Saturday, December 31, 2005

Prediction - US or Israel Will Strike Iran in 2006

There is a window of opportunity to hit Iran prior to actually being able to deliver a nuclear warhead on a missle. There is also an election in 2006 with Democrats continuing to harp on the idea that Iran was a bigger threat than Iraq. For a more in depth look from someone who knows 100 X more than I do about it go ">here.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Are There Really Any Poor Left in USA


Sure, there are still poor, and we were supposedly seeing them in New Orleans after the flood. However, just how poor is open to question.


By Mark Trumbull | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor.
In case there was any doubt, a study has confirmed that Americans have a lot of what economists know, technically, as stuff.

These census findings, released earlier this month, were true even before gifts piled up under trees this past week.

The bottom 10 percent of the income ladder averaged just (my comment JUST?) 0.6 cars per household in 2002, the same as 1992.

Still, by almost all measures, the data show rising well-being for all of society. And while the wealth gap may not be narrowing, the rich-poor gap in lifestyles has narrowed substantially since 1992 when measured in many of these tangible items.

... the conveniences they (those in poverty) have are in fact pretty good."

Census researchers don't have a happiness index, but they are exploring aspects of well-being that go beyond physical goods. For example, nearly 13 percent of Americans have incomes that place them below the official poverty line. But what does that mean in terms of their daily lives? The fact that 95 percent of them may have a refrigerator tells only part of the story.

The Census report also compares, from 1992 through 1998, people's perceptions of whether basic needs were being met. More than 92 percent of Americans below the poverty line said they had enough food, as of 1998. Some 86 percent said they had no unmet need for a doctor, 89 percent had no roof leaks, and 87 percent said they had no unpaid rent or mortgage.

While some improvement was found in all those measures over that period, shortfalls obviously remain. But in many goods, the progress is significant for poor and rich alike.

Two-thirds of those in poverty had air conditioners in 1998, up from 50 percent in 1992. Personal computers have grown increasingly ubiquitous. Where fewer than 20 percent of homes had them in 1992, nearly 60 percent did in 2002 (more than own dishwashers).

Even with the rise interactive tools like computers and media players - alas, Apple iPods aren't included in the Census survey yet - the preferred appliance of couch potatoes is also spreading. There are now 2.1 TV sets per household, up from 1.6 in 1992.

The Census report doesn't measure environmental factors. The US routinely consumes more resources per capita than most other nations.
(Illustration)


Some of the very poorest are the folks who are the streets because of substance abuse, psychological problems, or temporarty displacements. There is also new arrivals that add to that group, many of whom will be very upwardly mobile in the short term.

For the rest of the article

Miracles From The Passion

I haven't seen this video, but you might find this interesting.

Not only has Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" powerfully affected the faith of millions of viewers, but according to a new documentary by an Emmy-award-winning news veteran, it has also been instrumental in bringing about real miracles.

"Changed Lives: Miracles of The Passion" is a 1-hour program that captures, in their own words, people's inspiring and documented accounts of relationships restored, diseases healed, the dead resurrected, atheists coming to faith and even a confession to murder.


Thanks to World Net Daily

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Become an Expert at Anything in Just Hours

Sure, it seems like there are 1000's and 1000's of folks who hold themselves out as experts in various fields. And for some, it really takes years of education and experience to qualify as an expert.

On the other hand, I think you would be surprised how quickly you can become an expert on some topic where few care to compete for the title. For instance, at age 24, I was hired to speak and write articles as an expert on small security hardware devices. There might have been five people in the whole country who would have cared to have the title of padlock expert. If you wanted the title today, you could probably become as expert as I was in 80 hours or less.

Most of the time, I'm not interested in becoming an "expert" in order to sell my services, but rather to provide answers to life's daily issues. Someone calls and says they are experiencing pain of a specific type in an certain location on their body. Within 15 minutes or so on the web, it is possible to be pretty sure you know what the problem is. Now you are on the way to becoming an "expert" on bunions or AC arthritis or heartburn.

If you want to dig deeper, you can get about all you need on the web today. But as you surf and pick up the terms of art and the main issues, you will also find reviews of books that can take you to another level. You may also learn of others who are "experts" in the field. Some of those will have websites, blogs, or articles published that you can read. You will be amazed at how often those individuals will answer a well thought out e-mail or even pick up the phone if you call.

Now that you know how easy it is to become an expert, please keep that in mind when you hear someone giving their expert advice in the news or on a tv special. Their title may not be the result of any unique research or a lifetime of training and experience. In fact, the odds are against it.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Whole Clan



The four on the left are daughter Brandy, son-in-law Casey, and grandsons, Micah and Aslan. The four on the right are daughter Christian, son-in-law Nathan, and grandaughter Maddie (hard to see is grandson Grant who will be born in May. The two boys in the center are sons Brian behind yours truly and Robert behind the matriarch of this brood, Pam. And, lest I forget, our 15 year old cocka/terri/poo, binky, is in his normal spot.

Based on current projections and statements from the various children, this picture should roughly double before we're done.

Top 50 Gadgets of Last 50 Years

PC World has listed their picks for the gadgets that changed everything. You can see their list here.

The limitation on their list was that it had to be a gadget that PC World would have written about.

What about the most important breakthrough products of any kind in last 50 years.

#1. E-mail
#2. WWW
#3. Ball Point Pens
#4. Commercial jets
#5. Personal computers
#6. Digital Cameras
#7. Electronic Games
#8. Home washers, dryers
#9. Microwave ovens
#10. Copiers (commercial and consumer)
#11. Cell Phones
#12. Sonograms
#13. Medical and pharmacological too numerous to list
#14. Wireless technology
#15. Freeways
#16. Containerization of shipping
#17. Overnight shipping
#18. Credit/Debit cards
#19. Online banking and bill paying
#20. Bicycle Water Bottles

Friday, December 23, 2005

Science Giving Reasons for Skepticism

I admit to being a science skeptic. It isn't fun, because I truly like scientific inquirey, enjoy the fruits of science, and desire science to continue to build on its body of knowledge and give us great new inventions.

However, two recent stories give reasons to question what is going on with the scientific community. One article was brought to my attention by Michael Williams, friend and fellow blogger.

On global warming this horrific story. Here is the lead from Michael:

It's very unfortunate that scientists as a class don't live up to the image of objectivity they try to project, but it isn't surprising considering that every scientist I've met is a regular human being, with all the accompanying flaws. Still, many people seem shocked to discover that scientists are often more concerned with advancing their personal careers and agendas than with advancing the state of human knowledge.


http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

The other is the widely reported deceit by the South Korean Scientist regarding cloning. He just made stuff up.

The Truth About Aspartame (NutraSweet)

I drink about 4 Diet Pepsi's per day. So when folks I trust tell me that the Aspartame in the drink can cause brain tumors, dizziness, and other such problems, I hit the internet to get the latest. I first did this about 5 years ago. My finding was that every site I visited which made such claims used anecdoatal evidence and unnamed studies. The few studies that purported to find problems with Aspartame seemed to have problems with causality. It is not the same thing to say something is linked as it is to say one thing causes another.

Anyway, the subject came up again today. I hit the web to see if anything had changed. The anit-apartame sites were still primarily over-the-top sites that made claims which were far from scientific. Two neutral sites you might want to visit if you're interested:

First study

# (MIT News):

Even daily large doses of the high-intensity sweetener aspartame, also known as NutraSweet, had no adverse effect on study subjects' health and well-being, a visiting scientist at MIT reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last week.

"We conclude that aspartame is safe for the general population," said Paul A. Spiers, visiting scientist in the Clinical Research Center (CRC).

The other study

Sure, where there's smoke maybe there's fire. The problem is that people tend to blame aspartame for everything. The sweetener has been associated with something like 90 different symptoms, including vision problems, dizziness, drowsiness, abdominal pain, anxiety attacks, depression, confusion, memory loss, ringing in the ears, chest palpitations, personality changes, convulsions, and irritability. It's also been linked to conditions ranging from brain tumors, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis to chronic fatigue syndrome.

Scientists say real toxins don't work that way--they produce a specific cluster of symptoms. One chemical can't possibly be causing all this stuff.

For the most part researchers have been unable to replicate adverse aspartame reactions in the lab. In numerous studies investigators recruited individuals who said aspartame triggered headaches, epileptic seizures, or what have you. Typically they fed half the subjects aspartame and the other half a placebo. In most cases there was no observable difference.


I like Diet Pepsi. I'll continue to indulge.

