Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Dwarrowdelf

You may find a certain similar action going at Nathan's new blog, The Ancient City of the Dwarrowdelf as I have going on here. It's the same template in raw and also is tagged with a Tolkien location like mine--you'd almost think we were brothers or something. True, it has been up for over half a year, but he has only recently revived it and it is therefore new--no matter what the title says about an ancient city:) I'm currently a contributer but I don't know if that will remain so. We shall have to see. I'll be sure to keep you updated if it takes a new direction... Then again, you could always keep up with it yourself too!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

'Over There,' way out there

The ridiculous supposedly "apolitical" show "Over There" about fighting in Iraq, has had plenty of critics (along with the producers) saying it is gut-wrenching and "true to life." The very fact that a critic who has never been to Iraq as a soldier would make this assessment is laughable. Unfortunately, the series seems to be anything but in it's assumptions and errors. To a liberal, "apolitical" just means they act out what they "know" is the truth.

Photo: Gilbert W. Arias/Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"In a preview of "Over There" at Camp Murray in Tacoma, 1st Lt. Eva Sovelenko reacts to a scene as Sgt. John Figueroa looks on."

But one reporter at the Seattle P.I. seemed to be just as suspicious and did what should have been done all along: asked the soldiers what they thought (what a concept!).

M.L. Lyke of the PI spent time with soldiers at Camp Murry (national guard base near Tacoma) as they previewed the first installment of "Over There." Their responses were stunning!

A truck tire hits a flagged wire, a roadside bomb explodes, a handsome private with shredded leg screams in agony. In the bloody chaos of the moment, his soldier buddies panic. One pukes...

..."People don't act like that when an i.e.d. (improvised explosive device) goes off. They make us look like idiots. We're not idiots!" said a first lieutenant previewing "Over There," the new TV series from Steven Bochco ("NYPD Blue," "Hill Street Blues") that debuts tomorrow night on FX cable network. It's set in Iraq, hyped as "true to life" by producers and hailed by critics as "unflinching" and "gut-wrenching."

"Bogus" was the preferred adjective among the eight soldiers -- most of them Iraq vets -- viewing the series pilot last week at Camp Murray...

Making American soldiers out to be (what amounts to) idiots is a favorite pastime of the left. They just can't imagine a 17-year-old American "boy" taking on all that responsibility and keeping his nerve. They are instead painted as desperate kids who signed up to escape a slum or get their education paid for. Nobody signs up because they want to serve unless they are some privileged brat with a senator for a dad. This calls for another story—lets have a reporter hang out at a recruiting office and ask any random recruit why he is joining.

To bring this home, one good friend who I sang with in high school choir went to Iraq (is still there) without his driver’s license. Being a gunner, he has since had to watch one of his buddies burn to death in one attack while remaining calm in order to cover his evacuation... Did someone say something about panic? This is someone younger than me, who hasn't even taken a civilian drivers test and he has already dealt with more than others can imagine...and overcome it.

To be honest, I'm worried about the damage this series will do to the perception of our military. It's not that the public would get hostile to the military as a result, but it still fosters a stark fatalism that is greatly at odds with the spirit of our military personnel.

For me, I can already safely assume I won't be watching it, not having any access to it in the first place--but a bunch of good people like yourselves will also help out and keep those ratings low right?

Sunday, July 24, 2005


For those who think that my recent full-time plunge into the wonderful world of manual labor is all encompassing and suppresses every other need, you are thankfully a little bit off the beaten track. Thankfully, I'm still finding some time to study. Besides the weekend, I often do the coffee shop on my way home from work. The only problem is staying awake. Driving home from work is by varying degrees, depending on the day, a battle to stay awake. By the time I hit Woods, I feel no inclination to do anything except to tip the seat back and close my eyes. But even though I leave the fan on, the temperature in the car acts as a very effective time limit. I usually wake up in 10 to 15 minutes covered in sweat and promptly jump out the car, fully awake and ready to do some studying--despite my dust-covered clothes, sleep filled eyes, and sweat streaked face. My current topics range from the Cold War, and Covenant Theology.

