Friday, November 30, 2007

Happy landings

Evel Knievel has just cleared 69 years, and come down on the Other Side.

In the world to which I was born, Knievel's name was pretty much a synonym for awesome, sort of a cross between Fonzie and Captain America. As a boy I owned the Evel Knievel motorcycle set: you got a plastic molded daredevil in the trademark red, white, and blue, complete with the little cape, and a toy motorcycle (which he may have been permanently molded into, I can't recall). You set up the ramps, and took a long plastic dipstick with teeth along one edge, that fitted into a slot. Slide it in, yank it to rev the wheels, and then send Mini-Knievel careening past the ramp and directly into the wall. The miniature version would successfully scale the first ramp maybe once every ten tries, only to wipe out on the other end.

I sent that poor thing down the stairs, into bookshelves, and tried to jump the cat (who was too smart to stay still for the attempt). The only difference was that the plastic version never broke sixteen bones and spent two months in the hospital.

Longtime friend and promoter Billy Rundel said Knievel had trouble breathing at his Clearwater condominium and died before an ambulance could get him to a hospital.
"It's been coming for years, but you just don't expect it. Superman just doesn't die, right?" Rundel said.

Well... Rundel's metaphor is flawed, but I understand the feeling. Thirty years after his aborted jump of Snake River Canyon, he was sent up on an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. It was unmistakeably meant to be him - the sadness of it was that they chose to make him an old, pill-addicted shell of the Knievel that we always pictured: brave, rugged, dressed like a superhero, ready to literally leap tall buildings at a single bound, armed with nothing more than his courage and optimism. Every X-Games stunt rider on Earth owes him big-time.

A Kinder, Gentler..

...Nazi church.

An anti-Semitic church formed by white supremacists has abandoned its neo-Nazi imagery, such as swastikas, to make its message more palatable, a change that a leading Jewish group called an attempt to "sanitize hatred."

The group banned the use of Nazi uniforms, red arm bands and similar regalia because they were an instant turnoff to people who might otherwise be open to the church's teachings, including the belief that white Anglo-Saxons — not Jews — are God's chosen people in the Bible.

"We don't like the swastikas. We don't like the negativity," said Jonathan Williams, the leading pastor of the United Church of YHWH. "The majority of people see all that as pure evil."

So the majority of people see neo-Nazi imagery and swastikas as pure evil. Gee, I wonder why?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lose 60 lbs of pot?

It's been found!

Prank calls and conspiracy theories have been rolling in since the Florida Highway Patrol reported that about 60 pounds of marijuana were found along Interstate 4 west of Plant City on Tuesday.

The patrol has said that anyone who has lost bags of marijuana should call (813) 631-4020. The patrol also asked that people call if they know anything about how the bags wound up at I-4 near McIntosh Road.

There's the number, just call the Florida Highway Patrol and come and get it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I wasn't going to do this

This post popped up from the fine folks at FJM (language warning) and I briefly considered picking through it for some ideas. I held off for two reasons: first, whenever I do a baseball column it tends to get loudly ignored. I don't like to annoy my guests. Second, I had been saving up for a "meta column" of sorts, trying to get down to the reasons why stat-hounds and grit-n-hustle lovers get after each other with such venom. (Those are the posts where I annoy myself by lapsing into that faux learnéd textbook tone. You know the one. I'm such a smug little idiot.)

I may yet write the meta-column. (Cripes, even the term "meta-column" is so textbooky. Grrrrr.) But the Bill Conlin column is back on the table, in a big way, because after FJM (and a few others) disputed his contention that Jimmy Rollins deserved the National League MVP award this year, he completely flipped out. Some of the details are at the crashburnalley link, but I learned of this at Ace of Spades HQ.

Background - Conlin made a case for Rollins as a deserving MVP. Well, cool - there were a few great candidates in the NL, though I found a couple of flaws in Conlin's reasoning. First, he cited Rollins impressive hitting. I had already pegged the problem with this: if Rollins isn't hitting for power, he doesn't do enough to justify 750 or more plate appearances per year.* Turns out that FJM had a better peg: Rollins wasn't even the best hitting shortstop in his division this year. Second, Conlin cited Rollins' Gold Glove. He's better defensively than Hanley Ramirez, to be sure, but Gold Glove good? Troy Tulowitzki handled more chances in fewer innings, turned more double plays, and committed the same number of errors. Too often lately the GG has been given more like a Silver Slugger, where big names with good sticks get the nod. And I think Conlin gets that, because while he was snidely dismissing Bill James' range calculations, he said that the important thing in fielding was getting the out - and James' stats were an attempt to find out how many times that happens. If Tulowitzki gets to more chances than Rollins, he gets more outs, thus saving more runs, thus playing defense better.

(This also circles back to the chief critique of Rollins as a hitter - he makes a lot of outs. If the whole point of defense is getting the out, thus preventing runs, it only stands to reason that the whole point of offense is NOT getting out, thus causing runs.)

Anyway, he wrote up his piece, was a little prickly about it, but less than the guys excoriating his writing. (And again, I plead guilty on this.) You know, free exchange of ideas and all - it's not like Rollins is an atrocious hitter and stone-gloved fielder who somehow hypno-toaded his way to an MVP award. Congrats and all that. But that's when flipping out occurred.

"Know what, pal? Bash this. . .Tell your bloggers, my career against theirs. . ."

Nice. Of course, Bill Conlin has no idea what most bloggers do for a living. Besides, there are plenty of bloggers who could easily take up this challenge - Mark Steyn, James Lileks, and Bill Simmons pop into mind immediately. Simmons is in fact the prototypical blogger-made-good, writing up Boston sports in his spare time and winning such a following that ESPN snapped him up. There's more than one way to pay your dues.

Things escalated unfortunately from there between Conlin and Bill B at crashburnalley. After a couple more snarks back and forth, Conlin took a time-honored internet law - "The first person to bring Hitler into the argument, loses" - and broke it into bitty bits.

"The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler’s time on earth–I’m sure he would have eliminated all bloggers."

I've seen plenty of people cross that law by calling their opponents "Hitler" but this is the first (and hopefully only) time I've ever seen someone call himself "Hitler" and mean it as a compliment. This is the baseball equivalent of hitting into a triple play, while running over your star player and blowing out his ACL. I mean - WOW. You hate bloggers, so you wish Hitler had started roasting them or something? Because the actual Hitlers of today are actually doing this to actual people all over the world. In Cuba, people are jailed if they open libraries. In the Middle East and China, pro-democracy writers (print and online) are routinely harrassed, beaten, and silenced. Do you really want to use this as an example of your disdain for part-time writers with a passion for their topics? They disagree (perhaps rudely) so break out the jackboots?

