Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Whither Gratitude?
Over at Piebald Life Alex, Marshall and I started an irenic discussion on the place of gratitude in the Christian Life as it relates to obedience. I'm posting my response here. Make sure you read his post first, though.
The motivation that is almost universally trotted out as the modus operandi for Christian living, namely gratitude, is almost never used in Scripture. There are literally thousands of verses about obedience, almost none of them explicitly link our obedience with gratitude for what God's done in the past.
For the sake of argument (though not because I'm necessarily convinced), I'll go with you on the fact that obedience & gratitude are rarely explicitly linked in the Scriptures.

But off the top of my head, it seems to me that the Parable of the Prodigal, the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, and Jesus' interactions with the lepers he healed ("Where are the others?") are some first starts to seeing gratitude playing into obedience in an implicit place in the Scriptures.

We do this kind of hermenutical & theological work all the time when we see the implicit linkages in Scripture and give them names. In fact, this is the work of Theology: to find good words to describe the relationships we're seeing in Scripture. Of course, some words are better than others (which is the whole point of this irenic dialogue), but as a knock-down argument for why we should reject "gratitude," I am less than convinced.
Motivated to obedience out of gratitude often turns into what Piper calls "the debtor's ethic." . . . What it incorrectly does is frame our response in such a way where we are now charged to attempt to 'pay God back.'
This is not a problem with gratitude per se. Piper properly identifies an anathema to the Gospel, but mis-diagnoses the cause.

The problem is that those following "the debtor's ethic," and Piper himself, go about the circle of analogical predication the wrong way. They are loading "gratitude" with man-centered value, rather than re-orienting their view of gratitude in light of who God is. Gratitude, I believe, properly construed, is thankfulness and right action. To be thankful without right action is to be, well, ungrateful. (To not be thankful in the first place is also ungrateful, for those playing along at home.) Can we be obedient without gratitude? Of course! And we shoudn't be disobedient simply because we don't feel grateful. But the best is to have obedient action motivated by gratitude (as I have, I hope, robustly defined it).

Those that are thankful and then try to "repay" God are simply doing horrible theology and clearly misunderstand both gratitude and the magnitude of the Father's action in Christ by the Spirit on their behalf.
Gratitude is an emotion. As such, gratitude ebbs and flows.
Love, Joy, Peace - fruits of the Spirit - are also emotions which ebb & flow, yet Paul talks about them as fundamental to our life in Christ.

The point isn't whether a motivator ebbs & flows. Clearly, our actions ought to be based upon, even motivated by, Love, Joy & Peace, yet at the same time we're called to "pursue Love" (I Cor 14:1) while we do other things. What this tells me is that there are proper emotions for motivation (of which I include, gratitude) but that we are to strive for right actions (obedience), even while we pray for the right emotions (motivation). So it seems to me improper to dismiss gratitude as motivatior in part because it's an emotion.

One might say, "but there is a deeper Love, a deeper Joy & Peace than merely 'emotion.'" And I would agree. And we know this because we've gone about the circle of analogical predication the correct way with Love, Joy, & Peace. We ought to do the same with gratitude.

Let me also add that the work God has graciously done for us has only one proper response: worship & obedience.

Worship & obedience are one response. It seems that you do your argument a disservice to talk about Gratitude being a proper motivation for worship, but not obedience. Worship & Obedience are perichoretic, imho. (And, Dude, I love using that word. What a great word.) Worship is a subset of obedience in that it is an act of heart & will as well as being something that is mandatory. Obedience is a subset of worship, in that worship in its fullest sense is a life obediently lived in the Lord. And yet they both are categories in and to themselves. So I'm going with perichoretic: they inhere & cohere together without confusion. And if gratitude is improper for motivating obedience, how is it proper for moviting worship? Alternatively, if it's proper for motivating worship, how can it be improper for motivating obedience?

Finally, after all of this, let me say that I'm not going to die on the theological Hill of Gratitude. After all, it may just not be the best way to talk about what I'm trying to talk about. In fact, in some ways, I am simply using gratitude as a shorthand for "Faith, Hope & Love." That is, to respond greatfully to God necessarily entails a Faithful & Hopeful response of Love towards God, which leads inexorably to obedient action.

