145. Head's Up! Changes At Central Standard

The year is drawing to a close and many would say, "Good riddance!" It has certainly been a roller coaster ride for a lot of us. Probably most years are, but this one seems more so. I think.

The last few weeks have seen remarkable changes for me. At a routine doctor visit I found I need thyroid medicine. Bummer. Taking medicine is what your parents do. Or your grandparents. Now I do. It's worse, for me, than turning 50. Fifty is on a calendar or a questionnaire, but medicine is a concession.

But at the same time, I feel better, more alert and have more energy now. Perhaps I'll shed this extra lard that seems to be adhered to my bones like an octopus clinging to a deep sea diver.

Also I recently discovered a web site that's been a great encouragement to me. It's called What's Best Next. The blog is about efficiency and getting things done. Anyone who knows me knows that these have been issues I've battled all my life. Hopefully, no more. I've been changing, rearranging and generally trying to improve my efficiency over the past month or so and I think I'm getting somewhere. And it has been fun.

So naturally, I am going to change the look of Central Standard. It's a new year, I'm a new man - let's have a new look. But this is not going to be Change in the Obama sense of the word, that is, just words. No. We are aiming to make substantive changes - More Content! Stronger Writing! Increasingly Interesting Posts! And while we are at it, Better Mileage and Fewer Calories!

I hope the new look is favorable, but whether it is or not, I hope that, most importantly, 2009 sees your happiness in God abound!

144. 2008 As Dave Barry Remembers It

Well, you owe yourself a little chuckle or two, or seven or 23. And probably several laugh out loud moments. I have just the ticket. Read Dave Barry's year in review. Need some convincing? I'll whet your appetite.

"How weird a year was it?
Here's how weird:
• O.J. actually got convicted of something.
• Gasoline hit $4 a gallon -- and those were the good times.
• On several occasions, Saturday Night Live was funny.
• There were a few days there in October when you could not completely rule out the possibility that the next Treasury Secretary would be Joe the Plumber."

He adds this little nugget at the end of January's entry: "Finally, in what some economists see as a troubling sign, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac invest $12.7 billion in Powerball tickets."

He returns to the misadventures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac several times during the review.

You don't want to miss it.


141. Logos: Two Nice, One Lame

A few months ago I lamented the move of the NBA's Seattle Supersonics from the Great Northwest to Oklahoma City. The Sonics were Seattle's first major league team and won the only championship the city's seen in 1979. (Actually, they had a hockey team which won the Stanley Cup in pre-NHL days. Just so you know.)

At the time I not only lamented the move of a long-time and well-supported franchise, I was also disappointed in the location, name and logo that the team would adopt. Oklahoma City is, I am sure, a fine place to be, but when you think of it, 'Major League' is not what pops into you head. I'm not mean, it's just true.
And then, the logo and name are so rinky-dink, how could you get excited? The Thunder. The Oklahoma City Thunder. What is a Thunder, anyway? At the time I said I would not be posting the logo or the uniform.

Why bring this up? Well, because I'm going to post the logo here, but I have a good reason. The reason is the logo at the top right of this blog. THERE is an EXCELLENT logo for an Oklahoma City team. Shoot the whole town ought to adopt some version of this - it's beautiful!
So, the point is to compare the two.

Well, here is the Redhawks logo and I really like it! I'm a sucker for circular logos, apparently, and this one fits the bill. I like the font. It evokes the old West without looking like the 'wanted poster' type. And the colors work for me, too. Red, white and blue are fairly standard, but the buff color just adds a little bit, sort of a nostalgic look.
Overall, I like it a lot. OKC can be proud of this one.
Now, we have to look at the new one for the Thunder. (Thunder?)

I just really don't know what to say about this. The only thing compelling to me is the colors. I do like that combination, but beyond that there's nothing here. One person called it 'clipart'. Here's what another commenter wrote about it:
"Take out the basketball and the OKC, and you've got a solid logo and color palette for a new laundry detergent."
I think that guy is on to something - "New Thunder will flood your wash with lightning bleaching action that will storm stubborn stains and force them to run off. Available in Spring Rain fragrance."
Meanwhile, this one is gone:


140. First In A Series

A few years ago I was made aware of a systematic theology book that was highly recommended. It is called, as many of these are, "Systematic Theology" and was written by Wayne Grudem, now Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary.

His book includes 57 chapters and 6 appendices spanning 1234 pages. It is impressive, yet is accessible, readable for the layman. Some of the concepts are difficult, but Grudem's writing is not a barrier.

This book is being used by our Men's Bible Study at my church and has been well received. And I thought I would like to share definitions of concepts here as we move through the book. Chapter 1 is "Introduction to Systematic Theology", and here is the definition:

"Systematic Theology is any study that answers the question, 'What does the whole Bible teach us today?' about any given topic."

The inclusion of the word 'today' spurred some discussion at our group. Here's what Grudem said about this:

"Defining systematic theology (this way) implies that application to life is a necessary part of the proper pursuit of systematic theology. Thus a doctrine under consideration is seen in terms of its practical value for living the Christian life. Nowhere in Scripture do we find doctrine studied for its own sake or in isolation from life. The biblical writers consistently apply their teaching to life. Therefore, any Christian reading this book should find his or her Christian life enriched and deepened during this study; indeed, if personal spiritual growth does not occur, then the book has not been written properly by the author or the material has not been rightly studied by the reader."


139. A Verse Today

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17, ESV)

This is the verse that will launch college Sunday School at Boulevard today.

Do not fail to do the right thing today.

138. Friday Night Music

I've been meaning to mention some songs that have caught my attention lately.

I listen to an online radio station at work and you can rate the music or the artist or the album or any combination and when you do, the station is supposed to respond with more selections that you will like. And it works pretty well, I think.

Right now, my favorite song is "How Are Ya' Fixed For Love" by Frank Sinatra and Keely Smith. I don't know why exactly, but it's a very happy tune. I like the orchestra a great deal and the two singers are excellent together. Of course, Smith was the long-time wife and partner of Louis Prima of "I Want To Be Like You" fame.

I think that Chuck Berry's cover of "Route 66" is the best version of that song and I had never heard it until a few months ago. If you follow the link, the player is to the right. It took me a while to find it.

Finally, John Mayer has a song called "Stop This Train" and I really like it a lot. I didn't know much about this guy, but my son has some of his music and I heard it while riding in the car with Jacob. This song is about aging and the rhythm evokes a moving train. The lyrics are great. One verse:

Had a talk with my old man
Said, "Help me understand."
He said, "Turn sixty-eight,
You renegotiate."

Most meaningful though is on my birthday in August, Jacob took me to Panera Bread for an iced mocha and on the trip he cued up this song because he knew I liked it.

Very nice.


137. Very Thankful

Both my kids were born around Thanksgiving and this week we celebrated their birthdays. Our daughter's is the 25th and number one son has his on the 28th.

My lovely bride has written her thanksgiving for them both over at her blog, Everything Is Significant. I don't think I could say it any better than she does.

Sarah and Jacob, God favored your mother and me when He gave us you two. Speaking for myself, I don't deserve such goodness. I hope I haven't damaged you. I trust our Heavenly Father will make up for any lack in your earthly dad.

When I was a new Christian the Bible verse that was my favorite was Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." This verse says what to do first, what is of first import. I need to be reminded of what's first, what's important. So I commend this verse to you two kids and urge you to submit yourself to it's order of business. May as well commend it to my son-in-law as well, though he stubbornly refuses to have his birthday during this week.

I love you guys!


136. Prince Albert Is King

The best baseball player on Earth just might be the first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Obviously, it's debatable. And debatable just means it's possible. How good is Albert Pujols, just named MVP of the National League for this past season? Let Jayson Stark of ESPN tell you -

Meanwhile, you'll be hearing lots of talk about how the winner of this election (NL MVP voting), Albert Pujols, has now won two MVP awards. Which is great, of course. But what blows us away is that he very easily could have won SEVEN of them.

Pujols has now played eight major league seasons. He has finished in the top 5 in MVP voting in seven of those seasons. Seven.

If you are a baseball fan, you owe it to yourself to watch Pujols when you can. We are witnessing a once in a generation kind of player.

At least.


135. Rejoice With Me!

I am very happily trying to remember how to walk normally.

In the early nineties, when we lived in Ft. Worth, TX, I injured my knee. I was going to run and I was stretching my right quad with my right foot tucked under my rear as I was seated on the floor. I leaned back to stretch the quad and I heard a loud POP from my knee. I felt it too. Not pain surprisingly, but I certainly felt it.

