Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Here's the thing...

Judge not lest ye be judged is not a carte blanche allowance for you to check your morals at the door.  Nor is it a blanket absolution for you to get away with whatever you damn well please and expect nobody to say a word lest they be judged.

For one thing, there is a distinct difference between common sense judgment and moral condemnation—or biblical “judgement”.

Each and every morning when we take a drink of orange juice we’re making a good, common sense judgment that orange juice is better to drink with our pop-tarts than battery acid.  Anyone who would say something as ignorant as “battery acid is just as good as orange juice” needs to be kicked square in the nards.  Nobody in their right mind would say “if that works for you, go ahead and drink battery acid.”

At the same time there is a distinct difference between saying “drinking battery acid is stupid” and saying “you are stupid for drinking battery acid”.  You may be stupid, but you’re stupid for more profound reasons than drinking battery acid. 

Chances are you were stupid before you took a good gulp of the car-juice.

The one statement condemns the action.  “You shouldn’t do that because it’s bad for you”.  That is the compassionate thing to do.  It is far more cruel and I dare even say evil to see someone about to engage in an activity that is bad for them and by correlary bad for society—unless you consider allowing stupid people to do stupid things “thinning the herd”, but that’s another rant—and then stand by and do nothing.  It’s the difference between pushing someone off the tracks from in front of an oncoming train and just standing by and doing nothing.

The other statement condemns the person for the action that’s being taken.  That condemnation is not ours to give.  The action may be dangerous, asocial, or even deplorable.  But that does not mean that we take the person and toss them aside.  The person is intrinsically valuable.  The action is deviant.

And that brings me full circle to something that’s been on my mind lately.

If the church decides to take the low road and climb up on the “Judge not lest ye be judged” fallacy and opts to never, ever speak out about social evils and chooses instead to say “if it works for you, hey, that’s cool” then what purpose does the church serve?  If the world outside the walls of the church looks just like the world inside the walls of the church, then either the church has won or society has won.  The church does not serve any purpose if there is no reform.  The church does not provide any comfort.  If that’s the situation then the church does not provide anything and has no reason to be.

If there is no sin, then what is there to forgive?  If forgiveness is given freely, but there is nothing to confess, then why is forgiveness offered?  What is being absolved if the only standard is “if it works for you, hey, that’s cool”.

It’s an astonishingly short sighted deviation from the fundamental role of faith and religion.  And if it’s a Christian church serving up this garbage then it’s a drastic deviation from the apostolic gospel that has been handed down for centuries.  For what it’s worth, there a chapter in Galatians that speaks about pastors delivering deviant gospels…  but then again, if you’re going to toss out wide swaths of the gospel and ignore the teachings of the lord you presume to serve then why not ignore the parts of that book that you don’t like, too?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Air America is dead

I don’t much feel like writing anything.  Despite every day being a good day, as long as you end it on the right side of the daisies, this past week has been particularly trying.

Despite that, Air America is officially dead, according to the MSNBC story:

It turns out that there isn’t the market for liberal radio that the leftists thought there was and they’ll just have to keep getting their opinion/news from the tv stations.

Ironically enough, the US congress at one point debated requiring radio stations to set aside “equal time” for broadcasting of all viewpoints.  4 hours of Rush (ugh)?  Then you’ve gotta have 4 hours of Al Franken (double ugh).  I guess the market has shown that model to be … um, …  impractical.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Planes and whoopins

So, being the news hermit that I usually am I found out today about a family that was kicked off a plane because of their little brat child.  I was told “it was something like a 3 year old on an AirTran flight who wouldn’t take her seat and was throwing a tantrum.  Something like that.  They were reimbursed their tickets, though, so no harm no foul, the parents were just a little pissed.”

Yea, a little pissed I’m sure.  But they’re pissed at the airline, not their little brat kid or their own lack of discipline.  I dug around (not terribly hard) and found the article on MSNBC and the article says that the kid was climbing under the chair and hitting the parents and generally throwing a fit.

