Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hilliary Clinton signals her appreciation for the First Amendment..... noting in a public speech that she thinks that "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."  Sounds like she has the same appreciation for the religious freedom clauses of the First Amendment as does Barack Obama, infamous for suing nuns to force them to buy birth control.

Honestly, how do people with this view of the First Amendment ever pass a bar exam?  The hopeful thing here--per dear sister Elspeth's comment that the fix appears to be in regarding putting Hilliary back in the White House--is that Hilliary appears to be collecting errors like the Cleveland Indians like the Chicago Cubs in their traditional "June Swoon". 

The bad news for the country is that she won't be called away to tour with AC/DC until they get a new drummer.  And obviously Phil Rudd wouldn't be the first criminal with who Hilliary has been closely affiliated.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It's Earth Day

Don't forget to cut down a tree or something. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Still can't read the label

Apparently now that Kraft has taken artificial colors and such out of their Mac & Cheese, Mrs. Obama now is OK with it.  Of course, I'm sure that whey powder--the actual "cheese dust" so abhorred by the Obamas--will still be high on the ingredients list.

Wait until she finds out that almost all cheddar--the real cheese she favors--also features artificial colors and preservatives.  It's amazing what harm someone can do when one is too lazy to read the label, but has political pull.

But Bill would never do this

It boggles the mind that our country is simultaneously (a) sending an aircraft carrier to intercept Iranian support of terrorists in Yemen and (b) contemplating releasing fifty billion dollars in Iranian assets frozen in response to terrorism.  At what point does the President's Constitutional prerogative to set foreign policy end and treason begin?  We seem to be getting at least close.

I would have hoped that hosting a Holocaust denial conference would have kept Iran on our "excrement list" for a long, long time, but apparently that level of thinking is beyond the Light Worker.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I'm seeing a pattern here.....

Now of course readers of my writing know full well that I am not a huge fan of President Obama for many reasons, but certain things have happened in the past few years which suggest that he's not really President at all, but rather someone we remember all too well from Hope, Arkansas--and I don't mean Mike Huckabee.

What do I mean?  Well, both the Secret Service and the DEA have become embroiled in scandals involving their employees and prostitutes (DEA agents apparently sleeping with hookers provided by the drug cartels no less), and no less than Eric Holder was forced to issue a memo noting that hiring prostitutes was inappropriate behavior.  Icing on the cake--or on the blue dress as it were--was provided as a DEA manager was forced to admit that agents who had slept with prostitutes supplied by drug cartels could not be fired because of civil service protections.  And of course, all this after General Petreaus resigned after being found having an affair.

Perhaps it is possible that the same guy who wrote about wearing lewd t-shirts in the presence of his imaginary girlfriend is responsible for this, too, but I just can't get past the fact that this is vintage Clinton.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cool technology....

....automaker Volvo has come out with a "lifepaint" that apparently more or less glows in the dark, can be sprayed on bicycle or even clothing or helmet, is invisible in normal light, and....washes off readily.

One little improvement would be great; make it oil based and permanent.  Oh, wait, looking at the we go.   Given my nasty sheet metal allergy, I might have to look into it.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Chutzpah defined...... a President who smoked and lived in one of the most polluted cities in the country attributing his daughter's asthma to global warming.  Now part of me wants to point out that global warming isn't a firmly established fact, that nobody's pointed out a clear path of consequences, and all that, but it pales before something else.

That the President apparently did nothing to help his daughter avoid the triggers of asthma.  Speaking as a person who grew up with the disease, I'm sure that the Obamas were told about the things that trigger attacks--stress, smoking, pollens, pollution, and the like--and my parents did their best to reduce my exposure to these.  God help you if you'd decided to smoke around me--you would have heard in no uncertain terms how that kind of nonsense wasn't appropriate.  

Not so the Obamas.  Apparently allowing his daughter to breathe wasn't a big enough reason for Dear Leader to quit the cancer sticks or move out of the city, and the shame of smoking for a decade around his asthmatic child wasn't enough for him to hold his mouth instead of blaming his daughter's sickness on global warming instead of his own selfishness.

