Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Photoblogging Dallas
Thanksgiving Day Weekend Kellsey and I visited the Dallas Arboretum for our first ever post-Aidan just-the-two-of-us-trip.

(Taken with Doug's super-de-dooper Nikon D70 Digital SLR camera.)
Remind me to never ever get sick in Holland.
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - A hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.
The announcement by the Groningen Academic Hospital came amid a growing discussion in Holland on whether to legalize euthanasia on people incapable of deciding for themselves whether they want to end their lives - a prospect viewed with horror by euthanasia opponents and as a natural evolution by advocates.
Let's hear it for State-run Healthcare!
Generally, my antipathy and outright scorn for the United Nations knows no bounds. But if this were to happen, I might consider becoming a true believer.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Better call the FTC
via Slashdot (news for nerds, stuff that matters)
This article from the Chicago Sun-Times:
The agency overseeing the national Do Not Call Registry is considering opening a loophole in the year-old program to allow companies to deliver ''pre-recorded message telemarketing.''
Here is where you can let the FTC know what you think about this. Seriously, they want to know. Seriously, you should tell them.

UPDATE: Sorry, the FTC comment link works now. The one which I previously had in the link was copied directly from the Sun-Times article, which had a typo. Thanks to Slashdot, I found the correct link. Chalk up another win to the guys in the pajamas over the MSM.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Mmmmmm, digital media
Is it too late to add this to my Christmas list? You wouldn't have to buy me any more DV tapes for Aidan videos!
Handy HTML
Here are some of the very basic HTML tags that one can use to spice up a post. Just copy and paste the code into your post. (You might want to open this post in a separate window as you put your post together.)

Inserting a basic link:

<a href="URLHERE">text</a>

To open a link in new window: (this is probably the most handy code to have)
<a target="_blank" href="URLHERE">text</a>

To adjust the size of an embedded image:
After uploading an image, blogger wil automatically add this code to embed your image

<img src="URLofIMAGE"/>

To adjust the width and heighth, add this:
<img src="URLofIMAGE" width=599 heighth=200/>
(w=599 & h=200 are good dimensions for a big picture like this one)

To add a link to an email:
<a href="mailto:EMAILADDRESS">name</a>

To make something bold:
<strong>text </strong>

To use italics:
<i>text </i>

To make something small:
<small>text </small>

To create a "bullet":
  • <LI TYPE="disc">
  • Saturday, November 27, 2004

    The Sewell Families had a little head-to-head competition yesterday after our Thanksgiving Dinner. We repaired into the kitchen where three teams each decorated their own gingerbread house. The results are below. Can you guess which pair did which house? The pairs were: Jef & Laura, Macon & Kellsey, Noah & Sue. Leave your guesses in the comments, I'll update in a little while with the correct answer.
    House A-->

    House B-->

    House C-->
    So much for Adbusters
    From David Brooks (NYTimes):
    I hate to be the bearer of good news, because only pessimists are regarded as intellectually serious, but we're in the 11th month of the most prosperous year in human history. Last week, the World Bank released a report showing that global growth "accelerated sharply" this year to a rate of about 4 percent. Best of all, the poorer nations are leading the way.

    What explains all this good news? The short answer is this thing we call globalization. Over the past decades, many nations have undertaken structural reforms to lower trade barriers, shore up property rights and free economic activity. International trade is surging. The poor nations that opened themselves up to trade, investment and those evil multinational corporations saw the sharpest poverty declines. Write this on your forehead: Free trade reduces world suffering.
    Being no longer constrained by the width of a shelf in a certain library/bookstore in a certain town:

    "....break the deadlock of all live scholarship; improve the curriculum by definitely insisting on a better set of 50 (or even 100) books...."

    -Dorothy Pound (wife of Ezra) to Marshall Mcluhan
    The NY Times has a good article on J.J. Abrams, creator & director of Felicity, ALIAS, and Lost. He'll also be writing and directing Mission Impossible 3.
    Mr. Abrams, who got his start writing unremarkable feel-good films and earned his big break with an earnest television series about a pretty but nerdy college girl, has become an unlikely and somewhat subversive keeper of the action-suspense form.

    Friday, November 26, 2004

    Moral Authority
    Excerpted from the article No Blood for Chocolate! which appeared in the National Post (a Canadian Newspaper), but you need a subscription to access the article there, so if you want to read the whole article, go here.

    Where are the mass protests in the streets of the world's capitals against France's military intervention in the Ivory Coast?

    This month, French peacekeepers in the former French colony launched a pre-emptive assault against the Ivorian air force. They also interferred with the internal politics of the troubled nation and sought regime change -- or at least they have been accused of both by President Laurent Gbagbo.

    They acted without authorization by the United Nations Security Council.

    They violated both the UN Charter and the terms of the peacekeeping resolution that established their specific mission in the West African nation.

    The Security Council did sanction their attacks after the fact. Nonetheless, the French acted unilaterally, and only sought and
    received a UN cover story later. There wasn't even a coalition of the willing. No Brits, Aussies, Poles or Dutch to help out; just French troops, jets, helicopters and armoured personnel carriers.

    What's galling is the way the French have done it all without any deference to the multilateral consensus-building they so smugly demanded of the Americans and British last year when the boots were on the other feet.

    Doubly galling is the silence -- even complicity -- of the UN and the international community, which last year so sanctimoniously and vocally obstructed the invasion of Iraq.

    No other nation has inserted itself militarily into African affairs in the post-colonial period more than France -- nearly two dozen times -- including on behalf of the murderous Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who proclaimed himself emperor of the Central African Republic, and in support of the Hutu government of Rwanda, whose supporters butchered half a million or more Tutsis in 1994.

    The truth is, international opposition to the Iraq war (including French opposition) was prompted as much by bitter anti-Americanism and irrational hatred of George W. Bush as it was by any true concern for peace or multilateralism.
    Via Instapundit, via The Diplomad's great post on how America ought to immitate France's foreign policy.

    "Thanks" has replaced "You're Welcome" as the response to "Thanks", "Thank you" etc.

    "You're welcome" implies that I'm doing something for you out of good will. It's a bit condescending to think that I might have something that you need, that I could give you something you couldn't get for yourself.

    "Thanks" acknowledges that I'm really just doing this for my own good, pleasure or gain.

    This is a kind of absurd post, so I apologize. But it always seems odd to me when I get a "Thanks" in response to my "Thanks". It hits close to home when I say "Thanks" in response to "Thanks", and usually it's because I'd be embarassed to say "You're Welcome"
    Spread your Wings!