Now, I’m no advocate of child abuse…

And there is a distinct difference between child abuse and a whoopin…

But if that were my kid…

And I do have a kid…

Someone’s ass would be red.

Daddy don’t put up with that crap.


It’s interesting that the missus and I just recently had a discussion about how hard it would be the first time junior stepped over the line and earned himself a little Texas-redass treatment.  My hunch is that there will be a significant overstepping of the rules.  There will be an order to “go to your room… NOW!!”  There will be a “significant discussion” within the parenting council.  Then there will be the summons to the sentencing trial, an explanation of what’s about to happen, and then the swats.

Then the tears.

Then the comforting.


Lesson learned.


What would I do in the place of those Massachusetts liberals who can’t assert their parental authority over their 3 year old princess?  Don’t know yet.  I recon my temper would be pretty piqued.

I wouldn’t be mad at the airline, though, that’s for sure.

Monday, January 22, 2007

There will always be cash

So, I was forced to spend some cash today on lunch.

I hate cash.  I dropped a $10 and got back $7.83.  A wad of bills and a stack of change.

Yuck.  I hardly ever carry the stuff and when I do the bills usually hang around for weeks and weeks because I hardly ever spend the stuff.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like the feel of a stack of ones or $100s or the persuasive power of 25 $100 on the trunk of a used car can have while negotiating a selling price for that superbly adequate vehicle to get you to and from the office.

I like cash that way.

I just don’t like the way it can quickly disappear and you are left with no good way to account for where all the money went.  How many times have we all said “I swear I had a $20 just this morning” not realizing that that magazine, pack of gum, coffee, and newspaper turned the $20 into a $5, a few $1s and some loose coins.  It happens that quickly.

But all the same, that little plastic card makes money vanish even quicker and you didn’t even get the chance to hold those pretty little bills.

Yes, there is an emotional attachment to money.  That’s why you spend less when you actually spend cash—statistically you spend 16% more with plastic than with paper—but it’s also just cumbersome and hard to track.

But it’s that very feature of being “hard to track” that will always, always make money—cash, payola, dinero—king in the market. 

There’s just way too much money in crime to make cash go away.

Consider it.  How are they turning the screws on terrorists?  Hitting the money supply.  How are they turning the screws on KoreaIran?  Hitting the money supply.  They’re forcing the terrorists and criminals and rogue governments to work on a cash system—no credit, no banks, no financing, no plastic.  The end result is making it hard for the bad guys to do business.  Of course, it also makes it harder to track the economics.  If they’re only using cash they’re going to find a way to circumvent the whole financial system.  You can’t track a briefcase full of bills.  Any corner store can break a $100.  For the right price, any seller will accept a briefcase full of dough as payment.

Cash is inconvenient.

But there’s too much money in crime to ever make cash go away.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

What interesting irony

First, you people are flat out awesome.

I’ve completed about 1/3 of my blogroll checking out the marathon recaps (some of you are very wordy… but that can be excused since the first time is always pretty cool) and I have to say, you runners are a breed apart.

Something is clearly unplugged, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.


Anyway, for what it’s worth, I’m inspired.  If looking in the mirror each morning at the pasty fat guy staring back at me isn’t enough, and if looking at old photos from the honeymoon and college at that kid looking back at me asking “what the hell have you done to me?!?” isn’t enough, and if looking at my own little one looking back at me begging me with those beautiful blue eyes to just please inspire him isn’t enough, the portion of the recaps that I have read through has inspired me to yet again strive for a height that I’m not sure I can reach.


Look, the Texas double triple is unrealistic right now.  It’s going to take an immense amount of training and conditioning that I’m neither prepared to take on nor able to take on.  That’s just how it is.  I’m going to do it, someday, for sure.  But before I try to break off 3 marathons in a year, I think I should break off 1 in a manner that doesn’t reflect a fat guy’s stumbling for 26.2 miles.

I did some checking and saw that the time cutoff for the half marathon is 4 hours.

4 hours.

Running a marathon in 4 hours is an average per mile run of something like 9:25, 26.2 times.

