Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas-time Home Improvement

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas or just a nice day if you didn't do Christmas. I've been away from the blogs because Husband and I have been doing a home improvement project. This seems to be our Christmas tradition. This year it's our living room. We took up the carpet (you wouldn't believe how much dirt was trapped under there--scary!) and are putting down porcelain tile. We also repainted the walls. We're installing the last of the tile today, and we'll probably grout it on Sunday--we have to take tomorrow off to go have Christmas with his family.

We did take some time to have fun by going to the Ryman to hear Vince Gill and Amy Grant. It was the first time we'd gone to one of their Christmas concerts, and we weren't disappointed. Great show!

Back to work.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

They all know my name

Do you remember on the TV show Cheers whenever Norm would come into the bar, everyone would yell "Norm!" like they were glad to see him? I just had my last class meeting with a group of students who always yelled "Hey Mrs. G!" every time I walked in. It's been really cool. I'll miss them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

You might want to start saving up to send your kids to a private university.

In light of heavy budget cuts and an economy that continues to deteriorate, the Tennessee Board of Regents is looking for ways to save money. Specifically, the TBR wants to change its current business model so that Tennessee's universities achieve "a greater level of productivity" particularly in the way that faculty interact with students. The TBR is seeking ways to save money in the long term by reinventing the way that college instructors disseminate information to their students, and the board recently sent a memo to its university presidents seeking input from the universities on ways to accomplish this goal.

The memo briefly describes the way that the TBR sees the current educational experience and then asks if this model can be changed:

(My questions and comments will be added in bold.)

The faculty is the overseer of the educational process, and the business model for higher education recognizes the importance of the faculty's role. Our current business model (Education is simply a business whose only concern is a bottom line?) has faculty teaching courses populated by students. What are the possibilities for the role of faculty evolving more toward the orchestrators of an educational process to the point they are not directly involved in the dissemination of course material (Is that all that faculty do--simply deliver information?) in a classroom setting? Would such an evolution provide opportunity for a business model that increases efficiency while continuing to improve the quality of students' educational experience?

Within this concept there could be possibilities for productivity and quality enhancement in at least the following five areas: 1) collaboration across a large system; 2) empowering students with technology for understanding a concept and for drill and practice (How does technology replace discussion for understanding a concept?); 3) collaboration among students (Students forming study groups? What a novel concept!) and use of advanced students to assist beginning students (Tutoring sessions? Nothing new there.), along with a similar peer to peer collaboration by faculty (Do the administrators think that faculty do not already share ideas with each other?); 4) focusing by faculty on learning outcomes and using technology to deliver and monitor the learning process (Students already spend enough time focusing on the outcome--the final grade. Most of them don't really care about the "learning process." I guess faculty are supposed to shift their attention away from getting students to learn something and just "teach to the test" so to speak.); and 5) abandoning some of the ingrained structures that restrict our approach to traditional models.

How could these goals be accomplished? The memo goes on to outline possiblities, some of the more "interesting" of which are:

  • Increase the number of students completing on-line courses by taking steps such as
Providing a discounted tuition to students who expect to work online with no direct support from a faculty member except oversight of testing and grading when the student is ready. (So teachers simply post assignments and grade tests. No discussion of concepts.)

Specifying in the curriculum that students must take a defined number of on-line courses in order to graduate at the baccalaureate and associate levels.

Designing master's level degrees and work to be taken exclusively on-line. (Shouldn't earning a higher degree involve intensive discussion of theories and concepts? The collaboration between students that is spoken of earlier cannot take place in an exclusively online setting.)

  • Formalize a system that anticipates even greater use of adjuncts (part-time, low paid faculty--one cannot live on adjunct salary alone) to help in the delivery of education under the oversight of full-time faculty and clearly delineate and expand that relationship (Senior, PhD level faculty spending less time in the classroom where students could benefit from their knowledge and experience?).
  • Build into students' curriculum and into financial aid that advanced students are expected to assist beginning students and financially support the advanced students in that effort (We already do this to an extent with the use of graduate students to teach labs and some beginning courses such as freshman writing or math).

Obviously the TBR would like to see more students enroll in more online courses which are taught by fewer full time faculty. While some courses are perfectly suited for conversion to an online format, others simply cannot make the transition without seriously affecting how much a student comprehends the material. If achieving "a greater level of productivity" means simply reducing the amount of money spent while boosting the grade point averages of its graduates, then the TBR is on the right track. However, if the TBR wants to produce graduates who are knowledgeable in their chosen fields of study, then this is the wrong way to go about it.

I would imagine that this type of discussion is taking place not only in Tennessee, but in many states in our country. I just thought that those of you who have children who may attend a state university sometime in the future may want to be aware of what the bean counters have in mind for higher education.

You can see the entire memo here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I just read a plagiarized essay. Passages were copied directly from Wikipedia.

The ironic part? The topic of the essay is "deception."

Do they really need a handout?

According to a story in the China View news website:

The General Motors Corporation (GM) has decided to invest 1 billion U.S. dollars in Brazil to expand business there, local media reported Tuesday.

The investment was part of a U.S. bailout package and would be used to upgrade car production lines before 2012, said Djame Adila, a GM's official in charge of the markets in Brazil and other member-countries of the South American Common Market which also groups Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Although the company has laid off employees in some other countries in face of the current U.S. financial crisis, it still needs time to valuate the Brazilian market before making any decision, said Adila, adding that a recent announcement of a 3.5-billion-dollar loan plan to automakers by the Brazilian government should boost the car sales in the Brazilian market.

"To withdraw capital from an expanding market is obviously illogical. What we should do is to protect investment to the emerging markets," Adila said.

The company's car sale at the Brazilian market is expected to reach 2.9 million units in 2009, while that for this year is to reach 2.85 million, up 15 percent from last year.

Does this mean that GM is using their part of the $25 billion that Congress already granted the "Big Three" for retooling their factories to make more energy efficient autos and instead using it in their factories in other countries? If GM has a billion dollars at its disposal to invest in Brazil, why is it asking Congress for more money now?

