Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fun Website For Gifts

I just ran across this web site that offers really cool t-shirts for women and kids. It's a company run by three moms who design great t-shirts with beautiful designs and scriptures on each shirt. Check them out here at Wild Olive Tees or click the button below.

Wild Olive

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks For Men Like These

I'm constantly amazed at the men and women who are willing to sacrifice everything to serve this country. But this story about Dr. Bill Krissoff is one of my favorites. He gave up a thriving orthopedic practice to enlist in the Navy to care for wounded sailors and Marines. Take time to read the whole piece and give thanks that we have folks like these still willing to serve.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Tribute to "The Man"

These days you don't hear much about one of the greatest hitters of all time, Stan Musial. Yesterday was his 90th birthday and the St. Louis Post Dispatch assembled this terrific list of 90 things to love about The Man. A sampling:

3 • A lovely man, with lovely symmetry. Musial stroked two hits in his first game in the majors Sept. 17, 1941. He ended his career with two hits in his final game Sept. 29, 1963, in St. Louis. And with those last two hits, Musial finished with 1,815 hits at home and 1,815 on the road. As the writer George Will once wrote, "baseball's rich in wonderful statistics, but it's hard to find one more beautiful than Stan Musial's hitting record. He didn't care where he was, he just hit."

11 • Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax: "In my rookie year, I got my first chance to face Stan Musial. I also gave up my first home run. The two events are not unrelated."

17 • While Ted Williams and other esteemed hitters of the day pontificated about their approach to hitting, Musial kept it refreshingly simple. "You wait for a strike, then you knock the tar out of it," Musial said.

41 • When Albert Pujols made his major-league debut on April 5, 2001 at Coors Field in Colorado, Musial unexpectedly showed up and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. It was almost as if he knew he had to be there to symbolically transfer his greatness to the young Pujols.

48 • Pitcher Don Newcombe: "I could have rolled the ball up there to Musial, and he would have pulled out a golf club and hit it out."

50 • Musial may have invented - or at least first popularized - the so-called "fist bump." Stan came up with it as an option to shaking hands. Musial was convinced that he was catching too many colds by picking up germs while shaking thousands of hands each year, so he adopted the fist bump as a friendly alternative.

82 • Joe Garagiola: "He could have hit .300 with a fountain pen."

89 • Bob Costas: "All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being."

Hat tip: Powerline

Friday, November 05, 2010

Another Legend is Gone

He was one of the best managers ever being the first to win a World Series title in both leagues. George "Sparky" Anderson passed away yesterday at age 76. He was sixth all-time in wins (although when he suddenly retired he had been third behind only Connie Mack and John McGraw having since been passed by Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre).

He was truly one of the game's greats and his retirement as well as his passing have come all too soon. Not long ago I had read Mark Frost's excellent book Game Six about the 1975 World Series and gained a new found appreciation for the genius and character of Sparky Anderson.

So long, Sparky. You will be missed.

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Matter Of Honor

I disagreed with many of the policy decisions of President George W. Bush particularly on domestic issues. But there has never been a question of his outstanding character or integrity. Last night at Game 4 of the World Series at Texas Stadium, the former president also showed that he hadn't lost his ability to throw a pitch:

Yes, I do miss him.

Hat tip: Powerline

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Article V Convention: Is It A Good Idea?

As citizens struggle to figure out how to rein in a runaway federal government, some Constitutional scholars are taking a closer look at the pros and cons of an Article V Convention as a way to pass amendments that will help limit the size of government:

In August, Missouri became the latest state to rebel against the new national health care law when 71 percent of voters supported a ballot initiative rejecting the legislation's requirement that individuals purchase government-approved insurance. Several other states will consider similar measures on the ballot this November.

However satisfying this backlash against ObamaCare may be to opponents of the law, these state-based efforts could all be for naught if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with Congress and rules that the legislation's individual mandate is constitutional.

Such a decision would have far-reaching consequences, giving broad new power to the federal government over individuals and states. It would mean that the interstate Commerce Clause would have been interpreted so broadly as to allow the federal government to regulate the activities of people who choose not to engage in commerce, and within a health insurance market where businesses aren't even allowed to sell their products across state lines. It would represent the culmination of decades in erosion of the concept of the separation of powers between federal and state governments, and the boldest example of congressional over-reach in the age of Obama.

In that scenario, short of repeal, the only remaining way to fight the law would be to amend the Constitution. Given how polarized the modern U.S. Senate is, it's highly unlikely that a proposed amendment would garner the necessary 67 votes needed to amend the Constitution in the traditional manner. Yet the Founding Fathers left the states one last check on federal power.

Under Article V of the Constitution, "Congress… on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which… shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States."

