Trabant anyone?

John Edwards hears it from Jason Vines


Last time I checked, America is about choice. This kind of reminds me of book burnings of the past. Shouldn't a president try to preserve freedoms? So let's lay off any suggestions of "vehicle choice by government committee". Trabant anyone?

Wiki: Trabant

The first computer virus

Prank starts 25 years of security woes


What began as a ninth-grade prank, a way to trick already-suspicious friends who had fallen for his earlier practical jokes, has earned Rich Skrenta notoriety as the first person ever to let loose a personal computer virus.
"Elk Cloner" — self-replicating like all other viruses — bears little resemblance to the malicious programs of today. Yet in retrospect, it was a harbinger of all the security headaches that would only grow as more people got computers — and connected them with one another over the Internet.

Skrenta's friends were already distrusting him because, in swapping computer games and other software as part of piracy circles common at the time, Skrenta often altered the floppy disks he gave out to launch taunting on-screen messages. Many friends simply started refusing disks from him.

So during a winter break from the Mt. Lebanon Senior High School near Pittsburgh, Skrenta hacked away on his Apple II computer — the dominant personal computer then — and figured out how to get the code to launch those messages onto disks automatically.

He developed what is now known as a "boot sector" virus. When it boots, or starts up, an infected disk places a copy of the virus in the computer's memory. Whenever someone inserts a clean disk into the machine and types the command "catalog" for a list of files, a copy gets written onto that disk as well. The newly infected disk is passed on to other people, other machines and other locations.

Comment: Symantec and McAfee should pay this guy! Here's the Source for it (harmless!)


Got Arachnophobia? Here’s Your Worst Nightmare

Got Arachnophobia? Here’s Your Worst Nightmare
Published: August 31, 2007
The discovery of a vast web crawling with millions of spiders spreading across several acres of a North Texas park is causing a stir.


Most spiders are solitary creatures. So the discovery of a vast web crawling with millions of spiders that is spreading across several acres of a North Texas park is causing a stir among scientists, and park visitors.

Sheets of web have encased several mature oak trees and are thick enough in places to block out the sun along a nature trail at Lake Tawakoni State Park, near this town about 50 miles east of Dallas.

The gossamer strands, slowly overtaking a lakefront peninsula, emit a fetid odor, perhaps from the dead insects entwined in the silk. The web whines with the sound of countless mosquitoes and flies trapped in its folds.

Comments: We are planning on go to Dallas mid-October. Could be an interesting side trip!

Ego ictus

Actor playing Brutus stabs himself


Caesar lay dead and Brutus was talking to his co-conspirators about swords and blood when he paused and excused himself, saying "I seem to have stabbed myself."

Aspen actor/director Kent Hudson Reed accidently cut his leg open with the knife he was using in an outdoor performance of "Scenes from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar" on Wednesday.

He tried to carry on, "but my boot was filling up with blood and I was flubbing my lines, wondering if I was going to pass out, wondering if the audience could see the blood."

Et tu, Brute?


"Et tu, Brute?" ("You too, Brutus?" or "Even you, Brutus?") is a Latin phrase often used poetically to represent the last words of Julius Caesar. The quotation is widely used in Western culture as an epitome of betrayal.

Comment: Brutus finally got his due! And by his own hand! "Ego ictus" is my feeble attempt (it was a long time ago (think High School) that I studied Latin) at "I stabbed myself"! Image from VinylZart


Mother's new car

Mother bought herself a new car today! (Her '94 Sable died earlier this week). This is the first time she bought a car.

Possible remains of second temple found

Possible remains of second temple found in Jerusalem


Remains of the Jewish second temple may have been found during work to lay pipes at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem, Israeli television reported Thursday.
Israeli television broadcast footage of a mechanical digger at the site which Israeli archaeologists visited on Thursday.

Gaby Barkai, an archaeologist from Bar Ilan University, urged the Israeli government to stop the pipework after the discovery of what he said is "a massive seven metre-long wall."

All that remains today is the temple's Western Wall, or Wailing wall.

Comment: The Temple Mount: the most coveted piece of real estate in the world! Image from Atlas Tours

Niggling Cold Fusion issue resolved

I have been experiencing a vexing database issue that I finally resolved this week.

I have a database with a field titled "reviewed_date". It keep periodically resetting itself to "10/01/2006".

