Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Writer's Block

City block, block of cheese, concrete block, blockhead, roadblock, H & R Block, blockhouse, Lego block, block of ice, toy block

Bad
Luck
Opening
Creative
Komposition

Brain burp
Lamebrain
Occiputal eructation
Crippled cognition
Knowledge neutered
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Today's Quote from My Latest Read

Consensus has to be based on something impartial...consensus on anything gets harder to maintain as communications become more global.

-- The View from the Center of the Universe

Friday, December 26, 2008

Another Quote from My Current Read

"Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them."
-- The View from the Center of the Universe
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Quote from My Current Read

"The main threats to our survival result from the almost total disjunction between the power of our technologies and the wisdom required to use them over the long period during which their effects will last."
-- The View from the Center of the Universe
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Incarnation - Denise Day Spencer

incarnation of the word He stands,
poised on the brink of two worlds:
One, land of eternal day,
the other, earth of mire and clay.

Behind Him,
legions of heavenly host,
bright faces covered, praising,
all chanting, voices raising.

Before Him,
chaos yawning, swift and deep,
known, yet unknown. Fear unfurling,
death and darkness churning, swirling.

He turns.
One last look at golden glory.
The Three part; He is now One.
The Father’s voice says, “Go well, my Son.”

He leaps
into the abyss.

His next memory will be a Mother’s kiss.

~ Denise Day Spencer, January 1999

HT: iMonk

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mows.com is Hilarious!

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Inaugural Press Release

On January 20th, President-elect Barack Obama will take the oath of office using the same Bible upon which President Lincoln was sworn in at his first inauguration. The Bible is currently part of the collections of the Library of Congress. Though there is no constitutional requirement for the use of a Bible during the swearing-in, Presidents have traditionally used Bibles for the ceremony, choosing a volume with personal or historical significance. President-elect Obama will be the first President sworn in using the Lincoln Bible since its initial use in 1861.

HT: TPM

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Word of Caution from a Bush Administration Official

Thomas A. Schweich served the Bush administration as ambassador for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan and deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement affairs. In Sunday's Washington Post, he writes, "The Pentagon is muscling in everywhere. It's time to stop the mission creep."

Identifying himself as a "lifelong Republican," the opening paragraph of his opinion piece begins with this stunning statement: "We no longer have a civilian-led government." It ends with this sentence: "Our Constitution is at risk."

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bob Herbert on the War on the American Worker

From Ronald Reagan's voodoo economics to Henry Paulson's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, we've put the mighty resources of the national government overwhelmingly on the side of those who were already rich and powerful.

Ordinary workers have suffered. It took years to get a lousy little boost in the minimum wage for the working poor. Attempts to expand health insurance coverage were fought almost to a standstill. Guaranteed pensions vanished. And the maniacs who set fire to the economy with their incendiary financial instruments (yet another form of voodoo) were hot to privatize Social Security.

As Andy Stern, president of the huge Service Employees International Union, told me on Friday: "We've had a 25-year experience with market-worshipping, deregulating, privatizing, trickle-down policies, and it has ended us up with the greatest economy on earth staggering, and with the greatest amount of inequality since the Great Depression."

Working people have been treated like enemies, a class to be preyed upon. Labor unions were ferociously attacked. Jobs were shipped overseas by the millions. People were hired as temps or consultants so benefits could be denied.

Coffee Stops (for the first time in a while)

Deep Thought - Josh Marshall, TPM

It's going to take a lot of money to make the rich people rich again.

A Cast of Thousands - Lillian Daniel, Leadership Journal

The mission of the church is not efficiency, but developing all its people.

The church cares less about getting the job done and more about the people doing it. We are not in the efficiency business. Our business is to make disciples. We want to offer as many people as possible the chance to know Christ in service and in community.

A Tip from Brett of The Hendricksonians

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The "Bad Apples" are at the Top of the Bushel Basket

A bipartisan Senate report released Thursday concludes that decisions
made by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were a "direct
cause" of widespread detainee abuses, and that other Bush
administration officials were to blame for creating a legal and moral
climate that contributed to inhumane treatment.

The report, endorsed by Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Armed
Services Committee, is the most forceful denunciation to date of the
role that Rumsfeld and other top officials played in the prisoner
abuse scandals of the last five years.


The document also challenges assertions by senior Bush administration
officials that the most egregious cases of prisoner mistreatment were
isolated incidents of appalling conduct by U.S. troops.

"The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the
result of a few soldiers acting on their own," the report says.

-- LA Times, Dec. 12

Fascinating! Anyone have time to fact check this for me?

