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 opinionjournal.com, 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.