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Winnie the Pooh Will and Obi Wan Kenobi Drew visited our house this Halloween.
Later there was high drama when Darth Vader Daddy took Winnie the Pooh hostage but Obi Wan Kenobi saved the day when he vanquished the evil Lord Vader. More Darth Vader after the jump.
May the force be with you and Happy Halloween!
Halloween is fast approaching so it was time yesterday to make the annual visit to Pumpkin Town.
Drew and Will paused momentarily for a photo before heading off to more fun activities. The picture was taken under a large tent which produced the worst lighting, only after many adjustments in Photoshop are the boys even recognizable. The best displays are under the tent, but maybe next year the "group" photo will be outside.
The first thing Drew wanted to do was the inflatable slide, he was so excited. Let's just say it wasn't like last year's fun slide. This was Mount Kilimanjaro. First, just getting up to the top was quite a task, there were no steps to speak of just a strap-ladder that was very difficult to climb. Next, the slide was awfully steep. Drew commented at the top, "I don't know about this!" What looked like fun from the ground turned out to be a little too scary on the way down.
Will's Great-Grandfather was a farmer and I think he just may have a little bit of Spiv in him.
Despite my urgings to the contrary, Drew insisted the pumpkins were too heavy to lift.
Will picked a big one for his first attempt in the pumpkin lifting contest. He's going to have to wait a few more years before he can get that one off the ground.
Drew also got to ride a pony named Buster and both boys played in a hay fort, rode around in a wagon and other fun activities. Pumpkin town is always a fall favorite.
The Golden Compass fantasy film featuring Nicole Kidman and many other stars is scheduled to be released to theaters on December 7, 2007, in time for the Christmas movie season. The film is based on the book Northern Lights (released in the U.S. as The Golden Compass) which is the first book in a trilogy entitled His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Books two and three are The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, respectively.
With regard to Mr. Pullman, his books and the movie, lets just say that I am not a fan. But, rather than hearing my opinion, let's hear from Mr. Pullman himself:
"I've been surprised by how little criticism I've got. Harry Potter's been taking all the flak. I'm a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people - mainly from America's Bible Belt - who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven't got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God."
"I read [C.S. Lewis's books] when I'd already grown up, and I thought they were loathsome, full of bullying and sneering, propaganda, basically, on behalf of a religion whose main creed seemed to be to despise and hate people unlike yourself."
"I loathe the Narnia books, and I loathe the so-called space trilogy, because they contain an ugly vision."
"I don't say [in The Amber Spyglass], There is no God. I say: There is a God, and here he is dying - and this is what I was particularly pleased with, as a result of an act of charity. And he goes with a sigh of the most profound and exhausted relief."
"But when you look at organized religion of whatever sort - whether it's Christianity in all its variants, or whether it's Islam or some forms of extreme Hinduism - wherever you see organized religion and priesthoods and power, you see cruelty and tyranny and repression. It's almost a universal law."
Let me be clear. I've never shared in the anti-religious criticisms of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Ms. Rowling is a self-professed Christian whose books, I believe, are as harmless as the Bewitched television show I grew up watching. While the subject matter may make some uncomfortable, I don't believe there is any intent to undermine Christianity in her readers. Mr. Pullman is any entirely different story. He is a militant atheist who's stated intent is not to just undermine God in the hearts and minds of children but to kill him off entirely. Philip Pullman fancies himself as an anecdote to C.S. Lewis and wishes his trilogy would have the opposite effect that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Chronicles of Narnia have had on the world.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has described the film and Mr. Pullman's books very well:
"It is [Mr. Pullman's] objective to bash Christianity and promote atheism to kids. "The Golden Compass" is a film version of the book by that name, and it is being toned down so that Catholics, as well as Protestants, are not enraged.
The second book of the trilogy, The Subtle Knife, is more overt in its hatred of Christianity than the first book, and the third entry, The Amber Spyglass, is even more blatant. Because "The Golden Compass" is based on the least offensive of the three books, and because it is being further watered down for the big screen, some might wonder why parents should be wary of the film.
The Catholic League wants Christians to stay away from this movie precisely because it knows that the film is bait for the books: unsuspecting parents who take their children to see the movie may be impelled to buy the three books as a Christmas present. And no parent who wants to bring their children up in the faith will want any part of these books."
The Catholic League has also posted a video critique.
