Monday, April 30, 2007

Letter to the Editor

I just emailed in this submission to the Waco Herald-Tribune. Waco has begun voting on a bond issue that will increase property taxes in the city. The Trib has several editorials supporting the various projects listed on the cafeteria-style ballot. You can even enter in your housing value and determine how much your increase in taxes will be. Waco has already wasted a good bit of money when its downtown development project director skimmed a bit off the top for herself. The high price tags of all the upgrades listed really raise my eyebrows. We'll see if I get "published." Makes me sound like a social progressive, but Waco really is impoverished and very few Wacoans will ever see anything but higher taxes from this bond issue. Here it is:

The many editorials and letters written encouraging a "yes" vote for the bond issue ignore the fact that Waco already has the fourth-highest city tax rate among large cities in Texas according to the Texas Municipal League. While all Waco homeowners will see an increase in their taxes, very few will reap any benefits from upgrades to the Ranger Museum and the convention center. While the $6.74 per-month increase to the average homeowner may seem small to some, it is a heavy burden to the 26.3 percent of Waco residents who live below the poverty line according to the U.S. Census.

Many of the names I see on letters and petitions supporting the bond issue and hailing its benefits live outside of Waco and would not bear any incidence of the tax themselves. Shame on them for asking the less-fortunate to subsidize their happiness.

The argument that revenue from new park and convention center facilities will help bring jobs has yet to be substantiated empirically. If demand for services at the Ranger Museum and Knox Hall outstrips capacity, why can't private funds be raised to pay for the upgrade? Why can't private businesses who will benefit from the convention center expansion foot the bill for the project? Why burden the already heavily-taxed Waco poor with even more taxes to pay for facilities that primarily the rich will benefit from?

More on Obama

A decent 3-page article in the NY Times today about Obama's faith and heritage. Much of the article is about his liberal pastor. When this is all said and done he will likely win the award for "Most Fascinating Candidate."

Excerpts:
Mr. Obama has written that when he became a Christian, he “felt God’s spirit beckoning” and “submitted myself to His will and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.” While he has said he shares core Christian beliefs in God and in Jesus as his resurrected son, he sometimes mentions doubts. In his second book, he admitted uncertainty about the afterlife, and “what existed before the Big Bang.” Generally, Mr. Obama emphasizes the communal aspects of religion over the supernatural ones.

"His embrace of faith was a sharp change for a man whose family offered him something of a crash course in comparative religion but no belief to call his own. “He comes from a very secular, skeptical family,” said Jim Wallis, a Christian antipoverty activist and longtime friend of Mr. Obama. “His faith is really a personal and an adult choice. His is a conversion story.”

The grandparents who helped raise Mr. Obama were nonpracticing Baptists and Methodists. His mother was an anthropologist who collected religious texts the way others picked up tribal masks, teaching her children the inspirational power of the common narratives and heroes.

His mother’s tutelage took place mostly in Indonesia, in the household of Mr. Obama’s stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, a nominal Muslim who hung prayer beads over his bed but enjoyed bacon, which Islam forbids.

“My whole family was Muslim, and most of the people I knew were Muslim,” said Maya Soetoro-Ng, Mr. Obama’s younger half sister. But Mr. Obama attended a Catholic school and then a Muslim public school where the religious education was cursory. When he was 10, he returned to his birthplace of Hawaii to live with his grandparents and attended a preparatory school with a Christian affiliation but little religious instruction."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Book of the Month (semester)

I think I've only really read 1 book this semester that wasn't required for class or on audio cassette. Great Commission Companies is a great book about what is now the "new" frontier of missions: for-profit business. The book examines the 2,000 year old idea of tent-making. It examines the deviation from this mindset over the years and explains how much of the current "professional missionary" mindset comes out of colonialism. The famous first "modern" missionaries, like Hudson Taylor, used business to earn a living and to build relationships with people in unreached places. The book examines some modern companies who are re-discovering this practice with great success. One you may have heard of is Pura Vida Coffee. The book gives a detailed insight into these companies including history, business plans, sales projections, etc.

