BCS? No Problem!

There is no college football playoff and I, for one, don’t think it’s a problem. It often sounds like I’m the only one who doesn’t think it’s a problem. Socialists running for president in a free republic and proposing more and more ways to establish government control over our lives is a problem. The lack of a college football playoff is not a problem.

It wasn’t that long ago that this BCS system was initiated, then tweaked and tweaked some more. Before that, the polls determined who the National Champ in NCAA Division I football was. And I can remember when nobody was terribly perturbed about that. The season ended, the bowl games were played, there was a final poll and the number one team in the poll was national champ. We moved on. On January 2 we moved on.

Then came 24-hour sports channels on cable TV. All of a sudden “it’s obvious” we have to have a college football playoff.

I wonder if this playoff would be on TV? Right.

Well its trash the BCS Season again and, once again, everyone bought a permit. Every year someone gets slighted by some perceived BCS flaw, hence, the aforementioned tweaking. It’s very wearying to listen to the sports talk when this is the topic. After a while, fantasy football talk begins to sound interesting. Or, come March, let us devote hours of airtime to debating the 65th team selected for the NCAA basketball tournament. It’s like soap operas for men. Well, “guys” might be more accurate.

Where was I?

Anyway, one of the schools which is “suffering” this year is Missouri, whose football team I’ve made no secret about rooting for. For one glorious week, the Tigers of Ol’ Mizzou were the number one team in the land according the poll. This week, after falling to Oklahoma, they were relegated to a non-BCS bowl, the Cotton.

Can I say, I’m not complaining? Can I say Mizzou went a lot farther, a whole heck of a lot farther, than anyone thought they would back in August. There’s a lot to be thankful for here. Can I just ask, did anyone really think Missouri was the best team in the land for that one week. I didn’t. I don’t believe anyone really did. And that opinion, THAT, is the major flaw in the BCS as far as I can see. The problem is the voters and what they do.

And I propose a solution.

Just put the teams in order from best to worst. If you believe that a two loss USC team is really the best team in the land, then vote ‘em number one. Is this so hard? This cockamamie stuff that allowed Missouri, my team mind you, to get to number one because LSU, Ohio St and Kansas all lost is crazy. Do you really believe Missouri’s Tigers are better than LSU’s Tigers. I don’t. So why vote them number one?

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

I think if people voted their opinion about the relative strength of teams instead of according to unwritten rules, or whatever, there might be less carping about the BCS.

Or not.


The Red Queen

There are things you know that you know, but you don’t know how to say them and that is why I am thankful I know how to read because every so often I will find the words that have eluded me.

Today was such a day for me. In a column on Hugh Hewitts blog today I found these words concerning the behavior of Hillary Clinton during Bill’s occupation of the Oval Office:

Here's a lovely glimpse of the inner Red Queen at work in Senator Clinton, from the article's extensive account of the rise and fall of HillaryCare:

She courted skeptical Senate Finance Chairman Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but undercut the stroking with threats. At a weekend retreat after the State of the Union address in 1993, she dismissed worries about meeting a 100-day deadline set by her husband for a healthcare bill. Asked what would happen if they were late, she said: "You don't understand. We will demonize those who are blocking this legislation and it will pass."

This is the Clintons, period. They. Will. Demonize. You. And then plead, maybe while biting on their lip, for an end to the politics of personal destruction. Right.

The Dems have had no new ideas since ’92. They have offered us nothing since the Clintons ascended to power in the way of progress or policy. And how do they keep winning elections?

By demonizing their opponents. At least that’s what Hillary said.


I Predict Some More

Two and one half hours until the ABC broadcast of "The Border War", Mizzou and Kansas 2007 style.

Since we last opined on the topic of Mizzou football, they have steadily climbed the rankings week by week, despite the setback after losing to Oklahoma. Missouri and Kansas have both got themselves in the mix for a national title. This is hard to put into words. I'll just say what I told my bride the other day. As thrilled as I have been for the exploits of the St. Louis Cardinals, nothing would beat a national title for Mizzou. She seemed surprised. But that's where we are. First things first, though. We gotta beat Kansas and then beat the Big 12's South representative. Difficult tasks, obviously, but possible.

I ask again, can you believe we, 1) are discussing the possibility of Mizzou winning a national title, and 2) have not suffered any head trauma?

Beating Kansas will be no walk in the park. The Jayhawks are thumping lesser opponents the way good teams are supposed to thump lesser opponents. However, the string of lesser opponents has run out. The Tigers will be, hopefully, the best team Kansas has seen this year.

I say Mizzou gets it done 41-28.


I Predict

I am sure you have noticed the motorized shopping carts they have at Wal-Mart and other stores. It seems to me I see more of them in use as the years go by. Are we that much less able than our forbears were to pick up the milk and bread and bologna?

I mentioned to my bride tonight that I thought in 20 years Wal-Mart will need to be twice as large because half of the people in the store will be using motorized shopping carts.

And they will be driving aggressively, too.


Maybe It's Busted

We are assured, as the new film The Golden Compass is set to release, that atheism is making a resurgence.

That's nice. Can I ask where it went?

What's it say about a philosophy that is in need of "resurging"?


Incredibly, Mizzou in Control

I read these words yesterday -

The possibility of Mizzou finding a way into the BCS championship game has just been upgraded from darned-near-impossible to real as real can get. Missouri still needs some help, but not as much as a week ago.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bryan Burwell wrote those words and I just about could not believe my eyes. He's right, of course, but anyone who has followed Mizzou football for any length of time would have trouble digesting it, despite the logic.

It boils down to the Tigers winning out (K-State, Kansas, and, probably, Oklahoma) and either LSU or Oregon (or both!) stubbing their toe along the way. Obviously this is not easy, but, and this is the part that makes a long-suffering Tiger fan shake his head in disbelief, it is possible. I didn't say probable, I said possible.