At first (and for quite a while), I blamed it on a system problem, but the problem was actually mine!

Earlier I posted on the "DATEDIFF" function. When I started using it, some rows did not have the "reviewed_date" field populated and so the function failed. So I created a utility piece of CF code to populate all NULL fields to "10/01/2006".

I moved this code to production and never removed it.

Meanwhile I weekly took a backup of this particular table.

This past Friday I noticed that the table was intact with no issues. Monday when I came in all the "reviewed_date" fields had been reset to "10/01/2006".

Wednesday I scanned for all occurances of "10/01/2006" in my *.CFM code and noticed that this utilize code was still in production. I had used it once! I purged it from production and pondered the situatution. I hypothesized that something had been running that code in an automated way periodically. My manager scoffed at my hypothesis.

To test my hypothesis, I created a sample table, that mirrored my table that was perioically corrupted. Then I created code - aptly named hypothesis.cfm - that would update that table and reset the "reviewed_date" column to "10/01/2006". I set the "reviewed_date" values to my birthday "08/19/1949". The hypothesis.cfm code also included a CFMAIL section that would send me an email when it executed.

My hypothesis was that a regular indexing of our corporate Intranet was causing that code to execute.

Today at 10:02 am that code executed and sent me an email. The column "reviewed_date" had been set to "10/01/2006".

This seemingly small detail had vexed me for months. And I thank God that I got it resolved!

There's a programming lesson in this story!

World's first lazaret?

Pictures: Italian Plague Graves Found



A lazaretto or lazaret is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings. ... A leper colony administered by a Christian religious order was often called a lazar house, after the parable of Lazarus the Beggar.

Mass Plague Graves Found on Venice "Quarantine" Island


Ancient mass graves containing more than 1,500 victims of the bubonic plague have been discovered on a small island in Italy's Venetian Lagoon.

Workers came across the skeletons while digging the foundation for a new museum on Lazzaretto Vecchio, a small island in the lagoon's south, located a couple of miles from Venice's famed Piazza San Marco.

The island is believed to be the world's first lazaret—a quarantine colony intended to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

The lazaret was opened during the plague outbreaks that decimated Venice, as well as much of Europe, throughout the 15th and 16th centuries A.D.

Comment: My daughter visited Venice earlier this Summer. I had not heard of the term "lazaret" before. Picture from National Geographic (see link above for more!)


"Holy macaroni, I am tired!”

"Holy macaroni, I am tired!”


"This job of mine is a korker. I am here from 8 AM until 10 PM every night and sometimes later, but I have made good. Business is good and the Wells Fargo Auditors say that this office is in better shape than it was before, so the glory helps me some, but holy macarony, I am tired."

From a social history point of view, one gets a more accurate history from regular people, the opposite end of the scale from kings and generals. This is certainly true. But these letters prove another thing that is certainly true: The one constant that pervades social history is hard work and achin' feet.

Comment: Being tired about work is not new! Look how great this person's handwriting was!


Jott is the voice to text service that I mentioned earlier. I signed up and tried it tonight.

How one might use it? Scenario: I need to group message my children (Nathan, Rachel, and Roger). We are to meet at a restaurant at a certain time. I set all three of my kids up in Jott as contacts (both their cell phones and their email addresses). I want to communicate to all at once. I call Jott (toll free #), speak "Kids" as the contact, state a message and hang up. Jott transcribes the message and sends a SMS message to each of their cell phones. The same message is also sent to their email addresses.

Example: "Meet us at Applebees by Ridgedale at 7".

I tried this out with Roger tonight. He thought it was interesting.

Jott and PingMe (the service I mentioned earlier today) are free.

The Levite Gatekeepers

Our reading was from 1 Chronicles 9 & 10 tonight. This ministered to me (9:22-27):

All those chosen as gatekeepers were two hundred and twelve. They were recorded by their genealogy, in their villages. David and Samuel the seer had appointed them to their trusted office. So they and their children were in charge of the gates of the house of the LORD, the house of the tabernacle, by assignment. The gatekeepers were assigned to the four directions: the east, west, north, and south. And their brethren in their villages had to come with them from time to time for seven days. For in this trusted office were four chief gatekeepers; they were Levites. And they had charge over the chambers and treasuries of the house of God. And they lodged all around the house of God because they had the responsibility, and they were in charge of opening it every morning.