You may not believe me when I tell you that I went ahead and ran, but I did. There was not the pain which you would have expected if I had really torn something up. Later, however, there was swelling and stiffness and the joint did not feel stable. In fact, it hasn't felt stable since then and any over-exertion would make it stiff and achy.

We didn't have insurance at the time, I was just a poor seminary student. I have often thought I would have to have surgery eventually to fix it. I like to run and I like to hike and a balky, unstable knee which is prone to stiffness and pain puts a real damper on those activities. Someday, I thought, I'll get it scoped or whatever.

Recently, a friend and I were talking and I discovered he had hiked a week's worth of the Appalachian Trail. The AT, if you do not know, is the Holy Grail of hiking here in the states. The trail extends unbroken from northern Georgia to central Maine. It's been something I wanted to do since I heard of it, though my responsibilities would prevent me from taking the six months out of my life to do it all at once. I thought it would remain only a dream.

My friend, also with a desire to hike the AT, had hit on the idea of doing it a week at a time and eventually covering the whole thing. And he asked if I wanted to go the next time. Of course I did. We talked about training and the demands the trail puts on a person. Like, periodically walking uphill for half a day.

Enthused, I began exercising the next day. I got up early and went to run. And as I ran, my unstable knee began to complain. Loudly. And I began to think. If I couldn't trust my knee, I wouldn't be able to commit to a week of 12-15 hours a day on a very demanding trail. Well, I thought, maybe now's the time for surgery. But then I thought, what about the recovery time? Could I be ready?

I prayed. I don't remember what I said exactly, but I asked God to help me with my knee in light of the opportunity of the hike and the possibility of failure. I finished the run and my knee was hurting. I went to work that day, came home that evening and was going about my routine. I was seated at the table and turned to speak to my wife. My knee went POP.

I didn't think too much of it at the time because it has popped every now and then since Ft. Worth. But the next day my knee did not hurt. Not only did it not hurt, it felt NORMAL. I stretched my leg very tight like when you have "growing pains", which would typically be slightly painful. No pain. It felt stable. I began to try to move without favoring it, which I have unconsciously done for over 10 or 12 years. No pain. Stable.

It has been a week now and my knee still feels fine, and not a day has passed without my giving thanks to God. I believe He heard me and answered me about my knee. I did not ever know the severity of my injury and so I don't know what was involved to fix it. All I know is, I used to have a bad knee and I asked God to help me and it's fine now. At least as good as a 50 year old knee is supposed to be, anyway.

Rejoice with me, for this knee I had lost has been found!


134. Dumping the Inbox

A number of things have been stacking up in the Inbox, so let's dump it out and do a sort.

Did you see this about Brit Hume? One of the few anchors I actually enjoy listening to on the TV, except we don't get his channel - too bad. Anyway, it appears he knows the Lord and it could be that is why he seems like a decent fellow on the tube.

On Veteran's Day, pastor John Piper observed, "The tensions between being a follower of Jesus as a soldier are essentially the same as the tensions of being a follower of Jesus in all the other authority structures of society that God ordains for the stability of the world (like business, education, government, and family). "

He concludes with gratitude to God for the risk so many are willing to take for the sake of peace. Amen.

Piper's son Abraham blogs at 22 Words and he offered some blogging advice a few days ago. Here's a sample:

- Keep paragraphs 5 lines or shorter. (If this post were a list of one, this would be it.)

- Put either your main point or a story in the first paragraph of posts.

- Interact with readers in your comment section.

And, of course, his list is 22 items long.

Finally, I read an interesting article the other day at the Pyromaniacs web site. It had to do with judgement of God described in the passage from Malachi 3 regarding the fuller. Now, if you are like me, the only thing you know about the fuller is he had a bunch of brushes once upon a time. However, I learned a thing or two about the fuller. Thought you might like this.

The passage:

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord."

One observation from Team Pyro:

So when God says that the Messiah is coming with "fuller's soap", He's not saying, "Jesus will make you wash your hands." he's saying, "you are disgusting and useless unless you are cleaned up by the Messiah."

The whole article is here.


133. Stand-Up Guy Paul Ryan

I love it when I find these kind of stories.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I don't have any idea what it means to be a man. And if you are female, this is no big deal, but for the rest of us, it's kind of important to get a handle on it. A lot of times I just feel like a big kid, clueless about what my responsibilities are. I think most of the time I do OK, but still, it would be great to be confident all the time, like John Wayne or something.

This article tells about the actions of one congressman during the recent so-called mortgage crisis. The whole thing is good but here's a choice tidbit -

House Republicans spent this week justifying their positions on the failed bill, invoking taxpayers or credit markets or electoral pressures. Here's a better way to analyze votes: There were a few conservatives who for years took unpopular positions against the government-inspired credit mania, yet this week had the guts to act to calm the markets. And there were many Republicans who for years aided and abetted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, yet this week ran for political cover.

Mr. Ryan is among the former. As early as 2000 he was warning in House hearings that Fan and Fred were rushing into subprime loans and mortgage-backed securities, growing and concentrating their risk, and putting taxpayers on the hook. He's so vociferously called for more supervision that he was once stalked by a Fannie Mae lobbyist.

No matter whether you think the bailout was needed or not (and I still don't think it's clear), Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan is a stand-up guy.


132. Obama, Obama, Obama, Part Two

I posted some congratulatory comments offered to our new president last week. Yesterday, I began looking at more critical reaction. That survey concludes today.

To be clear, the point is not to be crabby for the sake of being crabby. The fact is, 48 percent of the country voted for the other guy, and a goodly number of them will have real differences with Obama's Administration.

I figure if he can start talking about Executive Orders before Veteran's Day, we can start stiffening our necks.

Have a good one!

John Derbyshire of National Review Online admits being sour - What won this election was the packaging skills of David Axelrod, the swooning complicity of the media, the ruthless opportunism of Barack Obama, and the unprincipled thuggishness of his supporters. What lost this election was the cloth-eared cluelessness of George W. Bush, the timid squeamishness of John McCain, and the deep lack of interest in conservative principles among Republican primary voters.

Sour? You bet I’m sour. Where was conservatism in this election? Where was restraint in government? Where was national sovereignty? Where was liberty? Where was self-support? And where are those things now? Where are they headed this next four years? Down the toilet, that’s where. Pah!

David Kahane, by way of Kathryn Jean Lopez of NRO - We got this the old-fashioned way: we earned it. The other side took the fight to us, and we never took the fight to the other side, except coyly and obliquely. That's not a mistake we should make the next time. "Honorable campaigns" are for losers. Next time, call 'em as they really are, not as you wish to see 'em.

Where was Bush? Once again, and right to the bitter end, he let his passion for "loyalty" supersede what was strategically right for the party, not to mention what was best for the country. I think his reputation has nowhere to go but down; yes, he got one big thing right, but he got everything else wrong. Enough of this family in our country's politics!

Peter Kirsanow, also from NRO, and also the whole thing is worth reading - Obama will get the most lavish and extended honeymoon in history. Every time he walks to the podium without falling down will be trumpeted as the greatest accomplishment since MacArthur returned to the Philippines. It will be the natural tendency of Republicans to join in the praise, and worse, to try to be "bipartisan" when it comes to legislation that is manifestly bad for the country and abhorrent to conservative principles. This tendency will be magnified by the Republicans' fear that any opposition to Obama's policies will be portrayed as motivated by racism rather than principle.

Senator McCain is an American hero, a remarkable man. I can think of few I respect more. But he's likely to be the first to be leading the charge toward bipartisanship. This would be a mistake of galactic proportions. This must be resisted.

It's all well and good for Republicans to congratulate Obama today, and on Inauguration Day. The GOP shouldn't oppose merely for the sake of opposition. But if they were paying any attention to what Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Rangel, Schumer, etc, have been saying over the last year, they should realize that on the major issues of the day, liberals are determined to take the nation down a hard left path that will, in the words of Obama, "fundamentally transform" America.

Let the buyer beware.

131. Obama, Obama, Obama, Part One

I can't help it.

The president-elect's name reminds me of Mufasa, the name of the dad lion from The Lion King. And I always think of the part where the hyenas are scaring each other by saying Mufasa's name. The one says, "Do it again!" And the reply is, "Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa!"

That story had a happy ending. After a lot of pain and death and stuff.

Here's some more observations from the election's aftermath -

Scott Johnson, Powerline - Despite his thoroughgoing liberalism, Obama did not run as a liberal. Liberals can run successfully for president under camouflage donned for the occasion. The camouflage will be accorded respect and deference by the press like that accorded the Emperor's new clothes.

