Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Remember Bill Bennett's book of a few years ago about virtues? He listed a dozen virtues----all good and virtuous, but he didn't mention generosity as a virtue. I suspect his reason for this is that he didn't really think of generosity as a virtue. Few do actually.

People like generosity when they benefit. Generous savings at a store are greatly liked. Generous portions at a restaurant are always popular. But generosity towards others? Ha! Generosity is something people are towards you, not you towards them.

In 1961 President John Kennedy said the words, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." The nation he was speaking to in 1961 was not the same nation as today. The people listening were people who had sacrificed a great deal. Many had fought in Europe or in the Pacific. Others had endured the great sacrifices people made at home in order to support the war effort. The world view in 1961 was one of danger from Communism, a world view where segregation was still in existence but on the ropes, and there was a spirit of adventure. Space was the new frontier and there was much excitement ahead of us.

Above all people understood what sacrifice was about. Sacrifice was not an abstract concept but a reality.

Now the attitude is not about sacrifice but it's all about prosperity. Who is going to benefit ME the most?

Fiscal responsibility is, at least from a government perspective, a myth. The Republicans generally do cut taxes but they seem to enjoy pork a great deal. The main difference between the Republicans and the Democrats often seems to be that they both like pork, and one likes to pay now and the other wants to charge it and pay later. Pick your poison.

It's really the voters' fault. People generally do want the government programs and services. They simply don't want to pay for them. People generally desire Democratic services for Republican prices.

The reality is that people rarely want to sacrifice because we often struggle with being generous.

It is more blessed to give than to receive, it really is. Until we truly learn that valuable lesson people will always long for more and never be satisfied.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Makes you wonder if the Brits understand American football

Interesting link at the Giants-Dolphins game in London.


Monday Morning Sports Talk

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox. Any suggestion that the curse wasn't over is now washed away. Great team, great season, great Series for them. I'm thinking that the 'hot' Rockies had to cool off and 9 days off did it for them.

Alex It's All About Me, Me, ME!!!, Rodriquez is amazing. He chooses the day of the fourth game of the World Series to announce that he's not returning to the Yankees. They seemed to have been poised to pay him up to $27,000,000 a year and it simply was not enough. Soooo, he decided to become the 'big story' on Sunday and announce he's going to leave the Yankees. The Yankees, to their credit, are quickly saying, 'adios,' to this fool. It's funny, but A-Rod has never been to the World Series. Of course, he has great regular seasons hits below the Mendoza line in the post-season.

I'm a Giants fan and therefore my DNA strongly dislikes the Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins. But, Joe Gibbs of the Redskins is one of the truly classy individuals in sports. Watching the Patriots run the score up against him was sad and pathetic. Makes me truly hope that the Colts literally smear the Pats off the field next week.

The Giants are 6-2 after sliding to a victory in London. I was following the game online and was frustrated by Eli's inability to complete passes. In seeing some clips and in reading the paper today, however, it sounds like the rain was driving and the turf was awful making it difficult to throw the ball or for receivers to run. What is always frightening is that when your team plays a winless team that has nothing to lose and you have EVERYTHING to lose and you are playing with jet lag on a field in dreadful condition, it becomes a set up for a disaster. Thankfully the Giants won. It was ugly but a win is a win.

I hope that the Mets don't sign A-Rod.

I believe that Eli Manning is doing fine. If he were judged simply on his own he'd be seen as a fine young quarterback. Instead he's judged against Peyton as Peyton is now. If I had to build a team right now and had to choose any quarterback in the NFL to be the quarterback on my team, I'd choose Peyton Manning. What people who jump on Eli need to realize is this. Eli is not Peyton and ought not be judged always in comparison to Peyton, and that Peyton is truly one of the game's all time great quarterbacks, if not the greatest of all time. He has even surpassed Johnny Unitas as the Colts all time great quarterback (tho' I caution the game has changed a great deal.) Eli might not live up to Peyton at the moment, but who does?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Living near Kentucky enables a person to watch Kentucky political ads. They are a site to behold. One only needs to watch them and shower and gargle often. Ugly stuff. Sad thing is that someone usually always wins.

