Saturday, August 17, 2002

Edifier du Jour-Jonah 3:1-10 (NASB)
1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you." 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days' walk. 4 Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." 5 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. 6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. 7 He issued a proclamation and it said, "In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8 "But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. 9 "Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish." 10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
Ninevah was overturned, turned upside-down, going from an arch-enemy of Israel to bowing their collective knee to the LORD. This seems to make God two-faced, but Jeremiah 18:7-10 has this caveat about destruction and repentance
7 "At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; 8 if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. 9 "Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; 10 if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.
Over breakfast, Eileen mentioned that verses 9 and 10 have the US written all over it. It's a bit cocky to claim one's national riches are a direct blessing from God, but I think it's not too much so. If we don't turn back the secularization trends that we have seen in the past half-century, we could see verse 10 kick in to our detriment. I think that this applies to people as well as nations. All the blessings that God promises the believer are for the believer; if someone doesn't repent, they will get the eternal torment that they deserve. Conversely, the damnation that the sinner deserves will be canceled if the they repent and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Friday, August 16, 2002

The Second Player's League-After reading the news today, let's get this tombstone engraved.
Major League Baseball 1876-2002 R.I.P.
After this news that a strike date has been set for August 30, it appears that we may have about two weeks left of baseball as we know it. I don't see the sides coming to an agreement, and that means that some form of competition other than the 30 teams currently involved might evolve. What would stop the players from forming their own league? You could find a dozen or so facilities that would be available for baseball today that aren't owned by current MLB teams. Five come quickly to mind.
New Orleans Superdome
Detroit Tiger Stadium
Toronto Exhibition Stadium
Washington RFK
Minnesota Metrodome (lease is up)
If you add some good-sized minor league parks that could support teams and throw in the wild-card of teams in Mexico City, San Juan or even Tokyo, you could field a good-sized league without evicting an existing MLB club. Players could fund the teams out of their savings; a few million could easily buy office supplies, pay a staff and other expences needed to run a baseball team. The networks would be interested. Teams could be run as a co-op, with players getting a percentage of the team stock and a reduced base salary in the early going, thus reducing the finanacial risks of starting the league. I'd have to brainstorm further about the details about a players league, but it could be done. If I remember correctly, there was a third major league, the Player's League, in 1890. It might have been a century ahead of its time.

The Morality of Welfare-I was listening to Money Matters, a Christian personal finance show, on the way home. The audio's not up as of now, but a piece at the tail end of the show blasted churches for suggesting that people should take advantage of government welfare programs when the church could do it themselves. They referenced Matthew 25:40:"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' " However, that stretch of Matthew 25 about helping the poor doesn't say how we are to help. Helping someone through the government red tape to get help as well as having the church meet any remaining needs doesn't seem unbiblical to me. I'm not quite ready to go mano-a-mano with Larry Burkett on biblical finance; I'm planning to use some of his stuff in my personal finance class. However, shouldn't we be wise stewards of our church's money? If we let a poor family take advantage of what the government has to offer, those benevolence fund dollars then be spent on things that welfare doesn't cover, like helping out a working family after a fire or a poor working gal who needs a car. The Money Matters piece mentioned a nice testimonial of the speaker's Sunday School class adopting a mother of three whose husband was in prison for three years, meeting all her financial needs, looking after her kids and eventually bringing the dad to Christ, creating a prison evangelist as a result. I don't see why getting some of that help from the government would make such a ministry invalid. There might be some cases where the financial help from the government would come with too many strings attached and it would be better to fund it entirely with church money. However, I don't see where that would be true in all or most cases. Let's start the comment section rolling, folks. Am I wrong? If so, why?

Edifier du jour-Romans 13:1-5
1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.
I set my cruise control for five miles over the speed limit, which the police will give you as a fudge factor. While I pruned out most of them in a serious sweep last month, I might still have a few Napster/Morpheus MP3s that I don't have CDs or tapes of. We're supposed to obey the man-made law, but even the most squeaky-clean guy will be in minor violation of the law. Such minor violations are still violations, and will be pounced upon by the more lawless to justify their actions. However, Paul points out that we have nothing to fear if we are doing good. People aren't usually punished for doing good but for evil activity. If we do good, the rare times that we fall into the hands of the authorities will see God at our side. There will be times when we are persecuited, but God is there with us when we are. Thankfully, it's very rare when we are fined or arrested for doing what God wants us to do in the US. Obeying the laws give us a clean consience-we have nothing to hide. It we're staying within the law, we have nothing to fear when the bubble-gum-machine comes into view.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Evening Musings-The morning report of a PGA cancellation was greatly exagerrated. They would up playing after all, with Jim Furyk and Fred Funk leading at -4. Tiger managed a -1 for the day. Brother-in-law alert. Uli's only one shot off the cut in Gulf Port after the first round. This might be the week he plays on Saturday and Sunday, having missed the cut in his other stops. Good Pistons news-Tayshaun Prince's tougher than previously advertised in Newell's Big Man Camp-it's down towards the bottom of a good piece on the camp and NBA stoopidity possibly killing off the pro version due to the pan-NBA nature of the staff. Go Condi!!! Iron Lady West. That bit of pointed truth will make the Euroweenies reach for a replacement Depends. Suing the Saudi entity for 9-11 damages. Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism is the lawsuit group; a trillion should make the princes wince a bit.

