Thursday, July 31, 2008


Got a call just after 3 this afternoon: "We're on the way home from the hospital. Will you take some pictures of us as we arrive?"


As I noted on Sunday, we live only a couple of miles from the hospital, and Sarita and I live only a couple of blocks away from Dave and Jonelle. So I thought I could make it over to their house before they did.

I had forgotten, however, that I didn't have my car and it was almost 100 degrees outside. Moreover, I had to get my camera, put on my shoes, lock up the house. . . .

I was a bit worried as I scrambled up and over to their place.

Happily, there was no car in the driveway when I got there. I had a few seconds to focus at a point on the road where I knew they would be appearing, and appear they did, just a few seconds later.

A very happy homecoming, indeed!

Welcome home, Sweetie! . . . Or maybe I should say, "Sweeties"!

Just got news . . .

I received the following email from my son-in-law's iPhone just two minutes ago:
Subject: We're waiting . . .

. . . to come home. We're getting released today!!!!!

That smiling face sure looks good!

Brief update on Jonelle

Jonelle continues chipper. We thought her high blood pressure was subsiding. Lowest reading yesterday was something like 120/78. But then, last night, about 8:45 or so, it was back up to 150/105. Bad numbers. Really bad numbers. Especially the diastolic (lower) number.

According to one website I visited, blood pressure can be evaluated as follows:
High Normal 130-13985-89
Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3

So, it appears, when Jonelle's meds wear off (as they had when her pressure was read last night), she is at a solid Stage 1 hypertension for systolic and Stage 2 for diastolic.

This is still a matter of prayerful concern.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A happy birthday, indeed

A happy birthday!

Yesterday was Jonelle's 24th Birthday. Here she had almost died two days before, but yesterday, with the magnesium sulfate out of her system [magnesium sulfate is a neuro-muscular transmission blocker and vasodilator used to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of convulsions from eclampsia], she seemed bright and chipper and as energetic as I can imagine anyone could be who has lost 1.5 liters of blood, who has undergone major abdominal surgery, who is adjusting to life with a newborn, and is still suffering from high blood pressure (150/105). . . .

It was good to see her and wish her Happy Birthday.

I am a very happy dad.

Thank you, Lord, for preserving my daughter's and granddaughter's lives.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Metabolizing one's emotions?

Our oldest daughter, Amy, called last night at just past 10. Sarita and I were asleep in bed. I woke up just as the phone rang for the fourth time and our answering machine (turned up quite loud) began to click in.

I let Amy leave her message, then called her back. She had left me an email about 5:30 in the afternoon asking for an update on Jonelle.

As we spoke, I came to realize more about how truly serious Jonelle's condition Sunday afternoon really was.

For one, I acknowledged what Sarita told me yesterday afternoon: one of the nurses had noted, while Sarita was present, that the uterus is such an important organ of the body, that a woman can "bleed out" in seven minutes, if the flow is not staunched.

Then Amy commented that it is her understanding that, before modern obstetrical practices, fully 17 percent of all women would die from complications during pregnancy.

Yep. I can believe that. If she hadn't had immediate attention, I can see how Jonelle would have died. As it was, she had lost at least 1500 cc's of blood before surgery began. . . .

And then Amy and I talked about how the hospital staff were so cool, calm and collected, despite the gravity of the situation, and despite the fact that, by the time she went into surgery, there were actually two other high-risk women present in the ward--and we didn't know it--they never let on.

Indeed, I think all of us who were present were attempting to permit Dave and Jonelle time to collect their emotions, grieve a bit over the loss of their dream of the "perfect" home birth, and come down, as it were, to the reality of their situation: "If you don't have this surgery, either you or the baby will die . . . or maybe both of you."

But, truly, there was no hysteria involved, no sense of pushing or (I am truly amazed) real urgency involved . . . on the part of the doctor or the nursing staff.

By the time Jonelle signed the release form, she was next to losing consciousness. You can hardly . . . --No. It's not that "you can hardly"; you can't discern her signature.

And then, lastly, Amy and I talked about how Sarita and I (and others) process their emotions.

For some reason, I wanted to say that it seemed as if Sarita was metabolizing her emotions. --We were sitting at dinner last night and Sarita looked, to me, as if she was ready to cry: her eyes were shiny; her face was flushed--the classic look (in my experience) of someone who is about ready to have a good cry.

"You look like you want to cry," I said--hoping my observation might give her "permission," as it were, to cry.

But Sarita doesn't cry. And so, she said, "No. I'm just exhausted."

--She had already said she was exhausted about four times during the meal. "I am just exhausted. . . . I'm worn out." (She's been saying that a lot lately.)