The Truth About The Terror Threat

It would appear that some pretty smart folks honestly believe that the terror threat is not very substantial. They would argue that the very substantial acts of terror that have killed hundreds or even thousands in various places around the world are pulled off by rogue gangs of really bad guys. One friend compared them to the drug gangs in East Los Angeles or Chicago's South Side. To oustiders the motivation of these thugs might appear to be Islamic fundamentalism, but if we were to take a close look at the individuals you might find the same kind of social and psychological profiles that induce young men into inner city gangs: Need for strong leadership, desire for action, need to belong, low sense of self worth, even self loathing.

Others would point to pictures of cheering mobs in various Middle Eastern Cities after 911 or Sharon's stroke. This viewpoint would hold that that a substantial part of the Islamic population (especially in some countries) would be easily induced to participate in the Jihad if they thought it was succeeding. Thus, any evidence of weakness on our part would result in big gains for Al Qaeda, first in prestige, then in money and actual participating soldiers, and ultimately in nations under their control. We might call this the tipping point theory.

The vast majority of experts seem to believe that Al Qaeda already has, or at least did have, and will have again the assets in place to do real mahem. They also believe that there is an almost limitless supply of antisocial shock troops that can be employed to carry out actions against Jewish and Western culture and people.

If the threat is lower today than it was from 1992-2002, it could only be because of the efforts of the Bush administration with help from Blair and a few others. If that is true, then it would seem we should stay the course, and not become complacent until the job is done. Otherwise we will likely have to go spend money and lives a second time, which would be sad indeed.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Count Your Words - They Might Matter

According to Dan Kennedy, whose marketing CD's I'm currently listening to, there is an Indian legend which claims that we are each "given" a set number of words to speak in our life. When we use them up, we die. Then, we are judged based on the content of our speech. This idea, were it true, creates a number of interesting issues.

It would certainly cause us to think more carefully about how much we said. Folks like me might be looking for cures to diarrhea of the mouth.

We would also be more careful to be kind and not mean in our utterances.

Having shared this idea with a couple of people, they have immediately asked the implications for women. I'll leave it there.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What Are YOU Afraid Of? It May Be The Determinant in Your Political Views

Are you afraid of Islamic Terrorist striking the US or US interests? Are you afraid that human caused global warming is going to result in a global catastrophe? Are you afraid that some kind of illness (AID's, Bird Flu) is going to wipe out big chunks of population? Are you afraid that the Chinese, or the Indians, or the Europeans are going to take over our position as economic engine of the world, resulting in a lowered standard of living for us? Are you afraid that the Bush administration is desiring some kind of extra level of authority that might result in truly reducing freedoms in America? Are you afraid that licentious behavior with roots in Hollywood and branches in San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, and Miami is going to destroy the family as we know it and undermine the entire culture? Are you afraid that Walmart or Google or Bill Gates or Time Warner/HBO are trying to take over the world? Are you afraid that Indian, Chinese, and Mexican workers are going to take away your job. Or, if not your job, your brother-in-laws job?

Depending on what you are truly afraid of, you will likely vote for the folks that are fighting on that front. Or at least seem to be. Personally, I'm much more afraid of the potential for cultural decline and foreign mischief by tyrants than I am by anything else on the list. Why, because I have witnessed the results of both many times in my lifetime, and read the history of the world until now. I'm a bit concerned, for the same reasons, about our economy and how it will compete in the future, but not even to the level of being alarmed.

That's why I'm a Republican. The R's are very interested in those three things. The D's aren't. They are more interested in things that have never happened, but might. It makes no sense to me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Randy's Five Rules For Math Excellence

If your child is not doing very well in math, I promise you these techniques will create improvement.

Rule # 1. Fundamentals. Your young student must know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Adding and subtracting any single numbers should be as fast as counting to ten. Even better if your kid can add any two digit number to any other two digit number in their head. Multiplication up to 12 X 12 should be memorized and automatic. Division - any number that divides evenly up to 144/12 also memorized and automatic. Schools do not push this idea any more, and I believe it is the key reason why scores are down. Use this rule for a student of any age, including high school and college.

Rule # 2. Real Life. What does your kid care about that relates to math. Your boys will very likely care about baseball averages and other sports statistics. They might also be interested in measuring things they are building.

Your girls will likely be interested in what things cost, how to do discounts, and measuring for cooking. Clearly your child might have vastly different interest than those listed. But math has applications to almost everything we do. How can you make math real?

Rule # 3. Paper is Cheap. Many math errors are made by making numbers too small, scrunching them at the bottom of the page, scratching things out, or not lining things up well. Tell your child that paper is cheap. It is ok to use more of it if it will keep the numbers neat.

Rule # 4. Memorize the definitions of all terms. We memorize for English, but no teacher I know is pushing kids to memorize definitions of math terms. If we don't know the definition when the word is used in a word problem, how can we possibly work it out?

Rule # 5. Is the answer stupid? If the answer you get is the car was traveling 387 miles per hour, or the temperature outside was 712 degrees, it may require rechecking the math. This doesn't just apply to word problems. Use estimates of regular problems to see if the resulting answer is in the ball park.

If you use these methods and have success or not, let me know.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Husband Wife Role Assignments


Pam and I have established different responsibilities within our home. The primary split is that I am the one who makes the money. She is the one who spends it.

We concluded the other day that she is far better at her job than I am, and she wishes I would catch up!!!

Media Bias - The Truth - Again

This is not the first study, but maybe the most thorough and most dedicated to insuring that the study was not itself biased. The results: The media is extremely biased to the left. WOW! What a shock! Here's the good news.

Five news outlets — "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," ABC's "Good Morning America," CNN's "NewsNight With Aaron Brown," Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume" and the Drudge Report — were in a statistical dead heat in the race for the most centrist news outlet. Of the print media, USA Today was the most centrist.



The study comes from UCLA, which is a bit of a shock in itself. For the leftist faculty of this school (my alma mater) to admit these results is amazing.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Changing Your Mate

I don't put a lot of stock in this study, so I won't even site it. However, when women and men were each asked what they would change about their mates, the answers were:

Women want their men to be better listeners.

Men want their wives to be more available for sex.

By the way, it was the method of the study, not the results, that I question.

Two Most Important Parenting Tips

Talking to my daughter, Christian, today about parenting her daughter, Maddie. It reminded me that after 4 kids and years of studying parenting, I have two tips that reduce stress and improve relations with your kids.

1. Distraction. When the child is acting up or creating a scene, and correction isn't working I usually try ignoring next. If both of those don't seem to be getting the job done, I like to try distraction. That has a very high degree of success with most kids.

2. Friends. I love playing with my kids and grandkids...for a while. My favorite humans, in general, are those under 10. But a hour or so of being their pal is enough for me. So when I'm in charge, I'm looking for friends for them to play with.

Some parents seem to feel that they only get a break when their kid goes to the friend's house. I'm not particular. I will always offer to have the friend or friends come over to our house. Either way, I get some time to get other things done. And I prefer the interaction of friends to using the tv as a babysitter.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Who Kills More - Atheists or Christians

20th Century War Deaths were exceeded by Communist governments killing of their own people--democide.

"Overall, the best estimate of those killed after the Vietnam War by the victorious communists in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia is 2,270,000. Now totaling almost twice as many as died in the Vietnam War, this communist killing still continues.

To view this double standard from another perspective, both World Wars cost twenty-four million battle deaths. But from 1918 to 1953, the Soviet government executed, slaughtered, starved, beat or tortured to death, or otherwise killed 39,500,000 of its own people (my best estimate among figures ranging from a minimum of twenty million killed by Stalin to a total over the whole communist period of eighty-three million). For China under Mao Tse-tung, the communist government eliminated, as an average figure between estimates, 45,000,000 Chinese. The number killed for just these two [Communist] nations is about 84,500,000 human beings, or a lethality of 252 percent more than both World Wars together. Yet, have the world community and intellectuals generally shown anything like the same horror, the same outrage, the same out pouring of anti-killing literature, over these Soviet and Chinese megakillings as has been directed at the much less deadly World Wars?" War versus Genocide and Mass Murder


Atheistic Communism has no close competitor when it comes to murder and mahem, expecially against their own people. Those who suggest that Christianity or those professing to be Christ followers havae been responsible for substantial genocide have a point, but there is no comparison.