A Quick Take on Homeschooling-There's been a lot of rhetoric on homeschooling as of late, check out this "Blithering Idiot" summary and follow the links. Let me shoot down some of the pro- classroom-teaching myths
(1) Parents don't have the background to teach their children.
Not that long ago (late 1950s in Michigan), elementary school teachers needed only the equivilent of an associate degree. Most of the "normal schools" that many of our regional state colleges grew out of were two-year elementary education programs. A college-educated mom could easily handle teaching elementary-level subject matter and a high-school grad could likely do the same. I'd be a bit concerned about high-school level work, but parents do well at that level as well. Homeschoolers also will network, allowing various moms and dads to have specialties. If one parent is good in science, she might have a half-dozen kids over to do science, while other parents might be gifted in English, Spanish, history, etc.
(2) You need to be a trained teacher to teach well.
Lack in pedagogical skill gets more than made up in student-teacher ratio. Unlike other professions, a high-school grad has been a consumer of 13 years of the stuff, and will have a loose idea how to teach. I have yet to complete a teacher education class, yet am a college professor; colleges only require that you have an advanced degree in the subject you are teaching. I can teach MBA students Managerial Economics but couldn't teach high school economics in most states without a year or so of education classes. Homeschooling works more like tutoring than classroom teaching. I can teach things about three times as fast on a one-to-one tutoring basis than in a classroom lecture setting, since I can focus in on what the student does and doesn't understand. This change in teaching paradigm allows homeschoolers to get more instruction than their classroomer peers.
(3) Homeschool kids are undersocialized; they don't know how to deal with other kids.
Homeschool kids become more mature adults since they have more one-on-one interaction with adults. The homeschooled young adults I have met have been much more mature and less squirrelly then their age peers. Homeschooling networks in most towns allow for interaction with other kids their own age while still having more adult-to-child interaction than a traditional classroom. These last two points would apply to private schools as well as homeschoolers.
(4) Homeschoolers won't get a liberal education if they are indoctrinated by their parents.
They won't get a Liberal education, but they will have a much better shot at getting a liberal education. Court rulings and interpretations of those rulings have taken the religious element out of schooling, thus obstructing access to much of our literature and history and limiting expressible political opinion to the liberal and the secular conservative. Homeschooling parents, free from the limits of a public school, will be able to teach the humanities and social sciences in full, getting more of the richness of our culture than the public school kid will get.
(5) Homeschoolers won't be exposed to a diverse group of kids, making it harder for them to adjust to the "real world."
This has a partial truth to it; kids might hang out with kids from their parent's socialreligious sphere, but with a lot of the sex and drugs and bad attitudes coming from many schools, that isn't a bad thing. A homeschooler heading off to college may not have as "rich an experience" than their peers, but they might have skipped some things that would have scarred them as well. On balance, if a parent wants to homeschool their kids, it's probably for the best to do so. For every Andrea Yates, there are thousands of public school horror stories.

The Checkout Lane-Always Under 10 Items-Always No Waiting MCJ does gives both barrels to a USAT article on why the Euroweenies hate us. Rantburg's yellow journalism-"Dangit! I told him not to use the 10-guage! Now who's gonna scrub those walls? " Check out the Cranky Hermit piece that MCJ links to-the EU will get its payback in due time. Brent Scowcroft has an anti-Iraq-war piece in the WSJ today. I heard Sean Hannity ripping it on the way back from Lake Wales and Ruffini's joined the pile-on. Den Beste has an interesting and long (grab a cold one first) post on what he terms "Transnational Progressivism." I haven't fully digested it yet, but I think it might get some responce when I do. WIlliam Sulik sums up the current homeschooling blogfest. Kevin, prepare for incoming! He put up a post on Catholism that is thoughtfully provocative. I got plenty of traffic when I had a similar post back in March.

Micromanagement and Jeb-The head of the Florida Department of Children & Families, Kathleen A. Kearney, finally resigned yesterday, The former #1 guy in Oklahoma's counterpart, Jerry Regier, has been named to replace her. Her department got national-level heat last year when a girl in foster care, Rilya Wilson, went missing for a year without anyone noticing. Of course, Democrats will like to tie this tightly around Jeb Bush's neck. The Rilya Wilson case is tragic but apolitical; it shouldn't be a political issue. Low-level employees at the Department of Children & Families screwed up royally, but there was little executive-level policy that could have anticipated such a screw-up. Good leaders will take responsibility and clean up the resulting mess, but I don't see where it could have been predicted and prevented. We're always good about fighting the last war and playing Monday Morning Quarterback. I'm not saying that because it makes Jeb Bush look bad. I didn't string up the Clinton administration for Waco, since raid management policies at the ATF wasn't on anyone's radar at the time. Likewise, minutiae about foster care case management should be handed at the regional level-you string up the case managers and possibly their managers and make sure something like that doesn't happen again. [update 8/21-Reiger was the head of the Oklahoma social services department-I had him down as the assistant origionally]

New Miranda Clause-"You have the right to make a cheesy grin. If you cannot afford to make a cheesy grin, a Jim Carrey impersonator will be appointed for you."

