Monday, October 31, 2005

Yikes!
I hate to reference anything Maureen Dowd has written, but she's penned an interesting and lengthy "What's a Modern Girl to Do?"(via drudge) that has the following statistic:
A 2005 report by researchers at four British universities indicated that a high I.Q. hampers a woman's chance to marry, while it is a plus for men. The prospect for marriage increased by 35 percent for guys for each 16-point increase in I.Q.; for women, there is a 40 percent drop for each 16-point rise.
In a fight, I want Jason Taylor Covering my Back.

The All-Pro Defensive end for the Dolphins had this to say about the win yesterday in Baton Rouge, amidst all the talk and blather about the "homecoming" of Saban to Tiger Stadium and Williams to the Saints, according to this morning's Miami Herald:

I don't care about coming back to LSU and this crappy locker room and the ugly colors and paint all over the field where you can't tell if you're coming or going,'' Taylor said. ``This win was important for everybody, not just [Saban].

Nick doesn't coach at LSU anymore; he coaches us. And we wanted to win for us, and he wanted to win for us, too.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Macon & Kellsey's Library
For about a year, I've been using a program called Delicious Library to catalog our books & videos. Among it's super-de-duper cool features: use the iSight to scan the ISBN barcode of the book and Delicious Library accesses Amazon's database to bring down the cover image, relevant publishing data, and publisher description to your computer. This way, it doesn't take very long to catalog your whole library. Another way cool feature: it accesses your Address Book for when you want to lend things to your friends, and then puts the Due Date in iCal with a reminder when the book is due. That is really all the functionality this nerd could want: ease of input into catalog, beautiful & effective interface (with ability to rate my books), and the ability to track where I've lent my treasures.

But then I discovered that some wonderful 3rd party wrote some code to export said library in HTML to put it out there on the intarweb. Cool! You can take a look at our library here. (With over 800 items, it takes a while to load, just so you know.) Wanna borrow a book?
Power's Up! About 6:30PM last evening the lights came on! What a great moment. In the early afternoon, I had noticed a large lineman crew from Sumter Utilities working in our neighborhood, and I had spoken with them in the hope that they would soon get to our little piece of the grid.

They were from near Sumter, SC, but the man I spoke to said his group lived toward the NC/SC line. He also told me that they had first come down for Katrina, and had been pre-positioned here when it roared through. Then they went home for a couple of days, then to Biloxi, then home for a couple of days, then to some town in Louisiana, then home, and then here. I asked him where they are staying here, and he said the Fountainbleu Hotel! (Nothing else was avaliable.)

About mid-afternoon I learned from a neighbor that there was a lineman crew working over on Hammond Drive, between Ibis and Heron, which is just NE of us. It is down Hammond that our piece of the grid travels before it turns west down our alley. So I got on my bike and spent the next couple of hours off and on watching the crew do its work, mainly dealing with and replacing two poles that the storm had snapped. It was the Sumter crew.

Some interesting things about the crew that I noticed: They were all white, not a black man among them. No latins either, They spoke with a right heavy rural drawl, and several of them smoked. They were clean-cut and, despite working all day, clean. They worked steadily. They were deliberate, very careful, but they never seemed to take breaks, and they seemed thoroughly competent. They were appropriately intense and there was no joking around - totally professional. They had a tool for everything, and looked in terrific shape. I would not call them "good ol' boys", because that term suggests (to me at least) a sort of propensity to incompetence that personality and relationships cover over. These were the sort of men that James Webb wrote about.

When the downed pole on Hammand had been replaced,the sun was fast going down, I became concerned that they would not get to my alley. I had earlier noticed that the fuse on the transformer on a pole half-way down the alley to our house had blown, and I knew that they would need to replace the fuse after the power was up. One of my neighbors said they were getting ready to go. I looked for the man I had spoken to earlier that day, and he happened to drive up in one of the supervisor trucks. I asked him whether he could send someone over to look at that fuse. He said, "I've sent someone over already. I remember we talked today. I didn't forget you."

And so I rode my bike over to our block and, sure enough, there was a crew with a lift-bucket truck getting in position to fix the fuse. By then it was nearly dark. I saw the lineman lift up on a special stick and put in place the new fuse. Below the fixture, now in place, dangled a sort of latch which, when closed, makes the circuit. He brought the stick down, caught 'hold of the bottom end of latch, and lifted it up into place. Where the latch made contact, there was a bright spark, and then the lights in the neighborhood came on!

Note: Sumter Utilities is an example of the de-verticalization of the electric utility world. It has no grid of its own to tend. It works for others who do.
But where does Gawd come from?

Sean's Kottke pointed me here to explain why the White Sox are not the White Socks. The link gives some interesting history of American spelling.

As to the White Sox, years ago Walter, Macon, and I saw a pre-season game (then called an "exhibition game") between the White Sox and the Yankees in Ft. Lauderdale and Frank Thomas played. What a beautiful man! Its great that he is on a championship team at last.

