Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I'm officially two thirds of the way through my annual cycle of mourning events. The season for me runs from Patriot's day in September through Veteran's Day in November and includes mourning for my dead shipmates from the USS Cole.

Because I once played trumpet, my mourning process includes the playing of Taps on those three days.

USS Cole Memorial Service, Norfolk Naval Station 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Rule of Law - Updated w/ links

This post was prompted by an entry in my good buddy ultraguy's blog

Dan 6:1-28 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; (2) And over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. (3) Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. (4) Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. (5) Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

What we see happening here is similar to what is now being reported and shown in our court system. We have people looking to define new crimes which will then be selectively enforced.

(6) Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. (7) All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. (8) Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. (9) Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. (10) Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

That's about as targeted as some modern laws that I've seen. The amazing thing to most people is that Daniel refuses to take the obvious out, not praying for 30 days, but determines to honor G-d by continuing his lifelong practice.

(11) Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. (12) Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. (13) Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. (14) Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him. (15) Then these men assembled unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. (16) Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. (17) And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

(18) Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him. (19) Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. (20) And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? (21) Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. (22) My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. (23) Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. (24) And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.

(25) Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. (26) I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. (27) He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. (28) So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

The problem is at least as old as Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar could change law like, changing socks. Darius, was slowed by the use of written laws which were unchangeable. Revocation took a new decree, and a record of all was left for posterity.

The idea of republics comes from the publicly accessible record of laws passed. The Latin phrase res publica which translates as the public thing, contracted over time in to the English word republic

It has been taught in the past that one of the things that made the European nations powerful was the rule of law. The particular ascendancy of the English speaking peoples may have come from the 'common law.' English common law goes back at least to 1215 and the Magna Carta

Persian Law

Accepted English Meaning

Pharisees, Politics and Power

I've been reading Richard Foster's Classic "Celebration of Discipline." I had an interesting moment when I noticed the following. --
Speaking of the Pharisees --"One factor, however was central to their righteousness: externalism. Their righteousness consisted in control over externals, often including the manipulation of others."
They also had an annoying tendency to put burdens on others that they did not take up themselves.

As I read this I wondered where have I seen this before, and it occurred to me that the source of the legislative control coming from our government is not ideological but spiritual. By succumbing to the same impulse that leads us toward religious legalism, a sense that with the right laws we can curb behavior with a minimum of personal analysis and thought, also gives us laws that attempt to regulate things that resist regulation.

Jesus, had this to say about the Pharisees --
Mat 23:13-17 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (14) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. (15) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. (16) Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! (17) Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?

Classics -- Hubbard's "A Message to Garcia"


A Message to Garcia

By Elbert Hubbard

In all this Cuban business there is one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion. When war broke out between Spain & the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba- no one knew where. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his cooperation, and quickly.

What to do!

Some one said to the President, "There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan will find Garcia for you, if anybody can."

Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How "the fellow by the name of Rowan" took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, & in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia, are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.

The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is he at?" By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing- "Carry a message to Garcia!"

General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias.

No man, who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average man- the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it. Slip-shod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, & half-hearted work seem the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook, or threat, he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or mayhap, God in His goodness performs a miracle, & sends him an Angel of Light for an assistant. You, reader, put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office- six clerks are within call.

Summon any one and make this request: "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio".

Will the clerk quietly say, "Yes, sir," and go do the task?

On your life, he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye and ask one or more of the following questions:

Who was he?

Which encyclopedia?

Where is the encyclopedia?

Was I hired for that?

Don’t you mean Bismarck?

What’s the matter with Charlie doing it?

Is he dead?

Is there any hurry?

Shan’t I bring you the book and let you look it up yourself?

What do you want to know for?

And I will lay you ten to one that after you have answered the questions, and explained how to find the information, and why you want it, the clerk will go off and get one of the other clerks to help him try to find Garcia- and then come back and tell you there is no such man. Of course I may lose my bet, but according to the Law of Average, I will not.

Now if you are wise you will not bother to explain to your "assistant" that Correggio is indexed under the C’s, not in the K’s, but you will smile sweetly and say, "Never mind," and go look it up yourself.

And this incapacity for independent action, this moral stupidity, this infirmity of the will, this unwillingness to cheerfully catch hold and lift, are the things that put pure Socialism so far into the future. If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of their effort is for all? A first-mate with knotted club seems necessary; and the dread of getting "the bounce" Saturday night, holds many a worker to his place.

Advertise for a stenographer, and nine out of ten who apply, can neither spell nor punctuate- and do not think it necessary to.

Can such a one write a letter to Garcia?

"You see that bookkeeper," said the foreman to me in a large factory.

"Yes, what about him?"

"Well he’s a fine accountant, but if I’d send him up town on an errand, he might accomplish the errand all right, and on the other hand, might stop at four saloons on the way, and when he got to Main Street, would forget what he had been sent for."

Can such a man be entrusted to carry a message to Garcia?

We have recently been hearing much maudlin sympathy expressed for the "downtrodden denizen of the sweat-shop" and the "homeless wanderer searching for honest employment," & with it all often go many hard words for the men in power.

Nothing is said about the employer who grows old before his time in a vain attempt to get frowsy ne’er-do-wells to do intelligent work; and his long patient striving with "help" that does nothing but loaf when his back is turned. In every store and factory there is a constant weeding-out process going on. The employer is constantly sending away "help" that have shown their incapacity to further the interests of the business, and others are being taken on. No matter how good times are, this sorting continues, only if times are hard and work is scarce, the sorting is done finer- but out and forever out, the incompetent and unworthy go.