Philip Pullman is a brilliant author and judging by the previews, the movie appears to be visually sensational and that is the real danger. Unlike the other mindless drivel that comes out of Hollywood, The Golden Compass and the two movies that will surely follow, have been meticulously crafted from inception for the purpose of destroying Christian faith in children and young adults. I'm not big into boycotting things, and I'm not suggesting that you don't see the film. I simply want people to know what they are walking into when they enter the theater. As for me and my family, it's a busy time of year, I imagine we just may find better things to do with our time than see this film.
I don't usually take time here to point things out that I find around the internet, but this is an exception.
A while ago I happened across xkcd which the creator describes as "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." Basically, its an insightful comic about life for geeks. If you didn't take some college math and science courses and don't spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet, you probably won't fully appreciate too many of the cartoons. However, if you are a geek or just one at heart, you'll find some insight here that you won't get anywhere else. (Be sure to hover your mouse pointer over each comic on the site for additional commentary by the author.)
xkcd led me to another fun discovery, Indexed. It's a collection of insightful diagrams drawn on index cards with a heavy emphasis on Venn diagrams. Call me a geek, but I LOVE Venn diagrams! And, I was dumbfounded when I found a site devoted to Venn diagram and graphing based humor. The internet truly has everything.
Seriously, the set of things dead and the set of things rolling around, in the intersection of which there exists rotisserie chicken and the founding fathers. That's gold, Jerry! Gold!
[Update: FWIW, I just noticed that this is my 500th blog post!]
Ahhh, feel that? Spread your arms out...feel all the extra space? That's our new 500GB internal hard drive you're experiencing. Specifically, a Western Digital WD5000AAJB, 500 GB, 100 MB/s, 8 MB Cache, 7200 RPM, WD Caviar SE EIDE (Ultra ATA/100), fast, cool, safe and quiet with WhisperDrive™, SoftSeek™, Data Lifeguard™ and ShockGuard™ technologies.
Our primary home desktop is a six year old Dell Dimension 8200, which I'd love to replace...if I had a reason. I've previously detailed the five different upgrades we've made to it and, as a result, it runs great. It's as fast or faster than my brand new computer at work and runs all the software that I want: Photoshop, Movie Maker, Half-Life 2, Far Cry, etc., all run great.
The only problem was that the hard drive, originally 80GB upgraded to 120GB after a crash had grown too small. Now...we've got half a terabyte internal and over a terabyte external. It feels good not be so cramped any more!
With this the seventh and final chapter covering our whirlwind tour of the Midwest this summer, we close with some family photos:
Donelda, Drew and Will show off their love for the Cubs!
Grandma Danz with her favorite grandkids Drew and Will.
The entire Danz family. Grandma Danz, Don, Mary with Will and Donelda with Drew. Grandma and Grandpa Danz were only children, Donelda doesn't have kids and, so, this is the entire extended family on the Danz side. Unless you up a level to Otto Danz who was one of eleven (ten surviving) children.
Al Gore has won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. The liberal mainstream media (redundant?) will of course play it up like it's some kind of honor (which all the other Nobel prizes really are) and won't tell you that the Nobel Peace Prize is really a complete joke.
Just a little history of the worthless, politically motivated, anti-American, nothing to do with "peace" prize:
2005: Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work fighting nuclear proliferation. Under their watch only India, Pakistan, and North Korea tested atomic bombs, while Iran's nuclear weapons program continued unimpeded and Libya revealed it had a nuclear weapons program for years. In case my sarcasm is not clear, without Mr. ElBaradei or the IAEA the result would have been exactly the same or some other person or body would have stepped in and actually done something.
2004: Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize for which her qualifications can best be summed up in her own words: (1) "Some say that AIDS came from the monkeys, and I doubt that because we have been living with monkeys (since) time immemorial, others say it was a curse from God, but I say it cannot be that." (2) "In fact it (the HIV virus) is created by a scientist for biological warfare." (3) "It is a tool to control (black people) designed by some evil-minded scientists."
2003: With it becoming increasingly obvious in 2003 that Iran was the source of much of the violence throughout the Middle East, the Nobel Peace Prize was award to Shirin Ebadi who is nothing more than a tool for Ayatollah government and who advocated non-existent reforms meant to pacify Iranians against complete rebellion. Ms. Ebadi never failed to tow the party line blaming Israel, America and the West for her nation's ills and arguing that Islam "needs to be better understood and to be interpreted more intelligently." Which actually may be true, in that I'm too stupid to understand hacking people's heads off and purposely targeting civilians.