Bill Dyer writing at Hugh Hewitt wrote a great article which should be read in it's entirety. A portion - I pray that you may acquire wisdom — wisdom beyond your tender years, your thin experience, and your inconsequential legislative achievements — wisdom as a public servant in office, rather, that is at least commensurate with the skill you've shown as a campaigner, which has been a genuine marvel. I pray for your health, because, with due respect, I regard the prospect of your Vice President-elect having to step into your shoes with genuine panic. Let's hope that he can continue to be Crazy Uncle Joe, less of a danger to the nation as Vice President than as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Mary Katharine Ham, Weekly Standard Blog - I do not know who he is. I do not know which Obama will show up in Washington, D.C. to govern. My good feelings for him have diminished considerably throughout the campaign, as I've become increasingly convinced that his post-partisan, post-racial pitch was naught but a political pose.

I'll close for now. There will be a concluding wrap-up tomorrow.

Sweet dreams.


130. Election Coverage, Dave Barry Style

Well, I read this the other day and I laughed for over a minute non-stop. I showed it to my son, who was home this weekend, and I cracked up again while he did the same. Maybe it's just me, but I think this is hilarious.

It is written by the brilliantly funny Dave Barry and if you are not reading him, you should be. When I grow up I want to be Dave Barry. Or James Lileks.

Anyway, enjoy -

In analyzing the results of Tuesday's historic election, the question we must ask ourselves, first and foremost, is: what the heck were the results of Tuesday's historic election?

I personally don't know. The Miami Herald made me send in this analysis before the election was actually over, so that it could be printed in a timely manner. This is part of the newspaper industry's crafty plan to defeat this ''Internet'' thing that has the youngsters so excited.

Anyway, my election analysis, based on weeks of reading political blogs, listening to talk radio and watching campaign ads on television, is that one of the following things is true:

• Barack Obama is our next president, which is very bad because he is a naive untested wealth-spreading terrorist-befriending ultraliberal socialist communist who will suddenly reveal his secret Muslim identity by riding to his inauguration on a camel shouting ''Death to Israel!'' (I mean Obama will be shouting this, not the camel) after which he will wreck the economy by sending Joe the Plumber to Guantánamo and taxing away all the income of anybody who makes over $137.50 per year and giving it to bloated government agencies that will deliberately set it on fire.

• Or, John McCain is our next president, which is very bad because he is a 287-year-old out-of-touch multiple-house-owning fascist who will rape the environment and build nuclear power plants inside elementary schools and reinstate slavery and create tax loopholes that benefit only people who own three or more personal helicopters, after which he will declare war on the entire United Nations and then keel over dead and leave us with commander-in-chief Sarah ''Flash Card'' Palin.

• Or, Ralph Nader is our next president, which is very bad because it means there has been a successful Klingon invasion.

Read the whole article.


129. Obama On The Mountain

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963.

I was nine years old when King was killed in Memphis, April 1968. Anyone who remembers those years remembers the turbulence that bedeviled our country because of tension over the war in Vietnam and over issues of equality and justice for black Americans.

I think it was easier for those my age to lay down prejudice than it was for our elders. Indeed, some of us were so young we had not fully taken it up. However it must be said, prejudice or racism, is sin. It's a heart problem and anyone of any national origin is perfectly capable of despising anyone else for the most petty issue, including the color of one's skin. We must constantly guard our hearts against this kind of hatred and ask God for grace to offer others.

And though the USA is not perfect by any stretch, she has come a long way. The ground upon which we find ourselves standing today was probably unimaginable when I was a boy, though, King's Dream may have conjured it. We have elected a black man president of the United States. It is no small feat for Barack Obama, a man with whom I have many honest disagreements, as far as I can tell, and he is to be sincerely congratulated.

There will be time to review the election (in another post) and to cast a critical eye toward a thoroughly liberal government. For now, however, consider what has been accomplished.

Obama's race was an asset to his candidacy at every step of the way. Americans want to prove their racial good will. A black candidate whose race is incidental to his campaign and whose political skills are manifest is able to take advantage of a great moral yearning that lies deep within the American psyche. Shelby Steele, who has eloquently explored this theme in reference to Obama, refers to it as "the idealism that race is but a negligible human difference." - Scott Johnson of Powerline

It is an extraordinary thing, an achievement that will be recognized a hundred years hence, that Barack Obama has won the White House. Even those of us who opposed him, and who will no doubt be opposed to many of his policy objectives over the next four years, must pause and say congratulations on an improbable, amazing rise. Every American ought to pray for wisdom and judgment for President-elect Obama, for his safety and the safety of his country, and for the continued prosperity and greatness of America. - Hugh Hewitt of Townhall

You will be my president too, and while I am filled with trepidation, I congratulate you as sincerely as I am able, and I wish the very best for you and our great country. - Bill Dyer of Townhall

His race and his middle name, long touted as obstacles to Obama's ascendence, were not obstacles to the American people. Racism and xenophobia were background buzz in a clean campaign, existing largely in liberals' nightmares rather than in real life. It is a testament to both candidates and the American electorate that, even if the wrong man was elected, he was elected for right reasons. - Mary Katharine Ham of Weekly Standard Blog

Do you find it as interesting as I do that, come this January, we will celebrate King on one day and inagurate Obama on the next?


128. Returns Still Coming In

Sometimes I think of things to write about when I'm at work. When that happens I open a Word document on the computer and make a note and add to it if more ideas occur. At the end of the day I attach that document to an email and send it home. Then when I'm ready to write something here, I've got notes and ideas ready to go.

Provided I remember one thing, of course.

Some weeks ago the computers at work were updated to the latest Microsoft Office versions. And the new Word documents are not compatible with the old programs UNLESS you remember to save it AS the older version. If you don't, the plain English you wrote will be displayed as gobbledygook.

So all the brilliance that I was set to display for you tonight looks like this in my document: PK!0É(.

OK, so there you go. Let me know what you think. Your opinion matters.

And, naturally, what I was going to write about tonight was the election. I don't want to dull anything I wished to say, so I'll just re-send my document and post tomorrow.

I think it'll be worth reading.

But if it's not, there's always PK!0É(.


127. Obama Is An Empty Suit With No Clothes On

I’ve been thinking all along that people would, eventually, see the truth about Obama.

They would see him as too liberal. A thug up to his elbows in corrupt, Chicago-style political practices. Facilitating ACORN voter fraud, which is Community Organizing in action. He's wrong on Israel, the Palestinians, Iraq, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela. He's a tax increaser, a wealth redistributor. An empty suit with no serious accomplishments to show for his 47 years. And I had faith that there would be time enough for all the junk to come out and Americans would reject this terribly flawed candidate resoundingly.

Now I am not so sure. And I wonder if Americans can’t see all this because they can’t see it. While conservatives went drowsily about their business in the eighties and nineties, even with majorities at times, the progressives were busy in the neighborhoods, the schools, the churches, the arts, the city councils, the think tanks, the county governments and the state legislatures. And now many Americans have learned to not see. They will not see the difference between right and wrong, up or down, left or right. Or, maybe more devastatingly, they might argue there’s really not much of a difference. And that the only thing that’s really wrong is insisting that there are things that are absolutely and always right.

We freedom loving Americans may dodge this bullet if the polls reflect an actual move to McCain. But if the culture, from kindergarten to statehouse, has determined not to see, then the future is grim indeed.

I wonder, will there be any free places left on Earth?

Less grimly, McCain is confident concerning Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Michael Barone is predicting that there will not be 60 Donkey senators. That is very good news.


126. Phillies Are Champs

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies on winning the World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays and inclement weather. It is the Phils second world title in 105 years.

Seriously, for all the attention that the Mets and the Diamondbacks and the team on the Windy City's north side got, Philadelphia has as much talent as any of them and it is a deserved championship.

125. Beautiful Music Together

I’m generally a happy person, so when I listen to music, I want music that, at a minimum, does not drain my happiness.

Until recently, I put a great deal of stock in ‘styles’ of music or ‘types’ of music I liked or didn't like. Something like “I hate country” or “I hate disco”, and I would use these 'opinions' to guide my music selection. But this approach is often informed merely by peer pressure or the ever fickle culture and is so insufficient as to almost always miss the point.

What is most important is my heart, the furnace of my soul and source of all my outward action, including my mood and attitude. Obviously, my heart’s health is primarily dependent on being happy in the Lord each day and then, as the day goes on, I will encounter stuff that either aids my happiness or doesn’t, like music.