Next door, the Jayhawks are the media darling right now and that's understandable, they haven't lost a game. And the truth is, the recipe for Mizzou is the same for KU - win out and if somebody in front stumbles, they get in the title game. But frankly, I like Mizzou's chances against Kansas as much as I like them against most everybody else, it'll be tough, but I think they win it.

And that means the Big 12 North Division title. Missouri has been trying to get there for so long - it has been so long since they were relevant. And now they are. It is sweet.


It's Hard To Root Against . . .

Clint Hurdle.

I saw this article at espn.com and thought it was worth sharing.

Of course, more folks will see it at espn.com than will see it here (sigh), but I know that most of my reader doesn't usually look at the other site.

I remember the year Hurdle came up with the Royals, in fact, I had a copy of the Sports Illustrated that's pictured in the article. Hurdle was supposed to be baseball's next star, a phenom, but it never worked out for him and the article will tell you why.

In any case, whether you are rooting for the Rockies or not (and I have to admit some part of me is pulling for them), the story is nice and it's good to hear that the man has left his demons behind.

Some World Series hardware would be nice, too.

But whether in baseball or real life, I hope he does well.


The Winner Will Win 4 Games

From the Baseball Crank:

The stage is set...it would be a fool's errand to try to predict this series; Boston is clearly the stronger team, but the Rockies' hot streak is just impossible to project one way or another, plus we have no idea what late-October baseball in Colorado will look like.

I like comments like this because I agree with them. Predicting the outcome of a baseball series is like predicting what the Dow Jones average will be tomorrow. No one has the foggiest idea what it will be and neither is there any way of knowing how the series will come out. Remember last year? I do – all Cardinals fans do. St. Louis wasn’t supposed to beat San Diego, but they did. They sure weren’t supposed to beat the Mets, but they did. And the World Series? This is from the USA Today from Oct. 20 of last year : Prediction The Detroit Tigers' biggest obstacle to a championship will be keeping a straight face. The Tigers in three. (OK, make it four.)

And we all remember how that turned out. Last year was another example, another example in a long list, of the inability of “baseball analysts” to “guess” with much accuracy what the outcome of 4-7 ballgames will yield.

I don’t know how many hundred times I’ve said it, and I’ve now quoted Baseball Crank saying it, so there’s one other sane person in the room, and IT simply is this: nobody has the foggiest idea what will happen between the Red Sox and the Rockies. That’s all.

And you know what? It’s fun that way. But that’s another subject. Having said all that, though, there are some things that you can know generally and look for.

1. You will be surprised by something. Roger Craig said that he saw something he’d never seen before in every ball game. Craig played major league ball for 11 years and managed for 10, not to mention many years on coaching staffs. Saw something new every game. Amazing.

2. Somebody you think will do well, won’t.

3. Someone you are overlooking will come up big.

4. The games tighten in October, generally. So little things (the walk, the error, the extra base, the stolen base, the HBP) are often things you should pay attention to.

That said, how about a list of expectations just to see how many I get wrong. I'll list 10 and we'll see if any of this is correct. I’ll probably miss most of it, which would make my point.

First, (1) I expect that the Rockies winning streak will end. This one’s a little easy, but it also is a case in point. Namely, nobody would have predicted what they’ve done up until now. I think we'll see lots of contributions from (2) Josh Beckett, (3) David Ortiz, (4) Manny Ramirez, (5) Matt Halliday, and (6) and Todd Helton. I think the (7) Red Sox will win in less than 7 games, the (8) Rockies pitching won’t be able to contain the Red Sox lineup, (9) Paplebon will be lights out, and (10) Dice K will continue his unimpressive playoffs.

There, that should do it. Let’s see.


#11 Missouri

Well, it's just the biggest game Missouri has played in a long time.
The radio is on while I write and Oklahoma has just scored again. The Tigers had just taken the lead, but the Sooners have responded. The two-point conversion has failed and the Sooner lead is 29-24 with plenty of time left in the fourth.
Missouri has promised us so many times - so many years. Maybe this would be the year we finally turn the corner, maybe this is the year Mizzou football matters again.
And then, we would get squashed by Kansas or Iowa St. or Bowling Green, for crying out loud.
(Incidentally, Oklahoma just recovered a fumble and ran it in to lead 35-24 with a bit over 11 minutes to go. What's next? Well, either one of the greatest victories in Mizzou history or ANOTHER MISSED OPPORTUNITY. )
Anyway, we are so used to seeing a promising Tigers' season wind up on the ash heap. They haven't been ranked as high as 11 in many, many years. Going to fifth ranked Oklahoma promised to be a great challenge. But if you win this game, it's huge.
Here's hoping they pull it out - I've got my doubts. The good news is that even with this loss, if they lose, the Northern Division of the Big 12 is still winnable.


Where Have I Been?

It has been a long, long while since I've posted - and I've missed it, speaking for myself. I won't presume to speak for the two of you who I think check on me here.

I suppose it all goes back to the wedding my daughter insisted on having - and I don't want to leave the impression that we begrudge her a wedding - heavens, no! But if you've ever thrown one of these wingdings, well, you know that of which I speak, er, write.

The two kids are happy as larks these days, married nearly 3 weeks! And I have found a few minutes to write this. A beautiful ceremony, it was. They married in the chapel at College of the Ozarks, which I've posted before. If you want a beautiful wedding, have it in a beautiful spot, that's what I say.

A word about my daughter's new in-laws. What great folks! The reception hall was decorated to the hilt. While the beautiful, inspiring chapel required little in the way of decoration, the fellowship hall was, shall we say, more needy. And so, it was treated to a lot of sprucing up which made it look like a fairy land. The deal is, the fairies leave early and you've got to clean the place up after all the caking and punching. So we were prepared for a long night of turning fairy land back into a pumpkin, or something. Well, the Maddox family, near and far, pitched in and bailed us Scowdens out. They just jumped right in without any coaxing and I'm sure, cut that job down to a fourth of what it would have been. Thank you Maddox family!

