Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas from Thoughts of Man

This man thinks about this angel often.

Merry Christmas to all my readers! God bless you all and the Peace of Christ be upon you.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Santa Can Save You Money!

My eight year old daughter is wonderful, bright, good at math, and has a heart for God. She demonstrates a non-materialistic and financially aware attitude not often seen in children. A recent conversation demonstrated all of the above.

Maria had seen some kind of toy horse at store that she liked, one that was quite expensive (~$250), and she had expressed interest in this horse. We explained how expensive this was, especially given how much use it was likely to see once the novelty wore off.

A few days ago my wife was inquiring of Maria's Christmas list. Maria provided a short list of modest priced items. Bemused, Anita said, "I noticed you did not mention the horse you said you liked so much."

My very astute and caring daugher replied, "Momma, that is much too expensive. No point in ya'll spending money on that. Let Santa get it!"

Friday, November 28, 2008

Traditional Emotional Pornography

I found the two passages from the book, I Don't Want To Talk About It by Terrence Real, interesting. I decided to post in case anyone else did and to invite discussion; that is if anyone other than JMG reads this blog anymore.

In retun, what men have been promised is an appreciative, saintly wife--a whore in the bedroom, a kitten on the living room couch, a scintillating cocktail companion, and a damn fine cook and homemaker. This is not a mature relationship. It is what I have taken to speak of with couples as traditional emotional pornography.

. . . This vision precludes a few nasty realities, like the negotiation of another's needs, doing things wrong and having to learn how to do them differently, struggling with moments of profound loneliness. Society teaches neither member of the couple how to deal with the raw pain that is a part of any real relationship, because it does not even acknowledge the existence of that pain. Stuffed with such romanticism, neither men nor women learn to vigorously negotiate their differences, because true harmony is seen as obviating difference.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

VU Gets 6th Win; Bowl Eligible After 26 Year Drought

Vanderbilt notched its 6th win of the season by winning 31-24 on the road in Lexington against the UK Wildcats. If not for 2 turnovers, untimely penalties, and two special gaffs, the game would have been a blowout. VU dominated the first half, rarely letting the UK offense on the field and holding them to 3 and outs. UK's 1st first down of the game was on a successful fake punt.

The win makes Vandy Bowl eligible for the first time in 26 years and guarantees at least a .500 record for the first time in the same number of years. I remember this last success well. I was a sophomore for the 1982 season in which we beat UT in the last regular season game for a 8 win season and securing a Hall of Fame bowl bid. I went to the bowl game with several of my friends in which VU lost a close game to Air Force.

Although the SEC has 9 Bowl tie-ins, VU needs 7 wins to lock in a bid in my opinion. It would also secure a better Bowl game. With a miserable UT team coming to Nashville this Saturday, we should get 7 wins if we play hard, protect the ball, and limit our penalties. Our last game is on the road at Wake Forest, a good team. We can win that game if we play with intensity and discipline. VU has a great shot at an 8 win season, and a decent shot at 9 wins if they stay focused and healthy.

Just how good is VU this year? Here are some facts:

* Vandy is 4-3 in SEC play which is the 4th best record in the conference. Only those 4 teams out of 12 have a winning record in SEC play.

* Only Alabama (11-0, 7-0 #1), Florida (9-1, 7-1, #4), and Georgia (9-2, 6-2, #10) have a better conference record.

*Notable teams below VU: LSU, Spurrier's USC Gamecocks, UT (3-7, 1-5), and Auburn. Vandy has wins over USC and Auburn and should knock-off UT this weekend. But they better show up and play hard because UT will.

D.J. Moore, our starting cornerback, and one of the best in the country, had an incredible game. He is multi-talented playing on offensive often and he is our leading kickoff and punt returner. Last night he caught passes for our first two touchdowns, intercepted a pass that lead to a score on the ensuing offensive series, and grabbed another intercepted at the end of the game that killed a game-tying drive by UK and preserved the victory for VU.

D.J. is a semifinalist for the prestigious Thorpe Award. The award is given to the top defensive back in college football.

A healthy Chris Nickson returned as our starting quarterback and looked much like his early season form in which he was 5-0. He too is an amazing athlete who has been sidetracked last year and this year with nagging shoulder injuries.

GO DORES! I will be cheering you on to win #7 on Saturday.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Mission Field: The American Male

See update to this post at the end.

There have been some interesting discussions at Phil Wilson's blog post, Question of the Day: Moral v. Political.

In the context of these posts, I provide a disturbing passage I ran across this morning.

In a country in which 135,000 children take handguns to school each day, in which every fourteen hours a child under the age of five is murdered, and homicide has replaced automobile accidents as the leading cause of death in children under the age of one, few boys escape a firsthand acquaintance with active trauma. Once issues of race and class are considered, the picture grows even bleaker. There are more college-aged black men in prison than in school. And the leading cause of death in black men between eighteen and twenty-five--one young man in four--is murder. More than the childhood diseases we spend millions combating, more than accident or natural disaster, violence is the number one killer of boys and young men.
-- I Don't Want to Talk About It by Terrence Real; Ch. 5 "Perpetrating Masculinity", pg 113. Fireside 1997.

I do find it troublesome that while the so-called moral majority (an arrogant classification in my opinion), and the Christian right, spend much energy and resources fighting abortion and homosexuality, we are not vocal about epidemics that are killing our young men and women and contributing to the very problems we say we want to eradicate. Are we even aware of this epidemic?

I invite discussion from my readers.

Update: found this gem in the same book previously referenced.
Recent studies indicate that boys raised by women . . . do not suffer in their adjustment; they are not appreciably less "masculine"; they do not show signs of psychological impairment. What many boys without fathers inarguably do face is a precipitous drop in their socioeconomic status. When families dissolve, the average standard of living for mothers and children can fall as much as 60 percent, while that of the man usually rises. When we focus on the highly speculative psychological effects of fatherlessness we draw away from concrete political concerns, like the role of increased poverty.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sad Day in the Literary World

Michael Crichton, Author, Dead at 66. Nov. 4, 2008

One of may favorite authors, Michael Crichton, passed away yesterday after a private battle with cancer. He was a very prolific author, screen-writer, and producer. Almost all of his novels, million sellers each, were made into film.