That said, I’ve decided that ‘genres’ of music is just not enough information alone for picking music and I suppose that's not really groundbreaking. But the motive is the happiness of my soul no matter what the alleged 'genre'. Where I can get fooled is by the memories that some music evokes and sometimes that's enough to trick you into 'liking' a tune, but not because you really like it, but because it reminds you of a time or a place or people. And that's not the point.

The point is, does the music cooperate with my current happiness or drain me of it?

Now, what's really interesting is my wife wrote about this very topic on her blog today and neither of us knew what the other was doing!

Stuff like that makes me happy, too!


124. A Better Burger

Anybody who knows me, knows I love hamburgers. I'm picky about them. They need to be juicy and have only mustard and American cheese on them. I don't know if I'm an expert or not, but I know what I like.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I served a number of years at McDonald's in various capacities, including Night Shift Manager. I am fond of their burgers when cooked properly.)

Tonight, my bride wasn't home after work, so I stopped off on the way to get a bite and I decided to do something different since I was on my own. I went to Hardee's to try a Thickburger, or to be precise, a Little Thickburger. I didn't expect it to be great, but they have done a lot of advertising, so I wanted to see (or taste) for myself.

I was right - it wasn't great. But, it was pretty good. However, I won't pay two dollars for another one when McDonald's has double cheese for a buck.

Well, I read the little write-up on the burger bag and it seems the president of Hardee's, Andy Puzder, is offering a money back guarantee if you do not agree with him that his is the best fast-food burger around. The bag says to contact him.

So I did and here's what I wrote:

Dear Andy -

The bag says to contact you if "you don't agree with me that these are the best tasting fast-burgers you can get anywhere". And you say that you would give me my money back.

I'm not too interested in the money, but I am interested to know if you mean what you say. I post regularly at www.centralstandard.blogspot.com and I will post about this. If you stand behind your product, I'll give you credit for it on my blog.

Frankly, I like Steak-n-Shake, Culver's and McDonald's burger better than the Little Thickburger I had tonight. Nothing wrong with it - just not better. We also have a local drive-in called Taylor's that has a better burger.

I just sent that email a while ago.

If Andy's word is good, I'll let you know. And I'll even post the Hardee's logo! How's that?!

Isn't this exciting?


123. Clean Up, Clean Up

Here's some stuff I've collected and will now share. Have a good day!

Lots of fun! Claymation chess match at this link.

More fun! Graph of the housing market plugged into Roller Coaster Tycoon at this link.

Visualizing the Bible. My son sent me this link and I have since seen it somewhere else. Using arcs of color this site links Bible verses with their cross-references. Interesting and beautiful!


122. One of the Good Guys

Mike Singletary was named the head coach of the San Fransisco 49ers today. He was always one of those guys I liked, even though I didn’t root for his teams. ESPN has details here.

A Baylor grad, one of his admirable qualities is he has made no secret of his commitment to Jesus Christ. And it's easy to root for guys like that, though his new team is in the same division as the Seahawks. And, as it turns out, Seattle will travel to San Fran this week. I hope Singletary does well, but I hope the Seahawks win.

I posted the 'Niners logo in his honor and it's a good looking one, at that. On the logo/team colors front, the Niners added black to their uniforms a few years ago and, I think, it was a helpful addition. In the early to mid nineties, black and teal seemed to be favored by new franchises in pro sports and by teams updating their look. Very few of these actually looked good, but the 49ers logo/uniform is an exception, in my opinion. The black seemed to make their colors pop.

So, in honor of Singletary’s promotion, we post the Niners logo.

Boy, I hate doing it during Seahawks week, though.


121. The Future Is Now

A dog wash is not what any of us saw coming. Marty never anticipated it.

When we were young and imagined what the future would be like, well it’s become a joke now, we imagined flying cars. We imagined teleporting devices that would enable us to travel from place to place instantly, when you weren’t driving the flying car, I suppose.

We imagined machines that would prepare a meal and do the clean-up without us doing more than issuing a command. Well, whatever George and Jane Jetson had, we were sure we would have.

But no. We have none of it. What has all our ingenuity, technology and imagination given us? A dog wash.

Marty noticed the new place a few weeks ago as it was being built. Looks like a car wash, he thought. A car wash with an odd little room on the end with a regular door, lots of glass and a table with a stainless steel tub on it. Marty was sure it wasn’t for a car.

A few days later, the answer to the puzzle. The sign was up and it declared the new establishment was the County Line Car Wash and Dog Wash. A dog wash, thought Marty. What about just putting Rover in the tub at home? Or just hose him off in the driveway? Get the kids to do it. How hard can this be? Now we need a place to go and wash the dog?

And in public? The last thing I want anyone seeing, thought Marty, is me wrestling a sopping wet animal half my size. And then what? How do you get him home? You put a wet dog in your car. Isn’t this the sort of thing you try to avoid?

Now if we just had flying cars, you could let the top down and Rover would be dry by the time you got home.

Yup, a flying car would do just fine.


120. Piper Twice

About a month ago a new I-35 bridge opened in Minneapolis replacing the one which collapsed last year, as I'm sure you recall. John Piper, a pastor there and a great benefit to me and the church at large throught his writing and preaching, posted on the Desiring God blog about the event.

Among other things, Piper wrote, "If the bridge had collapsed at midnight and 13 people had died, the media would have been (rightly) filled with amazement that only 13 people had died, and officials would have been expressing relieved gratitude that the bridge did not collapse at rush hour. For if it had, surely hundreds would have died. But the fact is, there was heavy traffic on the bridge at 6:05 PM when the bridge went down and still only 13 people died. This is simply astonishing. It could not be said out loud last year because even the pain of 13 lost (and 145 injured) is not to be minimized. But now it must be said. Whatever reasons God had for not holding up the bridge at rush hour, he was merciful to spare hundreds of lives. For that we should thank him."

There is more to the article and all of it is God-centered, which Piper is always so eager for us to see and feel. Read it all here.

And while we are at it, here's an article from Piper on "Tethered Preaching" that I found to be a refreshment. You can read all of it at this link, but for now, here's a taste, "The Bible tethers us to reality. We are not free to think and speak whatever might enter our minds or what might be pleasing to any given audience—except God. By personal calling and Scripture, I am bound to the word of God and to the preaching of what the Bible says. There are few things that burden me more or refresh me more than saying what I see in the Bible. I love to see what God says in the Bible. I love to savor it. And I love to say it."

Finally, one more thing before I quit.

You have probably noticed an absence of political talk here. I admit I am weary of it and, frankly, disheartened. All outward appearances indicate that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. This makes me very sad. I mourn for our country that it would so readily throw over freedom for this charismatic man.

I saw the Soviet Union. I can see Cuba. I can see Venezuela. I can see the People's Republic of China. I want nothing to do with socialism. And that's why I want nothing to do with Obama. I prefer the freedoms of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

I have been meaning to write about Providence for many days now. I think it would be timely in view of the upcoming election. But I think what I have to say will be long enough to merit mutltiple posts, so it's not ready yet.

In the meantime, we must do all we can and part of that is prayer. Please pray with me that God would allow us to remain free a while longer.


119. World Series Logos

I don't know if you pay attention to this sort of thing, but it appears there is an intentional design process in place for all the major sports championships and the World Series is no exception. How about we take a look, hmm?

For a while in the 70's it appeared as if they came up with a new one each year - here's 1975:

From 1980 to 1986 they all looked the same, except for updating the year, of course. Here's 1982 when the Cardinals beat the Brewers:

From '87 to '99 the logos were based on the ball diamond motif, with script 'World Series' - beginning in '92, a globe was added, emphasizing the 'World' aspect, I guess. I think '89 is most interesting of this group:

From 2000 to '07, the globe was the dominant feature and the details were more modern and sort of 'Worlds Fairsy', if that's clear. The best one of the bunch is, obviously, '06 when the Cardinals beat the Tigers:

This year they've returned to the ball diamond image and used colors suggesting fall and I think it is the best of the bunch. It and the League Championship logos are similar and one or more of them may wind up in the Logo Farm on the right:
If you'd like to see them all from 1974 to this year, you can right here.


118. Tuesday Roundup

Here's a brief roundup of stuff -

An article on SportsIllustrated.com by Kansas City's Joe Posnanski about the Cardinals' Albert Pujols. He makes a solid case for Pujols for MVP, though, I think St. Louis' absence from the playoffs will hurt his chances.

He says: "Perhaps there were once genuine grounds for debate about Pujols' talent. Not anymore. He is, in my mind, the best player in baseball, and I don't think that anyone approaches him."

