Monday, January 31, 2005

The High Cost of Democracy. Over on Sean's blog, he makes the point that the Bush administration made a lot of mistakes in preparing for and handling the invasion of Iraq and its occupation. He is also troubled that no one in the administration seems ready to admit that they made some very important mistakes. I agree that the administration made a lot of mistakes. Its possible that people in the administration are ready to admit them, but I haven't heard any mea culpas. Maybe its too early. Maybe its hubris.

There is an excellent opinion piece in the WSJ today, and you don't have to be a subscriber to read it. Its called A Time for Humility and is written by Eliot A. Cohen. Its about Iraq, and the title speaks for itself. Its well worth reading. The author enumerates many of the mistakes that the Bush administration made.

War is a very blunt instrument of foreign policy. Furthermore, it is an instrument in the hands of "government" and "government" is by its very nature exceedingly inefficient, which is why we want to keep it small. But if you have a very high view of government, if you are a positivist, as most Democrats are, then it is exceedingly upsetting to see the sorts of mistakes that the Bush administration made and those mistake are grounds for resounding, even righteous condemnation. If you are a positivist, you believe not only that government should have done better, it could have done better.

But if one has a low view of government, then you, instead, marvel that anything positive was accomplished at all, and, instead of roundly condemning the players, President Bush, Ms. Rice, Mr. Rumsfeld, you begin to admire them for taking into their hands a very difficult task, using the blunt instrument of war, the corrupted nature of politics, and, with God's help, accomplishing something that may be doing some good.

Speaking of how government works, whether in Republican or Democratic hands, somehow Brenner's administration in Iraq lost track of $8 billion. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
Democracy in Iraq:
The WSJ posts exerpts (here for subscribers) from bloggers in Iraq, recounting observations and moods from yesterday's historic election.

This exerpt below was particularly interesting to me. It reminded me of our own freedom and how it is often taken for granted.

Several bloggers posted pictures of Iraqis proudly displaying their ink-stained fingers (the ink was used at polling places to prevent people from voting more than once). From I Should Have Stayed Home, written by two Americans in Iraq: "The permanent ink that so many people were afraid of is being worn as a mark of pride by every single person I have seen in the streets. They hold up their fingers to show that they voted." According to Iraq the Model, one of the more popular Iraqi blogs: "Everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the [polling] center." And on Kurdo's World, "Kurdo" writes, "In Kurdistan and Iraq now, people check others' index fingers: 'Oh you have a normal finger?!! How come it is not blue?! You are not democratic at all.'"

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Look Sharp. Two lumberjacks compete in a tree-cutting contest. Both were strong and determined, hoping to win the prize. But one was hardworking and ambitious, chopping down every tree in his path at the greatest pace possible, while the other appeared to be a little more laid back, methodically felling tress and pacing himself. The go-geter worked all day, skipping his lunch break, expecting that his superior effort would be rewarded. His opponent, however, took an hour-long lunch, then resumed his steady pace. In the end, the eager beaver was dismayed to lose to his "lazier" competition. Thinking he deserved to win after his hard work, he finally approached his opponent and said, "I just don't understand. I worked longer and harder than you and went hungry to get ahead. You took a break, and yet you still won. It just doesn't seem fair. Where did I go wrong?" The winner responded, "While I was taking my lunch break, I was sharpening my ax."

[This is an old, old story, but maybe it is new to you. This version of it was in a column appearing in Miami Today this week by Harvey Mackay.]

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

From Drudge: Hillary seeks common ground on Abortion
"Proposing new political language about abortion rights for an increasingly skittish Democratic Party, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that friends and foes on the issue should come together on 'common ground' to reduce the number of 'unwanted pregnancies' and ultimately abortions, which she called a 'sad, even tragic choice to many, many women.' Clinton, in a speech to about 1,000 abortion rights supporters at the state Capitol, firmly restated her support for Roe v. Wade. But then she offered warm words to opponents of abortion and said that faith and organized religion were the ‘primary’ reasons teenagers abstained from sexual relations...."

