Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back Online.

I'm connected again, and I've got posts coming up, as soon as I get rid of a terrible summer cold. I figure it's not a good idea to blog while medicated.

In the meantime, thank God that the South Korean hostages in Afghanistan have been released. I have some thoughts on the release deal, but that will wait until I'm more coherent. I'm glad that they are free, though the Taliban still have other hostages.

The other big news? Fred's In. Finally.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Away for a While.

I'm posting this from the library, since I've been unable to connect to the internet. Hopefully, I'll be back an posting in a few days, but I wanted to let all of you know that I have not dropped off the edge of the planet.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

South Korean Hostage Update.

There is little news on the state of the South Korean hostages, save this little tidbit. A special committee. Whoopee.

You might remember my post from the other day in which I mention an American Thinker article that says we should consider paying a ransom for the South Korean Hostages. I didn't agree then, and this article lends me some support.

"The consequences of these payments are disastrous, however. Due to the weakness of their governments, Germans, French and Italian citizens are coveted targets
for both terrorist and criminal groups. Every payment has put fellow
citizens at risk, making it virtually impossible for Westerners to work in
Iraq — and increasingly also Afghanistan."
Don't be too hopeful when Islamic leaders exhort the Taliban not to harm women either; the Taliban have a poor track record when it comes to the treatment of their own women, much less non-Muslim women. It suits their purpose to keep the hostages alive as long as they can hope to gain something. The minute the hostages cease to be of value, the terrorists will relieve themselves of a burden and go in search of fresh victims. It may seem like a dangerous risk, but the best thing we can do is attempt to rescue them. Some of the hostages may be killed in the attempt, but some may be saved; it is capitulation to buy their freedom with Taliban goons, and doing nothing will eventually mean their doom. If we respect the courage they are showing, then we must act. Of course, if the media followed this story with the same fervor that they followed Paris Hilton, it might be different. Alas, the silence is deafening.

And for those who think something still can be gained by negotiation? Watch this, and tell me again why we should treat with jihadists.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

News Flash: Boys and Girls are Different.

Science proves yet again what any fifth grader can tell you - there's a fundamental difference between boys and girls.

When are liberal feminists and their supporters going to realize that there are inherent differences in men and women that cannot be changed and exist for our benefit? I'm a man, so naturally I've never been a fan of the modern feminist movement, but not because I'm a chauvinist pig. I grew up in a single-parent home after my parents divorced, and I witnessed the strength of women first hand through my mother; no one needs to convince me of the strength of women.

But constantly ridiculing men and deeming them unnecessary, as the modern feminists do, is harmful to women as well as men. Modern women (and girls) are taught by the feminists that they have control over their bodies, but at the same time are discouraged from exercising that control. If you're pro-life you are anti-woman, and if you preach abstinence you are imposing your morality on someone. Feminists neglect to inform women that just because they can do something, doesn't mean that they have to do it. There's no real choice offered by feminism, it's their way or no way.

The damage to men is even more devastating. Liberal feminist polices have replaced the father with the welfare check. It's no wonder that young men, particularly minorities, have no sense of responsibility to the children they father or the women they impregnate. Feminism has taught us that the women don't need the men to take care of them, all they need do is hand over their money, and the state will take care of the rest. The result is a generation of fatherless boys who will never know what it means to be a man. Feminism has made them into involuntary Peter Pans.

The other way in which feminism hurts men is devaluing time-honored concepts of manliness; courage, strength, provision. Men are told that their physical attributes are an anachronism, an evolutionary hold-over form a bygone day, when men men had to hunt while women raised the babies. now, thanks to abortion and the government, women need not be concerned with raising babies and can hunt for themselves. With no need to exercise the muscles of courage, provision, and strength, men have let them atrophy. Witness the popularity of TV sitcoms such as Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of Queens. Television families are headed by blundering, befuddled guys constantly getting into trouble and being rescued by their steady-handed wives. It's I Love Lucy reversed.

Men and women are different. Alexis de Tocqueville remarked that though women in America (ca. 1830) seemed to be held prisoner in the home, in reality they had made a willing sacrifice for the good of society. They made a choice. Tocqueville also pointed out that some people wanted to push for total equality between men and women, as in making them the same. he predicted that if this ever occurred, the result would be weak men and immodest women.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back in Time.

Fans of Back to the Future have something to cheer about with the news that Steven Wynne, president of the DeLorean Motor Co., will begin producing DeLoreans from his stock of replacement parts.

Prospective buyers had better be connected though, because while the cars are not terribly expensive by collector's sports car standards (about $57,000), DMC only has enough parts to build 500 cars and ensure that they have enough parts left over to maintain them.

