Sunday, August 31, 2008

Campaign Update

Look who's come out against Sarah Palin ...

Given Palin's Second Amendment stand, that's understandable. But there's still hope she'll get the endorsement of Mr Peabody and Sherman.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tell Obama ...

It may come as a surprise to the Sith Lord Obama, but it wasn't his light saber that defeated the insurgents.

More Chit Chat

Joyce: Looks like there's a new hurricane coming.

Bob: Yeah, I hear Gustav is headed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Joyce: Have you seen where Fay is?

Bob: No.

Joyce: After flooding Florida, it was covering Tennessee yesterday and now it's soaking Ohio.

Bob: Did Fay ever make it to hurricane strength?

Joyce: No, I don't think so, but it certainly removed all drought.

Bob: Awwww. You are so funny.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

While Out Driving Around

Bob: Uhhh, dear -- your car is almost out of gas. I'd better fill up before we get to the restaurant.

Joyce: No, the gauge is still above the E.

Bob: But the fuel light's on and it's on the E from where I sit.

Joyce: Don't worry. It's okay.

Bob: Well okay, if you say so -- that sure takes away all my worries.

Joyce: If we run out of gas, you'll never let me hear the end of it, will you?

Bob: No, quite the contrary -- I'll always let you hear the end of it. And I don't see end being good if we don't get gas pretty soon.

Saturday Circus

When the Cub Scouts came looking for volunteers, I joined. I was an eager volunteer, but I have to confess, I was never a very good Cubby. I could never see the point of merit badges and such, but there was one activity I put my heart and soul into: door-to-door sales of tickets to the Boy Scout Circus, a mini-jamboree held once a year at the El Paso County Coliseum.

There was a prize for the Scout who sold the most tickets, so I hit the pavement. I led the competition for the first three weeks, but sadly after that fourth and final week, when our den mother tallied the sales results, her son had edged me by one ticket and had won the week-long stay at summer camp, Skyline Ranch near Cloudcroft, NM. My competitor's amazing come-from-behind win was impressive, but (as I say) I was not a very good Cub Scout, so I neglected to congratulate him on his astounding flurry of salesmanship.

One Saturday morning our den mother took us all down to the Channel 4 studios to be on "Saturday Circus", a locally produced kiddie show (ala "Howdy Doody") featuring such notable screen personalities as Red Brown, his wife Anna Lee and the master of ceremonies Bernie Bracher. Bernie was dressed as ringmaster; Red and Anna Lee were fittingly outfitted in ill-fitting clown costumes. This was before the days of video tape, so the show was broadcast live before a studio audience of weary mothers and distracted children. (For those of you who aren't old enough to remember just how amateurish live TV was, here's an old kinescope of the Howdy Doody Show.)

Our little band of Cubs was asked to select a representative to appear in front of the camera in one of the quiz contests. The den mother's kid didn't want to, so she proposed that we let the oldest child represent us. That was David Weir, but David was too scared, so the mantle came to rest on my shoulders.

In this particular competition three contestants were quizzed, one at a time. Each contestant was asked a different question. The questions were designed to require multiple answers, and the child who gave the most correct answers won. So when the time came to demonstrate my wits, I stood confidently before the camera and answered Bernie Bracher's inquiry, "Name as many baseball players as you can."

I got four: "Mickey Mantle, Roger Marris, Babe Ruth and Ryne Duren." (I wasn't real sure about Y.A. Tittle, so I didn't mention him.)

At this point you may be asking yourself, "Who the heck is Ryne Duren"? He was a New Tork Yankee pitcher who had the fastest fastball in the Majors. His only deficiency was that he was nearly blind. (My dad always loved to tell about how Duren once began peering down at third base, searching for the umpire and catcher.)

Anyway I came up with four names. As I say, the goal of the competition was to name the most, and it seems the difficulty of your question depended on your age. Being nine, I got the toughy. Some little 6-year-old twit walked away with the gold by naming five forms of transportation.

However, there was a consolation round in which all us "losers" from the various contests were gathered together and asked a single question. The first person to spout the answer got five dollars -- that's right FIVE WHOLE BUCKAROOS (which was no chump change back in 1961).