    Believe, Have Faith, Give Thanks (insert your formerly-transitive exclamation here) have all been well considered by my dad below.

    I think the following would be a worthwhile survey of the canon of pop music since the late 60s:

    Does the singer talk about flying in his or her song? yes or no
    Am I duly inspiried? yes or no

    I am also interested in knowing if modern singers sing about flying because
    a. the people demand it
    or b. they would soar
    Younger Parent Estate Planning: Fundamentals: Dying without a Will: Part A

    A Last Will and Testament is a document that a person (called a "testator") signs in accordance with certain formalities required by law; that pertains to probate assets only (not to non-probate assets); that names the persons who should receive the probate assets upon the death of the testator (those persons are called "beneficiaries"); that names the person whom the testator wishes to be in charge of taking the assets through the probate process and dealing with the court (that person is known as the "personal representative" in Florida and most other states, "executor" in a few); and that may also nominate the people who would care for the children if the children are orphaned as a result of the testator’s death (those persons are known as "guardians").

    The Will can be quite simple. It can also be quite complex, especially if it addresses death tax issues or establishes trusts for one purpose or another (such as providing for the children), issues that we will address later.

    If a parent dies without a Will, his probate assets will be distributed according to "the laws of intestacy". To die "intestate" is, literally, to die without a Will. "Intestate" derives from the Latin word intestatus: in means "not" and tesatatus is the past participle of testari, "to make a Will".) The laws of intestacy are state laws and vary to some degree from state to state. In Florida, if a parent dies without a Will, then the probate assets will be distributed as follows:

    1. If the decedent’s children are also the children of the decedent’s spouse, then the spouse gets the first $60,000 worth of the deceased parent’s probate estate plus one-half of the balance.

    2. If one or more of the decedent’s children are not also the children of the decedent’s spouse, then the surviving spouse gets half of the probate estate. She doesn't get $60,000 off the top.

    3. The other half of the probate assets goes to the children. That half is immediately subdivided into equal shares for each child. So, for example, if there are three children, each child gets one-third of that half, or a one-sixth share of the probate assets.

    4. If the deceased parent is not survived by a spouse, that is, if the deceased parent is single, then all of the probate assets are divided in equal shares among the deceased parent’s children. With three children, for example, each would inherit a one-third share.

    Christmas vs. Holidays; Thanksgiving vs. thanksgiving. We had the TV on almost all day yesterday. The sound was cut very low. But we kept in touch with the two pro football games(real turkeys) and then, after a great dinner that Carol had been working on for two days and at a gathering that included Mary and my mother, I saw the first two acts of the Spiderman movie and wandered off to bed with a book (The Wild Blue, by Stephen Ambrose, a story about B-24s in WW II and featuring the last Democratic presidential candidate I voted for.)

    Sprint had been running its cell phone commercials all day - the ones where the guy in the trench coat gets off some sort of bus and greets various sorts of people. One of those commercials is set in front of a school where children are dressed up in various costumes. The camera for just a moment shows the front of the school where a sign is hanging, "Holiday Pageant", so we are given to understand why the kids are all dressed up. I thought to myself, "Don't you mean 'Christmas Pageant'?".

    Of course they don't. The Christians lost the "let's keep Christ in Christmas battle" years ago, as we joined everyone else at the altar of consumerism. But I also thought, "How ignorant of the secularists." The primary definition of "Holiday" is "holy day", although my Webster's New International Second Edition describes that definition as "now rare". Curiously, Webster's continues to list "holy day" as the primary meaning of holiday. We don't take words quite a seriously as we think we do. If we were really serious about banishing all Christian allusions from whatever it is we are doing during the season, we should come up with some other word than "holiday". So I'm fine, after all, with "Holiday Pageant".

    I looked carefully at the costumes in the commercial. I didn't see any baby Jesus, nor wise men, nor shepherds. Maybe I missed them. Did you see any sheep or lambs? I didn't recognize any of the costumes or understand from what merry place in our secular iconography the wardrobe unit derived its creations. It was hard to distinguish the costumes from the harmless Halloween costumes I saw last month, except on the basis of color and, maybe, a sort of softness to the character. (By "harmless" I mean Halloween costumes that don't deal with witches, ghosts, and the occult.) Very cute. Very meaningless: nothing linked to any history, any value other than sentimental cuteness.

    Which takes me to Thanksgiving itself. A financial planner whom I have known for many years sent me a Thanksgiving email on Tuesday, with her thoughts about the economy. I received it because I am on a list that must include her clients and other professional friends. Her introductory paragraph was as follows:

    As Thanksgiving nears I think of many things for which to give thanks, including you being in my life, and with appreciation for some positive signs in the economy.

    Other than being a little too personal, this paragraph raised this question: To whom is she offering thanks? I don't think you can have "thanksgiving" without having someone to whom to give the thanks. Is she thanking the economy? Is she thanking me for being someone who might send her business? I heard this sort of thing from non-religious people a number of times over the last week or so. "I have so much to be thankful for . . ., etc." Well, good, but whom are you thanking? Tell me. Or are you simply talking to yourself and me and really saying not "I have so much to be thankful for . . . " but "I have so much . . . look at me."

    I couldn't stand it. I sent her an email back:

    "Thank you, _______. I trust you will have (or had, depending on when you receive this) a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    And, yes, we have so much to be thankful for. I would add also, political correctness aside, we have such a great God to whom to be thankful.


    Anyway, next time someone tells you that he is very "thankful", ask that person to whom he is thankful. I would like to know. I'm as confused about that sort of statement as I am about what those little kids were wearing in the Sprint commercial.

    Thursday, November 25, 2004

    Xmas Lists
    At my mother's (annual) behest, I've created a modest 30+ item wishlist. (Well, she asked!) Following the link will take you to Google's shopping search engine, Froogle. At Froogle, you can set up your own shopping/wishlist of anything available on the net and set a link to it. As for my wishlist, there's no need to purchase things using Froogle, it's just a convenient way to point to this stuff. Also, feel free to get me used things on the list. (Also, if you want to get me the shoes, I normally wear a 10.5 in American sizing. If you have to get whole sizes, get a 10.)

    (BTW, I got the idea for a Froogle Wishilst from Sean.)
    "These Christians could at least have the good grace to accept that they lost the argument". An EU official, when confronted with the movement among European Christians to include references to Europe's Christian heritage in the proposed EU constitution's preamble.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2004

    Ways to Support Our Troops. Go to this page on the website of the First Infantry Division.
    A Fun Editorial about President Bush. Look on OpinionJournal.