My analysis/comments:
1. It seems at least someone in the Democratic Party finally realizes that the road to the White House is closer to the middle of the ideological road. Hillary seems to be trying to soften her tone in prep for 2008. She can make these statements without fear of losing her base.
2. Her language reminds me of President Bush's comments on the campaign trail in 2000, where he states that even reasonable people can disagree on this issue, yet can work together towards "common ground."
3. If "choice" reigns, why do we as a society want to limit the number of abortions? It seems that God's common grace reminds us that ultimately, this act is "sad, even tragic."
4. Speaking of "choice," I wonder when we'll hear more of adoption and abstinence as viable choices? But it's not really about choice. It's now an industry.
5. "Last week, Norma McCorvey, the woman known as 'Jane Roe' in Roe v. Wade, asked the Supreme Court to overturn its 1973 decision." -WSJ 1/24/05. Interesting, but Norma's pro-life stance rarely receives any press.

Outside of the political rhetoric, I mourn for our society that has slipped (even leapt) away from a culture of life.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Dorm as Brothel and Naked Parties. For an essay that contains far more intelligent and thoughtful comments than my post below about the Charlotte Simmons issue, see this excellent article by Professor Vigen Guroian of Loyola College in Baltimore.

And read this excellent comment on Professor Gurorian's essay by Frederica Mathewes Green, the author of Gender: Men, Women, Sex, and Feminism (Conciliar, 2002). (Among other things, Ms. Green suggests that the growing incidence of lesbianism on college campuses may have arisen as a defense mechanism to the compulsory nature of "hooking up", etc.)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I'm shocked! Shocked! not. Your yuppie parents really wouldn't or shouldn't be shocked at Wolfe's picture of contemporary campus life. We "came of age" during the heyday of the sexual revolution: the pill was available as I reached high school in 1961, the Kinsey report provided the intellectual justification for "sexual liberation", and Playboy Magazine, which was hugely successful during the 60's and 70's, espoused something called "the Playboy Philosophy", a hedonistic mishmash that went straight into the minds of male adolescents through its portal of the airbrushed centerfold.

In my fraternity section at Duke, a co-ed took up residence in a "brother's" room, and his room-mate moved somewhere else. This wasn't a one-night sexile, it went all spring semester of my senior year. (Happy ending (?): They got married the week before graduation at Duke Chapel. I sang at their wedding.) The movie "Animal House" perfectly captured the culture.

Furthermore, no one had the slightest idea about AIDS. The herpes epidemic, which no one seems to talk about any more, had not spread. (We probably don't hear about herpes much any more because its "under control", that is, the drug companies are now making big bucks treating its symptoms. Once we get some drugs that will really control AIDS, it will disappear from the front page too, although it won't disappear. Hail American enterprise.) Roe vs. Wade, the ultimate sexual liberator, was just around the corner.

Remember, ours was the generation of sex, drugs and rock and roll. We had flower children shacking up with whoever flashed the peace sign, we had Woodstock, we had Janice Joplin. Give me a break! There is nothing "shocking" about what Wolfe is writing about. How did you expect the children of the yuppie generation to turn out?

What is distrubing is this question: will these children finally get out of college and grad school, get out of the house, get out of our budget, and go to work so that we Yuppies can be assured of free government health care and fat Social Security paychecks until we die? That's why, when we read what Wolfe writes we become very anxious. But we're not shocked.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Charlotte Simmons redux. In a recent email, my friend Tom offered the following thoughts on Tom Wolfe's latest:

"I read Charlotte Simmons on the planeride from Atl to CA (most of it, at any rate). I have to say it completely rocked my world. I felt like Wolfe captured every farce at Davidson and more. In fact, I'd say that his reporting on modern day higher education was so spot on, it really leaves no room for anything else to be said. Were it not for the Christian community (and for me, the no-bs philosophy dept.) at Davidson, college would have been just as vapid and hopeless for all of us, methinks.

"The parallels are absolutely astounding as I'm sure you'd agree. I couldn't help but laugh out loud at every mention of the Libertas, I mean Millenial Mutants crowd and the KA clowns, err Hoyte and his lackeys, watching Sportscenter. Everything from 'f#$^ patois' to sexiling was accurately depicted and treated with the proper contempt instead of the wild-eyed shock you might expect from your own parents. Speaking of which, I forbade my parents to read it lest they completely lose all hope in America.

