Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Reconciling the New Testament with the death penalty

I've been thinking about the death penalty a little bit since the execution of that Georgia woman coincided so recently with the Pope's visit here. (Confession, I've also being going to church more regularly than I used to.) In any event, I hadn't heard anything about this woman before yesterday, so she was just a name. Apparently, she killed her husband or something. In any event, Georgia gave her the death penalty last night.

I thought about a verse from Romans 12:19-21.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

It's an old debate, I know. For as long as I can remember, I've always been in favor of the death penalty. 

I'm not sure I still am.

I've never supported the death penalty for deterrence. That's never been a valid reason for me. If you support the death penalty for the deterrent effect, then you would have to say that the Islamic practice of chopping off a thief's hand is okay because of the great deterrent effect. Obviously, that's a penalty that is vastly out of balance with the crime. 

For me, I guess my support of the death penalty was a gut-sense of justice or retribution. Not revenge, but more of the idea that there are some crimes that carry the penalty of death simply as a matter of balancing accounts. If you do X, then you get Y. We as a society have decided that certain crimes warrant the death penalty. It's kind of the idea that you know what you're getting into when you decide to go on a killing spree. There's a cost that we have decided to impose for certain crimes - your life is forfeit.

However, spending a lifetime in prison is still a form of losing your life in a certain kind of way. You could almost say it's worse. Being sentenced to a life of imprisonment is a long, slow way to die. It gives that person a lifetime to forfeit their own life, rather than meeting with a quick end. There's no blaze of glory or martyrdom. You're just kind of forgotten. There is obviously the possibility of the criminal justice system erring, but that's not really what moves me. I guess I'm just not as sure about the whole idea of balancing accounts as I used to be.

Maybe I would feel differently if someone I loved were the victim of a horrible crime - I don't know. Hopefully, I never face that. However, the families of the Charleston Nine expressed their forgiveness to the person that killed their loved ones. Deep down, I know that's the right path. It's the harder path, but it's the right one. It's easy to get all Inigo Montoya and tell yourself that you're gonna go exact revenge against the six-fingered man. Isn't it harder to not?

There's also the idea that we leave room for God's wrath, as the passage from Paul's letter to the Romans tells us. Imposing the death penalty doesn't leave any room for God to carry out his sentence. Perhaps I'm growing older and losing some of my youthful bravado - a mellowing, if you will. Because now, I have a hard time seeing myself as the instrument of carrying out a punishment that leaves no room for God to work.

Anyway, I think I've changed my mind about the death penatly, or at least I'm less sure of myself than I used to be.

Monday, September 28, 2015

"A family outing is a family outing, whether you go to the Lexington Blowfish or the Columbia Fireflies.”

...says Moe Baddourah, when asked about the new baseball team that will be coming to Columbia next spring.

Mayor Benjamin, who is the number one supporter of the minor league baseball team coming to Columbia is super-duper optimistic. Like Pollyanna level optimistic:
“This is one of the most baseball-friendly regions in the country,” Benjamin says. “You can have [NCAA] Division I championship-level baseball, you can have professional minor league baseball and you can have a successful wood bat league team in the Midlands."
Color me skeptical. I love baseball, and I love going to baseball games. I have young children who I want to take to baseball games. However, there's only so much time in the budget for baseball. When you're taking young children to games, baseball is baseball. I'm not going to stop going to Carolina baseball games to go to see some team that there is no emotional connection to. I don't think I'm alone.

I think the minor league team is going to have lots of corporate sponsors buy seats, but I'm skeptical that they will fill the seats with people. Maybe there are people out there that are dying for minor league baseball, but Mayor Benjamin is wrong about the idea that you can have three teams play for full stadiums of fans. The reason he's wrong?

It's called supply and demand.

A young Gamecock fan sees and hears 2001 for the first time ever. [VIDEO]

Being a dad is awesome. Over the weekend, Permanent Press, Jr. turned four years old. Part of his present was getting to go into a Carolina Gamecocks football game and actually seeing the game live.

Up until this, he had only been to tailgates or seen the game on television. He'd never actually been inside. So this past Saturday, on the day of his fourth birthday, he got to go inside and see it all.

We had a great time. We yelled, cheered, danced, ate a hot dog, and generally enjoyed a fall Saturday in the South. He really likes doing things that I like to do, so going to a college football game was a big deal for him.

One funny moment was during the first half, when I was explaining the end zones and that the general point of the offense was for our team to score a touchdown in that particular end zone, he seemed to understand. After a few drives where we only kicked field goals, he asked "Daddy, when are we going to score a touchdown?" Excellent question, son. We were all asking that.

It's always great to see your children experience new things for the first time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

This is why people hate politicians. (Part 2 in our ongoing series)

In our ongoing series of "Why People Hate Politicians", presented for your approval is the case of City of Columbia councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine, who wants not only a pay raise for herself, but, get this: She wants lifetime health insurance for anyone who gets elected to city council three times.

Listen up, politicians. You are not some sort of nobility to be showered with taxpayer generosity. City council is a part time job. It's not supposed to be your gravy-train. You're not entitled to extra benefits simply because you convinced a bunch of people to allow you to manage the City.