Modern Genetics at Work-"Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Pinky?" "Yes, but I don't think you and Miss Piggy would be emotionally compatible."

Midday Musings II-News Section-Do you think the airline industry's in trouble? American's getting out the pink slips and US Air's in Chapter 11. Now United's about to join them. We knew that there was a lot of overcapasity in the airline industry even before 9-11; this shows that the bailout money given them wasn't a great idea. I'm a bit peeved at Presidente Fox-He's just canceled a visit with Dubya over a Mexican national who was executed in Texas yesterday. I don't like the death penalty, but being a foreigner shouldn't give you a Get Out of Death Row Free card. This is touching. The players on the NHL champs get custody of the Stanley Cup for a few days each during the summer. Dominik Hasek got to take the Stanley Cup to Prague. It will be used in a flood-relief fund-raiser. Hey, BBC, you're supposed to report news! "Indian PM accuses Pakistan" isn't news, it's a daily diet.

Midday Musings I-We had a run of faculty meetings this morning. The cafeteria had set out a tray of good, gooey sticky-buns for us. I passed, but another fellow warrior in the Battle of the Bulge grabbed a couple. Remembering my post of Tuesday, I commented that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Stickybun retorted "Temple? Heck, I'm building a Cathedral!" I'm not sure you get this level of cross-department camaraderie at other small schools, but I've been in a surprising number of good conversations with other professors, especially at lunch. They take their college football seriously down here. Dr. Walton mentioned a colleague that was a big Florida fan; when U-of-F loses, he wears a The Scream tie on Monday. Other neat quip-Dr. Walton said that the WSC cafeteria would occasionally have a fried food day, setting out a table of fried chicken, fried fish, chicken-fried steak and French fries. It's officially entitled "The Fat Bar."

Edifier Du Jour-Psalm 31:1-6(NASB)
1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! 3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. 6 Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
This passage was part of the sermon last night; there are three things in this passage that struck me. One was the opening verse. I found myself at first reacting in a been-there-done-that manner: "Brilliant deduction, Sherlock! Every believer has their sins forgiven." However, for me (and for some of you), let's read it one more time with feeling
How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!
Grab that 2-by-4, apply to side-of-head. Yes, I am truly blessed. When a one-way ticket to Hell is the alternative and eternal life is a side-benefit, having my sins covered is truly a blessing. I plead guilty to taking the benefits of my salvation and the cost Jesus paid for them for granted. The second thing that hit me was the importance of confessing our sins to God. When we try to hide them, we hurt inside. Confession is good for the soul. It's not as if God doesn't notice your sins until you tell Him about them. The third thing that hit me was in verse 6. Many people put off dealing with God and their salvation until later in life. Sometimes it's an unwillingness to give up an sinful pleasure. I'll say to that group that there are pleasures in being forgiven and being part of God's family that booze, drugs and sex can't match. Other people feel too yucky to be loved by God and that they need to clean themselves up first before calling out to God. We're all yucky; God takes us on an as-is basis-cue the organ to play Just as I Am. God will clean you up faster than you can clean yourself up. For either group, you can't tell when it might be too late to call upon God. Common desert joke in my parent's house
"Save your forks!" Smart-Alec speaking to four-pronger in hand-"If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?"
That might be a trite and cliche alter-call pitch, but still a fair question. It you aren't going to face up to the idea now, that Jesus died to take away those sins but you have to believe it to receive it, when will you?

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Evening Musings-Evening Newsings-When American Airlines is done with the Turk, he's got a temp job over at IBM. And the DJIA manages to gain 260 anyway. A pair of executions in the news, this Hamas guy that the Israeli's got today and a Mexican cop killer met his maker via injection in Texas. I'm not a big fan of the death penalty, but being a foreign national doesn't give you a Get Out of Death Row Free card. Checkouts-Kevin's got an interesting piece on anger, spinning off of a POed Rob Dreher piece. Interesting piece over at Junkyard Blog, where Bryan has a nice piece on homeschoolers. Josh Claybourn and homeschooling alum Ben Domenech have good pieces in the area. I'll have something tomorrow when my I'm not working with as much of a IQ deficit.

Nearing the anti-Gates Silver Bullet-Via Blogs4God, we find this WaPo piece on Lindows, a version of Linux that (kinda) runs Windows-based applications. It's a bit buggy, but we're getting close to a consumer-friendly Linux that will run Windows applications. For those of us who tire of Windows Sperm screen savers, this is a good development.

Midday Musings-A little blogwatch with the spaghetti and garlic bread, please. The spagehetti was very good for cafeteria food. Jeez, now that's a left-handed complement to rival "runs well for a catcher." N.Z. Bear has this chuckler, shooting down reasons why not to actively enlist Israel in our Bomb Saddam campaign
3) But our Arab allies will not stand for it! Our who? Oh, you mean our fast friends in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Those Arab allies. Big fans of them, are we? Remind me again what that friendship is worth to us? I seem to remember Colin Powell taking the combined goodwill of all three of them down to his local Starbucks to pay for a latte; he still had to chip in about $2.50 in cash. And it was for a 'short'.
A good inflation-adjusted twist on "that and $0.50 will get you a cup of coffee." Update your Blogosphere, Señor Bear-so I can show up as some lower life-form. Ben's got a Zogby poll that show the 2004 Dem race to be Snow Al and the Seven Dwarfs. With Gore running, no one else cracks 10% A wee bit dated, but still worth a look-Tony Woodleif has some proposed bumper-sticker fun at liberal expence. I still like "Visualize Whirrled Peas."