Or roughly 70% of what I did on my first successful marathon.

I think that might be doable, given a year to train.


See what you people have done.  You’ve inspired me to run faster and farther.

Hang your head in shame.


Now on to the “interesting irony”


Isn’t it interesting that the very same people who will stand up and say “you can’t impose your morality on me” are willing to do the very same thing to people around the world.  Don’t you dare tell someone that sexual immorality is wrong, but how dare those sandy skinned people annihilate a neighborhood—that’s not how we do things!!  Don’t you dare tell me that abortion is wrong, but don’t you dare execute that criminal, either.

It’s also deliciously ironic that the simple declaration of “you can’t impose your morality on me” is effectively doing the very action that the relativist would deny another the right to do.

But you know, how dare I point out the hypocrisy of the relativist.  It’s well within his right to be a relativist, even if he’s wrong… and a hypocrite.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ok, I'm not much of a gossip hound...

Seriously, I’m not.

But I saw this thing on the MSNBC Sports wire about the NFL rejecting Britney Spears’ request to be in an NFL Superbowl commercial.

I almost spit milk through my nose when I read (seriously, you can’t make this stuff up) “She's too much of a train wreck. Besides, we already have Paris Hilton.”  So, Paris Hilton isn’t a train wreck?  Or is she just not as much of a train wreck as our famous and rich trailer park princess?  Which is it?

Also, the other funny thing in the “article” is that Brit is telling her fan that he can expect her to make a hot comeback.  “as an entertainer with absolutely no strings attached." 

Um, what about those 2 kids.  Are they strings, or are they not attached?  I don’t get it.


Anyway, her fan couldn’t be reached for comment.  He had a busy day planned of hooking up with a 13 year old girl from the internet and surfing some porn online.

So help me...

If I find the guy who keeps leaving less than a full cup of coffee in the coffee pot without refilling the damned thing I’m going TO RIP HIS FREAKIN’ HEAD OFF!!!!

You know who you are.

Quit it.

It pisses everyone off when they have to go in and make coffee because some inconsiderate knuckle dragging idiot decided that his was going to be the last cup of coffee.

It’s not like a little packet of coffee is expensive.  The company can afford to toss out a pot of coffee at the end of the day, but it’s 10:00 IN THE $$&*#^^$% MORNING FOR CHRISSAKE!!!!

Refill the blasted pot, you dinkus.

Monday, January 15, 2007

3 quick shots

First off, congrats to all who ran, walked, crawled, or otherwise finished (or attempted) the full and half marathons.  To those who just did 5k, step it up next year.  I’ll be going down the blogroll to see how everyone did, so make a good story out of your misery.


Second, since the marathon is officially over it means cycling season has officially started.  Just to prove how manly I am I’m considering going on a bike ride either this evening or tomorrow morning.  Besides, what’s a little frostbite?  Not like it’ll kill me, right?


Next, the war has started, but I’m not going to say any more about that.  So, since nothing is going to be said about that…


Third and finally, did you know people are still bitching about Pluto being downgraded from “planet” to “dwarf-planet” status?  I don’t know what all the fuss was to begin with.  Pluto being a planet doesn’t affect anything, anywhere, for anyone, ever.  It’s not like we have relatives on Pluto or anything.  It’s not like your city just became unincorporated, or your neighborhood just got annexed by some other city.  It’s a freakin’ rock on the edge of the solar system some bajillion miles away.  What do you care if it gets busted down to “Dwarf-Planet” or “Asteroid” or “space rock” or flying piece of doo?

I think some people just go out and find things to be mad about.  Get over it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Another warning to save your pennies

I got a message just the other day from a relative that said “The government giveth and the government taketh away.  I got a social security raise of $50, but I also got a medicare fee increase of $100.  I don’t even use the medicare coverage I’ve got!”

Moral of the story, boys and girls, save your nickels and dimes.

Pay off your car.

Quit using credit.

Save some money.

