Sunday, January 25, 2009

So That Men Are Without Excuse

This weekend I took the family to see "Inkheart." It was a fun and adventurous romp with only two mild language issues and a scary scene with a monster named “The Shadow.” I predict great success for this film since it can be watched by entire families from 7 or 8 all the way up. Very few of those anymore that are safe enough for the little ones, and interesting enough for the teens and parents.

Before the movie started we saw the trailers of upcoming movies and I was especially fascinated by the new Disney movie “Earth” produced by a new imprint called DisneyNature. It comes out in April on Earth day and follows one year in the life of various creatures around the globe.

As the trailer played I recalled the verse from Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

I was mesmerized by God’s handiwork. Honestly, from the opening comment by narrator James Earl Jones that in all the known universe there is only one planet that can support life, to the final eye popping views of the creation around us, I thought only of Him.

How? How is it possible to see the vast glory of life on this planet and not realize, or at least ponder, that this world is not random.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stephen Moore: The End of Prosperity

I read a great article in The Limbaugh Letter and wanted to post a particularly interesting segment from an interview of Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal editorial writer and author of the new book, The End of Prosperity. A timely message as we begin a journey with a president and congress hell-bent on taxing us into prosperity:

“The 1990’s was a great decade. Our book (The End of Prosperity) describes when Reagan came in with a new kind of supply-side pro-free-market philosophy- turning around, by the way, the worst decade of the century other than the Great Depression, which was the 1970’s.

Amazingly , the left is rewriting the history of the 70’s: “If only we hadn’t had Reaganomics, we could go back to those wonderful years of the 1970’s”- when we had gas lines and 25% mortgage interest rates and 14% inflation.”

In any case, Reagan did two things. He cut tax rates very significantly from 70% all the way down to 28%. And he slayed inflation. The inflation rate went from 14.5% down to 3%. We had the greatest boom for 25 years in the history of civilization. No country had ever seen anything like what happened in American from the early 1980’s through 2007. We created $40 trillion dollars of net new wealth over that period. It was an awesome experiment in prosperity.

Now, Bill Clinton’s tax increase did hurt the economy, The evidence is that in the first two years in the Clinton Administration, the economy actually slowed down. But once you had the Republican Revolution in 1994, once you had the combination of Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey running the Congress, then Clinton moved back to the right. That’s when he gave his speech, “the era of big government is over.”
We had welfare reform, we had the capital gains tax cut, we balanced the budget. Those were all pro-growth Regan ideas.

But a lot of the economists that I talk to in the Obama camp look at that period and say, “Look, we can raise taxes through the roof and its not going to hurt the economy.”

That’s a very dangerous idea at a time when the rest of the world is going the other way. China, Sweden, India, my goodness, Russia has a 13% flat tax. How are we going to compete with them with a 40% income tax? It’s a really dangerous idea to be talking about raising taxes right now in the face of the worst economy we’ve had in 25 years.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Batman, The Joker and Beelzebub

We started a new series in bible study class that should be quite interesting. We’re studying about the origin, nature, purpose and plans of the great adversary- Lucifer.

Of the many big unanswered questions about Lucifer, this one stands out most to me: Does he know he is bound to lose? And if so, why does he continue to fight and destroy? And if not, was he all that smart to begin with?

Inside that question in the most interesting part to me- if he knows he will lose, why does he continue to destroy and fight? We went round and round on that one in class Sunday.

While a few lines from a movie script are certainly not important literature from which to build a lens and see a subject clearly, I did find this line from Batman: The Dark Knight to be spot-on in describing the nature of Satan (in the movie’s case, referring to The Joker):

"And in their desperation they turned to a man they didn't fully understand. Some men aren't looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."

Very interesting… some just want to watch the world burn. I think that rightly describes a certain spirit or essence we find in chaos and anarchy. A common thread that I think originates out of the pure evil and destructive nature of the evil one and flows through certain people that revel in destruction.

Self-destructors, those who sabotage important and precious relationships, arsonists, anarchists that want the world to somehow collapse and devolve for the pure enjoyment of it all.

Here’s a list of names attributed to Satan in the Bible. Its interesting to see how many are related to destruction (list found on

Abaddon (Revelation 9:11 )
Abaddon is the Greek form and Apollyon is the Hebrew equivalent. These words mean 'destroyer,' 'destruction.' This title stresses his work of destruction; he works to destroy the glory of God and God's purpose with man. He further works to destroy societies and mankind.