In order to defend the high ground, you have to stand on it. This wasn't the way. I mean, some of the quotes of Conlin's taunts are astounding. The guy touts his high IQ, but then snits like he hasn't gotten past first grade; he touts his baseball experience but then shouts down any new information that could help him improve that experience. It's a terrible trap to automatically assume "there's nothing new for me to learn, so cram it." I mean, being snide about chances handled per nine innings? Any baseball writer knows about ERA, right? Well, what is chances per nine innings but a rough equivalent for fielders? It's not the only measure any more than ERA is the only pitching measure, but it's not outrageous for a writer, fan, manager, or whomever to take it into account - "Gee, he gets to more balls per game, but doesn't hit as well, but he's a little faster... who's better?" That's what talking sports is all about, unless one prefers a shouting match where the crankiest coot in the bar "wins" by volume rather than debate.

*The relevant section, for those who don't want to hear me whine about Mark Kriegel's writing, is as follows: "Jimmy Rollins is a pretty fair ballplayer, likely this season's NL MVP, but I think it's amazing that Krieger [oops] would rather talk about his leadership and his fighting spirit, and not about his becoming the fourth guy in the entire history of baseball to have 20 doubles, triples, homers, and steals in the same season. (It was all the rage a few weeks ago when Curtis Granderson got there.) He is also no better than average at getting on base - .344 this season, .331 for his career, never topping .350 - so if Rollins isn't hitting for power like he has the past two years, he is not as valuable as Wright or Beltran. (A three-way comparison of this season.)"

For you know not the day...

…or the hour.

MIAMI -- Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday, a day after he was shot at home. He was 24.

Family friend Richard Sharpstein said Taylor's father told him the news around 5:30 a.m.

"His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me," said Sharpstein, Taylor's former lawyer. "It's a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans."

He said Taylor died early Tuesday at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where he had been airlifted after the shooting early Monday.

I was at the Bucs-Redskins game Sunday, the beneficiary of a season ticket holder who could not make it. The friend with me told me (big-time ‘Skins fan) that Sean Taylor was hurt and would not be playing. He was a former U of Miami player and apparently he spent Sunday night at his home in Miami where it looks like he was killed by an evildoer during a home invasion.

In the first few verses of Luke 13, Jesus asked His disciples about some Galileans murdered by Pilate:

“Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

God is sovereign over this world and nothing transpires without His knowledge or approval. I am one of the lower enlisted in this outfit. I have no idea why God causes disaster to happen, the hurricane or earthquake or home invasion, and neither does Pat Robertson. But according to Jesus, when I see these things I should examine myself. And the question I should be asking is why this disaster did not come upon my sorry posterior.

Jesus made other controversial remarks like this:

I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.”

I bring this up because the tragic death of Sean Taylor should be a reminder that none of us are promised three score and ten in this world. Jesus of Nazareth made some bold claims about the nature of heaven and how one can get there. Sean Taylor’s father said that Sean is “with Christ”. Is that true? And what about you?

My email is tampajeff AT if anyone wants to discuss this more privately than the blog. But go easy on me. I am trying to present a controversial subject as gently as I can. If you are just going to cuss me out, or call me "insensitive" or "intolerant", post a comment on the blog.

Mystery Science Reader 10,000

The Hive clicked past the big round number - ten thousand hits since the reset. It looks like the "lucky" fellow is from the great state of Georgia; further, a returning visitor.

I don't know that many Georgians, so my bet is on the one and only WunderKraut as the "proud" ten-thousandth customer. I raise my insomniac's warm milk to you, kind sir!

I can't decide which joke to make

Interesting news via the Ace of Spades:

SUSPICIOUS Iraqi troops ordered a "bride" and "groom" out of their car at a checkpoint on a highway north of Baghdad only to find they were wanted militants in disguise, the defence ministry said.
Two other men travelling with the all-male “bridal couple” were also found to be wanted militants, the ministry said in a statement.

In New Jersey, they wouldn't have gotten a second glance - for several reasons, alas.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Still hoping, but still nervous

My boys, they just kill me.

For example, this little column in the Long Island press about the Islanders being, well, the Islanders.

They put 44 pucks on Cristobel Huet in the Canadiens game, so like Guerin says, it's not the effort. (They lost that game 4-1, turning the puck over in the slot the first minute of the game and eroding from there.) The problem is that the Isles haven't had a true first line in a good while. They've had 15 years of a first-liner here, a first-liner there, but no single unit that's dangerous every shift. Forget Trots-Bossy-Gillies, they don't even have anything resembling Turgeon-King-Thomas. If their power play isn't clicking they will struggle to score more than two goals a game.

(Remind me again, why the hell did they trade away Jason Spezza to Ottawa? No - on second thought, don't remind me.)

What the Isles had meant to do with dealing for Ryan Smyth last season was to give themselves a solid playoff shot, but moreover, give themselves that kind of a unit. Had Smyth stayed, he would be playing next to Mike Comrie and either Ruslan Fedotenko or Miro Satan - not exactly the top line in the league, but better than putting Guerin there at this stage in his career.

According to this site, the Isles have about $26 million to play with for next season, even if the cap doesn't go up. That will come in handy if they want to sign a sniper. Offer sheets to other teams' restricted free agents are a dicey proposition, given that the team would lose draft picks if the player signed up; it would have to be a knock-out player in return, somebody like Washington's Alex Ovechkin; or else a guy they could sign cheaply, who would improve the team without costing them an arm and a leg. (The Florida Panthers have a lot of those types of guys: Stewart, Olesz, Kreps, Campbell, Meyer... any of whom could take a leap and become a dangerous player. They also have stud d-man Jay Bouwmeester as a RFA... he'd be SWEET in an Isles uni.) There are a few other guys on this list that would qualify. Among unrestricted guys, lots of players similar to Comrie - 26-30, good-to-very good talent, haven't made the leap.

One thing that really hurts is that the Isles have only one blue chipper in the system, winger Kyle Okposo. He could be ready next season, but after that, pffffft. The Isles had no first rounder last season, part of the high rental cost for Smyth. (That pick could have been turned into a few highly regarded prospects who had slipped one way or another: Angelo Esposito, Alexei Cherepanov, or even Colton Gillies - the nephew of the aforementioned Clark Gillies.)

In about a half-hour, the Dallas Stars play the Isles in the Coliseum, fresh off their 3-2 win over the Rangers last night. (Thanks guys!) If it boils down to Andy Hilbert and Richard Park again, I'm not confident. They seem to have a dozen guys like Hilbert, and it's not like you can send four of them to another team for one stud; not unless that stud is too expensive to hold on to for an extended time.

I can tell you already... at the deadline they'll announce that they've dealt Okposo and the first-rounder this year for six weeks of Owen Nolan or Doug Weight - then I'll wake up in a car on the side of the road in Central America, with a suitcase of drugs and cash, a dead guy in the trunk, and utterly no knowledge of how it all happened or how long I've been gone.