Somehow, I put together what I was seeing and hearing Sarita say at that moment with what the doctor had told us at the hospital Sunday afternoon about how pre-eclampsia works: the capillaries constrict and, as the heart pushes harder and the blood pressure increases, the red blood cells that are being forced into these constricted spaces begin to break down, and the shards of the cells destroy the epithelial cells of the capillaries, and all of this scratching and scraping and breaking of cells releases an ever-increasing flood of fluids and cell junk into the body . . . which the body (in the form of the kidneys), then seeks to metabolize. . . . [Of course, it would be really great if the body could excrete all the gunk, but it tends, instead, in pre-eclampsia, to retain it, thus causing edema . . .]

Is it possible that some of us metabolize--or attempt to metabolize--i.e., digest, our emotions while others excrete them prior to--or without--digesting them?

Amy and I briefly discussed this possibility.

Amy and I, apparently, will find, and maybe even deliberately seek to find, the "opportunity" to cry. It's almost as if we seek to dump our emotions, excrete them. Kind of a self-induced emesis.

Sarita, meanwhile, it seems, has either been trained or has learned--or "simply" has a "natural propensity" (???)--to "hold it in." And then--I wonder--is she, somehow, able to digest (metabolize) her feelings over time? --The metabolism takes time; it takes a lot of energy, saps energy, physical energy, almost the way "normal," physical digestion requires energy and can make you sleepy.

Is it possible?

Is that why, last night, Sarita was so exhausted?

I really am curious. Has some psychiatrist (a medical doctor who specializes in the biochemical/biomedical treatment of mental illness) studied this phenomenon that Amy and I were discussing? Is there a connection--a relationship--between our bodies' need for biochemical balance and the "habit" of some of us to cry under certain emotionally stressful circumstances and/or others of us, who don't cry, nevertheless to feel exhausted and go to sleep?

Is it legitimate to speak of our two different ways of dealing with the same situation as, in some way, either a form of metabolism or excretion?


One last comment/idea and then I'll quit.

I was talking with a new friend a few weeks ago. I don't know him well enough to say I've seen this myself. But he says he cries a lot. And, semi-jokingly, he said his tears are a symptom of what he describes as "emotional incontinence."

Interesting. That phrase, too, seems related to my hypothesis, doesn't it?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Shock . . . and awe . . . and relief

Several times yesterday afternoon as the events of the day unfolded, I found myself on the edge of deep emotion. But something held me back from letting go. Maybe it was an innate realization that I needed to "hold myself together" for somebody--or many somebody's--else.

* While still at home and the grave nature of the situation began to break upon our consciousness: Dave coming out of the bathroom where Jonelle was: "Could we have a towel or something? Jonelle is bleeding really badly."

* A few moments later . . . hearing the quiet gasping, whimpering, crying from through the open bathroom door as Jonelle tried to deal with the situation largely on her own, but, of course, with some help from Dave.

* On the way to the hospital: Jonelle crying softly in the back seat, apologizing that this wasn't according to plan. "I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry!" --"No, no. It's okay, Sweetheart! There's nothing to be sorry for. You've done everything you can. . . ."

* At the hospital: Dave had called ahead, en route, so they told us which entrance to come to, and Dave ran on ahead as soon as I stopped the car (and left it running) at the entrance. So by the time I was able to help Jonelle out of the back seat, a woman was there with a wheelchair. . . . But then we sat there waiting by the elevators for what seemed like an eternity, Jonelle bleeding and crying . . . and suddenly it hit me: "She could lose this baby! And after nine months!" --That, I think, was the first moment when I thought I myself might break down and begin to cry.

* Later, in the hospital room, as they wheeled Jonelle out for surgery, Dave began crying and I put my arm around him and started to pray . . . out loud.

* The miracle of seeing a beautiful, "perfect" new baby. . . .

* Jonelle, pasty-faced, absolutely ashen, being wheeled by, for all we could see, unconscious, on the way to her room . . . well over an hour after we had been told she had come out of surgery. --Yipes! We really were dealing with a life-and-death situation!


I "held it together" all evening. But I felt wooden. Leaden. Heavy. Tired. Like I wanted to cry, but I didn't have anything, specific, to cry about.

Sarita isn't the most emotionally demonstrative person in the world (!!! :-) ) and she buried herself in a book.

I decided to watch a movie. So I started Good Will Hunting. That's a nice emotional movie.

Robin Williams plays his character's deep emotions absolutely magnificently.

An hour into the movie, it was 10:30. I turned it off. Time for bed. Or time for something.

I went upstairs and tottered over to the couch opposite Sarita.

And then I was able to have my cry.

I got to re-live the details of the day, the details she had missed while I was at the hospital with Dave and Jonelle, the emotions I had gone through.

I almost lost my daughter! We almost lost our daughter! . . . And we could have lost our granddaughter, too! . . . "A few more hours! . . ." the hospital staff had said.


I am so glad we live in a place where, on the one hand, we can have a home birth with a midwife if and as long as things go well; we can also get to a hospital on a few minutes' notice and have a baby delivered relatively safely by c-section if the conditions warrant.

And our daughter is alive. And our granddaughter is alive. And the sun is shining on this new day.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Natalya Mae Lilly

. . . born at 4:07 p.m. by emergency C-section. 21.5" long. 8 lbs. 11.2 oz.