The Accuser of the Brethren (Revelation 12:10 )
The Greek word for "accuser" is kathgor, which refers to one who brings condemning accusations against others. In view of Job 1 and 2, this is also an attempt to malign the character of God and His plan.

The Adversary (I Peter 5:8)
An opponent (in a lawsuit); specially, Satan (as the arch-enemy)

Angel of Light (2 Corinthians 11:14)
One of his purposes is to make men as much like God as he can, but always without God. So, he will copy as much of God and His plan as he can, but he will always either distort, pervert, substitute or leave out those key ingredients of truth that are vital to the plan of salvation and sanctification through Christ

Apollyon (Revelation 9:11 )
A destroyer (i.e. Satan)

Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24 Mark 3:22 Luke 11:15)
Three possible spellings of this word each have a different meaning: (1)Beelzebul means "lord of the dung," a name of reproach. (2) Beelzebub means "lord of the flies." Either one of these are names of reproach and are names of uncleanness applied to Satan, the prince of the demons and uncleanness. (3) Beelzeboul, means, "the lord of the dwelling." This would identify Satan as the god of demon possession. This spelling has the best manuscript evidence behind it.

Belial (II Corinthians 6:15 )
This name means "worthless" or "hopeless ruin." The epitome of worthlessness, hopeless ruin and the source of all idolatry and religion which is also hopeless or futile.

the Devil (Matt. 4:1, 5, 9; Eph. 4:27; Rev. 12:9; 20:2)
"Devil" is the Greek word diabollos which means "slanderer, defamer." This accentuates his goal and work to impugn the character of God.

Dragon (Revelation 12:9 and 20:2)
Probably from an alternate form of derkomai (to look); a fabulous kind of serpent (perhaps as supposed to fascinate) or the Greek word is drakon (as in draconian) and refers to a "hideous monster, a dragon, or large serpent." This word stresses the cruel, vicious, and blood thirsty character and power of Satan.

the Enemy (Matthew 13:39)
From a primary echtho (to hate); hateful (passively, odious, or actively, hostile); usually as a noun, an adversary (especially Satan)

the Evil One (John 17:15; 1 John 5:9)
The Greek poneros means "wicked, evil, bad, base, worthless, vicious, degenerate." It points to Satan's character as active and malignant.

Father of All Lies (John 8:44)
A falsifier; Using his network of deception through demonic forces and duped people, he promotes false doctrines in the name of God.

god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4)
god is used generically and refers to Satan

King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:4)
Confusion; Babel (i.e. Babylon), including Babylonia and the Babylonian empire

King of Tyrus Ezekiel 28:12)
A rock; Tsor, a place in Palestine. Satan is the false rock. Christ is the true Rock.

Little Horn (Daniel 7:8)
A horn (as projecting); by implication, a flask, cornet; by resembl. an elephant's tooth (i.e. ivory), a corner (of the altar), a peak (of a mountain), a ray (of light); figuratively, power

Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12)
The Hebrew word for Lucifer (KJV translation) is literally "the shining one." This name draws our attention to his pre-fall condition and to the nature of the cause of his fall - pride; the morning star: Lucifer (the king of Babylon). Satan is the false morning star. Christ is the true morning Star.

Man of sin (II Thessalonians 2:3)
Satan was the first to sin. See Ezekiel 28:11-19

That Old Serpent (Revelation 12:9 and 20:2)
old = original or primeval
serpent = (through the idea of sharpness of vision); a snake, figuratively (as a type of sly cunning) an artful malicious person, especially Satan

Power of Darkness (Colossians 1:13)
"shade" or a shadow (literally or figuratively [darkness of error or an adumbration])

Prince of the Power of the Air (Ephesians 2:2)
prince = a first (in rank or power)
power = privilege, i.e. (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence

Prince that shall come (Daniel 9:26)
A commander (as occupying the front), civil, military or religious; generally (abstractly, plural), honorable themes. See II Thessalonians 2:3-4 and Revelation 12:7-9

prince of Tyrus (Ezekiel 28:2)
a rock; Tsor, a place in Palestine. Satan is the false rock. Christ is the true Rock.