Is there something that I don't understand, or are the American automakers being less than genuine?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another Gem!

"Plastic is a two faced, backstabbing friend when it comes to being economically friendly."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Covering the (wrong) bases

From a second-year college student's paper:

Physical Activity is one of the most significant aspects of a child's health while their young. A child who doesn't participate in physical activities while there young has a high percentage of becoming obese.

Apparently she wasn't sure how to spell the word, so she chose to use two different spellings in order to cover her bases, but as Husband said when I showed it to him, "She covered the wrong base."

Another gem from the same essay:

A child who is social with friends is more likely to be a more content child and can even avoid a child from becoming obese.

The entire essay was poorly written, and by the time I finished reading it, I was mentally drained and had to stop grading for the night. It would not have been fair to the next student to grade his or her paper when I was in that mental state.

From another student's essay that I had read earlier that day:

" . . . less than five percent of the worlds scientist where present at the meeting."

The sad part about this is that this sentence was part of a direct quote from a source. The student had the correct sentence in front of him but still made mistakes.

Some days when I'm standing at the whiteboard trying to write something for my students, my mind draws a blank, and I can't figure out how to spell the words. And when I'm typing, I find myself spelling even simple words incorrectly. I feel that I'm becoming dumber and dumber with each poor essay that I read. I'm going to have to spend more time reading good writing, or my mind is going to deteriorate. I can see that in order to preserve my sanity, I'm going to have to spend more time on my personal reading.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Internet Soap

An article in the UK Times Online reports that:

Microsoft has just been awarded a patent for technology designed to automatically detect and remove “undesired words or phrases” from all manner of digital communications, ranging from YouTube broadcasts to internet chat and songs.

The patent describes a system that listens out for phonemes (word fragments) likely to be part of a swearword. If it thinks it hears a forbidden phrase, the software either fades out the offending syllables or simply replaces the rude word with a similar-sounding but clean alternative lifted from earlier speech without a second’s delay.

With Microsoft’s software put in place by parents, children could listen to the most explicit rap music and hear nothing stronger than “gosh darn mother flippers”. Theoretically, the software could monitor thousands of digital TV broadcasts, radio stations and web chats simultaneously.

I suppose it's all well and good if parents want to use this to clean up what their kids listen to. (However, I do wonder why parents can't just tell their kids "hell no, you're not going to listen to that garbage in my house" the way my parents did.) But what about other potential uses of the technology, such as government censoring the Internet to keep bloggers from criticizing its actions? I see a potential for violation of free speech.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

This is Maddening

I thought you might find this article interesting. It is about how much money banking executives are continuing to be paid despite their banks' being recipients of bailout money. Here's an interesting nugget from the article:

At one point last week the Morgan Stanley $10.7bn [billion] pay pot for the year to date was greater than the entire stock market value of the business. In effect, staff, on receiving their remuneration, could club together and buy the bank.

Maybe I'm reading this all wrong, but it seems that we the taxpayers are being swindled, big time, worse than what we initially thought.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Campus Excitement

As I type, a campus building has been evacuated and the fire department and police and the county Decon unit are inspecting the building for a "suspicious substance."

Threats and fires last week, and now this. You'd think I work in a public school. Oh wait....


Update: 10:54 a.m.

Just got the all clear. We can resume our daily routines now. Channel 2 is here to tell us all about it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What are they teaching kids in school these days?

Yesterday, in a class of college sophomores, I used the word extrapolate. The word fell out of my mouth just as naturally as you please. I remember learning this word in high school science classes.

Several of my students, however, were unfamiliar with the word and asked me to define it for them. I defined it and told them that they should have learned this word already, and that they likely would encounter it in chemistry class. They assured me that they would not be taking chemistry.

I've come to believe that most university students tried very hard not to learn anything when they were in high school, and they have come to the university with the goal of learning as little as possible while still getting out with a degree. Fewer and fewer students ask substantive questions anymore. Typically their questions deal with process--how to get the assignment done and achieve the highest possible grade with the smallest amount of effort.

I love my students, but sometimes I fear for our world if they are to be our future leaders.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I'll bet you didn't see this on the news!

Lots of people showed their opposition to the bailout by protesting on Wall Street.

I wonder why Katie and Brian and Charles didn't tell us about this?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Domestic Violence?

Wednesday begins a new era in our country:

From the Army Times:

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.

But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

I thought this was the National Guard's job.

I found the following statement from the Department of Homeland Security a little unnerving:

There is no credible, specific intelligence suggesting an imminent threat to the homeland at this time. Still, we are closely assessing potential threats and response planning leading into and following the electoral process in 2008 to 2009. Heightened coordination and planning among intelligence community and law enforcement partners is being undertaken solely out of an abundance of caution, and focuses on preventive and preparedness measures for the transition period between administrations.

Maybe it's just me--I haven't been around for a great many "transition periods between administrations"--but I never noticed any sort of conditions that would be considered "potential threats" during previous elections and transition periods. I've seen more people upset after their particular football team loses than what typically happens when their presidential candidate loses.


While we were distracted by the economic bailout news over the weekend, the Senate passed and sent to the president a spending bill which includes $25 billion worth of loans to American automakers so that they can retool their factories in order to produce more energy efficient cars.

Ford is already producing energy efficient cars in South America, so why can't they do so here without the help of U.S. taxpayers?

Perhaps this kind of stuff is what the government is anticipating making us mad enough to be considered threatening.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How to Entertain Your Writing Professor

I just came from one of my small group writing workshops where I supervised my students' critiquing of each others' essays. Today's assignment was a process analysis essay, in which each writer had to describe how to accomplish a task and make that task relevant to a particular audience. There were some really good essays today, but one stood out from the rest. Its title:

Get in and Get Her Out: The Guide to Getting Laid While Still Living With the 'Rents

I have to say, it was one of the most entertaining and well written process analysis essays I've read in a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Two Reasons Not to Pass the Bailout Bill in its Current Form

From the text of the bill (emphasis mine):

Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Authority to Purchase.--The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.