Inspite my natural modesty, candor compels me to tell you, "I nailed it!" For those of you who may not remember my triumphal moment, the correct answer to the question, "Which nursery rhyme character suffered a fatal injury when he fell from a masonry precipice?" was "Humpty-Dumpty!!!" (As the native English speaker among the contestants, I may have had a wee unfair advantage.)

Our den mother was jubilant. She promised everyone that Bobby would be a good Cub Scout and share his good fortune by taking them to Gunning-Casteel's Drug store and buying them all coke floats. But as I've said, I was never a very good Cub Scout -- I had a different opinion about an equitable division of my funds.

While we were riding to the pharmacy in the den mother's car, I stuck the fiver into my shoe. Upon arriving at Gunnings, we all trooped up the soda fountain and enjoyed our floats. But when we got to the register and den mom demanded my winnings, I just stared at her with a confused look on my face. She was incensed and let fly verbal abuse in mixed Spanish and English. But I remained dim-witted -- she paid.

When I got home, I allowed my two older brothers, Joel and Roy, to "Ooo and aaah" over my Abe Lincoln for a while. Then, I gathered about a half-dozen of the neighborhood kids and led them up the street to Smitty's grocery (on the corner of Van Buren and Piedras) where I converted the paper money into dimes. We spent the entire afternoon riding the bronco in front of the store. Smitty objected to all of us burdening his horse, so we rode three at a time -- everyone took turns ... well, everyone except me. As I said, I wasn't a very good Cub Scout. I road in the saddle all fifty times.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What's Wrong with Islam?

It's always a good idea to question your own religion. I was pondering the question of how I can be so sure that Christianity has it right. In fact, how can we be certain that Islam isn't the one pure worship of the one true God as it claims to be.

First, let's set aside the notion that Islam can't be the true Faith because it breeds terrorists. That argument can't hold water simply because there's no religion (including that most profound leap of faith, atheism) that gives rise to flawless people. No, clearly we can't judge a religion by what its claimants do, but we certainly must judge it by what it teaches they ought to do.

Now, please don't quote Jesus Christ's advice to the Disciples in Matthew 7:20: "By their fruits, you shall know them." I accept the truth of that statement, but in that context Jesus was not speaking of determining which religion is the true one, but which of His followers were the real ones. Christ wasn't questioning whether Christianity is true; He was telling His disciples how to ferret out those who falsely claim to be Christian. But again, my point is that a religion isn't true because those who claim to follow it are perfect, but because it teaches that they ought to be perfect. Behavior is important, but only so far as it reveals the true Christian, not because Christianity depends on the good behavior of those who call themselves Christians.

For each terrorist suicide bomber I might cite, a Muslim could point to a Roman Catholic pedophile in the priesthood. So (even though I might tend to agree with him about the flaws of Roman Catholicism) I can't convince him that Christianity is true because those who call themselves Christians are blameless or that Islam is false because those who claim to be Muslims are terrorists. The Truth is even simpler than this dichotymous view of good and evil. The simple Truth is just what Christianity teaches: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

When Jesus told the Pharisees (who presented Him the dilemma of how to deal with a woman caught in adultery), "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," He wasn't saying, "Aw, c'mon guys! Adultery's not all that bad." (Of all people, Jesus knew just how serious adultery is, since on the cross He received the punishment for that sin, too.) Jesus wasn't dismissing adultery as insignificant; He was merely pointing out the logistical problem of perfectly executing God's perfect justice. The problem with casting the first stone is that there won't be anyone left to cast the last stone. Again, the Truth is: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

So the truth of a religion isn't based on what its followers do (since all adherents of all religions do abominable things and one could even argue the most heinous things are often done in the name of religion). The truth of a religion can only be judged by what it teaches that they should do.

And therein lies the error of Islam. The Quran teaches that allegience to Allah is the highest virtue - all other virtues are of less importance than this one central virtue. By making loyalty (not truth, nor honesty, nor kindness, but "loyalty") the highest of virtues, Islam also makes disloyalty the worst of sins. Thus, a Muslim may kill innocent people, but so long as he does it as a demonstration of his "loyalty" to Allah, he has acted honorably - even laudably, earning him a just reward in paradise. However, if a Muslim who has lived a morally blameless life dares to criticize a fellow Muslim (even the one who has killed innocent people in the name of Allah), he has been disloyal to Islam and his eternal reward is in doubt. Thus, Islam lends itself to moral inversion: lauding horrific criminals as holy men while at the same time restraining those who might otherwise oppose such wantonly criminal behavior.