And while, perhaps, I won't die on the theological Hill of Faith, Hope & Love, I am willing to be horribly maimed on it.

Other Kith & Kinners (including all you Lurkers out there!) are, as always, welcome to jump in at any time. I would be, er, grateful for your feedback.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The William Jefferson Case: Reinforcements from the WSJ. In an editorial today, the WSJ sees a serious separation of powers issue. The editors are unimpressed by the argument that because the Justice Department got a District Judge to issue a search warrant there is no Constitutional problem. I didn't know until I read the editorial that the President impounded the siezed documents until the matter cools off some, releasing them in the meanwhile neither to the Justice Department nor to the Speaker. That shows some worthy discretion.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Black Tuesday on a Monday. Today is the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453. We should get to know that date and that event. We should probably also put it on a par with 9/11.

UPDATE: I suggest that you not only read the post to which I link, but also the interesting comments to the post.
Memorial Day Album: Brunch at the Beach.

(1) A view east from our picnic tables.

(2) Paul, Austin Carr, his daughter Hannah, and Ron Chavarria half-asleep in the foreground.

(3) Carol, our inspiration and cook, taking a rest after feeding 9 people.

(4) Van (our pastor), Paul, and Juliet, Van's wife.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

It's a Swamp Out There!

Saw this just off Dove and Hammond this afternoon. I put the empty water bottle next to it for perspective. My guess is that it is heading toward a canal about two blocks further east. I think its a Florida Softshell Turtle, an aquatic turtle.
Not Exactly Ready for the Hurricane Season. The back of our house. And the hurricane season starts Thursday.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ninja for Hire. Don't do this at home. (I promise, this is the last one.) OK, one more. And this one, for Matrix folks.
Hey Bro'! VW uber alles. Und da
Eclipse. Ja, und da Civic. Let's hear it for German engineering, all y'all!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Girlfriend 6.0 vs. Wife 1.0 Really funny link that Sean found. (You will never get bored with the internet as long as Sean is on the lookout.)
A Good Argument for the Death Penalty. Skilling and Lay.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Nice points there
Alex has good things to say In Defense of Good Bible Reading.

Update: Because I need to add that Alex is a phenomenal teacher in the Inductive Bible Study approach. Does your church need training in this? You should have Alex come and teach for an extended period of time ('cause there's more to this than an hour long seminar). And you should compensate him well, since I have yet to see any person, book or video teach this stuff as well as he does.
Productivity? Macon and I were chatting on the phone yesterday about, among other things, productivity. I was bemoaning the fact that at 4 PM every weekday afternoon I "run out of gas", attributing that to being two months away from 60 years old. He expressed some doubt about my explanation, and said he hit a wall about that time as well. We both, it turns out, start our work day at around 8AM.

I was thinking of other things we seem to do in common, and one of them is coffee. Maybe that's part of the problem. I start off with a jolt - a medium size "half-caf" from Starbucks, and then sip half-caf for the rest of the morning. I am not drinking it after the noon hour. (I hate to bring this up on the blog, because Carol thinks that caffeine is generally unhealthy, and would like me to quit. I've tried, but obviously not hard enough.) I think Macon hits the caffeine pretty hard too. I know he starts out at Starbucks in the AM.

"Productivity" has been a topic we've discussed on this blog before. It's a popular subject all over the blogoshere. I did a google search on "productivity blogs", and there are over 2000 of them. One of them connected me with a recent Washington Post article that names some of the productivity blogs that the writer of the article likes.

One of my problems is that my day fills up with appointments and specific tasks. There is little time for list making, drawer emptying, all the things that David Allen says one should be doing. (Its interesting that the first sentence of this paragraph blames the problem on "my day", i.e. it's "my day" that fills up and it's not I who fills the day up, either deliberately or permissively. Ah, human nature!)

Maybe this weekend I can try to turn this around again. No caffeine, time in the office making lists and emptying drawers, just a few other time commitments. There is always hope.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

William Jefferson. This matter of the FBI raiding the office of Congressman William Jefferson is fascinating from many perspectives, including, of course, constitutional and political perspectives. I went to a luncheon two years ago at which the Congressman discussed the estate tax. It was the first time I had seen him personally. He was a very, very impressive man. I am disappointed to see that he is under investigation.