It is the survival of the fittest. Self-interest prompts every employer to keep the best- those who can carry a message to Garcia.

I know one man of really brilliant parts who has not the ability to manage a business of his own, and yet who is absolutely worthless to any one else, because he carries with him constantly the insane suspicion that his employer is oppressing, or intending to oppress him. He cannot give orders; and he will not receive them. Should a message be given him to take to Garcia, his answer would probably be, "Take it yourself."

Tonight this man walks the streets looking for work, the wind whistling through his threadbare coat. No one who knows him dare employ him, for he is a regular fire-brand of discontent. He is impervious to reason, and the only thing that can impress him is the toe of a thick-soled No. 9 boot.

Of course I know that one so morally deformed is no less to be pitied than a physical cripple; but in our pitying, let us drop a tear, too, for the men who are striving to carry on a great enterprise, whose working hours are not limited by the whistle, and whose hair is fast turning white through the struggle to hold in line dowdy indifference, slip-shod imbecility, and the heartless ingratitude, which, but for their enterprise, would be both hungry & homeless.

Have I put the matter too strongly? Possibly I have; but when all the world has gone a-slumming I wish to speak a word of sympathy for the man who succeeds- the man who, against great odds has directed the efforts of others, and having succeeded, finds there’s nothing in it: nothing but bare board and clothes.

I have carried a dinner pail & worked for day’s wages, and I have also been an employer of labor, and I know there is something to be said on both sides. There is no excellence, per se, in poverty; rags are no recommendation; & all employers are not rapacious and high-handed, any more than all poor men are virtuous.

My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the "boss" is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly take the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets "laid off," nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village- in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries out for such: he is needed, & needed badly- the man who can carry a message to Garcia.


Sunday, September 13, 2009


Forgiveness is tough - as a general rule we aren't very good at it. We talk about it, we all want to be forgiven, but when it comes time to forgive others, when it is time to walk the talk, we don't do so well.

It isn't a new issue for us. There was a gentleman named Lamech mentioned in the 4th chapter of Genesis who had trouble with forgiveness as well.
Here's what he said about forgiveness - Gen 4:23-24 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. (24) If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

Some years later in Roman Palestine - a young Rabi was teaching his disciples and they asked him a question about forgiveness. He gave them this answer - Mat 18:21-22 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? (22) Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Otto Koenig a missionary and christian speaker, talks about this verse and notes that 490 times gets him one and one third years. Actually, it's more complicated than that we should think of it as forgiving until the offense stops.

Almost nine years ago now the issue became a very important one for me. I was a victim of a terrorist attack. I lost some friends in the attack and I still have nightmares about the attack. However, because I call myself a Christian, it was necessary for me to deal with the desire for revenge and the anger that was caused by the incident. Part of the solution, is allowing G-d to be the ruler over my life. How successful I have been at that is an open question - some days I find myself praying that the leader of the terrorists will make a profession of faith in downtown Riyad. Other days I find myself thinking of the coals of fire - Rom 12:19-21 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (20) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. (21) Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The only way that we can do that is to role model forgiveness to world that finds the concept to be totally alien.

Monday, June 29, 2009

SOAP 6/26/2009 (Reciprocity)

Luke 6:37-42 KJV Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (38) Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (39) And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? (40) The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. (41) And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (42) Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.

(S) 37 As you judge, you will be judged; as you condemn, you will be condemned; as you forgive, you will be forgiven;

(O) Jesus lays out one of the great rules of the Kingdom, the law of reciprocity. G-d will judge us by our own standard. The good news is we get to pick our judge, the bad news is we are the judge.

(A) This is an important concept to grasp. Every time we act hastily, harshly, or unjustly, we heap up coals on our own head.

(P) Father, help me to teach this truth, first to myself, then to others around me.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


I just posted this as an answer to a question on iMonk's blog.

Our success as Christians is in proportion to our ability to surrender. We teach baptism as an identification with the death of Jesus on the cross. As an example:

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Rom 5:19-6:11 KJV)

If we are in fact dead, we have no family, and being persecuted, shunned or killed for family honor should not influence our decision for Christ.

A 20th Christian Martyr once said: “That man is no fool who gives up what he can not keep, to gain that which he can not lose.”

We have a sure promise from God - Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.
(Joh 10:25-30 KJV)

I Surender All

Judson W. VanDeventer


All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.


I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessèd Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.


All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.


All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.


All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!



Thursday, May 7, 2009

Calling the Ball or the Decline of the English Speaking Peoples

Two meanings occur to me for the phrase calling the ball:

  1. The act of a baseball player playing a ball that several are running toward -- Preventing confusion, accident, and hopefully errors.
  2. A call made by a Naval Aviator on final approach as the glide slope indicator is spotted.
I thought it appropriate in this context as Kipling called changes in the British Empire, long before the symptoms of the decay became threatening.


Rudyard Kipling


God of our fathers, known of old--
Lord of our far-flung battle line--
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies--
The Captains and the Kings depart--
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away--
On dune and headland sinks the fire--
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard--
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Old Things Coming 'Round Again -- Kipling

Rudyard Kippling (1865 - 1936)

on Ransom, Extortion and Payoffs


A.D. 980-1016
It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Short History of Group Think

I started looking at the phenomenon of group think today. One of the sparks was a post by my good buddy Ultra Guy on his blog new wineskins. It seemed to me that a salient point in his argument was the decimation of the German Theoretical physics community during the 1920's and early 1930's as the tide of antisemitism drove some of the leading physicists out of Germany.
The term groupthink was coined in the early by William H. Whyte:
Groupthink being a coinage—and, admittedly, a loaded one—a working definition is in order. We are not talking about mere instinctive conformity—it is, after all, a perennial failing of mankind. What we are talking about is a rationalized conformity—an open, articulate philosophy which holds that group values are not only expedient but right and good as well.
Ultimately group think is about defending unexamined assumptions about things. As Galileo discovered with his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Challenging the reigning world view can be hazardous to your life. In 2008 the Church completed the rehabilitation of Galileo Galilei a process begun some 300 years after declaring him a heretic.

