Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Doing a kindness

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Being thankful

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others."

Marcus Tullius Cicero
106 BC - 43 BC, Politician, Orator and Philosopher

Monday, September 28, 2009

Support for Health Care Plan Hits New Low

"Just 41% of voters nationwide now favor the health care reform proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. That’s down two points from a week ago and the lowest level of support yet measured."

Please leave a message

Is anyone else up for updating our "leave a message" message on voicemail systems?

I mean, I guess it was needful when these first came into existence -- maybe 1983 -- to remind people to wait for the tone, etc. But now the long, drawn out messages -- the worst are the ones that say "I'm away from my phone, or helping another valued customer"!

How about a simple, "This is Oscar Rodriguez -- please leave a message"? It combines identification (so the caller knows they've got the right phone), courtesy ("please") and a 3 word instruction. Short and simple. And it doesn't leave the listener feeling like she's calling into a time warp.

Mastering your thoughts

"Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don't control what you think, you can't control what you do."

Napoleon Hill

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What Do We Owe Exonerated Inmates? Why justice demands full atonement when we punish the innocent

"Michael Evans won an Illinois lottery. The state presented him with a check for $162,000. But forgive him if he's not as grateful as most Lotto winners. His payout didn't come to him because he selected some winning numbers. It came because he spent 27 years in prison for a rape and murder committed by someone else."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Believing in what you can do

"Every achiever that I have ever met says, 'My life turned around when I began to believe in me.'"

Dr. Robert Schuller

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

From Asia Times: More questions on the 9/11 events

"Osama "dead or alive" bin Laden would rather lose his kidney than pass up the opportunity to celebrate the eighth anniversary of September 11, 2001, on the United States. And like clockwork, he resurfaced in an 11-minute, al-Sahab-produced audiotape last week (sorry, no video, just a still picture), where he states how a series of grievances had 'pushed us to undertake the events of [September 11]'".

Obama science czar Holdren says Constitution backs compulsory abortion

"Obama science czar John Holdren stated in a college textbook he co-authored that in conditions of emergency, compulsory abortion would be sustainable under the U.S. Constitution, even with Supreme Court review."

Where to turn

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows."

Helen Keller

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When Herod got it right

"At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him." Matthew 14.2

In Matthew 14, Herod murders St. John the Baptist in cold blood. But before he did, he got one thing right, and it's in vs. 2.

The verse helps us understand the relationship between good works and the Christian's life.

Some Christians go too far one way. They imagine that any good we do is somehow of our own doing, and that we can glory in our works.

Others imagine that we are like rocks that God throws -- that we are completely passive in the doing of good.

But the reality is more like Herod expressed it: good works show forth in the Christian's life. It's impossible for them not to: when someone is in vital contact with God's mercy, good will flow forth to that Christian's neighbor like water flowing from a fountain.

Even Herod saw that.

Think flying economy is bad now? New aircraft design puts passengers face-to-face in rows for budget travel

"Air travel is being overhauled with a new aircraft design which plans to seat passengers facing each other in rows.

The controversial design is intended to save space and money and could see 50 per cent more passengers packed on to each plane."

Accidental Prescription Drug Deaths Spike Upward

"The mortality rate from unintended injury in the U.S. rose 11 percent between 1999 and 2005. The jumps in poisoning deaths and deaths from falls were particularly high and troubling.

Overall, 89 percent of the total increase in unintentional injury deaths was due to poisoning among those 15 to 64 years old and falls among those 45 and older, which increased by about 11,200 and 6,600, respectively.
While the cause behind the increase in mortality from falls is as yet unknown, it appears that the increase in poisonings is largely due to prescription drugs. Other studies have also found alarming increases in prescription drug overdoses, and prescriptions for antidepressants, in particular, have soared."

7 Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat

"Tim Ferriss of The Four Hour Work Week has posted an exclusive excerpt from Drs. Michael and Mary Eades’ newest book, The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle.

The two doctors note that no matter how the story spins from the denizens of the anti-fat camp, one piece of their advice remains staunchly constant: “You should sharply limit your intake of saturated fats.” But will saturated fats really increase your risk of heart disease and raise your cholesterol? In a word, no. In fact, humans need them, and here are just a few reasons why."

Despite Anti-Vitamin D Bias, CDC Stumbles on Deficiency Link to H1N1 Deaths

"So far, Swine flu, H1N1, has killed thirty-six children in U.S. and analysis of CDC data indicates Vitamin D deficient children at higher risk of death.

The CDC did not realize they discovered this. However, anyone familiar with the Vitamin D literature will recognize it."

What you need in life

"Once you believe that answers and resources can show up in your life, they will: The universe works to mirror your beliefs. It will prove you right every time."

Peggy McColl

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lutherans and "evangelicals"

What is it with the Lutheran obsession (not all Lutherans, but especially in a certain faction of the LCMS) with the term "evangelical"?

"Evangelical" -- in America, at least -- means a broad, conservative, Bible-believing group of Christians.

It does not mean "Lutheran."

Maybe it did. Maybe 150 years ago. It doesn't now.

