Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Get your bumper engaged in the clash of civilizations!

Buy one of these things over here.
3 weeks old today. More William Sean McClintock pics here.
"Hitler, after all, was elected . . . " A commentary
on the Hamas victory and the idea of democracy for all in the Middle East.
Ajay. A few days ago I had lunch with Ajay M. Bhatt, a lawyer with the Department of Homeland Security. He is from Spartanburg, SC, and had been a student of my aunt, Ann Dobbs, when she taught English in a private secondary school there. Ann and Ajay had become great friends, and I met him once when we visited Ann in Eastman, GA, where she runs a bed and breakfast called "The Dodge Hill Inn". You don't "drop by" Eastman, so his visit attests to their friendship.

So Ajay was in Miami for a couple of weeks, where he was handling some cases in the Immigration courts not far from my office, and I got to have lunch with him. After our visit, he sent me an email with a link to his website where he has posted photos of a trip to India. He does street-clowning (I don't know if that's the right word) and the photos are from some of his performances. Now that is an unusual way to spend a vacation. Way to go, Ajay!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Bill Cowher and the Steelers. Good article on SI.com.
Whose side is she on? The irony is that only in America is such a plight possible. Good luck with that.
Fusion Magic. No sooner do I master the Mach3, power version, Gillette comes out with the Fusion. In stores this week. Suddenly the mundane becomes spectacular. (Five blades in front! One in the back!) No doubt Carol will be up at dawn with me just to see me shave. It comes in a power version as well. I can't wait for Father's Day. I'm putting the Mach3, power version, on Ebay immediately.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Miami (half) Marathon

It was a beautiful morning for a run in Miami.

-wake-up time: 4.45 am

-time on metrorail, from Earlington Heights to Government Center: 15 minutes

-the course.

-start time: 6am

-temperature: 70

-number of people I ran with: 11,000?

-cruise ships passed: 4

-bridges traversed: 6

-causeways travelled: 2

-sunrises seen: 1

-port-o-john stops: 2

-cups of water taken: 4

-cup of gatorade: 1

-power gels consumed: 1

-glimpses of the man in the gold daisy dukes: 2

-prostitutes along the way: 2

-crazy homeless folks who joined the run for a bit: 3

-collapsed runners: 1

-miles run: 13.13 (that extra .03 is what I figure I traveled from the shotgun start to the actual starting line...which took me about 5 minutes in the slow traffic)

-marathoners who finished all 26.2 before I finished 13.1: 0 (phew!)

-race time: 2:09:47

-pace/mile: 9:55 (geez! that's too slow! we'll run faster next time, or at least take fewer bathroom breaks.)

post race details:

-bananas consumed: 2

-power bars: 1

-orange slices: 9

-bottles of water: 1

-parents found: 2

-pictures taken: 7

-salsa bands playing: 1

Boy, Will, I sure know what you mean!

UPDATE: Mary ran in the Miami Half-Marathon. How was it, Mar?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Oh, Yeah!

If we come to [nature] with the assumption that it is a creation, we shall study it with awe; if assuming it to be a system, with mere curiosity.

-Cardinal Newman in The Tamworth Reading Room, as quoted in the review by Oakes which I cite below.

I know this sounds a little ridiculous in light of Newman's sublime statement, but I look at what I see in Amateur Radio with a specie of this sort of awe. To think that God, in his great plan before the beginning thought to include an ionosphere, a thing which several millennia after that beginning facilitated worldwide communications by providing a ceiling around the earth from which to bounce radio signals like ping-pong balls - it amazes me.

I really can't get my head around all of creation (who can?). For that matter, I can't get my head around the marvel of the members of my family and the richness of the love that it pulses. But ham radio I can get a little inside of and get an idea of how that section of creation seems to work. The awe there is somewhat particularized and somewhat accessible (though barely) to my small mind, and I can just begin to deal with it. The richness of family, on the other hand, not to mention the rest of creation, simply leaves me slack-jawed and awe-struck into unintelligibility.

Friday, January 27, 2006

'Cause I like to stir the pot
[That Wal-Mart opening I posted on a while back] received 25,000 applications for 325 openings for a new Chicago area store. Critics charge that this will encourage a race to the bottom, as the store fills many of these vacancies with part-time employees and offers lower wages and benefits than the competitors that will inevitably fold against Wal-Mart’s enormous buying power.

Meanwhile, Chad Donath, the corporation’s Chicago area manager argues, “That incredible number of applications shows the community thinks Wal-Mart is a great place to work.”

Well, not exactly. What it shows, though, is that 25,000 people would prefer to work in those jobs than the jobs they have -- or don't have -- at the moment.

That's the fundamental fact of economics that the critics seem not to get. Sure, for those with college educations or substantial technical skills in high demand in the marketplace, work as a stocker or cashier in the retail industry would be undesirable. It's hard, stressful work. But there would appear to be 25,000 people out there who consider those jobs a step up from where they are now.

. . .as economist Thomas Sowell explains, people who take low paying jobs gain valuable skills that they can translate into higher paying jobs. “Notions of menial jobs and dead-end jobs may be just shallow misconceptions among the intelligentsia but they are a deadly counterproductive message to the poor. Refusing to get on the bottom rung of the ladder usually means losing your chance to move up the ladder.”
This from an article comparing Wal-Mart to Universities. Interesting.
A Reply to "Subjective Idealism".

There was a young man who said
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
Where there's no one about in the

"Dear Sir, your astonishment's odd;
I am always about in the Quad
And that's why this tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by . . . Yours faithfully,

-Attributed to Ronald Knox by Edward T. Oakes, S.J. in his review of Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness by Daniel C. Dennett, which review appears in the January 2006 issue of First Things.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

the chronic(what?) Via Walter.
Pray I'm not too soon

In a startling fit of discipline and disregard, I'm going to respond to Macon's challenge but leave out some of the less savory topics:

Seven or fewer things:

I want to do before I die:
I don't know what to do with this one. I'd like to be friends with Bob Dylan, James Hetfield, Tom Waits, and Jeremy Enigk. Talk Mcluhan with them. I don't need to get it done before death, though, I think.

Things I cannot do:
Produce my own thyroid hormone.
Laugh at anything Kevin Smith has produced.
Put my clothes away.
Use toenail clippers instead of picking with my fingernails
Stop the Rock!

