Thursday, December 30, 2010

Love our red-haired priest!

The U plays Notre Dame at the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso tomorrow afternoon at 2PM EST on CBS.

This from the Herald:

A reporter (from outside Florida) asked [UM's interim head coach Jeff] Stoutland if he had been hearing all week about how El Paso is such a Catholic city, and if Notre Dame draws any advantage from playing in El Paso.

``No,'' Stoutland replied. ``Do you know Father Murphy? He's our priest. He's a good Irish priest. With red hair. That's our priest and I love him to death.''

He is, after all, a name partner in a major downtown law firm. UPDATE

Juan makes the AP wire yesterday. Here and here. (Keep reading.)

UPDATE, Thursday, December 30: This morning's Miami Herald reports that the matter is resolved, mentioning Juan prominently.


One is compelled to ask . . .

Why isn't the price of rice and beans also soaring for the same reason? And that of broccoli?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Million Deaths a Month?! A Minute??!!

The conclusion was getting hard to avoid even before the advent of nuclear weapons: the game of war is up, and we are going to have to change the rules if we are to survive. The brief, one-sided campaigns of well armed Western countries against dysfunctional Third World autocracies killing the tens of thousands, and the genocidal ethnic conflicts of fragile post-colonial states are local tragedies, but during the last two years of World War II, over one million people were being killed each month. If the great powers were to go to war with one another just once more, using all the weapons they now have, a million people could die each minute. They have no current intention of doing that, but so long as the old structures survive, Big War is not dead. It just on holiday.

-From War: the Lethal Custom by Gwynne Dyer.

Gwynne Dyer is cited by Dan Carlin in Carlin's Punic Nightmare podcasts on Hardcore History. Carlin interviews Dyer here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Some Magic Girls in the Magic Kingdom

We had breakfast with the Mouse last Sunday

The Cleanse

And you think I'm bad. Read this.

Staying the Course II

Investing. I discussed this in October here.

Because our stock market portfolio is more widely diversified than the S&P, it recovered earlier. The S&P is widely considered in the media as a proxy for the US stock market or even for the world of stocks.

It's not that I "play the market." It's simply that I don't know where else to save our money. I don't have time to study alternate investments - or even the stock and bond markets themselves. The way law firms are capitalized, there is not a serious opportunity to reinvest in the business so that, at the end of the day, there is good will, etc., to sell to a third party.

So, as I mentioned before, we have an investment management service that allocates our savings among index funds, about 60% stock funds and 40% bond funds, with bonds that have an average maturity of not more seven years (now, I think, around 5 years). The investment service "rebalances" among the sectors from time to time and does some tax-loss "harvesting" at the end of the year. I trust them.

One alternative is for Carol and me to sell all we have, give the proceeds to the poor, and follow Jesus. I do think about that sometimes, but doubt that we are being called to precisely that right now.

Another alternative would be to sell all we have, blow the proceeds on riotous living while we still have our health, and then move to Austin to be supported by Macon and Walter.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jesus, Keep your Holy Hands off My Idols!

May we who have consumed the mystery of Jesus now consume his whole meal, and may it free us from needing to consume so much of everything else. If you really have the One, you should not need more and more of the other. Maybe our humble Jesus is stealing our idols from us, and inviting us back into his Bethlehem stable.

-From Richard Rohr's essay "Is Christmas Christian?".

"It's Tebow Time!"


Monday, December 20, 2010

Behind the Scenes at Epcot

Walter's friend Charlene is a veterinary tech at Epcot in Walt Disney World ("WDW") and works at the exhibit known as "the Land." During our trip this past weekend, she gave the thirteen of us (more on that later!) a marvelous tour behind the scenes. Charlene's expertise is treating marine mammals, particulary dolphin and manatee. We learned a great deal and I won't cover it here, but I did want to mention the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership of which WDW is a partner. What particularly interested me was the tagging program. I'm looking forward to learning more about it.

(The photo is of a Manatee named Brooks, who hangs around Biscayne Bay. You can't help but notice the beacon looped around her fin.)

Charlene also talked to us about taking care of the sea turtles. The following is from one of Disney's Public Affairs webpages:

Animal experts at Walt Disney World Resort have extensive experience rehabilitating sea turtles. Since 1986, Disney animal care teams have nursed more than 250 endangered sea turtles back to health. Most recently, Disney animal experts cared for 15 green sea turtles injured from the cold weather snap that affected Florida earlier this year.

As a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center, Disney’s Animal Programs supports the rescue and rehabilitation of more than 1,000 injured and orphaned wild animals each year. The team participates with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other zoological facilities and conservation groups in the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership. The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot is a designated rehabilitation site for rescued manatees and sea turtles until they are well enough to be returned to their habitats.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Inflation

Grocery prices grew by more than 1 1/2 times the overall rate of inflation this year, outpaced only by costs of transportation and medical care, according to numbers released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More here.

Glenn Reynolds comments here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reading my second Commissario Brunetti Mystery

They got off at Giardini and started down Via Garibaldi; as they walked, Brunetti recounted his conversation with Cuzzoni, though he said nothing more about the man than that he seemed undisturbed to learn that the police were interested in his tenants and indeed seemed almost proud to have them living in his apartments.

'A do-gooder?' Vianello asked.

Hearing the term used that way, Brunetti was struck by the paradox that it had become a pejorative. However had that come about, that it was now wrong to want to do good? 'Not at all,' he answered, 'but I think he might be a good man.'

-From Donna Leon's Blood from a Stone.

Careful: a New NIV

As I prepare to teach our Sunday School class, I copy three or four translations of the subject scripture and, for the sake of ready reference, paste them in my notes. Usually I go to and for this purpose.

The scripture last Sunday was Romans 8:5-11. In that passage, the translation of the Greek word sarka is a central issue. Wright comments on how difficult a word this is to translate. He writes that the word "is so problematic that it would be nice . . . to avoid it altogether, but I have found that doing so produces even worse tangles." The KJV translation of sarka is "flesh."

My NIV Study Bible (Zondervan 10th Anniversary Edition 1995) translates sarka as "sinful nature" (which, after reading both Stott and Wright's discussion of the passage, I didn't think was all that helpful either.) I went to BibleGateway to pull over that passage in the NIV for my notes. Lo and behold, "flesh" is back in the NIV again. What happened?

We now have a 2010 edition of the NIV, so be careful. (BibleGateway actually calls it the "2011 update.") Here's a general discussion of the NIV and its update philosophy at BibleGateway. But I must say there was not much warning when I looked up the passage on that site. I did, finally, notice that at the top of the BibleGateway page with my scripture there was the legend "New International Version Copyright 2010." That was the giveaway. Except I didn't immediately get it.

It's Not the Holy Spirit, It's Marketing

Their approach [T.D. Jakes, Brian McLaren, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, and Paula White] challenges the "strict church thesis" of earlier sociologists of religion, which argued that conservative, hard-line suppliers of religion (fundamentalists, conservative evangelicals) thrive, while lenient ones (liberals, progressives) decline. On the contrary, these five profiles suggest that the key to success is not theological or political strictness but effective marketing. Indeed, part of what allows these evangelical innovators to be so successful is that they find ways to "overtly avoid (yet subtly address)" potentially controversial issues among their constituents, Lee and Sinitiere write. One of the big take-aways from their research is that the evangelical movement is, they say, "far more elastic, far more complex, and far more contradictory than what popular accounts reveal."