In our own era state sponsored and organized group think rose to new levels in Germany and the USSR. The German version, Gleichschaltung was particularly invidious and the name in German calls forth images of a system like a Gyro compass with, repeaters dutifully following the master compass. The Soviet flavor, Lysenkoism, had devastating effects throughout Soviet Society and Science. The essential core of Lysenkoism was the doctrine that acquired traits were inheritable. While the concept was not new to Lysenko, having been epressed by such worthies as Buffon, Lamarck, and giving it a patina of respectability Aristotle.

The current manifestation of group think trumping the scientific method are the conjoined triplets of liberal elitism - The Population Bomb, The Coming Ice Age, and Anthropogenic Global Warming. In each case the operating principle is the same. All research that supports the group position is loudly proclaimed, contrary research is suppressed. In the next phase research funding is filtered through a combination of peer reviewed publications ensuring that reports match the desired outcome. Funding from all sources is then based on previous publication and probability of the research being publishable in a peer reviewed publication. In the last phase, to show even handedness, contrarian research is requested and then heavily redacted to ensure that even the dissenters support the core thesis.

The final nail in the coffin and the result that proves "Mark Twain, was right when he said; "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." The recently released Index of Environmental Indicators, you owe it to yourself to see just how much we know about our environment that isn't so. The 70 page report also shows the progression towards impotence of most attempts to actually do something about a problem degenerate into. That one fact alone should give hope to all the AGW deniers around the globe.

Friday, April 24, 2009

An Idea as Old as the Hills .... of Rome (Athens) ....

Some days it seems like certain ideas rather than being relegated to the scrap heap of history to be destroyed for ever are instead plucked from the heap and recycled without modification. Price controls are one of them. I found while browsing Google Books, several interesting volumes on the history of price controls.
The earliest citations are for Imperial Rome, under Diocletian, and an earlier version during one or another of the wars of Greek history. Price controls seem to have some constant features:
  1. The price of some commodity, usually but not always a staple grain begins to rise.
  2. As the price increase pinches more people, and pinches harder, our ever alert Politicians seek to curry favor from the populace.
After some head scratching they usually come up with some variation on - our core constituency is being adversely affected by the increasing cost of X.

Posted in honor of the Punitive Tariff imposed on Chinese steel.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Second Verse, Same as the First

It looks like Mr. Peabody has set the Wayback Machine for the year 2000. At New Years of 2000, a hand picked team of Al Qaeda Operatives attempted a multi-site attack was planned for Seattle, Los Angeles and Aden Yemen. For reasons that had nothing to to with the basic plan, or a real effort on the part of the US Government all three attempts faile. The Seattle and LA teams were caught crossing the Canadian Border. The Yemenese team had what can only be called an equipment failure, as the bomb boat sank while being launched.
Nine months later, the same Yemenese team scored a success with the bombing of the USS Cole at the same fueling pier that USS Sulivan's avoided. In the aftermath of the Cole attack, the US government brought its full law enforcement weight to bear on the situation. With the FBI in the lead and assisted by NCIS, BATF and other agencies a full court case was made against those members of the team who survived the attack. At the end of a a very obstructed investigation the evidence was turned over to the Yemeni government, which to its credit did act on the information. The prosecution was successful and the bomb plotters were imprisoned in Yemen. In April of 2003 and again in 2006 a group of the plotters escaped from prison. The first time while they were awaiting trial, the second after conviction.
We've seen the results of US investigation of "crimes." Now a new administration is bent on rediscovering ancient truths as old if not older than the Romans. Alcoholics Anonymous teaches that Insanity is doing the same thing the same way and hoping for a different result.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Turn About

Last Wednesday, the Bush 43 executive order prohibiting fetal stem cell research with federal money. On Friday, the Ominbus bill was signed by the President who evidently had not noticed that the perennially offered Dicky - Wicker amendment which prohibits federal funding of fetal stem cell research.

Shows what happens when people do not have the habit of reading things carefully before signing 8)

SOAP 3/16/2009

Mat 25:31-46 KJV When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (32) And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: (33) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (35) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: (36) Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

(37) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (38) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? (39) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

(40) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (41) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (42) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: (43) I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

(44) Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? (45) Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (46) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Scripture Paraphrase: What? When did we feed you?

Observation: We often pass by opportunities for witness and aid with the excuse that it is inconvenient.

Application: How can we afford to pass up any opportunities when we do not know when we will be called to account?

Prayer: Father help me to see and act on the opportunities that you give me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

SOAP for the Soul

I put this together a while ago for a sermon that I haven't preached yet.

As a starter here is mine from yesterday.

Reading Matt. 24:15-35
(S) v24 False prophets and messiahs will arise doing signs and wonders, to the point of deceiving the elect.

(O) We like to think that we are two smart to be gulled. The smart people are at a greater risk.

(A) We are to be on guard, testing the spirits to prevent being taken

(P) Father, help us to be diligent in testing what we hear and read
1) Soap

We all know that Bible study is important, but often we are not sure how to do it. There are lots and lots of books that get used in Bible Study groups. Sadly often what happens is that the book is studied, not the Bible. We wouldn't go to the grocery store and expect to find lumber or building supplies. So why do we accept Bible studies that don't study the Bible.

