Friday, March 30, 2012

A Modest Defense Of Donovan McNabb...

A lot of hay has been made over Donovan McNabb’s comments concerning the potential drafting of Robert Griffin III, and many around here have noted that it carries the sting of bitterness regarding McNabb’s tenure in Washington with Mike and Kyle Shanahan. As usual, one of the places this sort of commentary takes place is within social media. On Facebook, I caught this status from friend and colleague Mike Ptomey:

I responded and we had a little back and forth…

I don’t quibble at all with the notion that this has the feeling of “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, but it’s the football aspect that I do. However, my own eyes told me that while Westbrook was important to those Eagle teams, he didn’t “prop up” McNabb. As a result, I decided to do a little digging into the numbers for further proof; this is where being a baseball-stat nerd comes into play, although this is football. I wanted to see if Brian Westbrook made any discernible difference in the passing numbers of Donovan McNabb over the course of their overlapping careers in Philadelphia.

McNabb was drafted in 1999, and while he started a handful of games then, it was in 2000 when he was the unquestioned starter. Westbrook was drafted in 2002 and played a little bit, but 2003 was the first year of solid contribution. Thus, we are going to compare the eras of 2000-2002 (without Westbrook) and 2003-2009 (with Westbrook).

McNabb from 2000-2002 (42 games – he missed six games in 2002 with a broken leg)

826 Completions - 1,423 Attempts (58.0%), 8,887 Yards, 63 TDs and 31 INTs

McNabb from 2003-2009 (94 games – missed parts of 2005 and 2006 with injuries)

1,869 Completions - 3,107 Attempts (60.2%), 23,038 Yards, 145 TDs and 62 INTs

At a per game rate

2000-2002: 19.7-33.9 Passes, 211.6 Yards, 1.50 Touchdowns, 0.74 Interceptions

2003-2009: 19.9-33.1 Passes, 245.1 Yards, 1.54 Touchdowns, 0.66 Interceptions

The largest discernible difference between those two sets is in the yards per game – which suggest that it is not Brian Westbrook who made the biggest difference, but the fact that in 2000-2002, McNabb didn’t have wide receivers who could run after the catch. Quickly, name the wide receivers to whom McNabb threw in 2000-02. I would be willing to bet you didn’t know the names Torrance Small, Na Brown, Charles Johnson, and Chad Lewis, while some might be able to name James Thrash and Todd Pinkston.

Starting especially in 2004, he did have receivers that could run after the catch – Terrell Owens, Kevin Curtis, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and even guys like Greg Lewis and Reggie Brown.

This is not to say at all that Westbrook didn’t have an impact. He was very much an integral part of the offense – he caught 389 passes from McNabb in those seven seasons, at a clip of 3,473 yards and 31 Touchdowns. Westbrook accounted for 20.8% of McNabb’s completions, 21.4% of the Touchdowns, but only 15.1% of the yards. This in a way reinforces the previous point that the receiving corps was the biggest difference between the two eras; throwing to a running back has always been a feature of the Andy Reid offense, regardless of who the quarterback or running is.

It is indeed true that Donovan McNabb was a bad fit in Washington, but it (in my opinion) wasn’t entirely his fault. One thing we’ll never know is whether or not the Ultimate Leader1 and the Boy Wonder2 ever actually wanted #5, or whether the Owner3 forced McNabb on them. Once they got him, it was clear it would be the “system” way, or the highway. That kind of thing might work in college, but in the NFL, it’s a talent-driven league, no matter how much “scheming” gets done.  McNabb does come off as a completely needy and scorned ex-girlfriend, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that, in his time in Philadelphia, he was the greatest quarterback the Eagles ever had.


1 Mike Shanahan
2 Kyle Shanahan
3 Dan Snyder

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Adoption Update...

For the backstory, click here; also visit our adoption site, To Grow Our Family, as well as heading to the Facebook page and liking it...

It's been close to seven months since I first shared the gritty details of our adoption process, and I figured now is a good time to give an update.  

