Iwo Jima

On Feb. 19, 1945, more than 110,000 Americans and 880 ships began their assault on a small volcanic island in the Pacific, in the climactic battle of the last year of World War II. For the next 36 days Iwo Jima would become the most populous seven-and-a-half square miles on the planet, as United States Marines and Japanese soldiers fought a battle that would test American resolve even more than D-Day or the Battle of the Bulge had, and that still symbolizes a free society's willingness to make the sacrifice necessary to prevail over evil -- a sacrifice as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.

The attack on Iwo Jima capped a two year island-hopping campaign which was as controversial with politicians and the press as any Rumsfeld strategy. Each amphibious assault had been bloodier than the last: at Tarawa, where 3,000 ill-prepared Marines fell taking an island of just three square miles; at Saipan, where Army troops performed so poorly two of their generals had to be fired; and Peleliu, where it took 10 weeks of fighting in 115 degree heat to root out the last Japanese defenders, at the cost of 6,000 soldiers and Marines.

Iwo Jima would be the first island of the Japanese homeland to be attacked. The Japanese had put in miles of tunnels and bunkers, with 361 artillery pieces, 65 heavy mortars, 33 large naval guns, and 21,000 defenders determined to fight to the death. Their motto was, "kill 10 of the enemy before dying." American commanders expected 40% casualties on the first assault. "We have taken such losses before," remarked the Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Holland M. Smith, "and if we have to, we can do it again."

Even before the attack, the Navy's bombardment of Iwo Jima cost more ships and men than it lost on D-Day, without making a significant dent in the Japanese defenses. Then, beginning at 9 a.m. on the 19th, Marines loaded down with 70 to 100 pounds of equipment each hit the beach, and immediately sank into the thick volcanic ash. They found themselves on a barren moonscape stripped of any cover or vegetation, where Japanese artillery could pound them with unrelenting fury. Scores of wounded Marines helplessly waiting to be evacuated off the beach were killed "with the greatest possible violence," as veteran war reporter Robert Sherrod put it. Shells tore bodies in half and scattered arms and legs in all directions, while so much underground steam rose from the churned up soil the survivors broke up C-ration crates to sit on in order to keep from being scalded. Some 2,300 Marines were killed or wounded in the first 18 hours. It was, Sherrod said, "a nightmare in hell."

And overlooking it all, rising 556 feet above the carnage, stood Mount Suribachi, where the Japanese could direct their fire along the entire beach. Taking Suribachi became the key to victory. It took four days of bloody fighting to reach the summit, and when Marines did, they planted an American flag. When it was replaced with a larger one, photographer Joe Rosenthal recorded the scene -- the most famous photograph of World War II and the most enduring symbol of a modern democracy at war.

Yet, in the end, a symbol of what? Certainly not victory. The capture of Suribachi only marked the beginning of the battle for Iwo Jima, which dragged on for another month and cost nearly 26,000 men -- all for an island whose future as a major air base never materialized. Forty men were in the platoon which raised the flag on Suribachi. Only four would survive the battle unhurt. Their company, E Company, Second Battalion, 28th Regiment, Fifth Marine Division, would suffer 75% casualties. Of the seven officers who led it into battle, only one was left when it was over.

But the Marines pushed on. Over the next agonizing weeks, they took the rest of the island yard by yard, bunker by bunker, cave by cave. They fought through places with names like "Bloody Gorge" and "The Meat Grinder." They learned to take no prisoners in fighting a skilled and fanatical enemy who gave no quarter and expected none. Twenty out of every 21 Japanese defenders would die where they stood. One in three Marines on Iwo Jima would either be killed or wounded, including 19 of 24 battalion commanders. Twenty-seven Marines and naval medical corpsmen would win Medals of Honor -- more than in any other battle in history -- and 13 of them posthumously. As Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, said, "Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

* * *
Yet even this valor and sacrifice is not the full story of what Iwo Jima means, or what Rosenthal's immortal photograph truly symbolizes. The lesson of Iwo Jima is in fact an ancient one, going back to Machiavelli: that sometimes free societies must be as tough and unrelenting as their enemies. Totalitarians test their opponents by generating extreme conditions of brutality and violence; in those conditions -- in the streets and beheadings of Fallujah or on the beach and in the bunkers of Iwo Jima -- they believe weak democratic nerves will crack. This in turn demonstrates their moral superiority: that by giving up their own decency and humanity they have become stronger than those who have not.

Free societies can afford only one response. There were no complicated legal issues or questions of "moral equivalence" on Iwo Jima: It was kill or be killed. That remains the nature of war even for democratic societies. The real question is, who outlasts whom. In 1945 on Iwo Jima, it was the Americans, as the monument at Arlington Cemetery, based on Rosenthal's photograph, proudly attests. In the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970s, it was the totalitarians -- with terrible consequences.

Today, some in this country think the totalitarians may still win in Iraq and elsewhere. A few even hope so. Only one thing is certain: As long as Americans cherish the memory of those who served at Iwo Jima, and grasp the crucial lesson they offer all free societies, the totalitarians will never win.

February 18, 2005; Page A10 Wall St. Journal

Mr. Herman, a historian, is the author, most recently, of To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World


Friday was...interesting. A very good day at work. A nice lunch out. Left early.

Poker started about an hour later than I expected, and as I was a few hours into the 30 Hour Famine at that point, I had to suffer through watching Ko and Joel pound down some mini-man-burgers. Played smart for the most part, as usual. Made a few dumb moves that ended up killing me, as usual.

Here's my problem: I play all the real poker games (Texas H-E, anything stud or straight draw) to the T. Fold when I've got nothing, reel em in when I have a big one. Its the less-pokery, more fun (for lack of a better term) games that I lose all my money on - the ones where there's no way to play smart because of the cards you can't see. Follow the queen; Baseball; The good, the bad, and the ugly; and worst of all - Guts. I can't win these games.

I left with more money than I came with. Ko dropped big, for a change. The new kid Paul picked up big-time. I'll get it back from him soon enough.

About 1am I started noticing that my sinuses were getting pressured and the throat was a little scratchy. By the walk home, I knew I was in trouble. Horrible night's sleep - what little there was of it, followed by a day of hydration and relaxation. I should have kept a good thing going, but come 5pm I decided to meet up with the youth group kids/leaders who were headed to the Steven Curtis Chapman / Casting Crowns / Chris Tomlin concert.

The median age in the arena was probably about 16 years old. I haven't been to a big concert in a while - I'm thinking maybe Autumn Blaze from 2 years back was the last one - but I'm pretty sure it was the first time I saw the band encourage the audience to shine their cell-phones (as opposed to lighters). It was cool, but weird - in 10 years, will kids even know that we once used lighters, with (gasp) real fire? Did these kids even know?

The bands were ok. The sound was about on par with a facility set up for the acoustics of hockey.

Back to the church offices to wrap up the 30HF with worship, a lesson, and a pizza party. Played the guitar for the first time since maybe October. Bloodied the fingers a bit, but they'll get better (see my bit on the skin problem with my hands, if you're confused).

