Saturday, September 29, 2007

In Honor of my Father's Banjo

and the Florida game that I'm watching, here's another Dropkick Murphys video for you.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

one of these things

is not like the other....

I'm not sure who put the new subtitle on the blog, but I have a suspicion.

adjective, adjective, adjective, noun?

WMCU Going Out of Business

Radio Station WMCU, Spirit Radio, 89.7 FM, is on all the time at our house. It is owned by Trinity International University, based in Deerfield, IL. Under the TIU umbrella is also, for example, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School ("TEDS"), a famous place in certain Evangelical circles. On Tuesday morning, a recorded announcement on WMCU said that the "Trinity International University Foundation" had sold the radio station. In the Miami Herald that same day, an article appeared indicating that a national non-profit had purchased the station for $20,000,000 and intended to establish a classical music radio station at 89.7, of which there has been none in the South Florida area for several years.

It is definitely a reverse for South Florida to have the radio station close down. There are so few unifying institutions in our part of the Christian world, the community here is so riven with the disarray that comes from exotic cultures washing up against each other, that closing WMCU seems contrary to what one would think God's will would be.

Because of my position on the board of a foundation that supports TIU here in South Florida, I may be able to find out the "inside" story on this event. There may be good reasons for the decision. I would be interested in knowing what they are.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Law School Lies

The lead article in yesterday's WSJ trumpets "A Stingier Job Market Awaits New Attorneys". This is news? The article has a graph that compares the growth in GDP with the growth in legal services; it shows that the disconnect has been at work since the early nineties. For years I have been advising young people not to go to law school unless they simply had the itch, and to stay away from the expensive schools unless they were ready to compete for elusive, spirit grinding jobs at the elite firms with starting salaries now at $160,000 (and starting billable hour requirements at 2000+). With those jobs, if one lands one, the graduate could at least start to pay off his or her debts. Go into public interest law? Start with a small firm or hang up one's shingle? Forget it, if you have $100,000 of college debt and another $100,000 for law school.

The article describes the duplicity of law schools in what they say about the salaries of their graduates. Many, especially the "second-tier" schools, simply lie. They simply lie. I am waiting for a class action to be brought against the law school industry by struggling young law graduates. Why do they lie? For universities, the article reports, "law schools are money makers."

UPDATE: Juan pointed me to the WSJ lawblog. This article generated a lot of comment, and Juan tells us to look here and here. The WSJ article that I discuss can itself be freely accessed here. Thanks, Juan!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Playing Together

Our Blossoming Arteest!





Aidan has been working on this painting for months now. Whenever he wants to paint, we take out the same canvas and let him add whatever color he wants whereever he wants to put it. So, there are many layers of paint here. This weekend, he decided that he wanted to try to use finger paints on top of the acrylics I had been letting him use. So, we thought we'd see how that worked. While it was still wet, it looked great! HOwever, now that it has dried, almost everything just looks muddy. Fortunately for you, the pictures were taken while it was still wet.

Enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

New Dropkick Murphys is out

For all you many fans - here's "The Rocky Road To Dublin" back from Sing Loud, Sing Proud to tide you over until you get the new album:


Mary's September Newsletter is Up

Over here.

Blessed Assurance

Hernan, one of the men in our Bible study, was born and raised in Chile, baptized and raised a Catholic, attending Jesuit schools. I have known him for many years. He is a charming man, outspoken, and inquisitive. The idea that God offers salvation, once and for all, has persistently eluded him. "Why can't Hernan get it?" we ask.

The other night, he made reference to the Council of Trent as we were discussing some topic - I don't remember which. But this morning I was thumbing through the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, and came across the following:

Chapter XII - That a rash presumptuousness in the matter of Predestination is to be avoided.

No one, moreover, so long as he is in this mortal life, ought so far to presume as regards the secret mystery of divine predestination, as to determine for certain that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; as if it were true, that he that is justified, either can not sin any more, or, if he do sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance; for except by special revelation, it can not be known whom God hath chosen unto himself.


I think I begin to understand the hurdle that has been built before Hernan.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Leave the feeding tubes in

The Vatican has reaffirmed its position that nutrition and hydration should be maintained for persons in a "persistent vegetative state", except in rare situations. The rationale is simply that in such a state, the patient is not dying.

Under Florida law, on the other hand, "artificially provided sustenance and hydration" are part of the definition of "life-prolonging procedures". Such procedures may be withheld or withdrawn in certain circumstances, among them the circumstance of the patient being in a "persistent vegetative state".

God and Evolution

Last night at our men's Bible study, Hernan spoke of a teacher who demonstrated a proof of God as creator to a class in which Hernan was a student, by bringing in a clock. The demonstration, Hernan reported, was in response to a student who said that he believed that life was not created, but that everything we see is the result of chance.

