Friday, September 05, 2003

Speechwriting 101. Have you ever wanted to be a presidential speechwriter? This flash website allows you to do just that.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

P. O. 'd. This really has me ticked.


On the Hill, in both the Senate and House, there are "caucuses" -- formal and informal groupings of Senators and representatives around a particular interest. They may be issue oriented ("Congressional Meth Caucus"), they may be racial or ethnic ("Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues") or they may just be a group of idiots.

Reflecting the sad fact that there are quite a few bigots in America, it turns out there is a large caucus of bigots in the Senate, the ALC. Set forth here are the members of the Senate's Anti-Latino Caucus:
Daniel Akaka

Max Baucus

Evan Bayh

Joe Biden

Jeff Bingaman

Barbara Boxer

Robert KKK Byrd

Maria Cantwell

Tom Carper

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Kent Conrad

Jon Corzine

Tom Daschle

Mark Dayton

Chris Dodd

Byron Dorgan

Dick Durbin

John Edwards

Russell Feingold

Dianne Feinstein

Bob Graham (FL)

Tom Harkin

Fritz Hollings

Daniel Inouye

Jim Jeffords

Tim Johnson

Edward Kennedy

John Kerry

Herb Kohl

Mary Landrieu

Frank Lautenberg

Patrick Leahy

Carl Levin

Joseph Lieberman

Blanche Lincoln

Barbara Mikulski

Patty Murray

Mark Pryor

Jack Reed

Harry Reid

John Rockefeller

Paul Sarbanes

Charles Schumer

Debbie Stabenow

Ron Wyden

More Football. I think I may be the only person to pick the 'skins to make the playoffs (although I pick them as a wildcard) -- this isn't just a home town prediction. Looking over their schedule, I can see them going 10-6. Their first seven games (before the bye) are tough, with every team being a 2002 playoff team or near miss contender. Yet, they open tonight with the Jets minus Pennington (and the other free agents the 'skins signed), then go to Atlanta, minus Vick. If they come out of the bye at 4-3, you can count on them to go 6-3, the rest of the way.

On the other hand, the Jints open with the Rams, host the Tuna and his 'boys on MNF, then take the shuttle down to DC before the bye. 0-3 is not out of the question, although I'm figuring 1-2. I see the Giants going at best 9-7, which leaves them out.

The Dolphins have a tough closing schedule, following that short week trip to Dallas (at New England, vs. Philly, at Buffalo and vs. N.Y. Jets). Nevertheless, the win over Dallas will give them a chance to take a breather before going to Boston - they should go 3-1 in December, giving them a 12-4 record. The Pats, with a somewhat easier schedule, will still only pull out 10-6. The Browns should eke ahead of them for the wild card, with an 11-5 record.

All of this bring us to the toughest Division in Pro Football: the AFC West. Who's the worst team? San Diego? With LaD and David Boston? Marty S. coaching? Denver? Jake the Snake throwing to Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe and Ed McCaffrey, Clinton Portis in the backfield? Shanahan coaching? Hmmm, maybe the Chiefs? Priest Holmes? Tony Gonzalez?
Dick Vermeil and his fabled success in third season? Or maybe the Raiders -- who won the Division title for the past three years running? No, it's this competition that makes the whole division even stronger and will leave the winner going into the playoffs battle-tested and confident. The Raiders will win the Division for the fourth year, but only because they will beat the Chiefs in both games. Both teams will finish with 11-5 records.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Predictions. Ben "the Comish" Domenech fearlessly predicts the Raiders will win the Super Bowl. I hope, I hope, I hope, he's right.

My predictions:

East: Dolphins
North: Steelers
South: Titans
West: Raiders
Wild Cards: Chiefs, Browns

East: Eagles
North: Packers
South: Bucs
West: Rams
Wild Cards: 49ers, Redskins

AFC Title Game: Miami v. Tenn.
NFC Title Game: Rams v. Eagles

Super Bowl: Fins v. Eagles

Dolphins win everything.

(Or who knows, a rematch of Super Bowl 34?)
Making Amends. I was asked the other day if there was anything my (former) Bishop Peter Lee could do to make amends for his wrongs. What first went through my mind was the scene from Braveheart where William Wallace first presents terms to the British:
Here are Scotland's terms. Lower your flags, and march straight back to England, stopping at every home to beg forgiveness for 100 years of theft, rape, and murder. Do that and your men shall live. Do it not, and every one of you will die today.

Cheltham: You are outmatched. You have no heavy cavalry. In two centuries no army has won without--.

William: I'm not finished. Before we let you leave, your commander must cross that field, present himself before this army, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own arse.
Okay, granted even Peter the Apostate isn't quite in that league yet.

So seriously, what can he do to make amends?

