Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"The Country is in the Very Best of Hands"

.   .   .   as Glenn Reynolds would say.  How about this from Sunday's Miami Herald:

Kesler Dufrene, who last year slaughtered three people in North Miami after being let out of immigration custody, wasn’t the only convict released to the streets because of a moratorium on deportations to Haiti.
According to newly released federal statistics, 687 Haitians slated for deportation [because they had been convicted of a crime] were released to the streets in 2010 because of the year-long moratorium on deportations to the earthquake-ravaged island.

Of those, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took 90 back into custody and deported them to Haiti once the moratorium was lifted in January 2011. Another 16 are back in detention and are awaiting deportation.

And the rest, more than 500, are still out on the streets on supervised release or are out on their own recognizance. According to ICE, some are seeking “legal relief” to halt their deportations while others have been granted “an immigration benefit.”

Some are back in local jail after being re-arrested, according to ICE, which did not specify exactly how many have re-offended.

Romney Wins. The President is Sunk.

Romney wins in Arizona and Michigan.  He will eventually win the nomination and, in the general election all wings of the Republican Party will vote for him, plus a majority of the independents.  He will thereby win the Presidency.

This article on the front page of the Herald this morning grudgingly announces Romney's wins yesterday.  The article comes from the pen of Steven Thomma, a reporter for the left-wing McClatchy newspaper chain.  McClatchy bought the Herald a few years ago, and they are the people who recently sold the Herald's prime, down-town bayfront land to a huge Hong Kong gambling corporation, for Pete's sake.

On the Value of the Bachelor of Arts Degree

The bachelor of arts degree as it has evolved over the last half-century has become the work of the devil. It is now a substantively meaningless piece of paper—genuinely meaningless, if you don’t know where the degree was obtained and what courses were taken. It is expensive, too, as documented by the College Board: Public four-year colleges average about $7,000 per year in tuition, not including transportation, housing, and food. Tuition at the average private four-year college is more than $27,000 per year. And yet the B.A. has become the minimum requirement for getting a job interview for millions of jobs, a cost-free way for employers to screen for a certain amount of IQ and perseverance. Employers seldom even bother to check grades or courses, being able to tell enough about a graduate just by knowing the institution that he or she got into as an 18-year-old.

- Charles Murray, "Do We Need the Department of Education?" in the January 2012 issue of Imprimus.

I was on the board of Trinity College (Deerfield, IL) when it adopted an "accelerated degree 'completion' program," lately approved by the education bureaucracies.  What a windfall for that college and other struggling liberal arts institutions.  I didn't quite get how a night class or two a week - and maybe a Saturday - for someone who had a full-time job and a family could, in about a year, equal the junior and senior years at Stanford, Duke, or Davidson College, or even at Trinity itself.  Still don't.

On Adding and Subtracting from the Truth

Stott (p. 227) sums up the differences between the Pharisees and the Sadducees as this: "The Pharisees added to Scripture (their traditions); the Sadducees subtracted from Scripture (its supernatural element)."  That is such a helpful contrast, and it brings the problem quickly to the present.  As the Preacher writes: "[T]here is nothing new under the sun."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage Estate Planning

I've mentioned before that a very fine NY lawyer, Sharon Klein, has an estate planning list-serve that I find quite valuable.  One of the topics she follows is "same-sex marriage."  Here is her latest email:

In light of the fact that Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, D.C. and Washington State (effective as of June 7, 2012) recognize same-sex marriage, there is a flurry of other state-level activity around this topic, and the constitutionality of DOMA is currently being litigated in the courts, practitioners may wish to consider reaching out to existing clients potentially impacted by these developments. For clients whose plans did not anticipate federal same-sex marriage recognition, as well as new clients, it might be advisable to consider including a scenario in their planning in which DOMA is declared unconstitutional. That approach might obviate the need to have planning urgently revisited if DOMA is repealed, and prevent unintended consequences in the event of death before estate plans can be revised.

As per some of my prior emails, included among the flurry of state-level developments regarding same-sex marriage/unions are the following:

.•    Washington State: Legislation recognizing same-sex marriage was signed by the Governor on February 13, 2012;

•    Illinois: Legislation recognizing same-sex marriage was introduced on February 8, 2012;

•    Colorado: Legislation recognizing same-sex civil unions was introduced on January 11, 2012;

•    Missouri: A constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage recognition was introduced on January 9, 2012;

•    West Virginia: A constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage recognition was introduced on January 11, 2012; and

•    New Mexico: A constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage recognition was introduced on January 24, 2012.

