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Saturday, September 07, 2002

Keeping One's Priorities-I checked over at the Houston Chronicle site to see how Tropical Storm Fay might have affected my in-laws (not much, the storm stayed south of Houston and they're in the northern suburbs). However, I got a chuckle out of the sub-stories on the front page. After a piece on hospitals being overprepared for Fay, the real important stuff came out, "Fay's wrath alters high school game plans." Don't mess with a Texan's football. [Update- 2:10PM-Here's the Fay details from a Texas blogger who was near the point of landfall. Of course, in good Texas fashion, his post title is "We postponed a football game for this??" Thanks to Ms. Solent for the link.]

Lining up the Troops-Tony Blair's at Camp David for what might be the Big Iraq War Powwow. It looks like a diplomatic push is in the works. Bush will talk with Canadian PM Chretien Monday and Portuguese PM Durao Barroso, a possible conservative ally, on Tuesday. The Missiles of October II, anyone?

Edifer du jour-1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails
I'm finding this true in my marriage in that love speaks louder than anything else. All those things we take price in come up second-fiddle at best to an honest love for our fellow man and particular people. Too much of the time, I deal with people with fear and suspicion rather than love. It's not easy to do, for many of us are compassionate misanthropes who love mankind but can't stand people. Too many trite things have been said about the importance of love, but the are true nonetheless.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Quantum Calvinism-Here's an interesting post on Keith Devin's site on the issue of quantum physics and free will (thanks to Mean Dean), where Devins gently fisks a would-be philosopher. Devin pokes holes in his take on Heisenburg and other areas. I made a run at this general area back in April, but it's worth another look. Let's look at the basic natural universe and God's supernatural intervention in the universe. Einstein was not a fan of quantum mechanics and its stochastic nature, saying that God doesn't play dice with the universe. What if He does and He occasionally loads the dice? I used the analogy of God tweaking a spreadsheet with a number of stochastic functions in it in my April piece. Let's picture God as being omnitemporal, standing outside of time and looking on the totality of history. If there isn't something He likes, He's free to change it, to either throw the dice again or to plunk down a desired value. Such a model isn't deterministic, yet gives God the final say as to what ultimately goes down. I'll risk being nominated for a Claude; we have free will except where we don't have it. God will still save who He wants to save, taking as many quantum mulligans as He needs to bring one of the elect to Christ. If it doesn't effect God's long-term design, He can allow nature (quantum processes) to take its course. If the quantum process starts to go ways He doesn't want, He'll tweak it until he gets it right. Can you be a Quantum Calvinist? Let's take a tiptoe through the quantum TULIPs. Total Depravity-Can man make it to Heaven on his own in a quantum universe? No. The fact that some of the factors are stochastic doesn't mean a sinless man will pop up on his own. The odds of someone doing the right thing 100% of the time for a lifetime without God's intervention is zero. Unconditional Election-Do I have to be good to get into heaven? No, God will do that for you, stacking the deck where needed. Limited Atonement-Are some people not going to be saved? Last time I checked, yes. Irresistible Grace-Can someone keep themselves from getting saved if God wants them? Nope. God has history and your future lined up, He'll make the needed changes. You may have some choices, but God will veto ones that will lead you astray. Perseverance of the Saints-Once God gets you, can you break free and get unsaved? Nope, God stacked the deck to get you here, He'll stack the deck to keep you in His grace. The catch phrase for this is "If it matters, it isn't luck." God knows what's going down, and if He doesn't like it, He'll change it.

Midday Musings-Looks like a Torchdown-Torricelli and Forrester had their first debate and it looks like Big Mo is finding Forrester, as the panel was torching the Torch about his, er, ethical lapses. Translate this Nats-supplied "Essex Girl" joke to US welfare moms at your own risk. Close the office door before reading. While we're in the market for Munich Olympic flashbacks, let's revisit the US basketball team of 1972, shall we. They were the first to come up empty in the Olympics, albeit via some of the worst reffing in world history. Our Dream Teamers just had their heads handed to them by both Argentina and now Yugoslavia, with Peja, Vlade and company winning in the quarters last night, 81-78, giving the US pros their first two-game losing streak in international competition. It's a combination of the US not having it's A team there and the rest of the world having game. Four years ago, a labor dispute caused the US to send a CBA bunch to the worlds, thus needing to qualify in the Americas qualifying in 1999. They'll have to go that route again and will need to send Kobe, Shaq and Tim Duncan to the 2003 qualifier to insure not having the same thing happen again. The NFL kicked off last night, and the Niners went into the Meddowlands and got a 16-13 win. More importantly, Niner TE Eric Johnson was held to 44 yards recieving, giving Kevin's Pigskin team only two points out the the TE position for the day in the Blogger Bowl 2003 opening day matchup against the dreaded Florida Blogistas. None of my guys played last night, although Kerry Collins put in a bid to be moved up from third-string QB. In other BB2K3 news, the Niner defence racked up 12 points for Joshua Sargent's Roanoke Redskins. A sleeper for the league title has emerged. Jeff Garcia got the Burgers' 10 points.

