Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Collective Singular in John 8:31-36

In chapter 8 of John, there are ongoing exchanges between Jesus and the "Jews" (NIV) during the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.  Some of them "believed" him.  Nevertheless, Jesus statement in this particular passage (verses 31-36) is the subject of considerable contention between him and the people:


31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The word  that the NIV translates "descendants" is more literally translated in KJV (but not NKJV) as "seed," a collective noun.  It could mean either plural or singular.  The Greek noun is also a collective, sperma.  Brown, in his Anchor Bible translation on page 352, translates sperma as "descendant" not "descendants."  He has the Jews saying, "We are descendant from Abraham," a little awkward, but the point of singularity is conveyed,  Here is what Brown says in his note to verse 33 (page 355):

In the mouth of "the Jews" this phrase may mean, "We are the descendants of Abraham."  But it is not impossible that John, like Paul in Gal iii 16, is playing on the singular word to indicate Jesus is the real descendant of Abraham.  We have tried to leave this nuance possible in our translation.

Here is Galatians 3:16 (NIV):

16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.

In this Galatians passage, the NIV translates sperma as "seed."   What were the "promises [that] were spoken to Abraham and to his seed?"  From Genesis 17:

19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

Again, the Hebrew word that the NIV translates as "descendants" is a collective noun.  KJV translates it "seed" once more.  That word in Hebrew is זָ֫רַע or zera: a sowing, seed, offspring.  See also Psa 132.11, Mic 7:10, Lu 1:55, Rom 4:13 and 16, Rom 9:8, Gal 4:28. 

Whether a collective noun is to be translated to refer to a group or to a single person depends on the context.  When we view the collective noun in question from the perspective of the Cross, we see that it refers to Messiah in cases where the relationship is to Abraham, perhaps not always to the exclusion of the collective, but very central in meaning.  In the NT, where the collective is included, in the mouths of the witnesses the collective is the Church. The same could also be said of the OT as to faithful Jews, a part of the same Church.

Friday, July 27, 2012

"How Can We Do This?"

The question put by the narrator of the Chevy commercial just broadcast on the Olympics telecast, after he describes the "Love It or Return It" guarantee that comes with Chevy cars.

The easy, immediate answer, given by viewers all over America is, "Because you have our tax money and didn't have to pay your debts!"

The Urban Chicken Problem, Something We Don't Talk About Very Much

But sometimes we have to.

Seeds?

Burpee has an informative seed planting video series.  (And here I thought that plants one planted at home came from Home Depot.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm Published

In the 70s, I represented Retail Credit (now Equifax) in respect to which a private litigant had made his life's work the matter of suing it for perceived wrongs.  He was pro se and not unformidable.  He petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a case we won at the trial court and appellate levels.  I just found that someone arranged to publish the record on appeal to the Supreme Court in that case.  I'm tempted to purchase it.

I came across the "book" at the website of The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale:

The Poisoned Pen Bookstore was founded in 1989 by Barbara G. Peters. It is an independent bookstore with strong specialities in crime fiction, especially British mystery and noir, history, and literature of the American Southwest. Located in Old Town Scottsdale’s Art District, it moved to its present location in 1999.

I find a lot of irony in such a book store carrying the publication.  My guess is that my worthy adversary would have filled his pen with vitriol had he been able to do so;  a very angry man he was (and may still be - I hope he still is in being).

To whom I must respond, "Thank you for suing my client."

Does Exercise Build Knee Cartlilage?

I'm putting a lot of stress on my knees at Crossfit.  A friend of mine warned me about Crossfit several months ago; he said he tried it and "blew his knee out."  I talked to Dr. Mary about it, and she said, to the contrary, exercise will strengthen the knees.

So I googled the question, and got this.

The following is, furthermore, from the Livestrong website:

The long-held belief was that exercise aggravated joint cartilage loss due to the progressive nature of osteoarthritis. In 2005, Swedish researchers Leif Dahlberg and Ewa Roos utilized MRI technology to find evidence that exercise improved joint symptoms and function, as well as knee cartilage quality, in osteoarthritis sufferers. An exercise group enrolled in a supervised program of aerobic and weight bearing exercises three times weekly reported improved functional performance and gains in physical activity.