It also explains globalization and macroeconomic forces from a Christian standpoint.
"A central part of our thesis is that globalization is a part of God's plan to integrate the entire body of Christ into his global plan (mission)."
The Gospel is spreading like never before as businesses and peoples become interconnected. It gives a good quantitative and theoretic analysis of this. The western Church, in large part, has missed the boat in realizing this.

My favorite quote from the book is this:
"Christians should be doing everything they can to encourage trade with less-developed countries."
Rundle defends free trade from a Christian standpoint, and shows how it is helping GCCs to go places they've never gone before.

Some of the companies are described in alias because they're in "closed" countries like China. Since they're clearly operating for-profit businesses, the government has gladly let them come in, build factories, and hire workers with great freedom, while all the while they get to share the gospel with employees and see entire communities changed and poverty alleviated. They get to demonstrate the Gospel through their ethics and charity. Their workers learn that quality products and profit are very important, but not the most important thing in the owners' lives.

Baylor had a seminar this semester on "Business as Mission," in which a few CEOs of such companies came and talked about their successes in seeing business success and unbelievable spiritual fruit at the same time. I learned a lot.

It's co-written by a Christian economist (so you know it has to be good). Here's a brief interview with Steve Rundle that you can read. Here's an example of a company training others to start their own Great Commission Companies: 2Tim2.org.

God has called all of us to do the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20). He's also told us to do everything for His glory, whether it's making tents, or trading stocks, or reading the Bible, or teaching a class, or throwing a football, etc. (Col. 3:23). The companies we own should be a reflection of that purpose. Taking those companies to where the Gospel hasn't been preached before, and using them to help spread the Kingdom is an extension of fulfilling the Great Commission.

Friday, April 27, 2007

On Conspiracy Theories

So, over at Google Video you can watch "JFK 2." A very crude but interesting documentary. The first half is a good compilation of previous JFK conspiracy documentaries and evidence.
The second half talks about George H. W. Bush and all the evidence pointing to him working for the CIA in 1963 helping with anti-Castro exercises like the Bay of Pigs invasion. That evidence is pretty solid, and is also supported by various authors.

So, if you believe that the CIA was involved in the assassination of JFK, you can narrow who the players were. Bush was connected to many of them through CIA. It's an interesting watch, I learned things. Bush denies any previous involvement with the CIA before he was appointed its director in 1976. His Wikipedia page lists some of the evidence contradicting this claim. Even J. Edgar Hoover said in 1977 that Bush was a CIA man back in 1963.

*Warning*- the first half of the video involves a lot of autopsy photos and Zapruder film clips, so if gore turns you off then don't watch. I really recommend watching the second half of the film for the Bush connections. Thought-provoking.
*Warning 2*- The last 2 minutes of the movie make some conspiracy theory statements about G.W. Bush that come pretty close to slander.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rating Documentaries

So, I've recently had the opportunity to watch a few documentaries that I'd been wanting to see for years.
Made-for-big-screen documentaries are a little less well-done than most PBS documentaries I watch. They're a little more biased because they often have to earn a profit.

Here's how I would rate them:

Iraq for Sale- 3 stars
The film sets out to document the "war profiteers" in Iraq. Companies get multi-billion dollar contracts to provide security and infrastructure to coalition troops and Iraqis. The website.
While I see nothing wrong with outsourcing various duties like construction, transportation, laundry, and security, much of the money is spent wastefully. The documentary does a good job of showing how private contractors (CACI) were responsible for much of the abuse in Abu Gharaib. More egregious are the violations by Halliburton.
If you watch nothing else, watch the last 25 minutes of the film which features interviews with redneck Texas truck drivers who went to Iraq to help transport equipment and goods to military bases. They saw a lot of the graft up close, and were horrified by it. Halliburton paid them to drive empty trucks on convoys simply because the government was paying them per truck and per kilometer. Many truckers lost their lives just driving around empty trucks for no reason other than to make Halliburton money by having their vehicles on the road. Their stories almost made me vomit right here in my office, out of sheer anger (and it takes a lot to do that to me).
Here's a link where you can watch it.

