, the church is also in a unique position to provide affordable childcare to low-income parents for whom not having anyone to watch the kids is a barrier to rest and renewal.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ethical Dilemma

Disney charges $9.95 per day for wireless Internet access at its resorts. This access only covers the lobby and convention center areas, Internet access in one's room is another $9.95 per day.

Next door to the Youth Worker Summit I'm attending is a conference hosted by Toro Irrigation Solutions. Toro has arranged to have free wireless in its meeting halls. So when I open up my MacBook in the Youth Worker Summit reception hall, it asks me if I would like to join the "Toro" network. What should I do?

On the one hand, I'm attending an event that has not paid for wireless services and for which Internet access is not required. Since almost everything I need to do on the Internet is unrelated to the Summit, rules dictate that I should pay for wireless access just like any other guest. On the other hand, Toro's wireless network is free and practically invites me to join. Is taking advantage of location and joining the Toro network ethical?

NCC Youth Worker Summit, Opening Evening

I'm joining you this evening from a convention hall at Walt Disney World's Coronado Springs Resort, where I am participating in the National Council of Churches' Youth Worker Summit. I won't be able to blog the event as thoroughly as I'd hoped; at Disney, Internet access is very expensive one must be careful about how and when one gets online.

Ashlee, Meyer, Kate, and I arrived yesterday afternoon (it's nice to bring the entire family on a work trip) and got settled. Disney is an excellent vacation destination if a family is traveling with small children, who inevitably triple the amount of luggage one must check and carry on the airplane. (By the way, I'll try to get some video of Meyer talking about airports and airplanes. You'll enjoy it.) When you stay at Disney, families can check their bags at their home airports and not have to worry about them again until they get to their hotel room. Our carry-on luggage was still cumbersome (we had to bring a car seat on the plane), but I can't imagine how we would have gotten 130 pounds of luggage from the baggage claim to the shuttle to the hotel room without losing a kid.

Anyway, tired from a full day of travel, my mood soured during last night's opening worship, when I realized that much of the music for the Summit would be contemporary praise-and-worship fare, complete with guitar, 5-string bass, drums, synth, and sax. While the hired musicians are all very skilled, give me a pipe organ any day.

I'm not sure why I don't care for praise band music. Whenever I find myself immersed in it at an event such as this, I try to come up with a theological or intellectual reason for my distate for integrating rock music and church services. I find myself making generalizations such as "white people don't know how to clap on the off-beat" or "praise choruses are theologically shallow," but I know I shouldn't. Most likely, I don't like praise bands because, as a songwriter and seven-year veteran of an indepedent rock band, I am a rock 'n' roll snob. I have high standards for guitar tone, vocal style, drum fills, bass lines, use of keyboards, and stage presence. Most praise bands fail to meet my standards, in part because they play worship services and the guitar tone and drumming technique I prefer doesn't go over well in most worship settings.

I also may balk at praise bands because I prefer quiet, restful, contemplative forms of worship. I have two children under the age of three and a short attention span; I have trouble settling down and surrendering myself to God amid upbeat, up-tempo music.

Enough about the music. The keynote speaker for the Summit is youth ministry superstar Mark Yaconelli (pictured) of the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project at San Francisco Theological Seminary and son of Youth Specialties founder Mike Yaconelli. (I was honored and a bit starstruck when Mark chose to sit next to me during the opening reception.) While Mark is a gifted orator, his speaking ability has been outshined by the content and substance of his talks. Everytime he appears to be heading for a theological or homiletical cliché, he goes around the tired metaphor or rote talking point and takes the listener somewhere new—somewhere challenging and engaging and all the other participle modifiers I use when I don't know how else to describe something.

Mark's emphasis has been on being good receivers, allowing oneself to graciously accept the blessings, compassion, and hospitality of God and others instead of focusing so exclusively on what one can give. He cited what youth minister Michael Hyrunik calls the "Holy Trinity of False Identity," the three pillars of an attitude that neglects one's identity as a child of God and member of a community but that is very common in our culture: 1) "I am what I do"; 2) "I am how much I do"; 3. "I am how well I do it."