On the political/constitutional side, I am appalled at the FBI going into the Congressman's Congressional office. What if some Congressional police-force had gone into the Oval Office during the Clinton administration to investigate Lewinsky? Or now, to investigate the run-up to the Iraqi war? The difference is that Congress has no police force and the Executive does. So, I guess, the difference depends on who has the guns. This is simply appalling. I am about to be pushed over the edge by the incompetence (or maybe its arrogance) of the Bush administration.

UPDATE: On the other hand, Instapundit would disagree with my position and is appalled at the corruption in Congress.
Drum Roll, please

Well, kith and kin, we thought it was time to make it official that we may be needing these little items come Jan. 21, 2007 (give or take a few days).

in case you need things spelled out more clearly: Aidan is going to be a big brother! We will let you know when we know if it's a boy or a girl...and then we'll let you know when we know if that changes (e.g., when we found out 10 days before Aidan was born that he was a he and not a she as we had been expecting!)
"My Ukrainian Diary". Janna Welch, my partner Jane's niece, is in Kiev on a two month mission trip. Janna has created a blog to narrate her experience over there, and it looks good.
Home Defense Report. Two things are interesting about this article in the Miami Herald. One is the event itself - note how the shooter's recollection of the effectiveness of his shooting differs from the actual effectiveness of his shooting. I understand that this is not unusal in such a stressful situation. When the shooter states that the gun in his right hand "jammed", my bet is that he had simply emptied the gun at the intruder and it would not shoot anymore.

The second interesting thing is that the Miami Herald, which is dead-set against people owning guns, would print the article.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"24" Over for the Season. At Last. "24" closed out the season with 2 episodes last night. It has been a long time since Carol and I have been involved with a television show. A long time. (I think it was the Forsythe Saga in the early '70s). Most of those Monday night sessions, I have been glued to the screen. Carol, however, is in and mostly out of the den, because it is just too stressful for her. She reports in during the commercials and I bring her up to date.

I have to say that it was clever how Logan is tricked into spilling the beans. But we never thought he was too smart anyway. His character was so well done, smarmy, oily, give that guy an Emmy. Sutherland, I'm sorry, he's a pretty wooden guy, and it is beyond me why he is such a successful actor. But a good shot.

It will be fine to wait till next year to see what happens. I am hoping they will bring back that lovely woman with whom the Sutherland character had breakfast at the beginning of the season.

Monday, May 22, 2006

"When Islam Breaks Down". Dalrymple's essay on Islam. Published in City Journal, David Brooks of the New York Times said this was the best journal article of 2004.
Dalrymple in (and on) Africa. I finished Our Culture, What's Left of It, this morning. The last essay addresses Africa. In introducing it, he writes:

I worked and traveled a great deal in Africa and couldn’t help but reflect upon such matters as the clash of cultures, the legacy of colonialism, and the practical effects of good intentions unadulterated by any grasp of reality.

The essay is entitled "After Empire" and can be found here. (My admiration for Dalrymple remains great, even if, in some quarters, his views on tattoos are questioned, and I would recommend the book.)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Benedict XVI on Intelligent Design. I'm buried in the June/July issue of First Things, which came in the mail yesterday. (It seems like I only just finished reading all of the May issue. With the current issue covering two months, I may be able to go back and catch up on some earlier issues.)

Pope Benedict, according to Neuhaus, said the following about Intelligent Design at the recent World Youth Day:

"The great Galileo said that God wrote the book of nature in the form of mathematical language. He was convinced that God gave us two books: that of Sacred Scripture, and that of nature. And the language of nature – this was his conviction – is mathematics, which is therefore a language of God, of the Creator.

"Let us reflect now on what mathematics is. In itself it is an abstract system, an invention of the human spirit, and as such in its purity it does not really exist. It is always realized approximately, but – as such – it is an intellectual system, a great, brilliant invention of the human spirit. The surprising thing is that this invention of our human mind is truly the key for understanding nature, that nature is really structured in a mathematical way, and that our mathematics, which our spirit invented, really is the instrument for being able to work with nature, to put it at our service through technology.