In the fall, we started the process in earnest to domestically adopt an infant.  The home study was underway and we had decided upon the agency with which we would go.  We had met with our worker and seemingly everything was on its way.  

Or so we thought.

In November, there had been some rumblings that our lack of the totality of resources would hold us back, but we would not know until December.  Our worker had informed us that it was possible that the home study would not be approved until we had the totality of the funds needed in our possession - twenty thousand dollars.  

Yes, $20,000.  Shortly thereafter, our fears were confirmed.  The home study would sit in limbo until we had every single penny of that twenty grand.  A vicious cycle began with this particular decision - most non-profits and charitable organizations will not dispense grants and low-interest loans unless you have an approved home study.  But we couldn't get the home study approved unless we already had the money in toto

And around and around we go...

I'll be honest - despondency is a very ugly thing.  These past few months, especially with the winter time and its short days make for a brutal stretch in the mind.  I very much subscribe to the notion of nil desperandum (never despair), but there have been days (and I speak solely for myself here) when I have gotten close to the abyss.  I pray a lot - more than I ever have.  It has been a long and arduous test, but one that is nowhere near close to completion, I'm afraid to say.  

I just continue to hope and pray that we can catch some kind of break.  Paradoxically, it's getting ever more difficult to adopt a child in this day and age.  Just recently, we found out that most of the agencies are raising the prices of their fees, which make some of these things closer to $22,000 or $23,000.  In other words, the good times just keep on rolling.  We are trying the best we can - saving what we can and relying on fundraising (the next thing is a benefit dinner on April 15th).  Hopefully soon we can reach that goal and give a child a loving home and family.  


and pray...

We need every bit of it we can get.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

On Medicinal Marijuana...

This picture has been making its way around Facebook and other social media, thanks to George Takei (whom I am convinced is going to completely destroy Facebook eventually through his inane and supposedly "witty" takes on society and trends, but I digress...):

The ones who support the sentiment behind the picture betray their feelings on the issue of marijuana; it just goes to show that they aren't really interested in the use of the chemistry behind marijuana to help actual sick people and cancer patients, but rather they need a distraction behind which they can hide in order to disguise what they really want.  It's an intellectually dishonest position to take.  The honest position to take would be something along the lines of:
I want to be able to get stoned to the bejeezus without fear of reprisal from the authorities.
I would actually respect (although I don't support) such a position, but those who actually have the cojones to espouse it are few and far between.  Medical marijuana is a convenient excuse and the development of a drug that has the same painkilling effects as weed without the high and the impairment throws a wrench into such an excuse; the emperor has no clothes, in other words.  

Also, the class warfare angle of this picture is a bit batty.  Guess what? Those eeeeeevil multinational drug companies and Wall Street investors put up the money for the research and the development, plus all the red tape fees to get FDA approval, plus advertising, marketing, testing, and the like.  It's called progress - something of which the supporters of legalizing marijuana are allegedly in favor, unless of course the progress comes from the wrong source.  I guess they would just prefer that multinational drug companies and Wall Street investors just sit on their money and not develop any new cures or medicines to help people.  

Remember, ideas have consequences.  The so-called "forward-thinking progressive" types are frequently the most backward people out there.  "Progress" only counts and is Kosher if it comes from a ritually pure source.   In this view, a single guy growing hemp in his back yard and rolling his own joints is better than a company developing a drug that will help many people deal with the pain of a debilitating and/or terminal disease.

Why?  I don't have the faintest idea either.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Supreme Court Arguments...

I am not going to go through all of the issues surrounding the case in front of the Supreme Court regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act - you can read Nick's post to get a good sense of the different issues they are going to hear this week.