Before I get to detailed on you about some of the intricacies of what I'm reading and thinking through, let me just ask that comments be limited on this issue because my church is facing a difficult decision on some potentially divisive issues. While I may, in the future, post more detailed thoughts on the issues, I would prefer to wait till a decision of some sort has been made.

I'm studying the covenant with divided goals: first, to investigate the issues facing our churches, which means tracking the writings of one side who is has (in some opinion) taken the covenant too far--that's a very hazy way of putting it and not one I subscribe to. The second reason is somewhat opposite. I'm continuing my previous studies of issues that range from the case for infant baptism and covenant versus dispensational thought--both of which coalesce in a proper understanding of the Old and New Testaments. These issues could be viewed as being on the total opposite end of the spectrum from the first one and studying both creates a challenge of balance. If I say something too strongly on one hand, it could potentially be misinterpreted when viewed in the context of the other issues.

Critical thinking, here we come!

Incidentally, our congregation has a meeting tonight after the service to discuss the outcome of our most recent synod. I pray for God’s blessing on that and especially for pastor who has been traveling today to fill another neighboring pulpit before returning for our evening service. He’s going to be very tired I’m sure by the time the meeting starts.

I was going to go to Sarah (Jane) and Jesse's engagement party down in Renton today--it is going on as I write--but I decided it was best to lay low to nurse my cold and hopefully get some reading done. I have to be at the service tonight for recording so I would have been rushed if I went. All the best to them, though! Sorry I couldn't make it.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Adding injury to injury

In case you wanted to know some more of my issue, I've had a cold since Wednesday. Wednesday was the last day I started early and I think the depravation had something to do with it. I don't think the body was made for that kind of abuse. No matter. It's been manageable and I hope to kick most of it by the next workday.

Don't read the following if you want to escape unwholesome mental pictures:

It's been an interesting challenge to balance the necessity of wearing a respirator (to avoid extending my cough from the dust inhalation) and having a cold at the same time...

More on the international tunnelers

The AP has a very comprehensive article and that you might enjoy unless you are tired of this bit of news. At least it answered a lot of my questions. Now I have, why on earth did they build the entrance so close to the border?

There's also some pictures here.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

International travel

How did they find it?

That's the question that is running through my mind as I follow the events in my hometown of Lynden, Washington. A group of three were arrested in connection with a tunnel discovered running from Langley B.C. to a house here in Lynden... I wish I knew the details--like do they run sensor system that detects underground activity or did they bust it through undercover work. No matter...I'm sure they would prefer to keep that out of the public view--no use giving away their methods.

Another interesting thought: that sure is a lot of hard digging for one trip and then a bust. And how did they go about digging the thing!? Where did they put that hunk of dirt?

Have any other questions? I certainly do.

Monday, July 18, 2005

And if you care enough about that...

So while you are good and inflamed about the latest outrage of WSU or perhaps still rumbling about the Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. New London, denying property rights to home owners in favor of the "public good," believe it or not, there are those out there who are not quite as concerned about those issues. They have found something much more important to rant about: a reporter who went to jail...

The New York Times reporter, Judith Miller refused to reveal her source in the face of a subpoena and has been jailed as a result. The Reporter's Committee for the Freedom of the Press (among others) has taken upon itself to the call foul and start a petition "in support of her decision."

I'm going to take the easy course, refrain from doing any deep thesis piece on the "reporter's privilege," and simply note the obvious exercise in futility.

Crossposted at Western Washington Unraveled

WSU plays dirty

Imagine this: a group of 40 hecklers are paid to go and shout out threats at the actors in a "controversial" student play... Sound far-fetched? Think again.

This from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education:
On April 21, 2005, Lee and his student cast performed the final production of Passion of the Musical, a play they had widely publicized as being potentially “offensive or inflammatory to all audiences.” During the play, a group of 40 student protestors repeatedly stood up, shouted about being offended, and verbally threatened audience members and the cast. FIRE has obtained a document confirming that administrators at Washington State’s Office for Campus Involvement (OCI) purchased the hecklers’ tickets.

Read the full story on their site, but don't bite your cheek too hard!