Some British Rumination-Could we be seeing the beginning of a Canadian Alliance-type free-market splinter party over in Britain? The parallels are there for a too-statist Conservative party to have its more free-market elements walk. However, from listening to some of the British bloggers, such as Iain Murray and Paul Staines in Samizdata, this might be some of the standard grumbling of a party's wingers. Staines makes a interesting point here
I've been fascinated for years with the prospect of the Tories splitting and suspect that it would happen if we had proportional representation. I've also been fascinated by the positive influence of the Progressive Democrats in Eire since the 80's and the historical influence of the German FDP. Lessons can be learnt from their disproportionate influence.
Britain has a first-past-the-post system like the US and Canada which discourages small parties, since you don't get anything unless you get a plurality. Such a political system lends itself to a two-party system, as factions will join forces to get a plurality. If they did get proportional representation (a long-time favorite of the Social Democrats-watch for that if they are the swing vote in a coalition government in the future), the factions that make up the various parties would lose the need to seek pluralities and settle for a smaller but ideologically purer share of the vote. Another interesting observation comes from Samizdata's Paul Marks in that English small-c conservatives would be better off breaking up the United Kingdom and letting Scotland and Wales go their own way, for the fight in Scotish and Welsh politics isn't Labour-Conservative but Labour-Nationalist, who are just as statist as Labour. English politics are more conservative than British politics. Marks' hypothesis could apply to Canada as well, as the PQ are rather statist; letting Quebec go would make the rest of Canada more conservative. How about giving New England independence?

Morning Musings-Earl Warren Edition-We're going to the sports section first Sports Section-This isn't going to excite too many people outside of Ohio and Michigan, but I just noticed that Central Florida has joined the Mid-American Conference for football this year; it was announced last fall and I must of been too busy courting Eileen to notice. Being an alum of two MAC schools (CMU, Kent State) and having attended a third (EMU), that means that my schools will come down to Orlando every so often. Kent State comes my way on Nov 16. The baseball strike might not happen after all-they seem to be making progress. However, they're talking about an August 30th stoppage. The Tuesday Morning QB is back in its new locale. Gregg Easterbrook's very insightfull and very, very irreverent (albeit a bit too obsessed with cheerleaders and other babeage) look at the NFL and other things has moved from Slate to ESPN this year. News Section--Schadenfreude? Who, me? Amtrak's main high-speed Acela line has been shut down due to technical problems. Not only does it cause those train-loving eastern elites to squirm, it puts another nail in the coffin of the money-sucking railroad. This is very interesting. 4,000 US troops in Jordan? All that talk about Abdullah siding with Saddam must be overblown. Duyba has one of those dreaded "economic summit" in Waco(?) where everyone talks and nothing happens. You get to see more spin put on than league night at Stardust Lanes. Slow news day-part two-the missing California rug rat still leads the Fox newspage, she's been found in a hospital.

Edifier du jour-Romans 12:17-21(NASB)
17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. 20 "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I'm thinking of the 60s Peter Sellers movie The Mouse That Roared, where the mythical Duchy of Grand Fenwick has fallen upon hard times. Noting that the US helped Japan and Germany rebuild after defeating them in WWII, Grand Fenwick decides to declare war on the US, lose badly, and get lots of needed help. While US geopolitics can be more Machiavellian than Wilsonian on occasion, we also have the tradition of helping the enemy's people once they have been defeated. It's rare when the defeated populous has significant enmity towards the US due to this Christian value of loving our enemies flowing into our geopolitics. Our enemies find it hard to grasp that we would want to help their people. I'm not sure that the Taliban were spreading propaganda about food drops being tainted or booby-trapped for tactical reasons or because they couldn't believe we actually cared about the Afghan people and had to attribute some ulterior motive. In our day-to-day lives, loving our enemies will bring a whomperjaw to the people who trespass against us. Kristie, who heads up the young-adult Friends Group we used to belong to in Midland, is a Wal-Mart customer service manager; she finds that being able to say "God loves you" to an irate F-bombing customer is one heck of a witness but very hard to do. Rarely does one have to physically attack someone these days, even in self defense. In the vast majority of confrontations, where one's life isn't in danger, we need to be nice to people who aren't nice to us. It ain't easy, since our worldly selves will go by "Don't get mad, get even." I remember the story of Jackie Robinson where Dodger GM Branch Rickey was walking him through situations where bigotry would rear its ugly head.
"Mr. Rickey, do you want a ball player who is afraid to fight back?" "I want a ball player with guts enough not to fight back."
We should choose not to respond in kind to our enemies not out of weakness but out of strength. Strength to walk away. Strength to turn the other cheek. Strength to forgive and forget. Strength to allow God to hand out the punishment in His due time. Such strength comes from the Holy Spirit, not any man-made training.