Isn't she beautiful?

Daddy and baby bonding skin to skin.

I loved seeing the sign over Dave's head. And I was happy to capture a picture of their midwife as she coached him a bit. --None of us were permitted to attend the surgery itself. So we contented ourselves with holding Natalya.


The story: a blessing from God.

With no warning, Jonelle started bleeding profusely this afternoon at about 2:05. By 2:15, we had her to the hospital, and by 2:35, we were being told it didn't look good AT ALL for a vaginal birth. Home birth, which she and her husband Dave had been preparing for, was almost assuredly out of the question. With no contractions and virtually no dilation or effacement, the placenta was 25% torn from the uterus. They were hoping, maybe, the bleeding would subside.

But over the next half hour or so, further bad news: her blood pressure was very high; she was suffering from pre-eclampsia. So in the space of little more than an hour, Jonelle and Dave went from expecting a normal, low-pressure home birth to facing the possibility of an emergency C-section. There was still a small chance--infinitesimal--that maybe things would turn around, but by 3:40, as she began bleeding even more rapidly than at the start, and with no signs of birth pangs or any movement toward regular delivery, Jonelle and Dave had to sign appropriate release forms and she was wheeled off for emergency surgery.

About 4:20, Natalya Mae made her appearance "out in public" and I was able to begin shooting photos.

Jonelle didn't reappear until well past 6:00, and I was not permitted to see her other than for a quick glimpse as she was being wheeled by, pasty-faced, to her room. . . .

We thank God that neither baby nor mother died or was seriously injured. And we pray, now, for Jonelle's speedy and full recovery.

And the bad science of the global warming fear-mongers continues to come to light

I am delighted to conserve resources, to recycle, to "Keep America Beautiful." I have studied and attempted to incorporate as many energy-saving ideas as possible in any architectural projects I've been involved in. (I sponsored a geo-thermal study for our commercial building, for example, when we built it nine years ago. Sadly, even under the most optimistic conditions (i.e., the most pessimistic energy pricing calculations) we could come up with, the added expense wouldn't break-even for over 20 years. And under less optimistic conditions (i.e., conditions where energy prices didn't go up quite so fast), we figured it might take 50 years to get a payback on our investment.)

So I'm concerned.

But I'm really concerned about politicized environmentalism, where the elites--Al Gore comes to mind!--tell all of us common people what we must do . . . while they, the elites, continue to fly high.

So, once more, I am upset by Mr. Gore's latest speech . . . and by further revelations from an honest environmentalist.

I appreciate the environmentalist's quote from John Maynard Keynes: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

Yes, indeed! What will the radical environmentalists do as real science progressively destroys the rational basis for their wild-eyed worldview?

PS: I, too, have heard of the item that Jeff, in comment #13 beneath Gore's speech, brings to the fore:
Why do they call Greenland “GREENland” and not “Frozen White Ice Cold Land”? I understand that from the years 800 to 1300, Greenland enjoyed a mild climate. Wasn’t that BEFORE the industrial revolution? Therefore, if glaciers had retreated when there was no manmade carbon-producing industry, variations in climate must be caused by natural factors. So what is Gore’s evidence that today’s climate variation is NOT natural, organic, and part of Mother Earth’s normal behavior?

Copyright infringement?

As someone whose livelihood depends on intellectual property, I have a lot of interest in copyrights and copyright law.

As someone involved in marketing, I am also interested in the phenomenon of "viral" communication, in which someone becomes so excited about a certain creative expression--an article, a photo, a blog post, a video--that they "tell everyone" about it so that its fame soon spreads around the world.

With these potentially competing interests in mind, then, I bumped into the following:

Universal Music claims it should have the right to force people to remove videos such as this . . .

even if the use falls within "fair use" parameters. (What do you think? Was the poster in violation of Universal's copyright on the background music?)

As the article I just referenced notes, fair use is related to such factors as "how much of the original work was used, whether the new use is commercial in nature, whether the market for the original work was harmed, and whether the new work is a parody."

. . . And then . . . the author/editor of The Drudge Retort [note: that's Drudge Retort, not Report!] . . . the author/editor of the Drudge Retort received takedown notices from the Associated Press because he reposted a few sentences and headlines from seven AP articles.
"If there was a court decision that said quoting from a news story without doing a lot of commentary was an infringement, then I think a lot of blogs would have to rethink their business model," said Nancy Mertzel, a New York intellectual property attorney.

Uh. Yeah. I guess so!


What do you think? Did he endow this chair? . . . Is it a kind of post mortem stick-in-the-eye?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My kind of mathematician!

I needed some stats for a letter to my investment advisor. I did a Google search and found Political Calculations.

First Time Visitor to Political Calculations? asks one post:
What makes Political Calculations unique in the world of blogs is the majority of our posts are focused on answering questions for which we don't already know the answers. We then do our best to answer those questions using all the problem solving skills we've gained over the years. Along the way, we create tools to help answer them and what's more, we post them here so you can see how we got to the answers we found.