2002: Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize the significance of which was summed up by Gunnar Berge, the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, who expressly admitted that the award was meant as a slap in the face of President George W. Bush for initiating war in Iraq. When asked if the selection of the former president was a criticism of President Bush, Mr. Berge, replied: "With the position Carter has taken on this, it can and must also be seen as criticism of the line the current U.S. administration has taken on Iraq." President Carter's attacks on Israel and sanctification of fraudulent "elections" of dictator's and murderous thugs no doubt also impressed the Nobel committee.
2001: Kofi Annan and the United Nations won the Nobel Peace Prize for...ummm...can anyone name anything positive the United Nations has ever accomplished? After looking it up, the award was "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world." Let me rephrase that more accurately, "for their work for better organized attacks against the United States and more peaceful conditions under which third-world dictatorial thugs can flourish."
1994: Yassir Arafat shared the Nobel Peace Prize for his lifetime of achievement as the terrorist leader of the PLO which sends suicide bombers into civilian areas for the express purpose of murdering and maiming as many innocent women and children as possible. Arafat, of course, went on to plunder billions from his people and die of AIDS.
1990: Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize for having the Soviet Union crumble around him in defeat. But for the Nobel Committee's hatred of the U.S. and its status as the sole remaining super power, the award would obviously have gone to the one man who stood up to the Soviet Union and challenged Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." Giving the Peace Prize to Gorbachev is like recognizing the driver of Rosa Parks' bus as a civil rights leader.
1988: Unbelievably, or perhaps consistently, the United Nations Peacekeepers won the award for...again I forget...was it for the rape of children and refugees, for their protection of dictators and terrorists, for corruption on the largest scale ever seen by mankind or for simply having never done anything of use that wasn't actually accomplished by the United States?
Finally, you ask, what does alleged global warming have to do with peace? Well, the Nobel committee explained (emphasis mine):
Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.
I see this method of supposed logic sometimes in reading court opinions. It is a fine example of first reaching the conclusion and then attempting to justify it. In other words, there is no, or there is only a really strained, justification for awarding a peace prize to a peddler of questionable environmental science.
Just to be clear, all of the other Nobel Prizes are an incredible honor to receive. It is only the Nobel Peace Prize which is a complete joke. Besides being non-political, all the other Nobel Prizes are for scientific achievement...another reason Al Gore couldn't receive one of them.
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who, although being intelligent, educated and generally informed about issues, stated that before the Iraq war our leaders were divided on the issue of whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. I thought he knew better.
For the record, despite what the mainstream media now tells us, everyone...democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives...were all in agreement in our belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction ("WMDs"). All of the following individuals are democrats...you know the ones who never get accused of lying about WMDs.
"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
- President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998.
"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
- President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998.
"Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leader of a rogue state can use biological or chemical weapons on us or our allies is the greatest security risk we face."
- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Feb 18, 1998
"Hussein has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999
"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
- Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998
"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
- Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry and others Oct. 9, 1998
"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Dec. 16, 1998
"There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a illicit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."
- Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham and others, Dec. 5, 2001
"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them."
- Sen. Carl Levin, Sept. 19, 2002
"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sept. 27, 2002
"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Robert Byrd, Oct. 3, 2002
"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. John Kerry, Oct. 9, 2002
"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction...[W]ithout question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime...He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. And now he has continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction...So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real."
- Sen. John Kerry, Jan. 23. 2003
"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Oct 10, 2002
"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do."
- Rep. Henry Waxman, Oct. 10, 2002
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton, Oct. 10, 2002
"I agree with and have long supported the ultimate goal of disarming Saddam Hussein. Removing this despicable tyrant from power will make the world a safer place."
- Sen. Harry Reid, March 17, 2003
Since I started with President Bill Clinton, lets close with Bill Clinton...from after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Second Gulf War on March 20, 2003:
"That's why I supported the Iraq thing. There was a lot of stuff unaccounted for. So I thought the President had an absolute responsibility to go to the U.N. and say, "Look, guys, after 9/11, you have got to demand that Saddam Hussein lets us finish the inspection process." You couldn't responsibly ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these stocks. I never really thought he'd [use them]. What I was far more worried about was that he'd sell this stuff or give it away. Same thing I've always been worried about North Korea's nuclear and missile capacity. I don't expect North Korea to bomb South Korea, because they know it would be the end of their country. But if you can't feed yourself, the temptation to sell this stuff is overwhelming. So that's why I thought Bush did the right thing to go back. When you're the President, and your country has just been through what we had, you want everything to be accounted for."