Wal-Mart: High Cost of Low Price - 2.5 stars



Only about 1/2 of this documentary is good, accurate, and relevant. I don't cry for the small hardware stores who go out of business because they can't compete with Wal-Mart. That's what Schumpeter called "creative destruction," where new jobs and new industries are created and wipe out the old jobs in old industries. Either you transition into new sectors and industries, or you cease to work. That's efficiency.
I also do not cry much for the Chinese people who choose to leave their villages and move to the coastal cities to work in American-owned factories. The more factories that spring up there, the higher the wages and living conditions go. 10 years ago the conditions were worse for workers, and the standard of living in China in general was much less.
Now, if Wal Mart has some shady labor practices - like deleting employees' time worked off their pay stubs in order to pay them less, or asking them to work "off the clock" or lose their job, that's something different and highly illegal. Those were the stories I found most interesting. The environmental hazards being ignored by one particular Wal Mart was another one. A big company like this needs some good watchdogs like the people who contributed to this documentary.
Does that mean you should try to keep Wal Mart from coming to your town? NO. Does that mean you might think twice before stupidly subsidizing that Wal Mart with tax breaks and incentives? Yes.
That's what I got out of the film. I recommend the middle 1/3 of the movie.

Farenheit 9/11
- 2 stars

Finally watched this one. Sure, you have to get passed way too much biased rhetoric, but Moore makes a couple of good points: 1.) Government (all parties) is inept and controlled by politicians with shady backgrounds. 2.) The people who stand up and answer the call to duty are overwhelmingly the ones who are the poorest and least privileged in America. I recommend watching the last 10 minutes.

The Oil Factor: Behind the War on Terror - 1.5 stars

This is an oddly low-budget film poorly narrated by Ed Asner. Not much new information here. The Neocons were intent on increasing our supplies of energy via Iraq and Central Asia after 1991, and once they got into power in 2000 they made it a focus of U.S. policy. 9/11 was a springboard to take over strategically located Afghanistan, build a presence in former Soviet satellites, and open up Iraq-- all aided by U.S. oil companies eager to sign new pipeline and exploration deals.
The documentary kind of goes all over the place, talking about problems in Iraq as well as Afghanistan.
I enjoyed the interviews with Gary Schmitt, the head of the Project for a New American Century, a thinktank the neocons (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush) are cornerstone members of. He's pretty honest about "Yeah, this is what we want."
The video educated me a bit about the environmental hazards all of the uranium-enriched ammunition the U.S. troops are using in Iraq are creating. Radiated shells in civilian areas mean more birth defects and contaminated drinking water. That was probably the most interesting tidbit for me.
I recommend watching the first 25 minutes of this one, and fast forward through the long non-speaking parts.

Love me some documentaries.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Obamanomics

If you haven't heard by now, there is an article in the Wall Street Journal about Barack Obama and his economic advisors. Pretty talented group.

The Journal article paints him as to the Left of Hillary, and to the Right of Edwards.

"Mr. Obama's views seem to be tempered by President Clinton's strong push in the 1990s to steer the Democratic Party toward the center, away from the party's prior support for protectionism and rhetoric about class warfare. Yet Mr. Obama has voted against a trade agreement and backs policies that redistribute income by taking revenue from the wealthiest to fund programs for middle- and lower-income households. Like most Democrats, he favors rolling back at least the portion of the Bush tax cuts that favor upper-income families.

"His view is not that the rich are doing too well," says one economic adviser. "But he wants to finance some of the programs to help the poor do better -- and the resources have to come from where people are doing better."

The article later mentions that Obama isn't anti free-trade. His advisors certainly aren't. Sounds like he votes against it when he needs the union vote, and votes for it... um, well, he doesn't vote for it ever. Voted against CAFTA.

