Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Climate Change Theory Affecting Local Policy

The Herald yesterday reported on a proposed $1.5 billion project to upgrade Miami-Dade's antiquated water and sewer system.  That system, according to the report, consists of 7,500 miles of sewer lines, "a good portion" of which "regularly rupture[s] and spill[s] millions of gallons of raw waste into local waterways and Biscayne Bay."  The federal government has sued the county for allowing the system to fall into such disrepair, threatening the assessment of millions of dollars of fines.

The system includes a "controversial" waste water treatment plant on Virginia Key, an island along the beautiful causeway that connects the mainland, just below the Brickell area of the City of Miami, with Key Biscayne.  The plan calls for renovating that plant at an estimated cost of $550 million. 

The Biscayne Bay Waterkeepers, clean-water activists who filed to join the federal action against the county, say spending hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild on Virginia Key is a waste, because the spit of land is likely to be under water within 50 years. 

The group points to a recent study by the journal Science that showed the polar ice caps in Greenland are melting at three times the rate originally believed. They also say a climate change compact Miami-Dade agreed to with three other counties — which accepted a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study that shows sea levels will rise 3 feet by 2060 — shows the Virginia Key plant could be in peril.
“Doubling down on Virginia Key the way they’re doing it is just stupid,” said environmental attorney Albert J. Slap, representing the Waterkeepers. “There’s not a dime in it for armoring the plant, or raising it. It’s on a barrier island.” 

Doug Yoder, deputy director of the county’s water and sewer department, didn’t dispute the Army Corps findings, and said the county could abandon the Virginia Key plant for a new plant on the western edge of the county if federal regulators make such a demand.

“We certainly don’t want to spend a lot of money fixing up a facility we’ll soon abandon,” he said. 

It makes no sense to me to have a water treatment plant on such a jewel as Virginia Key, but for reasons that have nothing to do with climate change.  My guess is that it is convenient to invoke that spectre as county officials seek to put themselves in a position to get federal funds to move the plant somewhere else.  The rising of the sea doesn't appear to be affecting another giant project near downtown.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/02/3124200/miami-dade-proposes-spending-15.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/02/3124200/miami-dade-proposes-spending-15.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy


American Heart Association reports that a healthy diet may help prevent recurrent heart attacks and strokes.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Childbirth in Rural (and Not So Rural) America 100 Years Ago

I live sixty-five miles from a Dr. and my other babies (two) were very large at birth - on 12 lbs., and the other 10 1/2 lbs.  I have been very badly torn each time through the rectum. . . . I am 37 years old and I am so worried and filled with perfect horror at the prospects ahead.  So many of my neighbors die at giving birth. . . . I have a baby 11 months old in my keeping now, whose mother died.  When I reached their cabin last Nov. it was 22 below zero, and I had to ride 7 miles horseback.  She was nearly dead when I got there, and died after giving birth to a 14 lb. boy - Will you please send me all the information for care of myself before and after and at the time of delivery.  I am far from a doctor, and we have no means.

-from a letter by Mrs. A-C-P of Burntfork, Wyoming, in 1916 to Julia Lathrop, a "maternalist reformer" and chief of the Children's Bureau within the Department of Labor.  Congress passed legislation creating The Children's Bureau in 1912.  This passage from the letter is quoted in Wertz and Wertz, Lying-In: a History of Childbirth in America (Expanded Edition) (Yale Univ. Press 1989), p. 205.

My dad's father, Walter Levi Stokes (June 6, 1877 - December 20,1949), was married before he married my dad's mother, Hettie Louise Johnson Stokes (October 24, 1884 - July 14, 1959).  His first wife died in childbirth, as did the baby.  My dad said that Grandfather Walter stopped working when my dad was 15 or 16. Dad had to go to work to support the family.  They moved from a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta to a house on the outskirts of that city.  I remember that old wooden house, with its privy out the back.  Neighbors, the Cooglers, helped feed the family.  My dad believes that his father stopped working because the trauma of Grandfather's first wife and baby dying caught up with him.  I think that means he suffered from depression.  You don't get over losing a baby at childbirth.  I can't imagine what happens to a young man who loses his wife and baby both.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Open Culture

More Online Learning.  Looks like a good website.  Look at this, for example.

Pell Grant Program Cut by One-Third?

The email, sent out by the Dallas County Community College District, informed students of the changes to the Pell Grant program. It revealed that the number of semesters a student could receive a Pell Grant had been cut from 18 semesters down to 12. It is a detail likely unknown to most students; in fact, the cut in grants has gone largely unreported by the media.

-from an article at Examiner.com entitled "College Students Learn of Obama's Secret Pell Grant Cuts."  (h/t Instapundit)

The slant of the article is that Obama is such a terrible person, because he "hid" this during his campaign.  (Obama is not an idiot.  Call him what you want, he is not an idiot.  Romney-Ryan were hardly forthcoming about what deductions they were going to eliminate in their proposed income tax program.)  But hasn't the right-wing been critical of the government for subsidizing higher education all along?  The problem with making the cuts in the Pell Grant program is that it is an outright grant program for financially needy students, not a loan program that weighs the down the young person with debt.  Cut back the loan program and higher education will have to cut back its high prices.  At least in that respect - forcing down prices - the Pell Grant program cuts might do some good.  I would start with the loan program, however, not with Pell Grants.

What this is really telling us, however, is that the slow motion bursting of the "higher-education" bubble continues, whoever we have in the White House.  The market, finally, will have its way.  And the market tells us that higher-education is terribly over-priced for what it is giving us back.  We will still get what is valuable from higher-education.  It is simply that it will be delivered differently and its substance will be transformed because subsidies of the entrenched educational establishment will be reduced.  At least that is my hope.  Thanks, Glenn Reynolds, for taking us to school on this issue.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Funny ATC Quotes

A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out after touching down. San Jose Tower noted: “American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadalupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport.”

-More here at the AviationHumor.net website.

No Cost 10 Seminary-level Course Program Online

From Gordon-Conwell.

Whale Shark Off the Broward Shore

From today's Herald.

On-Line Teaching and Its Infinite Possibilities

In this month's MIT Technology Review.  The report has several articles worth reading.  Instapundit links to one of them, "The New Internet Teaching Stars."

Among the most time-consuming - and worst compensated - tasks in my estate planning practice is teaching the clients about the decisions they need to make and what they have to know to make them.  I have often thought that the internet - particularly on-line videos in the nature of You-Tube productions - provides an answer.  I would like to take 6 months off and work on that project.  Next year.  Provided I survive the "Fiscal Cliff looming!!" phenomenon this year.

As one thinks about it, isn't learning how we use the Internet most of the time?  As a tool for learning?  Yes, we use it for transactions too, increasingly so, and entertainment and as our post-office.  None of that diminishes the growing importance of the internet for education, for micro-education at its most informal ("Let's Google that") to formal, macro-education (free on-line courses at MIT), and every level in-between.

A tweener is my partner Juan's Florida Probate and Trust Litigation Blog. Trust and Estate lawyers from all over Florida increasingly rely on it to keep up to date.  Lay people read it all the time and call us.  I cannot go to a gathering of lawyers without someone bringing up "Juan's blog."  We will probably soon change the name of the firm to "Juan's Blog, P.A."  And that will be OK.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Oh, Great. South Florida now has Nile Crocodiles.

The four-foot one in the photo was caught in the Fruit and Spice Park in South Dade, for heaven's sake.  Read the Herald article in this morning's edition.  Here's the Wiki article on the Nile Crocodile.