I realized how much I love spending time with these kids and leaders when I couldn't resist going out to a concert/late evening even when I knew I should stay home and rest. Realized it again when I played guitar when I shouldn't have. I know I'm not the perfect guy, but I'm glad they seem to want me around. From our collective read, Max Q:

The Christian life is a lifelong journey of walking in a certain direction, falling down, getting up, dusting ourselves off, and walking on, mile after mile after mile. It is a life of direction aimed at perfection--not the converse. The major factor in accountability is not that any of us is perfect; it's that the course of our lives is set in the right direction.

I've polished off a 6 oz. bottle of Nyquil in the past 45 minutes and I'm not even within range of mildly tired. I'm debating setting the alarm because I don't want to miss breakfast with the group back at the offices, and church together, but I have to be realistic. Gotta get some rest sometime.


Ok far and away the best thing I've come across link-wise this past week has been Gaim. If you're still using AIM, you should convert. Now. (Thanks Dawn)

I've spent a little time here lately, though I don't think its told me much I wouldn't have come up with on my own.

Hopefully you weren't one of the few hundred thousand to have your information stored with Choicepoint. If you were, you've got some damage control to do on your credit report.

I first found the How Much is Inside people a while back, through their Goldschlager experience. Apparently they've been busy answering this question for all kinds of other products, produce, etc.. Probably should be a content warning here, but I didn't look around much.

Also via MUG this week, the Infinite Cat Project. I think I'm too tired to really appreciate this one right now. I'll check back later.

Get your daily Sportscenter Ad archive clip, here.

Pretty extensive theology resources over at The Threshold (or Monergism, or whatever their official name is). I haven't spent a lot of time here yet, but its good for reference - check out their systematic theology page, for instance - if that's not a plethora of links, I don't know what is. I plan to find more time to explore this one.

Jon is the first guy I ever worked on accountability with - Bruegger's in Sewickley was about halfway between our respective places and we had some good times there. He is an awesome dude and he is married to an awesome gal, Bekah, and this is his awesome new blog.

Geoff Petrie is the stupidest man in basketball. And I say this with pained love, but Sacramento is yet again the stupidest city in the game if they go along with this one. Of course, this is no suprise, they've been stupid for not supporting Webber for years. Now they will just be stupid and have worse season records. I think perhaps it may require moving away from the city for a fan to truly see such situations objectively.

That's about it. I may have a few more links at work to add in the morning, but I didn't get to that like I thought I would last week, and I doubt tomorrow will be any different. Should be a day of firsts for me, tomorrow. Should be interesting. And there's poker with the guys tomorrow night, so I know its going to end good, even if I get bad cards. Last time we played was probably the hardest I've laughed in years.

There's a dry, warm-temp corn snow accumulating outside - the kind of stuff that would be an awesome ride until about 2 seconds after sunlight hit it - perfect night-riding snow. Right now its probably pushing 3 inches. Should melt fast. Still gets me thinking, though...

No, can't do it. 30 Hour Famine with the kids this weekend, so there's no escaping just yet for me. I have a feeling I'll be up most of the night on Saturday, so maybe I'll finally get around to revamping the sidebar / links.


I have to admit that I don't really like my last post. It could have been twice as good, in half the time. I didn't spend any good time on it, and hence I didn't really say what I was aiming at. Also, I couldn't find the one book (I'm pretty sure its in the library at home in CA - same room that serves as my bedroom when I'm home for a visit) that had some good points that I was trying to get at in the first place. One point in particular that I would like to remedy: while I say I've never felt a guiding hand or whispering voice, I would be remiss were I not to point out that I do believe that the Spirit does work in mysterious ways to (mysteriously) lead and guide me. Because of the mysterious part, its not that easy to explain. Let's leave it at now for that.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

There's been a lot to balance in the brain this week, and so I'm up late and getting stuff done, but none of it well, because I'm in another one of those phases where I'm actually getting tired at night (instead of in the middle of the day) and, of course, this is annoying. Seems like as soon as I get the hang of being up all night, I get too tired for it again.

I haven't gotten anything decent noted out on the new book idea, however, and I don't see that happening tonight, as I was racking the brain in a vicious game of Trivial Pursuit with C&M, George, and Moody, instead of having Home Fellowship Group. I think we lacked quorum and proceeded accordingly, or something.

Instead, I'm thinking pizza and a movie. I haven't been hitting the Netflix very hard lately, for various reasons, but I can say this much - Man on Fire is just as good the second time around (Reznor did an awesome job with the soundtrack, and the cinematography/editing is outstanding enough to shame even the classic-arid-Mexican feel in greats like Traffic). Also The Truth About Charlie is terrible and basically unbearable, and also horrible. There's not many Netflix I send back unfinished. This will be one of them.

Christian Carnival is up again, this week at Wallo World. I hope next week to have a better post to submit. If the 30-hour-famine with the kids this weekend doesn't suck all my writing juices dry. I also hope to perhaps host CC one of these days, but I have no idea when I'd find that kind of time. Maybe when I'm on vacation, the week before Easter. I need to find out if our place will have net access. I could survive without it, after all - I will have skiing - 5 days of bliss. But it would be nice to have, all the same.

I can not wait for Whistler. I need it. I feel it pulling at me. What precious few dreams I have are usually about what I will do when I am on that mountain. I have anxiety attacks in the middle of the day about whether there will be decent enough off-piste pack left when I get there to legitimize some hike-in/out to their newly opened bowls. I've even been checking on my insurance to make sure that I'm going to be cool should I need to see the inside of a hospital up in Canadia. But I need an off-season from head bumps as I had a decent one last season, and so far I've been safe this year. Thanks to the one measly day I've managed to get myself on sticks. I hang my (bump-ed) head in shame.

Also, the Fed-ex did not arrive today. Argh.


From one of my current reads, Max Q (excerpt from a chapter on encouraging students to develop standards - a topic we've visited a little bit lately):

To develop a standard you must start with a command or principle and add a key ingredient: wisdom. Wisdom itself is a combination of two things: knowledge plus action. As youth leaders we have seen the consequences of teenagers applying one without the other...
True biblical wisdom is the melding of knowledge and action together. And we're convinced it's the missing tool in the toolbox of Christian teenage America. Youth ministries across the country send graduating class after graduating class into a world where wisdom is a necessity--and where a lack of wisdom spells four years, if not a lifetime, on the treacherous open seas of relative thought and painful consequences. Yet we tend to program our ministries to answer all of our students' questions for them rather than challenging them to come to the same conclusions themselves. And it's only in that challenge that wisdom is born.

Mike Krzyzewski, head basketball coach at perennial power Duke University, speaks well to this. In his book Leading from the Heart (one of our favorite books on leadership), he notes that 'many people set rules to keep from making decisions.' He believes that if his players never develop the ability to ask questions, if they never learn the art of critical thinking, they will not, in the end, be able to withstand pressure and perform at the highest level possible. He goes so far as to have only one rule for his basketball team: Do not do anything that is detrimental to yourself, because if it is detrimental to you, it will bring dishonor to Duke basketball and Duke University.

Some may say that this rule is not specific enough. You could even argue that it goes against the idea of setting standards. On the contrary: Coach K has only one rule so that his players can begin to develop the ability to discern between right and wrong, to ask critical questions, to develop standards on their own, to become wise. His one rule forces his players to always question what they are doing or what they're thinking about doing. It literally sets the course for their future, both on the team and after graduation. And as Coach K says so well, 'Whatever a leader does now sets up what he does later. And there is always a later.'

