Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Riley’s First Piano Recital

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Riley is a 7 1/2 years old and has been taking piano lessons for just over a year.  MrsOzz made piano practice part of Riley’s 1st grade home school curriculum.  Riley’s hard work and developing his gift has paid off.  I am one proud daddy.

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Oprah is Obama’s next Spritual Hurdle

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Have you come to the conclusion that Obama’s former pastor had some really bad days in the pulpit? It seems that Obama may have picked a less than stellar spiritual adviser on his first go around. Let’s hope that he does not turn to Oprah as his second choice.

I have received a couple of emails on regarding Oprah’s spiritual activities in recent weeks. The following video does a pretty good job of summing up my concerns over what I have been researching. Oprah Winfrey has an XM radio spot called “Oprah and Friends” that features teachings based on the books by two of these friends of Oprah that are mentioned in the following video.  This video contains footage of Oprah speaking against Jesus being the only way to God even though Jesus told us himself in John 14:6, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”


I cannot validate the numbers quoted at the beginning of the video and I have no knowledge of the book promoted at the end of the video.

I whole-heartedly agree with the subject of the email that delivered to me a link to this video. The subject of the email said “Scary video…” I had already been doing some research on Oprah’s recent “spiritual” book endorsements and the XM radio shows that have followed. In particular I have reviewed dozens of the “A Course in Miracles” teachings. I have reviewed them with the intention of making sure that I could not be accused of taking one or two lessons out of the context of the series. This is the chief argument that Obama supporters have used to defend the Reverend Wright’s controversial remarks. I can assure you that it only took one lesson for me to become concerned about the “Course“. I later found a one hour video 1 that takes you through the first fifty lessons from “A Course on Miracles“. I warn you not to view or read this “Course” material unless you are firmly grounded in what the Bible says about Jesus Christ and who you are in Christ. This “Course” is psychotherapy and brain-washing to the highest order. The “about” page for the “Course” states pretty clearly in their own description of the program that this is psychotherapy. Here is a quote from Oprah’s XM radio site regarding “A Course in Miracles“:

“According to Marianne, A Course in Miracles is a self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy contained in three books. It is not a religion, but rather a psychological mind-training base on universal spiritual themes. The practical goal of the Course is the attainment of inner peace through the practice of forgiveness…

A Course in Miracles (often called just “the Course“) is an educational program for retraining the mind that is spiritual, rather than religious, in its perspective. Although it uses Christian terminology, the Course expresses a universal experience, and its underlying ontology is reminiscent of ancient refrains, echoing the world’s most hallowed traditions. …”" 2

The about page goes on to quote the “Course” as it instructs its participants to ignore any leadings to question the teachings. I take this to mean that even if the Holy Spirit prompts you to question this based on your knowledge of the Bible, you should defer to the “Course” anyway.

Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe, and others may seem to be quite startling. This does not matter. You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are asked only to use them. It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true.

Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required (Workbook, p. 2).

— Excerpted from A Course in Miracles2

Many of the quotes in the YouTube video come directly from the daily mind training offered in the “course”. For instance, Lesson 70 states:

My salvation comes from me. It cannot come from anywhere else.

Then devote a few minutes, with your eyes closed, to reviewing some of the external places where you have looked for salvation in the past—in other people, in possessions, in various situations and events, and in self-concepts that you sought to make real. Recognize that it is not there, and tell yourself:

My salvation cannot come from any of these things. My salvation comes from me and only from me. 3

There are some truths in the explanation paragraph in the center of the quote about where salvation does not come from, but the teaching has the participant drill into their own heads by repeating these sayings that salvation comes from within themselves rather than through Jesus Christ.

This stuff is exactly what they say it is, “psychotherapy…psychological mind-training”. While they plainly state that this is not a religion, the teaching has been heavily peppered with Christian terms that make it sound like it may be associated with the Bible. The “Course” even uses terms like “Son of God”, “Salvation”, “God’s will” and frequently references to “God”. The “Course” even goes as far as to capitalize pronouns like “He”and “His” when referring to God. In fact, the “Course” is based on Dr. Helen Schucman’s claim that she was given this information as some sort of prophesy directly from “inner guidance which she had identified as Jesus.” 4 It appears that the content for this “Course” came about much the same way that the teachings of the LDS church came from Joseph Smith. While there are some good sounding Christian like principles in both LDS, the “Course” and many other religions, the core beliefs and more importantly the end results of the sinner do not line up with the Bible.