The DeLorean has never been one of my favorite cars. It's styling is rather bland, even for the Eighties, and I never understood why they put a puny non-turbo (originally) V6 into a sports car. Apparently the new iteration of DMC's cars will include upgraded electronics, better construction, and as an option, a peppier engine package. I suppose it's good for those who are fans; you just won't see me chomping at the bit to be one of the lucky 500.

The real stroke of genius here is the way Wynne has ensured continuance for his business, which is primarily maintaining surviving DeLoreans.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Indy is Boiling, but it's not the Heat.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in 24 hour national news on cable and the internet, that we neglect our local political climate, to our detriment. The citizens of Indiana, in particularly Indianapolis, have been rudely awakened to that in recent months.

Under the administration of Democrat Bart Peterson the last seven years, Indianapolis' debt has soared, crime has soared, and taxes have soared. What else has happened? Oh, yeah, the Colts won the Super Bowl, providing another welcome distraction for an inept administration.

The match to the gas leak, however, was the arrival of property tax bills for the first half of 2007. Rates increased all over the state, and Marion County (Indianapolis) was particularly hard hit. Many folks in the Center Township saw their bills increase by astronomical amounts, as much as 200-300%. Many of these people are retirees and poor minorities on fixed incomes, and now they are faced with tax bills for thousands of dollars. Immediately local officials started pointing the finger at anyone but themselves. They continue to do so, even after the Governor stepped in and ordered re-assessments in some counties and decreed that taxes would be collected at 2006 rates.

Only 1% of property tax revenue goes to the state. The rest goes to local government for services like schools and libraries and such. Local government spending is the chief cause of the rate increase, combined with the General Assembly's unwillingness to reform the tax system. The reason local spending is out of control is that there is no one authority with power to tax in each county; there are several boards in local government, all with the ability to tax the public. This needs to change. Yet in Indy, spend-spend-spend is the order of the day.

I am not in favor of massive government consolidation. I think townships can better serve citizens than a single county government can, but there needs to be only one body in each county that has power to levy taxes and approve budget proposals for all other county entities.

I also am in favor of eliminating property taxes altogether. Property taxes amount to paying the government rent on real estate you are supposed to own. Our country was founded on the principles of liberty and protecting private property, and property taxes are an affront to both.

Mayor Peterson and the City-County council want to point the finger at the Governor (Republican Mitch Daniels), and ignore the real problem. They are dangerously ignoring their constituents as well, and in a local election year. Two weeks ago, the mayor unveiled his budget for next year to a Council chamber filled with city employees and Democratic cronies, while the voting public were forced to wait outside in the severe heat. This came after outrage when the Council voted, without any regard for proper parliamentary procedure (the debate was arbitrarily cut off by Council President Monroe Gray, also a Democrat), to increase local income taxes.

This fall, Indiana voters will have an opportunity to set right some of these wrongs by putting responsible leaders into local offices. Don't be too caught up in the never-ending presidential campaign. Learn about your local government and what its responsibilities are. Learn who the candidates are and where they stand on local issues. Local government is the cornerstone of our great Republic. Don't ignore it any longer.

Matthew Rager Update.

If you've read this blog for a while, you'll remember the story of the little boy with a brain tumor that I found at Michelle Malkin's website. I've been following his story at Caring Bridge, and I thought I'd update all of you on his progress.

Matthew's tumor was discovered when he had a seizure and was rushed to the hospital. He had surgery to remove the tumor, but the pathology report has proved problematic. The pathologists determined that the tumor was malignant (what they call a 'high-grade' glioma, or cancerous brain cells), but they have not been able to determine what exact type of brain cell it is. The family is now in Houston, where Matthew is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

My heart goes out to them, and it's a joy to see how strong they are in their faith. Their other son has had a history of seizure s, but has not had one since Matthew's ordeal began. If anyone needs proof that God doesn't throw more at us than we can handle with his help, then there it is. The Ragers are an inspiration to me because of their faith and courage in trying to maintain as normal a life as they can at their home away from home.

Matthew also touches me because when I look at his pictures I'm reminded of my oldest son. They both have the same joy on their faces, in spite of what they must endure. My son has an Autism Spectrum disorder as well as a brain tumor. Thankfully, my son's tumor is not malignant, but it's location in his brain means it would be inoperable if it became so. He must have an MRI every nine months or so to monitor the status of the tumor. Yet like Matthew, my son has that same joy of life and of other people. Matthew's parents have remarked that Matthew is always more concerned one of their Caring Bridge friends that with himself. My son is the same way.

I spent a lot of my youth in the children's hospital undergoing surgeries to repair a cleft lip and palate. That's nothing compared to what some kids go through, and I met many who had terminal cancer or otherwise untreatable or difficult to treat conditions. I'm amazed at the resiliency these kids display in the face of situations that would cow most adults. Indeed, I've seen adults whine and moan about going to the dentist more than kids who have had multiple open heart surgeries.

