Friday, August 31, 2012

Devaluing What One Receives for Free

The most obvious rule of social science is that people will abuse any free good. The price of "free" evokes unbounded demand while choking off supply. In the perverse feedback loops of "free," free health care comes to mean hypochondria, illness caused by needless exams and treatments, queues for an ever-expanding portfolio of mediocre services, and ultimately euthanasia under government bureaucracy. Free drugs mean widespread addiction to existing medications and an end to medical innovation. Free money, manifested in the near zero-interest-rate policy of the Federal Reserve, diverts the wealth of savers to favored governments and crony capitalists while creating shortages for everyone else. 

 -George Gilder, a founding fellow of the Discovery Institute in today's WSJ.  (His books, according to the WSJ, include Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century.)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Fine Speeches Tonight at the GOP Convention

I don't believe it could have gone any better than it did.  Romney came across as authentic, genuine, and unpatronizing.  He will make a splendid President.

Even the PBS bunch seemed to come around.  That impressed me too.

(But, Clint, about that crack about lawyers . . . )

The Wednesday Evening Speeches

I listened carefully to the Rice and Ryan's speeches last night.  Rice's remarks about our weak foreign policy positions during the current administration were serious and disturbing.  Especially interesting was her comparison of our government's lack of activity in negotiating free trade agreements during the last four years with how busy and effective China has been in that activity.  I would like to know more about that.  I knew some of her story of growing up in the South and achieving such a remarkable level of success in our country, but it was good for her to describe it and very encouraging.

I liked Ryan's speech too.  He is winsome, fresh, but seems so young to me.  That's the way that the President seemed to me four years ago.   Obviously Ryan and Obama come from strikingly different backgrounds and Ryan aspires to being the VP not to the Presidency.  But my mind jumped to that comparison.

Like Obama, Ryan promised big in his speech.   Although the promises are different, are Ryan's similar to Obama's in being so naive?  If R and R are elected and we get a Republican Congress, will  this gigantic ocean liner of a government be able to answer a helm turning away from its relentless, malignant growth?  Can they move America away from the grip of its self-indulgence.  Will we tolerate the sacrifices to which Christie referred the night before?  What does the American character really look like right now?

The first clue will be whether the R&R ticket will even be elected.  If so, that will be a good start, but the Republican version of hope and change has a perilous future as well. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Home-made Jam

Susie from our office, fearing that the storm would put out the lights, took frozen fruits out of her fridge and made jam over the weekend, and she brought jars of it for everyone.  We are enjoying her "peach-mango" jam on a couple of Triscuits as dessert after supper each night.  Delicious!

Susie's gift made me wonder how one makes jam.  Here's a link in answer to that question.

That link, however, does not refer to bananas as jam candidates.  But this one does.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

PBS: Not Even a Pretense of Being Objective in their GOP Convention Coverage

If the cabal of Woodruff, Eiffil, Shields, and, yes, the "conservative" Brooks would please shut up and get out of the way, I would like to hear the speeches.

Fortunately, we have a Fox radio station in Miami, WIOD, and it is broadcasting the speeches unimpaired.  Right now Nikki Haley is giving a terrific speech, and not a word of it is on PBS.  All of it on the Fox radio station.

(Glenn Reynolds reports that MSNBC "abandons GOP convention during every speech by a minority."  What a shame that their viewers missed Artur Davis.  So glad we don't have cable, so that not a cent of ours finds its way to that network.)

On the other hand, even Woodruff and Shields are finally impressed by the speeches of Mrs. Romney and Governor Christie (which were outstanding).  Eiffil is unimpressed and unrepentant.  Brooks seems gray and almost background for the other three.  (Look at Jennifer Rubin's column in the Washington Post, especially concerning Mrs. Romney's speech [thanks, Glenn].)

The PBS conspirators have some Republicans in their booth at times.  (I suppose this was their idea of being fair and balanced.)  The Senator from Wyoming, Mike Enzi, more than holds his own.  Newt Gingrich is there and singularly unimpressive in all his talkieness.  He is really yesterday in the context of the young, fresh faces on the podium.

On the substance side, I am impressed by the way Christie relates his success in NJ to bi-partisan efforts, his warning that the American people will have to sacrifice to get the country back on track,  and his expressions of faith in those people that they will respond to the challenge.  I pray he is right.

I can't help but say, however, that Christie's size is disturbing.  The man needs to meet Dr. McDougall.  It would be terrible for the GOP to lose the governor to a heart attack.

All in all, it is a very encouraging night for the Republicans.
Who will be the mystery speaker?  Tebow.  That will be electrifying.  Sorry, Sarah, you are a little yesterday too.  [UPDATE: So wrong on this one!  I think Clint's speech was really odd, really fun, and shows some fresh and creative thinking on the side of the convention planners to give him that time.]

