Clash of the Titans XXXIII: Hot and Cold

06/26/2007, 12:00 pm -- by | 3 Comments

In this corner, preferring cooler weather, is Steve!

And in this corner, preferring hotter weather, is Chloe!

Today, Syracuse will swelter. It’s the hottest day of the year. The high will be 95; combined with tropical humidity, this will make it nearly unbearable outside. Last week, I spent 7 days in New Mexico, Satan’s sauna, where highs reached triple digits every day.

What a perfect time to extol the joys of cooler weather!

I’ve worked outside in temperatures that ranged from 25 below to 95 above, and I’ll take the colder end anytime. Most of the worst jobs in America face extreme heat, including cowboys, ironworkers, longshoremen and roofers. Horses and hot tar don’t give you a 6-hour break at high noon!

It’s true people are more comfortable in warm-weather attire, but let’s think about extremes. If you’re too cold, you can always put on warmer clothing, or more of it. But when it’s hot outside, there’s a pretty strict legal limit on how high you can, uh, let your freak flag fly. Even if you can get nekkid, there’s no guarantee that unfortunate decision will cool you down enough to be comfortable.

Plus they say freezing to death is one of the least objectionable ways to die. Your extremities slowly go numb, which sounds like bliss compared to the searing pain of heatstroke pounding your head into seizure, hallucination and coma.

Maybe the best reason to like cold weather is its effect on relationships. When it’s hot like today, unless you’re submerged in a body of water, you don’t want to be near anyone. Tempers shorten, fuses blow, and even a platonic hug exchanges more fluid than a blood transfusion.

But not only do you want to be around other people when it’s cold, it’s practically necessary to conserve heat! Cuddling up on the couch with someone special isn’t an unpleasant, sweaty chore like in July — in the winter, it keeps up both morale and body temperature.

Hot weather is for individuals — sweaty, uncomfortable, and alone — but cool weather? Cool weather brings us together.

Imagine yourself, eight years old, waking up one morning and noticing the air is unusually crisp and muted. As you tumble out of bed, heart racing, breath quickening, you know that — yes, out the window — SNOW!

You run screaming down the hall, smack into your mother’s knees. “Not without these!,” she chirps, pointing to the mountain of snow gear she will soon inflict on your person.

By the time she finishes protecting your cute little extremities from frostbite, you have to pee, you couldn’t play in the snow if your life depended on it (or get up if you fell down), and the radio has announced the roads are plowed, so school is not canceled.

This would not happen if it were hot. For one thing, you can easily move in the attire required for a hot day, which is next to nothing. More importantly, school can’t be canceled in the heat because there is no school! That means days filled with tans, swimming pools, water fights, picnics, sports, and siestas.

Oh, yes, siestas. It’s a physical impossibility to work when it’s 105 degrees out, ladies and gentlemen. That means you quit at 1:00 and don’t start up again until 6:00, if at all!

Still not convinced? Let’s not forget these other important points:

• Ice will kill you on the road. Hot asphalt will not, unless you’re stupid and walk barefoot on it, and then it’s your own fault.

• Heat makes all the scary things go away, like snakes, big things with teeth, and children.

• Heat stroke is temporary, but another good reason not to work. Frostbite is forever, like diamonds, but without the jewel or the finger to put it on.

• Water parks, ice cream, barbecues, parades. Have you ever tried to have a parade in below-zero weather?

If you still prefer the cold, I’ll pull the patriotic card. As Americans, we stand for liberty, and if shorts, tank tops and flip flops aren’t liberating, I don’t know what is. Certainly not your snow pants.


For He’s a jolly good fellow

06/26/2007, 9:00 am -- by | 4 Comments

Best of Job, Christmas 2005.

On the anniversary of my Savior’s birth, I’ve decided it is time to return the favor for all His grace and sopping up of my sins and whatnot. This time of year is so manic, as we stress about what to get people and what we might get. But the true meaning of this season is the manifestation of the Messiah — it’s His birthday!

We should give Him a gift, right?

But what do you get for the man who can claim every last sin the human race has ever committed? That’s a tall order!