(emphasis mine)

My pastor recently finished a series on Proverbs, discussing the different aspects of wisdom that the book offers. To paraphrase his general guiding definition of the study of wisdom:

Moral standards, as important and as crucial as they are, actually don't address most of the situations that you face. Whatever you think the rules are...most of the situations that you actually face aren't covered by those rules.

Wisdom is more than moral goodness, more than knowledge...it is a competence with regards to the realities of life - being able to make the right decisions in the vast majority of circumstances where the rules don't apply.
I suppose no where in our lives are we more internally driven to consider the topic of wisdom and to desperately hope to find, to have, and to utilize it, than in those situations where we are facing major life decisions:

"Lord, guide me in what school to choose."

"Is this the right job for me?"

"Am I being called to this ministry?"

"Should I consider spending the rest of my life with this person?"

And so on.

As far as such major decisions in my life - and I've only had a precious few to face - I've never felt the Omnipotent Guiding Hand gently brushing me in the right direction. I've never seen the correct option illuminated in a heavenly glow, or heard it heralded by angelic choirs. I've never sensed a booming or even whispering voice, and I don't believe I've ever really been given a clear sign. This is probably because I haven't had my eyes opened to see, my ears open to hear, and so on...I'm not really sure.

I do believe, however, that God gave us the possibility of wisdom, perhaps in place of clearer forms of guidance, like the aforementioned - and at any rate encourages us to seek wisdom out. As mentioned in Max Q, wisdom can be considered a meld of knowledge with action. Either without the other is rather impotent. And I believe its important to realize that even with the right knowledge, and an honest volition to action, we do not have the guarantee of the perfect solution. We do, however, have the very strong assurance of the wisest choice.

And this is how the Christian is to base his decisions - couched in prayer and meditation, dutifully committed to the Lord's will in study of scripture and seeking of guidance from wiser folk... And with the hope that no matter what, even the wrong decision (to our perception) can and will be worked to our good and His glory in the end, notwithstanding.

Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.

Yet this is not a complete assurance - as far as wisdom and decision making go. And that is not necessarily a bad thing - it forces us to rely on God and place our trust fully in Him, even as we make wise decisions - hoping for the best outcome. We are realistic that not every "wise" choice will always be the "right" choice - but we're not worried about that reality, either.

The important final ingredient of wisdom, I think, is a hopeful trust - and not a blithe one, in any sense. Rather, it is based on the facts: when I look back, I can only wonder and marvel - for surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life. And if God has brought me this far already, how much exceedingly more is He able and planning to do?

I have only to live under the one standard that the Coach has set forth: to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If I can objectively evaluate my life and actions in this light, and am committing the big decisions as well as the little to Him, I can effectively be assured (ironically) that I am going to make the wise decision, no matter what I decide.

Because of this, I am able to approach the major life decisions with an air of competence - without anxiety, knowing that, if I remain humble (yet confident!) - the wise choice will be made, and the ultimate good will be realized.

Its a tricky thing. But I think I might be starting to get an idea of how it works...

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.


And this reproof ought to be a warning to us in the present day, that we may not call forth God’s judgment on others, while we flatter ourselves as being innocent. Whenever then we flee to God for help, and ask him to succor us, let us remember that he is a just judge who has no respect of persons. Let then every one, who implores God’s judgment, be his own judge, and anticipate the correction which he has reason to fear… let us carefully examine our own life, and follow the rule prescribed here by the Prophet. And hence it is that the Prophet adds at the end of the verse, They feared not me; for when lusts, and plunder, and frauds and the corruptions which vitiate God’s worship, prevail, it is evident that there is no fear of God, but that men, having shaken off the yoke, as it were run mad, though they may a thousand times profess the name of God. – John Calvin, Commentary on Malachi

And what, then, does all this signify? It signifies that every one, in silent inwardness before God, is to feel humility before what it means to be in the strictest sense a Christian; is to confess sincerely before God what his position is, so that he may worthily partake of the grace which is offered to every one who is not perfect, that is, to every one. And it means no more than that. For the rest let him attend to his work and find joy in it, let him love his wife, rejoicing in her, let him raise his children to be a joy to him, and let him love his fellow-men and enjoy life. God will surely let him know if more is demanded of him, and will also help him to accomplish it; for in the terrifying language of the law this sounds so terrible because it would seem as if man by his own strength were to hold fast to Christ, whereas in the language of love it is Christ that holds fast to him. As was said, then, God will surely let him know if more is demanded of him. But what is demanded of every one is that he humble himself in the presence of God under the demands of ideality. And therefore these demands should be heard, and heard again and again in all their absoluteness. – Soren Kierkegaard


Well I didn't come up with any good posts but I did get some ideas and material together. That counts for something, right? Instead of doing much in the way of productive activity, I instead chose to watch copious amounts of movies and television this weekend, starting early (for me) on Friday evening and lasting clean through this evening - I just finished NBC's special on the first five years of SNL. There were brief pauses in the slavish viewing for things such as sleep, church, high school group, and evening service in Hoboken (haven't been in months, it seems).

I guess after being free from the box for so long, I needed a brain-drain binge. And yet I feel so...unsatisfied.

I don't see much work in my very near future, what with the snow and the conspicuous lack of Persons in Positions of Authority that I'm sure will exist in the office tomorrow. On top of which, I get the feeling that I'm going to be developing that old eye problem in the near future ("...I just can't see coming in to work today..."), for either very good, or very, very bad reasons. S'alright, I've earned it either way.

Did I mention that its snowing? I had 3 pieces of Aussie licorice tonight after dinner and that should be more than enough to keep me up most of the night to watch it get whiter, and I have no problem with that. I desperately need to move to a climate more conducive to indulging my neuroses - somewhere that it snows more deeply and often. Preferably at the extreme end of a Teutonic plate.

Some of the material that I came up with this week may in fact be the second half-decent book idea I've had in a good long while, and so the long evaluative process has begun again. Is this something enough people would be interested in? Do you have enough material for enough chapters? Ok, well, could you fodder up enough? Would a publisher even give this the time of day? Did someone already get around to writing about this? Ok, well, could you make this sound different enough? Etc.

A few things I saw this weekend (in real life, actually, not on TV) that I wish I had my camera with me for:

The Gates (yesterday at the bottom of the park, last week - pretty much throughout the park while running the circle)

Two Brinks guards, with their handguns drawn, on 6th Ave between 54th and 55th, dutifully protecting the boxes of pennies that they were unloading. Like anyone could run away with a box if they tried anyway.

A pigeon walking around in the third floor lobby of Port Authority last night, while waiting for the bus. I mean I was waiting for the bus. The bird didn't seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere.


Aight, so I never got around to updating Thursday's links this morning. Work got in the way, all day long. How annoying. So, a few more goodies.

Are you 1337? Are your kids? Do you even know? Scaaaaarrrrry.

More dog goodies - Fidofinder - basically an online dog lost and found.

More google goodies - biggest list of different google logo variations over the years that I've been able to find.

As I type this there's about 13 hours, 41 minutes, and 5 seconds til pitchers and catchers report for the greatest baseball team ever.

Tonight I've started playing around with Filangy. Its interesting. Get Firefox first if you don't already have it. If I get some free invites for Filangy (it seems to work like Gmail, and this is only the beta version), I'll post them here.