What's really cool is that the tools we build can answer a lot more than just our own questions. You can change the input factors to better agree with how you see things, to update them with the latest data available to make the answers as relevant to the world today as possible, or if you just want to make one of our tools solve a problem that directly affects your life. And they're always capable of answering our favorite question: "What if ...?"
The author then provides a list of all his "tools to date" (November of 2007).


I found one tool that intrigued me. (There were many more. But this one just caught my fancy.) What If We Bought Cars for the Poor Instead of Light Rail? --Yeah! Good question!

And the answer?

--Well. You'll have to check it for yourself.

Assuming he's done his calculations correctly--and I think that's a reasonable bet--his answer agrees with the thought I've had.

I'm afraid, however, that he has not included all the "externalities" that would have to be properly accounted for.

His calculations do make me think, however.

What ARE these Realtors thinking?

I subscribe to Snurl's "Interesting Snips" email. (Go to their website and fill in the form at the right.)

Last week they sent a link to It's Lovely! I'll Take It! --Absolutely hilarious, in my opinion.

I wrote to my niece who lives in the Puget Sound area:
Have you seen this wonderful listing? –Apparently, the owners decided to reduce the price recently (click through on the $199,500 to see it as currently listed), but . . .

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

$200,000 and all this could be yours!

I exaggerate. It's not really $200,000.

It's $199,500.


Lots more listing like it . . . .

Friday, July 4, 2008

Double wide. Double!

Yeah, it's a mobile home, but really: if the asking price is a mere quarter million, there's only so much effort you can expect the seller to put into the listing.

Or . . .

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's a golden housing-market

Half a million. HALF A MILLION! Half a million bucks they're asking, and they can't be bothered to flush?

Email this


I particularly appreciate Sara's self-effacing honesty. Like in her It's lovely! I already took it! and The most squalid house of all posts.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wisdom for the ages

I think the following aphorisms are worth some thought:

* "Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it." --Attributed to Henry David Thoreau. (I agree!)

* "The secret of a man who is universally interesting is that he is universally interested." --Attributed to William Dean Howells. (A wise man, I think! . . . Or, at least, a wise observation.)

* "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." --Attributed to Mark Twain. (I'll buy that!)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Affirmations of life

My son pointed me in the direction of Jennifer F, a woman who says she was a contented atheist until 2005 but became a Christian and joined the Roman Catholic church in spring 2007.

I'm not Roman Catholic. I have no interest, honestly, in becoming Roman Catholic. But I sure feel a common bond with Jennifer!

I found the following links on her Jennifer's Favorite Links blog:

A video that I expect will bring you to tears from the beauty. --You'll need to read the subtitles quickly at points:

And a pro-family "public service" message from Germany. (Read quickly on this one, too!)

And then, on her thought-provoking "Et Tu?" blog: "How I became pro-life," especially her series of "four key memories that give a glimpse into how my understanding of sex was formed":
  • When I was a kid, I didn't have any friends who had baby brothers or sisters in their households. One friend's mom was pregnant when we were twelve, but I moved before the baby was born. To the extent that I ever heard any of our parents talk about pregnancy and babies, it was to say that they were happy that they were "done," the impression being that they could finally start living now that that pregnancy/baby unpleasantness was over.

  • In sex ed class we learned not that sex creates babies, but that unprotected sex creates babies. After we were done putting condoms on bananas, our teacher counseled us that we should carefully decide when we might be ready to have sex based on important concerns like whether or not we were in committed relationships, whether or not we had access to contraception, how our girlfriends or boyfriends treated us, whether we wanted to wait until marriage, etc. I do not recall hearing readiness to have a baby being part of a single discussion about deciding when to have sex, whether it was from teachers or parents or society in general. Not once.

  • On multiple occasions when I was a young teen I recall hearing girls make the comment that they would readily risk dangerous back-alley abortions or even consider suicide if they were to face unplanned pregnancies and abortion wasn't legal. Though I was not sexually active, it sounded perfectly reasonable to me -- that is how much we desired not to have babies before we were ready. Yet the concept of just not having sex if we weren't ready to have babies was never discussed. It's not that we had considered the idea and rejected it; it simply never occurred to us.

  • Even recently, before our marriage was validated in the Catholic Church my husband and I had to take a course about building good marriages. It was a video series by a nondenominational Christian group, and in the segment called "Good Sex" they did not mention children or babies once. In all the talk about bonding and back rubs and intimacy and staying in shape, the closest they came to connecting sex to the creation of life was to briefly say that couples should discuss the topic of contraception.
"Sex could not have been more disconnected from the concept of creating life," she concludes.

I'd have to say I agree with her.

Quite stunning, isn't it?

AMA and ACOG: Concerned for health or concerned for profits?

I'm astonished that less than three weeks after first having the idea even brought to my attention, I bump once more into the issue of home birthing and abortion: where, we realize, the same people who promote abortion oppose home births.