Comment: Being a gatekeeper was obviously an important position and to be taken seriously. The Christian must be diligent about the Lord's work and not be a slacker. Proverbs 10:4, "He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich."


I saw this service (still in Beta) yesterday and signed up to try it out.

What is PingMe? It is a SMS reminder service (think calendar items sent to your cell phone). Not sure how useful this will be, but I am going to try it out.

Here's a similar service: Jott. Jott is a voice to text service.

Lifehacker explains how to combine the two services to have a voice reminder system. I'm not sure if my life is so complex that I would use this combo, but it intrigues me.

313 Minnesota Bridges

Data on 313 Minnesota bridges now online


Minnesotans who want to check the structural rating of their favorite bridge can now do so by computer, according to an environmental group that has organized data on 313 bridges on interstate highways, U.S. highways and state trunk highways across the state.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) used information from state and federal sources to compile maps, which list the bridges and their identification numbers, and the degree to which they are functionally obsolete or structurally deficient.

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy


The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy today released maps and data bases on more than 300 Minnesota bridges which will allow citizens to become informed on the state of their bridges and the votes of their representatives on transportation issues.

Comment: Data is in zipped archivesm (PDF & Excel). Another file is for those with specialized GIS software.

Olympic security guard - R.I.P.

Richard Jewell found dead in home


Richard Jewell, the Centennial Olympic Park security guard once suspected — but later cleared — in the bombing of the park during the 1996 Summer Games, was found dead Wednesday in his home in Meriwether County. He was 44.

A year ago this month, Jewell was commended by Gov. Sonny Perdue at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the bombing. "The bottom line is this: His actions saved lives that day," said Perdue. "Mr. Jewell, on behalf of Georgia, we want to thank you for keeping Georgians safe and doing your job during the course of those Games." Jewell, his voice choked with emotion, responded: "I never sought to be a hero. I have always viewed myself as just one of the many trained professionals who simply did his or her job that tragic night. I wish I could have done more."

Richard Jewell


In early news reports, Jewell was lauded as a hero for helping to evacuate the area after he spotted the suspicious package. Three days later, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed that the FBI was treating him as a possible suspect, based largely on a "lone bomber" criminal profile. For the next several weeks, the news media focused aggressively on him as the presumed culprit, sifting through his life to match a leaked "lone bomber" profile that the FBI had used. Two of the bombing victims filed lawsuits against Jewell on the basis of this reporting. In a reference to the unabomber, Jay Leno called him the "Una-doofus". Though he was never officially charged, the FBI aggressively investigated him in spite of a continuing lack of evidence. They publicly searched his home, questioned his associates, investigated his background, and maintained twenty-four hour surveillance of Jewell. The pressure only began to ease after Jewell's attorneys hired an ex-FBI agent to administer a polygraph, which Jewell reportedly passed. Despite this, in the searches of Jewell's residence, which he shared with his mother, the FBI confiscated his mother's tupperware collection and family photographs. When these items were returned, many pieces of the tupperware had been broken, and the photographs were ripped apart.

Jewell sued the New York Post for libel for $15 million over a series of stories and a photograph caption. The newspaper reportedly called Jewell "a Village Rambo" and "a fat, failed former sheriff’s deputy."

One-time Olympic park bombing suspect Richard Jewell dies


After 12 weeks of scrutiny following the bombing, Jewell was cleared by the FBI and U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander in an unprecedented government acknowledgment of wrongful accusation.

"I am not the Olympic park bomber," Jewell told reporters after being cleared. "I am a man who has lived 88 days afraid of being arrested for a crime I did not commit."

The FBI, Jewell said, trampled on his rights "in its rush to show the world it could get its man," while the news media "cared nothing about my feelings as a human being" in its rush to get a story on the bombing.

Jewell was working as a private security guard in Centennial Olympic Park about 1 a.m. on July 27 when he identified a suspicious unidentified package and began moving people away from it. The package turned out to contain the bomb, which went off, killing one person and wounding more than 100.

He was originally hailed as a hero for moving people away, but he was later thrust into a different light when the FBI suspected that he had set off the bomb to give himself an opportunity to be a hero.

For weeks, reporters and camera crews camped outside Jewell's Atlanta apartment, capturing every move that he -- and the FBI -- made.

