Make Up Your Mind

There are two ways to let people know you’re starting a new paragraph.

1. Indent the first line of the paragraph.
2. Leave a space between paragraphs.

But don’t do both–leave a space, AND indent. Unless we’re talking about a bulleted or numbered list. It’s wrong. It’s redundant.

And it looks stupid.

I needed to get that off my chest.

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“Suffer the Little Children….”

Congressman Scott DesJarlais

Congressman Scott DesJarlais

Last week, a Republican Congressman from Tennessee, Scott DesJarlais, held a town meeting. He’s a Tea Party guy. An 11-year-old Hispanic girl named Josie Molina, whose father was about to be deported, came to the microphone. She said, “I have papers, but I have a dad who’s undocumented. What can I do to have him stay with me?”

Desjarlais said, “This is a big, intimidating crowd, and I appreciate you coming forward and asking a question. But the answer still kind of remains the same, that we have laws and we need to follow those laws, and that’s where we’re at.”

Desjarlais is being criticized for an “uncaring” response. However, watching the video, I felt he handled it okay. It was a good, on-the-spot response. He’s got stupid views on some subjects and a terrible record of personal immorality. But in this instance, I don’t believe he was being insensitive.

However, what really disturbed me was the crowd’s reaction.

Here’s this courageous little girl who faces the prospect of having her father forcibly taken away, or of leaving her home, friends, school–her country–to be with him in a foreign land. She takes the risk of going before a person of power to seek help. And as the Congressman gives his answer as she returns to her seat amidst this unsympathetic crowd, the people around her whoop and cheer and applaud the Congressman’s answer.

“Yeah, put those wetbacks in their place!” they seemed to be saying.

“Take her daddy away!” is the sentiment Josie Molina would have heard.

It just struck me as very, very wrong. Turned my stomach, in fact. As one writer put it, “If there’s one place I wouldn’t want to be, it’s in front of a crowd that delights in the suffering of children.”

Would Jesus have sided with a child wanting to keep her family together, or with the crowd zealous about enforcing The Law?

Attitudes like this from Tea Party types is just another of the reasons I will no longer identify as a Republican. The Republican Party of my youth has been taken over by extremists.

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Messiah Complex

How about naming your baby “Messiah”? It’s been steadily growing in popularity, rising from about 900th place in 2005 to 387th place in 2012. Apparently, there are a lot of Messiahs running around. As it was in the time of Jesus.

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Fraud at the Dessert Counter


See that cupcake? I bought it from the dessert case at Fresh Market. It beckoned to me, this huge lump of diverse calories which Pam and I could split.

You may notice the chocolate chips embedded in the frosting. WRONG. In what ranks as one of the most egregious acts of culinary fraud ever perpetrated, those chocolate chips turned out to be raisins.

Yes, raisins! What depraved sicko puts raisins on cupcakes?

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Book Review: “The Deep Blue Good-bye”

deep-blue-goodbyThis is the first book in the Travis McGee series; Random House just began republishing the whole series.

I’d read one other book by John D. MacDonald, and was not overly impressed, but decided to try the first McGee book. Wow! This guy can write!

McGee signs on to help a young woman recover some gems which her Dad illegally brought back after the Pacific War, and which another guy stole. I was quite engrossed, and know that I’ll be devouring more MacDonald books.

When I was growing up, I remember seeing MacDonald books on bookracks in grocery stores and elsewhere, usually with risque covers. They went alongside Mickey Spillane and Sidney Sheldon books with similar covers. So I just figured MacDonald’s books were very racy.

But this first Travis McGee book isn’t that way at all. Sure, there’s some sex, but the plot and very fine writing predominate.

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Book Review: “A Quiet Flame,” by Philip Kerr

A Quiet Flame (Bernard Gunther, #5)The fourth Bernie Gunther novel ended with our German detective fleeing with Adolph Eichmann to Argentina somewhere around 1950. This fifth installment begins with his arrival in Argentina. He is drafted by the national police to find an abducted girl…though it gets a whole lot more complicated than that.

As always, Gunther (like Forest Gump) finds himself rubbing shoulders with famous historical people–in this case, Juan and Evita Peron, Joseph Mengele, and assorted Nazis who fled to Argentina after the war. A good chunk of the book involves flashbacks to 1932 Germany, where Gunther pursues a case very similar to one in Argentina.