While Oprah and Marianne Williamson may not want to call this “Course” a religion, they are certainly starting to look and sound like a religion. Let’s just hope that Obama does not convert to this non-religion for his future spiritual guidance.

“…there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly tell their lies about God, turning against even their Master who brought them; but theirs will be a swift and terrible end.”  2 Peter 2:1 TLB

References:

1 – http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=823374042&channel=422544479
2 – http://www2.oprah.com/xm/mwilliamson/mwilliamson_about.jhtml
3 – http://www2.oprah.com/xm/mwilliamson/200803/mwilliamson_20080310.jhtml
4 – http://www.acim.org/AboutUs/FIP/PublisherTrustee.htm

Contemporary Christian Music Heathens

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

There is a fairly large international Christian radio network broadcasting in the local area that exclusively plays hymns and classical Christian music. This radio network plays absolutely no contemporary Christian music (CCM). Several months ago the early morning broadcast included a short sound bite calling attention to an active stance against CCM. It should not come as a surprise to my regular readers that one of my pet peeves is to hear a self proclaimed Christian rant over the practices of other Christians. It is even worse when the complaining party resorts to name calling and scripture manipulation to emphasize a position against the fellow Christians that they are criticizing. I really did not mind the fact this station avoided CCM. I akin this to Southern Baptist who are not comfortable with laying on of hands, healing prayer, and speaking in tongues. Just like I was fine listening to this particular radio station who I thought was simply avoiding CCM, I am also comfortable attending a Southern Baptist church where certain subjects are simply avoided by the pastor and congregation. But, I will not support a church or ministry that openly criticizes these things. In the instance of the radio station, the sound bite included a reference to Mathew 6:7. The person on the radio said “when you pray and sing, do not use vein repetitions.” The following is part of what I emailed to the radio network later that day.

“There was a short explanation this morning explaining your position against Christian Contemporary Music (CCM). The man speaking used Matthew 6:7 as a reference for not saying vain repetitions when praying and singing. I agree with the praying part, but I have been through over a half dozen translations of the Bible and can not find the word sing in that verse. Where does he get his reference? I am also of the firm belief that Jesus was teaching us a model on how to pray in Matthew 6.”

Now I am no theologian, but I believe these folks did get a little ahead of themselves with the use of Matthew 6:7. I ended up having over a dozen emails pass back and forth between me and a man who has worked for this network for a couple of decades.

He remained firm on his stance against CCM. That did not surprise me. What surprised me was that he also remained firm in his crusade to criticize those who listen to and sing CCM even though his own “vain repetition” argument could easily be applied to the hymn that was played immediately after the above mentioned sound bite. What follows are snippets from our email exchange as I challenged his criticism of other Christians us heathens who listen to CCM. We’ll call him Radio Joe for the purposes distinguishing his emails from mine.

From Radio Joe:

“Thanks for your comment. Matthew 6:7, as you know, is a teaching on prayer and comes just before our Lord’s teaching of the model prayer for Christians. Albert Barnes has an interesting commentary on that verse:

“Verse 7. Use not vain repetitions. The original word here is supposed to be derived from the name of a Greek poet, who made long and weary verses, declaring, by many forms and endless repetitions, the same sentiment. Hence it means to repeat a thing often, to say the same thing in different words, or to repeat the same words, as though God did not hear at first. An example of this we have in 1Ki 18:26: “They Called on Baal from morning until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us;”*

The heathen do. The original word is one commonly translated Gentile. The world was divided into two parts, the Jews and the Gentiles; that is, in the original, the “nations,” the nations destitute of the true religion. Christ does not fix the length of our prayers. He says that they should not repeat the same thing, as though God did not hear. And it is not improbable that he intended to condemn the practice of long prayers. His own supplications were remarkably short.

{q} “as the heathens do” Ec 5:2
{*} The following is a specimen of the vain repetitions of the Romans.

“Pious Antonine, the Gods preserve thee. Gentle Antonine, the Gods preserve thee. Gentle Antonine, the Gods preserve thee.”

I would submit that a CCM tune could be put to the above phrases.

One of the reasons we criticize CCM is that it robs the Christian of the great teaching in the hymns. I had a sample CD sent to me and it had 14 songs on it. Only one identified the Lord by name. Those other songs could have been song to a lover or sweetheart with the same result. Isn’t it amazing that in crisis times, people turn to the hymns and not CCM?”