See this post and this for the blog's previous thoughts on the subject.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Aidan at 13.5 weeks
Here's a 65 second video of Aidan at a little over 3 months. Nothing more to see than just one of the Cutest. Babies. Ever. Or so I'm told. (FYI, this was shot with our Fujifilm FinePix digital camera, not our DV camera.)
GTD: Organizing II

As I went through the Processing stage I dutifully filed things that were non-actionable, or which generated an action but were too big to be the action reminder, into their own manila folders and put them into an empty banker's box. I wasn't quite sure how I was supposed to build them into my old file system, but I hadn't had my "General" files epiphiany yet.

At the end of processing I had a big pile of Next Actions, one per sheet of paper. I also dutifully sorted them into contexualized piles. I now have a number of As-Soon-As-Possible lists: Financials to Process, Current Expenses, Read Me!, At Anywhere, To Call, At Office, At Home, At Computer, Errands, Waiting For, Someday/Maybe, and Agendas - General, All Staff, Amy, Anna, Carrie, Liz, Jimmy, Joe, Kells, Mike, Sean, Small Group, Willis. I cleared my calendar of items that I just wanted to do on a given day, and moved them into the appropriate ASAP folders.

I also created a "Tickler" file system made up of 43 folders (1-31, Jan-Dec). This is a system that acts as my "personal assistant" in the absence of an actual human. If I need a particular thing on a particular day (like plane tix, or an agenda, etc.) I put it in the appropriate folder. For a much better explanation, check out this explanation on 43Folders, a very cool blog about, among other things, GTD. (I'd heard about having a "tickler" file a loooong time ago when I first came on IV Staff from my first supervisor, Tom Oster. Tom told me that I needed to have a tickle file, so I could put things in it which would remind me of things I needed to do. I dutifully created a "tickle" file, and never looked at it again.)

So, at the end of the day, I had two boxes of general files, a stack of ASAP folders, and a stack of Tickler files. And then I really had to start doing some actual work. So I stopped thinking about Organizing the files and started going through my ASAP folders, picking what I needed to do at the moment. It's a good thing, too, because I was beginning to go crazy trying to figure out the perfect way to group these general files for easy reference & access.

Before GTD, I had a pretty servicable filing system. (Thanks Julie!) Three years ago I'd put Nice Labels on all my folders and organized the files intuitively. If you'd asked me for anything, I could have found it in about 60 seconds, especially within the first year. But eventually it took me longer to remember where I'd put stuff, so I'd have to look in a couple of different filing cabinets. The real problem, though, was when I'd get something that needed to be filed, but didn't fit neatly into a specific category that'd I'd intuited the year before. Usually, the problem was that the document needed to be in two different places at the same time. After spinning my internal wheels trying to figure out which file would be best, I'd usually give up and not end up filing the item. That accomplished two things: (1) I was now frustrated, and (2) I'd resigned myself to never finding that item again, which only furthered my frustration, since my whole point in filing it in the first place was so I could find it again!

For David, this indicates a catastrophic failure of my filing system. Not only does he want things to be able to come out of the filing system quickly, things need to be able to be put into the system just as quickly. After re-reading David's chapter on Organizing, I realized that the problem was that I was trying to subcategorize things to the extent that I would never need to have "General" file cabinets. But for me, at least half of the stuff I want to keep is "General"! Part of that has to do with my personality, which finds categories restrictive and generally resists categorizing because I enjoy so much seeing patterns and relationships between things that on the surface seem unrelated. But there is also the external reality that when something can fit into more than one category, it probably has "General" application, and should be filed as such.

So, there I was, working from my Next Action Lists (more on that in another post), when I thought, "Oh, I need folder X for that, and I know where it is because I just put it in the cardboard box." Then I worked on a different Next Action and the same thing happened, "I need folder Y, and I know where that is." This happened a number of times, and then it dawned on me: I didn't need to sub-categorize the files in my cardboard boxes! All I needed was alpha order, and it was working just like it was supposed to! (The "General Files" epiphany happened.) This made me rethink my already established filing system, and I pulled out everything that wasn't grouped into a few big categories (e.g. Staff Files, Team Meetings, Cornerstones) and put it in the general files boxes. This is much better.

