Friday, May 30, 2008

America's Cities Have Smaller-Than-Average Carbon Footprint, No Thanks to Nashville

From the AP:

WASHINGTON — While cities are hot spots for global warming, people living in them turn out to be greener than their country cousins.

Each resident of the largest 100 largest metropolitans areas is responsible on average for 2.47 tons of carbon dioxide in energy consumption each year, 14% below the 2.87 ton U.S. average, researchers at the Brookings Institution say in a report being released Thursday.

Nashvillians, unfortunately, cannot take any credit for the greening of America's cities. The Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro statistical area has the nation's sixth largest per capita carbon footprint, at 3.222 tons—well above the national average. Indianapolis, the town in which I was born and raised, is even worse; Naptown is second, at 3.364 tons. View the Brookings study here.

Embrace the Bad Economy

Kraft did in this 1975 Mac & Cheese ad. (Discoverd at Found in Mom's Basement.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

As It Were . . .

. . . two of my children's preschool teachers have been known to wear Rachael Ray terrorist scarves. The school should be thankful that I have more courage in the face of fashion accessories than Dunkin' Donuts*.

While Dunkin' Donuts' decision to pull the Rachael Ray ad is absolutely ridiculous, I will not join those who are calling for a boycott of Dunkin' Donuts, if only because I believe strongly that the bakery franchise's donuts are superior to Krispy Kreme's.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Does the FCC Know About This?

I have one of those thingies that broadcasts a low-power FM radio signal so that I can play my iPod through my car radio. The key to getting a good sound is setting the device to a frequency that isn't being used by an area radio station (and avoiding frequencies toward the low end of the dial). Here's the problem: I'm not sure there are any available frequencies in the Nashville area, even though, according to Wikipedia, there should be. But in my experience, even those frequencies that are not officially spoken for, at certain times of day in certain parts of town, broadcast country music stations. I would suggest that country music stations in Nashville have become an organism that seeks out and consumes empty FM frequencies. Eventually, the entire radio dial will be full, and the country stations will be forced to feed on other radio formats. You've been warned.

Since You'll Be at Target Anyway

In the interest of promoting organic, fairly traded brands that are easy to find, I am recommending Archer Farms Tierra Del Sol coffee. It's excellent, Fair Trade certified, organic, and available at Target for a reasonable price.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Official Scrambies Indiana Jones Movie Rankings

I finally saw Crystal Skull yesterday. It was fun. Quite enjoyable. The acting was very good; Karen Allen and Shia LeBeouf were especially excellent. I liked the crystal skull as a plot device, mainly because it took the franchise to South America; but the film's embellishment on skull legend was generous and a bit hokey. Overall, the story was pretty good though some elements of the plot could have been better developed.

Anyway, here are my official Indiana Jones movie rankings. Ratings are in radians (one complete revolution, 2π, being the highest possible score, 0 being the lowest).

1. Last Crusade (1989) 31π/16

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 7π/4

3-tie. Temple of Doom (1985) 13π/8

3-tie. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) 13π/8

See also:

Official Nick Hornby Novel Ratings
Official Star Wars Movie Rankings
Official Weezer Album Rankings

Friday, May 23, 2008

Links for a Long Weekend

The Tinley family has twice the usual number of children this weekend (we're watching my sister-in-law's kids for a few days), so I have neither the time nor the energy to write a real post. But here are some things you might enjoy looking at this Memorial Day weekend:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lost Parrot Recites Name, Address

Kudos to Channel 4 for picking up on this one:

When Yosuke the parrot flew out of his cage and got lost, he did exactly what he had been taught -- recite his name and address to a stranger willing to help.

Read the rest.

Can Candace Parker Save the WNBA?

First, I'm not sure that the WNBA needs saving, per se. I understand that the league isn't terribly popular and that many games are not well attended, but I don't think it's in any danger of folding any time soon. And while many sports fans flaunt their dudeness by dissing on the women's game, the WNBA still has a better TV deal than the NHL.