I will say this - coerced contracts are against the law.  At the very least, the Individual Mandate's lack of constitutionality should make it an open and shut 9-0 decision overturning the mandate, since it is coercing the purchase of a particular product and penalizing those who choose not to engage in commerce. I predicted that they would strike down the mandate back when the Congress passed the bill:
The 'mandate' that everyone must buy some form of medical insurance will be struck down as unconstitutional. It is not in the purview of the federal government to force its citizens to buy a particular product and therefore the lawsuits that will be brought on almost simultaneously the moment the president signs the bill will prevail.
I am not quite that optimistic now, even though this is pretty cut and dry, if the pressure being brought upon the conservative and moderate justices is any indication.  We shall see, though...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


In light of a previous posting criticizing the use of the suffix "-gate" to characterize any scandal, I refuse to use it here as well, instead, choosing to obscure it as if it were an obscenity. -- J.L.

So the esteemed Emperor Roger I of the NATIONAL. FOOTBALL. LEAGUE. has determined that the New Orleans Saints should be deeply punished for their role in "Bountyg---", which consisted of rewarding players for intentionally injuring opponents during games.  

And I am torn about the whole thing...

Yesterday, I railed against King Roger's authoritarian reign in the NFL when he handed down "penalties" against the Cowboys and Redskins for "violating" the "rule" against spending a lot of money when there were no such limits.  I wrote that someone needs to stand up to Chairman Roger now, lest he simply unilaterally imposes whatever rules he wants at any given point.  

On the other hand...

Safety and the security of the product are important.  You can't have teams with organized systems devised with the express purpose of paying cash for knocking opponents out of a game.  Yes, I get it - injuries happen, but at the same time deliberately injuring a player with the expectation of getting an envelope filled with small bills cannot be tolerated.  And so I applaud the punishments meted out by His Majesty.

To an extent...

I guess what we have here is Kaiser Roger merely being a stopped clock.  If he's right that he had been lied to, then heads need to roll.  However, justice feels hollow right now, because of all the other nonsense that is being done in the name of the 'good of the NFL' emanating from the office of Tsar Roger.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Most Audacious Plan? I Think Not...

The Vice President was at a fundraiser and said the following about the plan to kill Osama bin Laden:
“You can go back 500 years. You cannot find a more audacious plan. Never knowing for certain. We never had more than a 48 percent probability that he was there.”
If this were mere hyperbole, I would just roll my eyes and move on, but I think the veep believes this.

Let's name ten examples of military expeditions that were, in fact, more audacious in the past five hundred years...

1) The Six-Day War (Israel - 1967)
2) The Landing at Inchon (US/UN - 1950)
3) The Normandy Invasion (US/Allies 1944)
4) The Battle of the Bulge (Germany - 1944)
5) The Pearl Harbor attack (Japan - 1941)
6) Gallipoli assault (France/Britain - 1915)
7) Pickett's Charge (Confederacy - 1863)
8) Napoleon's Russian Invasion (France - 1812)
9) Washington's Crossing (Continentals -1776)
10) The Gunpowder Plot (Catesby/Fawkes - 1605)

I am sure there are quite a few more too.  

Don't get me wrong, the killing of Osama bin Laden was a good thing - which I said when it happened - but I think that this little episode with Mr. Biden just reeks of desperate campaigning. It reminds me of Al Bundy reminding everyone that he scored four touchdowns in a game, even years after the fact.  The President deserves the credit - fine.  But what has he done since?  

I'm not sure Biden knows the answer to that question.

Manning, Tebow, and Legalese...

I don't normally talk about football during the offseason (last year's moratorium was a little different), save for big free-agent moves. Peyton Manning going to Denver definitely qualifies, though, as a big free-agent move

The question is, what is next for the one and only Tim Tebow?  The conventional wisdom is that he won't stay in Denver because John Elway doesn't want him (and never did), and thus will be traded to a Florida team in the AFC (Jacksonville or Miami).

So after discussing these things with Dustin, allow me to present an alternative - Tebow to the Eagles.