Please take time to pray for Matthew and his family, and for my son as well. His name is Josh. Pray for their doctors and nurses, and pray for them to be healed. With God, nothing is impossible.
Image from Matthew's CaringBridge album.

Hostage in Afghanistan Update

The mainstream media continue to ignore the plight of the hostages in Afghanistan, but there are some new developments.

First, the pregnant German relief worker who was kidnapped the other day has been rescued. She was part of a Christian relief group.

The South Korean hostages are showing courage by going on a hunger strike, demanding that the Taliban hold them together as one group. The Taliban have separated them into small groups and are holding them in different locations to stave off any rescue attempts. Bravo for the hostages - they're showing more guts right now than anyone else, especially since a new deadline has been set, and they could be killed at any time. The Taliban have reduced their demand to eight thugs, rather than the twenty-three they originally insisted upon.

Continue to pray for the hostages, thanking God for their courage, and that they will be delivered. Pray also that the rest of the world will remember them before it's too late.

Link to Image Source.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Time Running Out for Hostages.

The Taliban have declared the negotiations over the South Korean hostages a failure and are now deciding what to do with them. The US and Afghanistan are remaining firm in their insistence not to release any Taliban prisoners, and the South Korean negotiators don't have the power to meet the Taliban's demands.

An article at The American Thinker today says that kidnapping is what the Islamists are commanded to do by the Koran and the hadith (Islamic traditions), so giving into the kidnappers demands will not necessarily inspire more kidnappings. They'll do it regardless.

I don't agree. We must stand up for our own principles, and giving in to the Taliban's demands shows a weakness to an enemy that will take advantage of any sign of it, even if it is to save the lives of the victims. Since the hostages are not Muslim, there's no guarantee that the Taliban will release them once a ransom has been paid.

It may sound cruel, and I certainly would rather see the hostages released, but we shouldn't give in to thugs.

Pray for the hostages, that they will remain steadfast in their faith, and that they will be delivered.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Third Commandment.

"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not
hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

Perhaps you have seen this story already. Needless to say, I was suitably outraged, but not necessarily surprised. More and more people are loathe to say or do anything that can be construed as offensive to Islam, and are bending over backwards to seem inclusive. One is thought to be enlightened these days if one believes that 'there are many ways to God.' There was even a letter in the Indianapolis Star by a pastor's wife that professed such a thing.

Today I found a strong rebuttal to that sort of thinking. Hal Lindsey doesn't pull any punches, and says what few dare to say by comparing Allah to Satan.

But what he says is truth that any Christian should understand. If we are sincere in our belief in Christ, then all other gods by definition are false. Jesus himself said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." [John 14:6] It does not get any plainer than that.

I think that many Christians today give in too easily to the idea that faith is relative, or we do not want to be stigmatized as "intolerant." It should be clear by now, that no matter what we do, the world will judge us to be intolerant anyway, so we should stand firm on our principles and be faithful to Christ. He tells us that we will be despised because of him, and the world will persecute us.

Therefore, if you are a Christian, do not be afraid, but trust in the Lord. Spread the gospel! There is a basic truth missing from all religions; that Jesus alone can give us the peace of salvation, and through him we can have a personal and eternal relationship with God.

Houston, You Have a Problem.

When I first became aware of the space program, NASA had already made the fateful decision to abandon the Formula One path of exploration and innovation in favor of the NASCAR path of Earth orbit missions. Gone were the days of excitement and glory in which we conquered new worlds, and raced the Russians to the Moon. I think we are finally seeing the bitter fruits of that decision.

Understand, I've always been a fan of space exploration. The summer after I got married I spent much of my free time reading all I could about the history of NASA and the space program, going back to the days of NACA at Langley, VA. I've always viewed astronauts as courageous heroes, doing what normal people wouldn't dare to do out of a desire to better our understanding of the universe.

I remember coming home from school in 1986 to news from my grandmother that the Challenger had exploded. It was a reminder of the risks that these brave individuals face on a daily basis. I never liked the jokes that it spawned.

That was the only incident for many years, and in my research that summer after the honeymoon, I realized just how fortunate the space program had been. I remember reading about the Apollo missions and their risk; many of the books I read pointed out that in a spacecraft with 1,000,000 components, a 99% reliability rate means that 10,000 things will go wrong.

The Space Shuttle is even more complex that the Apollo capsules, and in recent years, our luck seems to have been catching up with us. Each launch of the shuttle since the Columbia disaster has involved possible launch damage and questions about what to do. The risks are increasing dramatically, and to very little gain. What have we accomplished in the 30 years the shuttle has been flying? The technology is at least that old, and I can't think of any major advances that have come from the space program. No longer innovators, NASA has become assimilators, taking other's developments and fitting them into its aging framework.