My first workshop, "Walk With Me: The Adult Role in Youth Ministry," explored "accompaniment," defined in this context as "a mutually transforming relationship between an adult and a younger person who is helped to make the passage through adolescence into spiritual maturity." It was a good workshop (and will help me both as a curriculum editor and as a Sunday school teacher), but it would have been better had it been spread out over three or four sessions.

More to come . . . .

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Traveling With Children

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to a conference in Orlando for a few days (the National Council of Churches' Youth Worker Summit to be exact), and the family is coming with me. We've never taken Meyer and Kate on a plane, so we've had to do some research in preparation for the trip. Here are a couple nuggets of wisdom from the "Traveling With Children" section of the TSA website:

  • NEVER leave babies in an infant carrier while it goes through the X-ray machine.

  • Talk to your children before you come to the airport and let them know that it's against the law to make threats such as, "I have a bomb in my bag." Threats made jokingly (even by a child) can delay the entire family and could result in fines.

Good thing we checked the website.

I'll be blogging the NCC event for those of you who are interested in youth ministry and/or the sometimes controversial ecumenical alliance that is organizing the summit.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday Evening Links

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Few Other Things About the Election

  • I'm excited about the Democratic congressional agenda. From the Chicago Tribune:

    Democrats have vowed to raise the minimum wage, allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, make college tuition tax deductible and implement all of the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission to secure the nation's borders and ports.

    I do have some reservations about implementing all of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The commission certainly did good work and Congress should follow its lead, but we should not hastily adopt every recommendation just because doing so makes congressional leaders look good. Congress still has a responsibility to carefully review and debate each proposal.

  • In the meantime Democratic congressional leaders need to call on disgraced Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) to withdraw from his race. Lousiana requires a run-off if no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote (they have a great system down there). Jefferson was the leader on Tuesday, but is not favored to win the run-off. At any rate, the Dems need to send a message about corruption by asking Jefferson to bow out. They should have done so already; and if they don't, one has to call into question the integrity of Democratic congressional leaders.

  • Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District (the "Fightin' Fifth"!) elected the nation's first Muslim congressman, Democrat Keith Ellison. (I'm amazed that someone with such a Muslim-sounding name was able to win in post-9/11 America.) Ellison was endorsed by Minnesota's American Jewish World newspaper, favors a two-state solution in the Middle East, and is no friend of Hamas.

  • Exactly half of the states now have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. Arizona, however, became the first state to defeat such an amendment. Curiously, the only state that is hip to change is the state that is essentially a retirement community the size of Ecuador.

Sometimes I Wake Up in the Middle of the Night . . .

. . . and decide that I must immediately clean up the kitty boxes.

Everyone's a Little Tense on Election Day

From deep in the heart of Texas:

A former state representative from Dripping Springs has been accused of assaulting the man who defeated him four years ago.

A witness said Rick Green shoved and then punched state Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, while both stood outside a polling place this morning at Sunset Canyon Baptist Church east of Dripping Springs. . . .

Jackie Whalen, a witness to the incident, said she was standing in line to vote when she saw Rose and Green standing and talking between two vehicles. She said she saw Green push Rose against a sport-utility vehicle and then punch Rose in the face.

"Patrick Rose looked like he was trying to get away and then a bunch of men came over and pulled Rick Green off," Whalen said. "He continued trying to go after him and kept shouting 'You need to stop lying' and 'Let him defend himself, the big baby.' "

In other news, we've known for six years that Democrats are sore losers. Republicans, it seems, are no better. But few Dems moved to Canada in 2004, and few Republicans will head for Australia because of this election. We have big elections in this country every two years, and it takes two years of tireless work by people on both sides to make each election cycle nastier and more embarrassing than its predecessor. We need our partisans to stay in the States to make that happen.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm Not a Huge Nancy Pelosi Fan . . .

. . . but I'm very excited that we'll have a female Speaker of the House. Unlike enlightened nations like Bangladesh and Pakistan, we still haven't had a woman head of state, but Speaker of the House is a good start.