I’ve thought long and hard about what to get Him. I listened intently to other Christians this year, read their devotionals, publications, and blogs, listened to their prayers, engaged them in discussion of their struggles, and through all this, I noticed one thing I should get the Son of God this year.

A total overhaul of his Faith!

During this “makeover” we’ll cut off a lot of scriptural “fat”. You see, we like the Word of God, but must there be so many words of God!?

The first to go will be “Lean not on your own understanding, and in all your ways acknowledge Him.” It’s cute, but it’s so Little House on the Prairie! C’mon on now, Lord, let’s get into the 20th century!

While my insides broil with wild insecurity, self-doubt and loathing, I am so much better at faking it when I lean on my own understanding. You don’t want your followers running around acting insecure, do You?!?

Of course not!

If I can delicately, artistically and smoothly integrate worldly things into a quasi-Christian walk, I’ll blur the line between faith and opaque hedonism so seamlessly that I’ll put the world on its head faster than You can say “Kanye”!

“I fooled you about the depth of my Christian walk and I give all the glory to God.”


Number two — only one way to the Father? Tsk tsk!

Can you imagine if Disney World only had one entrance? They’d hardly get any business at all, and that’s the happiest place on earth! In all seriousness, Christ, this is pretty potent, hard-to-swallow stuff. We need to water it all down (some doubt about scriptural integrity, the true nature of the Biblical narrative, the essence of grace, etc.) to pave the way for a “catch-all” deal, where even the people who patently reject You are still accepted.

We’ll call this “progressive” because it’s kinda sexy that way. I’ll make it seem like I’m compassionate and understanding — even loving — toward people of other religions. I hate to be harshly and crudely judgmental of them, so I’ll carefully renegotiate the fact that I am only loving myself (and my carefully prepared self-image) by not wanting to appear as a closed-minded prude lacking the intellectual integrity to see the peace and beauty of other religions.

I’m a modern man, for Christ’s sake!

And if this convoluted, turncoat love actually winds up damning souls to hell, at least I won’t have to face their aggression, contempt and incredulity here on Earth!

Phew! Dodged that bullet!

(James, you and your five chapters were fun, but we’re all set now, I think. You can probably catch a few gigs at a Greek Orthodox Church or something. Thanks for coming out.

And hey, when you see Peter, could you ask him, hypothetically, if his two books were drowning, which one he would jump in and save? This sheep is plenty full.)


And last, I think this whole thing will click much better if I finally acknowledge that it’s all about me. I will pray, incessantly, about tired and petty subjects that concern only me and my endless cycle of relational and financial problems. I will reduce the world to such a small scale that the idea that it will go up in spiritual flames won’t occur to me — unless it happens at work or in my bank account.

I will try to please fickle humans consistently, and You collaterally. (Hopefully.) (Kinda.)
I will worry about tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.
I will be passable at what’s good, while fully immersed in what’s evil.
I will rarely finish what I start if it demands too much of me.

Throughout it all, I will summon the gall to call myself Your follower, and in a sense of obligation, I will say I love You more than anything or anyone else, put You above all else, blah blah blah.

And the world will know us by our love! *wink*

Happy Birthday!! I hope You like it!

Joke of the Day, 6/26/07

06/26/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?

To get to the other side!


06/26/2007, 1:37 am -- by | No Comments

My desire for procrastination becomes your gain, as this week we will add two new features to the site!

And what is more, as you may have noticed in this week’s Council ruling, we have a brand new Bweinh!tributor — Connie! Her bio will be up soon!

Poll Update

06/25/2007, 2:00 pm -- by | 2 Comments

Nothing Green moves on in Exodus, and Scarlet Thread continues to the finals!

But we need to break the 8-8 tie in the other semifinal! So for 24 hours only….


The Council’s Ruling — The World’s Problems

06/25/2007, 12:00 pm -- by | No Comments

This and every Monday, the Bweinh!tributors, having convened in secret for hours of reasoned debate and consideration, will issue a brief and binding ruling on an issue of great societal import.

This week’s question — What is the most troubling issue facing the world?