HT to my daily read, Collecting My Thoughts

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas and Chocolate Gifts

My dark chocolate journey began a couple of years ago. I've preferred the dark stuff for as long as I can remember, but it started getting press for being good for you. Never one to pass up the great combination of liking something and having it be good for you, I became a choclatier.

Now I can count on at least a few of my Christmas, birthday, and Father's Day presents being some new variation on the dark chocolate them. So here are a few ideas for someone whose health and well being you care about. Trader Joe's Pound Plus looks like $10 or more worth of Chocolate, but it's only about $3. Hershey's Extra Dark is hard to find, so your friend or loved one probably hasn't tried it yet. And it's package just looks expensive.

Of course, you can hit the web and find all kinds of really expensive chocolates in various forms and in beautiful containers. Just Google Dark Chocolate.

No, contrary to how it may look, I don't make any money from these recommendations. I do it because I like you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bush Scores Yet Another Victory

I don't claim to be the smartest guy on the block, but I don't think I'm totally stupid either. And yet the Democrats and the liberal media must think I am. They keep asking Bush for a strategy and a plan and clear markers of progress. And yet, way last year, or was it the year before, we set out specific dates for election, constitution, election, and then full sovereignty. We have hit those targets almost exactly on the nose in each instance. Where is the headline "Bush - 4 for 4!" But you can imagine the uproar if we'd missed one of these dates by a month or two. Oh, my gosh!

Now we have new expectations. We will be putting Iraqi soldiers and policemen into postions of command that take US soldiers 3-5 years to attain. But it's way to slow for the Dems. Can anyone explain this to me. In simple sentences.

Gift Ideas for Big http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifReaders

If you have a reader in the house and you're trying to figure out some great gifts, don't ever think that your reader gets tired of getting "more books." If you aren't a reader yourself, it is probably a bit difficult to understand us. But we get at least as much, and probably more, enjoyment from a good book, that the rest of the folks get from a good TV program or round of golf.

Anyway, there are two easy ways to get a bunch of ideas for your reader if he or she is a Christian. Up at the top of the page is a little search engine for my blog. Just start typing in names like Randy Alcorn, Ted Dekker, Tim LaHaye. You can also just quickly tool through the archives. A few of the best reviews are down on the right column. You can also see some of my favorites linked to Amazon.

Or you might just jump over to my other blog which has lists of books recommended by folks like Chuck Colson, Dr. Dobson, Charles Swindol and others.

Hopefully among the hundreds of books on these two blogs, you'll find the perfect gift.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Luckiest Man on Earth

Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas

My answer to everyone who wishes me happy holidays is to say: "And a Merry Christmas to you, as well!" For my effort, one elf receives a tool belt. Or at least that is the contention of a new website http://www.saveanelf.com. For those who utter the Happy Holidays greeting, they have to live with the fact that they just killed an elf. This rather fun and silly way of dealing with the controversy beats the heck out of lawsuits and talking head arguments. So, Merry Christmas to all of you, and a Happy New Year, Too.

Narnia vs Kong vs Potter

If you like movies and you like horse races and you like to root for certain points of view as expressed by movies, prepare for the face-off of all time. The darkest of the Harry Potter series has been producing box office gross ahead of the other three. Score one for the secularists and the lovers of magic and the occult.

Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe debuts this week with enough pre-opening publicity to make it a sure hit. But will it outgross Harry Potter? If it does, the Christians will have struck another blow for more movies celebrating Christian history, fantasy, and life style movies. Imagine a trend where there were more movies showing Christian and pastors in a positive light than making fun of them.

King Kong, the remake, will hit theaters December 13. The DrudgeReport.com is predicting this will out draw Titanic to become the number 1 film of all time. Christians and secularists won't know how to root on this one. Peter Jackson became a hero to Christians with his wildly successful Lord of the Rings Trilogy. But King Kong can't be seen as a story with many Biblical themes.

If you want to keep score, check out http://www.boxofficemojo.com. This site is great for reviews, history, face-offs between movies, and the like. This really awful movie year will see a great closing month. Some other outstanding movies won't stand a chance.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Field Emission Display - Don't Buy Plasma or CRT Yet

My other favorite magazine, Wired, says that early 2006 will see the intro of FED television by Canon, working with Toshiba. Benefits include super thin, more accurate color, truer blacks, and smoother motion tracking. The technology requires using an inkjet to spray electronics directly onto the glass resulting in millions of microscopic electron emitters arranged in a grid on your screen. Please don't ask me for any more detail on how it works than that, but I'm going to wait a bit longer to buy my next TV.

New Telephone Invention May Change Everything

It is so annoying to hear our cordless phone going off somewhere in the house, then try to hunt it down before the 4th ring. Cell phones are worse, because there is only one handset for each phone number. At least with three phones in a two story house, the cordless landlines offer a respectible chance of success.

With this in mind, I offer my solution. Tethers. They have changed my life with regard to gas caps. I used to have to buy one every year or so. Why not attach a tether to each phone and attach the other end to a wall? Then you would always know where it is.

Let me know if you'd like to make an investment in my new product.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Truth About Troop Casualties in Iraq

If anyone of a center or center left persuasion wonders why I am so skeptical about the mainstream media or the Democrats, here is another example. We keep hearing about the 15,000 "wounded" in Iraq. Here is the real story.

Statistics for Army hospitals treating Operation Iraqi Freedom casualties can be found here. From March 19, 2003, through May 31, 2005 there were 18,729 total evacuations to Army facilities, broken down for cause as follows:

Wounded in action (WIA): 2,527
Non-battle injuries (NBI): 5,444
Disease: 10,758
The number of amputations may be surprising to those who've never seen them reported before.
188 Army soldiers, 28 of whom are multiple amputees
60 Marines, 10 of whom are multiple amputees
4 Navy sailors, no multiple amputees
2 Air Force amputees, 1 of whom is a multiple amputee
Total of 254 service member amputees treated in Army hospitals
The numbers from Afghanistan are smaller:
Wounded in action (WIA): 122
Non-battle injuries (NBI): 408
Disease: 1,046

Total of 28 service member amputees treated in Army hospitals

HT to http://hughhewitt.com/

Cows, NOT Humans, to Blame for Global Warming

Almost 20 years ago my friend, Ron Guilbault, told me that the major sources of methane gas were cow flatulance and termites. He also maintained that one major volcanic eruuption creates more carbon dioxide than all the human effort since the beginning of humandom. Here is the most recent cow study

But a study by French scientists published this year warned that flatulent farm animals must shoulder some of the blame.

There are 1.4 billion cows worldwide, each producing 500 litres of methane a day and accounting for 14% of all emissions of the gas.

Carbon dioxide is by far the biggest contributor to climate change, but methane has 23 times the warming potential of CO2 so reducing its emission is also considered important.



Sure, it is a French study, but discounting that, surely there must be a way to pipe that methane into a storage facility and then pump into cars.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Truth About Homeland Security

Sometimes I start to believe that Tim Russert of Meet the Press is trying real hard to be balanced in his reporting. And I acknowledge that you can't give a really deep answer to a complex issue in 10 minutes. However, today's program interviewed the Chair & Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, on their final report on terrorism & U.S. preparedness, "The 9/11 Commission Report: The Unfinished Agenda" The complete transcript is available. I take you to the middle.

MR. RUSSERT: I can just see my dad and millions of other Americans sitting here watching this program this morning saying, "What is going on?" It's been four years since September 11. You had your commission. You met, had a bipartisan unanimous vote, had these recommendations to allow emergency responders to talk with one another...

MR. KEAN: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: ...to give more money to areas of high risk, to have a unified command center and nothing's been done. What is the problem? Seriously, who's accountable?

MR. HAMILTON: Well, we've asked ourselves that question a good many times. I think in general what we will say tomorrow is that there is a lack of a sense of urgency. And that's what impresses us overall. I think what happens is sustainability is a very tough thing in our government just because there are so many competing priorities. We've got a war going on. We've got three wars going on, one in Afghanistan, one in Iraq and the war against terror, and it's awfully hard to keep people focused on something like this. What Tom and I and the other commissioners are saying is we have to get back to a real sense of urgency about protecting the safety and the security of the American people.


Here are my two biggest objections. Not once during the entire interview does he ask the gentlemen if the POTUS and the Congress should get an A for having given us four years without a single successful attack on US interests. At no time does he provide a list or ask for a list of the things that have been done correctly!!

This month's issue of Wired Magazine points out why no ideology or use of force will defeat America. Our capitalistic system rewards folks for coming up with ways to stop bad guys. The rewards are huge, thus the brains in business, not the ones in congress or the administration, will be working night and day to collect the bucks from the method or weapon that will stop these freaks.