And our good friends, Sherry and Gary, who helped with the chocalate fountain (what a great idea, eh?), thank you so much for your help in the clean up, as well as the emergency run to the deli!

It was a delight to be a part of the whole affair, not just because my daughter celebrated the biggest day of her life to date, but also because my vision of God's kingdom and family and friends was enlarged.

And something like that should have been written sooner.


Man Makes His Plans, But the Lord

My friend Rob, who knows people connected to the Springfield Cardinals, hooked us up with some tickets Friday night. Great seats, second level, all the soft drinks and hot dogs you wanted and it was Fireworks Friday, so we had fireworks.
We did not have, however, a ball game as this image from the web site testifies. I did take some photos and maybe I'll get some up soon.
The local Cardinals are headed to postseason play in a few days - the parent club is deciding whether or not to push for big boy playoffs. I think they are close enough to give it a try and they should make up their minds soon.


Make the Best Use of Your Time

The post below deals with being mature and using your time wisely. This post has some good advice from the good folks at desiringgod.org on the best use of your internet time. For many of you this is old information, but some of us are still checking sites one-by-one, ahem.

Anyway, it's good advice for me and/or anyone else who needs it.

Book Recommendation

I checked on this book at Barnes and Noble the other day and it looks like it comes out in August. The post I link to mentions that had I remembered it. Anyway it looks like an important book.
For me, I'm afraid I'm often more childish than is healthy. I don't think of myself as a grown-up, but rather, as that college kid who lived at "The Ranch" in the sloppy room.
Then I read this the other day: "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Eph 5:15-16, ESV)
Making the best use of the time - how does one judge that? Clearly, for the Christian, the Bible is the place to get your marching orders, your priotities - God, your family, your soul, those kinds of priorities.
Earlier, Kathy and I had discussions with our 17-year-old son about his use of time and that, get this, he's not a kid anymore, he needed to act more mature. I sure hope I was listening.
The deal is, time is short and we, I, don't have time for childish pursuits.


I Think I'm Over It

OK, I think I'm finally over the '85 World Series.
Time heals all wounds, they say. I say that 22 years, 3 more Cardinal pennants and another World Series championship in St. Louis doesn't hurt, either.
In my post-85 anger and disappointment (we weren't supposed to lose) I tried to like all kinds of other American League teams instead of the Royals. I really did used to like them in the 70's. They had some very good teams then, especially the '77 team, which I think was better than either of the two KC squads to win pennants. And those KC teams, managed exquisitely by Whitey Herzog, were far more enjoyable than the Cardinals of the late 70's. Heity Cruz was a key player - that's all you need to know.
Anyway, we lived in Ft. Worth for a while, so I tried the Rangers. The Bobby Valentine years. Need I say more? By the way, I don't know where Valentine gets his cachet. He has never impressed me as a manager. Later we lived in Northern New York and I followed the Red Sox and the Yankees. Not very loudly, of course. Later it was on to Florida and, yes, I tried to follow the Devil Rays. It can't be done.
So we're back in Missouri and I've made peace with the Royals and tonight the Cards will invade KC for the annual (now) interleague battle with the Royals. Next week the two will hook up in St. Louis.
I can follow them both now, though my heart is firstly with the Cards. It feels good to be home.

Advice for Men and Near-Men

I saw this and thought of you. This is just so very good.
Please take the time to read it all.

Spurs Have Cavs on Ice, Man

I used to live in an apartment basement on Elm Street during the early 80's. After the sun went down during basketball season I could pull in WOAI out of San Antonio on the radio and listen to Spurs games. Those teams featured the incomprable George Gervin whose image graces this post. Nicknamed "The Iceman" he led the Spurs during those NBA days just after the merger.
Anyway, it's a little late - I thought of doing this earlier - but the Spurs, who never did win a title with Gervin, are on the verge of claiming their fourth in the last decade. A dominant team over that span to be sure.
Here's what I think - Spurs sweep. I know, I'm late, they already have a 2-0 lead. Yes well, as of this moment the Cavs are leading game 3 and besides, it's what I really thought all along, just ask the two guys I told.


Missouri Baseball

The tiny picture to the right is a photo of the 1958 Missouri Tigers baseball squad. They were National runners-up in '58, the year of my birth.
I said all that to say 'Congratulations' to the '07 version of Mizzou baseball - they will host a regional beginning Friday. The Tigers come in as a number one seed and will host perennial power Miami along with Kent State and Louisville. The winners of each regional will advance to super regionals with the winners of those tourneys going on to the College World Series in Omaha. Go Tigers!

Piper on the Uncertainty of War

It is difficult to overstate how valuable this article is.


Chivalry, Islamofascist Style

A couple of links I noticed today -

Lose your job over an embrace? A woman can in Pakistan -

Or, forget your veil and get beat up? In Iran you can -

Tell me again why we should not be fighting this?


Know Thy Enemy

Al Mohler is a genius.

I don’t know if he put his two latest blog entries back-to-back by design, but, taken together, they send a jarring message.

Thursday’s entry reviews historian Bernard Lewis’ piece in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal. Boiled down it says the militant Muslims, the jihadists identified two great enemies during the Cold War: the Soviets and the West. The Soviets collapsed and that leaves us.


"Professor Lewis explains that the Jihadists truly believe that their efforts
toppled the Soviet Union. Furthermore, he warns that the Jihadists see the West
as a far weaker enemy than the Soviets. Thus, these radicals see the West as
poised for collapse. All that is needed is the unrelenting push of jihad."

Lewis quotes Osama bin Laden:
“. . . dealing with the pampered and degenerate Americans would be easy.”

Pampered and degenerate? Really? Us? The church – going nation that we are – we are the good guys, aren’t we? God bless America and all that, after all!

Well, consider Mohler’s post from today. It argues that, while, yes, we are moral in a sense, the things we moralize about are nonsense. We are, unfortunately, moralizing about driving SUVs, or eating trans fats, or presenting images of, shocking, I know, images of cigarette smoking.

