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Showing posts from December, 2009

Get well, Rush. Get well, Rush-haters.

Rush Limbaugh is resting in a Honolulu hospital after suffering an apparent heart attack yesterday.

The Left Wing blogosphere and Twittersphere have been deluged with gleeful death wishes. I wish that I could say that I am surprised.

I am not a big fan of Rush, who can sometimes be enough of a boor that even his status as a favorite target of the Left and his proclivity for pulling their collective corks (they still haven't caught on to the fact that doing so is the purpose behind ninety percent of what he says) don't compensate for sheer bad manners. But I have to say that at his worst I have never heard him root for a liberal to die.

I would say "Shame on you, moonbats-" if they had any shame. Which, unfortunately, they do not. But I will continue to pray for Rush, and I hope you will, too.

HT: Drudge

Yes, it does matter

Have a happy last year of the decade in 2010.

Yes, that's what I said. I know we went through this ten years ago, when the Western world erroneously celebrated the arrival of a new millennium in 2000, but it's s a point worth insisting upon because it still matters: there was no year zero. The year in which Christ was theoretically (though not actually) born was 1 A.D. The year before was 1 B.C.

Another way of looking at the matter is that we are talking here about a calendar, not an odometer. The first day of each month is not the "zeroth." It's the first. Why, then, count our years from a date which not only never occurred, but from the very logic of calendars couldn't occur?

Ok. So now you're asking the obvious question: who cares? Why does it matter? The answer is that the dumbing down of our society matters. It matters that we know from newspapers and other records that nobody celebrated the coming of a new millenium in 1900, or a new decade in 1910.…

A tardy- but decent- review for 2004's The Alamo

I got a DVD player for Christmas, and was finally able to see the 2004 version of The Alamo. While my ears are rather plugged up by a cold, I didn't really catch that political correctness which some claimed plagued the movie. Historically it was far superior to the 1960 film- though neither musically nor as entertainment does it come close to measuring up to John Wayne's effort. But being a history buff, I'm not sure I don't like it better anyway simply because it told the story more truthfully.

As anticipated, Billy Bob Thornton made a marvelous Crockett. I was surprised by how well the casting worked generally; if Dennis Quaid wouldn't have been my first choice as Sam Houston, I have seen much worse casting in historical films (I still shudder at the thought of Martin Sheen as Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg). That tri-cornered hat Quaid wore did strike a jarring note, even if in 1836 it wouldn't have been exactly an anachronism. And the ten year old in me was f…

One good thing about tonight's game

At least tomorrow morning the Bears will be out of their misery for another several months.

ABOVE: A black hole. I will leave it to the reader to deduce what it has in common with this year's Bears.

ADDENDUM: Oh no! My nephew Tim tells me that I forgot about next week's game with Detroit! My mind must have been blocking it out in order to defend the remnants of my sanity....

ADDENDUM II: The perversity this edition of the Ursine Warriors is even more complete than I would have imagined. After writing the above, I must now acknowledge that- somehow- they beat Minnesota. And they will probably  beat Detroit, too.

Not enough to salvage a non-playoff season in which they lost twice to the hated Packers, of course. Just enough to frustrate their fans with questions about where the team that showed up Monday night has been all season.

Bear down- I guess.

Barack Obama: from superstar to supernova?

Obamaniac Bruce Springstein once compared POTUS to a supernova. Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal reminds us that while supernovae flare brilliantly in the heavens, they disappear almost as quickly.

HT: Real Clear Politics

Iran's Islamofascist regime may be in trouble

Ulrike Putz of Der Spiegel thinks that the nutballs who run Iran may be in serious trouble. The tipoff: the use of deadly force during an Islamic holiday during which even the Shah avoided confrontation with demonstrators.

HT: Real Clear Politics

The game is afoot

I saw Sherlock Holmes yesterday. Despite my initial reservations about Robert Downey, Jr. in the role, the movie was superb. See it! You won't regret the two hours plus you'll invest in the experience.

Needless to say, Downey's Holmes is a bit of a departure from the norm- as is Jude Law's wise-guy interpretation of Dr. Watson. The banter between the two is a bit more of what one would expect from equals than discourse between a genius and his chronicler, and the great detective's physical (and especially pugilistic) skills are more prominent than in most portrayals. But fans of the canonical Holmes will absolutely recognize their hero in Downey's surprisingly convincing portrayal, which includes an homage to the flies-and-violin scene from the second Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce film.