He hasn't quite put out a health care plan.

"Mr. Obama is looking for ways to drive down costs, possibly by creating state or national health-care pools and offering hospitals and doctors financial incentives to convert to electronic record-keeping. Among his health-care goals is to keep costs low for business and find ways to 'ensure that business can compete in a global economy and that not all the costs are being beared by individuals,' an aide said."
"In his book 'The Audacity of Hope,' Mr. Obama proposes having a nonpartisan group design high-quality, cost-effective health coverage, which individuals could purchase through pools, with private insurers competing for their business."

He's got a pretty good team of economists from Harvard and Chicago. I guess we'll eventually see how much that matters in his policies.

Suaada's Death

Very poignant video on NY Times website this morning. Click the link, scroll down a little until you see the video section. It's the first one. It's not quite 5 minutes, but very worth watching.

Synopsis: A woman head-of-household whose family is one of only 4 Sunni families in a Shiite area of Baghdad has been harrassed and threatened by Shi'ia militiamen and told to leave. She calls the "cops," in this case Kurdish and U.S. troops, to help her. You get to see the troops doing their job, and then you get to see the end result.
Check it out and feel free to share your comments here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Quotes for the Day

Some poignant journalism in the printed media today. A few worth noting:

"The gap between Mr. Sadr’s public oratory and his actions shows that he, as much as any American or Iraqi official, is captive to the fact that there is no easy path to securing Iraqs future. He does have a starkly plain vision — a centralized Islamist Iraq ruled by nationalist Shiites who are distanced from, if not openly hostile to, the United States. But he also has a problem all too familiar to the Bush administration: he does not know exactly how to realize his vision, given the complexities of the conflict.

He has become a great improviser, the Miles Davis of the war."

--NY Times' Edward Wong on the odd symbiotic relationship the U.S. has with with Al Sadr, and vice-versa.

"Pity Paul Wolfowitz: Every time he tries regime change, he triggers an insurrection."
--Bill Easterly's Op-Ed in the Washington Post.

For more than five weeks during the brutal winter of 1997, tenants shivered without heat in a government-subsidized apartment building on Chicago's South Side.

It was just four years after the landlords -- Antoin "Tony'' Rezko and his partner Daniel Mahru -- had rehabbed the 31-unit building in Englewood with a loan from Chicago taxpayers.

Rezko and Mahru couldn't find money to get the heat back on.

But their company, Rezmar Corp., did come up with $1,000 to give to the political campaign fund of Barack Obama, the newly elected state senator whose district included the unheated building.

--Long Chicago Tribune article on Obama's murky relationship with a shady "slumlord."

"During a visit to the United States in 1989, he became more convinced than ever that Russia had been ruinously damaged by the centralized, state-run economic system where people stood in long lines to buy the most basic needs of life and more often than not found the shelves bare.

He was overwhelmed by what he saw at a Houston supermarket, by the kaleidoscopic variety of meats and vegetables available to ordinary Americans.

Leon Aron quoting a Yeltsin associate, wrote in his biography, “Yeltsin, A Revolutionary Life” (St. Martin’s Press, 2000): “For a long time, on the plane to Miami, he sat motionless, his head in his hands. ‘What have they done to our poor people?’ he said after a long silence.”

He added, “On his return to Moscow, Yeltsin would confess the pain he had felt after the Houston excursion: the ‘pain for all of us, for our country so rich, so talented and so exhausted by incessant experiments.’ ”

--NY Times' Marilyn Berger's obituary of Boris Yeltsin.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

ABC World News with Charles Gibson

In a previous post I mentioned that I'm tuning increasingly to ABC News at 5:30 instead of the others. The New York Times is reporting that people are increasingly doing the same, and that Charlie Gibson is doing the most professional journalistic job covering the Virginia Tech tragedy of all the evening news anchors.