My response:

“I agree with you that many of the CCM songs out today “could have been song to a lover or sweetheart with the same result.” I agree that there is value in “the great teaching in the hymns.” Our church “Seacoast Church” does incorporate hymns in the singing. However, I believe [the network] takes there position a little too far in calling Christians heathens for singing CCM. Some CCM may be unacceptable, but that does not justify stereotyping, name calling, and twisting of scripture to justify your position.

For instance, you have once again left out the three words that lead into the that part about vain repetitions in Mat 6:7. “When you (or ye) pray…” Not “when you sing”. Not “when you give praises to God the father”. It is “WHEN YOU PRAY”. Please do not try to twist this scripture to fit your man made rules on church music.

I call it a loose apples and oranges example at best in your 1 Kings example. These people in 1 Kings were praying to Baal and Elijah was warning them, the heathen, about praying to their god. This was not a command from God to avoid praising Him with CCM music.

I submit that even if you want to try and tie prayer to singing like you are doing with Mat 6:7, then think about the numerous verses where you find, “pray without ceasing”. Look at Romans 1:9 in particular where Paul says, ” For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers” Would you call Paul a heathen too? I do not believe you would. I know this verse is not about vain repetitions in singing, but it does illustrate that repeating even prayers is a practice of the apostle Paul.

I don’t believe I am far off here in illustrating that the apostle Paul was admitting to repetition in his prayers even though it appears to go against what Jesus said in mat 6:7. Let’s see what Barnes has to say on Romans 1:9, ” That without ceasing, adialeiptwv. This word means constantly, always, without intermission. It was not only once, but REPEATEDLY. It had been the burden of his prayers. The same thing he also mentions in regard to other churches, 1Th 1:2 2:13.” (my emphasis of all caps added)

The bottom line is that what ever we do, if truly by the leading of the Holy Spirit, whether we are praising, praying to, or worshiping God, how can any man criticize it? I encourage you to stand on James 4:11-12 in your feeling against CCM.

“Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you-who are you to judge your neighbor?” (NIV)

I also encourage you to stand on Titus 2:8 as a fellow believer:

“Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.” (NLT)

I truly believe that your critical spirit can be more damaging to the body of Christ even if you were correct. You and [the network] have not been sent to earth to judge.

As [the network] continues to criticize other believers who listen to and sing forms of CCM, then as one of those Christians, I will stand on Ecc 7:5 (NLT) It is “better to be criticized by a wise person than to be praised by a fool.” Notice I am referring to you as a wise person as in being characterized by scholarly knowledge. I believe you are certainly misled in some of your interpretations and uses of scripture just like any of the rest of us are subject to at times.”

Response from Radio Joe:

This will be my last reply to you, as I have a lot of positive emails to answer. You agree that the people in First Kings are Baal worshippers. Why, then, would CCM imitate them by repeating the same words over and over? Does Baal worship honor God?

Praying without ceasing does not mean repeating a Rosary type prayer over and over. Would you talk to another human, like your father, that way? Did Jesus ever pray that way?

Paul did not say that he prayed the same exact words over and over, but brought the same requests to God in prayer.

If you believe that Paul never criticized anyone when they were wrong, read Galatians 2:11 “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.”

That was not his last email. There were eight more (4 each) after that one.

My Response:

It might be best if we do drop this subject. I have never won a person over to Christ by arguing with them and I do not expect you or [the network] are going to change policies regarding on-air criticism of fellow Christians based on one man’s input. I am confident that I am not the only one who has voiced these types of complaints to you regarding your criticism of CCM.

The very music played on [the network] repeats phrases so your vain repetition argument goes out the window pretty quick anyway. Once again, go back and listen to the song that played just after the sound bit that I have been referring too. I counted at least 12 instances of “Take me gently”. No I would not speak to another human that way either. I really did not want to split hairs to make my point, but you are being very hypocritical. I have no problems with [the network]‘s use of hymnal music, and in fact like that it is used it in our church from time to time.

We are Christians singing and praising God with the music and instruments that we feel led of the Lord to use. We are not heathen praising and worshiping a false god as referred to in 1 Kings. You are either comparing apples to oranges, or you are questioning who I am praising with my use of CCM. Either way, I believe you may be on dangerous ground with God. Stop going by what your religious teachers taught you and ask God to speak directly to you through the power of the Holy Spirit. You may not even be aware of how God can use you if you will just surrender yourself to him.