The Cold War May Be Resuming-The EU is pressuring countries not to sign immunity agreements keeping them from extraditing Americans to the new International Criminal Court, making the absence of such an agreement a condition of EU membership. Israel and Romania have signed such agreements with the US. I'm not sure if this is sleepy paranoia or sound geopolitical thinking, but the EU starts looking more and more as a power-hungry force wanting to keep everything in its control, using every means necessary. I would begin to treat the EU as much a force for future evil as China, for it becomes more and more authoritarian as the months go by. If a socialist state capable of challenging the US for world dominance is our fear, look no further than the EU. The countries of Europe will have to choose sides, whether to be part of the "Anglosphere" or part of the EU. Countries like Italy and Britain may be forced to leave the EU in order to avoid slipping further into a socialist morass. If this authoritarian socialist trend continues, could they start developing an army and a hegemonic foreign policy, making countries choose whether to side with the US-led block or them? As crazy as it sounds, we're more likely to be having proxy wars with the EU in 2025 that we would with China. Hopefully, the voters of the EU countries will come to their senses and vote these fools out or country-by-country vote with their feet out of the EU, but I'm not counting on it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Prague Flooding-There's not much you can do with a big flood like this one except lay sandbags and pray. One of my fellow WSC collegues, our new Computer Science lady, just moved here from Prague and still has a son living there, so there were prayers said for the people over there.

Nano-Nanometers-Interesting piece today on Intel announcing a new chip technology that works at a 90 nanometer level, as opposed to the current 130-nanometer level. The übertechs at Tom's Hardware Guide point out that while a Japanese consortium was working on a 90nm production facility, Intel has got the design done, shooting for a 2003 shipping date for the new Prescott-class chip. How tight can they squeeze the circuitry before they start to run out of space to squeeze? I'm not a physicist, but we're starting to get to a point where such esoteric stuff as quantum computers might by the next stop to keep Moore's Law (speeds keep doubling every 18 months) up and running.

Lame Duck Season-This is disrespect with extreme prejudice. Up in my old home state, Gov. Engler vetoed a revinue-sharing bill, and got overridden 105-1 in the House and 36-1 in the Senate. Who the heck were the brave duo?

Hyperecumenicalism and Hyperseperatism-Chris Burgwald started the chain of ecumenical post, which I elaborated on over in the Theology Department. David Heddle has a provocative post on the subject. I think that there are two heretical responses to unity with people who don't come from the same theological tradition. The liberal heresy of hyperecumenicalism makes them too willing to sacrifice Biblical values for unity. A good example is the Christian Blogger Manifesto, which has as its simple creed that Jesus is Lord. It leaves out Savior, leaving open the door for the more universalist section of liberal churches who do not stress the need for having Jesus as Lord and as a personal Savior. Many hyperecumenicals will have a more universalist "we're all praying to the same God, aren't we" world-view that is counterproductive to good evangelical thought. The conservative heresy is hyperseperatism. David Heddle has a good verse to ponder in Galatians 1-here's 6-9(NASB)
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
A lot depends on how tightly we define the gospel and how tightly we define contrary. If carried to an extreme, any theological disagreement will lead to the other party to be deemed a tool of Satan, whether the difference is over the phrasing of a baptismal ceremony or whether missionaries need to be sponsored by but one church or whether the rapture will be pre-trib or mid-trib. Such hyperseperatism leads to people with 99.98% theological agreement worshiping in separate churches on the same block. How do we avoid the twin shoals of hyperecumenicalism and hyperseperatism? By knowing what the Scripture teaches and what is essential to a saving faith. While many people have come up with such a list, it might be time to make one of our own and elaborate on it bloggy-style. I'm thinking of a Fundementals for the 21st Century series where we go through the basics essentials of belief. By figuring out what we need to go to the mat for, we can figure out what we don't have to be as rigerous about. Such non-essentials can be dealt with on an agree-to-disagree basis, where we can make common cause on some things while retreating to our churches where we are in agreement on those non-essentials.

Dogs and Cats Living Together This seems to go against all that is well and good in the world, but they are looking into having a joint high school gymnastics team in my hometown of Midland, as there aren't enough girls interested to field a team at Dow High. The joint team would wear the Midland High (my alma mater) Chemic (yes, Chemics) blue and gold (a UofM rip-off homage), but that runs against the grain of properly hating the Doughboys [officially Chargers] (except my sister who's a Dow High grad-we moved accross town after I graduated).

Sports Musings-Former Royals and Cardinals catcher Darrell Porter died a while back-an autopsy showed he had cocaine in his system when he died of a heart attack. He had apperantly licked a habit he had two decades ago, but some people can't quite lick an addiction. For all of you who think your strong enough to give drugs a try, think again. This is sad. Not as sad as the Porter story, but sad. Terrell Davis seems to have a knee problems that won't go away. He might never get back to his MVP-level. Jamaal Anderson's had much the same problems coming back from a bad knee. I'm thinking of Davis along the lines of Sandy Koufax, who had a brilliant career cut short by arthritis, or Bo Jackson, whose hip did him in. [Update 8/14 I had knees originally-Mr. Steffens corrects]

Other Than Castro, He's the Least Liked Cuban-Sometimes Mark Cuban is a very likable jerk and sometimes he's just a jerk. He falls into the second catagory for now, as he doesn't want his Mav players to play in the World Championships without proper injury insurance. He's happy to bust the budget to get good players and have two coaches for every player, but he just lost a lot of credibility as a player's owner.