I understand that Holmes, rather than Avatar, came out on top in boxoffice over Christmas. While I haven't seen Avatar yet, by all accounts this says a great deal for Holmes- a…

Unto you is born this day a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord

Luke 2:1-23 (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ
1In those day a decree went out fromCaesar Augustus that all the world should beregistered. 2This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town ofNazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is calledBethlehem,because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6Andwhile they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10And the angel said to them, "…

Our clueless President

President Obama claims that the trial of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is "uncharacteristic of a great country."

Damned characteristic, though, of China- and of the bloodiest regime in history, which has murdered more than one hundred million of its own people in less than a century.

It seems at times like this guy tumbled right from the turnip truck into the Oval Office. Even Jimmy Carter at his most naive wasn't this feckless.

Weather watch

Looks like freezing rain, rather than snow, will be the obstacle to Christmas Eve services tomorrow night. I've got my sermon done, but I think I'll hold off running the bulletin until I get the go ahead from POTC (President of the Congregation) about four tomorrow afternoon.

I'm hoping things aren't too icy. It won't seem like Christmas unless we do Of the Father's Love Begotten and Silent Night by candlelight.


Blackhawks backup goalie Antti Niemi has just registered his third shutout in his last five starts, and his fourth shutout in ten starts overall. He's 8-1-1, and although he hasn't started enough games to officially lead the league, he has the lowest GAA of any NHL goalie.

Blackhawks 3, Red Wings 0. We enter the Christmas break with the best record in the Western Conference.

Of ends and means

Michael Gerson on the tactics used to pass the Senate version of the health care bill.

HT: Real Clear Politics

The face of Saint Nicholas

Gene Veith has a post over at Cranach on a forensic reconstruction of the face of St. Nicholas.

If you ever wondered what Santa looks like...

HT also to Rev. Paul McCain.

At least we'll have a white Christmas

That fifteen inches of snow a couple of weeks ago ended up being eighteen. Now we're expecting another blizzard of a foot or more on Christmas Eve. Looks like no candlelight service this year, which will make for an odd Christmas. But I'm spending Christmas Day with some friends from the parish eating lasagna and seeing the new Sherlock Holmes movie (weather permitting). And hopefully the pastor will let us sing some Christmas carols Sunday morning...

ADDENDUM: They now say that at least the first half of the precip will be in liquid form. They're only calling for six inches of snow, though with a nice sheet of ice under that. Still not convinced that we'll have Christmas Eve services- or should. But we'll have to wait and see. In Iowa, the forecast can change in less time than it takes to change channels.

Cubs trade Bradley for bad pitcher

The Cubs have traded Milton Bradley to Seattle for pitcher Carlos Silva.

At least Bradley is gone, and so is his salary. Maybe now Hendry will take a few steps forward.

The snow is falling! The snow is falling!

As a native Chicagoan and a lifelong resident of the Upper Middle West, I was amused at the way folks in Northern Virginia reacted to snow during the time when I lived there. Just let the slightest bit of white show up along the side of the road, and traffic on the Beltway slowed to a crawl. I used to think of DC area motorists as the "Virginia Creepers."

It seems that a major snowstorm of roughly the magnitude we in Des Moines experienced a few days ago is about to hit the capital area. It's reached Charlottesville now, and is relentlessly heading toward Washington and NOVA. As much as eighteen inches of the white stuff may descend in the next forty-eight hours or so.

Stay calm, folks. Life will return to normal before you know it.

Here, it wouldn't be that big a deal. There, it will probably be a major crisis. At least they have the permanent cloud of hot air over the Capitol to ameliorate the catastrophe.

Unexpected honesty at Democratic Underground

The Democratic Underground is kind of an internet sewer, where all sorts of left wing effluent tends to collect. This is one of the places, for example, where the denizens cheered Ronald Reagan's death.

I try to avoid this place. But from what little contact I've been unable to avoid (sometimes the smell isn't sufficient warning), I am not at all surprised by this.

What does surprise me is that the extremists who hang out there don't follow the normal Democrat procedure, and indignantly (though implausibly) claim to be moderates, perfectly in step with the American people. But it's good to see them honestly confronting what they really are.

Meanwhile, notice the reaction to Sen. Al Franken (Civic Embarassment- Minn.) playing totalitarian and shutting down Joe Lieberman's attempts to discuss possible amendments to the health care bill.

Scratch a Leftie, get a storm trooper.


Here's the incident in question. Note John McCain's quite proper reaction.

"Allah" isn't just "the Islamic name for God"

An Indiana school has quite properly removed the words "Allah is God" from an "inclusive" program designed to acknowledge all the major religions.

Muslims are not happy.