Recalling that first sight of Frank Thomas reminds me of seeing F. Lee Bailey try a case in Manhattan federal court in 1971. It was a jury trial, and there was a witness being examined by opposing counsel in a large impressive court room right out of the movies. No one in the crowded court room, absolutely no one, was paying any attention to the witness, to the opposing counsel, to the judge, to anyone; they were all looking at F. Lee Bailey. He was just sitting at the defense counsel's table, not with his feet up under it, but with his chair more or less turned to stage right, in the direction of the jury. His legs were crossed, and his left elbow was on the table, and he was doing nothing but looking at a legal pad. Now that's presence!

So it was with Frank Thomas: you just could not take your eyes off of him.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Microsoft, Maybe it Needs De-verticalizing. Microsoft's quarterly earnings report is out today. It posted a 24% increase in its fiscal first-quarter profit. The market yawned: its up 2.57% today. Bernstein sold its position in Microsoft about 10 days ago. Merrill Lynch rates it a "hold". But Morningstar has a "buy" rating on it. Not a lot of consensus here.

The WSJ says that its MSN unit is falling more and more behind Google and Yahoo. Its Xbox 360 comes out next month, but its made no money for the company. Its Server and Tools division is doing well, and it makes big bucks from the Windows software. And there's a new guy who is heading up technology, Ray Ozzie, that is supposed to be a hopeful sign.

It pays a big dividend and the company is accelerating its stock buy-back program. I'm holding.
De-verticalization. I am the trustee of a small trust whose investments are managed by the Bernstein division of Alliance Capital Managment. Bernstein had been a stand-alone, privately held investment firm for many years, and made its money not only from investing people's money, but also selling its research to other investment firms. A few years ago, the owners (who were the senior partners) sold themselves to Alliance. (Too bad.) But the Bernstein research function lives on, and from time to time the people in that division publish some of their research conclusions in a format that is readable to laymen.

This week I received a new essay from Bernstein, entitled The New Industrial Revolution: De-verticalization on a Global Scale. I highly recommend it.

Some excerpts of the "executive summary" are as follows, but read ye all of it, all of the essay:

"De-verticalization is the process of separating functions and services from a vertically integrated business. Companies are undergoing this change because
they can operate more effi ciently and achieve better results by relying on partners to perform certain functions, rather than by maintaining control of these processes themselves.

"As de-verticalization unfolds in a given industry, supply-chain partners focused on particular aspects of the value chain emerge. Frequently, these partners develop greater economies of scale and superior skill than their in-house counterparts. The development of these partners reduces redundancy of operations in an industry and lowers the barriers to entry.

"De-verticalization is a profoundly destabilizing, continual process. The competitive edge gained by deverticalizing is usually fleeting because established rivals copy effective strategies, and lower barriers to entry encourage new competitors to emerge. Thus, companies must continually find new functions to de-verticalize in order to maintain their edge, and any given industry may go through many rounds of de-verticalization."

I have reflected on how this kind of thinking is expressed in the Amplifier idea.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Firing People. This is not one of the really enjoyable aspects of being a boss. I have had to do it in times past. These were "must do" situations, and they helped the enterprise in ways not limited simply to removing a person from a situation to which the person was not suited. But the experience takes something out of you (and, strangely, puts something in you). Sometimes the experience is tougher on the person being fired, which leads me to a story.

I had been with my first firm, Smathers & Thompson, for several years. The firm had been having trouble with a secretary who would come to work drunk. She was drawing very near to middle age, did not have a husband or children, and was a sad soul. The day arrived when our office manager, Betty, had to deliver to her the bad news.

This event took place in Betty's office, around two corners from my office. Betty is behind her desk and the firee, whom I will call "Sally", is sitting in a chair in front of Betty's desk. The door is closed and Betty gives her the termination message. As it is the end of the working day, Betty, after telling Sally that she is terminated, also tells Sally that she is free to stay in Betty's office for awhile so that she can collect herself. Betty excuses herself and goes home.

Meanwhile, totally without knowledge as to what is going on, I am working in my office, and it begins to get late. Most of the people have gone home. But another secretary comes into my office (I am about the only lawyer left, apparently) and she says, "Oh, Mr. Stokes, come quick! Sally is in Betty's office and I think Sally's dead!"

"Shoooot!!!", I think to myself, as I hurry down the hall and around two corners to Betty's office.

In I go, and there is Sally sitting in the chair in front of Betty's desk, with her head thrown back and looking at the ceiling. It takes me no time at all to realize there is nothing on the ceiling worth looking at and that this lady is gone, gone, gone.

I get on the phone and call 911, and they are on their way. Meanwhile, I am left in the office looking at Sally and wondering, what in the world did Betty do? Then I had another chilling thought: should I be doing CPR on this person? Oh my gosh, no! I really did NOT want to get intimate with this dead woman (I was sure she was dead.) I decided against this course of action.

The EMT people soon arrived, and looked at her expertly, did their thing with the pulse and stethescope and whatever, and said, yes, she's dead. That really was not a great relief to me. Should I have given her CPR? I asked one of the EMTs if he could tell me how long she had been dead. He said an hour or more.

That was a relief, and I told him so and why. He laughed and said there wasn't a thing I could do.

Years later I got the opportunity to do my first firing.

Omigosh!
News from the Wilma Front. Still no power at home, but we did hear a transformer blow up last night, which means that FPL was testing the local grid. And we saw two big FPL trucks rumble through our neigborhood yesterday evening as well. We had very cold water showers last night. You could hear our screams for blocks. On the other hand, the weather is beautiful.