Comment: Here's a man who was a true hero and saved lives by his actions. He was pilloried and vilified by the media! I cannot imagine what this man and his family must have suffered emotionally! May he rest in peace!

Crime: New Orleans two years later

The Most Dangerous City : Two years after Katrina, New Orleans desperately needs law and order.


To understand how New Orleans is doing two years later, consider a few recent stories. This past weekend, seven family members and friends were enjoying a quiet evening outside their home in a tranquil neighborhood on the city's east side, which was badly flooded by Katrina. Then, according to New Orleans police, gunmen forced them into their house, robbed them, and shot them all, killing two. It was the neighborhood's second such crime in two weeks. Previously, gunmen had murdered a couple, Anjelique Vu and Luong Nguyen, leaving their infant and toddler unharmed.

"The slayings . . . were the latest in a series of armed home invasions and robberies in eastern New Orleans," wrote the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Several crews of gunmen . , . have robbed and shot workers . . . and homeowners in the area, where many residents are rebuilding their flood-damaged homes." Also last week, gunmen lined up six laborers and shot three, killing El Salvadoran Julio Benitez-Cruz. (New Orleans has experienced a post-Katrina influx of Hispanic laborers, both legal and illegal, who are tempting targets for criminals because they carry so much cash from contracting jobs.)

Comment: Maybe this city should just die!

Names of victims fill church's 'murder board'

Father Bill Terry of St. Anna's Episcopal Church in New Orleans wants everyone to know what's happening in New Orleans: too many murders with too few people held accountable.

He keeps track of the slayings on what he calls the "murder board," a plastic board that hangs outside his church. He started listing murder victims earlier this year to humanize the headlines.

At first, the names were neatly typed by a printer. But as the killings continued at a rampant pace, he says, he resorted to adding victims' names by hand with permanent marker.

"Numbers are very easy to deal with emotionally. When it becomes a human being, then we start to personalize and it's harder to deal with. I want people to squirm. I want people to feel uncomfortable about the murders going on in the city," Father Bill told CNN.

In the first 29 days of this month alone, the city witnessed 27 killings, according to the New Orleans Police Department. So far in 2007, police say 137 people have been killed. That puts the city on pace for roughly 200 slayings this year.

Lifelong Auto

Pennsylvanian has kept his Model A 78 years


We imagine Frank Hartmaier of Pennsylvania enjoyed reading the story since it shared so many elements with his own. Well, except for one key element. The 1929 Model A roadster he can be seen driving today was purchased new on May 16, 1929. That means Hartmaier has owned the same car for 78 years, besting Curtiss by almost a decade.

Hartmaier's car has been out of service only three times in its long history, each time for restoration.

Comment: If only that limited lifetime warrenty were available!

Sacrifice your SUV

Edwards: Americans need to give up their SUVs


When asked whether Americans should actually give up their SUVs, Edwards' response was an adamant "yes." Despite the bold assertion, Edwards was very popular with the crowd. He also won a lot of favor when he revealed his desire to return production of America's military needs, such as tanks, rifles and ammunition to American soil.

Other initiatives he mentioned during the speech included a proposal to place a national cap on carbon dioxide emissions and reduce this limit on a year-by-year basis. It's funny hearing Edwards talk about sacrifice when he's living in a 28,000 square-foot mansion, but the politician makes no apologies for his lifestyle explaining that he had worked hard for it. No doubt, which is why he should be able to buy any car he wants, even an SUV.

John Edwards Says America Needs To Give Up Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV)


Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told a labor group he would ask Americans to make a big sacrifice: their sport utility vehicles.

The former North Carolina senator told a forum by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, yesterday he thinks Americans are willing to sacrifice.

Edwards says Americans should be asked to drive more fuel efficient vehicles. He says he would ask them to give up SUVs.

Comments: I am not a fan of the SUV and I do not own one myself! But I'm for the government staying out of my car-buying decision! Anyone who buys an SUV knows they pay multiple premiums: higher purchased price, higher insurance, probably higher maintenance (think 4 W/D or AWD), and higher fuel costs. Below is a pic of Edwards getting into a Cadillac SUV:

HT: Ben Smith: Edwards vs. the SUV


When crime stopped at zero!

The official murder rate in New Orleans had dropped to zero


“This is one of the most interesting experiments in crime we’ve ever seen. Without effective courts, corrections, or rehabilitation, we have reduced the crime rate by 100 percent.”