-From Among the Evangelicals, a Fractured Movement.

I tend to agree with both the "strict church thesis" and the "take-away." As to the "effective marketing" thesis? This is more of the "medium is the message" over-simplification. (Ooops, sorry Walter.) And, of course, it misses the centrality of the Spirit, but that's certainly understandable in an article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Thanks to Ann Althouse for this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How's that Socialism thing workin' for ya, Hugo?

Corn is a staple food in Venezuela, and the country has traditionally been self-sufficient. But this year the government was forced to import 350,000 tons of corn from Mexico. Farmers say the country imports more than two-thirds of the food it consumes.

-from the Miami Herald this morning.

The Herald article reports that part of the problem is that the fertilizer supply, needed to grow the corn, is being diverted to cocoa fields, from which cocaine is produced.

One day someone will write the definitive economic/social/political history of Venezuela over the last 50 years, and trace what happened to that beautiful country. What an object lesson that will be - not only in showing what happens in a socialist economy, but what led to the overthrow of the more or less (mostly less) capitalist society that preceded it. One of my clients, a US expatriate who lived in Venezuela during the pre-Chavez 70s and 80s, attributes much of the problem to the petroleum riches in that country, where the selfish, ruling elites before Chavez believed that, essentially, such wealth gave them a blank check. Now the demagogue Chavez, crazy like a fox, also worships at the altar of oil. He will be similarly unsuccessful at great cost to his country.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dad, You ARE a Crusader!

This is what Mary interrupted to say to me on the phone the other day, when I brought up a discussion of food, prefacing it with the words, "I know I sound like a crusader, but . . . "

I crossed over the line, I guess, quite awhile back. Thanks, everyone, for putting up with this.

"I saw children picking up discarded chicken and immediately putting it in their mouth. "

Michael Funderburk writing on Korah and the adjacent dump at Adiss. (More on Korah here.)

Gov-Elect Scott Shakes up the Teachers' Union

When Gov.-elect Rick Scott stood in a church this week and dropped a policy bomb on the education establishment -- a plan to essentially give vouchers to any family that wants one -- 900 voucher kids in the audience cheered. But from South Florida to Tallahassee, apocalyptic thoughts began raining on traditional public education advocates.

Vouchers for everybody?

Not even former Gov. Jeb Bush went there.

``Awful idea,'' said Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the state teachers union,

From this morning's Herald.

Go for it, Rick!

On Being a Little Guy

I never thought of myself as being a little guy. Never thought of myself being a big guy either. But the matter of my being a little guy came up last week.

A new friend of mine, Don, needed some help with his boat and called me up. The boat is on a trailer in his yard. It's a nice little "cabin cruiser" with a very large outboard motor, and very nicely outfitted in other respects (even has a marine toilet).

There was a problem with some wiring, and to get to where the wires were, one had to lay down on the deck, more or less on one's left side, then, arms first, snake his head and shoulders through a small compartment door, bending at the waist as one did so, before getting to the point where one could reach down along the side of the hull to grab the subject wires. Don had been trying to accomplish this during his spare time all the week before without success. He was too big for the job and needed a little guy.

As I was inside (well, half inside - my lower half was out on the deck), he was very solicitous. "Are you beginning to sweat yet?" "Are you getting tired?" "Are your shoulders hurting?" I was fine, but I must say that I was trying to figure out how my hourly rate was doing on this project. Don was trying to avoid a trip to the boat repair facility, and I was calculating that it would be cheaper for me to have him do so with my agreement to pay for the trip. But friendship doesn't come down to economics (does it?), and, besides, I was really fine physically.

So within 10 minutes, with Don working from the outside and me from the inside, we fixed the problem. I felt proud of myself, but Don kept talking about how he knew that the job called for a "little guy."

As I wormed my way back out of the hole and stood up, I confirmed again that Don is at least two inches shorter than I. On the other hand, he probably weighs more than I about 60 to 80 pounds, and so he's quite a bit broader at the shoulders and, well, at the waist.

Then it hit me: In the Southern culture in which Don was raised, "big" describes what one person looks like in comparison to another in respect to overall size, that is, in respect to weight. The use of this descriptive graciously says nothing about whether that extra weight is muscle or that other substance that covers one's muscle, sinews, and bones (f*t). To my mind, Don is smaller than I am. To his mind, he is bigger than I am. To my mind, Don is fat. To Don, whatever it is he carries (fat, muscle, whatever), he carries it well. And he does. Isn't the Southern culture nice to say that he is simply "big."

My dad was a big man. But he developed heart disease, had open-heart surgery that gave him 5 more fairly good years, then had about three more years of dying when his arteries clogged up again. I saw him shed the pounds during the dying process, and he began to look like a wizened version of the slim young man I saw in old photos with my mom, when he was a CPO in the Navy during WWII. Under all that bigness, there was Dad, a little guy.

I wish he were here to see my grandchildren, and, even at 98 years old, I'm beginning to think he could have been.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Desperate for Extra-Terrestrial Life

Recently some NASA people got publicity for their thesis that a certain microbe found in a California lake supplies evidence for life not on this earth. Now they have a controversy.

(Of course it would be a California lake.[ Sorry, Marcus.])

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

El Al Scanners

This is a special scanner where the airline passenger steps into the device by himself or herself, a device with especially solid, opaque sides and doors. The doors close and there is complete privacy during the scan. No one ever looks at the x-rays. If, during the scan, the device detects a bomb on the subject, the device causes the bomb to explode.

The device requires only one TSA-like person. He stands outside the device, of course. This person is equipped with a dust pan and broom, in case the bomb goes off and the inside of the device needs to be swept out in order to prepare it for the next passenger.

Called to Adopt

The Rosenows.

More on the Rosenows. and The Shepherd's Crook Ministries.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

No Place for Tebow to Go? Not a Bit Concerned.

Josh McDaniels, Denver's head coach, has been fired. McDaniels made the controversial decision to use a first-round draft pick to get Tebow. McDaniel's departure from Denver puts Tebow's future in the NFL in jeopardy, according to Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports.

Whomever Bowlen [Denver's owner] turns to next as coach is likely to look at Tebow and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” McDaniels’ unwillingness to turn to Tebow as this season unraveled will probably be viewed as an indictment on the first-round draft pick.

The bottom line is that Tebow is an acquired taste who needs a coach who believes in him and is willing to work on his throwing motion until it has completely changed. Even then, there are significant questions about Tebow’s accuracy.

Outside of University of Florida coach Urban Meyer, who looks lost these days without Tebow (and Percy Harvin, for that matter), few coaches are invested in Tebow. Of course, some of Tebow’s devout followers will take this as a personal and spiritual affront. Save it, please. This is not about religion, this is about football.

As an athlete, few come close to Tebow’s dedication. He’s the kind of player anyone should appreciate. His work ethic is off the charts. His size and speed are certainly good enough to give him a fighting chance. But Tebow also needed a coach who was willing to work through the flaws, to design an offense around him, not just with any quarterback.

Uh, in the first place, football is religion to a huge bunch of people. (Methinks Mr. Cole protesteth too much.) In the second place, Tebow will be fine, inside or outside the NFL.

