Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Take a second and read this speech.
If this is Oaks’ interpretation of the First Amendment I'm glad he isn't still practicing law. He seems to think that it's OK for a church to criticize but that they should be immune from criticism. We can't have it both ways. If we demand that other groups keep quiet when it come to criticizing us then perhaps we should afford them the same courtesy and stay out of politics. If you feel, as I do, that churches should have every right to make political statements, then we need to accept the flip-side of that same coin we toss and stop whining about being criticized.
I'd like to know which article in any constitution protects a church from criticism. He needs to pick up a history book. Freedom to criticize the dominant churches was also a main tenant of our founders. Most of the religious colonists were looking for both, freedom of their religion and freedom from the one they were fleeing. This church wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Joseph's right to go against what others felt should stand beyond criticism. But the laws of this country allowed him to continue.
I agree with the advice given in the speech as far as how to respond when confronted with people with whom we disagree. I just disagree with his notion that religious organizations are due a certain respect and should stand immune from criticism even after they throw their two cents in to an already very heated political argument.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


So shortly after I got back from lunch I decided to check a couple of news. I’ve made it no secret that I’ve been very disillusioned with the crap that masquerades around as news lately. But I still feel some pathological need to check in with the big sites periodically just to see if I’m missing something important. Well what do I find today at 12:15pm? has a front page, biggest font and a picture and story with video of the fashion accuracy behind the series “Mad Men”. has an article about the 10 day old non-news event about Falcon Heene AKA“balloon boy”. And has a story about another hoax, the Latvian meteorite.

This is just sad. Did nothing important happen today? Or have they just completely forgotten what classifies as news? The top stories on three of the biggest news sites today had nothing to do with news at all. Who cares about any of these events?

This first story, “Mad Men” fashion accuracy, are you serious CNN? Who cares? Shouldn’t reporting of this calibre be reserved to a fan site on How in any measurable way will the accuracy of inaccuracy of the suits these actors wear affect my life? It won’t.

Next we have two hoaxes that wouldn’t have existed at all if the media didn’t have a predisposition to air anything at all without checking the facts first. Even the local authorities played the media to help gain the trust of the Heene family and get them to slip up and admit the story was a hoax. What does that say about the condition of the media in this country when law enforcement can bank on the fact that they won’t try to follow up on the story and do any kind of accuracy check at all before running the story? Even a cursory check with anyone who had taken 8th grade physics would be able to tell a critical thinking reporter that there was no way in the world a balloon that small could have lifted itself and 37 pound Falcon Heene. But who cares right? They pay good money for that news helicopter so let’s air the stupid footage without any kind of critical review. And 10 days later we can still talk about it as if something new has happened even though it really hasn’t. Give it a rest. The sooner the Heene family falls back into obscurity the better.

I haven’t read much on the whole Latvian Meteor yet. The one picture I saw was obviously created with buried explosives and not the relatively slow moving mass of a meteor. I’ll wait for the scientist to debunk this story completely. Until then I’m sure all the media is perfectly content to continue giving the attention that was planned from the beginning to this complete non-event.

I’ve just finished reading It’s Not News it’s Fark is written by the creator of the website The author, Drew Curtis has spent a decade running a website that makes fun of the crap that we continue to call news. The book is a riot. It’s irreverent and frequently potty-mouthed, but always right on the mark. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the many ways that the media puts crap in print, online or on the air.

To hear conservative talk show host lambaste the modern media you’d think that they were controlled by the some liberal conspiracy organization. I’ve been personally analysing the news for several years looking for the liberal bias that is so frequently trumpeted. The only way you could get a liberal bias out of the crap that gets aired is if you define anything that isn’t conservative bias as a liberal bias. But in fact much of what make headlines is neither. It doesn’t even deserve to be called news.

Who cares about John and Kate? It’s only news to about 12 people on the whole planet. It’s just entertainment to some of the rest of us. And most of the country couldn’t’ care less. The fashion accuracy of “Mad Men”? Puhleeze. How about a story about the math accuracy of the latest spending bill? That would be news that really affects me.

