Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Step Right Up

Challies is doing a great book giveaway this month. You can enter by clicking on the banner below. If you dig the Puritans (and you ought to if you don't), jump in on this one.

April Giveaway

Monday, April 28, 2008

Watching The Wheels

Things have been a bit slow for the past few days, so I'll direct you to a few of the things with which I've been wasting my own time:
  • This two-part "60 Minutes" interview with Antonin Scalia is simply wonderful. If you have any interest at all in the Supreme Court, you need to take about a half hour to watch it. It's worth it just for Lesley Stahl's astonishment that Scalia doesn't have horns and a pitchfork. Scalia has done himself a disservice by not allowing media coverage of most of his public speeches. This is one engaging, enjoyable guy.
  • Want to hear the most annoying song ever--scientifically proven? (And as it turns out, no, it's not "It's a Small World After All")
    An online poll conducted in the '90s set Vitaly Komar, Alex Melamid and David Soldier on a quest to create the most annoying song ever. After gathering data about people's least favorite music and lyrical subjects, they did the unthinkable: they combined them into a single monstrosity, specifically engineered to sound unpleasant to the maximum percentage of listeners.
    Now that's science! It's about 22 minutes long (not unlike those annoying and ponderous 70's songs like "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"), but if you listen to it, you have to at least give it six minutes. Trust me.
    (HT: Challies)
  • How beautifully ironic is it that Yoko Ono is suing the makers of "Expelled" over copyright infringement for using part of her husband's song that asks us to "Imagine no possessions"? What is copyright, after all, but an assertion of possession? (And, incidentally, I'm confident the usage will prove to be protected under fair use law.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Movie They Don't Want You To See

Today's the day. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed opens nationwide. Documentaries don't tend to last long in the theaters, so make sure to see it this weekend. Find local times and theaters here.

Looking Chipper

Okay, baseball guys, I have a question for you. A baseball-fan buddy of mine stopped by a little while ago and asked me, "Chipper Jones. Possible Hall of Famer?"

My first instinct was to laugh and say, "No, of course not." But I've frequently argued against the notion of basing Hall votes on who "seems like a Hall of Famer." As Michael Lewis' Moneyball makes clear, statistics are always a far better measurement of greateness than the subjective standard of "seems."

So I looked up the numbers. And I have to admit being surprised. Jones is in his 15th season. Among his lifetime numbers:

.308 average
.404 on-base percentage
390 home runs (including six seasons of 30 or more)
1313 lifetime RBIs (including nine seasons of 100 or more, and another of 96)
428 doubles
1157 walks (I know nobody goes to the Hall on walks, but his BB numbers are huge)

If the voting were today, no, Chipper Jones would not be a plausible Hall of Famer (though a very good player). But it seems to me that if he put in four more solid seasons--say .300, 85 RBI's, 25 HR's, he'd have the kind of career numbers that would make him a plausible candidate. In most of the 2000's he was overshadowed at third base by Scott Rolen, who made numerous All Star games because Cardinals fans are better than Braves fans. That's part of why he doesn't "seem" like a Hall of Famer. But if he had four more fairly typical years at his current pace (which is very possible, since he hit .337 last year at the age of 35) , he'd finish with about 500 homers, nearly 1700 RBI's (which would put him ahead of RBI machines like Tony Perez, Mike Schmidt, Andre Dawson, and Ernie Banks) and a lifetime .300 average.

If all that happens, I think he's got a shot. What do you think?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Old Kentucky Home

Looking forward to attending this conference tomorrow through Thursday. Fortunately, I'm not flying American Airlines, so I have at least a 50/50 chance of getting there.

Here's something I won't be doing on the trip.

Very classy. Very presidential. She's one vacation videotape away from being Paris Hilton. If Paris Hilton were a middle-aged female gym coach.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Okay, This One Got Me

Call me a sucker, but it's hard to watch this and not get a tear in your eye. The Boston Red Sox had Bill Buckner come throw out the first pitch yesterday. And he got about a three minute standing ovation.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

No April Fool's Joke

Presented without commentary: Pat Robertson has now finished shooting a commercial with Al Sharpton for Al Gore's save-the-world campaign:
The ad for Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection is set on a beach, with Robertson and Sharpton saying they "strongly disagree" about a lot of things, but agree on the need to care for the Earth.

On Monday's broadcast of "The 700 Club," Robertson said that when the filming was done, the three of them prayed together at Gore's urging.

Robertson said he agreed to appear in the ad because he believes people should be good stewards of the environment. He added, "Al Sharpton's a nice guy and we had a lot of fun together."

Monday, April 07, 2008


It's time for today's edition of "Really Odd Lyrics From Surprisingly Popular Songs." It's generally, though not always, occasioned by my listening to the 80's channel on XM Radio. I listen to the 80's channel because I don't think there are ten songs I know that have come out since 1994, and being a conservative sort, I'd rather be subjected to "The Safety Dance" one more time than try something new.

Anyway, the first entry comes from the big Genesis hit, "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight," which was popular enough to appear in both a Michelob ad and an episode of Magnum P.I. (guest starring Frank Sinatra, no less) back in the 1980's:

I'm coming down, coming down like a monkey, but it's alright.
I saw Phil Collins once in an interview say that the lyrics for his still-ubiquitous hit "In the Air Tonight" were entirely improvised. I think "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" might be evidence that all Phil's songs were written that way.

Second, we have these incomprehensible utterings from Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," which was a huge hit even despite having Chevy Chase in the video:
If you'll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty when you call me
You can call me Al
Good luck figuring that one out. The song is now 20 years old, and nobody's done it yet.

And finally for today, an oldie-but-goodie from Pink Floyd's only number 1 hit single, "Another Brick in the Wall, Part II":
If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!
A fair question indeed. One which has yet to be satisfactorily answered.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Classic TV

If, like me, you happen to be an aficionado of classic broadcasting, here is an amazing resource that has been put online by the University of Texas. It's an archive of interviews from "The Mike Wallace Interview," which were broadcast on ABC in 1957 and '58.

You don't have to create an account or log in or anything. The programs are simply right there to be accessed. Among the ones I'm looking forward to watching are Malcolm Muggeridge, Steve Allen, Bennett Cerf, Reinhold Niebuhr, and William O. Douglas.

Aside from the historical value, they're also highly entertaining to watch for the ubiquitous Philip Morris cigarette commercials. In my opinion, the very definition of "classic television" might be "programs in which the host smokes a butt on camera without shame." Which is why Tom Snyder is also classic television.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Blank Slate

Here's an oldie-but-goodie evangelical trope that I've decided I'm no longer interested in: the ubiquitous "unspoken prayer request." Or to put it in a more positive way, I honor an unspoken prayer request in the fullest spirit in which it's offered: since it's unspoken, I don't speak it.

I mean really, how is that supposed to work? And what is the purpose of it?

“Dear God, please....something. I don’t really have any of the details, but somebody needs something. Because I have no idea what it is or what I’m asking for or even who its for, I’ll never know if you do it or don’t do it, and you’ll never receive any glory from it. But I’ve done my evangelical duty by telling someone that I’m lifting their unspoken prayer request up. So something...or don’t do something...about whoever or whatever needs something to come or something to go away or something to happen or something to not happen. Amen.”

Under what theology of prayer is that meaningful or effective?