record high temperatures in Conway, AR

3 08 2011

Today most of Arkansas was under an excessive heat warning, with many places reaching a high over 110 and a heat index around 120.  Fort Smith hit 115 degrees.  This is all with lots of humidity, so it was beyond crazy-mad hot.

Is it because of global warming?  It is definitely hotter than normal, but it’s not unprecedented.  Here’s the record highs for Conway, AR, in August for all-time.  Notice the years in which the highs happened.

Date     Record high    Record low
Aug 01   110°F (1986)   53°F (1971)
Aug 02   110°F (1943)   59°F (1918)
Aug 03   111°F (1918)   52°F (1915)
Aug 04   112°F (1918)   54°F (1920)
Aug 05   108°F (1954)   53°F (1974)
Aug 06   108°F (1934)   52°F (1948)
Aug 07   109°F (1934)   54°F (1912)
Aug 08   112°F (1930)   52°F (1990)
Aug 09   114°F (1930)   55°F (1989)
Aug 10   115°F (1936)   54°F (1996)
Aug 11   110°F (1954)   55°F (1917)
Aug 12   112°F (1899)   54°F (1967)
Aug 13   110°F (1943)   52°F (1964)
Aug 14   111°F (1943)   53°F (1967)
Aug 15   113°F (1943)   55°F (2004)
Aug 16   112°F (1943)   50°F (1992)
Aug 17   110°F (1909)   52°F (1992)
Aug 18   109°F (1954)   55°F (1992)
Aug 19   108°F (1934)   56°F (1943)
Aug 20   111°F (1902)   53°F (1940)
Aug 21   108°F (1898)   53°F (1963)
Aug 22   108°F (1899)   51°F (1956)
Aug 23   112°F (1899)   56°F (1925)
Aug 24   111°F (1899)   55°F (1920)
Aug 25   110°F (1943)   55°F (1966)
Aug 26   110°F (1943)   55°F (1927)
Aug 27   112°F (1943)   53°F (1962)
Aug 28   108°F (1943)   51°F (1986)
Aug 29   107°F (1954)   49°F (1986)
Aug 30   107°F (1943)   49°F (1986)
Aug 31   107°F (1938)   54°F (1935)

It’s odd that in 1918 we had a record low of 59 on the 2nd, then record highs on the 3rd and 4th of 111 and 112.

While there’s not much we can do about the heat, someone has proposed a solution of ice cream sandwiches being delivered when we’re under an excessive heat warning.  I kinda like the idea…  🙂


Didn’t Congress announce budget cuts this year?

21 07 2011

Remember when the government recently announced $38 billion in budget cuts?  Sounds great, right?  Even though that’s only a small percentage of the overall budget, at least it’s something!  (I wasn’t sure if Congress knew how to reduce spending.)  Well, the Congressional Budget Office has analyzed the fiscal 2011 spending deal that Congress is voting on, and concluded that the spending cuts are just $352 million (with an “m”).  That’s less than .01% of what they had claimed to be cutting.

I know, there’s different ways to look at it.  Supposedly they are cutting some of what they wanted to spend.  But comparing the 2011 budget to the 2010 budget revealed only $352 million cut.  So I guess they were saying they’re saving billions by not spending more…

I wrote the above a few weeks ago but never published it, for whatever reasons.  But now it’s even more relevant, with the debt ceiling crisis.  I’m sure the situation is very complicated in a number of ways, but here’s how I see it.  Congress has to budget all their spending for the upcoming year, right?  I think it’s a legal requirement that they have to do that.  Now they supposedly don’t have the funding to pay Social Security and Medicare if they don’t raise the debt ceiling.  But these are expenses that are known ahead of time.  The exact amount may vary from month to month, but they shouldn’t be surprised at these bills due next month.  So why don’t they have the money to pay for it?  Have they already spent the money on something else?  And what happened to the budget cuts they were bragging about a few weeks ago?

how Elvis got started

14 07 2011

Today I saw a “week in review” article for this week throughout America’s history concerning music, and I got to thinking about how you never know where certain paths will lead.

This week in 1953, a young sideburned truck driver by the name of Elvis Presley went to the Memphis Recording Service studio, paid $4, and recorded “My Happiness” to give as a gift to his mother.  The same week of the next year, 1954, Elvis went to Sun Studios to record his first commercially available single, “That’s Alright Mama”.  Later that week, he performed on the back of a flatbed truck for the grand opening of a drugstore in Memphis.

You know the rest of the story.  I just thought it was interesting how humble his beginning was in his musical career.  I wonder how many people in the audience at that drugstore thought he would ever make it big…

So the next time you see a singer or band performing at a downtown park or on a flatbed trailer, don’t assume they’re “nobody” and will never make a name for themselves.  And even if they never become famous, they may be as good as someone who is famous.  Just because someone sells a million albums doesn’t mean they are more talented than people in your own town.