Morning Musings-Ben's back from vacation and blogging away. While his rundowns are always useful (boy, did he send traffic my way with a pair of kind references), his essay on the Flight 93 crash site in Pennsylvania as a modern Gettysburg is a keeper. I'm feeling much better this morning, my body was relaxing from five weeks of getting Eileen and I settled in. The routine of day-to-day teaching has started for both of us, and my body that had been tensed up in transition mode, not just getting all my things accomplished but being their for my new wife, has eased up. Sometime, after a rough stretch, my body just aches for a day or so once I feel I can relax. Had to laugh at Bene Diction's comments of my manifesto post
Fisking. Over at Mark Byron’s blog. Oh.Oh. And he isn't even feeling well. Maybe he should get a nice soft tassled hat. What say you all?
I just got one last week, although the softness could be questioned. A Warner Southern tradition (and apparently a lot of other schools) is that the first chapel of the school year is a convocation, where all the professors march in wearing their graduation robe regalia. I rented my robe when I graduated from KSU, thinking I could go out and buy one when if and when I got back into academe. Didn't need to; WSC bought inexpensive ones for us. News Section-Slow day, when Fox leads with an rug-rat abduction. I said yesterday that "It's not news that a lot of airlines are having trouble making ends meet." Case in point-American Airlines is borrowing the Turk once training camps are over. Angry foreign policy? Hey, Khatami, you'd be POed, too if you had 9/11 happen to you. The BBC header on his trip to Afghanistan is "Iran commits to Afghan stability." Yes, and grizzly bears always use Forest Service toilets. Methinks that Iran might want to help the Shiite (check your spelling, please) factions in the southwest. Keep the B1's warm-Iraq is back to talking trash, with the Information Minister (not a promising sign when a country has one) trashing the idea of weapons inspectors and the general honesty of the West. Did they translate Dale Carnegie into Arabic yet? That dude obviously didn't get a copy. Sports SectionChucky got a W last night, as Tampa Bay got past Miami. 14-10 sounds like a Dungy score, but this is pre-season. 63 passing yards ain't going to feed the bulldog over the long haul. So much for a comeback. J.C. Watts practiced with the Swamp Weasels yesterday and pulled a hammy. Even at 44, he might improve the Skins QB position, having had some CFL experience before going into politics.

Edifier du jour-Romans 12:1(NASB)
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Let's look at what Paul's asking of us. First of all, he's asking for a living sacrifice. A lot of Paul's writing can come across as something of a death wish, such as "to live is Christ; to die is gain." However, we're not called to be Good Knevils. He wants us around to serve Him for a while, and if He does want to "take you home", He'll arrainge for it. Secondly, he's asking for a holy sacrifice of our bodies. Over in 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul declares our bodies to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. Junking up the temple with sexual immorality, drugs, drunkeness or excess fat (my transgression) doesn't help make it holier. What goes into the temple should be as holy as possible given whatever mission God has you on. Offering our bodies essentially means offering our lives. If we live as holy a life as we can, that will be our spiritual service of worship. Whether that service is as a pastor, a lawyer, a professor, a factory rat or a burger-slinger, we need to do it in as godly a way as we can.

