September 2004

30 Sep 2004 10:34 pm

Today’s Washington Times has an article about Bush and Kerry both trying to lower people’s expectations of how well they will do in tonight’s debate. The article has an annoying typo in the title that they still haven’t fixed this late in the day, and a rather strange football analogy from former Oklahoma Representative J.C. Watts Jr.

Headline Washington Times: Bush, Kerry camps build uprivals [sic] on eve of first debate

Mr Watts said he believes the second and third debates may actually be the more defining ones.

“You see this as three quarters, so we’re going to go out and run a couple of plays in the first quarter to see what kind of defense they’re running and all that,” he said.

All analogies break down at some point, but this one seems to break down pretty early. If we “see this as three quarters”, that leaves us one quarter short, and we never get to finish the game.

Perhaps he should have used a hockey analogy.

30 Sep 2004 02:38 am

William F. Buckley, Jr. is well known for his use of two dollar words. Here’s an example from Tuesday’s National Review Online.

For Thursday’s debate, we are told that at the end of two minutes exactly, bells will ring, the studio will shake, and a fresh hurricane will bring down the roof in Coral Gables. There are those who believe that this will hurt Kerry more than it will hurt Bush, on the grounds that Bush tends to succinctness, Kerry to orotundity, but no doubt Mr. Kerry will have prepared himself to abide by the rule.

At first, I doubted orotundity was a real word. Its meaning is clear: the parallelism of the statement lets you know that it is the opposite of succinctness. Is it really a word? According to, it is:

o·ro·tund adj.

  1. Pompous and bombastic: orotund talk.
  2. Full in sound; sonorous: orotund tones.

[From alteration of Latin ore rotundo, with a round mouth : ore, ablative of os, mouth; see os- in Indo-European Roots + rotundo, ablative of rotundus, round; see rotund.]

oro·tundi·ty n.

So we learn that John Kerry is an orotund speaker. He is full of sound; he is a pompous and bombastic speaker. He enjoys hearing his own voice as it fills the air with his bloviations. He tends to orotundity. This doesn’t actually teach us anything about John Kerry that we didn’t already know. But it does teach us a new word.

29 Sep 2004 02:54 am

A member of our church sent an e-mail pointing out this important breakthrough in evangelism techniques.

Headline WIVB TV4 Buffalo: Buffalo Church Opens it’s [sic] Own Subway Restaurant

(Buffalo, NY, September 26, 2004) – – How does eat and worship sound to you. A Buffalo Church is the first church in America to open it’s own Subway Restaurant.

True Bethel Baptist Church on East Ferry held a grand opening inside the church Saturday.

Construction started several months ago on the 150 thousand dollar renovation project.

Pastor Darius Pridgen believes the Subway Franchise will help the church meet the needs of the community.

I suppose it would be a cliche for a Buffalo church open a Buffalo wings restaurant, so it works for them to do a sub shop. But as was pointed out in the e-mail, “I think QSL in our buildings would be a much better idea!”

Quaker Steak and Lube would be a very good fit for our church. There is a great need in the community for a good chicken wings restaurant. It is a scandal that people have to drive thirty miles to go to biker night at the nearest QSL. With a QSL in our church, we can reach out to meet people right at the point of their need (for good chicken wings). And while that need is met, we can do the old bait-and-switch to give them the gospel.

For example, if someone gets an order of wings with the atomic sauce, it provides a great opportunity to talk about hell and the eternal lake of fire. Imagine the emotional response you can get as the person sits there with tears in their eyes and pain in their mouth. Obviously that will work much better for converting people than anything a submarine sandwich shop could do.

And our fellowship hall would look great with race cars hanging from the ceiling.

Source: Randy J.

29 Sep 2004 02:30 am

I hate polls. I hate to hear the latest update on how people feel today. Bush up by two. Next day Kerry up by ten points. Next day Bush closing the gap to five points. It is all phony hype that feeds itself. It is based on the fatal attraction for people to think that their individual opinion is important, but it ends up in a feedback loop that influences the very individual opinions it purports to measure. In that respect, it resembles the the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in that publishing the results of polls changes people’s opinions.

So, I avoid polls on principle. I refuse to take part in them, and I try to pay little attention to them.

But, I have decided to play a little poll-like game. I’m going to count the presidential campaign signs on the path I run five times a week to measure how the support for the candidates is changing over time. Here are the rules: rather than count the number of signs, I will count the houses that have one or more signs. No matter how many signs they put on their property, it still only counts as one. I will only count the houses I actually run by. I will not look up and down side streets. I also will only count signs at houses.

I live in a heavily Democratic neighborhood. I have in the past joked that if Adolph Hitler (D) was running against Mother Teresa (R) for local dog-catcher, Hitler (D) would win in a landslide, just because of the (D) after his name.

The overwhelming number of Democrats in the area could work one of two ways for our little sign counting game: 1) There could be lots more Kerry signs than Bush signs because of all the Democrats in the neighborhood or 2) There could be less Kerry signs than Bush because all the Democrats knows the support is so strong there isn’t any point in displaying signs, but the lonely, obstinate Republicans want to let everyone know everyone isn’t for Kerry.

Well, here are the results so far.