The Constitution has never been amended through a convention of the states, and this route remains controversial, with many conservatives fearing that the meeting would turn into a circus in the modern media age, and open the door to a wholesale rewriting of the nation's founding document. Yet a new body of research suggests that these fears are unwarranted, and that there are enough checks built into the system to prevent what scholars refer to as a "runaway convention." With state legislators and grassroots activists searching for ways to limit the abuses of Congress, the possibility has begun to generate more chatter.

The article is lengthy but well worth reading as it closely examines the pros and cons of executing this Constitutional option.

Hat tip: The Volokh Conspiracy

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Buyer's Remorse

One of the clear trends in this year's election is the number of voters who supported President Obama in 2008 are now disappointed with the results. But nowhere have I seen this sense captured better than in this post:

Have you ever bought a product after seeing an infomercial where that product looks so amazingly impressive that you simply must have it? It’s OK, you can admit it– that desire to buy something you see in an infomercial happens to all of us at some point in our life. Whether it is a beauty product, juicer, set of knives, a unique multi-faceted tool, or a cleaning product; sometimes the effusive salespeople and infomercial advertisers make the product look so completely indispensable that you simply know you cannot pass it up. So, as you pick up the phone, you know buying the product will enhance your life and you are certain will be delighted by the results.

The excitement of the purchase continues as you await the package landing on your doorstep. You open it up. Use the product. And that, is when the disappointment sets in. The product either doesn’t work or it doesn’t work the way it did on TV. The excitement turns to disappointment and then despair as you realize: you were hoodwinked. And, then you get mad.

This is a natural feeling when you feel that you were sold something that turned out to not be what you thought it would be. That is where many of the Obama voters are at today and why Democrat politicians across this great nation are fearful of taking the brunt of the anger over the product that people were sold and did not like. Democrats on the ballot are fearful that it is they, not Obama, who will be dealing with returns on the product that they partnered with President Obama to sell to Americans.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Cap and Trade a Career Killer

So not only will proposed cap and trade legislation dramatically hike your utility rates, it's also becoming something of a political career killer just like Obamacare:

Even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi twisted arms for the final votes to pass her climate bill in June 2009, Democrats feared they might be "BTU'd." Many of them recalled how Al Gore had forced the House to vote in 1993 for an energy tax, a vote Democrats later blamed for helping their 1994 defeat.

The politics isn't the same this time around. This time, it's much, much worse.

Ask Rick Boucher, the coal-country Democrat who for nearly 30 years has represented southwest Virginia's ninth district. The 64-year-old is among the most powerful House Democrats, an incumbent who hasn't been seriously challenged since the early 1980s. Mr. Boucher has nonetheless worked himself onto this year's list of vulnerable Democrats. He managed it with one vote: support for cap and trade.

Anger over the BTU tax was spread across the country in 1994; the tax hit everything, even nuclear and hydropower. And the anger was wrapped into general unhappiness with Clinton initiatives. Some Democrats who voted for BTU but otherwise distanced themselves from the White House were spared. Mr. Boucher, for instance.

Cap and trade is different. The bill is designed to crush certain industries, namely coal. As coal-state voters have realized this, the vote has become a jobs issue, and one that is explosive. It is no accident that Democrats face particularly tough terrain in such key electoral states as Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as Kentucky, West Virginia and Indiana. They are being laser-targeted for their votes to kill home-state industries.

As the article goes on to point out, Mr. Boucher's position on cap and trade (including his authorship of the legislation) may prove to be his undoing:

Mr. Boucher sensed danger earlier this year and has run right: He voted against ObamaCare and has a newfound love for Bush tax cuts. But he's in a defensive crouch on the main issue, reduced to excuses for his cap-and-trade vote. A top one is the old chestnut that he got involved to make the bill better. He points to money he had inserted for "clean coal," and has somehow spun his work into an ad claiming he "took on his own party" to "protect coal jobs" in the, ahem, "energy" bill.

Yet as the race has tightened, the Boucher campaign has looked more desperate. It nitpicked the Americans for Job Security ad and demanded TV stations pull it. The union bosses for United Mine Workers of America had to step up, inviting Mr. Boucher to keynote a picnic to try to shore up coal workers. He's newly passionate about reining in an anti-coal EPA.

Mr. Boucher appears to still lead, but with a GOP wave building, no Democrat with an anti-job vote against his own constituents is safe. Virginia's ninth has already delivered one of the lessons of 2010: Cap-and-trade policy is terrible. Cap-and-trade politics is deadly.

Hat tip: Powerline

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Kind of a Nice Birthday Present (In A Way)

It's not everyday that I get calls from the DCCC and get to tell them I'm voting for a Republican. Glad I could help them spend their money.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Welcome to the Playoffs

As a Cubs fan, making the playoffs is really only a dream at best and a World Series appearance is unlikely to happen in my lifetime. But that doesn't mean I ignore the playoffs. On the contrary, I follow all the postseason series and for good reason. Anything can happen in October.