Pizza and cable each month, over the next 25 years, is the difference between Alpo cooked 100 different ways and actually eating in a restaurant.  It’s the difference between shopping in a grocery store and having to work in a grocery store.

The detestable thing is that this guy who’s getting his benefit CUT by $50 needs his social security check.  He was a worker bee type who raised a family, never had a lot left over, certainly not enough to save, and his only real asset is his home.  His retirement income is union pension and social security.  Meanwhile there are the people who DID save a ton, who had the means to save a ton, who are ALSO getting a check.  The one guy needs it and is getting his benefit cut—his retirement life boat cut, if you will.  The other guy doesn’t need the check, is getting a check, and is also pissed because his free money is a little less, but he’ll still be able to survive without any noticeable adjustment in lifestyle—maybe one fewer trip to the cheap Chinese importer down the road.  And because he made more than the first guy, his check is bigger to begin with anyway!!!


This is an abomination.


Those who need it the most get the least.  Those who need it the least get the most.  And when cuts happen those who need the benefit the most are harmed the most.

Meanwhile you and me are going to get boned, and left with the bill.



Yes, Txrunnergirl, I listen to Dave, too.  I have consumed the kool-aide and am a debt nazi.  If nothing unexpected pops up we’ll be completely debt free, except for the house, in about 18 months.  The house will be 5 or 10 years after that, depending on how fanatical we get or if we decide to move.  No new credit cards.  No new debt for a bunch of crap.  No new nothing unless I can pay for it.  Hell, we even paid for our baby with a check.  No repo man coming for that little bundle of tax credits!  Cars run better when they’re paid for.  Babies are just far more enjoyable when they’re paid for, and home life is far more harmonious when things are paid for.  Homes are homes when they’re paid for, not investments for the bank—the grass even feels better under your feet and between your toes.  And you know, when you have a little in the bank you’re not so insane about chasing down that $.02 savings from the Chinese importer; you can afford quality and you’re less worried about the nickel savings and more conscious of the actual cost of having the Chinese importer in your town.  It’s funny how actual wealth rather mere consumption—and seeking the cheapest deal—affects so many aspects of your life.  You feel better.  You look better.  You can give freely and with a clear conscience.  You can actually relax on vacation and not worry about who’s going to pay the car note or mortgage or how long it’s going to take to pay off your cruise.  You can set your utilities to auto pay and travel the world for a month or so because you have money in the bank.  You can quit your job and go do something you enjoy.  You can sit back and savor the things in life that are really, truly valuable.  Like a baby’s smile.  Or crossing the finish line in your first marathon.  Or giving a family a trunk full of Christmas presents.  Or buying a couple of goats for an African village.  10% to church?  That’s a good start when you have more than enough.  In short, you can do whatever you want, because you’re not owned by anyone.  Want to start your own business?  Go to seminary?  Climb a mountain?  Be a professional cyclist or runner? 

No sweat.


There’s nothing quite like freedom.

Marathon Weekend

Good luck to all of you who are running.  I won’t lie and say that I wish I could be there because if I wanted to be there I would have trained and blah blah.  I do wish I was finishing—that is one helluva rush.  So I will very likely be with you at the next one.


But rest assured that I’ll be respecting your effort from the cozy comfort of my bed at home.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The art of going to war

There is a right and a wrong way to go to war.  No, this is not a commentary on the present situation in Iraq.

You should never, ever start a war unless you intend on never, ever fighting that war again.  If your intent with regards to going to war is a small, incremental gain then there is no point in mobilizing in the first place.  Either crush your opponent, or don’t bother.

For example, WWI never ended.  We signed a cease fire and went right back to war in WWII.  WWII ended with absolute surrenders and we have not had to go back and refight that war.  It was a brutal exercise that involved carpet bombing, fire bombing, targeting civilian populations, nuclear weaponry, and flat out barbarity.  Today our moral sensitivities won’t allow for that.  In a more barbaric time in order to subdue a city you would simply burn it down and kill everyone as they fled. 

No more problem city.  No more problem citizens.  You will never, ever have to fight that war again.