Contrary to their complaint, however, it is simply not true that Allah is merely "the Islamic word for God." It's the Islamic word for the Islamic god- and that's the point. The Holy Trinity is an entirely different Deity- and anybody with doubts about that should ask a Muslim when the last time was when he or she prayed to Jesus.

HT: Drudge

Somebody got paid to think of this question?

One of the members of the Des Moines Astronomical Society used to bring Pirouettes- those rolled wafers filled with chocolate or whatever- to meetings and observing sessions for us to munch on. I grew fond of them, but they are terribly expensive.

So today when I was at the Dollar Store I saw a less expensive version, and figured it was worth a buck to check them out. They aren't terrible. But around the top of the can is inscribed the following: "Twisted Trivia: Which significant event in history occurred before the telephone, lightbulb, gas powered car and even the airplane was invented?" It then gave a website to go to for the answer.

Well, let's see. The Big Bang? The Flood? The building of the pyramids? The rise and fall of the Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Roman Empires? The birth of Christ? The Crucifixion? The Resurrection?  The conversion of Constantine? The birth of Muhammad? The career of Charlemagne? The Crusades? The plague? The Norman Conquest? Th…

The football season is now officially a total loss

A year in which the Bears win the Super Bowl but lose twice to the Packers is a failure.

A year in which the Bears finish out of the playoffs and lose twice to the Packers is a travesty.

This year is a travesty.

Rumor says that Bradley is about to be traded

Word is that Cubs' GM Jim Hendry is close to deal that would send Milton Bradley  to an American League team- not any of those most often mentioned- in exchange for another high price tag player, who would then immediately be traded in turn.

Hopefully the Cubs will end up with some value. At the very least, this would mean unloading Bradley's contract and freeing the Cubs to go out and get Marlon Byrd or another center fielder, enabling Fukadome to move back to right.

Just another alienated country

It's not just foreigners Barack Obama has managed to alienate. The president who came to office a year ago amid universal adulation that almost amounted to worship now has the lowest approval rating of any president in history at this point in his administration.

My conviction that the 2008 election was going to be one of those "poison pill" contests (1928, 1976 and 1988 also come to mind) in which a predictable combination of circumstances would doom the winner, regardless of his identity or party, to be a one-term president seems to be panning out. People are no longer willing to listen when Obama and the Democrats trash George W. Bush as a way of avoiding responsibility for the events that take place on Mr. Obama's watch. It had to happen: at long last, Barack Obama is being held accountable by the American people for his own record.

Fifteen inches of 'welcome to winter'

Usually winter is polite enough to ease its way in on us, with a light dusting or two of snow, a few moderate snowfalls- and then, if at all, the Big Stuff.

Not this year in Des Moines (pictured at the left). Just a few weeks ago we were worrying that it wouldn't seem like Christmas because the weather was too warm.  Now we've gotten 15 inches of snow in the last 48 hours. Welcome to winter!

I fought my way through the blizzard home on foot last night. It wasn't easy, to say the least. Church has been cancelled for tonight (though with a little shoveling I really think we could have gone ahead. Well, to be honest, a lot of shoveling.).  Maybe if I time my midnight stop at the local grocery right, the nice folks there will give me a ride tonight.

If I'd had any supplies laid by at home, it probably would have been a good idea to have stayed there today. It takes a couple of days for a city the size of Des Moines to recover from a storm like this, and even then many side…

Bad news and good news (maybe) for POTUS

According to Gallup, Barack Obama's approval ratings are the lowest of any president in history at this point in his first term.

But supporters of the President shouldn't despair.The second lowest ratings (only two percentage points higher) belonged to Ronald Reagan- who was re-elected with 58.8% of the vote, and carried 49 of the 50 states.

HT: Drudge

Chi Cubs promote Ryno to manage I-Cubs

Ryne Sandberg will manage the Cubs' Triple-A team here in Iowa next year.

And my guess is that he'll take over for Lou Pinella in 2011. Ryno is a talented skipper who is understandably on the fast track to take over the big club. I have a hunch that once he gets his next promotion, he'll be managing the Cubs for a very long time.

May his vacation never start until late October. In the meantime... welcome to Des Moines, Ryno!

More on Davy Crockett's death

Since publishing this post on the Battle of the Alamo and its several portrayals in movies and on TV, I've done a little more research especially into one of the battle's more controversial aspects- one which, to somebody who was once a coonskin hat-wearing five year old fan of Fess Parker's Davy Crockett, is one of the more interesting ones. How, precisely, did Davy Crockett die? As I mentioned, it's a matter of some controversy, and debates on the subject tend to be heated.