Interesting Ballot Initiatives

South Dakota Ballot Measure Banning Abortion:

Yes: 45%
No: 55%

CNN has called this race for "No"

South Dakota Ballot Measure Banning Same-Sex Marriage:

Yes: 52%
No: 48%

Not yet called

Tennessee Ballot Measure Banning Same-Sex Marriage:

Yes: 81%
No: 19%

CNN has called this race for "Yes"

Arizona Ballot Measure Banning Same-Sex Marriage:

Yes: 48%
No: 52%

Not yet called

States across the union in recent years have not hesitated to show their disdain for gay people by overwhelmingly amending their constitutions to ban same-sex marriage. South Dakotans, at least, aren't as eager to ban abortions. Meanwhile, Tennesseans seem to be more fearful of homosexuals than any other state with such a measure on the ballot. Arizona, by contrast, may be the rare state that says, "Gays are OK," and defeats a proposed anti-gay-marriage amendment.

In other ballot-measure news all but one of the states voting on whether to increase the minimum wage have decided to do so. A higher minimum wage is winning in Colorado, but the contest has yet to be called.

My Former Congressman Got Spanked

John Hostettler, who rode the Republican wave into the House in 1994 and was my representative when I lived in Evansville, Indiana, got soundly beaten tonight by my former sheriff, Brad Ellsworth.

Dan Burton, my congressman when I lived in Indianapolis, won handly. I'm not much of a fan of Burton, though I did serve him once at a Wendy's Pick Up Window. He wasn't at all familiar with our menu, and taking his order was quite frustrating. (Of course, when I took his order, I had no idea he was my congressman.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

I Suppose I Should Say Something About the Marriage Amendment

I feel guilty for not having done more to oppose the Marriage Protection Amendment. Part of me thinks that it should be obvious to any reasonable person that this amendment will in no way protect marriage. Then again, part of me has conceded that the amendment will pass by a large margin. At any rate, this three-year national debate over same-sex marriage has left all of me cynical.

A few things:

  • If you support the Marriage Protection Amendment, please explain to me how the amendment actually protects marriage. For that matter, how does anyone benefit in any way from the passage of this amendment?

  • Conventional wisdom says that a gay-marriage ban is inevitable in a Bible Belt state. I'm bothered that the voice of Christian Tennessee is so loud when the opportunity arises to pick on gay people but so hoarse when the debate involves a state lottery, capital punishment, or our regressive tax system.

  • When, do you think, will the first state amend its constitution to repeal a previous amendment banning same-sex marriage? When will Tennessee repeal the amendment that will likely pass tomorrow? I say 2012 and 2026, respectively.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Josh Proposed College Football Playoff System

Division I-A college football, as most everyone knows, has the most bizarre, capricious method of determining a champion of any major sport. Several sports media outlets have proposed playoff schemes that could replace the current BCS system. Here's mine:

I am suggesting a 16-team playoff. As with men's and women's college basketball and some other collegiate sports, one team from each conference would automatically qualify for the playoff. Since there are 11 Division I-A football conferences, the playoff would consist of 11 automatic qualifiers and 5 at-large teams. These 16 teams would be seeded, as in basketball, using various objective and subjective criteria. (Granted, the winner of the Sun Belt conference will rarely, if ever, put up a fight in such a playoff. But, if there were an exceptional Sun Belt team, that school would not have to rely on the generosity of voters and computers to land a high-profile postseason matchup or shot at the national championship.)

The 8 first-round games would be played as existing bowl games at their current locations (say, for example, that the Cotton, Outback, Gator, Capital One, Liberty, Chick-fil-a, Independence, and Holiday bowls). The 4 second round games would be assigned to the current "BCS bowls" (Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, and Rose). The two semi-final matchups and the championship game (as in basketball) would be designated the Final Four and would be played at rotating neutral sites. Other bowls would not be affected.