On the human side we hear of sordid love triangles, diaper-clad cross country drives, and astronauts drunk during flight. Not exactly role model material anymore, are they?

The President has called on NASA to once again set its sights on the stars. This is the agency's last chance I think; while exploration may not bring any more gains than orbital experimenting, at the least it captures the imagination and makes us contemplate our place in God's wonderful universe. The risks of exploration are more bearable. One who dies while breaking new ground and pushing the boundaries of knowledge is a great explorer; one who dies while walking around the block is simply unlucky.

Take the challenge, NASA. Reach for the stars and capture our imaginations again. If the challenge is too great, then it's time to hang up the helmet for good.

Update: Today must be hate on NASA day.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sick Story of the Day.

Yet another example of someone only thinking of himself.

"A husband, financially desperate because of his wife’s medical problems, walked
her to the balcony of their fourth-floor Kansas City apartment, kissed her, then
threw her to her death, according to court documents filed Wednesday."

More info here.

I simply can't understand it when someone does something like this. I'm sure we'll hear about how it might not have happened if we had universal health care, but that just dodges the main issue, I think.

Only selfishness could lead someone to kill his spouse because he couldn't afford to pay her medical bills anymore. Unfortunately, as our society continues to embrace the 'all about me' culture, we'll only see events like this become more common. Marriage is popularly viewed as a source for personal gain, useful only as long as it pays dividends, and abandoned once it becomes a burden. Why else is the divorce rate so high, and cohabiting viewed as a wise alternative to marriage? The truth is that we are afraid of the sacrifice that must go along with marriage, and seek to avoid it any way we can, even if it means just pretending to be married.

Parent killing child, spouse killing spouse. How much lower will we sink before the end?

Update: The American Thinker picks up the story and gives some interesting insights on universal health care.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It Figures.

Heh. Alicia did this one, so I had to jump on the bandwagon. I can't say I'm surprised; I know what I like, so everyone else calls me boring. Oh well.

What Your Pizza Reveals

You have a hearty appetite. You are likely to complain if a restaurant has small portions.

You aren't particularly picky about pizza. It's so good... how could you be? You fit in best in the Western part of the US.

You like food that's traditional and well crafted. You aren't impressed with "gourmet" foods.

You are generous, outgoing, and considerate with your choices.

You are unadventurous and boring. You should consider staying home when taking a vacation.

The stereotype that best fits you is geek. You're the type most likely to order pizza to avoid leaving your computer.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


As I draw near to 1000 hits (and some of them are my own), I'd like to find out a little about you, the reader. Some of you have left comments, and I thank you for that, but I'd like to know if you're just a visitor, a regular reader, how you found my blog, and what you like (or dislike). I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Release: Two Hostages Freed.

First of all, thank God that two more of the South Korean hostages are safe. Michelle Malkin has the latest. Predictably, the Taliban now expect the South Koreans to put pressure on the US and Afghan government to release their goons. So much for good will gestures. I don't think we'll see the release of any more unless our side caves in. The question now becomes how much time are the Taliban going to allow for negotiations before they get impatient, and what are we willing to do to save them?

Michelle phrases it this way:

"Appeasement begets appeasement. Will that lesson be remembered?"

Blues Cruise In.

Yesterday the kids and I went out to my great-uncle's third annual Blues Cruise In car show in Clermont, IN. It's a small show with some really neat cars. They had a blues band and a raffle to benefit Riley Children's Hospital. I didn't stay for the awards ceremony for the car contest, but here are some pictures of my favorites.

It wouldn't be a car show without something outrageous, and here we go. This was the first of many hot rods we saw, and it was the wildest. This one could have been driven right out of the pages of one of Andy Southard's hot rod books.

This one was a little more traditional, except for the admirers. Think they waited a long time to see it?

One of my favorite types of hot rod: the "high boy." If you're not a car person, the high boy is a (usually) 32 Ford that has had the fenders removed, leaving the body sitting high atop the frame. The alternate version, or "low boy," has the body channeled down over the frame.

Here's another neat rod. I like the skinny white walls and the white headers.

The best of the hot rods was this 1934 Ford pickup. It was clean, inside and out.

There weren't very many custom cruisers at the show. This was the most radical. I think it was a '53 Ford.

This is another custom, and one you don't see every day. A 1957 Plymouth Belvedere. The inscription on the fin reads, "Steamy Windows." I'll bet.

Many of the cars were simply restored classics. My favorite was this 1950 Ford convertible.

One word always seemed to describe these cars to me: meaty. I've always been a Ford man, but you can't go wrong with a '57 Chevy.