    Monday, November 22, 2004

    "It has something to do with religion." So ends this morning's WSJ cover story on the rude awakening of the Dutch to the danger of "Islamic terrorists in their neighborhoods". With the murder of Theo van Gogh by Mohammed Bouyeri, a "well-educated guy with good prospects," according to the mayor of Amsterdam, the Dutch recognize that the "war on terrorism" has arrived in their country.

    The article quotes a Dutch social worker, as he considers Bouyeri's grisly murder of van Gogh: "Doing such a thing is beyond all limits . . . Something happened in [Bouyeri's] head that made him crazy. It has something to do with religion." The social worker speaks as if "religion" is something quite outside of his own experience and not a way of describing and ordering one's life, of understanding its meaning, of reaching our "potential", and of describing means and limits necessary to connect fully with "reality". He speaks as if he, himself, has no religion.

    What would we say to someone who comments, after a tour of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, "Doing such a thing is beyond all limits . . . Something happened in [Hitler's] head that made him crazy. It has something to do with politics"?

    When I was a Duke, I took a class in the Sociology department taught by Dr. Tiryakian, a class called "the Sociology of Religion". This was in the late '60s, the heyday of Modernism. His thesis was that only "religion" - what modernists would call "supernatural" religion and not the National Council of Churches kind - could ultimately satisfy a hunger that each person has. It was as if I were in Sunday School, when the teacher talked about an empty place that only God could fill. Dr. T's stories that supported his thesis had to do with Africa and medicine men and the like. But he was right on.

    The religion that we call "secular humanism", so refined and sophisticated in post-Christian Europe, may be enough for those populations who were winnowed by 400 years of immigration to the New World and more recently bled out by the wars of the Twentieth Century. But it was not enough for young Mohammed Bouyeri. It is not enough for most young people on this earth.

    When we attend church, supply leadership there, push the ecclesiastical bureaucracy, formal or informal, local or regional, either out of the way or into adapting to the "post-modern" world, parse our budget to supply support for missionaries like Macon, Kellsey, and Sean, and insist on fidelity to the truth of Jesus Christ, we are face to face with Mohammed Bouyeri and his idea of "religion". Mohammed is trying to get to us, frankly, and to our children. What he is up to does not have something to do with religion. It has everything to do with religion. And religion, finally and ultimately, is everything.

    Saturday, November 20, 2004

    That's not an Atomic Clock, this is an Atomic Clock.
    [Patrick Gill's] experiments, published in Science (19 November 2004) , demonstrate an optical measurement time three times more accurate than anything previously achieved. It thrusts NPL into the lead in the international race to perfect a new type of atomic clock.
    (from Slashdot)

    Friday, November 19, 2004

    In a previous post, Walter called our attention to U2's music video as iPod commercial. In today's USAToday, there are a few articles on U2 (they were on the cover of the "Life" section). This one addresses their approach to the commercial.
    Bono emphatically states, "No money changed hands. There were about three people in the universe who shouted sellout. Selling out is when you do something you don't want to for cash. We really wanted to do this. What could be cooler than having our own iPod and exploring new digital formats?"

    The pact had practical benefits. Pop radio isn't quick to embrace noisy rock tunes, and declining sales led to belt-tightening that precludes labels from bankrolling expensive album launches. The iPod TV spots provided invaluable exposure. "Apple seemed like the most natural collaboration and something our fans would not be embarrassed about," Edge says. "Nobody wants to see their favorite band attached to something uncool. This is about looking into the future. It's a stepping stone to where the business is heading."
    I had lunch with Sean today. He commented that my personality could be described as "Perky." This made me think that this would be a word that Walter might use to describe me as well. It also triggered a memory of when I was a freshman in college and Walt was a sophomore in high school: the cartoon below was published and both Walter and I cut it out without knowing the other was doing so, each of us thinking something like, "This is a picture of me and [brother's name]!" We both had the same idea about who was who in the picture: I was the singer. The two of us had a big laugh when I came home over Christmas break and saw the comic posted on the bulletin board in our room. We were delighted that we'd been on the same page.

    I also need to say, that neither of us really thought that Walter "hated me," or that he would cuss while commenting on me.

    Thursday, November 18, 2004

    McLuhan on Eliot

    "It is very inspiriting to read these words from the pen of the greatest English-speaking poet and the clearest-headed critic of literature writing in our time (T.S. Eliot):

    'What chiefly remains of the new freedom is its meagre impoverished emotional life; in the end it is the Christian who can have the more varied, refined and intense enjoyment of life; which time will demonstrate....The world is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail, but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the world from suicide. [p. 32]'

    How much more courageous[,] realistic and honest to say 'the dark ages before us', than to gibber cravenly in Wellsian fashion of vulgar Utopias...."

    Marshall Mcluhan - The Letters of Marshall Mcluhan pg 65.
    [T.S. Eliot - Thoughts After Lambeth]

    Wednesday, November 17, 2004

    No, wait, this changes everything. For real this time!
    Lufthansa now has 13 jets outfitted with Wi-Fi with more on the way.
    Graceful delays

    God's Grace manifests in delays.

    stay of execution. withholding judgement. weekends. night-time. distance.


    The Quickening

    Postmodernism moved from the elite to the masses with the advent of e-mail.

    no indoctrination was necessary.
    Subversive Virginity
    In light of Dad's post on Tom Wolfe's new novel, I thought it would be good to bring to your attention this essay that appeared in the October 1998 issue of First Things. It's a really good essay, and Sarah Hinlicky anticipates many of the observations that Wolfe "discovered" and reports upon in his novel.
    It's Still Final:
    "From Colin to Condolezza". This is the title of an excellent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal today by Eliot A. Cohen, "a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins . . . " The article is here on WSJ.com, but of course that's a pay site. Sometimes, though, such articles show up on OpinionJournal.com. His thesis is that the Bush administration needs to do much better in articulating its foreign policy vision, acting far less arrogantly and defensively, admitting mistakes, seeking a consensus with our friends, and so on. I am glad this fellow was not in Kerry's brain trust. Anyway, he expresses the hope that Condoleezza Rice will take the opportunity afforded by her special relationship to President Bush, an opporunity that Colin Powell apparently did not have, to move our foreign policy forward.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2004


    I'm reading Marshall McLuhan's letters right now.

    I don't think you'll see letters published in the future. It would be too self-referential to say there would be blog archives, but there it is.