"It seems an almost incredible thing to me that an invention of the human intellect and the structure of the universe coincide: the mathematics we invented really gives us access to the nature of the universe and permits us to use it. [...] I think that this intersection between what we have thought up and how nature unfolds and behaves is an enigma and a great challenge, because we see that, in the end, there is one logic that links these two: our reason could not discover the other if there were not an identical logic at the source of both.

"In this sense, it seems to me that mathematics – in which God as such does not appear – shows us the intelligent structure of the of the universe. Now there are also theories of chaos, but these are limited, because if chaos had the upper hand, all technology would become impossible. Technology is trustworthy only because our mathematics is trustworthy. Our science, which ultimately makes it possible to work with the energies of nature, presupposes the trustworthy, intelligent structure of matter, [...] the “design” of creation.

"To come to the definitive question, I would say: either God exists or he doesn’t. There are only two options. Either one recognizes the priority of reason, of the creative Reason that stands at the beginning of everything and is the origin of everything – the priority of reason is also the priority of freedom – or one upholds the priority of the irrational, according to which everything in our world and in our lives is only an accident, marginal, an irrational product, and even reason would be a product of irrationality. In the end, one cannot “prove” either of these views, but Christianity’s great choice is the choice of reason and the priority of reason. This seems like an excellent choice to me, demonstrating how a great Intelligence, to which we can entrust ourselves, stands behind everything.

"But to me, it seems that the real problem for the faith today is the evil in the world: one asks oneself how this is compatible with this rationality of the Creator. And here we really need that God who became flesh and who shows us how he is not only a mathematical logic, but that this primordial reason is also love. If we look at the great options, the Christian option is the more rational and human one even today. For this reason, we can confidently elaborate a philosophy, a vision of the world that is based on this priority of reason, on this trust that the creative Reason is love, and that this love is God."


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Fittingly, my last post at Piebald Life is entitled, "Regrets."
"Fashonably Late? Designer Brands Are Starting to Embrace E.-Commerce" Headline for front page article in Marketplace section of yersterday's WSJ. Over to you, Amplifier.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Banging my head on a wall
because it feels so good when I stop. Over at Piebald Life.
"Inarticulate sub-demotic vulgarity". Dalrymple on tattoos.

UPDATE: Dalrymple's remarks on tattooing are in the context of a book review. The hilarious thing is that the book, Bodies of Inscription, which he describes as "a superficial examination of a social phenomenon of considerable cultural significance", is published by Duke University Press.
Fr. Neuhaus posts. The May 17, 2006, First Things blog has a post by the great man, one on the immigration issue (he liked the President's speech, but doubts that there is a "comprehensive" immigration policy within sight and sees the enforcement of our laws as of profound importance) and the other on the Liturgy of the Hours for priests and other faithful.

The Liturgy of the Hours is what non-Catholics would call "daily devotionals". Fr. Neuhaus believes that, because the use of this liturgy is obligatory among priests, priests pray more than Protestant ministers.

Fr. Neuhaus identifies a version of this liturgy that is accessible to laymen, a monthly periodical called The Magnificat. One may request a sample copy, and I did. You can also look at a pdf that gives the readings for a particular day.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Immigration. Sean has a heavy post on the immigration issue, linking to Zenpundit.

The WSJ, which is pro-immigration, had a poem on the issue by Ray Bradbury, of all people, that you can read here.

I think the President's approach is a good one. I also believe (and I know that this will get some criticism) that Mexicans are a special category of people in the immigration debate for reasons that I won't describe in this post.
"Building the City of God, One Home at a Time". The catch phrase of Habitat for Humanity of Miami-Dade, on whose board my partner, Juan Antunez, sits. What a great motto! Unless, of course, the unwashed confuse it with the movie rather than the book.

(The fact that the populace might be confused lends some support to the idea that "The Da Vinci Code" is not mere fiction that we, the Christian elite, can easily dismiss, but a force for confusion and, finally, evil.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How Does Your Garden Grow? We have been having our yard "done" by a particular family for at least 30 years, off and on. They are the Everetts, and they also "did" my parents yard. We have seen at least three generations go by. I think its the third actually doing most of the work right now, with a second generation person or two doing the supervising. The adults have other jobs and its a part-time thing. I think the Everetts used their yard business not only as a means for extra income to their big family, but also as a way to teach the younger generations about work, doing a good job, being faithful They cut everybody's yard in the Springs, I think. They are a fine family. About a year ago several of them visited my mother at Epworth.

