Thursday, August 16, 2018

Yes, speak up

This tweet from one of Larry Nassar's victims says a lot about how a predator can, or can not, be stopped.  You see, the conventional wisdom was that Nassar's crimes started at MSU when he became an osteopathic doctor.  However, Ms. Klein says she was first abused 30 years ago, around 1988, when Nassar was only an athletic trainer at USAG.

Keep in mind here that athletic trainers generally do not work in as private a setting as doctors, and they are not allowed to do the range of services that doctors are, either.  So it would seem that USAG missed a golden chance to stop Nassar back when his career in crime was barely started.

Or, perhaps it had already started when he was an athletic trainer at the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, or perhaps it started as far back as 1978, when he was a student athletic trainer in high school.   It seems that as ugly as this is already, it's  likely to get a lot uglier.

George Orwell, please call your office

It appears that Chelsea Clinton has learned the wrong lesson about "newspeak" from your novel 1984, as she's using it quite well to say absurdities like "pro-choice is pro-life".   Because what is more pro-life than ripping pre-born babies limb from limb?  Duh.   In other news about Ms. Clinton, apparently she's claiming that the Holocaust added $3.5 trillion to Nazi Germany's economy.  (for the humor impaired, that is a joke from the Babylon Bee)

Seriously, if this is the best thinking Ms. Clinton can come up with, I have to suggest that she and her parents are due profound apologies from Sidwell Friends, Stanford, Oxford, and Columbia--and full refunds of all tuition and fees paid.  She is entitled to her point of view, perverse as it is, but coming into adulthood as a total dingbat despite multiple prestigious degrees is in part the fault of her "educators".

A groan and a suggestion

Apparently two more Olympic gymnasts have said #MeToo; they too were molested by Larry Nassar.  I pondered a while back if Nassar had any patients he hadn't molested, and increasingly it's looking like such unmolested patients of Nassar's are like hen's teeth.

And with that, it strikes me that if I had access to large numbers of dried up cowpies, I'd collect them, paint them teal, and spread them around the campii of Michigan State, USC, Ohio State, the USGA, and the USOC, so that the leadership there could have "teal shit" in front of them wherever they went.  And if I happened to be the leader of one of these institutions, I would pick one of them up and put it on my desk. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Now this could be fun!

Apparently the environmental left is moving to ban balloons because of the likelihood that they also could hurt aquatic life, just like plastic straws.  Now of course, there's little evidence that suggests it's a huge effect, but since when has that stopped American environmentalists?

Besides, I can think of something that liberals love and have promoted since the early 1980s that closely resembles the latex balloons that the environmental left would like to ban.....yes, I'm humming along to "Up, up and away" (in my beautiful balloon), remembering Rush's use of the song for one of his updates....yes, we could help save the environment AND make the environmental left really, really grouchy to boot.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What would be the worst thing?

Numerous sources today are reporting that a Pennsylvania investigation of molestation by Catholic priests is naming 300 as abusers--for perspective, Wikipedia suggests that there are only about 37,000 total in the U.S., and the diocese involved represents perhaps 75% of Pennsylvania's 3-4 million Catholics.  Doing a bit of hand-waving math, we would expect that about 5% of U.S. Catholics are in this diocese, which would be expected, then, to have somewhere around 2000 priests.

Leaving some allowance for priests moving from one diocese to another, and leaving a bit of room for the fact that these offenses occurred over 2-3 generations of priests, it would seem that previous estimates of about 4% of priests being abusers may be low, and that another round of Hell is about to break loose for the Catholic Church.

Update: apparently the dioceses in question have about 1.7 million congregants, about 2.5% of U.S. Catholics, which would suggest only about 1000 priests.  Even accounting for 3 generations in the last 70 years, that would suggest only about 120 offenders overall (how many of them known?), which would suggest either a lot of movement between dioceses and/or that the rate of offense there is quite a bit greater than 4% of priests.