How much nastier is this African cousin of our American croc?

The two species with the most well-known and documented reputation for preying on humans are the Nile crocodile and saltwater crocodile. Each year, hundreds of deadly attacks are attributed to the Nile crocodile in sub-Saharan Africa. On New Guinea, Borneo and the Solomon Islands attacks by saltwater crocodiles often occur. The mugger crocodile is also very dangerous to humans, killing many people in India every year. The American crocodile, while generally considered to be less aggressive, does occasionally kill humans and a handful of fatalities are reported and confirmed every year in Central America and southern Mexico. The black caiman is also responsible for several recorded human fatalities every year within the Amazon basin and the surrounding regions. The American alligator is responsible for human fatalities, with most occurring in Florida.

-from the Wiki article on Crocodile Attacks.

Miami and the Panama Canal Make-Over (Bumped Again: All 4 Parts)

Huge implications for South Florida.

The Herald published several articles over the last two weeks, the last one today.  For Part 1 of 4 parts, look here, part 2 here, part 3 here, and part 4 here.

Morsi's Mentor

Daniel Pipes on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the prime minister of Turkey.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Attention, Austin Gawkers

 I want to go here next visit:

Grow Your Own Potatos

I have the bag.  If I only had the time!

Build Your Own PC?

Because it sounds like fun.

Grandparents, Carlos M. and Audrey J. Hemperley

Kenneth Whitehead, the Curator of the East Point [GA] Historical Society, very kindly sent me this photo of the parents of Juanita, my mother, apparently taken on June 30, 1919.  My grandfather, Carlos Mason Hemperley, born July 14, 1901, would have been just shy of 18 years of age, when he married Audrey Atrue Jordan, (March 13, 1902 - February 1, 1949).  I am not sure right now of their exact wedding date, but they married very young, as was the custom in that family.  (Audrey's mother, Nancy R. Della Lanford Jordan, my "Gramma Jordan," married at age 16.)  My mother was born November 17, 1920.  Her brother, Carlos M. Hemperley, Jr. was born in 1919.

Here is what Kenneth Whitehead wrote me in an email about this photo:

Lillie Ruth Hemperley Stewart, the sister of your grandfather Carlos Mason Hemperley Sr., [to whom my mother referred as "Aunt Lill"] donated over 600 photos to the East Point Historical Society a number of years ago. They apparently were taken from 1918 until the early 1920s. They were put away in a scrapbook and I recently found them and started scanning them. That way, we have permanent copies in our records and CD's, with these photos, will be available for family and friends. Attached is one of these photos.

I am not related to the Hemperley family but my wife is distantly related by marriage. Her cousin, Henry Lipes, married one of Asa Hemperley's granddaughters.

I'm retired and enjoy history and genealogy. I noticed your blog entry December 25, 2007, and figured you might be interested in this part of your family history.

Ken Whitehead

Mr. Whitehead also added this to his email:

You may find these web site locations of interest:

East Point Historical Society web site:

East Point Historical Society facebook site:

I Grew Up in East Point facebook site:

Thank you, Mr. Whitehead!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pennsylvania College Slashes Employees Hours to Avoid ObamaCare

"The move will save an estimated $6 million."

Thanks, Instapundit.

This is going to happen a lot and it won't be limited to institutions of higher learning and to part-timers.  See Tate, ObamaCare Survival Guide, pp. 111-113.

Seeing and Believing

Our Sunday School class is in Chapter 11 of John.  This is the chapter where we read of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

In the following verse, John describes the response of some of the onlookers:

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. 

The Greek word for "had seen" that John chooses is theaomai.  This is one of the "forms from five verbs used in John to express sight," according to Fr. Brown in Appendix I, pages 501 through 503, The Gospel According to John I-XII (Anchor Bible Series, Volume 29).

Here are those five verbs, with the fifth one below showing the verb John uses in verse 45:

1. Blepein. βλέπειν. Material sight or ocular vision.

2. Theoreo. θεωρέω. To look on with concentration. To behold.

3 and 4. Horen, ὁράω, together with idein, οἶδα. Sight accompanied by real understanding. To perceive – where intuitive intelligence is involved.

5. Theaomai, θεάομαι. "The root meaning of this verb suggests connection with the theater  .  .  .  Phillips [G.L., "Faith and Vision in the Fourth Gospel" in Studies in the Fourth Gospel] thinks that it means to look at some dramatic spectacle and in a measure to become a part of it."  REB at p. 502.

The sight of a believer, therefore, is such that he or she becomes part of Jesus' story.  I think that is perfect. 

Oops! Sorry, Boomers, about Medicare.

Having had it so good growing up in the post-war boom times (Viet-Nam for some, but certainly not all of us, being the exception), we've been looking forward to our pensions (if we've had government jobs for governments still able to pay them), Social Security, and, finally, Medicare.  Medicare is a biggie, and whatever gaps there might be in it would be filled up by our buying supplemental insurance, something called "Medicare Advantage."  None of that is going to happen, however, as we may have counted upon it happening.

According to the recently published, ObamaCare Survival Guide: the Affordable Care Act and What it Means for You and Your Healthcare, by Nick J. Tate:
  • "[H]undreds of billions of dollars in funding for ObamaCare will be generated by cuts in Medicare's budget over the next decade."  (What?! Ryan was right??!!)
  • A  "reduced number of plans [will be] available and reduced benefits [will be provided] in the Medicare Advantage program."
  • "[R]educed payment rates [will be paid] to doctors who care for Medicare patients."  Tate notes that "If doctors, hospitals, and other providers react negatively when they are paid less, some may refuse to see Medicare patients, making it more difficult for some to find a doctor or see the one they're accustomed to using."  Ya think?
  • Cost controls will be imposed on what Medicare will pay for, controls to be imposed in January 2018 by "a new presidential commission called the Independent Payment Advisory Board or IPAB.  .  .  This board will be given significant power to cut Medicare spending in the future because its decisions will automatically take effect unless counteracted by Congress.  That will be hard to do as it will require a three-fifths 'super-majority' vote in the U.S. Senate."
On page 48 of Tate's book, he writes this:

The biggest losers under ObamaCare are Medicare recipients.  Senior citizens are thrown a bone with the closure of the "donut hole" in the program's prescription drug plan, but that will not offset the hundreds of billions of dollars in budget cuts over the next decade.  And once the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) beings to operate, additional cuts seem likely.

A healthy diet, exercise, and other good health habits, then, are really not optional.  If one has been thinking that several visits a month to this health provider or that will help one pass the time during one's golden retirement years, then it is high time to change that thinking.   We have a Brave New World here.  Acts have consequences after all.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mahler's Third and the Cleveland Orchestra.

As guests of a vendor to our law firm, Carol and I sat in the middle of the sixth row in the orchestra section Friday night at the Arsht Center for the Cleveland Orchestra and the world's longest symphony.  It was fantastic!

We came from work on the People Mover, had dinner at the Prelude in the west building, and walked the footbridge over the Boulevard to the concert in the east building.

Let's Go to Milwaukee!

The Sound of Music has opened.  (Thanks, Ann Althouse)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanks, Glenn

Links from Instapundit:

Combat reads.

