Monday, April 30, 2007

An incredibly stupid idea

Actually, "incredibly stupid" doesn't even begin to describe this one. Apparently, feminists have come to the conclusion that mothers aren't rejoining the "work force" and leaving their children in daycare enough. Hence, Harvard Professor Alberto Alessina and U. of Bologna Professor Andrea Ichino suggest that the way to "fix" this problem is to tax women's income at a lower rate than men's.

One hardly knows where to start in ridiculing this idea. One would figure that Italians (with the lowest birth rate in Europe) might know something about what happens when a nation encourages women to ignore their maternal instincts. One might also figure that they might be aware of their proposal's likely influence in breastfeeding, daycare, and institutional schooling--and that these effects are all negative. One might also figure that they'd be able to hazard a guess about what the effects of this idea would be on marriage--more or less making a husband less valuable to the wife.

And no, this Hahvid prof isn't alone; witness this column by Linda Hirshman, nicely mocked here. To Hirshman's credit, she doesn't propose differing tax rates for men and women, but she still has the idea that a woman should disregard her maternal instincts and get back on that career ladder.

Methinks gender feminists like Hirshman and Alessina need to remember Wallace's words:

"The hand that rocks the cradle, is the hand that rules the world."

What a shame that feminists are so eager to cast away the God-ordained influence of women in return for a cubicle.

Missing the point

Apparently, the Anglicans have their first female "arch-deacon", and I'd guess also are announcing their lack of facility with the Greek language, even apart from Paul's admonition that a deacon must be a "one woman man." How one becomes a "high servant" (literal translation) is beyond me, and the parallels between this and the Water Buffalo Lodge and the Grand Poo-Bah are stunning.

Or maybe it's a little bit of shift from 1 Timothy that's required to accomodate the redefinition of "overseer" (episcopos, pastor/teacher/elder) as "Senior Top Management Vice President" (a real title in my company, sigh).

On another note, I hope all of y'all remembered that "every day is Earth Day." I celebrated this by cutting down two more trees and using their wood to burn out a stump.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Something bothers me...

...about all of the encouragement of debt in "conservative" circles. On the radio, you'll hear ad after ad for mortgages, debt consolidation, and debt elimination. In politics, you'll hear the argument that if a "public good" is to be used over many years, then it should be paid for over many years.

While I understand the logic, I'm brought back to Romans 13:8 ("Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.."), the principles of rent and capital, and the principle of not presuming upon the future (James).

In other words, is it really more cost-effective in general to pay principal plus interest, or principal alone? Is it really better to presume on the bird in the bush, or eat the one that's in your hand?

While certainly not all debt is bad or wrong, I think that believers ought to be a little more circumspect in its use than one might infer by listening to conservative talk radio.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Are they arguing theology, work, or money?

1 Timothy 6:1-10 is a passage that brilliantly illustrates the problems that ensue when most Bible translations choose to add headings to passages. Yes, they're useful to find certain texts, but there is a risk; that you lose the context because you read the headings. Ouch.

But to the passage, it's fascinating to see where the context leads. It starts, more or less, with "work hard for your master, especially if he's a believer," and then progresses to note that those who reject this teaching are (often) those arguing over minor issues, and simultaneously approaching Godliness as a means of (financial) gain. It then warns that those who love money will pierce themselves with many griefs.

Now think about the arguments you've seen in many places. Ask yourselves if they're really arguing theology, or whether they're hoping for financial (or other) gain somehow, or whether they're covering for the fact that they've been an unfaithful servant.

I don't know about you, but it's a sobering thought to me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A brave young lady

WND (and Lifesite and HSLDA) reports that Melissa Busekros, a German child removed from her family for the "crime" of being taught Latin and math at home, has celebrated her 16th birthday (and better legal status in Germany) by running away from court-imposed foster care to return to her family. Pray that the German authorities will stop bothering this poor family and repeal the Hitler-era law against home education.

Happy (late) birthday, Melissa!

(and thanks for the correction, Mark)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Hope that everyone had a good "Earth Day." My family celebrated by cutting down a tree and cooking dinner over its wood--we called our guests to the table with a CFC air horn as well. Count me dubious about the idea that something as heavy as octane will tend to get up into the upper atmosphere. I vividly remember how some "Boy Scout water" (gasoline) I used to ignite a pile of brush burned on a hot summer day; flames around my ankles (glad I was wearing jeans). Heavy gases tend to stay low.