Prince of this world (John 12:31)
prince = a first (in rank or power)
world = orderly arrangement, i.e. decoration; by implication, the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally])

The Proud One (Isaiah 14:12-14)
The five "I wills"

Rulers of the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:12 )
Rulers = a world-ruler, an epithet of Satan
darkness = shadiness, i.e. obscurity (literally or figuratively)

Satan (Job 1:6-9; Matt. 4:10)
The title "Satan" occurs 53 times in 47 verses in the Bible. The primary idea is 'adversary, one who withstands.'

Serpent (Genesis 3:1; Rev. 12:9)
Properly, to hiss, i.e. whisper a (magic) spell; generally, to prognosticate

Son of Perdition (John 17:12, II Thessalonians 2:3)
Ruin or loss (physical, spiritual or eternal) also to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively

the Tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5)
To test (objectively), i.e. endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline

the Wicked One (Matthew 13:19)
Hurtful, i.e. evil (properly, in effect or influence) figuratively, calamitous; also (passively) ill, i.e. diseased; but especially (morally) culpable, i.e. derelict, vicious, facinorous; neuter (singular) mischief, malice, or (plural) guilt; masculine (singular) the devil, or (plural) sinners

Friday, January 16, 2009

4 Lunches, 2 Days and Spilt Milk

This week has been quite busy. The kind of week that wreaks the same havoc on my workload as a vacation week. You know the drill- out of the office (either on the beach or in constant off-site meetings morning till night) and knowing there’s an ever growing inbox, snail mail stack, unreturned phone calls and ignored to-do list.

It’s been so crazy trying to fit various meetings in, several of them with out-of-town contacts, that I’ve had to schedule two days with two lunches. On Tuesday it was an 11:30AM lunch at P.F. Changs in Cool Springs (Chicken chopped salad) and then a 1:00PM at Franklin Mercantile (chicken noodle soup). Yesterday it was an 11:30AM lunch at Bricktops in downtown Nashville (Chicken chowder soup) and a 1:00PM at J. Alexander’s in Cool Springs (Thai Kai Salad). I probably put 500 miles on the Suburban this week. The only good thing about that was when I filled it up with gas yesterday it only cost $49 versus the $150 it would have cost just a few months ago.

A funny thing happened while at the lunch meeting yesterday in J. Alexander’s. While waiting for my out-of-town lunch guest I ran into a couple of folks I know. Friend1 (which coincidentally had been one of my lunch meetings on Tuesday), and his father, Friend2. They introduced me to Acquaintance1 (the sister of Friend1 and daughter of Friend2) and her husband, Acquaintance2 (the brother-in-law of Friend1 and son-in-law of Friend2). We chatted for a few minutes and I mentioned I was waiting to meet with a guy named Darren that I had never met face-to-face before. I joked about having to do the whole “Hi, are you Darren?” routine with each guy that walked in the restaurant. They were escorted to their table and I continued to wait.

Darren showed up a few minutes later and after a minute or two of small talk the buzzer in my pocket went off and we were taken to our table. Of course it was right next to the Friend1 and 2’s table. Friend2 saw me and said to my lunch meeting “Hi! You must be Darren.”

Darren was stunned to have been recognized in a strange town by someone he had never met, and was completely confused about what was going on. We sat down and I explained.

As we chatted business through lunch I happened to glance to my left just as Acquaintance2 (the husband/brother-in-law/son-in-law) knocked a full cup of half-and-half off his table. You know those little metal miniature jugs that get filled to the brim with creamer? Seems they had finished with lunch and it was coffee time. The creamer thingy hit the carpeted floor with a soft thud and creamer shot out of it like a stick of dynamite in a shallow pond. Creamer ALL over Friend2’s leg and shoes (the father/father-in-law). No on at the table noticed except of course for Acquaintance2. He looked down at the huge mess all over the floor and his father-in-law and a horrified look came over his face. He looked around his table to see if anyone noticed and no one did. He straightened up and resumed drinking coffee and glanced my way. He saw me looking at him, and the mess, and his eyes went wide. He was caught. But did nothing.

A few minutes went by (while the creamer soaked into Friend2’s pants and shoes and the floor) and the waiter for their table appeared. He gave them the check and then noticed the spilled creamer. He pointed it out and the table was surprised. Acquaintance2 said nothing. Friend2 wondered if maybe he had knocked it off himself, or a passing server had. The mess was cleaned up with no one the wiser but me.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Plastic Poop Problems

Sometimes I wonder if my kids have lost their minds. Can children get so creative, so involved in play and the imaginary worlds they build, that they actually cross over into complete wackness?

And so begins the story of The Velveteen Poop Dog.