I'm very particular about who I receive my news from, so it's a big deal when a news station wins me over with their professionalism. I'm loyal.

Go get 'em, Charlie!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

On Paul Wolfowitz

So, I've been trying to figure out how to post on the Paul Wolfowitz mess. Did he help his girlfriend get a raise? Looks like it. Is this ethical? Nope. Did he try to recuse himself? Looks like it (the WSJ defends him). Do people at the World Bank have it out for him? Yes.
Wolfowitz has actually led the biggest anti-corruption campaign in the history of the World Bank. He has almost singlehandedly cut off many rich contractors in various countries who had long been milking the Bank. So, Wolfowitz has enemies.

But, I'll let Jon Stewart do the talking on this one. He expresses how I feel about Wolfowitz in so many ways:

A comparison of carnage


What's more gruesome and saddening: 33 people dying heinously in the course of 2 hours in Virginia, or 115 being killed instantly with 137 others wounded by a single carbomb in Baghdad?

Man is sinful, depraved, and in desperate need of salvation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No News

I'm waiting to post again until there is good news reported in the media. If someone comes across something that's upbeat or hopeful, please let me know.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Quote of the Day

"The only thing worth in this place is the paycheck and that is not even worth it when you start to get white chest hairs over time and wake up everyday feeling like a f****** truck has hit you."

From an old friend that I went to high school and college with, currently serving in Iraq. (I had asked him "has it been worth it?"). He joined the National Guard when we were freshmen in college. I didn't think he or the other guys I knew joining up to help pay for college would ever see combat deployment. All of them have.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Watching TV online

Q: "So, Justin, what do you do for fun?"
A: "I watch Russian cartoons and soap operas. How about you?"

One of my favorite past times is to watch foreign television. Many countries broadcast via "Free-to-Air" satellites and all you need in order to tune in is about $300 (one-time payment!) to buy a dish and receiver, and off you go. You can get anywhere from 5000-8000 channels from around the world! Even my relatively impoverished Lezgi friends in rural mountain villages had these dishes and I enjoyed going to their houses to watch some CNN and BBC. Perfectly legal and free. We don't have one yet because I don't have a great paying job. But, one day it will be mine... oh, yes. It will be mine. (Until then, Joni and I will stick to the 4 fuzzy stations we get with our rabbit ears).

Several international stations, particularly the state-owned ones, fortunately broadcast live over the Internet for free.

My favorite newfound site
is this one, where you can livestream about a dozen Russian channels. 24/7 news, music videos, educational programming, and even things like rugby. Watching American films in Russian is a pretty good way to practice language, and watching childrens' cartoons and Russian soap operas is even better.

A few tidbits I've learned this week about Russian programming:
Grey's Anatomy is called "Anatomy of Passion" in Russia.
They have their own version of Ugly Betty. It's been around longer than ours.
They have their own version of Married With Children, called "Happy Together." The wife seems a little more believably Russian.

My next favorite is AZTV, a state-owned Azerbaijani TV channel. There's a 10 hour time difference between here and there. They usually play a good American movie translated into Azeri about 3 times a week, late at night in Azerbaijan, but mid-afternoon here. So, I can keep it running in my office and enjoy. When I actually lived there, we usually had no electricity from 10pm to 6am, so I didn't get to enjoy the late-night showings of Braveheart and whatnot. Now I can!

Another recent find is Iraqi television via Jumptv.com. Our tax dollars, in part, help subsidize some Iraqi TV channels that sort of help promote democracy and provide news alternatives to Al-Jazeera. I find it interesting to see what shows Iraqis are watching, even if I can't understand the language. You can figure out what the slant is on their news stories just by the images. You can watch Al Sumaria for free, and also on the site you can also find Beladi TV without charge. Beladi is owned by the Da'Wa Shiite political party in Iraq, of which the Iraqi Prime Minister represents. As many liberal entertainers and journalists are killed every year in Iraq, what is shown on Iraqi TV is very politically and culturally important.