That said, I was thinking this morning about the various ways environmentalism is manifested. Now I'm not opposed to using less energy and having a cleaner lifestyle. I don't believe, however, that current environmentalism--in particular the Hollywood variety--has the answers we really want.

To wit, I remember that in the 1970s, "environmentalism" often meant "deathtrap car" (remember those Civics and Novas?) or "malaria" due to the end of DDT use. In the 1980s and 1990s, it meant "unemployment" via EPA edict (still does for that matter) and "heat stroke" due to the CFC ban.

Today, it apparently means not only deathtrap cars, heat stroke, and malaria, but also "cholera." No kidding. Apparantly, the apogee of Hollyweird environmentalism is to eschew the use of ordinary amounts of toilet paper, and sometimes even the "water closet" itself. In short, they're eschewing the lessons given to Moses 3500 years ago about keeping one's excretions separate from one's living quarters and person.

Call me weird, but I'll take Moses' definition of environmentalism over Sheryl Crow's any day.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What to do?

One thing that is aboundantly clear after the Virginia Tech tragedies is that anti-gun people aren't going to figure out that carry permit holders pose little threat to others any time soon, and hence all of us are going to have to figure out what to do when we must enter a "Welcome Criminals" ("gun-free") zone like a school, a post office, or perhaps even your place of work or worship.

So what do we do to avoid becoming a victim--or having someone we love become a victim? Well, for starters, we can start paying attention to the signs. Judith Reisman points out, for example, that the VT murderer was known for taking inappropriate pictures during classes. I won't repeat the details here, but such behavior would have gotten people expelled 40 years ago. It's also probable that his writing would have gotten failing grades in a gentler age as well.

I don't guarantee it will work, but maybe a few letters to the dean about tolerating such things might wake someone up. But maybe not.

If not, or even if so, two basic options come to mind. First, get a carry permit (my birthday present was to apply!) and if you end up injured or worse in a "welcome criminals" zone, you or your estate can sue. Second, get those you love a canister of pepper spray, available at most camping goods stores. A man doesn't often hit what he cannot see.

Overall, just remember that if a man comes into the room, guns-a-blazing, you don't need to ask permission to fight back.

Friday, April 20, 2007

One wonders what to say...

...about the tragedy this week in Virginia, and along comes someone who captures the idea pretty well, IMO. Yes, there are those who will tell us that with the proper, "professional" psychological screening and so on, we might have been able to prevent the tragedy, or something like that.

Reality is, though, that there are any number of tormented loners who are appalled at their richer classmates driving expensive cars, drinking to excess, and sleeping around. There are any number of people you'll find who are appalled at American culture, and using a psychological profile to find and "treat" them will achieve only one thing.

You'll empty the honors dorms of every college in the nation, and you'll empty research labs from coast to coast.

Dreher suggests a better way called "friendship." Paul told us that it's the most excellent way, and maybe we should try it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

MOBster in high places.

Apparently, Chad the Elder from FratersLibertas has gotten himself a starring role in Mary Katherine Ham's latest video. Check it out!

Congratulations, Chad, but that last scene had to hurt.

Friday, April 13, 2007


As the patriarch of a good-sized family (baby #5 due in May), I try to do my best to keep grocery and other bills in check, and one thing I've done is to start preferring chicken to beef. At 79 cents per pound for leg quarters, it seems a lot cheaper than chuck roast at $2.99 per pound.

Then something interesting happened. My family had another good-sized family over for dinner, and about 3 lbs of Italian beef fed all of us with leftovers. In contrast, it takes about 4-5 lbs of chicken to feed my family for one meal. Relative cost: about $4/meal for my family for chicken, and about $4/meal for my family for beef.

In other words, it's not just the cost per pound, but the cost to fill up a family. Since I prefer beef, here's the recipe:

3 lbs chuck roast
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1 tsp mustard powder (or use Italian dressing powder mix for salt, basil, and mustard)
6 pepperoncini

Cut roast into 2" cubes and place into dutch oven, cover & cook at 250F for 4-6 hours. Add pepperoncini (or jalapenos if you're adventurous) and cook another hour or two until meat can be shredded with a fork. Serve over a nice French loaf, preferably whole wheat, with side salad.