Here's another view:

If by some miracle John Gruden takes over this team [Denver] and wins a Superbowl in 2-3 years it will be because of Tebow under center . . .

(I like the religious imagery there. These sports writers have religion on the brain, apparently.)

Tebow knows how to run the Wildcat. Who else uses the Wildcat, besides Denver?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Christian, I Dare You to Watch This Without, by the End, Tears in Your Eyes

This Video.

Thanks, Drudge

"There is nothing damnable . . . "

There is nothing damnable in those who are of Christ Jesus.

-The literal English translation of Romans 8:1 from the German lyric in Bach's Cantata BWV 74, Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten II.

I like that translation. Compared to "there is now no condemnation," which is probably too familiar to me, this translation has a lot of punch.

There is nothing damnable in [your name here] for you are of Christ Jesus.

I like the sound of that.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Got Cow's Milk? Got Parkinson's Disease?

Men who consume more than two glasses of milk have twice the incidence of PD as men who do not drink cow’s milk. The American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort study has found almost twice the incidence of PD in the highest consumers of milk.

-from this month's issue of Dr. McDougall's newsletter (what a trouble-maker he is!). Read the entire article. His discussion about just why this is the case is well worth reading. His comments on pesticide accumulation as you go up the food chain are disturbing, and his description of the nursing mother passing on that accumulation to her infant is hair-raising.

Sugar Alcohols

The new WW materials have introduced me to "sugar alcohols." It is worth getting to know about this food additive. Here's a post on them.

Posner on the Naked Public Square; Christians and the Crime Rate

Since so many Americans . . . are religious, and religious belief is a showstopper so far as public debate in our society is concerned, it is doubtful that deliberation over fundamental political goals and values is feasible outside our leading universities, the ethos of which is secular.

-From Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy, by UChi Law School Lecturer and Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, as quoted by Professor Bainbridge here.

Here's another Posner quote from the Bainbridge post:

And then there's his claim that “[t]he combination in the United States of an extraordinarily high crime rate with an extraordinary degree of allegiance to Christian beliefs must make one question the pacifying effects of Christian zeal." (Sex and Reason at 235-36)


Thursday, December 02, 2010

"A small increased risk of death . . . " (UPDATED)

Lugging around a few extra pounds? One of the largest studies to look at health and weight finds that you don't have to be obese to raise your risk of premature death. Merely being overweight carries some risk, too.

Obesity increases the risk of death from heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. But whether being merely overweight contributes to an early death as well has been uncertain and controversial. Some research has suggested being a little pudgy has little effect or can even be a good thing.

The latest research involving about 1.5 million people concluded that healthy white adults who were overweight were 13 percent more likely to die during the time they were followed in the study than those whose weight is in an ideal range.

-From an AP article published today on Yahoo News. The study in question was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The article quotes the "lead author" of the study, Amy Barrington of the National Cancer Institute as follows:

"Now there's really a very large body of evidence which supports the finding that being overweight is associated with a small increased risk of death."

UPDATE: Under what circumstances is "small increased risk" acceptable or tolerable? Humanitarian work in Port-au-Prince, orphan rescue in the Sudan, quarterbacking student lunch programs in the Kenyan highlands, treating AIDS patients, carrying the Gospel to the Muslim world all come to mind. But eating a hamburger?

Like Charlie Crist, Only She Won

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska votes for earmarks. She's the sort of Republican who makes Independents out of disaffected Democrats. Too bad she won.

Here are the other seven Republican senators who voted against suspending earmarks for a couple of years:

Jim Inhofe and Dick Lugar along with appropriators Bob Bennett, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Dick Shelby and George Voinovich.

You Want Change? I'll Show You Change!

Weight Watchers has revamped its program: Lots of early positive comments on the Web, such as this one. But we'll see.

We had the roll-out at our meeting on Tuesday. The points-calculation approach is completely new, and appears to be best handled using a special electronic calculator (an introductory price of just $6, but the thing looks like a woman's compact. At least its not pink.).

No points for fruit, which is eyebrow raising. One of the new WW booklets states "No one ever got fat eating bananas," which went far in selling me on the new program, except that I don't believe it.

The new system increases significantly the emphasis on "eating healthy" that I've seen as a growing, positive element in WW over the last decade. It is no longer just "portion control."

What is not new is "tracking," the bane of my personal use of the program. One simply has to track to succeed, and now there is a new points system to master. But I credit WW with teaching me a lot about dealing with food, and I hope the new system will help a lot more people. (I lost nearly 30 pounds when I first got on it, although I have gained up to 10 pounds back. I'm now at about 6 pounds above my 155 lb goal weight and hope to get back to goal. But it is an ongoing battle, and thus my continuing, active involvement with WW.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The "Great American Funk"

Carol and I got to know of Tony Blankley when he was on The McLaughlin Group. Here is a good column he wrote recently, entitled "The Great American Funk." (I was saddened to read that he has stomach cancer, but confident in what the Lord has in store for him.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The First Guido Brunetti Mystery

That would be Donna Leon's Death at La Fenice. This little paperback must have come from Mary's bookshelf, but it has been laying around the house for a good while. I picked it up a couple of weeks ago, and just finished reading it. What a delight! The scenes that the author draws of the detective at home with his family alone make the book worth reading. (I read those scenes aloud to Carol, including the really funny one where the family plays Monopoly.) Throw in the location: Venice, where the American author lived for many years, and the challenging plot, which forced me to go back and make a careful list of the characters about 1/3 of the way through, and you have a delicious read.

Ms. Leon followed this one with 18 more in the series. Can't wait!

"Where do you get your information on a daily basis?"

I read the Times every day, though I read it differently than I used to, as through a filter that identifies its ideological biases and corrects for them. I also read the Wall Street Journal, the New York tabloids and a variety of websites, such as, National Review Online, Real Clear Politics, Timeswatch, Romenesko, Kausfiles, the BBC, NPR and others. As far as magazines, it’s the New Yorker, the Weekly Standard and the Atlantic.

-William McGowan interview in The Daily Caller. (Thanks, Instapundit.)

William McGowan is the author of Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of the New York Times Means for America.

And to think, growing up it was in our family the Miami Herald and Walter Cronkite, Life Magazine and U.S. News & World Report. Times have definitely changed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Going Independent

At least thinking about it. A sad end to my political inheritance.

Philip Yancey on the Middle East

He has some very interesting observations in this article from the recent issue of CT.

Among them:

As the Christian faith permeates society, it tends to produce values that contradict the gospel. I sometimes test his theory while traveling by asking foreigners, "When I say the words United States, what first comes to mind?" Invariably, I get one of three responses:

Wealth. Representing only 5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. generates almost a fourth of the world's economic output and still dominates global finance.

Military power. The U.S., as the media regularly remind us, is "the world's only superpower." The U.S. military budget exceeds that of the next 23 nations combined, including China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

Decadence. Most people in other countries get their notion of the U.S. from Hollywood movies, which seem to them obsessed with sex and crime.

Each contradicts the teachings and example of Jesus, whose life was marked by poverty, self-sacrifice, and purity. No wonder followers of Islam puzzle over Christianity, a powerful faith that somehow produces the opposite of its ideals in society at large.