If my system were put into effect this year, this is what we'd be looking at (using BCS rankings for seedings and at-large invitations and current conference records for conference champions):

Capital One Bowl
1. Ohio State (Big Ten champ) vs. 16. Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt champ)

Outback Bowl
8. California (Pac 10 champ) vs. 9. Notre Dame (at large)

Gator Bowl
4. Florida (at large) vs. 13. Brigham Young (Mountain West champ)

Cotton Bowl
5. Texas (Big 12 champ) vs. 12. Wake Forest (ACC champ)

Independence Bowl
2. Michigan (at large) vs. 15. Central Michigan (MAC champ)

Holiday Bowl
7. USC (at large) vs. 10. Arkansas (SEC champ)

Liberty Bowl
3. Louisville (Big East champ) vs. 14. Houston (Conference USA champ)

Chick-fil-a Bowl
6. Auburn (at large) vs. 11. Boise State (WAC champ)

The Capital One and Outback winners would play in the Rose Bowl. The Gator and Cotton winners would play in the Sugar Bowl. The Independence and Holiday winners would play in the Orange Bowl. The Liberty and Chick-fil-a winners would play in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Rose and Sugar winners would play in the Final Four, as would the Orange and Fiesta winners. The winners of these two games would play for the National Championship.

Of course, these seedings are based on current BCS standings. A selection committee might give Arkansas and Wake Forest higher seeds and might consider West Virginia, Rutgers, or Wisconsin for at-large spots.

What do you think?

Has Wesley Blog Ceased to Exist?

It's not coming up. If it's gone, I'll miss Shane's insight. I won't miss all the often childish in-fighting between United Methodists who disagree on homosexuality, abortion, church growth, multiculturalism, church and state, evangelism, theology, biblical interpretation, pluralism, God and science, globalization, gun control . . . .

Friday, November 03, 2006

Whom I'm Voting For and Why

U.S. Senate: The only office I'll be voting for where the outcome hasn't already been determined (though some experts would argue that Corker has this one wrapped up). Like the fine people at the Nashville Scene, I cannot in good conscience endorse either Harold Ford, Jr. or Bob Corker. I will, however, be voting for Ford, even though I won't feel good about it.

I think Corker's most effective message has been: "I've lived my whole life in Tennessee; I went to UT; I started my own business with just the change in my pocket . . . ." I respect that about Corker. But even as a simple man with a southern draw from Tennessee, Corker has managed to become one with The Man. More importantly, Corker has failed to articulate anything closely resembling a vision. He has introduced us to his mother, his wife, and his girls, but he hasn't said much about what we can expect from him as a public servant. Based on what little he's told us, I'd expect him simply to follow the lead of Republican party leaders.

Then again, I'd kind of expect the same from Ford. For all the talk of Ford being a liberal, he's kind of a second Republican candidate. He's also lived his life in Washington and has been bred to be a politician. Sure, Ford isn't responsible for his own upbringing; but one does have to wonder how well Prince Harry really knows his constituents.

That said, I'm voting for Ford because, while he votes like a Republican, he's technically a Democrat. I don't consider myself a Democrat, and I haven't been terribly impressed with the Dems lately, but the Republicans gotta go. I personally believe that one should vote for a person to represent one's state, not for a party to rule the country; and I would like to see a movement to position strong independent candidates to run competitive races for state and national offices. But right now no such movement exists, and we need to send a message to senate Republicans. In recent years, they have put power ahead of service and have catered to a very small portion of the population. Moreover, their priorities are out of whack. I'm not happy that Harold Ford, Jr. has voted for an anti-gay-marriage amendment and would do so again; but I am somewhat confident that, if Democrats take control, the Senate won't waste its time on such a worthless piece of legislation. (Of course, the day will come when Dems start pushing their own worthless legislation.)

If I'm honest with myself, part of me also wants to vote for Junior because so many of the ads run against him have been nasty, sophomoric, dirty, offensive, and embarrassing to the State of Tennessee.

Governor: Does it really matter who I vote for? Tennesseans tend to give incumbant governors a free pass. After Don Sundquist's second term ended in scandal, with his own party disowning him, you'd think we'd put more thought into the state's top office. But we don't. Maybe Tennesee governors should just serve one eight-year term.