The teacher disassembled the clock into its many pieces. Then he gathered up the pieces and threw them all up in the air. They clattered to the floor in a mess of parts and pieces. "How many times," he asked, "would I have to do this before the pieces fell together into the working clock, not only properly assembled, but wound and set?"

So much for chance.

I am reading an article written by Avery Cardinal Dulles, S. J., in First Things magazine, entitled "God and Evolution". It is a very helpful overview of this matter, written by a former Presbyterian who not only became a Roman Catholic but a Cardinal who commands great respect inside and out side that church. The link will take you to the article.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hello on Sunday!

Mary writes over on her blog a great post about things she does in Kenya that she doesn't do in the states.

Carol and I had a double date with a new couple from church. We went to Dolphin Mall and ate at a Mexican restaurant called 100% Natural. We learned that this is a chain from Mexico, and Miami has the first one in the states. We knew that the place was algo differente quando no encuentre corn chips. The food was very good.

Rob is married to Gretchen. They have two young children, and we realized somewhere during the evening that we are old enough to be Rob and Gretchen's parents. (Sigh). Rob did five years in the Peace Corps. He was born and raised in NY, grew up in the Bronx, and went to Dartmouth. His parents are from Jamaica. Gretchen is from Montana and they met here in Miami, where he is an investment advisor and she works for FedEx. They live in the Harden's old house.

Friday night we went to see an undergraduate production of the Fantastiks at UM's Ring Theater with Austin and Linda, also a couple from our church with kids too, but two of theirs are (at least!) out of the house. The production was fun. This musical was popular when Carol and I were in college. She had had a date to see it when it came to Duke, but she got the flu and had to miss it. (Good, I thought; the date wasn't with me. It is far too romantic a play to think of your wife going to it with someone else.)

Van asked me to preach the sermon when he goes out of town in a couple of weeks. I'm mulling that over and I'm not sure. That's not something I do. I do have a topic that I have been mulling over for years, "Nowadays is there any point to the Sabbath?"

The new TV came from Abe's of Maine. A Sony flat screen HD, 32 inch. I told Mary yesterday on IM that everyone will think of me as a hypocrite after what I say and write about TV. What I write stands, however. It certainly is an improvement on the picture, and works great with the rabbit ears I took off the old one, but Carol thinks that arrangement looks a little strange. For some reason, the programming from broadcast TV remains the same. I had a DVD of Miami Vice I had not seen and looked at that for awhile, but the movie was so lame that I ejected the thing about 20 minutes into it (Michael Mann was having a very bad day that day. On the other hand, I saw Carol and me in the Tubbs & Girlfriend couple. They were and we are so Miami).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Further on the Cable Issue

In the earlier post, I identified risks to treasure, time, and soul arising from cable. But Carol mentioned a fourth, and maybe it trumps all the rest. The risk she identified, moreover, will not fade as "cable" fades and is replaced by the internet. That is the risk of occasioned by choice, the risk that arises from too many choices.

We see that problem everywhere we turn in our culture. Variety as a value seems to replace substance. We want many friends, not a treasured few whom we have the opportunity to really know and they us. There can be no such opportunity for knowledge with too many friends. Having too many friends means having no friends at all, finally.

And so it goes, whether we are dealing with running shoes or kinds of spaghetti sauce or a pantheon of deities. Or things to watch on on cable or the internet. Variety is the spice of life maybe, but too much variety threatens it. A mile wide and a inch deep? Or "drilling" deep into a single matter? Which shall it be?

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." There's the perfect solution to the problem of singularity and variety, and a good way to end this post on my 37th wedding anniversary.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Again, No to Cable

Carol and I went through the process of thinking through the purchase of a new television this weekend. (Watching 300 on the 19-inch CRT we've had for many years pushed me over the edge.) Maybe, we thought, we should approach this from the perspective of what our video inputs will be, that is, shall we continue to rely mainly on broadcast TV and the DVD player, or should we go to cable or satellite (to which I will hereinafter collectively refer to as "cable")? If we make that decision, we thought, maybe selecting the kind of new TV will be easier.

We made the "cable or not" decision first when our children were small and cable was new. After a year or so we cut it off. Even with the "basic" plan, MTV came with it, and, besides that, we just watched it too much. From time to time thereafter we went through the "cable or not" analysis and weighed the risks to time, to budget, and to our souls. Each time we Just Said No to cable.