    I wonder who was the last person to have their letters published. Has it happened? If not, when will it happen? it's going to happen.

    What sort of societal affects does that shift have?

    One things certain, I couldn't ask such immediate questions back in the day to such an unknown audience.
    The Medium is the instant-message

    Legislation now allows for checks to be transmitted electronically between banking institutions. The result is that the check-clearing process that formerly took days now takes hours.

    Industries were built around the resulting "float" of the few days it would take checks to clear. The float was directly tied to the amount of time it took a check to physically move from one location to the other. The movement is now unnecessary. Those industries are dying and new industries are being born.

    "Float" as a commodity is going to only increase in value now that it can't be manufactured with creative check paying. Creditors sell "float".

    "Defining Charity Upward". The Forbes article that I mentioned in one of my comments is found here. This is the article that questions charitable gifts to elite colleges and universities that have plenty of funds and charge its students a premium to attend when more worthy charities go begging. Unfortunately, you must go through a registration process to access the article on Forbes.com, although there is no charge for becoming a "member".
    Posting again over on Coast & Crown, my InterVarsity Christian Fellowship ministry blog. (I'm trying to post something every day. Made that decision last weekend. So far I'm keeping up!)

    Monday, November 15, 2004

    Aidan Update IV
    What would be a good way to show everyone that we're enjoying their gifts to Aidan? Oh, I don't know . . . how 'bout an episode of AWS CRIBS?
    Find the former updates in sidebar.
    Finding God in the Questions. This book by the medical editor for ABC-TV, Dr. Timothy Johnson, gets a favorable review in Christianity Today. IVP published the book.
    In case you were wondering how I'm feeling about certain things these days, I have come to seriously loathe Maureen Dowd.

    In other important news, Miami triumphed over UVA 31-21. All is right in the world again. (A caution, however: be careful about watching such important games with only one other person who is rooting for the other team. When you're as nice and gracious as I am, it's very hard to gloat and display the glory of the win.)

    And finally, I'm going to attempt to teach parts of speech today to my non-student 11th grade students. Wish me luck.
    The Great Smokeout. Here is an article that explains the addictive nature of nicotine and argues for a more patient way for non-smokers to look at smokers.
    Whiskey River Take Me Home

    I just got home from managing the merch sales for the Mapes at the Milton Mapes/Willie Nelson concert here in Austin. Sold out show of 4,000. They've got another show tomorrow night, and you'll find Walter behind the wares yet again at the Austin Music Hall.

    All I'm saying is that the Mapes takes care of business. www.miltonmapes.com

    Sunday, November 14, 2004

    Miami International Book Fair 2004. "The book fair" is an annual event in downtown Miami that we began attending when our children were small. This year's edition started about a week ago, and this weekend was the "street fair" part of it. At the street fair, booksellers set up temporary stalls in the streets around Miami-Dade Community College and for three days, Friday through Sunday, show their wares. I would guess that this year there were over one-hundred of them. Thousands of people parade through the stalls, pawing through and buying the books. We went to the fair yesterday and brought home some bargains. We need more books in our house, of course.

    When we first began attending the fair, almost all of the booksellers dealt in English language books. As the years went by, the proportion of Spanish language booths increased to the point where, about 10 years ago, I got a little annoyed. Yesterday as I walked through the street fair, I recognized that my attitude had completely changed. "Oh, look!" Paul exclaimed, "an English language bookseller. Let's go over there!"

    Some of the stalls have religious books of a given point of view and people in them ready to proselyte or, at least, to explain themselves. From the beginning there were some New Age types, but the variety and number of religious stalls have increased. None of the Christian types, however, were evangelizing. They were all about something else: the English Language Catholics were about right to life; the Cuban Catholics were about some great priest back in Cuba; the Mormons were about genealogy; a Southern Baptist church was about looking as much like any other used book seller as they could be. But the Muslims? Well, let me tell you, my friend, about Islam.

    The book fair invites authors to come and speak. Carol and I heard Tom Wolfe Friday night. He is promoting his new book, I am Charlotte Simmons , a sort of updated Sister Carrie.. Charlotte is a fictional young person from Sparta, NC, who goes to DuPont University, a sort of amalgam of Yale, Stanford, Michigan, Penn, Chapel Hill, etc. Wolf said he spent a month at each of these schools talking to students about what it is like to be a college student at an elite school. He used the novel form to "report" on his findings. The findings are not surprising, though they are appalling. We heard about such things as "the seven minute seduction" and "sexile". About how ideas of "character" have disappeared, to be replaced, vaguely, by "leadership" and nothing else. Wolf turns out to be a liberal in the 19th Century sense, I think. He didn't say it in so many words, but he must be very concerned about the future of the Republic if these are the citizens were are producing.

    We are going back again today to hear three lectures: Lynn Truss, the lady who wrote Eat Shoots and Leaves; Pat Conroy; and Alexander McCall Smith, who writes a series of novels about The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, whose heroine is Precious Ramotswe, and which take place in Botswana.

    Saturday, November 13, 2004

    Younger Parent Estate Planning: Fundamentals: Probate and Non-Probate Assets

    I know that we would all like to dive into the question, “Who is going to take care of our little ones if we’re gone?!!” But if I can ask you to be patient with that question while I take you through some fundamentals, I think you will find it easier to reach an answer eventually.

    But let me say this about that question. Whatever the answer you eventually develop, you will not be perfectly satisfied with it, because no one will love your child nor take care of him or her in just the way you would have loved and cared for that child. The answer, then, will not solve satisfactorily the problem of an untimely death (is there ever a “timely” death?); the answer will be a “This is the best we can do under terrible circumstances” answer. I have seen younger (and older) parents bring their estate planning process to a grinding halt, because they could not come up with the perfect plan to respond to the contingency of death; they would not agree to an imperfect plan. But death has a sting. We don’t develop plans to avoid the sting, because we cannot. The plan by necessity will be imperfect.

    OK. Now the first fundamental that you have to get in your head is this: the world is divided into two kinds of assets: probate assets and non-probate assets. At least that’s the way I look at the world, and I’m writing this post.

    A probate asset is an asset that has to go through a court proceeding in order for the asset to get from the person who owned it at his death to the person who is to become the owner of that asset. The court proceeding is popularly called "probate", and the court that presides over the process of transferring ownership is popularly called the "probate court".