Who's Got Crystal Balls?-Larry Sabato, "the Official PoliSci Prof for the Washington media," has a 2002 Crystal Ball Predictions site up-thanks to Quasipundit for the heads-up. Good news for the GOP- they keep the House. He's got the Republicans with 217 seats leaning or better, with 16 toss-ups. This means that the Democrats will have to run the toss-up table (and knock off a few leaners, since a couple of conservative Dems might defect if they're the swing vote) in order to get to Speaker Gephardt. Not-so-good-news. The Senate is a jump ball in the prof's eyes. He has six toss-up seats: four Democratic (Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey(!) and South Dakota) and two Republican (Arkansas and New Hampshire); everything else leans towards the status quo. However, the polling seems to give the Republicans the edge in all but Arkansas, where Hutchenson's divorce may cool his support on the right. He has an interesting take on the Louisiana race, which will likely end in a December runoff.
And if the Senate's party control depends on a December run-off in Louisiana, expect the political equivalent of nuclear war, with records set for campaign spending and street money (vote-buying). Plus, everyone covering politics gets a tax-deductible trip to New Orleans. We can hardly wait.
Of the leaning list, there are more Democratic senators that could be surprised, such as Harkin in Iowa, Landrieu in Louisiana and Cleland in Georgia, than there are Republicans in similar trouble, such as Cornyn in Texas. I'm calling for an over/under at +3 (make that +2.5 Vegas style) for the Republicans at this point, picking up four Democratic seats (MN, MO, SD and either NJ or one of the leaners) and losing Arkansas. If Bob Smith wins his primary, I'm adjusting down to a +2.

The Worst Form of Government-A bout of hand-wringing over the future of democracy has fallen over part of the Blogosphere. Paul Cella started the proceedings with a gloomily thoughtful piece bemoaning the undemocratic elitism of modern liberal government and ossification of big corporations into comparable bureaucracies. Here's his closer
Where once tradition and richness formed the panoply of tough and supple defenses for the individual against the world, now we see those defenses failing, with only the state to replace them, or the corporation, which either apes the state or falls before it. The Subject replaces the Citizen, even as his eyes are clouded and his weapons of resistance and counterstrike dulled by the bounty of economic plentitude and the intoxicating narcotics of modern mass entertainment. I do not say that the rout or even the slow dissolution ending in defeat of self-government is imminent, for there are hopeful signs lurking about in unpredictable places, and always the ways of the Lord are mysterious; but as I am in a sour mood, I must confess to sympathy with the words of Salvianus as the Fall of Rome neared: “The Roman Empire is luxurious but it is filled with misery. It is dying but it laughs.” The American Question remains an open one.
Yes, it is an open question. As Ben Franklin put it, we have a republic if we can keep it. The corporate problem is largely self-solving. Financial people recognize that big conglomerates don't work as well as we thought a generation ago; there is a "hierarchy cost" (as Brink Lindsey puts it) to large organizations that is a drag on economies of size. One of the themes of the last decade in finance is the spin-off, splitting off firms so that they can think for themselves and not have the financial safe house of a large conglomerate to shield them from their mistakes. If a company has too many hierarchy costs, a smart takeover artist can buy the company, streamline and spin-off the company components and make a profit. The political problem is more problematic. Orrin Judd weighs in, quoting Tytler's observation that democracy can last "until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury." The trick for economic conservatives is that we have to convince voters that they can vote themselves a greater largess from the free market. If people have a more enlightened approach to such things as income inequities (I offer my post of earlier this morning) and realize that a free market, low-intervention system brings more wealth to everyone over the long haul, then our system will survive and thrive. However, this is a long-term, more intellectual approach to things that takes time and effort to instill in people. That's why Democrats usually do better in the polls the further away the election is. If they don't think too hard about the issues, the liberal approaches appeal to their gut fears and their short-term appetites. However, once the downside of those big-government plan are expressed and thought through, some people will cotton to the conservative approach. It takes an informed electorate to do this right; that's why I'm not too worried about the 50% turnout rates in presidential years. Being an informed voter takes work. If the status quo is OK, tweaking the system doesn't mean that much to most people and many won't bother to be educated about the issues. It may well be a rational choice not to inform oneself about a race. I often skipped voting in city council elections in Midland, for the issues were rather minor and not worth my time to educate myself on the candidates; this from a political junkie. The people who do turn out give a darn. If we get 90% turnout, we might get a less-informed electorate ready to elect Charles Bronson (the actor, not the Florida politician) President, as they did in the Philippines did with Joseph Estrada; Ganns Deen has a nice musing (10:52AM post) on this today. An informed electorate is more immune to slickness and appeals to their baser instincts. I'm not worried about the turnout numbers, I want the people who do turnout to have a full understanding of what their vote means. Unlike many conservatives, I think that people will agree with us when presented with the truth and given time and education to think things through. It doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure this out; my Grandpa Kraenzlien was a high-school dropout, yet was more a free-marketeer than I was. Howver, he was an avid reader and follower of current events and understood how the world works. We just need to reach Joe Sixpack; if he knows that a statist economy will turn him into Joe One-Can, he'll become a blue-collar dynamist.

