Wednesday, June 30, 2010

South Carolina wins College World Series! [Update]


Go, Gamecocks!

(The player at the middle-right with his cap on backwards is the cousin of Sandy, one of our paralegals.)

Sandy's cousin is Adrian Morales. He lives in Hialeah and graduated from Miami Springs Senior High. He has four brothers, all of whom play baseball. Adrian played for Miami-Dade College his first two years, and was drafted by the Astros with a really big bonus offered. He decided to go, instead, to Carolina, play there, graduate, then seek a direct draft into the majors rather than the farm system which the Astros offered. Smart guy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The "Strategic Default" Outcry (UPDATE)

The matter of a borrower walking away from his mortgaged home, where the value of the home has dropped below the outstanding indebtedness, has been getting a lot of attention recently. The Miami Herald has an article on the subject today, and Glenn Reynolds links to this post on the Atlantic Magazine blog. The Herald article cites some surveys that indicate that nearly 19% of home foreclosures are the result of a solvent homeowner (a homeowner who is apparently able to service the mortgage) simply walking away from the house that he bought (and financed) at what now appears to have been a very inflated price.

The idea suggested by some of these reports is that the "strategic defaulter" is doing something immoral, and that someone (maybe the government) ought to do something about it. The strategic defaulter is contrasted with the upright debtor who plugs away at his debt, figuring that someday the market will correct itself and some equity will appear or that the walk-away price he would pay (the moving expenses, the taint on his credit history, and the prospect of a deficiency judgement - see discussion below) is too high a price to pay.

But before getting to the issue about the character of the borrower, the matter of a "deficiency judgement" needs to be kept in mind. A "deficiency judgment" is what the mortgage lender gets when it receives less in the foreclosure proceedings than what it is owed. It is the difference between the balance due on the mortgage and the market value of the house. It is the very thing that prompts the "strategic defaulter" to walk away in the first place.

The catch for the defaulter is that he is personally liable for the deficiency. Not only that, but the deficiency judgement will also include the bank's attorneys fees and all other costs associated with the foreclosure. What the creditor will do with its deficiency judgment is to turn it over to the sheriff for collection or a collection lawyer who will scour the countryside for the debtor's assets. By definition, the "strategic defaulter" has other assets, because this is a person who could have kept up the mortgage payments if he weren't such a smart . . . smart . . . smart . . . (Mr. Vice-President, can you help me here?).

Now why won't the banks simply go after the strategic defaulter's other assets with a deficiency judgment? Part of the reason may be that the paperwork was so sloppy when the financing was done that the bank is going to have a rough time proving its deficiency case in court But whose fault is that? Or maybe the strategic defaulter is just barely in that category, so that it turns out there aren't that many assets upon which to levy the deficiency judgement. But whose fault is that? Or maybe tracking down the assets is not going to be that easy. But whose fault is that? Or maybe it turns out the debtors assets are all "exempt" under his state's debtor protection laws or the Bankruptcy Code, a situation that would have been disclosed on the loan application documents, if the loan officer had only reviewed it carefully and not been distracted by the fee his bank was going to get. (In the case of fraud on the loan application, we would not be dealing with a "strategic defaulter" but with a criminal, for which there are other penalties.) If you want to talk about moral turpitude, may we please talk about the banks here? They are the ones who are supposed to be the defenders of prudence in the market place.

But, of course, the banks were enabled by the likes of FNMA, which was enabled by . . . our government. So if we are going to cast moral aspersions, let's make sure we have our targets properly sighted. I believe number one on the list has to be the federal government.

And it would be just like the government (and the government's defenders in the press) to blame the "strategic defaulter" for the problem rather than itself.

If there are a bunch of "strategic defaulters" out there (and, frankly, I doubt that there are as many as these surveys indicate), then we must assume that each of them has run the numbers, understood the costs and the risks, and finally made a hard-headed walk-away decision. Such a person is merely exercising his rights, based on the bargain into which both he and the lender entered into freely. And I say, if there really are such people as "strategic defaulters" and they see a net gain in the walk-away, then go for it.

UPDATE: Carol dissents. And, of course, she has a point. In a perfect world, everything would work out: banks would loan prudently, the government would not be a player but a referee, deficiency judgments would be generally collectible, and borrowers would not take imprudent risks. But we are not in a perfect world. Should, then, the debtor be concerned only with his own economic self-interest?