As I said, this went on for a while and then he closed one of his emails with this phrase.

From Radio Joe:

“… God bless you, Hank. If CCM is your thing, that is between you and your God, not between us.”

“You and your God”? Like MY God is different from the God that other Christians praise and worship?

I will skip a few emails to one that neared the end of our exchange.

My Response:

You did it again. In your last line you wrote to me as if my God were different than yours. It is as if you are speaking to me in a condescending way based on my choice of music. It is a shame that you think God can only be worshiped your way with music. Believe it or not, I do understand your point at some level even though I do not agree with it.

I have never in my emails with you requested that you start playing CCM on [the network], not once. Play the hymn music and enjoy it. It is great. Even promote your support of hymn only music. What I request is that you stop criticizing the things you do not play. Stop criticizing Christians who sing and listen to CCM.

Through our conversations I have come to a sobering realization that you have not yet disputed. It appears that you are questioning the salvation of others based on the fact that they sing and listen to CCM.

The conversation pretty much ended as we exchanged a few pleasantries and went on about our own business. Unfortunately, [the network] can easily be replaced with [a church or pastor] and the term CCM can be replaced with at least a few dozen other items like: what you wear, the translation of the Bible you reference, your religious denomination, whether you get your baby baptized, what parenting philosophy you choose, whether you have tattoos or nose rings, and the list goes on and on.

Can’t we Christians all just get along without criticizing things about each other that have nothing to do with our personal relationships with Jesus Christ? If you have turned your life over to God, it doesn’t mater what you look like, what tunes you sing to praise God, or whether you attend a particular church. All that matters is that you have Got Jesus.

Less TV equals More Time and Money

Friday, August 10th, 2007

I was sifting my RSS feeds today and got turned on to a great article titled How to Earn $1 Million by Not Watching TV. I found the link via Maki over at DoshDosh who pulled out some great points on how convert that tube time into online revenue. The big thing that jumped out at me was the piece on commercials.

“A huge hidden cost of TV that people never consider are all the commercials they watch. The commercials are there to get you to buy products — and they are effective. Economist Juliet Schor estimated that for every hour of TV a person watches each week, he or she will increase his or her annual spending by about $200, according to a 1999 article in the Spokane, Wash., Spokesman-Review. In 2005, Nielsen Media Research reported that the average person watched approximately 4.5 hours of TV a day, or 31.5 hours a week. At $200 in extra spending for each hour watched, that means that the average person spends an extra $6,300 a year due to TV commercials that they wouldn’t have spent if they didn’t watch TV.”

WOW…I knew that TV marketing was powerful, but $200 of additional spending per hour of TV watched per week. I am glad my wife and I scaled back on the number of hours in front of the TV. I am not sure how much it has affected my spending, but it sure has increased my availability for other much more important things. The article goes on in the Opportunity costs section to talk about how much your time is worth. I charge anywhere from $50 to $100 per hour for the work I do in my side business HOEI LLC. That means I miss out on anywhere between $6,750 and $13,500 (“$50 OR $100″ x 4.5 hrs x 30 days) per month by watching as much TV as the average American. It is not likely that I will ever fill each available hour of time with billable dollars, but these numbers should stop you in your tracks if you watch a lot of TV. There is money to be made on the Internet, but you won’t find it in front of the TV.  That is between $81,000 and $162,000 per year by working 4.5 hour per day in place of watching TV.

Since most of us will never be able to measure exactly how much money we save or could have made by not watching TV, let’s consider what else we might be able to do with that time. How about spending more quality time with family or friends, volunteering to help the needy, attend college classes, attend parenting classes, work a part-time job, or grow spiritually through participating in a church small group or Bible study? How about simply reading and studying the Bible? Can you imagine how much better of a witness you would be for the Kingdom of God if you spent 4.5 hours per day studying the Word of God? Many of the professing Christians I know will readily admit that they have never read all the way through the Bible even once. It only takes about 80 hours to read the entire Bible or listen to it on CD if that is your preferred method of consuming reading material. That is less than three weeks of TV time for the average American according to these statistics.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” Psalm 37:4 (NLT)

I believe this scripture is often taken out of context in this day and age filled with “name it and claim it” preachers. I heard a pastor (not a name it and claim it dude) on the radio explain this passage this week in a way that rang so true to me. I don’t believe this scripture is saying that if you delight in the Lord he will give you what you are already wanting in your heart. I do believe the scripture is saying that if you delight in the Lord, He will put into your heart the desires you need in order to be in line with His will. Another way to say it might be, “delight in the Lord and He will give you desires for your heart.”