Monday, August 12, 2002

Two Things to be Wary of-Software That Ends in .0 and Manifestos-The topic du jour in Blogburgh Community Church is this Christian Weblogging Manifesto. I haven't delivered a good Fisking lately, so give me my rubber gloves and a long stick. I'll try to be gentle.
It is opposite the view of those who think access to their weblogs should be limited to "me and thee," and we are suggesting that this is not normative, and files in the face of a Christian concept of community and fellowship. The "me and thee" approach is also a form of censorship; if open access to a weblog is not allowed to all web surfers, then the blogger has simply misunderstood the nature of the Internet and might find some other more private means of sharing their thoughts.
Is this suggesting that there should be no passwords for blogs, and that everyone should be able to post on everyone's blog without a delete key? Sounds a bit like anarchy. Blogs would desend into the morass of the bulletin board, with flame wars and trolls messing things up.
In this manifesto, we are also expressing concern for the content of some weblogs that identify themselves as being Christian. It is our personal view that Christian weblogs are special because we have both "freedom of the press and freedom of the Spirit.," However, we are also aware that some are using their "Christian" weblogs as a launch pad for gossip, backbiting, slander, evil speaking and expressions of hatred. Most of us realize this is not the way of Christ.
Please name names, sir. There are some bloggers who are a bit visious at times, but I can't think of too many instances of the vices of the last sentence in the Blogs4God neck of the woods.
In this manifesto, we are suggesting that the wider Christian weblog community form an ASSOCIATION OF CHRISTIAN WEBLOGGERS to accentuate the positive aspects of Christian weblogging. This association would: 1. Be led by a formal committee of progressive, open-minded Christians who would be committed to an ever-expanding universe of Christian webloggers, and to facilitating that growth.
OK, the cat's out of the bag. Progressive and open-minded usually translates to liberal. My strong views on what the Bible means will be seen as close-minded and reactionary. While people could use progressive to mean improving the church and open-minded to mean willing to discuss issues without rancor, it's more likely the former pair of translations that the latter.
2. Be made up of the widest possible spectrum of Catholic and Protestant webloggers. The only doctrinal requirement for belonging should be the oldest of all Christian affirmations, that "Jesus is Lord." We are not suggesting, however, that this association include cults or non-Christian religions.
Note that Jesus isn't Saviour to this bunch. A personal, saving faith in Jesus isn't seemingly important to this bunch
3. Create a CODE OF CONDUCT for its members, partly based perhaps on 2 Corinthians 12:20 in which Paul says, "For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder." This seems to apply if Paul were visiting a church or a Christian weblog. This type of code would not be censorship, but to remind people if the need for courtesy if they are speaking as Christians, while still allowing freedom in dealing with the difficult issues of life, whether personal or cultural. Those who comply with the Code should have a Association icon to put on their site, those who do not would not have it and be listed separately.
This could be use to silence any theoligical arguments beyond a generic respect for Jesus. Debate on theoligical issues could be taken to be factional or quarreling or disorderly.
4. Offer training and advice to new Christian webloggers. This might include a special program to encourage teenage Christian webloggers, possibly even younger ones.
Can't find any thing to snipe at here, except that I'm not sure what a 12-year-old would bring to the party.
5. Maintain a master list of all Christian webloggers and make it freely available to all individual Christian bloggers who would like to make it available on their site, or to other Christian portals who would like to use it.
No big problems there. The listings in the site are accross the board from consevative to liberal, but the manifesto seems to want to err on the liberal side, barring any heated discussion of theoligical issues beyond a generic lordship of Christ. While I agree that we need to tone down the warblogger mentality in Blogburgh Community Church, I don't think this is the answer.

Evening Musings-Been away from my post here for longer than normal today, due to a low-grade bug (or stress manifesting itself as a sinus headache and intestinal issues), professorial and husbandly duties (shopping and getting dinner-Eileen's got the busier sked for now, so I'm getting suprisingly domestic) and writing a baptism post over at the Theology Department. This was a wierd piece on a tour of Elvis artifacts, commemorating the 25th anaversery of his death on Friday. The devotees at Graceland remind me of some sort of secular cult. Good news, no strike date for baseball. Bad news, they're talking more about it tomorrow.

Morning Musings-This Google hit tells us what happens when Energy Secretary Abraham has a quintet of clones-"six spence none the richer." Here's a bad shaggy dog I heard back when he was Michigan's senator.
Sen. Abraham got a bad case of the flu while on a campaign trip and went to see a local GOP physician. The doc looked him over and told him what he already knew; "Can't do much about the flu. I'm not going to charge you for telling you to rest and drink plenty of liquids, Senator." When the Senator left without paying, his receptionist asked, "Sick Spence, none the richer?"
I was recalling all those malt liquor ads with the charming, virile black guys with the babes hanging over them; are those brews afrodisiacs? Sport Section-Tiger hung on to win up at the Buick Open; nobody beats Tiger if he's leading Sunday morning (25-2). PGA's next. Only Tiger and Ben Hogan have won three majors in a year. There was an interesting footnote on the Indy circuit; Sarah Fisher won the pole for the Sparta, Kentucky race yesterday, finishing eighth. It was the first time a woman won the pole on a major racing tour. She's 21, so she might just go on to be do other things. I'll save the worse for last. The baseball players are going to set a strike date today. I've become less and less of a baseball fan as of late, partly due to the Tigers stinking up the joint and party that it's the least interesting of the big sports on a game-to-game basis. It's still the backdrop for summer, but I won't lose a bit of sleep if it goes away. News Section-This story of Steven J. Hatfill, the anthrax researcher being pointed out as a possible suspect in the mailings of last year, smells too much like Richard Jewell, the guy falsely accused of the Atlanta Olympic bombing. He even looks a bit like Jewell. [Update 8:40-Did a Hatfill Jewell google-I'm not the only one making the connection.] US Airways is writing a new chapter in their corporate history-Chapter 11. It's not news that a lot of airlines are having trouble making ends meet. They're making money, but not enough to pay the interest on their debts. This one I heard waking up. Dying of a heroin ID is tragic. When someone dies of one at a rehab clinic it's whomperjaw time; someone snuck some smack into the facility. Who's in charge of security at that joint?

Edifier du jour-Romans 12:2(NASB)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
The phrase "in the world, but not of the world" is one of those evangelical cliches that pop up from time to time. As ambassidors for Christ, how do we keep from going native? We need to allow the Holy Spirit to continue to bring clarity to our minds, so that we can be that salt and light we're supposed to be. With the Holy Spirit's help, we can better discern what to do with our lives on a moment-to-moment basis, trying to keep along that path which is God's path.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Economics and the Pope-Interesting piece of Catholic economic thought here by Mark Cameron (blog introduced via Bene Diction). The post was reacting to a Jeremy Lott post critical of a lack of papal enthusiasm for the free market and a dislike of the IMF-protestor crowd. I'm fixing dinner, so I don't have time to give a long responce, but read both in prep for a good post sometime tomorrow.