The only thing besides fear itself that we have to fear, is that capitalism will become the underpinning of another major power who decides for illogical reasons that we are the enemy. Only a great capitalist country can ever defeat us, and a truly great capitalist society will not want to hurt us, because it will hurt a major market.

Read by Four - Step By Step Method Anyone Can Do

I was planning to write a book on this, create a series of CD's, set up classes, and otherwise market the idea into untold $millions for my family. Alas, there is only so much time, and I have a blog to write. So here it is for free.

I have successfully taught 3 of my children to read at the third grade level within one year of starting. One started at age 4 and a half. The other two started at age 3 and a half. My youngest boy read the first 4 books of the Bible by age 5, and the entire New Testament by age six. (Children's International Version which is a full translation.)

Sure, my kids are brilliant (at least according to me.) However, I maintain that this can be done with any child. Here are the steps. No Charge. No Come On.

1. Start teaching letters as soon as they will pay attention. Use Sesame Street, magnetic letters on the Fridge, blocks, electronic games, anything. At age 2 and a half, have dad sit with the soon to be genius for 10-20 minutes and study letters. I suggest dad, because it will be special time. Not that moms aren't special, just that the kid is probably getting lots of attention from mom with very little work. I suggest that this study be done on Dad's lap. Makes it even more special and desirable.

2. The first goal is to have the young reader recognize every letter by pointing to them as you say them . The second goal is to have them saying the letter when you point to it. These two exercises can be done simultaneously with some work on each done each day. Start with capitals. When they are 100% proficient, then do the lower case letters.

3. While this entire process is going on, begin to tell them what a few simple words are in their children's books as you read to them. Words like the, and, or, I, and Mom. This is so that they will begin to get the idea that the sets of letters they are seeing are more than just letters, but have word meanings.

4. At this point you will need a "reader." My personal favorite is the McGuffy's Readers, which are a reprint of a reader from the 19th Century. They are so different than anything else the child will be seeing, that they have a special intrigue. There is also much talk of God in these readers. Finally, they have phonics in an easy way to explain it.

5. Whatever reader you choose, begin with a few weeks of see and say. In other words, have the child learn words that they can associate with pictures. In the McGuffy's, these are words like pot, ax, dog, cat, and hat.

6. Don't do "see and say" for more than six or eight weeks. Begin to take the pictures away as soon as possible and introduce new words that don't have a picture. Again, the McGuffy's reader does this in a way that make the transition easy.

7. About 90 days into this process, begin to do phonics drills. I always started with "a" and worked on various "a" sounds before moving to "e"

8. During your story book reading time, point out the words they have learned as you see them. Very likely, they will begin to point them out as well.

9. You will be surprised at how quickly they begin to take over some of the reading of their stories, combining actual reading with memorization.

10. Within 1 year, they should be reading at about the 3rd grade level, if you do about 20 minutes per day, 4 days per week.

11. I'd love to get your comments and e-mails on this.

Oil Prices May Be On the Way Down - Way Down

One little known theory of commodities pricing is that what goes up fast, comes down fast. Be prepared for a precipitous fall in oil, gold, silver, and platinum.

Some oil executives worry prices may fall

By Jad Mouawad The New York Times
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2005

NEW YORK Hold on to your gas guzzlers: Cheap oil may once again be just around the corner. Even as consumers worry about high gasoline prices and rising heating bills, oil executives in London, Texas and Saudi Arabia seem to be concerned about a prospect of falling oil prices.

In a recent speech in Singapore, John Browne, the chief executive of BP, spoke of a possible sharp drop in prices and called current levels "unsustainably high."

John Hofmeister, head of Shell Oil in the United States, said during an interview, "This high price cycle is artificially inflated."

The notion of a steep falloff in energy prices may seem far-fetched.

After all, in the past year, the market has experienced crude oil prices that touched $70 a barrel; huge disruptions in the Gulf of Mexico; strong demand from the United States and from the world's fastest-growing market, China; continuing problems in producing Iraqi oil for export; and mounting tensions with Iran, a large OPEC exporter.

If anything, most of those situations would point to a sustained period of high energy prices. Most analysts said they expected crude oil prices to remain above $40 a barrel for the foreseeable future.

But the oil business has witnessed a succession of booms and busts, and oil companies have found it impossible to balance their future production with the world's need for oil. Too much capacity, and prices fall; too little, and they rise.

Today, producers are again under pressure to step up production and refining, and to increase investments to get more oil to the markets quickly. But oil executives and government ministers are concerned that if demand slowed down, even a little bit, those investments might create a large oversupply in two to three years, pushing prices down again.

Only a few years ago, the industry was dealing with a glut in production capacity, sluggish demand and a financial crisis in Asia. All of that led to an oil-price collapse in 1998, with futures contracts falling to about $10 a barrel.

Prices eventually rose, but the experience left a lasting impression among producers. As Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, said recently at a news conference in Riyadh, "As producers, we don't want to build capacity without demand."

This recurring debate in the industry may seem odd. Recently, the theme has been the end of cheap oil, prompted by a surge in Chinese demand and a lack of spare production capacity. Traders' concerns that producers would struggle to catch up with consumer demand pushed prices to $60 a barrel from $30 in less than two years. Doomsayers saw signs that the world was running out of oil.

But there are indications that high oil prices may be coming to an end. After briefly topping $70 a barrel when Hurricane Katrina interrupted supplies from the Gulf of Mexico, prices have fallen on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Analysts at Citibank said oil might fall to $50 a barrel, and possibly less, in coming months.


There's more if you want it here

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Who Makes Minimum Wage?

Some demagogues charge that jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonald's only pay the minimum wage. That's plain wrong, as are many other things said about jobs that start at the minimum wage. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Sixty-three percent of minimum wage workers receive raises within one year of employment, and only 15 percent still earn the minimum wage after three years. Moreover, only three percent of all hourly workers and two percent of wage and salary earners earn minimum wages. Most minimum wage earners are young -- 53 percent are between the ages of 16 and 24.

Furthermore, only 5.3 percent of minimum wage earners are from households below the official poverty line; 40 percent of minimum wage earners live in households with incomes of $60,000 and higher, and over 82 percent of minimum wage earners do not have dependents. -- Walter Williams


Hat Tip to John Hawkins

Can we take those stats and make them more real: Almost all minimum wage workers are just starting out on their first job, are very young, and live with someone who adds to their support. Moreover, 85% will no longer be earning the minimum 3 years from now. That last 15% are very likely also the secondary wage earner, and have reasons for staying where the wages are low. Very low skills, no effort to advance, poor work habits or attitude, other benefits on the job that are not paid in cash.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Right Wing News Offers List of Most Fascinating People in the Blogosphere

I'm not on the list, but since all of them are not that flattering, I may be glad to have been passed over. In any case, if you are politically conservative, and you would like a fun read check out this site

Truth About Global Warming Activists

Another site I love to visit is Junk Science. Here is the beginning of a new article out today.

The 11th annual meeting of global warming enthusiasts in Montreal isn’t turning out to be a very happy event. Even though this is the first opportunity for the burgeoning global climate bureaucracy to celebrate the full implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, the realities of science, economics and politics are raining on its parade.

First, a new study published this week in the journal Nature (Dec. 1) turns global warming alarmism on its head. British researchers reported that the ocean current responsible for the tropical winds that warm Europe’s climate has decreased by an estimated 30 percent since 1957. The headline of the New Scientist report (Nov. 30) on the study nicely captured its import, “Failing ocean current raises fear of mini ice age.”

That conclusion, however, doesn’t jibe at all with the reality of European climate, which began warming 200 years ago and is now setting the modern records for warm temperatures that the pro-Kyoto crowd likes to hyperventilate about. The European Environment Agency, in fact, claimed on Nov. 29 that Europe is currently facing


To read the rest, go here

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ

I've been meaning to do a review of this outstanding compilation of articles. But our assistant pastor beat me to the punch and did a way better job than I could ever do. So let me just give you a couple of paragraph intro. Then if you're interested, you can read the rest of the review here.

In the eleven years I have been married I have read many Christian books on dating, marriage, relationships and sexual intimacy. Several of them have been mixtures of psychology and theology at best. Others were solidly ground in scriptural. Sex and the Supremacy of Christ falls into the latter category. In fact, it is unlike any book that I have ever read on the topic of sex.