    For example, let us assume a young married couple, whom we will call Dulce and Peter Clarke. They have a three children, Billy, Pepe, and Maria Elena, ages 9, 6, and 3. Peter has a sailboat that he owned before he and Dulce were married. (By the way, he never gets out in it anymore. He ought to sell the thing. But it has lots of memories for Peter that do not exclusively have to do with Dulce.) The certificate of title for that sailboat shows the owner as “Peter F. Clarke”. He never changed the title certificate after he was married. If Peter dies, then getting a new title certificate with the name of the new owner on it will require a court proceeding, the boat will have to go through "probate".

    A non-probate asset is an asset that does not require a court proceeding to get from the person who owned it at his death to the person who is to become the owner. For example, let’s assume that our young parents own a bank account entitled Dulce Clarke or Peter Clarke. If one of them dies, then the other “automatically” becomes the complete owner of the account. A probate process is not involved in the ownership of the account moving completely to Dulce at Peter's death. (The change of title is really not "automatic", but it seems that way when we compare it with changing title in a probate proceeding. More on what we really mean by "automatic" later.)

    If Peter before his death had arranged to get a new certificate of title for his sailboat that named the owners as “Peter Clarke and Dulce Clarke, as joint tenants with right of survivorship”, then the boat at his death would have avoided probate and complete ownership would have moved “automatically” to Dulce.

    Note that, after Peter’s death, the bank account is now owned only by Dulce. It becomes a probate asset as far as Dulce is concerned. If Dulce does nothing about the account, then when there will be no “automatic” change of ownership when she dies. To change the ownership of the account from Dulce’s name to the name of the person to receive the account, we have to have to move the asset through the probate process.

    The word probate is a word that has become loaded with negative baggage: attorneys’ fees, court costs, executors commissions, creditors claims, taxes, delay, delay, and delay. In the popular view, an important goal of estate planning is to avoid probate, because that seems to mean avoiding all of that baggage. I expect that we will learn that avoiding probate does not necessarily divest assets of all of the baggage that is commonly associated with probate. It is death that brings most of that baggage, death and bad planning. But that is for another day. The main thing to understand at this point is that the asset world can be divided into probate assets and non-probate assets.
    Younger Parent Estate Planning. I have for years thought about creating a seminar that would help young parents develop an appropriate "estate plan". By "estate plan" I mean a plan that addresses the contingency that one or both of the parents (if we are considering a couple) or the single parent would die before the child or children have grown up. The plan would include a Will for each parent, of course, but there are several other important documents that need to be considered and developed as well. And how the Will itself is to be drafted involves some important and interesting issues.

    Three things have pushed me at this point to commence this project in earnest. One is that Macon and Kellsey have become "young parents". (I am working with them now on their estate plan. Kellsey has already raised a question about guardians that no one has ever raised before in my practice, and it is an excellent question.) Another is the idea that my minister, Van Lahmeyer, and I are proposing to our church session: to have a seminar on the topic to draw unchurched young parents to our Christian community. (We hope to start that seminar after the first of the year on Wednesday nights, right after our mid-week suppers.)

    The third is this blog: I hope to use it as a way to try out my ideas on the little community that has formed at this particular point in hyperspace. There are a number of younger parents already reading this blog: Macon of course; Scott, who is a relatively new parent; Sean, who I hope is still reading the blog, and is also a young father (In reading Sean's blog, I have noted that there are other young fathers who post there.); my fellow lawyer and good friend, Austin, who now has one child about to graduate from Columbia, a child who is a senior at Miami Springs Senior, and a seventh-grader, who is a phenomenal soccer player. There may be others. And then we also have "parents to be" hanging around. I would invite all of you, younger parents, parents to be, older parents, people who have or had parents, to comment, ask questions, and otherwise participate as I work through this.

    I will use a blog post to present and discuss a particular point or issue. I hope the posts will follow some sort of sensible order. Taken together, the posts should represent a sort of note book. I hope to take that notebook at some point and use it to create something more cohesive, such as lecture notes, handouts and Powerpoint slides. I may go back to a given post and edit or rewrite it. (I imagine your comments and questions will generate some second or additional thoughts.) I will let you know when I do. I will ask Macon, if he would, to set up on the side-bar a Younger Parent Estate Planning category and then coach me on how I can key the posts to it.

    I have a bio on my law firm website and it is here. I don't like the picture (I have lost 20 pounds since then) nor the bragging tone of the bio. Cf. James 1:17. But it shows, I think, that I should know what I am talking about in this area. Yet let me say something else very important: I have practiced law (and been around) long enough to know that I don't know everything, not even nearly everything, about this topic. So don't be intimidated or reluctant to comment or ask questions. Let me say that my background and experience "entitle" me to no more than the opportunity to bring this matter up on our blog, introduce and discuss the issues, and to moderate your responses.

    UPDATE: Read the next installment in the series here.

    Friday, November 12, 2004

    Family Dinners. Thursday's (11/11/2004) WSJ reports that there "is an astonishingly large - and growing - pile of research that suggests . . . that kids who eat dinner with their families regularly are better students, healthier people and less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs than those who don't." (As with this or any other WSJ article I mention, let me know if you want to read all of it, and I will email it to you.) The report also mentions that "there are signs that family dinners are making a comeback."

    Thursday, November 11, 2004

    I know at least one guy who'd be interested.
    A discussion going on over at Slashdot (News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters) on Ham and Software - Communities of Creativity?
    Both communities share an enthusiasm for technical creativity and up until recently there was even some overlap between the two groups. Are there any interesting stories about the creativity of either groups (that relate to the other group perhaps) that should be recorded and documented?"
    Discussion ensues.
    Going to Canada Posted for Carol
    Ann Althouse writes
    When rich celebrities and comfortably ensconced academics and other elite blue-staters say they feel like going to France/Canada/wherever, what are they talking about? Isn't your problem with Bush what he will (supposedly) do to other people -- the poor, the unfortunate, the underclass, the third worlders? . . . It shouldn't matter where YOU are, since your problem with Bush is with what he will do to people other than you?
    It's short and to the point. Read the whole thing. :-)
    Two Metaphors In a post I wrote almost a week ago, I first used a colorful metaphor to describe a certain charactertistic of President Bush. My father gently redirected my post with the following comment: Regarding the metaphor, I refer you to, inter alia, 1 Tim. 4:12. So the rewrite became
    Firmly establishing democracy in both countries will go a long way towards ensuring our peace. GW has the courage and stick-withit-ness to see this through.
    (I noted the change with this: Edited on 11.2.04 to "set an example" and apply pope link.)