Pretty good article here, too.

At my box, the coaches are careful about the knees.  For example, in doing the squat, whether by itself or as part of another exercise, one keeps the front of the knee behind the front of the foot, the lumbar curve is flexed, one's chest is high, one's "butt" (a technical term used in Crossfit that my mom would never let me use) is sticking out, and the weight is back on the heels.  The coaches say that this should keep the knees from getting injured.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Live! Love! Lift!

Being in our sixties and all that, we receive frequent advertisements in the mail for this "health letter" and that one.  (We get a lot of ads for those little scooters, too.) Today we received an ad for ConsumerReports' onHealth Magazine.  Actually, it is more than a mere "ad."  It is a fifteen page, letter size, color publication in its own right, and features mini-articles with such titles as "BLUNT the effect of SALT in your body" (eat a banana) "Vitamin E helps protect your heart, right?  WRONG."

On page 7 is a piece entitled "Reset Your Joints to Grow New Cartilage: Simple strength exercises have been shown to spur the growth of new cartilage . . . and help ease the pain of arthritis."  Two exercises are featured, complete with a male model doing the exercises.  The two are basic Crossfit exercises.  In fact, we did both of them in our WOD today, the squat and what the article refers to as a "shoulder press," but what Crossfit calls a "dumbbell push press."

The squat, in fact, is an exercise that we practice on its own at almost every WOD, because it is a component of a number of important lifts, my favorite being the power snatch.  In this lift, you bring up the barbell from the floor, starting with your knees bent, your back in an arc toward the floor (the "lumbar curve"), your chest high (or "proud"), and, as you straighten your legs quickly, you sweep the bar up, close to  your body, lifting your shoulders in a sort of shrug and straightening your legs to a standing position.  Using the momentum of your legs straightening up and the shrug, you bring the bar shoulder high.  At that point, however, you flip your elbows under the bar and move quickly, deftly to a squat underneath it, so the bar remains at what was your shoulder level before you dropped under it into the squat.  Your arms are in a Y above your head, locked at the elbows, holding the bar.  Almost immediately you are standing back up, pushing upward from your heels, continuing to keep your elbows locked and the bar held high.  As you stand, you thrust your hips forward so that the momentum added by that movement keeps the bar exploding to the roof until - there you are, standing with this tremendous weight over your head.  The whole thing depends, for the most part, on that squat.  The power snatch is a beautiful thing to behold, if it is done right, and very satisfying to do.

For an example of the power snatch, gorgeously done, go to the Crossfit website, look at the demo page for "Crossfit Exercises" and scroll down to the "power snatch."  (Note that on the second lift, the athlete in the video gets herself well under the bar.  She talks with the coach about improving her lift that way after she finishes it the first time.)
 
We like Consumer Reports.  Maybe onHealth Magazine would be quite useful.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Buffet's Definition of the Stock Market

Our stay-put behavior reflects our view that the stock market serves as a relocation center at which money is moved from the active to the patient.

quoted in "Investors Continue to Seek Safety" by Lawrence Swedrow of CBS Money Watch.

I have had many clients who, although they are not professionals in the field, do their own "investing."  In my limited sample, the women always do better, and they do so because they are typically more patient.  When the stock market goes down, the men must "do something," so they sell.  When it goes up, then they also must "do something," so they buy.  This is a formula for extremely poor performance over time.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jesus' "I Am" Passages in the Gospel of John


There are seven passages in John where Jesus uses the phrase “I am” (the Greek ego eimi) in a special way.  Although “I am” can simply be a phrase of common speech, it had “solemn and sacral use in the OT, the NT, Gnosticism, and pagan Greek religious writings” (Brown, p. 533).   In these passages, it has such a use.