And then, I'd have to guess, another round of Hell will then break loose for churches in "my" tribe, sad to say.  It brings to mind the question of "what is the worst thing that could happen?"  Apart from people who rightly belong in jail for what they've done, it would stand to reason that a lot of church property may soon be owned by trial lawyers and their clients, and that believers are going to need to figure out different places to worship and serve God.

It sounds bad, but we need to remember that one of the greatest periods of growth for the Church was when Rome was killing whatever Christians they could find, and when God's people had to meet quietly in homes and do their acts of benevolence without hiring time on TV and the like.  If things go down like I anticipate, it will be a set of tough lessons, but a set of tough lessons that will remind God's people of what's really important.

And as we anticipate that, we might decide to change our ministries from property and buildings to people.  Double bonus, no?

Friday, August 10, 2018

More California dreaming

As many who follow the news are aware, California is committed to spending something like one hundred billion bucks to put a bullet train between LA (or really its far out suburbs) and the Bay.  Now, while I've got huge differences with rail transit in general, it struck me that the bullet train is classic 1960s technology, and if Californians can milk the taxpayer to get such technology, why can't I?  So here's a short list of the 1960s technologies I'd like to have not just available today (though many aren't), but subsidized for me by the taxpayer.

  • A 409 with 3 deuces under the hood. 
  • A dishwasher that actually works and lasts 20 years.
  • A clothes washer that actually works and lasts 20 years.
  • Dish and clothes detergents with phosphates that actually work.
  • A firearm purchase without background checks or a paper trail.
  • A clothes dryer that actually works.
  • Appliances with a pilot light that don't constantly need new igniters.
  • A toilet that works
You know, we could work this, couldn't we? 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

All true, it appears

I just got back from a two week vacation in California--Bay area and northwards--and sad to say, a lot of what I've heard about that great state's decline is absolutely true.  Even in the very prosperous towns of Mountain View and Palo Alto, you've got garbage strewn all over and signs warning drivers to lock their cars lest someone steal their things, tech workers living in RVs (and strange traffic control methods in Palo Alto to prevent it), and the façade of prosperity along with the reality of empty homes and buildings. 

It is as if residents of the state have forgotten what formerly made their state work, and I saw that when I visited Stanford's campus in Palo Alto.  There is a degree of beauty there that I've rarely seen elsewhere (and I've been to Cambridge MA and Heidelberg), but there was something striking and quite frankly appalling as I watched those on campus act as if the dozens of Rodin sculptures (including a complete Gates of Hell and a bigger than life Le Penseur) were simply freshman sculpture projects. 

Loved the whales, sea lions, redwoods, and wineries, but the state is cruising for a bruising, societally speaking.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Points of reference

With reference to the modern #MeToo movement, here's an interesting article (and horrifying, BTW) that documents part of the English movement to end prostitution.  Evidently part of the problem was that numerous members of Parliament thought that visiting brothels--often government-controlled at the time--was a normal part of growing up.  It illustrates the fact as well--relevant then as now--that the real dividing line between "jailbait" and someone one could legally (if not morally) pursue is not really physical maturity, but rather whether society has decided that a person is "off limits" or not--and that "off limits" designation really has more to do with emotional and mental maturity than anything else, along with a perceived balance of power in the relationship.

Here's another interesting thing; resorts are putting spray sunscreen booths by beaches.  Apparently the old pattern of wearing swimwear where you'd either be able to apply sunscreen yourself, or where you had companions you'd trust putting sunscreen on your back, is fading, and people are deciding to go to these resorts without having trusted friends nearby.  Raises all kinds of questions for me, really.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Cry me a river

Larry Nassar was apparently attacked in prison, following a pattern seen often for those who violate minors.  He wants to blame the judge for this, because she was harsh during sentencing. Poor widdle baby.  If only he'd known that sexual assault was against the law.  Oh, wait....