    As it turns out, I wasn't the only one who thought this, nor was I the only one to use it in print. Although I must say that Peggy Noonan writes it here without actually writing it, proving again that she's a classy lady.
    About a year ago I was visiting West Point, and I was talking to a big officer, a general or colonel. But he had the medals and ribbons and the stature, and he asked me what I thought of President Bush. I tried to explain what most impressed me about Mr. Bush, and I kept falling back on words like "courage" and "guts." I wasn't capturing the special quality Mr. Bush has of making a tough decision and then staying with it if he thinks it's right and paying the price even when the price is high and--

    I stopped speaking for a moment. There was silence. And then the general said, "You mean he's got two of 'em." And I laughed and said yes, that's exactly what I mean.

    It's good to have her back writing at OpinionJournal.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2004

    Careful Kids! This could happen to you.


    (Click here if you need a hint in figuring out the difference between these two pictures.)
    Overused phrase alert! Wireless Internet across downtown Seattle. "This is the equivalent of putting in a T-1 line, but it is wireless," said Chatterley. "It is going to change everything.
    Yeah, this'll help NASCAR's image: Liquor marketing ban lifted for '05

    Tuesday, November 09, 2004

    Amazon Theater Amazon is now in the business of creating short films. They're offering them for free online. Of course, you can buy pretty much anything in the film right there at Amazon! Is this another example of the acceleration/shift/blurring of product placement & product? Minnie Driver stars in the first film, Portrait. (Amazingly, this film even shows up in the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).)
    Global Warming I've always been a bit skeptical about "the sky is falling" approach to Global Warming Warners. I can't put my finger on why it was that I didn't quite buy it. This piece in First Things, though, makes a compelling case on why Global Warming Science isn't quite as scientific as one would hope. I found it illuminating.
    Not much more after this on the election, but I enjoyed this response from Matthew Baldwin on the Republican victory. Matthew was disappointed that Bush won, and, in spite of his mischaracterization of Christians (who doesn't do that these days?), I think he makes some good points for his fellows in the Opposition.

    Besides, he is a seriously funny guy. I highly recommend a regular reading of his blog, Defective Yeti.
    Reasons not to innovate: the innovator's dilemma. If a successful supplier innovates it is generally to add features to and improve a product, but not to destroy it by developing radically better technology. . . . Shipowners carrying ice from the Arctic Circle to western Europe did not develop the refrigerators that killed their trade. Sustainable innovation cannot withstand the disruptive innovation of upstarts from outside the ranks of established suppliers.
    So ends this article on vibrating drives, the possible next-generation magnetic storage devices.
    More Evidence of a Declining Old Europe. The Wall Street Journal today reported on the "Consumer Reports preview of 2005 cars" and said that among the "least reliable" on the preview are the German cars, the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series and the Mercedes S Class and E Class. On the list for "less than average reliability", the Volkswagen Jetta, Golf and New Beatle. I take no pleasure in passing this on. A strong and confident Germany is good for the US, even if they don't always agree with us.

    Monday, November 08, 2004

    Aidan: Squared away at 3 weeks. We had the pleasure of meeting young Aidan Walter this weekend. Although it was a short visit, it was intense and I had the opportunity to observe him in several important contexts as he went about his business. My impression is that he is squared away. When it is time to sleep, he sleeps; time to eat, he eats; time to look around and take things in, he does so earnestly and effectively; time to deal with certain natural functions, he focuses successfully. He doesn't "fuss", he communicates. He does not have to occupy center stage, but when he is thrust into that position, he remains himself. He is quite flexible and tolerant as far as the unimportant is concerned. He digs in his heels only when the essentials are at stake. I like this young man. Its going to be great fun to be one of his grandfathers.
    Walter is right on a couple of levels in his critique of my previous post. At the most fundamental level my offhand comment on the PCA/PC(USA) was too flip and too void of chairty. As a Christian, to violate "In all things charity," is pretty fundamental and I apologize. However, charitably, the point I was trying to make was that in striving for organization purity it is easy to shoot one's self in the foot by totally elimiating the Opposition Party. I know that the PCA does great things, and has great people in it.

    I certainly do not overlook the absolute craziness that is going on in the PC(USA). I even wonder how long it will be able to survive. Shoot, they've got folks who spend time worshipping the Goddess Sophia. This is very difficult to distinguish from out and out heresy. (See? I'm being charitable!) Because of this they really are forced to talk about "Who is God and how do we know?"

    On another note, it was clearly not a good example in that it distracted at least one reader from the otherwise brilliant and incisive point I was making in the post. I am interested in what Walter (and others) think about that point, my lousy external example notwithstanding. :-)

    Saturday, November 06, 2004

    Gay-marriage? That's so not the issue.
    As you'll note from my previous post on why I voted for Bush, Gay-marriage was such a non-issue that it didn't even make it onto the "non-issue" list.

    David Brooks explains how wrong many Dems are in thinking that this is the issue. I couldn't agree with him more (and therefore, I disagree fairly strongly with Sean's post on the matter). Read his article, it's short but robust. Here's a snippet:
    The red and blue maps that have been popping up in the papers again this week are certainly striking, but they conceal as much as they reveal. I've spent the past four years traveling to 36 states and writing millions of words trying to understand this values divide, and I can tell you there is no one explanation. It's ridiculous to say, as some liberals have this week, that we are perpetually refighting the Scopes trial, with the metro forces of enlightenment and reason arrayed against the retro forces of dogma and reaction.

    In the first place, there is an immense diversity of opinion within regions, towns and families. Second, the values divide is a complex layering of conflicting views about faith, leadership, individualism, American exceptionalism, suburbia, Wal-Mart, decorum, economic opportunity, natural law, manliness, bourgeois virtues and a zillion other issues.

    But the same insularity that caused many liberals to lose touch with the rest of the country now causes them to simplify, misunderstand and condescend to the people who voted for Bush. If you want to understand why Democrats keep losing elections, just listen to some coastal and university town liberals talk about how conformist and intolerant people in Red America are. It makes you wonder: why is it that people who are completely closed-minded talk endlessly about how open-minded they are?

    While it is fun for me to shake my head and laugh at the magnitue of the miscalculation DNC wonks are making, I actually think it's really important that they figure this out. In our two party system, it's important for the good of the country that the Opposition Party fight the right battles. That is, it's important that both parties are arguing about the issues which are important to the electorate. If David Brooks is right, and I really think he is, then the DNC is focusing on the wrong thing. He's not the only one saying this, btw.