Strength to Strength.  Introducing (to me at least), Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength website.  The first link is to a speech in which statements are made along these lines by an expert not (yet) familiar to me, John Sullivan:

  • Aerobic exercise builds conditioning, quickly established once one begins, and quickly diminishing, once one leaves a program built on it.  Strength exercise, on the other hand, builds "architecture," an enduring result.
  • Doing strength exercise is like a deposit in one's health 401(k) plan.
  • It is important not only for the individual, but also the community for one to build his strength: less morbidity in the future (that part of the future near to Carol and me), less demand on the community for medical and other support services related to bad health. (As to the community, I not only think of demands for government services, but certainly I think of demands on the healthier people in one's family.) I want my death to be a good one, far distant but, when the time comes with very short ramp up, very cheap, and then quickly out of here.  
We know this, we vegan/Crossfitters.  We know what we are up to.  Sullivan however, while not exactly Winston Churchill (but who is?), says it well.

The Ambassador Died. The President Lied?

The American people made their choice in November on the president, but it now appears they were duped regarding the real facts concerning Benghazi. What are we going to do about that?

-from "The President Knew the Truth About Benghazi," by Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post.

Friday, November 16, 2012

World's Best Camera?

According to Ken Rockwell, it may be the iPhone 5:

World's best camera? I'm still working with it, but for over a week, all I've been shooting with is an iPhone 5. It's brilliant: sharp, colorful shots in any light, and it handles faster and better than any DSLR or compact (sample iPhone 5 image file - 4 MB).

Delta Air Lines Different Approach to the Business (which has nothing on Walter)

The WSJ has a fascinating article on Delta's different approach to running an airline.

1.  Instead of outsourcing its maintenance business, Delta has a huge facility in Atlanta, with a corps of mechanics whose average experience is 19 years.  That facility makes money for the airline because it also does maintenance work for outside air fleet owners.  See item 3 below.

2.  Delta owns its own oil refinery, cutting out an expensive middle-man in the ongoing challenge of fuel costs.  Again, see item 3 below.

3.  It flies older airplanes.  Although used airplanes are less fuel efficient than the new ones, Delta buys them cheap.  It has the maintenance capability to keep them up.  See item 1 above.

4.  When it buys new airplanes it buys last year's model.

5.  It has been able to maintain the unusual, decades-old tradition of keeping it pilots non-unionized.

6.  It got rid of its pension albatross several years ago when it went through bankruptcy.

Item 1 reminds me of Walter creating a captive fulfillment firm for his company, created it in a matter of months, when he figured out how expensive and poorly run the traditional outside sources of that service were.  Now that captive firm, like Delta's Atlanta maintenance facility, not only does the work for his related Austin group of companies, but also for third parties.   Item 3 reminds me of Walter's propensity to hop on an airplane and go to a bankruptcy auction to buy cheap an expensive piece of equipment for the Austin group.  Item 2 reminds me of plans being kicked around in Austin to buy a textile mill to supply the Austin-group's Tiffany-quality, in-house silk-screening division.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

“If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me,”

This is what the President said about the criticism made by the Senators of UN Ambassador Rice and her mistaken (to be generous) statements on Sunday television news programs about the Benghazi killings.

I rather doubt that Senator McCain is much intimidated.  I don't know why one in the President's position would make a veiled threat like that unless he were dealing with someone who could be intimidated.  Otherwise he is wasting his breath.  Perhaps Senator McCain's less than subservient approach to his North Vietnamese captors many years ago slipped the President's mind.  On the other hand, I recall that supporters of the President when he ran for that office in 2008 made fun of the Senator's use of his arms and hands, which his brutal captors' torture of him disabled.

I might be able to deal with Senator Graham.  Maybe.  I can say most definitely, however, that I would not want Senator McCain to come after me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Desperate for a Dad

Neighbors said [the 29-year old mother, Gladys] Machado was living with a boyfriend who was recently released from jail.

Records show that a 29-year-old man with an extensive criminal record lived at the home. Police were unable to confirm those details late Tuesday. 

-from "Woman, 2 Children Found Dead in Flagami-area Home," in this morning's Miami Herald.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/13/3095933/woman-2-children-found-dead-in.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

22-year Old Smoker Drops Health Coverage at Wal-Mart

"I really can't even afford it [the employee part of Wal-Mart's health coverage] now, so for it to go up even a dollar for me is a stretch," said Colby Harris, who said he makes $8.90 per hour and takes home less than $20,000 per year working in the Walmart store's produce department in Lancaster, Texas. 

Harris, a 22-year-old smoker, was set to see his cost per paycheck rise to $29.60 from $25.40. He says he has decided not to sign up for coverage. Given his low income, as Harris foregoes coverage any major medical bills could potentially fall to taxpayers through the government's Medicaid program. 

-from a CNBC report entitled "Wal-Mart Employee to Pay More for Health-Care Plans."

According to this link, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in Texas was $6.00 in 2011.  Other internet links indicate that it could be as high as $7 per pack.  The amount of the increase in Mr. Harris' "cost per paycheck" is, according to the article, $4.20.  If he cuts back one pack per pay-period, he covers the insurance increase and has change left in his pocket.

As the story indicates, Harris will get medical services of some sort, if he needs them.  The government will pay for it, although, if he doesn't buy insurance, he will be "fined" or, as Justice Roberts would put it, "taxed" an amount for not having his own coverage.  I don't know just how the government will levy that fine - the IRS is assigned that task in Obamacare.  (I don't think government is all that good about taxing people with low incomes, however.)   I do know we will have more bureaucrats and more regulations to catch the Colby Harrises of the country, if we have the political will to collect that tax.  How that will really work out for Mr. Harris economically is too complicated for me to figure out on the fly.  If he keeps healthy, he will win for awhile.

Another point is obvious: his future health costs will likely be far higher than those of non-smokers, so the risk he assumes by dropping his insurance and smoking the cigarettes increases as he gets older, disproportionately in comparison to his non-smoking peers. Yet he is young right now and healthy.  As I said, he will win for awhile.  Our culture is all about the short term.

We subsidize bad choices, one way or the other.  Meanwhile, many people will fault Wal-Mart for increasing the employee cost of its health-care.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"A child's sad death in a nursing home."

Marie Freyre died in the care of a $506-per-day nursing home — sobbing, shaking and screaming for her real home.

She never saw her Minnie Mouse plush toy, her Winnie the Pooh or her Cabbage Patch Kids again. She never again saw her Mami or her Abuela

Marie had been taken to the Florida Club Care Center against her mother’s wishes. Social workers insisted the Miami Gardens nursing home was the safest place for the 14-year-old, who suffered from, among other things, cerebral palsy and seizures. But the evening Marie arrived, records show, nurses did not give her life-sustaining medications and she may have had no food except applesauce.

When Marie struggled to breathe in the two hours before she died, no one at the nursing home called a doctor.

-from today's Miami Herald.

It's not a "sad death," as the headline states.  It is an outrageous death.

This was on the front page, above the crease of this morning's print edition.  This sort of story is why I continue to subscribe to the Herald despite its enormously annoying editorial policy in so many other respects.  Now and then their reporters turn over a rock with some really awful stuff living underneath.

The Florida Bar News is already onto this problem.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/10/3091570/no-place-like-home.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, November 09, 2012

Lego Church

Go to the website for the Abston Church of Christ for more photos of this church and construction plans.  (Thanks, Jane, for the reference.)

Don't miss reading the FAQ on the website.  The builder has a sense of humor.  Between that and the obvious skill in building with Lego's, I can almost overlook the cat aspect.  (I'm not high on cats.   It is obvious to me that there would be more people in the church if cat allergies did not drive so many potential parishoners away.)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Reading Longman and Dillard on the Train

Today when I rode in on MetroRail, the train was crowded and I had to stand up the entire way, about 15 minutes. I always have a book in my briefcase to read, and the one I am reading now is Longman and Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament (2d Ed. 2006). The book is used as a seminary textbook and is fascinating. It is a large hardback with a colorful cover and the title writ large. I had my nose in the book for the entire ride.

