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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

George Raft; China's Stock Market

In my inbox at the office, I receive several newsletters a week from various investment firms with comments, predictions, and other notions that pass for wisdom in the marketplace. Here are excerpts from one I received from Dana Investment Advisors:

A reporter once asked George Raft late in his career what happened to all the money he had made as an actor in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. George replied that he spent some on women, some on wine, some at the race track and the rest he spent foolishly.

Amazing fact: Chinese stock market, after rallying 70% from its March 2009 low has now traded back down to that level, while our Dow has doubled since March 2009.  [This as of the beginning of September.]

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Dad's Prayers

My dad, brave, tough, big, strong,  hard working, slowed down in his late seventies only by heart disease, spent the last years of his life mostly at home, taken care of by my mother.  After he was gone she recalled what a sweet time it was for them both.  While he was still here and at home, he told me what he did.  He read the Bible and prayed for his family.

His prayers continue to be answered: God showing love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.  Exodus 20: 6.

It's September, So Let's Talk about Christmas, the Star, and the Magi

The Nativity of Christ with the Star of Bethlehem depicted top center.

In the Orthodox Church, the Star of Bethlehem is not interpreted as an astronomical event, but rather as a supernatural occurrence, whereby an angel was sent by God to lead the Magi to the Christ Child. This is illustrated in the Troparion of the Nativity:
Apolytikion: (Fourth Tone)
Your birth, O Christ our God,
dawned the light of knowledge upon the earth.
For by Your birth those who adored stars (i.e. Magi)
were taught by a star
to worship You, the Sun of Justice,
and to know You, Orient from on High.
O Lord, glory to You.[1]
In Orthodox icons, the Star of Bethlehem is often depicted not as golden, but as a dark aureola, a semicircle at the top of the icon, indicating the Uncreated Light of Divine grace, with a ray pointing to "the place where the young child lay" (Matt 2:9). Sometimes the faint image of an angel is drawn inside the aureola.

-from OrthodoxWiki - Magi

A Non-Partisan Plan to Cut Annual Health Care Costs

About 75 percent of the $2.8 trillion in annual health care costs in the United States is from chronic diseases that can often be reversed or prevented altogether by a healthy lifestyle. If we put money and effort into helping people make better food and exercise choices, we could improve our health and reduce the cost of health care. For example, Medicare is now covering this program for reversing heart disease. In an increasingly polarized political landscape, this approach provides an alternative to some Republicans who want to privatize or dismantle Medicare and some Democrats who want to simply raise taxes or increase the deficit without addressing the diet and lifestyle choices that account for so much health spending.

-from "Optimal Healthcare" an Op-Ed piece by Dean Ornish in yesterday's NYT.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Trader Joe's Recalling Peanut Butter

Not good.

Tainted or untainted, peanut butter is full of oil (fat).  As Dr. McDougall says about fat, whether animal- or plant-based, "What you eat is what you wear."

See also this video by Bill Zahlar, a maranthoner felled by a heart attack, and his discovery of the healthy diet.

I Hate Cats, But . . .

this one from theChive cracked me up.

My Most Memorable Course at Duke

Glenn links to an article at Minding the Campus: Reforming our Universities that decries certain changes at Chicago that bear witness to its decline.  Among those changes is the following, according to the article by Jeremy Rozansky:

Starting next quarter, [University of Chicago under]graduates will not have to pass a swimming test and either pass a fitness test or take three PE classes to graduate.

 Among the courses I remember at Duke with the sharpest clarity were the physical education courses.  (We had to take a course per semester for at least the first year there.)  The PE department put us freshmen through a careful evaluation, sorting us into categories.  I easily qualified for the bottom category.  That meant the weight room and swimming.  Having to take the swimming course filled me with dread.

I knew how to swim, just barely.  Sometime during my junior high years I figured it out by myself, on my own at the Springs pool, after years of fighting against the swimming lessons in which my parents had enrolled me from pre-school.  I was always in the beginners courses.  I hated them.  It was the only place in my life as a child where I was not an achiever.  In everything else, pretty much the perfect little boy.  The perfect, sick (asthma) little boy, the little boy who, of my parents' two sons, was the one who survived toddlerhood.  Actually, I was pretty much the protected little boy when it came to athletic challenges.