On February 7, 2012, in the very high profile decision of Perry v Brown , a federal appeals court declared California's ban on same-sex marriage (known as Proposition 8) unconstitutional.

In other recent developments:

Maryland Same-Sex Marriage Proposal Passes Senate and House and Sent to Governor for Signature

Legislation recognizing same sex marriage has passed the Senate and House, and reportedly has been sent to the Governor for signature. According to news reports, the Governor will sign the legislation this Thursday, although opponents are allegedly rallying for a referendum on the matter. In essence, the legislation provides that two individuals regardless of gender can marry provided they are not within defined degrees of kinship (ie, grandparent, parent, child, sibling, etc).

New Jersey Same-Sex Marriage Proposal Vetoed by Governor

On January 10, 2012, a bill was introduced in New Jersey to recognize same sex marriage, in lieu of the civil union regime currently authorized under New Jersey law. On February 21, the Governor vetoed the bill, and has challenged the legislature to put the issue to a referendum.

On February 6, a resolution to amend New Jersey's constitution was introduced. The proposed constitutional amendment would authorize same-sex marriage by providing that "marriage" is the legally recognized union of two persons of any gender. The proposed amendment would be put to a referendum.

Rhode Island Same-Sex Marriage Proposal

Pursuant to a bill introduced in Rhode Island on February 16, marriage would be redefined as the legally recognized union of two people regardless of gender. Marital and familial terms under Rhode Island law would be interpreted consistently with this new definition. The current civil union regime would be repealed, and parties to a civil union that has not been dissolved or merged into marriage as of January 1, 2013 would be deemed married as of that date.

West Virginia Civil Union Proposal

On the heels of the proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage recognition in West Virginia, a bill was introduced on February 16 to recognize civil unions. The bill specifically provides that it is not the legislature’s intent to revise the definition or eligibility requirements of marriage. The expressed underlying intent is to provide persons entering into a civil union with the obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits afforded to spouses.

The bill requires that at least one of the parties to the civil union be a legal resident of West Virginia. Anyone who enters into a civil union in West Virginia is required to consent to the jurisdiction of the West Virginia courts for the purpose of any action relating to the civil union, even if one or both parties cease to reside in the state.

When “I Do” is Not a Problem, but “I Don’t Anymore” is…

A residency prerequisite to dissolving a marriage may cause particular difficulties for same-sex couples. If a couple who entered into a same-sex marriage or civil union in a state that recognized the relationship later moves to a state that does not recognize their marriage/union, how do they dissolve their relationship? It cannot be dissolved in a jurisdiction which does not recognize their marriage/union and they cannot satisfy a residency requirement in a state in which they no longer live.

In order to alleviate this problem, many of the proposals recently introduced provide for the applicable state courts to retain jurisdiction over the same-sex marriage/union, even if one or both of the parties move out-of-state. In California, same-sex marriages were permitted for a brief period in 2008. Pursuant to the Domestic Partnership Equality Act which became effective on January 1, 2012, a judgment for dissolution of a same-sex marriage can be entered without a residency requirement if the marriage was entered into in California and neither party resides in a state that will dissolve the marriage.

Vermont Proposal Regarding Dissolution of Same-Sex Relationships

In 2000, Vermont enacted legislation permitting civil unions. In 2009, legislation permitting same-sex marriage was enacted. However, under current Vermont law there is 6-month residency requirement to institute a proceeding for a divorce or dissolution of a civil union. A bill introduced on February 16, 2012, provides an exemption from the 6-month residency requirement provided the marriage/union was entered into in Vermont, neither party resides in a state that will dissolve the marriage/union, there are no minor children and the parties file a stipulation that resolves all issues in the action. 