More later. . .

CORRECTED: because I have folders for Sean, Amy and Willis, too! Annnnd, to actually put links where I said there would be links.

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Home Depot Hiring Veterans. See this post about Home Depot's views on employment of veterans. I'm going over there to buy a saw as soon as I get home from work.

Monday, January 17, 2005

GTD: Organizing - setting up the right buckets.

This isn't the first time I've reorganized my filing system. I do it every time I move my office (5 times in the last 8 years), then when I re-arrange the office, and finally when I've gotten frustrated with not being able to find things I need. That brings the total time of me reworking my files a little less than once a year. So you might say I've done some thinking about filing. In part I've done so much thinking about it because I hate it when I know I have X, which would really help me to do Y, but I just can't figure out where I put X. At this point in my life, I've come to the conclusion that if I can't find X when I need it, I might as well get rid of X. I figure the reason to have X is to have it when I need it and not just to have it.

The last time I did a file re-org, I read Julie Morgenstern's Organizing from the Inside Out This is really a great book on setting up a workspace and filing system. I learned from Julie a couple of things: the above maxim re: item X, that I ought to use a labeler for my files, and to let my creativity dictate how & where to store my files. The problem (which brought on moving to GTD) was that at the end of the day I had a really snazzy file system, but hadn't made any adjustments to how I did my work, which is what got my filing system into trouble in the first place. (Julie has other books on time management, but I didn't read them. Maybe she addresses the issue there.)

What I really like about David's approach to Organizing is that his filing system, though nicely unsophisticated, is integrated into the entire GTD system. For David, Organizing is what has to happen once you process your stuff. Here's where it fits in his total process:
There are a couple of new things to me in David's approach that I really appreciate. One is his identifying seven primary types of things I need to track: (keep in mind that a list could be a piece of paper with things listed, or, at its simplest, a grouping of things)
  • Projects (a list)
  • Project Support Material (storage)
  • Calendared Actions & Info (a kind of list)
  • Next Actions (a list)
  • Waiting For (a list)
  • Reference Material (storage)
  • Someday/Maybe (a list)

    Good ideas from David: (I'll paraphrase where possible)
    "Your filing system should be a simple library of data, easily retrievable - not your reminder for actions, projects, priorities, or prospects." If you have files that are grouped naturally around large subjects (like a major project), go ahead and group them. But for general things, David advocates simple alpha order. Then label your files (using a labelmaker!) with an intuitive name. Even if it takes a couple of tries to remember what you named something, you can easily look for it if your filing system is alphabetically ordered.

    Many people want to put actions on the calendar that they'd like to get done on that day. Resist this impulse. You need to trust your calendar as sacred territory, reflecting the exact commitments of the day, which should be noticable at a glance while on the run.

    Organize your As-Soon-As-Possible Actions (which are your "Next Actions") by the context or tool required of them, e.g. At Phone, At Computer, Errands, At Home, At Office, Agendas, Read/Review. That way, you don't have to re-sort every time you're in a new context or you have a different tool available to you.

    What David is building is a system where you're free to think about the work you want to think about, when you want to think about it. So, organize your ASAP actions according to context and the moment you change context (or want to change context) you can immediately start deciding what to do, rather than have to think about which actions fit in the new context.

    So that's what I've been working on, slowly, over the past week. I'll stop here and post later on my thoughts as I went through the process and began to do my work according to GTD principles.

