Friday, December 25, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
1) Don't give up. It is when you have just about given up, but don't, that you will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
2) On a similar note, there is a psychological element to this business. You will never catch them all--instead, you must break the spirit of your fury foes. They must conclude: "The losses, the travails, the discouragements, are not worth the warmth, foodstuffs and other comforts of this gentle home. We must retreat."
3) Children make this tougher--your tykes will leave a literal smorgasbord of dainty morsels spread around the house.
4) Children also add something primal to the battle. These googly-eyed ghouls compete for your children's food, they manouver without shame among their toys.
5) Kids can also provide just the encouragment you need to stay the course--when my 2-year old spots me trap-setting, she slaps her hands together in dramatic fashion and exclaims excitedly "All done mouse!"
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Christian Evangelicals have issued a statement calling Christian leaders in the U.S. to hold the line on the "foundational" issues of marriage, abortion, and religious freedom in the face of "growing political pressure." The Manhattan Declaration, as it is being called, is being promoted by Chuck Colson and Professor Robert George (Princeton). The statement is given brief coverage in the November issue of Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/novemberweb-only/146-52.0.html
At the end of the CT article, there is an interesting aside regarding Catholic Bishop's recent attempts to re-focus the institution of marriage on the church. If gay-rights advocates have indeed won the "civil marriage is a civil right" debate, the American church is already thinking ahead. Marriage is more than tax returns and health care benefits. Interestingly, there's nothing new about this move. Christianity has always had a certain flexibility in its "in but not of" this world tension.
On Tuesday, U.S. Catholic Bishops announced a new document emphasizing that marriage is an institution that can't be defined by the state. Catholic leaders wanted to focus their message on marriage, explaining it as a natural partnership that existed before the Bible was written, George said. "For the first time in history, we're talking about redefining marriage," he said. "So the bishops now in this new challenge are making the point that marriage is not something the state creates. Not only does marriage predate the state, marriage predates the church."
Friday, November 20, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
This from William McGurn, WSJ...
When it comes to terrorists, you would think that an al Qaeda operative who targets an American mom sitting in her office or a child on a flight back home is many degrees worse than a Taliban soldier picked up after a firefight with U.S. Army troops.
Your instinct would be correct, because at the heart of terrorism is the monstrous idea that the former is as legitimate a target as the latter. Unfortunately, by dispatching Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other al Qaeda leaders to federal criminal court for trial, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will be undermining this distinction. And the perverse message that decision will send to terrorists all over this dangerous world is this: If you kill civilians on American soil you will have greater protections than if you attack our military overseas.
"A fundamental purpose of rules such as the Geneva Conventions is to give those at war an incentive for more civilized behavior—and not targeting civilians is arguably the most sacred of these principles," says William Burck, a former federal prosecutor and Bush White House lawyer who dealt with national security issues. "It demolishes this principle to give Khalid Sheikh Mohammed even more legal protections than the Geneva Conventions provide a uniformed soldier fighting in a recognized war zone."
We don't often speak of incentives in war. That's a loss, because the whole idea of, say, Geneva rights is based on the idea of providing combatants with incentives to do things that help limit the bloodiness of battle. These include wearing a uniform, carrying arms openly, not targeting civilians, and so on.
(1) Military chaplains are needed more than ever, and (2) the chaplaincy, or more accurately evangelical chaplains, are increasingly under fire for practicing and providing witness to their faith. What I do not know is if there are no enough chaplains because there are less or just more need, whether chaplains are quitting because of pressure, and whether evangelical chaplains have actually gotten more outspoken bringing the additional attention.
Regardless, this seems to be a terrible time for there to be a lack of chaplains, regardless of denomination or sect. In general, I tend to think that people benefit by talking about the spiritual dimension of their lives, even if mistaken. Ministers tend to be good, if not excellent, counselors merely by rote practice and experience. Surely someone will disagree with me. But let's leave it at this- talking to someone is good.
"The U.S. Army reported Tuesday that the number of suicides among soldiers this year has already equaled the number for all of last year, and so will rise for the fifth consecutive year, in spite of a major effort to combat the trend. The Army's number two officer says he is significantly short of the type of professionals who could help reverse the trend."