And he says: "He (Pujols) has the best on-base percentage the last five years. He has the highest slugging percentage the last five years. He has the most total bases, the most extra base hits, the most times on base. And this year, despite missing a few games, he probably had his greatest offensive season. With offense down all around baseball, the guy hit .357, walked 104 times (while striking out 54), banged 44 doubles and 37 homers, scored 100 and drove in 116."

Albert Pujols - The Best Player In Baseball.

More on the job former Seahawk Jim Zorn in doing in Washington with the Redskins. Keep in mind that this was written before the 'Skins defeated the Eagles Sunday.

From the article: "But as turnarounds go, it's hard to match the one the Redskins and Zorn have pulled off in Washington, because we're not even talking about last year to this year. How about the strides the Redskins have made from the beginning of September until the end? Anybody who watched Washington's Week 1 disaster against the Giants on that opening Thursday night at the Meadowlands wouldn't recognize the team that fairly well dominated Dallas on Sunday."

Washington's next three games are St. Louis, Cleveland and Detroit and a 7-1 start is very possible. You gotta feel good for Jim Zorn.

Finally, if my research is correct, this is the first time in Major League Baseball postseason that two cities had two teams involved: the LA Angels and LA Dodgers and Chicago's White Sox and The Team That Shall Not Be Named.

But there will be no intra-city World Series as only the Dodgers advanced of the four.

Incidentally, I only found four instances of one city having two teams in MLB postseason prior to this season and not surprisingly, they all have come after the addition of two more playoff teams in each league. Both New York teams in '99, 2000 and '06 and the two LA teams in '04. In 2000 we had the all-New York World Series, won by the Yankees.


117. Mizzou @ Nebraska

This was to be a longer post, but I no longer have much longer in me. I'm tired.

Missouri will journey to Lincoln, Nebraska Saturday for some college football action, Big 12 style. The Tigers will be playing their first conference game and if they intend to win the Big 12 and be in the BCS hunt, they gotta win.

Missouri has not won a football game at Nebraska since 1978, a game which is memorable for one fourth quarter run. Watch it on YouTube, I'll give you the link in a minute, but first a story.

My dad and I were watching the game at home. Missouri was very good in the 60's and competitive in the 70's in the Big 8 (at the time). Nebraska and Oklahoma were always favored, but if one of them slipped, Mizzou could steal a second place finish from time to time.

Well, Missouri and Nebraska went back and forth in this game all the way to the fourth quarter. Down 31-28, the Tigers were knocking on the door again. QB Phil Bradley handed the ball off to James Wilder and what happened next lives in Tiger history.

Some Nebraska defender, trying to do his job, met Wilder in the hole. Wilder appeared stopped. But that didn't last long. With a twist of his shoulders, Wilder flung the defender to the turf and proceeded to the end zone. Two more defenders, with bad angles on Wilder, were run over at the goal line. Mizzou had a touchdown and, with the extra point, a 35-31 lead that held up.

But what I'll never forget is the great joy my father got from all this. As they showed replay after replay, Dad laughed every time we saw Wilder knock that first guy flat and then high-step into the end zone. Here's the clip.

There's no question we are enjoying a resurgence of Missouri football, a recovery that has taken up to heights never anticipated just a handful of years ago. Here's hoping that Saturday brings another, long-awaited victory in Lincoln.


116. Predictions Guaranteed To Be Made

It is time, once again, for baseball playoffs, a most hallowed time. Likewise, it is time for me to predict stuff and not really expect any of it to be correct.

I'll start with a couple of easy ones. I predict that neither the Cardinals, the Royals, nor the Yankees, (sorry Gary) will win the World Series. What about teams actually IN the playoffs, you say? Glad you asked.

Alright, well, the playoffs have gotten started and so I have given myself a bit of an advantage there. The Dodgers are playing the Team That Shall Not Be Named and I'll pick the Dodgers to win that series. They have already won Game 1 and lead in Game 2. The other National League Series features the Phillies and the Brewers and Philly has a 2-0 lead in that series, so I'll be brave and take them to finish off Milwaukee.

That leaves me with the LA Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Championship Series and I'll take the Dodgers. I like Joe Torre as a manager in October and Manny Ramirez, late of Boston but now of LA, can carry a team for weeks at a time. In fact, I kind of like them to win the whole deal. They sort of have that 'playing well at the right time' vibe to me.

In the American League, the LA Angels are playing the Boston Red Sox and Boston won Game 1. LA is very strong and I like their manager, Mike Soscia, but I'm headed somewhere with my predictions, so I'll pick Boston. In the other series, the Tampa Bay Rays have made post-season play for the first time and they are facing the Chicago White Sox. Tampa leads 1-0 after winning today and I will pick them to win this series in five games.

So that would set up an AL East showdown for the AL pennant and in that matchup, I'll take the Red Sox over the Rays.

Which would give me a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series and, as I hinted before, I'll pick the Dodgers here. I'm looking for Manny Ramirez to face his old team and Torre, former Yankee manager, to face New York's arch foe, Boston. And I like both of them to get their new team a title and, as long as we're dreaming, let's have them win Game 7 in Boston. With Manny hitting 2 homers.

Since you asked.

OK - This may look horrible, but why not try?

Because I'm interested in these things, I set up a Logo Tournament using the baseball playoff teams' logos and created a bracket and I'm going to try to post it. The graphics really broke down, but, let's see, shall we?

Well, well, well. I posted it and it's ugly. Anyway, I like the Red Sox' logo best of the eight is the basic result here. The head-to-head match-ups differed from my "on-field" predictions in only two ways: Rays-White Sox and Red Sox-Dodgers. That's kind of interesting.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if my predictions were influenced by uniforms and logos.

It could be worse. There could be money on it.


115. Vikings, 'Skins, 'Hawks and Zorn

Number One Son graduated from Parkview High School last spring and during his four years in school he never saw the varsity football team win a game. In fact, the losing steak went all the way back to October 2002. Fifty-eight games in a row. Three senior classes, ’06, ’07, and ’08 never saw their squad win.

And finally the streak ended last Friday night. The victory came against one of the city teams, Hillcrest, in a double-overtime thriller, 39-36. Congrats to the Parkview Vikings.

And in Seahawk-related stories, original Seattle QB and former QB coach Jim Zorn is tearing it up as the newly-minted head coach of the Washington Redskins. This past weekend saw the ‘Skins beat the class of the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys, 26-24.

This from the Seattle Times – “A few weeks ago, there was doubt whether Zorn was the right guy to replace Joe Gibbs. Now, he's off to a great start, including being 1-0 against Washington's biggest rival and ending a 1-for-12 skid at Texas Stadium.”

The Redskins are 3-1 while Zorn’s old team languishes at 1-2. Thankfully, the Seahawks are not out of the race in the mediocre NFC West.

Hey! How about Jim Zorn’s new team hooking up with his old team in the playoffs? At the beginning of the year that seemed impossible. Now? It’s possible.


114. Wherein Marty Appears

It's Friday and it's time for sweetness and light. Bitter Political Rancor, you can have the night off!

Old News.
I saw a bit of a History Channel documentary the other day about the Kennedy Assassination. Did you know there is quite a bit of interest in this topic? No, honest, there is!

Seriously, I have been intrigued by the story like millions of others have. We lived in Ft. Worth for about four years in the early 90's and my daughter and I once made an excursion to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Honestly, I have long been sympathetic to the possibility of multiple gunmen having been involved in JFK's death. In the museum, I stood as close to Lee Harvey Oswald's sniper's nest was as the exhibit will allow. I looked through the window to the street. And to my untrained eye and mind, it seemed impossible for one man with a bolt action rifle to do what was done.

However, after watching the show, I've changed my mind. Someone has taken the famous Zapruder film and matched it up with some animation software. The software is able to "fill in" the spots in the film where the motorcade is blocked by the sign, for example. I can't explain as it deserves to be explained, but it's convincing. It demonstrates, I think, that Oswald was the only shooter. I tried to find it on the History Channel website, but gave up after a few minutes. I didn't remember the name of the program. But it's worth seeing if you can.

Now, does this eliminate all possibility of conspiracy? I don't know. The one man who might have the best knowledge was shot in the gut in the Dallas police station basement by a guy with Mafia connections and who really had no business being there. You tell me. The show did mention this, however, and pointed out an important bit of info. In the years since, hundreds of Mafia have been arrested and, facing life in prision or capital punishment, not one has even hinted at knowing anything about the assassination. If somebody knew something, you figure they would talk to save themselves or to get a better deal.

Which leaves us with this: We may never know.

Or, maybe we do know - it was always, only Oswald.

Quick Hits
Burgers, I get. I used to eat them everyday myself. But not with that goop on them!