We all use soap to clean our selves and other things. There are all kinds of soap, this is an incomplete list

• Murphy's Oil Soap

• Fels Naptha Soap

• Ivory Soap

• Quilt Soap

• even home made lye soap.

{Poll congregation for more kinds of soap.}

But what do we use to clean a soul? Ivory soap won't work there, scrubbing bubbles won't work either. We need a different cleaner. Like most questions, this one isn't new, and the best answer is in Psalms.


* 9. * How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
* 10. * I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
* 11. * I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
* 12. * Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees.
* 13. * With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
* 14. * I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
* 15. * I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
* 16. * I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Ps. 119:9 - 16 NIV

So what we need to clean our soul is scripture, but it is not enough just to read it. If that is all we do we run the risk of forgetting what we read, when we need it most. Here is another piece of good news, you don't have to be a Christian for this to do you some good. When I was 16 I read through the Bible. It was another two years before I became a Christian, but the Bible reading didn't hurt me a bit.

However, it works even better if you are a Christian.

A great Bible teacher, Dawson Trotman, once asked the question what made the difference between Bible reading and Bible Study. Trotman claimed that the difference was pencil and paper. He went on to say that the act of writing, helped organize the thoughts of the mind.

2) S. O. A. P.

That brings us to SOAP.

2.1 Tools

First, what do we need for this Bible study method:

1. You will need a Bible.

2. You will need a reading plan.

3. You will need paper and a pen or pencil.

4. You will need to set aside some time.

Everything except the time you can get at Dollar Tree for about $3.00.

2.2 The way that it works is this.

2.2.1 Prayer

Beginning with prayer we ask God to be with us as we study the Bible. The following prayers are suggested as examples.

1. The Prayer for Illumination

Almighty God, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that, as the Scriptures are read and your Word proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today, Amen.

2. The Covenant Prayer

I give myself completely to you, God. Assign me to my place in your creation. Let me suffer for you. Give me the work you would have me do. Give me many tasks, or have me step aside while you call others. Put me forward or humble me. Give me riches or let me live in poverty. I freely give all that I am and all that I have to you. And now, holy God -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- you are mine and I am yours. So be it. May this covenant made on earth continue for all eternity. Amen

3. Last but certainly not least, the Lord's Prayer is good too

Where ever the reading plan has us reading we read that section of scripture. We are looking for a verse that, for lack of a better description, jumps off of the page. You might want to make a small mark at that verse so you can find it again. We continue to read to the end of the section to make sure that we have the context.

2.2.2 Scripture

That brings us to the S in soap - which stands for Scripture - Now we return to the verse that jumped off of the page - we need to paraphrase it, that means that we are rewriting it so that it becomes meaningful to us. This is something that I wrote recently.

2.2.3 Observation

Once we have written our paraphrase we come to the O - which stands for Observation - Now we look at the passage again and we put down in our own words what the verse is saying to us. Now we have a handle on what the verse means to us today and have it down on paper.

2.2.4 Application

The A stands for Application - what we should be taking away from the verse and apply in our life. Again we are writing it down in our own words, that is one of the important things throughout the process is getting it down in our own words.

2.2.5 Prayer

Now we need to write a prayer to help us learn our lesson, and apply it to our life right now.

3) So lets review

1. Bible study is important because it helps us clean up our soul.

2. Many Bible studies involve studying a book other than the Bible - good but not the best.

3. Many people study the same verses over and over again - a reading plan keeps us moving through the Bible.

4. Prayer we start with prayer - here are some good ones:

(a) The Prayer for Illumination
(b) The Covenant Prayer
(c) The Lord's Prayer

5. Scripture - we read scripture

(a) (S) Look for a verse that stands out. Paraphrase the Verse.
(b) (O) Reflect on what the verse means to you today, and how it relates to the world around you.
(c) (A) Apply the verse to our life.
(d) (P) Pray.

6. Save the information for future reference. Over time it becomes a personal Bible study.

4) Challenge

Are you ready to kick it up a notch?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Six Degrees of Darrell S. Cole

Lat 24 47 N
Lon 141 19 E

Iwo Jima

KIA on D-1 Medal of Honor Winner Sgt. Darrell Samuel Cole, USMCR. Sgt.
Cole’s heroism on 19Feb1945 was memorialized by the Navy with the June 1995 commissioning of DDG-67 USS COLE an Arliegh Burke Class Guided Missile Destroyer.

USS COLE was attacked by al Qaeda terrorists in Aden Yemen on Oct 12, 2000.

Corpsman John Bradley, one of the 3 men in Rosenthal’s picture to survive the battle - said it best “We’re not heros, the heros are the ones who didn’t come home.”

My six degrees:
1) Sgt. D. S. Cole dies at Iwo Jima winning the congressional Medal of Honor
2) US Navy names DDG-67 in honor of Sgt. Cole
3) I was assigned to the Commissioning crew.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Doubling Down on Debt

ARRA is a classic example of a gambler down on his / her luck and doubling down to get even.

Our president, has explicitly stated this principle, by suggesting that we must aggressively prop up the economy by federal spending. It is an article of faith on the stimulation side that Japan's government did not act aggressively enough or fast enough. Even NPR can find the problem with trying to spend our way out of the problem.