If you're single, check it out. If you're engaged, check it out. If you're married, check it out. You'll not be able to count on all your fingers and toes the things that you will learn regarding the theology of sex. The bottom line: everything is for God's glory, including sex. Piper, Dever, Mahaney and the other authors do a superb job at explaining how this all pans out in scripture.

Trends - Baby Boom Wealth Transfer

The baby boom's leading edge is turning 60 this year. That means roughly speaking, 1,000,000 more adults will turn 60 each year than has been the case prior to the baby boom. Now, of course, this has been true of this age group for 60 years. They have been impacting schools, politics, consumer spending, and much more as they have moved through the age groups like a pig in a python.

One need not be a prophet to predict that the coming dramatic increase in us old people will result in great business opportunities in health care, leisure living, and golf clubs. However, there is a little talked about impact that may be the biggest headline of all.

The baby boom's parents are just about to transfer the biggest stack of wealth in the history of the world to their kids. With the USA's current average life expectancy at 79 or so, at least one parent of most baby boomers are still alive and trying like crazy to spend their money on themselves.

What will be the impact of this wealth transfer to this huge population bulge? Will they be even more hedonistic than now, lavishly spending the money on themselves? Will they become philanthropic, believing that they can secure a place in heaven by spending some of their money on others less fortunate? Will they merely accumulate more bucks in preparation for handing down an even greater largess to the smaller X gen that follows?

How the boomers deal with this mountain of dough will have enormous impact on the US and World economy over the next 10 years. Getting a handle on that trend and its effects may greatly impact your own personal fortune. What do you think the effect will be?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Writers Write - And Read

Part two in my promised set of resources on How to Write to Get Published. As with so many things, most writers are born, not made. Those who are likely to have the discipline to actually complete articles and books are those who so love to write that their spouses, kids, and friends have to pry their hands off the keyboard to get them to go and play at any other games. If you fall into that category, you don't need any advice from this blog on how to get something written. You may still need help getting into a publishable form, and finding someone to pay you for it, but that will be another post on another day.

For those who have good ideas, are good at story telling, or have something they think needs saying, but don't meet the born-to-write description above, here is what you need to get started: YOU HAVE TO START WRITING. You don't need lessons, classes, or author's clubs. You need to just write a few paragraphs or a few pages on things you know and/or care about. Then you need to do it again...and again...and again.

After you've done this for a few weeks or months, and you actually like doing it, have someone you trust read what you are writing. You want to know from them whether the material is interesting, whether is keeps their attention, and whether the style, grammar, punctuation, and such is reasonably acceptable. After analyzing a bit of this type of critiquing, you may now be ready to take that class, read articles and books about writing, or join an author's club.

P.S. One fantastic way to get started writing is to start a blog. Its totally free. Just click the little blogger button at the top of the page, and you can have your own blog in about 20 minutes. (I don't make a penny from that advice.)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Writing For Publication

Just about everybody thinks they have one great novel or one great thought that is worth sharing with the world. Very, very few ever write even a paragraph that they submit for publication. Because many of my friends and associates know I have a fair list of published works in my resume, they sometimes ask advice about how to get their material published. Actually, some ask how to get it written, then should they actually write anything ....

Popular novelist and fellow blogger Robin Lee provides an advanced writing tip on her blog that has inspired me to begin posting from time-to-time on creative writing and getting published. Today's tip is to pick up a copy of Stephen King's On Writing.

You see, I think King might be the best writer of our generation. I don't tend to read his fictional works any more, because I don't find them uplifting or beneficial to my Christian walk. However, before I cared as much about those things, I read pretty much everything he ever wrote.

His special skill are scene setting and making you care passionately about his characters (before he kills them off.) He has a wonderful sense of humor that underlies almost everything he writes.

But, as a favor to the also rans, he as penned the best book on how to write and get published I have ever read, and I've got quite a few in my library. So, if you are so inclined, start by reading On Writing.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Truth About UFO's

I don't pretend to even have an opinion about whether there is life beyond earth, or whether any other civilization has or is trying to visit us for good or harm. However, our neighbors to the north seem to feel they know the truth:

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."


Do you suppose there is any chance we could use the Aliens to take out Iran and North Korea?

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Speeches by Past Presidents

Every day for is a good day to remember to be thankful. So, while the Thanksgiving holiday is well past, it shouldn't be too late to post Thanksgiving day proclomations by past presidents.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness":

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; … and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

George Washington, Oct. 3, 1789



**

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.

I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore if, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

Abraham Lincoln, Oct. 3, 1863

God has greatly blessed us as a nation in the year now drawing to a close. The earth has yielded an abundant harvest in most parts of our country. The fruits of industry have been of unexampled quantity and value. Both capital and labor have enjoyed an exceptional prosperity.

Assurances of peace, at home and abroad, have been strengthened and enlarged. Progress has been made in provision against preventable disasters from flood and pestilence. Enlightenment has grown apace in new revelations of scientific truth and in diffusion of knowledge. Educational opportunities have steadily enlarged. Enduring advances have been gained in the protection of the public health. Childhood is measurably more secure. New experience and new knowledge in many fields have been recorded, from which a deeper wisdom may grow. We should accept these blessings with resolution to devote them to service of Almighty God.


Herbert Hoover, Nov. 5, 1929

**



Our beloved country is free and strong. Our moral and physical defenses against the forces of threatened aggression are mounting daily in magnitude and effectiveness.

In the interest of our own future, we are sending succor at increasing pace to those peoples abroad who are bravely defending their homes and their precious liberties against annihilation.

We have not lost our faith in the spiritual dignity of man, our proud belief in the right of all people to live out their lives in freedom and with equal treatment. The love of democracy still burns brightly in our hearts.

Let us ask the Divine Blessing on our decision and determination to protect our way of life against the forces of evil and slavery which seek in these days to encompass us.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Nov. 8, 1941


It would be wonderful if the leadership of the left in the US could understand the cause around which our country was built. It would be a step in the right direction if they were even able to call evil "evil" as did their great hero, FDR.

For Men - How to Write a Love Letter

The LA Times, the paper I hate to love. I have been so close to stopping my subscription over their bias and some of their bad taste, but today they got it right, two times! The first was an article in column one about a new program hitting it big in evangelical churches. Called Letters From Dad, it is a program designed to teach men to write love letters to their wives and daughters.

Most men aren't very good at this, or haven't tried since they were dating. I just might provide a few ideas on this in the next few weeks, but if you want to learn more about the curriculum that is already being offered by the founder of Letters From Dad, you will find all about it here.

The article provided a few good examples, and if you are now or are willing to sign up at the LA Times, you can read the whole thing for yourself. The article, published on Thanksgiving day, starts out this way:

COLUMN ONE
Learning to Write Their Love
# Men in church workshops express themselves, word by painstaking word, in an unlikely medium: the humble letter.

By Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer

McKINNEY, Texas — After 26 years of marriage, Charles Batson says his wife means everything to him. He just wishes he knew how to tell her.

"We're always going in a million different directions and when we talk, it's almost like a text message: Hey, I love you. Gotta go." That's not enough, he said. Not for the way he feels.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Baby Boom Wealth Transfer Effect - You Really Do Care About This

Baby Boom Wealth Transfer

The baby boom’s leading edge is turning 60 this year. That means roughly speaking, 1,000,000 more adults will turn 60 each year than has been the case prior to the baby boom. Now, of course, this has been true of this age group for 60 years. They have been impacting schools, politics, consumer spending, and much more as they have moved through the age groups like a pig in a python.

One need not be a prophet to predict that the coming dramatic increase in us old people will result in great business opportunities in health care, leisure living, and golf clubs. However, there is a little talked about impact that may be the biggest headline of all.

The baby boom’s parents are just about to transfer the biggest stack of wealth in the history of the world to their kids. With the USA’s current average life expectancy at 79 or so, at least one parent of most baby boomers are still alive and trying like crazy to spend their money on themselves.

What will be the impact of this wealth transfer to this huge population bulge. Will they be even more hedonistic than now, lavishly spending the money on themselves? Will they become philanthropic, believing that they can secure a place in heaven by spending some of their money on others less fortunate? Will they merely accumulate more bucks in preparation for handing down an even greater largess to the smaller X gen that follows?

How the boomers deal with this mountain of dough will have enormous impact on the US and World economy over the next 10 years. Getting a handle on that trend and its effects may greatly impact your own personal fortune. What do you think the effect will be?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Iran - What, Me Worry?

