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27 posts from April 2010

Did Shaun Brown Sr. of Battle Creek kill his 5-month old son?

"It is clear that the child had been under the care of Mr. Brown and it was clear that something happened about 12:30 p.m. and the child was in the care of the defendant," District Judge John Hallacy said after listening to more than two hours of testimony. "The pathologist said in her finding that the child suffered impact or trauma to the head and all that happens when the child was in the care of the defendant. He minimizes what he did to the child."


You decide whether Shaun Brown Sr. killed his 5-month old son. Read the story and share your thoughts.

These cases continue leaving the stench of death for a growing number of Michigan's children.

Parents and care-providers are taking out their anger on their defense-less kids.

The state has a broad infrastructure of laws and programs in place to help prevent these crimes from happening.

As we move into a campaign for governor and the Michigan Legislature, we need to ask candidates where they stand on enforcing child protection and neglect laws that already exist.

Explain "The Brothers of John The Steadfast" of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

The Brothers of John the Steadfast, brings together Lutheran laymen to defend and promote the orthodox Christian faith which is taught in the Lutheran Confessions, provide financial support for Christian new media (e.g. Issues, Etc.), and to support other endeavors selected by its membership that defend and promote the cause of confessional Lutheranism.


It's a simple question: How are "The Brothers of John the Steadfast" different from other members of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

I've been reading their blog for a while and it seems like they've drawn up battle lines about those who are confessional Lutherans and those in the LCMS who are not.

I remember when I was confirmed into the church as a young boy and I had to pledge my fealty to the Lutheran Confessions.

These guys write like they've either going to war or already at war.

But for what?

City of Detroit is shelving talk about reducing its borders

Yet on Wednesday, Bing's staff backed away from what was first characterized as downsizing the city, saying, "We are stabilizing neighborhoods and the city as a result of a reduced population by centralizing resources, not shrinking its borders."


There's been lots of talk about the city of Detroit downsizing its borders. This was seen as a way to reduce costs of providing services to a city where there are blocks and blocks of abandoned houses and vacant land.

According to this Detroit Free Press article, that thinking has changed. Officials say that circumstances have stabilized.

How does your life compare to that of a Red-bellied Woodpecker?

I watch red bellied woodpeckers at my feeder, and in the woods working away at a tree, & wonder how much damage their brain suffers with all that banging? Sometimes when I am having a bad day, I try to remind myself that things could be worse- I could be a woodpecker banging my head against a tree, or I could be a red tailed hawk sitting in a tree at the edge of a field in a snowstorm- Bill K


We occasionally see woodpeckers in our yard, including the Red-bellied Woodpecer.

Click on the above link for a great profile of the bird from our local Wild Birds Unlimited Store.

They can peck about 15 times in a single second and that adds up to 12,000 pecks a day.

Do they get brain damage? The post answers that.

Does Michigan's Carl Levin cheapen U.S. Senate with his "shitty" talk?

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin is sparking some blogger buzz this afternoon after some pointed questioning of officials from Goldman Sachs, repeatedly using the term "shitty deal."


When I was pressroom manager at the Michigan Capitol, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin was a frequent visitor. He would hold news conferences and kibitz with reporters.

He always came across as the epitome of propriety with his talk and his treatment of others.

But get him in a hearing room with Goldman Sachs executives and his talk deteriorates.

During a hearing today with the company's big dogs, he keeps describing their dealings as being "shitty."

Question: Does such talk reduce the level of rhetoric and the quality of response from those he questions?

Is the next step to use tactics in the Ukrainian Parliament where members solved their differences with a brawl?

Perhaps, he's trying to over identify with constituents back home?

What do you think?

Could Michigan be headed towards Republican governor and Democratic legislature?

Michigan voters continue to lean Republican in the 2010 governor's race, with U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra the leading GOP candidate, according to poll results released this morning by Rasmussen Reports.


Right now, it looks like Michigan voters are saying they want a Republican governor and not another Democrat. Click the link above to see a current poll from Rasmussen.

Could we end up with a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature?

Wouldn't that just be a repeat of what we have now? There would be a whole lot of continued finger-pointing with each side blaming the other for the state's ills.

Here's a template from the Ukraine for state legislatures around the country

(CNN) -- Lawmakers in Ukraine scuffled with each other, throwing punches and eggs, as parliament met Tuesday to ratify a treaty with Russia that extends the latter's navy presence in the Ukraine's Crimean peninsula until 2042.

The ruling Regions party eventually ratified the treaty but not before howls of protest from the opposition.