Speaking of beta versions, I just nailed high score on Joel's new game, as yet unreleased. I've been jostling with the other beta tester for a while to get it, but I took it with authority tonight. Link to come when the game is released...

Will try to come up with some good posts this weekend, but for now I'm toast. Time for the Friday crash.


Whoa! Its Thursday night already??? How did that happen? Not that I'm complaining, I'm ok with that. Thursday night means tomorrow is Friday and my boss is "working from home." I'd like a job where I can say those beautiful 3 words some day. That also means that tomorrow I may actually get a significant amount of the ridiculous loads of work that needs to be done, done. We'll see how much energy/tolerance I have in me when I roll in tomorrow.

Today I spent half the morning in my director's office, reviewing the newly released SI swimsuit edition (very nearly nudity warning). For work. I was getting paid, she was getting paid, everyone in there was looking at this magazine and discussing the suits in it and joking about the lack of suits in it and we were all getting paid for it. And I had my standard thought process:

This is my job. I can't believe this is my job.

Most guys would kill for this job. Me, I take what little solace I can find in the fact that this isn't my career.

I need a change.

I think I want a burger for lunch. Maybe chicken. Oooh, maybe I'll get both.
And you're all like, "Shut up, Dave. Where are the links?"

Ok, ok...I've been stalling. Fact is I'm usually a little more prepared than this, tonight kind of crept up on me, what with busy evenings and court dates and Important Meetings and magazine reviews and whatnot. So half my half-decent links are still on the work computer, and I'll just have to put them up in the morning. So if you're reading this post before roughly 8am on Friday (EST), check back for the added links tomorrow. After 8am. EST.

This week's theme (loosely) is dogs. I love dogs. The one above is my baby - Harriet. My family had to put her down last year. She was with us for almost 16 years, so even if you're not a pet-lover, maybe that gives you some idea of what its like to lose an animal that was with you every day for that long. She had her own bubbly personality, was fiercely protective of the family, chronically claustrophobic, and always just lots of fun. Like lots of Dobies, she used to walk up next to you, and then just lean a full half of her bodyweight against your leg. They just like to be firmly next to you. I miss her.

A lot of people don't treat their dogs right. Dogs Deserve Better is trying to stop that.

Oldie but goodie: Googlefight. Dogs clearly kick major cat arse.

More Google fun: Google Suggest. Kind of fun to play around with. Only takes two letters to get "dog" as the first result.

Even more Google fun (and usefulness): Google maps. Say goodbye to Mapquest, Mapblast, whoever. This service rocks. I was using it to find the nearest Kinko's location on Broadway the other day, and it just scrolls up and down the map instead of refreshing the screen. Totally gnarly. Not really related to dogs.

Not Google fun, at least for the guy writing it. Apparently he started writing it while at Google, which happens to own/parent Blogger, the service he was using to host his blog (same one I and many others use), and they ended up canning him over it. Dog factor: zero.

Probably already linked to this at some point, but its so doggone good that it deserves a re-link, if indeed that's the case. The Baha Men Commission Report. "Final Report of the National Commission on Who Let The Dogs Out."

A lot of people probably won't think this is funny at all. The creators of it sure seem to. You be the judge. No dogs here either, but I can say that I have absolutely no freakin clue how I found this site.

In case you weren't sure about the status of dogs, well, they rule. See the latest ad campaign around NYC. Also note the two-headed dog ads up around the city. My homey Godfrey had something to do with their art.

I think if I ever give another kick-start to the writing thing, for real, I'll start trying to get stuff submitted online, instead of in print, for starters. This would be altogether new and different. I suppose it might give me some guidance / critique / encouragement on what to bother trying to develop and get published, and what not to bother with. Anyway, this might be one of a few good venues to start with. Also no relation to dogs.

In the interest of ending on track, congrats to Carlee, taker of Best in Show at this year's WKC show.


Every winter, the skin on my hands basically goes away. Cregan took to calling it winter hands, maybe a year ago, and it stuck. Everyone knows when it starts happening because I can no longer play the guitar for home fellowship group or what-have-you.

It can get pretty painful and annoying - makes it difficult to flip through papers, fold laundry, and doing anything with water - like washing the dishes, is pretty much out of the question. Just taking a shower or a shave requires extensive moisturizing before and after to simply mitigate the effects.

The dermas have proved pretty much useless (though they have been able to deduce that I have chronic dry skin on my hands) - they suggest more moisturizing, which at this point I'm doing about 20 times a day. I've had it suggested (by friends, not dermas) that it may be nerve-related, but I haven't gotten around to pursuing that possibility yet. I wear gloves pretty regularly outside and know most of the tricks inside (soft soaps, cotton gloves, etc.). Nothing works. But I am getting a pretty good idea of what I do and don't like in hand creams...

Eucerin: get the tub, the stuff you open and dip into. Gets an A+ for endurance, a D for greasiness, and a B for overall moisturizing effects.

Cetaphil: there's two basic kinds here. The first is the more expensive stuff in the smaller squeeze tubes. C for endurance, A- for greasiness, and a A- for overall moisturizing effects. The other kind is the pump bottle stuff. Its weaker than its smaller brother, you have to use more of it too. D for endurance, C for greasiness, D+ for OME.

Smith's Rosebud Salve: some people use this for lip balm, but its actually good for general skin moisturization. It gets good endurance marks, but this is actually a problem, because of its greasiness marks. A endurance, F greasiness, C OME.

Neutrogena: the great thing about this stuff is that you only need a very tiny bit to get a good overall moisturizing feel. B+ endurance, B- greasiness, B+ OME.

Curel: the regular stuff is pretty good, the extra strength is not so great. Comes in a pump bottle like the second Cetaphil. Reg: B+ endurance, A+ greasiness, B+ OME. Ext Strength: C+ endurance, A- greasiness, F for OME (loses one letter grade for claiming to be better than the regular, but actually not being any better at all; loses a second letter grade for having a citrus scent when claiming to be fragrance free).

ShiKai by Borage Dry Skin Therapy: I like the particularly small tube, and like Neutrogena, you only need a little bit. Comes from the health food store so you feel like its better for you than the other ones, somehow. C+ endurance, A greasiness, B OME.

I'm realizing now that I could keep going, but I think I've proved my point. This is what you get when its late, I'm running on little sleep, and am fresh out of ideas. I'm impressed that you're still reading at this point.


I've been officially single for nearly 5 years now. Its been a great time. I've had many opportunities lately to realize how comfortable I am with things and to hope that my current situation will last, at least a bit longer. The most recent opportunity was in Port Authority tonight, on my way home: late in the evening rush hour, and still the line to the flower shop was 25 deep.

Its an interesting dichotomy - I've by no means been relieved of the natural human longings for togetherness and companionship and so on. Yet, after a fashion, I've learned that these things are directly affected by the amount of active focus you place upon them. But only after a fashion. Togetherness is like air - you don't realize how important it is until you aren't getting any. Of course, having time alone can be the same way as well. Balance is the key.

If ever I do return to the state of Couplehood, these are a few of the realizations I've had that I hope to take with me - things I like to think I've learned pretty well, but I'll only know for sure when I'm tested to truly put them into practice. There are many more. But there's one that preempts most of the others, and that's the obvious - what I've gained in my understanding of what kind of person I would choose to invest in.