Michael Vick is the starter in Philadelphia, but Tebow has value beyond just being a quarterback, and he has stated that he would contribute to a team in any way possible. Consider that what makes Andy Reid a savant is his ability to turn quarterbacking into a skill - even Koy Detmer had one game of success (in addition to being the greatest holder of all time)!  AJ Feeley, Kevin Kolb, Vick, and Donovan McNabb (and throw in Brett Favre prior to his insufferable jerk period) are all part of the legacy of Andy developing quarterbacks.  Why not Tebow?

I salivate at the idea of having Vick in a shotgun spread formation with LeSean McCoy on one side and Tebow on the other with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin lined up at receiver.  So help me God, make this happen.  All the short yardage issues go away, especially if you don't know which guy will take the snap.

Make it happen, Andy (and Joe and Jeff).

The 'legalese' part of this post has to do with the ugly penalty the NFL has foisted upon Dallas and Washington.  I want the Redskins and Cowboys to sue the pants off the NFL.  Why?  I have three reasons:

1) For entertainment's sake.  Living around Washington, this would make for hours and days of great radio on ESPN 980.  Kevin Sheehan would explode, and Andy and Czabe would get to have all sorts of great guests talking about the issue.

2) I want the NFL to suffer.  This has been something for which I have been rooting for some time:
I'll be honest, I had hoped for a long and drawn-out labor dispute between the players and owners. In fact, I didn't even care if the whole season had been nuked. As I have said to many people, the NFL season is filler between baseball seasons. Yes, I am an Eagles die-hard, but God knows I loathe the NFL as an organization and have long tired of the proverbial and metaphorical fellatio performed on the league by both the media and fans who act like crack-addicts (which is distinct from BWS, by the way).
I wrote that last April, and that opinion still stands - although there is no lockout now, but if the Redskins sue and win, we could be back to where it was a year ago, with an overturned CBA and the NFL opened up to collusion charges that cost them in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  Yes, the NFLPA "signed off" on the salary cap penalties, but it was never put to a vote, so some players could also make life miserable for the NFLPA leadership, in addition to the NFL itself.

3) Roger Goodell needs to be stopped.  He has accumulated way too much authority in the office of commissioner.  Unfortunately, no one has had the cojones to stop him - not the owners, and not the players.  In his relatively brief tenure (compared to his two predecessors - Tagliabue and Rozelle), he has centralized power in some ways that make some modern day tyrants green with envy.  I am actually on the side of the 'Skins and 'Boys here - they made moves that were perfectly legal under the rules of the salary cap-free 2010 season, and now Commissioner Emperor Goodell has made an ex-post facto rule saying that it isn't.  If he wants to conjure rules out of thin air that's his prerogative, but he should be held accountable for them.

My fear is that Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones will be bought off somehow to drop the suit, and everything will stand in some fashion, or that there will be some kind of 'payback' in on-field issues.  If that happens, the NFL will lose its credibility even faster than it is currently, but at the same time, no one will ever be able to complain again about Commissioner Dictator Goodell usurping his authority and unilaterally imposing penalties.  They had their chance to stop him, and they will have blown it.  

Lie in the bed now, thou hast built it, is what I will say at that time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

La Commedia e Finita?

I always wonder if they would go along with this kind of stuff if Christians were threatening to bomb and burn buildings and kill people?  

Precisely the point made by Pamela Gellar with her response ad to the New York Times.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

But...But...It's For the CHILDREN!

Several people have said that as soon as society forgets and ignores the big laws, they will get a host of little ones.

I first heard about this from my mother on Saturday, but listening to WMAL on the way into school this morning added to my knowledge of the issue.  Brian Wilson, one of the hosts of the morning show (Mornings On The Mall*), despite his alleged conservative and libertarian leanings is apparently in favor of this bill.  Bryan Nehman, the other host, who is much more moderate normally, took the hard line against the bill.  

Throw me in with Nehman there.