I have had a question or two about the Logos posted on the right. The idea is to post graphics that I think are interesting or attractive to me. Sports images dominate right now, but there might be something new from time to time. Have you noticed the new ESV Study Bible image? Is that a nice looking cover, or what?

Do I get them all in one spot? So far, yes. It's called Cris Creamer's Sports Logos Page. He's done a lot of work and it's a great site. If you like art, colors, creativity, graphics, or history you'll enjoy snooping around, even if you are not that interested in sports.

Speaking of logos, the NBA's Seattle Supersonics of North Texas have a new logo and it's hideous. Actually, the team has really moved to Oklahoma City and they are called the Thunder. Oy. Steal Seattle's oldest franchise, the only team to win a championship in the Emerald City, and move them to a minor league town, give them a minor league name and a logo that looks like it came out of a logo generator program. (You provide the Team Name! You provide the Colors!) Double oy.

It will not be posted or linked. (If you dare to look, remember, I warned you.)

I have not made it to the ipod generation, yet. My son has one and I am familiar with the concept. I know about 'Shuffle'. I have also mastered e-mail.

Meanwhile, the other day, I was listening to my radio account at an online service where they play songs based upon my preferences. They use a mind meld. Anyway, here's what happened to me: I heard The Mills Brothers’ “I Don’t Know Enough About You” with their trademark harmonies, upright bass and rhythm guitar, and then went directly into ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” with their trademark guitar and drums pounding out a relentless pace. Jarring! Ricky Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou” was next. What a set!

Bob Ryan, one of the nation’s best sports columnists, tackles Major League Baseball's MVP debate. Obviously, I love his conclusion about the NL choice.

Here's a stand-up guy. We could use more of these kind of people. After reading this, I am an Ed Hoculi (hawk-you-lee) fan. I think all decent people should be. Even if you don't care about football, I think you'll appreciate Hoculi.

Once upon a time, I began spinning tales in email correspondance to my cousin. The stories had to do with some rather ordinary folk muddling along through their ordinary lives. Today, we hear from Marty again -

Marty is hardly ever surprised by what he finds in his mailbox. Usually just ads and bills. Ads and bills. He had never thought about that before. Isn't funny that all that is usually in the mailbox is ads to get you to buy stuff and bills for the stuff you bought? Sometimes there's a wrapper from Taco City in there and he hasn't quite figured out why. The wife? The kids? The dog? No! Not the wife! But usually, it's the same stuff all the time.

Except today.

Today there was something from the bank in the mail and it wasn't the monthly statement. Hmm. Marty went to open it. Another mystery. How do they get the information sealed up inside where you can only open it by ripping off the perforated ends? Who does the perforating?This must be important. Maybe it's a check! Marty imagined a little orange card that said, "Bank Error In Your Favor. Collect $200."

It wasn't a check. But Marty, having ripped the perforated ends off, sincerely hoped there had been a Bank Error. It was a message from the bank that they had levied a fee against Marty's account. A fee of $11.17. Wow, he thought, eleven dollars and seventeen cents! Where am I going to get that kind of money?

Marty sat down at the table to think. There was no real explanation for the fee. He knew that he made a deposit last week after he was paid. Since then there had been no big purchases, no grocery store run and the car and the truck both still had half a tank, so no gas. What could it be? He had made a couple of little purchases, but nothing at all significant. Oh, they got the pizza Saturday night. And he bought a Coke and a Hershey bar, also. And on Sunday, too. And Friday. Wait. Friday wasn't Coke, it was Dr. Pepper.

Marty decided he'd better call the bank. He found the number on the bank's envelope. It was a One-800 number. One-800? I could walk there in 10 minutes, he thought. He called it and a recording told him the call might be recorded. "Might be?", thought Marty, "Sounds like it already is!" Then they asked him to punch in his account number. "I don't know my account number! Who memorizes the bank account number?" Then he thought it might be on the notice from the bank and it was. He began to push the number and after 3 digits he heard a voice and he put the phone back to his ear.

"Please enter the account number followed by the pound sign," said the machine. "That's what I'm trying to do!" yelled Marty to no one. He got the account number, followed by the pound sign, entered and the recording began listing all the options and the appropriate number to push for the option.

Since he didn't hear a number for Perforated Envelope In Your Mailbox, Marty had to listen to all the options again. He finally decided to press '0' for a Customer Service Specialist.

He got the recording asking him to punch in his account number. Marty looked for something to throw. From today's mail, he grabbed the flyer from Hammerin' Herb's Hardware Haven and flung it across the room. Immediately he regretting having done that because Hammerin' Herb usually had pretty good prices on things Marty might need some day. "When I get off the phone, I'll go pick that up," thought Marty.

A voice on the phone. ". . . your account number, followed by the pound sign." Aggravated, but throwing nothing, Marty punched in the number. And the pound sign. Here came all the options again. This time Marty chose the number having to do with the checking account. There was a pause.

Then a recorded voice said it wished to verify his account number and proceeded to recite it in a strange, mechanical voice with horrible diction and lousy inflection. If, the voice said, the number was correct, press '1'.

Marty had no idea if it was correct or not. He didn't listen. He was pretty tired of his account number by now. He punched '1' anyway. The voice said, "Would you please enter the last four digits of your Social Security number? Well, thought Marty, here's a new request. Maybe we're getting somewhere. He put in the requested digits. No pound sign required.

The voice started talking about his balance and his last deposit and his next statement. Marty, not one to cry, was beginning to feel desperate. All I want to know," he thought, "is why I owe the bank $11.17. Is this too much to ask?" He was beginning to think he should have walked 10 minutes to the bank after all. He would have been there by now.

The voice ended. Then the voice started. With the options again. The urge to throw something returned. Then Marty thought about walking to the bank to throw something, but then he thought that would probably be a violation of some sort that would make the $11.17 look like a good deal.

"Why can't I just talk to someone, a real person?" Marty pleaded as he looked at the picture of the plastic bins to hold fasteners on the upside down Hammerin' Herb's flyer accross the room. "I might need those," he thought.

Marty heard the phone say "Press 5" and so he did, not knowing what this would do.

"New Accounts, may I help you?" said a real, live person. Marty, not one to cry, thought he might. "Yes, I hope so. I got this notice in the mail that says I have a $11.17 charge against my account and I don't know why. Can you tell me?"

"Well, this is New Accounts, . . " said the real, live person. "I know," said Marty, "but can't you look?" The real, live person decided that it would be alright to help. Just this once.

"I'm sorry," said the real, live person after a minute, "but I don't see any charge or fee against your account."

"What's that?" said Marty.

"There is no fee," said the real, live person.

"Why did I get the notice in my mailbox?" said Marty.

"I don't know, sir."

"So, it was just a mistake?" said Marty.

"Well, the bank doesn't typically make mistakes."

"So, I have a notice of a fee. And you say there is no fee against my account. And this is not a mistake?"

"That's right," said the real, live person.

"Well, what if there really is a fee?" said Marty.

"You would get a notice in the mail."

"But I have a notice right now!" Marty yelled.

"Yes, sir. But you don't have a fee."

Marty took a deep breath. "How can I be sure that, in spite of the fact that I have notice of a fee, that there is no fee as you claim?"

"I don't know. I'm not authorized to answer that," said the real, live person, "I could transfer your call."

Marty cried.


113. 9-11 Plus Seven

We all know what today is and it is certain that you have seen and heard reminders of various kinds throughout the day. I have nothing special to add.

But, let's not forget. Let's not forget What or When or Who. And, remembering, let us fight to preserve our Liberty. Let's fight Tyrants and spread Liberty abroad.

Today's anniversary casts a shadow over some of what I had in mind as I sat to write. But some of it is appropriate. I won't be maudlin nor emotionally manipulative. However, in Remembering, we see the choices we face in November in a different light, just as the Novembers of '02, '04, and '06 were rightly seen differently from elections past.

You must read this article from Powerline. Among other things, it quotes Diana West saying, "'We appear to have decided to remember 9/11 as something akin to a natural disaster that came and went rather than as a part of a diffuse but discernable push to advance the law of Islam." Moreover, Diana contends that one "effect of 9/11 has been, on balance, an accelerated campaign of accommodation of Islam's law in the West.'"

If you are like me, you want to live in a free America, not an Islamic one. If we are to remain free, there is going to have to come a point where we throw the fanatics' tea into the harbor.