At the stop just before my last stop, however, as people were getting off the train (I was near the door), someone put her hand on my arm. I looked up into the brown eyes of a middle aged Latin woman looking straight me. She said, “God bless you.” It surprised me. I did not know her. However, I recovered quickly to smile, say thank you, and “the same to you,” and she exited. She had obviously noticed what I was reading, and how lost I was in my reading. (I have sometimes missed my stop because of my MetroRail reading.)

Unwittingly I was an encouragement. It made my day. Maybe it made her day too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The GOP Messed Up on Immigration

On immigration, Mr. Romney erred badly. Immigration, legal or otherwise, just wasn’t an issue over which Reagan lost a lot of sleep (his grandfather snuck into America from Ireland via Canada). Reagan grasped that immigration restrictions are protectionist. Our country is desperate for human capital. We need policies that liberate it and incentivize it. We need every immigrant we can get. Let other countries worry about losing their people. Mr. Romney’s self-deportation scheme seemed a bow to the xenophobic element.

-from an editorial today in the New York Sun.

George W. Bush had it right, but not the political will (or, to be more generous with him, the power) to keep pushing his reform program.  Too bad.  If he had been able to move the GOP tentpegs outward toward those who would do anything to live in our country, we might not have had the result we had on Tuesday.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Yas Island - Abu Dabi: Your gasoline dollars at work

Really, it's quite impressive.

Consider, however, what we might do with those dollars if we diverted a significant part of them back to us.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Biblical Imagery not Exactly Featured in My Experience with Bible Studies

Song of Songs 1:9: 

I liken you, my darling, to a mare
    among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.

In this verse the speaker draws a comparison between two things: his beloved and a mare harnessed to a chariot of Pharoah.  The difference between the two objects in the comparison draws our attention and set us thinking.  The next step is to identify the comparison.  In this particular case, some historical background is necessary to understand the impact of the compliment.  Research makes it clear that the chariots of Egypt used stallions, not mares.  The presence of a mare would sexually excite the stallions.  Pope points out in his commentary (1977, 336-41) that Israel knew of a battle tactic that called for the release of a mare among the enemy’s chariot horses to divert their attention.

-from Longman and Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Zondervan 2d Ed. 2006), at page 28, where the authors discuss biblical imagery.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Wealth to Flood Protection Ratios (UPDATED); Cost-benefit of Underground, Suburban Electricity Distribution Systems

[New York] has the worst “wealth to flood protection” ratio in the world. Studies by the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] analyzed 136 coastal cities around the world with at least 1 million inhabitants.  .  .  . Greater New York was #2 in terms of assets exposed to coastal flooding, only behind Miami. And more ominously, Amsterdam and Rotterdam are protected to a flood standard of the most severe storm every 10,000 years; Tokyo, Shanghai and London are protected to a 1,000 year standard; Osaka to a 300 year standard; and New York only to a standard of 100 years. If the UK is any example, it takes time to change: the Thames Barrier was 30 years in the making.

While electricity outages in metropolitan areas are mostly a function of coastal flooding, millions of suburban and rural customers are without power due to downed electrical wires. This has always struck me as a 19th-century kind of problem. These instances would be dramatically reduced if power lines and transformers were buried underground. However, the costs of underground electricity distribution systems can be 4-6 times higher than overhead wires. Can these costs be justified by the associated benefits: reduced repair costs after storms, fewer car accidents involving utility poles, reduced tree trimming costs and lower electricity line losses? Not really; in 2005, Virginia estimated the benefits of burying power lines and transformers as being only 40% of the $10 billion cost. Only if you are willing to assume large increases in property values can the numbers be made to work. Most US states that have looked at this have come to similar conclusions.

-from the October 31, 2012 issue of Eye on the Market, published by JP Morgan and written by Michael Cembalest.

UPDATE:  Barrier Plan under discussion for NY Harbor.  Russia's St. Petersburg has a flood protection barrier.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Stott: "Saul's Early Promise"

From Stott, Through the Bible, Through the Year: Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation (Baker: 2006) at page 75:

1 Samuel 10:24
1 Samuel 9:1-2, 15-17

In 1 Samuel 9:15-17 God says of Saul to Samuel, “He will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked upon my people, for their cry has reached me.”

However, Stott writes that

Saul was not so successful [as he was with the Ammonites] . . . in overthrowing the Philistines, who maintained military garrisons on Israelite soil, from which they sent out raiding parties. It was a constant humiliation to Israel.

Saul frustrates God’s purpose for him as Israel’s leader. Stott writes that Saul “was unable to control his emotions,” citing 1 Samuel 18:10: “An evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul.” As a result, Stott writes, “anger, bitterness, and jealousy engulfed him.”

This raises issues about how God’s will works and how man’s will interacts with it.

Here we have God’s intention for Saul clearly expressed. God intends for Saul to rid the land of Philistines and even says to Samuel that he will do so. Yet Saul fails. Did God know that Saul would fail? We would think that he would have known, because he is God. Then why would he tell Samuel that Saul would be successful?

Stott writes that Saul was unable to control his emotions and that God sent an evil spirit upon him. Was Saul unable to control his emotions because of the evil spirit? Was he otherwise unable to control his emotions, thus inviting the evil spirit? How was Saul “unable?” Did his will permit his emotions to control his behavior? In other words, did he choose that way of living in the first place, so that he remained morally responsible for everything that followed?

If we see Saul as a sort of everyman, then we must identify the natural, harmful tendency, peculiar to us, that threatens mastery. We are challenged to withstand it – to seek God’s aid and grace in doing so, so that we can accomplish whatever work he would have us do and for which he placed us at this time and place.

Heavenly Father, I do pray for that aid and grace in Jesus’ name.

Medical Studies Proving False?

If a medical study seems too good to be true, it probably is, according to a new analysis.

In a statistical analysis of nearly 230,000 trials compiled from a variety of disciplines, study results that claimed a "very large effect" rarely held up when other research teams tried to replicate them, researchers reported in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

-from the October 24, 2012 issue of the Las Angles Times.

Here is the abstract from the AMA article.

My shrinking brain reminds me, "Trust, but verify."

Benghazi Passivity "Disappointing?"

"The last two casualties occurred well over six hours after the initial attack," Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham noted. "It is disappointing to hear that our national command authorities failed to try to reinforce the consulate with timely air assets, and that a consulate located in one of the most dangerous regions in the world was so unsecured."

Read More At IBD: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/102512-630874-no-marines-with-bayonets-at-benghazi.htm#ixzz2AOENf1sY

Disappointing, Senators?  You are "disappointing."  What happened in Benghazi was outrageous, pathetic, and disgusting.  How about cranking up the Senate's once vaunted investigatory apparatus? 

Exercise May Stop Brain Shrinkage

Keep moving.

(Thanks, Glenn)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Columbia Seminary Married Student Housing to Permit Qualified Domestic Partners (UPDATED)(BUMPED)

According to The Layman Online:

A housing task force at Columbia Theological Seminary recently established the following new policy [joining Austin, McCormick, Louisville, San Francisco, and Princeton]:

“Students, their qualified domestic partners (e.g. those in civil marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships as established by the laws of any state, the United States or a foreign jurisdiction), and their children are eligible to live in campus housing. Appeals may be made to the CTS Housing Committee."