Philip Kerr is an excellent writer, producing detective mysteries that are more literary than most. Kerr has written several more Gunther novels. One awaits on my bookshelf, and I’ll track down the others in due time.

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Who Wears Short Shorts?


I just read something very disturbing. For men, shorts that come only part-way down the thigh are now trendy. Some call this the “John Stockton” look, after the famous Utah Jazz point guard who kept wearing short shorts long after NBA fashion had moved on to much longer fare.

On the positive side, the real long shorts extending halfway down the shin are falling out of favor.

I’m a knee-length (or slightly longer) kind of guy. Those types of shorts will (I hope) remain a valid fashion option for many years to come. The trendy fluctuations will be at the long/short end. At age 56, I’m not real interested in being trendy.

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So Long to the Ever-Cheerful Ruth Benner

My heroes have always been missionaries. I grew up in United Brethren churches where United Brethren missions was emphasized, and names of missionaries from the 1960s and 1970s are firmly implanted in my memory. Working at our national headquarters, I’ve crossed paths with nearly every United Brethren missionary during the past 35 years, and have interviewed and written about a number of them.

One of the names from my childhood was Ruth Benner, a single missionary who served in Sierra Leone 1965-1972. Ruth passed away last week. Her funeral is tomorrow, August 6, in Port Colborne, Ontario.

Ruth, a Canadian, served a number of years in leadership with the denominational Women’s Missionary Fellowship and on the Global Ministries leadership team. In those capacities, she came through Huntington, Ind., (where I work) many times. I didn’t know her well, but I was around her quite a bit.

Ruth is one of those persons who always seemed to be in a cheerful mood. She had a distinctive voice, and a ready laugh. Observing her relationships with other persons, especially former missionaries, it seemed she excelled at friendship. I can’t think of a single even slightly negative thing I ever heard about Ruth. She always struck me as a genuinely good person with a pure heart and an enviable sunny disposition. Ruth served just six years as a missionary, but those years very much formed who she was and what she was passionate about.

Ruth made the world a better place, and she will be missed.

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Sunday Afternoon at the Ballgame

Me (left) with Bishop Phil Whipple and Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, the new president of Huntington University.

Me (left) with Bishop Phil Whipple and Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, the new president of Huntington University.

Watching the game. Pam's in the middle.

Watching the game. Pam’s in the middle.

The dog with its basket of water.

The dog with its basket of water.

Some water for the ump.

Some water for the ump.

Sunday afternoon, August 4, was “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” Day for the staff of the United Brethren national office in Huntington, Ind. A few were on vacation or traveling, or otherwise unable to attend. But a good number of them, along with some family and friends, attended a Tin Caps game in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Tin Caps are a minor league (single A) team of the San Diego Padres.

Because of the need to make up a game cancelled because of rain, the August 4 game was turned into a double-header (both only 7 innings long). The Lansing Lugnuts won the first game, and the Tin Caps prevailed in the second.

It was also a “Bring Your Dog to the Game” day, though I didn’t see anybody with a dog. However, someone had a couple of highly trained Golden Retrievers that participated in the game. They would trot out to the homeplate area to retrieve bats after a Tin Caps player had batted, grabbing the bat in their teeth and, holding it high, prance back to the dugout. Every inning, a dog would prance out to the umpire with a basket of bottled water. The ump would take a drink, put it back in the basket, and give the dog a treat. Then the dog would trot over to the first base umpire. It was great fun to watch.

A photo gallery from the outing can be found on Facebook.

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The Wright Brothers: Shared Glory


We all know Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. Few people remember the astronaut who was a few steps behind (it was Buzz Aldrin).

But with the momentous first airplane flight, I’ll bet few people know which Wright brother flew first. Was it Wilbur, or Orville? Don’t know, do you? The brothers totally share the glory.

Wilber and Orville Wright flipped a coin to determine who would get first crack at flying their airplane. Wilbur won, but stalled the flyer and it dived into the sand.

Three days later, Orville got the flyer airborne. In the famous photograph, that’s Wilbur running alongside the plane.

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