Anyone who wants to "reclaim" a word doesn't understand the nature of language. Languages change. And the meaning is what the meaning is in current parlance. Not what you might want it to mean. And changing the way people use words is very, very difficult.

I always use the example of "gay," because it's such an apt example.

"Gay" once meant happy, cheerful, a little flamboyant. (Prior to, maybe, 1950 in most places).

Then there was a maybe 50 year span when it came to mean "homosexual."

Now -- in the mouths of 19 year olds -- it has acquired the additional connotation of dorky, stupid, or dumb.

If you're Lutheran and want to call yourself "evangelical," fine. Same if you're Lutheran and want to call yourself "catholic." It's OK, really. But just explain yourself every time you use the terms, because you're not either, and it just leads to confusion.

Positive attitudes

"Individuals who are positive in their thoughts always tend to look upon the brighter side of life. With their faces turned toward the sunshine, they attempt to see the good, even in the bad. Such individuals habitually think thoughts of a positive nature and they are a blessing to the world. They are in a positive vibration, and therefore attract other positive personalities to them."

Bob Proctor

Friday, September 18, 2009

This weekend in Raleigh

Tomorrow's my culturista day: heading over to Raleigh for a performance of Swan Lake in the afternoon (2 p.m.) Then, dinner with the family at our son Matt's house, and then to a performance of Amadeus, featuring friend Andrew Payne in the role of Salieri. (Andrew's in the left corner of the picture above).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak": Song of Solomon 7.9

Origen suggested that Plato was acquainted with Solomon's writings.

This was because Solomon had written about ethics (in Proverbs), about nature (in Ecclesiastes) and contemplation (in Solomon's Song).

How our thoughts affect us

"There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge; both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought."

Napoleon Hill

Your choice

"Being miserable is a habit. Being happy is a habit. The choice is yours."

Tom Hopkins
Sales Trainer

Many Health Workers Won't Take Swine Flu Vaccine

"Surveys and focus groups show that health care workers, as well as members of the general public, may avoid getting swine flu shots when supplies become available this fall."

Your Appendix is Useful After All

"Your appendix is a slimy sac that hangs between your small and large intestines. It has long been thought of as a worthless evolutionary artifact, good for nothing except a potentially lethal case of inflammation. But now researchers suggest that your appendix is a lot more than a useless remnant."

The Last Gasps of Literate Christianity

"The comment wasn't all that unusual, but it has stuck in my head for weeks now. "Mr. Spencer, does it matter if I don't read the Bible?" The student speaking was one of my juniors, attractive and smart, and one of the more visible, serious Christians on our little Christian school campus. I could have simply answered the question with yet another admonition on the importance of Bible reading, but the question struck me as representing much more. It hit me right in a developing hypothesis that has taken up more and more of my thinking recently: We are living in the last gasps of literate Christianity."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I am responsible

"I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening, I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself."

Walter Anderson

The Simple Inexpensive Way to Radically Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

"Low levels of vitamin D are known to nearly double the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes, and researchers now think they know why."

Pervasive B12 Deficiency Affects Millions

"B12 deficiency is common in elderly patients. One study revealed a prevalence of 12 percent among elderly people. Other studies, focusing on those who are in institutions or who are sick and malnourished, have suggested a higher prevalence of 30 percent to 40 percent. Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is often unrecognized because the clinical manifestations can be very subtle. In fact, one of its manifestations -- mild memory loss -- can mimic the early stages of dementia."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Faith and fear

"You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith."

Mary Manin Morrissey

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The 'Wisdom' Of The Clunker Program...

A bored statistician has been busy again...

A vehicle at getting 15 mpg and doing 12,000 miles per year uses 800 gallons a year of gasoline.

A vehicle at getting 25 mpg and doing 12,000 miles per year uses 480 gallons a year.

So, getting rid of each average clunker will reduce US gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per clunker per year.

They claim 700,000 vehicles were taken in during the clunker program - so that's 224 million gallons per year saved.

That equates to a bit over 5 million barrels of oil.

5 million barrels of oil is about 1/4 of one day's US consumption.

And, 5 million barrels of oil costs about $350 million dollars at $75 a barrel.

So, we all contributed to the spending of $3 billion save $350 million.

NSA offering 'billions' for Skype eavesdrop solution

This is very amusing, and good news, as well. Anything that thwarts the busybodies at the various government spy agencies is a good thing. If they did nothing else right, Skype should get our business for that reason alone.

"News of a possible viable business model for P2P VoIP network Skype emerged today, at the Counter Terror Expo in London. An industry source disclosed that America's supersecret National Security Agency (NSA) is offering "billions" to any firm which can offer reliable eavesdropping on Skype IM and voice traffic.

The spybiz exec, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed that Skype continues to be a major problem for government listening agencies, spooks and police. This was already thought to be the case, following requests from German authorities for special intercept/bugging powers to help them deal with Skype-loving malefactors. Britain's GCHQ has also stated that it has severe problems intercepting VoIP and internet communication in general."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Another previously admired leader falls: this time, Thatcher

This is repulsive news. I'm not surprised that Thatcher wanted it kept secret. "Shame" is the word that comes to mind. I was never surprised that the mealy-mouthed time-server Bush, Sr., expressed no enthusiasm for the freedom that swept eastern Europe and Russia, 1989-1991. But I expected better of Thatcher. I was wrong. It was all an act.