The Duke swimming course had two hurdles for an A, accomplish the "survival swim" and qualify for the Red Cross Life-Saving designation.  I was all about A's, but this was crazy.  It did not appear that I had any choice but to take the course.  

I completely surprised myself. I survived the swim, qualified for the life-saving badge, and got the A.  It may have been the best thing that happened to me at Duke, except for meeting Carol.

Too bad for the protected young men and women entering UC.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Trader Joe's to Open Miami-Dade Store

2013 in Pinecrest.

HHS Preaches Individual Responsibility

The Associated Press reports that nearly 6 million more people than initially estimated will be assessed the Obamacare tax penalty for failure to own health insurance.  "Most would be in the middle class."

"This (analysis) doesn't change the basic fact that the individual responsibility policy will only affect people who can afford health care but choose not to buy it," said Erin Shields Britt of the Health and Human Services Department. "We're no longer going to subsidize the care of those who can afford to buy insurance but make a choice not to buy it."

My guess is that most of the people who will have to pay this tax will be young, relatively healthy people who believe they can get by without the insurance and, in most cases, can.  We need their dollars to subsidize the older generations' demand for health care services.  I would call this "individual responsibility" policy "selective," to say the least.

The use of the word "choice" in the quote is interesting too.  In terms of "pro-choice," health care rights, the policy makers are also selective.

(h/t Drudge)

Libor Investigation Not Going Away

The WSJ reports that the Justice Department is asking the banks under investigation for tolling agreements as it continues its investigation into alleged interest rate rigging that took place during the financial crisis that began in 2007:

The requests were sent to all the major banks under investigation, these people said, including Citigroup Inc., C +0.71% Deutsche Bank AG, DBK.XE -0.96% J.P. Morgan Chase JPM +0.19% & Co., Royal Bank of Scotland Group RBS.LN -1.27% PLC and UBS UBS +0.47% AG.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Buy American. Right. How About "Buy Reasonably and Prudently," America will take care of itself.

Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords, for example, are made with 80 percent American parts, while the Chevrolet Volt uses just 40 percent domestic components.

-from "Globalization Pays Off," September 3, 2012, by the American Institute of Economic Research ("AIER")

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What was that over the primal waters? What was it doing?

Genesis 1:2:

A wind from God sweeping over the water.  Tanakh: A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text (The Jewish Publication Society 1985)

The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  King James Version (1611)

A wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.  Revised Standard Version (1952)

The Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.  New American Standard Bible (1963)

The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  New International Version (1984)

A divine wind sweeping over the waters.  The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

The Spirit of God was moving over the water.  The Contemporary English Version. (1995)

The Spirit of God moved over the waters.  (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

The Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water.  (The NET Bible, the First Edition 1996)

"I agree with . . . [the] commentators [who say] that in the context the reference is not to the wind but to the personal Holy Spirit himself whose creative activity is likened to a bird hovering over its young (REB [Revised English Bible 1989])."

- John Stott in Through the Bible Through the Year: Daily Reflections from Genesis to Revelation (Baker Books 2006), p. 15.

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy "

For ages 12 and up, according to the publisher.  Or, according to the School Library Journal, grades 6 - 8.

No matter.  I really enjoyed the book.

DNC at the Convention Rejects Gift Baskets from Christian Churches


See these comments from the Anchoress.  (Thanks, Carol.)

Denying Insurance Reimbursement for Unnecessary ER Visits

Sounds like a good plan to me.  (Note to Republicans: We are not talking about "death panels" here.  Don't get excited.)

A med student we know mentioned recently the idea that one might charge $5 to speak to the triage nurse in the ER - $5 regardless of one's apparent station in life.  She mentioned that an ER somewhere tried it, and it sharpened things right up.

"The most obvious rule of social science is that people will abuse any free good," as we have previously referenced.

UPDATE:  As Carol notes in her comment, there's more to the link than what I cite.  (It's always good to read the whole thing.)  But I think that hitting someone in the pocket-book will get things moving more quickly.

Yes. Buy Gold. Please.

It soaks up the liquidity. 

Everyone knows that hyperinflation is ahead of us and gold is the answer.  Go for it!