I know I should be more concerned about jailhouse assault, but when my favored punishment for him would have involved battery acid and an industrial meat grinder, sorry, I can't get all worked up about this. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Plenty of guys giving speeding tickets, though

The (Red) Star-Tribune is not my favorite newspaper, but credit where credit is due.  See this expose (H/T Jim Peet) of the effort, or lack thereof, put into investigating sexual assault in Minnesota.  Lots of effort put into traffic enforcement, but prosecution of rape, not so much.  Apparently even basic DNA profiling sometimes is omitted, despite the DNA being readily available.

I get a lot of why this is, too.  I'd bet it's pretty traumatic to deal with such crimes, and the article also makes clear that a lot of these cases are hard to win.  That said, I'd have hoped there would be reasonable effort made to deal with such life-changing crimes, and at least to a degree, that hope appears to be dashed.  It's time to take some guys off traffic patrol and have them investigate real crimes like these, and I for one would be glad to pay a little more in taxes for that.  Well done, Star-Tribune.

Why these things are tough

Check out the New York Times on how one of Jim Jordan's accusers, Mike DiSabato, decided to come forward with his allegations against former wrestling doctor Richard Strauss.  (H/T Jacob Denhollander)  More or less, watching hundreds of women (and I think at least one man) step forward with the same story about Larry Nassar informed DiSabato (and evidently about a hundred others) that what they'd experienced was not just weird, but a crime.

And that's a challenge as we assert that an organization or person "should have known" that something wrong was going on; if the very victims had to figure out that it was wrong, then (absent clear training on what to look for) those around the victims are going to have even more trouble figuring out what's up.  That makes the OSU case far more difficult than the MSU and PSU cases, where there were specific reports about both Larry Nassar and Jerry Sandusky that the schools ought to have acted on.

On the flip side, there was a known issue where people were indeed visiting the wrestler's showers to ogle them.  What is uncertain here is whether the victims are out for blood and money, or if they were seeking predominantly repentance.  I have a hunch most of Nassar's victims were looking for the latter more than the former, to be honest, and MSU probably threw a few hundred million dollars down the toilet by refusing to give an apology with a commitment to an independent set of audits.

So my prediction here is that if the victims are seeking primarily repentance, OSU can get past this with about $20 million for mental health treatment of victims and a commitment to audit the relevant departments--unless OSU refuses to give a real apology.  If no real apology is made, or if the victims are seeking blood (personally I doubt they are), we're talking $100 million or more.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Time to sell? Part 2

If the issue of needless assets were merely an issue of summer camp, that would be one thing, but regrettably, that's not the reality.  Just for kicks, I thought through the number of attendees versus the size, and cost, of the physical plant.

Some churches did very well.  A church I attended in Colorado had about 8000 square feet and about 150-200 consistent attenders, or about 40-55 square feet per person.  One I attended in the Twin Cities, sharing space with a day school and seminary, typically used about 50-60,000 square feet and had 600 or so attendees, about 100 square feet per attendee. 

On the flip side, one local church with about 50 attendees and 10,000 square feet, about 200 square feet per attendee, and my current church, with about 45000 square feet (my estimate) and 300-400 attendees, about 110 to 150 square feet per attendee.  Another church in Waseca typically had about 20 or 30 in attendance and 5000 square feet, or about 200 square feet per attendee.

The same equation goes for land; some churches are more or less on a city block, others have 15-30 acres on their property.  For reference, 10 acres is ~435,000 square feet of land, so if one splits the property between parking (5 acres/ 400 cars), building (2.5 acres/100k square feet), and green area (2.5 acres), you've got a nice facility for about 1000 attendees. 

In many cases, however, the extra land is going to athletic fields, spare space, and the like.  It's nice, but let's be real; it takes a while to mow, is a resource that could be put to other purposes, and quite frankly, many park boards do a much better job of maintaining these fields because they get more usage.

I'd suggest that in many cases, churches have a lot of property that, even with very optimistic growth goals and estimates, they simply will never use well.  It's in many ways a waste of money and space.