Mohler quotes Andrew Ferguson:
"our pop culture is shot through with moralism: sulfurous condemnations of
homophobia, smoking, guns, junk food, fur, big cars, and--this is the big
one--judgmentalism. (Our culture) simply will not tolerate intolerance."

While we dither about junk food and fur and big cars, the militant Muslims have a very clear and agreed upon set of values by which to decide moral dilemmas. And this matrix of values informs the Muslim that we are degenerate and must be conquered.

But we know better – we are moral! We know what’s important! Those bad, bad, bad jihadists! They came to our country on 9/11 and totally ignored the No Smoking signs!

Uh Oh

OK, controversial confession time.

I'm a Calvinist. I have been for a few years now. I didn't go looking for it, it found me. (What did you expect me to say?) I'm not militant about it - others hold different views - and there's room for that.

One of the things I have found in this system of belief is tremendous comfort and I point you to this article as an example - here's a snippet, parentheses mine:

"It (unconditional election) is good news because it means no
unbeliever is so bad that they can say in response to our gospel pleading, "I
can’t be elect; I am too evil. I have sinned too long and to deeply." God’s
election is not based on how much we do or don’t sin. It is not based on
anything we do or think or feel or choose. Therefore, the proper response to
that kind of despair is to say, "Who do you think you are to exalt your sin to
the level of God? Who do you think you are to wallow in your despair and make
your sinful will the sovereign of the universe, as if you could decide who is
elect and who is not by the quantity of your sinning?" No! You have no right and
no power to declare yourself beyond God’s election. He and he alone decides who
is elect. And he decides NOT on the basis of your sin or your righteousness, but
on the basis of his inscrutable will alone. You may not play God with your sin.
None of it proves you are not elect. Repent, therefore, and call on the name of
the Lord through Jesus Christ who has died for sinners. For he has said,
"Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.’" To the despairing
soul who feels he has sinned himself out of the possibility of election,
unconditional election is good news."

The whole thing.

Frankly, knowing my heart as I do, had I been sovereign over my eternal soul, I'd have reason to despair. Thankfully, God is sovereign.


How About Some Links, Eh?

Let's go around the Links, shall we?

For the non-golfers, that's a golf links course pictured to the right. So, it's like a pun - golf links and web links.
Just for the record, I'm a non-golfer 99% of the time.

From John Piper and desiringgod.org -

"For thoughtful people, how they pray for the soul is governed by how they believe God acts. So, for example, if they believe God changes people's souls so that they make new and right choices, then they will ask God to make those soul-changes through evangelism and nurture. But not everybody is thoughtful about the way they pray. They don't think about what view of God is behind their praying."

Read "How to Pray for the Soul - Yours or Another's"

Be inspired in a different way by Marine First Sergeant Brad Kasal's story -

"Despite multiple recommendations for amputation of his leg, his fighting spirit
won out over all. He "grew" his leg back with multiple surgeries and a long and
terribly painful process that uses a technique called the "Ilizarov frame."
Amazingly, he has since passed the Marine Corps physical fitness test which
includes a three-mile run."

Read the whole thing.

Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch adopts a middle of the road stance on Barry Bonds. Not too much to disagree with until the last paragraph -

"Many years from now, maybe all of these numbers and records will make
better sense. Maybe we'll know a lot more than we do now. But I can't hate
Bonds. Because if you hate Bonds, then you must also hate Major League Baseball.
He is the No. 1 symbol of his era."

I don't go in for the hate position, either, but I wouldn't equate hating Bonds with hating Major League Baseball. If they were equal you could turn the sentence around, hating (or loving) MLB means hating (or loving) Bonds. I can't do it. They aren't equal and I think you can feel one way about the man and another about his employer.

Perhaps what Miklasz is driving at is that the men who were given stewardship over MLB have fostered an environment that yields a home run champ whose accomplishments are suspect. And I have no disagreement with that.


Graduation and Promotion

Peter graduated Sunday.

He's the son-in-law to-be. That's my daughter's story, anyway, and she's not inclined, at this juncture, to change her mind.

He graduated from one of the most unique places on earth, College of the Ozarks. It's a school in the Ozark hills where a student may work on campus for tuition and room and board - you can leave school with your degree in hand and not owe a dime. And - bonus - it's Christian in it's worldview.

Sunday we were there to see Peter walk and get his diploma holder - the actual diploma will get mailed later, I suppose.
The ceremony was just what you would expect it to be with all the walking and robing and tasseling and speeching. There was not, however, any 'Pomp and Circumstance'. This disappointed my wife and I don't think that her disappointment was lessened by presence of the bagpipes. Bagpipes are maybe not just what you would expect at graduation. I know I wasn't expecting them. How long do you suppose you can you listen to bagpipes play the same 16 bars repeatedly? Until Sunday I wouldn't have had a decent answer to that question. Now I know I can last long enough for the entire C of O faculty and the Class of 2007 walk into the gym and get a seat. I strongly suspect my limit is not much more than that.
One thing, though, I did not expect and for me, at least, it was the highlight of the afternoon. (Apologies to Peter) C of O has an ROTC program, that much I knew. On Sunday one young man was commissioned into the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant. He was called forward to the platform and he walked there in precise fashion. How is it that a soldier's walk can inspire you? He stood at attention (of course) and his citation and accomplishments were read aloud. His parents and his bride came forward to pin his bars onto his shoulders. Two women, one in the flower of youth, one tempered by middle-age, both tenderly loving the same warrior, decorate him in keeping with his calling.
And everyone in the gym was on their feet. Applauding, naturally.
And yet I was struck by this very fact. It was so natural for us to rise and salute this young man - why do so many not desire to honor these? Why is it seemingly unnatural in some environs? I confess, I do not understand why you wouldn't. I was surprised by the emotion I felt. And glad for it. It is right to honor his work, his desire, his preparation and his courage. You could sense it, though he stood stock still, he appeared to be going as fast as he could into what could be, for all we know, tremendous danger.
I have seen courage like this before. It was in a prison in New York. I was there for a Bible study and on my way out a bell rang. A guard asked me and those I was with to stand aside. I heard radios crackling some indistinct call. And guards, many guards, ran past us headlong into who knew what. What makes a man run into danger? A prison guard, a fireman, a policeman, a soldier. I'm not certain, but I'm grateful that they do.