But see:

24 “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

-from the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Backing Away from Municipal Bonds

I missed this in last month's financial news:

(Newser) – Warren Buffett isn't betting on the health of cities, states, and towns anymore. Berkshire Hathaway has backed out of a number of credit-default swaps insuring $8.25 billion in municipal bonds, sending shivers of doubt through investors who've been hungrily buying such bonds, the Wall Street Journal reports. The insurance-like derivatives, which Lehman Brothers purchased in 2007, would require Berkshire to pay a large sum if the governments in question defaulted. 

-Newser 8/21/2012

China: No to Barbie, Yes to Books

Mattel shut its China-based Barbie flagship store in March of last year after it learned that Chinese parents would rather have their children read books than take a doll for a spin in her plastic Corvette. 

-from "Home Depot Learns Chinese Prefer Do-It-For-Me" in today's WSJ.

Meredith Wilson had a word lyric for this problem.

Lego Stores in China?  That's an altogether different matter, and of course there are.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Victor Davis Hanson, Agrarian Conservative, Democrat

Well worth reading is "Profiles in Classics: Victor Davis Hanson," by Emily Esfahani Smith in the September 13, 2012, Hoover Institution Journal Defining Ideas.

Though today, [Smith writes,] Hanson is known as a conservative polemicist published by National Review, City Journal, and The Weekly Standard, among others, he originally came into the public spotlight as an agrarian writer in the Nineties. His 1997 book Fields Without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea is a powerful memoir and eulogy for the agrarian way of life.

*   *   *

“The Greeks of the ancient world [lived in an agrarian culture and therefore] understood human nature,” Hanson says. “They knew that people want freedom and affluence, but that when you combine the two, you can have decadence.” The ancient Greeks knew that virtue required a strong moral order that protected people from themselves—from their own follies and vices. Hanson specifically cites the importance of a “shame culture” in checking human behavior.

*   *   *

“Agrarian wisdom requires self-reliance. If you’re sick, there is no sick leave. If you have the flu, you still have to irrigate. You don’t have a guaranteed income. There is no retirement, no health care. You can’t blame anyone for your failures. If you decide to plan 20 acres of almonds, you have to decide whether to risk the $80,000. If it goes bad because of the weather, you can’t blame the economy. It was your choice.”

*   *   *

To Hanson, the point is that nature runs the family farm like a tyrant, and it does not grant any bailouts of the kind Greece or the big U.S. banks received. Farmers know all about nature’s cruel absolutism, its metronome relentlessly ticking toward the end that we are all destined to meet. This instills a tragic sense in farmers—a sense that the ancient Greek poets captured beautifully in their verses, which few students are required to read anymore, a fact that Hanson laments in his 2001 book, Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom.

*   *   *
Classical wisdom, formed on the farm and on the battlefield, is not only the basis of democratic governance, but it is also central to good citizenship.  .  .  

He counts the principles of ancient Greek citizenship off on his fingers: “First, beware of success. Success can lead to self-destruction and divine retribution. When things are going well for you, be modest, because it’s not necessarily always from your talent, but also from your luck.” That’s a lesson Greek heroes learned the hard way.

Second, “Don’t have inflated expectations of human nature. Humans are not born, as Rousseau thought, as good people who need to be liberated. Rather, they need to be civilized. Thucydides knew that civilization was very thin. You need to preserve it. We are one blink away from savagery.” He sharpens his point by citing Occupy Wall Street. “Did you see all of the feces and debris on their campgrounds? Is this what 2,500 years of democratization and science have led to?”

“The point is that human nature is capable of doing as much damage as good if it’s not carefully embedded within civilization.” The 2008 Greek riots show how quickly order can dissemble in chaos and violence.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, a citizen of ancient Greece had more responsibilities than rights. Fulfilling those duties embodied civic virtue: “You, as the ancient Greek,  must participate in government and vote. You must raise a family. You must not break the laws. You should own land and produce food for the country. You must be in the militia. In exchange, the ancient Greek received freedom and protection.” 

*   *   *

Finally, the ancient Greeks were skeptical of utopianism. “They didn’t think education can really change human nature. They knew that we are simply human beings with appetites and that what a person says is not necessarily what he does or how he lives.”

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Marilyn Monroe Belongs to Everybody"

Juan has a great post about what Marilyn Monroe's heirs received from all the revenue that Marilyn Monroe's fame earned after she died: nada.

Leveraging Violence to Increase the Influence of Radical Islam in America

Some U.S. lawmakers were particularly angered by the failure of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, to condemn the attack on the U.S. mission.