That's a $2 Drunk...

update and bump from the 'fly - via A Big Victory, a kind of 'cheap buzz' that, quite frankly, is NOT for the squeamish. This stuff makes Purple Jesus look like Dom Perignon. Behold the horror - and be warned, not safe for work, school, church socials, or internal use.

PS - I probably should have bumped this post, as it has the conversation that I was thinking of when I saw the Drink that Defied All Sanity. Sorry guys.

(11/12/07) American money.

Supermarkets are selling beer at a cheaper price than water, fuelling concern over their role in Britain's binge-drinking crisis.

Despite repeated public health warnings, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda now offer lager at just 22p a can - less per litre than their ownbrand-mineral water and cola, and cheap enough to allow someone to get drunk for just £1.

An investigation by The Mail on Sunday has uncovered a fierce alcohol price war between the major supermarkets.

Lager is now so cheap that the stores pay more in excise duties than they charge at the till.

Those Brits sure love a cheap drunk.

Tree-Hugging Football

The Gators beat the "Noles, but they couldn't beat Al Gore.

Next Saturday’s big football game between the University of Florida and Florida State University has an environmental cost that can be measured in acres and years. That would be about 16 acres of forest, allowed to grow for 10 years, to absorb the carbon emissions generated by a single game.

The University of Florida has vowed to make the Gators-Seminoles game carbon-neutral — and it will be, thanks to two landowning donors and the activist organization Environmental Defense. The donors, Jim and Winston Bailey, have set aside 100 acres of pasture to be reforested for carbon sequestration. Environmental Defense will pay the Baileys a fair-market price for managing 16 of those acres over the next decade. That price is still being determined.

The rest of the acreage may be purchased by the university or other organizations for other offset programs. Part of the point of the project is to show that forests have value other than as pulp for paper, says Dedee DeLongpré, sustainability director at the University of Florida.

About 88,000 fans will travel from near and far to Gainesville on Saturday. Officials at the University of Florida estimate that all of that travel and tailgating, along with operating the stadium, will generate more than 1,650 tons of carbon emissions.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Politics of Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 10:2

A wise man's heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man's heart directs him toward the left.

Christians for Cannabis?

...Or did these stoners just slap a few Bible verses on their home page?

I can sympathize with the cause (a little). But let's keep Jesus out of it unless you have evidence of ganja use by our Savior.

Thank God My Parents...

...didn't care about their carbon footprint.

Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love, to feel a little hand slipping into hers - and a voice calling her Mummy.

But the very thought makes her shudder with horror.

Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet.

Incredibly, so determined was she that the terrible "mistake" of pregnancy should never happen again, that she begged the doctor who performed the abortion to sterilise her at the same time.

He refused, but Toni - who works for an environmental charity - "relentlessly hunted down a doctor who would perform the irreversible surgery.

Finally, eight years ago, Toni got her way.

At the age of 27 this young woman at the height of her reproductive years was sterilised to "protect the planet".

Especially when the big problem is that Europeans are not having enough babies.

The EU’s average fertility rate is now 1.5, well below the 2.1 needed to maintain the size of a population. In Germany and Italy, the fertility rate is closer to 1, which means that each generation is 60 per cent smaller than the previous one. Even more worrying but less well-known is the fact that population decline – just like population growth – is exponential. In Germany, the birth rate started to fall in the 1960, well before Italy, Spain and other EU countries. By the 1990s, Germany was running short of 20 or 30-something potential mothers. A country that has had low birth rates for decades ends up in a ‘fertility’ trap.

The above article worries about how pensions will be paid with fewer future workers. My argument is that there will be plenty of young people in Europe in the future, they'll all be speaking Arabic and filling mosques. And the continent will be renamed Eurabia.

By the way, I have seven siblings so Mom and Dad really didn't give a rat's toenail about the ecosystem.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

St Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast.

Does this qualify as a "graven image"?

The grainy image emerged from a batch of Great Value pancake mix, bought at Wal-Mart for $1.25 - a suitably humble beginning for a wanna-be apparition.

Port St. Lucie resident Dana O'Kane said she discerned the outline of Jesus and Mary in the mottled pancake and took it as a reassuring sign from her recently departed father.

How does anyone know what Our Lord and His Mother look like? Did they sit for paintings 2000 years ago?

The Day Before Thanksgiving in Tampa, FL

The high will be 83 degrees. Low tonight in the mid-sixties. I'm wearing shorts. I may wear long pants to dinner tomorrow, but only because it's Thanksgiving.

I just felt like sharing that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I won't be moving to New Zealand

The USAF sent me to NZ for two weeks 29 years and 40 pounds ago. It looks like I'm stuck in the good old USA for now.

A British man who moved to New Zealand has been told by officials that his wife is too fat to join him.

Richie Trezise, 35, a rugby-playing Welshman, lost weight to gain entry to New Zealand after initially being rejected for being overweight and a potential burden on the health care system.

His wife, Rowan, 33, a photographer, has been battling for months to shed the pounds so they can be reunited and live Down Under but has so far been unable to overcome New Zealand’s weight regulations. Mr Trezise, who moved to Auckland in September after shedding two inches from his waist on a crash diet, said that if his wife was not allowed to come out by Christmas they would abandon the idea of emigrating. His employer-backed skills visa was initially rejected by immigration officials when they discovered that his body mass index, or BMI, was 42, making him morbidly obese under New Zealand regulations.

It was 29 years ago this week that I went to Christchurch, NZ for two weeks. I saw Peter Frampton in concert (and met his bass player ina bar the night before). I almost got us all killed on the way to Frampton. I made a right turn (which is like a left - across traffic) and wandered into the right lane (which in NZ is the wrong lane), but my buddies yelled at me enough to get me on the left side.

The Heroes water cooler

double UPDATE and re-BUMP - in honor of the writer's strike, I'm just letting this thread stay open for the discussion of the new episode. I will also add that if there's a huge cliffhanger, I'm going to worry that the resumption of the season is going to A) feel anticlimactic because B) it will drag along the way the first five or so episodes did here. Keep up the narrative drive!

UPDATE and BUMP - ok, it was catch-up day!

A few things I'm thinking about now that I've seen the episodes -

1. I think that the strike may well have helped the show. Instead of meandering through time, meandering through subplots, meandering through the useless Mascara Twin nonsense... we're picking up the pace.
2. The flip side to this is that some of the looming threats are being dusted off very quickly. Matt v. his dad had a nice payoff, but man was that sudden. The "catchup" episode was similar: plausible, as the way Peter remembers everything, but abrupt.
3. I think that I must revise my original theory about Sylar. [spoiler vision] It's probably not the virus - it's the drugs, the same ones Peter was on. And he's been off of them for about three or four days... which means BRAIIIIIINS. [/spoiler vision]
4. Emo-hinder is just working my last nerve. Totally. Completely. Didn't he meet that kid in India who enters people's dreams and helps them? So when Molly's trapped by the Nightmare Man, he runs to the Company like a total doofus. And from that point out he's been less than useless. To borrow a Sports Guy analogy, he is now taking things off the table.
5. Should have seen the Adam thing coming. [I wonder if he's still carrying paper over the whole Princess thing. I mean, 400 years is a long time to keep a grudge.]
6. The Reset Button remains one of the more distressing trends in this season, and its effect on Niki has now led to BIG TROUBLE. Color me annoyed.