New Orleans Crime Swept Away, With Most of the People


But the bullets and the drugs and the fear are gone now, swept away by Hurricane Katrina, along with the dealers and gangs and most of the people.

There has not been a single killing in this violence-prone neighborhood, or anywhere else in New Orleans, since the chaos that immediately followed Hurricane Katrina subsided. New Orleans, the nation's most dangerous city, has suddenly become perhaps its safest, and what had easily been the country's murder capital now has a murder rate of exactly zero. Although several people were believed to have been killed in the disorder that followed the floods for several days, the last killing officially recorded by the police was on Aug. 27, two days before the hurricane hit. A bar owner was found shot to death that day in his establishment on Magazine Street.

And when the city was finally evacuated, the criminals left, too.

Since then some 60,000 to 80,000 residents have returned, a fraction of the city's previous population of 450,000. What is remarkable to criminologists, though, is how few criminals seem to be among them.

Comment: As a student of economics, I have read Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything . Freakonomics is a daily feature of the NYTimes and generally interesting. As tragic as Katrina was (This is the 2 year anniversary), there were some silver linings to those swirling storms! The crime rate dropped.


Miscellaneous Thoughts

  1. Kathee and I drove separately to work today (we both work downtown about a block apart) because she had a business dinner afterwards. I hate driving to work by myself!
  2. I received a call from my Mom today. Her '94 Sable blew a head gasket and needs major engine work. Her shop says that the car is just not worth repairing. She is shopping for a new car (which is a first time experience for my widowed Mother). I offered to fly to Dallas on Thursday night to help her shop for a car on Friday but she declined my offer.
  3. I took Rachel and Nathan out to the Big Bowl tonight. Roger is at his first class this semester (Normandale College) and Kathee was at dinner with her boss and peers.
  4. Rachel bought me two tickets to this Friday's Twins game. I said "Mom and I will enjoy this". She said "You're going with me!". So I have a Friday night date with my daughter. Should be fun.
  5. I had an important meeting at work today where progress was made on issues that have been an obstacle to me at work. Hopefully real change takes place!
  6. Do you find this odd? Minneapolis: Anarchists to hold planning meeting. I find it hard to believe that anarchists would organize! Maybe it's just me!
  7. Sleaze! Senator pleaded guilty, reportedly after bathroom stall incident
  8. Oxymoron: Best Fast Food Restaurant. I would pick Subway over Hardee's any day!
  9. Interesting email tip: (you may need to try this). Categorize your email by adding a +"text" to your email address. This works with my Gmail account. Say your email address is yourname@gmail.com. You can route mail to yourname+text@gmail.com. How might you use this? You can use the +text to categorize incoming mail. Say you bank at bigbank and you want to forward all your emails from bigbank to another account. Set up yourname+bigbank@gmail.com as your email account. Then use gmail filters to forward all email with +bigbank@gmail.com to another account. I came across this tip this weekend as I was figuring out how to have all of our banking related email go to both me AND my wife.
  10. I had the stitches taken out of my eyebrow today.
  11. I'm reading My Year Inside Radical Islam: A Memoir

Nerd Cars

Revenge of the nerd cars


McKeel Hagerty began noticing the trend a few years ago. As chief executive of Hagerty Insurance, the largest provider of insurance to classic-car collectors, Hagerty could see that the so-called "nerd cars" — the ugliest of automotive beasts — were nonetheless increasing in value. Ford Motor's Pinto and American Motors' Pacer and Gremlin — cars that were punch lines from the decade of disco — suddenly seemed hot. They weren't increasing by much, Hagerty admits, from maybe $500 to a few thousand dollars. But still, money is money.

Hagerty couldn't resist. He plunked down $2,300 for a dark green 1976 Pacer three years ago. "I happen to think it's a cool car," he says, even though it came without an eight-track tape player, which must have been an option when the car was new. "How am I going to listen to Foghat?" he asks.

Comments: My Father had an AMC Pacer (long after I had moved out). I drove it once - from Louisville to Cincinnati. Kathee and I had flown to Louisville for a job interview. My Brother drove down from Cincinnati and met us there. The three of us took a leisurely drive back (through Southern Indiana) to my folks' house.