We have land-line telephone service, and never lost it. I figured how to run the dsl modem and the Apple Airport off the Radio Shack lead-acid battery I have, so I was able to get on the internet from home with my laptop on battery mode. (I bring the laptop to the office to get charged.)

When I awakened this morning, still in darkness, I walked around outside to see if anyone had lights on: no one.

MetroRail is supposed to be on a 30 minute schedule, but we decided to car-pool again this morning. There was probably twice the traffic than yesterday, but it is still relatively light.

We had supper with the Lahmeyers last night, which was fun.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hello, America! Just a quick post to let you know that we survived, and are back in the office on the second, simply beautiful day after Wilma roared through. And roar it did! A lot of trees down in Miami Springs, trees that survived Katrina's winds, even small oaks. Our power is out, and the prospects for restoration within a few days seem poor. (FP&L is talking about 4 weeks before we have complete restoration, as Wilma destroyed transmission lines, which the FP&L spokesman referred to as "the I-95s of the South Florida Grid".) But we do have power downtown. There is also power in Hialeah, just north of us, where my mother lives (she never lost it at Epworth Village, even though one of her bedroom windows blew in during the storm).
One of our paralegals and a church member, Cyndy, had a tree fall on her house, damaging the roof, so she is home dealing with that. But structural damage in Miami Springs is minimal. We lost two big fishtail palm trees, but they will grow back, and that was all the damage, except for a small coconut tree that blew over during Katrina and blew over again, despite my attempts to stake it up securely.

We completely buttoned up at home this time, even to taking the turbines off the roof and pulling the van and the car close into the protected area in front of our entranceway. That was a good thing.

The storm's main fury came during the daylight hours of Monday morning. On the south side of our house we have a screened porch, separated from our den by storm-proof sliding glass door and panels. So Carol and I sat and watched from the den as the wind and rain pounded Miami Springs, first from the SE, then the S, then SW, and finally from the west, as the storm moved from SE to NW. They eye passed north of us, so we saw sustained fury without let-up. But we did fine.

Carol took some pictures, and we will post them at some point. Now we are trying to refocus on the work here at the office. I have a big hearing tomorrow in WPB, and we will see whether that's still going on. Another big hearing next week in FTL, but we understand that the court house there suffered extensive damage. When we can, we will post on other observations and comments.

Prayer would be good, especially for Cyndy, with her housing situation, and for Sue, one of our paralegals, who lives in Broward.

Adios.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Lurkers of the World: Unite!

Always wanted to title a post with that.

Anway, about the previous post re: Calvin - Here are some of my thoughts in response:

Mary: Yeah, you read me right, I generally fought the urge to speculatively raise my eyebrow when Rev. Calvin enters the discussion. (Aside: What an eloquent gesture: the raised eyebrow! It says, "I'm not so sure about that, but I'm not so unsure or impolite as to actually say something, but I do want you to know that you're going to have to do a Whole Lot Better than that to convince me. So keep talking, though you continue to run the risk that I might actually raise the other eyebrow, and then I might start rebutting your comments." All with the deft movement of one or two facial muscles! And for those of us blessed with abundant eyebrows, the statement is even more provocative. /Aside)

Not only did C&Z disagree about Communion, Calvin and Zwingli also disagreed strongly on the nature and meaning of Baptism. Hence the whole "Anabapitst" movement. (AnaBeets! movement? heh just kidding. And for balance, let me also say, Truly Reformbeets!)

Not to mention the fact that when lining up for Sunday School, they always lined up alphabetically (ascending), and most scholars agree that this really bugged Zwingli and he never forgave Calvin for it.

Sean: The reason I'm having to back into Calvin is because I used to share your same impression, both about Calvin Acolytes and about Calvin himself: that he was "systematic" to the point of "problematic". But what I'm finding is that the disparate parts of his work that I read lead me to the conclusion that he was more prone to resting "Mystery" back in step #1, even though he continued to do his best to think down to #10. At the very least, I find that in Calvin's writings he left plenty of Mystery Room for me to be a bit more comfortable with him than I used to be. And also bear in mind how I'm coming into this: via Karl Barth & T.F. Torrance -- neither of whom are fans of Double Predestination (or even Single Predestination) yet still located the bedrock of their theolgy in agreement with his readings of the Scriptures. (And may I also continue to reserve the right to radically change my opinion about anything, at any time? Thanks. I see no reason to stop that personal policy of mine at this point in my life.)

I also deeply appreciate your gentle introduction of the term Biblical Theology. You prevented the raised eyebrow! Nice pre-emptive measure. :-) And so, equally gently and humbly, I'll comment on the term. I understand that this has become, as my father says, a "term of art" in the theological world. In other words, "Biblical Theology," is a technical term used to differentiate a theological approach. I find it as troublesome a technical term as I do "Systematic Theology". The trouble, as you no doubt anticipated in your pre-emptive apologia, is that any Theology worth it's salt (IMHO), is biblical: ie, firmly grounded in the Scriptures. (Ol' Cal is spinning in his grave over the notion that some professor somewhere doesn't think his theology is "Biblical".) Just as any Theology worth pursuing is systematic: ie, internally coherent, thorough, thoughtful, addressing all of life in light of who God is. And while I'm at it, let's also nit-pick about "Pastoral" Theology. As if any good thinking about God (that is, Theological Thinking), didn't end up in pastoral application. Not that people don't all the time stop their theological train of thought before getting to pastoral theology. It's just that it's incoherent to do so: like getting married only to never move into the house with your spouse. That's the point of getting married: live & love together! That's the point of theological thought: to do pastoral care. (Snarky Aside: Then again, some folks' theology leads to very unpastoral care. Which is perhaps why in actual pastoral application, they switch theologies. Which is probably a very good thing. /Snark)