The problem with fighting a war the right way is that it is so absolutely barbaric.  I worry for and about anyone who is ever excited about the prospect of going to war.  Even professional soldiers aren’t excited about the tasks they, as soldiers, perform.  It is simply a job and they do it.  Old soldiers from WWII are proud of their service, but generally their deeds still haunt them.  That is the nature of war.

It is brutal.

It is horrific.

But only if done right.

The ironic thing is that in order to “improve” warfare we have sanitized it and made it more morally acceptable by removing the most horrific of weapons and increasing the distance at which the weapons we do have are lethal.  Airmen may never see their targets with they eyes God gave them.  Soldiers may never see the whites of the eyes of their enemies.

It has been scrubbed of anything offensive and boiled down into a video game where there are targets, but not people.  Our soldiers are not expected to stay out in the field for longer than several months and then when the current rotation is over they’re not expected to go back in the field for some time.  When their home time is cut short, or their assignments lengthened, it is a tragic event.

A drone will fly overhead and “eliminate an objective” and we are not left to consider that the objective woke up, brushed his teeth, kissed his child, and then was blown to smithereens by a faceless and nameless adversary.

The ironic thing about making it more sanitized and easier on our conscience is that it is so much easier to go to war today than ever before.  As brutal as the effects of war are, the act of waging war has become little more than plugging in a video game—except, of course, for the soldiers actually involved in urban combat.

The problem with “improving” warfare is that the new and improved warfare is far, far too easy to enter into because it is perceived as far, far less brutal an event than it used to be.


War is hell.

Unfortunately, sanitized war is even more hellish than mere war.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pay raises for everyone!!!

Ok, so Congress is raising the minimum wage.

Good for them.



I keep reading articles like this one from MSNBC and the Washington Post.

Living on $900 a month is tough.  Really tough.

Granted, since I’m a “money guy” by profession my ears perk up at these articles.

There’s no way of getting around the fact that living on $900 is tough.  A lot of us spend more than that in a house payment.  Some of us even send more than that to Mastercard each month.

I bet there’s more than a few who spent more than that for crap we don’t need last month.


If you read carefully, though, you’ll see the problem for the main character in the article isn’t the income.

They run down his monthly expenses and one stick out head and shoulders above the rest—a $313 car payment.

The kid owns a used 2005 Dodge Neon and is paying $313 a month through 2012.

Simple math says he’s paying a total of $18,780 for that car, assuming the full 60 months’ note.

To put it in perspective, my lovely wife and I are paying about the same for a brand new 2005 Taurus that will be paid off 2 years sooner (and is the last car payment I’m EVER going to make).

In excellent condition, a 2005 Dodge Neon, automatic, with 30,000 miles, middle trim, retails at a suggested value of $11,780 according to Kelly Blue Book (  That means this kid is paying something north of 20% interest.

20% INTEREST!!!!  (And the credit card companies wanted to make it harder for people to declare bankruptcy.)

The problem, friends and disinterested visitors, is NOT the income.  The problem is predatory lending practices that have a kid paying 70% of the value of a loan out in interest over the life of the loan.  The problem is banks taking advantage of people who are just proud to have a vehicle.  Hell, from what he is quoted as saying in the article he couldn’t be more proud to give away 1/3 of his income each month on a car that won’t outlive the loan he’s taken out on it.

It’s not an easy solution.  I’m talking about a cultural shift from consumption to wealth building.  From moving away from debt based purchasing to wealth based purchasing.  Instead of taking out a 5 year loan to buy a car you’re only going to keep for 3 years, save up money for 6 or 8 months and BUY a car you’re going to OWN for the next 3 or 4 years.  I guarantee the kid from the article could have bought a car for something south of 6 month’s pay had he been patient.  Besides, the thing only needs to get him 19 miles to and from work each day.  Throw in another $50 for a bike to act as an emergency vehicle if the primary breaks down and he’s standing in high cotton.

Plus he has his chief source of wealth building back in his own control—his income.