Should you be concerned about Iran's nuke capability. I trust Bush and the gang, but I sometimes have a hard time imagining North Korea or Iran having any real method of delivering a consequential strike against America. Having just seen Little Red Hen, I don't want to add to the cry of alarm about Iran, but when a level headed guy like Newt Gingrich is concerned, I get concerned.

The threat posed to the national security of the United States by Iran was likened only to the one posed by Nazi Germany in the 1930s, by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who suggested Tehran could be planning for a pre-emptive nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack on America that would turn a third or more of the country "back to a 19th century level of development."

Gingrich made the stunning statements, which echo warning of other congressional leaders and national security experts, in testimony before a subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week.


For the rest of the story

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Gasoline Prices Drop Like A Rock

Wouldn't it be refreshing to see that headline at the New York Times, Washington Post, or LA Times. Not a chance. How about this sub: "Lower gas prices likely to stimulate economy just as we head into Christmas." Then the lead sentance: "Joe Smith says he is spending $25 a week less than he was just 3 weeks ago, and he is looking to spend it all on his family this Christmas." Dream sequence ends.

More Hollywood - Why Are Stars Uber Liberals?

If you have ever wondered why it is that almost the whole of the Hollywood crowd is leaning so left, Pat Boone says he has found the answer. If you don't plan to go read the short column to get the answer, I'll give you a hint. Self-absorbed narcissists is just the beginning. Another great article from World Net Daily.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Chicken Little 3D Review

Chicken Little is a fine movie. Works for all ages, although much of the patter will be far above the heads of youngsters and teens. The digital 3D effect is as good, but not any better than the old red/green approach. The producers did not overuse the effect with objects constantly jumping out at the audience. In fact, for this viewer, the 3D eventually became background.

There is, as with most Disney efforts, a good moral tale. One wonders, however, if Disney had read some of the critics who claimed that the stories are never about Dads. In this case, Dad and Son are the story. And the theme concerns their relationship of trust and the son's need for unconditional love.

See it in 3D if you can, but see it for sure.

Can Hollywood Make It ALL Back in the 4th Quarter

If the Movie business was a football game, Hollywood has about 6 minutes to go in the 4th quarter, down 20. They seem to have the line size needed to bring in the points. The final score might depend on whether the fans got out of the habit of showing up during the first 10 months when the product was just plain ugly.

We're off to see the "new" 3D offering, Chicken Little, this afternoon. I'll report later. I love 3D, and have spent many hours and dollars at various IMAX theaters and Disney parks enjoying the effects. This is supposed to be the future of 3D, and should be transferrable to our home screens. I suspect they will milk it for a few years before offering it at home.

We are very excited about The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, coming December 8. Everything points to this this being a huge blockbuster. Christians will be out in force. Those who read the book as children will want to see it, even if they didn't know it was about Jesus. Then there will be the word of mouth. Early reviews say that it is stunningly beautiful and very well done.

Harry Potter is already hitting big. Not my cup of tea, but it will help pile up points. Pride and Prejudice probably won't do $200 million, but it will get my $10 one of these weekends.

Then the two minute drill will see King Kong release a week before Christmas. Early hints are that this could be the biggest film of the year, although Lion will have 2 extra weeks to put points on the board for actual 2005 revenues.

Why do we care? It is a major industry, and a major source of our cultural communication of points of view, morality, and lifestyle.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Prognotication - Future Gazing - Naval Contemplation


Call it what you will, from time-to-time I will provide my own special take on what the future holds. I promise not to rehash anybody else's stuff. This will all be original, and probably way off base. Here's the first one.

NOBODY WILL LEAVE THEIR HOUSE ANYMORE

According to Wired Magazine, Americans now live in twice as much square footage per person as the did 50 years ago. This last month saw the introduction of 4 new ways to watch TV. Movie attendance is down. Home delivery of Pizza and Chow Mien is up.

I've been in the bicycle industry for 34 years. Parents aren't buying bikes for kids anymore. They're buying electronic games.

My wife and I like to go out, just the two of us, every Friday night. Choices, even in LA, are: restaurant, movie, play. She says to me last Friday: "Why don't we just do on demand using our 85" TV with theatre equal surround sound. (I have been accused of exaggeration once or twice.) But, you can now buy a projector for $2500 that will pretty much cover your wall with fantastic clarity and depth. Sound systems for under $1000 are phenomenal. And you don't have to worry about cell phones going off or folks talking through the whole thing.

If the TV and the game console don't have it, the computer does. By two years from now, it will all be the same thing anyway.

SO! Question? How will folks never leaving their house effect our lives?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Why Democrats Don't Deserve Power

Bush lied, soldiers died. From Howard Dean to Jimmy Carter, the rant keeps up. If you are an honest Democrat, please read this article and tell me the difference between what you read there and what Bush did.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dennis Praqer - Questions to Ask Moderate Muslims

If you just love Dennis like I love Dennis, I have given a short version of his article in today's LA Times. If you want to read the details, go to Http://LATimes.com. You will have to register if you are not already.

Five questions non-Muslims would like answered
By Dennis Prager, Dennis Prager's nationally syndicated radio show is heard daily in Los Angeles on KRLA-AM (870). He may be contacted through his website: www.dennisprager.com.

THE RIOTING IN France by primarily Muslim youths and the hotel bombings in Jordan are the latest events to prompt sincere questions that law-abiding Muslims need to answer for Islam's sake, as well as for the sake of worried non-Muslims.

Here are five of them:

(1) Why are you so quiet?


There are a billion Muslims in the world. How is it possible that essentially none have demonstrated against evils perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam?

(2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?

If Israeli occupation is the reason for Muslim terror in Israel, why do no Christian Palestinians engage in terror?

(3) Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?


(4) Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?

Young girls in Indonesia were recently beheaded by Muslim murderers. Last year, Muslims — in the name of Islam — murdered hundreds of schoolchildren in Russia.

(5) Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?

Hundreds of millions of non-Muslims want honest answers to these questions, even if the only answer you offer is, "Yes, we have real problems in Islam." Such an acknowledgment is infinitely better — for you and for the world — than dismissing us as anti-Muslim.

We await your response.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Love and Marriage Go Together Like . . .

Seems like there's a lot of weddings going on. For all the talk about folks living together, singleness as a lifestyle, and such, most folks seem to want to get hitched.

Those that walk down the aisle in front of their friends and relatives tend to make a few solemn vows. Then a few weeks, months, or years later, Pooof! Those vows are kind of last weeks news.

I was reminded of this in my own life a few weeks ago. Didja know that I am married to a woman who is the closest thing God has ever created to perfection in a wife? Its true! But even so, there are moments or days or even strings of a few days when we don't get along...uh....perfectly.

Now, maybe its just me, or maybe you'll feel me on this, at those times I don't want to do loving things for my wife. For example, I try to keep a stock of greeting cards in my desk drawer at the office. Then, from time-to-time, I pull one out and write a nice paragraph or two expressing my feelings, and send it off. BUT, during those "times" when there is a strain in our relationship, I have been known to pull one of those cards out of the drawer, stare at it for a few minute, even start to write something, and then put it away.

A couple of weeks ago, God spanked me good on this. My mood, my attitude, my little hurt feelings, or my bad day should never be an excuse for not letting my wife know that she is the light of my life.

Recommitment is something those of us in Fundamentalist churches know a lot about. I suspect many who go to the alter to recommit, do so with great intentions, only to see those intentions whither away and die. I'm recommitted to let my wife know every single day in some very special way how incredibly special she is to me.

Like the wedding vows, I have no publicly stated my vow in front of friends, relatives, and even strangers. If you'd like to make a similar vow to your spouse, you are welcome to use the comment section.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Darwinism Explained So Even You Will Understand It

In an effort to give full equal time to the supporters of Darwinism, the link is here provided to what Fox news headlines as "Behind the Controversy: How Evolution Works." If you think that interspeciel change is possible through mutation check out this article to see if represents your point of view. If you think that God did it, I think you find this article pretty amusing: Here is a sample:

How whales took to water

Using evolution as their guide and knowing how natural selection works, biologists knew that the transition of early whales from land to water occurred in a series of predictable steps. The evolution of the blowhole, for example, might have happened in the following way.

Random mutations resulted in at least one whale having its nostrils placed farther back on its head. Those animals with this adaptation would have been better suited to a marine lifestyle, since they would not have had to completely surface to breathe. Such animals would have been more successful and had more offspring. In later generations, more mutations occurred, moving the nose farther back on the head.