They do an "all right" job. Not the way I would do it. Lately they have been coming on Friday, when Carol and I are still at work, rather than on Saturday. On Saturday, I could talk to them easily, but now its an effort to hunt them down on Saturday. (Often we go weeks without seeing them, and then I finally hunt them down to give them a check for all the times they have done the job. They know I will catch up with them.) They literally skin the yard, and over the years I have asked them to cut the grass higher, and that works for awhile, and then they are back to skinning it. They are really dangerous with a weed eater. "Yard work" doesn't have to be perfect, as I used to tell my sons, which is advice they took to heart big time. On the other hand, there is a threshold below which it hurts me to see the quality fall. It hurts me to see our skinned lawn.

So I proposed to Carol that I do the yard work for awhile. This time she did not object, as she usually, sensibly does. I think our skinned lawn is hurting her too. So she does not object to my getting back in touch with my inner gardener, and we went to Home Depot and bought a lawnmower and a weed-eater, after consulting Consumer Reports.

As with Ham Radio after years of absence, I found that lawntool technology has advanced since the last time I was in the gardening business. The main lawnmower advance is an electric starter. This is a great thing, and removes an impediment to Carol getting in touch with her inner gardener, she promises.

Our lawn is at a sort of nadir. Not only has it been skinned within an inch of its life, the workers who are building the addition on the back of our house have destroyed our sprinkler system. So whatever the Everetts have left of our lawn has been drying up and only weeds are surviving. Its a terrible thing to see. (Coincident with our visit to Home Depot, however, the spring dry season appears to have broken; we got a huge thunderstorm yesterday and there is more rain to come.)

CT has a review of a book that offers a sort of theology of gardening. Maybe mowing the lawn has a sort of spiritual aspect to it. It would not surprise me. (Mike Maris probably has an opinion in this respect.) I've always enjoyed cutting the grass and anything else vegetative and alive within reaching distance of an ax, saw, machete, or hedge clippers.

As to the Everetts, I will keep close watch on how much I will have spent in re-equipping the tool inventory. When I've gone enough weeks without paying the Everetts to make up for what I have invested, I will look at the question again. As in years past when I tired of my inner lawn worker, I may hire them again and give them all the lawn tools I collected and feel really good about cleaning out space in the garage, as I get in touch with my inner garage cleaner.
Austin Trail Running
Come on out and run with me! We'll do the "Hill of Life" together.
I found the hill — located at the end of Scottish Woods Trail off of Loop 360, just north of Rudy's Bar-B-Q — to be everything everyone said it would be. It's a kind of post-apocalyptic, tortured trail road, with old asphalt peaking up. And lots of loose gravel, ranging from small pebbles to little boulders. It's fully half a mile long and takes six minutes to ascend. And if you're not focused, you will fall, simple as that.

"I run the greenbelt two or three days a week, and every run is different. . . . I even know how close I am to a taco shop, and I'll bring my cell phone and order a breakfast taco on my long runs," he said.

That's the amazing thing about the greenbelt runs. You're in the middle of one of the nation's larger cities, but it sure doesn't feel like it.
From a trail running article in the Austin American-Statesman.
Dalrymple Rules. I am three-fourths through Theodore Dalrymple's Our Culture, What's Left of It. This book and his earlier Life at the Bottom are two of the most fascinating books I have read in my life. (You can get both these books together from Amazon at a great price.) As I have mentioned before, Dalrymple is a social critic of astonishing breadth. He is only a few years younger than I, so his intellectual history parallels mine, although I would not begin to compare myself to his intellect and insight.

He quotes Edmund Burke in the chapter "All Sex, All the Time":

"[I]t is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free."

He calls this statement of Burke's a "lapidary warning". I had to look the adjective up. I thought I knew what it meant, but had never seen it in this context. It is an example of Dalrymple's use of words that leaves me shaking my head in wonder.