"Two months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Margaret Thatcher told President Gorbachev that neither Britain nor Western Europe wanted the reunification of Germany and made clear that she wanted the Soviet leader to do what he could to stop it."

A modest 9/11 proposal

It's almost cliched to -- when speaking about 9/11 -- to say, "the 9/11 attacks."

Calling them by this rubric colors the discussion with the US government's spin on that day's tragedy.

What I'd recommend is a more neutral term. When speaking about that day 8 years ago, I'd suggest "the 9/11 events."

Such a term encompasses the events in New York and Washington, but recognizes that there were all kinds of anomalous happenings that day that are still unexplained: the crash of the airliner in Pennsylvania, the fall of WTC 7 that afternoon, the stand-down of the US defenses that morning, and the unexplained options trades in the stock markets in the weeks prior to 9/11, among other things.

History is important. This is an event which I think will be remembered a thousand years from now, and it should be described in ways that encompass all of what happened that day, and in the days prior.

Peter Dale Scott: JFK & 9/11 - Insights Gained From Studying Both

I've mentioned before that I like to use youtube as a learning tool when I need to do thought-free paperwork. This is a series that -- coincidentally -- found yesterday, the day before the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 events. Scott is a thoughtful and careful researcher from whom I've learned a great deal. I commend him to you as well. I don't agree with him on some things, but find him insightful and thought-provoking. This is the first of 6 videos. They're not flashy or glitzy, but you will learn from them. Especially today, when we remember the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Body and spirit

"The health of your body influences what you experience in your mind. There is no split. If you can engage your whole spirit in the pursuit of total fitness - not just your intellect, not just your emotions - but instead everything inside you that is truly you, you'll discover what it is to be a whole person."

David Patchell-Evans

Why You Should Avoid Red Rice Yeast

"Red yeast rice, a mainstay of Chinese medicine since ancient times, is emerging in drug stores and vitamin shops as a natural tool to lower cholesterol. The substance is actually derived from a fungus that grows on rice and is eaten as a dietary staple in certain Asian countries.

As its popularity grows, I wanted to share some important information, and a warning of sorts, about red yeast rice."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Attitude and limitations

"Most of the limitations you think you have are the ones you have decided on. They are often entirely self-imposed. You might think, 'I can't do this, I can't do that, I would never do that, my parents could never do that, I never played baseball, I never climbed a mountain, I never, never, never'... It's the old broken record in your head. Throw out that negative thinking right now! Learn to play a positive message in your head because it's all about attitude."

David Patchell-Evans

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Pursuing a dream

"You must go after your wish. As soon as you start to pursue a dream, your life wakes up and everything has meaning."

Barbara Sher

Monday, September 07, 2009

To have a few books

"Traveling through the present, but aware of the past, it is a good thing also to have a few books. Not too many; that would be crushing. Marco Polo is good; William of Rubruck in some ways is better. Best of all, I think, would be the old Mongol epic chronicle called the Secret History. I did not have that in those days, but I did have a modern Mongol chronicle, very romantic but embodying a lot of old material. Arash used to snort at it, but it gave me a lot of ideas for starting conversations. Keeping the books in mind, you can compare the formal record of history and of old travelers with the patchwork legends current in our own time, in which Chinese and Mongol elements and the history of dynasties hundreds of years apart are all mixed up. In this way you can sometimes get a deep and vivid sense of the double character of history, as continuity and change."

Owen Lattimore, Mongol Journeys, p. 123, 1941

The most wonderful day

"If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time, not tomorrow or next year. Today should always be our most wonderful day."

Thomas Dreier

Saturday, September 05, 2009

What schools are

"First, though, we must wake up to what our schools really are: laboratories of experimentation on young minds, drill centers for the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands. Mandatory education serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants. Don't let your own have their childhoods extended, not even for a day. If David Farragut could take command of a captured British warship as a pre-teen, if Thomas Edison could publish a broadsheet at the age of twelve, if Ben Franklin could apprentice himself to a printer at the same age (then put himself through a course of study that would choke a Yale senior today), there's no telling what your own kids could do. After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I've concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven't yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves."

John Taylor Gatto

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Familiar Face, New Models: How to Be a Journalism Entrepreneur

What affects us

"Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us."

Stephen R. Covey
Author and Speaker

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Doing more than you have to

"No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction."

Charles Kendall Adams
1835-1902, Professor of History and Author

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Warning: Swine Flu Shot Linked to Killer Nerve Disease

"A warning that the swine flu vaccine has been linked to a deadly nerve disease has been sent by the UK Government to senior neurologists in a confidential letter.

The letter from the Health Protection Agency, the official body that oversees public health, was leaked to The Daily Mail, leading to demands to know why the information has not been given to the public before the vaccination of millions of people, including children, begins."

What you want in life

"Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it."

Diane Sawyer
TV Personality