Should a Christian act differently? Isn't the discipline of the market place, when things get out of kilter because of negligence or greed in the particular transaction or elsewhere in the economy, how God more or less keeps the lid on this fallen world? Is the Christian aggravating a bad situation by failing to act as a self-interested economic, pagan actor or is he helping the situation? Whether he is helping or not, should he do what he promised to do? (He did, after all, make a promise.)

If we put it simply on the basis of keeping a promise made to another, a promise on which the other relied, then the matter becomes pretty clear. And Carol's right.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Here, Mr. President, is your Head [again]"

President Barack Obama arrived at the [G20] summit on what White House officials hoped would be a triumphant note after House and Senate negotiators reached a final compromise on a bill that would bring about the most sweeping overhaul of financial rules since the 1930s.

But he left having achieved little on the fiscal issues that dominated the summit.

The United States was forced to give ground on European demands for a new emphasis on budget austerity, which it had warned threatened to torpedo the fragile economic recovery.


-from the [UK] Telegraph today.

"Minimizing Marriage: An Economist Looks at a World Without Husbands and Wives"

This is the title of Marvin Olasky's interview of Jennifer Roback Morse in the June 19, 2010 issue of World.

According to Olasky's introduction to his interview, Dr. Morse is "an economist and the mother of two children plus two books: Love and Economics [subtitle Why the Laissez-Faire Family Doesn't Work] . . . and Smart Sex about, as the subtitle says, Finding Lifelong Love in a Hookup World."

Olasky's interview is well worth reading, and I would think the books as well, although I haven't read them (yet).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Ferenji Funderburks.

Well, I'm ready to go.

Reading Stott

Finished Basic Christian: the Inside Story of John Stott, the Stott bio. (Thanks, Macon!)

Picked up Stott's Through the Bible Through the Year, and am making it the center of my daily devotional. Also picked up his Why I Am a Christian, to see if it would be a good one to give to non-Christian friends (or do you think Basic Christianity would be better?). Also picked up The Living Church - Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor.

I like Stott's habit of an after lunch nap, his "horizontal half hour" or "HHH" and his one day a month getaway to think things over.

He got in trouble with other Evangelicals for his view of annihilation. I've thought about the issue for years, and I like his position. The link is to the Wikipedia article on "annihilationism." Here's a quote from the wiki article:

Stott first publicly commented on the issue of whether hell is eternal in the 1988 book Essentials: A liberal-evangelical dialogue with liberal David Edwards.[13] However in 1993 he said he had held this view for around fifty years.[14] Stott wrote, "Well, emotionally, I find the concept intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain."[15]

Yet he considers emotions unreliable, and affords supreme authority to the Bible.[16] Stott supports annihilation, yet cautions, "I do not dogmatise about the position to which I have come. I hold it tentatively... I believe that the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment."[17]

(The footnotes in the wiki quote refer to Edwards and Stott, Essentials: a Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue.)

"And I come home with $100 worth of groceries and I still don't have anything to fix for dinner! What's up with that? "

Constructing a meal plan around specials at the supermarket can help save money-but it also requires extra time and coordination. E-Mealz (e-mealz.com) charges its subscribers $5-$8 per month to receive weekly menus based on sales at local grocery chains.

-from the June 19,2010 World magazine (which magazine, by the way, just gets better and better).

E-Mealz includes Publix, Wal-Mart, and Kroger among the stores they watch. They will prepare veggie menus.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Al Gore

If I were a poodle, I would be deeply offended.

Your Federal Government at Work



Do you think the feds might do something about this, now that they have undertaken to provide health care?

Probably not.

I plucked this image from here, as did the New York Times here, as did a site called treehugger here.

"But, surely, you eat seafood . . . "

American scientists who spent five years shooting nearly 1,000 sperm whales with tissue-sampling darts discovered stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals in the animals on their 87,000-mile (140,000-kilometer) voyage, according to a report obtained Thursday.

The levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium could affect the health of both ocean life and the people who consume seafood, the scientists say.


More here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Father in this Household is Very Well Cared For





White chocolate chip cherry chocolate cookies

Banana Report: First Fruits and Another Bunch Coming




About three weeks ago, the bunch on our "Goldfinger" banana plant ripened, almost all at once. Every day for about 5 days we went out and harvested bananas off the bunch, putting them in a bowl that I have pictured. There were too many even for me to consume, although we went an entire week without any store-bought bananas. With the overflow, we made gifts to neighbors, baked cookies, banana bread, and a cobbler (the second photo), and froze several quarts of them ripe and mashed up. And they were delicious!