Crossposted at Western Washington Unraveled

On the line, bright and early

It's all good... I'm just about to discover if I can really get so sleep at 9:30 at night. I have to try because I have to be up at 3 a.m. so I can get to work at 4:30. I think it's kind of awesome to do over-time early instead of late. I never liked staying late, so why not come in early!?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Resting from the work of my hands

It's been a long week at work. It's helpful, though, that the challenges of each day were not the same--it's easier to deal with mentally when each day its own trial.

As can be expected, the weekends are highly attractive. Yesterday, our church picnic got canceled but, of course, there's never a shortage of things to do. There's always an invitation to do one thing or another and so this time it was a walk around Lake Padden with some good friends...ok, Emily and a few other friends and cousins (is that explanation enough?). After the lake, I headed south to Sedro Woolley where a friend from the Burlington church was having his 25th birthday party. That was a time and half and I got to enjoy the surroundings of a lovely farm in a beautiful valley by a river...need I say more? Good times.

This morning Grandpa made it back to church after several months at home from surgery. He was quite determined that he had waited long enough and it was high time he made it back. In fact, it looks like he's going tonight as well! Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow at work will be interesting because I do have some lasting problems that haven't really receded over the weekend--problems from work. My hand joints are aching really bad, turning every morning into a trial to just get my hands open and my fingers straight. Again, it's not muscle soreness, it's an arthritic type of pain and I'm doing my best (along with mom) to find a suitable treatment. Ultimately, I don't know how lasting it will be but my hands had a lot of stress last week--I worked the nail gun more than I'd ever done up to this point. Most people deal with wrist pain from using the nail guns. Not so for me, or at least I don’t notice it because my hands hurt so much worse.

Anyway, that’s just a prayer request. I need to run off to church now. I'm the last one out the door because I lost track of time...hehe. Cheers!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Seasonal affections

For the record, I just want people to know that my answer to the question "what's your favorite season?" will never be consistent with the answer you get at another time of year. I know I'm not the only one with this non-problem. So perhaps my ideal answer should be "the beginning of every season."

Yes, I take the greatest pleasure in my surroundings when they have just changed. Each is so distinct you can practically taste it.

First, I can imagine the end of Indian summer, when the fog finally rolls in and the nights become sharper and slightly longer. There are no nights like autumn nights around our place, when the lower fields behind the house are covered in a silver blanket that the moon sets aglow. Here and there a tree rises up out of the mist, adding a certain sense of quiet and solitude.

Later, as the cold intensifies and the days lengthen, the apples on the ground gain a layer of frost, further preserving them as they decompose into the ever-harder ground. Finally, the sun hangs continuously low in the sky as each moment of its brilliance becomes a rare treat. I can always imagine hunting for a Christmas tree or playing a game of [frostbite] football in the yard…such memories. Finally the cold snap is past. The rain becomes the rule of the day--the continuous damp and dimness of each day becomes a burden for some, a comfort for others.

Finally the breeze mellows some. The former bite slackens and the bare branches of deciduous trees take on the slightest tint of green as countless buds tempt the eye with a sense of newness and life. Then the blossoms on other trees burst out in exuberant colors that never fail to please. As they fall and create a pink carpet on the grass, more greens appear to compliment the deep evergreens, as the palette becomes rich with varying hues. The sun shines warmly little bits at a time, but just a little more often each week. The country folk around the county smile a little more, and everyone breaks out their sunglasses--sometimes a little prematurely, as the spots of sun are still rare.

But then comes a slower change. It's harder to follow the switch from spring to summer. I suppose by the end of June one can usually declare with the greatest sense of certainty that summer is in full swing. For my part, I like to look for subtle things: the hay fields shaven of their spring coat with the proceeds gathered into great round bails which cast dynamic shadows as the sun's path rises higher than ever into the sky before dropping down into the northwest corner to set with grandeur par excellence. Today, I drove the Hannagan home from Bellingham and was treated to that very scene. It was close to 9:30 as I drove the through the warm evening and realized it had been a year since I had been out on a similar evening.