Other unusual cars that my Father had:

The above is a Henry J.. Dad bought it for $ 35. My Sister drove it from the house to the bus stop where she picked up a bus to ride to the University of Cincinnati. I learned to drive with this car. Ours was blue (with a lot of rust). I think our's was a 1951.

Dad bought a Nash Metropolitan to replace the Henry J. Our's was a black and white 1961. I took my driver's test in this car. I wrecked it in the homecoming parade!

The Dodge Dart replaced the Metropolitan. I think it was a 1965. I wanted Dad to buy a Mustang but this car was pretty cool. It had a V-8 and was very fast.

Along the way, Dad also had a Ford Falcon. I think this was after the Dodge Dart. This is the last of the "Dad" cars that I drove.


Is McCain too old?

At 70, McCain Takes On Talk of His Age

U.S. / Politics
At 70, McCain Takes On Talk of His Age
Published: August 25, 2007
John McCain, who will turn 71 on Wednesday, is hoping to become the oldest person ever elected to a first term as president.


Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, who will turn 71 on Wednesday, is hoping to become the oldest person ever elected to a first term as president. So on the stump, he makes his experience a central theme of his campaign, while keeping up a grueling campaign schedule and showing his not-inconsiderable store of energy, despite injuries he sustained as a prisoner of war that limit his mobility and a bout with melanoma that left his face scarred.

My view: Experience & character! I like the man!

New Minneapolis Online Daily?

Twin Cities Editor Planning Online Daily

Business / Media & Advertising
Twin Cities Editor Planning Online Daily
Published: August 27, 2007
The former editor and publisher of The Star Tribune of Minneapolis is expected to announce plans for an online, nonprofit daily newspaper for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.


Roger's Birthday

We celebrated my Brother's 54th birthday tonight. We gifted him with a Maglight flashlight and a Hoagy Carmichael CD: Stardust Melody.

Some pics:


We drove down to Jordan Minnesota to look at maintenance-free outdoor furniture for our deck at ByTheYard. They are offering a 10% State fair discount, free assembly, and free delivery. We bought a bench and 2 chairs. This furniture is made out of recycled milk jugs!


MN rainfall record = 15.1"

Rainfall Sets State Record In SE Minn.


Weather officials say the rains that flooded southeastern Minnesota last weekend set a state record for rainfall during a 24-hour period.

Weather watchers thought the record had been set earlier -- but now it's official.

And the old record was smashed by more than four inches.

The National Weather Service gauge in Germain Davison's farmyard a mile south of Hokah had 15.1 inches in it when he measured it at 8 a.m. Sunday.

Slideshow from WCCO

Map: Hokah, MN

Comment: Image from CNN. The WCCO slideshow has more pictures.

A toast to my son, Roger

Peggy Noonan: A toast to American troops, then and now


A funny thing. We're so used to thinking of American troops as good guys that we forget: They're good guys! They have American class.
Whatever is decided in Washington I hope our soldiers know what we really think of them, and what millions in Iraq must, also. I hope some day they get some earned tenderness, and wind up over the hills of Iraq, and land, and an old guy comes out and says, "Are you an American?" And they say yes and he says, "A toast, to old times."

Comment: Roger exited the USMC Reserves today after 75 months of service.

  1. I remember the day he enlisted. He did it without asking my advice, but by telling me (the day before) "tomorrow I am enlisting in the Marines".
  2. I tried to dissuade him. I asked him to consider the Air Force or the Navy. But he was adamant about joining the Marines.
  3. On the Tuesday after Memorial Day 2001, he left for San Diego for boot camp. I wrote to him almost every day. He came back from boot camp with many of my letters unopened - he was just so busy that he could not read letters every day! (He since opened and read them.
  4. On 9/11 he was in combat training at Camp Pendleton, California. He happened to cut himself that day and had to be seen by a Navy medic! He was told then about the events of 911.
  5. One might think - "oh a reservist! How hard could that be?". Roger was on active duty for over 2 1/2 years of his six years in the Marines. He was a freshman at St Cloud State when the Iraqi war commenced. He was called up and sent to Cherry Point for a year. Back to St Cloud for another semester. Then he volunteered (on July 5th, 2004) to go to Iraq with another unit. He was again activated for another year and spent 7 months in Iraq.
  6. Leaving the Marines is tough for Roger. He aspires to get his bachelor's degree in Economics. He also works full time at Wells Fargo. He knows he cannot do all three: work, school, and the reserves. And so he made the difficult decision to not re-enlist!