Another rarity: a 1968 T-Bird. According to the sign in the engine bay, of the approximately 64,000 '68s built, 136 of them were white with black interiors. This is one of them.

I'm not a big truck fan, but this '72 Chevy was so sweet, I had to take a picture. I'd like to do something like this to my dad's 1969 Chevy pickup that's parked beside my house.

Here's something for the Brits out there. A classic Jaguar.

Another one for the Brits. A very clean Triumph.

There were quite a few Mustangs in attendance, one of which was this hot Shelby.

A very nice 1967 Mustang.

There were a slew of GTOs, all of which were in fabulous condition. My favorite is the 1966 model.

The best of the "Goats" was this awesome Judge.

To me, Mopar means muscle. The epitome of that is the 1969 Charger. Also in attendance were a '68 Charger, a 1969 Road Runner (with the lift-off fiberglass hood), and a couple of 'Cudas. Sheer heaven. However, being a purist, I have a couple of critiques of the Mopars. Firstly, the hood of the Road Runner should have been painted flat black; it was glossy. Second, none of them had original engines; they all looked to have the crate engines that you can order from Mopar Action or Muscle Car Review. I can forgive though, since these cars are getting so rare and expensive.

One neat thing about the interior of the '69 shown above. There was no center console and it had a column mounted automatic shifter. Usually these cars are seen with either a floor mounted automatic or manual. The engine was pretty customized, so I think this may have been a base-model Charger that has been dressed up.

Here's one I haven't seen very often: a Malibu. I don't know the exact year, but it must be a '66 or '67.

A muscle car with no muscle. This '66(?) Nova had a straight six under the hood.

The only Corvettes I really like are the late 70s/early 80s version (I believe they are referred to as C3s?). This one was in particularly good shape and absolutely sizzled.

There were a few cars that just didn't quite fit into any category. I'll round out this post with some of those.

How many times have you seen one of these? A Studebaker pickup, hot rodded.

I thought this Mercury was pretty nice. Evidently someone didn't agree with me. (Relax people, the dog's fake.)

That's all for the car show. There were more cars there, and I have pictures of some of them that I may post later on, but these were some of the best. I hope you've enjoyed it, and guys, you can stop drooling and replace your keyboards now.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Bait, The Bite, and the Rat.

More news on the South Korean Hostage crisis. USA Today is not the only news outlet reporting this story in this manner; it seems it came off the news wires this way.

The funny thing is, if you read all these stories, it's only the Taliban spokesmen who assert that the hostages will be freed. The governor of Ghazni knows nothing about it, and the South Korean negotiators are not hopeful. The Taliban claim that the decision has already been made, yet their original demands are still in place. With no cooperation evident from the Afghan authorities and the imminent departure of the South Korean aid groups?

I'm smelling a rat. It seems to me that the Taliban are offering a little bait to the media, setting themselves up as the magnanimous good guys. The media of course, are swallowing it whole. These guys aren't dumb, they know how the world hangs on the media's reporting of events, and they know that the media in general are sympathetic to them. There's already public pressure in South Korea to resolve the situation. The Taliban are offering some honey to lull the negotiators into agreeing to their demands, I think. But their actions say otherwise.

"The Taliban say they have split the hostages into small groups and said any use
of force to try to free them would put their lives at risk."
We're running out of time to do that, I'm afraid.

Additional: There are unconfirmed reports that the Taliban have released two of the hostages, apparently the women who are sick, as a "good will gesture." Hardly. I suspect that if this is true, the two hostages are too sick for them to treat. As I said in previous posts, more dead hostages don't do the Taliban any good, especially during negotiations. More honey, I suspect; this way they look like good guys, yet can still barter for the same number of their own goons.

Addendum: I don't want to come across as cynical, so I'll say that we should still be praying for their release. God can do wonderful things, so these announcements do offer some hope.

Update: No release for hostages yet.

Evidently the "good will" of the Taliban is not so good after all. Some of the hostages may yet be released, and I hope they will be. The Taliban claim it, but the "timing is still being decided," whatever that means. It could be a stalling tactic, or it could indicate dispute in the Taliban leadership over what to do. I suspect it's the latter; as I said earlier, releasing two sick hostages doesn't really weaken their negotiating strength all that much. Not as much as two dead hostages do.

The MSM response? Silence.

Modern Day Muscle.

I'll admit it, I like tuners. You know, those little compacts with the huge wheels and obnoxiously loud exhausts? The ones with the wild graphics and paint jobs? Yeah, those cars. In a way, they are the modern version of the muscle car.

What defined a muscle car is an over sized, overpowered engine placed in a bare-bones mid-sized car. They were intended to raced, and raced they were, either on the track or on the street. Modern tuners are similar in origin, as early examples began as economy size coupes and sedans with easily souped up engines.