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  • Poetry over at Coast&Crown.
    Seen: A disconcerting bumper-sticker
    "What if the hokey-pokey is what it's all about?"
    I Love ALIAS
    but this is how I feel about it sometimes:

    Saturday, January 15, 2005

    MSM's lack of perspective in Iraq:
    (Not that they're biased or anything like that. You can assuredly rest easy about bias & the lack thereof, thanks to the (pdf) report on CBS&Rathergate.)

    via Instapundit
    Aiding and Abetting the Enemy: the Media in Iraq
    By LTC Tim Ryan, CO, 2/12 Cav, 1st Cav Div

    What if domestic news outlets continually fed American readers headlines like: "Bloody Week on U.S. Highways: Some 700 Killed," or "More Than 900 Americans Die Weekly  from Obesity-Related Diseases"?  Both of these headlines might be true statistically, but do they really represent accurate pictures of the situations?  What if you combined all of the negatives to be found in the state of Texas and used them as an indicator of the quality of life for all Texans?  Imagine the headlines: "Anti-law Enforcement Elements Spread Robbery, Rape and Murder through Texas Cities." For all intents and purposes, this statement is true for any day of any year in any state. True -- yes, accurate -- yes, but in context with the greater good taking place -- no!  After a year or two of headlines like these, more than a few folks back in Texas and the rest of the U.S. probably would be ready to jump off of a building and end it all. So, imagine being an American in Iraq right now.
    It's a long read, but worth it.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005

    More on Civilians Protecting Themselves. This link to WSVN Channel 7's webpage describes what happened at an Opa-Locka apartment house the other night. I saw the video account of this incident on Channel 7's ten o'clock news on Sunday (yes, I was up that late). Note how the man who was attacking the elderly people was stopped. He was shot by Mr. Castro.

    Where did Mr. Castro get the gun?

    According to the news story on TV, Hernandez, the bad guy, broke into the Castros' apartment, after beating up an elderly woman downstairs, and started beating Mrs. Castro, another elderly woman. Mr. Castro, her husband and an elderly man, tried to pull the much younger Hernandez off his wife, to no avail. So he went back to their bedroom and got a revolver. He shot Hernandez four times before Hernandez finally got off of Mrs. Castro and left the apartment.

    Hernandez was airlifted to Jackson's trauma center and is expected to recover.

    Hernandez had already shown the sort of insane violence that led to the attacks that night. About 10 days before, he had gone on a rampage and was sent to the psycho ward at Jackson Memorial Hospital under the Baker Act. But they had to let him go after 72 hours. He went back to the apartment house. So much for the police being able to protect us. Good thing Mr. Castro had a gun.

    Sunday, January 09, 2005

    Civilians Protecting Themselves; Government Protecting Civilians. In the introduction to the Fourth Edition of The Concealed Handgun Manual, the author, Chris Bird, writes this about Charles Whitman's massacre of innocents in 1966 from his perch in the tower at the University of Texas:

    Recently, I had the privilege of listening to retired Texas Ranger Ray Martinez describe that day in August 1966 when he went up the tower at The University of Texas at Austin where Charles Whitman was killing people with a rifle. Alan Crum, a civilan armed with a borrowed hunting rifle, accompanied Martinez up to the observation deck. At the time, Martinez was a uniformed officer in the Austin Police Department. He described how civilians armed with their hunting rifles were shooting up at Whitman. Their barrage of bullets forced the gunman to shoot through rain spouts which gave him cover but also severly restricted his field of fire.

    "I'm sure glad for those citizens," Martinez said. He credited them with saving many lives.

    Eventually, Martinez and another officer, Houston McCoy, shot Whitman on the observation deck. The deranged gunman killed thirteen and wounded thirty-one others at the university before he was killed. Earlier he had killed his wife and mother.

    The incident was successfully resolved by two uniformed policemen armed with revolvers and a shotgun and a civilian with a rifle. I could not help thinking how different it would have been handled today. All civilians would have been removed from the area, then the tower would been assualted by SWAT team members wearing their ninja suits and body armor and armed with MP-5 submachine guns. It is doubtful they would have done a better job.