The issues with this are numerous, but let me share the biggest ones I have....

a) Private property - are we free or are we not?  This seems to be a repeated theme these days, but it's a serious question.  

b) The slippery slope - today it's a car, so (as Nehman pointed out) will it eventually be against the law to smoke in your home if there is a kid around?  How about within fifty feet? And what about other aspects of a child's health?  Will they ban fast food?  Coke?  Of course, the busybody do-gooders want to make all people wards of the State, so all of these things are coming down the pipeline eventually.  

c) Legality of smoking - last I checked, we are not Puritans.  For all the talk about "organized religion" allegedly not allowing people to do anything, they don't have the muscle or the guns to enforce that, but the State does.  So I ask, who exactly is it that is actually in the business of not allowing people to do anything? They could just ban anything to save us from ourselves, but that's not the role of the government - it's the role of a tyranny.

And that's the crux of the issue - what is the proper role of the State?  I would be less inclined to oppose this if the State understood what its role ought to be in the lives of people, but it doesn't.  It makes itself a larger behemoth each and every day.  They say it's about health and about 'the children' (Cue Mrs. Lovejoy), but it's about exercising more control over our day-to-day existence.

For those of you who applaud this because you either don't like smoking or think it is unhealthy - don't think the State is going to stop there.  Anything (vice or otherwise) that is deemed 'unhealthy' by our political masters will be the next to go, so if you like having an adult beverage, or gambling, or the like, you have been warned.  Don't believe that feeding the alligator will spare you - it will just cause you to be the last one to be eaten.

*I swear to God, WMAL has an identity problem.  This whole "Washington's Mall" thing is annoying as hell.  For a couple of months, they advertised being on the FM dial, but then it's as if someone said 'Oh my God!  We have to remind people that we are STILL on AM too!' and as such, they spend more time having to say 'You are on 105.9 FM and AM 630 WMAL'. Radio stations are annoying as hell in this regard...we KNOW what station we are listening to.  Do you not have enough to say that you need to take up 2-3 minutes combined every hour just repeating the station's identity?  Ok, rant aside over.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Breaking News: Sources Say Robert Griffin III Tore His ACL... his sophomore year of college, that is.

Ok, now that all of you Redskin fans have started breathing and collected your items to throw at me, I wanted to give a few thoughts on the complete highway robbery trade that was consummated this weekend between the Rams and the Skins.

It was an interesting trade, to say the least, and I sort of have multiple minds about it...

1) I wish people would stop talking as if Griffin is already on the roster.  Keep in mind that the Redskins sold the farm for the potential to draft him.  Three number ones and a number two for a shot at possibly having a particular player.  This isn't the same as trading that for Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees; in other words, a proven commodity.  Griffin was a GREAT college player, there is no doubt about that, but he hasn't done anything yet.  I realize Redskin fans are desperate and such, but if they have waited this long for the Franchise™, another year or two wasn't going to kill them.  

2) I was talking to a few of my students (mostly Redskins fans) this morning fawning on and on, but much like the management of the Redskins, they are very shortsighted about it.  The whole thing has the potential to be a ten year "what if?" scenario.  What if the Colts take Griffin? What if they don't improve? And the worst one of all - What if Griffin hurts himself at his pro day? In other words, what if he fulfills the title of this post...again.  The trade itself was a bit shortsighted because it is about Mike Shanahan saving his job and reputation, and not about the long term health of the franchise.  

3) To that end, I keep hearing a lot about his talent, and that is true, but this is the NFL, and he is not going to be good to anyone if he is on his back frequently.  Between giving away opportunities to replenish at the top of the draft and the salary cap penalty, the Redskins are not dealing from a position of strength to build up their offensive line and other positions. Steve Czaban noted in his blog post on the subject that they are going to be 3-4 players behind the elite teams.  Griffin may be an elite talent, but he can't do it alone and he can't just outrun people - as Dustin said to me this afternoon, even the linebackers of the NFL can run 4.4 or 4.5 forty yard dashes.  The talent gap is incredibly small in the pros as opposed to the college game.  