Anyone out there have any other favorite international channels that stream live? If so, please share.
So, there you go. I'm thankful for the Internet allowing me to watch real TV, even if I don't understand what's being said.

Question of the Day

Why is Don Imus being fired and raked across the coals, but not the other guys who are also clearly heard on his show making fun of the Rutgers team? Is it because the rest of the country didn't get their jokes? "They look just like the Toronto Raptors.... or the Grizzlies."

And why isn't CBS firing Billy Packer for a similar thing? He's terrible anyway! Now, he's given you an excuse to fire him. Please do so now! "And it's not like Packer is Mr. Popularity; an astonishing number of fans across America fervently believe Packer has an ax to grind against their favorite team." (Bill Simmons on "The curse of Billy Packer.")
Both Imus and Packer clips are in this YouTube video.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lack of Posts

This week has been full of very important exams, and there haven't been many news stories that I wanted to write about.
So, sorry.
Instead, I've been hanging out at other blogs and pondering what they have to say. I think I need to determine where I'm at in the dispensationalist - covenental dichotomy.
Here are some stories that have grabbed my attention:

This is a story about how UPS only makes right turns. Their computers pre-determine routes for their drivers to avoid left turns. This saves them millions of gallons of gasoline.

"UPS trucks drove 2.5 billion miles last year, but the company says its package flow technology combined with right-turn routes saved 28,541,472 million miles, and three million gallons of fuel."
That's awesome. Dear UPS: Your whiteboard commercials are stupid, but your efficiency is amazing. Sincerely, Justin Tapp.

This story is about how we're getting hosed by the ethanol lobby. I'm all for greener energy, but ethanol isn't the way. Corn ethanol isn't energy efficient in its production (whereas switchgrass and other forms of biodiesel are; even sugar cane ethanol is much more efficient). All the new ethanol additive requirements are driving up the price of corn, which drives up the price of animal feed, which drives up the price of every meat in the grocery. So, we're all paying much higher food prices this year than last year.
Combine that with our tariffs on sugar and imported corn, and you've got yourself a mess.

BTW-- ABC News is slowly becoming my preferred source of evening news.
Charlie Gibson & fewer commercials are starting to win me over.

Thought for the day: A straight carbon tax would be much more efficient than a cap-and-trade system. Talk amongst yourselves.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Seeking to Understand Scripture

Our Lifegroup recently finished part of a great video study series with Ray Vanderlaan called "That the World May Know." Here's a website with a picture of some of his ministry. We finished one entitled "Faith Lessons of the Early Church." We looked at the 7 churches that John wrote to in Asia Minor. I think every Christian should check out these videos, or something similar to them, as they're greatly helpful in studying Scripture. I've reached the conclusion that it's impossible to truly understand a passage of Scripture without understanding the context it was written in and the culture that it was written to. Vanderlaan leads tours in Israel, Greece, and Turkey to follow the early church.

Previously, we did Dust of the Rabbi, which was a look at the life of the early Talmudin, or disciples. What did followers of a Rabbi do? What did it mean to them in those days? What can that tell us about the early disciples, and what does that mean for us as followers today. Really blew my mind.

An example of context being important to understand Scripture is found in Revelation 3:14-22, the letter to the church at Laodicea.
"15: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
16'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth."

I've heard it taught in dozens of Sunday school classes that the "hot" person vs. 16 is someone who is "on fire" for God, while the "cold" person is someone who has rejected God. Many teach that Jesus would rather us be either "on fire" or "lost" than be lukewarm. How many of us heard that taught in our SS and youth groups? Sadly, this is not what Jesus (through John) was saying. You have to understand the context of the area. There were 2 cities nearby, one of which was known for its hot mineral springs that were a source of healing. The other was located on a cold mountain stream that was used for drinking and gave life to fertile land. Both of these were well-known in Laodicea for these uses. But, both the hot water and cold water mixed into a valley river at Laodicea and became useless. Undrinkable and unusable for any healing. This lukewarm mixture was what Jesus was referring to.