(b) Necessary Actions.--The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and

(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.

In other words, the Secretary may interpret this Act as allowing him to create whatever rules he deems necessary.

Translation: This bill gives the Secretary the power to do whatever the hell he wants to do.

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

In other words, the Secretary's actions are not subject to scrutiny from anyone.

Translation: This bill makes the Secretary above the law and answerable to no one.

No one man should ever be handed this much power. Ever.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Don't Know Much About Economics

I don't understand much about the economy, but I know that if I make bad decisions with my money and go broke, the government is not going to step in and take away my debt and make that debt someone else's responsibility. Isn't that what is happening now? The banks that have made bad decisions are being "bailed out" and the taxpayers are now responsible for that debt. This doesn't seem right to me.

Also, if the feds are creating all this new money that the government is going to use to "save the markets" (that's how I heard it on TV), doesn't that create inflation? So we taxpayers are now responsible to pay this debt with money that we have to work harder to get and that now won't buy as much milk as it used to?

I'm sorta scared, and I'm not sure how scared I should be. They didn't teach me enough about this in school.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Trixie Update

After a week of antibiotic treatment and pain medication, Trixie is still experiencing a lot more pain than she should. She is back at the vet today (our regular vet this time) to be checked out. The wounds on her back are a little infected, and she has a slight fever. She also has some fluid buildup on her belly, which prevents her from wanting to lie down. Consequently, she isn't sleeping much. The vet is going to sedate her and see what's up with her swelling and why she's still having so much pain. We'll know more this afternoon.


Update: Tuesday 9/16 12:20 p.m.

Trixie has some abscesses in the muscle tissue in her abdomen, where some of the muscle fibers were torn. The vet had to put in three drains tubes to drain out those areas. Trixie rested nicely overnight and is feeling better today. She's in a lot less pain than yesterday morning, but she'll need to remain in the hospital at least another night.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pet Emergency

Monday morning we had a pet emergency. A stray dog that had been hanging around the neighborhood for a few days chased my little Jack Russell, Trixie, into our yard and viciously attacked her. The black lab got ahold of Trixie around the midsection and picked her up off the ground. I rushed and grabbed the dog's collar and held on until it put Trixie down. Trixie ran off around the back of the house, and the neighbors who had been out walking took the dog away.

At first I didn't think the wounds were very bad, but I realized she was in pain and scared half out of her mind, so I ended up taking her to the vet--not our regular vet, but the one closest to our house--and they treated her wounds and gave her antibiotics and pain medication.

Ironically, when I was at the vet's office, I noticed a sign on the bulletin board advertising a lost dog that fit the description of the dog that attacked Trixie. I took down the number, and Husband called that evening. Sure enough, it was their dog. The man was sort of surprised that the dog would attack like that, and when Husband showed him our vet bill, he pulled out his wallet and paid it without hesitation.

Trixie has two wounds on her back and two large gashes on her belly. We were pretty worried Monday night because she wouldn't eat, and she didn't rest much that night. But by Tuesday morning, she seemed to feel a bit better, and she was ready for her breakfast when I gave it to her. She's still not comfortable lying down, but she's gradually feeling better. In fact, she's become very demanding from receiving so much attention and thinks she's queen of the house. I think that's a really good sign.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Policics as Usual

Jon Stewart points out some typical political hypocrisy:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back at it

I have just survived my first week back at work. Yes, I know that today is only Thursday--I don't have any classes on Friday!!!!! So I get three day weekends every week!!! Except for this week when I get a four day weekend!!!

I am trying something this semester that I tried once before but didn't succeed very well at. I am holding my Tuesday/Thursday afternoon office hours at the Recreation Center. I figure that if I tell students that they can find me on a treadmill between x time and y time, then I'd better be there. We'll see how long that lasts.

Yesterday I heard the best excuse for why a student arrived to class late. He told me that he had an appointment with his pillow and it ran long.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Class Reunion

I attended my twenty year high school reunion this weekend. Actually, I attended part of it, the football game on Friday night. I looked at some pictures of the Saturday night event, and I'm really glad I didn't go to that because it looks like everyone was intoxicated to some degree.

After attending the game--which I did not watch--I can say that if I had not gone I would not have missed much. However, I'm glad I went because my suspicions were confirmed: I look much younger than the rest of my graduating class.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Fair

Husband and I braved the crowds this weekend and attended the Wilson County Fair. I heard on the news Sunday that 90-something-thousand people attended on Saturday, and I believe it. They were all on the midway at the same time that I was. I've told you before that I avoid going to Walmart on the weekends because I hate crowds. The midway was Walmart to the hundredth power, and by the time we got back to our vehicle, my nerves were shot.

The good thing about it was that we spent most of our time at the arena watching the tractor pull, which was fun even though there were no tractors with jet engines. The stands were crowded, but unlike the midway, everyone was sitting and not trying to go in a million directions all at once. We're going back again tonight to watch the off road trucks, which should be even better than the tractors.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Standing in Hot Water

This morning at 5:30 I awoke to the sound of rushing water. I thought Husband was in the bathroom washing his hands, so I didn't bother to try bringing myself to full consciousness. But when the sound kept on well beyond the amount of time it takes to wash one's hands, I decided I should probably wake up the rest of the way. I pried my eyes open to find that the bathroom was dark and that Husband was outside letting the dogs out. So I dragged myself out of bed and stumbled into the bathroom where I stepped into a puddle of water. I woke up pretty fast at that point because the water I was standing in was quite hot.

Husband got the water turned off, and we found that the hot water supply line had somehow come off its fitting underneath the sink. Husband had to leave for work, and I spent the next couple of hours sopping water up off the floor with towels that were already half soaked because I keep them underneath the same sink where the leak occurred.

It's been a fun morning. In a few minutes I'll finally get my morning coffee.

Monday, August 11, 2008

God of Mercy?

Philippians 2.9-11 says, "Therefore, God also has highly exalted him [Jesus] and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father."