There's nothing like modern excess though, and the aftermarket soon sprouted wild wheels and graphics, along with ground-hugging fiberglass body kits. They look good and go fast.

However, like the bad boy reputation of muscle cars of yesteryear, the tuners have their sinister side. Excess is as much a part of the lifestyle of many who drive these cars as it is of the cars' appearance. Wild parties and illegal racing are typical of the modern day car culture. Naturally, I don't approve of those activities, but there are plenty of legitimate avenues opening up.

There are sanctioned drag racing divisions for street tuners, where racing is done in a controlled environment under official rules. Drifting has caught on in a big way. But deep down, the last forty years has not really changed the deep seated desire of young people to have a car that looks good and goes fast.


This post really convicted me today.

"Ironically, though we live in a free society, we often act as if we were in a restricted nation like North Korea without access to God’s Word. Our Bible reading is sporadic and seldom—as if we did not have a copy of Scripture at all."

How many times have I decided to start a routine of Bible-reading and then fall behind after a couple of weeks? I have at least five or six Bibles laying around the house, and yet it takes a supreme effort sometimes to pick one up and read a few verses. It's humbling and shaming when I hear about the excitement of someone who hears scripture for the first time, or someone who hears it only sporadically because it is not available, yet I cannot remain consistent when I have the Word of God constantly at my disposal.

However, though I'm not perfect, I'll still take comfort that God can still use me in my imperfection. After all, if he can use an adulterer and a murderer for His good purposes, what can he not do with me?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Capitulation: The South Korean Hostages.

In an effort to encourage the release of the hostages in Afghanistan, South Korea aid organizations will pull out within a month. The Taliban can surely smell victory here as they continue to dicker over a meeting site with the South Korean officials.

I can understand the desire of the Korean government and people to see the hostages released, but each concession given to the Taliban just raises the price. They know that the only way to get their thugs turned over to them is to drag out the crisis as long as possible. That's why they've allowed the hostages some medicine and why they haven't killed any more despite the passing of the 'final deadline.' Simply put, the hostages are worth more to the Taliban alive than they are dead. Once the negotiations reach the point of impasse, they'll kill them all and be done with it.

The thing to do is to go along with them until a rescue operation can be attempted. It will be dangerous, but not anymore than if negotiations fail. But it probably won't happen.

Ever at the forefront of a crisis, Hillary Clinton has called on the Afghan Government, the Bush administration, and the international community to work with the South Korean officials to get the hostages released. Where has she been the last three weeks?


This piece appeared in the Indianapolis Star's free tabloid, INtake. It's supposed to be a publication for the young and hip to find out what goes on in Indy. Most of them are quickly disabused when they find out that what goes on is not much. This is evident from the tone of some of the departing columnists, who lament that Indy never lived up to their expectations. However, I like Indianapolis, and in this space, that's all that matters.

But the above mentioned article astounded me and had me fervently hoping that it does not represent the attitude of young parents today. Outrageous Exhibit A:

"And no one can tell you how to decide if it's fair who goes out and who stays
home, and that even though your baby daddy is incredibly sweet you might not be
happy with him all the time."

Firstly, I loathe the term "baby daddy." It implies that the mother is not married to the father (and I don't know if the columnist is or not), which is troubling enough, but it is also demeaning and insulting to those of us who take fatherhood seriously by insinuating irresponsibility.

Secondly, I have a problem with her thinking that their social life should continue as it was before they became parents. She mentions that all her friends are bartenders and musicians; sometimes a life change like having a child necessitates a change in social habits, and yes, maybe even friends.

Becoming a parent is a monumental change and no amount of advice (written or oral) can fully prepare you for the challenges. Ms. Halverson seems to have recognized that part, but she doesn't seem to have grasped that one of the challenges is realizing that you are not your life's focus anymore. Someone rightly described parenting as a full time job, and it is one that is best shared by two people, a mother and a father.

Children are not just possessions or life milestones; they are a commitment in time, effort, and money. You cannot provide the care and guidance they need if you are trying to decide which one of you gets to go clubbing and which one gets to stay home. BOTH should stay home, or if you really want to take a break and go out, hire a baby sitter or enlist friends or family.

It comes down to priorities, and I hope that Ms. Halverson finds out where hers truly lie. But I wonder how far down we are going when more young people think of parenting they way she seems to.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hello My Love.

I've got a bit of blogger's block, so I thought I'd share some more of my poetry with you. I wrote this piece for Alicia when we were in college.

Hello my love.
My heart has returned from lonely wanderings
Faltering footsteps, pathless under stars.
I searched for you on all the roads
Thought I would see you pass my way.
And I never knew what I had missed
By journeying so far afield.
The wonderful feeling when I come back to say...