Summer is truly here, and the first element to gently brush the senses--smell of cut grass, the first peaceful warm evening, the first taste of summer fruit--is always the sweetest.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

'Batman' and Straw Man (spoiler alert)

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of watching Batman Begins and I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The acting was great. The effects were great and there was originality throughout. Granted, the music was unimpressive, contributing little beyond dark bombasticity--which is disappointing, since I heard Howard Shore and Hans Zimmer collaborated to compose it. It's one of the few movies from which I've come away without recalling one memorable bar.

But there's plenty more to say, as became evident when my friends and I left the theater and had a "parking lot philosophy" discussion about some of the themes which turned us to capital punishment and similar topics. I decided I needed to explore some of my negative reactions to the movie and the way it deals with the issues we discussed.

First of all, there's the portrayal of bad guy Liam Neesen's character. The taste left in my mouth is not just a fantastical bad guy striving with a clear conscience for the destruction of a city. I see also a bad guy who is simply striving, according to the film maker's view, toward what is the logical conclusion of a conservative (Texan? Cowboy?) sense of justice. Let me just say that the early introduction to Liam Neesen's character made me want to stand up and cheer. Quotes like, "criminals thrive off the understanding of society" really animated my sense of justice and got me initially on his side. I was impressed.

Perhaps my surprise when our hero turns his back on him was not the intended emotion of the director. At a scene where it is a simple matter of executing a murderer, our hero suddenly starts insisting on a litany of extra hurdles like a full-blown trial.

Now before I get too far along, there is no doubt that--looking at the big picture--the "league of shadows" is a twisted bunch. They have a huge self-importance complex, along with a Godless philosophy. Also, my judgment of Bruce's insistence on refusing the "executioner role" changes when he is back in Western society (explanation farther down). But I can't ignore the minor fact that the bad guys look, at one point, like Lockean purists. Is this just an accident? I don't know. If it isn't, I can't help but think the director has painted a picture that initially looks like what I saw (the Lockean purist) and then makes the case that there is only one logical conclusion to that way of thinking (the twisted blow-up-cities conclusion).

Finally, if I were to pick apart the specific situation facing Bruce at his botched initiation into the "league," I would have to say he made the wrong decision. Here's why:

His primary argument against following through seems to be about due process. With all due respect to due process, I must say this is an admirable impulse--albeit misplaced. For here he is in the middle of nowhere (the Himalayas!) with the closest thing to established government being the league he is joining--what kind of due process can he expect? I'm reminded of a memorable John Wayne quote from The Green Berets: "Out here, due process is a bullet." Even more importantly, I'm reminded of John Locke when he says in his Second Treatise of Government:
And thus it is, that every man, in the state of nature*, has the power to kill a murderer, both to deter others from doing the like injury, which no reparation can compensate...(*Note: Locke's state of nature is one with no government, where the laws of nature, and I would add, nature's God, are the only rule, and all men are free, equal, and independent within the bounds of the law of nature.)...and also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal, who having renounced reason, the common rule and measure God hath given to mankind, hath by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind; and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or a tiger, one of those wild savage beasts, with whom men can have no society nor security: And upon this is grounded the great law of nature, "Whoso sheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed." And Cain was so fully convinced that everyone had a right to destroy such a criminal, that after the murder of his brother, he cries out, "Every one that findeth me shall slay me;" so plain was it writ in the hearts of all mankind.

If someone has any doubts about how influential was Locke's thinking on our founding documents, especially the Declaration of Independence, just let them read the complete Second Treatise and the Declaration and see if they can come away thinking Locke was just a crock.

I don't have the knowledge or credibility to claim the 'Batman' directors tried to denigrate Lockean justice using a Straw Man argument. So for now I guess I'll just be content with pointing you to the potantial.

I'm sure Robin will replace Straw Man as the sidekick in the next one.


Friday, July 01, 2005

O'Connor's notice

Now let the insanity begin.

If the first retirement has to be one of the conservative bloc, it might as well be O'Connor because her checkered career is more ambiguity than brilliance. At least she her move was made on a positive note--right after her solid defense of private property in the recent Kelo v. New London case--although she shared much of that lost-cause-glory with justice Thomas.

At the very least, she has shown a vote of confidence in President Bush versus the possibility of a future liberal nomination. Perhaps a little anger over the Kelo case has something to do with her sudden timing.

Is there a lot at stake? What kind of a question is that?!