Lots more, but let's hear what you have to say...

11/13 - Folks, I plead real life in the first degree. My dear heart and I have been out of the state two weekends in a row, following long rambling stretches of sinus malfunction and heavy work-related workloads. October has been rude to us, friends.

In short, that means that Monday has been catch-up day in the homestead. I can pour you guys the water, but I can't really talk about the episode, having seen none of it since the clocks rolled back. (On second thought, I also blame daylight savings time, which is the cause of at least 26% more evil than the next leading brand.) It's just as well. Based on the conversation so far, I fear a few of my pet theories have taken some fierce beatings. But please, feel free! I post spoiler warnings for others, but weirdly, I don't necessarily find that it ruins my enjoyment of actually seeing the episodes later - unless they're lame.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Cato!

You turned 28, had nine tackles and a forced fumble in the Buc victory in Atlanta, and may have celebrated a little too much on the plane home or afterwards.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Cato June was arrested early this morning and charged with driving under the influence.

"Mistakes," a soft-spoken June said as he walked out of the jail late this morning to a waiting minivan, "bad mistakes."

Tampa police arrested June, who turned 28 on Sunday, on North Dale Mabry Highway near Hillsborough Avenue at 2:52 a.m., according to a Tampa police report. In an arrest affidavit, Tampa police Officer Peter Bucher said his radar clocked June's 2005 blue Cadillac sport utility vehicle at 66 mph on Dale Mabry Highway at Osborne Avenue. The Cadillac was in a 45 mph zone, the affidavit said.

The officer said he approached June and detected the smell of alcohol on his breath. June also had bloodshot and glassy eyes, the officer said in the affidavit.

"Field sobriety exercises were conducted," the affidavit said. "The defendant exhibited clues of impairment."

Cato was stopped about 2 miles north of Raymond James Stadium. I guess the guys fly in from Atlanta, then take a shuttle to the Ray Jay where they parked their cars.

The Bucs are 6-4 with a two game lead on the rest in the South Division. But it's a case of the one-eyed man being king in the land of the blind. We have a 37-year-old tiny QB and are on our third-string RB. If either go down, it's over.

Derek Jeter & The Taxman

Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Don't ask me what I want it for
If you don't want to pay some more
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me.
- the Beatles

The NY Taxman chaseth Derek.

The taxman wants to call Derek Jeter out at home.

The Yankee captain is fighting New York officials over whether he actually lives in the state and owes millions in back taxes.

Jeter, who has played with the Bronx Bombers since 1995, owns an off-season home in Tampa, Fla., and has claimed residency in Florida for years.

But the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance insists the superstar shortstop is an Empire State resident, and is demanding back taxes, plus interest, for the years 2001 through 2003, according to court filings.

The alleged debt is "in the millions," according to a source close to the case, who added that the auditors picked those years because they believe they have the strongest arguments to make for them.

Jeter's Yankee salary is already partially taxable New York state income, but he may have been sheltering millions in endorsements and investments in the Sunshine State.
His endorsements include deals with Nike, Ford, Gatorade and Avon, in addition to memorabilia pacts.

According to Forbes, he was slated to earn $28.3 million in 2007.

This song was written by George Harrison when, after the four little moptops started to make money, he realized just how much Her Majesty's government was getting as their cut. I mean, Queen Elizabeth II is a wonderful lady but she was getting paid pretty well for not recording or touring with them.

Today in the USA NY Governor Elliot Spitzer dropped plans to tax Internet commerce, so he's looking around for some spare change and his attention has fallen on Yankee hero Derek Jeter. Jeter, like a lot of athletes and other high income earners live in Florida to enjoy the weather and no state income tax!

Do you hear that my NJ brothers and sisters? Do not be afraid! Step toward the light!

Friday, November 16, 2007

What is it about A-Rod...

...that turns people into kindergarteners?

Mark Kriegel of, come on down! It's your turn to irrationally dogpile the best hitter in baseball!

Even as the news of Barry Bonds' indictment spread, the game was preparing for his eventual successor. ... But here's the question: Can you ever learn to love Alex Rodriguez?

This is either a really awkward segue, or he means “the next media-designated Public Enemy #1.” Somehow, I doubt he means “Earth’s Best Hitter of Pitched Baseballs,” which is more important. NOTE – you will almost certainly not see that fact in Kriegel’s essay.

It is difficult to imagine a worse public relations strategy than that employed by Rodriguez over the last month or so. It's as if he wanted people to hate him, which, unlike Bonds, he most certainly does not.

This just highlights Kriegel's lack of imagination. I can imagine far worse public relations, such as a wedding toast in which the best man waxes nostalgic about the bride's collegiate experiments with sapphic filmmaking. Or, if you lack imagination, you could simply follow the news for fifteen minutes and see far worse: Britney’s public year-long train wreck or OJ’s “If I Did It” nonsense, followed by his home-brewed raid on some poor shlub’s Vegas hotel room. On a scale of 1 to Mike Tyson, A-Rod’s opt-out timing rates a two at most.

Rodriguez followed yet another lackluster postseason by opting out of a record-breaking contract. It was his right, of course. But to have the opt-out all but announced on network television during the clinching game of the World Series is not a right but a blunder, and a monumentally cynical one at that.

OK, so whose blunder is it? His? Was he in the broadcast booth talking about it live? Or, was it more likely Scott Boras who mentioned it, and then Fox – YOUR EMPLOYER, MR. KRIEGEL – who chose to announce it to the baseball world when there was a good audience for it?

You may argue that this was the work of his agent, Scott Boras. And you may be partially correct. But as it pertains to contract negotiations, fans don't observe much of a distinction between agent and client, nor should they.

Boras had always been Rodriguez's guy. Boras got him the best contract in sports history. Boras was the one who invented preposterous new indices — Iconic, Performance and Network value — in an effort to inflate his client's worth. It's a little late in the game for them to be playing good cop/bad cop.

OK, so if you’re a great player, that’s Performance Value. If you’re a great draw at the park and on TV, that’s Network Value. If you’re a guy who also sells cars and fragrance and has huge billboards up and down broadway, like St. Yankee himself, Derek McSteely Eyed Calmnosity Jeter, then you have Iconic Value. These do not sound like absurd thoughts to me. The Yankees will probably never trade or buy out Derek Jeter, precisely because he is a commodity with value far in excess of his on-field performance. Suddenly Jeter and his agent shouldn’t negotiate with the Yankees with that in mind? Maybe Scott Boras should stop doing his job – which is maximizing Alex Rodriguez’ salary – because you think that reasonable things are preposterous?