Hello my love.
When we're close your eyes are bright,
Outshining the sun in southern fields.
The touch of your hand is soft
That I had missed in the frozen north.
In the east I pictured the sound of your voice,
because no music sounded more melodious.
But western roads are not as pleasing
As holding you in my arms at night.
So I've come back from my wanderings
Returned out of the lonely night to say...

Hello my love.

Copyright (c) 1994 by Jezla

Sunday, August 5, 2007

"Kiss an Angel Good Morning."

I love songs about husbands who love their wives and treat them right. Especially songs where it is clear that the guy doesn't expect anything in return for his love.

I work in a grocery store, so I see many families come through the check lanes. I'm always amazed by how many of them seem to make a career out of belittling their spouse. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone with a negative view on marriage or their wife, I'd be richer than Bill Gates. I read the advice columns in which husbands complain that their wives don't do anything for them, or treat them badly. Usually the columnist responds by trying to explain the wife's possible point of view, then pointing out what is wrong with the man's thinking, then suggesting marriage counseling. I say to myself, "Why don't they ask him if he loves her?"

I think it really is that simple a beginning. Do you love your wife? The Bible instructs us to do just that:

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the
church, and gave himself for it." [Eph. 5:25]

Some of you have commented on my previous posts about marriage how much I love my wife. I don't claim to be perfect, and our marriage is not perfect. We have our troubles. We were put to a tough test not long ago; when Alicia's sister was married, in fact. Alicia was the Matron of Honor and had gone up to help her sister prepare the week before the wedding. I volunteered to stay with the kids and bring them up in time for the wedding. So you can say that I asked for it.

That week was one of the worst I can remember. On top of having to work my forty hours (with no day off until we left town) and watching the kids, I had to get all of our clothes washed and then packed, and make sure we had everything we'd need. I selfishly began to build resentment to Alicia for going off and having fun without me, even though I had been the one to suggest it (the original plan called for her to take one of the kids with her). It didn't help that we had a phone conversation early in the week in which I thought she'd been having a gay old time; too much so to give me her complete attention. She talked to me during lulls in the conversation she was having with a cat. The explosion came the next day when she forgot to turn the cell phone on and I couldn't reach her. Part of my anger was justified, I feel; what is there had been an emergency with the kids? But most of it was the feeling that she was having too much fun to bother with me. I didn't feel like I was important to her. It never occurred to me that she had simply forgotten to turn the phone on.

Needless to say, she finally called late that night, and I lost my temper. We talked every day after that on the phone and it seemed like it only got worse. Now she was mad at me, and rightly so. We just couldn't reconcile over the phone; I got madder and madder, but I also knew that it would have to wait until I could see her face to face. It was hard on our families, I know. They had to watch us go on like this without really understanding what was wrong or being able to help.

We finally go to the hotel and were able to talk face to face. I realized then that I'd been a total jerk, and that part of what drove my anger was that deep down, I missed her. I needed to see her, and hold her and tell her how much she means to me. Needless to say, we kissed and made up, then proceeded to act like infatuated teenagers all weekend.

I realized that week just what the Bible's one flesh means. She is a part of me, and I'm a part of her, and I can't stand to be away from her. I know there will be other separations, and they will probably be just as difficult for me; it's not that I'm controlling or that I don't want her to live her own life. It's the things I miss when she's away.

Like watching her sleep when I wake up in the morning, her hair scattered all over the pillow in a way she describes as a fright, but I find exceedingly cute. Like the way she greets me when she finally does wake up and bounces into the kitchen, aglow and full of life. Or kissing her on her cheek when I leave for work early in the morning before the sun comes up. Or the way she bought a card for me when I was in a blue funk and drew pretty flowers all over the envelope, just the way she had done when we were dating.

You can't experience those things through a phone cord.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Spare a Quarter.

You see them everywhere. Maybe you're like most people and you walk by trying not to catch their eye because you know the inevitable will come. "Hey, buddy, can you spare a quarter?"

They are called disgraceful, dirty, blight, a sign of the government's failure, a sign of society's ills. They are fathers, sons, mothers, daughters. many of them are veterans. Some never went to school, others may be PhDs. You can't tell because they all are marked by years of living on the street, depending on the good will of passers by who know nothing about the demons they are unwilling or unable to face.

I've heard how there are professional bums who make a better living by panhandling on street corners than they would at a full time job. Many people use this as an excuse to duck their head and keep walking. I used to do that.

But then I started working in a poor inner-city neighborhood. I remember the guy I worked with my first night on the job. He was a recovering drug addict who was not very reliable. After I had been there about six months, he finally lost his job because he couldn't make it into work. A year later I was surprised to read an article in the paper about street beggars which featured my former co-worker. I've also seen the guys in the neighborhood that get along by panhandling. I've seen them beg for a dollar and by a cheap bottle of wine; I've also seen them beg for a dollar to buy a pack of bologna.