The popular view in Christianity is that when those people who resisted Jesus during their lifetimes finally do confess Jesus as Lord after the resurrection, it will be too late. By this time, God's wrath is burning hot, and it is now time to send the unrepentant to their final punishment.

The popular argument is that not everyone who will confess Jesus as Lord will be sincere about it. Using Jesus's words from Matthew 7.21, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven," it can be argued that some who call Jesus "Lord" will be doing it from improper motives, saying the correct words just to get out of being punished. However, according to 1 Corinthians 12.3, "[ . . . ] no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit." Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the "Spirit of truth" (John 14.17, 15.26). Are we to believe that the Holy Spirit will compel some people to confess Jesus as Lord falsely? Merely saying words and confessing something are two different things. To confess something implies that the confessor believes that what he or she says is true. The Greek word translated as "confess" is exomologeo, meaning to say something out of agreement. When the entire world confesses that Jesus is Lord, they will mean what they say. Some will argue that yes, they will mean it, but at that point it will be too late. Their fate was sealed by their lack of confession of Jesus during their lifetimes.

Do you remember that old childhood game called "Mercy"? Two kids would stand facing each other with their fingers interlocked and try to bend each other's hands backwards at the wrists. The stronger kid would inevitably bend the weaker kid's wrists back to the point of pain and would not let up until the weaker kid said "Mercy." The majority view in Christianity paints God as similar to the stronger kid in the mercy game. Those who didn't confess Jesus until it was too late are the ones with their wrists bent back in pain. God will force them to say mercy before sending them off to their final punishment.

The Philippians passage quoted above says that when everyone confesses Jesus as Lord, this will bring glory to God the father. The Greek word doxa, from which the word "glory" is translated, is also translated as "praise," "worship," and "honor" in the New Testament. Is extracting a forced confession from the unwilling an honorable action on God's part? How are we to praise a God who resorts to extortion? This type of God is no better than Nebuchadnezzar who forced his subjects, under penalty of death in a fire if they would not comply, to worship a golden statue of himself. In fact, this God should be esteemed less than Nebuchadnezzar because even when people confess Jesus as Lord, God is still going to throw some of them into the fire. The metaphorical cry for mercy, "Jesus is Lord," will go unheeded. How does this balance with the church's teaching that God is infinitely merciful?

The predominant view in Christianity has made God into a tyrant, someone who coerces allegiance. Can we truly say that we love and honor someone like that? Again, something is wrong with the way that Christianity presents God.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I hate election time.

Is it just my county, or have people everywhere who are running for elected office ramped up the automated phone call strategy? Every day I can count on at least three or four phone calls which consist of a recorded message from a political candidate. Some of them have called every day for the past week. I wish I could call and annoy them as much as they are annoying me.

Does the federal "do not call" list not apply to people running for office?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Redneck Summer Fashion

Today in my email, I found this photo of a great new summer look for women:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

God's Goodness vs. Man's Evil

In Romans, Paul says that "as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many will be made righteous" (Rom. 5.19). Everyone seems to agree all people are sinners and that in the first part of the sentence, "many" means all people. Adam's disobedience caused all people to become sinners. However, the same word and the same construction is used in the second part of the sentence. Why do we say in this case that "many" is only some and not all people? Why was Adam's disobedience more powerful to make everyone a sinner than Jesus's obedience is to make everyone righteous?

In 1st Timothy, Paul said that God "will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2.4). Why do we not take this at face value? People say that just because God wills it, or prefers it, that doesn't mean it will happen. Why not? Why would God want something to happen but then not bring it about? Some will argue that some people won't be saved because they will not accept the salvation that God offers. If this is true, then those people's unholy and less than perfect will is going to overpower God's holy and perfect will. However, in Ephesians 1.11 Paul calls God "him who works all things according to the counsel of his own will." Apparently Paul believed that whatever God wills, God gets.

It seems that the predominant view in Christianity makes the goodness and perfectness of God and his son less powerful than the evil that lies in mankind.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Must Logic Be Opposed to Faith?

The common argument that Christians use to persuade others to accept Jesus and become Christians is that we are all sinners who are incapable of doing good and of being able to choose good. This argument uses Roman 3.9-18 to show how depraved humans are. We deserve to die as punishment for being so depraved. So God sent us his son Jesus to be a sacrifice to die in our place. All we have to do is have faith in Jesus and we will be saved from punishment.

Then the Christian argument (using John 6.44) goes on to say that no people come to faith in Jesus unless God draws them in Jesus’s direction. Furthermore, the argument uses Ephesians 2.8 to say that faith in Jesus is a gift that God gives to us—it is not something that we have in ourselves; we are incapable of producing that kind of faith in ourselves. But, because God loves us and wants to save us, he initiates our salvation by providing us with the faith that we need to be able to accept Jesus.

Two questions arise from this argument: First, if the gift of faith comes from God, then isn’t God being unfair to those who haven’t received the gift of faith? The Christian argument answers that question by saying that God offers the gift of faith to everyone—it is up to us to receive it. However, this brings us to the second question: If we are utterly depraved and incapable of doing good, then how are we able to choose the good gift that God offers? If we are completely unable to save ourselves, and if our minds are constantly bent toward evil, then it stands to reason that we are unable to choose to receive the gift of faith.

This Christian argument is flawed logically. Even if it is true that God offers the gift of faith to everyone, by the tenets of the argument, we don’t have the mental capacity to choose to receive that gift because of our depravity—we aren’t “spiritual” enough to see the goodness in the gift. If we are completely depraved, then when we do happen to choose to do something good, it is only because we think that doing so would somehow benefit ourselves. However, if humans are created in God’s image (Genesis 1.26-7), then it stands to reason that we do have some capacity to see the difference between good and evil, to choose good instead of evil. It could be argued that humans weren’t depraved until the time that Adam and Eve sinned. However, Adam and Eve felt shame and guilt after their sin. Complete depravity would seem to negate any sense of shame or guilt.