Actually, I know a musician who lives in Conway but has played around the country (even Carnegie Hall) and is going on a tour across Europe this summer.  He’s not famous here, but he’s extremely talented.  He teaches at UCA, and you can hear him perform for free sometimes.  You don’t have to buy $100 tickets to hear great music.  The question is whether we are interested in finding good music or just consuming whatever “Top 40” music is played on the major radio stations.

evidence for judging people

9 07 2011

Here’s something fun for you to do, if you have any interest in political games.  Read this article called The Soufflé President, and tell me what the point was.  I don’t mean what it says specifically, but why was this written?

So because former President George W. Bush was found to be eating soufflé at a French restaurant, this “set the record straight”?  So if you’re in politics, people can infer all this stuff about you by where you choose to eat one meal?  Is it like reading tea leaves, except it’s reading soufflés?

Apparently you can’t be a “down home, folksy” type person if you ever eat soufflé.  I reckon Bush should only eat steaks and drink Budweiser, according to that author’s reasoning.  (I’ve heard that Bush doesn’t drink alcohol anymore, and no one knows what he was drinking that night, but that didn’t stop the author from assuming there was elitist beverages like Chardonnay wine being consumed.

The author is correct in that most of our elected representatives are wealthy — even if they aren’t when they get elected, they become that way from their special benefits and lifetime six-figure pay, not to mention things like book sales and getting paid for speeches after office.  But I’m not sure that eating a soufflé means as much as is implied in this article.  The soufflés at that restaurant do cost between $15 and $18 each, but that’s not exactly in the “obscenely wealthy” class…

Still, if you’re looking to draw a certain conclusion, you’re likely to see the facts through tinted glasses…  Or as I’ve heard someone say, “When you start with a presupposition, it’s hard to arrive at any other conclusion.”

By the way, I’m not saying the author has necessarily drawn the wrong conclusion — I don’t know either way, though I suspect Bush is more down-to-earth than most rich and powerful people.  I’m just saying the “evidence” is very unconvincing.

the Casey Anthony tragedy – other angles

6 07 2011

I didn’t closely follow the Casey Anthony trial / debacle, because it was so drawn-out and I’m not one to seek entertainment from other people’s lives.  But it was near-impossible to not see or hear about it.  Apparently it was the most news-worthy event, because that’s about the only thing reported on.  (Note the sarcasm.)

The whole situation was a tragedy, like a real-life opera (except without the singing, which might’ve made it better).  There weren’t going to be any real winners among those involved.  The only one who might come out better than before is the defense attorney, although a number of people are going to think he did his job too well (so to speak).  Can you imagine how the grandparents feel?  They were thrown under the bus and repeatedly run over by the defense attorney.  Their reputation has been trashed even more as they were blamed for Caylee’s death, without any evidence.

Anyway, I ended up watching some of the closing statements, because I was visiting people who were watching it.  (By the way, the lawyers’ “closing” took a lot longer than any preachers I’ve heard, who are infamous for “in closing” statements but not really closing yet.)  I was surprised with the results of the jury.  I agree that the death penalty was extreme for this being her first time to allegedly murder someone, so perhaps the prosecution did over-reach.  Still, I have a few questions about it.

How did Casey Anthony not get charged with child neglect / child abuse?  Supposedly her child was missing for 31 days and she didn’t report it but instead was living it up.  Wasn’t that one of the charges?  Even if that’s the only evidence of it, wouldn’t that be enough?

Why was this case so popular?  I realize it involves an innocent child and the details are unusual, but there are other cases like that.  Why did so many people follow this?

It sounds like a lot of people are very upset with the “not guilty” verdict on the murder charges.  I suppose the jury couldn’t completely connect the murder to Casey, but still, justice wasn’t served.  Someone killed Caylee (whether intentionally or not) and then covered it up suspiciously.

Glancing on Facebook to see some reactions, I have to share this insightful quote from one of my friends:

I wonder… How many of the jurors who found Casey not guilty would let her babysit their 2-year-old child?

That gives it a different perspective, doesn’t it?

Today we got to hear from some of the jurors, and it wasn’t like some people have assumed.  I just read where some of the jurors cried and were sick to their stomachs after voting to acquit Casey Anthony.  Another juror said, “I wish we had more evidence to put her away.  I truly do.”  That gives some insight…  At least they voted based on evidence instead of their feelings.