This is why people hate politicians. Quit being such freakin' vampires.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Five tips for going to Disney World with small children from a dad who made it back alive.

You're looking at your most important piece of equipment here - your stroller.

Just a few weeks ago, Mrs. Permanent Press and I took our four year old son and our fourteen month old daughter to their first ever trip to Walt Disney World. After a bunch of research, lots of walking, lots of standing in line, some tears, and lots of smiles, I can say with experience that I have some good tips of what to do and what not to do when you're taking young children to Walt Disney World. 

For purposes of these tips, I'm assuming that you have at least one child under six, and you probably have at least one younger than that. If you're taking more than three children to Disney, and they're all under the age of six, then you're either really brave or really dumb. In any event, here are some tips from a dad who made it back alive.

1. Avoid Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney is a really cool shopping, dining, and entertainment area right on a beautiful lake. It has live music, cool places to eat, lots of neat stores....and nothing good your young children will really want to see.  You have children, remember? Downtown Disney is where you go for a night out away from your children when you get a babysitter. Don't worry about missing the shopping, either. There is so much shopping at Disney, you really will be okay. I promise.

2. Your stroller is the most important thing you will bring with you. Listen up, dads. Your stroller is vitally important for your Disney trip. Vitally. Think of yourself as a tank commander in WWII. You need a good tank to make it home alive. Your stroller is your tank. Your stroller will be a resting place for your children, a sleeping place for your children, an eating place for your children, a storage place for food, water, extra clothes, and all the other stuff you bring with you into the park. It will protect them from the sun and the rain if it has a canopy. You can certainly rent a stroller from Disney, but we decided against that, because the Disney strollers don't have adjustable backs that can lay your child all the way back.

Believe me, you want your young children to be able to take a nap in the stroller. Heck, you're going to want to take a nap in the stroller before it's all over. If you have a great stroller of your own - bring it. We had a good stroller, but we didn't have a double stroller, and we knew we wanted to avoid carrying either one. Even a young child will get very heavy very fast. Disney is very spread out. There's no way you can take a child who is a beginning walker and expect them to just hold your hand. You'll end up carrying them, and then you'll get tired. You see the one pictured above? We rented it from a third party vendor who delivered it to our hotel, and then picked it up from our hotel on the last day. Totally worth it. Don't skimp on the stroller.

3. Fast Pass. Learn it. Use it. Disney is a pretty popular place. You won't be there by yourself, and unless you enjoy standing around in lines with your four year old for an hour, you need to listen up.

Fast Pass is Disney's gift to parents with small children. A Fast Pass reservation allows you to bypass about 98% of the existing line and basically go right to the front of the line. For instance, if the regular a/k/a "Standby" line for Thunder Mountain Railroad is at eighty minutes, a Fast Pass reservation gets you on the ride in just a few minutes. Gee, what sounds better? Standing in line for forever with your child in the heat or just riding immediately? And you get three Fast Pass choices a day. I used one in the mid-morning, one right after lunch, and one late. This worked out rather well for our family. In the morning, some rides are no wait, so you can just walk up and go, no Fast Pass needed. For instance, when we got to It's a Small World one morning, there was no line at all. So we just rode the ride. (Side tip, this is a good ride to give your child a snack on since it's kind of long and slow.) 

If you are staying in a Walt Disney World Resort, you'll get to make Fast Pass reservations sixty days before you arrive. Do that. Repeat. Do that.

4. Rider Switch is great for families with really small kids. Rider-Switch is Disney's extra gift to parents with really small kids. We took advantage of it multiple times. Some websites make it sound complicated, but it's not. Basically, if you have a family like mine where an older child can ride a ride that the younger child cannot, then you qualify for Rider-Switch. Star Tours is a good example. Our son was just tall enough to ride, but our daughter was nowhere near tall enough. So one of us stays behind with the small child while the other parent takes the older child. With me so far? Good.

Then, after the older child and parent finish the ride, you switch - so your older child gets to ride the ride again, but with the other parent. Our son rode Star Tours a ton with this technique. All you do is ask the Disney person at the entrance for a Rider Switch ticket. They'll take care of you. Mostly, they didn't even have to be asked. It's an obvious benefit to the older child, but that's what your there for, remember? (Note, Rider Switch is only available if the younger child is ineligible to ride. They can't simply choose not to ride.)

5. Don't make each day the Bataan Death March. If you have children, you know how they get whiny and fussy when they're tired, and that typically happens around 5:00PM or so? Yeah, that's going to happen to you even if your at Walt Disney World. Don't be the dad who tries to march everyone through the hottest part of the day to make it to every single ride. Relax. It's your vacation. Pace yourself.

Here's the way we did it that worked best for us. Get up early. I mean early. Get yourself up, get your children up, and get to the park early. This has many benefits. First, you'll beat the big rush of people who arrive exactly when the parks are set to open. Think of it as beating rush-hour traffic in the morning. Yes, getting up early sucks, but trust me, being crammed asses-to-elbows on a bus at 9:00AM sucks, too.