That's Not a Bug, That's a Feature: Part II-Income Inequality-The macroeconomics textbook we're using had a section on income inequality in their "Markets in Action" section. That's always a straw man that liberals will point to as a flaw in a free-market system. I had "Income inequality: a bug or a feature?" as a slide in my presentation yesterday, and even my young charges understand that it's a feature of our system. The alternative to income inequality is income equality, for each person to make the same amount of money. In such a system, there's no incentive to work hard other than a love of work and your fellow man or the whip of the overseer. Allowing for differences in income gives people financial incentive to work harder, thus creating more goods and services than in a more equitable system. The poor in a free-market system are usually better off than the commoner in the socialist system, for the system create more goods to be distributed. People will rail at corporate CEOs making a hundred times more than the factory rat, but the decision-making skills of a good CEO is a hundred times more important to the company. If his decisions have hundreds of millions of dollars riding on them, a good decision maker may easily be worth a few million dollars a year. Likewise, the superstar ballplayer makes 500 times what I make as a college professor, but I don't have 50,000 fans coming in to watch me explain how to calculate the present value of an annuity or have major networks bid on the broadcast rights for my Managerial Accounting class. The capital-intensive nature of many production methods makes larger companies more profitable than smaller ones. The economies of size that modern corporations have will create organizations that have big decisions that need to be made. Bigger decisions mean bigger money to go to the good decision-makers. Also, the logistics and communications and computer revolutions of the last half-century have allowed goods and services to flow more freely than before, allowing companies to sell products more widely than before. A product that might have only been sold regionally can now be sold around the world. People who can understand how to make this new system work for their companies will be well-compensated. These revolutions have made intellectual labor more important than physical labor, as the decision-making power of intellectual labor becomes more important in a less-localized economy. Intellectual labor have become more productive in the last few decades, as computers and telecommunications advances have allowed white-color work to be leveraged more than blue-collar work. A "information-worker" can have his ideas be used across the country or around the world, while the physical laborer is stuck where he's at. If you add the corporate economies of size, a less-local economy and the better-leveraging of intellectual labor together, you see that the white-color worker's wages have gone up faster than the blue-collar worker. It's a feature of our modern economic system. The economy grows, and the wealth of the blue-collar will go up some, but not as much as the white-collar guy, thus creating greater income inequality. However, if the little guy is making more than he did before, that should be chalked up as a success. Prices also signal resources to move to where the money is; the factory-rat might go back to school to become one of those information-workers, or make sure his kids do so. By rewarding the areas that help the economy grow, we'll draw more and better people into those areas. If the wages of those workers were held down so as to not upset the blue-collar workers, then that shifting of resources would be stifled and the economy slowed. Fighting over our percentage of the pie is short-sighted if we can get a somewhat smaller percentage of a much larger pie. Some people make more than others. Some people are worth more than others. I remember the quip about Babe Ruth; when the owner pointed out that his proposed salary was more than the President of the United States, Ruth was supposed to have replied "I had a better year than he did." Our system works well when the money is allowed to flow to the people who have the good years, for they help cause the economy to grow.

Edifier du jour-1 Corinthians 12:1-7(NASB)
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Many things that God will want the church to do will take us out of our comfort zone, and there's an easy reaction to label the things that make us uncomfortable as ungodly. There's a good test for such ministries-is it advancing God's kingdom, proclaiming Jesus is Lord and Savior? If it is, God's working through it and we need to let it be. If it isn't, then the spirit that leads it isn't of God. Check the fruit first. If the edge, different way of doing things works to bring people to Jesus and doesn't go against scripture, then it deserves our praise. It might not be for everyone or for you, but it is effective for some. If you look at the way even the most staid church worships today, I'll guarantee you that it wouldn't perfectly mimic what the first century church did. The clothes would be different, the music would be different, the preaching would be different, yet that service works for the modern worshiper.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Munich Plus 30-I had forgotten when I had posted on Olga Korbut earlier today that this was the 30th anniversary of the Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists. They proceeded to give the middle-digit salute to the Western Civ Olympic goal of all peoples coming together and getting along via sport. That such a massacre could come at a sporting event should have shocked some people into the depth of the battle that would be waged. It's not unthinkable today. Nothings off limits. Some people point to the Kennedy assassination as the end of our innocence. For me, this one's more like it. Check out the blogburst on this issue over at Dodgeblog.

Napster is Dead. Long Live Napster! Napster's officially closing up shop, liquidating its remaining assets. However, as this piece points out, it spawned a number of second-generation file-swapping protocols, such as Morpheus, that are decentralized and harder to shut down. It's temping (and I did give in to that temptation in the past) to be able to download songs for free, especially if there's negliable risk of being caught. However, the swapping works a bit like shareware-record sales to swappers are higher than for non-swappers. I'm reminded of the Obi-Wan Kenobi line: "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine." The record industry could have domesticated Napster into a fee-based file-swapping system that a lot of law-respecting users would have paid for. Instead, they destroyed it, and saw the swapping universe spin out of their control. Restrictions on peer-to-peer file-swapping technologies or the intrusive Big Brother dreams of coporate snooping on personal hard drives won't fly in the US. Eventually, we'll see some innovation in the music industry, as computer technology will allow artists to sell music to listeners with less intermediary cost than today. Record companies might make money by opening up their out-of-print stock to fee-based downloading. However, that will take a paradigm shift in the industry, and those don't happen overnight.