The Layman On-Line's headline refers not to "qualified domestic partners," but to "same-sex" couples.  Initially, I used that way of referring to the subjects of the CTS policy.  That way of referring to them is inaccurate, however, and I think unhelpful to the debate.  I therefore changed the title of this post to make it more accurate.

Not just any "same-sex" couple may reside in married-student housing.  To qualify, apparently a couple must have made a legally recognized commitment, that is a covenant- or contract-like agreement with each other.  We presume, then, that the State will enforce the terms of that agreement.  CTS is apparently attempting to protect the persons in the "qualified domestic partner" relationship as well as the other couples (and the dependent children of couples) who reside in this housing. 

CTS concedes to the State the matter of regulating how people who "couple" are to deal with each other, people who have the happy intention of a long-term, even life long relationship with each other.  Where once the church defined such relationships, now CTS cedes to the State that authority, in order to include certain (but not all) "same-sex" couples.

This is a romantic view of coupleness.  It is so profoundly naive.  One does not have to be a domestic-relations lawyer to see how dangerous a couple can be for one another and the people in their household if it is only the State to whom they are accountable.  If their relationship is not guided by biblical traditions developed in all kinds of circumstances over thousands of years, what chance of success does that relationship have.  I suppose CTS believes that it knows just how to inject into the new, legislatively created, qualified domestic partner wineskin, whatever biblically informed, life-nourishing substance it deems to be necessary (and no more).  Good luck with that.

History and Historiography

While ignorance of the historical context of the Bible threatens a correct understanding of the Bible, a second major danger confronts the reader. This danger is the imposition of contemporary Western values on the historical writings of the Old Testament.

It is thus of great importance that we not only describe the value of a historical approach to the Old Testament but also explore the nature of Old Testament historiography.

[History] refers to the events that have taken place in the past . . . [Historiography] refers to writing about the events. . . .

The subjectivity involved in historic narration does not invalidate the historical intention, as some skeptics argue; rather, the interpreter of the biblical historian must take into account the latter’s perspective on the past.

-from Longman and Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament (2d Edition 2006), at pp. 18 and 19.

This is pretty elementary stuff to the secular historian.  Why is it so difficult for some believers and some skeptics alike to grasp, without being criticized by others in their respective peer groups?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

According to 2 Samuel 12:31, How Did David Treat the Ammonites after his Victory at Rabbah?

We addressed 2 Samuel 12 at our Friday morning Bible Study yesterday. At verse 31, a translation question emerged.

Verse 31 comes at the end of chapter where Nathan rebukes David for his sin with Bathsheba; Nathan describes what the calamitous consequences of that sin will be; David repents; the child of David and Bathsheba sickens and David pleads with God for him; the child dies, however, and David arises from his bed of fasting and intercession, returns to his home and comforts his wife Bathsheba; whereupon she bears their son Solomon, whom David holds to be loved by God, implicitly a sign of forgiveness. At the end of the chapter, in verses 26-31, God’s grace has national implications, when David finally joins his army, defeats the Ammonites, and they return in victory to Jerusalem.

Verse 31 describes what David did to the people of the Ammonite city of Rabbah, whom David and his army finally defeat. Rabbah is the city that the army of Israel had been besieging without success commencing at the point where David remains in Jerusalem during the spring “when kings go off to war.” It is during David’s truancy in Jerusalem that his affair with Bathsheba commences. It is at the walls of Rabbah where her husband Uriah the Hittite loses his life when he and his men attack those walls as part of the plot to kill him, a plot that David initiates and that involves David’s general Joab, a plot to cover up David’s adultery.

Most of us at the breakfast use the NIV version. Verse 31 of the version describes what happens to the people of Rabbah as follows:

[David] brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking. He did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then David and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.

Juan, however, uses the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition version. It gives the following for verse 31:

[B]ringing forth the people thereof he [David] sawed them, and drove over them chariots armed with iron: and divided them with knives, and made them pass through brickkilns: so did he to all the cities of the children of Ammon: and David returned, with all the army to Jerusalem.

The nouns of these two translations seem to agree, but the verbs put an entirely different meaning on what David did. In the NIV, David treats the inhabitants of Rabbah with a sort of grace, perhaps pointing back to the grace with which God treats David. In the Douay-Rheims version, David treats the people as brutally as any other king would the inhabitants of a city that refused to surrender and is taken only after a costly seige.

The NIV has a footnote to verse 31: “The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.”

None of us uses the King James Version. It is arguably less certain, one way or the other, and translates verse 31 as follows:

[David] brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.
The question seems to be what being “put under” saws, iron harrows and iron axes means.

Austin uses the New King James Version. It clearly chooses the NIV approach:

[David] brought out the people who were in it, and put them to work with saws and iron picks and iron axes, and made them cross over to the brick works. So he did to all the cities of the people of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

(Note that in the NKJV, when the translators add a word to makes sense of a passage, they use a convention under which the added word is shown in italics.)

The Hebrew Scriptures as published by The Jewish Publication Society as Tanakh: A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text, translates verse 31 this way:

[David] led out the people who lived there and set them to work with saws, iron threshing boards, and iron axes, or assigned them to brickmaking; David did this to all the towns of Ammon. Then David and all the troops returned to Jerusalem.

A collection of passages on this verse from various dated, Christian commentaries is here.

I thought that perhaps the source of the difficulty is the use of the Masoretic Text as the basis for the English translations in the later publications versus an English translation of the Septuagint, upon which I understand Douay-Rheims is largely based. I am not at all sure about that, however, and it may simply be a matter of how one chooses to interpret a difficult passage.

Playing Hurt, Playing Sick at XFit

Growing up in our household, getting hurt was a signal to stop, getting sick an absolute time-out.  So hitting those contingencies as a Xfitter has been occasions for second looks at that practice, because it is costly to stop.

My first injury occurred with a fall during a box-jump.  My left hand took most of my weight as my head headed for the floor.  Better the wrist, of course, but what was I to do with something bad having happened to that hand and it hurting a lot.  I kept on going for about four weeks - one of the coaches had a similar injury - but finally went to a mano-ortho specialist, although I still didn't quit.  He turned about to be an XFitter himself.  There were no breaks and he told me to wear a brace for six weeks and come back if it did not get better.

The brace lasted about two days before I quit wearing it.  Within about three more weeks the wrist was a lot better.  Now, the only residual disability is box-jump phobia, but I am going to therapy for that.

Now something's gone wrong with my right hand, around the base of the thumb.  I don't remember hurting it, but it does hurt.  It's been five weeks and it's a little better.  Do I go see the mano-ortho, killing at least 3/4 day or shall I wait this one out?  Will wait-it out.

Then on Monday I used really poor form on my 140 lb dead lift and "ouch!," there went the lower back, just like they said it would.  Was that  my career?  Well, no.  Kept moving, rolled out the lower back, iced it, started back slowly, watched the form like a hawk.  Kept playing.   Last night I did front squats (1 RM @ 135 and 3 X 5 @90) and an AMRAP with 10 push presses in the cycle, where I was at 50 and completed 3 rounds.  So I did 30 reps of the push press.  Meanwhile, the low back had been getting better during the week, and I continue to pay strict attention to form.

Meanwhile I've had a cold.  During week one, I just did one WOD.  This past week was the second week, where I start to get better but am still coughing and hacking.  Did three WODs.  The first two were quite exhausting.  Would I go into pneumonia?  Last night was nearly back to my old self, although the right hand still hurts.