Other body parts of early whales also changed. Front legs became flippers. Back legs disappeared. Their bodies became more streamlined and they developed tail flukes to better propel themselves through water.



Really, really. Go read the whole thing.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Truth About Stupid Prices for "Art"



I know there is a marketing lesson here, but I can't quite figure out what it is. This sculpture sold for $23.8 Million. At auction, no less. I'm not some old fuddy duddy who doesn't appreciate modern art or things that are unusual. My favorite artists include Escher.

I know there are some outstanding marketers who are reading this blog. Help me out here. Why? If we can get the secret, maybe we can replicate it.

Oil Prices - Part 2

You have to love this story about a guy drilling oil in Appalachia. Some of the wells only produce a couple of barrels a day. If your interested in the details of this subject read his story

Bill Daugherty runs one of the larger companies, NGAS Resources Inc., which was recently ranked the third fastest growing small business in the United States by Fortune magazine.

"We're risk takers as individuals -- how else would you describe people who like to look down 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) into the ground and see what's there?" Daugherty said.

"What you don't see are the wildcat guys with boots and hats and a cigar. We use technology like computer graphics and we monitor gas flows from our wells by satellite and we maximize production by projecting trends in individual wells. It's a very scientific business but it's also a lot of fun."


For the rest of the story

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Gasoline, Oil, Home Heating Oil - Prices

I don't pretend to be an expert, but I do have a good memory of some things.

I remember the US oil industry collapsing a few years back when oil hit $12 a barrel. Wildcatters, equipment suppliers, bankers all went under. It is pretty hard to get folks to put their money up to drill new wells, manufacture equipment, or create infrastructure when there is no way to project what they can sell the end product for.

I remember the cost of gas in the 50's at $.20 a gallon. I also remember cokes for $.05 in a glass bottle from a machine, and candy bars for $.05. Seems like $2.50 for gasoline with $.60 of that for taxes is pretty much in line.

I remember my economics classes in college where we were taught about supply lines. I live that reality every day. Right now the cost of oil is down as is natural gas, gasoline, and home heating oil. But plastics keep going up. That's because the raw material is carried to the plants by trucks and trains over roads and railroads, and those are still not fully back in operation in the South. Gas and oil travels through pipelines, not so much over rail and road, so those commodities are able to move through the supply chain again.

Moreover, the price of things is not merely determined by the supply of the basic raw material, but also by circumstances at each level of sale. It is possible to have plenty of oil, but not even refining capacity. Therefore, oil prices are down, but refined products are still expensive.

Or you could have plenty of oil and gasoline, but the tanker truck drivers could go on strike. That would still make the supply problematic, and cause costs to go up at the pump. So far we've only discussed the supply side of the equation.

What if there was plenty of the commodity, but a substantial increase in demand. Lets say they found out that riding buses and trains caused cancer. Silly, I know, but just for fun. Now those riders would be getting into cars. The supply would be rapidly diminished with no excess refining capacity to quickly increase supply. Costs would go up.

DOES BIG OIL TAKE ADVANTAGE?

To the extent that they can get away with it, they do. That is good business. However, they always have to be wary of the competition dropping their price and gaining market share. So they keep their finger on the trigger to drop prices if the competition looks like they are making a move to the low side.

Having said that, if there are real shortages or threats of shortages, almost any business owner will try to make hay while the sun shines. It is not illegal to maximize profits, even if it exploits someone else's troubles. It is only illegal to do so through collusion or fraud, or if the exploitation becomes extraordinary.

There are plenty of greedy people out there, but the greedy consumers sure like to lap up cheap commodities even if the wildcatters or farm families struggle. It cuts both ways.

The Truth About Iraq

I have stayed out of this fray in this place for the most part. However, I just can't stay silent and watch a man of great character, our President, continue to be vilified by the press and the democrats over and over. The cheap shots, lies, distortions just pile up day after day. Go herefor a comprehensive read that details what really happened in the lead up to the war. Follow closely each step, including quotes from all involved. I think you will see who the truth tellers are.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pirates Attack Cruise Liner

I love cruising. My concern has always been the weather. But now:

The crew of a luxury cruise ship used a sonic weapon that blasts earsplitting noise in a directed beam while being attacked by a gang of pirates off Africa this weekend, the cruise line said Monday.


So cruise ships have anti-terror weapons on board. Never knew that. We live in a pretty unusual world. The whole story.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Democrats Committing Suicide - Not a Pretty Sight

There has to be a death wish going on among Democratic leadership.

1. Columnist Rosa Brooks in the LA Times today adds her name to the list of those who claim we are torturing Al Qaeda top brass that we capture. Not one shred of evidence exists to support that claim. We are keeping these high value prisoners in secret locations, that much we can assume to be true. Why is that a problem. Should we house them someplace in Santa Monica and tell the world they are there. I don't think so.

One wonders why the Left is go gleeful over this outing of super sensitive information that can only harm our effort against international terrorism.

She goes on to compare our treatment of some of the most horrific practitioners of death ever to walk the earth to the treatment of political prisoners at the hands of the communists during the cold war (and now in Cuba and China.) Can someone explain to me how that is morally equivalent.

2. Meanwhile Democratic leadership is ok with the oreoing (new word) of a black conservative running for Governor. Is it only obvious to me that this is not only racially despicable with regard to the candidate getting pelted, but suggests that there is something basically inferior about thinking like a white person.

3. CNN today, in covering the riots in Paris, seems to be looking for every excuse to justify this lawless, anarchistic behavior. The poor "youth" don't have jobs, and feel powerless in a society that hasn't done much to make them feel loved in France. They would probably be getting better treatment if they had a way to kick back some Franks for oil contracts.

4. LA Times entertainment page (aka Editorial page), says this today:

Just the slant, ma'am. Don't bother me with the facts. That seems to be the mantra for right-wing talk and "news" shows on cable TV and the radio.


Oh really! But that's not all folks. They then compare folks like Fox news and the lineup on talk radio to Michael Moore. Sure, we have a couple of odd balls, but the broad brush is just one more example of the Times living on another planet.

If the Dems think this is the way to win back the congress, let them go for it. If it works, pity the nation.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Jimmy Carter Past Due for Retirement from the Public Scene

I'm reminded of aged ball players who keep playing even as their stats decline until they are remembered for their declining years rather than their triumphant ones. A new favorite blogger friend says Jimmy Carter was her favorite president. I've heard some say he was their favorite past president. But over the past few years he has become a terrible witness for Jesus. Sniping at sitting presidents is not very nice. Comparing Christian Fundamentalists to Islamic Extremists, as he did on Larry King this week, is reprehensible.

He has destroyed any vestige of respect I may have had for him by his strident Lefty positions on everything. Get off the stage, Jimmy.

For an interesting take on his new book go here.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Dark Chocolate Could Save Your Life

Study after study are proving that dark chocolate is one of the best foods you can eat. And gosh, it tastes good, too. Let's see, brussle sprouts or chocolate? beets or chocolate?

Don't take my word for it. Yale University Says it:

OCTOBER 20, 2005 -- HERSHEY, Pa. -- Eating dark chocolate can result in short-term improvements in arterial function and blood pressure, according to a new study conducted at Yale University's Prevention Research Center and funded by The Hershey Co. here.

"This is the latest study to suggest a link between dark chocolate, which contains natural flavanol antioxidants, and health benefits," said Dr. David Katz, associate professor of public health at Yale, and director of the Prevention Research Center, who conducted the study. "The dark chocolate tested in this trial improved blood pressure and arterial function. This clearly suggests that dark chocolate isn't just good; it's good for you."


Two servings a day. That is the prescription from Dr. Kirk.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Donkey Party Has Lost Its Collective Mind

According to a new book by Peter Schweizer's, "Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy:"

* House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi proclaims her support for unions, yet the luxury resort, the vineyard and the restaurants she partly owns are strictly non-union.

* Noam Chomsky has made a reputation for calling America a police state and branding the Pentagon "the most hideous institution on earth," yet his entire academic career, writes Schweizer, has been subsidized by the U.S. military.

* George Soros, who advocates steep inheritance taxes to promote fairer income distribution, hides his investments in trusts and exotic overseas locales to reduce his own tax liability.