Well, according to the Book of Common Prayer, at the vesturing [sp?] of a bishop, the Presiding Bishop must ask:
Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, you have heard testimony given that NN has been duly and lawfully elected to be a bishop of the Church of God to serve in the Diocese of [New Hampshire]. You have been assured of his suitability and that the Church has approved him for this sacred responsibility. Nevertheless, if any of you know any reason why we should not proceed, let it now be made known.
BCP at 514.

In short, for Peter Lee to make amends, he must repent and appear at the service for the installation of Gene Robinson on November 2, and voice his objections in the strongest terms. I would further recommend that he resign the episcopacy and devote his life to serving the poor, the sick, and those in prison. I suspect, however, that he will keep a firm grasp on his office.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

High School. Today's the first day of high school for my oldest daughter. I'm feeling many mixed feelings. I'm so proud of her -- she's really an outstanding girl. She's learned a lot over the past few years (under my care and guidance as her 7th and 8th grade teacher -- yet, most of her learning has been "self-taught" rather than instruction). [For an example of her work-product, consider her science experiment, here.] I am confident in her and her abilities, yet, it is always hard to let go...

I'm most pleased with her work in math and geometry (and, somewhat related, logic). Her proofs have been very well laid out -- something I could never grasp. At the orientation on Friday my wife and I saw another mom who was homeschooling her daughter. This mom was surprised we put our daughter in Algebra II (Honors) and asked if we had to have her tested to skip geometry. I guess that's a question that comes up from time-to-time, see, for example, this article. Yet, it never occurred to me that she couldn't handle this level course (although she's the only 9th grader in the class). I'll tell you, I spent a lot of time examining different mathematics curricula -- plus I got good advice from bright homeschooled students (thank you nick e, wherever you are). I used the Harold Jacobs Algebra and Geometry books (get the teacher's guide and test form book, if you use these -- both are worth the money). [I see that there is now a third edition of Geometry out.]
10 Comedian Argus Hamilton observes:
Alabama complied Friday and moved the Ten Commandments from the court lobby to a closet just off the lunchroom. It's insane. In the space of three months, the federal courts have put the Ten Commandments in the closet and let the sodomy laws out.
While I have not written in this space on this controversy (I did try to submit a lengthy comment to Peter Sean Bradley's post here, apparently too long and swallowed in the ether), my thought is that both the lower Federal Court and the Court of Appeals were wrong -- but C.J. Moore was more wrong.

I do take a perverse amusement in people who love to throw stones at "fair-weather federalists" turning out to be fair-weather federalists themselves. Not to mention playing fast and loose with history.

Monday, September 01, 2003

The Churching of Women. A recent Christianity Today editorial notes
More than four decades after the introduction of the Pill, hardly anyone now getting married remembers the time when pleasure, procreation, passion, companionship, and parenthood were all intimately knotted into a bundle called marriage.
It then goes on to offer six points whereby "the local church [may] recreat[e] a biblical understanding of marriage in our society."

The fifth point
Fifth, churches must help their members recover the link between marriage and procreation. . . . Churches need to celebrate the fact that every marriage is procreative by design.
It seems to me that in the Episcopal Church, there is a wonderful little ceremony that reflects this reality. In the 1928 Prayer Book, it went by the quaint name "The Thanksgiving of Women after Child-birth commonly called The Churching of Women." I'll be honest - I know little about the origin of this service. Could it be derivative of Lev. 12, which calls for the purification of women after childbirth? Possibly [Probably]. Yet, the thrust of the title and the service appears to be one of giving thanks for a safe delivery. ("FORASMUCH as it hath pleased Almighty God, of his goodness, to give you safe deliverance, and to preserve you in the great danger of Child-birth") This probably seemed more necessary in a pre-modern age where there was a high rate of mortality in child-birth. Nevertheless, this simple ceremony is something I think almost every parent desires. I know we did -- the first public outing for all of our children was to Church -- to give thanks to God.

The rubric provides:
As soon as convenient after the birth of a child, or after receiving a child by adoption, the parents, with other members of the family, should come to the church to be welcomed by the congregation and to give thanks to Almighty God. It is desirable that this take place at a Sunday service. In the Eucharist it may follow the Prayers of the People preceding the Offertory.
The brief service includes this prayer:
O God, you have taught us through your blessed Son that whoever receives a little child in the name of Christ receives Christ himself: We give thanks for the blessing you have bestowed upon this family in giving them a child. Confirm their joy by a lively sense of your presence with them, and give them calm strength and patient wisdom as they seek to bring this child to love all that is true and noble, just and pure, lovable and gracious, excellent and admirable, following the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In short, I submit, our predecessors left us a Biblical understanding of marriage, which we have, through neglect, allowed to wither. Let's bring them back to life.