The Egyptian leader limited his comments to affirming Egypt's commitment to protecting foreign diplomatic missions—and criticizing the production of the video on Islam that spurred Tuesday's protests.

-from "U.S. Policy in Mideast Challenged by Assaults" in today's WSJ.

How naive it is for the WSJ to consider the violence in Libya and Egypt as challenging "U.S. Policy in [the] Mideast."  The challenge is to U.S. Policy period, to U.S. Constitutional Policy, and to the underlying assumptions of Western Civilization: that the free exchange of ideas (and freedom of/from religion) are crucial.

There is very good reason for anger by U.S. lawmakers.  One has to ask, "Why only some of them."  One must answer, "The leverage."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Good-Bye, Regular Banks? Hello, NetSpend? Not So Fast.

The Russell family of Kirkland, Wash., makes about $230,000 with Charles Russell, 43 years old, working as a systems analyst for Microsoft Corp. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that puts them among the top 5% of American households.

But their affluence might not be apparent based on the way Mr. Russell conducts his personal finances. He has no bank account, having dumped it due to irritation over fees and overdraft penalties. Instead, for more everyday transactions he uses a debit-card offered by NetSpend Holdings Inc. NTSP -1.40%
"I have no need, desire or want to go to a regular bank," says Mr. Russell, who adds that a savings feature on the card offers a competitive interest rate.

-from today's WSJ article "Footnote to Financial Crisis: More People Shun the Bank,"

Read about the NetSpend approach here.  The details I read at the link indicate that there are fees involved in using this approach.  There are charges for overdraft protection even with NetSpend.  Overdrafting one's account is a rather serious lapse anyway.  That should be for free?

Furthermore, we pay no services charges on our checking account at Wells Fargo.  There is no ATM charge, if we use a Wells Fargo ATM, of which there are many around.  The only charge we have is when we buy new checks.  We don't do overdrafts, so I'm not familiar with the "penalty."

Monday, September 10, 2012


Nerf’s N-Strike Barricade RV-10

The rotating cylinder on this semiautomatic holds 10 Whistler Darts (their plastic tip is designed to make a high-pitched whine as air rushes past it).

Photo: Robin Broadbent

 Thanks, Instapundit!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Hardly the Best and Brightest.

I apologize to all Democrats and Floridians for my ill chosen words last night. After watching the interview I realize that what I said did not accurately make the point I was trying to establish. More importantly I apologize to all Christians, Jews and other people of faith for any embarrassment or anger my remarks may have caused. Throughout my life I have practiced religious tolerance among all people of faith. I am sincerely sorry for any remarks I made that may have diminished that record. I alone am responsible for my remarks and I pray that they are not taken as the position of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party.

-Mark Alan Siegel, former chair of the DNC of Palm Beach County, in his resignation remarks.  (Here is the interview that got him into trouble.)

I know a number of Jews who have difficulty distinguishing "fundamentalist" Christians from Christians who would not describe themselves as "fundamentalist" and Christians who support our country's policies toward Israel because it is a democracy, not because of any religious agenda.

Underneath his intemperate - really stupid - remarks is a difference of opinion with others as to the policies our country should adopt toward Israel, especially as to how it should address the non-Jewish people who live in that country and around them.  Fair enough.  Israelis differ among themselves as to the policies they should adopt towards the Palestinians. 

Why can't Siegel simply argue that policy?  His use of labels reflects profound  arrogance and bigotry.  Furthermore, except for the first sentence of his statement, his apology is one of those conditional kinds.  "Embarrassment or anger my remarks may have caused"?  Are you kidding, Mark?  Your remarks damaged the Democrats, who spent a lot of time, money, and energy to put on a decent convention, and your remarks compromised that effort.  Nice job.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Faster and Stronger through CrossFit

MARK: I'm a former SEAL, former long-distance runner. And I think when we talk about achieving limits, one of the assumptions when you say you can't break a limit is that the training itself isn't going to change. And I've seen that dramatically change over my lifetime in SEAL teams and in running. And when you incorporated things like CrossFit programs, things like where you're doing high-intensity interval training, which didn't exist when I went through, and so the athletes that are going up in SEAL training now are in much better condition than really anybody who went through it that time. And you see the times going down.

I think the same thing is true of the Olympic athletes. When you look at the types of training they're doing, they're dramatically different than they were back then.