Meanwhile a new client (female, mid 50s) this week said "Wow, you look good!" when, for some reason during small talk, her age and then mine (66) came up.  Then, last night, a young guy said, "I hope I do as well as you do when I'm your age."  (I told him, "You'll do a lot better, if you stick with this.")    I live for such moments!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sergio Jaramillo, the Colombian Government's Brilliant Guerilla Negotiator

Mr. Jaramillo is an unlikely FARC foe. He speaks German, Russian, French and English with an Oxbridge accent, a product of a decade studying philology and classical languages at Oxford, Cambridge and Heidelberg universities. During the Havana talks, he wore a white linen jacket; the guerrillas wore T-shirts. He once reprimanded Mr. Santos [the brother of the Colombian President and an advisor] for not wearing socks, saying it was unbecoming for a Colombian-state delegate. "That's so fifth rate," Mr. Santos said Mr. Jaramillo told him.

*   *   * 

In 2006, he was named deputy defense minister under President Santos. He worked to improve the human rights record of the army, long accused of helping paramilitary groups massacre suspected guerrilla sympathizers. Mr. Jaramillo's advocacy led the military to adopt new and clear operational rules. María Victoria Llorente, who now runs Mr. Jaramillo's old think-tank, said Mr. Jaramillo was obsessed with professionalizing the country's armed forces and saw an emphasis on human rights as key to doing so.

"He has a very Anglo-Saxon view of this," she said. "Rules of engagement and codes of conduct are very important to him."

-from today's WSJ.

Very "Anglo-Saxon?"  Mr. Jaramillo would probably say "very Classical."

"Ten Classics to Read"

From HKH?, "Appendix: When All We Can Do is Read" at page 259:

[The] private acquisition of Greek wisdom relies more than ever on the individual's self-taught education – the reading of the Greeks themselves and general books on Classical Greece.  .   .   .  [T]he following 10 primary works serve as well as any as an introduction to Greek thought and includes a fascinating literature mostly unknown to the reading public.

Here are the "10 primary works" (pp. 259 - 266), but without Hanson and Heath's annotations:

Homer, Iliad, translated by Richmond Lattimore (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961).  This is the Iliad I read in translation at Duke in a sort of "great books" course taught by the president of the university.  The link, however, is to a 2011 edition on Amazon that has the same translation but a lot of supplementary material by another writer.  Abe's Books is where to find a used 1961 edition.  The Lattimore translation is also part of Great Books of the Western World and we have a set.  However, I want to read the Iliad again.  When I read something like this, I like to pencil small checkmarks and brackets and now and then a note.  I don't want to do that in The Great Books hardback, so I'm getting a used paperback from Abe's to take around with me.

Hesiod, Works and Days, translated by M.L. West in Theogony: Works and Days (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).  The link is to that very translation on Amazon, an inexpensive paperback that, with a Prime membership, gets you a brand new copy for about the same as a used copy on Half.com or Abe's.  I always check Amazon first, and then go to the used booksellers.

Archilochus, Poems, translated by Richmond Lattimore, in Greek Lyrics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960)

Sophocles, Ajax, translated by John Moore in Sophocles II, edited by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957)

Euripides, Bacchae, translated by W. Aerosmith, in Euripides V, edited by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959).

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, translated by Richard Crawley as The Landmark Thucydides, edited by Robert Strassler (New York: The Free Press, 1996)

Old Oligarch (Pseudo-Xenophon), The Constitution of the Athenians, in John Moore, Aristotle and Xenophon on Democracy and Oligarchy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975)

Aristophanes, Lysistrata, edited by W. Aerosmith in Four Comedies by Aristophanes (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1969)

Plato, Apology, translated by G.M.A. Grube, in The Trial and Death of Socrates (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1975)

Demosthenes, First Philippic, in Greek Political Oratory, edited and translated by A. N. Sanders (New York: Penguin, 1980)

(Note: One might ask, did I laboriously keyboard each and every one of those citations?  No.  With book in hand, and the Dragon software engaged, I dictated the list.  I'm getting pretty good at it.)

GoPro: What a Story! What a Camera!

What a company!

I'm sitting here thinking about what I could do with such a camera.  The story to which I link and its embedded video open up that sort of thinking - and nothing that I would do has anything to do with the particular applications employed by those using the camera in the video (as captivating as those uses are.  For example, the young women with the whales!).  It is simply that the idea of this camera and the ways others have used it opens one's mind to applications peculiar to one's own experience.

For example, a video showing Aidan in fast and/or in slow motion opening a new Lego box set, figuring out the pattern, putting the model together, making his own changes, playing with it: that would be fascinating; Honor at the easel; Nautica playing with that crazy dog; Felicity doing crafts; MJ wearing a camera while assisting a birth;the bros at XFit;  C in la concina sua; and K and M applying their manifold gifts in so many ways.

(A huge part of the genius of a brilliant application is the editing, of course.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is Halloween for Christians?

We are looking at that question again with our new ministry to Middle Schoolers.  Our church's policy has been no ghosts, witches, or other spooks - keep away from the occult - but OK with "Harvest Festivals" and that sort of thing.  We have a new generation of young leaders and kids who are addressing those issues.

CT about 12 years ago published "Is Halloween a Witches' Brew?" by Harold L. Myra, which is a good, middle of the road, look at the issue.

I'm not at all comfortable with Halloween.  I think it works only if you don't take the occult seriously, that is, only if you don't believe evil, intentional, direct evil, exists in an accessible, proximate spiritual world, or, for that matter, only if you believe a spiritual world does not exist.  We ride on roller coasters and are thrilled by instincts that seek to protect us from falling but that we can provoke because our intellects tell us we are safe.  We trust the human engineering of the mechanical device to protect us.  But who or what has designed the recreational contrivances that provoke our natural fear of the occult ?  Are those safe structures or portals?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tobacco Hornworms on Dove Avenue!

I had two nice tomato plants growing in big pots in the front yard.  All of a sudden, the leaves started disappearing off the stems of one of them.  Within just a day or two.

Checking carefully, there before me a giant worm appeared.  He was there all the time, but I did not see him because he was so well camouflaged.  Yet he was about the size and length of my ring finger.

I checked the other plant, and there was his little brother.  I extricated both of them, and sent them to worm heaven.

Here's a link at the University of Florida webpage about this critter, a tobacco hornworm.  I can attest to the truth of this observation from the link:

Tobacco and tomato hornworms are the common large caterpillars that defoliate tomato plants. Their large size allows them to strip a plant of foliage in a short period of time, so they frequently catch gardeners by surprise.

 I don't know if the first plant will survive.

Affirmative Action Disaffirmative

There is now increasing evidence that students who receive large preferences of any kind—whether based on race, athletic ability, alumni connections or other considerations—experience some clear negative effects: Students end up with poor grades (usually in the bottom fifth of their class), lower graduation rates, extremely high attrition rates from science and engineering majors, substantial self-segregation on campus, lower self-esteem and far greater difficulty passing licensing tests (such as bar exams for lawyers). 

The most encouraging part of this research is the parallel finding that these same students have dramatically better outcomes if they go to schools where their level of academic preparation is much closer to that of the median student. That is, black and Hispanic students—as well as the smaller numbers of preferentially admitted athletes and children of donors—excel when they avoid the problem of what has come to be called "mismatch."

-from today's WSJ and its Saturday Essay by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor, Jr., entitled "The Unraveling of Affirmative Action". 

Those authors have just published Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit It.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

People My Age Should Not Be Allowed to Buy Certain Electronic Things

Even from Crutchfield, which is a really fine vendor.