* * * *

Several years ago, a Muslim man said to me, "I have read the entire Qur'an and can find no guidance in it on how Muslims should live as a minority in a society. I have read the entire New Testament and can find no guidance in it on how Christians should live as a majority." He put his finger on a central difference between the two faiths. Muslim societies tend to unify religion, culture, law, and politics. Whereas U.S. courts debate the legality of nonsectarian prayers at football games and public monuments to the Ten Commandments, in the Middle East even the airlines broadcast the call to prayer five times a day. And in countries with a variety of religions, like Nigeria, as the Muslim population increases, they seek to impose the religious Shari'ah law on all citizens.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I asked a friend of mine at church, who is an exec at a food wholesaler, how the economy looks to him. He said that the restaurant business is a little better but that food prices are going up.

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants"

Pretty good advice, I'd say.

You Have Got to be Kidding

"Shoppers" entering the Dolphin Mall at 4AM this morning, according to the Herald.

Sorry, Rahm Will Win on this One

See this.

The classic definition of domicile is (a) presence and (b) intent. Rahm's moving to DC without the intent of living there permanently would not have changed his Chicago residence, if he had been a resident before he left for the beltway. (This assumes that under Chicago's election laws, "residence" is the same thing as "domicile.")

(What? Isn't everybody deeply interested in the Chicago mayor's race?)

In Darkest South Miami-Dade

At the Miami Youth for Christ Wild Walk at ZooMiami last Saturday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bringing the Healthy Journey to the Evangelical Church

The November issue of Christianity Today has on its cover a cross-sectioned cauliflower which, at first, looks like the cross-section of a bleached out brain. The clever cover, which also includes the title "Eat Pray Think: Returning Integrity to the Act of Eating," refers to an article on page 22, "A Feast Fit for the King." The author is Leslie Leyland Fields.

A very large part of the article is a sympathetic survey of what the world outside the church is saying about responsibly dealing with food, expressing views with which I have become very familiar on my healthy journey and in many cases have adopted over the last 19 months.

The author follows her survey with several paragraphs in which she carefully distances herself from the non-Christian religious vocabulary and maybe pagan world-views underlying what is being said outside the church about food. But the sad fact is, the Evangelical church is a follower on this issue so far, and not a leader.

Finally, toward the very end of the article, the author asks: Why have we [in the church] ignored food so long? Why are we not attending more seriously to Paul's injunction to literally 'eat or drink . . . for the glory of God? What great questions!

I don't recall during all the years of my church-going hearing anything out of the pulpit, nor reading very much in any Evangelical publication, about our responsibilities as Christians specifically concerning food. (I probably wasn't always listening or reading carefully.) On the "Gospel-application" side, I have heard and read a good bit about managing money, about rightly dealing with sex, about sending food overseas to people who are hungry, but never anything about the food choices we make every day. Nor, for that matter, do I recall hearing anything about our responsibilities to animals, a very important issue related to the food question, of course, but a stand-alone issue too.

But here in a main-stream Evangelical publication like CT, the matter is competently introduced. I hope this is the beginning of a wide-ranging discussion among Christians about what the Lord calls us to do in the kitchens of our home, in the fellowship halls of our churches, and in the market places outside where Christians do their food-buying and a lot of their meal-taking, both among themselves and, more importantly for the Gospel, among non-Christians.

"The Starch Solution"

This truth is simple and is, therefore, easy to explain. You must eat to live. The human diet is based on starches. The more rice, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans you eat, the trimmer and healthier you will be -- and with those same food choices you will help save the Planet Earth too.

-John McDougall, MD.

Watch the video.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blast from the Past

Ralph sent me this. It's the Camp W cast, summer of 1997. Front row, seated, left to right, Elary, Kim, Christina, Ralph, Macon, Helyn, and Carl. Standing, left to right, Kim, Rick, Laurie, Daniel, Carlos, Hillary, Gonzalo, no idea who the kid with the hair is, Cecilia, Richard, Gail, Mary, Don, and, last but not least, NANCY!

Why Isn't the FBI Raiding Gore's Offices?

Please connect this dot with this one.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

“The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.”

From Growing up Digital, Wired for Distraction, an article in the NYT today, telling us what we already know, what we already fear, about our children and this culture.

This morning, I also read Psalm 19 and Psalm 119, in preparation for our Sunday School lesson on Romans 7. In the Old Testament scriptures, we see a mind focused, deeply searching God's law, day and night. What a contrast to an intellectual discipline (if we can call it that) where the mind's focus (if we can call it that) is on hundreds, thousands of tweets, day and night, on fragments of ideas, like dust, very soon to be blow away, leaving exactly what?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

We Rarely Had Soft Drinks Growing Up

Harmful Soda
Via: Term Life Insurance

UPDATE 11/20/2010, from today's (Saturday/Sunday's) WSJ at page C3:

If Americans, especially younger Americans, keep drinking soda at the rate of 1,000 calories a day, we will continue to pay the price in higher rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. But maybe we can take Michael Pollan's sensible advice and "at least return soda to its place as a special-occasion drink." (How about Soda Fountain Fridays, along with pizza for a special food/drink combo?)

-Chef Mario Batali

Friday, November 19, 2010

"A Major Solar Flare Erupts from the Sun!"

Before long, your phone chirps in your pocket to let you know! Pulling out your phone, you see a 3D view of the sun ­ a digital reconstruction of images freshly downloaded from NASA's "STEREO" satellites, orbiting millions of miles away.

You rotate the sun with your finger to view it from any angle. You pinch in and out to zoom in for a closer look at the sun's ever-changing surface.

Check out the App here.

Read more about NASA's STEREO program itself here.

Mercury's Tail!
So cool! (Be sure to scroll all the way down for the short video.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The "Work-Around" Leader

The "Work-Around Leader" is a person in a leadership position in a given organization around whom the organization's members must "work" in order to accomplish the organization's goals. In the Bible, King Saul comes to mind. In politics, I regret to say, the current President comes to mind or the Republican leadership of the last decade. In my law firm, in my family, I worry that I am that person, maybe not always, but sometimes - too many times.

The anti-thesis of that sort of leader is Jesus, the quintessential servant-leader. His working approach to leadership was that the mission was not all about him, the mission was redemption. He allowed himself to be crucified in order for us to be reborn. He ascended into heaven so that the Holy Spirit could pour out on us, replacing him, in a sense, as far as the earthly, imminently personal manifestation of God is concerned. When we look at Jesus' organization, among other things we members realize who the problem is, and it's not the leader.

But what are those of us to do who populate organizations with earthly work-around leaders? What opportunities, for example, do work-around leaders present to us? (It's easy to identify the problems they appear to cause.) I have a notion that leaving the subject organization is not the only opportunity available and that, sometimes, leaving is not even on the table. So, then, what does God call one to do in such a case? And not to do?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The book fair is almost here! (We still have rooms available at the Dove Avenue Hostel.) Raquel of Downtown Miami Book Center, one of the founders of the fair, is running the exhibit that Mexico is presenting there. I saw her today and she said she was about to take delivery of over 40,000 books on a truck just arriving from Mexico to stock the exhibit. It will be the only country exhibit there this year.
(I introduced Raquel to Cousin Kate [Johnson Sussman] a couple of weekends ago. Kate was on her way back to Rochester after a 7 day trip to Cuba. She had a layover in Miami just long enough for me to pick her up, bring her back downtown for lunch at Fratelli Milano and a visit to Raquel at her bookshop. They hit it off immediately. When I saw Raquel today at the shop, she was on the computer reading an email from Kate.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rand Paul's Election Raises a Question

If Sarah Palin were a man, would she get as much guff as she seems to get all the time?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Tracking Satellites on the iPhone

PocketSat3 is an iPod/iPhone application developed by an amateur radio operator for tracking man-made satellites that circle the earth. It's not inexpensive as Apps go, $24.00. So you should read about it first, here.