The dirty little secret (which the main stream media struggles mightily to keep hidden) is: Osama bin Laden and the Taliban are the true Muslims, and the so-called moderates are the ones who've moved to the fringes of Islamic thought, being infected as they are with evil Western ideas. So the MSM searches high and low for a "moderate Muslim" spokesman to speak out against Islamic terrorism, but when the camera comes on, the spokesman's condemnation invariably falls short of a clear denunciation, and it moves quickly to a litany of the injustices suffered by Muslims. Why? Why are Muslims so slow to condemn such behavior among Muslims? Are they afraid if physical violence for speaking out?

Maybe, but (and I think more importantly) they're reluctant to speak up against fellow Muslims, not out of fear of retribution from terrorists, but out of devotion to terrorists. To speak ill of a fellow Muslim, even Osama bin Laden (or rather especially of a true believer like Osama bin Laden), is shameful. And such disloyalty to the Muslim brethren is, to the Muslim mind, far worse than any terrorist acts these criminals commit. The spectrum of Muslim outrage over Muslim terrorism stretches only from loud public support (surely you remember the dancing in the streets of Ramalla when the Twin Towers came down) to quiet private embarrassment.

Islam's promotion of loyalty as the highest of virtues is the central error of the Muslim faith. The belief that allegiance is all that matters is the hallmark of all tyrants. Allah is a tyrannical god.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The War Winds Down as Lincoln Ends His Second Term

As is now obvious to all but Nancy Pelosi and her ilk, the U.S. military has prevailed against al Qaida in Iraq despite the Democrats' aid and comfort to the enemy.

God Bless our servicemen ... and thank God for our President!

Monday, August 11, 2008


Gramma was born in 1884, so by the time I took my first breath she was in her late sixties. She was never what one would describe as a beauty, but Grampa found a gem beyond price when he married her -- no one could be a lovelier person.

It seems everyone today is heavily invested "where moth and rust doth corrupt." Kids now grow up in massive homes, are ferried around in expensive cars and go on exotic family vacations -- all paid for with the time Mom spent not supervising those kids. But Gramma never lost sight of the upward calling. People came first in her life and there was no person more important to her than the Lord. To her Bible reading wasn't a duty -- the Bible was the cool water that refreshed her, the bread that sustained her, the air that inspired her. When she spoke of the Lord, she spoke as a bride who breathlessly says her wedding vows while gazing into the eyes of her groom. To Gramma Jesus wasn't merely Lord and Savior, He was clearly her Lord and her Savior.

I remember thinking (when I was about five or six) that grown-ups must get nicer as they get older -- all evidence certainly pointed that way. Sure, Mom was a good person, but she had her moments when five rowdy boys were just a bit too much. But Gramma was a seemingly limitless fountainhead of tenderness and patience. In retrospect, I now know that Gramma must have heaved a huge sigh of relief to see our '54 Nash backing out of the driveway on Mariposa Street, but five-year-old Bobby saw only the sweet Gramma whose soothing voice was just as effective as Dad's stern one at taming rash impulses to slide in socks across hardwood floors. Dad was Sinai; Gramma was Zion. Dad laid down the law; Gramma gave the desire to be better than the law required.

Now I'm not endorsing soft-spokenness as the magical way to discipline children. There comes a time when children need to hear the thundering voice of Sinai, but Gramma simply didn't have that voice. Even when her patience was severely tested, the most ferocious roar she could muster was her euphonious "Now, now -- that's no way to behave." Or in the heat of an argument with her sister Lotta, she might even let fly a scathing, "I beg to differ."

There's an old family story that probably best illustrates Gramma's meekness. My Aunt Mary (my Mom's independent older sister) was about four years old when one day she decided she could do very nicely with a spot of chocolate pudding. She saw no need to involve her mother in this endeavor, and so she proceeded to open every cupboard in the kitchen and unload them of their tins. By the time Gramma intervened the little know-it-all chef was busily dumping the all contents of every kitchen container into a mixing bowl. Now most mothers would have totally lost it upon finding such a mess (I know my mom certainly would have).