That said, to say that the league has room to grow is an understatement. If the NBA is any indication, the most effective way to promote a basketball league is to lift up the star players. I have often wondered whether the WNBA has simply failed to market its star players or if the league is still waiting for the right stars to come along. On the one hand, Lisa Leslie and Lauren Jackson—arguably the best two players in the league's history—should be marketable stars: Both are future Hall-of-Famers, and both are likable and attractive. (I know the "attractive" thing sounds sexist, but good looks have been equally important in promoting male athletes.) On the other hand, Leslie played her college ball back when women's college basketball was mired in obscurity and didn't go directly from college to the WNBA (because the WNBA didn't exist yet); Jackson is from Australia and played for neither a major U.S. university nor the U.S. National Team. Since women's college basketball is still much more familiar to the casual sports fan than the WNBA, a bonafide star may have to come through the college system.

What about Diana Taurasi? She may be the biggest college star who has also excelled at the pro level. She's fairly well known and is featured prominently in a Nike ad with Ladanian Tomlinson and Steve Nash, but no one would consider her a superstar. As great as Taurasi is, I'm not sure she is dominant enough on the court nor charismatic enough off the court to transcend the game.

Candace Parker may be unique. She's been the best player in the college game for two years; she can dunk (occasionally, kind of); she's pretty; and she's got a great personality (fiery on the court, smiley off the court). Oh, and she went for 34 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists in her WNBA debut for the Los Angeles Sparks. Those are LeBron numbers, and she put them up 40 minutes (instead of 48). That has to be one of the best rookie debuts in any sport ever.

So, will the WNBA capitalize on this unique talent? We'll see. This season, only four Sparks games will appear on national television, one on ABC and two on ESPN2 (I'm not counting NBA TV as "national television") and none in the month of June. In my opinion, that's not nearly enough, especially since Parker shares the post with Leslie, the women's equivalent of Robinson and Duncan. How long will it take the WNBA to realize that Candace Parker may be the greatest thing that has ever happened to their league?

Tomato Stems

Does anyone know if cracked stems on tomato plants will mend? (This would be a good time for people to leave comments.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It Was Really That Bad

This weekend, Ashlee took the kids to the Mt. Juliet J.C. Penney's. As is the norm for our family, they took a break from shopping to take a trip to the store's family restroom. It was not a good experience. Meyer was so appalled by how dirty and smelly the Penney's family bathroom was that, last night, more than two days after the fact, the very thought of this restroom brought tears to his eyes. Sobbing, he told us that we should never take him to Penney's again. Rarely have I seen him so upset.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Will Winning the Presidency Put Obama's Life at Risk?

Aunt B. says of her brother in Georgia: "He also reports that many of [his peers in Georgia] feel like a vote for Obama would be wasted because none of them believe he’ll live to serve out his whole presidency." In other words several people assume that, if Obama wins the White House, someone will assassinate him.

The idea seems shocking, even proposterous, on its surface; but a significant minority of Americans are convinced that Obama intends to turn the United States into an Islamic state, a communist state, or both. Some of these people may be crazy enough to try the unspeakable were Barry to win the White House. I pray that the Secret Service would thwart any such attempts, and I do not believe that such a threat is a legitimate reason not to vote Obama in November. Still, the lies people believe never cease to amaze me.

Consider, for example, the most recent inflammatory attack on Obama to be debunked by Snopes. Celeste and Loren Davis, two missionaries whose credibility is already suspect, have circulated an e-mail that makes false claims about Obama's involvement in the recent controversial Kenyan election and suggests that his full name is "Barak [sic] Hussein Muhammed Obama." Snopes had no trouble refuting the claims, but others, including Nashville's own Bear Creek Ledger have spread this nonsense as though it were true.

I fear for Mr. Obama, but anyone who decides not to vote for him solely because they fear an assassination attempt is only playing into the hands of the would-be assassins.

Meyer's Three Favorite Songs at the Moment

When a song is in Meyer's top three, I end up listening to it several times each day.

1. "Sliver," Nirvana

2. "Sunshine," The Luxury Liners

3. "These Days," The Rentals

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vatican: God Doesn't Mind If You Believe in Extraterrestrials

From the AP:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Believing that the universe may contain alien life does not contradict a faith in God, the Vatican's chief astronomer said in an interview published Tuesday.

The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, was quoted as saying the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones.

"How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?" Funes said. "Just as we consider earthly creatures as 'a brother,' and 'sister,' why should we not talk about an 'extraterrestrial brother'? It would still be part of creation."