The app developer, Jim Berry, also suggests going to the Visual Satellite's Observer's Homepage for just getting started on learning about and tracking the satellites one can see.

(In my next life, I'm going to be a Middle-School science teacher.)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Here is a virtual envelope-based budgeting system on the internet. One of the younger lawyers in our Friday morning breakfast group uses it and really likes it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Utah Blue Dog Loses to a Labrador

Walt Minnick loses in Utah. Conservative Democrats have all but vanished. The new Congressman should pen a thank-you to Nancy Pelosi.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The iMac Died at our House - So What to Do?

The iMac was our desktop computer and it was 6 years old. It had become, more or less, Carol's computer, and mine was a MacBook White that we had bought about two years ago. So, now with a dead iMac, should we get another desktop?

We bought, instead, a second MacBook, bought a nice 19" monitor to go with it, used the keyboard and mouse from the dead iMac, and recreated a very satisfactory desktop configuration. Now we can take our respective MacBooks with us, when we are away from home. Carol simply disconnects the MacBook from the peripherals, and off she goes.

But on the way to the laptop-with-peripherals decision we actually discussed going even further and getting an iPad. I talked to Macon about it, to Walter, and to the salesman at the Apple store. The majority view was that we should go with a MacBook. After all, the Apple salesman said, the iPad was simply an iPod on steroids, not a real computer.

But today Glen Reynolds linked to a PM story on using the iPad as one's laptop, which, as we now know in our household, can be one's main computer. The thesis is that with "the cloud" available for application software and storage, an iPad could be all you need.

I still think we made the right decision in getting the MacBook at this point, but I have otherwise been getting acquainted with the cloud through a new piece of web-based software called Basecamp. Maybe the next time a computer dies on us, the replacement will be whatever iteration of iPad might then be current.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Marco beats Charlie. Twice.

Not too many people in political history have been beaten twice by the same opponent for the same office during the same election cycle.

You need to see this campaign ad that Marco Rubio recorded.

See also the op-ed piece on him in yesterday's WSJ.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I Don't Want to Hear Any More About Cracker Prejudice

Not after this story of some Florida Crackers in Key West helping some wonderful people get out of Cuba during the Mariel boatlift.

Be sure to listen to the the podcast.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Staying the Course

This weekend, Carol and I were reviewing a report on our retirement funds from our investment advisers, Investors Solutions. (Rob Gordon and Ana Maria Martinetti-Katz are our helpers there.) All the losses from the 2008 stock market downturn are restored, not because of investments we have added, but simply because we were well diversified and rode out the cycle, thanks to good advice and direction.

A friend of mine and his wife, who had approximately the same mix of stocks and bonds, sold all their stocks at the bottom of the market and replaced them with fixed income investments. This course of conduct was against advice they received from their advisers also to stay the course. This couple is not back where they were in 2008.

I readily admit that no one knows what next week will bring. But wide diversification, relatively low investment fees, faith in the future, and encouragement from competent people whom you can trust certainly help one to ride out the storms.

150,000 is the New 100,000

The November/December issue of AAA's Going Places has a short piece addressing the question of whether to "Fix It or Replace It?," referring of course to one's automobile.

"By following the manufacturer's maintenance schedule," the writer Joanna Newton argues, "the average car will last 150,000 miles or more."

But didn't we already pretty much know that?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Crystal Cathedral Files for Bankruptcy

Interesting analysis here. The nepotism had to be a very large factor. What was Dad thinking?

Schuller was really big back in the 70s, and I often listened to tapes of his sermons. He was in the center of Norman Vincent Peale's tradition. But I found him a lot easier to listen to than to watch on TV. I thought the show was a bit much. But what he had to say had truth in it. We are new creatures in Christ, we can make right choices because for the first time we are free from sin to do so. Schuller challenged us to make those right choices.

I remember a sermon where he describes standing outside a conference room door, preparing to go in to make a presentation to people whom he did not know. He pictures the people waiting inside as people who eager to see him, expectant; he pictures himself making an effective presentation, with an undercurrent of joy. And so he enters with a smile and with confidence, and the meeting goes very well.

After listening to that sermon several times, I began to do that myself, and it worked very well for me too, and I still do it to this day. I pause before going into the conference room where prospective clients are waiting to see me. I tell myself that I have something important to share with them, that I am going to share it effectively, that we will get on very well, and I will have not only new clients but new friends. Then I give the conference room door a little knock, open it, and go right in.

In another talk, Schuller speaks about losing weight, about taking care of yourself physically. He said that when you have this urge to eat the wrong thing, picture an overweight, middle aged man, grossly overweight in fact, and this man is walking down the beach in a tiny bathing suit with his big belly hanging out. He said that one should go to that scene as one considers that second helping. I've carried the picture in my head for at least 35 years, the picture of the fat man walking down the beach just so. Oh, I really don't want to be that man! No, no, NO!

I don't quite agree with the writer of the story in the L.A. Times that Schuller's message is obsolete. People have a great need, a thirst to do well, and the culture seems to say that it is not in them to do it - so buy this, behave this way, or vote for this candidate or that and he or she will get the goods for you. (Or medicate yourself into really not caring anymore, do that with drugs, alcohol, and mindless entertainment, whether licit or illicit, so that one's need to excel will be muted.) If you keep scratching at Schuller's message, I think you will see Jesus Christ at the center of it. He didn't lead with Jesus Christ, but the Lord was there, for the Lord transforms, he recasts us into resurrection bodies that are powerful because they are part of God's redemptive purpose, because those bodies are finally beginning to do what God originally created them to do.

FURTHER REFLECTION: I don't mean to say that we are "free from sin" in the sense that we no longer sin. I mean to say that we are no longer slaves to sin, as Paul writes in Romans 6. We will sin, but we will do so against our new nature, there will be choice in our misconduct as there will be in our right behaviors.