Just ask Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halliday.

Halliday came to the Phillies last offseason and immediately upgraded the pitching staff. On May 29, he made his mark hurling the season's second perfect game.

But tonight, he went one better. In the opening game of the Division Series, Halladay went out and threw a no-hitter which is only the second time it's happen in the postseason. Not too shabby for his postseason debut.

By the way, Halladay also made another bit of history. Only five other pitchers had thrown a no-hitter in the postseason or two no-hitters in a calendar year. Halladay became the first tonight to do both.

It's not too much of an overstatement to say that the Phillies are the best team in baseball this year. Roy Halladay has proven tonight that he may be the best hurler in the game.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Taking the Pledge

Now this is a novel idea, a Constitution pledge for presidential candidates. The idea of a potential president having to submit a handwritten copy of the Constitution at their inauguration seems to me to be a great idea and one worth considering.

In my experience, I've always retained things better that I have written down. Maybe if we made our leaders do the same with the Constitution they would be more likely to adhere to it more often.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Overcoming Fear in Homeschooling

Any homeschool parent will tell you that there was a moment early on in their experience as a home educator when they were totally paralyzed by fear. In fact, most homeschool parents have faced many such moments. It's the feeling of waking up and wondering "what have I got myself into with this homeschool thing?" or something along that line.

For us, it was the moment we were standing in the curriculum sale hall at the Virginia homeschool convention. We had just decided to start homeschooling our oldest daughter Annie. We knew a few other homeschool families and were at least jumping into it with some measure of support. But we had no idea what we needed to buy or where to begin. Then we stumbled upon a booth that was being manned by none other than Susan Wise Bauer (though at the time we had no idea who she was). We explained to her that we were just getting started and didn't know where to begin. She gave us the names of a couple of books (ironically that were not sold in the curriculum hall!) and put us on the right track. We also got to meet her mom (and co-author) and had a marvelous chat. God used that divine appointment to encourage us at a time when we might have thought twice about homeschooling.

Fear is normal. Homeschooling can be a scary proposition for the uninitiated. However, it continues to grow in numbers year after year. For those willing to take the plunge, he rewards are endless.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 - A Personal Reflection

On the five year anniversary of 9/11, I wrote the following post recounting our family's experiences on that horrible day. For us, 9/11 will always be a day that we will remember. Perhaps it's more meaningful for us as we were caught up like so many others in the middle of the chaos of that day. Let us never forget what happened that day.

I will never forget 9/11. No matter how hard I try, I can't block out the memories of that day. They will be forever burned in my memory.

I was supposed to be attending a meeting in Bala Cynwyd (just outside of Philadelphia) on 9/11. My wife and two daughters (ages 4 and 5) went up a few days early to explore the Amish country as well as downtown Philadelphia. We had had a great time visiting an area that we had never visited before. But that Tuesday morning everything would change - in ways far greater than we could have ever imagined.

The day started normally enough. My meeting was supposed to start at 9:00 so I headed downstairs to the hotel restaurant early to eat breakfast. My wife and daughters were a little later getting ready.

Our meeting started on time and was underway for about an hour before taking our first break of the morning. Many of the folks in this meeting were from New York. While we were on the break, several guys tried to call the office but couldn't get through. One of them finally decided to call the operator and see what was wrong with the telephone lines. He would be the first one to share the news with us: the World Trade Center had been hit. Another person came in and said it was the Pentagon. It would be a few minutes before we realized that it was both.

By the time we managed to get a TV brought into the conference room we were able to see the replay of the South tower being hit. Moments later it collapsed. It took all of us only a split second to decide we needed to go home. The fourth airliner, United flight 93, would crash in Western Pennsylvania within the next few minutes.

My wife had taken the kids next door to Denny's to eat breakfast. A waitress told her that the Pentagon had been hit. Her sister's husband often worked at the Pentagon. Was he there? Frantically, she was calling her unable to get through. It would be much, much later before we found out he wasn't there and was completely safe.

My wife came back to the hotel not knowing how to find me. At the time, I didn't carry a cellphone (I have ever since). She was in the lobby trying to call her sister when I finally came upstairs. I looked at her and said "We're going home".

At the time we lived in Richmond, VA, almost directly due south along Interstate 95 from Philadelphia. Under normal circumstances, it would have taken about five hours to drive home. But Washington, DC is directly on Interstate 95. Due to the attack at the Pentagon, Washington was completely locked down. Our only choice was to head west and then south in a long circle along interstates through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virgina. It was a long drive home.