My Son is one of those "good guys" with "American class". He is a true patriot who loves his country enough to serve it. He has a unique combination of toughness and gentleness. He is more of a man than I ever was. I admire him and I salute him! Thank you Roger for your service to our country!

Navy Divers Describe Dangers at Bridge

Navy Divers Describe Dangers at Bridge


Some of the 24 Navy divers spoke Wednesday for the first time about the two weeks they spent gingerly searching the dark waters where the bridge collapsed Aug. 1, killing 13 people. The last body of those known to be missing was found Monday.

Wearing lead-weighted rubber boots, leather gloves and a protective layer over their wet suits, the divers worked in teams of two. One moved debris, using hydraulic tools to perform jobs such as opening up a crushed car to check for bodies. The other diver handed over tools and stood watch in case anything went wrong.

"The concrete covers up everything, and (it's) very heavy. You don't know what's stable and what's not," Bennett said.

Divers had to fight the current, working with the lock and dam operator upstream to control the river's flow.

Comment: Interesting read. Not sure why this was not in the Star Tribune too (or perhaps I missed it!). You have to appreciate the skills and dedication of this team! Image from Kare11.com

President Thanks Navy Divers for Minneapolis Bridge Relief Efforts


President George W. Bush thanked the divers of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 on Aug. 21 for their hard work during search and recovery operations at the site of the Interstate 35 bridge collapse here.

President Bush arrived at the 934th Air Reserve Base aboard Air Force One. Following a briefing on the search and recovery operations with state and federal officials, Bush was escorted to a hangar bay where he met with the divers. He shook hands with each diver, thanking them for their efforts and service.

“Thank you also for your prayers and the compassion you’ve shown to the families (these past few weeks),” President Bush told the divers.

President Bush also posed for a group photo, holding a dive helmet that his father, former President George H. W. Bush also held in a group photo with another MDSU detachment in 1992. Bush then gave each of the divers a presidential challenge coin before departing, followed by a hearty “Hoo-Yah America!” from the group.


Prosper.com outperforms S&P 500

From Prosper.com today: Did you know that the average loan on Prosper is outperforming the 2-year return on the S&P 500? Prosper stats

Before you jump into Prosper.com consider these statistics:

  1. Muleshoes: Not doing so hot!
  2. China_bank: 21%
  3. John_14_6: A newbie making 12% so far

I won't tell you which one I am ... but you can probably guess!

Is obesity a disease?

Freakonomics Quorum: What is the Right Way to Think About the Obesity ‘Epidemic’?


  1. Obesity has been blamed for everything from dragging down the economy to global warming. Most recently, we’ve heard that obesity is “contagious.”
  2. By the same statistical criteria used to call obesity a disease, one could also claim that being male, being overly tall, or even being black is a disease (i.e., all correlate with early mortality and morbidity).
  3. Technology is what allows us to be fat. The inability to discipline ourselves is why we let it happen. The fascinating thing about progress is that it can be both good and bad. The discovery of nuclear fusion allows for cheaper, more environmentally friendly forms of energy. But it also allows for nuclear weapons. A generation ago, women spent an average of two hours per day cooking and cleaning; today, the cooking and cleaning is handled by a restaurant or food company. Weight gain is the consequence.
  4. The reasons for this increase in the number of people who are overweight are debatable, but one need only review the increases in typical portion sizes (I am 50 years old and still remember small glass Coke bottles and 3 oz. McDonald’s fries) to understand that we are eating more than we ever did.
  5. Starting in the 70s, manufacturers began to pump sugars into their packaged products, and the advent of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has only exacerbated our collective sweet tooth. HFCS has proven so irresistible to manufacturers because: a) it’s highly subsidized by legislation like the farm bill, which makes it cheap; and b) it’s a highly refined, stable liquid, which means it has a longer shelf life than table sugar and can blend seamlessly into products you wouldn’t associate with sugar — ketchup, for example, or marinara sauce. It’s no surprise, then, that we now consume 200 calories a day more than we did in 1970, and most of that comes from added sugars. By some accounts, we now consume up to 75 pounds of HFCS a year, and you’re likely to find it listed in the top three ingredients on the nutrition labels of products that simply were never intended to be sweetened — wheat bread, salad dressing, and crackers, for example.
  6. Studies have shown that the average size of a dinner plate has grown 36% since 1960.