A couple years ago when R-girl was about 5 years old, we bought her a little plastic dog covered in that cheap velveteen material meant to feel somewhat like fur. It came with play food to give to the little pup that also ended up on the ground after the dog did it’s business.

It was a novel idea. You load the little food pellets into the dog’s mouth, and when an appropriate amount of time passes, you lift his little tail and the pellets, looking exactly the same as when you put them in, drop out the little dog’s rear end and hit the ground with little plops. Voilà. Dog poop.

Like most toys, it broke quickly, and little R-girl complained that her dog had diarrhea.

“What?” I asked.

“She has diarrhea… when you put the food in her mouth it comes out the butt right away.”

Apparently the lifting-tail mechanism had broken and now the food pellets made a quick trip from the dog mouth to popping out the dog butt in about ½ second, no digesting, no slowing down, no relaxing glass of wine to help the meal settle. Just- plop.

R-girl asked me if I could fix it but I couldn’t. It’s one of those non-serviceable toys (as in, you have to destroy it to get it open).

She came up with her own solution- a doggy diaper held tight with a pony-tail holder.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

ABC Not-For-Families Channel

We have all but abandoned ABC Family Channel, though there might be a few old films and shows that run there we still catch, but its dangerous if you have young children.

The promotional spots they run for their newer trash programming are packed full of fun family sex, drugs, alcohol and rock-and-roll baby! Woo-hoo!

The tagline for their network says it all … “ABC Family… a new kind of family.”

As in, "we don’t want any of that stupid freedom-inhibiting namby-pamby, modesty, personal responsibility, restraint, purposefulness, careful consideration of friends and acquaintances crap."

"No way, man, we want SEX! Sex for all! And frat parties with lots of beer! Watch the new show GREEK! And check out The Secret Life of the American Teenager (Viewer Discretion Advised)! Yes, more sex and alcohol! Cool!"

These people at ABC Family are not only evil in their programming choices, they’re stupid and actually very out of touch. I caught a television ad for the DVD collection of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and if you buy it now, ABC Family will throw in a free digital download of the new album by Jesse McCartney.

First of all, no self-respecting real American teenager would be caught dead near a physical CD, much less a digital version on their iPod, of Jesse McCartney. He’s so 2002.

Secondly, if an American teenager DID want a digital copy of Jesse McCartney, or any other artist, they’d just steal it from a peer-to-peer site or rip it from a friends CD. As if.

“ABC Family… a new kind of pandering degenerate channel. With stupid marketing ideas. Watch us! We’re sorta like MTV now, but with crappy music, shows and promotions.”

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Mixed Messages From The Cafeteria

Each weekday I get an email update from my daughter K’s high school with various news items, alerts and events for parents to be aware of.

This was the headline of yesterday’s daily update:

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Tuesday Jan. 6th, 2009

FROM THE CAFETERIA: To help with New Year’s resolutions to be healthier, the cafeteria will be helping out.

Very interesting.

I’m not aware that the student body en masse took such a pledge, but maybe they did. Or perhaps it was the school principal or the cafeteria manager? Or maybe the county school commissioner? In any case, it had my attention. The headline was followed by the “meat” of the story:

We are no longer frying anything. All of our fries will be baked.

Interesting. So far, so good… I guess. Baked French fries? What would that be, exactly? Are those also known as baked potatoes? I guess if Lays can bake potato chips, our high school can bake french fries.

The next item in the story confused me though…

We will no longer have individual salt & pepper packets. This is a small part that we can do to help out.

Ok. No individual salt and pepper packets. Perhaps they got this particular item in the wrong update and it was meant for next years “Global Warming Solutions from the Cafeteria” resolution. Looks like the old prank of loosening salt shaker tops may make a come-back.

And finally, right after the health pledge from the cafeteria comes the regular section where they indicate what's on the menu in the cafeteria for that day:

“Come join us for lunch: Baked potato bar, Nacho bar, Pork Patty, Double Cheeseburgers, Green Beans, Cornbread, White Beans”

Oops. So much for healthy new year resolutions from the high school cafeteria.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Picture and Story 13: Shake It If You Need Help

The entire DigitalRich Crew is enduring great sickness right now. It started with L getting a stomach virus and spending some significant quality time with her porcelain friend- John.

At one point she took a couple blankets, a pillow, her Nintendo DS Lite and a book into the bathroom to save time on the multiple trips she was taking there.