 "Estate planning" at the level at which Sharon is involved is estate planning for the upper middle class and above, that is couples who together have in excess of $5 million (under current laws) or, if the tax laws we had in 2009 are restored, in excess of $3.5 million.  Relative to the rest  of the population, there are not a lot of people in this country who have more than $3.5 million.  But among that class of wealthy people are the ruling elites, if I can sound Marxist for a moment.  This is the class, a significant number of which supports NPR, reads the NYT, and dominates the leadership of PC(USA).  There are many in this class who feel otherwise, but my guess is that as you go down the wealth scale into the heart of the middle class, these supporters of "progressive" causes are fewer and fewer.  Thus, same-sex marriage is an important topic among "estate planners."  I will be going to a big meeting of those types from all over the country next week.  It will be interesting to see what the conversation will be about the trend that Sharon describes.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Washington-Adams vs. Madison

As [Jonathan] Rauch [in an article in Reason magazine] notes, Santorum finds the historical antecedent of his own views far earlier than 1960, in "the liberty our Founders understood," which he defines as "freedom coupled with the responsibility to something bigger or higher than the self." Rauch concedes that some of the Founding Fathers, including George Washington and John Adams, held the view that it was necessary for government to promote virtue. But "Washington and (especially) Adams stood at one end of a spectrum of debate, and it was a debate that they ultimately lost," writes Rauch:
Other Founders—notably James Madison, the father of the Constitution—were more concerned with power than with virtue. They certainly distinguished between liberty and license, and they agreed that republican government requires republican virtues. But they believed that government's foremost calling was not to inculcate virtue but to prevent tyranny. Madison thus argued for a checked, limited government that would lack the power to impose any one faction's view of virtue on all others. . . .
Goldwater and Reagan, and Madison and Jefferson, were saying that if you restrain government, you will strengthen society and foster virtue. Santorum is saying something more like the reverse: If you shore up the family, you will strengthen the social fabric and ultimately reduce dependence on government.
-James Taranto in "Right Wing Lice," from his column Best of the Web in yesterday's WSJ.

 This distinction that Rausch draws between between Washington and Adams, on the one hand, and Madison, on the other, and how it applies today, is interesting and helpful - as is the whole of Jonathan Rauch's article.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Haven't you read . . . ?"

Both houses of Maryland's legislature have approved same-sex marriage, and the bill is on its way to the governor for signature.  He will sign the bill, as he sponsored it in the first place.  Maryland will become the eighth state in the Union to apply its  marriage laws to two people of the same sex as it does to two people of opposite sexes.

Haven’t you read  .  .  .  that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?

 This is what Jesus said in Matthew 19 in reply to a question about divorce that the Pharisees put to him.  As John Stott points out in today's reading, rather than answer questions about whether (and, if so, on what grounds) a man could divorce his wife, the questions in which the Pharisees wanted to embroil him, Jesus chose to talk about marriage.  He went back to first principles.

There is an argument, I suppose, that as a legal matter, same sex couples should be treated the same way as opposite sex couples.  After all, it is a free country.  I am ready, however, to hear someone from the "progressive" side of the argument argue that we should drop marriage as a "legal matter" altogether, and make it a matter of contract for everyone.  If a couple wants to create rights and obligations between them, then let them make an agreement that the state will enforce.

 These civil unions are permitted in some states, but for the "gay rights" movement, I believe it is seen as a stepping stone for their quest for moral equivalency.  That equivalency, at least in their eyes, is same-sex "marriage" approved by the government.  But moral equivalency is in the eye of the beholder in our post-modern world.  Why should the other side get a win on this one, and oppress the rest of us with their moral views.  Why don't we simply take marriage out of the realm of government altogether, and make it an agreement between two people that the courts will enforce?

That would leave "marriage," then, to religious institutions to confer or clubs or other associations, permanent or temporary.   Evangelical Christians, for example, can recognize a marriage as Jesus described it.  The rest can pour spiritual content into whatever arrangement they like.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Eating with Sinners

Stott's reading this morning is Mark 2:13-17.  In his comments, he defines "sinners":

"Sinners" in this context were not just those who were disobedient to God's moral law (like all of us) but those who, whether through ignorance or intent, did not live according to the traditions of the scribes.  Both groups were shunned by all respectable people, who would neither give hospitality to them nor receive hospitality from them, fearing ceremonial contamination.  But Jesus deliberately and freely fraternized with them, having no such fears.

Does this cut against the idea of a church program that soaks up all of one's spare time?  When does a Christian get the opportunity to " deliberately and freely fraternize with them," if every free moment (even our Valentine's Day dinner) is within church walls?

We don't deny hospitality to "sinners."  But they must walk through our doors to receive it.  I don't think that's nearly enough.  I believe we fear a sort of contamination from people our middle-class culture would consider "unclean."

Got Jump Rope?

  I'm struggling with just the simple jump.  Carol has it nailed.  The point in Crossfit with the rope as it is in other exercises: minimal exertion to accomplish the task.  It's all in the wrists.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Caloric Restriction and Longevity; Thomas à Kempis

The CrossFit dietary prescription is as follows:
should be lean and varied and account for about 30% of your total caloric load.