Now we have another bunch on the way, this one on our "Ice Cream" banana plant. Not sure when the fruit will ripen, but it looks like it is getting close. Yum!

I'm Really Not Missing Television These Days

The other day a young man in an ATT shirt arrived at our doorstep trying to sell us his company's answer to cable. It's not a bad deal, for about $30 more a month on our ATT bill we can get something that seems to rival Comcast easily.

But what in the world is there worth seeing? NADA!

This came to mind as I read yesterday's WSJ, which, on a Friday, has its Weekend Journal section. That section has movie, book and TV program reviews, as well as ads selling multi-million dollar homes in the Hamptons (What a dissonant arrangement. Maybe.) Often when I read the TV program reviews, I have to restrain myself from going home and tearing the rabbit ears off our set, by means of which we can access commercial and public TV at no cost.

Did I say "no cost?" Only my precious, precious time on this earth. "No cost," indeed. But I digress.

This week's Journal reviews a show on HBO called "True Blood." It is probably very well produced and obviously staffed with attractive young adult actors (there's a photo). But the WSJ review of this show indicates that it is simply garbage. It reminds me of a scene in chapter 9 of Ezekiel, where, in a vision, the Lord's theophanus incarnation (clearly "the Son") leads the prophet through a hidden door inside the Temple. There Ezekiel sees "wicked and detestable things" portrayed in this hidden room. He sees

portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel. In front of them [these walls with their "art," that is these walls covered with graphics] stood seventy elders of the house of Israel . . . Each had a censer in this hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising.

Doesn't this sound like people sitting in front of the TV looking at the detestable things and idols presented in many of the programs? Or in the movies? Or on our PC screens? None of the elders is actually involved in the bad behavior depicted on the walls, other than holding the censers (which means that they approve of what is depicted). They are simply observing it. Talk about displacing time!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Rough Ride Ahead

The federal government is currently saddled with commitments for the next three decades that it will be unable to meet in real terms. This is not new. For at least a quarter century analysts have been aware of the pending surge in baby boomer retirees.

We cannot grow out of these fiscal pressures. The modest-sized post-baby-boom labor force, if history is any guide, will not be able to consistently increase output per hour by more than 3% annually. The product of a slowly growing labor force and limited productivity growth will not provide the real resources necessary to meet existing commitments. (We must avoid persistent borrowing from abroad. We cannot count on foreigners to finance our current account deficit indefinitely.)

Only politically toxic cuts or rationing of medical care, a marked rise in the eligible age for health and retirement benefits, or significant inflation, can close the deficit. I rule out large tax increases that would sap economic growth (and the tax base) and accordingly achieve little added revenues.

W
ith huge deficits currently having no evident effect on either inflation or long-term interest rates, the budget constraints of the past are missing. It is little comfort that the dollar is still the least worst of the major fiat currencies. But the inexorable rise in the price of gold indicates a large number of investors are seeking a safe haven beyond fiat currencies.

The United States, and most of the rest of the developed world, is in need of a tectonic shift in fiscal policy. Incremental change will not be adequate.


-Alan Greenspan in today's WSJ.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

S'mores Pie

Are you kidding me?

The Lawyer Bubble Bursts Big Time

Glenn Reynolds, himself a law professor, posts on the oversupply of young lawyers and the law schools that continue to pump them out. The higher education "bubble" has been a continuing theme of his blog, and the law school portion of it is a big part of that theme.

I have seen this difficult situation show up in my practice never more dramatically than this year. We are seeing highly qualified recent law school graduates, including LLM graduates in estate planning and tax, seeking employment even on an intern (read "free") basis. An estate planning lawyer I know in Broward employs young lawyers on a "contract basis" for $20 per hour. We are wrestling with whether we should hire one of these very attractive people and, if so, at what salary.

I sent the resume of one young man I met recently to an estate planning lawyer in Tampa that I know, a classmate of mine at UChi Law School. Here is a part of his email in response:

What I've seen and heard is nobody is hiring. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of quality law school graduates not getting jobs or being deferred for years. I was up at the Law School last year. It is a major, major problem for the Law School as well as the graduates. We are not really looking for a lawyer, even though we are busy. I will, however, look carefully at the resume you sent, because the young man certainly went to excellent schools.

The young man whose resume I had sent to my Tampa friend had been laid off from a Wall Street firm after being there for over a year. Another young lawyer we are considering was laid off from a prominent So. Florida firm a few months ago - after billing for that firm, he said, 2200 hours last year!

