Saturday, November 12, 2016

Using an Old Portable Radio as an iPhone Docking Station

We have a couple of old, pre-iPhone portable radios, neither of which has an external port that would accept and amplify an iPhone's audio.  What do you do in such a situation?  You google the problem.  Lo! I found a fantastic You-Tube video on the subject by "The Post Apocalyptic Inventor," and here it is:

This brings out the, right now, completely frustrated amateur radio being that lives inside me, and so I am going to see if I can modify the two radios I have on hand.  I will update this blog post as I proceed with the project.

At the threshold, I want to mention that I pulled out one of the radios from a trash pile a couple of weekends ago.  (Raiding trash piles is a Stokes-male tradition in our family.)  Our church was having one of its "work-days" and people were plundering the vacant Sunday School rooms and piling it all on a trash heap next to the rear parking lot.  This radio (photo to be supplied) was among them.  It had no electric cord and was full of batteries that were dead and bleeding acid into the battery compartment.  So I took it home to nurse it back to health.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hebrews and Psalm 2:7

We are studying the Book of Hebrews in our adult Sunday School class at Crossbridge Miami Springs. Today was our sixth “lesson”, Hebrews 3: 1 – 6. As the class “commentary” we are using N.T. Wright’s, Hebrews for Everyone, and it really is very good for the student whose preparation will consist of just the time it takes to read nine or ten short paragraphs on the given passage.

I have led (I am not sure it rises to the level of “teaching”) our class in its studies for many years, and it is usually one of the high points of my week.  My practice is to acquire additional commentaries or studies that will supplement our class commentary.  For Hebrews, I have The Epistle to the Hebrews (Revised Edition) by F.F. Bruce; The Holiest ofAll: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews by Andrew Murray, and The Psalm Citations in the Epistle to the Hebrews by Simon Kistemaker.  

 A substantial part of my class preparation are the “real” books that I have at hand.  I can spread these out on a large surface behind my desk (actually a low queen size bed – and on the floor), as I read through and compare the scripture passages.  In addition to the specific books I acquire for a given study (usually used books from,, and Amazon), I also have  some Bible Dictionaries, Bibles in various English translations, including Study Bibles, a Strong’s, a couple of one volume commentaries, and a number of other helps.  On line, I use quite a bit, especially to compare translations, and it has some free commentaries.  (I am not embarrassed to say that I use its links to Matthew Henry’s commentaries and really like them.)  Google has links to free, mainly 19th Century sources, which can be very helpful. 

Returning to Hebrews, I want to discuss very briefly Psalm 2 and the messianic use that is made of it by the author of Hebrews.

Being a lawyer, a professional who often deals with documentary evidence as part of his profession, and having majored in history at Duke in a department with wonderful teachers (I can think of one exception to that, but he proves the rule), I am always curious about NT citations to the OT that would prove a point (and what citation would not be used that way?), especially one that would be controversial in the conversation with Judaism.  Jesus of Nazereth as the expected Messiah and Son of God comes to mind. 

Obviously, the question is whether the Early Church simply read back into the OT passages their messianic implications.  Psalm 2, for example.

Kistermaker, in his book cited above, makes the following statement about Psalm 2:7:

The Psalms of Solomon, composed during the first century B.C. and used generally in local synagogues [footnote omitted] testify that the second Psalm, out of which the author to the Hebrews has taken his first quotation [Heb. 1:5a, and also is 5:5], was understood messianically [footnote omitted].  Although Targum Jonathan [part of the Talmudic books] may give evidence of this same type of interpretation, [footnote omitted], yet in later years, when the controversy between Christianity and Judaism waxed hot, the Rabbis poured quite a different meaning into the term “Anointed.”

 (The Psalms of Solomon are among the books of the Pseudepigrapha.)

Rather than the citation of the OT passages for the messiah being back-read by first and second century Christians to Jesus, the fact that those passages were in the minds of the people of Palestine when Jesus came accounts for his acceptance as the Messiah by so many Jews of that time, especially in view his teachings, his healings and other mircales, his sacrifice on the cross, and his resurrection and ascension. 