    Why is it important to have a strong Opposition Party (regardless of which party is in that position)? Because a good contrary opinion, well and thoughtfully stated, forces you to correct, refine, and understand your own position. By way of example: This is why the PCA fights about such dumb things ("Strict adherence to the Westminster Confession?"), and why in the PC(USA) the fight is always about the essentials: Who is God, how do we know? Those are the questions that always need to be asked and answered. Peggy Noonan makes this point re: opposition parties much more eloquently than I do. One wishes the Democrats well if for no other reason than the Republican Party will be at its best only when it faces a worthy and vital competitor.

    I sure hope the DNC stops belittling "Flyover Country" (a condescending term in and of itself) and figures this out. Not only because snobbery (like the Blue/Red State IQ hoax that Sean linked) is unbecoming, but because we'll be a stronger nation for it.

    UPDATE: After some email dialog with Sean, it seems we're not so far apart as I thought on the gay-marriage-as-THE-issue question.

    Friday, November 05, 2004

    Portrait of a writer as a young woman
    At six years old, Mary was already well on her way to being the crack English teacher that she is, clearly understanding the classic narrative structure of Freitag's Pyramid.

    Rising Action & Climax

    Thursday, November 04, 2004

    From the "Mary-Wants-to-Move-There?" Dept. Opinion Journal points to this article in the New York Times concerning the parochialism of New Yorkers. Carol and I experienced this when we lived there over 30 years ago.
    Styles of Musical Worship
    Robert Austell, pastor of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church (USA), in Charlotte, NC, and good friend of mine (this makes him "kith"!), sent me this. I think Kith & Kin would find it interesting and edifying.

    This is something I wrote to a "worship task force" at FPC-Orlando in relation to their discussions on "traditional" and "contemporary" worship styles. ~Robert

    "God's Refrigerator Door"

    I have three girls, ages 2, 4, and 6. This morning, I came downstairs to find the two older girls drawing pictures for me. As I came close, the 4-year-old said, "Daddy, I drew this for you; isn't it good?" I said, "Abby, it's beautiful; thank you so much for drawing that for me." The 6-year-old promptly said, "Look at mine; I drew this for you. Don't you think it's prettier than hers?" I said, "Walker, I see that you've used lots of colors. It is beautiful; but I like both pictures." Walker said, "But she's only 4; I draw better than her." Abby was beginning to get a little rattled and reached over and grabbed Walker's picture, which made Walker hit her and begin to cry.

    Where did things go so wrong?? After all, I didn't love either of their pictures because they were amazing works of art created by my child-prodigies. I loved them... LOVED THEM... because my two little girls had offered me something from their heart. Truthfully, they both are good at drawing, and appropriately so for their ages. But, we're still talking about a crayon-colored flower with four lop-sided petals and the 6-year-old's typical stick person with her ever-present background objects: a sun, a rainbow, and a cross. What disappointed me was that out of striving with each other that neither received the love I returned to them for such a heartfelt gift.

    Because I teach and work with numerous churches, pastors, and musicians who are thinking through the theology of worship (or in the trenches of a "worship war"), I see this very scene played out again and again. A choir member, a guitarist, a man with a music degree, someone who earns a living playing by ear.... in their own way they offer up heartfelt praise and lead others in doing the same. Then they start to compare their work. "Mine is better than hers; theirs gets people too excited; theirs puts people to sleep; that isn't real music; that isn't relevant music." And I have to think God is disappointed, both at his childrens' striving and at the missed opportunity to bask in His pleasure at their offering. And surely to the Creator who made the stars and planets, who can hear the deepest rumble of a planet turning on its axis and the fast-as-light crescendo of a star going super-nova, our childish little compositions and ditties do not please him because of their extraordinary cleverness, but because he sticks them up on the refrigerator doors of heaven and tells the angels, "My child Robert drew that one for me."

    May God give us humble hearts and ears to hear.

    Wednesday, November 03, 2004

    Googled: This humble blog is now the first return in Google for "stokes kith kin" and "paulstokes". To help people get to our blog, you can now either tell them the url or, "Just google 'stokes kith and kin'."

    UPDATE: When I took the time to count, googling "Paul Stokes" returns this humble blog as the 33rd result.
    A predicition from Wayne, my seemingly-flamboyant-yet-actually-traditional-husband-with-kids-right-wing-conservative-hair-stylist: Cheney will resign after a year or so and Bush will appoint Guiliani as the new VP to prime him for 2008.
    A long time coming: A letter to the Chairman of the Miami Herald.

    Dear Mr. Ibarg├╝en:

    Please cancel our subscription to The Miami Herald as of our current expiration date of November 13, 2004. We will not be renewing the subscription we have had continuously since 1973.

    Instead of just notifying your circulation department I want to make you aware of the reasons for our decision. Through our thirty-one years of reading The Herald we have noticed the paper moving farther and farther away from the values we hold and from any standards of objectivity in reporting. Your coverage of the current election campaign has finally pushed us to cancel our subscription.

    Here is a brief summary of some of our frustrations with your paper:

    1. There is a place for opinion pieces in the newspaper - either on the editorial page or in a featured column. I don‚t expect to agree with every opinion, however I do think that a range of opinions should be offered over time. In The Herald there is rarely expressed anything but a liberal point of view.

    2. Articles written as "news" should be objective and balanced. Both sides of a story should be presented clearly. Instead we found that, in the most recent case, for example, any "news" article concerning the election or the war in Iraq or Afghanistan was a thinly disguised opinion piece. By your headlines, article placement, and content we have repeatedly seen you distort and misrepresent facts to the advantage of John Kerry and the detriment of George Bush. Additionally you often have not covered very significant subjects which, had they been covered, would have shown Bush, his policies, and his actions in a favorable way. You have also not covered many legitimate questions regarding Kerry‚s history and his record while at the same time taking every opportunity to criticize Bush, often not acknowledging when attacks on Bush were discredited.

    3. Even the comics page is not immune to your bias. One of my favorite cartoons, B.C., was removed several years ago because its content was offensive to some. Dilbert was removed to the Business section every day but Sunday. Your comics page through this election cycle has been dominated by diatribes against Bush, many days with five or more comics being blatantly anti-Bush. I understand that there is room for satire concerning the elections. What I will no longer accept is the completely one-sided nature of what you will lampoon. I cannot recall a single instance of humor in the comics at the expense of Kerry during this election.

    4. Your treatment of social issues often seems to deliberately glorify what is perverse and dysfunctional in society and holds in disdain the values which have helped our country to be free and prosperous.