As we were leaving the hotel we turned on the local news on our radio. The mayor of Philadelphia was holding a press conference announcing the evacuation of the city. Everyone was being ordered home since at that time we didn't know where the hijackers intended to fly United 93. It was reasonable to assume that Philadelphia was a target.

One thing was clear: we were at war. We weren't sure yet who was responsible but we knew we had been attacked. The peaceful setting of Lancaster County was strangely appealing. Surely whoever this was wouldn't attack the Amish. We would be safe there, wouldn't we?

As we drove on there was this eerie feeling of not knowing what to expect next. Would there be further attacks? Who was responsible? Why had they attacked us?

Our daughters tahnkfully were oblivious to what was happening. At least until the announcement was made that Walt Disney World had closed (we had made our first visit as a family the previous year). Then it registered with them that something was wrong.

Everywhere we stopped along the way home people seemed to be trying to carry on with life as normal even though they all knew that life would never be normal again. Everything had changed.

By late afternoon we had made it to Harrisonburg, VA (about 3 1/2 hours from home). At first we thought we would just find a hotel room and spend the night but there were none to be found. Greyhound had ordered all their buses to stop wherever they were and as a result people had to find hotel rooms. Everything was closing down: restaurants, stores, shopping malls were all closed. We managed to find a gas station that was still open. When I went in to pay there was the extra edition of the local paper with the photo of the burning towers above the fold. This was not just a bad dream. This was real.

As we left Harrisonburg and headed towards home I can remember the eerie sight of a single jet plane crossing the sky. I knew it was a military plane since all civilian aircraft had been grounded much earlier in the day. This is what it felt like to be at war.

We eventually made it home safely that evening. But we knew that everything had changed. A couple days later we got another grim reminder of just how serious things were.

Where we lived, we never saw military traffic. But around 9:00 one evening just a few days after the attacks we were buzzed twice in the span of a couple of minutes by a pair of F-14 fighter jets. It was yet another reminder that we were truly at war.

There would be other reminders, as well. I went to Las Vegas for a meeting a couple of months later (a meeting that was originally supposed to take place the week after 9/11). The sight of armed soldiers patrolling the airport was a clear sign that things had changed.

While I was in Las Vegas I stayed at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino. As the name suggests, the hotel is supposed to remind one of the New York skyline. Even three months after 9/11, there was a memorial of flowers, posters, and messages of support for the police, firefighters, and people of New York City. I couldn't help but be struck by the sight.

Driving by the Pentagon several months after 9/11 and getting to see firsthand the devastation caused by the terrorists would be yet another grim reminder of the war we had been dragged into by our attackers.

I can't forget no matter how hard I try. We should never forget for this is why we fight.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Is College Worth It?

This is not simply a rhetorical question on my part as I have a child who will be ready to go to college in just a few short years. But more and more, I've been thinking about whether it's really worth it to send my kids to college.

Both my wife and I have college degrees and we were blessed with a fine education. But if I had it to do all over again, I don't know whether it would financially be worth it. I'm not alone as there are many other people, according to this article in the Washington Post, that have been deliberating over that same decision.

No doubt part of this is driven by economics and specifically the cost involved of sending a child to college. It may well be that we are seeing a higher education bubble about to burst.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

"Accidental" Genius

Thomas Edison once said "Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless." That would certainly apply to this list of the ten best accidental inventions of all time. I have only one qualm with this list. How is it that Post-It Notes were omitted?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Conservatives and Baseball

The Daily Caller attempts to answer the question as to why conservatives love baseball so much. For what it's worth, in my opinion it's the pace of the game, the grind of the 162 game season, and the fact that guys can make the most difficult feats look effortless that make baseball a truly great game.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Should I Homeschool?"

Most families that homeschool at one time or another will get a question from a non-homeschooling family about whether they should educate their own children at home. My normal response is that I don't know whether it's the right thing for them to do. It's worked for our children for quite a while and I wouldn't dream of sending them off to school. But just because it has worked out for our family does not necessarily mean that it will work for someone else. Every family is different and each couple has to decide whether they are both willing and able to undertake the homeschooling journey.

An op-ed in the Denver Post by an expectant father raises some good questions about homeschooling. Since I am always happy to share our experiences with someone who is curious about homeschooling, I thought I would take this opportunity to address some of the author's concerns.

He starts out by saying that he's pretty sure that he and his wife couldn't homeschool. I don't know either one of them personally but I'm willing to bet their probably selling themselves short. To the uninitiated, the idea of homeschooling a child may seem a bit staggering. Many of the succesful homeschool families we know (ourselves included) wrestle with feelings of inadequacy. This is a perfectly normal feeling to have and by itself shouldn't be an inhibitor to considering homeschooling your children.