But Gramma eyed the disaster with a gentle, "Oh Mary. What are you doing?"

Came the happy reply, "Making chocolate pudding!"

"Now Mary, do you put tea in chocolate pudding?"

Aunt Mary of course replied, "I always put tea in my pudding."

"Well, please let me help you."

The telling of the story always ended there, but I can easily picture the final scene of this play closing with Aunt Mary's little fist cheerfully spooning chocolate pudding into her brown-stained mouth. (Were this a stage play starring little Bobby and his mom, I foresee the overture's kettle drums pounding to the beat of wooden spoon against blue denim.)

My point is not that Gramma's calm, matter-of-fact handling of the situation was the proper way to train children; it's just that this was the sternest reproach Gramma could muster. Gramma was capable of drama, but as far as I could tell, she channeled all of it into reading picture books. When Tootle naughtily left the tracks to go frollic in the daisies, I could tell from Gramma's disapproving tone that this surely would end badly. And I really felt Gramma's disappointment when all those big trains were unwilling to pull that train-load of Christmas presents over the mountain to the boys and girls on the other side. (But luckily that Little Blue Engine with his resolute "I-think-I-can" mantra kicked some ass.)

Gramma died the day before my eleventh birthday. A young lady from the church who (despite decades of age difference) was a close friend of Gramma's sang at the chapel service: Now I Belong to Jesus. How that dear lady kept her composure remains a mystery. Since then, that hymn has become a tradition at funerals in our family.

At church camp the year following Gramma's joining Jesus, at bedtime the loudspeaker across the lake (as was its custom) played taps and then (after the twenty-or-so seconds that it took to exchange the 45-RPM bugle for a 33-RPM LP) George Beverly Shea scratchily began:

Jesus, my Lord will love me forever,
From Him no pow'r of evil can sever,
He gave His life to ransom my soul;
Now I belong to Him;

Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity ...

Despite my eyes being squeezed tight, tears silently dripped onto my pillow.

As I said, Now I Belong to Jesus has become a family tradition at funerals. Both my parents have now been laid to rest with that lilting tune reminding us that home is where our Lord is. It's a worthy tradition.

When my three sons were small, I'd tell them bedtime stories and would usually close with a song or two. The lead song on the hit parade was, of course, a rousing rendition of The Ballad of the Alamo, but we'd eventually wind down with Be Still My Soul and when I sensed they were drifting off, I'd leave them with the words:

... Once I was lost in sin's degradation,
Jesus came down to bring me salvation,
Lifted me up from sorrow and shame,
Now I belong to Him;

Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.

Joy floods my soul for Jesus has saved me,
Freed me from sin that long had enslaved me.
With His precious blood, He came to redeem,
Now I belong to Him;

Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me,
Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Now for Something Different

Cakes that are just begging to be left out in the rain ...

You know you've found a good blog when the author has to make an appeal to readers: "Please quit sending me the kitty litter cakes!"

Friday, August 8, 2008

The One

This is a visually effective ad. But after you've watched it, play it again -- only the second time close your eyes and just listen. The narrator's voice is perfect, ominously set a half-octave below the pompous pronouncements of "The One".


Sunday, August 3, 2008

On a Recent Trip

One day while traveling through the Texas panhandle, headed north out of Pampa, I saw a sign on the gate in front of a ranch house: "Talking Dog for Sale".

Knowing what practical jokers ranchers can be, I thought to myself, "Now this oughta be good." I pulled over.

I was well past the sign before I managed to come to a stop, so I turned around, drove back to the gravel driveway, and (seeing that the gate was open) I drove in and pulled up to the ranch house. When I rang the bell, the rancher (whom I could see at the end of the shotgun hallway sitting at one of those 1950s-style metal and Formica kitchen tables) hollered through the screen door, "The dog's in the backyard -- just wonder around and look 'im over."

I went around back and saw a black Lab just lying there with his head on his front paws.

"You talk?" I asked.