Most people, including the article linked above, claim The Andromeda Strain as his first book. However, the first book was actually A Case of Need written under the pseudonym Jeffery Hudson while he was still in Medical School and published in 1968, winning the Edgar Award in 1969. It was one of his best novels in my opinion. It really covers the abortion issue very well from multiple angles.

He attended Harvard College as an undergraduate, graduating summa cum laude in 1964. Crichton was also initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He went on to become the Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellow from 1964 to 1965 and Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1965. He graduated from Harvard Medical School, obtaining an M.D. in 1969, and did post-doctoral fellowship study at the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, from 1969 to 1970. In 1988, he was Visiting Writer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. [Wikipedia, Michael Crichton web entry, Nov. 5, 2008]

An interesting fact: Crichton was just under 7 ft. tall.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hometown Favorite

Hometown Favorite by Bill Barton and Henry O. Arnold

I highly recommend this book. I could say much about it, but I don't want to give away anything.

It is a riviting story. For Christian readers, it is better than The Shack in my opinion. Much better writing and much less overt from the religious standpoint. I am not trashing The Shack, I just liked this book better, and it can stand alone as a great book outside of a Christian theme.

For those not interested in Christian based reading, it is still a must read. The story will grab you and hold you; Grisham-esque. I have include a video trailer for the book as well as the Amazon link.

Henry O. Arnold is a friend whose family I have known most of my life via Otter Creek. He is a professional actor, writer, and director in theatre, film, and television. He co-wrote and produced the film The Second Chance (starring Michael W. Smith). He wrote the screenplay for God’s Ambassador, the first authorized documentary of evangelist Billy Graham.

Barton-Arnold website

Monday, October 06, 2008

We Were Sold a Lie and Bought It

POST UPDATE: If you would like to get physically ill over this issue, please read this article, Congress Opens Hearings on Financial Meltdown which descibes Lehman executives liquidating company cofers into their own pockets, literally in the same breaths in which they are pleading for government rescue.

I hope they get life in prison. God is going to have a place for these theives in hell. Their abject greed is going to ruin millions have lives. And they don't care. This is not a credit crisis, but the act of evil, greedy men.

I said in the original post, it is an intelligence crisis. Our country is facing a moral crisis, pure and simple. World Com, Enron, just the tip of the ice berg.

Original post:

I am so angry at our Congress and our Senate right now.

They pushed a bad bill through that will saddle fiscally responsible taxpayers with a huge anchor that is tied to our financial future. Thereby creating more financial distress, not alleviating it.

Worse, they sold this bail out with fear--fear that the market would crash. So the bill passes and immediately the market crashes. I think it is a result of the smart people knowing what this bill really meant. I don't think it would have crashed as bad if it had not passed.

Anyway, the sell by fear was a lie. Thanks for nothing Congress. You promised us the market would stabilize by the passing of the bill, but it did not. It went the opposite way. But you now have want you wanted, an unsigned check for $700 billion from the American taxpayers.

When will this country rise up and stop living in fear? We have been knee-jerk reacting to fear since 9/11. And the Bush administration has been leading the charge. This type of behavior is only hurting us and we don't learn!

In the meantime, I am being flooded with internet ads, TV ads, and mass mail marketing hounding me to take advantage of easy credit.

Credit Crisis my rear end! We have an intelligence crisis. And that crisis is going to undo this once great country.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Vandy delivers on Game Day -- Big Time!!!

The Vanderbilt student body, the University, and its fans delivered for the Game Day telecast. The Game Day producer said it was one of the best atmospheres they have had.

More importantly, the Vanderbilt football team stepped up and delivered amongst all the hype, in the spotlight, and on ESPN in prime time. They beat then #13 Auburn 14-13. The Commodores move to 5-0, 3-0 in confernce play. They're #1 in the SEC East, #13 in the AP Poll, and #14 in the Coaches' Poll.

It was a huge win for this program.

After giving up 13 quick points the first quarter, VU shutout Auburn the rest of the game and put up 14 points against one of the best defenses in the country. I know one better though, Vanderbilt. VU has had only 10 points scored on them in the second half this year, and that by only two teams. They shutout Auburn for the final 48:09 minutes of the game!

For a great breakdown of stats, see the post Vanderbilt-Auburn Report Card at Conquer and Prevail.

Best line by a sportcaster this weekend--Lou Holtz on College Breakdown. The question being discussed: "Is Vanderbilt a legitimate contender for the SEC Championship. After one of the sportcasters made his case for no, Lou Holtz replied: I couldn't disagree with you more if you were my wife!

Best signs on the Game Day broadcast (set up on the Commons on the Vanderbilt Peabody Campus):

You people are blocking the Library

I got my GED at Auburn

Phil Fulmer ate my second sign

The Geeks shall inherit the Turf

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thoughts of Jefferson

My blog friend, JMG, has an interesting post, Domestic Violence?, about a bill just passed in the shadow of the financial crisis. I think this bill would have been hotly debated in the press if not for financial crisis news. I encourage everyone to look at her post.

In response I have posted a few thoughts of the man Thomas Jefferson which may be applicable. I have also included quotes pertaining to the financial crisis. These are especially troubling -- we never listened.

Government Rule and Force

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.

Leave no authority existing not responsible to the people.

Present Economic Woes
Delay is preferable to error.

Never spend your money before you have earned it.

I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

VU Gets Prime Time Exposure

Vanderbilt at 4-0 sits atop the SEC East at 2-0 in the Conference. Only two other teams, Alabama and LSU (West div), are undefeated in Conference play.

Vanderbilt's hard work and Coach Bobby Johnson's system of building depth and a fundamentally sound football team over a long term are paying dividends.

Vanderbilt moved up to #19 in both the AP and the Coaches' Poll on Sunday. Even better, ESPN Game Day, the hottest football broadcast in college sports is coming to the Vanderbilt Campus this Saturday. The VU v. Auburn game will be broadcast during the prime time college football window Saturday evening.

This should greatly improve the coaching staff's ability to recruit. Having several prominent players in the NFL, including Jay Cutler, the starting QB for the hot Broncos adds even more icing on the cake.