UPDATE: A "lapidary warning" is a warning of such importance that it is worthy of being engraved on a monument.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I'm Picking Bones
over at Piebald Life.
Your results:
You are Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Luke Skywalker
Han Solo
Qui-Gon Jinn
Princess Leia
Mace Windu
You are civilized, calm, and
have a good sense of humor,
even when those around you don't.
You can hold your own in a fight,
but prefer it when things
don't get too exciting.

(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters)

Click here to take the "Which Star Wars character am I?" quiz...

You know, if I just spent more time on my hair, I might have had a better shot at being Princess Leia...I always wanted to be Princess Leia...and I NEVER wanted to be on earth could she ever have fallen in love with Anakin?! He was SUCH an immature whiner!

Thanks to Sean for posting this quiz on his site
Repeal the Estate Tax? Over on Juan's blog, which, by the way, has been enormously successful, he has this post on the matter of repealing the estate tax.

In that post, Juan links to the website of an organization called "Responsible Wealth". As to the estate tax, the article to which Juan links quotes a former IRS chief bureaucrat as follows:

The estate tax has been with us for 90 years, brings in fairly large amounts of revenue at fairly low cost, and affects less than one-third of one percent of the population," said Sheldon Cohen, tax attorney and former Commissioner of the IRS. "Why would we change this?"

I am particularly disturbed by the third rationale. "[The estate tax] affects less than one-third of one percent of the population". I'm thinking about taxing blue-eyed Presbyterians, evangelicals but in the PCUSA, males between the ages of 59 and 61. They don't make up a very large part of the population either. Let's get 'em!

Here's a rationale for getting rid of the estate tax: The money collected on the tax goes to the federal government and bureaucrats like Sheldon Cohen.
Because I distinctly remember asking Mom, after Mother/Father's Days, when Children's Day would happen. Her answer was always (always!), "Because every other day is Children's Day."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Dog Wags Tail or Yuppies Uber Alles. The WSJ reports that Proctor & Gamble is coming out with a coffee that is "both gentle on stomachs and packs the same taste and caffeine punch as its regular brew." If you know a Yuppie coffee-drinker, then maybe you have heard the complaint that coffee upsets the stomach.

But Yuppies are tough. "Consumers told us 'If I have to choose between taste and discomfort, I'll power through the pain'," a P&G spokesman reports. Yeah, Man.

I'm not sure I like this quote, however: "The key is to accentuate the positive in lives at that age". And what "age" is that, you twerp?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Manipulating the Flag. The 2005 Ford Mustang is comprised 65% of US and Canadian parts; the 2005 Toyota Sienna SLE 90% and assembled in Indiana, according to Thursday's WSJ. "There's more than a little irony in this, considering Ford has launched a campaign to regain its footing with an appeal to patriotism (catch-phrase: "Red, White & Bold")."
Welcome Home, Walter and Morgan! I talked to them last night as they were laying over for three hours at the Denver Airport, waiting for the flight back to Austin. (Thank you, Lord, for bringing them back safely from K'stan.)

Walter and Morgan, we look forward to some posts in the future about your trip.
Emergency Radio Update. A while ago, I posted on a small radio that I purchased at Radio Shack that has an internal battery that one keeps charged with a crank on the side. The radio, the Grundig FR200, also has AM-FM and short-wave reception and a small light. It has served us well through two hurricane seasons.

The Grundig name is a venerable one in the history of short-wave radio, but that name, insofar as it applies to short-wave radios, is apparently licensed to or owned by Eton Corporation. (There continues to be a Grundig Corporation, a German company. It continues to produce certain consumer electronic devices, but not these radios. Grundig has a proud history of innovation.)

Eton now has a new model , the "American Red Cross FR400", that looks even better. It is, however, $60, one-third more expensive than the Grundig FR200 (which is still sold and still $40). The FR400 does not have the short-wave bands, but it does have some additional attractive features that the cheaper model lacks: it is water resistant, has a cell phone charger, comes with an AC adapter, and has a selector for the NOAA weather channels and certain of the TV channels. It also has a siren, so they are obviously including within their sales targets 9 year old boys (and 60 year old men).