Things I say most often:
what a beets
the lofe
run to the hills

Celebrity Anti-Crushes:
Sum 41
Blink 182
Limp Bizkit
Attention, Young Parents! You can have it all.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Words from First Things.

People may disagree, but I think myself somewhat literate. Nevertheless, each issue of FT has articles with words either I haven't ever seen before or, if I have, I have forgotten the meaning. (Oh, gee, I hope its more of the former than the latter . . . Now, where was I?) Here are some from the January 2006 issue:

endogamy: This word appears in an article entitled "Protestant-Catholic-Jew, Then and Now" which discusses the 1954 book Protestant-Catholic-Jew, by Will Herberg, a sociologist, a book that the author of the article, Kevin M. Schultz, describes as "still a classic of American religious history". The word describes the practice of people who marry within their ethnic, nationality, or religious group. What Herbert saw in the mid fifties was a "decline of endogamy among people of the same nationality . . . and a rise of endogamy among the three religious groups [Protestant, Catholic, Jew]."

natalists: These are people whose personal identity is defined by parenthood and who have three or more children, at least according to David Brooks. Natalists 'are more spiritually, emotionally, and physically invested in their homes than in other spheres of life, having concluded that parenthood is the most enriching and elevating thing they can do.' This discussion appears in the Public Square section of the January issue. Neuhaus looks at a review of David Brooks' Paradise Drive and other writings, of whom and of which I have no acquaintance except what Neuhaus says of them. Other characteristics of natalists are described. For example, "People who have big families, Brooks goes on, 'are explicitly rejecting materialistic incentives and hyperindividualism'.

qualia: This appears in a review of a book by Daniel C. Dennett entitled Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness. The review is by Edward T. Oakes, S.J. Oaks writes, "Among philosophers working on the mind/body problem, the word 'qualia' stands for all those features of consciousness that give awareness its specific identity as a particular kind of experience: the redness of red, the sadness of depression, the piquancy of papaya juice, the irksomeness of traffic jams, the crankiness that comes from insomnia, the hurt feelings arising from play-ground taunts, and so forth . . . Qualia consitute the central challenge for any philosopher who wants to provide a fully naturalistic account of consciousness based on the neurochemistry of the brain."
"The most technologically advanced manual shaving system in the world."

I use it. I like it. If I can't work an iPod, I can work this.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I am hopeful that with Judge Alito's soon-to-be confirmation, the Supreme Court will release some (all?) of the powers it's arrogated to itself over the past 20 years. I like how Professor Bainbridge sums the problem up in this post (it's a short post & worth reading).
Once again, nine old men and women in robes have elevated themselves into a super-legislature in which they have exercised privileges they deny to our elected representatives. So much for having a democracy. Indeed, at this rate, so much for having a republic.
Moral education

"We should not think of moral education as indoctrination, but as initiation. It is initiation into the human moral inheritance: 'men transmitting manhood to men.' . . . We have not decided what morality requires; we have discovered it. We transmit not our own views or desires but moral truth-by which we consider ourselves also to be bound. Hence, moral education is not an exercise of power over future generations."

-Gilbert Meilaender as quoted by Richard John Neuhaus in the January 2006 issue of First Things at page 66.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Fruits of a Liberal Arts Education
Links to photos of the events of the Mr. Davidson Decathlon 2002 are now available.

They're like a car wreck.

You. Can't. Look. Away.

Even if you wanted to.
MLK and extremism.

Last week was MLK's day, and to commemorate his legacy my English classes have done some analysis of his speeches and letters--which are wonderful on many levels. I can teach great rhetoric along with a message of faith and even--gasp!--Christianity. My favorite is his letter from the Birmingham Jail, you should read the whole thing if you haven't ever done so.

Here's just a piece of it (Joe Farrell read this in his excellent sermon last Sunday), about which I take particular joy in discussing with my students:

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that an men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we viii be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
Beltway Banditry.

I thought Steve Forbes' comments in the latest issue of Forbes on the Abramoff scandal were particularly good. He identifies the real problem.
"End of the Spear".

Carol and I saw this movie on Saturday. World Magazine has an article about it here. As a production, I would give it three stars (out of four) and call it a worthy effort, well worth seeing.

Of particular interest to me was that the following words (and others in their vein )did not appear in the movie, at least in English: Jesus, Lord, God, sin, redemption, repentance, Holy Spirit. Yet the movie presented the Gospel as the story developed. This was refreshing in a movie produced by Christians for a secular movie culture. I hope it works.

This morning on WMCU, our Christian radio station, the new DJ criticized the movie because it was not religious enough. You just want to grab someone like that and give them a good shake.

Yesterday Van preached on Acts 16: 1-3. There Paul meets Timothy, the son of a Jewess. Before they begin Paul's second missionary journey, Paul circumcises Timothy. Van pointed out the irony of this act, in light of the resolution in Jerusalem, described in the fifteenth chapter, of the controversy over whether one must first become a Jew before becoming a Christian. Paul, of course, was firmly on the side of those who said that becoming a Jew was not at all necessary and such a requirement was a needless stumbling block for Gentiles. The "apostles, elders and brethren" in Jerusalem agreed. Yet Paul is careful about observing the conventions with Timothy in order to remove what might be a stumbling block for those they wish to reach with the Gospel on the journey that they are about to begin. Paul said elsewhere that he would be "all things to all men" in order to communicate the Gospel.

So I applaud the producers of "The End of the Spear". We need more strategic thinking like that.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Why are boys falling behind in education?

Here is an interesting discussion by Ann Althouse on an article from The New Republic by Richard Whitmire. The article is on the gender gap in education. Lately I've seen several articles on this subject. Any thoughts out there on why this is happening?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sponsorships Available
It's less than one year to 2007, the 10th anniversary of my graduating from Davidson College. I hope that there will be a Mr. Davidson Competition to accompany the other officially sanctioned 10 year reunion festivities.

The Mr. Davidson Competition is a decathalon of sorts, in its last incarnation consisting of:
  • standing broad jump
  • 100 meter dash
  • mile run
  • cinder-block carry: moving a pile of cinderblocks from point A to point B
  • laundry bag survival: keeping a brown paper wrapped package of clean laundry away from the rest of the competitors in an enclosed space, the time stopping when said package is ripped apart and laundry is spilled on ground. (Did I mention that Davidson does your laundry for you? The brown paper packaging can be viewed here.)
  • basketball throw: throwing for distance
  • spelling bee
  • car push: wherein one is timed while pushing a car in neutral a set distance
  • Mr. D relay: a shuttle run where you begin with a head-down-on-the-bat & spin around, at each touchpoint you must eat part of a McDonald's Meal (cheeseburger, small fries, coke), and before finishing must memorize and recite a line from Shakespeare, all the while wearing a packpack full of books
  • pole hang: hanging from a chin-up bar for as long as possible

    At the last competition, Will Baldwin walked away as Mr. Davidson, while I finished firmly in the last quarter of the field. Happily, I was not Mr. Dickenson, the last place finisher.

    Now that we're close to a year away, I'm saying it now: I will be Mr. Davidson at the end of the next competition. I've begun my strict training regimen which currently consists of running every once and a while. But this is just the beginning! (I don't want to peak too early.)

    To all would-be sponsors: if your price is right, I will happily wear your company's apparel/logo or eat/drink your company's food/drink during the competition. If the price is mediocre, I will grudgingly wear it/eat/drink it.

    UPDATE: 1.23.2006 Due to the overwhelming response, I added links to photos of the events!
  • Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    Too Much Coffee Man
    On how not to implement Getting Things Done.
    On anti-consumerism.
    The Heavy Cost of a Career in NY.

    Carol and I lived an exciting year in New York City just after I graduated from law school. I wanted to be a trial lawyer and had a dream job as a law clerk with the Hon. Milton Pollack, US District Judge for the Southern District of New York. But, after that year went by, we were happy to leave, because it looked like a tough place to raise a family. Had being a top trial lawyer been what motivated me the most and at any price, there we would have stayed.

    Yesterday's "Review and Outlook" in the WSJ featured a new Manhattan Institute report entitled "Albany Inc." The report details the grip that government there and its minions have on the state's economy. The editorial has this quote from the report:

    Between 1979 and 2004-a period that saw two sustained U.S. economic booms-New York created new jobs at less than half the national pace, underperforming even the 'old and cold' states of the upper Midwest . . . New York's share of total U.S. personal income dropped by nearly 10% during the same period, and its share of all states' economic output dropped by 12%.

    According to the WSJ, the report says that the state's "astonishingly high tax burden" is largely to blame. High taxes, of course, fuel big government, big lobbying, big corruption, and a corresponding loss of liberty. What an irony that the "free states" of the 21st Century tend to be in the South and not in the cradle of Abolitionism.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006


    or, another reason why living in Austin is appropriate

    Morgan and I are taking the 15 week Perspectives course.

    Steve Hawthorne, the author of the Perspectives curriculum, study guide and the editor of the text book anthology was the speaker tonight. I can't recall three hours better spent. At the start, I thought he had some sort of hyperthyroidic condition, something was very familiar about his manner. We kept up, though, and it was awesome.

    What was most excellent was the way he dropped references, "this is sort of the prequel to life...sort of how we needed a prequel to answer the question 'How did my father get to be such an evil dude?' we had to have the prequel sort it out" or "this isn't like trogdor burning houses here"

    What is most appropriate is that Steve Hawthorne, rockstar that he is, lives in Austin and is a teaching elder at Hope Chapel here in town. They haven't posted his talk tonight--I just got home from it--but they do have some of his sermons from Hope Chapel that I'm sure are excellent. You can find those sermons here.
    Wal-Mart & Healthcare
    Another view of what happened in Maryland.

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    The "Determination Quotient".

    Marvin Olansky in a recent issue of World Magazine writes of the importance of one's DQ - the Determination Quotient. He particularly relates this quality of character to the craft of writing. I thought these quotes were right on:

    Michael Crichton: "Books aren't written. They are rewritten."

    James Michener: "I'm not a very good writer, but an excellent rewriter."

    In my law practice, good writing is of crucial importance. I will sometimes spend hours at the computer on a letter, trying to explain how some arcane idea applies to the special situation of my lay client. So many aspects of the practice work against this: the pressure of the "billable hour" regime that infects the profession; the demand of our clients for a quick turn-around on the solution, as if their problems were not years in the making; and our own desire to move onto the next thing, particularly if the matter at hand is less interesting than the next thing on the task list. So, sometimes, I will not spend hours on a letter, to the detriment of the service I extend, but will send an email or dictate a short letter. I liken this to the circus performer who has a bunch of plates spinning at the end of long sticks. His mission is to run around and keep them spinning so they won't fall off. His mission takes him nowhere except, sometimes, to a hilarious disaster as the plates all go crashing down. Nothing is accomplished with this approach; a great deal of risk is assumed.

    It is not a great step to make rewriting prose and poetry a metaphor for dealing with relationships. (The law practice, of course, is all about relationships.) The difference is that we never complete the rewiting task with respect to our relationships, especially those we describe as loving. We must keep at each loved one's story, as a writer with his paragraph, the difference being that we do not complete the story of that relationship until one of us is gone. No one, then, is taken for granted. No one is fully known. So we keep at it, and there is great reward and pleasure in that and life is worth living.

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Blah blah blah holiness,
    yesterday Kellsey and I went to the shooting range!

    We went with Dad (Paul) and Mr. Dewhurst. Between Dad, Mr. Dewhurst, and renting, we got to shoot all these pistols: Glock 22 (.40 cal), Glock 26 (9mm, aka the "Baby Glock"), Colt 1911 (.45 cal, not a replica, an actual WWII service pistol), Walther PPK (.38 cal, James Bond's gun!), Ruger 6 shooter (.357 magnum, a cowboy gun!), and Smith & Wesson M-642 (.38 Special).

    It was even more fun than I thought it would be, and Kellsey was a really good shot! Generally, when Kellsey was shooting, Dad, Mr. Dewhurst and I would all gather behind her and watch. At one point, after she drilled the bull's eye repeatedly, Mr. Dewhurst turned to me and said, "Maybe you want to re-think this."

    This morning teeth brushing was more difficult, as my right hand, shoulder, pectoral and lat were all sore. Now, this was before my first cup of coffee, so it took me almost the entire teeth brushing time to figure out the reason for the aches.
    Holiness & Piety
    Alex posted his agreement with a book he's reading, the thesis of which is: "What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?" Actually, he agreed with the thesis on the condition that it not be limited to marriage, but expanded to "What if God designed X to make us holy more than to make us happy?"

    I agreed with Alex, on the condition that we agree that "holiness" means more than "piety." He asked me to explain what I meant by this. So here we are.

    First, though, it's important to state that some words are more useful than others. That is, we can use the word "polygon" to describe every basic shape, but it's so much more helpful to say, "square," when trying to differentiate between a square and a triangle. While we pedants might work too hard at this, the joy of language is to find better and better words to communicate with each other. And the joy of theology is finding better and better ways of thinking and talking about God and his work in us. So while we could very easily sit on the "polygon" of theology, "Jesus is Lord," we work to find better and better ways of talking about that. We find ways to talk about where he is Lord, how he is Lord, when he is Lord, those over whom he is Lord, etc.

    So now that I've justified the hair I'm about to split . . .

    I think that Piety is an action oriented word. (Marshall beat me to the punch here.) Pious actions are a part of a Holy life, but not the sum of a Holy life. I'm also going to agree with Marshall that our Holiness is ultimately, fundamentally, and in the most real way found only in Jesus Christ. When we are in Christ, we are Holy. Our ongoing life, then, is one of living in the reality that we are now "in Christ." So we are pious, and do right action, because we are in Christ, and he does right action.

    My concern that Piety <> (does not equal) Holiness will be evident when we substitute my definition of piety into the thesis of the book: "What if God designed X to make us [do right actions] more than to make us happy?" Jesus' interactions with the Pharisees clearly indicate that he was not nearly as concerned as them about doing the right actions. The Pharisees were always trying to trick Jesus into doing the wrong action: give money to Caesar, heal on the Sabbath (whoops! did that one!), eat with Sinners (whoops! did that one too!).

    But I do think that "God designed X to make us holy more than to make us happy," if by that we mean, "God designed X to make us [open our eyes to the reality of our need for and life in Christ] more than to make us happy."

    There is another tricky thing in this statement that doesn't have to do with Piety & Holiness, but is related to this talk of happiness. There is a sense in which God is interested in our happiness, which is captured in the Biblical language of Joy in the Lord. I think that what we're really talking about when we start saying, "God isn't interested in your happiness," is that, "God isn't interested in your Short Term Happiness if it's going to get in the way of your growth in the Lord Jesus, which will bring you Everlasting Joy (which includes happiness)." Frankly, I think that the Lord is quite fine with, and even gladly blesses us with Short Term Happiness so long as it isn't going to get in the way of our growth in the Lord Jesus.

    It's unfortunate when we say things like "God isn't interested in your happiness," (which is true in a limited sense) because for those who don't know about those limitations, this God doesn't sound like someone they would like to know.

    Speaking of Joy, well entrenched Stokes Kith, Marshall Benbow, entered the blogosphere with Joy In The Margins. He blogs about his life of college & urban ministry, as well as UNC Basketball (how 'bout them 'Canes?), and other things. Fair warning: I suspect that NASCAR will come up at some point over there. A link to this esteemed blog can be found in the KithRoll in the sidebar.

    UPDATE: Kellsey pointed out to me, verbally here in the non-virtual world (imagine that!), that "holiness" has an actual definition: "set apart." (I knew that!) And this is not exactly the same as my "open our eyes to the reality of our need for and life in Christ." She's right, of course. But there is connective tissue between these two things. It is this: we are "set apart" because we are "in Christ." We share in Christ's holiness, because of this in-ness. For this reason, I think that it's fair to talk about "holiness" as "being alive in Christ," because by being alive in Christ we share in his holiness. But I really didn't say that in the post, so there it is. This is a problem I have: I'm working through an argument and skip salient points because they're so firmly embedded in my head that I don't even notice that they're a key dot in my connect-the-dots exercise. Kellsey is good at graciously helping me see that I've skipped those dots.

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Usually, I don't do this
    but I'm at school, no students, should be grading papers, and will happily do anything to put that task off...

    So, here we are with Seven Things . . .

    I want to do before I die:
    -Go to Africa.
    -Be fluent in at least one more language.
    -Read Cien Anos de Soledad in Spanish.
    -Run a marathon.
    -Fall in love.
    -Have some babies.
    -See Aidan grow to love the Lord Jesus. (thanks, Macon)

    Things I cannot do:
    -Fall asleep at night after just 1 beer.
    -Keep Ricco and Lamard from disrupting my 5th period.
    -Get to Miami this weekend.
    -Get a certain KB to ask me out.
    -Figure out what to do next year.
    -Get over what a great family I have.
    -Stop drinking coffee in the morning.

    Things that attract me to the opposite sex:
    -A passion for the Lord.
    -Deep and funny conversation.
    -Soccer playing.
    -Great friends.
    -Exciting plans for the future.
    -Something cool that sets them apart from the crowd.

    Things I say most often:
    -sort of
    -please be quiet
    -hey you guys

    Celebrity Crushes Anti-Crushes:
    (no, thanks; that's all I'll do)
    Usually, I don't do this
    but I'm on vacation and am wont to do things I don't normally do.

    And Ann's a good friend from back in my days of being a 2100 Productions Intern.
    And she called me out in her post.
    And she linked K&K in her blogroll.

    So, here we are with Seven Things . . .

    I want to do before I die:
  • Learn to read Greek (classical & the other one).
  • Be fluent in Spanish.
  • Be conversant in French. (Fluency would be nice, but I've only got one life here.)
  • Read all of Church Dogmatics, by Karl Barth. (He hasn't been mentioned here in a while, so it's good to drop his name again.)
  • Read all of the Great Books. (As many as I can in the original languages.)
  • Achieve and maintain a second degree rank in Okinawan Goju-Ryu, a first degree in a Jijutsu style, and be conversant in a style of KungFu (perhaps White Crane, the predecessor of Goju).
  • See Aidan grow to love the Lord Jesus.

    Things I cannot do:
  • Keep my mouth shut after Midnight + 1 beer.
  • Understand the attraction of shows like "Dancing with the Stars!"
  • Make Aidan sleep past 6am, even if I move him to an earlier time zone, where he really ought to have slept past 6am!
  • Stop the thought that pops up periodically: "What if the Catholic Church, for all its mess, really is the one true church?" (flame away!)
  • Convince the main women in my life (Kellsey, Mary, Carol) that I really should have and drive a motorcycle.
  • Keep up with Walter when it comes to sheer tenacity.
  • Stop my love for Miami and North Carorlina, regardless of where we live.

    Things that attract me to the opposite sex:
  • Well, there is a certain je ne sais pas about them. (See, I'm well on my way! I can also use the terms, croissant, and triage at will.)
  • Mysterious not-qute-brown, but not-quite-hazel, with green, grey, & blue flecked eyes.
  • Women whose coloration is categorized by CMB as "Deep Winter".
  • Video gamers.
  • A stubbornness to match my own.
  • Being tall.
  • Knowing that it's as important to me that you recognize the brilliance of my joke, even if you don't think it's funny. (In leiu of "brilliance," I'll also accept, "wittyness," &/or "creativity". "Quickness" will also do in a pinch)

    Things I say most often:
  • "Interesting"
  • "Awesome"
  • "Heh"
  • "Heyyyyyyyy, Aaaiiiiidannnnn"
  • "Dude"
  • "That's so crazy, it just might work"
  • "If by that you mean . . ."

    Celebrity Crushes Anti-Crushes:
  • Britanny Spears
  • Jessica Simpson
  • Jessica Simpson's Sister
  • Madonna
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Madeline Allbright
  • Ozzy Ozborne's Wife

    People I want to do this:
  • Walter
  • Mary
  • Sean
  • Alex
  • Scott
  • Paul
  • Kellsey
    (One always risks offending the non-listed in a list like this. Though, in this case, I fear that the offense comes when you are actually on this list.)

    (NB: This list was accurate at the time posted. The list is subject to change without warning and probably will in the next five minutes. But five minutes later, I might change my mind again.)
  • Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Go Ahead, Make My Day!

    Win a great handgun.
    Mazda Kabura: I want it!

    Get the heck out of the way, girls!
    More on CW Keys.

    The response to my post on the Chinese People's Liberation Army CW key was so overwhelming, that I thought I would post this link to another realm of exotic hardware.

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    New CW Key!

    The copy from the Morse Express website that completely and utterly sold me:

    Variously known as the D-117, the K4, or just the "Chinese Army Key" these heavy duty straight keys were made for the Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA). The Chinese phrase "changshu dianxun qichai chang" translates as "Changshu Telecommunication Equipment Factory."

    In 2000, Morse Express obtained remaining stocks which were purchased direct from the PLA as surplus. They are mostly in factory new condition, with some showing a bit of "warehouse wear" such as deteriorated packaging and dust. Supplies were limited, and apart from being a good heavy-duty straight key, they are also very collectable. See our Collectors' Corner page for some of the "varieties."

    Late in 2003 we were able to get in touch with the factory, and were delighted to discover that the keys are still in production, and by going direct to the factory, we were able to get better prices. They are still expensive to ship from China, of course, but we are happy to pass the savings along to our customers.

    The keys have chrome plating, machined needle bearings for the trunion, hard silver (K4) or copper (K5) contacts, and a felt pad on the base. They weigh around two and a quarter pounds each! Approximate base dimensions are 2-3/4 x 4-3/4 inches. They're 2-1/2 inches high and the center of the knob is forward of the base about an inch.

    Of course the keys are "still in production", you silly American!
    Hey Kids, What Time Is It??!!

    Mary visited us for the holidays, reclaiming her room (alas, temporarily), which the rest of the world knows as radio station K4JSU.

    She made some remarks about the number of clocks in the room.

    I want everyone to know that my feelings are not hurt.

    And besides, the number of clocks in that room is entirely normal.
    Bad form, Wheaton!

    Fr. Neuhaus will be very disappointed.

    UPDATE: Macon pointed me to this post on the FT blog. Not only does this post have an intelligent discussion of the controversy, it also links to the complete WSJ article that initially got our attention over the weekend.

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    Good luck with that.
    To Europe:
    We wish you well in your faith that war has become obsolete and that outlaw nations will comply with international jurisprudence that was born and is nurtured in Europe. Yet your own intelligence suggests that the Iran theocracy is both acquiring nuclear weaponry and seeking to craft missile technology to put an Islamic bomb within reach of European cities — oblivious to the reasoned appeals of European Union diplomats, who themselves operate as Greek philosophers in the agora only on the condition that Americans will once more play the role of Roman legionaries in the shadows. . . .

    You will, of course, answer that in your postwar wisdom you have transcended the internecine killing of the earlier 20th century when nationalism and militarism ruined your continent — and that you have lent your insight to the world at large that should follow your therapeutic creed rather than the tragic vision of the United States.

    But the choices are not so starkly bipolar between either chauvinistic saber rattling or studied pacifism. There is a third way, the promise of muscular democratic government that does not apologize for 2,500 years of civilization and is willing to defend it from the enemies of liberalism, who would undo all that we wrought. . . .

    The world is becoming a more dangerous place, despite your new protocols of childlessness, pacifism, socialism, and hedonism. Islamic radicalism, an ascendant Communist China, a growing new collectivism in Latin America, perhaps a neo-czarist Russia as well, in addition to the famine and savagery in Africa, all that and more threaten the promise of the West.

    So criticize us for our sins; lend us your advice; impart to America the wealth of your greater experience — but as a partner and an equal in a war, not as an inferior or envious neutral on the sidelines. History is unforgiving. None of us receives exemption simply by reason of the fumes of past glory.

    Either your economy will reform, your populace multiply, and your citizenry defend itself, or not. And if not, then Europe as we have known it will pass away — to the great joy of the Islamists but to the terrible sorrow of America.

    From Victor Davis Hanson.

    UPDATE: 5 minutes later, cause Stephen Green says it funnier. Read the whole thing here.
    Also To Europe:
    I know you think we're all religious nuts over here, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the real deal. We're trying, however imperfectly, to bring a little freedom to the Islamic world. Ahmadinejad says he wants to wipe Israel off the map. How's that for nuts? He's not making any idle threat, either, like launching "a thousand-year Reich" or promising "liberty, equality, fraternity." Iran wants nukes. Iran has an advanced nuclear program. We'd like to stop them, without using military means.

    And we'd sure like some help, fellas.

    There's another Holocaust brewing, and I don't mean your parlor-room talk about how America is killing brown babies for oil. Besides, we aren't the ones who committed the first Holocaust – that was your doing. What we're trying to do is prevent another one, and we'd like to think that you guys might be a little sensitive to that sort of thing. "Go forth and sin no more," and all that.

    Well, here's your chance to right a wrong.

    Looking at your atrophied militaries, maybe that's too much to ask. So instead, how about if you could provide a little multinational moral support to the endeavor? Then again, we've all seen what counts as moral backbone in Brussels and Paris and Berlin – so let's set our sights a little lower. How about you guys just sit back and shut the hell up while the pros do what needs to be done?

    You guys have failed. As of right now, Iran can produce yellowcake. As of shortly after right now, Iran will have nukes. As of yesterday – thanks in no small part to Old Europe – Iran already has missiles capable of reaching Israel.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not some chickenhawk cowboy who wants to bomb the snuff out of Iran. I think there's still some slim chance that diplomacy might still work. But – and let's speak frankly here, as friends – your brand of diplomacy just won't cut it.

    Your kind of diplomacy gave chemical weapons technology to Saddam Hussein. Your kind of diplomacy sells jet fighters and stealth-defeating radars to whoever has the cash to buy them. Your kind of diplomacy is the same kind of diplomacy you used to coddle a certain German tyrant 70 years ago.

    Well. In the age of nukes, that kind of diplomacy just won't cut it.

    We can muster "big stick" diplomacy, and Iran knows it. We have CENTCOM in Iraq. We have Special Forces in Afghanistan. We have Israel on a very loose leash.

    Yours is the kind of diplomacy that pleads. Ours is the kind that threatens.

    You've had your chance, and gotten nowhere. We'd like to see what we can do. All we ask is that you play to your strength and admit defeat already. We'll take it from here.

    On Thursday, the WSJ ran an article about "microfinance loans" and, specifically, about how one could invest in companies that help make those loans. The article has a table that lists some of these organizations. The table is reproduced on a blog called microcapital.org. The blog lists other organizations involved in microlending as well.

    The body of the WSJ article also refers to organizations not listed in the table. The point of the article is that microlending is moving from the not-for-profit sector to the profit sector. (The WSJ website is a subscription site, as you probably know. My subscription allows me to email individual articles. Let me know if you would like me to email you a copy of the WSJ article. )

    The blog I mentioned called the organizations that give you some return on your money or, at least, give you your principal back, as "ROI" organizations. "ROI" refers to "return on investment" or maybe "return of investment".

    World Vision is one of several not-for-profits that have a microloan program. You simply make a contribution and they take it from there. Using World Vision for this sort of thing makes sense to me, because you have some assurance that the money will be used as promised. On the other hand, the presence of the blog I refer to above also gives one the opportunity to find out more about this innovative way to do good, whether its in the secular or Christian world.

    [Footnote: I looked at the Calvert Foundation website, referred to in the WSJ article, where one can invest in "community investment notes" with a $1000 minimum. The site has a button that lists "our friends", meaning, I think, investors in their products. Among Calvert's friends is the "Gay Financial Network". That deflected my interest in this organization. Do you think it should?]

    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Nice Lines
    First Things On The Square notes that Milton Himmelfarb passed away this week. I don't know who he is, but I really liked some of the things he said, according to FT:
    “The trouble is not that religion in general has too small a role in American public life or American life simply,” he wrote in FIRST THINGS in March 1991. “The trouble is that a particular religion has too great a role—paganism, the de facto established religion.”

    The powerful phrase “No Hitler, No Holocaust” began as the title of one of his classic essays in Commentary, and it was Milton Himmelfarb who first coined the phrase “argumentum ad Hitlerum” to describe the easy and false analogies that swirl around political debate.

    Argumentum ad Hitlerum, the forerunner to Godwin's Law.
    Trinogomous Hell.

    The Miami Herald (where else?) considers three in the sack.

    Sartre was all over this.

    Note: I have modified this post. I really find the Herald article to be quite interesting. Its about a documentary and about the film maker - and about the subject of the documentary, the "trinogomous" relationship that went on for years and produced, apparently, at least one child, but finally broke up. Does the documentary necessarily invite emulation; does the newspaper article? If they invited emulation, then they are morally reprehensible. What we watch, what we read, what we listen to, where we spend our time, will tend to conform us to what we perceive. That's why we want to meditate on God's law, day and night. That's why we want not to walk in the way of the counsel of the wicked.

    This kind of article makes the Herald's editorial policy so despicable. The Herald is in a unique and powerful position to build up, but it seems ever to tear down.

    As to the demerits of the case presented in the article, is there a difference between "serial" polygomy and "trinogomy"? At least the former affirms the idea of one male/one female, while undercutting it with the temporal nature of the mariage/divorce/marriage cycle. "Trinogomy" simply ignores the natural state of things.

    Big date night last night. Our Publix rendevouz was particularly exciting because we are getting ready for Aidan's visit. And, as if that wasn't enough for late-yuppie style Friday night romance, we got home and channel surfed (if you can call what I do with a 17 inch tv with rabbit ears surfing) into the new NBC show Daniel. From what I understand from some of the Evangelical pundits, this show will push us over the edge into Armageddon and make a viewer go blind.

    Its funny, though. It is a great satire on upper-middle/upper class American culture. The "Christianity" is spot-on liberal Protestantism. The prettiest actor plays Liberal American Protestant Jesus (hereinafter "LAP Jesus"), but nearly all of them are pretty, except for the characters of whom the writers disapprove.

    The writers disapprove of Daniel's father, the bishop, but LAP Jesus, being LAP Jesus of course, says even the bishop is really a good guy. Of course, we know what LAP Jesus' problem is, my fellow Americans - he loves everybody, even Pharisees like the bishop. I don't exactly remember the Jesus of the New Testament (hereinafter "NT Jesus") loving the Pharisees. Maybe he loved them at some profound level, maybe like going to the cross for them (and me), but he certainly didn't like them. Would you call someone you liked a snake? But LAP Jesus likes everyone. I sort of like LAP Jesus, especially when he is as pretty as the one on Daniel, but I don't love him. In fact though he's a nice guy, he's sort of a, what's the word these days? a word of gentle contempt, something begins with a "w" or "wh", but I can't think of it. Anyway, he's one of those, this LAP Jesus. But good looks on a man or a woman go a long way - at least for however long that show went last night.

    My favorite character was the RC priest. I've seen that actor before - playing Italian bad guys or Italian cops, usually ones that are just a little disturbed. He's just perfect for this part. If nothing else, he projects an aura of slightly malevolent strength. Frankly, the projection of strength by any male on this show, malevolent or not, is refreshing, because I saw it from none of the other male characters. (Speaking of male-strength-not, how about the father of the girl friend of Daniel's adopted, Asian son? Doesn't he sort of define TV American maleness?)

    Every relationship in this show is "messed-up" and "abnormal" except, maybe, for Daniel's relationship with his wife and maybe his relationships with most of the other characters. Daniel, himself a priest, Episcopal variety, is the epitome of nice guy-ness, which is the character to which all of us should aspire, as the show teaches. That's obviously why LAP Jesus hangs around with him. (And why NT Jesus is nowhere in sight.)

    The show sends-up all behaviors or "life-styles", but the writers make it plain of what they approve as they present the characters. The favorite character, other the Daniel, seems to be Daniel's gay son. This is the same same "gay" stereotype we see everwhere: gentle, sensitive, bright, reasonable, reasonably needy, reasonably giving, but, come to think of it, all the stereotypes are in this show. But its well put together, slick, and, when you crowd all those stereotypes in one fast moving TV show, it does offer even a NT Jesus follower a few moments of guilty pleasure.

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    Politics Summed Up
    An interesting idea from the First Things blog:
    Responsible political opinion runs only in a narrow range, from the liberal certainty that freedom is worth its risks to the conservative intuition that civilization is worth its costs. Everything beyond these boundaries is radical and irresponsible, in one way or another—usually in a denial that there actually are any risks to freedom or costs to civilization.
    From a much longer post on abortion politics.

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    Can You Believe this Guy?

    And at one time people seriously thought about him as President.
    Choose to Save.

    The WSJ reported Tuesday that in 2006 Americans spent more than they brought home, for the first time since the Depression. This is a little disturbing, but is this really news?


    The article pointed to a website where you can estimate what you need to fund retirement. I don't think that a well funded "retirement" is the point of life, but saving for some imagined point in the future where you might want to do something that requires a little stored-up wealth is definintely a good thing.

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    P&P: near the end.

    ELIZABETH'S spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. "How could you begin?'' said she. "I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?''

    "I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.''

    "My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners -- my behaviour to you was at least always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?''

    "For the liveliness of your mind, I did.''

    "You may as well call it impertinence at once. It was very little less. The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them. Had you not been really amiable, you would have hated me for it; but in spite of the pains you took to disguise yourself, your feelings were always noble and just; and in your heart, you thoroughly despised the persons who so assiduously courted you. There -- I have saved you the trouble of accounting for it; and really, all things considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable. To be sure, you knew no actual good of me -- but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love.''

    I just love a happy ending.
    "A Stream of Things of Value"

    According to the WSJ today, the criminal information (used in lieu of an indictment of Jack Abramoff) refers to a Congressman whom Abramoff is alleged to have bribed. The information cited this person

    as having been "provided a stream of things of value" in return for official favors. It said the things provided included campaign donations, a lavish golf trip to Scotland, tickets to sporting events and other entertainments, and regular meals at a pricey Washington restaurant called Signatures that Mr. Abramoff once owned.

    The stream metaphor made me think of Psalm 1, where the righteous man, who meditates day and night on the law of the Lord, is "like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season . . . "

    What a contrast. God's "stream of value" that nourishes us, that makes our lives fruitful, that keeps us fresh and new, and that prospers us. Abramoff's "stream of value": ill-gotten money, travel, "entertainments", and rich food, all of which leads to such black denouement. It reminds me of those sweets that the White Witch gave Edmond, bribing him into betrayal. God on the one side. Mammon on the other. There is absolutely nothing new here. So totally banal.

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    Pure. Cullinary. Genius.

    For lunch today I was making myself a peanut butter (creamy, 'cause we were out of crunchy) sandwich, when I had this mental dialogue:
    "I wish I had crunchy peanut butter."
    "Mmmmmmmm, crunchy peanut butter."
    "What else could I put in here that crunches?"
    "How about . . . Goldfish Crackers?"
    "Well, that would crunch, but what about the cheese flavor?"
    "Good question. . .Wait! Lance makes those Toast-Chee crackers: Cheese flavor crackers & peanut butter in the middle!"
    "Mmmmmmmmm, Toast-Chee crackers."
    "Allright! Goldfish Crackers in my peanut butter sandwich!"

    And sure enough, it was a great combination: Peanut Butter and Cheese flavor crackers. And bread.

    Macon Stokes: I didn't invent the Peanut Butter and Cheese Flavor Cracker Combination, just the Peanut Butter and Cheese Flavor Cracker Sandwich.
    Black Monday at the U.

    Larry Coker guns down the heart of his staff. Including Art Kehoe, the very soul of the assistant coach universe at UM, he among the staff that lobbied for Coker to be elevated to head coach when Butch Davis left for Cleveland. Blow, blow, thou Winter Wind!

    This whole town is stunned - but at least it takes our minds off the LSU game itself.

    Somebody suggested on the main Sportstalk show today that Saban be hired to coach both the U and the Dolphins, we all figuring that Nick can walk on water anyways. Last week he beat New England directly and the 'Canes by proxy.
    "God and Man at Davidson"

    First Things roving, critical eye alights on DC. In the January 2006 issue, Terry Eastland, publisher of the Weekly Standard and a Davidson parent, describes the sad erosion of Davidson's Presbyterian connection to the point last February where the Board of Trustees revised the mission statement and amended the by-laws to permit non-Christian trustees. (We've addressed the board's action before on this blog.)

    Next month, the article should be posted on the FT website, but if anyone wants a copy now, let me know.

    In summary, Eastland writes:

    It is elementary that colleges exist to educate students, and Davidson students committed to "the historical understanding of Christian faith called the Reformed Tradition" will fairly wonder whether the college is any place to look for instruction in Christian theology or, for that matter, Christian ethics. Not that the college fails to do many things well. It is in the highest rank academically, with many outstanding teachers. But students who confess the historic faith cannot be faulted for looking elsewhere for guidance on such fundamental matters. Indeed, the deepest lesson of the Davidson story is that the Church of Jesus Christ is not to be confused with a church-related college, that a church-related college can go its own way. The Davidson trustees did not intend to teach that, but it is the accurate lesson of the college's last all-Christian board.

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    On Pride and Prejudice.

    I'm reading P&P for about the third time; I read it once in high school, again in college, and now again at the mature age of 25. This time around, I'm enjoying it immensely as always, and am paying closer attention to what makes it such a good book, and in particular, why it is that so many well educated and thoughtful women seem to love it :)

    I'm almost 2/3 of the way through right now, and at the point, for those of you familiar with the story, whether through reading it or through the film versions, where Elizabeth has visited Pemberley for the first time with her Aunt and Uncle, and has run into Mr. Darcy. She has not seen Mr. Darcy since his failed proposal. Since that time, Elizabeth has learned many important things: 1, that she was wrong about his dealings with Mr. Wikham, and Mr. Darcy is not to blame in that regard; 2, that she really does have a pretty ridiculous family, and not just because they don't have so much money; 3, that he's got a really, really nice house and grounds; 4, that his housekeeper thinks he's the most wonderful man ever; 5, that upon this next meeting at his house, he treats her and her aunt and uncle with the utmost care and respect; and 6, perhaps most important, she has realized her own pride and prejudice that caused her to make too hasty a judgment on Darcy's character. (see the following dialogue, that is omitted in all film versions, but which captures Elizabeth's developing self-awareness quite well:
    And yet I meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so decided a dislike to him, without any reason. It is such a spur to one's genius, such an opening for wit, to have a dislike of that kind. One may be continually abusive without saying anything just; but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling upon something witty.)

    Back to the love story--I think the reason that it's so attractive to so many of us is because of the nature of Darcy's love. It's full of grace. At first, he certainly doesn't get it quite right, but the grace is still there; he makes clear how ridiculous it is that he love someone like Lizzie, with her family and connections as they are, and indeed, given the times it is a pretty ridiculous and perhaps unmerited confession of love. Of course, her pride and prejudice and his own pride that comes out in his proposal make it fail miserably.

    However, the love continues, and upon their next meeting, Darcy has softened considerably; Elizabeth wonders how it could be possible that he could still love her, given her earlier rejection of his proposal:
    She certainly did not hate him. No; hatred had vanished long ago, and she had almost as long been ashamed of ever feeling a dislike against him, that could be so called. The respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities, though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feeling; and it was now heightened into somewhat of a friendlier nature, by the testimony so highly in his favour, and bringing forward his disposition in so amiable a light, which yesterday had produced. But above all, above respect and esteem, there was a motive within her of good-will which could not be overlooked. It was gratitude; gratitude, not merely for having once loved her, but for loving her still well enough to forgive all the petulance and acrimony of her manner in rejecting him, and all the unjust accusations accompanying her rejection. He who, she had been persuaded, would avoid her as his greatest enemy, seemed, on this accidental meeting, most eager to preserve the acquaintance...Such a change in a man of so much pride excited not only astonishment but gratitude--for to love, ardent love, it must be attributed.

    That's as far as I've gotten this time around, but those of you who know the story will know that this ardent love will perservere through a bit more before it's all done.

    Two conclusions from all this:

    1. I think we young women like this love story because despite of our initial screw-ups and misconceptions, the man keeps his cool and presses forward with his life and with a purpose, not necessarily directly towards the girl, but towards a greater purpose and end which will truly demonstrate his worth and nature and love.

    2. As I've seen the grace that's involved in this love, I'm of course reminded of the much greater love offered by our dear heavenly father. There's some real pursual. And despite our initial rejection or our pride or our misconceptions, that love presses forwards with its greater purpose and toward a greater end. And when the scales finally fall from our eyes, we see the wonderful, true nature of God and Christ, and we can't help but accept the love he offers.

    p.s. Mr. Darcy, if you're reading this, do let me know.
    "[A] terrifying, totalitarian and in Britain wholly successful putsch against truth itself, the weapon of subversion of a moral, political and social order."

    Melanie Phillips reviews Anthony Browne's book on political correctness in Britian, the book entitled "The Retreat of Reason."
    The New Criterion.

    Here's a publication that may be worth keeping an eye on. It describes itself as follows:

    The New Criterion, founded in 1982 by the art critic Hilton Kramer and the pianist and music critic Samuel Lipman, is a monthly review of the arts and intellectual life. Written with great verve, clarity, and wit, The New Criterion has emerged as America’s foremost voice of critical dissent in the culture wars. A staunch defender of the values of high culture, The New Criterion is also an articulate scourge of artistic mediocrity and intellectual mendacity wherever they are found: in the universities, the art galleries, the media, the concert halls, the theater, and elsewhere. Published monthly from September through June, The New Criterion brings together a wide range of young and established critics whose common aim is to bring you the most incisive criticism being written today.

    The recent article entitled It's the Demography, Stupid, would be a good piece to start.

    Carol is definitely the techie at our house (and at the office). Desperately looking for a creative birthday gift idea last summer, I gave her an iPod Mini. With help from children, she's moved a lot of her favorite songs over, and she carries it and listens to it on the train and elsewhere. For Christmas, Santa put a JBL portable speaker system in her stocking, and I, in setting it up for her iPod, got to know the iPod itself a lot better. I'm hooked.

    So I need some advice. Should I get the Nano or the standard iPod? Should I move away from Apple and get some other kind of MP3 player? I think I will be listening not only to music, but also to commentary. (For example, Walter and Morgan gave me a set of CDs of lectures by Francis Schaeffer on "True Spirituality". [Super lectures.] If I had a small MP3 player, I would transfer the lectures to the machine. I also get issues of audio "magazines" in CD form, and I could transfer them to the MP3 player.)

    What think ye?