During the first weekend of the NFL official season, VU had 13 former players on NFL rosters.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Letter to my Congressperson: Bail out of the bailout!

This is a letter I emailed to my Congressional members. I encourage everyone to make their opinion on this vital matter known to Congress.

Dear Congressman,

I am opposed to the bailout plan and skeptical of any plan that protects or rewards those who were greedy, participating in fraud, or making poor, un-informed financial decisions, either business or personal. I am also very uncomfortable with the language in the bill that gives the Secretary broad, unchecked powers without oversight from other government branches and without any legal ramifications.

For over a decade our society has preyed on and indulged in easy credit, get something for nothing, short-sighted behavior, both in businesses and in personal decisions. This could not work and was a long-term disaster waiting to happen. It has happened.

It is time to pay the piper. I, who executed fiscal responsibility, should not have to pay for the greed and mistakes of others. I cannot afford to nor can my child afford it.

I feel it is immoral to scare people into accepting a bad plan. We did this with the Iraq War, draconian security measures, and Airport security laws. All of these were knee jerk reactions, accomplished little, and have cost trillions in total. We can no longer behave this way.

Finally, I have a serious problem with the targeted list of firms first in line for the bailout being the very firms that have just been put on a government investigation into fraudulent activities. The government is going to use my money to bailout companies they suspect my have fraudulent practices? Are my elected leaders serious? I appeal to reason on this point.


Anthony W. Arnold

Sunday, September 21, 2008

VU Moves to 4-0, gets Ranked

Vanderbilt won an intense, game on the road at Ole Miss moving to 4-0 and today is Ranked 25 and 21 in the Coaches and AP polls respectively. This takes the SEC to 6 ranked teams. Last week the SEC set a record for having 5 teams in the top 10 from the same conference. There is no doubt which conference is the best in football.

This was a huge victory for VU and they are doing it in ways that VU teams in times past have failed. They are finishing strong and creating turnovers instead of committing them. They had two 2nd half goal line stands, the last one to prevent the go ahead score by Ole Miss, creating a fumble as the Ole Miss runner crossed the 1 yard line.

They are also handling adversity with patience and confidence. In the first quarter Ole Miss made big plays jumping out to a large, quick lead on VU mistakes, but Ryan Hamilton returned his first of 3 interceptions 79 yards for a touchdown as Ole Miss was preparing a knockout punch. Hamilton earned National Defensive Player of the Week from the Walter Camp Football Foundation for his incredible effort.

Hamilton's interception return got VU back in the game and changed the momentum. VU overcame the early deficit to enter halftime tied 17-17. Given our second half performance this year, this is a great position for VU.

Vanderbilt has only given up 10 2nd half points this year and has significantly outscored its opponents after the 1st quarter. Ole Miss did not score after the 1st quarter last night, the second consecutive 2nd half shutout for the 'Dores defense. And we have depth. We are very dinged up but still winning.

Ole Miss hurt themselves continually with penalties while VU remained poised continuing to be the least penalized team in the SEC.

Huge test in two weeks--a tough Auburn defense in Nashville. Vanderbilt can capitalize on Auburn's offense and will have to do this to win.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Big Night, Big Game, Big VU Victory

Vandy beats South Carolina (came in ranked #24)and coach Steve Spurrier for the 2nd consectutive year in front of a national, prime-time ESPN audience.

They played so hard in the 2nd half and earned their victory.

How many coaches or teams can say they have beaten a nationally ranked Steve Spurrier team in consecutive years? Not too many. Last year we won at South Carolina when they were ranked #6.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Nickson named SEC Player of the Week

Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson was named SEC player of the week after rushing for a career-high 166 yards and two touhdowns and threw for 91 yards and another score in Vanderbilt's 34-13 win at Miami of Ohio last Thursday evening.

VU wins big, player of the week, UT lays an egg out of the gate. New and pleasant terrioty for VU fans.

Big game against South Carolina at home on prime-time ESPN this Thursday. All VU fans are to wear black to the game.

Can't wait. GO 'DORES!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

One Man's Wilderness Post #2

A couple of excerpts from One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith from the journals and photographs of Richard Proenneke. Alaska Northwest Books.1999.

Gleaming snowfields showed not a sign of a track. They would be blinding to walk across in the bright sun. And all those beautiful waterfalls, some dropping from the high buttresses like thin streams of molten silver and seeming to vanish in midair. Others along the creek below spilled in wide, bright aprons between banks as green as new leaves.

It is time to leave, so I picked up my walking stick. I had taken a long look into the heart of the high places and felt like a man inspired by a sermon that came to me firsthand, that came out ofthe sky and the many moods of the mountains.

I crossed the big pasture and took several sips of water from the trickles that made music over the stones--like a wine-taster not being able to decide which vintage was best. Down through the canyon with the rock-strewn slopes on either side and finally, just above where the canyon walls ran together, the triangular eye of turquoise that was the lake peered up at me.

A brief stop at the Eagle's Back, a dizzy jut of granite on the mid-slope of Falls Mountain. Climbing out on it, I stood feeling suspended over the entire upper lake that gleamed beneath in robin's egg blue. On the far side was the warm glow of logs that is home--the place I wanted to leave in the morning and the place I wanted to return to at the close of the day.

-- pgs 197-198

I broke out into the willows that grew around the edges of the cottonwoods. There were no fresh moose droppings or tracks. But then I came to a clump of cow parsnips freshly cropped and the grasses mashed around them.

Funny, I thought, I have never known a moose to eat this plant. I looked about. The
leaves in the cottonwoods quivered against the sky. Suddenly the brush to my right rustled and crashed. I spun, expecting to see the bull [moose] getting up out of his bunk--and every hair on my stabbed electricity into my skull.

A huge brown bear was coming head on, bounding through the willow clumbs not fifty feet away! His head looked as broad as a bulldoze blade. I threw up my arms and yelled. That was all I could think to do.

On he came, and I thought, "At last you've done it, nothing can save you now." I was stumbling as I retreated in terror, shouting.

I tripped and fell on my back. Instinctively I started kicking at the great broad head as it burst through the willow leaves. And then as he loomed over me, a strange thing happened. The air whooshed out of him as he switched ends. Off he went up the slope, bunching his huge bulk, climbing hard, and showering stones. Not once did he look back.