-from "Olympians and Faster and Stronger, But How," a discussion on NPR's Talk of the Nation, August 21, 2012.

 The first thing you need to know about Navy Lt. Brad Snyder is that he's a bit intense.

If you go to the U.S. Naval Academy, swim competitively, and make the cut for the Navy's elite bomb-disposal squad, you're probably going to be the competitive type.

"Crossfit, surfing, biking, running, swimming, you name it I'm into it. Rock climbing," says Snyder.

The second thing you should know is that Snyder plans to continue doing all these things — even though he's now blind.

-from "A Year after War Wound, Vet Wins Paralympic Gold," at NPR's All Things Considered, September 7, 2012.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

"She Needs Him to Talk to Her - Conversation"

In the classic marriage book, His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, Willard F. Harley, Jr., identifies conversation as one of the five basic needs of the wife.  That need unfilled, the relationship is at serious risk.

I thought of Dr. Harley's book when I saw this cartoon recently on the eminent website known as theChive.  (I'm sure that's what the editors of theChive, "Probably the Best Site in the World", thought as well, when they first saw it.)  theChive borrowed it, I imagine, from the Condé Nast Collection website.

The artist is Alex Gregory.  Here's his short bio on the Conde Nast site:

Alex Gregory is a husband, a father, and a writer for television in Los Angeles. He has written for "The Late Show with David Letterman," "Frasier," and "King of the Hill." He was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for best writing for television animation. Gregory has contributed to The New Yorker since 1999 and is a rare cartoonist who creates his cartoons entirely on a computer.

Arthritis and Exercise

I have some joint pain at my toes and my right thumb.  It is not disabling, but it is there.  The family medic says it may be arthritis.

There are lots of citations to articles that treat exercise as medicine for this malady.

Cardinal Dolan to Pray at the DNC


Saturday, September 01, 2012

A Will for a Dying Boy

Described in "The Most Extraordinary Story of the GOP Convention.Thanks to Ann Althouse for linking to the article and to Byron York for writing it.

Debt, Student Debt, and GM Debt; the Futility of Government Planning (UPDATE)

The NYT reports on the difficulty that a disabled, younger father had in obtaining a discharge in federal bankruptcy court from his $89,000 of student loan debt.  On the other hand, the government enabled GM to shed much of its debt and GM didn't even have to deal with federal bankruptcy court, much less the obstacles in it peculiar to student loan debt.  This happens in a "planned" economy, regardless of the good intentions of the planners.  The economy is simply too complex to be manipulated in a way to avoid such absurd results.  (h/t Instapundit.)

Especially pertinent to this point is a speech this past week by Andy Haldane, the executive director for financial stability at the Bank of England, at the Jackson Hole Conference where Bernake also spoke (and made headlines).  Finance journalist Jason Zweig writes about Haldane's speech in the WSJ.  Here is part of Zweig's report:

In his speech, “The Dog and the Frisbee,” Haldane warned that the growing complexity of markets and banks can’t be controlled with increasingly complex regulations. Tapping deep into behavioral economics, Haldane argued that regulators need to bear in mind five fundamental limitations of the human mind:

1) since even computers can’t track all the necessary variables in the massively interlinked financial world, there is little hope that humans can;

2) intense information feedback from markets makes signals almost impossible to detect in the noise, so that “the more complex the environment, the greater the perils of complex control”;

3) even when the variables that decisively affect outcomes are known, it’s hard to know which ones will matter the most in a given situation, and it is hard for regulators to resist the temptation to pay more attention to the most vivid factors;

4) regardless of the massive amounts of data available, the sample of financial crises remains relatively small, making it hard to form reliable conclusions about what works best to prevent or cure them;

and 5) complex and detailed rules lead regulators and financial institutions alike to “manage to the rules,” tiptoeing right up to the hot red line at which a crisis can be triggered.

I am reminded of Proverbs 19:21:

21 Many are the plans in a man’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.


Regarding Bernake's speech:

[E]conomists and central bankers wondered more openly than usual if the Fed had the tools to fix the problems of the day and expressed frustration that four years of super low interest rates and extraordinary money-pumping by the Fed hadn't done more to spur the slow-moving economy.  

-from today's WSJ website article entitled "Bernake Faces Skepticism Over Policy."