What can a kid in rural Kansas do with an extra $300 each month?  Damn near whatever he wants.  This is, after all, still the land of opportunity.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A reflection on Christmas movies

My old theory on Christmas movies was that there have only ever been 2 true Christmas movies written:  1. Miracle on 34th Street and 2. It’s a Wonderful Life.

The first is a transformative story of doubt brought on by modern day “sophistication” that clouds the values of love and charity.  It challenges our modern conformist views of what is “normal” and dares us to “think bigger” and consider alternatives that might not seem to be the most logical, but are almost always the most obvious.  The general moral of the story is that we try so hard to find an explanation for something that we more often than not lose track of the value of something.  Some old man thinks he’s Santa Claus so he must be crazy or dangerous, rather than merely a sweet old man who is trying to spread some cheer (or even the real deal).  The incessant drive for an explanation destroys the goodness and charity inherent in his disposition and actions and creates a circus around the man rather than an emulation of or belief in the ideal.  The “Santa” character can be democracy, or Jesus, or a politician, or any number of other persons who represent something bigger than himself.  Most recently Tim Allen’s “The Santa Claus” series has repeated “Miracle’s” story line.

The second is a story of redemption where the primary character doesn’t realize what wealth he really has.  He always wants something bigger but never has the opportunity to take that big chance, or when the chance is offered isn’t quite willing to take the risk that stepping out of his little pond would involve.  Something happens and he falls into some sort of trouble and he becomes discouraged, then there is an intervention—generally divine, but not always—and the hero’s eyes are opened up to what wealth he really possesses.  A Charlie Brown Christmas falls into this category.

As I was thinking about this, however, I realized that this is not exactly correct.

I originally considered Dickens’ “A Christmas Tale” in its own separate category of high literature that is copied and emulated on its own.  However, the truth is that the “It’s a Wonderful Life” story is merely a riff on Dickens’ story in that Scrooge is a rich man of means turned poor turned wealthy where George is a rich man of no means turned poor turned wealthy.  Additionally, without specifically introducing the “Santa” character, Dickens does introduce the ideal of year-round charity and possessing the spirit of the holiday within you even when the calendar says there are 300 shopping days until Christmas.

So, in actuality there are NOT 2 Christmas stories ever written, there is only 1 Christmas story ever written with 2 distinct descendents reflecting different aspects of the story.  Every other “Christmas” movie (Home Alone, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, even The Christmas Story) is merely a movie set at Christmas time.

So next year when 24 hours of “It’s a Wonderful Life” is showing and 24 hours of “The Christmas Story” is showing on TBS, remember that the heritage of these movies is nothing less than Dickens himself, and if you want to give your brain a dose of high literature you can either watch (or, [gasp] read) Dickens’ legendary tale or watch BOTH of the descendents of his legendary work.  Anything less would simply be disrespectful and Santa will hit you with a block of coal.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

About to go to war on 2 fronts

I am hereby declaring war on 2 fronts.

The first is a physical war against the sedentary lifestyle I have developed since my child was born.  It’s not uncommon for me to get a fire lit under my ass in the first several months of the year—the MS150 is in April, after all.  The challenge will be to actually end the year at a weight that is no more than 5% higher than my MS150 ride weight.  Historically I’ve hit the road for the MS150 at a curb weight of about 195lbs wet (after eating), so that 5% will have me topped out somewhere near 205lbs in December.  Of course, if I’m serious about running the ’08 marathon and pulling off the Texas Double Triple I should be comfortably lower than that.  Objectives for this particular war will be a curb weight of 190lbs by April 22.  The last weigh in was 214.5—the same weight I was at in June—so I’m looking at a 20lb drop in 4 months.  Not all that hard. 


Please note, this is NOT a new year’s resolution.  I prefer to stick with my annual non-resolution resolution to celebrate New Year’s 2008.


The second war is a simmering cold war that is about to get very, very hot.  I’m currently putting together the infrastructure to attempt to wage this war and further details will come out when I simply can’t hold it in any longer.


Due to sporadic posting problems, the sportjunkie blog will likely be going dark for some time.