Jennifer F blogs,
American Medical Association comes out against homebirth

Both the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetric[ian]s and Gynecologists are speaking out against homebirth. The ACOG is very concerned about the safety of newborns, when they're not supporting their brutal murders (see excerpted quote [concerning D&X abortions] towards the middle at that link).

We hear about the treatment our home-birth-bound daughters are receiving from their midwives. We also hear about the treatment that our daughters' more conventionally-oriented friends are receiving from their obstetricians.

Now, I have nothing against qualified, compassionate and diligent obstetricians. But after hearing about--and seeing--the kind of treatment our daughters are receiving at the hands of their midwives, I think there is no reason for the ACOG or AMA to be going after these diligent, compassionate, and highly-qualified midwives, either . . . except and unless their (ACOG's and AMA's) primary concern has to do with erecting and/or maintaining a virtual monopoly on the care of pregnant women and their babies.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Moral/Ethical Language

It has struck me in the past. I decided to remark upon it today. I get the sense our culture uses far less moral or ethical language than we find in the Bible . . . or, to be exact, Isaiah chapter 1.

I was reading Isaiah 1 this morning and look what I saw:
  • iniquity--v. 13

  • your hands are full of blood--v. 15

  • the evil of your deeds--v. 16

  • evil--v. 16

  • good--v. 17

  • justice--v. 17

  • oppression--v. 17

  • justice--v. 17

  • plead the cause [of an oppressed class of people]--v. 17

  • sins--v. 18

  • obedien[ce]--v. 19

  • rebel[lion]--v. 20

  • faithful[ness]--v. 21

  • whore[dom]--v. 21

  • justice--v. 21

  • righteousness--v. 21

  • murder--v. 21

  • rebel[liousness]--v. 22

  • thieve[ry]--v. 22

  • bribe[ry]--v. 22

  • [lack of] justice--v. 22

  • righteousness--v. 26

  • faithful[ness]--v. 26

  • justice--v. 27

  • righteousness--v. 27

  • be ashamed--v. 29

  • blush--v. 29

Somehow, I find this kind of language bracing. It calls me to "take a stand," "speak out," act out . . . for justice, righteousness, good. . . .

Monday, July 21, 2008

Your opinions, please!

I got another phone call Saturday morning seeking my opinions related to the presidential race. This one was from a political research group at Quinnipiac University. I wasn't sure I really wanted to answer their questions. All the way through, they wanted me to choose one of two possible answers: "Which: This or that?" --And I kept saying, "Neither. I prefer _____." --And I'd mention a third alternative. Or something in between.

"Obama or McCain?" --"How about Barr . . . or Paul? . . . But if you force me to choose between Obama or McCain, I guess it's McCain . . . holding my nose."

"What should the president promote: development of renewable fuels or oil drilling?" --"Ummmm. I'm not convinced that's the president's responsibility. But if I have to, . . . Oh, good grief! . . . How about both?!"

"Renewable fuels or nuclear energy?" --"!!!!!"

Another McCain/Obama preference question. --"Y'know, Obama really scares me. Actually, it's not so much Obama himself. It's the American people who are all ga-ga over him . . . for what? He reminds me too much of certain other historical figures who were voted into office on popular euphoria only to cause unimaginable havoc. . . ." --I was thinking of Hitler, in particular. But there have been others.

Charles Krauthammer, as usual, wrote an insightful piece first published in various national news outlets on Saturday. (Our Rocky Mountain News didn't run it till this morning. But I think he's nailed it when he spoke of "Obama’s elevated opinion of himself."
There’s nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements? Obama is
  • a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name,

  • a former Illinois state senator who voted “present” nearly 130 times.

As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever
  • produced a single notable piece of scholarship?

  • Written a single memorable article?

His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.

It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly.

In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history — “generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment” — when, among other wonders, “the rise of the oceans began to slow.”

--Sorry. Politics generally bores me. I didn't see Obama's performance. But if Krauthammer is expressing anything near the truth, I would have to agree: Obama's opinion of himself is beyond amazing. It's quite scary, actually. Guys like this don't need anyone else. They know their destiny . . . and if we, the people, aren't willing to stop them early, they will ensure we participate in the destiny they have waiting for us.

Are you ready to meet yours?
As economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, “Moses made the waters recede, but he had help.” Obama apparently works alone.

Obama may think he’s King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Obama has no such modesty.

After all, in the words of his own slogan, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” which, translating the royal “we,” means: “I am the one we’ve been waiting for.” Amazingly, he had a quasi-presidential seal with its own Latin inscription affixed to his podium, until general ridicule — it was pointed out that he was not yet president — induced him to take it down. He lectures us that instead of worrying about immigrants learning English, “you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish” — a language Obama does not speak. He further admonishes us on how “embarrassing” it is that Europeans are multilingual but “we go over to Europe, and all we can say is, ‘Merci beaucoup.’” Obama speaks no French.