Monday, March 07, 2016

What's Wrong with Modern Law, its Lawyers, and its Judges

It took a systematic dose of arcane philosophy in order to instruct lawyers and judges over the years that there are no moral ends intrinsic to the definition of law, that law is simply whatever is promulgated by the sovereign and enforced as law, and that, in the words of Justice Holmes, “every word of moral significance [ought to] be banished from the law altogether.” [footnote omitted] In the interest of a new analytic clarity, the philosophers of legal “positivism” schooled generations of lawyers to an understanding of law that was intellectually truncated. For they had detached from the very definition of law that which had been understood from the earliest times to be incorporated in its character: not merely that law was binding, but that it was binding precisely because it sought to embody principles about the nature of right and wrong. It required a teaching that was distinctly modern in order to make a whole profession of jurists forget professionally what Blackstone taught: that the law represents “a rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power in a state, commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong.”

From Arkes, Hadley, First Things: an Inquiry into the First Principles of Morals and Justice. Princeton University Press 1986, at p. 26

I had this quote on a new blog that I started in January on the subject of estate planning, Miami Estates and Trusts.  I thought better of posting it there after a few days because it was not specifically about estate planning but more about the philosophy of law.  It seemed to me, then, that I should put it over here on Kith and Kin.

I had first read Hadley Arkes, at least as far as I can recall now,  when I read his article on the late Supreme Court Justice, Antonio Scalia, in the February issue of First Things. In that article, Arkes writes of Scalia's reluctance to use the phrase "natural law."  It was Arkes' view, however, that largely unknown to Scalia himself, Scalia's  approach to the law proceeded from that very philosophic base.  I was unclear about the concept myself.  It was not talked about much at the University of Chicago Law School, to say the least.  In my American intellectual history studies at Duke, Justice Holmes was the colossus astride not only the development of American law but of that history itself.  As Mr. Trump might say (and with the same level of general ignorance), "I love Justice Holmes!"  Holmes is Exhibit A for the case in opposition to that for natural law, the case for positivism, a case for which UC Law is well known.

So when I read the FT article last month, I became interested in Arkes, a professor at Amherst College. I read the Wiki article about him, and bought a used copy of the book that I quote above.  I am very carefully making my way through that book.  It is "clarifying," that is, it is very helpful to  the way that I think about my practice, the law, Christianity, and just about everything important.

Arkes is on the Advisory Council of the publication that I cite above, First Things.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A "Free Clinic" Solution to Medical Services for the Poor?

At more than 100 clinics across the state, low-income Floridians can receive healthcare for much less than it would cost to buy insurance, often for free or a small donation.

-from last Sunday's Miami Herald.

Baptist Hospital identifies several of these in Miami-Dade which it supports.

Read more here:

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Extra! My Partner Juan Antunez named Best Lawyer for Miami in Trusts and Estates Litigation

Go here.  He's a Marine too.  Nice to have some muscle in the firm.  Gracious muscle, reasonable and intelligent muscle, but muscle never the less.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Marauder Ants and Stigmergy

Members of the [road] construction crews [of marauder ant colonies] expend their efforts foraging for building material rather than food.  It is likely that no communiques pass among them.  Rather, like compulsive bricklayers unable to go by an unfinished wall, passing ants respond to the ongoing building project, and the structures emerge without active collaboration.  The portions of the walls that are suitably positioned and shaped along along a trail attract the most attention from passersby bearing soil bits.  As a result, the arcades rise to completion where they are most needed, without a blueprint, and damage to them later is repaired without a fuss.

Accomplishing large projects without communication is called stigmergy.  The marauders' approach to building has been duplicated by robotics experts, who have discovered that its cheaper and easier to achieve a goal such as piling up small objects with a group of simple robots responding to the sort done thus far than with one large, more intelligent robot.  Stigmergy is at work in such websites as Wikipedia and Google as well, where many people add their insights to the statements and choices of others.

-from Moffett, Mark W., Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions p. 23-24 (U. Cal. Press 2010), a simply fantastic book.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Rediscovering Dr. Johnson via Vernon Smith via Russ Roberts via EconTalk

Macon pointed me recently to Russ Roberts, of EconTalk, who on a weekly basis interviews fascinating people on an enormous range of topics that, one way or another, deals with  "economics."  These interviews go up on podcasts, and I have had the pleasure of listening to at least three dozen of them over the last couple of months, podcasts that I have plundered from the EconTalk archives.   This amazing resource is not to be missed.