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

True, for what it's worth
is what I posted on at Piebald Life.
a shirt for English teachers everywhere: here
Probably because I don't prefer capes:
Your results:
You are Iron Man

Iron Man
The Flash
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Inventor. Businessman. Genius.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Update for the uninformed: Everything you need to know about Iron Man (via Wikipedia).
Green Lantern? How dull!!

Your results:
You are Green Lantern

Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

Because Everyone Wants to Be a Superhero:

You are Superman

Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

As you can see, it turns out that I am Superman, but Wonder Woman was my close second. I think the answer that put me over the top for Superman was that I like to wear capes (especially Pashminas...for those of you who have no idea what that is, a Pashmina is a cashmere shawl/scarf/cape-of-sorts that you can wrap around you...oh, so soft and in such delectable colors!)

Which Superhero are you?

(this link was brought to you by my friend Katy, who turns out to be Spiderman)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mr. Davidson Training Update
Did I mention that at the last Mr. Davidson competition I couldn't complete the mile run? It's true. Not only that, but I about threw up after staggering off the track. (Had Walter been in my place, I have no doubt that he would have, in fact, thrown up and then promptly started running again. This is just another one of the interesting ways that he and I are different.)

So this time around, I'm going to be ready. For one thing, this time I'm actually going to eat breakfast before the competition. (It's the most important meal of the day! And by important, I mean first.) For another, I'm going to be in super-duper running shape. So, for example, I've been more-or-less keeping up with my running these days. Yesterday I had singular (for me) experience: at about mile 2.5 of a 4 mile run, all of a sudden I had the urge to run faster. Normally, I run pretty within myself and don't really "push it." I figure I'm out running: that's "pushing it" enough. Besides, I generally have a strong desire to "finish" my runs by running all the way back to where I started. I'm always careful to reserve enough energy to do so.

But yesterday it was as if my legs were trying to get free and so I lenghened my stride and picked up the pace. It was really wonderful, and I had a two thoughts at once: "Woah, this is so fun!" and "Woah, this is so bizarre, I can't believe I'm actually willfully running faster." Sure enough, I ran out of gas fairly quickly and had to walk several blocks before getting back to the start, but it didn't matter yesterday. It was a kind of Chariots of Fire Moment.

The other thing I'm doing is kettlebells. That's right, comrade, I've drunk the kool-aid and am now throwing these things around with Walter. And people? It's awesome. I am going to totally rock these events by the time they roll around. Ya hear me Davidson Peeps? I'm bringin' it!
and why I think you should read it, over at Piebald Life.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Lindsay's Baby!
Stokes Kith, Lindsay Crawford, of the blog Crawford House, had James Thomas Crawford on Sunday. He was 11 days early. Yowza! Birth details here, pictures here.
Congratulations Lindsay!
Field Trip!
I'm guest-blogging for Alex Kirk at Piebald Life. He's off at IV Chapter Camp, and gave the keys to his blog for me so I can, you know, feed the cat, bring in the paper & the mail, and throw wild parties in an 80s Teen Movie kind of way.

For Piebald Lifers who find there way over here, here's a picture of Aidan and me.

Friday, May 05, 2006

An O'Hare Thank You. Carol and I are in Chicago this weekend for my (actually, our) 35th UC Law School reunion. Macon put together a dvd in which he took pictures from our Class of '71 yearbook and combined them with comtemporary jpegs some of my classmates sent me of their families. We'll show that tomorrow night at a dinner.

As we came down the esclator at O'Hare to the baggage pick-up level, there was a soldier ahead of us in his desert fatigues and back-pack. At the foot of the escalator were several people waiting for arriving passengers. Among those waiting people were two male limo drivers with those little signs that have hadwritten someone's name. As the soldier walked passed them, they each said "Thank you".

Me too.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Store Wars.
Click here to watch Obi Wan Canoli, Cuke Skywalker, and Ham Solo battle Lord Tader over the ways of The Farm. This spoof is intended to instruct on the merits of organic foods, but it is simply hilarious. Enjoy.
It's up! In a fit of productive procrastinating from grading papers, I have started the Kenya-bound blog. The title was the first thing that came to mind, and I would appreciate any suggestions from the audience about a better name. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May Day in Miami. It was quiet in Downtown Miami yesterday, and less traffic. My cousin Ken is in town on a business trip, and he, Carol, and I went to Havana Harry's last night in the Gables. The food was OK, but the service was terrible, and we speculated that the restaurant was having personnel problems related to the "boycott". Gloria Estefan, we understand, closed her Miami restaurants, showing solidarity with the Movement. This seems a little precious to me, as if people in Miami are xenophobic and need to be taught something. I thought all of the people who need to be taught something left during the 1970s and 1980s.

