Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Review: Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

I usually don't have a whole lot of time to read and what little time I do devote to reading isn't normally devoted to fiction. Part of my problem is finding stories that intrigue me and hold my interest. But when I first saw Face of Betrayal I was immediately intrigued as I knew of Lis Wiehl from her work on the Fox News Channel and the Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. To find out more, read my review of the book.

Also, be sure to check out my interviews with Lis Wiehl and April Henry.

547057: Face of Betrayal, Faith and Consequences Series #1Face of Betrayal, Faith and Consequences Series #1

By Lis Wiehl with April Henry / Thomas Nelson

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Book Review: Good Day! The Paul Harvey Story by Paul J. Batura

I was a great admirer of the late Paul Harvey. In fact, he was one of the people that most influenced me to try my hand at a radio career years ago. Recently I had the chance to review a terrific new biography of the legendary broadcaster entitled Good Day! The Paul Harvey Story. You can read the review here and listen to my interview with the author, Paul J. Batura, here.

981016: Good Day! The Paul Harvey StoryGood Day! The Paul Harvey Story

By Paul Batura / Regnery Publishing

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bluebird Debut

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to "my other daughter" Annie Parsons. In truth, she's a friend of our family, not a relative (even though she looks a whole lot like my wife).

Anyway, I failed to mention in that post that Annie is a songwriter. She's a really good songwriter.

This past Sunday, she made her debut at the Bluebird Cafe. For those not familiar with this Nashville landmark, this is a huge deal. According to their web site, country stars such as Kathy Mattea and Garth Brooks got their break at the Bluebird.

We wish we could have been with her. Thankfully, her friends recorded the session and you can see it below.

You can also check out Annie's other music on her My Space page.

Bluebird Debut - June 21, 2009 from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

Congratulations, Annie. We are so very proud of you. We are praying that this is the start of something special.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nanny State To Regulate Bloggers

According to the Associated Press, the Federal Trade Commission is targeting thousand of bloggers (like myself) who dare to post reviews on the Internet:

Savvy consumers often go online for independent consumer reviews of products and services, scouring through comments from everyday Joes and Janes to help them find a gem or shun a lemon.

What some fail to realize, though, is that such reviews can be tainted: Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post. Bloggers vary in how they disclose such freebies, if they do so at all.

The practice has grown to the degree that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.

Memo to the FTC: no one is lining up to offer me laptops, free trips, gift cards, or anything else of value. I don't know who these people are that are getting such perks.

Just so it's clear to everyone, I do get free stuff. I get books, DVDs, and CDs from time to time. Because I write for Blogcritics, I have access to a lot of free stuff. I've had an opportunity to review a lot of items over the past few years. I've had a chance to interview many authors. But I haven't made much (if any money) in the process.

Normally, if there is an item I am reviewing for Blogcritics (or any other blog, for that matter), I get an advance copy of a particular item. It may be a DVD screener for an upcoming show, a CD before its release, or an advance copy of a book. It's the exact same stuff that other media outlets such as newspapers and magazines receive to publish the same types of reviews. I don't make any money unless someone clicks through a link in my review to a site selling the item or they happen to click on one of the advertisers in the sidebar and buy stuff.

To go one step further, the amount of money I make on such sales is miniscule. I have made very little money blogging and certainly don't have any illusions about getting rich doing it.

I review items because I enjoy it and not because there is any financial incentive.

It seems to me that the government is going to have an extremely hard time enforcing these rules. There may be abuses such as those that this article sites but those cases are isolated at best.

I'm inclined to concur with Ed Morrissey that perhaps this whole kerfuffle is evidence that we can afford to disband the FTC.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Report: Sosa Tested Positive for PEDs

Sadly, this isn't surprising:

Sammy Sosa went from a skinny outfielder to a muscular home run hitter, chasing Roger Maris' record and belting more than 600 home runs in his career. The right fielder often credited Flintstone vitamins, in part, for his success.

According to a report published on the New York Times Web site Tuesday, adding credibility to those who've questioned his power surge for years, Sosa benefited from banned substances, not Bam Bam supplements.