Medical Economics-Part I-HMO Competition-Joshua Claybourn wanted my take on medical economics. While I'm not an expert on the field, I did work in the finance department of a large hospital and got to see some of the traffic flow between the hospital and the insurers. I'm going to address one of Josh's questions first
It seems to me as though HMO's (as opposed to "fee for service") would work well if there was more competition among HMO's to offer better service and treatment. Do you agree? Why isn't there more competition among them? Is there and I'm just not noticing?
There are a number of factors that limit the amount of HMOs in the area. One area would be the availability of doctors. Doctors might not want to work full-time for an HMO, as many doctors fear having their hands tied by the HMO from practicing proper-but-more-expensive medicine. They may be reticent to work for them on a part-time contract basis. One of the headaches of a doctor's office is that there are different insurance forms for each insurer; limiting their practice to a small number of insurers lowers the cost of paperwork. The second is that insurance regulation is a state-by-state affair. A good California HMO can't set up shop in Michigan without getting approval from Michigan regulators. This makes HMOs more of a regional affair. The third is that you need staff that can go on-site to talk to doctors and hospitals. It is hard to trouble-shoot out-of-state claims, since there isn't an office to drive down to and hash out a claim face-to-face and hand paperwork to directly. Thus, being focus on a state or a region of a state makes since. The forth, and most important, is economies of size. An HMO has to be large in order to spread out the risk of insuring thousands and millions of people, so you're not going to have mom-'n-pop HMOs. Also, a larger HMO can have a better-automated system, lowering the overhead costs. The result is that there are usually a handful of HMOs in an area. In Flint where I worked, other than Blue Cross, the biggest HMOs were Health Plus and The Wellness Plan. TWP specialized in Medicaid HMO patients, while H+ had a mix of private-sector and Medicaid patients. Health Alliance Plan and M-Care and a few others had some market share, but Blue Cross (and affiliated Blue Care Network), H+ and TWP made up over 90% of the non-Medicare and "pure" Medicaid market. The economies of size will make the market a small one, with a single-digit number of providers fighting for market share. The large HMO can dictate prices better than the smaller one. One of the catalysts of my leaving Hurley was a TWP reimbursement cut earlier this year, costing the hospital $500,000/month in lost revenues. That, coupled with financial troubles with the City of Flint, who owns the hospital, meant that times would be leaner and even more stressful than there were, putting some urgency into finding a professorship somewhere. There are a number of things that can be done to lower medical costs in general; malpractice insurance reform and Medical savings accounts might help. I'm not sure how to reduce costs for HMOs in particular. One thing that is gradually coming in is standardized payment. On the inpatient side, each stay is given a three-digit DRG (Diagnosis Related Groups) number based on the primary diagnosis; Hospitals get a set amount for each DRG from the insurer. This encourages the hospital to get the patient healthy and home as soon as possible, for only in very rare outlier cases will a hospital get extra money for a long stay. They can't fudge and let the patient go home early only to get complications and return, for they won't get paid extra for the second visit if it was for the same issue a few days after the first stay. As of yet, outpatient finance is still largely paid for on a line-item basis. While it's harder to categorize outpatient care, moving to an outpatient DRG-style system might lower costs. Medicare was introducing such a system as I was leaving Hurley, and HMOs may follow suit.

Afternoon Musings-I was slow to check on this, but Ganns has a good CCM post from Wednesday that's worth reading, following up on an earlier post. For those of you with Catholic friends who might not want to sample an evangelical CCM station, here's a Catholic CCM station, Spirit FM out of Tampa. It's run as a function of the Diocese of St. Petersburg. They play much the same mainstream CCM (Avalon, Point of Grace, Steven Curtis Chapman, etc.) that the evangelical stations do. It's one of my push-buttons on my car radio. If you're more in a praise mode, check out Praise 95.7 out of Pensacola. They play wall-to-wall modern praise and worship music. We found that station while visiting last month. A hearty welcome back to Chris Burgwald, who went into blogging hibernation while working on his dissertation. The Veritas Bear's out of the cave and growling nicely. He's got a nice post on Ecumenism that's going to get a treatment in the near future. [Update 8:45 8/12-I did the post over at the Theology Department] Speaking of hibernation, when's Louder going to rejoin the living?

Edifier du Jour-I'll use this morning's sermon as the source. Exodus 14:11-15(NASB)
10 As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. 11 Then they said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 "Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." 13 But Moses said to the people, "Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 "The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent." 15 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.
This was just before the waters parted for Moses. There might not be a impassable swamp or sea in front of us, but it sometimes seems that way. It your doing something God wants done, He'll find the way to give you the strength and wisdom to get it done. Don't freeze up or back away from the challenge once you've discerned that God wants you to face it; sometimes God puts the roadblock there to keep you from doing something stoopid. However, its often easier to wimp out on an endeavor once things get tough. The chorus of Ron Kenoly's Go Ahead has this lyric-"If you catch Hell, don't hold it; if you're going through Hell, don't stop." The tough times are the ones that Satan will use to get you to change course, to keep you from what God has for you. If you're going through those times, don't stop there and dwell on your misfortune, push onward, push though, go ahead. God will part any waters that need parting if it is of Him.

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