BC Schism-Part III-Christianity Today's blog has a rundown of the growing schism in the Anglican church in British Columbia that I talked about this weekend. The word "flying bishop" is being bantied about, the term to have a church be overseen by a bishop from outside its normal geographic realm. "Over my dead body" is the loose translation of the comments of Archbishop Crawley of BC. If a flying bishop isn't named, we could see additions to the AMIA, or something like it, in short order. Yong Ping Chung, the Southeast Asian archbishop sponcering breakaway conservatives in the US, is profiled in this piece at the BC conservative rally on Sunday.

That's Not a Bug, That's a Feature: Part I-Middle East Instability-The Arab League's worried that a US attack on Iraq would "open the gates of Hell." How many functional democracies are there in the Arab world? No, Turks aren't Arabs. Most of the governments in the Arab world are either military strongmen or hereditary monarchs or a combination of both. Few represent the best wishes of their peoples. If Saddam can be kicked out of power, who's next to go? If the Arab League is afraid of an attack, it means it might just be a good idea. Let slip the hell-hounds of war and of the mythical "Arab street" and let's see what happens.

You Know You’re Maturing When....Athlete’s children start making the news, like this piece via Possumblog on Olga Korbut's son getting busted for counterfeiting. Was it thirty years ago this summer than she was the gymnastics pixie du jour? You Know You’re Maturing When... you remember the color commentators playing college ball. You Know You’re Maturing When...the luxury car ads start playing songs from your high school days. You Know You’re Maturing When...you like the "we don't play this" list from the rock station better than what they do play. You Know You’re Maturing When...you start eyeing the moms in the ads rather than the teenage daughters. You Know You’re Maturing When...you say "when I was your age" more than once a week You Know You’re Maturing When...Movies from your college days are now "classics" You Know You’re Maturing When...The fads from your heyday have come back into style.

Morning Musings-Looks like this years Dream Team wasn't dreamy enough, as Argentina beat the US last night, 87-80. We may have to bring the heavy artilery to Athens in '04. In a related story, the Pistons have picked up their point guard, Pepe Sanchez. The October "Surprise" may be in the works. A congressional approval of action against Iraq is slated for later this month, and it's rumored that the British will lay out a case that Iraq is close to building a nuclear bomb. A bigger war may be brewing at the Senate Judiciary Committee as Priscilla Owen's nomination appears headed for a vote today. A no vote will indicate that the Democrats will not appoint anyone that's significantly conservative regardless of credentials. I think that at least one Democrat will break ranks. [ Update 3PM 10-9 against:What wine goes good with crow, folks?] Are Portuguese-speakers Hispanic? I'm not sure. This piece on Hispanics and NASCAR pointed out that Christian Fittipaldi's move to the stock-car circuit will bring Hispanic viewers. He's Brazillian, so I'm not sure if the logic works. When we start seeing Billy Bob Ramirez at Daytona, I'll believer it.

Edifier du jour-1 Corinthians 11:4-13(NASB)
4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
The answer is "Yes." In that era, it was shameful for a woman to have a shaved head. It isn't quite that bad today. While a literal shaved head on a woman would be very avant-garde and unwelcome in many churches, many people going through chemotherapy lose their hair. A woman without a hat would be in the same position as the woman without hair. Today, that stigma isn't as strong, thus the need to enforce that is much less. This is a tricky passage to cover. Our culture doesn't have quite the stigma of a hairless women. I'm left with two options; accept the status quo and carefully read scripture to see if I'm off base or take a reactionary stance, finding a church that demands women wear hats at church. The modern church, if a tight reading of this passage is used, is guilty of shaming women's heads, giving them shame before God like that of some punk teenager with a nose-ring and a shaven head. That might be true, but I don't think I'm ready to demand that Eileen wear a hat to church or recommend it to the women of New Hope Assembly or Warner Southern College. God still loves the punk girl and he'll still love the Women Without Hats. God may well correct me on this one, but our current non-enforcement of this rule seems healthier than dancing the safety dance of legalism.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Blackball- Is the "Justice Department" getting into the contraband stash and lighting up? Otherwise, explain to me while they have blackballed Steven Hatfill, forcing him out of his LSU job by telling his department not to use him on any DoJ contracts. Aren't there lawyers in that department? Or if not lawyers, people who have a vague knowledge of due process and PR. The due process sucks, declaring the guy persona non grata without cause. Let's remind ourselves of the Fifth Amendment, shall we.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. [italics added]
The guy's been forced out of his job by the federal government without his day in court. I smell lawsuit, and my nose is plugged up. The "Justice Department" also will get a truckload of bad PR, which it doesn't need while trying to go after legitimately bad guys. If they have the goods on Hatfill, charge him or at least say what their beef is. They have dozens of "people of interest" in the anthrax case, but he's the only one getting the business end of the stick from the feds.