Who, you may ask yourself, is more likely to throw the tea into the harbor, should it become necessary? The Democrat or the Republican? This article has an idea and here is a bit of it: "We will listen closely in the debates to what Sens. Obama and McCain say about Islamic terror. To vote for Sen. Obama is to also vote for a Democratic Party that consumed most of the political system's available oxygen for seven years fighting a U.S. president harder than they did the perpetrators of September 11. Political struggle is ever with us, but given the realities that 9/11 revealed (as did the terror bombings in Europe), the relentless scale of the Democratic opposition to the Bush administration's antiterror policies is hard to square."

Any vote for ANY Democrat is a vote to strengthen the party and it positions. And of late, the Donkeys' prevailing attribute is to fight Republicans harder than the terrorists. Would they really rather lose a war than lose an election? This is unconscionable.


112. Talkin' Baseball

OK, this time we mean it. The baseball team that shall remain nameless is in St. Louis this week for three games and the Cardinals really need this series to stay alive in the playoff hunt. The Cards have not had much success against the @*!$ this season. But it is time for St. Louis to fish or cut bait. And I had feared that a bait-cutting festival would ensue.

However, results are mixed so far, with St. Louis winning Tuesday night in dramatic fashion, but tonight's Cardinal rally fell short. We gotta win tomorrow, that's all.

Incidentally, there will be no logos from the team that shall not be named posted on this blog. Granted, the logo has a classic look and, under different circumstances, it would be displayed.

But you gotta draw the line some where.

On a baseball related note, one writer is proposing two wild card teams in each league for the playoffs and I actually like the idea.

Basically, I hate the Wild Card. I will not spill a lot a ink over why, but it boils down to a couple of things. Briefly, I think you should actually win something to advance. There's a reason they play 162 games and a season that long usually grinds things pretty fine. You know who the first place teams are and who they are not. The other thing is that any team can win 4 games in 9 days in October and this is borne out by that fact that one third of the World Series Champs since inception of the Wild Card have been, in fact, teams that could not win their division during the year. Wild Cards.

But, get a load of this idea. ". . . there is a way to restore full meaning to the 162-game schedule, and give teams a significant incentive to win their division rather than be happy just to make the playoffs. Tom Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau has suggested that instead of one wild-card team in each league, there should be two – and that these two teams should face each other in a one-game playoff to determine who moves on to the divisional series."

There's more - "Under this new structure, winning your division is of paramount importance. You’ll do anything you can to stay out of that one-game win-or-go-home situation. Late-season games against your division rivals become vital and electric." (emphasis mine)

I like it. I hope it comes about. Write your congressman.

Better yet, call Sarah Palin.

How can you measure the effect of Palin on the election?

The other day my wife, who typically would ask me, "OK, who are we voting for?" on the day before an election day, is all fired up to go pull the lever for McCain/Palin. My wife is very intelligent, but generally uninterested in politics.

But that was then and this is now.

And after watching and hearing the relentless, uninformed, mindless, partisan and biased attacks lobbed Palin's way and enabled by mainstream media that has abandoned all pretense concerning fairness, my bride remarked, "I miss Tim Russert."

We all do.


111. Sunday Afternoon

Here comes McCain-Palin. Polls out today show McCain-Palin leading Obama-Biden by 3 or 4 points depending on the poll, one shows it essentially even. More good news - the data does not include results from the entirety of the RNC.

McCain is the real deal, a man of accomplishment and courage. Obama is a pretender, a man of two memoirs at age 47 and adept at reading a telepromter. John McCain is a classic, old book you love to read over and over. Obama is a Blackberry with your favorite chapter from the story. The Blackberry you carry in your briefcase. The book is carried in your heart.

It's not going to be close.

Incidentally, Democrats, I don't think you'll be too pleased with what happens to your Congress this fall, either. Just sayin'.

Enough politics for today.

I'm reading Ezekiel right now and I am really struck by the language God uses to describe Israel. He says they've been an unfaithful wife and have gone whoring. God says they learned all this in Egypt.

When they got to the promised land, they took up with the Assyrians and the Chaldeans (Babylonians). Israel, north and south, lusted after the gods of these lands and worshipped them, despising the one true God whose mighty acts on their behalf they saw.

And God judges them and look who the instruments of His wrath are. The Assyrians and the Babylonians. Yes, the ones Samaria and Judah desired, betrayed God for, became their conquerors. What a striking image!

Friends, let's always watch our hearts and never esteem any thing or any one above God our Treasure.


110. Your Comments

I thought I would cull the comments here at Central Standard and write about them. We are an interactive blog!

Cousin Bob from Poppy's Front Porch comments on Politics. Concerning McCain's VP selection. He said, "I hope you're right, (about Romney) and we should know today. I also wonder if it might be some "dark horse" that we haven't heard discussed yet."

Well! It was a Dark Horse selection and perhaps the cousin had some inside info from his neck of the woods in KC? After all, Obama was there the other day. Or was it St. Louis?

Friend Ryan wrote about the veep selection also. He said, "I love the fact that the McCain camp is floating these ads during the commercial breaks at the democrats' conclave. That's being proactive...hopefully he'll pick a decent VP. I hope he stays away from an unknown figure and goes with Huckabee (my personal choice) or Romney. I think Romney could be a negative over the next couple of months in the campaign...they'll exploit his wealth."

Sorry, Ryan, this didn't go at all like you preferred regarding an unknown or Huckabee.

One of the things Ryan sort of got at in his comment was the potential for someone dragging down the ticket. Frankly, even though I prefered Romney in the process, none of the known names provided much 'juice' to the ticket, in my mind. But Sarah Palin does. I think McCain hit it out of the park by choosing her.

Bob also opined on the Mo governor's race, saying he'll vote Hulsoff, but fears it's an uphill battle. I agree. I think "uphill battle" is the BEST Hulsoff could hope for against Jay Nixon.

Finally, Bob again on the Logo Farming that graces the right side of the blog. "So, who are / were the Whalers, anyway? Neat logo, I saw the W shaped like a tail fin...and it took me a while to notice the negative white space could be an H. My favorite might be the Brooklyn Dodgers with the bat at an angle, causing the words around the circular logo to be displaced a bit."

Right on, Bob! The Hartford (the white space is indeed an 'H') Whalers were in the old World Hockey Association and joined the NHL in 1979, along with a few others from the WHA. In 1997 the Whalers moved to North Carolina and became the Hurricanes. They later won a Stanley Cup there. The Whalers have a nearly cult-like following of fans longing, much like Brooklyn baseball fans, for the days when "the Whale" still skated in Hartford. Check out the earliest Whalers Logo.

And that Brooklyn logo is also one of my favorites. I like the same things you do, but the feature I like best is the Bridge.

'Til next time.

109. Front Page of ESPN.com

Coach Gary Pinkel, QB Chase Daniel - MIZZOU-RAH!


108. My Guess Was Wrong

Barring a Tom Eagleton-like breakdown, Mitt Romney will not be Vice President of the United States any time soon. My guess was wrong.

The next vice president with either be Joe Biden or Sarah Palin. I will bet dollars to donuts it will be Palin. I don't bet, of course.

I saw the announcement today from Dayton, Ohio and Palin is terrific. That seems to be the consensus of the blog world also or, at least, the portion of it that I bother with. Conseratives are stoked, by and large.

I think poll-watching will be fun over the next two weeks or so. By Sunday we should have all the Obama convention results in the poll. Whatever bounce he's going to get will be there. After that, it's all about how much the GOP can chip away. I am optimistic.

The Cardinals Toast Quotient is approaching critical levels. They are competing, they're playing hard, but they don't have the horses. The Cubs are beginning to pull away and St. Louis just can't seem to pick up ground on Milwaukee in the Wild Card race.

But, don't quit looking at them. Prince Albert is leading the National League in batting and may just bring home a batting title. He'll get lots of votes for MVP, but being out of the playoffs will depress his vote total.

I have to say that I thought we'd see more from the Royals this year, though they had a nice early portion of the season. I don't know what to say as I don't follow as closely there. I think the GM and the manager are solid. Probably a lack of horsepower in KC, too.

Mizzou starts tomorrow. I can hardly wait to see how good they will be. The National Title is the goal. Oh my! Are these the Missouri Tigers we are talking about?

107. My Guess

I posted earlier that I thought Romney would be a strong choice. I think it will be Romney.

Romney's strength is the economy and this is where the Democrats will hit McCain. Plus, Romney gives McCain a shot at Michigan and that state is in play right now.

I know Pawlenty's schedule has been cleared, but I wonder if that's not a diversionary tactic on the part of General McCain.

Of course I could be wrong - I'm rarely right about these things.

But I think it's Romney.