As with other dictators and tyrants of recent memory, perhaps the American people should pay attention to what Krauthammer notes about Obama the stern taskmaster. Should he become president, he will require much of us. And of himself? . . .
His wife assures us that, . . . “Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism ... that you come out of your isolation. ... Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.”

For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is? We are getting to know.

Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when “our planet began to heal.” As I recall — I’m no expert on this — Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.

And then there's this from "Little Green Footballs": "Obama Shunning Foreign Media."
Christoph von Marschall of Germany’s Der Tagesspiegel says the Barack Obama campaign has been making sure Obama doesn’t have to answer any real questions from the international media: Snubbed by Obama.
Barack Obama is on his way to Europe, where an adoring public awaits. But I wonder if the reception would be quite so enthusiastic if Obama’s fans across the Atlantic knew a dirty little secret of his remarkable presidential campaign: Although Obama portrays himself as the best candidate to engage the rest of the world and restore America’s image abroad, and many Americans support him for that reason, so far he has almost completely refused to answer questions from foreign journalists. When the press plane leaves tonight for his trip, there will be, as far as I know, no foreign media aboard. The Obama campaign has refused multiple requests from international reporters to travel with the candidate.

As a German correspondent in Washington, I am accustomed to the fact that American politicians spare little of their limited time for reporters from abroad. This is understandable: Our readers, viewers and listeners cannot vote in U.S. elections. Even so, Obama’s opponents have managed to make at least a small amount of time for international journalists. John McCain has given many interviews. Hillary Clinton gave a few. President Bush regularly holds round-table interviews with media from the countries to which he travels. Only Obama dismisses us so consistently.

This spring Obama allowed at least one foreign reporter on trips to Ohio and Texas. But as the campaign has progressed, access has become more difficult for foreign correspondents. E-mail inquiries get no reply, phone calls are not returned. My colleagues and I know: We are last in line. We don’t matter.

My take: his staff is desperately worried that the candidate will make a gaffe, as soon as he ventures into uncharted territory. Foreign reporters tend to ask questions about ... you know ... foreign stuff.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Great Teacher

I just read a wonderful book, Tuesdays With Morrie. It's the moving story of a 37-year-old man who reconnects with his most significant professor from college . . . at the very moment that the professor is dying from ALS--Lou Gehrig's Disease. They spend 14 Tuesdays together discussing the most important issues of life.

Something about the book makes me think, with joy, of my relationship with my children. And it makes me think, too, with sadness, about my relationship with my father.

I love the book's final lines. They affirm to me why no parent should ever not want to homeschool.

. . . Okay. Forgive me. Let me put that positively.

The final lines affirm to me why all parents should want to homeschool their children . . . and why I feel the pleasure of continuing in relationship with my children now that they are all "out of the house" and forging ahead with their own lives . . . yet my wife and I are still involved with them. What a privilege!
Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it is only in your head. Sometimes it is right alongside their beds.

The last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week, in his home, by a window in his study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink flowers. The class met on Tuesdays. No books were required. The subject was the meaning of life. It was taught from experience.

The teaching goes on.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How "real" science is being done today

Want to know the grounds for the multi-trillion-dollar proposals before the U.S. congress and other world government bodies? (I refer, of course, to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 and the International Energy Agency's call for a $45 trillion investment in "clean technology.")

The scientific grounds for these proposals are . . . absolutely mind-blowing, to put it mildly.

If you've never been to before, I recommend you check it out. The site's owner and primary author, Steve McIntyre is deeply concerned about the matter of scientific credibility. For good reason.

Mr. McIntyre is trained and experienced in uncovering fraud in mining company investment offerings. (A company that owns a gold mine, for example, may claim it has 25 million tons of proven, high-grade, gold-bearing ore in a certain mine. Mr. McIntyre's job is to look at the data and determine whether the company's claim is valid or not.)

Using the same bullheaded search for truth in the "global climate change" debate, Mr. McIntyre has been discovering that the leading spokespeople for the kind of hysteria that seems to rule the day . . . --these people seem, regularly, to ignore the rules of thoroughgoing scientific research: they cherry-pick their data, "forget" to document their work, refuse to permit fully independent inquiry into their data and methodology, and, overall, make it as difficult as possible for anyone but themselves--the alarmist masters--to evaluate their work.

For one minor example of this phenomenon, take McIntyre's May 11, 2006, post for example, in which he questions the dendroclimatological studies [tree-ring based studies of climate change over time] of a supposed "leader" in the field, one J. Esper.

McIntyre reveals something Esper conveniently never mentioned in a major peer-reviewed paper he had published in Science magazine: Esper had collected a lot more data than he reported on.

So McIntyre asked Esper
two . . . methodological questions - one that I’ve been asking for a while: how he operationally allocates tree populations into “linear” and “nonlinear” trees . . . [and how] he decide[d] which trees to use and which trees not to use.