Carbohydrates should be predominantly low-glycemic and account for about 40% of your total caloric load.

Fat should be predominantly monounsaturated and account for about 30% of your total caloric load.

Calories should be set at between .7 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass depending on your activity level. The .7 figure is for moderate daily workout loads and the 1.0 figure is for the hardcore athlete.

 *    *    *

Current research strongly supports the link between caloric restriction and an increased life expectancy. The incidence of cancers and heart disease sharply decline with a diet that is carefully limited in controlling caloric intake. “Caloric Restriction” is another fruitful area for Internet search. The CrossFit prescription is consistent with this research.

-from the national Crossfit website and its page on Nutrition.

One can be on a plant-based diet and still over-eat.

Thomas à Kempis speaks of the "unmortified man."  This is a man of "unbridled affections," who is never at peace.  Food, especially if you know it's "healthy" and good, still requires care, maybe even greater care. 

I am fascinated by the word mortification, which appears several times in my translation of The Imitation of Christ.  Thomas calls us to "self-mortification." He writes, "True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions, not in satisfying them."  How radical that sounds in a culture like ours.

Mortification comes from the Latin mortificatio, meaning "a killing," according to my Webster's.  In medicine, its definition is "Death and post-mortem change of one part of the body, while the rest continues to live; gangrene."

Matthew 5:30
30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (NIV 1984)

High US Taxes on Corporations Drive Jobs Overseas.

In his State of the Union Speech this January, President Obama pledged to fix the high corporate tax rates that have helped drive manufacturing jobs overseas.

-from "Tax Rates for a Small Planet," a recent research report from AIER.

The report states that the last tax reduction in the corporate income tax was in 1986, when Congress reduced it to 35%.  We had a relative advantage over other countries for awhile.  Germany, for example,  had a top tax rate of 56% in 1986.  "By 2007," the report states, "it was down to 26 percent.  In 2008, in the wake of the recession, Germany cut the top corporate tax rate to 15 percent."  This happened in other countries, such as Canada (37.8% to 16.5% in 2011) and the UK (52% in 1981 to 26% in 2011).

 The report also notes that since 2010 corporations may deduct 9 percent of corporate profits, which has reduced the top tax rate on manufacturing profits to 31.9%.  The report concludes:

It's a step in the right direction.  But there is still a long way to go.  To be competitive, the U.S. needs more incentives that attract and retain companies.   .   .   .  Lowering marginal corporate tax rates in a good place to start. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, Gingrich would cut the top tax rate for corporations to 12.5%, Romney to 25%.  Santorum would eliminate it for manufacturers and cut in in half for all other corporations.  Paul would eliminate taxes on individuals and fund the government through excise taxes, tariffs, and corporate taxes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Strategies to Max Out Social Security

Good article here, with some websites noted that will help with the analysis.

Santorum is Toast

"Birth control is harmful to women."  Jennifer Rubin hoists this Santorum quote of six years ago from an interview she embeds and discusses in her WaPo column yesterday.  Drudge links to it.  The guy would rather be right than electable, and the US public will take that deal.  No way he beats the President.

UPDATE:  James Taranto believes that "the center right's" criticism of Santorum's views on this point is unfair, maybe "downright irrational." (So, I'm part of the "center right." OK, then.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mr. Justice Scalia Visits Chicago Law

He told the law students:

The University of Chicago is one of two or three of the most formidable intellectual institutions in the world; a really impressive place. And you’re lucky to be here.

I wouldn't say "lucky," but I would say a great blessing.

Althouse linked to this article, and she includes this quote from it:

"Try to find a practice that enables you to maintain a human existence … time for your family, your church or synagogue, community … boy scouts, little league,” Scalia said, noting he started with Jones, Day in Cleveland. “You should look for a place like that. I’m sure they’re still out there. Maybe you have to go to Cleveland.

The fact is, of course, you don't have to go to Cleveland.  You can go to Miami or probably any city, if you have firmly in mind what is important.   This is not the same thing as practicing second rate law or of compromising professionally.  In part, it is a matter of flying financially well under one's income and of maintaining a healthy detachment, not so much from the practice of law but from the context of that practice, that is, from the firm and the milieu in which the young lawyer finds himself.  That lawyer must be ready and able to say good-bye to the firm and how it might seek to shape, that is misshape him.