Jesus is likely telling the Church of Laodicea that they have lost their usefulness, and need to find it again by being either like the hot stream which brings healing, or the cold stream, which brings life.
In that passage alone, there are several other things that can't really be understood if you don't know anything about Laodicea, its people, and its history. They would have understood exactly what Jesus was referring to, but we've got to study them a little bit before we can really understand.
I think the best way to really grasp their culture is to read history books or use video/visual resources like Vanderlaan's where you can actually see the real-life places. The videos come with a study guide for more in-depth discussion and study.

GREAT resource for checking out of your church library. I'd be glad to talk more about what I've learned from these if anyone is interested.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Billy Gillispie Era

I'm pleased that today is finally the day we finally have our coach! I have divided this post into 5 sections.

1. I'm going to brag for a minute. I was in my office with one eye on the boards last night. I just happened over to the Aggie board for something unrelated, when I saw someone had just posted news about the Aggie baseball game, and how Byrne's statement of granting permission to UK to speak to Gillispie was read over the radio. I immediately listened over the internet to it myself as they repeated it. I heard it with my own ears!

I was the first to post on both KSR and The Cats Pause about it. I was thrilled as thousands of people were reading my post, and the board went from 6,000 online to 10,000 in minutes.
So, I'll always remember where I was and what I was doing on 3/5/07 when I heard that UK was contacting Gillispie. 2. This is God's will. It was God's will for me to move to Waco. Here, I've actually gotten to see Gillispie coach in person and watch several A&M games on TV. I've made friends with Ryan, who is probably the biggest Gillispie fan in Waco. I've followed the progress of the team this year. It's only fitting that at the same time Joni and I are leaving Central Texas, Gillispie is leaving with us.

3. Here are my honest
positive thoughts about Gillispie: The team he had this year was extremely mature and showed no fear. He took Acie Law IV from being 0-16 as a freshman to 13-3 as a senior. Law was to A&M exactly what Mashburn was to Kentucky in the rebuilding years of Pitino. This team also had the best foreign player in the NCAA. I don't know if Kavalauskus (sp) was good before he came to A&M, but he was one of my favorite players to watch. I think Gillispie could have turned Orbzut into a real force.

He will work our players to death. This is a similarity between him and a Pitino-Donovan. He's a workaholic who makes his players hate him with how hard he runs them. All of us UK fans have been
begging for someone like this since Pitino left.

I also think he won't take any mouth from Bradley and Crawford. It will be "put up, or shut up." Say goodbye to The Roc sign (i hope!).

He makes big men shoot the 3. Joseph Jones ended up shooting 40% from 3-point this year. This is also similar to Pitino, who famously told Gimel Martinez "Shoot or transfer."

He develops big men. Rumor has it that Jared Carter has muscled up to 275 this spring anyway. I expect Gillispie to work well with Carter, Stevenson, and A.J. Stewart.
I hope he can bring us Deandre Jordan. Jordan once had UK on his list. If A&M releases him, he can come on up to the Bluegrass.

4. Here are my honest concerns about Gillispie: He's single. UK fans want a First Lady. Same reason I wouldn't hire a single guy to be a pastor. The UK coach doesn't just coach, he's got to travel to all the little alumni association functions in podunk parts of KY, and gladhand the boosters, etc. A wife helps with the politics. Whatever woman gets close to Gillispie will be the subject of endless scrutiny and tabloid rumors.

He's humble, much like Tubby was. Is his ego and personality big enough to keep him hungry? I don't know.

His network is in Texas. He's from here, has a well-built network of high school and AAU coaches. Can he be as successful away from Texas? I don't know.


5. Conclusion I'm very excited that he's our coach. I welcome him. This is God's will. We're going to be TOUGH again. I'm excited to go see him coach our team next year.