I think of how blessed I am to have a good job, a good wife, a roof over my head, and a car to get around in. I know that even in the tough times when I have to use almost all of my paycheck to pay bills and I have $20 to live on for the week, I still have a place to stay and plenty of canned goods in the pantry. I trust God to provide what I need, and He is always faithful, whether I get through the week with no new bills coming in the mail, or someone in the grocery line having a quarter when I'm short for lunch. I realize now that there are others who have nothing but that faith, and God does not abandon them. I realize that I'm in a position to be his agent, because I have what I need, and can spare a dollar or two.

Now, when I walk down the street, I don't avert my eyes when I see some guy sitting on a brick holding a cup in his hands. I reach into my pocket and drop some change in. I don't know why he's there, or where he came from. I don't know what he's going to do with my money. I just know that I have it and he doesn't. I do know that he probably sits all day with people walking by as if he doesn't exist. Which is more valuable to him, do you think: a few coins, or simple recognition by a fellow human being? The answer, I think, is in the way they always respond.

"Thanks, brother. God bless you."

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Taliban Apologist at Work.

Read it all, if you can stomach it. He is basically saying that what the Taliban are doing in regards to the South Korean hostages is wrong, but can you blame them? He also wonders what the South Koreans were doing there anyway, when they had no business being there. After all, America was the one who declared war.

In addition, he points out that blaming Islam for what the Taliban are doing is like blaming Christianity for the IRA terrorist acts, or the Holocaust. It's interesting that he uses that example, since what the Taliban are demanding is little different from the Nazis sequestering allied journalists and diplomats during WWII, demanding the release of German agents in return. It was thuggery then, and it's thuggery now.

His comparison of the British occupation of India to the US mission in Afghanistan is both ignorant and repugnant. The British occupation of India was begun by the East India Trading Company, not the British government. It's purpose was exploitation. The US invasion was not one of conquest, but to attack our enemies and those who harbor them. We had no plans to exploit the Afghan people or to impose our values and beliefs on them, but to give them the opportunity to take their destiny in their own hands.

Long Live the Rock Ballad.

Check my profile and you'll see that I like all kinds of music. One particular type has a special place in my heart, however: the Rock Ballad.

I still can sit and listen for hours to songs such as Stairway to Heaven, Bohemian Rhapsody, November Rain, Every Rose Has its Thorn. These songs and others by some of the great hard rock groups and "hair-bands" strike a deep nostalgic chord within me. It makes no sense; most of these songs are about old girlfriends, one-night stands, and poisonous habits, things I have little experience with. There's nothing in them that I can personally relate to.

Yet I had many friends (in my younger days) who did have some experience with these things, and songs like these gave me some insight into feelings they had which they rarely shared openly. I could understand them and why they did what they did. Music like this kept me from rejecting some very good friends just because I disapproved of their behavior; instead I stayed with them, trying to offer guidance when I could, and setting a good example. But it never would have worked if we didn't also have common ground.

In all of these songs, the Narrator (for lack of a better term) is an outcast, a misfit, someone who is not successful and not popular. I think my friends and I identified with that most of all, since we were the band geeks, the gamer geeks, or just plain geeks. We were not 'in,' and our beauty was often apparent only to ourselves. The ballads of my youth helped us get through those days when we waited for a change, even if we didn't know what it was. Maybe the maturity level of everyone else had to catch up with our own; maybe we had to really grow up ourselves. We did; we moved on to college or the workforce, where everyone is equally idealistic and forgiving or equally miserable. I've grown older now, and I have a wonderful wife and family to be my emotional crutch.

But I still like the ballads, and easily fall for new ones, like Lips of an Angel. They inspire a nostalgia in me for a time that I don't necessarily want to return to, but nevertheless had its joys and its sorrows. They remind me that things don't really change; they remain anthems for lonely groups of kids waiting for something, even if they don't yet know what it is.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Decisions, Decisions.

Jim Geraghty at NRO Online has some interesting thoughts on the GOP's 2008 field. He makes an interesting point about management skills, and provides good examples of where the current administration is lacking in those skills.

Electoral history bears him out, as voters tend to favor governors over senators. If the trend continues, then I think we can look forward to Giuliani getting the nomination. He's qualified, and the entire nation knows his mettle as a leader under pressure. He claims he'll support conservative issues, in spite of his history; time will tell, but the alternative is Clinton/Obama socialist reforms.

I can support Giuliani as a candidate in the general election, but I'm still hoping (in vain?) for Fred to live up to expectations. Posts like this are the reason.