Date Kerry Bush
Pre 09/25/2004 0 2
Saturday 09/25/2004 2 2
Tuesday 09/28/2004 3 5

As you can see, we have had many new signs in the last couple of days, but still far fewer Kerry signs than I expected to see. Perhaps everyone is waiting for the debates before they put up their signs. Or, perhaps they, like me, refuse to put up any sign because they don’t want to be associated with either of these candidates. But right now, it is a landslide for Bush.

28 Sep 2004 03:29 am

Alexander Rose reviews the book Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World in National Review.

Despite its titanic expanse, its wealth, and its impressive accomplishments, this empire created nothing and left little of use (apart from a few lexicographical relics — horde, hurray, mogul — and a tongue-twister that I recall went something like this: "How many boards could the Mongols hoard if the Mongol hordes got bored?"). They left no monuments or distinctive architecture, no formal religion, no scientific breakthroughs, no enduring economic, philosophical, or legal system, no great art, and hardly any literature.

The Mongols were the thieving magpies, not the busy beavers, of the Middle Ages: Instead of diligently building and developing things, whenever they saw something new and shiny they needed or liked, they took it. And, for some time, they needed a lot, for, owing to their nomadism, the Mongols were ignorant of such basics as how to bake bread or make pottery. Later, Muslim mathematicians, Chinese anatomists, German miners, Persian merchants, Italian silversmiths, English translators, Indian astronomers, all trekked — sometimes involuntarily — to the court of the khan and performed their miracles.

You can learn a lot from these reviews. I never had heard that important tongue twister before, so I must admit I have learned something from this article.

However, I did already know that the Mongols didn’t create things, but rather they were impressed by new things and took the things they wanted. This point was clearly driven home by that influential historical documentary Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.


(Genghis Khan is eating his dinner. A slave girl comes in and begins to feed him. He stops and spits out the food, then grabs her and proceeds to begin to ravish her. Suddenly with a flash of light the booth arrives. Ted holds out a Twinkie. Genghis grabs his club and goes after the Twinkie.)

Ted: Would you like a Twinkie, Genghis Khan? Say please. Mmmmm.

(He enters the booth and it takes off again.)

27 Sep 2004 02:48 am

Reuters Photo:

Caption: “U.S. President George W. Bush smiles to the applause of supporters at a campaign event in Jamesville, Wisconsin, September 24, 2004. Bush is campaigning here today before traveling to his ranch in Crawford where he will spend the better part of the coming week preparing for his debate against Democrat candidate John Kerry on September 30. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque US ELECTION”

27 Sep 2004 02:33 am

I’m not sure now when we will start again through the Westminster Shorter Catechism. So for this week, we will use the Heidelberg Catechism again.

Q.2. What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

A. Three things:

  first, how great my sin and misery are;

  second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery;

  third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.

Heidelberg question two is the outline for the rest of the catechism. We need to know about sin and our need for a Saviour before we can be saved. It then explains what God has done for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and then it expains the law, and how we can please God by our obedience.

25 Sep 2004 12:50 pm

Headline AP: MIT Works to Power Computers With Spinach

BOSTON – “Eat your spinach,” Mom used to say. “It will make your muscles grow, power your laptop and recharge your cell phone… ” OK. So nobody’s Mom said those last two things. But researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have used spinach to harness a plant’s ability to convert sunlight into energy for the first time, creating a device that may one day power laptops, mobile phones and more.

There is no mention in the report on whether Wimpie is working on a hamburger powered computer.

24 Sep 2004 03:28 pm

The Nanny State strikes again. Notice that, in our modern confusion over the roles of the branches of government, these new “laws” don’t come from the legislature, but from the executive department.

Headline AP: California Bans Hand-Pulling of Weeds

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California became the first state Thursday to ban weeding by hand on most farms, saying the work is too backbreaking for laborers.

Under a rule approved by the California Occupational Safety and Health Division, farmworkers, in most cases, will not have to stoop to pull weeds, but will instead be given long-handled tools that will allow them to work without bending over. The rule takes effect within two weeks.

One very curious thing about this ban on weeding by hand.

Organic farmers who rely on hand-weeding are exempt from the rule.

“Because they don’t use pesticides, organic growers have more of a weed problem than non-organic growers,” Webb said. “Without an exemption, it would have jeopardized the organic industry.”

California’s OSHD is so concerned about the risk of hand weeding that they make it illegal, EXCEPT for the organic growers who need to weed by hand the most. The people who spend the most time weeding by hand, and therefore would presumably benefit the most by the regulation, are the very ones who will not get any benefit from it. I understand that they don’t want to put the organic growers out of business. But if it is acceptable there where it is done so much more, why do they have to interfere with the other farmers?

Well, in our house hold, we have instituted a ban on mowing, leaf raking, and taking out the garbage. However their is an exemption for teenaged boys. Perhaps we ought to add hand pulling of weeds to our list, just for safety’s sake.

24 Sep 2004 03:54 am

AP Photo:

Caption: “U.S. President George W. Bush waves from the steps of Air Force One under the partial Moon in Bangor, Maine, September 23, 2004. Bush, who was in Bangor for a campaign stop, later boarded an adjacent chartered plane on the tarmac of Bangor International Airport where he personally greeted hundreds of soldiers and National Guard on their flight bound for Iraq, before returing to Washington aboard Air Force One. REUTERS/Jason Reed REUTERS”

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