Another common fallacy among non-homeschoolers is that in order to be successful you have to operate your homeschool on the same type of schedule that public schools operate on. By this I mean that a lot of families think they need to devote six or seven or more hours of classroom time a day to get all of the work done. My wife was a schoolteacher when we first met and she has told me many times that there is much time wasted in a typical public school day. While everyone's experiences are different, we've found that we can usually accomplish what needs to be done in about four hours a day and sometimes less time than that. The reason for this is simple: with fewer students (we only have two daughters) it's easier to focus on their needs and maximize the instruction time with them.

The author also brings up the typical concern about socialization. Our kids are involved in a lot of stuff that dovetails into their school experience that gives them an opportunity to meet other kids and learn to deal with relating to them. Sure, it is a concern, but most homeschool parents will tell you that their kids don't lack for opportunities to socialize with other kids.

Homeschooling does take sacrifice. There are extra costs involved that you wouldn't have to pay if you send your kids to public school. It requires a lot of time and a lot of work. By choosing to homeschool you are potentially setting yourself up for ridicule by neighbors, friends and parents who don't understand why you're doing this to your children.

But let me offer some other things to be considered. The rewards of homeschooling (at least in our experience) far outweigh those costs. Remember, too, that homeschooling is not for everyone.

First, before you decide to take the plunge and homeschool, talk with other families that are currently homeschooling. You'll find a wide range of experiences from these families and each can give you their own unique reasons for deciding to homeschool.

Second, don't feel like you have to make a lifetime commitment. Homeschooling is best taken one year at a time. When we started, we were only signing on for a year. In fact, we started because our oldest daughter had missed the cutoff for public school by one day. At five years old, however, she was already starting to read on her own. We figured we had nothing to lose by homeschooling her that first year since she couldn't go to public school until after she turned six. We haven't looked back since. However, we've known several families that have homeschooled for a few years and then returned their kids to public school. Every family's choice will be different. You need to not be afraid to make the choice that will work best for you.

Third, remember that you are never alone. It's important to seek out support from other homeschooling families (likely the same families you talked to when you were deliberating about whether to start). Other families and co-op groups can help fill in the gaps especially in the high school years as subjects become increasingly complex. You also will need to have people around you that you can discuss your frustrations with when you've had a particularly tough day (and it's inevitable you'll have some of those along the way).

Fourth, flexibility is your friend. If something isn't working you can change it. This is especially true when it comes to selecting curriculum as there are numerous options out there and no one program will fit every child's needs. You will also discover that learning is not only confined to the classroom or to your school time. Instead, life becomes your classroom and opportunities to learn will present themselves at every turn.

Finally, homeschooling will offer your child the opportunity to learn far more than he or she can in a public school setting. The reason that homeschool students typically perform better on those standardized tests is that they are getting a broader education that is more tailored to their needs and their learning style than a public school ever can be.

There's no doubt that homeschooling is more difficult than sending your child to public school. But in our experience it is a far more rewarding choice.

If you'd like to discuss homeschooling further or have questions about our homeschooling journey, please feel free to e-mail me at tomshelley at comcast dot net.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Things I Wish I Knew When I Was In College

Like most of my fellow students, I was totally unprepared for my college years. Looking back there are plenty of things that I wish that I knew then. I think they would have made me a better student and I probably would have gotten more out of those four years than I did. Paul Spears has a great list of things that he wishes he knew. It's a great list to pass on to anyone about to go into college.

Hat tip: Joe Carter

Friday, August 13, 2010

Monks Under Fire

As if we need any more examples of the government trampling on individual liberty, here's a real winner: monks that are facing jail time and fines for the high crime of building caskets. Yep, you read that correctly. Read the whole story and be outraged.

It's Just as Well That This Is Over

I'm forever giving advice to my daughters on things to look for in a potential mate. Now I can add this to the list: if the guy won't sacrifice himself to protect you from a foul ball then he's not worth having. Case in point:

Now the girl would like us to believe that their relationship didn't end because of the foul ball. But I think we all know better.

Hat tip: Powerline

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Some Thoughts On Homeschooling

One of the questions I often get from folks when I tell them that we homeschool our girls is about socialization. I've seen lots of other homeschoolers who have faced the same question. Here's one mom's answer to that perennial question and a really good one at that.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

More Advice for Guys

Consider this a counterpoint to the other list I linked to earlier that compiled things every guy should be able to do. Joe Carter returns with a list of things guys should never do. I especially like #6 and #28 but it's all really sound advice.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So Long, Lou

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Pinella has announced he will retire at the end of the season:

After managing 23 seasons, winning one World Series and three Manager of the Year Awards, Lou Piniella has decided to retire after finishing the season with the Cubs.

Piniella, who turns 67 on Aug. 28, issued a statement on Tuesday, saying he wanted to enter a new phase in his life.

"I couldn't be more appreciative of the Cubs organization for providing me the opportunity to manage this ballclub," Piniella said in his statement. "I've had four wonderful years here that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.