Shortly after college, I knew one thing: that the girl that would elicit any form of serious pursuit on my part would have to be a knockout. (Let the reader understand that I didn't/don't mean "knockout" in terms of simple physical attractiveness - although it is duly noted - but rather all of the aspects that compose a persona.) With the proper disclaimer in place, I revert to an example that focuses on the physical, but conveys my point, nonetheless. If you've ever seen Wayne's World, you might remember the scene where Wayne and Garth first walk into the donut shop and Garth sees the waitress of his dreams. Time stops and the light of heaven shines on her and the angels sing. And Garth goes flying backwards in his chair across the shop, and slams into the jukebox. That's the kind of experience I'm talking about. Sledgehammer to the chest type stuff. A knockout - an outrageous girl, in every way.

My standards had gone through the roof. To this day, I'm not really convinced that this was, in sum, a bad thing. Its not that I think I deserve or warrant a girl that is totally out of this world. Its just that I had decided that I wasn't going to compromise. Sure, I'd look around, take the time to get to know girls, etc. - I was realistic about things - but the nevertheless the standard had been set. And for nearly 5 years, no one has really come close to fitting the bill.

And perhaps no one ever will. And that would be ok. For a number of years, I struggled with whether or not I was really at the point that I could honestly say to God that I would be content with whatever He had planned for my life with regards to companionship. I think many people will say this to God, but I fear that many of us have trouble saying it honestly - really meaning it, understanding it, and being completely at peace with it. For it is something a normal person should struggle with - after all, we are relational beings.

Now, at this point, you may be, quite frankly, in stern disagreement with my no-compromises approach. This is the part where I bring in the Bible, so that you have to argue with God, not just me. I humbly present to you the man who had standards, and the one who didn't. Take your pick.

Samson was one interesting dude. While he's generally grouped with the Judges of the Old Testament, his story makes him a clear stand-out from the group, and not necessarily in the best ways.

Samson was raised as a Nazarite, and as such was subject to certain restrictions (no razor was to touch his head, being the notable one). God had big things planned for Samson: "He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him..." (Jgs 13:24-25). But sadly, Samson ultimately failed to accomplish all that the Lord had laid out for him. Why?

Those lusty Philistine women. They'll getcha every time. And it wasn't just a one-time-thing. No. Delilah was by no means his first tryst with a gal from the very nation God had brought Samson to fight against on behalf of Israel. Suffice to say the first relationship didn't end up so hot. Ok, that's a bad way of putting it - the girl and her father were burned alive in the Philistines' apparent attempt to get revenge on Samson.

That wasn't enough for Samson to learn. One donkey's jawbone, a thousand dead Philistines, at least one prostitute, and one displaced city gate later, he goes and falls in love with Delilah. That's a name that just rolls off the tongue - De-liiiii-laaah. That's a name just ripe with trouble. And trouble he got. You know how the story goes - they play their games back and forth and soon enough the jig is up. Samson ended up with his eyes gouged out, his hair, the source of his power, shaved clean off, and was ultimately resolved to take his own life in his final act of judgment on the Philistines.

It should be noted that we shouldn't think of Samson's last display of strength as a suicide, but rather a selfless last act in (relative) fulfillment of the work God had called him to. Indeed, Hebrews lists Samson among the mighty men of God in the OT.

But what could Samson have accomplished if he had only refused to compromise - refused to go after those women who weren't part of God's plan? The world will never know how the story could have gone, were Samson's wisdom and self-control commensurate to his physical prowess. Potential lost.

Joseph's life was a roller-coaster, to say the least. Doting father, nice coat, strange dreams, jealous brothers, deep pit, sold to slavery...and then in Egypt it all starts to come together: "The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant..."

And then it all starts to fall apart again. He was "well-built and handsome," and as such, Potiphar's wife gets the hots for him. But he's a man of standards: "And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her."

One thing leads to another, though, and that vindictive wife decided that if she couldn't have him, no one could. False rape accusation and a jail term for Joseph. Roller-coaster takes another dip.

Joseph didn't give up on God, though, even in the darkest valley (his second visit to such climes), and because of his trust and perseverance, God eventually raised him up to become the 2nd most powerful man in Egypt. From there he went on to add a few more things to his resume, including reconciling his family and saving them from famine, and fathering one of the 12 tribes of Israel, to name a few.

He stayed the course, weathered the storms, and found God to be faithful and just.

Its interesting to note that although I began to speak about the kind of girl I would go after, and the standards in regards to such a girl, both of these passages focus not particularly on the character of the quarry but on the character of the man in question. And so I return to the age-old maxim: to not focus on finding the right person, but rather to focus on being the right person.

I know that no matter what God has in store for me - regardless of whether that what will become a who - it will be excellent. I have only to redeem the time I've been given - to be faithful in the field, as my namesake was, until such a time as I may be called for more. And to refuse to compromise for less than the best in the meantime. If she's out there, maybe she's doing the same thing. Will I live up to her standards?


Something strange began to happen to me at age 50. I had a wife who loved me, and whom I loved. I had a large estate, which, without much effort on my part, increased. My name was respected, I enjoyed physical strength, and yet I could not live, because of death. The question which brought me to the verge of suicide sought an answer without which one cannot live, "is there any meaning in life that my inevitable death does not destroy?"

Today or tomorrow death will come to those I love and then to me. Soon not only I will not exist, but eventually no one will exist who will remember anything I have written or done. Why then go on with the effort? What is it all for? What does it all lead to? What difference will it make whether I do this thing rather than that thing or nothing at all? So I could give no rational meaning to any single action or even to my whole life. But what was so surprising was how we can fail to see this. For a time its possible to live intoxicated with life, but as soon as one is sober, it is impossible not to see that life in the face of death is a fraud, and a stupid fraud.

How often I have been told, "Oh, you cannot understand the meaning of life, so don't think about it, just live."

But I no longer can do that.
Leo Tolstoy


(If you linked here from this week's Christian Carnival, welcome. You'll find the post Dunmoose spoke of here. He apparently didn't choose to link directly to the submitted posts - at least not in my and a few other cases. Enjoy your stay.)

Empty. I am not running on empty. I am sitting on the side of the road with no help in sight empty.

Physical - up late last night chatting and eating and lying around trying to sleep. Woke up and headed into the city to run Russ' last 10 miles of his training run with him. Sad that slamming a 10 could suck me so dry, but its been a tough few months for me - no time to stay in shape.

Emotional - probably didn't sleep last night because mom called with an update on the cousin. By the end of the phone call I was so angry I couldn't speak, I just told her I had to go. She felt bad, and I had to call back today to make sure that she knew that it wasn't her I was angry at. She knew. I think dad has a better read of where I'm at on this whole thing and has avoided giving me the painful details for just that reason.

As if that weren't enough, I decided it was time to see Hotel Rwanda, just to suck the tank completely dry. I should have known what I was getting myself into, having visited the idea lately in my thoughts.

The movie is a true story, and a clear and accurate picture of the complete peace-keeping impotence of the UN. Sadder still, its telling evidence of the turn-a-blind-eye mentality that most of the civilized world has. To paraphrase one of the characters, "I think most of the world will see what's going on here, say 'that's terrible,' and go on eating their dinners."