Why don't we start a new Theological Movement right here? Let's put it all together and call it Integrated Theology. Of course, in my mind this is like saying, "Let's call it Good Theology." But it's my movement, and I'll cry if I want to. (I can already hear the protests, "Hey, wait! Are you saying that my Theology is somehow un-integrated? Dis-integrated? How dare you! If I were wearing gloves, I would take one off and slap you with it. But I'm a poor Theologian, so I can't. Wait, I didn't mean that, I meant that I don't have alot of money, not that I'm a poor Theologian.)

Finally:
i would want to look at Systematic Theology as a valuable resource with all of the Augustine/Luther/Calvin/Barth/Torrance eminences as valuable resources, but secondary over against the Biblical data.
Me too. And I think Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Barth & Torrance would all agree with you. Shall we also throw in all the Biblical and Pastoral Theologians in that list as well and declare that we all are just doing the best we can to understand the Scriptures by the Spirit and live in Christ also by the same Spirit? :-)

Willis! Good to see you here at Kith&Kin. Lurkers are always welcome. Though your Lurker status is somewhat jeopardized by your comment. Jeopardize away!

Edited at 9:30pm: because coherent syntax & grammar are so helpful to reading comprehension! And because, in the immortal words of Paul Stokes, the 8:39pm post was, "a good rough draft."

Monday, October 24, 2005

More Calvin than I thought

It's been a busy few months getting these Carts going, and now that they're going, we've got to figure out whether they're going anywhere or not.

But in the margins, I've been reading Christ, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, by Leonard J. Vander Zee (a Christian Reformed pastor). I picked it up because Kellsey and I have been thinking about the second in that list since Kellsey was pregnant.

I've thoroughly enjoyed the book, cover to cover, and highly recommend it. In particular, I think it does an excellent job in articulating the differences between Reformed Traditions of Calvin and Zwingli. Baptists are in the Zwinglian Stream, all other Reformed folks are in the Calvinian Stream, except for where they've been influcenced by the Zwinglian stream, which is pretty much everywhere in America. (Didn't use the heavily and unhelpfully freighted adjective "Calvinist" on purpose, thank you.)

These are two wholly different theological paradigms for looking at the world (and, by extension, baptism and the Lord's Supper), but Vander Zee also brings them together in, you guessed it, the Lord Jesus Christ, the One True Sacrament. (All you InterVarsity Staff lurkers who are reading this will hear Calvin-Barth-Torrance-Deddo bells ringing now.)

Among the many, many thoughts that zipped around in my head as I read this one was: Dang, but the more I read of Calvin (he shows up alot in this book), the more I really really like him, and discover that Karl Barth and T.F. Torrance are very thorough students of Calvin and follow him very closely. In fact, I am discovering that my stream of theology (Reformulated Reformed Theology, as my professor once called it), is actually quite Calvinian. One might say that Calvin, in my eyes, is rescuing himself from the Calvinists who utterly turned me off of him.

Funny how I've had to back into really liking Calvin from a starting point of really liking Karl Barth. Who, in turn, I had to back into liking from starting out with T.F. Torrance & Sons.

Anyway, back to the book: Communion has, for a long time, been my favorite part of Church. I mean, if I could take Communion every Sunday, I would. I thought that perhaps I was a closet Orthodox or Anglo or Roman Catholic (and perhaps I still am) for thinking something very special was happening at Communion and that it was the highest point of any service. But, lo and behold, I find that Calvin thought the same thing and for much better reasons than I. There sure is a great deal of room here in the Reformed Theology Tent. I am grateful for this.

Other streams of thought which sprung up during the reading of the book (and in no particular order): Modern Evangelicalism has some strong leanings towards the Gnostics and their anti-flesh/world beliefs - I think this is a correct assessment; Many Dyed-in-the-wool Presbyterians are more Anabaptist in their approaches to Baptism & the Lord's Supper than they are Calvinist; A solidly Trinitarian Theology is absolutely essential in making sense of the Scriptures that surround Baptism & the Lord's Supper; A solidly Chalcedonian view of Christ (One Person, Two Natures) is essential in making sense of them as well.

This is a great book for those who are interested in Baptism & the Lord's Supper as well as those who are interested in continuing reading in the Athanasius-Augustine-Calvin-Barth-Torrance Theological stream (you know who you are).

Saturday, October 22, 2005

No, it's not a coffee cake at your local Starbuck's, though it could be your local Starbuck's.
For those who needed to know, from wikipedia:
Simulacrum is a Latin word originally meaning a material object representing something (such as an idol representing a deity, or a painted still-life of a bowl of fruit). By the 1800s it developed a sense of a "mere" image, an empty form devoid of spirit, and descended to a specious or fallow representation.
In the book Simulacra and Simulation (1981/1995), the French social theorist Jean Baudrillard gave the term a specific meaning in the context of semiotics, extended from its common one: a copy of a copy which has been so dissipated in its relation to the original that it can no longer be said to be a copy. The simulacrum, therefore, stands on its own as a copy without a model.
"The Powers That Be".