November '08

Tony Blankley gazes into his crystal ball -

"If it is Rudy and Hillary, and now Bloomberg, we could be looking at a three-way
race between three moderately liberal to leftist New Yorkers running for
president in a right-of-center country with no even moderately conservative
candidate. And should Sen. Obama surprisingly get the Democratic nomination,
then we would substitute for the secret leftist publicly centrist Hillary
Milhous, a completely inexperienced African-American possibly former Muslim,
partially Indonesian-raised, Harvard-trained Kennedyesque candidate.
Therein, lies the three-party freak show that is likely to produce the next
president of the United States during this early period of the Age of Islamist
Terror in which we live. And yet, we live in hope that ours is a providentially
guided country."

Read it all here.

Iran Is Buying Time For . . .

This is the best discussion of the War on Terror I've seen to date.

Money quote:

"But since, to say it again, Ahmadinejad is a revolutionary with unlimited aims
and not a statesman with whom we can “do business,” all this negotiating has had
the same result as Munich had with Hitler. That is, it has bought the Iranians
more time in which they have moved closer and closer to developing nuclear

Please read the whole thing.


If You Watch Only One Video This Year

This is the one.

Matthew, Mark Your Bible

I've got a friend whose main hobby is studying the Bible. He is an inspiration to me, he's one of the people the Lord has put in my life to push me and that sort of thing is a mercy. Though, I must add, my friend has an unhealthy interest in the New York Yankees but, thankfully, this has not begun to affect his personality. Yet.

One of the things Gary will do is go buy paperback copies of the Bible at the dollar store and then begin some study on a certain topic. And for multiple aspects of his study, he chooses one of these Bibles, and marks the verses that apply to the particular facet of the overall study.

Here, from the ESV Blog is another version of the same idea.

Gary is just ahead of his time.


I don’t follow the stock cars too much, but this is news. Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that he’s leaving the racing company his father began, DEI, and will make himself, essentially, a free agent for next year. The latest talk, according to ESPN Radio, has him in negotiations with Richard Childress Racing about joining them next year. This is where Earnhardt’s dad signed on in 1981 to drive the No. 3. Junior, whose No. 8 belongs to the team he just left, may wind up with dad’s old number.

A number of interesting things were said – Junior’s stepmom, who’s running DEI, said they will thrive in the future. Junior is obviously making the move for a chance to win a championship. Everybody said they were disappointed.

OK, questions – what’s going on right now at DEI, Junior, that makes it tough to win? And Teresa, why will you win in the future if you can’t win now with one of the best of the current crop of drivers? Why do you let EARNHARDT leave Dale EARNHARDT Inc.? (It is Inc., right?)

I think, no matter which team Junior winds up with, and no matter who drives for DEI and the stepmom, the real race is off the track. The real race is which one of the two wins first, and which wins more often. This could be better than what happens on the track a lot of weeks.
Cardinals News - such as it is - Padres, Dodgers and Tigers coming up - if there's any sign of life after these next 3 series then we might be decent this year, but it's way too early yet to hope of catching Milwaukee.
Nice bit on Springfield's Joe Mather - he's stinging the ball.
Politics - The Baseball Crank also has some interest in political news makes a list of tax-raising governors and the executive from Illinois made the list - He, and we, are happy to note that the Land of Lincoln will have no more taxes - for now anyway.


Here and There -

I hate the Eastern Time Zone. I could never get used to it. It's just wrong for prime time to begin at 8 pm. It's wrong for your late local news to begin at 11 pm. Oh, you can adjust in the sense that you turn '24' on at the right time, but deep down inside you know it's unnatural. (The 9 pm slot, not the show itself) If I have trouble staying up past 10:00, just how am I going to make it to 11 pm? The answer is I won't.

During our roughly two-year tenure as Florida residents there was a great deal that chapped me about living there, none of it worth mentioning. It was during this time that I conceived the idea of a blog named for the Midwest called 'Central Standard'. As in CST. And one of the special ideas was it would deal with news from the Midwest, and more specifically, the Ozarks.

I haven't done much of that - until now.

According to the Springfield News-Leader the town of Republic has no agenda. This is a refreshing bit of honesty. Would that all our politicians, school administrators and strident activists would similarly 'fess up.

Meanwhile, Indian Point has stuff on the front burner. Looks like their police chief has issues:
Although trustees could not reveal reasons (the chief) was
fired, (he) provided the News-Leader a copy of his performance review. The
issues included high cell phone bills related to personal use, failure to learn
basic computer skills and 15 other incidents in which he did not satisfy job
requirements outlined in a 2-inch-thick procedures manual.
And, according to one resident, he was the best they've had.

And shoe manufacturer Puma is confused. I don't think there's really a problem, nobody here thinks Drury is the Pumas. University veep Brian Radecki says,
"The important thing with this arrangement is there won't be any confusion,"
Radecki said Tuesday. "We certainly don't want to have people going out to buy
Puma merchandise thinking they were supporting Drury University."
Puma officials are not sure if they were just insulted.


Fort Dix Six

Congratulations to the law enforcement authorities who worked to uncover this plot. Congratulations and thank you! Thank you to our fellow citizen who reported the suspicious activity.

Now, how long will it be before opponents of the war and the administration, in their culture-poisioning game of gotcha, try to eliminate the tools and the tactics that made this possible? How long before they deny this has anything to do with militant Islamic terrorism? How long before we hear that Bush's war caused these impressionable young men to do our soldiers harm?


That's what I am - gobsmacked and wrong.