The council could not issue a majority ruling on this issue.

MC-B offers this opinion, joined by Chloe and Tom:

Extreme poverty. As long as some people live on less than $1 a day, no one can be safe.


Josh offers this opinion, joined by Connie and Steve:

Every day people are dying without the saving grace of Jesus.


Mike offers this opinion:



David offers this opinion:



Djere offers this opinion:



Next week: the most beautiful part of the country!

Ask Bweinh! Poll — Flowers

06/25/2007, 10:30 am -- by | No Comments

As always, our Ask Bweinh! poll is sponsored by Daimler Chrysler — makers of the ploddingly slow, hearse-like PT Cruiser.

The PT Cruiser: when you absolutely, positively need to drive no faster than 40 MPH on an incline!

Want to buy Bweinh!tributors some flowers? Start here:

Rank Flower Points
1. Rose 15
2. Lily 11
3-4 (tie) Sunflower; Orchid 8
5-6 (tie) Tulip; Carnation 6
7-12 (tie) Chrysanthemum; “Whatever she likes”; Dandelion; Lilac; Yellow Pond Lily; Dahlia 5
Other Whole Wheat; Hyacinth; Pillsbury; Cauliflower; Morning Glory; Gold Medal; Goldenrod; Daisy; Corpse Flower; Poppy; Marigold; Catalpa; Narcissus/Daffodil; Hydrangea; Broccoli 1-4

Quote of the Day, 6/25/07

06/25/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“A man really believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for.”” — R. Wurmbrand

Bweinh! Goes to Boot Camp — Week 1

06/23/2007, 10:00 am -- by | 5 Comments

Bweinh!’s own Job Tate went through training to become a Seabee in the US Navy.
Read his dispatches here: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 6 | Graduation

“The end of a matter is more important than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.”

Ecclesiastes 7:8

We come from all over, quite literally: San Diego, Burma, Texas, Nigeria, the Carolinas, Arizona, the Philippines, and Vermont. Congregated in O’Hare International Airport’s USO, we had our last civilian meal and watched The Bourne Identity on DVD. The thick apprehension in the room was cut only by forced bravado, nervous laughter and naivete.

We were embarking on a 36-hour sleepless endeavor of fittings and proddings, extreme dental cleanings, shots in every prone piece of skin, and learning the distinct differences between our drill instructors’ breaths. The old lady at the USO smiled knowingly when she thrust a pillow under my arm, advising me to secure some shut-eye. But she knew, just like me, such an attempt would be futile.

I found some guys from Maine and we stuck together for a few hours before being separated by “The Grinder,” where we were sorted into divisions and given our seabag and first uniform — a pair of Navy sweats and New Balance tennis shoes. A harbinger of the coming week’s activity.

Boot camp is very real. I think the most accurate description is that it’s akin to holding your hand in an open gator’s mouth ALL DAY, just waiting for it to snap shut. Watching grown men cry and sweat in salty unison will sober you up quickly, and will make you work furiously to ensure you don’t join their ranks. Our drill instructors do not attempt to be our leaders; they work, rather, to foster mutiny. We team up against the common enemy, and with every passing day, our barracks turns more and more into the Bounty.

The first week of Navy boot camp is one of mass uncertainty, deep, deep exhaustion, and intense aggravation. They reduce you to infants, telling you when to eat, sleep, shower and use the bathroom. I was surprised (and admittedly frightened) by how many recruits dropped out that first week. Asthma attacks, torn tendons, failed drug tests and just good old-fashioned quitting. You learn to make friendships sparingly. Those friends may not be there when you wake up.

Up to this point my name and clean tongue have been the only real witness of Christ I’ve been able to exude — those and my prayers at meal times, but I’ve found they’re best for ministering to my own soul, rather than my fellow recruits. As I said, boot camp is very real, and it contains all of the imagined horrors. But I do have a great peace knowing that I serve, first, the armor of God before the uniform of a United States sailor.