"I've grown to love the city and the fans, but at my age, it will be time to enter a new phase in my life," he said. "It will enable me to spend more valuable time with my family -- my wife, my kids and my grandchildren. God has blessed me to have been able to work this many years in the game that I love."

Pinella's contract was due to expire at the end of the season and there had been extensive speculation swirling around the Cubs whether he would stay on after this year. No doubt the team's lack of success this year had to be a factor.

Two questions: First, who will be his successor? Ryne Sandberg is the sentimental favorite but if Joe Torre decides not to re-sign with the Dodgers at the end of the season he could be the top candidate. Second, will Lou Pinella be elected to the Hall of Fame? I think the answer is yes, eventually, he will get in but with Bobby Cox retiring this year and Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa both shoe-ins for the Hall as soon as they retire he may be waiting a little while for the call from Cooperstown.

Thanks for the memories, Lou. It's been a great ride.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Quick Takes 7-2-10

A few random links of interest for the Independence Day weekend:

Reflecting on the results of Jefferson's efforts.

What Congress took out of the Declaration of Independence.

The Federalist Society now has a blog.

50 reasons why America isn't what it used to be.

Examining Bonhoeffer.

Have a great weekend

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Poirot Murder on the Orient Express 2009

One of Agatha Christie's most famous novels has to be "Murder on the Orient Express". David Suchet's version of the film appears here in the US on July 11th and it promises to be absolutely fantastic. Click on the video below to watch the trailer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


In a time of crisis, the public expects its leader to be able to step up and, well, lead. A lot has been written on President Obama's failure to lead during the Gulf Oil Spill crisis and much of that criticism is well-founded. But the first step in leading during a crisis is to recognize that you have a crisis to begin with. This got me thinking about a scene from one of my favorite movies, Apollo 13, in which flight director Gene Kranz (played perfectly by Ed Harris) sets the tone for management of the crisis right from the outset:

Kranz would several times throughout the rescue effort have to focus his people on the fundamental problems facing them. He was the one who coined the phrase "Failure is not an option" and made that his team's slogan. He also focused his team on the goal which was getting the astronauts home and didn't get caught up in assigning blame for the accident. He knew there would plenty of time to sort that out later on.

President Obama could learn a thing or to from Gene Kranz. Perhaps if he had handled the oil spill the same way Kranz handled the explosion aboard Apollo 13 there would be a lot less oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Put Me In, Coach

In 1984, John Fogerty was trying to make a musical comeback with his album, Centerfield. He didn't know at the time the album would end up being a huge hit. The title track was his love song to baseball. He didn't think that would get much airplay. He was wrong. It was an immediate sensation and was played at ballparks everywhere. More importantly, it's been the opening song played at the National Baseball Hall of Fame's induction ceremony for the past 10 years. On July 25, the Hall of Fame will honor the song during this year's induction ceremony. If baseball didn't already have an anthem in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" then "Centerfield" would certainly be it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Baseball's Anthem

It's over 100 years old and one of the most popular songs ranking only behind "Happy Birthday" and "The Star Spangled Banner" in how many times it is sung. It was written by a guy who had never even seen a baseball game (at least up to that point). It wasn't sung in ballparks until about thirty years after it was written yet it was a huge hit at the time of its initial release. It is of course, Take Me Out to the Ballgame. The Baseball Hall of Fame has the entire fascinating history of the song.

On my very first trip to Wrigley Field, I got to join in with the crowd and the king of the anthem, Harry Caray in singing the song during the 7th inning stretch. Caray more than anyone else helped popularize the song.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

So Long, Ernie

One of the all-time great baseball broadcasters is gone. Ernie Harwell, long time voice of the Detroit Tigers, has died.

Tiger fans had as close a connection to Harwell as any fans have had to an announcer. In one of the most knuckleheaded moves ever, the management of the Tigers' flagship station WJR allowed Harwell's contract to expire at the end of the 1991 season. The outrage from fans was so great that the station brought him back in 1993 and he would broadcast until he retired in 2002.
He's also probably the only announcer to ever be traded for a catcher. That's how he started his major league career in 1948 when the Brooklyn Dodgers acquired him from the minor league Atlanta Crackers. It seems the Crackers needed a catcher and one of the oddest trades ever was born.

When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he closed out his acceptance speech with his own definition of baseball. (Audio) He got it exactly right:

Baseball is the President tossing out the first ball of the season and a scrubby schoolboy playing catch with his dad on a Mississippi farm. A tall, thin old man waving a scorecard from the corner of his dugout. That’s baseball. And so is the big, fat guy with a bulbous nose running home one of his (Babe Ruth’s) 714 home runs.