And this is the guy who thinks he's got the prescription for what ails us in medical care.  Now I'm not a doctor, but if I had to guess what ails him, this would be my first guess.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Helping out the rival school

Many people many be unaware that only 70 miles or so from the nation's premier land grant university, there is another school that is also in the Big 14 10 that has had some sad times in sports.  They didn't even make the NIT in hoops, and they haven't mad much success against rivals like the premier land grant school and The Ohio State University (not just any old Ohio State U.) lately.

So what gives?  Well, apparently this lesser school has a case of the Bunnies, and their students have apparently gotten to the point that they cannot handle the movie American SniperTreatment for this condition is often unsuccessful, but I'm told the judicious application of movies featuring John Wayne or Chuck Norris often is very helpful.

Helping out an alma mater

Got a fundraising call from the institution that granted me my MSEE last night, and I asked the young man on the other end of the line who Buffs fans hate on now that they're not getting thrashed most years by the Cornhuskers.  He was thoughtful, and in light of the rather poor performance of the Bunnies (oops, Buffs) the past few years, he really couldn't identify any teams that could be rivals.

Looking at the schedules, one could posit that it might be the "Fightin' Utes" or the Rams of Colorado State, or possibly even the Rainbow Warriors of Hawai'i.  Now as appropriate as "Rainbow Warriors" would be as a rival to a politically correct campus like Boulder, I really don't think that the Bunnies' recent record of nonviolence on the gridiron can be adequately matched even by Hawai'i.

So who ought to be the rivals for the Bunnies?  I really don't think they need to look outside Boulder for a worthy rival, the "meditating monks in saffron robes" of Naropa University.   They've already got the incense down, too.

Don't ever say I never did anything for my alma mater now.  And for further hilarity, the Bunnies' football site has the banner "Sustainable Excellence Initiative" across the top.  Yup, that's what I think of when I think of a school that's gone 2-10, 4-8, 1-10, and 3-9 in the last four seasons.  What about "Return to Mediocrity" instead?

Problems with college loans

Good friend Jim posted an interesting bit about a young man who managed to trap not only himself, his wife, and his children in a morass of student loan debt, but also his mother.  Or....maybe not.  When I looked at the article, I decided to get a bit curious and see what I could learn.

The first thing I noticed is that the man's problem isn't primarily student loans, but rather medical costs.  For whatever reason, some serious medical issues for his sons have made it impossible for him to pay off student loans.  So I Googled his name and found his LinkedIn account.

What did I find?  Well, he'd apparently gone to a private school in Pittsburgh that, with an 80% acceptance rate, can really only be described as "less selective" in terms of choosing students--US News characterizes them as "selective", but most schools worth attending qualify as  "more selective", "very selective" and such.  In US News-speak, "un-selective" more or less means the college takes anyone with a pulse, much like car loans.  He's got a "sports business" degree, took out $88000 in debt to get it, and he's been working as a bank teller and insurance salesman since graduation. 

In other words, he's got six figures of debt (after penalties for late payments) for a degree he's never used in his work.  Moreover, the work that he did obtain probably didn't give him stellar medical benefits--this may explain the medical bills he's got.

One of the most interesting things I noted is that if my estimate of his college costs is correct, his loan amount equals tuition, fees, and room & board for four years.  Translated; he doesn't seem to have tried to work his way through college.   I know from experience that he could at least have covered most of his room & board by working just 20 hours per week--40-50 hours per week in the 15 weeks of summer and about 10 hours per week while taking classes.  Combine this with going to a state school--there are nine near Pittsburgh--and he could have graduated without debt.

What this means?  Well, not that we need to forgive student loans.  It means that this young man made just about every mistake in the book financially--he did not work during college, took out huge amounts of debt, and got a worthless degree in the process.  For the rest of us, it means that we need to pay attention to Ben Carson's most recent column and stop graduating financial illiterates.

Or, put a little less politely, when the STEM kids are making fun of your major, it's probably a bad idea to go deeply in debt to get your degree.

2e or not 2e

--that is the question:
whether 'tis nobler in decimal to suffer
the slings and ages of outrageous fortune
or to take arms against a sea of troubles
and with hex might befriend them.   To bake, to buy-
once more--and by a bake to say we make 
chocolate, and the thousand calories
that flesh may grow by.  "tis an adipose day
devoutly to be wished.  To eat, get fat--
get fat--perchance infarction; ay, there's St. Mary's, 
for in that place of life triple bypass
when we have filled our arteries full up, 
give us no pause.  There's the good health
that makes calamity of office life.
For who would bear the bran and lean of life,
the dreadful lean dieticians impose?
Away, let's eat, start the day right,
for peanut butter by another name
might be a rose.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Environmentalism vs. the environment, again

Apparently, one of the hot new moves among environmentally conscious college graduates with worthless degrees is to build themselves a mini-home on a trailer chassis.   The new homeowners are young, generally childless and often single, and quite frankly, many of the homes they're building are really pretty attractive.