A Lecture on Seminars- The other interesting Musgraving was on the seepage of seminar classes into the undergraduate realm. A seminar class requires the student to be a scholar, to participate and often lead discussion on an issue. Traditionally, seminars are at best a senior-level class, where students in their major have a knowledge base of the topic to draw upon and the knowledge gap between teacher and student isn't as great. This summer, I was teaching in Warner Southern's Organizational Management (OM) program, where students come in as junior transfers and are at least 23, and in the MBA program, where you have to be about that old since you have to have a bachelor's degree to get in. In fall term, I've been teaching "traditional" undergrads, who are in their late teen and early 20s with a few exceptions; my MBA coursework kicks in next Monday. I was able to have more free-flowing discussions about topics in the OM and MBA programs, since the students are older, more confident and have a larger knowledge base to work from. Younger students, while not dumber, have less confidence and less general knowledge of the world. I'm finding that I have to lecture more and give more detailed questions as conversation starter in my traditional classes than I did in my MBA and OM classes. Younger, less experienced students aren't typically up to the challenge of a seminar course. Smart bloggers, such as Mr. Musgrave, might be up to the challenge, but the majority of undergrads, even at your high-profile schools, don't have the confidence or the knowledge base to act as a junior peer of the professor. In a class of 16, maybe four or five might thrive in the give-and-take of a seminar environment. Most, however, find it easier to absorb information rather than be a co-teacher. Our OM director had an interesting comment Friday night. Are students the customer? No, students are the product, according to Dr. Shmidt. In his view, we're in the business of giving employers well-trained workers. I'm not sure I agree with him. I think they're both customers and products. They (or their parents or employers) are paying the bill, but they are also the product, as we're reshaping their minds with an improved knowledge set. Barbers produce haircuts, the customers are wearing the product. Teachers mold brains, the customer's transformed brain is the product. However, some customers are more informed than others. The younger and less informed they are, the more they need to be treated as a product, as their feedback might be immature and not in their long-term best interest. However, the older and more mature the student gets, the more of an informed consumer they are; their feedback become more valuable and the start to become a more active part of the process. I think that the seminar is better suited to that older, informed consumer of education, where they can be treated as both a customer and a product, while the lecture class treats the student more as a passive, submissive (yeah, sure) "skull full of mush" ready to be transformed to the teacher's liking. This gives the traditional program more of a in loco parentis feel, despite students being adults, while the OM and MBA programs have the student as more of an adult peer. Two different paradigms, and I'm working to adjust to them.

They Call Me Mr. Tibbs-Mr. Claybourn cited a pair of articles from Mr. Musgrave that are worth responding to. The first is the reduction in the use of honorifics in academia and in life in general. I go by Dr. Byron with my students, but I don't bite their head off if they call me Mr. Byron. None that I can remember has called me Mark. In the teaching environment, there is a level of respect that is required to teach; without it, classroom discipline and authority of presentation is lost. You can have that respect when going by a first-name basis, but it's harder. Using Sir or Mister or Ma'am gives the recipient a degree of respect. It makes them something more than a grunt worker. As I was writing this, I went back and changed the headline from "Professorial Musings" when I remembered the old Jim Crow custom of whites calling a black man "boy" rather than "sir", regardless of his age. It was a way of dissing the black guy as an inferior being, in the position of being a perpetual teenager. It was that tradition that helped get Fuzzy Zoeller in trouble years ago for calling a college-aged Tiger Woods a "boy" even when it was likely aimed at his youth rather than his skin color. I remember the movie version of In the Heat of the Night where the black northern cop visiting the south insisted on being referred to as "Mr. Tibbs." in order to remind the rednecks that he was their equal. In most languages that I'm aware of, there are two forms of you, the familiar and the formal. Your elders and superiors outside of the home get the formal version in most societies. We lost the familiar form Thou a while back, now everyone get the formally-formal you. One line of demarcation we do have is the name. In a formal setting, people are Mr. or Ms. or Dr. I grew up with calling adults Mr. or Mrs. Smith as a rule, with the exception of Mom's best friend Lillian, who had surrogate aunt status. Being informal, Americans are usually quick to move to the informal first-name. That's our line of demarcation, whether were on a "first-name basis" with someone. In teaching, however, the instructor needs to have the respect of his students, thus being Mr. Smith or Dr. Byron makes since. I had one teacher in high school, Mr. Trzinski, who would go by Trz (triz). Not Mr. Trz, Trz. I felt a bit less respect for him given that posture. I beg to differ with Mr. Musgrave on the classless society. The talented can be upwardly mobile, while slackers can be somewhat downwardly mobile. Our class system, such as it is, is one of a combination of wealth and merit, and merit will bring some wealth in most cases. Every native-born blogger has the potential to rise to the level of his talent. I might not be Bill Gates, but if I come up with the next big tech idea, I could be a billionaire in years. I think of Mark Cuban, the Broadcast.com founder who now owns the Dallas Mavericks. He's rich as all get out, but he's not much different than the guy at the sports bar. He's a Joe Average guy with lots of bucks. Most professors are from middle-class backgrounds and aren't much for putting on airs. As "old money" becomes less of an issue, the "upper class" becomes middle-class people with money. In that, we don't have much of an upper class. The middle-class kid in me felt uncomfortable at first at the country clubs my father-in-law and Dr. Wiseman belong to, but once you see that the people there aren't your superiors, you can start to be comfortable.