Apparently James Lileks, one of America's funniest and most entertaining columnists, will no longer be writing entertaining mirth for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. No, he'll be covering city hall or the mayor or the garbage strike or something. Something that most of us who've got, not a journalism degree, but about 8 hours of communications courses could do. A waste of resources.

Apparently a bunch of folks were let go, or bought out. More cuts are on the way and, as Lileks points out, he still has a job. He's very graceful about it.

I wrote yesterday that I couldn't believe it, that there had to be more to the story, but I was wrong. It's hard to imagine misusing talent this way. I understand things are hard for papers these days, but I don't think the answer is to eliminate your most unique and marketable property. It's a competitive media market and to make the decision to be no better than anyone else is not how to win.

A small number of writers do not care for Lileks and some of them expressed themselves in their typical poisionous and bitter way, once again belying the fact that they really don't understand the issue or the outpouring of support for Lileks. Hopefully this will be clear. Nobody believes Lileks is 'owed' a job or that the Trib has committed some sort of violation against him or other bloggers or Mom or apple pie or anything. No, what has us all gobsmacked is what I wrote in the previous 'graph. It's simply stupid to kill your best product if you want to stay around. Hugh Hewitt called it suicidal. It'd be the same as if Ford decided to stop production of the Mustang or if the Yankees decided that Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter shouldn't be in the lineup anymore, but should just file scouting reports on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. (Thanks, Dave Barry)

No, the Trib can do as they please. The poisionous, bitter, crabby ones can do as they please. Lileks can do as he pleases.

And so can other competitive media searching for a great talent to add to their stable.


Say It Ain't So

Dickie told me that Jim Croce died in a plane wreck. I did not believe him. Dickie could not always be counted on for the "straight scoop". He, first of all, imagined that he was the second coming of Elliot Ness and that it was only a matter of time until all lawbreakers near and far feared the sound of his name. I mean, he really thought so. He pretended to be a cop. He lived in his own world. A fantasy world. Secondly, he had, less than a month earlier, told me that our mutual friend Tim had drowned. But, Tim had not drowned, much to my relief and that of his family.

So, naturally, I thought Dickie was pulling my leg again. I told him so and that I was tired of him doing so. Sadly, as many who followed music in the early 70's can remember, Jim Croce DID die in a plane wreck and we are left to wonder how many more musical tales he had left in him. Too bad.

I just wonder now if James Lileks is pulling my leg. This story is all over the blogosphere. Others are covering it brilliantly, notably, Hugh Hewitt, and I won't try to be some sort of analyst here. I haven't got the chops. But what I do have is the nagging feeling that something just isn't right here. Nobody, I mean, NOBODY can be this ignorant of what's happening all around them, can they? Dave Barry's got, maybe, the best line of the whole episode so far:
"James Lileks, a terrific writer and one of the best newspaper columnists in America, says on his blog today that his newspaper, the Minneapolis-St.Paul Star-Tribune, has decided to kill his column and have him write straight local news stories. This is like the Miami Heat deciding to relieve Dwyane Wade of his basketball-playing obligations so he can keep stats."
It is a perfect description of what has happened, not really exaggerated at all.

And that's what gives me pause - it makes absolutely no sense. It's like insisting the earth is flat, or the moon is made of green cheese, or that Anna Nicole Smith really did merit all that coverage.

So, while Mr. Lileks has never yanked my chain before (that I know of), I just wanted to get it out there that, maybe I'm wrong, but I'm waiting for another shoe to drop.



What follows is a string of paragraphs, the value of which will probably be less than the sum of its parts, if such a thing can happen outside of government.

I'm a fan of 24, though I'm pretty new at it. I jumped in last season, Season 5 I think it's called, about the time the Russian terrorists were blowing up the Russian president, his wife, another president's wife and the 'Hoss'-like Secret Service agent that we all like to call Aaron.

I've been reading a whole lot of griping about this year's story. I have to admit, it's not been as compelling as last year, or Season 1 for that matter, which I rented over the summer. But I've no real complaints - it is what it is. I think maybe some folks have gotten spoiled and are just griping. Some people are just gripers. You can gripe if you want. I like the show.

I think this year the writers are putting Jack through his paces emotionally. It's not so much thigh-shooting and whatnot. It's more psychological. Jack prepared to sacrifice himself, killed Curtis, tortured his brother, learned his dad is a mercenary, rekindled romance with his sister-in-law, was told Audrey was dead, found out she's alive, prepared to sacrifice himself for Audrey, learned Audrey is catatonic, and Audrey's dad (Jack Kennedy) told Jack to leave her alone - "You’re cursed, Jack,” he says, “Everything you touch, one way or another, ends up dead.” Oooh, gut-punch. I can only think of two strings left to pull - his dad and Kim.

And what's Ricky Schroeder doing there? Is this just a "I got to be on 24" moment? Or does 'Mike Doyle' (a strong name . . . like Jack Bauer) have a longer shelf life? I get the feeling Jack's going away - I have no info - I might be wrong. I'm just sayin'. (And yes, I know about the contract Keifer signed - but it wasn't just to act - he's also a producer)

Speaking of catatonic, I watched some of the Cardinals game Tuesday night. They have been through the wringer, no doubt, with the sudden death of one of their players. And, obviously, baseball is not really important in the long run. Twenty-five ballplayers will get on a plane Thursday and fly to Mississippi to bury one of their buddies. It'll be OK if they stink this week.

That said, they just looked lost on the field the other night. Eckstein and Kennedy look awkward - Kennedy doesn't look comfortable at all. Edmonds couldn't bend over for a ball, Pujols doesn't look right and Rolen hasn't lived up to his billing since he came over in '02, except for about half of '04. Pitching is either hurt or inexperienced. I think it's going to be a long year.

Is there a better nickname in sports than "Big Shot Bob"?

And congrats to Saint Louis U on the hire of Rick Majerus. I read far too many comments concerning his health/weight and his decision to leave USC after only a couple of days on the job.
A healthy and interested Majerus will make the Billikens a lot of fun to watch. Here's hoping they get moved to the Missouri Valley Conference - it'd be a good fit. They always give Missouri State fits, though.