The common Christian argument for the reason to choose Jesus is a flawed argument. In order to accept this argument and feel good about it, we must abandon any logical reasoning. To reason through the argument would first bring us to the conclusion that some people receive the gift of faith that allows them to choose Jesus, and some people don’t. God apparently has some arbitrary method of choosing, and we aren’t privy to how he makes his selections. (Amazingly, some people actually believe this, and how they can love a God like that is beyond my comprehension.) If we don’t accept that argument, then we are left with an unsolvable dilemma concerning the nature of humans and the nature of God. If we are created in the image of God, and humans are completely depraved, then something is wrong with God as well.

Of course, nothing is wrong with God, but something is wrong with the way Christians present God to others. Certainly God, who created us with the capacity to think and to reason, doesn’t want us to stop using our brains. Faith, which the bible continually urges us to have, should not stand opposed to the logical reasoning capabilities that God gave us. Either something is missing in the logic, or something is missing in the common Christian presentation of God.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


The other day I was reading the autographs in my senior high school yearbook and came across a message from a former classmate that referenced a student teacher we had had in English class. The classmate had written that she felt no guilt for what we did to THAT WOMAN. I honestly don’t remember exactly what we did, and even though I don’t remember her name, I remember THAT WOMAN.

She was a young, blonde, final-semester college student working on her teaching practicum, nearly ready to graduate and become a high school English teacher. I remember one of her outfits vividly. Think back to fashion in the ‘80’s, how loud and colorful and ridiculous some people’s clothes were. This was the era of stretch pants and long tops, and she had this one matching set that consisted of a white background covered with a colorful array of dots and ovals. One of the guys in class remarked that she looked like she was covered in Jujubes, and so Jujube sort of stuck as a nickname for her.

We didn’t give her a nickname because we were fond of her. On the contrary, we hated her, and here’s why. On her first day of student teaching, she came in with an “I’m-the-teacher-you’ll-do-what-I-say” attitude. That’s the wrong thing for a student teacher to do, especially with a group of 17 and 18-year-olds in the spring semester of the school year who can practically taste their upcoming prom and graduation. We were a group experiencing a bad case of “senioritis” and we were not about to take any flack from an inexperienced 22-year-old who wasn’t even a real teacher. We’d show her.

As I said before, I don’t remember what we did to her; it must have been just the constant day to day harassment—the guys calling her Jujube, the girls ignoring her, the entire class disregarding everything she would say as if she weren’t even there. We were relentless, especially when our regular teacher was out of the classroom (ironically, we loved our regular teacher and jumped at her every request). When our regular teacher would leave the room, we would ramp up the torment. I’m not sure what our real teacher was thinking leaving her alone with us—perhaps she thought that our torment was just affectionate kidding, or maybe she thought Jujube needed to be initiated like a fraternity pledge who goes through a night of ritual hazing. Whatever the case, leaving that young woman alone with us was the wrong thing to do because the mild disrespect that we routinely showed suddenly became outright contempt. I’m ashamed to say now that we had no regard for her feelings, no empathy for the stress she was under while trying to perform and make the grade for her teaching supervisors.

Then one day, I guess Jujube had enough. I don’t know what triggered it, but suddenly she ran from the room sobbing, and we were extatic! We had broken her! She did not come back to class that day, and I think she actually left school early. The weird thing was that she came back a couple of days later. The day after the incident, I remember our regular teacher lecturing us for the entire class period, emphasizing her disappointment in us. The student teacher would be returning, we were informed, and we were to treat her with respect. We complied. As fun as it was to give that student teacher what we thought she had coming, that good feeling was overshadowed by the knowledge that we had sorely disappointed our regular teacher.

When the student teacher returned, we treated her with civility, allowing her to finish the few remaining days of her service without further incident. Her treatment of us was with mutual civility, and I’m sure that she was just as relieved as we were when her last day was over. As class returned to normal, our regular teacher never mentioned our bad behavior again, and she never held it against us.

I can’t help but wonder today if that student teacher ever actually became a high school English teacher. I wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t. I certainly wouldn’t want the job.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bush is in the doghouse--I mean the outhouse.

According to a newspaper article, San Francisco voters will have the chance this November to leave a lasting monument to President Bush. On the ballot will be a proposal to rename the city's waste treatment facility the "George W. Bush Sewage Plant." Those who are against this proposal say that this type of memorial is unnecessary because "they just want to forget George Bush's presidency" and that it's an insult to name a sewage plant after the president because "sewage plants perform a valuable public service."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Caney Fork Rock Skipping Competition

Sunday Husband and I and one of his friends, J, and J’s girlfriend B, put our canoes in the Caney Fork river at Betty’s Island and floated down to the soccer fields at South Carthage. We had to paddle a little more than we wanted to because the dam didn’t generate after 8:00, but it still wasn’t a bad trip. We made the nine miles in about six hours and had a fun time doing it.

About a third of the way, we passed a group of people camping; as we floated past they waved at us and hollered approvingly of the way that we were transporting our cooler. We like to strap our cooler down onto one of those round floats that people ride on behind a boat, and we let the cooler trail back a few feet behind one of the canoes. People always make comments about our method and think it’s ingenious, as if they couldn’t have thought of it themselves. As we passed by we waved back at the group which consisted of two or three girls who were sunbathing and reading magazines and three or four guys who were standing around drinking from red Solo cups. Because I was in need of finding the ladies’ bush, we decided to go ahead and stop there and take a lunch break. We pulled up a couple of hundred feet from where the group’s campsite was located, and as soon as we got out of our canoes, one of the guys from the camping group, a guy wearing a white tshirt for a head wrap, hollered again and motioned for us to come up to where they were, but we just waved back and broke into our lunch cooler.