A Quick Defense of Capriati-Jen's getting a lot of heat for not knowing what Title IX was. Since it's the federal regulation about women's scholastic sports equity, it would be better known by females who played sports at their school. What I don't think too many people who've laid into her for her lack of knowledge remember is that she didn't play tennis in high school or junior high, moving into the pros at 14, IIRC. It wasn't part of her world. If you don't follow college or high school female athletics or are a serious policy wonk, Title IX is a non-issue.

Edifier du jour-1 Corinthians 10:8-14
8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
Temptation isn't sin. Dwelling upon it is, but the mere fact of being tempted isn't. Even sinless Jesus was tempted in the desert and seemed to be tempted at Gethsemame to avoid the cross. However, one can always find the back door and avoid whatever temptation is in your path. We were going over Genesis 3 in my Bible class yesterday, and it was pointed out that we're naturally curious and want to test boundaries and go beyond them to see what happens. Eve was tempted to cross a boundary and try the fruit of knowledge and gave in to that temptation. The Holy Spirit informing our conscience works as a short fence around the area of sin. When we see that fence, we're supposed to go the other way. We can step across if we want, but at our own peril. Even standing there and contemplating crossing over is sinful, as God will tap you on the shoulder
"You're not supposed to be going over there, right?" "Yes, Lord." "You've got one foot on this side of the fence I've put up." "Oops. Yes, I did" "If I told you not to do it, why even seriously think about doing it?"
Don't even think about it. You might talk yourself into doing it. Put down the skunky thought and quickly back away.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

No Mas, No Mas-Interesting that a week before the primary, Andrew Cuomo decided to drop out of the race. He had fallen 20 points back of Carl McCall, and the official take was that he didn't have the stomach to go negative to close the gap. He would likely have been dusted by Pataki anyway. However, dropping out a race a week before the primary seems odd unless the campaign money wasn't there to finish the job. Usually, such a withdrawal would be due to some sort of blackmail if this were a TV drama.

"Coach Wants to See You, Bring Your Playbook"-The Packers wanted to update Jason Brookins' playbook, but he thought that he was getting cut, since being asked to bring ones playbook is the standard request of a player about to be cut. He proceeded to head home to Missouri with his cell-phone off, and wound up being cut after all. This seems like a plot-line from a pay-cable football comedy, but it seems to have happened.

Coalition-Building In regards to my musing on free markets below, we need to keep in mind that a pro-dynamist majority requires some strange bedfellows and that religious conservatives and small-l libertarians need to cooperate in order to get things done in most places. This piece on small-l libertarian Michigan state rep Leon Drolet is interesting. He was sidelined from power in the local GOP in the 80s when religious conservatives flooded into the party, only to work his way back in later. He's working towards keeping small-l libertarians in the GOP. If the two camps don't respect each other, the loser in the inter-party squabble will either sit on their hands or run a protest third-party candidate. Libertarian-leaning people should think whether the prudish dynamism of theocons is preferable to the permissive statism of the Democrats. Likewise, the theocons should consider whether a permissive dynamist is better than a permissive statist. Do you have a snit and go home angry if your guy loses in the primary or vote for the "lesser of the two evils" and work harder to get your guy to win the primary next time? There will be some people who will stand rock-solid on principal, either not voting or voting for a protest candidate, and cede the field to the bigger enemy. Unless a big theological or ideological message is sent by a protest vote, it rarely is effective in winning people over to your camp.