I had been rockin' along with my '98 4 Runner and its OED radio for a number of years, and then a really fine classical radio station WPBI "Classical South Florida" appeared at 89.7.  That place on the dial is where WMCU "Spirit FM" had lived since Genesis and whose sale by Trinity International University still is a bitter memory among the faithful.  So I've been consoling myself with really beautiful music from that spot on the dial since then.

While the OED radio may have been fine for CCM, it was lacking for Bach, Mozart, Elgar, Vivaldi, and so on.  Crutchfield, after a few bumps along the way, helped me with a Kenwood eXcelon KDC-X496 CD-Receiver with USB Interface together and a pair of Polk Audio 6.5 inch Slim Mount Coaxial DB651s speakers ("Marine Certified" I guess because I might leave the windows open on a rainy day).  It makes beautiful Classical South Florida music.

I haven't the slightest idea how to do anything else with it.  I did learn how to turn it on.  Then, through the miracle of trial and error, I found 89.7 FM.  Beyond that, the way you tune the thing is a complete mystery.

The radio has this single relatively large volume control button that also can do other things.  It is surrounded by some tiny little buttons which have symbols that I cannot see when I am driving because I have my distance glasses on.  Even if I could see them, I don't know what they mean.  Sometimes I hit one of them inadvertantly and I lose 89.7.  So I will spend the next several minutes trying to turn the radio off,  and then the next several days trying to figure out how to get back to 89.7.

With the unit came a remote.  Yes, a remote.  It is similar to the one you get with a TV, except it is much smaller.  It has a keypad plus at least 9 or 10 other buttons on it.  I have no idea.

(Yes, there is a little "Quick Start Guide" that came with it, and a manual on the internet.  But who has time to read those things?  And then, who, after reading them, will remember what he read?  Thus, the title of this post.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A New Appreciation for My Classics Progeny

I'm reading Hanson and Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek WisdomThe authors write a devastating critique of the Classics industry in colleges and universities in the US during the late 1990s.  In the process, they mount a persuasive defense of Classical values and present the case for learning Greek and Latin so that students can read "the Canon" in the original tongues, texts that reflect the development of those values.  The chapter "Teaching Greek is Not Easy" describes the difficulties students must grapple in order to learn those languages and that their teachers must confront as they seek to keep their students interested.

I understand better the challenge that the classics student in our family confronted at Davidson College.  Perhaps his rock solid character can be attributed at least in part to that major.  I'm sure Hanson and Heath would think so, if they knew him and what he did, as he learned both languages absolutely from scratch and then took the Davidson Classics trip in the company of mainly other students and an occasional appearance by the professor (which appearances were completely adequate, as I understand it, and appropriate).  I attribute W's willingness to go just about anywhere in this world and his fearlessness to do, should he need to go, at least in part both to the reading and the touring he got at DC.

(Thanks, Dean Rusk, for the Kourion photo.)

"The Author Who Saved Britain"

Winston Churchill, of course.  A review on Abe's of a new book on Churchill by Peter Clarke, entitled "Mr. Churchill's Profession," and a selection of well-priced books by the great man himself.  I had no idea that there are so many more books that Churchill wrote than I had read!  What treats lie ahead! 

Monday, October 08, 2012

"A tethered mind free from lies . . . "

"I Will Wait"

Well I came home
Like a stone
And I fell heavy into your arms
These days of dust
Which we've known
Will blow away with this new sun

But I'll kneel down wait for now
And I'll kneel down
Know my ground

And I will wait I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you

So break my step
And relent
Well you forgave and I won't forget
Know what we've seen
And him with less
Now in some way shake the excess

'Cause I will wait I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you

And I will wait I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you

Now I'll be bold
As well as strong
And use my head alongside my heart

So tame my flesh
And fix my eyes
A tethered mind freed from the lies

And I'll kneel down
Wait for now
I'll kneel down
Know my ground

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And bow my head
Keep my heart slow

'Cause I will wait I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you

Mumford & Sons.  Their Red Rocks video here.

(h/t mjs)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

More on Age-Related Muscle Loss

Beginning at age 30, most of us lose about 1 percent - or a third of a pound - of muscle every year, as the body starts tearing down old muscle at a faster rate than it builds new tissue. (It’s why world weight-lifting records for the 60-year-old age bracket are 30 percent lower in men and 50 percent lower in women compared with records in the 30-year-old bracket.) The loss of muscle, which burns more calories than fat, slows the body’s resting metabolic rate, causing us to pack on fat pounds through the years. While we can’t completely halt this aging process, researchers believe we can do a lot to slow it down, mostly through resistance training, or weight training, that targets specific muscle groups.

-from "Stopping Age-Related Muscle Loss," Boston Globe, March 5, 2012.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Gynecide by Sex Selection

Little girls at risk in yet another venue.  Maybe we should hope that there is no God.  Or, for that matter, no Darwin.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

"Hidden [Medically Fragile] Children" in Florida Nursing Homes

“The hidden children” is how Clinical Professor Paolo Annino [of FSU Law School's Public Interest Law Center] refers to these “medically fragile” children, tucked into pediatric wings of Florida nursing homes designed for geriatric patients, like the grandmother Van Erem used to visit when she was a girl.

How these children wound up on ventilators and feeding tubes and tracheotomies varies: near drowning in swimming pools, being shaken as infants, infantile cerebral palsy, car crashes, genetic disorders.

What they have in common is the need for nursing care 24/7, and some of them have families who want them to live at home if they are afforded sufficient services.

“The saddest part of all is not that these children have nowhere to go. That’s what a lot of people would assume,” Van Erem said. “A lot of families are asking for support and want their children at home. Our goal is to get these children back with their families, with adequate support.”

-from "Law Students fight to bring the 'hidden children' home" in the October 1, 2012, issue of the Florida Bar News.

According to the article, there are 221 children in Florida nursing homes.  "With adequate support," some of them can go home.  Adequate support may, in fact be available.  Getting the families of those children that support is a complex issue in some cases, one apparently needing a lawyer (or a law student) to help with the red tape.

What about families who are just short of support?  Who in the private sector might cover the shortfall?  What about the children with no families?  Who will visit them?

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Accomplished Lawyer Who Helped a Lot of People, a Good Family Man with a Strong Work Ethic

Steven M. Lippman is sentenced to three years in federal prison for his involvement in the Ponzi scheme master-minded by his law partner Scott Rothstein.

The Daily Business Review article on Lippman's sentencing (not available on the internet), quotes Lippman saying of Rothstein to the judge, "He had this way of making wrong sound right."

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
-1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV 1984)

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
-Psalms 1:1 (KJV)

When the wicked prosper in the polis, they corrupt the minds of the more virtuous, who then take the license of the wicked as their example.
-Euripides, Tragic Fragment

Those Conservatives Should Just Shut Up!

Conservatives on Tuesday used a speech President Barack Obama delivered as a candidate in 2007 to accuse him of using racially charged rhetoric.

-The introductory paragraph of an Associated Press report by Stephen Peoples in today's digital edition of the Miami Herald.

Other than that, Mr. Peoples implies, the video is simply not newsworthy.

There was absolutely nothing objectionable in Obama’s speech. (I watched the whole thing on the Daily Caller Web site, but I won’t link to it.) It made me proud to have a president who could speak with that complexity.

-from  "Right-Wing Racial Panic: Hannity and Carlson hype a 2007 Obama video and prove they're having an ethnic nervous breakdown" by Joan Walsh in Salon.