Check out this CNN story about how lawmakers in the Ukraine settled disagreements in their parliament.

This is in contrast to state legislatures around the country where political combatants use words and more words, sometimes nasty to settle their differences.

How would voters react if their was a big brawl on the floor of their state legislature or in the U.S. Congress?

Who would make the better brawlers? Republicans or Democrats?

But, how will my 85-year-old Aunt Aileen do with an iPad?

When I handed the iPad, Apple’s new tablet computer, to Jim Peterson, 79, I gave him the simplest instructions: “You touch something to make it happen. Don’t worry, you can’t break it unless you drop it.” Then I left Peterson and his wife, Barbara, 63, alone with it.


We recently spent a few days with my Aunt Aileen at Uncle Ron at their home in Destin, Florida. She's 85 and he's 87.

My Uncle Ron was one of the first Apple dealers in the country. Back then they were marvels of computing, even if they were housed in a big plastic box.

While visiting them with our son Justin had his new iPad delivered to their home. He's a chronic early-adopter eager to test new e-devices to see how they fit in his lifestyle.

He handed it Aunt Aileen and invited her to try it. He encouraged her to just push some icons. She loved it. Keep in mind, she's never taken to computers.

After they snow bird it back up north to Michigan, Uncle Ron is going to get her one.

How will she do? Will she become a senior citizen "geek-in-training" who can't wait to get a cool app?

I'll reporter her progress.

In the meantime, check these (in the above link) senior reactions to the iPad from AARP.

I don't even know if there is a Ford dealer in central Michigan

The automaker’s resurgence is due, in part, to new products such as the Ford Fusion and Ford Taurus in the U.S. and the Ford Fiesta in Europe and Asia.


I just read this Detroit Free Press story about Ford's $2.08 billion profit for the first quarter of this year.

The big driver behind their profitability seems to be big sales in this country, Europe and Asia.

And, note the quote from the story about how increased sales are being driven by new Ford models which consumers seem to want. It's the Fusion, Taurus and the Fiesta.

They've got my attention. I've seen the commercials for these vehicles. But where do I find them locally?

Is there even a Ford dealer in mid-Michigan?

From my couch: Looking for hope in my everyday life

I'm sitting on my couch in our living room again and surfing the net when I stumbled on this quote from a letter by Franklin Graham.  It grabbed my attention and kept me from clicking on.  The quote:

From the beginning of time, people have been on a search for something to hope in and something to strive for. Hope is what keeps us on the move, reaching for the one thing that will help us overcome our disappointments and our emptiness. 

Isn't hope the high octane fuel that keeps us going everyday?  When you run out of hope things start to go haywire.

I've seen it in my own life.  Looking over my shoulder at my last 63 years, I've been driven by my search for hope.  I wanted to do my part to make this a better world.  Where I looked, I didn't find it.

Where did I look?  Politics.  Government.  Job.  Church.  Leaders.  Pastors.  I'm at the last item on my list. It's the word of God and the hope it provides.  Graham describes it here:

The message we preach will center on man’s longing for hope and where it comes from. The Bible says, “Your word [Lord] is my source of hope” (Psalm 119:114, NLT).

Be sure to read that piece of literature from a Michigan legislative candidate

I'm starting to see a few pieces of literature for Michigan legislative candidates.  In the August primary, we will select party candidates for both the state house and senate.

With our state's fragile economic condition, state legislators play an increasingly important role.  We pay them big bucks and we give them a lot of power.

For now, set aside the question of term-limits and just look at the content of the candidates' literature which is supposed to introduce you to them and who they are and what they stand for.

Whether Republican or Democrat, they usually hide their party affiliation, say they are for good schools, more jobs and safe neighborhoods.  And many will have a bulleted point about lower taxes and a good environment.

Do you find that to be enough information or are you left shaking your head feeling insulted that the candidate is avoiding real transparency? 

How can you make an informed vote without more information? 

My answer, "You cant."

The five Republican candidates for Michigan governor are a real inspiration . . . not

I just read this Detroit News story about last night's debate between the five Republican candidates for governor.  There was lots of rhetoric and some good old-fashioned political nastiness.

But to this Republican who's moving more and more towards being an independent, I was very uninspired. 

Are these the people who can lead our very fractured state back to some semblance of prosperity?  Can and do they listen to the people they want to represent?  Do they realize that they will have to persuade 148 members of the Michigan Legislature before they can get anything done? 

If last night's debate was an indication of the campaign to come in the next few months, I think state Republicans have a problem.  Their only hope comes from the weak Democratic slate for governor.

Our state deserves better.