Tiki Barber's picture was shown at Giants Stadium and he was lustily booed. Last year, with him, they were 5-2 with a solid running game. This year, without him, they are 5-2 with a solid running game. And....they are playing as a team and there is little drama coming out of the locker room. It's looking like the source of most of the drama, no surprise, was Tiki. Now he gets to sit with Matt and Meredith and talk about handbags and shoes.

Joe Torre fired George Steinbrenner. Hooray for Joe!

The fires in California are awful. The devastation is incredible. I feel so badly for those people. I heard on the news today that the fire is 0 percent contained and that they have had the largest evacuation since the Civil War. Horrible.

Dr. Randy Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. His website is this:


I saw him on Oprah the other day. I do not usually watch Oprah but my wife 'made me' and wow. She was right in making me watch it. He gave a 'last lecture' a tradition at that school. In his case, however, this is closer to reality than for many. Randy Pausch has stage 4 pancreatic cancer and demonstrates an amazing ability to live. Amazing man.

I wonder how much Bobby Petrino is enjoying Atlanta. I saw Bobby and his team live when they played the Giants on Monday night football. It was interesting watching the old U of L offense done by people who can't play well against a tough NFL defense. I will say this. U of L misses Bobby Petrino...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm Weary of the "Card" Playing

Not, not Euchre or Bridge or Rummy. I'm tired of the stereotypical, "Let's play the (Socialist/Fascist) card."

I read an editorial in the Courier Journal written by a college student on the SCHIP program. Her opening sentence demonstrated that her first goal was to get at the table and play the Socialist card.

It seems that every 'left leaning' idea which comes down the pike always has to have someone play the Socialism card. I studied political philosophy in college and one of the people we did study was Karl Marx. And no, I'm not an admirer. Marx's world view was way, way, way different from anything closely related to the SCHIP program. To even mention his political philosophy in the same sentence with policies that get bounced around in D.C. is ludicrous.

Conversely, when any 'right leaning' idea comes down the pike some feel a need to play the Fascist or, worse yet, Nazi card. Before one goes down this particular lane one might read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to see that there are clear differences.

But people still like to play these cards. I believe that the reason people like to play these cards is that they require little to no thought. If ignorance is indeed bliss, there are many happy people running around.

The young woman makes several points. She rightly makes the observation that the SCHIP program is to help fund health benefits and programs for poorer children. Part of her objection (shared by many who opposed this bill) is that it expands the dollar limits of 'poor.' The problem with this argument is that poverty, middle class, and affluence almost always need to be determined by geographic considerations.

I grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey. Bergenfield is approximately 18 miles from Manhattan. The cost of housing in Bergenfield, right now, in a great depressed housing market in New Jersey, is amazing. A three bedroom house, small, with one bathroom, starts at $329,000.00. Bergenfield, when I grew up, was very much a blue collar type of town, very much working class. The cost of living there is tremendously high. Poverty and affluence rates in Bergenfield are very different from New Albany, Indiana which is very different from rural Ohio where I used to live. She needs to read a bit more about the different economic conditions of people in the country before making blanket statements.

She also makes the statement that the SCHIP program is trying to use an increase in the tax on tobacco to fund this. This is actually Baron Hill's issue with the bill and why he has voted against it. But then she goes on to state that this is illogical because it's mostly lower income people who smoke. She didn't cite any research to back this up.

Then, of course, card players love cliche's and and she goes on to use the slippery slope image. If we do this, it's a slippery slope. The slippery slope is often used by people making ethical arguments. (I use the term argument loosely.) It is based on the premise that if we do this, then we are on a slippery slope towards other things which are worse. Real ethicists do not use this phrase because it's nonsensical. Things often stand by themselves. The big problem with this is that it falls into the same category as "if you read between the lines..." If you read between the lines you can put ANYTHING you want. The slippery slope image is nonsense because you can say that anything is going to be on the other end of the slippery slope.