Making a boat load of money is a great thing for surviving and sharing in this life. How much greater it is to know that you are doing the right things and making the right decisions in your life.

Free up some time by turning off the TV and then use that time to seek and become closer to the Lord. You will be amazed at the results. He may even show you how to use some of that free time to make a few extra bucks.  ;-)

Wal-Mart and Faith-Based Toys

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Wal-Mart’s move into toy action figures based on characters from Bible stories is likely a pure business decision and not because a senior executive got saved in church last Sunday. A story posted on USAToday.com tells of the retail giant’s move into a new line of toys in about 13% of its stores. The toys are distributed by one2believe.com. The web site URL for this company will redirect you to a Yahoo! online store with a URL of store.messengersoffaith.net where the company lists Focus on the Family and FamilyLife.com (a division of Campus Crusades for Christ) as partners.

Sadly enough, I think Jim Silver, editor of Toy Wishes magazine has probably nailed the fate of this effort.

“Once children turn 4, parents tend to get them what they want. And right now, kids are asking for Transformers.”

I find it interesting that 4 year olds get turned on to characters from a PG-13 movie like Transformers, but that is a subject for another day. Anyway, I agree with Mr. Silver, it is transformers this week, it was Spider-man a couple of months ago, and it will be more Harry Potter dolls in the weeks and months to come. With the release of the most recent Harry Potter movie (also PG-13), next week’s release of the latest book, and the upcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, the magical world of Harry Potter will cast spells on millions of American families.  Many will be Christian families.

Many parents can plead ignorance to the words given to use from God through the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6: 12-13.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

For those Christian parents who do read and study the Bible regularly, I do not understand how they can still endorse things like Harry Potter, Spider man, and Transformers for their children, especially the young ones.  My rule of thumb is: If I discern a program, book, or toy to be anywhere between morally neutral and glorifying to God, then I will consider investing in that item for my children. I know, the real issue for each Christian is where to draw the line on the morally neutral end? My answer: If you are having to ask then you are probably too close to the line. Many Christians are under a misconception that God put us on this planet for our own personal enjoyment. While I do believe good clean fun for us humans is a good thing in God’s eyes, we were put here to glorify Him and serve His wishes above our own happiness.

The point that I am trying to come to is to tie together the comments of another person quoted in the USAToday article.

“Laurie Schacht, president of The Toy Book, a toy industry publication, says some parents also are dissatisfied with toys from conventional toymakers: “There are a lot of wild things out there. Parents want to give kids wholesomeness.”"

This lady got close to my point of view on toys, but her wording is just a little, shall we say, worldly. In all fairness, she is likely referring to parents in general and not just Christian parents. I personally want to teach my kids holiness above happiness and wholesomeness. There are not many items on your average Wal-Mart toy isle shelf to help get that job done.

It will be interesting to see how these faith-based toys sell in Wal-Mart.   “Stores that sell a lot of Bibles will carry the new line,” says Melissa O’Brien, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.  This line of thinking seems a little shallow and I hope they did not hinge too much of their marketing strategy on this one statistic.

Tagged by Danny Kaye

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

My friend Danny Kaye over at nothingtoimportantto.us has tagged me.

Below are 8 things (plus one) that regular readers of The Land of Ozz might not know about me.

A few of them (2,3, and 5) are very similar to what Danny Kaye posted.  Weird huh? Especially since he and I have never met face to face. Oh well, maybe someday.

1. I love peanuts. I helped grow peanuts in our garden when I was a kid. By the way, I do not like tree nuts at all.

2. This one is nearly the same as Danny Kaye’s #2. I knew within a tenth of a point what grade I needed on my last final exam to graduate high school. I was in the top 10% of my freshman year, but finished HS in the bottom 30%.

3. The only “B” I earned in my first two years of college was in English 101. Caint ye tail frum weading my bwog? After the less than perfect English 101, I went on to complete my AS with a 3.95 GPA. I have a good excuse for that “B”. I was taking 23 semester hours during my first semester back to college in nearly nine years. I have no excuses for my lazy performance with my BS.  I graduated with a 3.65 GPA.