There is also the question of what all this extra property does to the church.  In my view, the end result is that pastors who ought to be "men of the Word and prayer" end up doing things like repairing lawnmowers, administering repair/maintenance efforts, and coordinating big mowing and snowplow crews.  I have even seen a fair number of commentary that being able to do this is a key qualification for the pastorate.  In the same way, men who ought to be learning to evangelize and make disciples end up....mowing lawns and the like.

Now to be sure, some degree of these tasks will be necessary as long as churches own physical property, but one might infer that churches ought to consider their property in light of reasonable ministry expectations.  I love driving my church's new zero turn mower--and I'm getting reasonably good at it--but Matthew 28 simply tells me that I've got bigger things on my agenda. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Scary if true

At face value, it would seem to be my alma mater once again "mooning a pit bull"; they have claimed, apparently in contradiction to Michigan's mandatory reporting law, that their counselors are not mandatory reporters.  The lawyers are citing MSU policy defining a category of counselors as "confidential sources" who apparently are not "MSU employees." 

The response would seem obvious--counselors working under the aegis of the "MSU counseling center" are indeed representing MSU, and state law overrides MSU policy in any case.  And if they are not MSU employees, are they unpaid?  You've got to question MSU's sanity if they're not paid--quality will suffer--and again, if one goes to the "MSU counseling center", exactly whose employees are they if they are paid?

On the flip side, there is one thing that can override state law, and that is federal law, specifically laws like Title IX.  I have to wonder if MSU is, rightly or wrongly, under the impression that Title IX allows this loophole.  And as much as I dislike what MSU General Counsel Bob Young has done there, he's a former Michigan Supreme Court justice and was on President Trump's short list for the U.S. Supreme Court.  He's no legal dummy by any stretch of the imagination.

Could it be that this is yet another place where Title IX or other federal laws create a loophole for universities to protect their sportsball programs by putting "ringers" in counseling programs to evade reporting responsibilities?  Time will tell, but if there is anything to this, it's horrific.

Monday, July 16, 2018

One must wonder...

...if the mass of bloodthirsty hymnals which (H/T Babylon Bee) killed a worship leader could have themselves been eliminated if the worship leader had started singing Ronnie Dosmond's Puberty Love  "Breathe".   Or, rather, was that actually the provocation that drove the hymnals to murder? 

Time to sell?

It's summer camp time, again, and one of the interesting things going on in my church's association is that, for a variety of reasons, Bible camp attendance is again down.  Some blame an aging church, some blame modesty standards and how they're presented, some blame cost, and I'm sure there are a host of other reasons.

That noted, what we're presented with, really, is a list of Bible camps out there that have multimillion dollar facilities used less than a month a year with only a few hundred children benefiting.  Sure, we do have professions of faith and renewals of faith, some of them genuine, and that is a good thing, but I have to wonder whether we ought to really take a look at the cost/benefit equation.

To draw a comparison, my son and I attended a weekend expedition of "Trail Life" in facilities far superior to those at my association's summer camp for about $50 apiece including meals at the local state park.  The cabins were clean, comfortable, well cared for, and heated, as were the bathrooms and kitchen facilities.   We had the use of a nice meeting hall, games, hiking paths, water access, and more.

Where was this wonderful Scout camp?  It was the group camp at Whitewater State Park here in Minnesota, and it has a history going all the way back to its original use as a POW camp for Germans in World War II.  Great trails, a museum nearby, and a bunch of other recreational activities for a very reasonable--and probably taxpayer subsidized--price.

And as such, it strikes me that churches everywhere might do well to consider whether they really need to hold onto various facilities they own.  If the state parks, or other church camps, do a better job and are more viable, why not help keep them in business by using them?  Keep in mind as well that if you value evangelism, one of the biggest things you need to do is to get out of the fundagelical "cocoon" and interact with those outside the fold.   Easy around state parks; difficult in isolated church camps, no?

Moreover, in the case of my church's association, the likely proceeds from a sale would fund youth pastors in about two thirds of member churches for about a year as well, and the time, effort, and money spent maintaining the camp might be better spent maintaining our local church buildings. In other words, if we want to keep summer camp viable, our best option might be to sell our facilities.