"Yep," the Lab replied.

"So what's your story?"

Without lifting his head the Lab looked up and said, "Well, I discovered this gift pretty young and I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable agents eight years running.

"The jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger and I wanted to settle down. So I signed up for a job at the FBI doing some undercover security work, mostly wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings there and was awarded a batch of medals. Had a wife, a mess of puppies, and ... well ... that's all in the past and now I'm just retired."

The dog (still with his head on his paws) closed his eyes and went to sleep.

I was astounded and just sat there staring at him for maybe five minutes. Finally I went to the back door of the ranch house and knocked. I could see the rancher just a few feet away from me still sitting at the kitchen table watching the weather channel on a tiny TV set. I spoke through the screen, "How much you want for that dog?"

"Ten dollars."

I said, "That dog is absolutely amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"

The rancher looked over at me and smiled a big tobacco-stained smile, "Did he tell you about his experience in the CIA and FBI?"

"Well ... yeah, he did."

The rancher spit into a Dr Pepper can, "Well, he ain't all that amazing -- he didn't do any of that shit."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Food Marketing

(2008-7-30) -- In the wake of the Federal Trade Commission's issuing its Report to Congress on the marketing of foods to children, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has called for a moratorium on junk-food advertising to children, saying: "The new FTC study shows that there is a lot of marketing aimed at children, and let’s be perfectly clear it was not spent urging kids to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The food industry spent a billion and a half dollars urging children to eat fast food, sugary cereals, soft drinks, and other unhealthy foods."

Several wholesome food industry organizations have come out in support of the CSPI's call for responsibility in food marketing by announcing they will employ "junk-food marketing" techniques in the war against juvenile fat.

In particular the Succotash Marketing Board (whose members produce a tasty slurry of corn, lima beans, and tomatoes) said it would launch a $50-million dollar campaign this year "... using the same proven techniques which now persuade parents to buy non-nutritive foods for their kids," according to an SMB spokesman.

The CSPI immediately applauded the SMB effort.

"Parents are at the mercy of Madison Avenue when it comes to feeding their children nutritious foods," the CPSI spokesman said. "And the only reason kids love fatty, salty, sugary stuff is because they're victims of slick marketing. The succotash industry is wise to employ the tactics of the enemy for the benefit of our children."

The SMB's new ad campaign will include TV commercials featuring the pop-funk music of Milli Vanilli and South Park's animated characters as well as plastic toys attached to every can and inside each frozen bag of succotash. The SMB is in "final negotiations" for a co-promotional deal in conjunction with the November 7th release of Dreamworks' Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.

"We're still trying to get Steven Spielberg to agree to a scene where Sasha Baron Cohen's King Julien character eats a bowl of succotash or at least expresses his love for it," the unnamed spokesman said. "However, we categorically deny rumors that Gloria the Hippo will give birth to a baby named Succotash."

The industry source acknowledged that succotash faces negative image problems due to its association with another animated character. Said the spokesman: "We're still in focus groups with slogan development, but it's an uphill struggle. Thanks to Warner Brothers 'Sylvester the Cat' most Americans associate succotash with suffering and speech impediments."

Friday, August 1, 2008

Triumphal Procession

James is home -- here just for a day or two. He has to be at Fort Sill on Sunday. Joyce and I stayed up past our bedtime to greet our warrior. It's always good to see our sons, but I think this reunion was especially poignant for Joyce since our local national guard unit just left on their deployment to Iraq on Monday morning. I went to work as usual that morning, but Joyce was there at the armory to see them off. She told me with tears in her eyes that evening, "We need to pray for one soldier in particular. He has a nine-month-old son who's the spitting image of James at that age."

James pulled in the driveway just before 10:00 PM and got a laugh when he saw our new vanity plates. (Sorry, I can't tell you what the plate has on it without giving away too much, but it refers to a fortunate yet unfortune "Little James" story I've blogged about before.) Sally Cat slept in James's bed last night.

Last night we also got an email from Roy's wife Sally (yes, oddly enough she still speaks to us after we named our cat after her). Sally sent us this
link to a video showing what their son Martin did on the Fourth of July. Here's a screen capture of Martin (which appears in the video right after the helicopter landing).