4) I sort of fear a player like Griffin in the division, but even with him, the Redskins are not exactly going to be players in the division yet.  They will still be the last place team, as they simply just don't have enough talent right now.  I am not sure, though, that even an "improvement" of finishing 6-10 or 7-9 will be enough for this upcoming season, since the team will be salary cap hell for the next two seasons.  Any opportunity at purchasing players via free agency has gone out the window until probably 2014.  

This is my outsider take.  A fan like Nick is decidedly more optimistic about the whole thing (as is Kevin "One Away" Sheehan), but I will say that if the Eagles had done this, I would have thrown something at my wall.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Observations - 3/11/12

It is "Spring Forward" weekend, in which many of us complain (myself included) about losing an hour's sleep into Sunday.  Let's move to the quick hits...

- We often attend an 8 AM Mass on Sundays, for the the following reasons: 1) It is early enough and thus doesn't interfere with the day the way a noon Mass might.  2) There is no music - maybe one day I will go through my distaste with a lot of contemporary liturgical music and more importantly, how it is presented, but to that end for now, I leave you with The Anchoress' thoughts on music-less worship.  Anyway, what I was going to say was how amusing it was to see a bunch of cars pull in when we were leaving the church after Mass was finished around 8:50 or so.  Even in this digital age of automated clock changes, people are still behind.  Guess they were going to have to wait around for the 10 AM Mass.

- Mark Steyn (as always) crushed another ball out of the park, this time regarding the (now obvious) manufactured 'testimony' (since it was staged) of one Sandra Fluke.  The money line...
[T]he most basic issue here is not religious morality, individual liberty, or fiscal responsibility. It’s that a society in which middle-aged children of privilege testify before the most powerful figures in the land to demand state-enforced funding for their sex lives at a time when their government owes more money than anyone has ever owed in the history of the planet is quite simply nuts.
Nuts indeed.  Steyn is an International Treasure (can't be national, since he is British-Canadian-American).  As they say, read the whole thing.

- It is Selection Sunday for the NCAA Basketball Tournament, which means the second largest gambling operation of the year (behind the Super Bowl) will be underway as of 7 PM tonight.  I enjoy the early rounds of the tourney, but tune out once we hit the Elite Eight.  I just don't care enough about college basketball to follow it to the conclusion.  In fact, this weekend is more exciting - I like conference tourneys better.  They have more bad blood in them and the upsets are much more emotionally driven.  Case in point, the University of Maryland won a national title in 2002, but the upset of Duke in the 2004 ACC tourney was much sweeter to Maryland fans.  Knocking off your rival is always more satisfying, at any level.

- How the hell did this dork Lunardi become an acclaimed expert in a completely made up 'science' known as 'Bracketology'?  I remember when he appeared out of nowhere a few years ago. It is more an art, since no one can be exact on who makes it in.  Being around Selection Sunday, he has been on Sportscenter every single day.  I can't wait for this stuff to end so he can go back to his hole.  And then out of the hole will come Kiper and McShay, since the NFL Draft stuff will heat up.  

- On to something more personal, as many of you know, we have been trying to adopt - you can read our story here - and we are stuck in park right now because the organization that does the home-study process will not let us move forward until we have twenty-thousand dollars sitting in the bank.  My parents have decided that they would host a benefit dinner for us in the next month.  I am asking that, if you are reading this and are local, to attend if it is possible.  There is a flyer with all the information regarding time, location, menu, and cost.  Please spread the word and share the information.  In addition to a wonder buffet-style meal prepared by my mother, there will be opportunities to win prizes via raffles and cash via 50/50.  It will be a wonderful time, and I am incredibly grateful to my parents for doing this.  

If you want to keep up with us in this regard, follow us on Facebook and read our blog - To Grow Our Family (the picture on the right side of this blog toward the top has a link).  I will also answer any questions privately via email if you want information about this.  Thank you all so much.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Super Tuesday...YAWN!

I am a politics junkie, and while this year's Republican presidential race has been the best political theater of my lifetime, I can't say that I paid that much attention to last night's "Super Tuesday" set of primaries.  Ten states held primaries or caucuses, and from what I can gather, Mitt Romney won six, Rick Santorum won three, and Newt Gingrich won one.  How this affects the delegate count - I haven't the faintest idea, since I have not studied how the various states proportion their delegates.