The question I have is this? How much of the reluctance of established lawyers to hire quality graduates is simply fear about the future, rather than a genuine lack of work for them to do? Note that my friend said "we are busy" but not "really looking for a lawyer." We are really busy too. I would be happy being less busy, and so would my clients, who often have to wait and wait for me to complete their work. But this atmosphere of fear and worry in the economy affects even our outlook.

On the other hand, I don't think it can be denied that right now there are too many young lawyers to be absorbed for a good while. I should think that the market will respond to that situation and less people will be seeking admission to law schools who lack a burring desire to be a lawyer at any cost, whose families simply cannot afford another three years or more of education for them, or who understand (as few of them seem to do) what a burden educational debt will be.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The "You Can Keep Your Plan" Lie

Firms were promised by the Obamacare advocates that we could keep our health plans. Today we received from our broker the conditions, as just announced by the Labor Department, under which we could "grandfather" what we have now and avoid what Obamacare will otherwise impose. Those conditions make it practically impossible for us to keep our plan.

And there is this footnote: unions are exempt from the conditions that make impractical our so-called "grandfathered" plans.

UPDATE (6/17/2010):

Health-care plans that existed before the new law are "grandfathered" with regard to some of its provisions. The rules released Monday spell out how little these plans can change without losing their protected status.

Health plans would no longer be grandfathered if a business changes insurance companies (a common practice when employers shop for lower prices), raises deductibles more than 5%, drops any existing benefits, or even increases co-pays by as little as $5.

Complying with these new rules would raise costs for companies who provide coverage, reduce competition among health insurance companies, and discourage efforts to make employees more price conscious. The Obama administration itself estimates that these draft rules could cost up to 80% of small employers and 64% of large employers their grandfathered status. This translates to between 87 million and 115 million Americans losing their current coverage. Companies and insurers promise a hardy fight on the proposed regulations, but repeal of the provisions that authorized them are the only guarantee of their defeat.


-From Karl Rove's op-ed in today's WSJ

Email: The Illusion of Attention

One of the problems that I notice with email is that people often do not read them carefully, but they will go ahead and reply to them anyway, making either bland comments that do not move the ball forward at all (at the one extreme) or wildly inappropriate responses that complicate matters (at the other). It appears to me that such a responder's purpose is to assure the person who initiated the electronic conversation that the responder is right on top of things, that is, he is paying attention and really cares. Of course, that would be a lie.

If I am the initiator, I much prefer not to hear from a responder via email (or in any other context) until that person is ready to give my inquiry or comments thorough consideration before responding. If I don't hear from someone and I would like at least a confirmation that my message was received, then I may telephone or send an email seeking to set up a telephone call.

If one receives an email, but simply does not have the time to focus immediately, there is a risk that the initiator takes offense if one simply delays his response. The next thing we see is a repeat email from the initiator, barely masking annoyance. I think the answer to this is simply to respond to the initial email with an email that says something like "Thanks for your email. I expect to be able to focus on it in two [minutes, days, weeks, months, years]. I will telephone you about the matter, but will send you an email first to propose times for us to talk by telephone and see if we can settle on something convenient for us both. Adios."

This response, of course, does not refer to initiators whom I don't know or don't recognize and who give me no clue as to their identity. I will usually delete that kind. If I am not sure, then I will ask an assistant to respond to it and seek to determine whether the inquiry is a serious one.

BP Still Not Paying Attention

The Daily Business Review, a legal/business newspaper for South Florida, reports this morning that the giant law firm Akerman Senterfitt will be representing BP in the oil spill cases, "in what promises to produce years of litigation."

The Daily Business Review, a legal/business newspaper for South Florida, reports this morning that two of the Akerman lawyers in the Legislature, Sens. Dan Gelber and Alex Villalobos, are pushing for a special legislative session to ban offshore drilling off Florida.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Democrats' BP "Compensation Fund"

The WSJ today reports that the Obama administration, joined by the likes of Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader, is pushing BP to set up a separate compensation fund to answer to the damages that the spill will have caused others. This proposal drips in irony in light of the fact that one of the pillars of the Democratic left is the plaintiffs' lawyers bar. The proposal ignores them, these hired-guns who are already into the fray, ready, willing and able to take BP to the woodshed. It ignores a victim-favorable legal system similarly ready, willing, and able to supply the lumber.

But instead of the courts determining legal liability and damages in adversary proceedings, the Administration proposes . . . whom? Undoubtedly, when this proposal gets fleshed out, there will be some sort of political board applying rules that it makes up while it goes along, playing favorites along the way.