I was shouting, encouraging him in his flight. What seconds before had seemed so terrifying was now almost comical. What had saved my skin?

He must have scented me at the last moment. Until then I do believe he had me pegged as another animal and meat on the table. I couldn't stop shaking. The rest of the way down the mountain I lived those seconds over and over again. I was convinced that the ought-six would be standard equipment from this day on.

-- pg 199.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey

Sam Keith's book from the journals of Dick Proenneke (Pren-ne-kee) is one of the best books I have read. It is simply written in a parsimonious style that is still descriptive of the complexities of the man Proenneke is; and is descriptive of the complexities of a solitary, self-sufficient life in the Alaska wilderness. It is this simplicity of expression without loss of detail that makes Proenneke's journals so elegant.

Reading his journal motivates me to be productive and active but at the same time creates a sense of calm and peace . Proenneke is an extremely industrious man but who goes about his mission with calm purpose, a peaceful spirit, and with efficiency. He is creatively and mechanically intelligent to the highest degree, yet he finds his purpose in the simplest of pleasures of his surroundings: God painted views of lakes and mountains; flowing water; snow covered environs; and the daily lives and eccentricities of the Alaskan wildlife.

He revels in just being.

From his words, Proenneke is not a religious man, but he clearly demonstrates reverence in his love for life in the wild and the uncomplicated morality he lives out. This is succinctly stated in my favorite quote from the book.

Somehow I never seem to tire of just standing and looking down the lake or up at the mountains in the evening even if it is cold. If this is the way folks feel inside a church, I can understand why they go.

Man builds cathedrals that take lifetimes to complete to find a way to honor and worship God. Yet a simple man has captured the essence of true worship that a religious man should have.

This is such a great book for such an easy read. Efficient but grand just like Dick Proenneke.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Art (or rather the knack) of Flying

The knack [of flying] lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day.

The first part is easy.

All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt. That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really tyring properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard.

Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties. One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. It's no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won't. You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when you're halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it's going to hurt if you fail to miss it.

It is notoriously difficult to prize your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most people's failure, and their eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport.

If, however, you are lucky enough to have your attention momentarily distracted at the crucial moment by, say, a gorgeous pair of legs (tentacles, pseudopodia, according to phylum and/or person inclination) or a bomb going off in your vicinity, or by suddenly spotting an extremely rare species of beetle crawling along a nearby twig, then in your astonishment you will miss the ground completely and remain bobbing just a few inches above it in what might seem to be a slightly foolish manner.

This is the moment for superb and delicate concentration.

Bob and float, float and bob. Ignore all considerations of your own weight and simply let yourself waft higher.

Do not listen to what anybody says to you at this point because they are unlikely to say anything helpful. They are most likely to say something along the lines of "Good god, you can't possibly be flying!"

It is vitally important not to believe them or they will suddenly be right. Waft higher and higher. Try a few swoops, gentle ones at first, then drift above the treetops breathing regularly.


When you have done this a few times you will find the moment of distraction rapidly becomes easier and easier to achieve. You will then learn all sorts of things about how to control your flight, your speed, your maneuverability, and the trick usually lies in not thinking too hard about whatever you want to do, but just allowing it to happen as if it were going to anyway.

You will also learn about how to land properly, which is something you will almost certainly screw up, and screw up badly, on your first attempt.

There are private flying clubs you can join which help you achieve the all-important moment of distraction. They hire people with surprising bodies or opinions to leap out from behind bushes and exhibit and/or explain them at the critical moments. Few genuine hitchhikers will be able to afford to join these clubs, but some may be able to get temporary employment at them.

-- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; entry RECREATIONAL IMPOSSIBILITIES.

Excerpt from Life, The Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams. Compilation Edition The More Than Complete Hitchhiker's Guide, Wings Books, Random House, 1994.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Early Wakeup Call

JMG posted yesterday about her early wakeup call. Thought I would post mine from this morning since I have nothing inspirational at the moment (as if I ever do).

This morning, somewhere between 3:30 - 4:00 AM, I was awoken by a police car going down the street with siren. A rare occurance on our street. About 2-3 minutes later our dog bursts into our bedroom, a little anxious but not barking or growling.

I get up to check things out having just heard the siren. I see a police car, could be the same one I heard, coming back slowly the opposite way as the first with lights on but sans siren. Within minutes, a couple more cruisers show up and park in front of the field across the street. Several more continue to scout around the neighborhood slowly.

I go outside, walk across the yard, and speak to one of the officers. There has been a domestic dispute on the next street over and they are looking for a fleeing male. He tells me to stay inside for a while and keep my dog up because they will have a K-9 unit arriving soon.

My wife and I watch the scene for a while from inside seeing nothing, not even the K-9 unit. A firetruck does arrive turning up the street of the incident; I assume to tend to some injuries. The injuries must of been minor as there as no siren and the firetruck left a short while later and we never saw an ambulance.

My wife scans the news on the local channels but finds nothing about this incident. I am surprised how early the local news shows begin.

Around 4:45 AM, the police all leave, so I assume they caught the person they were looking for. I reset my alarm for 6:00 AM instead of my normal 5:00 AM rising and go back to sleep.

I have not seen anything about this on the local news websites.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Heaven, Hell, and Teachers

A conversation with a blog friend JMG triggered my memory of this joke that is perfect for the start of school.

A retired teacher passes away and arrives at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter welcomes her and begins the grand tour of Heaven. As he is showing her around St. Peter is pointing out the various clouds.

"Over here we have the accountants. To the left engineers. Next door to them we have IT folks and software developers. Over there, business managers. A couple of clouds down, we have ministers, priests, and evangelists." Whispering, St. Peter says, "the clergy are always surprised at how small their cloud is."

After seeing a good number of different occupational clouds and touring the dinning, recreation, and other communal clouds, the teacher is looking very perplexed with a touch of worry on her face. St. Peter asks, "You look like something is troubling you. Is anything wrong?"

"Well, you never showed me the teacher's cloud. Where am I going to be?", the teacher asked.

"Saving the best for last," answered St. Peter. "Right over here we have the educator's cloud." St. Peter escorts her into a lavish, gold-adorned, but empty cloud. "Here you go."