    5. Even in the Sports section your reporting is often negative and puerile.

    In short, rather than being a force for good in our community, The Herald is often negative and destructive. In the past we often suspected your bias. Now we are fortunate to have the internet with which to compare your reporting and your bias has been confirmed. We are not dependent on you for our news and we will no longer support you.

    Carol C. Stokes

    cc: P. Anthony Ridder, Chairman, CEO, Knight-Ridder
    Steven Rossi, President - Newspaper Division, Knight-Ridder
    Tom Fiedler, Executive Editor, The Miami Herald
    Subscription Service Center, The Miami Herald
    What? New Nokia product.
    Speaking of Fulfillment. Mary tells me that her new Apple laptop, which she ordered online, was shipped to her directly from Taipai. I ordered a laptop battery that was direct shipped from Asia about six months ago.
    changing of the guard

    We are not dependent on you for our news and we will no longer support you.
    -Carol Stokes to the Miami Herald

    Pretty soon they'll realize it costs less to sell blank newsprint to the fishmarket.

    Tuesday, November 02, 2004

    November 2, 2004
    Moral Crisis?
    First Dr. Harold Bloom of Yale fears the Mr. Bush will usher in a theocracy. Now a professor at Fuller is circulating an open letter critical of Mr. Bush overt religiousity and fears that he has ushered in a "moral crisis" in our country (the OpinionJournal reported on this letter here).

    What's going on here? Regardless of your eschatological perspective, Christians and our beliefs won't be gaining favor as the end of time approaches. Is that what is happening? Is our secular society becoming more aggressive, though not yet militant, against Christian theology and it's public expression? Or are these letters another example of partisan politics before a polarized election? I'm thinking there are larger cultural questions here than just politics.
    Tom Wolfe on Ivy League University Culture and the Cluelessness of the Ruling Elite. Drudge picked up this great interview in the Guardian.
    Read this excellent article by Mary Ann Glendon, published in last month's First Things.

    Monday, November 01, 2004

    At long last! Halo2 will be released on November 9th. And, to make things even better, Kellsey and I saw a commercial this week for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. It will be released on November 15th. Oh yeah! It's time (again) to save the world.

    Strangely enough, there's no UN involvement in either of these rescue missions.

    Also, may I mention that not only do I have a wife who bore me a beautiful son, she also looks forward to the above games with me? Truly, I am a blessed man.

    or, Why I Will Vote For GW Tomorrow

    I just finished researching the extremely long ballot for Mecklenburg County elections, and am looking forward to voting tomorrow. While in the mood, I thought I'd mention a few things on why I'm going with GW tomorrow (in order of importance).

    War: I think GW has taken the right tack in the fight against Terrorists. Afganistan was the right choice immediately following 9/11. Iraq was a good choice among several good choices, and a good place to continue the fight. Firmly establishing democracy in both countries will go a long way towards ensuring our peace. GW has the courage and stick-withit-ness to see this through.

    Supreme Court: GW will appoint judges that tend more towards a Strict Constructionist view of the Constitution. In other words, he will appoint judges who understand that their job is to rule according to the law, not to make new laws (or find "new rights").

    Culture of Life: pro-life, anti-euthanasia, pro-stem cell research, but not embryonic stem cells. I want to live in a country that has a culture of Life. (As opposed to a Culture of Death, as noted by J.P.II.)


    Economy: Presidents don't control the economy. And if you're counting, GW inherited the recession from Clinton. But seriously, I'm not counting. The free market juggernaut of the US will continue regardless of who is president.

    "Outsourcing": the US is no longer a manufacturing based economy. No amount of crying will change that. No amount of tarrifs will, either.

    "Unilateralism": By this, critics mean "without France, Germany & Russia." I really couldn't give a rip about what France, Germany & Russia think about us. On a related note, the UN is broken and corrupt. It does a mediocre job of pointing out problems in the world. It does a lousy job of doing anything about it because it is made up of the very leaders who are creating the problems. It would be nice to have the admiration of the UN and France, Germany & Russia on our Foreign Polcy but that's it, just nice.

    WMDs: Both Bush & Kerry thought they were there pre-invasion. We haven't found any yet. So? We thought they had them, and we acted appropriately with that belief. Attacking Saddam was the appropriate thing to do. Deposing Saddam and working hard to create a democracy are worthy things in and of themselves.

    "Quagmire": Rebuilding Iraq is hard. Deal with it. It took a long time and a Civil War for our Democratic Republic to be established. Why all the handwringing over the fact that were not done in a year?

    Flame away! :-)

    Edited on 11.2.04 to "set an example" and apply pope link.
    Cool Bike
    It's only $137,000.00
    Scary Kerry?: Our 2 year-old participated in a “Trunk or Treat” at my in-law’s church. Basically, people contested for the best decorated car trunk and handed out treats in the parking lot. The winner of the contest was a car that, in addition to decorating the trunk, had a Kerry-Edwards sticker on the bumper (insert screaming here). The emcee declared that the prospect of a Kerry presidency scared the judges more than any goblin or gremlin. Ha ha.

    But seriously, how “scary” is a Kerry presidency? Consider:

    Taxes: Republicans will retain a solid majority in the House. No new taxes.

    Iraq: Kerry knows that we must win in Iraq and will not cut-and-run. He’ll talk a different talk, but the walk (swagger as it’s called in Texas) will be nearly the same. It’s almost worth a Kerry presidency to see him attempt to woo old Europe into sending troops. Nah.

    Domestic Issues: Kerry will talk big on education, healthcare, etc., then accuse the Republican Congress of being obstructionists when they shoot down his socialist...I mean, social agenda. Let’s hope Republicans reign in spending, regardless of who’s president.

    North Korea/Iran: Unlike his talk on Iraq, Kerry wants to go it alone on North Korea. Bad idea. Clinton tried and failed. On Iran, Kerry would have provided them the nuclear fuel to start their reactors, then held them accountable if they attempt to use it for military purposes. Yeah. Right. Kerry must be living in Narnia.

    Judiciary: Now it gets really scary. With the prospect of 2 or more Supreme Court Justices retiring in the next 4 years, the next president will have an opportunity not since Reagan to shape our beloved Country’s mores and lifestyle. Bush desires strict Constitutionalists, those who will interpret the law, not make it. Kerry would likely nominate those on the far left bank of socialist...(there I go again) I mean, social ideology.

    All Hallows Eve didn’t start out as a “scary” holiday, but was simply the eve before All Saints Day. I’m voting for a fellow Saint tomorrow, George W. Bush, because the alternative is truly scary.