This is what happened to GM. Instead of allowing GM to descend (ascend?) to the bankruptcy court in an unfettered way, we had a political intervention so that the unions, of all interests, would be protected - the unions, whose work rules helped send that company into insolvency.

What we have is a "rule of men" developing, and we move away from a rule of law. Another irony is that a so-called US Constitutional scholar (who, as far as we know, never wrote anything on the subject) leads the charge.

UPDATE: The President during his televised speech on June 14, spoke of the "BP compensation fund." The next morning, the WSJ editorial writers commented as follows:

Tellingly, Mr. Obama declined to cite any legal authority for the escrow [BP Compensation] fund, about which he plans to "inform" BP CEO Tony Hayward tomorrow. We don't believe the President has the power to force a corporation to set aside money for future, undetermined and open-ended obligations. It is a precedent fraught with potential for abuse.

Slow Burn at Stokes McMillan Antunez

Word is getting around on the burdens imposed on businesses (even the small ones like ours) by the Obamacare measures. Among them, Section 9006(b)(1) of the new healthcare law, which requires that all businesses submit a 1099 tax form for every vendor from whom they purchase more than $600 in goods and services each year.

Not only will the firm have to issue a great many more of these forms. (By "the firm" I mean Carol, who wears many hats: VP finance, payroll specialist, purchasing agent, firm benefits manager, IT expert - for that matter all things dealing with firm management and administration other than personnel, on which she gets help from Nancy.) The firm (as defined) must get tax ID numbers from all the vendors. It already takes "the firm" a day and a half each year to ready these things. Now it will probably take three days or more, plus the addition and integration of more software.

Consider also the additional burden on the government, not only from processing these bits of paper, but also creating the extra enforcement capability to make the reporting useful. But it's OK, because the government can just hire more federal workers.

Maybe there will be a net gain for the deficit, that is, maybe there will be something left over after the extra costs to the government are deducted from the additional tax revenues (if any). But I doubt it will be worth the economic costs to private businesses. The extra costs to private businesses will, of course, itself reduce tax revenues. The best we can probably hope for is a wash.

This is what happens when we send to Congress men and women who, mostly, never ran a private business and when people who do run businesses fail to pay attention to what the government is doing.

The tax reporting burden is in addition to what is happening to our health-care benefits, which have been generous for a firm our size from the beginning. (Remember that our "law firm" has just 4 lawyers; the other 8 or so of us are non-lawyers, ranging from the receptionist to the senior paralegal.) But the health-care benefits issue is for another post. I will mention that Carol has attended nearly two days of seminars/webinars presented by our insurance broker Brown & Brown on that particular subject during the last two months. Needless to say, the news is not good on that front either.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Environs.

Why would one vacation anywhere else? The Miami Herald features the Parkway in today's edition. (There's a video, a map, and more information at the link. Go ahead and register for the Herald, if they ask you to.)

Tim Conway: Still Really Funny at 78

The Natural Born Sibling who Just Showed-Up


``Simon isn't adopted, but he wants to be,'' Angie said with a laugh. ``He feels left out. Celia, the 14-year-old, tells him all the time, `Simon, we were chosen. You just showed up.' ''

-Great story from the Miami Herald.

(Thanks, Van!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why We Have the Second Amendment

The most important overlooked story of the past few weeks was overlooked because it was not surprising. Also because no one really wants to notice it. The weight of 9/11 and all its implications is so much on our minds that it's never on our mind.

I speak of the report from the Inspector General of the Justice Department, issued in late May, saying the department is not prepared to ensure public safety in the days or weeks after a terrorist attack in which nuclear, biological or chemical weapons are used. The Department of Homeland Security is designated as first federal responder, in a way, in the event of a WMD attack, but every agency in government has a formal, assigned role, and the crucial job of Justice is to manage and coordinate law enforcement and step in if state and local authorities are overwhelmed.


-Peggy Noonan in today's WSJ.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Freedom from Our Own Miserable Subjectivity

The truth of God is neither what you or I think, nor what the Church teaches, but what the Spirit says to the Church through the Word. And since churches and individuals err when they are not "governed with the Spirit and the Word of God", the greatest need of the Church in this as in every age is humbly to submit to the authority of the Word and prayerfully to seek the illumination of the Spirit.