Monday, November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
You are the owner of a large pond in the middle of dark woods. The woods are dark because they are thick, but there are no leaves. The water of the pond is murky and not clear. Under the water lives many monsters. Each monster has a name that is familiar to you. Every fear you have in life has a corresponding monster in your pond. For example, if you have trouble with your anger, there is an angry monster in the pond. Describe your pond and the monsters in it. What do they look like? What do they do? Do they ever come out? What happens then?
He felt guilty most of all because of the soda. It's what first came into his mind- the very first thing. There were later moments to be heroic, to try to bring her back from the dead, but just then it was a petty instinctual selfishness. The passing black Civic crushed her between the side of their own car and the crumpled door she had just opened. He was scarcely, almost gently, pushed aside. They were walking back from getting burritos with their hands full. And the first thing he thought was, "Dammit! I just dumped my soda all over me!"
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
What struck us the most when we first sat down in our seats was the consistency of demographics in the room...
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I finally saw the Oscar recognized There Will Be Blood this weekend and was stunned a bit by its raw display of anger. The only redeeming aspects of the movie were technical- the soundtrack, composed by Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood, and the excellent acting. The movie develops Plainview's character (Daniel Day Lewis) mostly in the first 10 minutes of the film- a series of scenes depicting his unflagging determination amidst the hard and tragic life of oil prospecting. This battle to success, along with a vague angry past, is what we are given as the reason for Plainview's anger and his hate for everyone, including, as it turns out, his adopted son. I wondered, "Can anger really do this to someone?" In general, I think people are much more mediocre, even in their worst passions. But it is a process. It wasn't really until the end of the film, which comes a bit in fits and starts, that I decided how terrible Plainview was. Because we don't have anyone really good or honest to compare him too, we get lost in his maniacal delusions a bit. Looking back, I understand why his interactions with Mary Sunday put me so on edge. She was the closest thing to purity. H.W. was too much a part of him. His abrupt transition to an adult critical of his father is disappointing but only as abrupt as his loss of hearing.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
As loathe as I am to do anything at all to promote the AFT (American Federation of Teachers) I think this is an important article- "AFT Report Finds Abuse in Overseas Teacher Recruitment."
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
"In its third annual list of the most dangerous celebrities in cyberspace, McAfee has found that 20% of searches for "Jessica Biel," "Jessica Biel downloads," Jessica Biel photos" and the like lead to Web sites where malicious content has been detected," writes Claburn.
The "virus spreader" herself.
McAfee was in the news again...
for something completely different. A massive airplane hangar give away by founder and namesake John McAfee sparked renewed debate over the relative suffering of multi-millionaires in the economic downturn. While McAfee's staggering losses unsurprisingly garnered little sympathy, his response was gracious and refreshing. To see the full text, to the follow up NY Times article.
"The Entrepreneurial spirit is what made America great. But we have over time equated entrepreneurism with the drive to accumulate wealth, which is a perversion of this spirit. Whatever the entrepreneur creates should be the reward, not just for the entrepreneur, but for everyone..." -John McAfee
I think that McAfee's point is more profound than he may even realize. At the center of the human heart is a desire to create (man in God's own image). In creating, the creation itself is the natural reward of the creator. Creation is hard work (on the seventh day He rested), but worthwhile, especially when the creation is good. The creator creates because it is in his\her nature and because it brings them glory and credit. Creation for the sake of anything else, even personal gain beyond the natural glory is not creation but prostitution of the self. And the perversion of creation brings dishonor and shame.
Monday, August 24, 2009
The young and healthy are the most likely to foot the bill for the health care plan, in all of its current forms, but this may not be what is behind the lack of enthusiasm. Fouhy suggests something that made me wonder, and that is with college on break until this week, some until mid September, there hasn't been much opportunity for engagement.
But because the young also do not have a seat at the table in health care reform negotiations, I don't know that they will get involved anyway. It will be to their detriment, as they are forced to pay for treatments they do not need or for the the treatments of others they do not know
Sunday, August 23, 2009
We got to Little Italy just as the roads had been blocked off and the restaurants were busily setting out tables and chairs. We couldn't so much as make eye contact, even peep at a menu without being assailed by a smooth talking Italian (or Hispanic, or Eastern European- you can't always tell).