Since you already have no imagination, I’m going to answer my own question: no, Scott Boras should not stop doing his job, even if we all think he’s a particularly evil breed of vampire snake or something.

A couple of weeks ago, the Yankees said — and there's little reason to doubt them — that Rodriguez and Boras wanted $350 million not to opt out.

See “Imagination: Kriegel, Lack of.” The Yankees have many millions of reasons to portray Boras and Rodriguez as malignant grubbers of money who would kick puppies and vote Satan himself into the White House. The less popular they are, the less money they have to shell out for Earth’s premier crusher of baseballs. They’re trying to reduce A-Rod’s Iconic Value without hurting his Network Value (and thus their own bottom line). See how this all starts to make sense when you think for five seconds?

But now, more than a month after striking out with two outs and Bobby Abreu on second in the ninth inning of Game 2 in the AL Division Series, Rodriguez has had a sudden change of heart. So much for his iconic value. Not only is he not clutch, it doesn't look like he has much spine, either.

Ho. Ly. CRAP.

You could also say, “more than a month after crushing a home run in Game Four of the ALDS,” or “more than a month after outhitting Derek Jeter .267 to .176 while hitting into three fewer double plays,” or even “in anticipation of overwhelmingly winning his third American League MVP Award.” All those statements are also correct. The last of the three is a better measure of his overall value than a four-game stretch in October.

I mean, why opt out if you weren't going to go through with it? … The answer, of course, is that the money he and Boras figured to be out there was not. There was no $350 million. Nor was there a team offering $30 million a year. Only after coming to this realization did Rodriguez profess his love for all things Yankee.

See “Imagination: Kriegel, Lack of.” Again. He’s going to be under contract for longer than previously, making more money per year than previously. That is a good reason to opt out of the deal he already had. Other good reasons – the possibility that he wouldn’t have to put up with the spitefully ungrateful media and fan base of New York City, or the possibility that another contender would sign him and let him play shortstop again, since he happens to be very good at that. He came down from the number Boras originally floated, in a mysterious process known as “contract negotiation.” I think it involves voodoo, alchemy, and the Electric Slide, but certainly not logic.

As is usually the case, A-Rod's Yankee pride is really a code for Yankee dollars. If this was really about Rodriguez's burning desire to be a Yankee, he should have picked up the phone himself. Instead, he went around his agent and had a couple of guys from that well known non-profit Goldman Sachs make the call for him. Fact: It's as much about money now as it was a month ago. Even after opting out, the Yankees will pay him substantially more than any other team.

As long as Kriegel’s going to destroy his own position in this article, I’m going to chill. Popcorn?

And that bring us back to Bonds, who at 43 and under indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice has almost certainly played his last game. Bonds has 762 home runs. Rodriguez, at only 32, has 518. That puts him 245 homers from the most famous record in all of sports. He could get that number in six seasons. And that's worth a lot to the Yankees, whose fans grew up thinking of the most long-standing home run records (Babe Ruth's and Roger Maris') as a kind of birthright.

At this point, Kriegel starts an entirely new essay. How does he expect us to follow his train of thought if he can’t? “This is a story about a whale – NO!”

As of Thursday night, the deal in place for Rodriguez calls for a base of $275 million for 10 years. But the sides were still negotiating a way for him to share in the revenue created by his pursuit of Bonds' tainted record.

"It's a historical achievement bonus," said Hank Steinbrenner, the team's senior vice president.

Everything broke right for Major League Baseball on Thursday. Bonds' indictment was not for tax evasion, as baseball officials had feared, but for lying under oath about his alleged steroid use. At long last, the indictment offers resolution to a very sad story.

Relation of the last paragraph to the three previous? Zip. Nil. Bubkes. “The little critters of nature… they don’t know that they’re ugly.”

Unlike the players who juiced themselves into a state of apparent greatness, Bonds was great — one of the greatest, in fact — before steroids and human growth hormone (HGH). Now he'll be remembered for the drugs. His is a legacy undone by his hubris.

Next, consider Greg Anderson, Bonds' friend and former trainer. He's been in jail for more than a year. The government said it needed his testimony to make its case. Only now, it turns out that his testimony was not needed. What does that say of a prosecution, when the musclehead is more of a stand-up guy than the prosecutors?

“That’s very funny – a fly marrying a bumblebee!”

Finally, there are the enablers in both the MLB and the union. For years they pretended nothing was wrong. Now they have to find a way to make it right. The only problem is, they can't. Bonds' likely defense is that he didn't know he was taking banned substances. In that case, even a verdict of innocent wouldn't remove the taint from the record.

But then, what is Bud Selig — who cheered so loudly for Mark McGwire — to do? I don't see how he can expunge Bonds' statistics unless he's going to expunge the career stats of every one else who benefited from performance-enhancing drugs. You can't hammer Bonds because he's not a nice guy and issue a pass to, say, Paul Byrd, who got a shipment of HGH from a dentist.

Then there's the asterisk. If you give Bonds an asterisk, do you put a similar asterisk, for example, on Jason Giambi's MVP award? Or does Giambi get special consideration because he cooperated with Sen. Mitchell's investigation? Where does it end?

The damage can't be undone. The records of the last 10-12 years are suspect. Anyway you cut it, it's a mess.

If Mark Kriegel had started this article with the "Barry Bonds is now 43, under indictment for…” paragraph and kept going, we’d actually have a good piece. He’s dead on target with all of this – especially the collusion of the Giants and the union, who used Bonds until he broke the single-season and career home run records, and then tossed him aside. Bonds submitted readily enough. (That’s why the whole “The indictment ended Barry’s career” stuff is kind of dumb. If he’d gotten the record a season earlier it would have been over for him just as well. The Giants overlooked his age, and the taint of the cream & the clear, for that reason only. The Chase sold tickets. The indictment is pretty much just an afterthought from their perspective, a handy excuse to act shocked – shocked! – that their glittering knight wasn’t perfectly above-board.)

Still, there are fans out there who desperately want to regard the home run record as sacrosanct and the home run king as a worthy, if not mythical athlete. For them, there's only one hope: Alex Rodriguez.

He may not be the guy you want. ... But he's all you got.

Why couldn’t he have cut the first half of this and kept the second? Was bashing A-Rod such a novel idea that he decided he couldn’t resist? I can kinda sorta see the parallel between Barry and A-Rod as excellent players who aren't well-liked by their teammates, but part of that parallel has been crafted by the media as a quickie template for stories about A-Rod - and especially when writing the millionth variation on "he's not clutch so he's worse than Scott Brosius or Charlie Hayes." What it is, is frickin' lazy writing.