I also feel bad for the jurors for how long it took.  They were sequestered (socially quarantined) for over 6 weeks, kept from their families, jobs, social life, church, etc.  They had to listen to some of the same things over and over.  It was possibly like being in jail for a crime you didn’t commit.  They were doing their civil duty, but I think that is taking it too far.  Why can’t these trials be time-limited?  Give each side a certain amount of time.  Did it really take 6 weeks to discuss the facts, theories, and evidence?  At 40 hours a week, that’s over 240 hours, although they probably took much longer than that.  How can a conversation last that long?

In closing… 🙂

I couldn’t be a lawyer.  That’s not to imply anything bad about lawyers — they are needed.  When you go to trial, you need someone knowledgeable and experienced to ensure you get a fair trial.  But I couldn’t imagine the times when you would be defending someone who is guilty or prosecuting someone who is innocent.  Sure, you want them to have a fair trial, but shouldn’t you also want justice to be served?

How was the end of the world for you?

25 05 2011

I was rather disappointed in the end of the world that supposedly happened last Saturday (May 21, 2011).  Wasn’t there supposed to be the rapture of Christians to Heaven?  Wasn’t the Earth supposed to plunge into the great tribulation?  It was on the news, so it has to be true, right?  Sure seems like normal to me…  But what do I know about the apocalypse / doomsday?  (Actually, I have read the book of Revelation in the Bible, so I know a thing or two…)

Look at that — it says “The Bible guarantees it!”  There’s no such thing in the Bible, and obviously Harold Camping was wrong!  He is deceiving people and making God look bad.  God’s mercy is amazing that this guy is still around.  He predicted the same thing back in 1994, then when he was proven wrong he said it was due to mathematical miscalculations.  (Don’t you hate it when that happens?)  Then he said it would be in 1995, but obviously that didn’t happen.  An employee of his says he’s made at least 10 such predictions.  And as you can see above, his latest “prophecy” was for May 21, 2011, which has now passed.  How do you suppose he responded?  He’s saying that his dates were correct, that it was “an invisible judgment day” and “a spiritual coming” ushering in the final judgment and destruction over the next 5 months.  That is, he still believes the world will end on October 21, 2011.  As for the predicted earthquake that would make the one in Japan look mild by comparison, he said,

“When we study the Bible, we don’t know everything. The Bible is very complex… I challenge everybody, read every word and try to decide what is God saying. I don’t know if any of you have tried that… You’ll find that you’ll read verse after verse and you’ll wonder, ‘What is God talking about?’ We have to do it. We don’t always hit the nail on the head the first time. We’re a long way toward being right. But it’s not physically at this time, it is spiritual. We have not been wrong about that at all.”

To that, a reporter asked if he was saying we are not capable of understanding the Bible, and he said, “You are correct.”  Doesn’t that sound really ironic?

I heard that this time he advertised on 55 radio stations and 2000 billboards.  How much money was spent on that false advertising?  A reporter asked him that, and he said, “I don’t know.  I haven’t kept track of that.  I have been careful to watch that we’ve had enough money to pay our bills.”  An employee at his radio station estimates Camping spent around $100 million to advertise his prediction.

Some of his followers sold their possessions and spent all their money, and Camping basically said it’s not his fault: “Please understand we don’t advise anybody what to do.”  I suppose he has to say such things for legal reasons, but it is somewhat his fault, and he could at least apologize for misleading people.

This whole debacle seems bad for Christianity in my opinion, but I hope that somehow some people get saved from it.  Harold Camping looks to be a fraud and he teaches some other heretical doctrines (from what I’ve heard), but — God’s Word never returns void.

I read a quote by Harold Camping from 1995: “I’m like the boy who cried wolf again and again and the wolf didn’t come.  This doesn’t bother me in the slightest.”  You would think it would bother him to be wrong about one of the most important events in history, especially when he claims to be representing God and is telling lies that the Bible guarantees it.

There’s been a lot said about all this, but here’s my favorite response, and it’s only a picture with a few words, yet it sums it all up so well.

shortage of cell phone bandwidth

25 04 2011

Tonight we had several tornado warnings in my area, along with some damage from tornadoes, so I’m sure a lot of people were using their cell phone.  But why are we having issues where calls cannot go through?  This happened several times tonight, where an automated call for a tornado warning never rang but went straight to voicemail.  And some of the voicemails showed up much later (on AT&T, not so much on Verizon).  For a while, I was unable to access my voicemail on Verizon, which had accumulated several messages.  Why is this happening?  This is not the first time that cellular networks have become full.

I’m glad the phone companies are adding data bandwidth.  3G is good, and 4G will be great when it comes to this area, but we need to be able to make calls on our phones when there are emergency situations.  Actually, that’s when we need a phone the most!

This is yet another point in the debate for keeping a landline phone (besides call quality, which really needs to be improved also, IMO).

That’s all… just had to rant a little bit, and this is my soapbox.  🙂