We are being gouged at the pump! Or, so we think …

I was asked by a co-worker today whether I thought the oil companies are gouging people at the pump.  Now this currently is a popular conception of the public.  Every few years or so, all the major oil execs are brought to Washington to defend themselves for their hateful gouging of the common consumer (incidentally, I fit into the latter category).  Nothing ever seems to come from it, thankfully.  This could change since this is an election year, though, and the Democrats are perched on the eve of a great re-taking of both houses of Congress, and their subsequent three-ring circus of impeachment, censure, or whatever the flavor of the day is for President Bush, Rumsfeld, etc.  To be fair, the Republicans seem to have joined in on the chorus as well; presumably to help their re-election efforts too.  I guess we'll see how it all plays out. Anyhow, the price of gasoline isn't what it used to be for many reasons.  (more…)

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Published in: on April 27, 2006 at 3:25 am  Comments (2)  

A weekend adventure

This weekend was the couples / young families camp out at Camp Smiling Acres.  The weather was spectacular: low humidity and temperature!   The territory is uneven, so we had a slight taste of hilly terrain: a welcome sight! No trouble was experienced with any bugs or critters.  The kids all had a lot of fun with their friends.  Isaac and Bailey were hard to locate since they had a "pack" that they were running around with.  We kept a pretty close eye on Olivia; she had limited freedom to roam, but had a lot of fun as well.  Anna Grace got to eat and sleep, so life was great for her too.  Kim and I were able to visit with friends in a non-timetable conscious mode — a definite luxury.  I even had a chance to play frisbee golf (disc golf to enthusiasts).  There is a newly built 9-hole course that is a challenge.  At least 3 of the 9 favor south-paws.  Anyhow it was great fun; I haven't played in 4 or 5 years!  We ate smores, played camp games like sack race (I didn't fall: this is equivalent to winning in my mind), and softball / tee-ball.  The Lord really blessed our time there.  We really love and appreciate our church family and friends; we are extremely thankful to be a part of the South Baton Rouge church.

On the way back, I thought this might be our golden chance to see the damage in New Orleans.  There is a route from camp that brought us to I-55.  Since we were in travel mode, we took advantage of it and went.  Traffic flowed extremely well; this was great and unexpected since we've heard horror stories of weekday traffic in and out of the city.  We drove down I-10 East to I-610 East.  We took I-610 to the Elysian Fields exit.  From the bottom of the ramp we turned left and immediately faced what appeared to be a scrap yard of cars under the interstate.  Going down Elysian, we at times could make out where the waterline was: probably at least 6 feet high in spots we saw.  It was pretty sad.  So many houses did not appear to have residents yet — if ever.  We did see numerous trash piles on the outside of some houses — perhaps an indicator that they will rebuild.  Kim speculated that blue roofs — and we saw several along the interstate — might also be an indicator that the owners likely want to rebuild / repair.  There was generally a bustle of activity in most places down Elysian, but spaces of no people out at all.  We turned around at Lakeshore Drive at the University of New Orleans.  It was pretty emotional to see all the devastation.  This was our first visit to New Orleans in over a year; Katrina came nearly 8 months ago.  The mayoral election had just taken place:  the incumbent, Mayor Ray Nagin, will be in a runoff election with challenger Mitch Landrieu, the lieutenant governor of the state.  I am glad we made the trip, but sad as well; the memories flooded in (no pun intended): it is still extremely moving.

All things considered, it was a great weekend at the camp and a great time of pause and reflection from our trip to the city.

Published in: on April 23, 2006 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

At least the cat is out of the bag …

One of the most frustrating things to me in the evolution / creation debate is the rare admission of ideological and philosophical biases behind the so-called, unbiased scientists.  I read an article from the 2002 June / July issue of the journal First Things that had a couple of quotes that I found refreshing in their honesty.  The article, "The Second Tablet Project" was written by J. Budziszewski (Buda-chef-ski), associate professor of Government and Philosophy at the Univ. of Texas-Austin; in the article he argued that finding a basis for ethics and morals without God is futile and a self-deception.  In other words, living by or justifying behavior by the 2nd tablet of the Ten Commandments is hopeless without God.  In the article, he quotes two non-theists: Richard Lewontin, a Harvard biologist, and Thomas Nagel, a philosopher.  Bear with me, the quotes are a bit long …

The article cites Lewontin from the New York Review of Books from January 9, 1997, as saying, "Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism." … "Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door." The citation from Nagel is from his book, The Last Word, "I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want the universe to be like that." … "My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time …. Darwin enabled modern secular culture to heave a great collective sign of relief, by apparently providing a way to eliminate purpose, meaning, and design as fundamental features of the world."

Budziszewski observes: "If Nagel is right, then those who say that theism is a crutch have got it backwards. For our contemporary intellectual culture, it is atheism that serves as a crutch. It couldn't have been easy to admit that."  Amen … but at least it is refreshingly honest.

Published in: on April 22, 2006 at 3:53 am  Leave a Comment  

First Teeball Practice

Today was Isaac's first teeball practice.  He is playing in the Healing Place Church league.  He seemed to enjoy the practice.  He enjoyed the great playground after practice probably even more.  Kim and I are impressed at the outreach into the community that Healing Place does.  They have a lot of space on Highland Road and seem to be using it well for God's glory.

Bailey and Olivia enjoyed the playground as well.  Anna Grace slept through just about the whole time.  It was a beautiful evening to be out.  It was certainly bath time when we got home!

Published in: on April 21, 2006 at 3:33 am  Leave a Comment