When it comes down to it, there are very few reasons not to want A-Rod on your team:

1. You buy into the whole "he'll kill you in October" thing. But A-Rod has had plenty of fine performances in playoff series, most recently in 2004, when he went 16-50 in eleven games, with five doubles, thre homers, eight RBI, and eleven runs scored. His line was .320/.414/.600. Besides, you're much likelier to actually reach October with him than without him, especially if you just sign him and not lose any other players.
2. You have better already. Sorry, you're lying. Alex Rodriguez once hit a home run before the pitcher even threw the ball - by the time he wound up A-Rod was already high-fiving the bat-boy. The only team that can MAYBE say this is the New York Mets, who are set at third with David Wright and short with Jose Reyes, both way younger and cheaper than A-Rod, and therefore more cost-effective. Even then, A-Rod is better defensively than Wright, and a better hitter for at least the next five years - and the Mets have a gaping hole at first base, currently haunted by the ghost of Carlos Delgado. Omar Minaya could have signed Rodriguez and played either him or Wright at first, and been the envy of the National League. Easy.
3. You can't afford him. Legit concern for at least three-quarters of baseball.
4. You hate him. Well, OK, I guess... but seriously, he just smacks the snot out of baseballs. He once accidentally hit Mr. Met into left-center for a two-run double. (A similar incident sent the Cincinnati Reds logo into the Witness Protection Program.) He once ordered a curveball to hang so he could sneeze before hitting it into the parking lot. He personally doesn't count home runs if he doesn't hit the ball directly on Bud Selig's signature. He hit a homerun that cleared the fence at Comiskey Park - on a day the Yankees played in Cleveland. He's just freakishly good. If the Giants could tolerate criminal behavior that monkeyed with the validity of the statistical record just to sell tickets and win games, then the Yankees (or whomever) could overlook some aloofness and a bunch of media crap to do the same thing. 'Cause make no mistake - a good 90+% of the ballyhoo about A-Rod is media crap.

The Paulistinian Authority...

...has its own currency.

A company that makes and distributes Liberty Dollar coins in various denominations has announced it is shut down – for now – after a raid by FBI and U.S. Secret Service agents in which documents, records, coins and gold and silver were confiscated.


Its alternative is a series of coins made of precious metals that can be exchanged for an assigned dollar amount. Over its history, the company has produced the California Bear, Chambersburg Dollar, Evansville Dollar, Hawaii Dala, Peace Dollar and the new Ron Paul Dollar, among others.

Gold coins- so Atlas Shrugged.

If the Fly & Ladybug should visit Bagdad...

...there's a church to visit.

A Bishop came to St John’s Church in Baghdad today, 15 November, where a crowd of locals welcomed him home. They were joined at the service by soldiers from the 2-12 infantry battalion, many of whom had fought hard to secure these neighborhood streets. Members of the hard-fighting Iraqi Army 3rd Division were also here for this special day.

Michael Yon is a blogger in country, to report the stories the Mediunhueren won't. Including a Bagdad Catholic Church full of GIs and local Muslims begging the Iraqi Catholics to come home.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A small water-cooler-based diversion

Last night, my dearest and I hadn't the time for a full block of Heroes... so we compromised. We watched America's Next Top Model, and I decided to open a discussion for that while we wait, based partially on the suggestion Sheila made in this wonderfully psycho thread.

Some background - they start with a bunch of girls, and winnow them to 13 to live in "the house" and start the process of photo shoots, challenges, etc. All the while, Tyra Banks and her company of mostly insane associates critique, instruct, and amuse; eventually one model each week is cut - and must IMMEDIATELY go back to the house and leave.

Those, by the way, are Tyra's words. For those of you who are huge Idol fans and are trying to get a handle on Tyra, here's the deal - she's sort of like a sober Paula: just as crazy, waaaay over the top, but at every moment, perfectly at home with herself. You buy every moment with Tyra, and unlike Paula you never pity her or watch through your fingers. She is totally in command.

Her company is a good match for her. That's really what it reminds me of - like, Tim Burton or Christopher Guest has a "company" of actors he almost always works with - this is Tyra's company, her set cast, and without them there's no show. Three of the judges are always the same: Twiggy (always introduced as "fashion ICON Twiggy" by Tyra - I think it's on her driver's license that way); Nigel Barker (longtime fashion bigwig); and J Alexander, invariably called "Miss Jay." This season he's been sporting an ever-growing Afro that probably forces him to enter rooms sideways. Tyra's the fourth steady judge, and the fifth spot rotates, usually featuring the photographer or consultant that worked with the models that week.

Now, Tyra and Ms. Jay bring the crazy, so Nigel and Twiggy are the anchors. The fifth guy varies - this week is was a stolid, boring fellow who runs the US arm of Elite Model Management. We also get regular contributions from Mister Jay and Benny Ninja.

So - the pressure's been building. We had one model flake out and decide to leave the show, leading to one of Tyra's best lines ever: "Nothing is less appealing to me than a quitter... so, you are EXCUSED." Got ten degrees colder in my living room. BEGONE from us, you QUITTER. She wasn't just excused, she was banished. We've also got some clear lines drawn in the house, with many of the models getting cattier by the moment about Heather, the teacher's pet of the show thus far, but also one of the most successful contestants.

This week we were treated to Amateur Design Hour, where each model became the "muse" of one design student, who modeled a dress based on a short meeting and discussion, one-on-one. Bianca took the opportunity to turn up the huff, she didn't like it, didn't like the dress, didn't like the designer (an Asian girl with a strong accent who knew the English vocabulary, but was spotty on the grammar). Heather, who told her designer that she was a "fire sign," wound up inspiring him to make her an ocean-themed dress. But most of the other models were pleased.

They had to introduce the designer briefly, and then walk the runway. A couple of them botched the lines, none worse than poor Heather, who let it get into her head and affect her for the rest of the week. That brought the lines out real quickly - a few of the models rallied to reassure her; Bianca (lead HATER) grinned like her birthday when the EMM-US dude cut into her performance.

From there, the models got home, Heather got bumped off the shower line, and reacted quite poorly. They all talked it out in a group, yay, but more cattiness in the private interviews. It's remorseless in that house, y'all. Un. com. pro. mising. I think Heather misses Sarah, who was bumped last week (and I did NOT agree, boo hiss).

Anyway, the shoot is in the desert next to Corey Hart's Fiero, which was set on fire. (But he will NE-vuh suh-REN-DUUUH!) The girls had to pose next to the Fiero, and I got confused. Don't look like models, but don't hide the garment, and look frustrated, but look elegant... I was reminded of Tyra's "squint wide" line to one of the girls. They all talk like this. There is no escape. Fleeing is pointless.