It is a person's character that withstands the assault of the toxic side of legal culture, and even moves upon it.  It is not about mere "maintenance" of one's true self.  I hope it is not too dramatic to say that it is about moving upon and transforming that culture.

This is nothing new for God's people.  Where-ever we find ourselves in the marketplace, lawyers or not, we are called upon to move upon the world, not to be overwhelmed by it.  There is certainly no exception for lawyers, not in terms of excellence and not in terms of being the humans we were created to be.  Excellence remains a cardinal aspect of such a radical creature.  The excellence part: that is why Chicago Law was such a great blessing.

(See 2 Timothy 2:15)

Overeating and Mild Cognitive Impairment in the Elderly

A new study suggests overeating may double the risk for memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people age 70 and older.

The study - to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting in April - involved over 1,200 dementia-free people between ages 70 and 89. Of those, 163 people had MCI. Participants filled out a questionnaire about the amount of calories they consumed daily.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more pronounced decline of dementia, according to the Mayo Clinic. It increases a person's risk for developing later dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, but some people with MCI never get worse.

 -from a CBS news article yesterday.  Mary had already brought this study to our attention via email.

I am 5 years away from age 70, if I remember correctly, so I am going to diary this for July 16, 2016.  I will ask for a smaller cake and, at that birthday party, start doing something about eating too much.

Health Note to Broccoli Eaters on Valentine's Day

A flurry of small studies suggest that sex is as good for your health as vitamin D and broccoli. It not only relieves stress, improves sleep and burns calories, it can also reduce pain, ease depression, strengthen blood vessels, boost the immune system and lower the risk of prostate and breast cancer.

-from the WSJ, via Instapundit
I'm sure the studies refer to safe, married sex.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Sugar: the Bitter Truth"

Nearly three years ago, Robert Lustig, an expert on childhood obesity at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, delivered a lecture entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” Since the video’s posting on YouTube in the summer of 2009, the 90-minute presentation has gone viral. The antisugar lecture — he calls it “poison” — has earned more than 1.9 million views and counting.

-from an article by Howard Cohen in yesterday's "Heart Health" supplement in the Sunday Herald.

The video of Dr. Lustig's lecture is here.

Read more here:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Heart Disease is the No. 1 Killer of Women

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that:
• More women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined;
• More women die from cardiovascular disease — one in three women — than breast cancer, which kills one in 31 women in the United States;
• Some eight million women in the United States live with heart disease;
• But only one in six women in the country consider the disease her greatest health risk, and;
• Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.

-from today's Miami Herald.

Main risk factors for heart disease in women, according to the article:

• Over the age of 55
• Menopausal
• Hypertension
• High cholesterol levels
• Diabetes
• Overweight
• Family history

Read more here:

An Epidemic of Fatal Kidney Disease in Central America

The present hypothesis is that people work themselves to death.

More on the Nano Quadrotors


A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors

Reading "The Imitation of Christ"

Our Sunday School class paused in its study of John to read Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ.  One of our number is a Jesuit-educated Roman Catholic engineer from Chile, and whenever we have seen that book cited in our readings, he would light up.  And we kept reading references to this little work in our studies of John and Romans.  Finally, we decided to stop for a few weeks and simply read and discuss it.

There is a very inexpensive paperback addition available, the 1940 translation by Croft and Bolton, published by Dover.  It is only $2.50. (The Kindle version is $.95!) According to the blurb on the back cover, Imitation is "[s]econd only to the Bible as a source of religious instruction and inspiration," a claim echoed by the Wikipedia article on the book.

There are four major divisions or "Books" in my edition, and we are discussing Book One, "Thoughts Helpful in the Life of the Soul" this morning.  The text refers to virtues and virtuous behavior throughout.  I had to stop and try to remember just exactly what are those virtues.  (Plato and Aristotle's "four cardinal virtues:" Prudence, Justice, Restraint or Temperance, and Courage or Fortitude, to which are added the "three theological virtues" of Faith, Hope, and Love.  Thank you, Wiki.)