(By the way, reports are that Hillary won't be coming to the Democratic Convention.  It is a very bad sign for that gathering, already being deserted by lesser lights in the Party.  Oh, well, the Vice-President will be there.  That certainly must be a relief to the convention planners.)

There's a Lot to Put One Off of Pro-Football, but Exhibition Games Top the List

Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald agrees.

The up-side of those games is that they help me break the habit of wasting my time watching the seasonal ones before the season even begins.  It is beyond question that I have much better things to do.

"The Virus that Engulfed Us All"

This is the title of a lecture by Kathleen C. Engel, JD, a "national authority on mortgage finance and regulation, subeprime and predatory lending, and hosueing discrimination," according to the American Institute for Econimic Research ("AIER").  Her entire presention to an AIER forum is available on video.   I read an adaptation of the presentation here, although you may need to be an AIER member to read it.  I recommend either viewing the video or reading the article and also recommend joining AIER.

Ms. Engel is the co-author of The Subprime Virus: Reckless Credit, Regualtory Failure and Next Steps (Oxford Univeristy Press 2011).

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Just continue eating as you've been, only in moderation. And take these pills."

We just returned home from vacation.  (A day earlier in light of the tropical storm in the neighborhood.)  On that trip, we were pleased to see a friend in Middle Georgia, up and around three months after triple-bypass surgery.  She is in her late seventies, not thin but not obese, and a gifted Southern cook.  Feeling poorly sent her to the ER, just barely in time.

We asked her whether her cardiac surgeon had any dietary advice, and the quote I give in the title of this post sums it up.

On a related note, we spent part of our short vacation attending a conference of the Fellowship of Presbyterians/ECO at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.  The church campus and facilities are beautiful and thoroughly functional.  The church volunteers and staff were gracious and helpful.

During the breaks, instead of pastries and donuts there was fresh fruit, apples and bananas (no peaches, alas, because the SE had a terrible crop this year), and fruit bars.  The lunches had a vegetarian alternative.  These Presbyterians get it.  Any cardiac surgeons in their congregation? 

(For our dear Atlanta kin, we apologize for not getting in touch.  Our vacation was so tight that we hurried into Atlanta just in time for the conference and hurried out for the trip to Middle Georgia and then home for storm preparation.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Pill as a Subsitute for Prudence, if not Morality

Glenn Reynolds links to this,  entitling his post "Gonorreah is Winning."

His comment is: "We really need newer, better antibiotics."

That's the American Way, after all, a pill for every problem.  And a government to buy them for you.

How suprisingly and sadly unoriginal, Glenn:  an Instapundit "fail."

Dr. McDougall's "Favorite Five" from Recent Medical Journals

I know that I have already linked to an article from his newsletter this month, but I also want to point to that part of the newsletter where he discusses certain medical journal articles and comments upon them.

He comments upon an article in the July 18, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association on the uselessness of the current interferon protocol for MS. It hits close to home.  My niece has struggled with this disease for at least five years, and the protocol is an unhappy feature of it.  Her efforts to find some sort of alternative to this treatment lead her to read The China Study, adopt at least for a time a vegan and gluten-free diet, and enjoy some dramatic improvement.  That example led Carol and me down the vegan dietary path.  (We have not adopted a gluten-free approach.)  Dr. McDougall, in his comments on the article, writes about a diet study that he has undertaken with respect to MS.

When I last visited my oncologist, we got on the subject of the PSA test.  Dr. McDougall's position is that they are useless and that radical surgery is not beneficial.  My physician presented the anecdotal success of a physician friend of his and argued that the surgery in that case saved the life of his friend without significant side effects.  My anecdotal evidence - the experience of a fraternity brother of mine - is to the contrary, at least concerning the side effects.  He is a most unhappy man at this stage of his life, which I would argue is still relatively young.  He is alive, one must point out, but that begs the question of whether his life expectancy has been altered.  Would we ever know?  Anyway, McDougall discusses an article on the subject of such treatment in the July 19, 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The other articles upon which Dr. McDougall comments address colonoscopies, fish oils, and folic acid.

Why is it that we tend to think that our food and medical cultures (especially the medical) are somehow not profoundly affected by and do not reflect in significant part man's sinful nature, something that we are not ready to concede elsewhere - politics for example or Hollywood or the homosexual subculture, or the media generally.  (On the international scene, is it valid to argue that America as a whole is somehow less fallen?  Is that like being less pregnant?)  I don't mean to be a pessimist here.  I am arguing for viewing just about everything (starting with one's self) with a critical eye from the radical perspective of Jesus.  Jesus' work was not simply critical, however, it was redemptive.  I think Dr. McDougall is doing the Lord's work.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"What a great thing he's on the ticket. Pity he's not on top of it."