You cannot listen to Mr. Roberts' very long before Adam Smith is introduced in one way or another.  Roberts has written a book on the 17th Century economist/sociologist. (I would like to take the opportunity to announce that the book is on my Amazon wish list.)  I've listened to two interviews in which Roberts interviews Vernon Smith, a Nobel Prize winning economist, during which they discuss Adam Smith and his two major works, The Wealth of Nations and A Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Adam Smith's use of words is very important in these discussions, because he  used words in a very precise and important way.  Vernon Smith states that he uses an 18th Century dictionary to understand what  a given word that Adam Smith uses actually meant to Adam Smith and, therefore, should mean to us, rather than what the 21st Century use of that word might convey.  What a marvelous idea!  And the dictionary Vernon Smith said he uses is Samuel Johnson's.

So I started reading around about Samuel Johnson and came upon another great website, A Dictionary of the English Language.  The site is an ongoing project to digitize Dr. Johnson's dictionary and make it accessible to all of us, although I'm putting a set of the first edition of the dictionary also on my wish list.  So I doubt that I will need to use the site after Christmas, but the rest of you can.  The home page of the website has, among other things, a BBC documentary on Dr. Johnson that is a good introduction to the man.  And to James Boswell, his biographer.

I already have Boswell's biography, but haven't read it until now.  I'm well into it already.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

David W. Bianchi, His Book, and USDebtClock.Org

I had the privilege of attending a luncheon sponsored by Fiduciary Trust Company last week where Miami lawyer David W. Bianchi spoke about the book he wrote for his subteen son, Josh, on "money, investing, and the stock market."  The book, Blue Chip Kids, is now a best seller, and David a celebrated author, all of which is really great stuff.

But what I want to note in this post especially is a web-site he cited, USDebtClock.Org.  This a fascinating and very disturbing website that presents a very large number of statistics in an accessible format.  (It will never happen, but I would like to see a debate among the Presidential candidates where the website is featured and the participants asked to comment.)

David had other things to say during his talk about national and, in particular, individual debt in the US.

As I left the luncheon, my thoughts were in the following order;

1.  Carol and I can do with one car. I'll sell mine and ride to work on MetroRail.  I'll take the cash and invest it.

2.  Then we will throw away our credit cards and go back to the envelope system that worked so well with our kids when they were growing up.

3.  And I will never retire.  I will drop dead at my desk.

And we are in a position, apparently very rare in the US, where we have no debt.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Folger Shakespeare Library and its Digital Texts

The texts are all here.  For example, Troilus and Cressida is there for the reading - and for the downloading.

You can also buy the play in "mass market paperback" with essays, etc., and etc (416 pages! where the play itself takes up 33 pages - two columns each- in my Oxford edition of the "complete works") or in ebook form from Simon & Schuster or, of course, from Amazon.

All sorts of resources are at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

As a Snail through Troilus

With the assembly of my Shakespeare "hard copy" library commenced, and the creation of my digital library also underway, I have begun with Troilus and Cressida.  That is where Professor Garber starts with the on-line lectures that I mentioned, and so that it is where I start.  As she directs, I am to first read the play, then read her discussion of that play in her Shakespeare After All, and finally listen to her lecture. This could take a while.  Really take a while.

I started Troilus Tuesday.  I am still in Act 1 and only in Scene 3.  It takes intellectual stamina and endurance and, of course, time.  The stamina and endurance should improve, but just the frequent reference to the glossary slows one down, and the cake-metaphor in Scene 1 has sent me on a side trip to internet resources to plumb its meaning.  Why would S. plant it so squarely in the play's very first scene of this story about young love (Troilus and Cressida) in Troy during the Trojan War?  (No recourse to Garber's discussion at this point.  I want to see what I can see myself, before entering her class.  If the rest of her is like her introductory lecture, she bowls you over with her views of the subject.  Let me get ready for that.)

So the cake metaphor.  And here's a resource!  "A Cake-Making Image in Troilus and Cressida," by Beryl Rowland in the Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Spring, 1970), pp. 191-194.  I can read this via JSTOR:

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico.

Whether JSTOR is the best for this sort of thing or not, that is where I found the Beryl Rowland reference, and JSTOR offers without charge to non-academic individuals access to three of its titles at a time for a month.

Of course, I knew something was up with the cake metaphor from the beginning.  Not only is its early prominence a signal, but its use by the older man in counseling the younger about patience in winning his true love, especially the use of the word "grinding," had to point away from the kitchen and into the bedroom.  Rowland sees that and offers much more.  Central to the metaphor is that the cake is a wedding cake, used in ancient Rome during the ceremony for a particular kind of marriage.  (Thus, anachronism.  Garber says to watch for those kinds of things, unless Rome got its cake from the Greeks.)