I'm out of steam - please come back and see me another time.


Weigh Day, May Day

I do not own a bathroom scale. (I don’t have a cell phone either, but that’s probably a story for a different day) Not having a bathroom scale may be like not having a toaster – it is odd, but you can manage. Incidentally I do have a toaster. It’s a horrible one, but I own it free and clear.

So, without a scale, I have mostly gone about my business blissfully unaware of my own weight. From time to time you come across one, at the doctor’s office or, usually, at someone else’s house, (but practically never in the middle of the road) and then you can take the opportunity to find out how much you weigh. (Yikes! This is either the result of not owning a scale or the purpose of not owning a scale.)

But, as it turns out, the place where I am employed has a scale. I work for a large organization that does a great deal of shipping and mailing and they have a scale. Not a bathroom scale, mind you, but a scale the size of a bathroom! Well, maybe not as big as your bathroom, but certainly larger than my Aunt Rinda’s outhouse.

About once a week I go down to the shipping area and, real casual like, I saunter over to the Giant Scale and I stop right in the middle and check my weight. My wife and I have recently begun eating a more healthy diet and getting some exercise and so Mr. No Bathroom Scale has to go to the Shipping Department to check his weight on a Giant Scale that can handle a Forklift.

Today was Monday – Weigh Day - so I saunter down to shipping to see how I am doing flabwise. I was anticipating a not so good number because last week I fell off the wagon. All for good causes, of course. Boss buys us lunch one day and there’s leftovers the next day and then the Sunday School class picnic on Saturday and then a churchwide cookout the next day. I think there is still dried hot dog water under my nails. Fingernails.

Anyway, when I arrive at the Giant Scale there is a gang of women with about three suitcases per using it! My scale! Now what am I going to do? I can’t weigh later – after lunch – I’ll be heavier! I know what you are thinking. Why didn’t I just walk over and ask if I could step on the scale – it would only take 5 seconds? Yeah, well, how many of you weigh for the public? I’m not doin’ it.

Well, I decided to just walk around the perimeter of the basement and come back around to the scale. How long could it take to weigh a few suitcases? Boom! Put the bag on the scale, Boom! Read the number, Boom! Remove it, Boom! Another bag! And so on. What, it’ll take me five minutes to walk the basement and I’ll come back and they’ll be gone.

But NO! They are still there! And bags are open and stuff, STUFF! is being moved from bag to bag! Apparently there is some goal these bags have to meet and the owners of said bags will stay RIGHT THERE AT THE SCALE until every bag is just Goldilocks right!

So, I was licked. It was lunchtime. I went and ate my salad and made myself who knows how much heavier. When lunch was over, back down I went and weighed after the Luggage Chapter of Weight Watchers meeting had broken up. And my hot dog indulgences of the previous week had indeed punished me. The scale flashed a number I won’t repeat here and now. It was a total from two weeks ago. I’ll tell you when I have a happier number. After I, like the luggage, have moved some of my stuff.


The Missionary Heart

From the blog at Desiring God comes a touching post from a slain missionary.

Expose the Works of the Darkness

In this post John Piper, writer and pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, encourages Christians to action in the fight against the capricious destruction of unborn human beings. He exposes some of the hypocrisy of the abortionists with statements such as:
". . . it is hypocritical to speak as though choice were the untouchable absolute in this matter and then turn around and oppose choice in matters of gun-control and welfare support and affirmative action and minimum wage and dozens of other issues where so-called pro-choice people join the demand that people's choices be limited to protect others. It's a sham argument. All choices are limited by life."

Please read it all.


Those Actually Engaged With The Enemy Know You Shouldn't Help Them

As if the differences between our intelligent and selfless military personnel and liberal politicians, such as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, weren’t stark enough, Fox News reports another. Apparently in the military you can actually be busted for aiding the enemy.


Piper on Partial Birth Abortion

This article on the recent Supreme Court decision regarding partial birth abortion is, as is everything John Piper writes, brilliant.

Reid Recall

Harry Reid has wandered off into the land of the treasonous and any who agree with him are right there, as well. To advocate his position on the war you have to either be hoping for the demise of Western Civilization at the hands of the militant Mohammedans, or be blissfully unaware of danger these fanatics pose. I think it’s time for the good people of Nevada to get involved. Can you not recall your man, the Gray Davis of the Senate? I was hesitant to make the comparison because it may serve to besmirch the record of such a selfless servant as Governor Davis.


C'mon Osama, Dis Rutgers!

Don't you wish the Islamic terrorists would say something nasty about the Rutgers women's basketball team so the left in this country would join the fight?


Bill Simmons, The Sports Guy

I've read Bill Simmons' running diary at ESPN.com of the first day of the NCAA tournament and there are some very funny bits in it and some stuff I don't get and some crude stuff - in other words, the usual. I did, however, notice a couple of revealing threads that kept running throughout the post. If something is praiseworthy, classy or even slightly "traditional" (Indiana's uniforms, Duke, Dick Enberg) Simmons despises and ridicules it. And something he or his drunk buddies or Borat says (or they say in a drunken Borat voice), then it's brilliant.

In other words, the average high school sophomore could have written the same.

When did ridicule and disdain become the gold standard for sports reporting?


Attention Please

Southern Seminary president Al Mohler comments on a problem we've known about for years:

"Just a few decades ago, educators and other observers were warning that the American attention span was growing dangerously short. Serious political debate had been sacrificed in favor of "sound bites." Educators reported that students had difficulty maintaining focus on a subject -- even for just a few minutes.
Well, it now looks like those minutes my be turning into seconds.
WIRED magazine reports that younger Americans now constitute a culture of media "snacking" and "bite size" entertainment. Apple Computer's iTunes service sells music by the song -- not just the album. YouTube and similar Internet sites offer films and movies that often last a minute or less."

And the fact that NFL football, NASCAR and pro wrestling have grown in popularity during the years of shortening attention spans is purely coincidental.