Coming in Week Two: Intense Training

A Call for Normalcy

06/22/2007, 4:30 pm -- by | No Comments

Every once in a while, an invention comes along that changes our way of life so completely and seamlessly, we can no longer imagine our lives without it, even if we were alive long before it came. When I was young, microwave ovens were a solid example of this phenomenon. Within a few years they went from nonexistent to omnipresent, as an increasingly impatient populace grew increasingly dependent.

The most recent example would have to be the cell phone. As recently as 2000, I couldn’t imagine owning a cell phone since, after all, I was neither a businessman nor a drug dealer. Now I struggle to find an 11-year-old without one.

More than that, everyone expects everyone else to be reachable all the time. Gone are the days of coming home to check your messages; no one can miss you. I recently encountered a woman who was disappointed she forgot her cell phone at home, even though she would only be gone for two hours and was going to be in a meeting that would require her to turn her cell phone off.

But of course that’s if she turned it off. People now apparently need to be available during movies, class, and church. Again, no one even seems to remember a time when people would just have to wait a couple hours to reach you. Every call has taken on an absurd level of urgency. Some people will actually get offended if their call is not answered. Despite laws regulating their use during driving, most people are loath to let a call go unanswered and finish their ten-minute drive before returning the call. Cell phones are practically glued to people’s ears, and thanks to Bluetooth, this is coming closer to being literally true (this hands-free technology also makes it much harder to tell who the true crazies are, since everyone now walks around waving their arms, talking to no one in particular).

I’m not decrying the proliferation of cell phones. I myself have one and enjoy the increased communications it affords me. I just find it fascinating the way technology changes not only our capabilities, but along with it our standards and expectations.

Clash of the Titans XXXII: Helmet/Seat Belt Laws

06/22/2007, 11:00 am -- by | 6 Comments

In this corner, supporting mandatory helmet and seat belt laws, is Steve!

And in this corner, opposing those laws, is Josh!

The case for mandatory helmet and seatbelt laws is simple — they save lives and money, with minimal invasion of individual privacy.

My distinguished opponent wears his seatbelt every time he gets in a car; I know because I’ve ridden with him scores of times. So I feel no compunction at all in saying that if you, the reader, don’t wear your seat belt in a car, or a helmet on a motorcycle, you are a moron. And if you actually think you might be better off in a crash without those items, you just might be a “9-11 was an inside job,” “Hooray, the wife wants to go on Springer,” “Let’s head to Vegas and spend a day feeding the slots”-level moron.

That’s not what we’re debating. Rational people accept that wearing a helmet or seat belt makes you safer, but should the government mandate such safety? Stupidity — even dangerous stupidity — is not enough reason (by itself) to outlaw something, which accounts for the continued legality of cigarettes, Ginsu knives, and high-speed Japanese motorcycles. The real question is when the state should step in and prevent idiots from doing things that are likely to endanger their well-being. These regulations differ from most others in that they appear to affect only the individual — but that’s misleading.

Injuries and deaths from the failure to wear seat belts and helmets harm society in at least two ways. First is the direct cost to society — hospital bills, etc. But the second is even more important — the senseless loss of a valuable citizen. If you crash a car and die for lack of a seat belt, you have deprived us all of the production and enjoyment from your life. You are unique and you simply CANNOT be replaced without hurting society — not to mention your family. The social contract that governs our actions in the civilized world trumps the me-first individualism libertarian intellectuals cook up with black lights and bongs, and feeble-minded imbeciles use to justify how their feeling the wind in their hair is more important than my seeing their brains all over my mailbox.

Of course this is potentially dangerous; government could theoretically extend ‘protections’ into every area of our lives, stripping us of the freedom to make any decisions. All the more reason to keep government smaller and more accountable to the people! Seat belt and helmet laws don’t come from a desire for government control over individual rights. They are rightly derived from the proper understanding of everyone’s obligation to society to refrain from harming it, by taking unnecessary risks.

This might sound a bit inconsistent coming from the guy who beat the drum for more government-enforced smoking bans, but I actually prefer a government that butts out of many of our decisions. And seatbelt and helmet laws are one area where I think they need to.

