Monday, January 31, 2005

Rank State

The Government of Alabama "the Beautiful": 50 out of 50. (Dead last for you non-math majors.)

I thought that might be a little high.

Where does your state rank?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Our New Animal

Celia Posted by Hello

Okay, Celia's a dog, a puppy, and appears to be a black lab...mostly/partially. She is 2 3/4 months old, weighs 11.5 lbs; her favorite color is black; her favorite food is Science Diet; her favorite activity is whining; her favorite toy is a close race between the chew rope and the tennis ball.

Red Mountain Park: A Step Up

Birmingham stands to gain a much needed park near its downtown if this deal with U.S. Steel Corp stands. One of my soap boxes about B'ham is the city's lack of user-friendly parks. With a metro population over one million, Greater Birmingham finds itself in 2005 with very few places to play and exercise. Another proposal that is in the works is to turn a stretch of old railroad tracks that run through downtown B'ham into a greenway that would run between the already split downtown banking and hospital districts.

Birmingham is lagging behind in a day when cities have come to recognize that quality of life depends on people being able to enjoy being outside. Another area in which B'ham lags behind is in the downtown area. Efforts are underway to bring new housing and business to the immediate downtown, but there are still many, many eyesores that need to be dealt with if people are going to want to spend time downtown. With development booming in the area and property values continuing to skyrocket, U.S. Steel should be applauded for its cooperation, agreeing to sell land to the city for a much less than its worth.

Few sidewalks are currently in place to serve the suburbs. Fewer street lights can be found outside of downtown. Being on the front edge of the Central Time Zone, darkness comes in the winter by 4:30. I've written before about the statistics calling Alabama the most obese state. Surely one can find a correlation between the lack of opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities in Birmingham and this problem of obesity.

As the article states the proposed park would contain both developed and undeveloped areas to serve the greater B'ham area. Within the metro population of over one million, the city of Birmingham is only a percentage as Hoover, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, and Irondale all contain significant population bases, but each city runs its own government. One has only to look around to see the lack of cooperation among the cities in the metro area. The proposed park would be near all six cities, but little effort can be found by the cities to bring such projects to pass.

Turning Legion Field into a domed stadium has been the talk of Birmigham for some time. The B'ham city council seems to believe that such a stadium would be a great step for the city. Comparing numbers, a large, centrally located park is going to be a much greater boost to the standard of living for the area. A domed stadium may attract some large sporting events, but for pure everyday use, what Birmingham is lacking and needing is this type of park, not an idle-sitting football field.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Tsunami First Hand

A Birmingham couple witnessed the tsunami from an elevated location and then attempted to help the victims. Their story is an interesting one that gives a first-hand account.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Boys to Men and Game Snake

An article in the Birmingham News is about a new way of getting together to play. The website is and it offers men the chance to gather "the guys" just like when they were younger. Simply choose your sports and your skill levels, and then you can either invite or be invited by others in your area to events that match your descriptions.

While the concept is pretty neat, it strikes at something that haunts men in our society. Once men move on from college their circles of friends seem to diminish. Not that we all have to be playing pick-up basketball with our 5 closest friends every afternoon, but there is a real need for men to sustain friendships with other men. It's just plain healthy and good for us. Certianly the role of a wife becomes first and foremost for the married man, but it is too easy to completely remove oneself from the world and from those vital friendships with other guys.

There are plenty of factors, of course, that could be considered. A man who is, let's say 32, does not likely live with 3 other guys his age. His place of work is made up of a wide-variety of people, among whom he might come across one tennis or racketball player and maybe a foursome for golf, but there is probably not going to be the makings of a 3-on-3 basketball game at the worksite.

Here's applause to the idea behind

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Alabama is #1 in a Venti Society

Alabama is the fattest state in the union. 28.4% of Alabama's residents are overweight according to one study. Taking it in stride, the state that houses the headquarters for Southern Living claims that food must be better here. Um, okay. The Vodka is better in Russia and the marijuana is fresher (or greener, I wouldn't know) in Mexico, so when in Rome...

People take so little responsibility for the problem that we can't expect anything other than labeling obesity as a disease rather than a lack of self-control. Our "Biggie" society offers more and bigger of everything. Why get a 12-oz cola when you can buy a 32-oz for 20 cents more?? Why buy a tall (small) latte when you can get a venti (large) latte? Do people realize how much milk is in a latte?

Who is to blame? Everyone. I'm certainly against any notion that people should be able to bring lawsuits against fast food or anyone else. You buy it and eat it. They advertise it. We're all in this together.

On the flip side, we shouldn't make obesity a crime. Our society has already made smokers to be the most vile of people. What's next? Are we going to make overweight people sit in their own section in the restaurant? There's morally wrong with being overweight. (Note, I didn't say there's nothing wrong with indulging oneself.) The fact that Alabama is #1 in percentage of overweight citizens means that Alabama will have to deal with the health risks in the years to come. Alabama's healthcare system will have to meet these needs at a higher rate than others around the country. Alabama's insurers will foot the bill as well as anyone who is privileged to pay taxes.

Living in Birmingham, there is noticeably less opportunity to exercise outdoors than in other cities. Having moved from Louisville, the city parks of Louisville are tremendously better than those of Birmingham. Cities need to plan for such things, because the discipline of exercise is hard enough when the opportunity is near and easy. When it is hardly available, don't expect the population to go too far out of their way.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Latin. v. to call back, recall, to call off, withdraw

I watched Luther the other night. Great movie. He is asked to utter this one word, revoco, "I recant," (in case you're not familiar with the story.)