I'm not trying to trivialize the death of nearly 3,000 in our homeland in one day, or even the 1,500+ lost defending our country from terror threats in the Middle East. But nearly 1,000,000 lives lost in 100 days? Were we just not watching the news?

As the movie shows, the target of the ethnic cleansers was not just the Tutsi people. It was primarily their children. That's how cleansing works.

While somewhat traumatic, I left feeling that the viewer only got a dumbed-down, Americanized version of what the horror really was like. While there were some beatings, shooting, etc. - there was less brutal violence in this movie than in, oh, Gladiator? Not that I want to be exposed to what it was really like. But maybe I need to be.

Maybe we all need to be.


Its Thursday. Or it was, recently. Either way, here be the goodies.

NYU's Veritas Forum. Ends tomorrow night. Hopefully I'll find out about this one sooner next year.

Last week I linked to a good and right site, supporting the hatred of clowns. This week's object of our disdain is Grandpa Joe. Just say no.

Pretty funny, as far as babies go. Not sure how I found this site. Random blogging. Cool site at the end of it.

10x10. Click on "This is now." This guy also has an interesting home page.

Cool NYC reference site of the week, Place Matters. Via MUG, who rightly noted that census isn't nearly the right word for it. You may need to Macguyver your display resolution a little to view all their windows correctly.

I am almost seriously considering giving this Jet Blue bonanza a shot tomorrow morning. Guess it depends on if I get any sleep tonight. Funniest motto for a canned-food drive ever. Unless mom is reading this, in which case its just deplorable.

Mr. T Name Generator

Ipod vs. the Cassette. On a more serious note, Matt reports on the seemingly official end of the tape era.

Office Slang

England does Rocky

Ok this proves its existence, even if the site is lacking.

Perhaps the coolest online game ever.

Million Man Lan. If thinking this is cool makes me a nerd, I don't want to be cool. Or something.

The short on lie detection.

Brothers in Arms - true Normandy story recreated in a game format (violence warning).

Last, I officially take it upon myself to welcome Becca to the blogosphere. I just wish she could have joined us under less painful circumstances!


Yesterday was my first ever interview in track pants and a t shirt. Got home early to prepare and threw the classical play-list on for some study accompaniment. Of course it randomly pulled up Carmina Burana as its first choice. Not to be too dramatic or anything...

#3 went well. Bring on numero catorce, as Bono would say.

Today was more work, where the rate at which the disasters are occurring has now far exceeded the rate at which I can mitigate them. Never mind finding the time to actually do my job, which is generally done in the evenings, when I can spare them. Tonight I ran out, late, for the third instance of Christianity Uncorked. I met Chloe there, who I originally met via providence, Google, and my first post about CU, which I am completely unable to locate at this point. Google, by the way, returns no results now for the title event, which is more than a little odd, seeing as my blog mentions the phrase at least a couple times, and Google parents Blogger. I'm convinced something shady, perhaps some things, even, are going on over at Google. I better find a job there and get things straightened out for them.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, already. If you're anything like me in years past, you've been walking down the street, or through the offices, and you've see someone with a dirty forehead and thought "Oh yeah - here again already."

Or maybe you're not like me, maybe you're one of the good Catholics who will actually have the smudged visage that reminds people like me what day it is. Its been interesting to poll some of my Catholic co-workers over the years to see what their knowledge level of the event actually is. I won't get into the results, but suffice to say I suspect most Protestants have even less of a solid grasp on the tradition.

Ash Wednesday (Latin: dies cinerum, lit. "day of ashes") is speculated to have its origin sometime around the 8th century AD, and as such it is naturally a tradition rooted firmly in the Catholic church (although its grown, within limits, beyond the Catholic faith, over the years). The actual act consists of the priest dipping his thumb into the ashes and placing them in the sign of the cross on each participant's forehead, whilst saying the words "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return," or some similar phrase based on God's proclamation to Adam in Genesis 3:19.

The ashes are supposed to come from the burnt remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year (why the previous year, I have no idea - I suspect any more they use the Palms from the week before). They are also supposed to be sprinkled with holy water and fumigated with incense. I have no idea whether the Catholic church at large still holds to these maxims on a strict basis, but I do know that where it is practiced among Protestants, the ash most likely is not the palms, nor watered nor fumigated (I base this on the knowledge that Protestants don't generally bless palms, use incense, nor consecrate water).

Apparently at some Ash Wednesday services, they conclude by wiping the ashes off, to symbolize forgiveness of sin, while at others, they leave them on, that the participant can carry the sign of the cross beyond the doors of the church.

The practice has its biblical basis in the Old Testament, when men used ash, sackcloth, the practice of fasting, and shaving of the head to publicly demonstrate mourning and/or repentance of sin. The Catholic term for this practice in general is penance, or penitence.

This is by no means a conclusive report on the event and its symbolism, but as far as I can deduce, the practice is meant to symbolize at least some of the following:

- We are all sinful, and as such will all die a physical death (doctrine of Original Sin)
- We should sorrow over our sins, and repent (lit. turn away from them)
- We are created from dust and sustained only by the breath of God (and will return to dust when the breath leaves our bodies)
- Christ's death on the cross attoned for all sin and therefore eternally nullified the Old Testament need for burnt offering

If the last one is true, it kind of makes the incense thing a little, well...

Verdict: I like the practice of Ash Wednesday, and will probably participate in it again this year. I think its a good way for Christians (be they Catholic or Protestant) to remind themselves of some important life concepts - a good way to put a spiritual speed-bump in the busy road of life. While I don't think that those who choose not to practice Ash Wednesday are any less spiritual for it, I think at least, for those like myself, it can serve a useful purpose - one of focus and reflection.

There's a good number of church traditions we still have today that have similar roots, and I hope to examine perhaps a few more of them in the near future, the next (logically), being the practice of Lent.


I like to say/think that I don't get stressed out.

I learned early on in life that stress is an external thing - you control how much of it you choose to take on. And being able to handle a lot of it isn't necessarily something to brag about.

So, I wouldn't say I've been stressed lately, but there is definitely a lot on the plate. I guess that's just how we live here in metropolis, but lately its been different.

Doing my job and half of my boss' job, trying to find a new job, making sure its the right one, wondering if I should be back in school instead of prolonging the magic where I am now, wondering what I want to go back to school for (read: commit the next 10 years of my life to), trying to read and write a lot more, giving a half-decent lesson on Sundays, accountability, personal growth, petty health issues, forgetting how to sleep...it feels like its all adding up.

I feel like I need summer to get here, and I hate that I feel that way. This happens in the second half of the school year. When you work with kids you still operate, on some level, on a school year mind-set, which is NICE. Anyway, second half you always seem to be running the razor edge of burnout. In the Fall, you know the feeling is coming, you just don't know how to prevent it. But to live for the future is a horrible thing (in the temporal, not spiritually eternal sense...you know what I mean). I hate that. I need to love now, and maximize it.

I think I'm learning a lot about sharing things with other people. I've never really done that before and the blog and some of the groups I've been in have encouraged me to open up. I think its going to teach me a lot about the balance of trust and love - understanding how to realistically balance the two. That's a huge concept for much deeper reflection at a later time.

Sorry for the personal journal post - I've been trying to avoid them lately, or at least throw some decent thought material into them. Tonight's theme is just letting the horse have its reigns, I guess. Its all galloped out now, though.