Since you got up early, you'll be able to ride a few rides first thing with very minimal lines, which is great. Then, you can use a Fast Pass as the park fills up. By then, it's time for an early lunch, and then it's time for the really big, super-secret tip. You ready?

After lunch, ride one or two rides...and then go back to your hotel. Just go back. Don't try ride a bunch of rides. Just do one or two, and then go back to your room. Your children will sleep like rocks. You will be able to relax. If you're staying at a Disney Resort, you can go to what will be an amazing pool and completely refresh yourself. It's amazing how a dip in the pool can revive you.

Then, you're all set to head back into the park around 6:00PM or so just when everyone else who stayed there all day is leaving. Suckers. You're now there a lower volume time, you're rested, and you can enjoy yourself more. Even better, your children have napped, so they're not completely unreasonable monsters who say "no" to everything. You can eat some food in the park for dinner, stay for the fireworks, and then head back. Seriously, if you take nothing away from this but this one tip, you'll be great. Go back to your resort a little after lunch. You'll thank me.

Have fun. It will be expensive, but it will be totally worth it. You can make more money when you get back home.

South Carolina has the third "fairest" tax structure.

According to WalletHub, South Carolina has the third "fairest" tax structure.

Only Montana and Oregon rated higher. Interestingly, Georgia came in next to last, at 49, and North Carolina was a mediocre 23.

So maybe our tax system here isn't so bad.

Why People Hate Politics

You know why people hate politics? You know why a lot of your friends who are really smart, funny, and really enjoyable don't talk about politics? You know why people hate "the media" and "career politicians"?

Candidates, politicians, and journalists treat it like a game, and it's dumb.
Ben Carson says the United States should not elect a Muslim president.

"I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that," the retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Apparently, this is now the big controversy that all the important journalists and politicians need to weigh in on? This is why people hate politics.

First of all, we don't even have a Muslim candidate out there anywhere who is waiting in the wings to run for President at this time. It's an entirely non-factual hypothetical.

For that matter, we might as well be asking Dr. Carson if he would support or be comfortable with a Jedi as a President. There are no Jedi candidates. If one ever comes along, okay, we'll talk about it. Until then, what the hell are you people doing?

Obviously, there's a better way to answer this question. Jonah Goldberg has it here:
I think this is a ridiculous question designed to create bogus controversies that distract from real issues and paint me and my party in a negative light. But since you asked: Of course a Muslim can be a president. So can Hindus, Buddhists and atheists. For that matter so can Satanist, Klingons and Jedis (if they’re natural-born American citizens of course). But that doesn’t mean a candidate’s faith is irrelevant. It is deeply relevant. Liberal politicians love to invoke their religious faith when defending welfare programs, spending on the environment and education. They only say faith has no place in politics when faith proves inconvenient to the liberal agenda. Suddenly, they don’t think the government should be imposing religious values on others. What they really mean is that no values should ever come before the liberal agenda. If a Muslim wants to run for president, great. Throw your hat in the ring and explain how your faith informs your agenda. The rest of us have to do it, so should a Muslim. If his answers are no good, he won’t get elected.
Crap like this "Muslim President controversy" is precisely why people hate politics. It has nothing to do with our lives, or making this country better, or anything remotely relevant to actual issues. It's just a dumb game that some people in DC play for their own amusement.

It makes me want to vote for a big freakin' meteor to hit the Earth.

Note: Thanks to @JeffMfromSC for pointing out that I needed to credit Jonah Goldberg on the answer to the question. I need to get better about linking great stuff from other people so they can get credit for their great lines. Apologies to the great Jonah Goldberg.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Meta Link

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that I said I was back. I'm still catching up on all the work that accrued over vacation, so I don't have a ton of time to blog. So since I'm slacking off, here's a link to a post that Brad made over on his blog that is something that I tweeted to him.

So it's kind of a link to myself. Very meta.


Monday, September 14, 2015

I have returned.

Much like Douglas MacArthur, I have returned.

I know, I know a trip to Walt Disney World ain't exactly the Bataan Death March, but we did a lot of walking in the heat. I'll have a full breakdown of the Disney trip with some do's and don'ts for those of you who may be thinking about going, but in the meantime I'll leave you with this.

Selfie while on Dumbo the Flying Elephant with Permanent Press, Jr.

Dumbo was fun.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Disney Vacation Post

I'm off this week for a well-deserved family vacation in Walt Disney World. Blogging will be light this week, eh, who am I kidding, blogging is pretty light regularly. In any event, I'll be posting here and there.

For what it's worth, it's been nice to unplug from the news and just relax. The biggest concern right now is making sure that we make it to our FastPass reservations online. Oh, and the eldest child is now a huge Star Wars fan after going on the Star Tours ride.

Today is a resort day - we're going to go to a fishin' hole and generally relax. That's good because tomorrow will be the early morning day to get to the Magic Kingdom and try and ride every ride possible until just before we drop from heat exhaustion.

May the force be with you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The F-35 suffers another setback.

Yeah, I laughed.

Enjoy. I may or may not be blogging during my upcoming vacation. It depends on how much you loyal followers demand of me.