After a little while of a eating sandwiches and chips and speculating about how much farther we had to go—and giving our butts a break from sitting—I decided to skip a couple of rocks, and Husband and J joined in. After two good skips, all my rock were duds, so I quit because Husband was tossing some pretty good ones, and J’s rocks were skipping nearly all the way across the river. This commanded the attention of the camping guys who cheered and then began skipping their own rocks, with one of the guys nearly matching J’s attempts. Finally, I guess Tshirt couldn’t stand it any longer because here he came, half walking, half staggering towards us along the narrow bank of river rocks. When Tshirt reached us, he stuck his hand out and introduced himself as Allen. He shook all of our hands and asked each of our names, repeating each name and committing it to memory as best as his alcohol-fogged brain would allow. Despite their state of inebriation, he and his group turned out to be a really nice bunch, and they invited us over to their campsite. We politely declined as we were putting away our food, saying that we had to get moving on down the river, so Allen headed back toward his group.

All the while J and one of the camping guys kept skipping rocks, when suddenly Allen turned back toward us and challenged us to a friendly rock skipping competition. “If you win,” Allen slurred, “you can be on your way down the river, but if we win, you have to come do shots with us.” We laughed and began to repeat that we needed to go, but Allen wouldn’t have it that there wouldn’t be a rock skipping champion crowned that day, so we chose J as our skipper against their guy. J went first, and his rock skipped seven or eight times. Everyone on both teams cheered, and then their guy went; his rock skipped about nine or ten times. J tossed another one that was good for another eight skips, and their guy’s next one went nearly all the way across the river for about twelve skips, everyone cheering all the while, like drunken fraternity guys playing beer pong. At that point, Husband and B and I all looked at J and said that it looked like he was going to have to go do a shot, but the guys from the camping group were drunk enough that they couldn’t remember if twelve was more than eight. That let J off the hook, and we got back to the task of packing our gear to leave. Just as we were about to put back out into the water, Allen and his bunch headed back toward us with a camera, wanting to get a picture of the participants of the great Caney Fork Rock Skipping Championship. After the picture, we shook hands again and said our goodbyes, and after urging the campers to be careful, our group went on its way down the river.

I have a feeling that today, somewhere in cyberspace, if I searched hard enough, I would find that picture.

Monday, June 16, 2008

What I Did For Fun This Morning

In the past few days I have received the same spam email from two different email addresses. Both senders, a Mrs. Morgan and a Mrs. Williams, are posing as widows with money to use for God. I decided to play with the two of them a little. Here's the email from "Mrs. Williams" (the one from "Mrs. Morgan" is word for word the same with only the names changed).

From Mrs Rebecca Williams
N�[38 Rue Des Martyrs Cocody
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire


I am the above named person from Kuwait . I am married to Mr Benson Williams, who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.

Before his death we were both born again Christian. Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $2. 5 Million (Two Million Five Hundred U.S. Dollars) in the bank here in Abidjan in suspense account.

Presently, the fund is still with the bank. Recently, my Doctor told me that i have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages, widows, propagating the word of God and to endeavour that the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don抰 have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don抰 want my husband抯 efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don抰 want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence i know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the Lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.

I don抰 need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband抯 relatives is around me always I don't want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank here in Abidjan . I want you and the church to always pray for me because the Lord is my shepherd. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.

Contact me on the above e-mail address for more information抯, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another church or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your

Remain blessed in the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs Rebecca Williams.

I thought that these widows needed to get to know each other, so I sent them both the same reply:

Dear Mrs. Rebecca Williams,

Wow, I cannot believe what a coincidence this is. Actually, this is so uncanny that I just cannot believe that it is a coincidence--it must be a conspiracy. I received an email, which I have forwarded to you here, from a Mrs. Susan Morgan who also lives in Kuwait and whose husband worked at the Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast and who died after a sudden four-day illness. Amazingly, Mrs. Morgan also is childless and suffers from cancer and stroke, just like you! And just like you, her husband also has left a bank account of 2.5 million dollars.

I suspect that you and Mrs. Morgan are the victims of a terrible crime. It is obvious that your husbands were murdered by someone in the Ivory Coast government, likely because your husbands had found out about an illegal financial agreement between high officials from the Kuwait and Ivory Coast governments. Your husbands must have both been able to confiscate some of the money and hold it for evidence against those corrupt officials, but before they could bring those criminals to justice, both Mr. Williams and Mr. Morgan were poisoned with a chemical that made it look like they had contracted a brief and serious fatal illness. What is even more horrible about this crime is that both you and Mrs. Morgan were also poisoned. However, obviously you both were somewhat stronger than your husbands because instead of dying right away, the two of you instead were inflicted with cancer and stroke.

I am surprised that you and Mrs. Morgan have not already met, as similar as your stories are. However, amazingly, you both got in touch with me this week, and I am pleased to be able to forward your emails to each other so that the two of you can meet. Just imagine how much more the two of you can do together with a combined 5 million dollars! I hope that you and Mrs. Morgan will combine your resources and put
those corrupt government officials behind bars because they and people like them are the ones who make women into widows and children into orphans. And if you and Mrs. Morgan are too sick to do the work yourselves, I'm sure you can hire some good Christian lawyers who can do the work for you.

If you still want me to invest your money, please send me the full amount in cash, preferably in 20 dollar bills.

If the two widows reply, and if I'm feeling creative, maybe I'll play the two against each other. That should be fun.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Out of the abundance of the heart . . .

From a UK Times Online article:

President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq. He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.

In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”

Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace”. He said that he found it very painful “to put youngsters in harm’s way”. He added: “I try to meet with as many of the families as I can. And I have an obligation to comfort and console as best as I possibly can. I also have an obligation to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain.”

Spare me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Forty Bucks I Won't Be Spending

Here's the latest in services offered to the Christian community, specifically those who believe in the Rapture doctrine. From the ABC news website:

A new Web site is offering a first-of-its-kind service: sending e-mails to nonbelieving friends and family who are "left behind" after you are whisked away by God in the rapture.

The site offers users the ability to store e-mails and documents that will be sent to up to 63 e-mail addresses six days after the rapture has occurred. Users get up to 250 megabytes of storage space, 150 megabytes of it encrypted for sensitive information such as bank account numbers or eTrade passwords that can be accessed by those who remain on earth.

The owner of this service says that your email is "one last chance to bring [your loved ones] to Christ and snatch them from the flames."