For example, "If we use the slippery slope image too much then we are on a slippery slope because people will live life by cliche's and become less intelligent and when they become less intelligent they will smoke, drink, and have random sex and we will have a rash of unwanted pregnancies which will force the government to raise taxes to pay for the health care of all these children." Dumb. Right?

My point is simple. It's really a question. Can the people of this country learn to put away the cliches, put their cards back in the drawer, and have serious discussions to solve the many serious issues we have before us?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why Can't Comedies Be Funny?

I am on vacation and I love to laugh and I love good comedies. I have often found the movies of the Farrelly brothers to be funny. "There's Something About Mary," was many things, but of all the many things it was, funny was at the top.

So today I went to see the movie "The Heartbreak Kid" which was supposed to be funny. The movie lasted for almost two hours and I almost left a couple of times out of complete disgust. I was waiting, however, for a good laugh. The good laugh was on me. I watched this supposedly outrageous comedy and found myself remarkably bored. This movie is awful. If you were debating on whether to go see this or watch a rerun from one of the CSI's or one of the Law and Orders, stay home and watch the rerun. I'm not all that easy to please. I even laughed a few times during "Dodgeball." This movie, however, is awful. It is filled with unlikable characters who are incredibly pathetic on so many levels and, worst of all, it isn't funny. Ugh.

I wonder why comedies can't be funny. Other than the occasion laugh on "Two and a Half Men," which appeals to the 8th grade boy still dwelling in me, and the occasional skit on Saturday Night Live, I watch TV comedies and never laugh. I never even come close to laughing. There are laugh tracks with people laughing in places I would have never though to laugh. I believe that many shows ditched the live studio audience because they felt it might have been a bit unnerving to people to watch the 'laugh now' lights light up when nothing funny was going on.

Humor is great, but comedy does seem to be a lost art. I miss it!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Harvest Homecoming in New Albany

It's Harvest Homecoming weekend in New Albany. What an awesome weekend! The downtown is filled with people. There are crafts to buy, people to see, and tons of food to eat. At St. Marks we are venturing into the food service portion of Harvest Homecoming selling grilled chicken dinners. Actually, as I write this I smell like a piece of grilled chicken. Working and slaving over a hot grill. LOL

We had fun setting up last night and meeting at Roger's "Rich O's" afterwards for pizza and a couple of pitchers of some of Roger's best brews. It has been really fun hanging out with a lot of wonderful church people all pitching in to make this so successful.

I will be heading to Ohio for a couple of days to officiate at the wedding of a young woman who I met when she was in the Kindergarten and I was her pastor. She's all grown up now, a college graduate, and marrying her high school sweet heart. I'm so honored that she wanted me to come there to share this special day with her.

But I will miss seeing everyone beyond tonight at Harvest Homecoming. It is the best weekend of the year in New Albany and always goes by so quickly.

In short, so much junk food, so little time....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Too Much Sports...And Sporting Evil Empires.

Too much sports for one night.

The Tribe held on and defeated the Evil Empire of baseball. We all will now wonder if Joe Torre will return.

Sports Evil Empires. It's funny but no matter what misfortunes some teams have, you can only delight in them.

In baseball, the New York Yankees are the Evil Empire of baseball. No franchise has won more championships than they do. Fans of the Yankees don't even have to watch their team during the year; they are a lock on the post season. Of course, then A-Rod chokes and they lose.

In football, it's the Dallas Cowboys. They always seem to be good. And the game tonight. Jeez. If a Giants kicker came in with the game on the line and they needed a 52 yard field goal. Giants lose. Why is it that good teams always find a way to win and the bad teams always find a way to lose?

In college basketball, it's Duke. Nuff said.

And Notre Dame in college football. It always warms my heart to see them lose. I was saddened to see that they won a game and are now 1-5.

But tonight I watched too much in the sports world. The Evil Empire of baseball was defeated and the Evil Empire of the NFL won. Oh well, it could have been worse. At least the Giants won this week! Against the Jets!!! Woo Hoo!