Sosa allegedly is among the 104 Major League players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

The allegation of the test came from what the Times referred to as "lawyers with knowledge of the drug-testing results from that year." Alex Rodriguez is the only other player whose name has been linked to the positive results in 2003.

If the allegation is true then it's a sure bet that Cooperstown won't be inviting Sosa to become part of the Hall. It's just one more reminder how much Major League Baseball needs to do something about drugs. Now.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Book Review: Dred Scott's Revenge by Judge Andrew Napolitano

America has had a difficult history when it comes to racial issues and often the government has done more harm than good according to an excellent new book by Judge Andrew Napolitano entitled Dred Scott's Revenge. Click here to read my review of the book.

552655: Dred Scott"s Revenge: A Legal History of Race and Freedom in AmericaDred Scott's Revenge: A Legal History of Race and Freedom in America

By Andrew Napolitano / Thomas Nelson

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Rise of Homeschooling

A new report from the U. S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics shows a dramatic rise in the number of students that are being educated at home. Dr. Albert Mohler provides some details from the report:

Homeschooling was the choice of families for 2.9 percent of all school-age children in the United States in 2007, involving 1.5 million students. By comparison, in 1999 only 850,000 children were homeschooled. By 2003, that number was up to 1.1 million. This report indicates significant jumps in homeschooling as compared to other educational options. In fact, the report reveals that the actual number of American children whose parents choose homeschooling for at least part of their education exceeds 3 million. According to the report, 1.5 million children are exclusively homeschooled while another 1.5 million are homeschooled for at least part of the school week.

At this point, the picture grows even more interesting. When parents were asked why they chose to homeschool their children, 36 percent cited a desire to provide children specifically religious or moral instruction. After that, 21 percent of parents pointed to concerns about the environment of schools, 17 percent cited dissatisfaction with educational quality in the schools, and 14 percent cited "other reasons." Among those "other reasons" was a concern for more family time together.

Higher numbers of parents with college educations and greater family incomes are now homeschooling. This trend points to the fact that homeschooling is increasingly the option of first choice for many parents. This pattern is also revealed in increasing numbers of college students, primarily young women, who indicate that they desire a college education so that they will be better equipped in years ahead to be homeschooling parents.

It's no great surprise to me that there has been such a tremendous rise in the number of families choosing to homeschool. In the nine years we've been homeschooling we've seen exponential growth among our homeschool community.

But the most crucial points in Dr. Mohler's essay come at the end of the post:

Homeschooling is now a major force in American education, and Christian parents have been in the vanguard of this movement. For many Christian parents, homeschooling represents the fulfillment of the biblical mandate for parents to teach their children. These parents deserve our respect, our support, our advocacy, and our prayers. This movement is a sign of hope on our educational horizon, and a phenomenon that can no longer be dismissed as a fringe movement.

As president of a seminary and college, I can attest to the fact that questions about the educational aptitude of homeschooled students are now settled. These students can hold their own as compared to students from all other educational backgrounds. One other fact speaks loudly to me concerning their education. Most of the homeschooled students I meet at the college and graduate levels indicate an eager determination to homeschool their own children when that time comes.

Education cannot be reduced to statistics, but the trends revealed in this new report from the Department of Education deserve close attention. In our day, education represents a clash of worldviews. Increasingly toxic approaches to education (or what is called education) drive many schools and many school systems. In that light, the fact that so many Christian parents are taking education into their own hands is a sign of hope. As this new report makes clear, we should expect homeschooling to be a growth industry in years ahead.

It's encouraging as a homeschool parent and as a Christian to see a prominent pastor and seminary president embrace the choice that thousands of families make. Homeschooling is not easy and families who make this choice often face derision and ridicule from both friends and families. Those who make the choice to educate their children at home (either full-time or part-time) should be applauded and respected for making this choice. While not everyone will agree that it is the best choice for their own family it's important that those who don't homeschool respect those who do and vice versa.