I'm so proud.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/02/3031581/conservatives-seize-on-obama-video.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Let's Hear It for the Roman Catholic Middle Class in America

Emerging UM football star Rashawn Scott, according to a front page article in today's Miami Herald, has this to say about his people:

What has your adoptive family done for your life? A visitor asked.

"Loved me," the soft-spoken sphomore receiver answered.  "All the time."

His dad won't be able to come to Saturday night's game against Notre Dame:

Instead, the family will be at Melbourne Central Catholic High School this weekend, where daughter Anna is on the school’s homecoming court.

“Her daddy has to walk her onto the football field,” Freddie Erdman [Rashawn's mother] said. “I have to let my other kids know that just because they don’t play Division I football, they’re just as important.’’

(And don't you love the irony?  The U playing Notre Dame, and Rashawn's a 'Cane.  Go 'Canes!)

"Yet the Mills of God Grind Slowly, yet . . ."

The federal mortgage task force that was formed in January by the Justice Department filed its first complaint against a big bank on Monday, citing a broad pattern of misconduct in the packaging and sale of mortgage securities during the housing boom. 

*   *   *

The complaint contends that Bear Stearns [now part of JP Morgan] and its lending unit, EMC Mortgage, defrauded investors who purchased mortgage securities packaged by the companies from 2005 through 2007. 

The firms made material misrepresentations about the quality of the loans in the securities, the lawsuit said, and ignored evidence of broad defects among the loans that they pooled and sold to investors.
Moreover, when Bear Stearns identified problematic loans that it had agreed to purchase from a lender, it was required to make the originator buy them back. But Bear Stearns demanded cash payments from the lenders and kept the money, rather than passing it on to investors, the suit contends.

-from an article in today's NYT entitled "JPMorgan Sued Over Mortgage Securities Pools."

(The quote in the title is from Longfellow's "Retribution')

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Voice of the Shepherd King; the Voice of the Mother

This morning our Sunday School Class begins chapter 10 of the Gospel of John.  Jesus tells the parable of the good shepherd in the first section of this chapter, verses 1 - 10.  As we begin, N.T. Wright would remind us that the question of who Jesus is - a prophet, the Messiah, the son of God? - dominated the previous chapter, chapter 9.  Wright, John for Everyone: Chapters 1 - 10, p. 148.  What we read in Chapter 10 responds to that question.

The theme of the parable is that sheep will know their shepherd by his voice and will follow him on account of that knowledge.  "Someone else can come to the sheepfold and they [the sheep] won't go near him, even if he calls the right names.  They are listening for the one voice that matters, the voice they trust." ibid.

Yesterday, was a "work day" at our church.  Members and friends of our community turned out to paint, clean, and weed the buildings and the grounds.  Carol, our expert painter, was with a team that painted the pastor's study.  I worked on a large, out of control flower bed at one of the church entrances (my gifts are cutting, hacking and pulling at growing things, and now and then planting them).  I didn't see Carol all morning, but now and then I heard snatches of conversations from the pastor's study, the closed backdoor of which was near where I was working.  There were several people working in there, but sometimes I recognized Carol's voice.  Not a particular word or sentence, but I heard her voice.  It made my work pleasant.

Lately, we have had some discussions in our family about the impact on a little baby of being taken from its mother at birth and placed in foster care or adopted, even for the best of reasons.  We are beginning to understand what a profound change this is for the little one.

About ten years ago, some research addressed the question of whether an unborn baby would know its mother's voice:

Working with researchers at Zhejiang University, [Barbara] Kisilevsky [a nursing professor at Queens University in Ontario, who conducted the research with a team of psychologists from Queens, and obstetricians in Hangzhou, China] tested 60 women in the final stage of pregnancy. All the mothers were tape-recorded as they read a poem out loud. Then the mothers were divided into two groups. Half the fetuses heard the recording of their own mother. The other half heard another mother, but not their own. 

Heart Quickens

In both cases, the poem caused a change in the baby's heart rate. The heart rate accelerated among those who heard their own mother's voice, and decelerated among those who heard a voice other than their mother's.

Deceleration of the heart rate is "an attention mechanism," Kisilevsky says. The heart-beat among fetuses who heard an unfamiliar voice slowed down, she says, because they were paying close attention to a voice they did not recognize. In other words, they were trying to figure out who was talking.

The fact that the heartbeat changed in both cases — up for mom, down for someone else — shows the fetuses "noticed both voices," she says, and could tell one from the other.  [from an ABC News report here.  For the research report itself, go here.]

We know Jesus' voice.  In the beginning was the Word, a voice.  God's speaks us into existence.  He says, Come.  We trust.  We follow.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Aging and Muscle Loss

Glenn links to this article.  The article speculates that reversing muscle loss as one ages is a matter of identifying and employing the benefits of a particular protein.  This sounds to me like the idea that dealing with maladies physical (and emotional and mental) is a matter of finding just the right drug, whether it's at Walgreens or in the gritty part of the city under a streetlight late a night.

Last night, Carol and I went to a birthday party at Rob's house.  He was 48 yesterday.  His parents from up north were visiting, which was another reason he wanted to have people over.  His dad, just a few days before, celebrated his 84th birthday.  (Rob noted some irony in his being 48 and his father being 84.)  Rob's dad looked in his 60s: upright, slim - not skinny - the picture of vigor, and a very pleasing personality.

Rob told me that his dad lifts weights and begins each morning with a good stretching regime.

Could it be that a significant contributing cause of muscle decline is that we aging folk don't use our muscles?  (cf. Matthew 25:24-28)

I did 24 "thrusters" at 55 pounds on Thursday, Carol at 35.  (My age is 66.) We did them broken up into three sets with other exercises.  Given what little I could do with just about any exercise 6 months ago, this astonishes me.   We did a bunch of deadlifts earlier this week.  I was at 80 pounds.  These were not our "max" lifts.  (My "1 rep max" on the dealift is 155 right now.)  When we know we are going to be doing repetitions, we dial back (as the coaches advise us to do).  I must also confess that part of the reason I dial back also is simply lack of confidence, but I think I'm getting over that.

In part, Crossfit is a big science project for Carol and me.  It's also fun.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Teach Yourself Ancient Greek?

The best way to teach yourself ancient Greek is to purchase A Reading Course in Homeric Greek (Focus Publishing). If you already know Latin, then you will also want to buy Clyde Pharr's Homeric Greek. As you gain confidence, pick up Autenrieth's A Homeric Dictionary and the two-volume Iliad in the Loeb Classical Library. The other option is to begin with John's Gospel, which has the advantage of being familiar in translation. Then add Smyth's Greek Grammar and the abridged version of Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon. (Liddell's daughter was the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.) Eventually, you will want to invest in the unabridged Greek-English Lexicon (LSJ, ninth edition). All of these books are readily available from online booksellers.

-from Ancient Greek Online.  

Taking the plunge.

As to knowing Latin, I had three years of it, Latin 1 in eighth grade, 2 in ninth grade, and 3 in tenth grade. I don't recall that Hialeah High School had 4th and 5th year Latin courses.  I don't believe it did.  (I started Spanish in tenth grade, continued Spanish until I graduated from high school, and studied it during the first two years in college.)  I didn't get back to Latin at Duke.  I can't say that I "know" Latin, but the junior high and high school courses were a great help to me.  I had really fine Latin teachers.  I can picture them both clearly.  I can recall right now the name of my teacher in tenth grade, Mrs. Joyce Horacek, but not the name of my Miami Springs Junior High teacher.  All "the brains" back then took the Latin courses.