In the process of that inquiry, I bumped into "Virtue Ethics" and from there I found my way to Alasdair McIntyre's After Virtue.  Here is what the Wikipedia article says about McIntyre and his book:

Probably his most widely read work, After Virtue was written when MacIntyre was already in his fifties. Up until that time MacIntyre had been a relatively influential analytic philosopher of a Marxist bent whose inquiries into moral philosophy had been conducted in a “piecemeal way, focusing first on this problem and then on that, in a mode characteristic of much analytic philosophy.”  However, after reading the works of Thomas Kuhn and Imre Lakatos on philosophy of science and epistemology MacIntyre was inspired to change the entire direction of his thought, tearing up the manuscript he had been working on and deciding to view the problems of modern moral and political philosophy “not from the standpoint of liberal modernity, but instead from the standpoint of ... Aristotelian moral and political practice.”[7]

In general terms the task of After Virtue is to account both for the dysfunctional quality of moral discourse within modern society and rehabilitate what MacIntyre takes to be a forgotten alternative in the teleological rationality of Aristotelian virtue ethics.

Ah! Thomas Kuhn! Macon's hero from Davidson College days.  The circle is complete.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Some of the Coaches at Crossfit Downtown Miami; Shelley Noyce

Except for the lady in the middle, these are our coaches at Downtown Crossfit.

The young men, left to right: Adrian, Eddie, another Adrian, then D.G., Danny, and another Danny.  Missing are Montie, Rey, and Chris.

Good guys all.

(The lady is Shelley Noyce, 2011 CrossFit Games Masters Division Champion)

Friday, February 10, 2012

What Kind of Sophistry is This?

The [new] policy will allow religious employers to opt out of the [contraceptive] coverage mandate. If they do so, the employer's insurance company will be required to offer contraception for free in a separate arrangement with workers who want it.

-on the President's "compromise" regarding the religious exception to the contraceptive coverage requirement for health insurance; from today's WSJ Online.

Do they think we are stupid?  (I think they really do.)

UPDATE:  The bishops are hardly fooled.  I didn't think they would be.

Put the Purell with the Beach Toys

The EPA reports that playing in beach sand is less healthier than playing in the ocean.

The EPA also takes the position that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, subject to the agency's regulation.  But maybe they are correct sometimes.  (You know the one about the broken clock, right?)

Still, this may not be true for Miami's beaches.  It may well be safer in the sand around these parts.

CGS Bernard C. Webber Comes to Miami, Named for a Hero

The first of the new class of Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters being detailed to Miami is the CGS Bernard C. Webber, according to today's Herald.

Bernard C. Webber was a Senior Chief Petty Officer and one of the "Chatham Legends:"

On February 18, 1952, he took the CG36500 out of Chatham Station with three volunteers-Seaman Ervin Maske, Seaman Richard Livesey and Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Fitzgerald, an Engineman, responding to the tanker Pendleton, which had broken in two off Chatham in a storm. Seaman Maske was at Chatham Station awaiting transport to the Lightship Stonehorse but remained ashore because the Coast Guard deemed the seas too rough to transport him. He volunteered, along with the two Chatham Coast Guardsmen who volunteered to accompany Mr. Webber.
The Coast Guard crew faced 60 foot waves, hurricane force winds and blizzard conditions to rescue 33 sailors who survived the shipwreck. While the CG36500 was leaving Chatham Harbor, her compass and windshield were smashed and the rescue boat began shipping water. They persevered, and by dead reckoning they finally sighted the stern section of the Pendleton, where the ship's crew was awaiting rescue. They only lost one man-the ship's cook, George D. "Tiny" Myers,
The four who manned the rescue boat all received coveted Coast Guard Gold Life-saving Medals for their heroism in what is considered by maritime historians to be "The Greatest Small Boat Rescue in Coast Guard History." 

-from the US Coast Guard Lightship Sailors Association International's webpage on Bernard C. Webber, (USCG Retired) 1928 - 2009

The photo below is of the CG36500 that Webber commanded on his rescue mission.  It is from the the Chatham Legends website:

The CG36500 has its own complete website here.  It's worth examining.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Getting Started with Stott's "Through the Bible"

Some friends of mine are interested in picking up John Stott's Through the Bible - Through the Year, Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation (Baker Books 2006) to aid their daily devotions.  It has readings set up something like a lectionary, following the Christian calendar as Stott has modified it for purposes of the book.  The book begins with "Week I:Creation" and progresses more or less through the Bible for 52 weeks. We are not dealing with a calendar year here.

Where do you begin if you pick up the book later in the year than the first week?  If one is beginning during the first third of the year, Stott advises on page 8 as follows:

The best way to keep in step with the Christian calendar is to pinpoint the date of Easter in the year in which you are using the book.  Then during the two weeks before it .  .  . we can read the meditations set for Week 31 .  .  . and Week 32.  On Easter Day itself, and during the remaining days of Easter Week, we can then read the meditation set for Week 33.