The passages should be read in light of Exodus, chapter 3, where God appears to Moses in the form of the Burning Bush.   In that chapter, God describes to Moses the great mission upon which he sets Moses, that is, to liberate the children of Israel from Egypt.  (Here is another parallel of Jesus with Moses, where Christ comes to liberate the world from sin.)  Moses asks God to tell him his name, because the children of Israel will want to know.  In verse 14, God tells him, it is Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh or YHWH or “Yahweh.”[1]

In form the divine name Yahweh is either a simple indicative or a causative indicative of the verb “to be,” meaning “he is (alive, present, active)” or “he brings into being,” and the formula in which the name is disclosed (Ex. 3.14 “I am who I am”) means either “I reveal my active presence as and when I will” or “I bring to pass what I choose to bring to pass.”  [New Bible Dictionary (Third Edition) InterVarsity Press, p.  801]

Think about the significance of the implications of this name.  How would you relate it to your own life and situation?

Jesus adopts this way of referring to himself in the Gospel of John.  Scholars have identified seven passages which especially mark this way in which he identifies himself, although there are other places which arguably have this characteristic.  Those passages are:

Passage in John
How Jesus Describes Himself in  Particular
6:35
I am the bread of life
8:12
I am the light of the world
10:7
I am the gate
10:11
I am the good shepherd
11:25
I am the resurrection and the life
14:6
I am the way, the truth, and the life
15:7
I am the true vine

This is hardly how a mere "good man" would describe himself, or prophet or revolutionary.


[1] The Heb. Word Yahweh is in EVV [the English versions] usually translated “the Lord” (note the capitals) and sometimes “Jehovah”.  The latter name originated as follows.  The original Heb. Text was not vocalized, in time the “tetragrammaton” YHWH was considered too sacred to pronounce; so “donay (“my Lord”)” was substituted in reading, and the vowels of this word were combined with the consonants YHWH to give “Jehovah”, a form first attested at the start of the 12th century AD.  –from the New Bible Dictionary,pp. 420-421.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Inflammation and Diet

What do heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, stroke and cancer have in common? Scientists have linked each of these to a condition known as chronic inflammation, and they are studying how high-fat foods and excess body weight may increase the risk for fatal disorders. 

-from the WSJ blog, The Informed Patient, and a post entitled "The New Science Behind America's Deadliest Diseases."

From a sidebar to the post:

2.2 Pounds

Losing this much weight reduced C-reactive protein, an inflammation measure, by 0.13 mg/L, a study found. Experts say CRP below 1 mg/L indicates low risk of cardiovascular disease, while above 3 mg/L is high risk.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why the Earth in our Back Yard is Moving

Amy Lacy's The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms explains how so.

The Kindle Edition is only $2.  It's among a bunch of low priced books for the Kindle that Glenn Reynolds points to from time to time.  I've been reading this one all week, and I'm simply amazed now by earthworms. All Creatures Great and SMALL, indeed.  Thank you, Lord God.

(Thank you, Charles Darwin, too.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Student Loan Debacle

Another middle-class subsidy, and this one runs up the price of higher eduction.  A good analysis here by Richard Vedder of Ohio University or the short form of his analysis here.

We Had a Pot Luck Lunch Today at the Firm

This place looks more like a Presbyterian church every day.

The Mystery of the "Word of God"

The mystery of "the word of God" is appreciated only when we take both sides of that expression seriously.  It is a human word, for God does not speak.  But it is OF God, and not simply a human composition about God.  The Bible makes us confront the seeming contradiction of a divine self-revelation in human terms.

-Brown's "summary of the theme" of the first chapter of his The Critical Meaning of the Bible.

The first time I was deeply awakened to the way Scripture is to challenge us was during a week-long series of sermons on The Sermon on the Mount given at our church in Miami Springs by non-other than Bruce Metzger.  (Can you imagine, Bruce Metzger!)  So obviously a most faithful Christian (as Brown was), he at one point used the phrase "wooden literalism" to describe an approach to Scripture that was faulty.  I had been able to make it all the way through Duke and its great religion courses and UC law with its special training in secular exegesis without allowing myself to be challenged by the critical problem.  Not until Metzger's remark.  From him now to Brown.  What a liberation it has been.  My faith has only been strengthened in the process.