So, then, should I retire, what shall I do?  Read Shakespeare.  That will fill up the time.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hello, Bradycardia.

WebMD has an easy to read introduction to "bradycardia" and the article's links bring one quickly up to spead in a simple way about what can be a symptom of "an aging heart."  "Brady" comes from the Greek word bradys  for "slow" and "cardia" from the Gr. word kardia for "heart."  So an aging heart can be a slow heart, slow in the sense that it beats slower than the normal 60 beats per minute or 60 bpm.  Symptoms of a slow and aging heart include fatigue and "syncope," a word used by Greeks for a "fainting spell or swoon."

(I have these derivations of medical terms from a helpful little book at hand by William S. Haubrich, M.D., entitled Medical Meanings: A Glossary of Word Origins (Second Edition 1997)  I found it  in the bookstore at the UR medical school, when Mary moved there from Byrn Mawr.  We were first in that store because that is where the med school kept its sales inventory of new white coats for its first year students, and there Mary tried her's on for the first time.  But I digress.)

A slow heart can be a sign of a very fit heart.  But in my case, we surely have an aging heart.  It may be a relatively fit heart, but aging trumps fit sometimes, and it does in my case.  So, hello, aging heart bradycardia.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hoist on My Own Petard and William Shakespeare

A friend of mine and I have been exchanging emails about the Psalms.  The Sunday School class that I am privileged to teach embarked on a study of the Psalms at the beginning of the summer.  We consider a new Psalm each week and started with Psalm 1.  We are proceeding according to the Psalm number in the Psalter.  (This coming Sunday is Psalm 11.) The friend, who is from out of town and a Christian, came to one of our class meetings while visiting Miami, and we have been exchanging emails about the "Psalm of the week" since then.   (My friend and I often disagree on important ideas.  Sometimes I think the disagreement arises from the word choices I use, but sometimes not.)  The other day I cited some scripture during an email to my friend, and I realized that it supported an important point she had been trying to get me to see.  At the end of the email, I confessed, "Hoist on my own petard."

All of which is to say that the use of that saying has pointed me back to Shakespeare, and now I am heading back to his plays after nearly 50 years.  (That's how long since my sophomore year at Duke, when "I took the course," as if that completed anything.)  Not that I was aware that the source of "Hoist on my own petard" was Macbeth.  In responding to my email, my friend ended her response with thanks for my pointing her to Shakespeare.  I thought, "what?!"  Did I ever know that?

So, naturally, I am undertaking a Shakespeare journey.  Here is what I have equipped myself with: (a) The Oxford Shakespeare: the Complete Works 2nd Edition; (b) Shakespeare's Words: A Glossary and Language Companion; and (c)  Marjorie Garber's Shakespeare After All.  In addition, Professor Garber has lectures on YouTube, and I so far I have watched this introductory one.  She is simply wonderful.

(Despite my links to Amazon, I bought what I could in used books, when the economics make sense.  I use,, and, increasingly, Amazon's own used book offerings.)

"Tobacco giant defeats suit brought by family of Bay of Pigs veteran" but not Austin

My friend, Austin Carr, who is a "plaintiff's lawyer," recently tried a products liability case against a tobacco company in Circuit Court here in Miami-Dade County, representing the family of a husband and father who died of emphysema.  On August 18, the Miami Herald had an excellent article by Carol Rosenberg on the trial.  I have reproduced all of the article below, because I am afraid that the Herald at some point will kill the link, and I want to keep the article.  It is so well written: tight, deeply informative, and fair.  And Austin comes off as he is, a fine lawyer who keeps to the facts, and has the courage to take a case that many would decline because of its difficulty and uncertainty.

A Miami jury sided with R.J. Reynolds Tuesday against the family of a former Bay of Pigs prisoner who smoked for five decades then died of emphysema at age 87.

The jury of six ruled the tobacco giant was not responsible for the October 2005 death of Renato Santos, who had quit cigarettes when he was diagnosed with emphysema in 1990. The product liability case, first filed by the Santos family on Jan. 9, 2008, had sought $16 million.

Santos started smoking as a teen in Cuba and became a pack-and-a half a day Pall Mall smoker, said the family’s lawyer Austin Carr. “The jury found that he was not addicted, I believe, principally because he never attempted to quit until he was diagnosed,” the lawyer said.