On the decision we made this weekend to say no again, I was fresh from reading about the new HBO series, "Tell Me You Love Me", in a review the WSJ ran last week. Who needs the Internet for a pornography fix when that thing will air each Sunday night? And, yes, HBO is an extra to which we never subscribed when we had cable, but why should we support the medium that makes HBO possible? So, really, the "cable or not" decision was again, when we thought about it, an easy one.

We are, then, back to a broadcast antenna and DVDs (thanks to NetFlix) and back to the question of what sort of unit to buy. (Actually, we did decide on the unit to buy.) But the "cable or not" exercise was a good one, if a familiar one: how shall we spend our time and our treasure? How shall we help ourselves spend our time and our treasure in the right way? Questions that, when you think about it, are fundamentally existential ones.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Finally Saw 300

I finished seeing it last night, after Carol went off to scrap-booking with Juliet. Carol has been patiently watching the I, Claudius series with me (which gets bloodier and bloodier), but 300 would have been too much to ask. So I saw it via DVD in two sittings, the last sitting last night.

The medium of our old fashioned, rectangular-screened tv with a letterbox video is not the best way to see this movie. Carol agrees we should seriously upgrade our television set, but deciding which model to get looks like homework and we haven't found the time. (Any suggestions out there?) This was definitely one to see on the silver screen, or at the least on Sewell quality video, and I'm sorry I missed seeing it that way. Maybe one day I will.

But it was still good, if a little strange. Sean has a link to a review of the movie, which was generally favorable.

The review, however, criticizes the grotesque presentations of Ephilates and Xerxes, among others, and the other liberties that the graphic novel genre would allow. I thought that criticism misplaced, a little like criticizing Van Gogh for how unrealistic his panoramas are, if I can make that comparison.

Clearly it was not the artist's intention to present those characters as how they "were", as if one had a photograph of them. I think he meant to show them as how they saw themselves. Thus Xerxes was drawn as a sort of god, because he saw himself that way. Ephilates was repulsive and acted that way, because he saw himself that way. The Spartans were drawn as mythic heroes because they saw themselves that way, and that's the way they behaved. How do you look to yourself? Isn't that how you often behave, whether or not you see yourself as God sees you?

Anyway, I had no problem with that issue nor with much else in the film. I enjoyed it, and I continue to think about it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Troy Redux

A little something for the Classics majors out there.

Miami vs. Oklahoma!

The Miami Herald has a fine article in its sports section today about the Sooner-Cane rivalry. One game in the Orange Bowl back in the 1980s found the Stokes clan in the cheap seats watching the Sooners, led by its fine linebacker Brian Bozworth, wilt in the heat and humidity of South Florida's idea of a fine fall day for football.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back from the Mr. Davidson Competition

. . . and am pretty excited about my tied-for-second finish. Nobody could touch Hayes Trotter, the new Mr. Davidson. He finished the weekend ~20 points in front of second place. Unbelievably awesome. But enough about him, I ended where I did by clawing my way back from from last place, which is where I was after the first event (Spelling).

Waking up on Monday morning, I felt almost exactly like I felt the day after running a marathon. I had to grab my leg with my hands to lift my foot higher than 3 inches off the ground.

Sadly, I have no pictures, since the thief stole our camera. I'm waiting for my competitors to post some, at which point, I'll take 'em and show you.

Finally: am I past my prime? Kellsey says, "no," which is good enough for me. :-)

The next Mr. Davidson is in 2012. I'm totally winning that one.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

"Quiet Strength"

This is the title of a book, a "memoir", by Tony Dungy. He writes in the introduction that people had been after him to write a book for years, but he resisted it. But finally he relented. This is the last paragraph of his introduction:

This book is not only about me, either. It's about the priorities, choices, approaches, and habits that lead to being a winner, to experiencing true success. It's about you and me and our journey in this world together. It's about the things I've learned, the mistakes I've made, and the heartaches that have made me lean into the Father's presence. I hope that when it's all said and done, you'll see that it's really all about Him.

Are we all agreed on this global-warming thing?

In the past few years there has been increasing concern about global climate change on the part of the media, politicians, and the public. It has been stimulated by the idea that human activities may influence global climate adversely and that therefore corrective action is required on the part of governments. Recent evidence suggests that this concern is misplaced. Human activities are not influencing the global climate in a perceptible way. Climate will continue to change, as it always has in the past, warming and cooling on different time scales and for different reasons, regardless of human action. I would also argue that - should it occur - a modest warming would be on the whole beneficial.

-S, Fred Singer, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, in Imprimis, author of Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

MeeSheeGin! Right!

Good column over on Sporting News.

Are You Kidding?

FIU plays Penn State today in the season opener for both teams.

Oh, Darn!

The Miami Herald reports that

Democratic presidential contenders Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have pledged not to campaign in states like Florida and Michigan that moved up their primaries in violation of party rules.