My weight loss report: Baby-boomer belly going "bye-bye"

It's Wednesday morning, the time for our Weight Watchers Online weigh in where super-wife and I both step on the scales.  When I started this about nine months ago, two words seemed to dominate my thinking-"risk factor."

This morning "Mister Scales" said I had lost .2 of a pound.  I'm now at 205.2 with a total loss of a little more than 30 pounds.  My goal is to reach 195 and to stay there.

How has this affected my health?  I've dumped, at the doctor's suggestion, a low-grade blood pressure pill with a handsome co-pay and my knees don't hurt anymore.  I can walk easily and I can go up and downstairs without feeling stiffness and pain.

The secrets to making this work:  the desire to do it, my wife's support and a great, easy-to-use program with Weight Watchers Online.

Weight record

I will see the smiles of the African Children's Choir in my sleep tonight

Pastor Marvin Williams of Trinity Church in Lansing tweeted late this afternoon about the concert at his church with the African Children's Choir.  With two hours before the event, I tweeted him back and asked if we could get in without tickets.

Within a couple of minutes, Pastor Williams tweeted me back that he wasn't sure, but that my wife and I should still come to the free concert. And we did.

What super-wife and I saw were kids from Uganda and Kenya who had lost parents and had every reason to not smile and show joy.  Through songs, smiles and high energy dance moves they gave an eloquent testimony to their faith in God.  They have hope.  They gave some to everybody there tonight, including me.  Check the video from another performance.  What do you think?

Getting ready to "maybe" go to Haiti

My good friend Rich Bearup has been to Haiti three times, once since the earthquake and last Thursday we met a friend of his, Gertrude, who runs an orphanage for special needs children there.

He has invited super-wife and me to join a mission trip there in the fall to help rebuild the orphanage and to help in other ways. We are leaning towards saying "yes" if we can fit the pieces together.

In his latest blog post, he describes one of the biggest slums in the country, Cite Soleil, that reminds of a similar places that I saw on a mission trip to Mali in West Africa.

Federal judge rules National Day of Prayer unconstitutional

A federal judge in Wisconsin says that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional and thus illegal, according to evangelist Franklin Graham.

This is how U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb reaches her conclusion as she writes:

“The nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual’s decision whether and when to pray.”

Doesn't her logic make a case for having it? 

Here are links to the decision and background about the case from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Martin Luther must be seething about the Lutheran Church Missouri Syond

I presume that Martin Luther, the great church reformer, is in heaven.

And if he's looking down on earth at the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), he must be snarling at their defense about why they don't share their faith in Jesus Christ.

Look at this post from Pastor Paul McCain, one of the Synod's leaders, and check his explanation for why members don't share their faith.  "They lost their voice," he claims.  Pretty lame, I would say.

Do they believe what they preach and do they practice it?   Are they just talkers?  What does God's Word say about the talkers who are not doers?  The LCMS leaders would play their get out of jail free card and say they are forgiven for their lack of enthusiasm about the only true hope that exists.

Yes, I was born and raised into the LCMS and left within the past two years.  Its lethargy was becoming toxic to my faith and my belief in God.

I will have more to share about this down the line.

Should we be concerned that 80 percent don't trust federal government?

I'm reading this story about the Pew poll and 80 percent don't trust the federal government just as I'm leaving to go down to the local Social Security office.  Will they be responsive to my needs?  I've talked to their 800-number at least six times and have gotten at least four different answers.

What happens when a poll shows that 100 percent don't trust their federal government?

A quote from the story:

Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they can't trust Washington and they have little faith that the massive federal bureaucracy can solve the nation's ills, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center that shows public confidence in the federal government at one of the lowest points in a half-century.

Greg Laurie says I need to turn my world upside down today

Greg Laurie made me feel uncomfortable this morning.

He's a pastor in southern California and I became familiar with him after hearing him at several Promise Keepers rallies around the country.  I get his daily e-mail devotion.

This morning's devotion was about how the church today has been permeated by the attitudes of the world unlike the early church which turned the world upside down.  Today's church has become flaccid and seems to have less effect than a pothole on a busy road.

He says the world needs to see Jesus Christ through each one of us who believe in him.  He writes:

The world needs to see a genuine man or woman of God living the Christian life. They need to see the real thing. In short, they need to see you. God can use you. Maybe you are not a preacher, but you can proclaim the gospel message through your life and through your words. You can turn your world upside down.

I'm very imperfect and I know it.  My only claim to worth is being a saved sinner.  My prayer this week is that I can reflect the love that has been shown to me by Jesus.