Friday, August 21, 2009
At the suggestion of our remote hosts, Logan and Laura, my wife and I had dinner at Siggy's Good Food on 76 Henry Street. The place had an excellent dinner vibe, thanks to the outdoor seating. Although it was muggy out, we weren't up for the loud and upbeat music in the small dining room.
The menu is 100% organic including wine and beers, and also offers a number of gluten free options. I went for a basic but delicious spaghetti and meatballs with a bottle of New Grist beer- all gluten free! Laura had an excellent Chicken Melanese. Dessert sounded gooded- two pies, brownies with chocolate sauce- but we passed in favor of a mad dash to bed after a long day.
Getting to NYC was a snap using Mega Bus- we left our car at the White Marsh Park and Ride (free parking). The bus did arrive an hour late and then the heralded WiFi access worked only for the first 45 minutes of the trip. We managed to grab a few snippets of airtime from the competitors Bolt and Greyhound while they were driving alongside our nearby us! Even given these problems, I'm glad we left the car behind.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I can believe that a similar but very different situation occurs all the time at present. People come to the end of their personal and family resources and doubtless that is the argument for fairness. People also run into unfairness in the system, dishonesty amidst bureaucracy, and other difficulties that are unacceptable when life is in the balance. Here's an example, though different in that it is an individualized experience:
But Klavan has an interesting and insightful answer:
"Free people can treat each other justly, but they can't make life fair. To get rid of the unfairness among individuals, you have to exercise power over them. The more fairness you want, the more power you need. Thus, all dreams of fairness become dreams of tyranny in the end."
You teach a child, "Life's not fair." Mostly it is in the context of trying to explain this tension between justice, power, and fairness. Yes, you actually could insure fairness for your kid if you wielded enough power- to change soccer schedules, to give everyone a part in the play, etc. But then you wouldn't be very just. The child with a lead foot would be out in front and center while the prodigy sat on the bench. People are different.
We teach children that life isn't fair because we want them to get the point that there are many things in life that cannot be controlled, or at least are not worth being controlled. We want our kids to grow a self-efficacy that takes responsibility for the kind of life they want to have- and a sense of realism, for what they cannot.
Ultimately, only a beneficent God can be truly powerful to justice. Yet in our kingdom on earth, we don't yet know what it is to say, "It is well, It is well with my soul." We should not give up on a fair and equitable society altogether, within our limited means. But we must recognize that
Monday, August 17, 2009
The vicissitudes of the public school system have a detrimental effect on progress. Principals spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to mollify teachers and staff who resent sudden and unexpected changes. The principals must perform a galliard, or lively dance, between following system protocol and supporting their staff. One gets the feeling that each new innovation or policy that comes down from the system is nugatory and of little value but rather a nuisance. The perceived truculence of the system does much to disillusion teachers and promote the ignominy of public schools. This problem could be obviated by the effusion of cogent justification for changes in practice and policy and an overall reduction in the flux to which teachers are subjected to. Understanding the reasoning behind changes may serve to palliate them.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
"What the president has always talked about is that we inject some choice and competition into the private insurance market."
Read more in the New York Time article:
It appears that Obama may be more of a pragmatic populist than he has been given credit for. The White House seems to be very open to negotiation. I wonder if this pragmatic tendency is backfiring in that conservatives in Congress, knowing that Obama will negotiate, are driving a hard bargain. I also think that the crisis mentality that has been created at least in part by Obamas own campaigning has been co-opted by those un-friendly to the finer points of his reform. Having brought the essential members to the table- largely Healthcare and Business lobbies and Congress, with a splash of grasroots furor, they are now writing their own healthcare reform without the White House.
