Monday, August 30, 2010

RIP - Michael Been

I don't know very much about Michael Been - except that he worked with Mark Heard on a number of songs. Michael Been died a few days ago - heart attack on stage in August - same as Mark.

The only song that I'm really familiar with that he wrote was made popular by Russ Taff. "I Still Believe" expresses the cry of one clinging to God through great distress.

(notice the fret-less bass)
(I'm still partial to the Russ Taff version.)

Questions, Questions

I've begun, more recently, to employ my eldest offspring to help me memorize some Bible passages. First, it was John 3:16-17. (If you see this as a set-up for meaningful discussion, BINGO!) Last Saturday, it was 2Cor 5:16-17. It was the section about being a new creation since we no longer view things and people from a worldly point-of-view. "The old has gone, the new has come."

This did begin a rather wide-ranging conversation that included some reading from Revelations 4, 5, and 6. (Not something I'd have chosen, but she wanted me to read something about heaven.) Anyway, she astounded me with her questions and observations on religion and life.

1. Do Muslims go to heaven?
2. I've noticed that people who have Christian parents become Christians and people who have Muslim parents become Muslims.
3. Do babies who die go to heaven?

When I began to address each of these, I started with: "Wow, I'm not really sure." I didn't leave it there, but repeated that "anything is possible with God". (I'm not sure she heard anything else.)

Someone is doing some good thinking in our house. And it looks like I'll be trying to memorize a few more verses here soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

100 years ago on August 26 . . .

Mother Theresa was born.

Happy Birthday to you.

(picture from here)

An Interview of an Uncommon Lady

Katheryn Jean Lopez interviews Mary Anne Marks. An introduction to who Mary is comes before the interview. (No need to repeat it here).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Love Your Enemy

I was confronted with this issue by a book, "Ten Things I wish Jesus Never Said", instead of Jesus. I guess Jesus and his issues (Roman occupiers, Pharisees being Pharisees, and everyday sinners doing their thing) seemed remote to me. So when Jesus talked about loving the enemies, I never really stopped to dwell on it.

There is one person. If a passing thought were to land on this person, I would wish in my heart the worst sorts of trouble. (I haven't the faintest idea if it is mutual, but that matters little.) I have taken to stop myself when such a thought comes and ask God to bless this person with every blessing that I can think of. The usual ones of health, fortune, long life, happy family, and on and on. It helps that I've committed to pray for them anyway.

What should I think if God answers my prayer? Will I be like Jonah and sulk?

Is this all preparation for me if I should meet them again?

Is the prayer some kind of "indoctrination" or "conditioning" that is supposed to change my heart to love them and really desire the best for them? Will my heart follow my prayers?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another Caption Contest

What might the baby be thinking?

(picture from here)

A somber Civil-War poem

by: Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
    "Had he and I but met
      By some old ancient inn,
        We should have sat us down to wet
          Right many a nipperkin!

              "But ranged as infantry,
                And staring face to face,
                  I shot at him as he at me,
                    And killed him in his place.

                        "I shot him dead because --
                          Because he was my foe,
                            Just so: my foe of course he was;
                              That's clear enough; although

                                  "He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
                                    Off-hand like -- just as I --
                                      Was out of work -- had sold his traps --
                                        No other reason why.

                                            "Yes; quaint and curious war is!
                                              You shoot a fellow down
                                                You'd treat if met where any bar is,
                                                  Or help to half-a-crown."

                                                    (poem from here) (picture from here)

                                                    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

                                                    He who hit The Shot has died. RIP Bobby Thompson

                                                    When I was younger, I followed baseball with a passion. I followed it forwards and learned about its history backwards. One of the great moments of Baseball history was The Shot Heard 'Round the World, a 3-run home run off the bat of Bobby Thompson to win the pennant for the Giants. Over time, I managed to obtain one of Bobby Thompson's baseball cards.

                                                    Bobby Thompson died on Monday. (video on linking page)

                                                    On a side note, did you notice the number of people in the stadium who were well-dressed. (Nice hats). It would be easier to count the people who weren't in their Sunday best. I'm going to my first Twins' game at Target Field tonight. (I've been to the Metrodome and Met Stadium many times before.) How should I dress? (And where will I get a fancy hat?)

                                                    Sunday, August 15, 2010

                                                    Humor done well

                                                    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
                                                    Race Card Is Maxed Out
                                                    Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

                                                    On Being a Judge

                                                    I showed up at the Powderhorn Rec Center very early - before 6AM. The janitor was fairly new - and didn't want to let us in - even after the Head Judge came and tried to talk to him. She found an unlocked door in the back and snuck in. If you remember that day in MN history, it was extremely warm. The Rec Center was air-conditioned, but our spot in the gym was not. It was over 90 degrees in there. The janitor would not open the Emergency Doors for us so we could get some degree of ventilation!

                                                    We eventually went to the lobby and the computer room. This made for a more pleasant day! Projections were for 10% of the registered people to show up to vote. We got close to 20% - at nearly 300 voters. 40 of them were newly registered voters.