My only criticism of the book as that I wish he would have dedicated a whole chapter to the media’s impotence. Michael Eisner has gone on record that he didn’t think it would be appropriate for ABC news to report on any of Disney’s business dealings. He doesn’t mind, however, an ABC news report about the technology behind the latest Disney movie. So self reporting is okay if it’s positive. You just can’t bite the hand that feeds you. Well considering the size and depth of most of the media conglomerates today playing by Eisner’s rules it becomes very hard to say anything at all. So what are you left with? A news media that is pretty impotent.

I’d really recommend reading It’s Not News It’s Fark. Don’t dismiss it as satire. His critique is right on the mark.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Future pilots?

Yesterday a friend of mine took us down to tour his office. Jeff is a Delta mechanic. Aaron is working on his aviation merit badge and has been talking a lot lately about becoming a pilot. We invited all the kids to come along but Eve was the only one who took us up on the offer. We got to go all over inside several different airplanes and the they kids both had a great time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Get Outta Town

I need to get out and backpack more often. It just really felt good to get several miles away from the car and well into the backcountry. The air just tasted different than it does around here.
Last Friday was a teacher work day for our county. In spite of the fact that I had passed a kidney stone the week before I really needed to “get outta Dodge” just to return to sanity. Aaron still needed to hike one 20 mile hike in a day in order to earn his Hiking Merit Badge. Most boys just do this as a day hike and don’t carry a pack. It didn’t take much convincing and Aaron agreed that we should do something bigger than that.
We broke out the maps and found several nice loop trails that would accomplish his goal. We eventually choose a 24 mile loop in the Smokies that covered about 6 miles of the Appalachian Trail on a very pretty section that I did in 1992.
We got an early start on Friday and made it up to the trail head around 10:00am. We started out at Smokemont Campground at about 2400’. The first 4 miles of the trail ascended gradually and hiked along the Bradley Fork River. The trail was wide and the river gave us constant great views of rapids and waterfalls.
A little after the 4 mile mark the trail left the river started climbing steeply for the next 4 miles ‘til it reached the Appalachian Trail at around 5700’. We weren’t quite making as good a time as we had planned but were still going pretty fast considering the terrain. In spite of the constant drizzle and overcast skies this was the prettiest section of the trail. The AT walks right along the Tennessee and North Carolina border on a knife edge ridge. At times you have drops of several hundred feet on each side of you. Yet the ridge itself doesn’t gain or loose much altitude. When the clouds would break Aaron would stop for several minutes just to admire the view.
Since we were going as little slower than we expected we stopped and made camp at Peck’s Corner shelter. The shelter was full so we set up our tent a little ways away. We had to put the food in a bear bag and it rained pretty hard on us all night. We stayed pretty dry but the gear was wet so our packs weighed a few pounds more than when we started.
We got up pretty early on Saturday and started hiking out in the dark. We wanted to make sure that we got to the 20 mile make before 10:00am so we could honestly say that we did 20 miles in one 24 hour period. Considering that the whole day was pretty much down hill we were able to get that done in spades. We were back at the car around 1:00pm and had 24 tough miles in the Smokies under our belts.
I really enjoyed just spending time with Aaron. At times when the trail was wide enough we were able to have some deep philosophical discussions. He’s a good kid and I can’t express how proud I was of him for sticking it out and finishing this merit badge the way he did. Most scouts do their 20 miler on much easier terrain and they do it without a backpack. I did mine in 8 hours just walking from my house to Stone Mountain and back.
The whole event inspired me to get outside with my family more often. Eve has been really bugging me to go camping too. I need to make this more of a priority than I have been. I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoyed just being around the mountains and the trees.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

another Kewl quote

"Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kewl Quote

"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn."
Henry David Thoreau

Friday, October 09, 2009

Kewl Quote

"In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness."
Carl Sagan