WordPerfect and Word. No competition.

Years ago, in the days of DOS 3.1, I bought a program that was the most unbelievable computer program I had ever seen. When it booted up all you would see was a blue screen. When you'd type the type was white. Yet, this program, WordPerfect 5.0 did things no other word processing program was doing. WordPerfect 5.1 came out and I bought it. WordPerfect 6.0 came out and I bought it. DOS programs all. There was a Windows version, 5.2 that came out as well. WordPerfect is now on X3 or 13. I have it and still use it.

WordPerfect, to me, is still the industry standard for word processing. Sadly, through slick market, Microsoft has made their program, Word, the most used word processing program. These days WordPerfect is own by Corel and Microsoft has put its resources in winning the word processing fight. Meanwhile, Corel has put its resources into building a great program.

I am often amazed on how powerful and flexible WordPerfect continues to be. Word promises the world, but WordPerfect gives it. Word will use 3 - 4 steps for simple things that WordPerfect does with one quick step.

There is no competition between the quality of these programs. Sadly, the poorer one is the bigger seller.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Mets are Moving!

After their historic late season collapse the Mets are no longer beloved in the New York metro area. They announced that they are moving and will be playing in the Philippines from now on. They will be changing their name to the Manila Folders.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Cubs Major Problem...Nudity

As I write this I realize that I have misled people with the title of this post. No one even reads or comments on this blog unless I mention nudity. So I mentioned nudity. It isn't the problem for the Cubs, however. It is brazen attempt to lure you to read my blog.

So here's what I am really writing about.

The Cubs have a major problem.

Many people have speculated over the years. Are they truly cursed?

Steve Bartman in seat Aisle 4, row 8, seat 113 has been blamed. People miss that it was not the last out of the game. The Cubs needed five more outs. People forget that it was a foul ball. People forget that the Cubs folded like a house of cards. It was easier to blame the curse or to blame Steve Bartman.

In 1969 a black cat walked in front of the Cubs and their season crashed. The Miracle Mets went on to win the division and the World Series.

The Cubs big problem is the one problem that they don't want to hear or address. It's Wrigley Field.

Wrigley Field is a class field, an icon, one of the wonders of the baseball world. Cubs fans flock to it and most games are still played in the daylight.

That icon is like a noose around the neck of the Cubs.

The Cubs played well at home. They were 44-37 in front of their home crowd. However, lots of teams play well at Wrigley. Opposing hitters like hitting the daylight as well. It's a rare and special treat.

Secondly, Wrigley is either a bandbox home run crazy park or, when the wind blows in, impossible. The Cubs always struggle whether to be a 'pitching team' or a 'hitting team.' It is difficult to pitch in a park where pop ups can turn into home runs and it is difficult to hit in a park where blasts turn into pop ups. For most teams the Wrigley problems happen a few teams a year. The Cubs have the problem 81 games of the year.

The biggest problem, however, is obvious. The Cubs were 41-40 on the road. That's a bad record for a championship team. Whereas it is a treat for opposing hitters to bat in the daylight, Cubs hitters play fewer night games than other teams. Playing under the lights, for them, is a huge disadvantage.

They haven't been eliminated this year. I will make my prediction---a bold one at best. They will not win a World Championship until they begin playing their home games elsewhere. Wrigley is a great historic park that has become a noose around the necks of is residents.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Moveon.org, Rush, and Congressional Distractions

The United States is fighting a war on two fronts. In one we are fighting pre-existing terrorism and the other we are fighting civil war terrorism. Our military is stretched thin and there are other looming dangers in the world.

The real estate market is crashing.

Fuel prices are incredibly high and the winter is looming and this promises to have many people suffer greatly.

The health care system is a mess.

And Congress passed a resolution condemning Moveon.org on it's General Petraus ad in The New York Times. Tacky ad to be sure, but didn't the Senate have something better to do. I blame the Democrats on this. They control the floor and to have even let this on the floor to discuss demonstrates dreadful stewardship of their power. The Republicans can't take a bow because they wanted it.