But that said, you knew that I'm not talking about this to give a clear compliment, of course.  Let's take a look at how "environmentally sound" these things are.  They range from 18-20' trailers weighing in at about 6000 lbs. to 24' trailers weighing in at 8000 to 10000 lbs.  Not surprisingly, the tow vehicle is generally a 3/4 ton or 1 ton pickup to pull these 100-160 square foot "dream homes", getting about 10mpg towing and 15mpg or less without towing--and that with the diesel engine.

Let's compare, for what it's worth, with another mobile home with about 150 square feet, the Airstream Flying Cloud 19'.  Like the Tumbleweed, it costs about $60,000, and like the Tumbleweed, it has about 150 square feet with kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and dinette/living room area. 

Leaving aside aesthetics for a moment, the big difference between it and the Tumbleweed is that (a) the Tumbleweed weighs 1-2 tons more and (b) the Tumbleweed is about 3-5' taller with about 2-3 times the wind resistance.  So while the Airstream uses more "non-renewable materials" in its construction, it strikes me that if you really want to strike a blow for the environment, the Airstream--which can be towed by many minivans and SUVs--is really the better choice.  Even the largest Airstream--31' , 250sf, and 7400 lbs--can be towed by today's half-ton pickups. 

Put gently, the extra ton of metal used by an Airstream, and its carbon footprint, is quickly matched by the extra ton of metal needed to tow a Tumbleweed, and the fuel used only makes the situation worse.

So if you're smitten by the tiny home movement, don't let me stop you.  I think they're cool in many ways.  However, if you want to tell me how environmentally sound you're trying to be, you might want to consider emulating what Airstream has done.  Use lightweight construction methods, build past the ladder frame to get more room over the wheels, and for goodness' sake streamline that home a bit if you're going to be towing it much.

One final note; having watched the video of Airstream construction, it's cool, but if you really, really wanted to make that thing about 1000 lbs lighter, you'd end up using monocoque construction instead of body on frame.  Would it last?  Well, it's about the same construction as a modern jet plane, which can last 50 years despite the stresses of 500mph flight. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Celebrating the day well, it seems.....

....are first a group of U.S. Senators, who are encouraging FIFA to de-select Russia from hosting the 2018 World Cup.  Lessee....the Russians are throwing their weight around all around the world, and we want to prevent them from blowing fifty billion bucks on football the way they did for the Olympics?  Why?  Every ruble that goes to this, or to one of Putin's dachas, is a dollar ruble (oops) that can't be spent destabilizing Ukraine or other nations.  Let's give them the Olympics and the World Cup every time until it bankrupts them.  Or until they figure out what we're doing to them. 

....and also the People's Republic of China, which is apparently dumping millions of tons of sand on a coral reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in order to build small airstrips.  Nothing, mind you, that would withstand annual typhoons or provide a place for people to live.  Nothing that would be militarily useful.  Just enough to....kill most of the fish around that particular atoll and really, really, really tick off the Vietnamese, Filipinos, Malaysians, and the Sultan of Brunei. 

And what is the primary economic use of the Spratly Islands?  Fishing, of course. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Matthew 18, 1 Cor. 6, and Romans 13

In a previous post, I believe I've at least made a case that churches ought to use Matthew 18 for reconciliation and church discipline whenever they've got a case of one believer--member--sinning against another.  As I recall a situation from when I was young in Christ--where a known unrepentant adulterer was serving as an usher--I really have trouble imagining a case in which I would not want known sin to be confronted in this way.  We can quibble over who is the victim who ought to confront, ask whether we ought to start in verse 15 or 16, and finally pray that church leadership learns what they need to do, but if we trust church leaders and members to serve on a jury, we then ought to require them to use the same kind of discretion in church discipline.