    For the past several decades, ordinary citizens have been actively discouraged from becoming involved in anything that might be dangerous. "Leave it to the professionals," we have been told. We learned on Septemer 11, 2001, that the government and the professionals could not protect us . . .
    The Relatives Came. This is the title of a little book for children, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. A copy of it came in a box of Cheerios, and Carol read it to me last night. (During half-time of the Jets game, not at bedtime.) Having just had the relatives come, the book had currency. And it also captures the poignancy of visits to and from loved ones, which has lingered with us after the wonderful two weeks we had with our far-flung family. The back of the book states that it is for "Ages 4-7". Don't believe it.
    The Talking Stick. At the seminar Carol and I attended Friday, Steve Covey described the "Talking Stick". He had a replica of one to show us. He said that at councils of the Federation of Iroquois Tribes, and other councils of North American Indians, the speaker holds a Talking Stick and may hold it until he finishes speaking. When someone holds the Talking Stick, no one else is to speak. When the Talking Stick is passed to someone else, it becomes that other person's opportunity to speak and to speak with others listening and not interrupting. One of Covey's themes at the talk was dispute resolution, and the Talking Stick principle is an important part of his approach to resolving disputes.

    Yesterday, Carol and I had a discussion about a matter in which it appeared that there were some important areas of disagreement. (Yes, this happens, even after 34 years of marriage.) We think we know each other well enough that sometimes when we speak to each other we will interrupt the other and try to complete the other's sentences (often with a thorough lack of success), much to annoyance of the other party and sometimes doing complete death to the conversation. Sometimes our discussions will be laced with phrases like "You know what I mean?" as if we are not sure that the other is completely listening. Which could be true. The discussion we commenced was beginning not to go well, when we remembered about the Talking Stick.

    So we picked up a table knife and used it as a Talking Stick. A knife of any sort is probably not a good proxy for a Talking Stick. But it worked for us and it worked well. When Carol had the stick, it made me aware that it was time for me to listen and, since I would not be able to interrupt, I had to listen carefully to be sure that I remembered what she said, so that when it was my turn I would be prepared to give a reasonable response. I think she felt protected by the stick: she could comfortably express herself at her own pace. She could pause as she collected her thoughts; she didn't have to close up any silent spots for fear I would break-in. I heard not a single, "You know what I mean?" I was listening. She had the stick.

    We had a good discussion, and I think that the Talking Stick structure helped us significantly in our efforts to communicate with each other.

    I found this link to an essay on the Talking Stick.
    "People are not Victims". So began a talk by Steve Covey Friday morning at an event sponsored the Dade County Bar Association. He went on to say that that "there is the power of choice in every individual."

    This took me back to our blog-conversation on "open theology" and the relationship between the question of our choice and God's sovereignty. Covey described a number of principles he identified as "universal, timeless, self-evident", and he said that in every one of the world's "great religions", those principles appear.

    He implied that anyone could choose to adopt those principles, and he said that he has seen people from all over the world follow the urgings of their consciences, and make the choice to adopt and apply those principles, seeing their lives improve as a result.

    He identified conscience as the key element in making good choices. Although he did not ascribe the promptings of conscience to God or make any other overtly religous references during a nearly 100 minute talk (a talk that had the rapt attention of everyone), at the very end he said that that he believes that conscience and the universal principles are from God, a God to whom he simply and briefly pointed but did not much describe, a God whom we would find, however, familiar. Is Covey, who is a Mormon, a free-will advocate or a determinist, an Arminian or a Calvinist? Does it matter?

    I can't do the talk justice. (In fact, it was much less a speech than a conversation.) But there are some additional points that I wrote down that I found particularly interesting, and I will make them the subject of further posts. Meanwhile, I am going to go back and read his book,
    the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
    .

    He has just published a new book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, which each of us who attended the event will receive next week.

    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

    On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs. Here is an interesting lecture to police officers and soldiers that my friend, Jack Dewhurst, heard during his police academy run last year. It has some useful points for everyone to consider.

    Monday, January 03, 2005

    "Open Theology". Christianity Today reports that "controversial theologian John Sanders [is] on [the] way out at Huntington [College]". I don't think I've ever heard of that college (which means nothing, of course) or of Sanders (also means nothing), but I read the article anyway. I figured Huntington is either an evangelical place and Sanders a sort of heretic or that Huntington is an heretical place and Sanders an orthodox thinker. Either way, it sounded interesting.