Hoping to put up a post worthy of submission to Christian Carnival tomorrow, if I can find the time. Didn't last week.


Some excerpts from an article published in Friday's WSJ.

Don't Forget the Iraqi Troops
By Donald Rumsfeld

Last Sunday, the world witnessed the courage and strength of millions of Iraqis who were determined to take ownership of their country. Braving threats of bombings and beheadings, the Iraqi people rejected the extremism that fuels attacks on civilized people. Iraqi voters proudly raised their ink-stained fingers as well deserved badges of honor. Yet in addition to the brave millions who voted, thousands of other Iraqis have gone mostly unheralded--those security personnel who have served with courage as they work to return stability to their country and battle the insurgency.

Many thousands of Iraqi security personnel are performing exceptionally, and a few examples are worth mentioning. On election day, Iraqi security forces stopped a total of eight suicide bombers across Iraq who were hoping to upset the democratic process and kill innocent people. As was widely reported, one Iraqi policeman tackled and drove a suicide bomber back 50 feet from a polling station screaming, "Let me save the people!" before the bomber's belt exploded, killing them both...

Americans won their battle for liberty because they were willing to take the risks and make the sacrifices that freedom requires. They deserve our respect for their courage, and not criticism from the safety of thousands of miles away.

Since their inception, the size and capabilities of Iraqi forces have grown steadily. Some 136,000 Iraqis currently serve alongside coalition forces. The Iraqi Army has helped to evict terrorists in Fallujah, secure the peace in Najaf, and conduct battalion--and even brigade-sized operations in defense of their country...

Iraqis have assumed these duties with great risk--and great cost. A large number of Iraqi servicemen and women have lost their lives serving their country... Yet thousands continue to enlist. This should tell us a good deal about their determination to make democracy work in Iraq and their defiance of the murderers who seek to take Iraq back to a darker place. Their service should be heralded, not denigrated....

As President Bush noted in his State of the Union address, the coalition is entering a new phase in Iraq. The coalition will continue to work with Iraqis to battle the insurgency. But it will increasingly shift its efforts to assisting the training of Iraqis to defend their country, rather than Iraqis assisting the coalition... Ultimately the coalition will not be the ones that will defeat the extremists. It will be the Iraqi people that will do so...

There may be times when the Iraqi people do not overcome challenges in an instant. Democracy is the best system ever devised, but it is not always efficient and it can be difficult...

I am deeply impressed by the Iraqis' performance, just as I am of the American men and women in uniform. Since March of 2003, the coalition has done the hard work of restoring stability and prosperity to a decimated society and has worked successfully with tens of thousands of Iraqis to bring them to where they are today. America's men and women in uniform are contributing to a noble cause--the cause of freedom for which generations of Americans before them have fought and died. And one day, when their great-grandchildren are reading about the war in Iraq and its aftermath, their history books will say that American forces helped bring hope to a people who were long without it.

New chapters in Iraq history are being written as well. I believe they will record that a brave and determined people--with the help of the United States--rejected tyranny and courageously embarked on a new era for Iraq and perhaps their actions afterwards the entire region.

In my recent thoughts on Americanism - and its fundamental goal of freedom for all, I couldn't help but think of the obvious and present example we have in the war in Iraq. As America continues to realize the actualization of freedom in what was once a tyrannical society, arguments like the "no-WMDs!" or "no-Osama!" continue to lose their weight.

In reality, I believe our president's goal in Iraq and the region at large is two-fold: first, to eliminate the Islamic-extremist terror threat to America. That another airplane hasn't hit another building, that we've seen no attempt on a nuclear facility, and that smallpox is not spreading in our nation right now - all are evidence that this effort is working. America has showed the world, by its actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, that it will respond and eliminate any such threat to the safety of its people. Nations like Iran, Syria, and Egypt would do well to be cognizant of this.

The second goal is one more general - that being the goal of freedom. While the first goal may be generally considered a defense of the American freedom, the second goal is an offensive pursuit of freedom, in fact on behalf of those who cannot obtain it for themselves. I believe (despite my Libertarian slants) that this is a good and right cause. To stand idly by as mass-level human injustices rage in certain areas of the world, for America, would be a societal personification of those who preceded the good Samaritan on the parabled road.

In particular, I believe that America should seriously consider intervention in at least some of the ethnic cleansings and other societal atrocities taking place in the African continent right now - situations that the UN continues to "issue sanctions" about. Yes, we do experience a terrific national deficit, and we have many issues in our homeland that we must tend to. But with reasoned strategies and calculated action at home, we can continue to maintain a wildly- successful economic super power that has the capability to bring its foundational freedoms to those parts of the world that so desperately need it.

We live in a nation where our personal music players sell for more than it would cost to feed an entire tribe of Sudanese for half a year. I think we can afford to help.


I haven't written about the topic of anger as much as I've intended to recently. While I did post my notes from one of the best sermons I've ever heard on the topic, I haven't expounded as I had hoped to.

As previously noted, the healing of anger comes via a three-step approach: 1) Admitting you are angry, 2) Analyzing your anger, and 3) Transforming your anger.

While I feel I've made significant steps in the past year on the admission, I'm not too quick to pat myself on the back. There are still many situations, I'm sure, where I am not so urgent in my attempts to own up to my disordered angers. And then there are those where I have no shame in admitting it. Like today.

This morning the phone rang uncharacteristically early for my sister to be calling on a Saturday. I had a premonition of something's-not-right-in-the- world when I heard her voice.

Physical violence toward innocent people is something that most of us only see in movies. We trivialize it because it rarely touches us in any real form. And because we cannot fully comprehend the pain of the brutalities that we know exist, but for the most part are able to avoid.

I have a cousin who wasn't able to avoid them. Last night, her husband of less than a year beat her beyond physical recognition. This morning she laid in a hospital, awaiting an MRI to assess the possible brain damage she may have suffered.

Most times, in spousal abuse cases, the police have the uniquely sad restriction of requiring the victim to press charges before they can take appropriate action. In the most brutal and exceptional cases, however, there is provision for the police to take action when the victim is unable to respond (ie. the victim is unconscious, etc.). My cousin's husband remains a fugitive with a warrant for arrest currently issued for him.

Meanwhile, the doctors think that my cousin will recover. They didn't use the adjective "fully" - I can only assume this means lasting physical disfigurements. They have already said, however, that were something even half as severe were to happen to her again, it would certainly kill her. The rest of the lasting effects remain to be determined at this point.

I have been angry all day. I took a long, angry run, I ran til it hurt, and then I turned around and ran all the way back. I've tried to keep my mind off of it, but everything keeps coming back to the anger. The video game, the movie, the book. Even just now, reviewing tomorrow's lesson on the virtue of forgiveness. Right now I'm not really sure I can lead the lesson with a clean conscience.

One of the illustrations in the lesson is the story of Amy Biehl, as recalled by Desmond Tutu in his book, No Future Without Forgiveness. Amy was a young American student at Stanford who studied in South Africa during the final years of apartheid. One day, while giving some of her friends a ride home, a gang of angry youth forced her and her friends from the car, then beat and stabbed her to death. He goes on to talk about how Amy's parents didn't oppose the amnesty applications of her killers, but attended the hearings and supported the process of reconciliation, even setting up a foundation in Amy's name to help the youths from the town she was killed in.