He has 3 tasks:
1. Beat Florida (end the 6 game streak... and never lose 6 games to anyone ever again).
2. Beat Louisville (he knows how)
3. Finish no worse than 2nd in the SEC East. We don't want to play on opening day of the SEC tourny EVER again.

Welcome to Kentucky, Billy Clyde!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Some Good News

A break from the norm today, an actual feel-good story coming out of Iraq. Things appear to be getting better in Baghdad, and the troop surge appears to be working. Here's the story from ABC News via Real Clear Politics. (RCP- a service of Time Magazine- is my new favorite blog subscription).


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

Considering Others

So, the "Club for Growth" met this past weekend with Republican candidates to determine who was the most anti-tax anti-government candidate among them.

The big story has been that John McCain didn't go to the meeting and he and the CFG don't get along at all. They've been running attack ads against him.

Given the possibility that McCain won't get conservative endorsement and win the primary, who else can we count on?

After spending some time looking at the treasure trove of information at Real Clear Politics, I'm wondering more about Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Romney is raising money faster than McCain right now. Romney seems to be pro-free trade and has Greg Mankiw as his "economic advisor."

Conservative Steve Forbes has written an op-ed in the WSJ endorsing Giuliani. He says that pro-gun Americans have nothing to fear from him, and that he stands for everything pro-growth. And overlook his pro-choice p.o.v.

Here is the Club for Growth's critique of Sen. McCain. Conservatives dislike him because he voted against the Bush tax cuts. I don't have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with public statements he made about income inequality being his motivation for voting against them.

But, no one has been a more vociferous opponent of government spending than McCain. He's been outspoken on free trade, school choice, and other issues that are key to me. If he gains some support from the middle/left by his not always voting for tax cuts, then that's an advantage.

The Club for Growth nitpicks about him with this paragraph:
"Finally, John McCain recently claimed that he has never voted for a tax increase,[14] but the congressional record tells a different story. As Chairman of the Commerce Committee in 1998, he sponsored and voted for an enormous 282% tax increase on cigarettes.[15] Senator McCain defended the proposal as a "fee"[16] rather than a tax increase, but his semantic tap dance doesn't change the numerical facts."

*sarcasm here*: OOOH, Scary!! McCain one time voted for an increased tax on cigarettes! What a flaming liberal!!! * (Are you kidding me??) This gives him a "poor record" on tax cuts from the Club for Growth. Give me a break!!

"
Despite his poor record on tax cuts, Senator McCain's zealous effort against wasteful spending deserves praise. Over his twenty years in the Senate, he has been at the forefront of the battle to eliminate wasteful projects and inject greater discipline and transparency into the appropriations process, often by introducing a slew of cost-cutting amendments. While many of these measures did not pass, they served an important role in shining a glaring light on congressional profligacy."

Folks, he's the only candidate that can claim that!

Do you want government spending more or less money when Bush's tax cuts expire in 2010, and the government hikes tax rates substantially around 2018 to pay for Social Security?

So, I'm still pro-McCain, but am willing to listen to Romney and Giuliani. Could I vote in good conscience for a Mormon? Could I vote for a New Yorker I think is liberal on social issues? These are the questions I'm asking myself today.

Indoor Plumbing

This is what $483/month gets you in Waco.
This hole is directly above our shower. Water flows out of it like a waterfall when our upstairs neighbors use their shower. Then our home smells like their shampoo. Kinda gross, huh? It's gotten bigger over the past few days.

Last week the plumber "fixed" the problem, but didn't really. We came home from church yesterday to find water dripping from the walls, from the middle of the room where the ceiling fan is, and our entire bathroom floor covered in standing water.

I promptly asked the neighbors to stop using their bedroom shower, something they were asked not to do last week.

So, now you've heard about this story, and this story, and this story, and this story (from my wife's blog) about our apartment experience here.

Note to anyone thinking of moving to Waco: Do not move to Blair's Cove!
It is not "comfortable, affordable (the sign outside even says "luxury") living" as they advertise! From what you've read on my blog, do you see anything else in their advertisement that might be considered false?