"This is beautiful!", she exclaims, but quickly looks perplexed again. "Where is everyone? Surely I am not the only teacher that made it to heaven," she questioned.

"Heavens no! I am terrbily sorry for the fright. I forgot to tell you didn't I?"

"Tell me what?"

"They're all down in hell this week doing in-service"

Friday, August 01, 2008

I can't stress it enough, I hate ...

I ran across this at another blog and it is one of the funniest videos I have watched, especially being a hardcore Vanderbilt fan, alum, etc. To my friends who like UT, don't be offended. You probably will laugh too.

Just too funny.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Everyone one do the . . . MORTGAGE!

Can anyone explain the association between mortgages and weird dancing figures and mini-videos of dancing people? Frankly, I just don't get it. Do dancing figures subconsciously make me want to refinance or buy a home?

Also, I just don't buy into the whole hoopla of a mortage crisis. Why? Because the weird dancing figures are telling me that mortgage rates are at their lowest point in 10 years! The fact that they have been saying that for the last 5 years does not cause me any skepticism whatsoever.

Final beef: I understand having to put up with all the annoying ads on free websites. I don't like it, but I understand. But it really chaps my posterier to put up with them on the sites I am paying for--especially Comcast! As much as I pay those jokers per month, they don't need additional ad revenue. Free money for them at my nuisance. Alas, what I would not do for some competition in Nashville.

Have a sardonic day, everyone.

Thy Kindgom Come

I decided to post a thought that was triggered by Matthew's Musings on Spiritual Matters blog post entitled, Seriousness, Culture, and Worship.

If we lived out our passion, openly, for Christ as much as we do for our sports allegiances, the Kindgom of God on earth would have come a long time ago.

. . . we got Spirit, yes we do! We got Spirit, and love you too!

Peace in Christ,


Monday, July 21, 2008


Execution: the movement from thought and emotion to action and consequence.

Persecution is prejudice executed.

Pain is evil executed.

Failure is ignorance executed.

Wisdom is knowledge executed.

Sacrifice is love executed.

Salvation is Christ executed.

The Kingdom of God is grace executed.

Please add your own.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Brian Mclaren as advisor to Barack Obama

From CNN report:
Democrats have usually conceded the evangelical vote during presidential elections, but Sen. Barack Obama is trying to change that by mobilizing what some call the "Christian left." . . .

Obama's outreach to evangelical voters has also included private summits with pastors, an effort to reach out to young evangelicals and a fundraiser with the Matthew 25 political action committee, which describes itself as a group of moderate evangelicals, Catholics and Protestants committed to electing the Illinois Democrat president. . . .

Brian McLaren, a former pastor who spent 24 years in the pulpit and is now an informal adviser to the Obama campaign, believes a significant portion of evangelical voters are ready to break from their traditional home in the the Republican Party and take a new leap of faith with Obama.

"I think there's a very, very sizable percentage -- I think between a third and half -- of evangelicals, especially younger [evangelicals], who are very open to somebody with a new vision," McLaren said.

That new vision, he said, isn't focused on traditional social issues like abortion and gay marriage, but more on efforts to end global warming and the war in Iraq. "We've watched the evangelical community be led -- be misled -- by the Republican Party to support things they really shouldn't have supported," McLaren said, including "the blind support for the Iraq war when it was launched on either mistaken or false pretenses."

Readers, how do you feel about this? Is it appropriate for Christian leaders to involve themselves directly in politics? And I am not asking from the viewpoint of separation of Church and State. I am asking from the viewpoint of does it help, harm, or carry risk to Christianity? Does it fit with the example Christ set, yes or no?

Is Mclaren's involvement any different than that of James Dobson and others, except that they invovled themselves with Republican candidates which is more palatable to Christian conversatives?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Name that Quote answers

Here is the full quote:

The general announces his unalterable determination rigidly to execute the martial law in all cases. . . He will separate our enemies from our friends. Those who are not with us are against us, and will be dealt with accordingly. -- Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H. W. Brands. Amazon Kindle ref. 4440.

3 points awarded to Jettybetty who got closest. The statement was made in a published letter to the occupants of New Orleans by Andrew Jackson as he prepared to defend against the British occupation and invasion of New Orleans in the War of 1812. It is highly likely that Edward Livingston delivered the letter to the local paper(s) on behalf of General Jackson. He was Jackson's aide during this battle.

1 point to JMG for the Bush and Christ reference. This is eerily close to a Bush speech against the evil forces behind 9/11 and in preparing the nation for the ultimate intent to invade Iraq.

Christ used this language in rebuking the Pharisees who alluded Jesus was in league with Beelzebub when he cast out a demon from a blind and mute man. Christ made the point that if he cast out a demon in the name of Satan, was this not a house divided against itself and made no sense. Therefore, he must be doing this through the power of God. Further, if he was working with God, and you claimed to be serving God (the Pharisees did) but were against him, Christ, you were against God. Matt. 12:22-32 or Luke 11: 14-23.

BONUS QUESTION: 5 points to JMG for giving the answer I was looking for. Our illustrious nation anthem is taken from an English drinking tune. I figured most knew that Francis Scott Key penned the words; that many knew he did so during the bombing of Fort McHenry at the Battle for Baltimore, although most would assume the American Revolution instead of the correct time of the War of 1812. Given the origin of the tune, it is even greater reason that America the Beautiful should be our national anthem.

Not to mention it is more accurate to the sentitment of America and not to an emblem, that it is a majestic song, and that it is easier to sing.

NOTE: America the Beautiful is our nation hymn while the Star Spangled Banner is our national anthem.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Name that Quote

. . . will separate our enemies from our friends. Those who are not with us are against us, and will be dealt with accordingly."

Recognize this quote readers? Who said it and on what occasion?

Bonus point question (not tied to the above). What is the origin of the Star Bangled Banner?