* Michael Moore relentlessly exposes those who fail to meet his standards of racial fairness and equality. So, of the 134 producers, editors, cinematographers, composers, and production coordinators Moore has hired to work on his many movies, how many do you think were black? The correct answer is "1"

JIMMY CARTER


Jimmy Carter is trying to sell a new book. Do you think getting attention for that book has anything to do with his claims today that:

The Bush Administration's prewar claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction were "manipulated, at least" to mislead the American people,


Harry Reid Shutting Down the Senate


Do you think that this stunt was designed to take the attention away from the amazing announcements of the last week by the Bush administration, wherein they have put forth at least three brand new initiatives on subjects important to the American people? Tax Reform, border security, and the Bird Flu plan. Where are the Democrats ideas or even counter proposals?

The Dems think they have Bush on the run. Never misunderestimate "W"

Monday, October 31, 2005

Blogger Helps - 10 Big Mistakes

Blogging for Dummies. Idiots Guide to Blogging. Both in one. And Free. I don't usually use this site for blogging advice. If you would like to see some of that advice, you want to go to my specialty advertising blog and check the archives for various postings on blogging and search engine optimization.

But while strolling through Mike Williams blog (a must read for anyone who likes this blog), one of the comments led me to Norma Bruce's Blog which I now highly recommend. She had a post that led to Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox

It was here that I found the Top Ten Design Mistakes that Bloggers Make. If you are serious or even semi-serious about your blogging, make absolultely certain that you spend 5 minutes on this site. You will see changes in this blog over the next week and you'll know just where they came from.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sneak Peak at the New Book Cover



The book will be published in late January. I need help from my friends. I need a few folks who are now, have been, or someday hope to be in business for themselves, who also have decent writing skills. If you are that person and would like a free copy to review, I can get that done. Then I would request that you put this review on your website or blog. I will link to it from at least 5 websites. I would also appreciate reviews at Amazon, Barnes, etc.

Send me an email at Randy@Kirks4Jesus.com if you are interested.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Christmas Gift Ideas

Less than 60 days until Christmas. That means millions of men like me will be heading to the department stores on Christmas Eve to buy something for our wives. It is much more fun for me. The love of my life and I were married two days after Christmas, and her birthday is in January. Not to mention Valentine's day in mid February.

So, as a public service I am asking you readers to help us men come up with UNIQUE ideas for our wives. Forget clothes. Pam even returns what she buys. Nothing with a plug, thank you. And, you won't believe it, but Pam thinks that electronic toys that I buy for her might really be for me.

OK. No more limits. This is not just for me. You might do wonders for a marriage someplace by making some guy look really good this Christmas. Hit the comment button and leave your ideas. Or e-mail me at Randy@Kirks4Jesus. Either way I'll do some future posts with the best ideas.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Some Things Have Always Been the Same - Crying Wolf Department

It must be the end times. Look at all these storms, earthquakes, bad calls in playoff games, and sinful behavior.

President Bush will certainly bring our nation to some horrible end, most likely returning our nation to slavery, or at least horrible injustices towards folks of color, the female persuasion, and the poor. Along the way we will become the 4th Reich, send all jobs except oil tycoons to India and China, and destroy our school system by underfunding No Child Left Behind.

We are running out of oil, the earth is becoming warmer, and our cities can't handle any more people than they have now. In fact the earth is pretty much on its last legs, because if Ice Ages or global warming don't get us, surely the bird flu, or an asteroid will.

The media, both traditional and even us blogs, love the fact that humans get some kind of perverse pleasure out of being in danger. Seems to me it was ever thus.

Some Things Have Always Been the Same - Sexual Immorality Department

From Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor, quoting Jonathan Edwards appx 1723:

The land is vastly corrupted as to this sin within this few years. Young people take more and more of a licentious liberty in their keeping company . . . And there is not that discountenance of such things as there formerly used to be. It is not now such a discredit; tis not accounted such a blot and disgrace to a person. . . I believe there is not a country in the Christian world, however debauched and vicious, where parents indulge their children in such liberties in company-keeping as the do in this country.


It seemed to Edwards that things were going downhill during his time. It certainly seems to me that things have gone downhill in sexual purity during my time. However, like so much of life, these things seem to go from extreme to extreme, swinging like a pendulum.

We can turn back to man's earliest writings in the Bible and see that the people sinned, then they repented, then they walked away from God, then they came back to Him. I think we can plan on the truth that it will ever be thus.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Jesus is My Comfort

Many aspects of our Christian walk are mere words. Example - We may know the names of God, and even what they stand for. Most mature Christians are well versed in the many ways that we can count on God in our daily walk. But, we constantly fail to have that kind of faith.

The last couple of months have been pretty difficult for our family. Not compared to so many others who are undergoing immense suffering and hardship, but enough to create some anguish, tears, frustration, pain.

During those kinds of days we may start trying to be introspective and see what God is trying to teach us. We might look at others around us and wonder what they should be learning from God so that they could stop bugging us or start helping us more. We mightjust go into a funk and drop out for a while. We might hide, seek distractions, take some kind of pain reliever, or jump into sin for a while. We might do all of the aove and then on the worst days, blame God.

Sometimes that blame is just yelling at Him like David did, and which I believe is ok. Sometimes it is just crying out to Him, which He clearly wants us to do. But sometimes it looks more like rebellion. "If, after all I've done, this is my reward, then I might as well stop being so righteous and do what I wanted to do instead."

I had some of those thoughts during this time. I've had them at other times. I've talked to others or read about others who have had some of the ones I haven't experienced.

But, as I drove down the Century Freeway the other day, I was just struck by the idea that as I would want to comfort my child or my wife or my Mom or my friend if they were feeling or dealing with stuff, how much more so Jesus. And His peace settled over me. I repented, and at least for this season, I am changed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hershey Does It Again - EXTRA DARK


Regular readers know I'm high on dark chocolate for its health benefits and because it tastes good. Hershey has been at the forefront of developing and even extracting the antioxident properties of chocolate.

Now they have introduced potentially the best combination of delicious and healthy ever known to man. So far I've only seen it on the shelf at a 7/11 store. It is called Hershey's Extra Dark. It is better for you than Hershey's Special Dark and tastes better than Trader Joe's Pound Plus. Pound Plus is still a better deal economically, but I suspect Extra Dark will find its way to the "sale" table like Special Dark has. We try to buy 10 or 20 large bars when they are on sale for $1.

I am not paid to say this. But if Hershey should read this and want to pay me, they are welcome to send a check. (Or a few dozen Extra bars.)

Impact - Undocumented Workers

You won't read this anywhere else. You won't hear it on TV, not even on Fox. You won't hear it on Rush or Hewitt or any other conservative talk show. The pool of low wage labor is drying up even with the influx of illegal migrant workers.

One of my managers needed a low wage worker for a day or two. He headed over to Home Depot, hoping to find one or two. He offered minimum wage and was laughed off the parking lot. He tried two other Home Depots with the same result. They wanted $10 an hour or more.

This manager oversees 20 employees and up to 30 temporary employees. He tells me that the pool of male temps is almost completely dry. Those in the pool are bottom of the barrel, not willing to work hard, and difficult to hold on to. To many other opportunities out there.

We used to get at least 2 or 3 low skilled, no habla Ingl├ęs, workers per week coming to our office reception area. Now we get NONE.

If anyone thinks that turning off the Northern Migration is going to benefit the current booming economy, they are incorrect. I do not support illegal immigration, but the President is correct when he says we need a guest worker program.

A few weeks ago, I suggested in this space that we need to seal the border and start a guest worker program. That might be backwards. We made need the guest worker program now, while we work to secure the border.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Feelers and Thinkers - Part IV

I feel real tension in my life regarding this issue, and I think this will be the last post on it for a while. One of the worst feelings that we can have is anomie, and that is me right now. I'm way too old to make major changes in my ways of doing things. Or maybe I'm not, but it feels that way. It takes so long to see the benefits or negative consequences of serious change, and that fact works against grandpa's willingness to take risks.

The Bible would seem to say that our actions should not be dependent on feelings. We are to love one another and God whether we feel like it or not. We are to be submissive to authority and to or mates whether we feel like it or not. We are even to give our bodies to our mates irrespective of how we feel. That is pretty heavy. We are to honor our parents, refrain from gossip, lying, envy, lust, and even worry about food, shelter, and clothing regardless of feelings. We are commanded to do these things. We are told to choose the narrow path.

Choices are about thinking, but being passionate enough in our love of Christ to be willing to choose what commonly appears to be a difficult path requires feeling. And the choice we make to follow Christ, certainly that requires both feelings and thinking.

Maybe you have this all worked out in your life, or maybe you just don't consider these kinds of things at all. Today, this question seems really important to me.