    Huntington College is orthodox, if you can be Arminian and orthodox, and Sanders is probably not orthodox. He is a proponent of "open theology", which also I had never heard of (my ignorance really knows no bounds) but which CT thinks is a big deal. As I indicated, I think Huntington College is Armininan, and what Sanders has to say about God's limitations seems like a logical extension of that point of view. In other words, I think Huntington asked for it.

    I cannot do justice to "open theology", but I can refer you to another CT article that is a composite of four reviews of a book published in the 90s that presented essays promoting that point of view. (Sanders wrote one of the essays.) Like most good book reviews, they make you feel like you don't have to read the book, or that maybe you really don't want to read the book and would prefer to read something else.

    Of the four critiques, the first one is rather sympathetic. They get progressively less sympathetic, however, although the second and third review start out saying how nice and Christian "open theology" people are. Then we get to the critique by Alistair E. McGrath of Regent. He is not nice. He simply obliterates the "open theology" point of view. As I read McGrath's review, I recalled some of the football plays I saw over the weekend on television, particularly where someone is running back a punt, running heedlessly and at full speed, only to be spectacularly flattened by someone on the other team, going the other way at least as fast as the ball carrier, but not running heedlessly at all, running deliberately and hitting the ball carrier so hard that you can hear teeth rattle, and an "ooohh!" comes out of the stands. That's the way McGrath deals with Sanders and his kith. Its a wonder that there was anything left of Sanders to fire at Huntington College.

    Sunday, January 02, 2005

    The Pioneer Anamoly. An interesting article in the Seattle Times on gravity describes the "Pioneer Anamoly", which may point to something new in a field that had been thought to be settled for many years. The word "Pioneer" refers to the unmanned spacecraft we sent to deep space a couple of decades ago. Over the course of the many years during which those space-craft were tracked, they slowed down in a way inconsistent with our current theories of gravity. Thus the "Pioneer Anamoly".
    Life without the Miami Herald. Years ago, when Macon was in middle school, we bribed the kids into giving up TV. We promised that, if they could do without the television for six weeks, we would go to Disney World. (My parents sweetened the pot by promising to give them each $75.) After a week or two of withdrawal pains, we all coasted to that great trip to Orlando. When we got home, there was no clamor to turn the tv back on. Instead, the kids wanted to know where we were going to go after the next six weeks. The back of the TV habit had been broken.

    One thing I remember about that event is how quiet the household became once the TV was off. The TV, as Carol remembers, was "like a presence". We banished that presence. The world became more peaceful.

    About two months ago, our Miami Herald subscription came up for renewal. We were not happy about the Herald's coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor with the way they covered the Presidential election. For years, the Herald has promoted the homosexual rights agenda. Its sports pages were negative and often simply silly. Everything wrong with "Main Stream Media" seemed to be wrong with the Herald. So we decided not to renew. Carol wrote a letter to the Herald explaining why, after 32 years of startng the day with that newspaper we were quitting. (The Executive Editor, Tom Fiedler, sent her a letter in reply that was thoughtful and considerate and, finally, unpersuasive.)

    I feel much the same way about not having the Herald every day as I did about turning the tv off many years ago. I missed it at first, but I miss it less and less. A lot of noise in the background of my life has gone away. I can sense a bit more peace in my life.

    We do buy a Sunday Herald at the news stand. Carol likes the coupons and the ads. Buying it on Sunday also confirms for me that we made the right decision. The lead headline today is an example of the paper's dishonesty. The headline reads "Transit taxes can't meet pledge." Above the headline is a smaller one that reads "Herald Watchdog". What a joke. The article states that the 2002 "sales-tax-for-transit" campaign, which was supposed to fund a needed MetroRail extension, will not produce nearly enough revenue. The Herald was a huge supporter of the sales tax increase that was the point of the campaign. I voted for the increase, despite knowing what a corrupt local government we have. Searching today's article, I saw no explanation about where our journalistic "watchdog" was while we we were being sold a bill of goods.

    As I understand it, newpapers across the country are losing suscribers. The pundits blame the internet, among other alternative news sources. But they need to go a little bit deeper than simply the idea of an alternate media outlet. On the internet, one frees oneself of the local MSM monopoly. If the Herald were to wake up, it might have a chance to rebuild its readership. But I doubt that's going to happen.