So back to the point; in what cases would the early church have reported sins to the state, and how can we apply their logic today?  Let's start by noting that the early church would not have referred every crime against Rome to the state.  Christianity itself was illegal, most believers had no access to the courts, and even if a sponsor could be found to bring the matter there, the case might end up throwing the entire church to the lions.

I would therefore guess that they would only do so if the crime was such that the risk to the church was exceeded by the risk of the criminal to society.  Let's apply that standard to the kind of cases that often scandalizes churches; where adults physically or sexually abuse children and teens.

For starters, we're not being thrown to the lions these days, and much of our civil and criminal law actually follows Biblical principles.  So we don't have the element of fear that the early church did.  We do, however, have a danger to society; the average child molester molests eight girls or up to 240 boys, creating lifelong damage that is almost as significant as killing that child.

Using the logic of the ancients, we learn that the question is not if we ought to report them, but rather when and how.   One more fact; physical and sexual abuse leaves evidence that the police can collect if we approach them in time.  They may or may not be smarter than we are, but they have the tools.

What then is our role, given that we do not face the Circus Maximus for reporting a heinous crime?  It would seem that we therefore fulfill Matthew 18 by providing an advocate for the accuser, encouraging the accuser to go before authorities, preparing them for what they will face, and supporting them during that process--while following through on the rest of the Matthew 18 process as the allegations do, or do not, wind through the courts.

The last part is key IMO, as the central point of Matthew 18 is not church discipline, but rather a ministry of reconciliation.  Instead of appealing solely to Romans 13 and casting the sinner loose and trying to patch things up later, why not use the Matthew 18 process to persuade the defendant to make things as easy as possible on the accuser by making a full confession?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rescuing the use of Matthew 18

In recent weeks, events like the opening of the GRACE report about sexual abuse at Bob Jones University have made me aware of an interesting approach to Matthew 18 made by GRACE and others; that this reconciliation process only applies to minor, personal matters between individuals in the church.  Now I'm amenable to the motivation--who wants to force the 90 pound victim to confront her (his) 250 pound assailant alone?--but simply speaking, there is a lot of trouble with this approach.  For starters, the passage simply says "if your brother sins against you"--it doesn't tell us what sins might, or might not, be included. 

Couple that with Romans 13 (which indicates a significant role for kings in justice) and 1 Corinthians 6 (which indicates that believers in Corinth weren't supposed to go to law at all), and we have a recipe for confusion if we view this through modern eyes, where we have a large and fairly adequate civil and criminal justice system.   So let's try to look at these passages through "ancient eyes". 

A good place to start with Romans 13 and 1 Cor. 6 is to remember that only Roman citizens had access to the courts.  So when 1 Corinthians 6 was read for the first time, the minority who were wealthy citizens (probably some of the deacons and elders) were singled out.  The majority--slaves and poor--would have seen Romans 13 as an example of what could be done to them more than what could be done for them, the King's authority more than a promise of justice for them.

Hence, 1 Corinthians 6 might also read rich people, don't use the courts to abuse your poorer brothers; James 2:6 says this as well.  Today, we see this a lot in civil and family law, where people use false accusations and the civil courts to stomp the less fortunate into submission.  Thankfully in criminal law, the accuser at least must persuade an independent prosecutor that charges ought to be filed!

In this light, the application of Matthew 18 is very broad--it was the only recourse that most people had.  And we are left, again, with the question of whether we force that 90 pound victim to face her 250 pound offender alone.  Should we then abandon Matthew 18?

As repulsive as the picture we've discussed is, keep in mind that if we abandon Biblical process, we then will either exonerate the guilty or blame the innocent for one reason; criminal law is not necessarily God's law.  Plus, Matthew 18 works as much for reconciliation as it does for excommunication--it's a spiritual tool not given to the government.  How do we then rescue it?

First, remember that the first meeting where the accused was aware of his sin is when the assault(s) occurred.  Hence it looks like we ought to proceed directly to Matthew 18:16, where other witnesses would be involved.

Along the same lines, Scripture enjoins men to stand in for their wives and children, and even for widows and orphans, while pronouncing a curse against those who pervert justice.  So in that light, we ought to argue that any vulnerable accuser ought to be represented when confronting the one who has abused her--by parents, husband, or other responsible person capable of handling the situation.

That then leaves a very simple question; when does a church bring in civil authorities in the Matthew 18 process?  I'll present some thoughts soon.