There’s a man in Mobile who remembers that Honus Wagner hit a triple in Pittsburgh forty-six years ago. That’s baseball. So is the scout reporting that a sixteen year old pitcher in Cheyenne is a coming Walter Johnson. Baseball is a spirited race of man against man, reflex against reflex. A game of inches. Every skill is measured. Every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered, or booed. And then becomes a statistic.

In baseball democracy shines its clearest. The only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rulebook. Color merely something to distinguish one team’s uniform from another. Baseball is a rookie. His experience no bigger than the lump in his throat as he begins fulfillment of his dream. It’s a veteran too, a tired old man of
thirty-five hoping that those aching muscles can pull him through another sweltering August and September. Nicknames are baseball, names like Zeke and Pie and Kiki and Home Run and Cracker and Dizzy and Dazzy.

Baseball is the cool, clear eyes of Rogers Hornsby. The flashing spikes of Ty Cobb, and an over-aged pixie named Rabbit Maranville.

Baseball just a came as simple as a ball and bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. A sport, a business and sometimes almost even a religion.

Why the fairy tale of Willie Mays making a brilliant World’s Series catch. And then dashing off to play stick ball in the street with his teenage pals. That’s baseball. So is the husky voice of a doomed Lou Gehrig saying, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”

Baseball is cigar smoke, hot roasted peanuts, The Sporting News, ladies day, “Down in Front”, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and the Star Spangled Banner.

Baseball is a tongue tied kid from Georgia growing up to be an announcer and praising the Lord for showing him the way to Cooperstown. This is a game for America. Still a game for America, this baseball! Thank you.

So long, Ernie. We'll miss you.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Health Insurance Mandate and the Constitution

One of the more controversial provisions of the recently-enacted health insurance reform bill is the mandate for all individuals to purchase health insurance. But as Randy Barnett points out in a op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, the mandate isn't likely to pass constitutional muster:

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) includes what it calls an "individual responsibility requirement" that all persons buy health insurance from a private company. Congress justified this mandate under its power to regulate commerce among the several states: "The individual responsibility requirement provided for in this section," the law says, ". . . is commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce, as a result of the effects described in paragraph (2)." Paragraph (2) then begins: "The requirement regulates activity that is commercial and economic in nature: economic and financial decisions about how and when health care is paid for, and when health insurance is purchased."

In this way, the statute speciously tries to convert inactivity into the "activity" of making a "decision." By this reasoning, your "decision" not to take a job, not to sell your house, or not to buy a Chevrolet is an "activity that is commercial and economic in nature" that can be mandated by Congress.

It is true that the Supreme Court has interpreted the Commerce Clause broadly enough to reach wholly intrastate economic "activity" that substantially affects interstate commerce. But the Court has never upheld a requirement that
individuals who are doing nothing must engage in economic activity by entering
into a contractual relationship with a private company. Such a claim of power is
literally unprecedented.

Professor Barnett also co-authored a more detail analysis of the individual mandate found here. He also wrote an excellent analysis on the constitutionality of the legislation here.

ObamaCare was passed with little regard for the constitutionality of its provisions. Although there is a popular move to repeal the bill the more likely dismantling of the law will come through the courts. With Justice Stevens retiring, the President's Supreme Court nominee takes on a new importance.

NARAL Chief: "They Are So Young!"

According to LifeSiteNews, NARAL president Nancy Keenan has grudgingly admitted what many in the pro-life movement have seen: young women are flocking to the defense of the unborn (Hat tip: James Taranto):

The pro-life movement in America is growing in leaps and bounds, attracting young, zealous women to defend the unborn in droves - a fact that even the president of NARAL has now admitted.

NARAL's Nancy Keenan told Newsweek last week that she considers herself a member of the "postmenopausal militia" – a phrase that captures the situation of pro-abortion leaders who are aging across the board, including the leadership of Planned Parenthood, and the National Organization for Women. Newsweek's Sarah Kliff notes that "these leaders will retire in a decade or so."

Keenan also remarked on the enormity of this year's March for Life in Washington, D.C., and, according to Newsweek, is troubled that such passion has faded among the youth on her side of the movement.

"I just thought, my gosh, they are so young," Keenan said about stumbling on this year’s March for Life in Washington. "There are so many of them, and they are so young."

While March for Life estimates it drew 400,000 pro-lifers to Washington for this year's March, Planned Parenthood's "Stop Stupak" rally in December only
drew about 1,300 attendees.

In addition, Newsweek revealed that NARAL's own research on American youth shows more reason for Keenan to worry: a survey conducted by the group found that, while 51 percent of pro-life voters under 30 considered abortion a "very important" voting issue, only 26 percent of abortion supporters in the same demographic felt similarly.