Answers will be provided in a few days.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On Christian Behavior and Influence

If you have a fish on your vehicle; have a bumper sticker or other tag that identifies you with a Christian institution, school or university; or in any other way outwardly hint that you are a Christian, please do not do the following:

* Tailgate me or the cars around me, especially at high speeds.
* Drive agressively and with an impatient and irritated demeanor.
* Race forward to cut me off so you can get a few cars ahead when you could have pulled in behind me. Especially do not do this as we approach our church entrance.
* Blow through stop signs or the first 2 seconds of a red light.
* Fly through my neighborhood at 15-20 miles above the 30 or 35 mph speed limit.
* Do 30-35 mph in a school zone.
* Do >25 mph in the school or church parking lot.
* Park in the fire lane, or the handicap spots when you are not, (emotionally does not count) because you are only running in for a moment. Especially do not do this in front of Starbucks in your SUV.
* Blindly merge without planning your merge point or signaling. Especially do not do this if your lane is the one that ends and the sign said your lane merges, which means yield! (Why have so many thought the law changed so that if your lane ends you just hug it until you blindly move into traffic? Source of another rant sometime).
* Floor it to cut me off when I am properly merging by picking my spot, adjusting my speed for that spot and signaling my intention.
* Sling your door open and ding mine in the parking lot and walk off.

When you act this way with identifying marks on your car or person you are not providing a Christian example. I picked simple actions in the car that I witness on a daily basis from people with clear Christian symbols visible to all. We all could list hundreds of other examples of how we do not represent Christ in simple, everyday behaviors while wearing our Christian cheerleading outfits.

Give some serious thought to how you act while openly proclaiming Christianity. And yes, I am very guilty myself. (I sure hope my wife shows Christian love and restraint and does not post a comment).

If the above comments, or rant if you prefer, seem trivial, then consider this excerpt from American history.
The assault triggered a war between the British and the Cherokees, which outlasted the French and Indian War. The British drove deep into Cherokee territory, against the Cherokee villages. The destruction the British wreaked caused even some of their own soldiers to wince.

Lieutenant Francis Marion (soon to become famous for his exploits against the British recorded: We proceeded, by Colonel Grant’s orders, to burn the Indian cabins. Some of the men seemed to enjoy this cruel work, laughing heartily at the curling flames, but to me it appeared a shocking sight. Poor creatures, thought I, we surely need not grudge you such miserable habitations. But when we came, according to orders, to cut down the fields of corn, I could scarcely refrain from tears. Who, without grief, could see the stately stalks with broad green leaves and tasseled shocks, the staff of life, sink under our swords with all their precious load, to wither and rot untasted in their mourning fields? I saw everywhere around, the footsteps of the little Indian children, where they had lately played under the shade of their rustling corn. When we are gone, thought I, they will return, and peeping through the weeds with tearful eyes, will mark the ghastly ruin where they had so often played. “Who did this?” they will ask their mothers. And the reply will be, “The white people did it—the Christians did it!”

-- from Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times, by H.W. Brands.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Common Man's Fix For Social Security (maybe Common Sense fix?)

We are going the way of Europe as our country ages (time as a nation, not average population age although that would apply as well). What I mean is more and more overhead thus higher taxes. This is ironic as one of the primary reasons our founding fathers incited a revolution was to escape the heavy and unfair tax burden that is the legacy of European governments.

When the takers outnumber the makers you are upside down. Don't blame the baby boomers though. It is not their fault that our government took what was originally supposed to be a temporary plan, and what was clearly a Ponzi scheme, and made it a permanent plan. All pyramid schemes fail in the long term. The first in win, everyone else loses. Can anyone honestly say social security is anything but what I described?

The only way out is to correct a bad system. And, there are non-dramatic ways to do so. My plan is similiar to what many companies are doing with pension plans.

1. Set a hard date for no new Social Security beneficiaries. Example: Anyone born after Dec 31, 2008 will not recieve Social Security and must plan their own retirement. You now have finite system. Any finite system can be managed.

2. Everyone working, regardless of birthdate, continues to pay Social Security until there is no remaining beneficaries (the last person born Dec 31, 2008). Those born after the cutoff date won't be upset as they will be conditioned from their first job on that this is just another government tax on their paycheck, just as we were. Notice that everyone will see the Social Security deduction decrease as the finite number of beneficiaries declines, eventually becoming zero.

3. Readjust annually the Social Security payroll deduction to match immediate demand and near term forecasts. Also pass a law that social security payments cannot be used for any other purposes--ever! If the politicians want to keep the social security rate higher and start using the inevitable surplus later, the law should prevent them from doing so. Force lawmakers to do this openly by passing a new tax rather than to piggyback on an existing one. Reference the war of 1812 communication tax. It was a tax on telegraph communications, became the telecom tax after the war ended and just recently was done away with after class action lawsuits.

4. Do away with stupid standardized testing such as "no child left behind" and mandate a curriculm taught every year in 5th thru 12th grade as part of social studies or math class on basic personal accounting and personal financial management. Give those born after the cutoff date every chance to be smart about their future. The key is education.

5. Mandate that anyone working must contribute a minimum of 5% of their annual gross to a qualified retirement plan and continue to allow that contribution to directly lower your taxable gross. Mandate that the government does not administrate any of these plans. It must be the individual's money, and the government has no hold on it other than what age it can be withdrawn, which is already the case.

This plan is simple, effective, and without additional taxation. We can solve our problems in this country without doom and gloom if we are willing to be honest about them and put in solid, long-term focused solutions. But if we continue to ignore our problems or react short-sightly with quick fixes, we will face very tough times.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

911 to God

I don't get the local paper anymore. I rarely watch the news. I typically only catch the leads of major news stories unavoidably from my Comcast home page and other web sites. When I do actually read news stories in depth, I try to stick to sports.

One of the primary reasons is that so many terrible things are in the news and frankly it gets me down. I am not a believer in hiding from the world or avoiding issues and problems, but the older I get the more I seem affected by the negative and evil things in the world. And the news media loves to hype this stuff. I think it needs reporting, but I get sick of the sensationalizing and almost glamourizing of that which is bad, wrong, or just down right evil.

The Interent, as great a tool as it is in so many ways, is one of the worst contributors. It has provided an unregulated forum for every idiot, predator, and malicious purveyor.

A perfect example is the recent arrest of 8 teens who set up an ambush to beat up another teen and filmed it so they could post it on You Tube (Teens Behind Florida YouTube Attack to Be Charged as Adults). I am sure most readers are aware of this story by now. I have wanted to post, but could not think of what to post about it.