Today is Thursday, February 9, 2012.  Today's reading, "Forgive Us Our Sins," is on page 204.  It is part of "Week 24: The Lord's Prayer."  This is a delightful way to start the day.

The Vision of a Revolutionary East West Corridor for MetroRail

(Click on the image to make it bigger.)  I suppose this would be work for Harriet, once she finishes with the Port of Miami Tunnel.  We shall see.

Images of the Port of Miami Tunnel Boring Machine

Her name is "Harriet" and pictures of her are here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Construction Status of the Port of Miami Tunnel, a Tour

-from the Herald.  Read more about it here.  What a wonder!

Chickens Come Home to Roost for Mr. Stupak. Or Something.

[W]e're eager to hear from former Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak, who for a brief moment led a faction of pro-life Democrats against ObamaCare in 2010. They surrendered when Mr. Obama gave them the fig leaf of an executive order that will supposedly prevent federal funds from subsidizing abortions. Mr. Stupak is now a lobbyist at the D.C. law firm Venable LLP.

-from yesterday's WSJ editorial, decrying the HHS regulation that draws the Obamacare "religious exception" so narrowly that even left-wing Catholic bishops are up in arms.

Ken and I remember Bart Stupak.  But the man at least paid for his transgressions.  Knowing that he would not be re-elected, he decided not to run again.  Life is tough in America, though, now the poor man is out on the streets. 

No, wait .  .   .

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

"Hallowed be your name"

[God's] name is already holy in that it is exalted above every other name.  Yet we pray for its hallowing, that is, that it may be given the honor due it in our lives, in the church, and in the world.

- Stott, Through the Bible - Through the Year, Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation (Baker Books 2006), p. 202.

Monday, February 06, 2012

How Believers Ought to Pray

Believers do not pray with the view to informing God about things unknown to him, or of exciting him to do his duty, or of urging him as though he were reluctant.  On the contrary, they pray in order that they may arouse themselves to seek him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating on his promises, that they may relieve themselves from their anxieties by pouring them into his bosom; in a word that they may declare that from him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others, all good things.

-John Calvin, as quoted in Stott, Through the Bible - Through the Year, Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation (Baker Books 2006), p. 201.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

"Mortgage Tornado Warning, Unheeded" - The New York Times at its Best

See this article published yesterday on the efforts of Florida businessman Nye Lavalle to bring to Fannie Mae's attention unfair and fraudulent businesses practices of those in the mortgage industry.  The Times article has a link to the full text of the investigative report made by a major law firm that had been retained by Fannie Mae to look into Mr. Lavalle's allegations.

Mr. Lavalle accuses Fannie Mae of "aiding, abetting and sanctioning ... predatory lending and
servicing schemes," as well as committing accounting and securities fraud, and racketeering
violations. He views Fannie Mae as responsible for damage inflicted on single-family borrowers
by unscrupulous lenders and servicers because Fannie Mae approves lenders and servicers,
maintains servicer profiles and ratings, approves mortgage document terms and servicing
requirements, and benefits from the income stream created by wrongdoing.

-from the investigative report.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

"Monsanto lobbyist uses power as FDA food czar to target Amish "

If true, this is really a nasty report.  (Thanks to Instapundit.)

(The fact that a former food industry lobbyist "is now is the second highest-ranking official at the FDA, and as Food Safety Czar is responsible for implementing the day-to-day policies that govern the food safety laws for the U.S. " is part of why people are spitting mad at Washington - and ought to be.)

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Getting Out of Afghanistan Early Seems Wrong

A faster end to U.S. combat in Afghanistan could give President Barack Obama an election-year lift.
It may also demoralize Afghans who fear a return to the austere rule of the Taliban and hope that reconciliation between all parties would deliver a better alternative.

-from a Reuters report today that the US announced that it will withdraw its combat troops a year earlier than previously announced, taking the Kabul government by surprise.

Surely this is not some cynical move by the Obama administration to save his re-election.

I recall that when we went into Iraq, then Florida Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat and a decent man, was very critical of the Bush Administration, arguing that the central theater of war should be Afghanistan (we were already there, but not the way we were about to be in Iraq.)  This was also a theme during President Obama's campaign for President.  Now this.