Chantal, who moved on at Sarah's expense, was very good this time, despite my booing and hissing. (Snark from Ladybug - "I knew it! You just want to marry Sarah instead of me!") Heather, again, underperformed, but has done so well for the rest of the competition that Ladybug and I agreed that she would be safe. Ambreal took what to me looked like an excellent picture, but the judges shot it down - great shot of HER, but not a great modeling shot. Never looked at it that way before. They had a point - she was scrunched up, scowling at Corey's flaming car, but you couldn't really see the dress. The more "theatrical" poses that made the clothing jump out were the poses that earned the most praise, except for Huffy Bianca, who got the best line of the week out of Miss Jay - "She looks like SHE set the car on fire." I have to admit it was a great picture, boo hiss.

And who went home? No peeking! But please, feel free to talk about it.

Homeless advocates would have more success..

...if they quit lying.

Michael Gallant, director of operations for StandUp for Kids Florida, said he has been working with Zach and his family trying to make sure that they have a place to stay each night.

He said November is National Youth Homeless Awareness Month, which was just recently created by Congress.

This walk is not only designed to raise awareness but also to raise money for the cause. Donations are being accepted.

"The reason why Zach is so important is because of his age, which is actually the exact age of the average homeless person in America," Gallant said. "He is the face of homelessness."

Zach is walking to Tallahassee to "raise awareness" of the homeless. He is 9 years old. Does anyone reading this believe that the average age of a homeless person is 9 years old?

This reminds me of the whoppers that the "Reverend" Bruce Wright told last winter during the tent city season in St Pete, the best one being that the homeless don't use drugs and those that do only use drugs to stay awake during job interviews.

Tent city was shut down when Pinellas County provided an abandoned bus station as shelter and Revvum Wright rejected it. He made it clear that he wanted tent city to stay up regardless of what housing was available. He lost the PR battle.

Guys, I live in the hood. I see the homeless. The local media reporting on this issue contradicts what I see with my own eyes. I have seen guys sleeping 100 yards from the Savation Army Men's Shelter - they will not seek shelter if it means giving up their jones. The media will crawl over drunks, druggies and crack whores to find a white (yes, white) family that they hope is drug-free.

Nothing POs me more than having my compassion exploited. Especially with the Mediunhueren who report the most outrages claims without the least bit of skepticism.

Damn right the Sisko is angry!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stop when the cops tell you

Especially in Florida.

A Florida man police said was breaking into cars at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming was attacked and killed by a 9-foot alligator while trying to run from police.

Investigators said officers responded to reports of car break-ins at a Miccosukee Indian Reservation parking lot located at 500 S.W. 177th Ave. in Miami.

One of the men was quickly captured by officers during the incident last week but the other robbery suspect tried to elude officer by jumping into a large pond behind the facility, according to a WJXT-TV report.

During the swim, police said, an alligator attacked and killed the man. He was apparently bitten on the head several times.

The victim's body was recovered at the bottom of the pond about a day after the reported break-ins.

The men were not identified in the report.

Pope-alooza Tour 2008... coming to Yankee Stadium.

As CBS 2 HD first reported in April, Pope Benedict XVI will visit New York City during his first trip to the United States, and plans for the visit include a stop at ground zero before leading a public Mass at Yankee Stadium.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Monday that Benedict will travel to Washington and New York from April 15-20.

Can the Fly get us tix? Fly have you ever seen JPII when he came to the USA?

During his trip maybe B16 will find time to make a quick trip to St Louis and straighten out these people.

A controversial ceremony took place in Missouri as two women are ordained as Roman Catholic priests over the weekend.

Rose Marie Hudson and Elsie McGrath were ordained Sunday in a ceremony at a St. Louis synagogue. They are part of the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement, which is independent from the Roman Catholic Church.

And not everyone in the church is celebrating. The women were warned they would be excommunicated if they went ahead with the ceremony. But they're moving forward with no regrets.

"It's never going to change if we just walk away, you know? They wouldn't care whatsoever if we walked away," said McGrath.

The Roman Catholic Women Priests movement has ordained more than 60 women in the U.S. and Europe.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Creflo Dollar...

..took in $69 million of them last year.

An Atlanta megachurch took in $69 million in 2006, according to a financial statement the church's minister released in response to a Senate investigation into him and five other well-known televangelists.

The Rev. Creflo Dollar disclosed the World Changers Church International's financial information to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but said the money he spends is his own.

Dollar said his income comes from personal investments, including businesses and real estate ventures. But the church gave him a Rolls Royce, which he mainly uses for special occasions, he said.

"Without a doubt, my life is not average," he said. "But I'd like to say, just because it is excessive doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong."An Atlanta megachurch took in $69 million in 2006, according to a financial statement the church's minister released in response to a Senate investigation into him and five other well-known televangelists.

The Rev. Creflo Dollar disclosed the World Changers Church International's financial information to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but said the money he spends is his own.

Dollar said his income comes from personal investments, including businesses and real estate ventures. But the church gave him a Rolls Royce, which he mainly uses for special occasions, he said.

I can tell you that Creflo did not want to give up that number. One of the byproducts of Senator Grassley's investigation is that the public will now find out how much jack these Word-of-Faithers are pulling in.

It is nice to know that he only uses the church-owned Rolls for special occasion. Is Dollar his real name? Because that would be too rich.

The Muslim Mobile

You have to drive something to the camel beauty contest.

The Malaysian carmaker Proton has announced plans to develop an "Islamic car", designed for Muslim motorists.

Proton is planning on teaming up with manufacturers in Iran and Turkey to create the unique vehicle.

The car could boast special features like a compass pointing to Mecca and a dedicated space to keep a copy of the Koran and a headscarf.

His Name is Samuel...

...which means "God has heard".

Samuel is an embarrassment to the local medical community because he's not supposed to be here. He should have never made it out of the womb and if he did, he was only supposed to live for a few weeks.

That was over two years ago. I missed Samuel second birthday party for the Fly's first (and hopefully, last) wedding.

Samuel was in church today. The website tells his story.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I Shouldn't Even Go Here...

....but I can't resist.

Members of Saudi Arabia's Senior Clerics Association have issued a fatwa banning camel beauty contests.

The fatwa stated that the contests are prohibited because they include perversion, waste money on futility and ostentation, and are similar to games banned by the Koran.

Camel beauty contests have been held annually at this time for the past decade, and are part of Saudi tribal folklore.

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, "I'd walk a mile for a camel".

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Going to see Kansas Friday night... something in St. Pete called Ribfest.

It's in a big park where tented vendors sell ribs (of course) and other outdoor treats. The weekend will feature many dinosaur acts like Grand Funk Railroad, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Eddie Money, and the aformentioned Kansas.

My expectations are low. Last year Steve Walsh could no longer hit the fastball vocally. On some tunes he should have asked me to come up and sing for him.

I'll have a report on Monday.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Church of the Gold-Plated Squishy Marshmallow

I have no idea who Eddie Long is, and I know little of Joyce Meyer, but the rest of these bozos - it's about time. Note that three of these are on the board of regents of ORU, another organization that has its own air conditioned dog house issues.

CBS News has learned Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct.