Congressman Minnick's stimulus plan looks a lot better, if you buy into the idea that we need to have a stimulus plan

Closing the Loop: OODA, Feedback and Congress

My day job involves a number of electronic and electromechanical systems that test a value, make an adjustment and retest the value. A very common example of one of these systems is the household heating / air conditioning system. A simple one consists of little more than a temperature sensing device - a thermostat and a heat source. Operation is pretty simple - you set the desired temperature at the thermostat and when the temperature drops below a certain level the thermostat signals the heat source to go to work. The temperature rises until the thermostat goes over its upper limit and sends the heat source a stop signal. Viewed over time the temperature will average pretty close to the set value.

One of the systems that I have worked on in the past is the Helm control for the ship. There are a number of pieces in this system that work together to steer the ship in a particular direction. A quick outline of what is going on will help illustrate this - in a small sail boat sailing across a small lake we pick a point on the far side and adjust the rudder by hand to keep the boat aimed at that point. Now if we take this same system and apply it to a boat much too large to steer by hand, we might do it by sending an electrical signal to turn the rudder. So a very simple system only moves the rudder back and forth under our control but does not relieve us of the responsibility of stopping the motion or centering the rudder. A somewhat more sophisticated system will use a principle called feed back to allow us to select an end point to the motion. Now we have an option if we want to shift the rudder 10 degrees to the left we simply move our indicator to the 10 degree mark, now as the rudder shifts to the left as it gets closer to the 10 degree point, the feedback system begins reducing the signals driving the rudder left until we come to rest at the 10 degree mark. For safety reasons ships must have a rudder control method called non follow up or NFU where the operator acts as the feed back circuit to hold a specific course or rudder angle. A accessible example of NFU is the act of driving a car down the street. As we turn the wheel, the car moves in the direction the wheel is turned. The driver is adjusting the path of the car and making corrections as needed. Most of the time if no one is at the wheel of a moving car bad things will happen fairly quickly.

With the foundation of feed back laid lets move on to the Boyd Cycle or OODA loop. In essence it is a mental map of a generic decision making process. The four phases are Observation, Orientation, Decision and Act

  • Observation - This is where we observe a situation - sticking with our car example there is a pot hole down the road.
  • Orientation - We assess the size of the pot hole and seeing that it is large enough to damage the car determine that an action is required.
  • Decision - We decide that we should swerve left.
  • Action - we turn the wheel to the left
As proposed by the man who made OODA popular Col. John Boyd, it is a continuous process of adapting to conditions.

As practiced by Congress decision making tends to become fixated not on actual conditions but on favored solutions to problems. Dysfunctional decision makers often come to grief when confronted with situations that do not respond as expected or hoped for. One example for contemplation is the Maginot line, the assumptions that led to its construction, forced the opposing Germans to consider alternatives, and they decided to go through Belgium instead of driving headfirst in to the Maginot line as expected by the French.

"Life is hard, it's harder if you're stupid."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ARRA and the Law of Holes

The first law of holes, famously states - that when one is in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.

In theory our governments should be operating on the same basis as the average household, or company. That would mean that when income drops, expenses should be trimmed as well. As we have seen since the beginning of the National government, first under the Articles of Confederation and then under the Constitution, matching income with expenditures has always been a thorny problem.

Failure to understand and consider the effects of legislation has made Congress watching an unending circus parade of unintended consequences. ARRA or HR 1 is merely the latest in a long line of quick cheap fixes that have been for the most part neither quick, cheap or fixes. There is a large database that shows across history, and culture the effects of various types of economic policy. Still in Washington DC our representatives find new ways to explain to us why this time is different, why this time a policy that has failed every time it has been tried simply has to work.

That sort of blindness always reminds me of an episode of 3rd Rock From the Sun, where Harry, the communications officer is watching reruns of the Buggs Bunny Roadrunner hour. He decides to bet that Wiley will catch the bird on the basis that he had seen this episode before and the plan was too brilliant to fail twice.

On the other hand, maybe we the voters are Harrys - we've been voting the same people in apparently believing that they are too brilliant to screw up twice.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Flight Lessons for the Economy -- Updated

Airplane of State

--- Flash --- credentialed commentator Robert Higgs has similar idea.

An old and venerated image for our country in its interactions with the world is the Ship of State. While it was Longfellow's poem that I immediately thought of the image goes back to the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, who wins the priority award for having the good sense to include the image in his work The Republic.

I believe that we now need a more modern exemplar of our society and I humbly submit the aeroplane. As Longfellow noted in his poem there are many sound, bumps and thumps that discomfit the non-sailor.

Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!

If anything our modern methods of communication: Television, Radio, Internet make the background noise of insignificant sounds and shocks louder and more distracting. The faster speed of air travel and and the sensitivity of airplanes to up and down drafts can make for even more discomfit in the passenger section.

Despite what most passengers and some neophyte aviators may believe or claim to believe about airplanes, they come off of the design table with a great deal of inherent stability. The is especially true of training airplanes like the Stearman PT-17. Most beginning pilots have to learn the feel of the controls and most at some point in their career experience Pilot Induced Oscillation (PIO). The universal and sovereign remedy, in training, for this is to take ones hands off of the controls. The plane damps the oscillation and resumes level flight with no input from the pilot. Remember this point it will become important later.

The Jet age has given us several Iconic Aviation Disasters. I would now like to focus on three of them and try to derive some useful points. In the tradition ancient Greece and Rome we will introduce these events through the Heros of those events.

Alfred C. "Al" Hanes

Date: July 19, 1989
Aircraft: Douglas DC-10
Problem: Loss of Hydraulic pressure in flight control system - due to failure of #2 Engine.