It seems to me that the Republicans have trotted out their B team of candidates this year, and if people like George Will are to be believed, that was not an accident.  President Obama isn't invincible, and if there is a candidate who is actually willing to expose him for what he is, then the President will be denied a second term.  However, if the Republican nominee pussyfoots around Obama like John McCain did four years ago - say hello to an America that is much worse off in four years.

I will have more to say as the process for the Republican nomination gets wrapped up one way or another.  The general election campaign should be interesting, although for reasons other than most people think.

Until then, back to sleep...Wake me up when we get to August, or one of the candidates reaches 1,144 delegates.

Monday, March 5, 2012

That Which Makes The World Go 'Round...

It isn't money, which I would assume the vast majority of people would have answered.

Rather, it is faith - and this is the lesson I taught in class today.  The context of the lesson was the Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 11, which begins with the famous classic formulation of faith - the realization of things hoped for, and evidence of things unseen.  The lesson of today was mostly about the comparison and building on the definition of faith from the days of the Old Covenant - that of obedience to God's commandments.  The author of Hebrews makes it clear that the universe is ordered through such faith.  (As per usual in class, I like to use every day scenarios and items to make my point. -- J.L.

It is interesting that almost everything we do is based on some kind of faith - whether it is belief in something unseen, or an implicit trust.  Every time you get into your car, whether as the driver or a passenger, you are operating on faith that the other drivers will stop when they are supposed so, obey the laws of the road, and use the proper tools of driving.  Likewise, you have faith that the steering or the brakes of the car won't just shut down, or that your tires won't cause you to skid off the road.  Every time a person steps out of his home, it is an act of faith.

Likewise, consider money.  Until 1971, we were on a gold standard, which gave some kind of fixed rate of currency in our market.  Since then, we have been on a fiat currency, which makes our money worth only what the government says it is.  All we have is the faith that the five-dollar bill in our pockets will still be able to purchase a similar amount of goods and services tomorrow and next week, and next year.  In this day and age because of most transactions being electronically oriented, it has become even more faith-based.  As anyone who either, a) gets paid via direct deposit or b) has his bills taken directly via wire transfer can attest, our 'money' is just a series of numbers on a website.  It can be a bit unnerving, but such is the world in which we live.  No matter where we go, it is some kind of belief in the unseen that gets us through the days, weeks, months, and years.

Ironically enough, in a world and culture that is becoming more and more Godless, faith is something that more and more people need and use.  The question, as always, is to whom and to what do we direct that faith?  

Looking back to the two definitions of faith - it isn't a matter of either/or, but rather of both obedience and belief; more specifically, why we obey.  It's easy to blindly obey orders and it's easy to have a blind faith, but it isn't quite as easy to blend obedience and understanding. However, that's not for the reason one would think.  It is more difficult because understanding the why of obedience puts the onus responsibility on the individual - which means taking credit for good things and blame for when things go wrong.  

If I were to poll 1,000 people and give them one of the following two options...

a) Total and complete freedom - control of all decisions and one's own destiny.  You own all of your successes and all your failures.

b) All of your material needs are taken care of by someone else.  The trade off is that you must be subservient to them for as long as they take care of your needs.

I would be willing to bet that a sizable minority of people would choose the second option.  It isn't all that surprising, actually.  A look back to the Israelites wandering the desert for forty years showed that they wanted that second option.

Simply put, if there is one aspect of humanity that is totally universal - it's buck-passing.  Just look at Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  People don't want responsibility if it means they are left holding the bag if and when things turn south.  This was the main issue with the Hebrews (the audience of the epistle in the New Testament) themselves, looking to return to their native Jewish faith where they could just live off a checklist and only worry about obedience without the necessity of having to fully understand, and thus, take responsibility for their lives and destiny as members of the New Covenant.

Here's A Hint...