And a second recipe for decent, low-cost steaks. A local grocery store has sirloin tip roasts for $2.79/lb, and if you wet-age them for a week, you'll hardly know that you're eating an inexpensive cut. (warning; dry-aging will dry this cut out) Basic recipe courtesy of Ruth's Chris Steak House: cut roast into steaks of desired thickness, salt, pepper, and parsley to taste. Cook quickly over high heat in a cast iron skillet, or on a grill over charcoal or hardwood fire.

One final note; if you're trying to control or lose weight, think about how much of a particular meat it takes before you're satisfied. You might find that the "low fat alternatives" are a great way to, um, "bulk up" in the wrong way.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus, Starbucks, synagogues and churches

On Imus' idiotic remarks; time was when people would shrug off racist remarks as the sign of a small man, but respond with violence to the suggestion that a young lady they cared for (e.g. girlfriend, wife, daughter, sister) was immoral. Why are their fathers and brothers allowing clowns like Sharpton to do the talking?

(sadly, maybe because too many of them aren't in the picture, and too many of those that are are listening to this kind of degradation in rap music?)

And here's an interesting article that compares "the way Starbucks used to be" versus today, and draws conclusions about how a synagogue ought to appear to its visitors. I dare suggest that there are some implications for our churches.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A practical joke on American culture

H/T Cafe Glover. Thanks, sister!

Evidently, Joshua Bell, a world-renowned violinist, and the Washington Post decided to try an experiment. Bell would don the attire and demeanor of a street musician and play for 45 minutes in the L'Enfant subway station in Washington, DC. On a 1713 Stradivarius. He would see who would stop to listen, and see how much money landed in his case.


I can hardly think of a better comment on our culture.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You can't make this up, either.

Apparently, a group working to stop binge drinking is making the argument that if a one cent tax is imposed on a glass of beer in North Dakota, binge drinking can be more or less stopped. Yup, increase a ninety-nine cent glass of beer to a dollar, and all of those drunks will go home and play pinochle with their Aunt Mabel.

Or maybe the student activists have been smoking something pretty good to come up with logic like that.

Another thought on Circuit City

I usually don't keep anonymous comments, but one I received on an earlier post illustrates quite well why Circuit City ought to be evaluating the contracts of their executives:

"lets be brief....inspire to do well.negotiate contracts with unions(we are fighting for your future),climb the work ladder and progress within the company?who's idea is it to do these things?.wonder how much bonus the ceo is getting this year?.I am involved in such a class action myself. This is telling the workforce of don't pay to be a team player and be rewarded for your service in the workforce. It don't pay to climb the ladder.or to improve the company your working for....your reward???'ve improved us tooooo you are overpaid???.over paid??.what is that these days in middle class America where most still are just above poverty level"

Now, as tempting as it might be to dismiss this as uninformed economic paranoia, I think capitalists ignore it at their peril. The ugly fact here is that Circuit City executives have stolen a page from Sunbeam's "Chainsaw Al" Dunlap in open, merciless cost-cutting, apparently without taking into account the offense that would be taken.

In other words, they don't understand their customers, and this goes a long way to explain why Circuit City is getting their clocks cleaned (the VCR ones that blink because we don't know how to program them) by Best Buy and Walmart.

Preach a real sermon! loving your kids, especially inasmuch as your parenting is what George Barna would call "revolutionary."

What is that? It means to take God's words in the Bible at face value. When parents do this, their children learn to do the same. Hat tip to SharperIron for the link.

Now note; one doesn't need to be perfect, be a skilled teacher, or whatever to be a great "preacher" in this way. One needs to read, understand, and apply the perspicuous Bible.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Why the outcry?

Shawn asked a great question that deserves a better response; more or less, why is there such an outcry about Circuit City's firing of 3400 workers because they're earning (!!!) about 50 cents more per hour than others? Shouldn't the company be free to hire the cheapest labor possible?

While we can't ignore class envy and populism, I think it goes deeper. First of all, the action is a kick in the teeth of the American dream--work hard, do well, get promoted, get fired. Second, it's likely that Circuit City negotiated--I mean "extorted"--tax breaks from cities to get stores based on the promise of good jobs. If you pay taxes in part so your neighbors can be gainfully employed, the broken promise is another kick in the teeth. (my libertarian tendencies don't support such giveaways, but I can certainly understand why people would be ticked when promises made to get tax breaks aren't kept)

Third, Circuit City's numbers don't add up. They're claiming that the fired earned at least $0.50/hour more than the industry average--multiply that by 3400 employees replaced at lower wages and 2000 hours per year, and you're talking about only about $3 million, not $110-140 million as claimed by the company. Probably the actual number is somewhat higher than $3 million, but the total wages of 3400 employees in this field are less than $110 million, so it's duplicitous (and worthy of outrage) that they chose to misrepresent this.