James Taranto attributes this "enthusiasm gap" among abortion activists to what he terms "the Roe Effect". In simple terms, the theory is that pro-abortion women are not having babies and therefore are not raising children to carry on their pro-abortion beliefs. While it may still take a while to play out politically, perhaps we are finally starting to see signs that America is becoming a more pro-life nation at last.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Miracle on Ice

It's been thirty years since the Miracle on Ice and this video still gives me chills to watch:

Sunday, February 07, 2010

DVD Review: Emma

My review of Emma has been posted at Blogcritics. Please check it out and let me know what you think. Also, if you've seen the series, I would love to know what you thought of it.

It seems inevitable with any new adaptation of a Jane Austen novel there are comparisons to previous versions. I think this one was as good as the previous version with Gwyneth Paltrow. It doesn't have the same amount of humor but the relationships seem to be better developed due to the fact there was more time taken to tell the story.

Friday, February 05, 2010

DVD Review: Return to Cranford

My review of Return to Cranford is now available at Blogcritics. Be sure to go check it out.

After we finished watching it the first time we then watched the first series and then the second series back to back. The second was very good but still not quite as charming as the first. I think that mostly has to do with the fact that both Michael Gambon and Eileen Atkins had wonderful roles in the first series (but both characters die during the course of the first series) and they really stood out from everyone else.

It really says something to me when my girls (12 and 14) are asking me to watch these series (or whatever other British period drama) we're in the middle of instead of other things.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Jon Miller To Be Honored By Hall Of Fame

Frankly, this honor is long overdue:

Jon Miller grew up doting on some of baseball's legendary broadcasters, and has spent the last 36 years working with -- and on occasion memorably impersonating -- new generations of verbal artists.

Monday, Miller joined the legends of the booth as the 2010 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.

Well into his fourth decade behind the mic and currently the vibrant voice of the San Francisco Giants, Miller was announced as the latest honoree of the award presented annually since 1978 in recognition of contributions to baseball broadcasting.

Ford C. Frick Award winners have their own wing in Cooperstown's Hall of Fame, and announcement of Miller's selection by a specially-selected 20-member electorate was made by Jeff Idelson, the president of the Hall of Fame who called the 36-year veteran of local and national broadcasts "one of baseball's most recognizable voices."

Miller is currently play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco Giants as well as the voice of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. If Jon Miller is calling the game it doesn't matter as much to me who is playing. I know it will be a great game to listen to knowing he's behind the microphone. Congratulations on this long overdue recognition by the Hall.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Pro-Choice Columnist Calls Out Intolerant Left

Few things have caused as much controversy in recent days as Tim Tebow's upcoming pro-life Super Bowl Ad. Abortion advocates have been critical of Tebow and of CBS' decision to air the spot during the upcoming game.

But the most remarkable thing I've seen yet is this column from Washington Post writer Sally Jenkins. Ms. Jenkins takes the abortion advocates to task for their criticism of the young football star:

I'm pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I've heard in the past week, I'll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the "National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time." For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.

Tebow's 30-second ad hasn't even run yet, but it already has provoked "The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us" to reveal something
important about themselves: They aren't actually "pro-choice" so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.

Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn't be allowed to. Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikinis selling beer is the right one. I would like to meet the genius at NOW who made that decision. On second thought, no, I wouldn't.

There's not enough space in the sports pages for the serious weighing of values that constitutes this debate, but surely everyone in both camps, pro-choice or pro-life, wishes the "need" for abortions wasn't so great. Which is precisely why NOW is so wrong to take aim at Tebow's ad.

Be sure to read the whole thing. Hats off to Ms. Jenkins for calling out the intolerant critics on the Left who wish to demonize the Tebows. Though we may not agree on whether abortion is wrong we can at least agree that we can respectfully disagree with each other.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fun: Nat King Cole

It was one of his first really big hits and a lot of fun as well. Here he is performing "Straighten Up and Fly Right". Enjoy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fun: Hugh Laurie Sings!

I've posted this before but it's worth a repeat because it's just such plain fun. First up, Hugh Laurie (as Bertie Wooster in Jeeves and Wooster), regales us with his rendition of Minnie the Moocher. Then there's this performance from Inside the Actor's Studio on Bravo where he delights the crowd with "Mystery".


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Want to Publish A Book?

Are you a Christian author looking for someone to publish your book? Then read on.

Attention Christian Authors!

Deep River books is currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts from Christian Authors. Unlike vanity publishers, Deep River carefully reviews each manuscript before accepting any author for print. There is also a limited amount of space available for this opportunity to publish your manuscript. Their Partnership Publishing program is used by a wide variety of authors around the world such as Coach Bill McCartney, the Founder of Promise Keepers (and many more). Check it out for yourself and see if Deep River is right for you. You can learn how to submit your manuscript at

Tuesday, January 19, 2010