Here, verbatim, is the second (and, for my purposes in this post, most pertinent) question that McIntyre put to Esper via Science:
In 4 cases (Athabaska, Jaemtland, Quebec, Zhaschiviersk), Esper’s site chronology says that not all of the data in the data set is used. This is not mentioned in the original article. What is the basis for de-selection of individual cores?

This is Esper’s "non-responsive answer" as quoted by McIntyre:
As described, in some of the sites we did not use all data. We did not remove single measurements, but clusters of series that had either significantly differing growth rates or differing age-related shapes, indicating that these trees represent a different population, and that combining these data in a single RCS run will result in a biased chronology. By the way, we excluded other sites because growth was too rapid, for example.

"First, consider Esper’s statement," McIntyre pleads:
“As described, in some of the sites we did not use all data.” I challenge anyone to locate any “description” or even hint in the four corners of Esper et al 2002 that they did not use all the data, let alone any reason for why they did not use all the data. There is no “description” or even hint in Esper et al 2002 [the original article] that all the data was not used. The admission came only in response to my parsing through data that took nearly two years to get.

Esper now says that cores were de-selected to avoid a “biased chronology” and cited Esper et al 2003 as a suppposed authority for the procedure. However an examination of Esper et al 2003 provides no such authority. In fact, the closest thing in Esper et al 2003 to such a statement is the following, which I’ve quoted before:

Before venturing into the subject of sample depth and chronology quality, we state from the beginning, “more is always better”. However as we mentioned earlier on the subject of biological growth populations, this does not mean that one could not improve a chronology by reducing the number of series used if the purpose of removing samples is to enhance a desired signal. The ability to pick and choose which samples to use is an advantage unique to dendroclimatology.

Here Esper is talking about removing data to “enhance a desired signal”. Excuse me - that doesn’t sound like a way of avoiding a “biased chronology”; it sounds like a recipe for making biased chronologies - biased towards a “desired signal.”

What do you think?


For some fundamental understanding of what McIntyre is up against, see Kyoto protocol based on flawed statistics, The M&M Critique of the MBH98 Northern Hemisphere Climate Index: Update and Implications and/or Backgrounder for McIntyre and McKitrick “Hockey Stick Project”.
Zemanta Pixie

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Beware the future of freedom

I was reading World, one of my favorite magazines, the other day and came across one of the most chilling articles I've ever read.

I have heard about these kinds of miscarriages of justice upon occasion, but, somehow, they have never chilled me as this one did:
Two years ago an excerpt from Steyn's book, America Alone, was published in Maclean's, one of Canada's leading news journals. The article, titled "The Future Belongs to Islam," expressed Steyn's view that at their current comparative birth rates, Islamic citizens of Europe will soon outnumber native Europeans-with, shall we say, troubling implications for Western tradition. [You can see my coverage of this part of Steyn's book in my post from June 1, 2007, Mark Steyn's America Alone, II--Part One (Prologue to Chapter 3).]

Actually, less than half of the article addressed Islamic ascendancy in Europe. An equal part dealt with declining birthrates in developed nations generally-such as Japan, where toy makers are producing talkative baby dolls for elderly citizens who miss the company of little children.

If Japanese-Canadians took offense, they kept it to themselves. But a trio of Muslim law students in Ontario demanded equal space in Maclean's to rebut Steyn's claims about Islam. When the editors refused to have their content dictated, the Canadian Islamic Congress filed a complaint with the CHRC [Canadian Human Rights Commission]--not only in Ontario but also a provincial tribunal in British Columbia, where commissioners were known to be especially sensitive to such grievances. . . .

A three-member panel convened in Vancouver early [in June] to hear the case. Maclean's editor Andrew Coyne, live-blogging the proceedings, reported that according to Section 7.J of the Human Rights Code, "innocent intent is not a defense, nor is truth, nor is fair comment or the public interest, nor is good faith or responsible journalism. In other words, there is no defense." Also no standard for conviction except the complainant's feelings--no wonder the national CHRC has never declared a defendant innocent.

Evidence by the complainants consisted mostly of blog comments, which may or may not have been inspired by Steyn's article. Witnesses included a Quran specialist, a media professor whose area of expertise is Bollywood films, and Dr. Naiyer Habib, co-complainant, who testified of his distress when he read some of the nasty blog posts. Other magazine articles and surveys were introduced, none of which had any connection with Mark Steyn or Maclean's, but because there were no rules about evidence, some were admitted and some not.

In final arguments on June 6, council for the complainants asserted that they had met a two-part test of hate speech, proving that Steyn had both encouraged hate in the readership, and expressed hate in his writing. Plus, he used sarcasm.

The defense introduced no evidence but appealed to Canada's tradition of freedom of the press--even though that tradition has lost its teeth. Only the week before, a CHRC panel in Alberta handed down a decision against Stephen Boissoin of the Concerned Christian Coalition, who published a letter critical of homosexuals in a local newspaper. For this offense, Boissoin and the coalition were directed to pay $5,000 to the complainant for "pain and suffering," to refrain in the future from publishing discriminatory letters, and to make no "disparaging remarks" about the case. These measures, according to the panel, are "remedial not punitive." Nice to know.