Holding Things Together

A friend of mine asked me to share with her any thoughts I have had on being called to the home as a part of our service in this world. She is currently reflecting on how many women are at home all the time, living out their lives in laundry, cooking, etc and how really there are spiritual disciplines of service to one's family. I knew that at least two or three of you have talked about this with me as well, so I thought I would share my response to her here as well. So, here is some of what I wrote to her:

More recently, I have been growing my own basil and parsley so I can make pesto from scratch and have been teaching myself to sew and have been running between 12 and 15 miles a week. I have been struck with how much of each of these things requires the practice of discipline and how each of them has parts that are just joy. With the growing, cooking and sewing I have been feeling much more in touch with the part of me that is made in the image of God as creator and maker. I have been reflecting on the joy God must have felt and must feel when he MAKES.

with my home and family I have been struck by how much of the discipline of the home is the discipline of self-sacrifice and service. And, I have felt the Lord impressing on me the importance of the stable environment all of my little tasks and chores add up to make possible. I was beginning to grow numbed to the tasks, beginning to feel like I was drowning in the mundane and doing nothing of significance. Then, the Lord spoke to my heart about the incredible gift I was giving my family by creating this environment which was clean to live in, where they had good food to eat, where they had clean clothes to wear and because of these things they were/are freed up to be able to grow and develop in healthy ways. They are not bound up in worry that is brought about by unstable environments. They had/have the chance to grow to learn a sense of rhythm and season because their minds are free to pick up on life going on around them and not stuck wondering if they will have food to eat today. I was confronted with how much of God's love for me is tied up in doing things that no one would consider sensational, but which absolutely transform me and my experience of the world around me. Colossians tells us that all things are held together in Jesus. So, at all times, part of what Jesus is doing is simply holding my environment together. Every moment He keeps it from flying apart or from ceasing to exist. He keeps all the oxygen molecules exchanging with the carbon dioxide molecules all the time making it so that I can breathe and not suffocate. He brings the rain and the sun so that food can grow and I can have water to drink. BORING. This is not the excitement of the resurrection, this is not as crazy as the creation where everything simply came into being as God spoke it into place. This is the day in, day out maintenance of the world so that I can breathe, eat and drink. I am appreciating more the "mundane" tasks that Jesus performs in the world around me so that I can live. Not to mention (of course) the more exciting things he does, the extraordinary things he does that have transformed my life and given my breathing meaning. The fact that he keeps my environment stable (e.g., gravity always works and does not unpredictably just disappear from time to time), means that more of my mind is available to pay attention to Him and what He is revealing about Himself. Lately, I have been amazed at his persistence, his presence in every moment, how he NEVER takes a break from holding all things together in Him.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Surviving Cancer

My co-worker Sue brought me this article from yesterday's Herald about a neighbor, Holly Echarte, who survived breast cancer. Holly touches on familiar issues, although "my" cancer was/is? lymphoma. For example losing one's hair. I actually went to a wig salon early on! But then decided I was fine without the hair. (I, of course, am a male. I can only cheer when I read how Holly handled the threat of her own hair loss.) Another was the weight gain and food cravings while on the chemo, which in my case I attribute to the Prednizone. (I have no excuse presently.) Another is having the "support system of my husband, family, and friends and amazing doctors." Having such a complete support system is not a given. One of the men in our support group died early on, and I believe his lack of a family support system contributed to his early death. My support system, on the other hand, was a complete blessing. Finally, I am glad to read of Holly's "life after breast cancer."

On the other hand, the Herald had on the same page yesterday an article entitled "Cancer survivors facing greater risk of memory loss." That's not good. On the other hand, I have always had trouble finding the remote.

Lucado, Stott, and Piper

From an interview of Max Lucado in the 10/10 issue of CT:

How would you address some critics who suggest your writing is simplistic?

I would give them a good John Stott book or a John Piper book. I realize the I'm kind of nightstand reading. Some people write lullabies; I write lullabies.

I'm fine with Lucado's self-deprecating assessment of his own writing. (He is a uniquely and enormously gifted communicator.) But does John Piper belong in the same sentence as John Stott?

Just asking.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Brett Favre's Wife; Brett Favre's NY Girl Friend

You've got to be kidding, Brett.

More on How Government Interferes with the Marketplace

The lead article on the front page of the WSJ today has the headline "Congress Staffers Gain from Trading in Stocks." It describes how at least 72 Congressional aides used information on pending legislation not generally available to buy stocks in companies whose price was likely to go up once Congress acted. And these were aides who complied with the requirements that they disclose such purchases - who knows how many made the transactions without making a report (or simply passed the information to family members and friends - who made the purchases).

I don't know how one would control that sort of thing other than to get government out of the way of the market generally.

FURTHER REFLECTION: But, really, this is very small potatoes. The information advantage that people in goverment have, especially House members and Senators, information that they can put to economic advantage is enormous. It's mostly a closed information system, of course, and that's where the advantage is. The ones who plainly cheat (cash in the icebox sorts of things) are the really dumb ones. The smart ones know how to take "inside" information and put it to good use, if they have a mind to do that sort of thing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Breakfast at Crandon

A mini-camping trip Saturday morning, we imagined. Took our bikes this time, and discovered a lot of places to ride in the park. We capped it off with a visit to the office on the way back home. What's wrong with us?

At the Folkstone Inn and Bryson City

What happened to that weekend, the one where we celebrated our 40th? Up we went to Western N. Carolina, home of so many warm memories, but the weekend came and went so fast, and we were back to work so intensely, that I haven't had time to sort out the photos and the memories. Until today. Here are some shots of the Folkestone Inn near Bryson City, where we stayed. It's a bed and breakfast right near the Deep Creek entrance to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.

The first photo shows the front of the Inn on the brilliant Sunday morning that followed a couple of rainy days. It is taken from the SE and the morning sun washes over the front of the Inn. The second shows the north side of the inn, and our second floor balcony is marked by the white railing. I took the third photo, also looking back to the north side of the Inn. In the foreground is the entrance to the herb garden, and that's where I'm standing. I turn around and take the fourth photo, and there is Carol.

Part of the Inn's breakfast comes from its gardens. Those were tasty breakfasts, but heavy on the bacon, the eggs, and the cheese. We could find our way to a vegan meal, and mostly were successful, but we ate several dishes with cheese. Of course they were tasty, but we weren't used to full-fat dairy, and our stomachs complained. And there were some very sweet, too sweet dishes too.

The breakfasts were in a sunlit, pleasant little dining room. In fact, the entire Inn and its grounds were carefully, even lovingly made-over from the farm-house it must have been originally. We enjoyed our stay there and felt very welcome.

Bryson City itself was another matter. The restaurants seemed run down (probably the economy) and the food pedestrian. The only bright spot was a Mexican restaurant in a strip mall on the edge of town: Guayabitos, relatively big, bustling, full of energy, totally staffed by Mexicans, and fun to watch the native mountain folks dig into burritos, tacos, and swigging Mexican beer. The food wasn't exactly Austin quality, but it was not bad, especially against the other offerings in Bryson. But, of course, Bryson wasn't the focus of our visit. More on our weekend in later posts.

Friday, October 08, 2010


I keep getting offers from the NRA (which rivals the AARP in being substantially a marketing front) for LifeLock. Here's a post that makes a good argument that the value of their $10 per month services are things one can do without charge with just a little effort. On the other hand, the value of your effort may very well be much more than $10 per month; so $10 per month is a bargain.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

More Cheap Money

IBM is paying only 1% for its new 3 year bond issue.

Microsoft's recent 3 year bond issue had a yield of .875%!

I'm glad the cheap bucks are going to these giants. They will know what to do with it.

Short Gold

Yet another bubble. (Thanks, Instapundit.)

See also Matthew 25:14 - 30.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Romans 6:7 and the Matter of Being "Free from Sin"

We commenced Romans 6 this morning, and there is a controversy about how to translate verse 7. Here is the NIV translation, but I need to quote both verses 6 and 7, because verse 7 alone is a sentence fragment in the NIV:

"6For we know that our old self was crucified with him, so that the body of sin might be done away with; that we should no longer be slaves to sin - 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. [My italics.]"