4. I am one of a handful of men on this planet that would prefer a cat as a pet over a dog. You don’t have to walk the dog, and a cat will eat bugs, snakes, and mice.

5. I have dislocated my right knee four times since the 11th grade in high school. The last time was over fifteen years ago. Each time required someone else to put my knee back in joint for me. The first time when I was 16, the PE teacher drove me to the hospital with my knee out of joint. The doctor took x-rays at several angles while my kneecap was still out of place. I am guessing those x-ray pictures have become a part of some doctor joke spam since then. It is probably listed as 1 of the 10 weirdest things the local hospital has ever treated in the emergency room.

6. I spent much of my childhood on a pig farm. We had as many as 150-200 pigs at times along with chickens, goats, a couple of calves, rabbits, one horse, over twenty cats, and several dogs.

7. With exception for NASCAR races, Food Network is the ONLY channel I watch on TV anymore. Alton Brown and Good Eats is my favorite show. I also like the shows where they try to pick the next Food Network star. It is the best reality type show with good clean competition. The competition does not show the lying, bashing, and do whatever it takes to eliminate the others type of mentality you get on network TV reality shows like Survivor, Big Brother, American Race, etc.

8. I can pick a standard household deadbolt lock. My fastest time ever was 14 seconds.

Bonus – One of my favorite foods is popcorn. I like it with butter and lots of salt. This is probably more salt than most people can handle. I can eat the salt directly out of the shaker. I often like my finger and collect the excess salt granules off of my plate after dinner, when my wife is not watching. Unfortunately, my oldest son has seen this trick and now does the same thing. Here we are with our favorite NASCAR racing snack. Well, we also like some butter pooh to go with the popcorn. You know, a little sweet to go with the salt.

I love popcorn - thumb

NASCAR Crew Chief Penalty Box

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

I have been a little busy with family and other stuff, but I had to take time to comment on the recent NASCAR penalties.  I like the idea penalizing the crew chiefs for violations on the cars.  I am not a big fan of penalizing the drivers.  I have played the role of race car crew chief a few times in my life.  I can honestly say that I have done things to the car that I did not tell the driver about.  Nothing illegal, but I have adjusted things a little more or less than what was expected from time to time.  There are times when they need to worry about driving and nothing else.  The driver has plenty of distractions with fans, qualifying, practice sessions, etc.  They do not need to know everything and often don’t know everything if a crew chief is doing his job.

That said, here is my suggestion for NASCAR.  Continue to give the fines and suspensions to the crew chiefs who are caught breaking the rules just like you have been doing.  Continue to ban them from the garage areas for the entirety of the suspension.  The only change I recommend is that NASCAR make the suspension an on-track suspension.  I akin this idea to the hockey penalty box.  Don’t bar the crew chiefs from the track all together, rather require them to report to a NASCAR trailer at the track an hour before any official race activity is to begin.  That would include qualifying, practice sessions, and actual races.   Have them check all cell phones, radios, PDA’s and computers at the door.  Station a couple of NASCAR officials in the trailer with them while you force them to watch something like an annoying children’s video repeatedly for the entirety of their NASCAR trailer stay.  Require the crew chief to be in the trailer before their driver is allowed to move the team’s car out of the garage area.

It does not sound like that big of a deal, but NASCAR can prevent the crew chiefs from running their normal job via a cell phone from their couch at home or from the top of a motor home outside of the track.

Eury Jr. apparently parked his motorcoach on a hill inside the race track and communicated with Earnhardt from there. Earnhardt reportedly spotted his crew chief during a caution period, first yelling “Hey Man!” on his radio and then explaining “I just saw a friend out there.” Source: Yahoo! Sports

This little twist will require the team owners to cart the suspended crew chiefs to the track and ensure that they are in the presence of NASCAR officials before the team car is allowed turn a wheel on the racetrack.  This will add an additional level of pain to the teams and cost NASCAR next to nothing to enforce.  I call it the NASCAR Crew Chief Penalty Box.

Lawsuit puts BurnLounge in Hot Water

Monday, June 11th, 2007

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed suit against BurnLounge and former University of South Carolina football player Rob DeBoer has been named in the suit.  BurnLounge and DeBoer are being accused of running a pyramid scheme and misrepresenting the earnings investors made with the company.

My personal experience with BurnLounge is much like that of SC Attorney General Henry McMaster.  According to The State newspaper, “McMaster suspected the company [Burnlounge] of being a pyramid scheme after hearing a sales pitch for the company with his wife.” 