Dolphin, in a discussion at Music City Bloggers (where I first learned of this story) argues convincingly that the existence of intelligent space aliens muddies the theological waters:

Orthodox Christianity affirms that people are broken and/or that creation as a whole is broken. Does "people" include extraterrestrials? Does "creation" refer to the earth or the cosmos? More significantly, Christians profess that our salvation is inextricably linked to two events in human history: the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Most Christians believe or assume that a proper relationship with God depends on one being aware of these events. That intelligent beings living several light years away would be aware of two moments in the history of a far-off planet is very unlikely. Faced with this problem, one might assume that Jesus was not unique, but was one of many "local incarnations" of Christ—God present in every form of intelligent life throughout the cosmos. Dolphin asks, "If I accept a martian Christ*, but not Jesus, then could I, as an earthling, still be saved?"

It's a fun theological discussion. But even the best theology is largely an exercise in speculation. Personally, I have enough faith in God's love and grace to assume that God will ulimately redeem the entire cosmos, space aliens and all, even if I don't understand all the details.

* As a young child, I believed that, after Jesus ascended to heaven, he again became incarnate as a baby, this time born of a Martian mother. He then, I reasoned, did the same thing on Mars that he had done on earth.

Dangerous Psychotropic Drugs? Really?

I don't expect most Americans to agree on border security or immigration policy, but I would think that most of us could agree that this is un-American and morally repulsive. From WaPo:

The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.

The government's forced use of antipsychotic drugs, in people who have no history of mental illness, includes dozens of cases in which the "pre-flight cocktail," as a document calls it, had such a potent effect that federal guards needed a wheelchair to move the slumped deportee onto an airplane.

Happy Birthday Resha Kate

Resha Kate turns two today. She's not a baby anymore: She's moved from the baby swing to the big-kid swing, she refuses to eat off of her dinosaur plate, and she operates her own juice boxes.

Unfortunately, I did a poor job taking photos at her party this past weekend. But this picture turned out pretty well (and you can see presents in the background, confirming that it is a birthday party pic):

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Free Veggie Burger Next Week

From my sister, Whitney: Next week, in honor of Vegetarian Week, Johnny Rockets is offering a free Streamliner®—made with a Boca™ veggie patty—with the purchase of a burger. (Yes, the Streamliner counts as a burger, so you could just buy two veggie burgers. But the language on the coupon suggests that, to celebrate Vegetarian Week, you first must purchase ground beef on a bun, and that's kind of funny.)

At any rate, even though Ashlee and I are lousy vegetarians, celebrate Vegetarian Week with us (and my sister) by clicking here for your Johnny Rockets coupon.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Art for the People

Meyer explains these pictures:

In the Backyard

Friday, May 09, 2008

Undescribably Horrible

During the build up to the Iraq War, I remember making the case to friends that, if we must invade a nation with a corrupt and dangerous government, several nations were more worthy of our invasion than Iraq. Myanmar is one of those nations. The way Rangoon is interferring with U.N. relief efforts is sickening. From

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- The United Nations' top World Food Program official in Asia said Friday he's "furious" over the Myanmar's government's refusal to allow the organization to distribute aid that was flown in for cyclone disaster victims. Future flights have been suspended.

Two planes that landed Friday morning in Rangon carrying 38 tons of high-energy biscuits, medical kits and other items were seized by officials at Yangon International Airport, said Tony Banbury. That is enough to feed 95,000 people, he said.

"We off-loaded the food, and then the authorities refused us permission to take that food away. We were told we needed a special letter from the Minister of Social Welfare. We hand-delivered a request to him. The answer back was 'No, you can't have the food.'"

"That food is now sitting on a tarmac doing no good."

Related: "UMCOR Provides Help to Myanmar"

From Rep. Cooper, Re: Food Shortage

I thank my U.S. Representative, Jim Cooper, for the following thoughtful response to my letter regarding the global food crisis. (Senator Corker's form letter that failed to address any of my concerns was far less encouraging.) I wasn't a fan of Cooper when we Nashville-area voters first elected him in 2002. Since then, I've really come to appreciate my U.S. Representative, mainly because he sends such thoughtful answers to my letters.

Dear Mr. Tinley:

Thank you for getting in touch to express your concerns over rising food prices. I agree that this is a very serious issue that deserves our close attention.