And finally, all of these incompetent kicks in the teeth from Circuit City executives are more than sufficient evidence that there's a better way to save a few million bucks; fire the executives that developed a business model that didn't work.

Logic in the government schools

Apparently a school district in Rhode Island has banned the Easter Bunny because it's "too Christian," and the local ACLU is arguing that government schools shouldn't mention Easter at all because it's a religious holiday.

So if you want your children to grow up stunningly ignorant of the historic and religious roots of our culture, I heartily recommend the Tiverton, Rhode Island public schools. Another option is School District 112 here in Minnesota, which banned Santa Claus from Christmas observations for more or less the same reason.

If you don't want your kids to be subjected to rigorously enforced ignorance, here's another option.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Very Expensive Way to Save Money

It seems that Circuit City is choosing a very expensive way to save money; by firing 3400 of their highest paid (= most productive, most experienced) employees. In doing so, they appear to have opened themselves up for age discrimination lawsuits in California--a state where tort law is notorious for awarding billions on flimsy evidence. Ouch.

Along these lines, I had a discussion about this kind of thing with an older gentleman at my church. He used to sell appliances for Sears and quit because they cut his pay to the point where it wasn't worth it to him anymore--about 20 years back. A lot of his colleagues quit as well, and were replaced by young men in their teens and twenties who, charitably speaking, had never bought an appliance in their lives and had the knowledge to prove it.

The result? A store that used to sell more appliances than any other in the state (one of the tops in the nation) is now a virtual ghost town. The man who left? He still drives a bus part-time and is one of the most spry 80-year-olds I've ever seen. He could be selling a lot of Kenmore appliances if they made it worth his while.

Just like with Circuit City, Sears chose a very expensive way to save money. Hopefully it'll open up opportunities for their competitors to clean their clock.

Frozen Four Update

Since apparently most of my readers are from the Deep South--places like Florida, Colorado, and so on--perhaps it will be of interest to note some goings-on important up north. Specifically, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association has been exposed by Michigan State and Boston College as the posers they are. There are no WCHA teams in the national championship game this year. In fact, only one of the Frozen Four teams was from the WCHA.

Yes, friends, the WCHA appears to be the MAC of hockey. :^)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

If you think you have a right to privacy,

...try telling the IRS that they have no right to know how much money you earned come April 17.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Disruptive technology in the church,

and a good one at that, I think. WorldNetDaily's Jim Rutz takes a look at church growth in China and suggests that dispensing with most of the visible characteristics of the traditional church--buildings, programs, etc..--is greatly responsible for the wonderful growth of the church in China.

Perhaps he's going a bit beyond what he can actually prove, but consider; when the Roman persecution stripped the church of all but the Bible and love, the church grew to conquer Rome. When the Bible was re-released to the people in the 1500s by Tyndale, Luther, Hus, and others, it spread despite the attempts of great powers to supress it. Joel Rosenberg has sources that claim that underground churches are growing rapidly in Muslim lands.

Maybe we need more of a bunker mentality in the church, not less.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The data are in,

and they show that daylight savings time does NOT save any energy. I eagerly await the end of this ill-advised program.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Want to preach a great sermon?

Sure you do, right? But you've got all kinds of objections--you're not a good teacher, you haven't lived up to the qualifications for deacon, let alone elder/bishop/overseer, your personal study of the Word is lacking, you name it. Right? Or perhaps, simply said, your church hasn't recognized the gifts that God's given you.

Even so, you can preach a sermon that might resound like one of those of Spurgeon. No kidding. If you want to reach the lost, and let them know that God loves them, love your wife.

It's not just about "focusing on the family," to abuse Dr. Dobson, or day to day happiness, or even obedience to Ephesians 5. Rather, do it because it's a picture that God gives for His love for His people. The church is the "bride" of Christ. Israel's idolatry is characterized as adultery and fornication.

So if you want to preach, treat your wife with tenderness and lead her. Let the world see a radiant woman filled with her husband's love, and let them then contemplate the goodness of her Creator.