Wow! I Got Reposted!

Thanks, Beth!

And I like your blog, "I am having this experience," and your recent Review Mirror post that you tag with "Aging Advice."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Report from PFR regarding PC(USA)'s 2012 General Assembly

[T]he real story of the 220th General Assembly was not in vote counts. From the liturgical draping of the cross in rainbow stoles during opening worship to the soap opera surrounding the vice moderatorial election, from commissioners openly challenging one another to greater defiance of our polity and Confessions to several instances of agenda-driven preaching, it was abundantly clear that, no matter what our constitution might say, an increasing number of ordained Presbyterians will behave as they see fit. Any bridge remaining over the gaping divides in the PC(USA) would appear to be scheduled for demolition by the hubris of the Left, even as the rhetoric of “unity” and repeated moderatorial attempts at collegial interaction punctuated the docket.


Of almost equal concern was a pervasive atmosphere of “summer camp” at this meeting of the largest Presbyterian body in North America. Simple decorum befitting the Body of Christ joined biblical faithfulness and ecumenical sensitivity as seemingly disposable accessories.

-from "A Pastoral Letter from PFR Following the 2012 General Assembly"

From other observers regarding the rainbow and the cross imagery, here and here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"After Attacks, Kenyan Muslims Guard Christian Churches"

Here.

The patrols are a strong statement of rejection for the militant methods and ideology of Al Shabab, the Somali Islamist militant group that is suspected of carrying out the July 1 attacks in Garissa. By targeting Christians, militants in northern Kenya appear to be punishing Kenya for sending troops into Somalia to attack Al Shabab, and to prop up the shaky Somali government.

Critical Biblical Study as Prophetic

In the judgment of most scholars biblical criticism is a correct (but not all-sufficient) approach  to the Bible; and so, unless religious people and communities want a complete break with scholarship, they have little choice about working with the meaning of Scripture derived through this method. But the use of the critical method should be more than an unpleasant necessity; for when responsibly presented, the meaning derived thereby is not destructive.  Rather it can be enormously helpful in challenging Christians and the Church(es),  much as the prophets challenged Israel, and Jesus chal­lenged the people of his time.  A non-critical biblicism often tends to confirm the Church(es) and Christians in their status quo because the Bible so read yields what they have always thought it meant. Espe­cially with regard to the NT, Bible-based Churches tend to use literalism to prove that they conform to the biblical directives for what the Church should be. Yet even an elementary study of history sug­gests that one should start with the opposite assumption, namely, that no twentieth-century Church is the same as the Church or Churches of NT times, and that inevitably twentieth-century Chris­tians have a worldview different from that of first-century Christians. A critical study of the NT can point out unexpected differences, thus reminding us how much things have changed and what has been lost (or gained). True, one must avoid a naive romanticism that such a study will enable Christians to restore perfectly what once was. Nev­ertheless, Churches and Christians, confronted by a critical picture of NT times, can be led to needed reform, either by chopping away distracting accretions or by compensating for deficiencies.


I have found Brown's two volume work on the Gospel of John, which is published among the Anchor Bible Commentaries, enormously helpful in our Sunday School class these last many weeks.  His studies and approach have profoundly affected my own approach to the Scriptures.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

President Obama's Tax Proposal: Yet Another Middle-Class Subsidy

President Barack Obama proposed a one-year extension of Bush-era tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year but would let them rise for wealthier Americans, a move that both shifts the election debate to tax rates and sets the table for a showdown with Republicans in Congress.

- from today's WSJ.

All told, federal taxpayers last year received $1.08 trillion in credits, deductions and other perks while paying $1.09 trillion in income taxes, according to government estimates.

Only about 8 percent of those benefits went to corporations. (The write-off for corporate jets equals about .03 percent of the total.) The bulk went to private households, primarily upper middle-class families that Obama has vowed to protect from new taxes.

-from "Most Tax Breaks Go to Middle-Class Households, Not to 'The Rich' or Corporations," by Doug Mataconis in an article published last year in Outside the Beltway.