Captain Haynes through brilliant management of crew and cockpit resourses and the presence of a DC-10 Instructor Pilot, Dennis E. Fitch, maintained sufficient control of the airplane to manage an approach to Sioux City's Gateway Airport. The airplane went through one last dutch roll cycle robbing Haynes of a successfull landing. But 185 people owed their lives to Captain Haynes' skill and professionalism

Robert "Bob" Pearson

Date: July 23, 1983
Aircraft: Boeing 767 - 200
Problem: Loss of Power, both engines failed due to fuel mismanagement.

By skilful use of available assets - Altitude, Airspeed and Brains Capt. Pearson sucessfully landed his airplane at Gimli Industrial Park Airport, Gimli Manitoba Canada. Captain Pearson and First Officer Quintal came to the incident with a unique combination of knowledge and skills. Quintal had served as a flying officer at Gimli, while Pearson was a skilled glider pilot. Pearson used his glider training to fly the 767 to a sucessful landing (a successful landing in aviation lore is one that you walk away from). The combination of local knowledge and glider training allowed these two ment to know when to follow the rules and the manual and when to trust their instincts.

Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenburger

Date: January 15, 2009
Airplane: Airbus A320
Problem: Loss of power due to bird strike.

Captain Sullenberger displayed great judgement and situational awarness by choosing to water land the airplane in the Hudson river rather than try to reach any of the airports in the New York metro area. In his spare time Capt. Sullenburger is a glider pilot.

Lessons to Learn:

No successful aviator argues with the big blue marble. It will always win on the basis of gross tonage.

You can't use what you don't have - Capt. Haynes used his engines, the only functioning controls to control altitude and attitude. Capt.'s Pearson and Sullenberger used their gliding skills to navigate the uncharted area of Airliner glider flights.

You have to know when to act and when to be still, when to follow the rules and when to dump the book and improvise.

Money is the Engine of our Economy

Our Airplane of State has suffered an engine failure. We need to determine if the problem is one of adequate fuel but a faulty pump system; loss of fuel; or some other problem.

While we are doing this we need to maintain an awareness of our attitude, altitude and air speed.

At the moment it appears that we are in a phugoid oscillation cycle initiated by government manipulation of the rules of finance. This is the finance equivalent of arguing with the blue marble. The rules of finance that make everything work are called, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). GAAP is the standard language, the shared understanding, if you will. By following GAAP we are able to determine the status of a company, and estimate its potential. The danger comes when, the smartest men in the room, come up with something that is outside of GAAP. It may very well be a safe and useful practice, on the other hand as Enron, the Savings & Loan crises and the current credit meltdown have shown. It is equally likely that the departure from GAAP will lead us down a path where our best tools are giving us poor data.

My guess, since I am not an economist, and haven't slept at a Holiday Inn
® recently is that the best thing to do right now is nothing. I certainly don't believe that we will get anything useful out of a non-stimulating stimulus package.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Truth in Advertising

Alec Baldwin, is now one of the folks hawking the latest competitor to youtube and the other viral video vaults.


Sadly despite its tongue in cheek manner and its mocking of the Science Fiction genre staple of Alien Invasion, there is more than a little truth to the ad. After all we have gone from a nation of reader / thinkers to a nation of sound bite listeners and video junkies.

Yes, I too am a video junkie though I try to limit it, I have on rare occasions gone days without TV, Internet or Cell Phone. Usually followed by binging on one or more of the three upon return to "civilization."

Time to Super Shock the Meme Pool

Powerline notes that the MSM is trying to spin Senator Daschle's bowing out of contention for HHS Secretary as part of a vast conservative conspiracy to prevent the President from doing what is needed to save the country.

I'm thinking that the meme pool needs a double or triple dose of Chlorine Shock treatment to get the system ready for use.

I don't see it - especially when the President has pledged not to do business as usual, no lobbyists, no ethically challenged people, no good old boy network, .... All that is happening is that we are calling on the President to match actions and words. Something that he will need to do both at home and abroad.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Epiphany: The High Cost of Convienience

The last time I visited my doctor, she wasn't very happy with me, not only was I way over weight, but a lot of the other numbers that are indicators of health were out of whack HDL/LDL Cholesterol -- Sorry Mr. V.... that is unacceptable; A1C -- Sorry Mr. V... that is unacceptable; ..... She wanted me to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, and to watch what I was eating.

Being somewhat obsessive compulsive and in WWII British Slang a King Boffin (roughly translated into leet as an Uber Geek) I started a spreadsheet to track what I was putting into my body.

I'm about a month into the project now and I have made some interesting observations; none are of themselves earth shattering or new, but the aggregate is at least for me, very insightful.
  1. It hasn't been hard for me to keep the total calories under control.
  2. It is somewhat harder to keep the balance of total calories / calories from fat in the correct range, 20 - 40%
  3. It has been nearly impossible to keep the Sodium intake at or below 2500mg
  4. Convenience foods aren't.
  5. Oatmeal is your friend.
Some of these observations - particullarly number 4 seem to have application in other areas of life.

Information -- It is tempting to just get everything from CNN, FOX, MSNBC .... unfortunately that means giving control over what you see to someone you don't know and who doesn't know you. Worse yet many of the decisions that they make are based not on news value but on whether or not the sponsors make money during the breaks. The good news for us is that thanks to the internet there are lots of links to real time information that is either unfiltered or filtered by folks who tell you what their major filtering system is.

Health Care -- The convenience of health insurance is nice, but again you are giving control over what is done to some faceless bureau, doesn't matter whether it is a private insurance provider or your state / federal medicare bureau. Seems like their primary goal is the reduction of expense. As an example a friend of mine has been waiting for a month to get a bone growth stimulator to help heal a broken bone. The stimulator is covered by the insurance company, but has been held up for a month, by internal red tape. That shouldn't happen.