Letters were sent Monday to the ministries demanding that financial statements and records be turned over to the committee by December 6th.

According to Grassley's office, the Iowa Republican is trying to determine whether or not these ministries are improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to shield lavish lifestyles.

The six ministries identified as being under investigation by the committee are led by: Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of the six - Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar - also sit on the Board of Regents for the Oral Roberts University.

What Senator Grassley is looking for is evidence that these folks wrote off the Mercedes and the mansions as ministry expenses to avoid sales and other taxes.

But how can one know if a ministry is legit? Here's a few tips, using my church as an example:

Your pastors should have the same standard of living as the congregation. Your pastor shouldn't be living like Benny Hinn, but let's not starve the guy, okay? If the church parking lot is full of five-year-old Saturns, the pastor shouldn't be driving a 2007 Lincoln Town Car. My two pastors, whom I will call Steve and Gary (because that's their names) until recently were driving pieces of Pferdkaese. I'm happy to see that they now have something that will start in the morning.

Transparent finances. This is easier with a small church like mine. One Sunday a year Steve and Gary report on the church budget. There are always at least two people counting the offering for CYA purposes. I am just a shmoe in the pews, but I can get a finacial statement anytime I want it. Gary, in particular, is an extremist on these issues. He wouldn't use church money to buy a single unsalted peanut without checking with two other people.

Beware of the cult of personality. Pastors Steve and Gary are the best. One of the blessings of a small church is that I get to talk to them at least twice a week. They try to follow the Lord as best as their mortal flesh will allow them. But if they were to fall on their heads and all of sudden go squishy from the pulpit, I will repectfully call it to their attention. And I would bail if they were to continue in their squishiness. My first loyalty is to God and His Word.

A good place to check for evangelical ministries is the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. This was set up after Jim and Tammy troubles twenty years ago. I have no idea how Catholic churches handle this sort of thing.

Both Michael and I....

...are 48-year-old single white men.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Idoctrination U

U of Delaware just closed down a student indoctrination program.

After an intense campaign led by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the University of Delaware has dropped an ideological reeducation program that was referred to in the university’s own materials as a “treatment” for students’ incorrect attitudes and beliefs. The program’s stated goal was for the approximately 7,000 students in Delaware’s residence halls to adopt highly specific university-approved views on politics, race, sexuality, sociology, moral philosophy, and environmentalism. Following FIRE’s campaign, which called the attention of the national media and the blogosphere to the Orwellian program, university President Patrick Harker terminated the program, effective immediately.

I started my freshman year at RU as a 28-year-old Staff Sergeant in the NJ Air Guard. I'd like to see how some 19-year-old RA is going to ask me about my personal business during our one-on-one session. Not only did half the dorm think I was in Vietnam, but I came to RU with all kinds of crazy ideas, like Jesus of Nazareth rising from the dead and being the Savior of the world - outrageous stuff like that.

And I was the Fly's RA during his freshman year. Fly, you were barely 17 back then, could you imagine me sitting you down one-on-one and asking you about when you discovered your sexual identity? You'ed probably think I was some perv.

And as an RA, do you think I'm going to want to sit students down and quiz them about their hormonal urges? I had enough problems with the Palace Boys.

The Fly was in good hands his freshman year. He had a roommate who shared with me those crazy ideas about that Jesus guy. And he had an RA who wasn't a total screw-up.

Monday, November 05, 2007

More water for your cooler

Heroes strikes again. I have yet to see this one, so it's up to all y'all. Will Claire and Creep Out Boy start knocking over gas stations? Is Matt jealous of Emo-hinder's new relationship with Niki/Jessica? Do we find Adam in this episode? Do we find ANYTHING in this episode? And what about Scarecrow's brain?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Coach Feel Good

Why is Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" running through my head?

A judge who sentenced Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid's sons to jail on Thursday likened the coach's home to "a drug emporium" and questioned whether his adult sons should live there.

"There isn't any structure there that this court can depend upon," Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill said before sentencing 22-year-old Britt Reid to up to 23 months in jail plus probation. "I'm saying this is a family in crisis," O'Neill said. Earlier Thursday, O'Neill sentenced 24-year-old Garrett Reid, a drug addict and dealer who said he got a thrill out of selling drugs in "the 'hood," to up to 23 months in jail for smashing into another motorist's car while high on heroin.

O'Neill noted that searches of the Reid home found illegal and prescription drugs throughout the house. He said both boys had been overmedicated throughout much of their lives and that Britt got hooked on painkillers when he suffered a football injury in high school. "It sounds more or less like a drug emporium there, with the drugs all over the house, and you're an addict," O'Neill told Britt Reid.

Coach Tony Dungy talks about how the NFL coaching job can become your whole life during the season. It's tough to keep tabs on the home front, and sometimes you pay the price.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

You mean he's like that normally?

Snitched this from CalTechGirl.

Spider-Quiz, Spider-Quiz, says whatever you think it is
This (they say) adds up to an Asperger's score of 62 out of 200 and a neurotypical score of 154 out of 200. The bottom line is that I don't have Asperger's Syndrome.

This- is- serious! (serious)
My troubles are of an enitrely different nature.

I'll try and get through this...

...without using dirty words.

As many of you know, Fred Phelps' inbred clan, something which he calls a "church", has been picketing the funerals of servicemen who have died in Iraq. They used to picket the funerals of gay folks, but I guess not enough of the gay community is dying off, so he has turned is attention to those who have fallen in battle.

That is about to change:

A Baltimore federal jury awarded nearly $11 million Wednesday to the father of a Marine killed in Iraq, deciding that the family's privacy had been invaded by a Kansas church whose members waved anti-gay signs at the funeral.

It was the first-ever verdict against Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Christian group based in Topeka that has protested military funerals across the country with placards bearing shock-value messages such as "Thank God for dead soldiers."They contend that the deaths are punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality and of gays in the military.

They were sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and if you see any of these photos you would have to agree. If this suit survives appeal then Fred's coven will be bankrupt. Add to that the disgusting fact that these yahoos claim the Name of my Savior - I promised no dirty words.

I've never seen these cranks, but if you can resist grabbing one and beating on him until the cops pull you off then you are more Christlike than I.

Pirates of..

...the Indian Ocean?

The U.S. military has stepped up activities in the pirate-infested waters off Somalia, going to the aid of hijacked cargo ships twice this week. American medics treated wounded North Korean sailors on one vessel, and the Navy was tracking another after destroying two pirate skiffs lashed alongside.

Somalia, on the eastern rim of the Horn of Africa, has had no functioning government since slipping into chaos in 1991 at the beginning of its long civil war. Its waters are among the most pirate-infested anywhere, with more than two dozen ship hijackings this year.

I wonder how many guys joining the US Navy ever think that they will be chasing down pirates. It's a shame that, since these are not sailing ships, there is no yardarm in which to tie these scurvy dogs.