The other day the debate turned to Rush Limbaugh and his phony soldier(s) comment. This was debated and came to nothing.

Give me a break.

First, in the realm of serious discourse amongst serious people, Rush Limbaugh's name does not come up. At best he's an arrogant blow-hard who spins anecdotal tidbits and pretends them to be facts. His mocking of Michael J. Fox and his ignorance of the disease about which he was speaking was monumental. Serious people having serious discourse have long since discounted him.

Secondly, Limbaugh has demonstrated himself to not be the great moral voice he proclaims himself to be. He has been thrice married and divorced. He has made some incredibly racist statements. Of course, there was the drug issues. His Viagra episode was on a return trip from the Dominican Republic, a nation with one of the highest levels of prostitution and under the age of 18 prostitutes in the world. For all of his mocking of Bill Clinton, Rush Limbaugh makes Bill Clinton appear to be ready for canonization.

And the Senate had a debate on this fool. So many big issues and they had a debate about this man. What a waste of time!

Maybe next week they'll take the time to focus their attention on another cultural leading light, Britney Spears.

A Heartless Veto

President Bush vetoed a bill that would have expanded health care coverage to millions of children. We have a national health care crisis and many people saw this as one small step in a positive direction. He, of course, vetoed this bill behind closed doors away from any witnesses. It's the kind of thing you do when you do something you know, deep in your heart, is wrong.

George W. Bush professes to be a Christian. Jesus' primary teachings were about:

Aiding the poor: George W. Bush does quite the contrary.

Demonstrating compassion: His vetoes have been mostly against health care initiatives attempting to heal people. His administrations policies cutting benefits for military veterans and his response to Katrina ought to challenge his compassion.

A respect for all of God's people: His cavalier attitude towards the death penalty and soldiers fighting in an injust war indicate otherwise.

This was a heartless veto.

Sadly, Rep. Baron Hill is supporting President Bush on this.

My only hope is that Congress finds the votes, including Rep. Hill's to override this incredibly heartless and immoral veto.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Michael Medved's Debate with Historic Reality

Every so often a columnist writes something that is beyond the pall. Michael Medved has accomplished just this. He wrote a column entitled, Six Inconvenient Truths about the U.S. and Slavery. It is a debate with historic reality.


He starts with the premise that the United States is good and that many critics of this nation point to slavery as a blight on this nation’s history. It has been a long time since I can ever recall an apologist for slavery. Michael Medved, however, has jumped in there to play such a role.

He has six inconvenient ‘truths.’

1. Slavery was an ancient and universal institution, not a distinctively American innovation.

He recounts human history and states that slavery was around long before the United States. This is true. If he reviews what he’s writing, however, he’ll realize that most of the slave-holding nations or regions were conquerors. Losing a war to Rome often led to slavery. It is universally true, that the vast majority of populations never owned slaves and spent their lives trying not to be slaves. Slavery was a blight on humanity long before it arrived on our shores----and just because it was the old practice of conquerors does not make it morally good or even ethically neutral.

2. Slavery existed only briefly, and in limited locales, in the history of the Republic – involving only a tiny percentage of the ancestors of today’s Americans.

He states that the United States officially only had slavery for 89 years before it was outlawed. Medved grew up in Philadelphia and ought to know better. As colonies slavery was alive and well for a good century before that. We may have been an English colony but we were still ‘us.’ Laughably he points out that while the vast majority of the Black population are descended from slaves, only a small percentage of the current white population are descended from slave holders. I guess his point is that we, here and now, are not guilty. Fine. Actually, Michael, people who descended from slave-owners are not guilty either. It was their ancestors, not them who owned slaves. None of this removes the crime from those who held the slaves in this nation.

3. Though brutal, slavery wasn’t genocidal: live slaves were valuable but dead captives brought no profit.
This indicates that the bones of all those ‘slaves’ who were thrown overboard (with weights) were done so to spare these ‘slaves’ from further suffering and the owners of the ship did not want to see the dreadful suffering. Of course, they profited from live slaves being delivered----but Medved misses a huge point.