Government Benefits -- With few, perhaps no, exceptions the cost of any beneficial program sponsored, controled, or other wise manipulated by the government is not worth the cost. On my exception list:
  1. Health Care for Veterans -- Falls under the category of providing for the common defense. Our veterans, since the end of the Draft, have voluntarily given their time, lives and in some cases blood for the national defense. Paying for the treatment of their health problems is a bill that we assumed when they began to serve. Military service has been shown to have some unique long term health risks, one of which is a higher risk of developing diabetes.
  2. Education for Veterans -- See above. For amplification look at the post WWII boom in industry and science. Extra credit - search the education background of the movers and shakers in America from the mid 50's to the early 80's.
Or in a non-governmental area:
Economy of Scale -- The idea that bigger is always better.

  1. Peanuts are just the latest example of how ecconomy of scale is a two edged sword. While it made it possible for a large number of people to get their peanut products cheaply, it also expedited the movement of salmonela bacteria. Peanuts are just the latest in a continuing chaing of supply chain problems. Past examples include spinach contaminated withE-coli, beef and poultry products contaminated with E-coli.
  2. It's cheaper to send the operation overseas -- Yes, but we have seen some production line go overseas to be run by people who do not share our values, laws or sense of honor. Experience has shown that it it possible to get good work done overseas, but it is not a simple task. If anything the requirement for good oversight of foreign operations is higher. Failure to inspect carefully leads to lead based paint, phenol contaminated food products, and other ills.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

More Chlorine in the Meme Pool, Please

A comment at a blog that I read got me thinking - The subject was the Octuplet mom and the reaction from folks on both sides of the aisle. One of the comments suggested that we need to pay attention to the "meme pool."

Meme's are a relatively new method of examining the propagation of culture. Because they are new there is some controversy regarding them. Similar to the level of controversy that accompanied Mendel's discovery of genes, or Galileo's discovery of moons around Saturn and Jupiter. The controversy does not prevent us from using them as a working theory.

As one of the few species that has been shown to transmit memes it pays us to look at the way in which it has been institutionalized. Principly this has been done the education industry, yet we don't seem to be as concerned with the selection of those who select the memes. We have by and large ceded that task to the professional educators, and then at most grumbled about the outcome.

One of the most popular memes put out by the education industry is that quality of education is directly related to the money spent on education. Interestingly when the proposition is tested even allowing for outside influences the relationship does not hold. Yet our public policy makers, and the infrastructure for education at all levels treat this as a valid relationship.

Given the complemntary truisms:
If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got


Insanity is doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results.

It may be time for the average man on the street to pay more attention to disinfecting the meme pool. Many will say, that it isn't their problem because they don't have kids; their kids are grown; or they just don't care. Sadly this is not the case as the quality of education affects our coworkers, our bosses, and our politicians. One of the best summaries of the problems in society was written in 1899 by author, iconoclast and businessman Elbert Hubbard, A Message to Garcia is a classic of American Literature, and to this day is studied by the cadets of Anapolis, West Point, and Colorado Springs as part of the character development curiculuum.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Who is driving the bus?

Ultraguy, over at New Wineskins posted a blog yesterday that got me thinking. He's a good friend of mine, in fact he was the one that suggested that I should be blogging myself.

P.S., you should blog some of this! it's too good to be for my eyes only.

As one should try to obey one's blog father -
I submit the following - If as christians we claim to believe - God is in control there are some things to consider:
  1. President Obama is God's chosen instrument - whether for good or ill as we are given to see it - we do not yet see.
  2. There are set limits on President Obama's power to act and to do. This applies to both domestic and foreign policy.
  3. Our role as christians is to pray for those in power that they will do the will of God. In the past we have seen what happens to those who see, hear and obey.
    1. Nineveh after Job preached was saved for a time, yet the weight of their culture eventually sank them.
    2. The children of Israel failed to follow the sabatical rules and the jubilee - Nebuchadnezzar came along and helped them honor God's rules about the land.
    3. Queen Esther, clearly a woman for and defined by her time, thwarted the fixed plan of Haman to erase not only his rival for power in the court, but the entire race of the Hebrews.
A reading from the Gospel of John

Joh 19:1-22 KJV Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. (2) And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, (3) And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. (4) Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. (5) Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! (6) When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. (7) The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. (8) When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; (9) And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. (10) Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? (11) Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. (12) And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. (13) When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. (14) And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! (15) But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.
(16) Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. (17) And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: (18) Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
(19) And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. (20) This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. (21) Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. (22) Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.

In the ordinary course of Roman justice, the story should end with Pilate's statement in verse 4, because it is a declaration of innocence. Everything from this point on that Pilate does must be understood from this knowledge. To be clear about it I will say it again and the text shows it. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. Yet because of the fixed purpose of God from before creation Pilate's options have been limited and Pilate is God's chosen man. His past, has led him to this point, and he finds that he can either honor his conscience or prevent a disastrous riot, but not both.

In verses 10 and 11 Jesus' response to Pilate shows that Pilate does not understand his position, he is like a chess player with only one move that he can take, yet that move is deadly.

In verse 19 we see that after the crisis, Pilate reasserts his authority as magistrate and makes a legal declaration that the accused was in fact who he claimed to be. When challenged on that point by the mob, Pilate holds his ground and attempts to recover some of his moral balance.

Scripture is silent about the rest of Pilate's life after the crucifixion and the traditions are somewhat divergent. What we are given to know is that Pilate when the time came did what God required of him: 1) A judicial finding of innocence, as important to the plan as the finding by the Chief Priest that Jesus was a lamb without blemish; 2) Sent Jesus to the cross; 3) A judicial finding of fact, Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.