I've often look at these people, the ones who are able to experience the worst violence this world has to offer, and who are then able to forgive freely - I've looked at them and honestly thought that they must be ignorant. They must be able to ignore the overwhelming sense of injustice, and their forgiveness, while admirable, isn't really a fully understanding, fully cognizant one, but rather a forced-oblivion forgiveness that the person's subconscious must necessitate for survival.

I think I've felt this because I'm afraid that I wouldn't be able to forgive as they do, and so I want an excuse, in advance.

Today I got to face that situation, in my own small way.

I am angry. But I have not sinned, in my anger. I'm not sure that I would be able to say the same were I to cross paths with my cousin's husband, and as such I'm praying that justice will be served before that would ever happen. I don't believe that this kind of anger is wrong - in fact I believe that righteous anger is almost impossible to have on behalf of one's self - but most often had on behalf of others who have experienced injustice.

So, I've admitted, and I've analyzed. The first instantaneously and the second pretty much all day long.

Transforming it. That's the hard part. How to reconcile a manifest evil. Sin in its ugly, physical state. How do you turn a deaf ear to that? How do you keep on forgiving when you see the scars on her face?

We have the ultimate example. The One who died at the hands of the world's unrestrained fury, who took the cup of anger and became the very incarnation of loving the sinner and hating the sin. The One who lived out His own words: "Love your enemies..." and as such, saved them from their anger itself.

So its not like I have an excuse to not forgive.


Well yesterday the prognosticator of prognosticators came out and made me happy man - I could actually go for like 60 more weeks of winter. Anyway, a bigger mammal took center stage later in the day and had some more important things to say. About what I expected (pleased with the shout-outs to Syria and especially Egypt). Have to question your sense of American freedom-lovingness if the part pictured above didn't give you at least a brief pause.

Interview #2 went well, looking forward to #3. Got my test date with the Bureau in the mail today too. Prayer continues. In the meantime, what's to link to?

Evite for Christianity Uncorked #3. Its all full up. I registered an extra spot, but already gave it away. If you'd still like to go, though, hit me up.

A plethora of Gmail euphoria:

How to get your yahoo or hotmail forwarded to your new gmail (w/o paying yahoo or hotmail):

Returnpath looks free and therefore sketchy.

This convoluted process looks as close to the method I originally used that I can now easily find on the internets.

This looks less convoluted but maybe a bit more sketchy.

Gmail paranoia. And those watching the watchers.

Unofficial Gmail FAQ.

Its that time again. I used this one last year, but I'm shopping around this year.

Found this interesting blog when I was googling for an article my sister wrote a while back. They've been at it for a while over there.

Cool site. This site is NOT easy to navigate, and it may be even tougher to figure out after you start to get the hang of the navigation, Matty (the writing style is apparently influenced by one of my fave movies). Hint - explore with your mouse on the first page. Quality NYC info here.

Interesting interview with one of the Christian influences behind The Simpsons. Mmm...forbidden donut.

Ooooh, I hate them.

Mean. But useful.

This is the general idea. Unfortunately this seems like a really rough attempt and the interface is probably too junk to ever make it what it can be. But its the general idea. One day we'll all be copper tops.

Sign up at Bebo and have access to your address book online, all the time. I'm on it, so hit me up if you sign up.

Last of all, this is a really innovative idea for a website. It looks like some kind of on-line bazaar / auction, where you can sell or buy just about anything. Keep an eye on this one.


2005 marks the start of my 3rd year of participation with a men's accountability group, hosted by my roommate and I in our apartment, Tuesday nights at 8pm.

Aside from joining a home group shortly after moving to the city, this has been one of the most unexpectedly transformational undertakings I've engaged in over the last 3 years. I've accomplished certain feats that I know I would probably never have even thought to attempt without the support and encouragement of Jason, John, Michael, and guys who have moved away over the years (namely Scott and Bill).

I've learned more about who I am as a person and where my growth needs exist. I've learned an incredible amount about how honest sharing of very personal matters can help a person in so many ways. As we've prayed for each other, held each other up, suggested advice, and called each other to the line (though sometimes difficult), we've joined lasting bonds that are joyfully eternal.

I'm excited about the year to come and the lofty goals I've set for my personal growth. As usual, I'm already behind and have a significant amount of catch-up in the remains of 1st quarter. I often feel like the amount of work to be done in my life is so voluminous that these attempts I'm making are a more than a little like Michelangelo setting out to carve his David out of Half Dome. But I'm going to keep chipping away all the same.

If you're a Christian and don't have some means of accountability, I humbly suggest that you investigate the possibilities. Having someone who can honestly, sometimes brutally, but always lovingly tell you how it is - its simply an invaluable experience.

I hope to write more expanded thoughts on the dynamics of personal accountability in the future. I hope to do a lot of things in the future. Like right now, for instance: I hope to eat and spend some time prepping for interview #2, tomorrow morning. And if you want to know more about what that is, exactly, you'll have to contact me directly. Have to maintain a political level of non-disclosure on a blog I sometimes update from the office.


There is a desk at the very end of the west/downtown platform of the F train at the 63rd and Lex station on the UES. There is always a cop at this desk (at least at the many varied hours that I've used this platform). You officially know NYC if you can guess why there would be a cop in this particular location.

Picture is a little blurry because I was trying to hold the camera inconspicuously when I took the picture(s). Wasn't inconspicuous enough, because the one not sitting down started flipping out when he realized I had snapped a picture. I posited the question with him of whether it was in fact illegal (I happen to know for a fact that its not illegal, yet), but I kind of understood why he was ticked, given the nature of the location (if that gives you any hint as to why they were there). Fortunately, our disagreement lasted only about the extent of the time that the doors were open on the F train, and I was whisked away to safety.

More pics if you click the one above. You may have to log onto imagestation, they seem to have removed their easy-access html code for blog posting - I can't find it anywhere lately, at any rate. I'm studying up on my HTML, though, so maybe I'll figure how to do it myself with some clever trickery...


Great article written by Matthias Dapfner, CEO of the huge German publisher Axel Springer AG. Originally published, as far as I can tell, in DIE WELT, Germany's largest daily newspaper. Calls the ball on Europe.

There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians and directed against our free, open Western societies. It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than the great military conflicts of the last century -- a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by tolerance and accommodation but only spurred on by such gestures, which will be mistaken for signs of weakness.

Its short and worth the read.

On topic: Jon Trainer on Just War Theory. Great explanation for those (especially Christians) on either side of the topic. I researched this last year (specifically the Augustinian viewpoint) and personally believe that the war in Iraq fits most of the JWT criteria, some of them quite clearly. That doesn't, however, make it an easy decision by any means:

It is easy to read these principles, but much harder to apply them. You should be reassured by the fact that your military community studies these principles of warfare and works hard to operate within their constraints. However, there is no guarantee these guidelines will be heeded by all combatants. JTW [sic] is broken at some level in every conflict; however, JTW [sic] plays three vital functions: 1) to limit the scope of war, 2) to provide a common framework for diplomacy in matters relating to war, and 3) to give ethical and moral guidance to nations and individuals as they shape national policy and personal conviction.

Found Jon via Christian Carnival (which can currently be found here) - I'm working on a submission for this week but it may not be done in time for tomorrow's deadline, in which case it will be submitted for next week's CC.