A Meditation on Free Markets-I just got done teaching my Tuesday Macroeconomics classes and showed them the strength of a free-market economy by looking at what happens in a planned economy where prices and production levels are set by the central government. If demand is higher than supply at the set price, you have a shortage. In a market economy, that will be a cue to raise prices and crank up supply In a centrally-planned economy, that isn't an option. Then, all kinds of unedifying behaviors start to manifest themselves. The honest citizen will stand in line to get a shot at the product. Less-honest citizens well start selling the good on the black market. People working at the stores will hold goods for friends and family and can become "friends" with the right bribe. None of these responses creates wealth and many lead to a cynical, law-dissing society. Most of my undergrad students were in elementary school when the Berlin Wall came down. Cuba is one of the few centrally planned economies left; even nominally Communist countries such as China and Vietnam are moving towards a market economy. With the seeming success of the western, free-market system, we can forget that a statist system can still reemerge from a democracy. I'm just old enough to remember Nixon putting in wage and price controls in the early 70s; that's not a conservative act as we use the term today, it's a big-government act. Liberals of a certain age will think of Nixon as a conservative, but only in the 19th century sense of status-quoian; many of his policies were statist in nature. Many "conservative" parties around the world will be nearly as statist as their socialist foes. The paternalism of the Christian Democrats in Germany, the PQ in Quebec, the Gaulists in France as well as any number of right-wing governments in Latin America show that governments can be conservative and statist at the same time. When government starts to manage the economy, it takes away the market's ability to adjust to surpluses and shortages. Those adjustments will change the status quo, which will upset both socialists and old-school conservatives. The "creative destruction" of a freely adjusting market will leave some workers out of jobs and see some businesses hurt. The two groups can ban together to subsidize the status quo with various ways to help themselves. Substitute goods can be shackled with new regulations. Barriers to entry can be raised via regulations that discourage small entrants to the market. Direct subsides or price supports can prop up a product at the taxpayer's expense. Friendly business contributors can buy off conservatives, while liberals can be bought off by affected labor unions. It's the statist that likes a static economy. However, if such restrictions to change are against the population as a whole, the position of the rest of us should be to resist such static cling. As I was pointing out to my students this morning, a hypothetical price support for orange juice would be good for the orange growers and orange grove workers in central Florida, but we as tax payers would be picking up the tab. The rest of us would vote for an un-static, or dynamic, economy. Such a dynamist philosophy need not be politically conservative. One can be in favor of free markets and still want a greater degree of redistribution of wealth than I would. A liberal dynamist would be willing to let the markets do their thing and have government step in and help the casualties of the free market as individuals rather than members of a given industry. A conservative dynamist would not step in if a political friend's industry was going through tough times. Both might know that such economic adjustments are like a bad virus, they need to work themselves out and cures are worse than the disease. Free markets allow surpluses and shortages to be corrected in short order, allowing resources to be shifted from sector to sector. The more regulation that is slapped on an industry, the harder it is to make those adjustments and the slower the economy will adjust to new circumstances. If people recognize that a dynamist position is in their best interest and that a statist position on regulation and subsidies is more costly that it's worth, then we can create a pro-market majority. We need some Democrats to help in these fight, for some Republicans will be bought off by concerns in their districts when statism makes sense for them on that issue. While low-tax, low-regulation conservatives are desirable, a higher-tax, low-regulation Democrat would be preferable to a high-tax, high-regulation one. Educating our liberal friends on the blessing of the free market will help. Even if we can't get them to give up "progressive" tax rates, we can get them to keep Washington from micromanaging businesses.

Edifier du jour-1 Corinthians 9:19-23(NASB)
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
While staying within the confines of the Gospel, we have the freedom to adjust how we present it. Some people might respond to a direct salvation appeal, others might require months of slow "friendship evangelism." Some will need to see Jesus in their world, so rock concerts and skateboard parks might reach people that won't show up to a standard Sunday service. While Paul talks about being all things to all men, that doesn't give us license to switch to a universalist theology in order to do so. We can't go up to a Hindu and say "All your gods are cool, but my God's even better" since that would be a lie. We can change the style of our outreach and change the emphasis of the message, but we need to stay true to what God has revealed. A focus on God's acceptance for the youth and of emotional healing for the abused will help, but the core of the Gospel, Jesus dying for our sins, needs to be there.

Monday, September 02, 2002

Evening Musings-Good Fiskin' Tonight-Chris Johnson eviscarates a British weenie in his own patented style, gleefully playing with the entrails. New-to-me Sabertooth Journal looks at a proposed Certified MBA exam highlighted in this USAT article. I don't think it will fly, but if it does, it might standardized the MBA programs around the country even more. I'm high on this guy's lengthy permalink list, must be doing something right. Speaking of linkage, there's a lot of good blogs out there. I just counted 29 blogs in my core "blogs" folder, 35 more in my "Augie Doggies" subfolder, 28 in the "Conservative" subfolder, 15 "Libertarians" and 26 in a "Catch-all" subfolder. That's 133 blogs, more than I can get to on a weekly basis. Only about half of those have permalinks, and some of those I'm not getting to as much. Some people link everyone, others link to a select few; I'm more in the second camp, linking the ones that I read on a regular basis and are clean. If I drop a site, it doesn't mean I don't like it but that it's fallen lower on the food chain. I'm trying to keep the links to the ones that I think are good, important ones, and that's a list that harder to make. Google Fun-I was 15th on "Mark and Ari's Jewish Parties" Sorry, can't help you. "Is the Vineyard movement dying?" I don't think so. "tomato skyscraper essays?" If you know of any, let me know. Newly permalinked IlliniGirl has this keeper on Bill and Hillary and Lie Clocks.

BC Schism; part II-I did a bit more research on this British Columbia Anglican piece from yesterday. I wondered if either of the Africans were affiliated with the Archbishop of Rwanda. That I still can't tell, but I found out something more interesting- one of the four bishops on the tour was Archbishop Yong Ping Chung of the Province of Southeast Asia, one of the sponsoring bishops of the breakaway conservative Anglican Mission in America of former Episcopal churches who've move away from liberal American leadership. He and Rwandan archbishop Emmanuel Mbona Kolini are the two bishops giving the AMIA apostolic air-cover.

Janet, We Hardly Knew Ye-It looks like Reno's becoming toast, as Bill McBride's within the margin of error in two recent polls. down 40-37 in one and 37-34 in another, with black state Senator Daryl Jones in the low teens. Given that Reno's got much better name recognition, the undecided vote would tend to swing towards McBride. The primary's a week from tomorrow.