As we have seen over recent weeks, the rising cost of food worldwide is causing serious problems both for farmers and citizens. In nations like Indonesia, Senegal, India, Haiti and Zimbabwe, the rising cost of staple grain and rice supplies has caused widespread rioting and civil discontent. Even in the United States, large wholesale stores like Sam's Club and Costco have imposed buying limits on rice and grain. This trend is emblematic of a larger problem facing our world's food
supply that is caused by drought, civil unrest, and the clash between investment in biofuels and feeding the world's hungry.

One possible remedy that I have advocated, along with a small group of my colleagues here, is reforming the Farm Bill to reduce unnecessary spending, and in particular, to reconsider the existing farmer subsidy programs, which have contributed to the
rising cost of food in our country and abroad. This is not a problem that can be solved easily. Sadly, I believe we are only in the beginning stages of this crisis, and in the coming months and years we will have to begin serious consideration of how best to react in order to keep food supplies affordable and accessible to all.

Thanks for your letter. I am glad to know of your involvement in this issue and I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I hope to hear from you again soon. Do not hesitate to write at any time.


Jim Cooper
Member of Congress

Re: The Situation in Burma

I haven't written much so far about the cyclones that have left tens of thousands of people in Myanmar (formerly Burma) dead or missing and the military government that is doing very little to help relief efforts. But the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar certainly deserves our immediate attention.

Click here to learn how you can help the United Methodist Committee on Relief respond to this crisis.

If You're a Fan of Chris Paul and Well-Written Columns . . .

. . . you'll enjoy this ( Page 2).

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Feel Better

Even though there's a food shortage and a humanitarian crisis in Burma, take a moment to enjoy this story. Dale Davis (not the former power forward for the Indiana Pacers), a 78-year-old, legally blind, World War II veteran in Alta, Iowa, bowled a 300 this past weekend in his league's rolloffs. It was the first ever 300 at Alta's Century Lanes.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Don't Think I Haven't Thought About Trying This

This 5-foot, 8-inch, 130-pound junior at Washington University in St. Louis has declared for the NBA draft. He doesn't play for Wash. U's D-III basketball team, nor did he play for his high school or middle school team. But he's eligible. Don't be surprised if the Pacers trade up in the second round to take him.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

We May Need to Have That Talk

Ashlee and I are vegetarians. But we gave up on raising our kids vegetarian sometime before Meyer's second birthday. (Were I a more popular blogger, I would have just made myself the subject of a PETA action alert.) Maybe we should have tried harder.

Today Meyer made the following declaration:

There are two kinds of chickens: animal chickens and food chickens.
There are two kinds of turkeys too: animal turkeys and food turkeys.

This disconnect is one of the main reasons I'm a vegetarian in the first place.

Meyer Meyer Pants on Fire

When I picked up Meyer from school yesterday, one of his classmates was incessantly calling him "Meyer Meyer Pants on Fire." I wasn't quite sure how to react. If Meyer were in high school, "Meyer Meyer Pants on Fire" probably would be preferable to 95 percent of the nicknames his teenage peers might come up with. But four year olds have different standards, and I'm not sure what makes a nickname offensive or disheartening to a pre-schooler. Complicating the situation is the fact that I have called Meyer "Meyer Meyer Pants on Fire" on several occasions. I'm not sure if my saying it is better or worse that one of his peers saying it.

Monday, May 05, 2008

I'm Running Late Today

I had to clean up cat vomit. Cleaning cat vomit alters my schedule at least once a week.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Cost of Gas Versus the Cost of Public Transportation

I'm trying to decide when the price of gas will have risen to a point that my commuting to work in the brutally expensive Music City Star would be justified. I think we're getting close to that point. If there is no longer a significant cost difference between auto and rail, the Star has a couple things going for it: 1) mass transit is more eco-friendly than one-dude-per-vehicle transit; 2) it would allow me to say to people, "Each morning I take the train into the city," making me feel less like the vanilla suburbanite I am.

I'll keep you posted on developments.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

There's No Crying in Softball . . .

. . . but this Division II college softball story will bring tears to your eyes.

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead

Mental Floss through brings us this great article on "Things your body can do after you die." Here are some highlights:

During the late 19th century, it was popular for wealthy families to host mummy-unwrapping parties, where the desecration of the dead was followed by cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.


Some European crematoriums have figured out a way to replace conventional boilers by harnessing the heat produced in their fires, which can reach temperatures in excess of 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, starting in 1997, the Swedish city of Helsingborg used local crematoriums to supply 10 percent of the heat for its homes.

Read the entire thing for context.