Brett Stephens in the WSJ on Paul Ryan.

Dr. McDougall and the Implications of the Current Drought

I am an optimist, but…the worst drought in the United States in nearly a half-century has occurred over the summer of 2012. Twenty to 40 percent of the crops of soybeans and corn, which feed the pigs, cows, and poultry, have been destroyed; and food prices are rising worldwide. Since, as the saying goes, “you can’t change the weather,” what else can we fix? We can fix our food supply. Rather than feeding the crops to animals, we could instead eat the corn, wheat, soybeans, and potatoes ourselves. The savings would be world-changing.

Converting plant energy into animal energy is wasteful: It takes about 7 pounds of edible, healthy grains to produce just 1 pound of beef, 4 pounds for a pound of pork, and 2 pounds for a pound of chicken. Reallocating land from animal to crop production would increase our food resources at least seventeen-fold: Crops like potatoes can produce 17 times the calories as animals on the same piece of land. There would be additional positive consequences of replacing animal foods in our diet with plants.

The rate of progression of global warming would be slowed. Fossil fuels (the primary source of climate change) used in the production of food would be reduced forty-fold. Consider that about 2 calories of fossil fuel energy are required to cultivate 1 calorie of starchy vegetable food energy; with beef, the ratio can be as high as 80:1. With this same change in eating we would also reduce the needless suffering from the health consequences of our lives of excess, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and breast, prostate, and colon cancer, to name a few. We would reduce our national debt by vastly reducing the health care costs associated with these unnecessary illnesses. And we would free a great portion of the world from starvation.

-from an article in Dr. McDougall's latest newsletter, entitled "Lessons from the Past, Directions for the Future: The WWI Starch Solution for Denmark," the entirety of which is well worth reading.  

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

UM Med Phamacist Steals $7 Million Worth of Cancer Drugs

Good grief!

How about this:

The director of Miami Beach's tax-payer funded Community Health Center, whose mission is to deliver medical services to poor people, is accused of stealing $7 million.

The problem is not confined to the not-for-profit sector:

HCA uncovered evidence that some cardiologists at several of its Florida hospitals were unable to justify many procedures they performed.

-also from the Miami Herald.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Kendrick J. Farris

King of the Platform.  (Thanks, Mary.)

Fireflies in the Smokies

See the post at hiddenjesus about Jennie Ivey's article in this month's Guidepost.  Marion in the Sunday School class sent us a copy of the complete article this week.  Jennie describes a "weekend" trip to Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, known as "the Park" around our family.

What magic times we spent there with the kids growing up.  We have not been to Elkmont, however, which is where Jennie saw the fireflies.  We've been to Smokemont, on the NC side of the Park, near Cherokee, and Cade's Cove toward the Tennessee side.  We've made day trips to Deep Creek and other places.  Near the Park, we camped off the Blue Ridge Parkway ("the Parkway"): Mt. Pisgah and Julian Price. Then below the Park, our favorites were Unicoi and Vogel in North Georgia.  We visited Black Rock Mountain, too, near Clayton, but it was so hot that summer, the visit wasn't so pleasant.

Jennie lives in Middle Tennessee, so a visit to the Park can be made on a weekend.  For us in Miami, its a major journey.  But still worth it.  Carol and I vow to make the journey again this fall.  Who wants to join us?

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Manuscript Variants and Protasis and Apodosis in John 8: 37-38

NIV (1984) text:

(38)“I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

(39)“Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did.”

NIV “alternate” reading from the footnotes:

(38) “I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence.  Therefore do what you have heard from the Father.”

(39) “Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you are Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then do the things Abraham did.”

Raymond E. Brown (hereinafter "REB") in The Anchor Yale Bible series, The Gospel According to John I-XII (hereinafter references to "REB writes" or "REB notes" and the like mean this publication):

(38) “I tell what I have seen in the Father’s presence;
Therefore, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”

(39)“Our father is Abraham,” they answered him. Jesus replied

“If you are really Abraham’s children, you would be doing works worthy of Abraham.”

This text raises two questions. The first is whether in verse 38 Jesus refers to two different fathers: “the Father”, that is “my father,” the person in whose presence Jesus has seen things to tell others, and “your father,” that is, the father of those among the Jews in Jesus’ audience with whom he is contending.  As you can see, the NIV text indicates two different fathers.  The NIV alternate translation in its footnotes and REB’s translation (pp. 352-353) indicate that Jesus is referring to one father for both, the same father, God the Father. 