I would say that a family making $125,000 or more is pretty close to "rich," if it is not already there.  You really have to ask, "Rich compared to whom?"  If one is honest in answering that question, perspective emerges.  I mean, who really cares what Wall Street and Hollywood people make, provided that they make it fair and square and without the connivance of Washington?  (I've nearly completed the recent bio of Steve Jobs, which is intensely interesting.  He earned every dollar of what he made from Apple and Nextar.)

With all due respect to my "class," why don't we get rid of these subsidies, reduce the awful, awful complexity of the Internal Revenue Code and the expensive bureaucracies, both public and private (I am in one of the private bureaucracies myself), which manage, interpret and immensely profit from it, and clear the dense underbrush of regulation that impedes liberty for everyone? 

President Obama's latest idea of further subsidizing "the middle class" is really absurd.  Of course, it is not just a Democrat thing, subsidizing the middle class, making the tax code unfair and economically suffocating.  Far from it.  Both parties are deeply complicit.  (Thus, we get Mitch Romney and not Paul Ryan as the Republicans' Presidential candidate.  If the lesser of the two evils, then R is still not all that attractive.  He's more of the same, although perhaps not so much more as the President.)

I don't want the federal government being the nanny for the middle-class.  I want it to leave us alone.

Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

-Proverbs 8: 10 -11 (NIV 1984)

Two things I ask of you, O Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:

Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.

Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

-Proverbs 30: 7 - 9. (NIV 1984)

Sitting Comparable to Obesity, almost to Smoking

Being sedentary, which can include sitting for long periods of time, has been linked to diabetes and death from heart disease or stroke. The new study [published in BMJ Open; absract here] takes it a few steps further by showing just how much we can benefit by sitting less frequently.

"Sitting is a risk factor, not a disease," says Peter Katzmarzyk, PhD. He's an associate executive director for population science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University System in Baton Rouge, La. "It's comparable to obesity, and it's almost to the level of smoking," he says.

"We sit to eat and don't tend to stand up a whole lot," he says. "We need to turn that around and engineer sitting out of our lives."

-from a WebMD post of July 9, 2012.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Close Vote Defeats Gay Marriage OK at PC(USA) General Assembly

The vote was 338 nays - 303 ayes.  Had the ayes had it, the matter would have been put to the Presbyteries for a vote on whether to make it the law of the PC(USA). 

But the climate for a same-sex marriage vote could be on the activists' side in the future. During deliberations and several votes on different versions of marriage proposals on Thursday, younger members of the church expressed support for same-sex marriage much more strongly than the church's older members. Church surveys also show an increasingly pro-same-sex marriage stance as the younger Presbyterians gain more leadership positions. 

-from a 7/6/2012 article in the Huffington Post.

I would suggest that "the climate for a same-sex marriage vote could be on the activists' side in the future" because between now and the next GA in two years plenty of the opposition churches will have left.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

DARPA at it Again, Robotic Doggie w/ Cockroach Propulsion

Here.  h/t Instapundit.

JPMorgan Knowingly Sold Investors Inferior Funds, Report Says

This report strikes close to home, as JPMorgan is a major player in the Miami market and, with many other financial institutions, actively solicits our partners for client referrals and for appointments as a corporate trustee in the estate planning documents we prepare for our clients.

Most major trust companies and banks with trust divisions have their own "captive" mutual funds.  Recently, a client appointed Fiduciary Trust Company as its investment advisor.  The people at the local office are top people and we like them.  FTC is a subsidiary of the Franklin Templeton Group.  They bent over backwards to tell us that FTC will invest clients funds in the Franklin Templeton Group family only if they are equal or superior in all respects to other non-Franklin Templeton funds.  The client will be watching that carefully.  Obviously, there is a huge conflict of interest here.  Frankly, if I were running FTC I would not as a matter of policy invest in Franklin Templeton mutual funds.  This practice of banks and trust companies is so endemic to that industry that it seems "normal" to most people.