On NPR this morning I heard interviews with growers in California, and they expressed support for the Movement. Well of course they do.

A connected event that no one in the media seems to be connecting is the WTO's Doha talks, which, according to an opinion piece yesterday in the WSJ, missed another deadline recently. Those talks are largely about lifting agricultural trade barriers and eliminating farm subsidies. "The World Bank estimates that full liberalization would boost the incomes of developing countries, which comprise two-thirds of the WTO membership, by up to $259 billion by 2015."

So, let's see. The US puts up agricultural trade barriers and subsidizes farming so that developing countries suffer in the one area in which they might otherwise compete with us. That makes people in those countries want to go somewhere else to improve economically, maybe to the US, legally or illegally. We are then called upon to liberalize our immigration laws and continue our lax enforcement, so that the protected industries can get cheap labor. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Sorry, Gloria.

(In fairness to the US, let me note that we seem to be on the side of the angels in the Doha talks, but why can't we just liberalize our agricultural policy unilaterally?)
The origins of cup stacking. According to the wiki, it began in So. Cal. in the early 80's. As I recall, we were already doing it at 1190 Dove Ave. in So. Fla. at that time. Wherever, whenever the origins, the payoff of the sport has been clearly evidenced in the life of those involved: "Proponents of the sport say participants learn teamwork, cooperation, ambidexterity, and hand-eye coordination." (I've been typing this post using both my left and right hands!) M & K: have you provided any cups for Aidan to start stacking? It's never too early.
Bernard Lewis. Here is a must-read piece on the man from yesterday's WSJ.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Thoughts on Monday Morning.

"United 93" was second to "RV" this weekend and only barely beat "Stick-it": an ironic sandwich of substance between vacuous time- and mind-killing entertainments. I think this, finally, says something OK about "America".

I showed up for work this morning, despite ancestors coming from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Germany, some of whom became aliens in their own homeland during Reconstruction.

I taught at the UM law school last week, each night for five nights, in the graduate program in estate planning. The course title: "Ethical and Practical Aspects of Estate Planning." It was the second year that I taught that course, and, as usual, I learned much more than the students. I am thinking about putting up a blog on the subject, seeking to build a community of former class members. It think it would help me penetrate the subject deeper and become a better lawyer and teacher. Here is a quote from one of our texts: "Virtually all difficult ethical problems arise from conflict between an interest in remaining an upright person while earning a satisfactory living". This was the basis of the course - how do we remain "upright persons" as trust and estate lawyers while making a satisfactory living. I needed no Biblical reference to this call to be righteous people, because it was right there in the Commentaries on the Model Rules of Professional Conduct published by the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Foundation. We worked through a series of hypotheticals, aided by the Commentaries, court cases, and ethics opinions issued by various state bar associations and the ABA, and the question was always, how would we act "uprightly" in the given situation. Strangely, no one went to the dean to try to get this religious fanatic thrown off the campus.

Walter and Morgan are leaving for Kazakhstan today. What a strange working out of God's will, that Kazakhstan should have become prominent in Walter's life. I recall when he, soon after coming back from the "Classics Trip", first mentioned going there. I didn't like the idea at all, because I feared for him. I thought as a parent I had taken on quite enough risk when we had tolerated his roaming around the Mediterranean. And now this? As compliant as people may think Walter is, he is quite firm about what he thinks needs to be done, and so he didn't brook any timidity on my part. Good for him. We recall that our own church has been supporting a mission team in K for many years, and that Walter makes contact with them on his first trip. Later, we learn that people in Austin that Walter knows have ties to K, and, still later, that the church he and Morgan join has missionaries there. We also find that he and Morgan have some important things to say to the Christians and others in K. And so they are on their way today. Let's all keep them and all of those on their team in our prayers.