That oft used phrase comes from the KJV, Romans 13:1.

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."

NIV uses "the authorities that exist".

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I FOUND THIS INTERESTING.

A quote from an article by Larry Elder found at townhall.com:

For the record, the top 1 percent -- the taxpayers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) over $295,495 -- paid, for 2003, 34.27 percent of federal income tax revenues.

The top 10 percent (with an AGI over $94,891) paid 65.84 percent,

The top half (AGI over $29,019) paid 96.54 percent.

The bottom half? They paid 3.46 percent.

People should know this before they say that the poorest among us pay most of the taxes in this country.

http://www.townhall.com/opinion/column/larryelder/2005/10/20/172024.html


Your Elbow.

"A measurement of length frequently used by Leonardo is the braccio. The word means 'arm', and is thus equivalent to the old English ell (no longer in use as a measure but still heard in 'elbow', which is where your ell bows.)"

Charles Nicholl in Leonardo da Vinci, Flights of the Mind, a biography I started today.
Unhappy Outcomes. Headline of lead article on front page of today's WSJ:

"How a Victorious Bush Fumbled Plan to Revamp Social Security".
Hello, Tomorrow! In one of the amateur radio magazines I read, an article appeared (to which I cannot link) about a fuel cell power supply about the size of a small suitcase. It supplies 40 watts at 12 volts continuously off of hydrogen cylinders that can be recharged easily. Its pricey right now, about $6000 last summer. The company that produces it is called Jadoo Power Systems. Here is a link to another article on one of the devices Jadoo produces.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Jokes The Preacher Told Last Sunday.

#1

A man and his wife had a fight. She was, as usual, pointing out her husband’s failure to be a sensitive and loving partner. This, also as usual, enraged the man, so he left their lovely home on the beach and went for a seaside walk.

While walking he stumbled across an ancient lamp. Upon cleaning off the sand a Genie appeared from the lamp. Naturally this genie offered to grant the man a wish.

The poor depressed husband wanted nothing but to get away from “it all”. So he asked the genie to build a bridge from California to Hawaii (you see the man was afraid to travel by boat or plane!).

The genie thought about this for some time and told the man, “I believe that is a task too large for a single genie to accomplish. What would you like instead?”

The man also thought for a while before answering, “Well, if I can’t get away from it all, then you must make me a more caring and sensitive husband.”

The genie questioned the man at length, thought about it for a while and then replied,

“Now about that bridge to Hawaii…”

#2

Two men survived a shipwreck and found themselves on a deserted island, far from any civilization.

One of the men was quite depressed about the situation they found themselves in, and was saying so to the other.

The other man was just the opposite. Not at all depressed. In fact quite confident of the rescue that he was sure was imminent.

The first man said, “How can you be so upbeat? There is no way we will ever be found!”

Said the other, “Listen, my income is a million dollars a year. I give a full tithe to my church. Don’t worry…, my preacher will find me!”

Iraqi Economic Indicators. Michael Rubin in the WSJ yesterday said this about Iraqi "metrics", rejecting the idea that car bomb counts are the index to credit:

"Other indicators suggest Iraqis have confidence in their future. The Iraqi dinar, freely traded in international currency markets, is stable.

"When people fear for their future, they invest in gold; jewelry and coins can be sewn into clothes and smuggled out of the country. When people feel confident about the future, they buy real estate. Property prices have skyrocketed across Iraq. Decrepit houses in Sadr City, a Shiite slum on the outskirts of Baghdad, can easily cost $45,000. Houses in upper-middle-class districts of Mansour and Karrada can cost more than 20 times that. Restaurant owners spend $50,000 on top-of-the-line generators to keep open despite the frequent blackouts. In September 2005, there were 40 buildings nine stories or higher under construction in the Kurdish city of Sulaymani. Five years ago, there were none. Iraqis would not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on real estate if they weren't confident that the law would protect their investment.

"Iraqis now see the fruit of foreign investment. A year ago in Baghdad, Iraqis drank water and soft drinks imported from neighboring countries. Now they drink water bottled in plants scattered across Iraq. When I visited a Baghdad computer shop last spring, my hosts handed me a can of Pepsi. An Arabic banner across the can announced, "The only soft drink manufactured in Iraq." In August, a Coca-Cola executive in Istanbul told me their Baghdad operation is not far behind. Turkish investors in partnership with local Iraqis have built modern hotels in Basra."

Read the whole thing on OpinionJournal.com.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wild Kingdom. Today on my early morning walk I saw the raccoon again. He wasn't very afraid of me. But wait till he gets a load of this.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Morning Rituals

Here are some of Aidan's friends at our local Starbucks. (L to R: Didi, Denise, Phoenix.) They've really enjoyed watching him grow over the past 3 months. He's really enjoyed the attention they give him!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

It was a beautiful day on Stone Mountain, North Carolina today.