This is not the only sour thing that has happened in the past two years involving the children on the street. Often there has been a level of dishonesty on the part of adults involved too- or at least a lack of cooperation. The situations have become public though, and we've gotten a lot of sympathy from neighbors as well. We don't want to become the poor white couple that the neighborhood feels bad about. It does seem like every time something happens our friends on the street feel embarrassed about it a little. They feel like they have to vehemently condemn it, shake their heads, and commiserate with us. Maybe they are just being good friends. I am worried though that there is more to it. Race is woven throughout our interactions as surely as it is not discussed.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
As I have been considering a graduate school application to Notre Dame among others for history (Early America and Religon), I've been digging in the trenches of quite a number of topics. I am most interested in studying the persistance of Protestant orthodox belief since the early 1600s. By "Protestant orthodox belief" I mean Protestant belief that affirms the basic historical tenents of the Christian church. Some of these beliefs include, the deity of Christ and the preeminence of scripture as the divine word of God, Underlying this interest of course is an assumption, that belief has persisted. If it has, it has overcome some significant odds. Many intelligent people in many generations have predicted its demise.
As a side note, I don't think Galli meant to suggest by his syntax that Dobson and Noll represent two sides of the good and bad coin or even operate on some sort of continuum between good and bad. He is just suggesting, and I agree, that there is a very large variety of self identified evangelicals out there. Dobson and Noll are certainly very diferent.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The key is the underlying assumptions- there are many good people smarter than most of us to then make it work. But we must start with, What is the nature of human beings? leading to How are people best motivated? leading to Who is responsible for healthcare? When we get these fundamental questions wrong, we end up with a lot of nice sounding policy that is completely off base. Intrepid men and women with long term vision see the writing on the wall. The less than brilliant of us can only instinctively know, deep down, that something is off. The fundamentals are wrong. And some of us, in panic, cry "Socialism!" Not necessarily because that's what Obama's reform would give us, but because it is the classic example of getting the basic fundamentals of human nature wrong, and building a house of cards on it.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Buttons is celebrating his 55th birthday today. He asked for our folding table and tent this morning in his Pajamas. At 4:30 PM, he still had his PJs on. He gave us two cards to sign for him, to him. So I guess he is planning his own party. We gave him a T-Bone steak to grill. Happy Birthday buttons.
Waiting for Robert Randolph to begin his set at Artscape, I caught a few faces in the crowd. A group of high schoolers gathered to our left, sharing joints and a few beers. Two adult mothers (or teachers from the school?) joined them at some point and one boy begged gulps of his moms beer.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
While sailing in the 505 Midwinters Regatta at Ft. Desoto I noticed a number of boats like the one above. Low tide presented a particularly distressing sight, as the abandoned boats rolled on to their sides. This is apparently becoming a common thing all around the country as boat owners can no longer afford slip or storage fees. See this NYT article:
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
What drew me to conservatism years ago was the fact that it gave discipline a slightly higher status than virtue. This meant it could not be subverted by passing notions of the good. It could be above moral vanity. And so it made no special promises to me as a minority. It neglected me in every way except as a human being who wanted freedom. Until my encounter with conservatism I had only known the racial determinism of segregation on the one hand and of white liberalism on the other -- two varieties of white supremacy in which I could only be dependent and inferior.
The appeal of conservatism is the mutuality it asserts between individual and political freedom, its beautiful idea of a free man in a free society. And it offers minorities the one thing they can never get from liberalism: human rather than racial dignity. I always secretly loved Malcolm X more than Martin Luther King Jr. because Malcolm wanted a fuller human dignity for blacks -- one independent of white moral wrestling. In a liberalism that wants to redeem the nation of its past, minorities can only be ciphers in white struggles of conscience.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Brilliant! The dapper Englishmen clink two pints with a splash of foam. But if sitting on top of the world wasn't so trite, he'd have said it. Mr. Asahel Dillon Church is indeed the master of this ship, purveyor of all mortal knowledge… and leaving Lombard Middle School –in a good mood. Why, you ask? Because his students give a damn. Applause please. And isn't that the art of teaching? To coax care out of the uncaring. To penetrate bitter tough skinned middle schoolers- the ultimate conquest. There was energy. Whit and humor. And then the students, they were brilliant too! Who would have known it but lawyers and doctors, politicians and professors, sat in these very seats just moments ago. What a day!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
AND NOW WE'RE LIVING WHERE OUR ANCESTORS BE