I may actually vote for Green Party candidate Howard Switzer (pictured). I'm not sure that he's qualified for the job, but I like what he stands for, and I might just use my vote to send a message (a very insignificant message that no one will notice). Bredesen is OK, but I'm still not happy with how he handled TennCare, and I disagree with him on capital punishment. Plus Switzer has a wicked beard.

U.S. House: In the past I've voted for Greens or skipped this one, but I've grown to like my Congressman, Jim Cooper. As an aside, I've learned that Tom Kovach, a Constitutional Party candidate running against Cooper on the Republican ticket, has some interesting views about Christ's return.

State Senate: I hate to not vote for Doug Henry. The guy is 80 years old, no one has anything bad to say about him, he's been in the Tennessee Senate since Tennessee became a state, he has served us well, and he promptly answers my letters. Still, I'm seriously thinking about voting for fellow blogger Bob Krumm. I'm certain that Bob and I disagree on a great many things, but I agree with him on most everything that is central to his campaign. The one item on Bob's issues page that I disagree with is his insistence on English-only driver's license testing. I think we should encourage immigrants to learn English, but many people who come here legally are not fluent in English upon their arrival. They nonetheless need transportation (for, among other things, getting to English classes). Other than that, I like what Krumm has to say, and I don't think incumbants should automatically retain their seats. Still, I like Doug Henry and would have a hard time voting against him. I might decide this one in the booth.


Meyer talks about his trick-or-treating experience:

Who's a Happy Baby?

Baby Kate's a happy baby:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Do You Believe? Do You Really Believe?

A new Harris Poll has some interesting stats about Americans' belief in God. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Only 64% of Roman Catholics, 76% of Protestants, and 30% of Jews are absolutely certain that God exists. 84% of Catholics, 90% of protestants, and 64% of Jews are either absolutely or somewhat certain.

  • The percent of Americans who are absolutely certain of God's existence is down 8% from a Harris Poll taken in 2003. The number of Americans who are somewhat certain is up 3%, and the number of Americans who aren't sure whether God exists is up 4%.

  • 2% of born-again Christians and 2% of both Catholics and Protestants are absolutely certain that there is no God. I don't know if this can be attributed to survey sabateurs, but it is certainly interesting.

  • 18–24 year-olds are more likely than 25–29 year-olds to believe in God (66% and 60% respectively). Otherwise likelihood of believing in God exhibits a direct relationship with a person's age.

  • College graduates are 12% less likely than high school graduates to believe in God, but persons with a post-graduate degree are 9% more likely than college graduates to believe in God.

  • While 58% of Americans are absolutely certain that God exists, only 35% of Americans attend religious services at least once a month. The survey does not break down church attendance by certainty in God's existence.

  • A plurality of Americans believe that God is neither male or female (37%, compared to 36% who believe that God is male, 10% who believe that God is both male and female, 1% who believe God is female, and 17% who are not sure). Women are more likely than men to assign a gender to God; 39% of women versus 34% of men believe that God is male; 2% of women versus a negligible percent of men believe that God is female. Jews are most likely to believe that God is a woman (7%) and least likely to believe that God is a man (30%).

  • 51% of Americans believe that Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God (down 2% from 2003); 32% believe that they do not (same as 2003).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Very Disturbing Judicial Ruling

In Maryland "No" doesn't necessarily mean "No":

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- An appellate court said Maryland's rape law is clear -- no doesn't mean no when it follows a yes and intercourse has begun.

This ruling is only slightly more disturbing than the survey poll attached to the article.

I Know That Affordable Childcare Is Hard to Come By, but Duct Tape Isn't the Answer

From the AP:

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (AP) -- A woman accused of duct-taping her two children together and leaving them home alone has been charged with child abuse, the sheriff's office said.

Agla Nadia Vincent, 25, was arrested Monday following a seven-month investigation into whether she left her two boys, then aged 2 and 3, taped to each other while she went to work, said Lt. Annie Smith of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

That's really sick.

Wednesday Links