I am conscious that some of you may think this places unacceptable constraint on academic freedom, or to verge simply upon a blind obscurantism. But is not this submission of our minds to the mind of Christ an intellectual imprisonment? No more so than the submission of our wills to the will of Christ is moral bondage. Certainly it is a surrender of liberty, for no Christian can be a "free thinker". Yet it is this kind of surrender which is true freedom - freedom from our own miserable subjectivity, and freedom from bondage to the current whims and fancies of the world. Is it stunting to spiritual growth? No, it is essential to it, for Christian growth is nothing if it is not growth into Christ as Lord and Head.


-John Stott, as quoted in Steer, Basic Christian - The Inside Story of John Stott, (IVP 2010) at page 157.

Your Local Government at Work

A Miami-Dade schools administrator who oversees special-education programs has been charged with using public money intended for disabled children to pay for her own children's private school tuition.

Deborah Swirsky-Nunez was arrested Tuesday, accused of taking $19,000 in John McKay scholarship money. The scholarship is funded by the state to help offset the costs of private schools for children with disabilities.

The 45-year-old woman reportedly used the money to pay for her son and daughter to attend a private school in Broward County.

As Dave Barry might say, I am not making this up.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Out of the mouth of babes...

So, this morning, as Honor was trying to eat her breakfast, her older brother would not leave her alone.
She asked him to stop.
He did not.

And, then, (and this is what made me almost laugh out loud), my three year old daughter turns to him and says,

"Aidan! Stop antagonizing me!"

She is not even 3 and a half yet, and she is using the word "antagonize". Ahhh, I LOVE it. We all have Macon to thank for this one, folks. He has also been asking Aidan to stop antagonizing his sister for several months now. Looks like Honor picked up on Daddy's key phrase.

hee!

Lego Printer: Incredible!



(Thanks, Jane!)

Arnold Stott's Healthy Journey

On our recent trip to Austin, Macon gave me a copy of Basic Christian - the Inside Story of John Stott, published by InterVarsity Press and written by Roger Steer. Part of this biography describes the fascinating and difficult relationship that developed between John Stott and his father, General Arnold Stott, during WWII. John's desire was to pursue theological studies during the war and his father's desire, equally fervent, was that John defer those studies and take his place in the Armed Forces to fight England's enemies, as most of John's peers were doing. It is a credit to both men that their relationship during this period, while very heavily strained, more than survived, because John pursued those studies, treating his father firmly but with the utmost respect, and his father, very grudgingly at times, continued to supply him with the financial means to do so.

John's single mindedness about God's call on his life, his discipline, and great gifts, resulted in John becoming,at the age of 29, Rector of All Soul's Church in London, not long after the war ended. At a reception after John's installation, Steer, the biographer, describes a scene between John's father and Eric Nash, the minister who brought John to Christ when John was a teenager and attended one of Nash's summer camps. (In a way, then, Nash was John's spiritual father.) Rev. Nash's nickname was Bash, and John's parents knew well who he was, particularly how deeply Bash had influenced John.

Bash found John's father standing [at the reception] smoking a cigarette and (as Bash later told John) 'looking very proud of you and yet out of his depth by turns'.

'Good evening, Sir Arnold,' said Bash cheerfully.

Arnold slowly turned his head towards the speaker. There was a long pause.

'Who are you?' Arnold growled.

'I'm Nash, John's friend. We met in 1940. Do you recall me?'

There was another long pause. 'Yes, I do. What are you doing?'

'Oh, youth work,' Bash replied. 'You must be a proud man tonight, Sir Arnold. Wasn't it to be the Foreign Office for John, in those pre-war days?'

Arnold looked sour, almost startled, and puffed his cigarette. 'I was never against this. I only wanted no hasty decisions.'

'You've hardly a grey hair,' said Bash. 'You wear very well.'

I'm thin,' replied Arnold solemnly. 'You see?' he concluded and managed a smile.

Lilly [John's mother] arrived, beaming all over her face. 'I must shake hands with dear Bash again!'

Saturday, June 05, 2010

FBI: Legal Gun Sales Up; Violent Crime Down

Data from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation show that America has been on a firearms buying spree since the end of 2005. Meanwhile, the FBI recently released preliminary 2009 crime data indicating that violent crime has been dropping at an accelerating rate since the end of 2006. More here. (Thanks, Instapundit.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Sarah, have the jerk over for dinner, for goodness sake!

If she can't handle this one with some aplomb, why are we thinking about her as Presidential material? I'm about outta here.

"Having what is needful is better than having it all"

From an excellent column by Mindy Belz in the June issue of World Magazine. It's entitled Moveable Feasts. The source of the quote is Proverbs 30:

7Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9lest I be full and deny you
and say,"Who is the LORD?"

or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God. [ESV]