Large numbers of people WERE killed and they weren’t slaves. They were innocent people from Africa who were kidnaped and made slaves here. The whole Amistad trial (which was real, not just a movie) was answering the question as to were these free people fighting for freedom or truly owned. The Supreme Court ruled that they were free people fighting for freedom.

4. It’s not true that the U.S. became a wealthy nation through the abuse of slave labor: the most prosperous states in the country were those that first freed their slaves.

The northern colonies were more industrial and more concentrated and didn’t maintain slavery. Also, the preaching of Congregational Ministers (our United Church of Christ predecessors) was insistent that slavery was a moral ill. The Southern Plantations had other issues and their economy was based on slavery. Frankly, a big part of the reason the war was fought was to maintain a way of life.

5. While America deserves no unique blame for the existence of slavery, the United States merits special credit for its rapid abolition.

Congregational ministers and those they inspired and motivated, and the nation of England actually deserve the credit. William Wilberforce, in England, fought long and hard and the British became the world’s leading nation in attempting to stamp out slavery.

6. There is no reason to believe that Today’s African-Americans would be better off if their ancestors had remained behind in Africa.

My ancestors came from Italy and Ireland by their choice. They came here for a better life. Many of our ancestors came here by their choice to seek a better life. Are the African-Americans better off now for being here? I don’t know the answer to that----but I do know that their ancestors were denied the choice to remain in the place of their birth to come here.

Additionally, this position arrogantly advocates that the American culture is superior to what they may have had in Africa. Why do people consistently believe that they must constantly crow that our culture is superior to everyone else? It boggles my mind.

Michael Medved used to review movies. I suggest he go back to doing that. His venture into American history is travesty.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sports Stuff

First the New York Mets. I have been a Mets fan since 1962 when I was 7 years old. I remember my Dad, an old Brooklyn Dodgers fan taking me to the Polo Grounds to see the Mets play. Even though the Yankees were across town, and even though they were the team with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, I pulled for the Mets. I remember such luminaries as Pumpsie Green and Chris Cannizzaro. Little Al Jackson was a fan favorite. The Mets were terrible, but fun.

1969, of course, changed things. Starting with the '60's the Mets have made the World Series once a decade and they win every other decade. This is the decade when they are supposed to win. They didn't even make the post-season this year----and you could see it coming. There was bad fielding. Strike outs at the worst possible time. The bullpen was dreadful and, frankly, Willie Randolph, who I do like, made some very questionable decisions. Right now the average Mets fan is angry. This is a team that blew too many games and shrugged it off. They had two series at home against the bottom of their division and won only one of those games. They were eliminated by the last place team in their division by losing 2 out of 3 games to the Florida Marlins.

Mets fans are angry, and frankly I believe that the New York Mets are going to have to confront the fact that they really let their fans down this year in a big way.

Ah, I always feel so much better when I vent.

Which brings me to the New York Giants. Donovan McNaab, I suspect, had visions of Osi Umenyiora in his sleep. He had 6 sacks. Mathias Kiwanuka had 3. (The Giants have their own Scrabble team!) McNaab, went out to dinner after the game and was sacked by one of the waitresses. Well, I might exaggerate a little.

I'd feel badly for the Eagles, but these are the hated Eagles.

I have to say that the Giants may be generating some optimism. (Of course, I'm an old Giants fan so optimism dies easily.) They lost their first two games to Dallas and Green Bay both of whom is perfect at this point. They played well against Washington and stopped a hot Eagle's team cold in its tracks. Osi Umenyiora had a totally dominant game. He had 6 sacks, but was always in McNaab's face, forcing the Eagles' QB to thrown too quickly or erratically. Lord help me, but Tom Coughlin is remaining calmer, not running around like a fool, and making rational game decisions.

They are 2 and 2. 14 more games to go. We'll see.