I think you can see the problem when you read how N.T. Wright translates verse 7 (again, in the context of vss 6 and 7) in Paul for Everyone, Romans: Part One at page 102, a translation with which John Stott would agree, according to his The Message of Romans at page 177. Thus, Wright's translation:

"This is what we know; our old humanity was crucified with the Messiah, so that the solidarity of sin might be abolished, and that we should no longer be enslaved to sin. A person who has died, you see, has been declared to be free from all charges of sin. [Again, my italics.]"

Are we "free from sin" or are we "declared to be free from all charges of sin." The NIV's Romans 6:7 would say we are "free from sin." Now why didn't my parents, good Southern Baptist readers of the Bible, have that firmly in mind when I was a teeneager? They insisted on setting certain limits, as if I might somehow fall short of the glory of God. But I had accepted Christ at nine years. My parents had a teenager who had been "freed from sin." What was wrong with them?

If they didn't have the NIV at that point, they did have KJV, which, as John Stott notes, translates verse 7 the same way as the NIV. (The RSV has the "freed from sin" translation too, as does the NRSV, and even the NET Bible.)

The New American Standard Bible at least has a textual footnote at the word "freed." It is "acquitted," a legal term. And that's the point, Christ paid the penalty for sin, he didn't make us impervious to sin itself. Sin no longer enslaves us but it certainly hangs around and entices us. From time to time sin successfully does so, but even then we hope it does so to our Godly shame. (The idea of Godly shame carries us to a discussion of sanctification, which I won't discuss here, although Chapter 6 in Romans is where Paul starts to talk about sanctification.) Stott points out that the Greek word that is translated "freed" in verse 7 of the NIV and similar translations is the same word that elsewhere is translated "justified" (that word is dedikaiotai.) In the Cross, we are justified, meaning Christ pays the penalty, not us.

{My thanks to Austin for forwarding to me an email from Dave Seivright of Campus Crusade in which Dave notes this translation problem. Thanks also to Van for describing the distinction this morning in his sermon between Godly shame and worldly shame.)

Another Book Recommendation

Griswold, The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam. This one recommended by a fellow Elder at church this morning. May buy it. (Fixed the link.)

UPDATE: I acquired this book, read a couple of chapters, didn't like it, and put it down for good. Among the author's views seems to be one that holds that Christianity and Islam are morally equivalent religions. The author is a globetrotting journalist whom one can credit with a lot of courage, a Yale grad, and the daughter of a presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. But no to her book.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Oatmeal Box Radio

My first radio project was a crystal set. I was 8 or 9 when I built my first one. (I divide up my childhood in segments, the first one being our house on Desoto Drive in Miami Springs, where we lived until 1954, and the second when we moved to the house on Falcon Avenue. I have clear memories of building crystal sets on Falcon Avenue, but none earlier.) It may have been Cub Scouts where these things first appeared in my life - Mom was a Den mother - but my dad was the major instigator. He had built them when he was a growing up, and helped me collect the parts and build my first couple of them. I found it wondrous to put some wire on a board, string more up out the window as an antenna, connect some earphones, and hear radio stations.

The "crystal" which is the core of the radio, "detects" radio signals, and was called a "crystal detector." It changed the alternating current that came down the antenna wire into direct current, which not only was able to carry the "information" in the signal, but also to power the radio itself, for it had no battery. The "crystal" was a crude semi-conductor, and my first sets actually had the little piece of crystal rock encased in a tiny metal bowl connected to the antenna. The apparatus had a piece of wire (the "cat's whisker"), one end of which you applied physically to the rock, and the other of which went to the next component. Later I graduated to a kit that had an actual "diode," which encased the bit of crystal in a tiny tube with a wire coming out of each end. Little did I know that this would be to transistors and then computer chips what my roller skates were to the automobiles I now drive. (There's a good article on crystal radios at Wikipedia.)

Lately I have come upon a website that is devloted to crystal sets, "The Xtal Set Society." Uncotrolled nostalgia, yes, but hand me my pliers. And, Aidan, save your oatmeal boxes.

(Ken, didn't you get into this too about the same time?)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Not Tim Tebow

But the Trey Burton. He's something else.

The Gators play Alabama Saturday night. It should be quite a game.

UPDATE: Wow! The Crimson Tide destroyed the Gators Saturday night. As for Trey Burton, the young man is not only "not Tim Tebow," he is "no Tim Tebow." But, in fairess, who could be other than Tim himself?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Pretty Good Argument for an Armed Citizenry

US law enforcement officials say they have been told the terrorists were planning a series of "Mumbai-style" commando raids on what were termed "economic or soft" targets in the countries.

-from an ABC News report entitled 'Credible But Not Specific' Threat of New Terrorist Attack: Officials in Europe, US on High Alert for Commando-Style Raids After Capture of Suspected German Terrorist. {Thanks, Drudge.)

Over-subscription of New BP Bond Issue

The WSJ reports that BP sold a "larger than expected" amount of bonds today.

The sale by BP Capital Markets PLC, a funding arm of the U.K. energy giant, was originally slated at $2 billion to $3 billion but was increased as a result of high demand. There were $12 billion of orders, the people said.

That either indicates a great deal of confidence in BP, the oil industry, and the commodity-value of oil itself, or it shows a serious lack of confidence in about everything else. Of course, I could be completely wrong on this, as the vigor of "everything else" will drive the price of oil. And we are dealing with bonds, of course, and not stocks.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bill Clinton Embarks on the Healthy Journey,

reads The China Study, loses weight, becomes a vegan, wants to live to enjoy his grandchildren despite his history of heart disease (and may he do so).

No one has ever accused him of being stupid. See this interview on CNN.

(This could be immensely influential.)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Linneaus' Flower Clock

As I was working in the office this morning, I had playing in the background the FM classical music station known as "Classical South Florida," the station that purchased the old WMCU frequency on 89.7. The DJ announced a work written for oboe in 1959 by a French composer named Jean Francaix and known as L’horloge de flore (A Musical Flower Clock).

The "Flower Clock" idea is based on what Wikipedia describes as

Linnaeus' flower clock[:] . . . a garden plan hypothesized by Carolus Linnaeus that would take advantage of several plants that open or close their flowers at particular times of the day to accurately predict the time. He called it specifically the Horologium Florae (lit. "flower clock"), and proposed the concept in the 1751 publication Philosophia Botanica. He may never have planted such a garden, but the idea was attempted by several botanical gardens in the early 19th century, with mixed success. Many plants exhibit a strong circadian rhythm, and a few have been observed to open at quite a regular time, but the accuracy of such a clock is diminished because flowering time is affected by weather and seasonal effects. The flowering times recorded by Linnaeus are also subject to differences in daylight due to latitude: his measurements are based on flowering times in Uppsala, where he taught and had received his university education.

The Wiki link is here.

I found this link to the following YouTube performance of the piece.

Useless Information Department

A link, thanks to Instapundit, to "How to break in a new car." Just who buys new cars anymore?