Morning News Musings-This is on the bubble between news and sports, but a U of Minnesota freshman lineman, Brandon Hall, got killed after the game Sunday morning, getting shot outside a Minneapolis bar at 2AM. This time last year, Paul Pierce nearly died after getting knifed at a nightclub. Two questions-Firstly, since 19-year-olds aren't officially allowed to drink, what was he doing bar-hopping at 2AM? Second, when will athletes learn not to hang out late at night at watering holes, where immature minds altered by booze and other substances frequently lead to fights? On a more global note-Powell wants to send the inspectors in? This in a BBC interview that the Beeb is putting a lid on for a week, giving the extra political effect of playing the story for a week, beneficial to the somewhat anti-Western BBC. Before I bash Powell, I'm not sure if this isn't a planned leak of disinformation. Foggy Bottom can play good cop, asking for inspections, while Cheney and the Pentagon people play bad cop. Keeps them guessing. We had a momentary scare when we saw a Tropical Storm Watch on our TV screens yesterday-a small depression, TD5 was off Fort Lauderdale, a good 120 miles northeast of us. By this morning, it's now Tropical Storm Edouard (yep, that's the spelling. Brazilian Teddy?) off of St Augustine. Mom, Dad, chill-it's heading away from us. First time I've had to watch a tropical storm/hurricane with more than train-wreck or football-cancellation interest.

Morning Sports Musings-Anyone who gets into sabermetrics should check out this ESPN piece on how pitchers age. I don't think Win Share was the best comparison, since modern pitchers pitch less innings with the five-man-rotation the norm these days and a four-man rotation being standard for the middle half of the century. When pitchers get 40-45 starts with a four-man rotation, they'll run up bigger totals than a modern pitcher who's max out at 35-36 starts. Sunday was the day of the Turk. The Lion's Terry Fair and one-time starting Cowpoke QB Anthony Wright led the cut list. Fair was fun to work with as a punt returner. Whether he put his hand up or not, it was always a Fair catch. Rodney Peete's starting for Carolina? I'm still waiting for him to sign on with Minnesota, creating the Peete-Moss connection.

Edifier du jour-1 Corinthians 8:1-3
1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him
There are many versus shooting down worldly knowledge, but this hits home-"Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies." I'm finding this to be especially true in marriage-it's not an accident that Paul puts this right behind the marriage chapter. When Eileen's been down this last month (adjusting to teaching and everything else) I've found that her spirit responds not to a dispassionate analysis of her fears and frustrations but a hug and a "I wuv you." For Mr. Four College Degrees, that's hard to do, to turn the intellect off for a while and just love on her. In less intimate settings, it's also a wiser move to back off on the intellect. There are some times where it's better to let an invalid opinion rest rather than cause division by showing the person the error of their opinion. If the correction is meant more to show off your knowledge than to help the corectee, bite your toungue.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

Baptist-sized schism-Interesting piece in the National Post on a building Anglican schism in British Columbia. A liberal diocese's plan to bless homosexual unions has brought opposition for the conservatives in the district. Four conservative bishops from Africa, Asia and North Dakota were visiting to support the conservatives. I'm not sure if either of the Africans are affiliated with the Archbishop of Rwanda, who is sponcering breakaway conservative parishes in the US. I thought this was interesting-
The tour, which began yesterday, is set to peak on Sunday with a service and rally for an expected group of about 1,000 supporters from eight parishes opposed to the same-sex plan. The gathering is expected to be so large that the Anglicans have had to borrow a Baptist church large enough to hold it.

Nightmare Avoided-People who wondered whether Britian would back us in a war with Iraq can breathe a sign of relief (or curse under their breath if they don't like the idea); Blair's going to the mat laying out the grounds for an attack, and has the Conservative Party leader Ian Duncan Smith behind him. There have been Labour back-benchers who are against such a war, but I don't think they are ready to get rid of Blair. The Conservatives might be in the odd spot to support Blair in a confidence vote.

Afternoon Musings-I'm watching the LSU-VT game(Tech up 14-0 at the half), and I found myself trying to see if I could spot the Hokie Pundit, or at least his section, at halftime. However, they don't show the band like they did when I was a kid. Back a quarter-century ago, when there were much less TV games, there wasn't as much highlights to show at halftime, so you'd often get a couple of numbers from the band. Now, with practically every game televised, halftime is a highlight show, and the band is seen as wallpaper at halftime. Both of us are groggy today. We made it to church, but haven't done much else other than sleep in and nap, hence the lateness of posting today. Eileen's getting over a bug with the help of some antibiotics and my body's ordering me to veg this weekend. Seeing Notre Dame whip on Maryland last night was a surprise, as was the first quarter of the US-China game. China couldn't miss in the first quarter, but the US got the wake-up call. We have to make sure to get the top players into the Olympics, or there might not be a wake-up call.

Edifier du jour-Psalm 1:1-3
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
It's important to hang out with the right people. Some people are downers and should be avoided, unless they're family and you can't avoid them. While the verse doesn't mention hanging out with the right people, it's hard to be a fruitful believer when you acting as a Lone Ranger. Seeking positive fellowship and avoiding the scoffers will help giving you that living water.

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