Everything about this incident sickens me. The thought process of the teenagers and then their actions. The state of society that contributes to such behavior. The parents of these teenagers. The fact that You Tube allows many despicable things to be aired which gives malicious, idiotic people hope that they could post anything (You Tube has become a top forum for posting your homemade porn). And finally, it sickens me that the teens accomplished their original stupid purpose: to get this crime broadcast to the world.

And this story is fairly benign! Last year I read a story that really pushed me over the edge in avoiding the media. It was about a little boy who was killed during abuse. The male abuser slammed the child into a tile shower wall repeatedly until the boy died of massive brain and other internal injuries. The reason the man gave? This little innocent child would not stop screaming and crying while the man repeatedly raped him anally.

There are millions of horror stories occurring regularly across the globe. Pick one. Can anybody shed any light on how people can do these types of things? And please do not bother responding with the cliche it is a broken world. Really? It is too much an understatement.

I could lose my faith, many have and it is hard to fault them. But I have not given up on God. However, it does make me pray in anger. It makes me pray my own 911 call to God. Unfortunately it is not a prayer for God to save us or these victims. I do such prayers often, but we all realize it continues and will continue. Sometimes my 911 prayer is for God to come and wipes us all out--destroy us all, including me. We deserve it. We can be such a wretched creation. Why do we love evil so much? Why do we gloss over the topic so easily?

I am not losing it or depressed. But I also don't shy away from being honest about the anger I feel at times over the abject evil that God allows to exist. With due awe, reverence, and respect, I do ask God, "Free will--that is the best gift you could give us? Your ways are not my ways God, and some of your ways are just so painful. I love you, but please don't expect me to understand"

Monday, April 07, 2008

Shan Foster Wins Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

(Shan is pronounced Shane)

Several weeks ago I posted on Shan Foster's incredible performance on Senior Night and how he glorified God in the process. God received additional glory as Shan won the Lowe's Senior CLASS award for NCAA Men's basketball Saturday. The award, selected by a nationwide vote of coaches, media and fans, is presented annually to college basketball's outstanding NCAA Division-I senior student-athlete. Dick Enberg, who first conceived the idea of an award for seniors in 2001 in response to the growing trend of basketball players leaving school early for the NBA, helped make the announcement

CLASS is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award has grown into the nation's premier tribute to college seniors. The award identifies personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete, with criteria including excellence in the classroom, character and community, as well as the candidate's performance on the court.

While his performance on the court has been among the nation's best, Foster also has epitomized the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award off-the-court criteria with his classroom performance, character and community involvement. A double major in Leadership and Health & Human services, Foster will receive his undergraduate degree in May 2008. An accomplished musician that has recorded a song on a gospel album featuring Nashville, TN artists, Foster is involved with Vanderbilt's Susan Gray School, an on-campus research-oriented school devoted to young children with developmental disabilities.Foster frequently visits elementary, middle and high schools as well as children's hospitals and churches in Nashville. He has served as a mentor to five teenagers in the Nashville area. -- VUCOMMODORES.COM, Foster wins Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

Beside this award, Foster was the SEC Player of the Year and is a 2nd Team All-American. Foster is Vanderbilt's all-time leading scorer with 2011 pts and also VU's all-time 3-pt shooter. This year he led the SEC in scoring (20.6 ppg), three-point field goals made (4.03/game), and three-point field goal percentage (47.2%). He is the only player in Vanderbilt history to score over 2000 career points and only the 22nd player to do so in SEC history.

He played in last Friday's College All-Star game and participated in Thursday's 3-pt shooting constest, part of the NCAA Division-I final four weekend.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Are We Lowering The Bar Of Discipleship?

Author's note: I have re-titled this post and corrected a couple of phrases in the post to better reflect my intent based on my blog friend JMG's initial comment.

This past weekend my family rented a remote cabin owned and operated by a Mennonite family. It was wonderful not having television or internet access. I looked through some of the books supplied with the cabin. They had several books about the Amish and Mennonite faith. One of these books, 20 Most Asked Questions about the Amish and Mennonites by Merle and Phyllis Good, caught my interest. It was a well written book and dealt honestly with these two groups. They are people that truly love God and show this with their lives, yet they are not different than any other Christian group in that they are human and fail to live perfectly. One thing I liked about this short book was it provided a quick background on the emergence of the Amish and Mennonite faith. They stem from the Anabaptist reformation in the first quarter of 16th century Europe which had broken away from the original reformation led by Martin Luther. They specifically date their emergence to Jan. 21, 1525 in Zurich, Switzerland.

The suffering servanthood of Christ is their base model. Their first attempt at a statement of faith was 2 years after the movement began and is referred to as the Schleitheim Confession of Faith. “1) The one and only God has revealed Himself as existing eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; 2) The Bible is the authoritative Word of God, and the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament; 3) God has created and continues to sustain all things; 4) Humankind is sinful, needs atonement through the Lord Jesus Christ and is free to choose or reject salvation by grace through faith (children are in the kingdom of God until old enough to decide); 5) The church is the visible expression of those who voluntarily commit themselves to a life of holiness and love, open to each other’s counsel and discipline; and 6) Christ will personally return to judge the world, raise the dead, and usher in the glorious future of the kingdom of God.” [pg 16]

That is almost word for word many sermons I have heard preached in the Church of Christ. And so many of our group think we are so unique. Maybe our eyes aren’t as open as we like to think. Well, enough good-natured poking at my group. The point of this post was not this snippet of Christian history. I read a few passages in the book that caused me to ponder some of culture’s progressive or modern approaches to Christianity.