Change You Can Take to the Bank

Apparently as in Orwell's Animal Farm, some are more equal than others. Two major players in the "Danse Macabre" called Global Warming Hysteria have decided that personal comfort trumps, economics and environmentalism.

Nobel Laureate Gore, was seen in our nation's Capitol leaving the engines of three vehicles idling so that they would be warm when he left the Capitol.

From several sources this week comes news that our new President has goosed the thermostat in the White House. The major media have given him a pass on this as apparently the memory hole has eaten this news item from May 2008.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

DTV Hold and Politics of Change (Updated, Revised, Again)

Thought that I owed everyone the article that started me down this path. This one looks at the delay based primarily on the merits and is relatively neutral in tone. DTV Transition encounters Static GCN is a trade magazine targeted at the Federal Computer market - sort of a clipping service.

The current administration was elected on a promise of change. One of the prominently mentioned changes was that the Administration would be transparent. The president has said that lobbyists need not apply for positions in his administration. How has the reality played out?

In at least one area, the administration has failed to as transparent as it needs to be to keep rumor and speculation from running rampant. In 2005 as part of the Omnibus (Ominous) Spending bill S. 1932 Title III Sections 3002, 3003, 3004 bear on the Digital TV transition scheme. (Text of S. 1932) When the bill was passed there was speculation from consumer advocacy groups that the funding level established for the coupon program was insufficient. (FoxNews from 2005)

We now know that those consumer advocates were correct about the funding. That is now being used as a reason to delay the transition by 4 months. But that isn't the real problem facing the administration. Their point man briefing members of the House and Senate is Gerry Salemme who is based on the most recent SEC filings a director of ICO Global Communications (Holdings) Limited. Also based on SEC filings for Eagle River Investments, LLC the board of Eagle River has substantial interlocks with the Board of ICO Global Communications (Holdings) Limited.

-- Cool tool for exploring relationships --

This is the fair and mostly above the board part of the issue. Another item in play is the roll out of Fourth Generation (4G) Cellular Networks. These networks are intended to run in a portion of the commercial broadcast spectrum currently occupied by Analog Broadcast TV signals. Interestingly one major player in the US Sprint is ready to roll out a 4G net work on a segment of the spectrum that is already cleard while Verizon will have to wait for the TV spectrum to contract before rolling out its 4G network. For LTE (Verizon) vs WiMax(Sprint, Clearwire) a very interesting article by Julian Sanchez on Ars Techinca.

Let us say that the timing and team membership are worth looking at carefully. The old latin phrase caveat emptor (buyer beware) may apply here. The new transparency is looking a lot like the old school politics of influence. Its hard to see much difference between this crowd and the S. F. B. Morse Western Union telegraph bunch from the 1850's.

Further reading:

J Sanchez:


Friday, January 16, 2009

Turn About

Many years ago I took several procedural programming language classes. Assembly language and FORTRAN (pre-Fort 77), were the major players. I then spent about twenty years of my life in the US Navy in electronics where periodically I was exposed to some basic computer theory as well as control system applications. Through out all of that I had an unexamined position regarding one of the languages that I had used at a superficial level. I like many of my peers considered BASIC to be a language with training wheels.

In spare moments over the last week I've been building a small application to do a work related task. Writing the application allowed me to learn the basics of the process that I was programming. The language that I wrote this in -- VisualBasic! The ineresting thing is that none of the programmers that I know have used FORTRAN in years.

That is not to say that FORTRAN is dead, just that it is now a niche language, useful in its place but not a general use language like Java or C.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


If we didn't already have all of the evidence needed to draw conclusions about the nature of Democratic Party operations in our State and Federal capitals. The latest revelations on the non-payment of taxes by the Treasury Secretary nominee should provide the last load.

I don't know about the rest of you but, my wife has been self employed at various times, and my IRS filings made with TurboTax(r) have always included the necessary supplemental forms for Social Security Taxes. I find it inconceivable that anyone who makes the kind of money that the nominee makes would be using anyone but a CPA or a Tax Law specialist to file IRS forms. I mean, if TurboTax asks the questions needed to find out that you need to file a Social Security tax schedule with your 1040 it doesn't say much about the professional preparer, that or the nominee has an honesty problem.

Powerline links to a Byron York article at NRO that indicates that Giethner was advised by his employer the IMF that he was required to pay his social security taxes. The act is compounded by a reembursement program by the IMF that paid employees for the cost of the tax. Giethner by submitting a claim to IMF for the tax shows that he knew at the time that he was required to pay the tax. Why are we working so hard to not do something that would have cost nothing to do the right way?

Training - Revisited

New today via Powerline was a link to a just released report on the attacks in Mumbai which being made by experts in security and counter terrorism echoed my thoughts on the role of training, and especially practice in the reactions of the Indian Police and Commando units.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Busman's Holiday II

Quick update, I'm now at my SIL's place. It is in Western NY, but just barely, a few miles south is PA and Maybe an hour west is PA again. North eventually becomes Canada.

Turns out that her computer has been a little slow, and needed some TLC as well as the removal of a really bad infestation of trojans and other viruses. Specifically some really nasty stuff from the vitumonde family of trojans. I've butted heads with virtumonde before and ended up walking away both bowed and bloody. Did a bit better this time. Lucky for me the folks at Major Geeks have worked out a method for killing off virtumonde. The link will take you straight to their page on cleaning your computer.

Tomorrow is more of the same at my MIL's place where I'm setting up a printer, and a dial up account for the in-laws.