Eye of the Beholder

According to this story “cultural authorities” here in the states are engaged in a “comprehensive psychological war” against Iran. These comments from an Iranian official in response to the film "300", now enjoying big success in the States.

Comprehensive? As in coordinated? Who is alleged to be cooperating here? Hollywood and the Pentagon?


Who ever this “government spokeman” is, he has no clue whatsoever about what is going on in the United States.


2 for the Money

It is difficult, for some of us, to find movies worth our time and money, and, when you've got a theater nearby that runs them some weeks after release for $2.50, it increases the odds that we won't lay down between 7 and 9 dollars for the privilege. And I like movies. That said, I have seen two new films that were worth the price of admission.

Amazing Grace is the story of William Wilberforce's campaign to end the slave trade in the British Empire in the 18th century. Wilberforce fought this battle for decades at the expense of his popularity and health. He fought because it was right.

The Ultimate Gift is a "Hallmark"-style film involving a dead rich man, his estate, his greedy family, an estranged grandson, and a single mom whose adorable and precocious daughter has cancer. If you think it's predictable, well, you may be right - BUT - it is not shallow, it is not cheaply done and it'll get you (fist on chest) right here.

Both these films have references to Christian faith and the role that faith plays in driving the main characters. It is more obviously pronounced in Amazing Grace. Wilberforce is shown meeting his old pastor, John Newton, on multiple occasions. Newton, the author of the hymn Amazing Grace, was himself a former slave ship owner before his conversion to Christ. The film relays his famous quote, "I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior!" Amen.

If you need relentless action, nudity and crude language in order to be entertained then you'll want to skip these two movies. You can't handle them. If, on the other hand, you've a soul that needs nourishment and intellectual exercise, viewing either or both of these movies is time (and dollars) well-spent.



Saturday is my wife’s birthday.

She is the most selfless, caring and giving person that I know. I am a better person by a thousand times because she’s in my life.

The mercies of God show up in various ways, some obvious and some not nearly so. I think a marriage to a person like my wife is the best of both worlds. Her pretty features, her graceful hands are obvious. Her smile can light up a room. It’s true – I’m not just leaning on a familiar phrase. All these things are clearly evidence of God being kind to me. But just as real are qualities which are not as apparent. She is strong and vulnerable. She is intense and full of compassion. She will communicate precisely and question closely and I am a better thinker and communicator because of it. Her passion for God and His Word drives me – it’s a full time job to stay ahead of and “lead” a student of God such as she is. We have great kids and it’s largely due to the fact that they have a great mom – and she inspires me to be a better father.

Like all of the mercies of God that I do not deserve, I do not deserve her. And just as there are times I fail to properly honor, love and serve God, so I often fail to properly honor, love and serve her. But let’s not be confused – she is NOT God – but that’s where she’s from. And it’s good.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart

Rise and Shine

Thursday night I kept waking up with a notion of an idea for a story to write. Every time I awoke the germ of the idea was the same and I would drift off to sleep thinking, “That’s really good – I’ve got to write that.” I have heard you should keep a pad of paper and a pen by your bedside because your brain, ever working, never sleeping, will conjure incredibly creative ideas that should be written down or they’ll be lost. Ideas unencumbered by the day’s routine tasks or sights. I was hopeful that, since I keep no notepad by the bed, I would remember the idea because it was a good one and would be funny and insightful and almost write itself.

The morning came and I awoke, headed to the kitchen, drank some water and then headed to the shower. The brilliant idea returned and I began working it over and I realized, “This is so stupid – what was I thinking? Oh yeah, I wasn’t. I was half asleep.” Such a lame idea and I should write it down? How can it be true that some pizza-fueled figment of the dream world is worth writing down? This idea probably came from someone who had just woke up in the middle of the night. I’m thinking I should forget the notepad by the bed thing. You’re not supposed to be brilliant in the middle of the night. You’re supposed to sleep.

And the brilliant idea that kept recurring as I awoke? It was an imaginary conversation between Abraham Lincoln and Shaquille O’Neal. And like Abe wouldn’t know about basketball and stuff. And they could talk, you know, the Great Emancipator and the Diesel. And even though the lingo would be so different, they would still “connect”, man.



NBA and LaRussa

I often read Bill Simmons’ articles on ESPN.com’s Page 2. Simmons is very funny, though, he gets too crude for my taste frequently. (Eh, what can you do? I just click to something else. Ah, freedom!) But today he’s got a great bit about the poor Celtics. I have to admit I can’t imagine what it would take to get me to like the NBA again. (What to do today? Let’s see, make the NBA interesting to the casual sports fan or build a perpetual motion machine? Hmm . . . Hey! Bowling’s on!)

Anyway, there was a time when I was interested in the Celtics – all the Larry Bird years, natch - and sometime in the mid-70’s, though I don’t remember the exact years. Let’s just say I remember the ABA and I think it’s really too bad there isn’t a Buffalo Braves anymore and I remember an incredible 3 or 4 overtime game between the Celtics and the Suns in which a number of shots from somewhere between the circles kept going in at the end of several overtimes. What a game!

But that’s a while back and Boston hasn’t been too good lately, er, a long time. So Simmons is openly campaigning for the Celts to go in the tank the rest of the season so they can have the best chance at the number one pick in the NBA Draft. His running diary of Boston’s game with the Rockets is an attempt to jinx his team and snap them out of their (recent) winning ways.

He writes:
7:58 -- Has any athlete changed less over the past 15 years than Juwan Howard? He just drained a 15-footer -- throw some baggy shorts and a box haircut on him and I'd feel like we were watching the '93 NCAA Tournament. Remind me to find a place for him on the Tony La Russa All-Stars this year.

I’m sure it’s just an oversight, but they got LaRussa’s name wrong. It’s “WORLD CHAMPION ST. LOUIS CARDINALS manager Tony LaRussa”.

There. I just wanted to clear that up.

Otherwise, a good job outta you, Bill.