The Steyn decision is not expected for several weeks, and tribunal officials are probably aware that this case is loaded. It's a prominent national journal they're dealing with, not some puny pack of concerned Christians. Some speculate that the CHRC will give Maclean's a stern lecture and dismiss the case so it can continue wreaking havoc on Canadian civil rights in relative obscurity. A conviction might drag the commission's habit of overreach into the public glare, and possibly force reform.

Whatever the decision, Steyn and Maclean's promise to hang tough. We can hope so, because rights generally erode before they collapse. As the old caveat goes, "First they came for the sarcastic... ."

[All emphases mine in the above quoted section.--JAH]

I pray the commission will remain true to its habits and be exposed! May we frogs wake up to the water being rapidly heated around us!

Or perhaps those of us who are offended at the offense can begin to bring our complaints to the commission. . . .

Monday, July 07, 2008

Meyers-Briggs Prayers

If you haven't heard of Meyers-Briggs, you should know that it is a personality profile system based on four sets of opposite characteristics:
  • How you relate to the world around you: are you more inward or outward focused: Introverted v Extroverted (I or E);
  • How you gather information and the kind of information that tends to appeal to you: hard facts, as it were, that are right before your eyes, or concepts, theories, patterns, ideas: Sensing v iNtuitive (S or N);
  • How you tend to make decisions and/or what matters in the decisions you make: Thoughts/Thinking or Feelings/Feeling) (T or F); and, then,
  • Your general outward manifestation: do you tend to show more how you perceive the world (i.e., whether you are a sensing or intuitive person), or do you tend to reveal more how you judge the things around you (i.e., come to decisions): Perceiving v Judging (P or J).
[See the Wikipedia article on Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator for a more complete explanation.]

So with that in mind, someone has come up with the standard "Meyers-Briggs Prayers."

ISTJ: Lord, help me to relax about insignificant details beginning tomorrow at 11:41:23 a.m. E.S.T.

ISTP: God, help me to consider people’s feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.

ESTP: God, help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they’re usually NOT my fault.

ESTJ: God, help me to not try to RUN everything. But, if You need some help, just ask.

ISFJ: Lord, help me to be more laid back and help me to do it EXACTLY right.

ISFP: Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if you don’t mind my asking).

ESFP: God, help me to take things more seriously, especially parties and dancing.

ESFJ: God, give me patience, and I mean right NOW.

INFJ: Lord, help me not to be a perfectionist. (Did I spell that correctly?)

INFP: God, help me to finish everything I sta

ENFP: God, help me to keep my mind on one th - Look a bird! - at a time.

ENFJ: God, help me to do only what I can and trust you for the rest. Do you mind putting that in writing?

INTJ: Lord, keep me open to other’s ideas, *wrong* though they may be.

INTP: Lord, help me to be less independent, but let me do it my way.

ENTP: Lord, help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I’ll settle for a few minutes.

ENTJ: Lord, help me slow downandnotrushthroughwhatIdo.

Don't know your Meyers-Briggs type? Take a free, 5-minute computerized test on the HumanMetrics site.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Where did the Hippocratic Oath go?

Doctors used to swear to uphold the Hippocratic Oath: "I swear . . . I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. . . ."

It seems that oath is less and less in anyone's mind these days.

Our daughters are both pregnant, both expecting in the next couple of weeks, and both planning home births under the care of licensed and experienced midwives.

Today, as we gathered for a family 4th of July/Independence Day celebration, they got talking about their experiences.

They began by raving about the wonderful care they receive at the hands of their midwives. No junk food for them! No! Their midwives are almost martinets in the demands they make and the disciplines they require of them. But, boy! Are our daughters healthy. And they expect to bear healthy babies.

They compared their experiences with those of friends they know who are also pregnant: the foods their friends eat, their weights, the blood pressure issues these others are facing, and so forth. Likely because of their poor habits during the course of their pregnancies--or because it is simply becoming more and more "policy" among a lot of Ob/Gyns--a few of their friends expect to have C-sections.

Of course, all of that kind of care is paid for by their health insurance.

And our daughters? Both (together with their husbands, of course!) will have to pay for everything (unless they are transported to the hospital because of some emergency, last-minute complication). Their insurance doesn't cover services by midwives.

"Oh!" said one daughter. "But I was looking at our company's health policy. They do cover abortions. . . .

Oh. And then I just read that, in Britain at least, there is a significant push to permit nurses to perform abortions, no medical doctor required to be present. (Medical doctor "supervision" is sufficient, apparently.)

. . . So the Western world moves more and more toward the denigration of life and the preference for death. . . .

Oh. And concerning that Hippocratic Oath, again.

I had forgotten that it continues beyond the brief portion I quoted above. The next two paragraphs continue:

To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death.

Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion. . . .