- President Bill Clinton, Time Magazine, June 28, 2004
Given the resources that are available today via the internet, anyone who argues that it was only Bush, the republicans and/or conservatives who argued Iraq had WMDs must be ignorant (and willfully so) or just plain lying.
OK, that may be a little harsh given the manipulative abilities of the mainstream press to bury truth, promote fiction and rewrite history. If it were up to me, the second anyone in front of a microphone used the phrase "Bush lied..." they'd be instantly cut off, the record would be set straight that (1) it wasn't just Bush, and (2) an incorrect assertion is not automatically a lie, then the person would be allowed to correct themselves and continue and if they refused to correct themselves, they wouldn't be allowed on the air. Yeah, yeah, I know, it wouldn't work, censorship, blah, blah, blah, but wouldn't it be nice.
The course was taught by Marshall Luton (left) with the assistance of Tammy, Mike and Eric (left to right). Marshall and his instructors are all incredibly skilled in the use of firearms and evidence a true love for sharing their knowledge and experience. Their courses are attended by police, highway patrol, SWAT teams, D.E.A., F.B.I. Secret Service, Navy Seals and other military special forces. Their students come from all over the country and overseas.
Marshall and his instructors offer just the right mix of technical instruction and hands on manipulation while always maintaining a good sense of humor. I really liked the fact that they didn't just tell how to do something but also explained the reasoning behind it.
At all times, safety was the first priority. Weapons were checked multiple times before handling and dry firing. Here, Marshall is demonstrating a finer element of trigger control (with my firearm). The morning class room instruction was instrumental in improving my grip. I was able to immediately notice increased control and confidence. Most importantly, with their instruction, my front sight finally settled down instead of randomly floating around.
The afternoon allowed for plenty of live fire exercises designed to slowly increase each shooters' confidence and skill level. Here you can see my much improved grip, although my left hand could be rotated forward a little bit more. By the end of the afternoon my shot groupings had gone from soccer ball, actually more like a vertical loaf of bread (prior to the course), to tight little tennis ball groupings.
More after the jump.
I'm old-school and my weapon of choice is a Smith & Wesson, .357 Magnum, 686 Plus revolver with a 4" barrel. The "Plus" means it is a seven shooter rather than the standard six. Made out of stainless steel, it has some heft which helps to reduce recoil as well as, to me, just making it feel "right." Also shown are two speed-loaders filled with training rounds of .38 Special ammunition.
After a day of shooting, it's time for a good cleaning.
Plenty of spent brass laying around at the end of the day. Time to head off to the range to turn new skills into old habits.
I am again live blogging this year's Okie-Blogger Round Up, this time from Tulsa's Hideaway Pizza on 15th Street.
In attendance are the following Oklahoma bloggers (in no particular order):
This years Okie-Blogger Awards recognizing the best Oklahoma Blogs as voted on by Oklahoma bloggers included twelve categories and, for the first time, announcement of runner ups:
Best Overall Blog
Winner: Confessions of a Pioneer Woman
Runner Up: dustbury
Well, that about wraps it up. No U.S. premier movie this year, unlike last year. But, as always, it was great to see everyone and to put a faces with blogs. Thanks to Mike Hermes for all his work recognizing and bringing together Oklahoma bloggers.
Continuing on with Part VI of the summer's heartland tour, Aunt Donelda took mama and the boys on a tour of some of Palatine Park District's newest playground equipment.
Fearless Will attacked the slide the best way he knew how. Fortunately, Aunt Donelda was there for support.
The twisty slide proved to be a fast one as Drew flew around the final curve. Click "Continue reading" for the group shot.
Mary, Drew and Will were all smiles in the playground tunnel.
I learned today that the greatest conservative (officially objectivist) editorial/political cartoon ever published will no longer be produced. John Cox and Allen Forkum the creative geniuses behind Cox & Forkum are refocusing their efforts on other endeavors.
Cox & Forkum were unparallel in their ability to absolutely nail an issue with their wit and artistic talent. While the biggest newspapers in America, their very existence dependant on free speech, cowardly censored themselves from publishing Muhammad cartoons, Cox & Forkum fearlessly used their mightily pen and ink to point out the massive hypocrisy associated with radical Islam.
The departure of Cox & Forkum from The editorial cartoon world...desperately in need conservative input...leaves a gaping void in objective and artistic commentary.