Joseph Fiennes interview, on the other hand, on the extras is rather disconcerting. While I thought the movie seemed fairly accurate with what I know about Martin Luther's life, Fiennes, who played the character of Luther, seemed to have totally missed out on the 'purpose' of the very person that he did such a fine job of portraying. "Social reform" is the wrong answer when asked about the major purpose of Luther's actions.

See what TruePravda had to say back in October '03 about the movie.

Friday, January 14, 2005

A Novel Goes Public

Dolor for Misdeeds is a novel that I've written and decided to publish to the web. I've read worse novels and I've read better, but it is a very strange feeling to have one's own words in such a form and to read over them. Sometimes I'm impressed with it and sometimes I'm disgusted by it, but it's mine nonetheless. Check it out and beware that the website is slightly less than professional. (If I were a web-designer would I be blogging on Blogger?)

Monday, January 10, 2005


As the barricades around the Jefferson Memorial are becoming permanent, our nation is moving toward limiting access to everything. What's next, a wall around the Grand Canyon? A visit to Philadelphia reveals the same thing, our nation's greatest landmarks are surrounded by the most atrocious-looking blocks of concrete you can find. The reasons are well known, but the mindset that we can protect every interest by building walls around it just doesn't seem American. I want to be able to visit the Washington Monument without squeezing through a barricade and slipping past guards with high-powered rifles.

America does have to work hard in a post-9/11 world to make sure that we are not "open" but at some point the questions have to be raised about what is suitable for us to live with. How much of our access do we limit in order to protect? Wouldn't these barricades be better served on the border with Mexico? It's a bit like putting up a fence directly around your house rather than around your yard.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Belarus: A "Different Reality"

The world has been advised that there will be no revolution of any color in Belarus. This kind of confidence comes on the heels of an amazing vote of 80% in favor of changing the country's constitution to allow President Lukashenko to seek a third term, something he will be 100% assured of winning.

"Old School" is Belarus. The unrest in other former Soviet republics has not been the case in the population 10 million Belarus. With the kind of supreme authority that made the Soviet Union impervious to change, Lukashenko keeps Belarus steady as a rock. His government provides healthy information that keeps the people settled. This week the foreign minister is quoted as saying: "The economy is developing at a fast pace. People's incomes are growing quickly. Everything taken together is not giving any ground for events similar to the Ukrainian ones." He also dismisses any notions that similar unrest to that of Ukraine could be present in Belarus: we have a different country, different reality."

Yes, rest assured, the economy of Belarus is booming and the standard of living is a thing of envy. Sound familiar?

Archie Bunker's God

What good is going to church?

On an episode of "All in the Family" the other night on TV Land, the show ended with some pretty serious questions about God and life in general. Archie's wife (is it Edith?) laments over the death of someone she knew (no, I wasn't really paying attention.) In her remorse, she contemplates giving up church attendance because she doesn't see that it's doing any good. Archie chides that she needs to keep going to represent the family before God – someone's got to do it.

Not far below the surface of what is said in this episode is a very common understanding of church. This understanding takes church attendance to be a merit of grace before God: If I go to church I am achieving favor with God. As if some sort of good influence is achieved by being in church regularly, the expected result is that fewer bad things will happen in this life to people who go to church. Edith's faith (faith in church, not really in God) is shaken because this bad event occurs. She doesn't understand how God can do this to her even though she always goes to church. Subsequently, "why even go" is the question she raises.

The heart of the problem: people cannot earn favor with God. Being made right with God is a gift from God that comes by grace. [Romans 3:23] We can do nothing to earn it. It comes by grace through faith. [Ephesians 2:8-10] Good works get us nowhere. An atheist could be the kindest, most giving person you ever meet.

So what good is church? As believers, we are a part of the church because we are in Christ. Attending worship is a response of believers to knowing God. For the believer, attending church is absolutely crucial. The person who claims to know Christ but claims no need for church needs to evaluate his/her faith.

Is there any good in going to church for the non-Christian? Yes! But not in terms of earning a good standing with God. Rather, hearing God's word preached (hopefully with a true gospel presentation) and seeing believers worship are a couple of the means that God uses to bring people to faith in Christ. [Romans 10:14; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25]

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Tsunami Relief Contest

Every penny is a good thing. But the media of the world and the way that people and countries are being "measured" in the relief funds for the Sumatra Tsunami is getting a bit ridiculous. Earlier today one man being interviewed on Fox News assured the anchor that the U.S. would end up being the most generous and the most involved in the relief effort. So what if the U.S. were not? Maybe we shouldn't even participate if we can't be #1 !!!!!

Our world just cannot respond to anything without attaching numbers to it and overanalyzing it. Just as this brief write-up describes, the relief effort has become a "beauty contest" as if a ribbon boasting "Top Donor" will be awarded. It seems that every country is competing for this top prize not to mention the people who are giving hefty amounts and seeing their names in the news the next day. Would they still give if no one knew?

Another question that keeps coming up on television news is that of the "perception" of America in its involvement in this area of the world. Some evidently view this catastrophe as an opportunity for America to renew its image, evidently seeing the need for "war-hungry" America to be seen doing something worthwhile, especially in an area of the world where Islam is one of the predominant religions.

If the U.S., or any other country for that matter, is only getting involved for the sake of the appearance, then the world may be better off without their help. While I don't think any country or person is purely motivated by such shallow intentions, how difficult it is to do anything altruistic in a world where actions are so scrutinized!