Growing up, people in my middle/middle/middle class neighborhood and in our extended family always bought new cars. Otherwise, "we would be buying someone else's problems." For some families (not ours), the ritual was that one would trade in for a new car each year.

The decline in Western Civilization since the 50's and 60's probably accounts for the change. Or maybe Carmax.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Never Compete on Price

Good advice. (Thanks, Juan)

Is Nothing Sacred? Renting Better than Buying

In the majority of the surveyed years [1978 through 2009], renting [one's home] turns out to be the better choice financially,

-from an article by Ken H. Johnson, an FIU economics professor, in Sunday's Herald.

But only if one prudently reinvests the savings.

This is not to say that renters became wealthier than home owners. Home ownership is, after all, a forced savings plan. You are putting money into a house. Although renters save money by paying less in rent than they would on a mortgage, those savings will often be spent in a "cloud of consumption" -- on consumer goods rather than on a financial instrument that brings a return.

The universe rewards discipline. Long-term versus short term. Hanging in there versus bailing out. Etc. Provided that you have a relatively free, market-based economy. These virtues don't work in Venezuela, for example. Or they take a lot longer, maybe a lifetime or two, to work out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mary!

I goofed on this post. I meant it to be a prayer, thanking the Lord for Mary. Thus, "Dear Lord, We glorify you and praise your name! We thank you for Mary!"

Mary's OK and all that, but the praise belongs to the Lord.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Recession? What Recession?

Today I had a conference with a very attractive couple who have two children. The dad told me that last year he bought for his 14 year old son and himself a package of 2 tickets for 10 home Heat games. The total price was $5,000.

This year that same set of tickets is $30,000. (He is not renewing.)

By the way, all the seats for all the Heat home games are completely sold out.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

J.B. Phillips on Translating Words in their Context

After reading a large number of commentaries I have a feeling that some scholars, at least, have lived so close to the Greek Text that they have lost their sense of proportion. I doubt very much whether the New Testament writers were as subtle or as self-conscious as some commentators would make them appear. For the most part I am convinced that they had no idea that they were writing Holy Scripture. They would be, or indeed perhaps are, amazed to learn what meanings are sometimes read back into their simple utterances! Paul, for instance, writing in haste and urgency to some of his wayward and difficult Christians, was not tremendously concerned about dotting the "i's" and crossing the "t's" of his message. I doubt very much whether he was even concerned about being completely consistent with what he had already written. Consequently, it seems to me quite beside the point to study his writings microscopically, as it were, and deduce hidden meanings of which almost certainly he was unaware. His letters are alive, and they are moving - in both senses of that word - and their meaning can no more be appreciated by cold minute examination than can the beauty of a bird's flight be appreciated by dissection after its death. We have to take these living New Testament documents in their context, a context of supreme urgency and often of acute danger. But a word is modified very considerably by the context in which it appears, and where a translator fails to realise this, we are not far away from the use of a computer! The translators of the Authorised Version [KJV] were certainly not unaware of this modification, even though they had an extreme reverence for the actual words of Holy Writ. Three hundred years ago they did not hesitate to translate the Greek word EKBALLO by such varying expressions as put out, drive forth, bring forth, send out, tear out, take out, leave out, cast out, etc., basing their decisions on the context. And as a striking example of their translational freedom, in Matthew 27,44 we read that the thieves who were crucified with Jesus "cast the same in his teeth", where the Greek words mean simply, "abused him".

-from the Introduction to Phillips' The New Testament in Modern English Revised Edition. (See my post on Romans 5:1-5 last week.)

Compare Phillips' statement to this statement in the Introduction to the First Edition of the NET Bible, under the heading "What are some of the distinctive characteristics of the NET Bible translation philosophy?," the penultimate paragraph:

[T]he translators and editors of the NET Bible are committed to following the text where it leads and translating it honestly. The translation philosophy leaves no other options: For the sake of Christ and the truth, the translators and editors are compelled to translate as they have done in the examples above and throughout the NET Bible. The 19th century conservative Christian scholar Henry Alford stated it best: “a translator of Holy Scripture must be…ready to sacrifice the choicest text, and the plainest proof of doctrine, if the words are not those of what he is constrained in his conscience to receive as God’s testimony.”

On Being "Half-Saved"

Commenting on Romans 5:9-11, John Stott writes in part

If, therefore, we are asked by some brash evangelist whether we have been saved, it would be just as biblical to say 'No' as to say 'Yes', although the correct answer would be 'Yes and No.' For yes, we have been saved through Christ from the guilt of our sins and from the judgment of God upon them, but no, we have not yet been delivered from indwelling sin or been given new bodies in the new world.

This explains a lot about a Christian's present situation. With the rest of creation, we all do groan so from time to time, as we do also celebrate.

Happy Birthday, Lolita!

Where Killer Whales have a 20 year life-expectancy, she's 40 years old!

But Steve, Why Limit This to Two People Who Love Each Other?

"Why would anyone in this country not want two people who love each other to enjoy the blessings of marriage and the protections of law."

-Steve Zack, the incoming president of the ABA, as quoted in the September 2010 ABA Journal, in connection with the approval by the ABA's House of Delegates of "the rights of gays and lesbians to marry in civil ceremonies."

(I'm also fascinated by Steve's use of the word "blessings." Because the House of Delegates is addressing "civil ceremonies," wouldn't Steve want to use the word "benefits" instead? Is he simply confused here, or does one have to reach for a religious word in order describe what a marriage can mean? And where does he think "blessings" come from if he means to refer to something beyond benefits?)

"Arranged" the Movie

Carol and I viewed this via Netflix download last night. It had been recommended by several of our Christian friends (but not a Christian anywhere in it - imagine that - except perhaps for the blind Puerto Rican boy and his mom). We recommend it now, too.

ARRANGED centers on the friendship between an Orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman who meet as first-year teachers at a public school in Brooklyn. Over the course of the year they learn they share much in common - not least of which is that they are both going through the process of arranged marriages

-from the plot description at the IMDb link above.

There were all sort of interesting aspects of this movie, but one I will mention is how modest the two young women were about their hair. The Muslim woman wore her hair covered and the Jewish woman wore her hair pinned up or in a braid. On the few occasions when one saw them in the film with their hair down (always at home among family members, except in one extraordinary case), these already attractive women were transformed into absolutely beautiful women. I'm sure there were some cinematic tricks being played here, but I also wondered this: had my mental picture of these women in their public appearance been fixed early in the movie, so that when I saw them later with their hair down I could not help but find their full beauty stunning? Is this, after all, how God intends feminine modesty to work?

On the Madness of Free Fall Thrills

A really sad outcome. Why would one subject herself to such risks? (The lawyer in the photo is a good friend of mine.)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Nikon Pocket Camera with its Own Projector

The Nikon Coolpix S1000PJ.

The Nikon CoolPix S1000pj is the world's first digicam containing a built-in projector, which is capable of projecting captured images up to 40" across at distances of up to 5.5'. Featuring a 12.1-megapixel CCD and a 5x (28-140mm equivalent) zoom lens, the CoolPix S1000pj can capture broad landscapes or tight portraits with equal ease and print them at sizes up to 16x20".

- From the Adorama write-up.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Immigration Newspeak

Undocumented, better still irregular, but certainly not illegal immigrants. (Note to Herald: the headline writer needs re-education.)