You may wonder, how will the emails be sent? The guy who owns the site has a system in place so that if the majority of his employees don't log into the system for a duration of six days (presumably because they've been raptured), the system will automatically send the stored messages to the recipients.

And this service isn't free; you'll need to shell out $40 a year to make sure that everyone on your email list who is left behind will get that one last message from you.

Hmmm. Now I personally do not believe in the rapture, but even if I did, I don't think I would be leaving my personal information out there on some stranger's server for some hacker to access. And I don't think, if the rapture is for real, it would be necessary to leave messages to my friends and loved ones explaining to them where I have disappeared to.

Besides, I'd feel really stupid if I got to heaven and saw someone there from my email list.

I'm Not Giving Up Tomatoes!

Yesterday I learned of a salmonella scare involving tomatoes (apparently for now my state is in the clear). But my question is, is the salmonella inside the tomatoes? If so, how did it get there? If not, why can't we just disinfect the skin of the tomato and thus kill the salmonella?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Um, I'm Sorry, But I Have Some, um, Really Good News To Tell You

Last fall when I found out that I was getting a bonus on my paycheck, I couldn’t wait to go home and tell Husband about it. In fact, I didn’t wait until I got home, but I called him on his cell phone instead. And I didn’t worry about how he would take the news; I knew he’d be glad to hear it. However, a few weeks ago when I got a memo from my department head about how the department has to cut its budget, which consists mostly of salaries, I had to figure out a way to tell Husband the news in a way that wouldn’t make him worry about the possibility of losing my job. I think most people deliver good and bad news in much the same way—we can’t wait to tell the good news, but we dread having to tell people something that is negative.

Why is it, then, that Christians seem to have a terrible problem telling others what is supposed to be good news? Christian organizations offer workshops in how to share the gospel (literally “good news”), and the participants practice on each other the most effective methods for delivering this good news. They even learn ways to counter objections to their good news. Objections to good news? Why in the world would people object to hearing good news?

“I have some really good news to tell you! We are all sinners. This includes you. You are a sinner, and God hates sin because sin is rebellion against God’s perfect sinless nature. Because you are a sinner, you are God’s enemy, and God says that the penalty for sin is death. If you die without being saved from your sin, you will have no hope of going to heaven. In fact, you’ll spend eternity in hell, the place of God’s punishment for sin. You can do nothing to save yourself from punishment in hell. But there is a way you can be saved.”

No wonder people have such a hard time “sharing the gospel.” You’ve got to tell people how bad they are before you tell them anything good. And the good part doesn’t really sound that good when you think about it: God’s son Jesus suffered and died a terrible death. He took on all the sins of the world, even though he himself never sinned, because he loved us so much. And God punished him instead of punishing us. What? God punished his innocent son? I grew up hearing all this stuff in church, and thinking about it now, I find it a little disturbing. Just think how it might sound to someone who’s never gone to church. And what about people who grew up being abused by their parents or other authority figures? A parent took out his anger at the sin of the world on his innocent son? Think about how that sounds!

To the uninitiated, this good news doesn’t really sound all that good. And there’s something else. The way Christians tend to present this “good news” tends to elevate the Christian to a superior position to the person he or she is telling it to: “I have accepted Jesus as my savior, so I know that I will go to heaven instead of hell. If you died right now, do you know for certain that you wouldn’t go to hell?” It almost sounds like “I made the right choice. I’m in the club. Don’t you want to be like me?” And if the person just doesn’t want to hear it, Christians lovingly tell the person something like, “Well, you just need to realize that if you die right now, you will spend eternity in hell. But God loves you and he wants to save you. If you don’t want to go to hell, you need to accept the cleansing from sin that Jesus offers.” Boy, if that wouldn’t leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth: You’re dirty and you need to be cleaned.

Ironically, Christians remark about people who think they need to get themselves cleaned up some before they try to get right with God. “God accepts us as we are; all you have to do is believe in Jesus, that he died on the cross and was resurrected.” Do you see the irony here? Two things: One, he accepts us as we are, yet we’re dirty and have to be cleansed of our sin or we’ll go to hell (but didn’t God already punish Jesus for the sins of the world)? Two, to keep from going to hell, we have to believe that Jesus not only died, but came back to life? I have been taught and believed for all of my life that Jesus died and rose again, but there are days when I question how true it is. Yet Christians expect people who’ve never thought about it to just buy into the story without investigating it for themselves.

Yes, it’s no wonder that most Christians dread being the bearer of this “good news” and why church and bible study organizations offer “Sharing the Gospel” seminars. If the gospel really is good news, then no one would have a problem telling others about it. Perhaps the gospel we have been sharing is not the one that we are supposed to be sharing. Perhaps we already share the gospel without even thinking about it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bible Question

For some time now, I have had a great deal of trouble reconciling the story of God's commanding Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice with God's prohibition of human sacrifice as noted in such passages as Jeremiah 7.31 and 32.35. In those passages, God expresses his anger at his people's idolatry and their having adopted the practice of sacrificing humans to other gods, and he says that the idea of his people performing human sacrifices had never even entered his mind. If the idea had never entered his mind, how do we explain God's request to Abraham?

I suppose one could say that it never entered God's mind that Abraham actually go through with the sacrifice, but that answer doesn't satisfy me. If God doesn't like human sacrifice, why use that as the big test of someone's faith? Why go to the trouble of removing Abraham from his hometown where idolatry was the norm (and human sacrifice certainly could have been a common practice in culture's idolatry) to a place where he could be influenced to worship only one God, but then test Abraham by asking him to perform a practice that he had taken Abraham away from, a practice that we learn later in the bible that he actually detests?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lest We Forget

I like most other people spent my Memorial Day weekend having fun rather than observing the original intention of the holiday. The holiday was meant for us remember the sacrifice of those who died during military service. However, the Pentagon does not want us to remember them in this way:

Monday, May 05, 2008

School's Out For the Summer!