If the meaning is that there are two different fathers, then to whom does Jesus refer as the father of his contenders?  (His contenders answer that their father is Abraham.) REB states (p. 356) that certain manuscript “variants” show two different fathers (my father vs. your father) and they are meant to show that Jesus sarcastically refers to the devil as the father of his contenders. Those variants anticipate what Jesus expressly states in verse 44. 

There are other variants, however, and they do not show “my father vs. your father.” REB prefers those variants because, he states (p. 356), at this point in the text Jesus “is still trying to convince his audience to obey the real Father, God.”

By way of parenthesis, let me state that choosing among “variants” in the early manuscripts is hardly unorthodox. 

In the Preface to the NIV 1984 edition, for example, the “Committee on Bible Translation,” comments generally on the differences shown in footnotes to its text as follows:

The footnotes in this version are of several kinds, most of which need no explanation. Those giving alternative translations begin with "Or" and generally introduce the alternative with the last word preceding it in the text, except when it is a single-word alternative; in poetry quoted in a footnote a slant mark indicates a line division. Footnotes introduced by "Or" do not have uniform significance. In some cases two possible translations were considered to have about equal validity. In other cases, though the translators were convinced that the translation in the text was correct, they judged that another interpretation was possible and of sufficient importance to be represented in a footnote.

In the New Testament, footnotes that refer to uncertainty regarding the original text are introduced by "Some manuscripts" or similar expressions. In the Old Testament, evidence for the reading chosen is given first and evidence for the alternative is added after a semicolon (for example: Septuagint; Hebrew father). In such notes the term "Hebrew" refers to the Masoretic Text.

Why is the response of Jesus’ contenders to his statement in verse 38 “Our father is Abraham”?  This depends, REB writes (p. 356), on the meaning of the second line of verse 38.  “If the reference is to the devil, then ‘the Jews’ say this by way of protest.  If the reference there is to Jesus’ Father, then here the Jews are saying that they want nothing to do with his “father” for they have Abraham.

The second issue appears in verse 39, particularly Jesus’ response to his contenders’ assertion that their father is Abraham.

REB writes (pp. 356-357) that his translation of what Jesus says is “awkward English [that] is a careful rendition of the confused situation in the Greek.”  He writes that the “witnesses are divided on three readings:”

(a)            Real condition: “If you are .  .  .  do.” REB notes that “Codex Vaticanus and Papyrus 66 read an imperative in the apodosis.”
(b)           Contrary-to-fact condition: “If you were .  .  .  you would be doing.”  REB notes that “the Byzantine tradition supports this reading, which implies that ‘the Jews’ are not Abraham’s children.  This seems to contradict vs. 37.”
(c)            Mixed condition.  This is how REB translates it and he notes that his translation is supported by Papyrus 75 and Codices Sinaiticus and Bezae.  “The idea is that the Jews are really Abraham’s children, but are denying it by their actions.”
“The confusion in the witnesses [REB writes] is best explained by assuming that (c) was the original reading, and the (a) and (b) are attempts to iron out the mixed condition by making it consistent in both protasis and apodosis.”

(Protasis: the clause that expresses the condition in a conditional sentence.  Apodosis: the clause expressing the conclusion or result in a conditional sentence: opposed to protasis.  From Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language College Edition (1960))
I find that REB’s translation is much more satisfactory.  Would Jesus say that the Jews are not Abraham’s children?  I doubt that he would, and why should he?  Why should he pick a fight on that issue?  His criticism of them is much more pointed when he concedes that they are Abraham’s children, but then asserts that they do not act like it.
As a penultimate point to this long post, just how were the Jews not acting like Abraham?  REB writes (p. 357) about this when he comments on verse 40, which I do not set out above: “That Abraham would not kill a divine messenger may be a general reference from Abraham’s character, or perhaps a specific reference to a scene like that of Gen.xviii where he welcomed divine messengers.”  The Jews who are contending with Jesus are hardly welcoming of him.
 Finally, I would respectfully suggest an application for Christians: How often do Christians, who claim God as Father through Jesus Christ, not behave accordingly.  Who is really out there in the crowd disputing Jesus, wanting to rid their culture of him?  Is the problem in Jerusalem the pagans or is it the believers?  Jerusalem, the metaphorical "City upon the Hill" that Jesus elsewhere identifies with his disciples and that John Winthrop identifies with the church in America.

Friday, August 03, 2012

"You find yourself wishing he would play any position other than quarteback."

We'll see, NY.

Can't wait.  Can't wait for Tebow, can't wait for Football Season!

Can't believe how long the basketball season went.  Baseball is not only long, it is boring.  The Olympics?  Sorry.

Let's move on, people.  Football.