106. Donkeys In Denver, Tigers In St. Louis

I have already written that I think McCain's timing for his VP selection is very good. He'll probably, though I haven't heard, get it out in time for the evening newscasts so it will be the last big story before the weekend, when news is typically slower. After a week of Democratic hot air, McCain will have the last, succinct word. Beautiful.

This article hits just the right notes concerning how to pick a VP I think. Here’s some quotes - "Vice presidential nominees can hurt the top of the ticket. They can lose the one debate when the country is watching. They can disappoint key parts of the base and send them to the sidelines. They can make gaffes on the trail and thus feed the hostile MSM with storylines."

"But the most they can help is in a handful of states and on three crucial occasions --when they are announced, when they speak to the convention and when they debate."

"The only one of the rumored possible veeps who will almost certainly help in key states and on those three crucial dates is Romney, though Pawlenty is a likely assist across all categories as well. Senators Lieberman and Hutchison, Secretary Ridge, former Congressman Portman etc --they all raise worries about these four factors."

"Senator McCain is even going into the conventions, which very few observers thought would be the case. There is no reason for going long at this point, and every reason to allow Obama to keep beating himself."

I say just hit it long and straight and right down the middle.


I have Obama fatigue and the Democratic National Convention is as good a time as any to get away from politics because nothing of interest will happen there. So this is the ideal time to write about Mizzou football.

This promises to be an exciting year, one very different from previous years. In the past I would get the schedule and try to figure out how many victories were there in the schedule. And, basically, you would hope for about 8 wins. Enough to be respectable and competitive. And often it would take two or three years to get 8 wins.

This year is way different and I gotta say I’m not used to it. The Tigers are being mentioned as National Champ contenders and typically those kinds of teams have a chance to run the table, i.e., win all their games. Yikes! The very thought of Missouri having the kind of football team that could win all its games, and therefore be Big 12 champs, and be in the race for the National Title is mind-boggling.

What it means is that beating Illinois this Saturday at the Jones Dome in St. Louis is as important as beating everyone in the conference and winning the conference title game. We must win every game.

Wow. The air is thin up here!


105. Veep Skirmish

General McCain's forces, already in position, fire away.



104. Just When You Think You Are Done

You know I thought I was finished for the day after that long post (#103).

But I went and checked Powerline and found this: According to the Associated Press, the University of Illinois Chicago has now agreed to make public its records relating to the Annenberg Challenge, an organization founded by former terrorist Bill Ayers and headed by his friend Barack Obama. The records will be made available to the public on Tuesday.

The donor of the records is still unknown, and there is no way to know whether they have been "scrubbed" of information harmful to Obama since Stanley Kurtz first tried to look at them. No doubt we'll learn more starting Wednesday.

OK, stop me if you've heard this before:

Yes, you may see the files.
No, you can't see the files.
(Time passes)
OK, now you can see the files.
Oh, that's not all the files? Sorry, we'll get back to you. (This part hasn't happened in this case. Yet.)

Had enough? Vote Republican.

103. Taxes and Houses and Veeps, Oh My

Who will be Barack Obama's running mate? The world wants to know. Well, CNN and MSNBC want to know. Personally, I can wait.

Usually, the top of the ticket is the big dog, the head honcho leading the nation into the new - whatever. Well, consider this. Obama is the least qualified person ever to be nominated by a major party for president. And in a few hours, he will probably pick someone who does not outshine him.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

There is a danger in writing about Obama in the way I do. It is that I will be perceived as a negative, grouchy, crabby old man. Crotchety, even. Anti-whippersnapper.

I realize that. But I realize this, as well. I think the argument can be made that we live in the most perilous time since the end of the Cold War. OK, I understand that is not a large chunk of history. Nevertheless, I think it's a valid assessment. So, who then should we pick for president? Barney Fife or Marshall Dillon? The Disorderly Orderly or Dirty Harry? C'mon. It's not even close.

I write about Obama the way I do because two things are abundantly clear to me - 1) there are a handful of very dangerous and/or highly critical international conflicts, or near-conflicts, around the world, and, 2) every one of them demands more than teleprompter speeches and a victory lap through Europe. And that is all Obama's got. That is all he's got.

The world is more dangerous than that. We can not afford to give the keys of state to a guy that hasn't even completed Driver's Ed.

Well, what are others saying? Lots. If you are trying to keep up with the Obama news, it's tough. And I'm not even talking about all the "homer" coverage he gets from the mainstream media. Let's see if I can give you a taste and then maybe we'll talk about some fun stuff.

Back a few weeks ago, when Obama was on his Resume Safari to Europe, John McCain began running some ads that really took Obama to task. That was when the "Celebrity" ads came out. And I thought then that it was brilliant. Obama was on tour, on a schedule and basically working from a script. In other words, he was a bit pinned down and less able to respond to what was happening here due to, again his schedule, and the time zones. And that's when McCain started punching - when Obama couldn't do anything about it. It was very smart, I thought.

It also struck me as being strategic in the military sense. And for heaven's sake, John McCain is nothing if not military. And you know what? I think the campaign has been going that way ever since. There has been a precision and incisiveness to what McCain is doing. And I think Obama has been in the position of having to respond to whatever McCain dictates. And I think the poll numbers reflect that.

Well, here's someone who has taken the latest flap over houses and turned it into a military campaign and it's hilarious. I also think it confirms my thinking. But, of course I would think that.

Here are a couple of more thoughts to ponder. The Dems National Convention is this coming week, but how does the week end? With McCain announcing his running mate on Friday. Sure it won't get the foaming-at-the-mouth coverage that we've seen for the last two days, but it will be the capstone of the week. The timing is brilliant. Again.

And then I saw an article just a few hours ago where the McCain camp said it's expecting Obama to get a 15-point bounce from the Convention. That would be huge. But here's the deal. If he gets it, OK, that's what we expect. If he doesn't, then something must be wrong because he didn't have the bounce we expected.

I think McCain is playing Obama and the media masterfully. And better still, I don't think they know it. It's against the Liberal Code to think anyone could best them.

Here the guys at Powerline echo the "unprepared" theme. Here's a quote: "... one of the many problems with being a leftist is that it leads you to say lots of stupid things. Today, the Obama gaffe machine went into overdrive. By November, I suspect that most voters will have heard enough to know that Barack Obama is unqualified to be a middle-manager in a well-run company, let alone President of the United States."

You should read it all.

Same song, another verse. This one is particularly witty and I wish I had written it. Back in junior high, one of the dangers we had to face was getting "pantsed" during gym class. Getting pantsed meant that, unbeknownst to the victim, someone snuck up behind him and yanked the victim's gym shorts down around his knees and then the perpetrator would run off. That is getting pantsed. In this article, Obama gets pantsed. Here's a quote - “With all due respect, Sen. Obama, being president is above your pay grade. And the voters are starting to figure that out.”

As we all learned in "The Untouchables" there is something called 'the Chicago way'. Except in the movie it was a good thing. From the article - “Democrats don't like it when you say that Barack Obama won his first election in 1996 by throwing all of his opponents off the ballot on technicalities.

More - “Mr. Obama has never stood up against Chicago's corruption problem because his donors and allies are Chicago's corruption problem. Mr. Obama is not the reformer he now claims to be. The real man is the one they know in Chicago -- the one who won his first election by depriving voters of a choice.”

Hold on to your wallet. Obama likes to raise taxes according to this piece. And this one, too. Here's George Will - "This senator, who has never run so much as a Dairy Queen, is going to get a huge, complex industry to produce, and is going to get a million consumers to buy, (hybrid) cars. How? Almost certainly by federal financial incentives for both — billions of dollars of tax subsidies for automakers, and billions more to bribe customers to buy these cars they otherwise would spurn."

I know! Let's raise taxes to entice people to buy cars they do not want! Brilliant!

Have you Obama fatigue yet? I hope so. The more, the merrier.

Did you know Seahawks can run? Well, some of them do and after I read this article I was ready to hit the trail. Here's what they said about the run - "I really look at this as kind of a metaphor on life," Pattison said. "You want to stop and you want to quit, but that's the easy thing to do."

"This isn't about climbing Tiger Mountain specifically, since there are higher peaks with longer trails. And it isn't about time, since Pattison will still be running the trail this winter when the weather turns cold, the trail gets sloppy and the times can get downright glacial.
Running the Cable Line trail is more about dedication.”

My daughter and son-in-law honeymooned in Seattle last summer and they would like to go back there some time. Peter, you need to find this trail and run it. In fact, take me along and I'll run it, too. Or I will try. Or I'll hold your camera, or something.

Man, that was a long post. I'm glad it's Friday.