Does anyone ever join them? Does anyone ever leave? We know of no group within the highly diverse Mennonite-Amish family which “outsiders” cannot join. The only question is whether the applicant is truly willing to meet the group’s requirements of Christian discipleship. The greater the requirements for membership in the group, the fewer the members who join from the larger society. Conversely, the more relaxed the requirements, the more “outsiders” who join the fellowship (unless the expectations become so low that there’s no reason to join). [pg 22]

What may a fellowship require? From the beginning, this question concerned the Mennonites. On this point they broke with the reformers, and the Amish broke from them. Is it worthwhile to belong to a fellowship where there are no standards of belief and conduct? If the church members have a right to establish expectations of each other, how are those standards agreed upon, taught, and actually enforced? And should members, who fall short of the standards, be asked to withdraw from membership? [pg 22-24]

The ban and shunning: In a society where freedom of any sort is set on a romantic pedestal, requirements of commitment can appear cruel. To an Old Order person, however, lack of commitment and standards seems cruel and heartless. The early Anabaptists believed that the New Testament taught the church to discipline its members; that if after long, loving counsel a member in sin refused to repent, that person should be excommunicated from the fellowship until he did repent. Otherwise the fellowship would eventually have no standards. The purpose of excommunicating a sinful member is to bring that member back into the fellowship. It is not an attempt to harm or ruin the individual. The actual number of members excommunicated by these groups is very small. [pg 24-25]

The point of my blog is not to raise a discussion on excommunication, banning, or shunning. These passages made me wonder if our more modern attempts at reaching a wider audience are inadvertently lowering the bar of expectations of Christian discipleship down the value of our faith. Are Community Churches, in letting go of some of the restrictions of their prior affiliation, reducing accountability and discipleship in the process? Even for churches such as the one I attend which has retained its Church of Christ affiliation, wrestles with such a question regularly.

Does the phrase, “no pain, no gain” have merit in considering our understanding of Christ and discipleship? I do not believe that suffering in and of itself has much merit. But suffering is a part of the Christian life and we must be prepared to handle it with Holiness. Discipline is the root of discipleship. Can we have the faith of Christ and live His example without discipline? Are we absolving ourselves of such discipline in our modern Christian community?

Are we preaching, and much more importantly, teaching, instructing, and nurturing the kind of discipleship related in one the earliest accounts of Anabaptist martyrdom. They were a group heavily persecuted by both the Church of Rome and the Reformers. Dirk Willems, a Dutch Anabaptist in the late 1560’s, was chased by sheriff who wanted to arrest him because of his faith. Willems crossed the ice of a river safely; the sheriff fell in. Willems went back and helped his persecutor to safety. The sheriff promptly arrested Willems who was then burned at the stake in 1569. [pg 30]

In addition, do we promote accountability? Do modern, wider-audience church methods allow for real, intimate Christian communities that build deep, interactive relationships? This is the most important question. Because without a relationship, you cannot ask for accountability and you certainly cannot have individual acceptance of accountability. Without accountability buy-in and without relationships, you cannot provide loving discipline. People will not allow themselves to be held accountable or accept discipline from others that they do not know, trust, respective, or love.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Amazing, just absolutely Amazing!

Update: Shan Foster was named SEC Player of the Year

I have sat here and tried to describe what I saw Shan Foster do last night, Senior night, at Memorial Gym--to literally snatch victory from the jaws of defeat -- to the tune of nine times. Nine straight 3's to send the game to overtime and win in overtime, after going 0-6 before the nine.

I cannot describe it. It was so emotional because his effort transcended a mere sporting activity. The most amazing part was how God was glorified. Shan is an devout Christian young man who gives God all the credit and Shan did it very publicly last night. The coach even alluded to the affect that Shan has had on him personally. God works in mysterious ways, and maybe this is one of them.

The best I can do is post a link here to the Vandy site where anyone curious can watch video, listen to comments, and read an article on this incredible feat. My favorite is the Miss. St. coach's post-game comments on what Shan did. The Miss. St. coach is a class act.

So I will leave you with the links and a quote from an article on the game.

"This is the first game I hit nine 3s. To hit nine in a row, that blows my mind," Foster said. "I mean there's a big difference between hitting nine in shooting practice with Red (Alex Gordon) when we're challenging each other and hitting nine in a row with the other team trying with everything in them to stop you from shooting the ball ...
that amazed me. That was crazy.

My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open. God took care of the rest. Some of those shots, I was amazed. I was deep on a lot of them," Foster said, shaking his head. "I put it up there, and the Lord took care of the rest. That's the only way I can describe it."

Foster Lights Up Mississippi St. in Overtime Thriller

Monday, March 03, 2008

How Flat Is Flat?

This is not inspirational, but I laughed out loud when I read it. It was too good not to share.

Coach Don Haskins on growing up in Enid, Oklahoma:

"...and boy, was it flat. You could go bowling outside. It was the kind of place you could sit on your front porch and watch your dog run away--for three days. You could stand on top of a can of soup and see Colorado."

Friday, February 01, 2008

Healthcare Reform: Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.

"I quit when medicine was placed under State control, some years ago," said
Dr. Hendricks. "Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you
know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless,
excruiating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I would not
place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their
capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the
privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let
them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or of my

I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of
medicine, men discussed everything--except the desires of the doctors. Men
considered only the 'welfare' of the patients, with no thought for those who
were to provide it. That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice
in the matter, was regarded as irrelevant selfishness; his is not to choose,
they said, only 'to serve.' That a man who's willing to work under
compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the
stockyards--never occurred to those who proposed to help the sick by making life
impossible for the healthy. I have often wondered at the smugness with which
people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will,
to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind--yet what is it that they expect to
depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands?

Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the
virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn.
Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let
them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe
to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled. It is
not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it--and still less safe, if he is
the sort who doesn't." -- Ayn Rand, Atlas

We definitely need to improve our methods, costs, and distribution of healthcare in the U.S. But we also need to be cautious and diligent in assessing the reforms enacted. It would be best if the medical professionals, hospital corporations, drug companies, and insurance companies worked together to provide long-term, sustainable business models that create win-wins for themselves and the public. Otherwise we are likely to pay a cost, not only in measurable dollars, but in decreased quality of the healthcare provided. Look what a quick reaction mentality has brought us over the last eight years: another Vietnam war, a costly and bureaucratic airline security policy, knee jerk interest rate reduction and tax rebate while in deficit spending, etc.

Any quick fix, reactionary plan is usually a poor plan regardless of which political party is involved.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The nature of Mediocrity

"Miss Target, do you know the hallmark of the second-rater? It's the resentment of another man's achievement. Those touchy mediocrities who sit trembling lest someone's work prove greater than their own."

-- From Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand