Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Beach Breakfast.

On Presidents' Day the office was closed, so Carol and I decided to go to Crandon Park, a Miami-Dade County Park on Key Biscayne, and cook breakfast. Key Biscayne is one of the islands of a chain that hangs from a point about a mile east of Downtown Miami and dangles into the Florida Straits. Key Biscayne, then, is one of the Florida Keys and can be reached via a beautiful causeway that begins not far from our office. Crandon Park is on a beach that stretches about 3 miles along the Atlantic. I've been going there since I was about Aidan's age. It's a very popular place for those few of us in South Florida who don't have our own condo on the beach.

Our plan was to take our camp stove and the fixin's for bacon and pancakes.

We arrived there about 8AM, and there were few human beings to be seen. As we walked toward the beach from the parking lot and approached the picnic area, we saw hundreds of birds.

They were already having breakfast, feasting on the left overs of the mobs of beachgoers who had covered the place the day before. The weather was beautiful, about 70 degrees, and the morning was bright.

Carol went right to work.

I kept a sharp eye out for Seminole scouting parties.

About that time, the park work crew began its own clean up efforts. They had cleverly waited while the birds did the first sweep of the place. The crew then followed in three phases: two guys with sacks and sharp sticks approached first, and they picked up stuff that didn't get into one of the many, many trash containers; then a fellow driving a big front-end loader followed, accompanied by two more foot-troops who dumped the trash containers into the loader bucket, which, when filled, was emptied into a large dump truck that waited along a narrow strip of pavement that bisected the picnic area; and then a solitary trash picker, with pointed stick and sack, came along to pick up any thing left behind.

I can tell you that after watching this, I was ravenous, and tore into the whole-wheat pancakes and turkey-bacon that Carol had prepared. Hmmm, turkey-bacon. I recalled that among the birds doing the clean-up I had seen several turkey-buzzards chewing away. Gave me a sort of warm feeling.

After breakfast we cleaned up and drove back to our office in Downtown Miami (that trip took 10 minutes). We worked until lunch time. Then we had another picnic right there in the kitchen, feasting on the bag lunches we had brought with us. Then we went home.

It was a great Presidents' Day, folks. I can tell you one thing. I know how to show the little lady how to do a holiday.

Probate Lawyer's Nightmare.
"In Moral Labor" This is the title of an opinion piece by Agnes R. Howard in the March 2006 issue of First Things. It is a wonderfully written essay describing a sort of theology of pregnancy. I would be glad to mail a copy of the article to anyone who asks. (Actually, I can ask FT to send you a trial copy of the entire issue.)

Here is the final paragraph from the article.

At a time when biotechnology explores ways to enhance, produce, and destroy embryos, it may seem unnecessary to focus on ordinary pregnancy. But it is in this ordinary process, in practicing habits of nurture and hope on behalf of another, that virtue is developed. It is through doing well with the day-to-day care of new life that we grow prepared to meet extraordinary situations when they come. Reproductive technologies already abound at conception and delivery but as yet leave the span in between largely free. Pregnancy is an area in which we may still admit technology into our lives rather than the other way around. We should admit it in a way that honors the special work we undertake with the Creator.

Carol's pregnancy with our first child was the only time we had with this little one. We remember it with such clarity and with such mournful joy. Whatever virtue I may have, the experience of that hidden life added more to it than any other event I have yet experienced.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Tim Keller and Redeemer PC, NY; an interesting article here.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Has anyone read Decision Making and the Will of God ? A friend recommended it and I wondered what you all thought.
Minimum Wage
Some thoughts on the law of unintended consequences as it relates to raising the minimum wage over at The Entrepreneurial Mind, a blog by a Business professor at Belmont University.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Announcing: Amplifier's new website! Jef just put it up last night. He says it's only 90% done. I say it's 100% pure awesomeness. And let me go ahead and mention here, Jef Sewell is a genius. Just wanted to register that now, so that in 20 years when the Sewell Brothers Documentary is made, and everyone is saying, "We always knew they were great!" I'll be able to point to our archives and say, "You heard it here first!"

Friday, February 24, 2006


I know, i know, many of you are saying, "g-what?" (or if you're a beets, "g-whaaaaaaaaaat?") Do they have something to do with gmail or google? No, they do not. They are the next step for people who are environmentally conscious but who don't want to deal with cloth diapers. How could this be, you ask? Well, it's simple. You simply flush these diapers down the toilet.

If you're interested: g-what?

I first discovered these on the blog of a friend of mine from high school--Jana, a.k.a., Sweetpea. I admit that at first sight I was intrigued. Now, having caved into excellent marketing, I have bought and sampled the goods.

I cannot say enough about how fantastic this experience was as a consumer. First of all, their website is well-arranged and easy to navigate. Secondly, I ordered this on Tuesday evening and received it on Thursday morning (after having been told it would take 3 to 5 business days to arrive once it had actually shipped). Thirdly, the packaging is just awesome! Form and function, together: I love it. The box comes with a cardboard sleeve of sorts that comes off and then folds like an accordion. On the outside are cute pics of babies in gdiapers, on the inside are instructions for the use of the product. I like the multi-purposeness (is that even a word?) of said sleeve. Fourth, the product is extremely easy to use. And, finally, Aidan looks SO DARN cute in his little gdiaper.

There will be naysayers out there:
  • "what about use with low-flow toilets? These couldn't possibly work with low-flow toilets." Oh, yes, yes, they do. I have low-flow toilets. The first few times I used the swish stick, you know, just to be sure everything was broken up. However, the last time I threw caution to the wind and I flushed without swishing. No problemo, dude. I mean, this stuff breaks up in the toilet better than toilet paper. (and, in the category of TMI, Macon and I have had ....well, let's just say that we're more likely to clog up the toilet than this "flushable" is).

  • "it is not as environmentally friendly as cloth."Well, that depends. If you're interested, check out this, this, and just for kicks: a comparison with disposables. I need to admit at this point that there are several mommies out there who do not use disposables because of the absorbent crystals in them. There is the question as to whether or not these are toxic and whether or not we should be using them in diapers at all. Gdiapers would say it's not a problem, others say it is. I will not attempt to address this issue here.

    So, what about the theory that children in cloth will potty train up to a year sooner than children in disposables? That is around 1000 diaper changes, folks. So, for me and mine, we'll be using cloth as a mainstay. However, I think we'll be using the gdiapers instead of pampers/luvs/huggies/etc for things like going out and travel. Furthermore, I think it may be worth using these on baby number 2 (no, we're not pregnant) for the first 4 to 6 months before we start solids. All Liquid "bizness" (a.k.a. "poopie") all the time sounds like a great candidate for flushing, and potty training will not be an issue that is even on the horizon at that point.

    The really exciting part is that there is a great option available for people who don't want to do cloth, but who do want to be better stewards of the earth. 90% to 95% of the market uses disposables and then they sit in a landfill for 500 years. If some of that market share switched to gdiapers, it would make a HUGE difference in our landfill problems (as diapers account for a ginormous amount of trash in the landfill system).

    Another thing that has impressed me has been the patience and kindness of the founders of gdiapers. I have read many a webpage with either glowing or glowering reports about gdiapers, and for all those glowerers the founders have responded to their posts with patient and kind comments either explaining away misconceptions or gently pointing out mistakes. This makes me like them even more. They not only have a great product and provide a fantastic consumer experience, but they are also humble when they could be arrogant.

    Having tested said goods, if you have any questions for me, feel free to post them. I will do my best to respond. (Man, I feel like a gdiapers evangelist...what has become of me? I never imagined I could get so excited about diapers...and for those of you out there who don't have kids, just wait. You, too, will find yourself here. When you do, look me up. You know where to find me.)

    ...did I mention how darn cute these things are?

    **NEW INFO:
    I forgot to say two very important things:
    1-these cost about 5 to 7 cents more per diaper than your typical pampers (but it's like buying organic milk, if you do it and others do it, then the price will come down--in the meantime, it's worth the extra money to not be adding to the landfills).
    2-The "g-pants" (the outside cloth covers) velcro in the back instead of in the front. This is fantastic! I was able to let Aidan run around in just his diaper all afternoon and not once did he take it off. (one of the issues with cloth diapers and maybe disposables, too, is how they fasten in the front and so babies figure out how to take them off.) In fact, this cloth diaper cover is the best fitting of any I have tried. I am probably not through trying, but for now that is saying quite a bit.
  • Other Slightly Informative Kith & Kin Subtitles

  • anything that stokes kith & kin find interesting

  • Where Parental Wisdom And Postmodern Snarkiness Go Hand-In-Hand: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together!

  • Cuban Exile flavored Scots-Irish French Hugenots and their ilk: fleeing from more countries than you've visited.

  • please wear protective goggles while conducting thought experiments

  • from the sublime to the banal in 3 easy steps

  • Pedants Rejoice!

  • You've got a good point there, but your hair covers it

  • ideas may expire without warning

  • where irony is our piano, not our forte

  • where spellcheck is a community action!

  • caveat annotator

  • words without thoughts never to heaven go

  • where irony is a literary device, not a way of life

  • bloggin from the city where the heat is on, all night every day till the break of dawn

  • bloggin from another city where not only is the heat is on, but it's set around 105 Degrees Fahrenheit

  • we're eclectic, in a non-standard way

  • where Africa puts you in perspective

  • Blogging with Honor

  • we're not all stoked, but some of us are

  • apparently, we like vegetables.

  • prying ice cream from your cold, sticky hands

  • tactical parenting: dynamic, flexible, ballistic, realist

  • where we aim to please

  • where subtitles often start with where

  • that's Dr. Kith and Kin to you.
  • Thursday, February 23, 2006

    Cancer Prognosis - from today's WSJ (requires subscription). Here are excerpts:

    It didn't attract a lot of media fanfare, but two weeks ago the National Center for Health Statistics announced some spectacular news. The number of Americans dying from cancer fell for the first time in decades. This achievement against one of mankind's most dreaded diseases is the medical equivalent of putting a man on the moon.

    Especially stunning is that fatalities are falling even though Americans are living longer. Cancer is a degenerative disease, meaning that the likelihood of contracting one of its multiple forms rises exponentially with age. So when statisticians age-adjust the death rate data -- and ask the question: What is the likelihood of an American dying from cancer at any given age? -- they find that cancer deaths have been falling by 1% per year since 1991. If that trend continues, our children will face a 25% lower risk of dying from cancer (at any given age) than we do today.

    Other points made: Socialized medicine does not incent aggressive treatment, which saves governments money but at a high human cost. Also, the article cites studies that suggest that only 2% of cancer diagnoses result from enviornmental pollutants, challenging the myth that our industrial society is "pumping poisons into the air and water that put us at ever greater risk of cancer."

    Lord willing, all forms of this disease will be eradicated and happy to hear that progress is being made.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Does the Future Hold a Grandson Name of Beets?

    Who knows, but look at this funny site that Lindsay noted on her blog.
    Update on Pollo Tropical. The Miami Herald reports that the Stokes family's favorite fast food is on the move again and coming to a neighborhood near you (if you're lucky). Vamos a comer!

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    WWI British Infantry
    At Walter's suggestion, I'm reading The First World War, by John Keegan. I'm really enjoying it, though it's quite a sad read. One interesting thing about the set-up to WWI is all of the interconnectedness, market-wise, education-wise and family-wise between the warring parties. All of the connectivity failed to prevent the war. I haven't gotten to thinking about whether this has anything to do with Mr. Barnett's theory of Core/Gap, but I might think about it and post on it later. But that's not why I'm writing today!

    As you will recall, earlier I posted about the value the British Infantry had in the Napoleonic Era: alone among all other armies at the time, they practiced with live ammunition. This made them deadly and was, in large part, why they were able to defeat Napoleon. As it turns out, the Brits didn't lose this value during the time between Napoleon and the Kaiser. Keegan writes about Germany's first strike at France through Belgium, where a British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was part of the defensive line:
    The British, if only for a moment, were to be cast into the role of opposing both the concept and the substance of the [entire German offensive plan]. . . .The BEF was equal to the task. Alone among those of Europe, the British army was an all-regular force, composed of professional soldiers whom the small wars of empire had hardened to the realities of combat. . . .The British Lee-Enfield rifle, with its ten-round magazine, was a superior weapon to the German Mauser, and the British soldier a superior shot. "Fifteen rounds a minute" has become a catchphrase, but it was the standard most British infantrymen met, encouraged by extra pay for marksmanship and an issue of free ammunition to win the badge in their spare time.
    Later, Keegan describes the BEF's work as they stop the final German offensive before equilibrium is established at the Western Front.
    . . . on 20 October . . . a general German offensive began. . . . The real contest was between fourteen German infantry divisions against seven British [divisions] . . . . The line was held by the superiority of the British in rapid rifle fire. In artillery they were outgunned more than two to one, and in heavy artillery ten to one. In machine guns, two per battalion, they were equal to the enemy. In musketry, still quaintly so called in the BEF [though they were really firing rifles], they consistently prevailed. Trained to fire fifteen aimed rounds a minute, the British riflemen . . . easily overcame the counter-fire of the attacking Germans who, coming forward in closely ranked masses, presented unmissable targets. . . . In the absence of strong physical barriers to hold the enemy at a distance, it was the curtain of rifle bullets, crashing out in a density the Germans often mistook for machine-gun fire, that broke up attacks and drove the survivors of an assault to ground or sent them crawling back to cover on their start lines.
    It's striking to me how much Keegan's description of events mirrors the descriptions of British battles in the Napoleonic Wars. Seeing this pop up in a description of WWI again makes me wonder: What was it about the British culture that gave them this particular value when it came to warfare? Why did they alone practice with live ammunition in the Napoleonic Era, and why did that same value carry through to giving away ammunition and incenting target practice at the turn of the 20th century? Finally, I wonder: Do the Brits still have it, or did it disappear in a post-Christian, post-Modern malaise? (I ask this without any snark.)

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    For the protection of the involved parties, certain posts have been removed from this blog. Updates to follow.
    The Geezer Gets Around.

    I was on 20 meter CW this evening. Worked Bill, KY8W, in Paw Paw, MI. He said the weather was sunny but the temperature was 29. He also said that the ice fishing wasn't very good this winter. I told him it wasn't very good down here either. Bill is 69 years old.

    Then I worked Larry, KA8HFN, who lives in Wapakoneta, OH. It was much warmer there; 30 degrees he said. Larry was into his second week of retirement. He's only 60. That made my day.
    Reading Matters. "The top presidential (sic) biographies" from Robert Dallek on Opinion Journal.
    Greens and the Federal Judiciary: a Bad Mix.

    How the Greens, aided and abetted by a non-elected Federal judge, may have destroyed New Orleans. "Non-elected Federal judge" is a bit redundant. All of them are "non-elected".

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    Careful, Poets, the "Net" Knows. If you google Mary's full name, you will find your way quickly to this blog.
    D.C. Personal Protection Act.

    "Since 1977, the District [of Columbia] has banned the possession of all handguns not acquired and registered before that year. D.C. law also prohibits keeping an assembled rifle or shotgun in the home, effectively outlawing the use of firearms for lawful self-defense. And despite these Draconian gun control laws, Washington, D.C., consistently has one of the highest homicide rates in the nation."

    This from the political action arm of the NRA, which is promoting remedial legislation (see below) for the District. I wonder whether the anti-gun folks really want to see what would happen with murder rates over the next 30 years if people in the District were allowed to protect themselves with firearms. See the NRA's post

    By the way, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas is the Senate sponsor of the bill. The other TX senator, John Cornyn, is a co-sponsor. Both NC Senators are co-sponsors of the Senate bill, as well as Mel Martinez of Florida (but not Bill Nelson, our other Senator). There are many other co-sponsors in the Senate. In the House, our representative, Mario Diaz-Balart, is a co-sponsor. Also a co-sponsor of the House version is the much but unfairly defamed Katherine Harris, who will run against Bill Nelson for the Senate seat Nelson now occupies. (The NRA post links to a list of all the cosponsors, both in the Senate and in the House.)
    At dinner Thursday night, conversation somehow turned to the peculiar Christmas traditions of the Catalan region in Spain. It's time for the kith and kin to understand these things as well. Given the recent, rather low-brow commentary on razors and guns, I think the waters are sufficiently muddied for such a subject.

    For those who don't know, I spent a most wonderful semester in Barcelona in the fall of 2001. It's a fabulous city--beautiful, very livable and walkable. One of the more interesting cultural phenomenon, though, is a preoccupation with the scatological. I'm not sure from whence this comes--perhaps from an orginally agricultural society, perhaps from the fact that there's really no green space in the city and the dogs just do their business on the sidewalk so that you have to always look down while you're walking, perhaps because this subject is somehow more accetable when one is speaking about it in Catalan. Whatever the case, the preocuupation becomes especially evident during the Christmas season in two ways:

    Exhibit 1. The Caganer.

    Exhibit 2. The Tio de Nadal.

    If you don't believe the wikipedia or me, I can appeal to Mom and Dad, who joined me in BCA for Christmas, for the truth of what I have just presented.

    **Update: Exhibit 3. See a selection of caganers for sale here.

    Friday, February 17, 2006

    Bryant Gumbel goes over the top on the lilly-white Winter Olympics. Or does he?

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Fighting back against the new union "Wal-Mart" laws. Retailers unite in opposing Maryland's new anti-WM law. Regardless of one's personal views of WM, I think it pretty obvious that these laws are discrimnatory and anti-competitive. (Tear me up, Sean :) )
    I'm Sorry, Mr. Vice-President, I Just Can't Help Myself Department.

    On Guns and Hunting. I've never gone hunting, but it is an activity I would like to enjoy before this life is over. And I'm looking into it.

    In the meanwhile, there is Cheney's unhappy experience. Inevitably the bumper stickers emerge. This one I just recently saw: "I would rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride with Ted Kennedy."

    Finally, here is a site with some interesting quotes on the matter of guns, both for personal protection and hunting. (My favorite is the quote attributed to Chris Rock.)
    Mach3 Power Update. On the economics/being-well-turned-out front, I am going on two weeks using the same "cartridge" (blade). I initially addressed the important matter of the right razor here and later noted that the "cartridges" turn out to cost $3 apiece. The orange stripe on the current installed cartridge is disappearing but is not quite gone. There is slightly more "burn" to the shave, but its entirely acceptable. And I obtain a shave that is still quite good. At 14 days, that would be about $.22 per shave. That does not count a proration of the cost of the single, AAA battery that powers this elegant invention. (I have been on the same battery for at least a month.) Nor does it count the cost of the device that holds the cartridge, contains the little motor that vibrates the head, contains the battery, and has a manly heft and feel. (The initial package cost about $11.00.) That cost will reduce to about nothing per day over the life of the instrument, provided I don't throw it away and buy the Fusion. And remember, the intial package that contained the instrument also came with a $3.00 cartridge included in the price.
    Jews vs. Muslim Nobel Prize Winners. What do you think of this presentation that's been floating around cyberpace.
    "Executive Power on steroids". That's the title of an essay by Richard A. Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School, in which he makes a persuasive argument that the President has gone beyond his constitutional powers in ignoring FISA in the conduct of the domestic surveillance program.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    "[I]t would take a certain kind of intelligence, available only to those who have undergone a lot of formal education, not to be able to work it out."

    -Theodore Dalrymple, on understanding why there is so much youth unemployment in France. He discusses this issue in the context of addressing the question "Is Old Europe Doomed?".

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    A slightly updated image from the 60s.

    Peace, y'all.
    Dalrymple, Theodore. Our Culture, What's Left of It. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2005. ISBN 1-56663-643-4.

    [I copied this from John Walker's blog, Fourmilog: None Dare Call it Reason. John is an American living in Europe who apparently reads a lot.]

    Theodore Dalrymple is the nom de plume of Anthony Daniels, a British physician and psychiatrist who, until his recent retirement, practiced in a prison medical ward and public hospital in Birmingham, England. In his early career, he travelled widely, visiting such earthly paradises as North Korea, Afghanistan, Cuba, Zimbabwe (when it was still Rhodesia), and Tanzania, where he acquired an acute sense of the social prerequisites for the individual disempowerment which characterises the third world. This experience superbly equipped him to diagnose the same maladies in the city centres of contemporary Britain; he is arguably the most perceptive and certainly among the most eloquent contemporary observers of that society.
    This book is a collection of his columns from City Journal, most dating from 2001 through 2004, about equally divided between “Arts and Letters” and “Society and Politics”. There are gems in both sections: you'll want to re-read Macbeth after reading Dalrymple on the nature of evil and need for boundaries if humans are not to act inhumanly. Among the chapters of social commentary is a prophetic essay which almost precisely forecast the recent violence in France three years before it happened, one of the clearest statements of the inherent problems of Islam in adapting to modernity, and a persuasive argument against drug legalisation by somebody who spent almost his entire career treating the victims of both illegal drugs and the drug war. Dalrymple has decided to conclude his medical career in down-spiralling urban Britain for a life in rural France where, notwithstanding problems, people still know how to live. Thankfully, he will continue his writing.

    Many of these essays can be found on-line at the City Journal site; I've linked to those I cited in the last paragraph. I find that writing this fine is best enjoyed away from the computer, as ink on paper in a serene time, but it's great that one can now read material on-line to decide whether it's worth springing for the book.

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    "Life at the Bottom" This is the title of a book by Theodore Dalrymple, a wonderfully literate British physician who is fast assuming a position in my personal Pantheon alongside, for example, Fr. Neuhaus. The book has a series of essays on the people he has dealt with in his medical practice at a large hospital in one of London's poor districts and at a prison where he treats the inmates. He refers to these people as members of the "underclass". Look at this:

    That the heart wants contradictory, incompatible things; that social conventions arose to resolve some of the conflicts of our own impulses; that eternal frustration is an inescapable concomitant of civilization, as Freud had observed - all these recalcitrant truths fell beneath the notice of the proponents of sexual liberation, dooming their revolution to ultimate failure.

    The failure hit the underclass hardest. Not for a moment did the sexual liberators stop to consider the effects upon the poor of the destruction of the strong family ties alone that made emergence from poverty possible for large numbers of people. They were concerned only with the petty dramas of their own lives and dissatisfactions. But by obstinately overlooking the most obvious features of reality, as did my seventeen-year-old patient who thought that men's superior physical strength was a socially constructed sexist myth, their efforts contributed in no small part to the intractability of poverty in modern cities, despite vast increases in the general wealth: for the sexual revolution has turned the poor from a class into a caste, from which escape is barred so long as that revolution continues.

    Saturday, February 11, 2006

    Concerning Saints
    I've been thinking about Saints lately. Maybe it's the logical conclusion of a season dominated by Saint Nick and the upcoming ones with Saint Valentine, Saint Patrick and Saint Easter Bunny.

    Seems to me that with the whole, "Hey, we're all 'saints'," that came with the Reformation, and which permeates Evangelicaldom, we (speaking as an evangelical) lost a bit of spiritual tutelage. Perhaps what's gotten us into trouble is the combination of the correct Reformation rejection of the view of Saints as alternate intercessors and the American ideal of equality. There's something comforting to me in my spiritual mediocrity when I can reject what "Saints" have to say, even though they've experienced a more intimate relationship with the Lord than I can even imagine, with the thought, "There's nothing special about being a 'Saint,' since we're all saints, according to the Good Book."

    Actually, I've discovered that there are, in fact, people who have more intimate relationships with the Lord than I do. (This is not a recent discovery, for those keeping score at home.) It makes sense to me that there ought to be a special place in Christendom reserved for those who in the course of their life reach a level of spiritual rapport with the Lord that is rare and to be treasured. Capital-S Saints seems as good a word as any for these folks.

    Perhaps part of the issue is that "Saint" is kind of a vague word, kind of like "bald". When does someone with a full head of hair move to being bald? One less hair? Ten less hairs? When does one cross the line? Well, there is no line per-se, but when someone is truly bald, it's easy to see. Before employing "Saint," we'd like to know the bright line between not-Saint and Saint. But there are plenty of folks in Christendom who are Saints, even though we might not be able to say, "On this day," or, "with this act, Larry became a Saint." (Good job, Larry!)

    Being a Saint, too, is a place distinct from those simply exhibiting the Spectacular gifts of the Spirit and those who are devoutly pious. Of course, many Saints exhibit both, but doing one or the other doesn't make one a Saint. I'd say it's the difference between an 18 year-old Marine recruit using his M-16 effectively, a Military bureaucrat wearing his Dress Uniform, and a weathered, wizened, and war-wise Master Sergeant who looks sharp in his uniform, can hit a bulls-eye at 200 meters, but has in his core the warrior spirit. It isn't that the first two can't become the latter, but at the moment they certainly are not the latter. (This is an illustration I should have used in explaining my earlier thinking on the relationship between piety & holiness.)

    In truth, my Saintly thinking is brought on by reading Evelyn Underhill's Concerning The Inner Life
    The question of the proper feeding of our own devotional life must, of course, include the rightful use of spiritual reading. And with spiritual reading we may include formal or informal meditation upon Scripture or religious truth: the brooding consideration, the savouring - as it were the chewing of the cud - in which we digest that which we have absorbed, and apply it to our own needs. Spiritual reading is, or at least it can be, second only to prayer as a developer and support of the inner life. In it we have access to all the hoarded supernatural treasure of the race: all that is has found out about God. It should not be confined to Scripture, but should also include at least the lives and the writing of the cannonized and uncannonized saints: for in religion variety of nourishment is far better than a dyspeptic or fastidious monotony of diet. If we do it properly, such reading is a truly social act. It gives to us not only information, but communion; real intercourse with the great souls of the past, who are the pride and glory of the Christian family. Studying their lives and work slowly and with sympathy; reading the family history, the family letters;p trying to grasp the family point of view, we gradually discover these people to be in origin though not in achievement very much like ourselves. They are people who are devoted to the same service, handicapped often by the very same difficulties; and yet whose victories and insights humble and convict us, and who can tell us more and more, as we learn to love more and more, of the relation of the soul to Reality. . . . It is one of the ways in which the communion of saints can be most directly felt by us.

    We all know what a help it is to live among, and be intimate with, keen Christians; how much we owe in our own lives to contact with them, and how hard it is to struggle on alone in a preponderantly non-Christian atmosphere. In the saints we always have the bracing society of keen Christians. We are always in touch with the classic standard. Their personal influence still radiates, centuries after they have left the earth, reminding us of the infinite variety of ways in which the Spirit of God acts on people through people, and reminding us too of our own awful personal responsibility in this matter. The saints are the great experimental Christians, who, because of their unreserved self-dedication, have made the great discoveries about God; and, as we read their lives and works, they will impart to us just so much of these discoveries as we are able to bear. Indeed, as we grow more and more, the saints tell us more and more: disclosing at each fresh reading secrets that we did not suspect. Their books are the works of specialists, from whom we can humbly learn more of God and of our own souls.

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    Dhimmitude. Good stuff from Diana West. And this too from a FrontPage Magazine symposium.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Well, duh!
    Mark Noll is leaving Wheaton for guess where. Notre Dame!
    Justice Ginsburg's problem with "tolerance".

    This makes me praise the Lord for the Roberts and Alito appointments.
    Not tending to one's own business, I think. The WSJ reports today that

    Bush faces opposition from 85 evangelical Christian leaders to his rejection of curbs on emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for global warming.

    Not that I believe that Bush is necessarily right on this. But what are "evangelical Christian leaders" doing in this fight?

    For a contrary view to mine, here's a link.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Some sensible comments on the Muslim-Cartoon matter. The writer points out that several of the cartoons that are causing such an uproar were not even published in the Danish press but were added by the Muslim group that first circulated them in an effort to incite their co-religionists. It worked.
    Whose Rules?
    There are many things that need to be said about the Muslim reaction to those cartoons in the Danish newspaper, and yesterday in this space Joseph Bottum said some of them very well. They need to be said because the most frontal challenge imaginable has been put to the West. It is a challenge that may soon be backed up by a nuclear threat from Iran.

    The challenge is simply this: A very large sector of the Islamic world is now demanding that the West live by Islamic rules. The challenge is issued not just by radical jihadists but by governments such as Syria where “spontaneous” demonstrations are orchestrated by the state.
    Read the rest of the post (it's short).

    I agree with Fr. Neuhaus here, and the rest of his insights.
    Morgan's first post

    [she doesn't want to say anything about this link to Bono's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. She thinks it speaks for itself. But she's interested in what you think.]

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    The Father of FM

    In honor of our technological fathers - Ken and dad

    I just finished a biography on Major Edwin H. Armstrong, the inventor of the regenerative circuit and frequency modulation.

    I recommend the following bibliography:

    Lawrence Lessing, Man of High fidelity: Edwin Howard Armstrong, Philadelphia, J.B. Lipncott Company, 1956

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    They were for it before they were against it.

    "The President has enhanced responsibility to resist unconstitutional provisions that encroach upon the constitutional powers of the Presidency."

    That sure sounds like it could have been written by John Ashcroft. Or Alberto Gonzales. Or one of the many Bush-administration officials vigorously defending the NSA's warrantless monitoring of enemy communications into and out of the homeland. After all, it succinctly states the best explanation for why President Bush was empowered to go beyond the strictures of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and create a terrorist-surveillance program, designed to prevent a reprise of 9/11 ... or worse.

    But the assertion does not come from the Bush administration at all. Nor from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, National Review, or any of the other precincts limned by today's American Left as megaphones for the president's dreaded "domestic spying program."

    No, for this clear statement of principle, we have the Clinton administration to thank. Specifically, then-Attorney General Janet Reno's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) — the Justice Department's elite unit of lawyers for the lawyers. It was chiseled into a formal 1994 OLC opinion, aptly entitled "The President's Authority to Decline to Execute Unconstitutional Statutes," by then-Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger, OLC's top gun.

    From at article at National Review.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Oscar Anyone?

    Morgan Stokes: internet phenomenon!

    Check out her acting debut at Despair.com.

    She's currently taking applications for members of her entourage.
    An Open Letter to Tom Oster

    Dear Tom,
    I've been thinking about you lately. Actually, it would be more accurate to say, "I've been thinking about your early-ly." When Aidan gets up at 5am, Kellsey and I start the day, too. It's been this way since he was born, and I wouldn't be able to keep this up except for drugs. My drug of choice: caffeine.

    I have imbibed all kinds of caffeine-delivery-systems in the last 15 months: coke, hot tea, cold tea, sweet tea, latte, cappuccino, misto, frappuccino, mocha, macchiato, espresso, americano, drip coffee, and french press coffee. I drink it all: from the generic coffee served on an airplane, to the fresh-ground fresh-made drip at work, to fresh-ground french press at home, to Sbux espresso.

    From the sheer volume, I discover that I can now tell the difference between coffees. I understand now that they actually taste different, depending upon the roast, or brewing process, or freshness of the bean. I've also moved from drinking Caramel Macchiatos through all the intermediate steps to drinking double espressos with one sugar. I'm thinking this is only one step away from drinking the essence of coffee: plain espresso.

    If I had my preferences, I'd only drink fresh ground, french press coffee, or espresso. I'm not snotty about it: I drink it all, since it is fundamentally about the drug. But, when I can, I bring my own coffee, grinder, and press.

    As I've been thinking about you, I recall some of our conversations about your coffee drinking. In particular we talked about it at a team meeting during my intern year at Brad's parent's place in Wintergreen. In my mind's eye, I can see us looking out over the valley, you with a steaming cup of coffee in your hand, and me holding forth on the unhealthy nature of coffee and caffeine. You also came in for some good-natured teasing about bringing your own grinder and fresh bags of coffee to team meetings.

    As I prepare and drink my own coffee now, I often have this thought, "Oh my, I have become Tom Oster." Then I grin and drink deep of the coffee ambrosia. Unfortunately, none of the other admirable Tom Oster traits have taken hold.

    I thought you'd like to know.

    Too close to home.
    1 killed in shooting outside uptown club and
    Police kill gunman, hurt 1 in Huntersville
    (not sure if it requires login)
    Time to be a sheepdog?

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    The High Cost of the "World's Best Shave". I bought replacement blades for the Mach3Power razor this AM at Walgreens. (See earlier post on this important subject.) For 8 "cartidges" the price is $22.99 - with sales tax $24.60. That's $3 per cartridge.

    Each cartidge has an "Indicator Lubrastrip", an orange strip at the top that "fades away" as one shaves day after day. When its gone, its time to "change the blade [they mean the cartridge] for a better shave". Gillette's earlier cartridges had such a strip, but this one "contains Vitamin E and Aloe".

    I will take careful note of how many shaves I get per "cartridge" and report back on the price per shave. Meanwhile, I may buy more Proctor & Gamble stock. P&G now owns Gillette. (Maybe that should be P$G.)

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Thanks, Instapundit. This is cool. And here.
    Cuidado! Maybe a book for us evangelical Presbyterians to stay away from.
    Speaking of Bumper Stickers. This is a terrible thing to display. Terrible.