We don’t have one of those bell-hop type table bells/ringers, so A came up with a unique plan for L to notify us if she needed anything while in the bathroom. Just shake the maraca and we’ll be by to check on you.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Nicole Kidman Ruined My Plans

The Good Cup in the Grassland area (no-mans land between Brentwood and Franklin TN) has been my favorite go-to place to have a great cup of coffee and business meeting and escape the insanity of the local Starbucks scene. Could a Starbucks shop BE ANY LOUDER???

I actually think they designed the walls and ceilings to bounce back 150% of the noise from the milk steamer, clanked metal utensils and the insanely loud chit-chat and cell phone conversations from the sea of neighbor tables in order to get customers in and out quickly and turn tables and profits.

Now The Good Cup may be off my list soon for two reasons. First, even though I signed up for the email list to get news and updates from my favorite coffee shop, they failed to notify me that they decided to keep the shop closed after New Years day through the 5th of January. I scheduled two meetings there yesterday morning, and when my first meeting showed up at the same time I did, we stood together staring inside the shop with our hands cupped on the glass around our eyes wondering what was up. Closed. We had to caravan about 8 miles to nearest (non-Starbucks) coffee shop to have our meeting, and on the drive there I had to call my next meeting and let them know about the change of venue.

What exactly would The Good Cup use their email list for if not for notifying their loyal customers about changes in normal operating hours?

Secondly, it seems that two of our local celebs (and neighbors) have made it their regular morning hang too. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have taken a liking to The Good Cup’s exceptional lattes, chocolate espresso bean muffins and homemade sausage biscuits and breakfast quiches. I don’t blame them- they have great taste. This has, however, resulted in a massive increase in morning business and celeb spotters (GREAT for the owner- God bless her and I’m glad for her… but bad for the regulars), and, having to start the last couple of business meetings standing against the wall waiting for a spot to open up.

I guess I’ll have to scope out a new spot for caffeinated morning meetings.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Things Must Be Bad

On Friday while running some errands I happened to glance over at the “Vacuum Cleaner Repair Shop” that has been located in a run-down strip center in Franklin TN for at least as many years as I’ve lived here- since 1994. In all those years I have never actually seen anyone entering, exiting, inside or parked outside of said shop. I always wondered how they stayed in business, and also wondered- who gets vacuum cleaners repaired anymore?

How strange that on that day, as I glanced at the little shop for probably the five thousandth time (its right in my line of sight as a make a regular turn on or from the road to my house) I saw a few cars in the parking lot, and a couple walking into the store (emerging from a shiny black Cadillac Escalade SUV wearing leather Tennessee Titans jackets).

Then, as I drove by listening to Fox News on XM Radio, a news segment came on about how the tough economy is forcing people to adopt the old saying from the WWII era- “Use It All, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Go Without.” The reporter went on to say that more and more people are now repairing old appliances like toasters and vacuum cleaners instead of replacing them.

Bizarre coincidence or a message from beyond?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Anthology Again

1995-1996 were very good years for Beatles fans. During that time period the Anthology series was released consisting of 3 double CDs sets plus a 5 DVD set capturing most of the Beatles key developmental moments as they wrote, practiced and fine tuned their most endearing and enduring hits. A few rare live performances and finished alternate version tracks are included.

I’ve written previously about converting our entire CD collection into digital files on our home network so we can easily play them on various laptops and devices around the house, or burn a full album or mix CD quickly if we want a throwaway CD for the car. As a result, our CD collection is ensconced in a series of banker boxes tucked into the back of a closet. The one time any of them are liberated is during Christmas when Michelle wants the actual CDs for Christmas music in the great room during the holidays. While digging through the collection to find the “Christmas CDs” box I had to fight through several “Beatles CDs” boxes. I opened one and saw the Anthology collection and pulled them out to put in the truck.

So over the last few weeks I’ve been going through all 6 CDs over and over again while running about town on errands. As I listen to these in order it absolutely amazes me how The Beatles grew and evolved themselves as artists, and crafted the songs through the development process to be works of art. The greatest example from the Anthology Series would be Strawberry Fields where we get to hear the song progress from a skeleton into a full and lush version similar to the final most people are familiar with.

Its a treat to hear various phrases and words that ended up cut or changed in the final version, and to hear the craftsmanship that went into the lyric and melody writing as a song moved through the writing and rough stages into the final version. Its like “hearing” a house being built, one plank and brick at a time.