                                                    Since we were a Rec Center, people came in and out who were not voters. One such person came through during a slow part of the day for us. One of the judges asked him if he was going to vote. The conversation went something like this?

                                                    Judge: Are you here to vote?
                                                    Man: No, I'm not going to vote.
                                                    Judge: Why not?
                                                    Man: I don't like the government.
                                                    Judge: How else are you going to change it if you don't vote?
                                                    Man: Doesn't matter who is in it, I dont' like the government.
                                                    Judge: It's the government. You can't escape it.

                                                    The man didn't vote. Inside, I had huge admiration for this guy. But the Judge, also, was right. You can't escape the government. "Change the name, change the faces, but the story's still the same." While that might be true, it has some flexibility - which is why I voted.

                                                    Here's the oath the all the Election Judges took before the polls opened:

                                                    I, ______, solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will perform the duties of election judge according to law and the best of my ability and will diligently endeavor to prevent fraud, deceit and abuse in conducting this election. I will perform my duties in a fair and impartial manner and not attempt to create an advantage for my party or for any candidate.
                                                    (I've got more to say on this, but I've got to get ready for Church.)

                                                    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

                                                    To be a judge

                                                    In an hour or so, I'll hop in my car and drive to a nearby precinct where I will be an Election Judge. I have wanted to do this for some years. Frankly, I had seen that it's a very boring and tedious job (think hanging chads!) from my years as a Poll Challenger. Hours are very long (6AM to 10 PM). But something happened during the last election that nudged this to a higher priority in my mind.

                                                    Minnesota has one of the easiest set of voting rules to circumvent. If one wanted to vote, but could not do so legally, it would be very easy to so without getting caught. And, once having voted, the vote cannot be undone. (see here for example) The part that gets me is that we have a vouching system, where one registered voter can vouch for another. The other needs no proof of anything but a pulse (a slight exaggeration). This voucher can do this for up to 15 people. So if people wanted to organize a massive voting fraud - and they weren't concerned with taking oaths (you know, its all for the greater good!) - it would be quite easy to pull off. 16 people at 16 different precincts - 256 votes in place of 16.

                                                    But even one . . . even one would possibly negate my vote (or yours). I saw fraud before my eyes. I told the Election Judge that it was coming. I told the Election Judge that it was happening. I challenged it. The judge felt obliged to accept it because they took an oath. To some, an oath is a serious thing - to others, not so much.

                                                    So now I'm an Election Judge. For today, then for the more significant one in November.

                                                    Monday, August 9, 2010

                                                    Greed is Bad (for others)

                                                    Some while ago, I bemoaned that Greek beaurocrats were getting retirement benefits nearly equivalent to what they made when they actually produced (check that) worked. I said that it seemed like a nice job if you could get it, but I proclaimed it immoral as it put untold burden on future workers (check that) producers as they must continue to pay for work done years before. What was immoral was the promise to pay into the extended future (with unknown length) a wage for work that was not being done.

                                                    Now comes a story closer to home. Some police in NY (who already receive a handsome pension) are being investigated for Social Security fraud. They are claiming mental health benefits and getting thousands more per month. At the same time, they have said that they are mentally healthy and able to keep firearms for protection. Hmmm. What a shock!

                                                    (picture from NY Post)

                                                    Friday, August 6, 2010

                                                    Unleashing Teachers to Do What They Do Best

                                                    What? Another article on teachers?


                                                    But his one is about how the Teacher's Unions put kids first. (Not!)

                                                    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

                                                    People aren't wearing enough hats...

                                                    The title comes from a movie, Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life". It is spoken as an answer to the question "What is the meaning of life?" Of course, there is a great deal of discussion about this very curious answer. It is worth watching, (especially if you are about to have a baby) but is only for adults - rated R.

                                                    I've read some articles about about men's accessories - like hats. Here. It's all part of an internal conversation I'm having about being a man (as opposed to a boy). So I'm thinking of getting a real man's hat (as opposed to a sports cap).

                                                    (What do you think? Is my face shaped more like Will Smith or like Orlando Bloom - aka. Legolas? You have to see the article to answer.)

                                                    Sunday, August 1, 2010

                                                    Baseball Update - My earlier predictions

                                                    My predictions from earlier this year:

                                                    American League Division Winners
                                                    East: NY Yankees 95-67 (leading their division)
                                                    Central: Minnesota 91-71 (.5 games behind)
                                                    West: Texas 88-74 (leading their division)
                                                    Wild Card: Tampa Bay: 88-74 (leading WC race)

                                                    National League Division Winners
                                                    East: Philadelphia 94-68 (3.5 games behind)
                                                    Central: St. Louis 98-64 (leading their division)
                                                    West: LA Dodgers 90-72 (7 games behind)
                                                    Wild Card: Houston: 92-70 (15 games behind in WC)

                                                    AL Champions: Minnesota
                                                    NL Champtions: St. Louis

                                                    World Series Champions: Minnesota

                                                    I certainly know the AL better than the NL. I can see getting, possibly, 6 out of 8 correct for regular season play.