Standing, Climbing, & Cruisin'
Well, for those of you who have been asking, here's some footage of young Aidan that includes some moments of him "walking" (albeit behind a push-toy).

It may be difficult to see because of the low resolution, but at the end he tosses his pacifier across the room to his left. In a higher resolution format it is actually quite funny, but you guys will simply get to watch the last five seconds of the video thinking, "ummm...what is he doing now? It doesn't look like he's doing anything...why didn't Kellsey cut this video like 5 seconds shorter...I would have cut it at least five seconds shorter".

Patience, my young padouin, patience.
Who?

Aidan's first birthday was yesterday!

He received some presents from Grandfather & Grandmother Stokes. Thought you'd like to see him open them.

He also got a cold on his birthday. Not as fun as the above.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Are You a "True" Southerner? Comments on Paul's recent post warrant the following "test." How do you fare?

Only a true Southerner knows the difference between a hissy fit and a conniption, and that you don't "HAVE" them but "PITCH" them.

Only a true Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc. make up "a mess".

Only a true Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of "yonder."

Only a true Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is - as in: "Going to town, be back directly."

Even true Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl on the middle of the table.

All true Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.

Only a true Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. (If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana pudding!)

Only true Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near" and "a right far piece." They also know that "just down the road" can be 1 mile or 20.

Only a true Southerner both knows and understands the difference between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and po' white trash.

No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.

A true Southerner knows that "fixin'" can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.

Only a true Southerner knows that the term "booger" can be a resident of the nose, a descriptive, as in "that ol' booger", or something that jumps out at you in the dark and scares you senseless.

Only true Southerners make friends while standing in lines. We don't do "queues", we do "lines"; and when we're "in line", we talk to everybody!

Put 100 true Southerners in a room and half of them will discover they're related, even if only by marriage.

True Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.

Every true Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that redeye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food.

When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin' . . . ," you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!

Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea indicates the need for sugar and lots of it - we do not like our tea unsweetened.
"Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.

And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say, "Bless her heart" and go your own way...

Ya'll be good now, hear?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Supplemental Ham Radio Post regarding Repeaters. I know that "all y'all" out there have been ruminating about, even puzzling over, what I said below about the repeater situation at my house.

("All y'all": heard recently in the waiting area at the Greensboro-High Point airport from amongst a group of men who work for Sara Lee, flying from GSO to MIA to take another plane to Central America where they will be tending to one or more factories that Sara Lee owns there. Have you heard this expression "All y'all"? I mean, isn't "y'all" enough? Where are we going with this thing? "All, all y'all", maybe? Is there some sort of insecurity among a certain segment of Southern people that the plural form of "you", which is "you", will not be enough, that "y'all" won't be enough, and we have to go to "all, y'all", so that everyone knows that we are addressing them all? I dunno.)

What you were ruminating, indeed puzzling about was this: how can a transceiver simultaneously receive and transmit a signal? (This is what a repeater does, as all y'all will recall.) Won't the incoming and outgoing signals run into each other and tear a hole in the universe through which might enter we don't know what? Ah, I didn't tell you one thing.

The repeater receives on one frequency and transmits on another. That way, we don't disturb the Force.

When I am listening to the repeater frequency on my HT, the unit is set at frequency X. When I press the button to send or transmit, the unit automatically shifts the frequency 600 hz up or down, depending on the protocol for that particular part of the band, for the length of my transmission. This frequency change is called an "offset". Similarly (congruently?), when the repeater recieves my signal on my transmitting frequency, it retransmits it on the frequency where I was doing my listening (and where everyone else listens.) Isn't that cool?

Furthermore, since repeater frequencies are finite and there are many repeaters, some repeaters are near enough each other that they can interfer with one another. So each repeater can require a particular "tone" before it allows one's signal to enter and be re-transmitted. So, when I program my HT for a particular repeater, I am required to determine whether that repeater requires an initial tone (some do not). If so, then I program my HT not only with the receive frequency and the transmit "offset" but also with the tone, which tone my HT transmits at the beginning of my transmission so quickly that only the repeater hears it. Way cool.

Some repeaters are connected to the internet. One can reach such a repeater through his PC and, by way of VOIP, transmit and receive from the repeater itself. The repeater I use most frequently is so connected to the internet. Often at night when I am listening on my HT, my base transceiver, or the transceiver I have in my car, I will hear people from all over the world transmit from the repeater who have reached it not by way of their own transceiver but via the internet.
Aeropostale. There is no more dangerous human being than a lawyer with his self-directed IRA. (Not unlike lawyer-Presidents with the US budget, regardless of party.) So, I am directing this IRA, see.

Morningstar says Aeropostale is a buy, because the stock price reacted too negatively to some recent poor "same store sales" news.

I have seen this store in the malls, but I thought that you bought stamps there. I now understand it sells clothes to teenagers.

Do any of the fashion mavens out there have an opinion? Mary, what do your students think? Not about the stock, but about the store. Would they be caught dead there?
Overheard, but not understood, part II

From the same student who thought that Daniel Day Lewis resembled Osama B. L., this time referring to me: "Don't she look like Brittany Spears?", to a friend of his as they dropped someting off in our class.


Have I told you about my Grandchildren? Well, let a picture suffice for the usual thousand words.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dinner at Noble's

The parents were in town this weekend, so I had them take my roommate Carol and me to the nicest restaurant in town, Noble's, where my good friend Mary Beth is a chef. We had a most delicious dinner. Here's a picture; I'm sorry you all couldn't join us.