This woman wants to sue a movie theater for 'excessive prices' at the concession counter.  Last I checked, there was no law requiring movie viewers to purchase popcorn or a Coke.

Seriously, this lawsuit better damn well be dismissed within the first five minutes, with the judge mocking the plaintiff and laughing in her face.

Dad, call your office.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Observations - 3/4/12

It's nice that I feel quasi-normal today - for the first time in a week.  So let's go right to it...

- This whole blowup over the Sandra Fluke testimony before Congress is exactly that: overblown.  It goes to show that when people would rather concentrate on Rush Limbaugh calling her a slut than on the substance of what she said, it is a tacit acknowledgement of a losing hand.  Between her lying about her age (said she was 23, but is really 30), her intentions (she was outed as an activist/agitator with the sole purpose of getting Georgetown to allow unfettered access to contraception), and her exaggeration of the costs ($1,000 per year?  Was she looking for a designer NuvaRing?) there is plenty to jump on.  And that doesn't even include that she admitted that up to 40% of G'Town law students (including herself, I presume), for all intents and purposes, slutted it up (what else are you going to call it? -- my late grandmother would have called her a 'hussy' or a 'loose woman').  

- President Obama called Fluke to 'express support' and told her that her parents would be proud.  Right, because I am sure he would be proud if one of his daughters went before a Congressional committee and testified that she needs subsidized contraception because she needs to have sex three or four times a day with random partners.  

- Major League Baseball has added a fifth playoff team to each league for this upcoming season.  I see this as being a calculated move on the part of the people in charge to get more teams thinking they have a shot.  In other words, they are trying to mimic the NFL - and that is ultimately a mistake.  MLB and the NFL have nothing really in common except that they are professional sports leagues and share a lot of cities.  Otherwise, the business models are different and the means by which they settle who is the best are very different.  While the new playoff model does reward division winners, I do not care for the dilution of the product.  But let's see how it does this season.  It might even give Nats fans hope...until August.

- The whole bounty thing in the NFL is disturbing, but not surprising.  The Saints will get clobbered (maybe).  Gregg Williams will get clobbered, and Gregg Easterbrook will write one thousand sanctimonious columns about it.  Thus concludes this violation of my offseason-imposed moratorium on talking all things NFL.

- Super Tuesday is coming up for the Republican primary season.  If you have noticed, I haven't said much at all concerning that race.  Mostly because a) I am an independent voter and b) I am of the belief that the GOP isn't the savior of the country, but will only more 'efficiently' manage the decline of America.  President Obama is throwing the country off a cliff, and the GOP will just let it softly roll on down the hill.  Once we get closer to election day in November, I'll probably have more to say on specific people.  Otherwise, I will continue to talk about the issues that pop up.

- I will be doing some Phillies previewing over the next couple of weeks.  The hard and fast stuff will begin around March 30th, when I do predictions and the like.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Try Again...

What the Church of the Environment
Wants You To Drive...
Government General Motors is laying off around thirteen hundred workers employees thanks to low demand for their Volt golf cart car.

No kidding!  I would have never guessed.  But it gets better - GM is blaming the media:
GM blamed the lack of sales at the beginning of this year on “exaggerated” media reports and the federal government's investigation into Volt batteries catching fire.
No, the lack of sales comes from the fact that no one wants to drive a car that gets 40 miles to a, ahem, charge.  I can understand the sales of the Prius and other hybrids, but an electric car? No thanks.  Oil and gasoline is still the lifeblood of this economy, and will be for at least forty years.  

No matter how much do-gooder busybodies try to guilt people into buying crappy little electric cars in the name of environmental protection (a slippery proposition in and of itself, but that's another discussion), the market speaks volumes.  Even insane amounts of subsidies (at taxpayer expense, no less) can't get more than 1,626 Volts sold in two months, no matter how high Steven Chu wants gas prices to go.

But this is what happens when you put the religion of environmentalism and the sacrament of 'green energy' ahead of sound economics and letting the market play itself out.