Although the client chose FTC, it did not put all its funds there.  It divided its portfolio bewteen FTC and an "indexer," an independent investment company.  This independent company has no mutual funds of its own.  Instead it invests in low-cost index funds, and insists that it gets no kick-back from those funds for investing in them.  Its fees are based on the overall size of the portfolio.  It will be interesting for the client (and us) to see how the two managers compare in performance.

What is the Libor Scandal?

Catch up with this opinion piece from Holman Jenkins in the WSJ.

Tanishq Abraham: Setting an 8 Year Old Mind Free



h/t Ann Althouse

Why not all minds, at all ages, and at all intelligence levels?  So many of our systems seem to be involved in enslaving or suppressing those minds.  Tanishq is in a family and community system which enables his mind.  May God continue to bless him and all of them.

Friday, July 06, 2012

"No Child Left Behind" Law a Failure

Washington and Wisconsin are joining 24 other states that have earned waivers from the federal education law. Washington state education officials confirmed their state's waiver. The Wisconsin waiver was reported by The New York Times.

*  *  *

The 10-year-old federal No Child Left Behind law requires all students to achieve proficient math and reading scores by 2014, a goal that many educators say is impossible. Last year, President Barack Obama announced an opportunity for states to avoid the law's requirements if they develop their own accountability systems.

Members of both parties agree the No Child Left Behind law is broken but have been unable to agree on how to fix it. 

*  *   *

Critics also say the law has had the unintended effect of encouraging instructors to teach to the test and has led schools to narrow their curriculums.

-from a Fox News Report today.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Army Stocking up on Ammo?

Glenn at Instapundit indicates, with a link to an ammo magazine, that this may be the case and that it is because the Army anticipates military action within the next 24 months.

Pretty disturbing, especially where there next four months are a run-up to a Presidential election.

The linked-to article states that "the military gets a significant majority of their ammunition from the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri."  Wouldn't you think that the Army would diversify its procurement to several different places in the country, so that no single plant produces "a significant majority"?

ObamaCare, the Supreme Court Ruling, and the Culture of Entitlement: What a Mess

President Barack Obama’s health law [is] designed to expand coverage for 30 million Americans, in part by adding 17 million people to Medicaid. 

But the impact of the high court’s ruling making the expansion voluntary is likely to be compounded by another provision in the law that the justices left intact: In 2014, states are no longer barred from making it harder for adults to qualify for Medicaid. 

Experts worry those two developments taken together could spur some states to reduce the number of people covered. 

States could throw some low-income adults “into a black hole with nowhere to turn for coverage," said Deborah Bachrach, who was New York’s Medicaid director until 2010 and now is special counsel at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, a New York law firm. 

-from "States Could Cut Medicaid Rolls In 2014 As A Result Of Court Ruling" by Phil Galewitz, staff writer for Kaiser Health News.

This article needs to read in its entirety.  (Remember, in this case we are talking about Medicaid, not Medicare, which has its own monstrous problems.)

It is not so much ideology that produced this mess, it is the product of an incompetent process, largely political, exercised in a culture that promotes a sense of entitlement in its citizens (and non-citizens) and is without any effective checks against abuse (stealing, for example) that a market-place would generate.  (But maybe that is the ideology.)

Florida's Governor Scott announced last Friday that Florida would opt-out of the Medicaid provisions of ObamaCare, just as described in the article.  Texas is thinking about it, too.

Update:

The Republican governors of four states — Florida, Iowa, Louisiana and South Carolina — have declared that they want to opt out of the expansion. Leaders of half a dozen other states — including Texas, home to one of the largest concentrations of uninsured people — are considering following suit.

-from The Washington Post, July 3, 2012

Entitlement Kills Law Firms


I have been a lawyer for 41 years.  My first law firm, Smathers and Thompson, was a great place to grow up in as a young attorney.  I was a litigator and got to try a case, a jury trial in state court, within a year after starting.   The older lawyers were excellent teachers, and their professional values were first rate.  There were about 24 lawyers in the firm when I started in 1972, which wasn’t the largest in Miami at the time, but it was one of the largest. 