The history books I read in school took it for granted that Crockett died in battle. Susannah Dickinson (the widow of Capt. Almarond Dickinson, one of the fallen members of the Alamo garrison), San Antono Alcalde (mayor) Francisco Ruiz, sixteen year-old Mexican fifter Apolinario Saldigua, Col. Travis's slave Joe and Ben, a former slave who served as Santa Anna's cook and had once met Crockett in Washington when the latter was a member of Congress, all later reported seeing Crockett's b…

The real meaning of the Blessed Virgin's apparitions on the wall of a Chicago underpass, on a California griddle, and in an Arizona pancake

TASHA YAR: Humans often imagine pictures in clouds, Data. Like the ship in that one over there.

DATA: That behavior seems quite irrational. And besides- that particular cloud is clearly a bunny rabbit.

--Star Trek: The Next Generation

The Blessed Virgin- last seen on a  griddle in a Mexican restaurant in California after a holdover appearance at the Fullerton Avenue underpass in Chicago- has made yet another appearance: on an pancake in Arizona.

She certainly is well-traveled.

Meanwhile, Galle Crater in Agyre Planitia on Mars wants you to have a happy day. But beware of  dead Communists inhabiting your shower curtain.!

I've blogged on Mary's travels before.  The inappropriate places where her image is thought to appear are often quite humorous, and a little gentle fun probably should be poked at those who take such "miracles" too seriously. But what is in fact going on here is a phenomenon called pareidolia, from two Greek words translatable roughly as "false&q…

Texas chutzpah Kinky Friedman would be proud of

Well, Tennessee chutzpah, actually. In Texas.

One of the TV movie networks has been showing the 1960 movie The Alamo, staring John Wayne as Davy Crockett (horrible casting, but hey- John Wayne!) quite a bit lately. I first saw it as a ten year old with my older cousin, Patsy, in the theater shortly after it was released, and complained to her  that it ended with the bad guys winning- that there was no reference to the fact that the Battle of San Jacinto was coming. Of course, it would have ruined a wonderful and poigniant ending to a fabuluous movie. But hey- I was ten.

Since then I've come to appreciate what a truly fine movie it was (even though it was mostly fiction; as history it's atrocious). The haunting score by Dimitri Tiomkin is among the most beautiful I can recall. Here's the Main Title (borrowed by Quentin Tarantino for his 2009 Inglourious Basterds), and here's the closing music- the latter played as the only survivors (Capt. Dickinson's widow, their t…

A day in the life of an Ornate uromastyx

Again, the color isn't what it should be, but I like this video- especially the very appropriate soundtrack. Although Atvar was much more colorful (he resembled Fountain Blue on this page, although more of a sky blue and with orange/brown and gray streaks and dots amid more prominent yellow ones), there was a moment in watching this video when a tear came to my eye.

Note the aborted "glass dance" as this guy attempts to escape into the cage's background. It's much funnier from the other side, and when they are actually standing on their back legs.

The uromastyx version of a diet

The uromastyx is the clown of the reptile world. This characteristic (along with their resemblance to minature dinosaurs and their being, as I've heard several human females remark, "so ugly they're cute") is among the things which endear this particular lizard to those of us who share our lives with them. The "glass dance," for example, is standard uro behavior, and it's hilarious. They are simply unclear on the concept "glass," and their attempts to deal with the walls of their cages resemble people "getting down."

The uros in this video are Moroccans, not Rainbows like Muad'dib or Ornates like the late Atvar, and the color in the video is pretty bad (uros are much more attractive critters in true color). But this video is a hoot. In order to fully appreciate it, you should know that dandelions (carefully picked from places which for sure have not been sprayed) are considered delicacies by members of genus uromastyx, and that t…

Advent I Midweek Lenten Sermon

Three Ancestors Jesus Chose: Eve
Genesis 3:1-24
Midweek Advent Service
Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What part of “Don’t eat the fruit of that particular tree” did Eve not understand? She had God’s will laid out quite clearly before her. Eat from the fruit of any other tree you want. Just not that particular tree.

You’d think that with only one explicit commandment to worry about, Eve could have managed. But no. You would have thought that a reptile striking up a conversation with her out of a clear blue sky might have been enough to put Eve on guard. But all it took was the suggestion that God had been holding out on her and Adam, and all of a sudden the fruit of that one tree started looking really, really delicious. From there, it was a short step to picking one, and taking a bite-and all of Eve’s children have been paying for it ever since.

I have a friend who suffers from a rare form of MS that is slowly causing the muscles of her body to waste away. Every time she finds herself un…