HT: Reformation Theology

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Secretary of Food? Might Not Be a Bad Idea

The Agriculture Department - and the agriculture committees in
Congress - have traditionally been handed over to industrial farming
interests by Democrats and Republicans alike. The farm lobby uses that
perch to inflict unhealthy food on American children in school-lunch
programs, exacerbating our national crisis with diabetes and obesity.

But let's be clear. The problem isn't farmers. It's the farm lobby -
hijacked by industrial operators - and a bipartisan tradition of
kowtowing to it.

Modern confinement operations are less like farms than like meat
assembly lines. They are dazzlingly efficient in some ways, but they
use vast amounts of grain, as well as low-level antibiotics to reduce
infections - and the result is a public health threat from
antibiotic-resistant infections.

An industrial farm with 5,000 hogs produces as much waste as a town
with 20,000 people. But while the town is required to have a sewage
system, the industrial farm isn't.

An online petition that can be found at www.fooddemocracynow.org calls
for a reformist pick for agriculture secretary - and names six
terrific candidates, such as Chuck Hassebrook, a reformer in Nebraska.
On several occasions in the campaign, Mr. Obama made comments showing
a deep understanding of food issues, but the names that people in the
food industry say are under consideration for agriculture secretary
represent the problem more than the solution.

The most powerful signal Mr. Obama could send would be to name a
reformer to a renamed position. A former secretary of agriculture,
John Block, said publicly the other day that the agency should be
renamed "the Department of Food, Agriculture and Forestry." And
another, Ann Veneman, told me that she believes it should be renamed,
"Department of Food and Agriculture." I'd prefer to see simply
"Department of Food," giving primacy to America's 300 million eaters.

-- Nicholas Kristof, New York Times

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Yet They're Still Getting a Paycheck...

...probably financed by taxpayer funds from TARP.

WSJ's Dennis Berman tells colleague Evan Newmark that although tens of thousands of people have managed to hold on to their jobs, there isn't much work to go around. Instead, he says, Wall Streeters are working to appear busy.

HT: Barry Ritholtz via The Big Picture

Ministering Out of Weakness

51w7Q4vq4PL._SX160_ The subtle myth pervading much of ministry holds that we minister most effectively when we are at "the top of our game." I remember a speaker who urged young seminarians to be secure in their faith because they are to stand on the dock and throw out the lifesaving ring to those who are drowning. There is a degree of wisdom in the picture, but it gives the idea that we minister out of our competence to those who are spiritually incompetent. The metamessage we send out is this: Once I was messed up just like you, and now, since I've gotten my life squared away, wouldn't you like to become like me? Over time, that puts intense pressure on the minister to keep looking good so that people will want to be like the minister. And we miss the joy and power of ministering out of our weakness: "Therefore I am content with weaknesses,…for whenever I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10)  pg. 87

Bush is Not a Biblical Literalist

Excerpts: Cynthia McFadden Interviews President George W. Bush. President Talks to McFadden About Bailout for Auto Companies; Understanding the Bible

MCFADDEN: Is it literally true, the Bible?

BUSH: You know. Probably not ... No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it, but I do think that the New Testament, for example is ... has got ... You know, the important lesson is "God sent a son."

MCFADDEN: So, you can read the Bible...

BUSH: That God in the flesh, that mankind can understand there is a God who is full of grace and that nothing you can do to earn his love. His love is a gift and that in order to draw closer to God and in order to express your appreciation for that love is why you change your behavior.

MCFADDEN: So, you can read the Bible and not take it literally. I mean you can -- it's not inconsistent to love the Bible and believe in evolution, say.

BUSH: Yeah, I mean, I do. I mean, evolution is an interesting subject. I happen to believe that evolution doesn't fully explain the mystery of life and ...

MCFADDEN: But do you believe in it?

BUSH: That God created the world, I do, yeah.

MCFADDEN: But what about ...

BUSH: Well, I think you can have both. I think evolution can -- you're getting me way out of my lane here. I'm just a simple president. But it's, I think that God created the Earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty, and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Rational Questions, Nut Case Questions

McClatchy Newspapers: How Obama will govern: Strong team will test his skills - Steven Thomma

Obama said he wants to avoid "groupthink" and signaled that he wants to hear a range of opinions before deciding on the best course.

If he can manage them, it's likely the best way to govern, analysts say. If not, he could be stuck mediating a bunch of feuding egotists unable to coalesce even once he's made a final decision.

"It tells us how he wants to govern, with the best and brightest, with strong, often different and conflicting views helping to hammer out the best option," said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist and scholar of the presidency at the University of Texas at Austin. "We have to watch to see if he can make it work."