A friend recently tried to recruit me into BurnLounge.  He had asked me to visit a website called yourburnteam.com, call a toll free number for more information, and then attend a presentation by former USC quarterback turned attorney Todd Ellis.  Ellis is mentioned in the article linked above.  I visited the site and called the number.  Then I proceeded to warn my friend via email by saying, “This program is a multi-level marketing (MLM) strategy at the roots.”  

 BurnLounge retailers are expected to get customers simply due to having a personal relationship with folks.  The customer buys music much like they would on iTunes.  This lawsuit is likely resulting from the questions raised from potential retails like reading thins like this:


  • The investment is $430 per year in U.S. dollars, plus $14.95 per month. This may change for different geographies to reflect local economic realities. ($609.40 per year total with no guarantee)
  • The upside is almost unbelievable, and Australia and Canada are the first countries that we are moving into..
  • In the first year, we had over 50 people earn over $100K, and several who earned from $400K to $600K in personal earnings. The amount of personal income that you create is up to you, but the opportunity to achieve life-changing income is real and attainable. (These bullet points were taken from the “Investment vs Return” section of a promotional email I received in late April 2007.  My emphasis added in bold.)
  • Those talking about downloading the most music say they use torrents and P2P solutions.  Those who buy their music fair and square from iTunes or Walmart.com have already busted past the initial impulse music purchase after acquiring a new digital music player for the first time.  After a brief informal survey of friends using services like iTunes, I found that all fell squarely in the middle of the estimates made by David Caulton, a Zune contributer as reported on the Electronics Design Strategy News web site.  David says:


    “iPod owners initially buy 30 tracks in the first three months, but then drop off to one track per month or less on average.”

    Based on the above information and a couple of things that grabbed my attention in the “Back-end Compensation Tutorial Residual Sales”  presentation on the myburnteam.com site, I was led to my decision to not participate

    -Single orders totaling less than $9.90 DO NOT count towards your sales quota
    -A single order with (1) 99 cent track DOES NOT count towards your sales quota
    -A single order with 10 or more 99 cent tracks DOES count towards your sales quota

    These bullets were taken directly from the “Back-end Compensation Tutorial Residual Sales” presentation on the Burn Team site.  To see it for yourself, go to http://www.yourburnteam.com and enter as a Guest.  Click on the menu icon once the Rob DeBoer flash video starts.  You will find a section called “Compensation Training” that includes this “Back-end Compensation Tutorial Residual Sales” presentation.  Oh, this presentation does not play well with Firefox.

    What all this tells me is that if the numbers give by David Caulton are even close, then revenue for a BurnLounge retailer from music downloads will be nonexistent after the first month a person joins.

    As a web site and blog builder, I can not image gambling $430 to see if I might be able to generate some revenue in much the same way I am already doing so with affiliate relationships that are FREE.  I spend less than that per year in total web hosting expenses.  

    I believe that BurnLounge is preying on the ignorance of those who have never built a blog or web site before.  Intensionally? I don’t know.  The amount of revenue a burn page retailer will generate is directly proportional to how effective they are at delivering visitors to their web pages.  Any experienced web site owner will tell you that drawing traffic is not always a cakewalk, unless you are [uhm] something like a former college football celebrity with the name recognition that might be able to immediately draw a ton of Internet traffic. 

    After you run through the references in this story, if you find that you just can not live without becoming a BurnLounge retailer, then I will hook you up with my friend.  On the other hand, if you want to make money on the Internet the old fashion way, then just drop a comment in this post or send me an email (check the about page).  I will be glad to help you get started for way less than $609 per year.

    Harry Potter’s Wizard World

    Thursday, May 31st, 2007

    The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be coming to theme park capital of the world in 2009. Warner Bros Entertainment will join forces with Wizard World to build this park in Orlando to reach even farther into the hearts, minds, and wallets of America’s families.

    In a statement rich in entertainment hyperbole, the builders of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” said they planned to “create the world’s first immersive Harry Potter themed environment.”

    It will be interesting to see how the Christian supports of the J.K. Rowlings book series react to this theme park. It will be difficult to tie in the argument of how much children benefit from learning to read through the Harry Potter books. I believe that some like LaShawn Barber and the Christian Science Monitor have called it Reading Magic?

    The full story can be found on Yahoo! News