Friday, October 07, 2005

George Bush: "God Had Me Do It". Hmmmm.
John Bogle's View of the Plight of the Individual Stockholder. Bogle is the father of the Vanguard Fund family, an investor friendly group of mutual funds that are among the most inexpensive and best run. This article he wrote for the WSJ editorial pages on 10/2/05 is worth reading.
Television without Pity: Many of you are already familiar with this site, but just in case... Click here for the Alias page. My favorite quip in review of the premiere was of the "Cornfield of Convenience" that is apparently in California on the way to Santa Barbara. So is Vaughn really dead?

WARNING: This site contains some profane language in its commentaries.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Ham Radio Post (zzzzz). I take about a 30 minute walk each morning. During the work week I begin the walk about 0535, because I tend to wake up about that time no matter how late I was up the night before. On Saturday mornings, I can often sleep until 0630. On Sundays, 0730. I walk on a bike path that goes by our house just a block away. It runs along a canal, part of a canal system that is 70 years or more old and was built to dry out that part of the Everglades that used to be under our house and a lot of other houses. So though the word "canal" can conjure up images of a drainage ditch or something concrete and sterile, the canal that runs near our house looks fairly natural. We have seen egrets, herons and other waterfowl there, alligators, water snakes, and even manatees. Along the banks live racoons, possums, and quite a variety of exotic lizards, including big iguanas that are as much as four feet long from one end to the other.

I take my "hand-held" with me on the walk, also known as an "HT" (for "handie-talkie" which is such a dumb name that it was quickly shortened to HT in the ham community). The HT is a transceiver about the size of a pack of cigarettes, not including the whip antenna that sticks up about 16 inches from the top of it. The one I have can transmit on three bands, all either VHF (very high frequency) or UHF (ultra high frequency). The wavelength of these bands is so short that the radio frequency energy will not bounce off the ionosphere. So only "line of sight" communication is possible (usually). TV is also VHF and UHF, which is why your TV can only pick up signals from stations that are in your locale. (Oh, I forgot, you probably don't use RF to receive your TV signals; you use cable. I will have to explain to you the concept of rabbit-ears some day and how, back in the day, TV signals were actually free, and still are at our house, virtuous people that we are.)

So one problem with the HT is that it doesn't go very far. The other problem is that it puts out a very weak signal and the antenna on the thing is a bit of a loser.

However, the amateur radio community has people in it who love to go around the community and set up "repeaters" on top of mountains and tall buildings. (Since we don't have mountains down here, these things are set up on buildings.) A repeater is an automatic little radio station that will receive your UHF or VHF signal and then rebroadcast it. These things are all over the country. If you know the frequency of a repeater and you are within the radius of its signal, then your own UHF/VHF rig can reach beyond the line of sight radius of where you happen to be, if your signal can "make" the repeater, and make contact with people on the other side of your horizon.

So as I walk with my HT, I have it programmed for a particular repeater. Over the last couple of years, I have made friends with two or three hams who have UHF/VHF transceivers in their cars and who are driving to work at the same time I am taking my walk. Their rigs are tuned to the repeater to which I am tuned, and so I walk along talking to them, and I am able to ignore the strange looks from the 'coons and the igauanas (the manatee are not up yet).

I have a problem, however, because my HT puts out such a weak signal that the repeater has some difficulty repeating my signal. (It is located on a building downtown - about 8 miles away.) I've had this problem from the beginning, but the other guys are pretty patient.

For quite some time I have known that my base transceiver has the capability of acting like a sort of repeater itself. The thing is so difficult to program, however, that I have had little success in getting it set up to help my HT problem. But if I could, then all my HT would have to do is "make" my home transceiver, whose antenna is up on our roof and readily accessible to the signal from the HT. My base transceiver, in turn, would rebroadcast my signal to the repeater downtown, and then I would be in business. (The base transceiver is more powerful than my HT by a factor of about 20.)

Not only is the base transceiver hard for me to figure out, the HT I have is difficult to program as well, difficult for a 59 year liberal arts guy, anyway. So until this past weekend, I have had no success with this project of making my base transceiver a repeater for my HT.

However, I sat down again at the base rig Saturday afternoon for yet another try. It began to look like I was getting close to a solution. I called my friend, Joe, WA4ONV, who is one of the guys who is on his way to work when I am on my walk. And he gave me some counsel.

Lo! I figured the thing out! So early Monday morning I started my walk again, and simply amazed the guys that I talk to during the walk. They could hear me clearly without a lot of crack, snapple, and pop.

No one, however, is more amazed than yours truly.
Hello Stokes Kin. As you know I'm Ken to everyone... Thanks for the invitation to join your Blog, Paul.

I'm on vacation at the beach in SC this week with friends from church. We are all wet...thanks to TS Tammy. But that's better than the alternative.

I brought a laptop from the office to keep the E-Mail count under control. It proved a hit with the enginneers and CPAs in the house as well. No type A's here but they like their 1's and 0's!

Next time I'll try to be more substantive in my Post. Using this laptop keyboard is a bit uncomfortable..