Politico: Whisper campaign persists despite election - Andy Barr

The Supreme Court is expected to announce on Monday whether or not it will consider two cases contending that Barack Obama is not a "natural born citizen," as the president is required to be under Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. One case, referred to the court by Justice Clarence Thomas after Justice David Souter had rejected it, argues that because Obama's father was a citizen of Kenya, at the time a British colony.

At least four of the court's nine judges must approve before a case is heard, and the great majority of the petitions brought before the Court are dismissed without comment. Still, it's further grist for what's been an active conspiracy mill.

"I think there are just a lot of people who just want to believe it," said Paul Waldman, who has studied the conspiracy theories over Obama's citizenship for Media Matters.

Waldman said that like with the claims that the Clintons killed White House Counsel Vince Foster, a certain segment of the population will continue to believe Obama won on illegitimate grounds no matter how often the claim is disproved.

Quote of the Day

When we think we're waiting for God, He is usually waiting for us, waiting for us to get ready for us to receive what we need. -- Lois LeBar
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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Swish!

Like a field goal that perfectly splits the uprights. Like 3-point shot that swishes through the net without touching the rim. Like sinking a 30 foot putt, making an eagle on a par 5 or even scoring a hole-in-one. So it is with Obama's master stroke of naming Eric Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Few could make the point better than James Fallows of The Atlantic:

Obama is elevating the man who was right, when Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, et al were so catastrophically wrong -- that is something that neither Obama nor anyone around him need say out loud, ever. The nomination is like a hyper-precision missile, or what is known in politics as a "dog whistle." The people for whom this is a complete slap in the face don't need to be told that. They know -- and know that others know it too. So do the people for whom it is vindication. And all without Obama descending for one second from his bring-us-together higher plane.

Shinseki was Army Chief of Staff who told Congress in 2003 that it would take several hundred thousand troops to maintain peace in a post-war Iraq. His opinion ran counter to the Bush administration's desire to stay lean and mean in carrying out the war. The dispute with Rumsfeld led to the naming of Shinseki's replacement a full year before his term was up. Such an unprecedented move by a vindictive Secretary of Defense effectively cut Shinseki's feet out from under him ending any real effectiveness.

The Washington Post released an excerpt from a 12 page letter the General sent to Rumsfeld at the time of his resignation: People are central to everything we do in the Army. Institutions don't transform, people do. Platforms and organizations don't defend the nation, people do. . . . Without people in the equation, readiness and transformation are little more than academic exercises.

Also, in that same Washington Post article we read:

Juan Cole, a University of Michigan history professor who writes about the Iraq war and Islam, called Shinseki's appointment ironic. If Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and [former undersecretary for defense Douglas J.] Feith had listened to Shinseki, there wouldn't be as many wounded veterans to take care of," Cole said. "I think this is a way of saying, 'Here was a career officer who had valuable insights who was shunted aside by arrogant civilians, and we're not going to make the same kind of mistakes.'"

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Snippets

Trampled

trampled

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Computer Quote of the Day

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.
  - Rick Cook

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

George W. Hoover

Herbert Hoover, we should recall, had a program for dealing with the Depression. It consisted of lending to banks but opposing fiscal stimulus or direct aid to individuals. Which is why Hank Paulson's frenzied endeavors to prop up the banking sector and Bush's dogged resistance to assisting anybody else amount to pure neo-Hooverism.

A Good Question...

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Mepkin Abbey Creche Festival

I spent a wonderful day yesterday with a bus load of friends from the Grateful Hearts group of our church. We made a visit to Mepkin Abbey to attend the 2008 Creche Festival.

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Here are a few examples of the creches on display from around the world.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

General Motors Counters Heritage Foundation Falsehoods Perpetuated by Media

In recent days, The Washington Times and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review have published op-eds by members of the Heritage Foundation containing the false claim that union autoworkers earn $75 an hour in wages and benefits. In a November 28 Washington Times op-ed, Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner claimed that "UAW [United Auto Workers] employees earn three times as much as an average blue collar worker makes -- $75 per hour on average in wages and benefits." Similarly, in a November 25 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review op-ed, Heritage fellow James Sherk claimed that "UAW workers are among the world's most affluent. They take home an eye-popping $75 an hour in wages and benefits -- triple what the average private-sector worker earns." In fact, autoworkers do not take home an average of $75 per hour. According to General Motors, these claims are based not only on current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.

HT: Media Matters

Quote of the Day II

"Truth does not do as much good in the world as the semblance of truth does evil," - Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, 64.

HT: Daily Dish

Quote of the Day

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.
  -
Samuel Johnson