Let me start by conceding that failure to wear a seatbelt is foolish. Steve is right — I always wear mine, even for trips around the block, and when I’ve been in accidents, I have been glad for it. Failure to wear a helmet on a motorcycle, on the other hand, is stupid enough to convince me that damage to that particular head might not be that much of a loss. And I fully support such laws for minors, since anything less is tantamount to child endangerment.

Everyone ought to wear helmets and seatbelts because it’s sensible. When traveling at high speeds, I want to wear anything that decreases my chances of death and dismemberment.

But I don’t want my government telling me what I need to do for me, and I certainly don’t want a ticket on those occasions when I either can’t wear a seatbelt, perhaps for medical reasons, or when I decide that it is more to my personal benefit to not wear one.

That determination should still be mine to make in areas such as these where my own well being is the only thing at risk. I personally wear a seatbelt, but there are plenty of things I do that endanger my health. I eat fatty foods. I don’t get as much cardiovascular exercise as I should. Is the government going to start dictating my diet and assigning me PT?

Obviously those things don’t present the immediate threat that an unrestrained accident could, but where do we draw the line? Can we rock climb, sky dive, or surf? For that matter, can we even ride motorcycles at all?


Joke of the Day, 6/22/07

06/22/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

What has four legs and one arm?

A Rottweiler!

Ask Bweinh! Poll — Part of Speech

06/21/2007, 12:30 pm -- by | No Comments

This Ask Bweinh! poll is brought to you by Southwest Airlines, home of the $300 travel voucher for switching to a flight that fits your schedule 300 times better! If only all of life could be so nice.

What are our favorite parts of speech??

Rank Part of Speech Points
1. Noun 17
2-3 (tie) Adjective, Verb 15
4. Adverb 13
5. Preposition 7
6-9 (tie) Direct Object; Diphthong; Interjection; Pronoun 5
10-11 (tie) Aspiration Symbol; Conjunctive Adverb 4
Other Past Perfect Tense; Dangling Participle; Third Person Omniscient Modifier; Gerund; Conjunction 1-3

A New Hope For Gordo

06/21/2007, 11:00 am -- by | No Comments

Life is hard on the plains of Central Africa. The savannah is a dry, arid wasteland, rain is scarce, and the sun is relentless. The people who live here struggle to eke out a living growing local crops like barley, guava, potatoes, and baby carrots, to sell at the flea markets that sprout up every Thursday afternoon through sundown Saturday. They compete with an eclectic mix of gun dealers, antique sellers and baseball card vendors for the dwindling crowds, hoping to make enough cash to feed their families for another day.

One stall stands out from the others, though. Behind the withered crops and stunted vegetables, hoping to help his adopted family earn a living, is a 3 year-old juvenile African elephant who represents an attempt by the local Zamboni tribe to reach out across racial and genus barriers and help a troubled young elephant escape a life of alcohol and violence.

His name is Gordo — and his tale is one that is much too common these days in Central Africa.

Gordo’s mother was killed by poachers and he was raised by his father, a rogue elephant addicted to the fermented berries of the Poco-Poco tree. Like his father, Gordo also began experimenting with alcohol at a young age, and was soon raiding small villages and terrorizing local tribes. This is how he was captured and found himself facing relocation in the local court system. But thanks to an innovative local magistrate, Gordo was offered an opportunity to accept placement with a local family, designed to break the cycle of addiction and violence.

His days are now spent working the family plot, manning the flea market booth, and entertaining the local children with his basketball skills. He is also trying to learn English, so one day he can attend school and earn a high school diploma. If he is successful, he will be the first member of his species to accomplish this — and the audacious plan to reform rogue elephants through family placement may move from a compassionate experiment to a full-fledged pork-barrel project for the federal government.

You can help by sending donations* to:

Juvenile Elephant Placement Fund (JEPF)
PO Box 101A
Opelika, Alabama 36801

* — Donations are not tax deductible unless listed under “losses due to theft” on your tax return.

Quote of the Day, 6/21/07

06/21/2007, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“Time is not a factor for an album to reach platinum. In theory, Chumbawamba’s self titled album could reach platinum in 500 years.” — Anonymous

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