The suit was the latest in a series seeking damages following a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision, Engle v. Liggett Group, which threw out a $145 billion class-action verdict against cigarette makers and set the stage for individuals to sue.

Carr described the smoker as a Bay of Pigs veteran who left Cuba months before the ill-fated April 1961 invasion, trained in Central America and then invaded his island. He was held prisoner until the United States exchanged food and medicine for the men in December 1962. In Miami, he had 10 children, Carr said, and worked as a carpenter on yacht interiors.

At the trial, which started last week, the family stipulated that Santos was partly at fault. In July, Circuit Court Judge Peter Lopez ruled for the tobacco company that Santos was to some degree responsible “less than 100 percent ... for causing his smoking-related injuries.” Carr said Tuesday that his side argued “it takes a smoker and a cigarette maker, and we believe that R.J. Reynolds should have had some percentage of fault in the case. They made the dangerous product that they asked their customers to smoke.”

Rebeca Santos, the dead smoker’s daughter, brought the case on behalf of her 84-year-old mother, whom Carr said does not speak English but attended the trial.

He argued that Santos became a smoker at a time when it was common. “Doctors smoked. Nurses smoked. Patients smoked in the hospital,” he told the jury. “It was a completely different culture back in those days.”

Austin has several more of these kinds of cases lined up for trial over the next six months.  Don't sleep so soundly, Big Tobacco.

Read more here:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How Do It Know?

On the Google search page this morning, the designs were birthday cakes and cupcakes.  Moving my cursor over them, I got the message "Happy Birthday, Paul."  And it is my birthday today.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Classical South Florida 89.7 throws in the towel; the slot returns to Christian Radio

Starting Friday, three South Florida radio stations will stop broadcasting classical music.

Instead, radios tuned in to WKCP 89.7 FM in Miami, WPBI 90.7 FM in West Palm Beach or WNPS 88.7 FM in Southwest Florida will find Christian music.

Minneapolis-based American Public Media Group sold the Classical South Florida stations to Educational Media Foundation for $21.7 million on Thursday, according Hadden & Associates Nationwide Media Brokers, which represented both the buyer and seller in the transaction.

The deal is expected to close in September, but EMF, headquartered in Rocklin, California, will implement its K-LOVE format this week. K-LOVE stations broadcast in 135 other markets.

[My bold.]

-from today's Miami Herald

It is hard to believe that the very upsetting sale of WMCU, 89.7 FM, by Trinity International University to Public Media Group took place nearly eight years ago.  But it has been that long.  Since then, we have listened to K-LOVE over the internet, supporting the internet channel from time to time, and then to Pandora.  There are some AM Christian radio stations here in Miami, but none of them have quite the pitch that WMCU captured - at least for us.

WMCU had been developed by Miami Christian College, a Bible college in Miami-Dade.  After many years of service to Miami-Dade Christian young people. MCC gave itself, including the radio station, to what became Trinity International University, based in Deerfield, Illinois. 

Several years later, after the president retired who was serving at the time of Trinity's acquisition of MCC and WMCU, Trinity sold WMCU to American Public Media Group for millions of dollars.  In additon, it moved "Trinity South Florida" from Downtown Miami to a modest space  in Broward, an environment probably more culturally-familiar to the Deerfield board than Miami-Dade.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ancient Greece and Donald Kagan; Disrupting Academia

Irving Kristol interviews Donald Kagan on the "origins of war and the preservation of peace," the title of Kagan's 1996 book on that subject

Kristol refers in that interview to a series of lectures on Ancient Greece that Kagan gave at Yale and that the university makes freely accessible on the internet as as an "Open Yale Course."  That's a series of lectures I want to attend.

Each lecture has an "assignment."  For example, the introductory lecture assigns: Pomeroy, Burstein, Donlan and Roberts. Ancient Greece. Oxford University Press: New York, 1999, pp. 1-40.  When I went to Amazon for that title, I saw a number of editions, the latest, the 3rd, a $50.48 text book.

Checking on, I found a 2007 paperback edition for $1.00.

Has there been so much new discovered in the last 8 years that an introductory text on Ancient Greece requires an expensive third edition?

See how the internet disrupts the publishing side of academia and how Yale itself, with its open access lectures, similarly disrupts the 20th Century model of the American University.