I posted my grades yesterday afternoon. Now I am free until the 25th of August! Did I ever mention how much I like being a teacher?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Winding Down

With the semester quickly nearing its end, I am currently catching up on unfinished work and getting ready for the marathon grading session that will begin next week when final papers are due. Classes end on the 23rd, and boy am I ready! Summer is close, and with it, summer reading!!

Husband and I spent a semi-nice day at the airshow on Saturday. The weather would have been nice had the wind not been blowing so hard. We both ended up with sunburns on our faces, but we had a good time. It was his first time to attend an airshow, so I was glad that we got to see the Blue Angels perform. We heard them come in on Friday afternoon and leave on Sunday evening--they flew right over our house. If it hadn't been cloudy, we could have seen them from the back porch.

I've been thinking about lots of blog topics, but I've been too busy with schoolwork to write anything. Maybe when all the grading is done, I'll post some brilliant, thought-provoking articles that will enlighten your minds.

Well, don't hold your breath on the brilliant, thought-provoking, and enlightening part.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

More Excitement

Today we received word on campus that the campus police had received an anonymous email from someone claiming to have overheard someone else planning to bring a gun to campus and "do something" to a teacher in one of our buildings. The university sent an alert to the campus community saying that no one has seen anyone with a gun, nor has anything else suspicious been reported to the police. Therefore, we should remain alert and go about our regular schedule. However, one department in the affected building has decided to cancel its classes for the rest of the day because of the threat, well that and the fact that the heaters are working overtime and making the temperature unbearable over there.

It is entirely possible that this is some person's idea of an April Fool's joke--I think that's probably the case--but it's a rather sick joke.

Friday, March 28, 2008


I would normally be in class right now instead of blogging, but I seem to have a free hour because of a bomb threat in the building where my class should be meeting. You'll probably hear about it on the news tonight, as I saw a news van cruising around campus a few minutes ago.

I just wish the guy had called in the threat a little earlier so that I wouldn't have walked all the way across campus just to find the building closed.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Things that make you go hmmm.

Yesterday Husband and I received a notice from the Internal Revenue Service that we may be receiving a tax rebate check from the government. The letter was very vague, and it didn't say much more than what we have been hearing on the news for the past several weeks. Husband and I just shook our heads and wondered how much money our government has just wasted sending out letters to everyone who may get a check.

According to a Newsweek article, the cost to send a letter out to approximately 130 million households is 41.8 million dollars.

Nearly $42 million to tell us something that anyone who has been even remotely near a television or radio for the past month has already heard about.

There are so many things I could say right now, but I think just shaking my head will suffice.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Independent truckers will soon be priced out of business.

Unless you drive a diesel powered vehicle, you probably haven't thought much about the fact that the price of diesel has recently risen to around $3.75, which is around .60 higher than regular gasoline. If you don't have to buy diesel, you may think that this doesn't affect you. However, you are wrong.

Have you noticed the price of groceries going up? Much of the reason for the escalation in food prices can be attributed to high diesel prices. Think about it. Nearly everything that you buy in the store arrived there in a truck that runs on diesel fuel, and when the cost of diesel goes up, so does the cost of transporting those goods to the stores. Thus, the prices of those goods goes up accordingly.

Up until the past few years, the price of a gallon of diesel fuel had been lower than the price of a gallon of regular gasoline by around 30 to 40 cents. However in the past four to five years, diesel has been 15 to 25 cents more than gasoline, and just last week, diesel went up nearly 25 cents per gallon in one day.

Even if you can still afford to fill up your car's gas tank, the cost of diesel is something we all need to be concerned about because the higher the price of diesel, the higher the price of nearly everything else we buy, including that gasoline that gets hauled to the gas pumps in a diesel truck.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'm a winner

I am flattered and honored that Ayatollah Mugsy would choose my haiku as first place winner in his Valentine's Day haiku contest.

Now if I can only find a way to use my remarkable talent to augment my teacher's salary.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


A couple of researchers recently learned from their study that men think that kissing should lead to sex.

Did they really have to do a study to figure that out?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I'm It

Justin tagged me the other day, and I'm just now finding out about it. The deal is to pick up a book of at least 123 pages, go to page 123, find the first five sentences, and then quote the next three. So here goes:

"To a sensitive being, pity is not seldom pain. And when at last it is perceived that such pity cannot lead to effectual succor, common sense bids the soul be rid of it. What I saw that morning persuaded me that the scrivener was the victim of innate and incurable disorder."

I'm going to quote the next sentence as well, as the above makes little sense without it (and because I just like the next sentence):

"I might give alms to his body; but his body did not pain him; it was his soul that suffered, and his soul I could not reach."

This is from the story "Bartleby, the Scrivener" by Herman Melville, and it was in a literature anthology on a shelf in my office.

I'm supposed to tag five people, but I'll leave it open to anyone who wants to participate. (I would like to hear from you, Mugsy!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Don't disagree with the preacher or you may end up in jail.

I just read an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about churches who are taking dramatic measures in disciplining church members for "sinning." One little old lady in Michigan was arrested for trespassing, handcuffed, and taken to jail for attending church after having been banned from church after pressing the new pastor to appoint a board of deacons. The pastor decided that she was spreading a "cancerous spirit" in the church and banned her from attending anymore. At another church in Texas, a woman who who went to her pastor for counseling and confessed having had an extra-marital affair. The pastor publicized her sin to the congregation, apparently so that they could shun her.

According to the article, more and more church leaders are disciplining their congregants by exposing their "sins" to the rest of the congregation, causing much discord and humiliation. Isn't this the type of behavior that Jesus condemned the Pharisees for? This type of stuff is one more reason that I have against joining a church.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Happened to Christian Radio?

It has been my habit for quite a while to listen to public radio in the afternoons on my way home from work, but with my new schedule this semester, I go home too early to listen to the NPR news. So this afternoon I decided to turn on Christian radio and maybe hear one of those bible question and answer shows. However, to my dismay, I found that on one Christian station a woman was talking about the United States' economy. On another station another lady was talking about immigration. And on another station a man was talking about the importance of having a clean colon.

Whatever happened to talking about Jesus on Christian radio?