That firm is gone now, and what killed it was the sense of entitlement that swept it like a plague, as we moved into the eighties and a period of unprecedented prosperity for lawyers.  The senior partners felt they were entitled to a slice of the gross revenues off the top, regardless of how those revenues grew, before they divided what was left among all the partners, including themselves.   After all, they had been there the longest, they had “built the firm.”  The younger partners, on the other hand, who had families still to raise (and a good deal more energy), felt they were entitled to more because, well, they needed it to live, as they understood lawyers were entitled to live. 

Finally the firm broke apart when a powerhouse New York firm called Finley Kumble arrived in town and seduced the younger partners and even one of the seniors with cash in amounts that seemed outlandish at the time, seduced them into establishing a Miami component of the NY firm’s national expansion.   I stayed with the remnant (one of the departing partners called us "the gray chevrolets") and we soldiered on until, a few years later, we sold ourselves to another NY law firm, Kelley Drye & Warren.  We felt we were entitled to a high price from the NY lawyers who bought us, and we got it.  After the merger, the NY lawyers felt entitled to tell us how to practice, which made for unhappiness at our end.  That effort ended in 1999, when the NY lawyers closed the Miami office and left us to our own devices.

Monday, July 02, 2012

A Doctor Who Still Makes House Calls

Dr. Sayfie.

I don't know him personally, but I have only heard good things about him from clients and others over the last three decades.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

A Doctor Who Goes to Movies and Writes

Peter E. Dans, M.D.

His latest book is Christians in the Movies: a Century of Saints and Sinners.

Christians in the Movies[: Boil the Water and Just Say Ah] traces the arc of the portrayal in film of Christians from 1905 to the present. For most of the first six decades, the portrayals were favorable and even reverential. By contrast, from 1970 on, Christians have often been treated with hostility and often outright ridicule. This book explores this shift through in-depth reviews and commentaries on 100 important films, as well as briefer discussions of about 75 additional Christian-themed films.

-from the publisher's review.

The On-line Version of Baptist Health's Magazine

It's called [resource] and the tech of the on-line version of this publication blows me away.

Not to mention the articles, especially the one on the "The Rotatating, Lifesaving Bed" on page 10.

Sociologist Raises Question about LGBT Parenting; Firestorm Erupts

About the study.

And, then, about the firestorm.

On the subject of marriage, specifically as to gay-marriage and generally, World interviews Maggie Gallagher in its June 30 issue.  She is the author of

"One Baby Saves the Other" - God Saves them Both

When Gina came to our Hialeah Clinic last July with her husband Vit, she was determined to have an abortion.

They already had two children and could not make ends meet. On the other hand, Vit was distraught at the thought of terminating the life of their baby. Even though they were in a financial hardship, Vit had faith and stated "God never makes mistakes." However, Gina was being pressured with the reality of the economic crisis everyone faces today. Gina cried all through the counseling session while Vit silently listened. He knew what his wife was saying was true but his heart was filled with faith and knew God would somehow provide for them.


Gina went for the ultrasound to confirm a viable pregnancy while Vit waited outside. Leslie, our ultrasound technician had the opportunity to speak to Gina about God's perfect plan for her life, her family and for the baby in her womb. Before Leslie proceeded with the ultrasound, Gina asked if Vit could come in the room. Leslie agreed but Vit said he did not want to be any part of an abortion. Leslie assured him abortion was never an option at Heartbeat of Miami. To everyone's amazement two perfect little babies appeared on the ultrasound screen. Vit and Gina were expecting twins. Leslie was speechless. This has happened at our clinics many times. One baby saves the other. Jesus touched Gina's heart and she was transformed. "Oh God, I believe in You. I know You will never abandon me, please forgive me for almost killing my babies." Vit dropped to his knees lifting up his hands to the Lord and thanking God for twins.


-from "The Faith of a Father," at the Heartbeat of Miami website.  I'm honored to say that Heartbeat headquarters at FPC Miami Springs.  Donna is on its board.