Thanks again. And you guys in Austin just remember this --- Burning the candle at both ends like you are doing will only increase your Despair. (Ouch)

Ken
Sean Acting Badly. He links to this regarding the Miers nomination.
Phase Two Complete!

Vista Ridge: (10:15pm to 12midnight)


Collin Creek: (12:30am to 2am)


Sixth & seventh carts installed.

30 new jobs created over the past week.

On to Phase Three: Selling Despair.
Yahoo, the American Canon, and Google Hubris. According to the WSJ yesterday, Yahoo and the "Open Content Alliance" are joining up to scan "18,000 books identified by the University of California system as being part of the 'American Canon'." The books will be those whose copyrights have expired, so they will avoid the litigation Google has walked into by proposing to scan everything.

See the discussion on the "unofficial yahoo blog."

I can reduce to two words the point of the recent WSJ editorial that discussed the lawsuit against Google for copyright infringement: "Well, duh!" I completely agree. Buy Yahoo sell Google.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Comment on War Reporting on Iraq

Here is an interesting post on Stones Cry Out about the quality of
war reporting on Iraq that we are seeing in the mainstream media. I hope that more and more a balanced account of what is happening will get out
Five Down!

Galleria: (9:30pm - 11:15pm)


Stonebriar: (11:35pm - 12:45am)


In bed by 1:30am (a new record for early to bed on setup nights).

Two to go.

Update: added times per Scott's request.
Troubling.

From the Monday WSJ:

Long Beach, Miss.

"Last Wednesday, police and the U.S. Marshals Service swept into a Red Cross shelter for hurricane refugees here. They blocked the parking lot and exits and demanded identification from about 80 people who looked Hispanic, including some pulled out of the shower and bathroom, according to witnesses. The shelter residents were told to leave within two days or else they would be deported."

Does this scripture have any relevance?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Ultimate Convergence.

Baptists,

Texans, and

Amateur Radio Operators.
Overheard, but not understood, while watching The Crucible with my students today.

student 1: "[John Proctor, played by Daniel Day Lewis,] looks like Jesus!"
student 2:"Nawww, he looks like Osama"
me: "Bin Laden"?
student 2: "yeah, he's dirty."
A View from Canada. David Warren is a columnist for the Ottawa Citizen. He has some things to say about President Bush from a vantage point north of our border.
Harriet Miers? The WSJ reports today:

At an 8 a.m. announcement from the Oval Office, the president said the 60-year-old aide had led a "distinguisehd career" in private practice, as chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission when he was Texas governor and in five years at the White House.

This is an astonishing nomination and it dismays me.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Mayor Nagin and Farrakhan. I don't know what NewsMax.com is, but someone sent me this link to an article it published regarding a meeting between these two men. If it is true, it is disturbing.

I wonder whether the heaps of blame and contempt that the rightward leaning folks laid on the Mayor tended to drive him in Farrakhan's direction.
Three Down
Rolling Oaks Install




Four to go.

No more San Antonio Installs. On to Dallas!
Two Down
Ingram Park Mall Installation


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Confessions, part I.
1. I would like to sing in a bluegrass band.
2. I have fallen into a bit of a crush. I will be happy if and when these silly rides are in the past.
3. I seriously dislike wheat beer.
One Down







Lots left to go.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

"Darwinist Inquisition" My dear cousin, Ken, whom I have encouraged to post directly on the blog, asked me to link to this commentary by Chuck Colson.

Come on in, Ken. The water's fine!
We Need to Get our Troops Out of Bali!

What? We have no troops there?

Then how could this be?
Is What We See in the Media Biased?

Check out this post linked by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit to judge for yourself. It gives the context in pictures for a photo published on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle website. The picture is of a young woman at a war protest march. As you will see, however, the small cropped picture they publish doesn't exactly tell the whole story.

(This post is from Carol, not Paul.)
Valerie Plame & the CIA
If you've listened to NPR in the past 24 hours, or read any Mainstream Newspaper, you know that NYTimes reporter Judith Miller was released from jail for finally divulging a source. What you will not hear or read is anything close to the truth of the matter in question. Of all the things that have made me yell at the radio this past month this has been one of them. ('Cause, you see, I've been in the car alot, listened to NPR alot, and there's so very much to yell about these days.)

If you're at all interested in reading a clearly written post about why you might not want to believe everything you hear regarding the venerable Ms. Miller, read this post. At the very least, this episode gives a very clear picture of the unclarity one receives from the NYTimes, et. al.
Yeah, Baby!

Readers of this blog know this is true.
Opening Week this week for our Carts. (I'm not writing "D*sp**r Carts" so as to keep people from ending up here googling for such things.) Walter and I will install our first one tonight, then two more Sunday night. Here are some pictures from our set-up at The Shops at La Cantera a few weeks ago. The final one being everything up and running, with our first Cart employee.





















As you can see, the carts we had at La Cantera were more temporary than anything else. They called them "Weekend Units." We called them "Mini-Me"s. The stuff we're opening this week will be at least twice the size of these, with about three times the amount of internal storage.

An Apple Store they're not, but I'd say they'll be a fine first test for D*sp**r in a retail setting.

Update: And, to beat all you smart alecs to the punch, our employee is the one wearing the Frownie Shirt, not the guy with the glasses walking through the picture.