Random Thoughts:

  1. Roger checks out of the Marines tomorrow. He has been in the U.S.M.C. for 75 months. 6 years ago to the day (August 24th, 2001) he graduated from U.S.M.C. boot camp.
  2. Roger's latest PT (Annual Physical Test) was better than his PT in boot camp.
  3. I had such a stressful week last week, and this week has been the same; banging my head and having a day off was a gift! Plus it helped me do a little mental level set about what is important!
  4. A blog book report that I profited from today: Book review: Singing and Making Music by Paul Jones by Ryan Martin. I probably will not read this book, but the book review was great!
  5. I read two articles about Pastoral succession tonight. I thought about these with regard to the Pastoral transition at Fourth:

    1. Succession sometimes sticky when beloved pastor leaves
    2. How long before the new pastor really feels part of a church?

  6. I'm glad football season has started (I am watching the Green Bay - Jacksonville pre-season game)!
  7. Rachel returns from Midland Michigan tomorrow night and does the 3-Day breast cancer walk this weekend (60 miles). She raised $ 2000
  8. The floods in S.E. Minnesota were tragic! Bush taps 3 counties as federal disaster areas. I understand that some areas received 17" of rain!
  9. Thinking about my Brother-in-law with cancer, and my Mother. My Mother is 25 years older than Tom (87 vs almost 62)! I pray for him. His chemo treatments are ready to commence.
  10. Kathee and I read 1 Chronicles 5 & 6 tonight!

    1. Would anyone today name their son "Buz"? (5:14).
    2. Key to victory: "because the war was God’s" (5:22).
    3. The danger of spiritual compromise and syncretism: "they were unfaithful to the God of their fathers, and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land" (5:25). Read what happened next in 5:26

  11. My younger brother turns 54 on Saturday!

What's the difference?

The image on the top is from a stupid Hollywood movie (The Ring).

The image on the bottom ... well you can read about it here


Napoleon Press, Inc. specializes in producing printworks of classic literature in their entirity, all on a single poster. Our current print contains the complete text of the King James edition of the Holy Bible. This decorative bible poster is suitable for framing, and is a great gift to display in home or office. The Bible poster measures 22" X 28" and will fit easily into a standard poster frame available at most local craft and framing stores. The border is adapted from artwork found in the Gutenberg Bible, which was the first printed book in human history. This edition of the Bible is typeset in Univers Light Ultra Condensed, the size is approximately one point. It is printed using vegetable-oil based inks on McCoy Silk 100# cover paper, which is archival quality.

Comment: Yes ... the entire Bible on one page. Looks like a grey screen to me! If you stare at it enough, you will become a mindless zombie like the actress in the top image! The point is this - the Bible is not a talisman to ward off evil or bring good luck. One must read it with an open heart and an understanding mind!

2 Timothy 3:14-17

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

HT: A Little Leaven

Job's "friends" by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr

Reductionist Justice: Where Job's friends went wrong about suffering

Excerpt (be sure to read the entire article!):

Where then did Job's three friends go wrong? They reduced all evil to "retributive suffering," which is caused by sin and disobedience to God. But there are seven other types of suffering mentioned in the Bible: educational or disciplinary suffering as in Proverbs 3:11 or Hebrews 12:5-6; vicarious suffering, as in the case of our Lord's death on the cross; empathetic suffering, where one person's grief affects many others, as Isaiah 63:9 illustrates; evidential or testimonial suffering, as in the first two chapters of Job; doxological suffering for the glory of God, as in the man born blind in John 9; revelational suffering, as in the case of the prophet Hosea's wife abandoning him; and apocalyptic or eschatological suffering that will come at the end of this age.

Comment: Excellent read! Image from Gordon Conwell Seminary


Jabez' prayer

1 Chronicles 4:9,10, "Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested."

Comment: We commenced reading the Chronicles last night. The first 9 chapters are heavy with genealogy and not easy reading. But the prayer of Jabez is a highlight. So much is made of the phrase "enlarge my territory" ... must be balanced with "keep me from evil"! Interesting read: What is the prosperity gospel?: "The Prosperity Gospel seems to “prove” that God exists and that faith “pays off.” Many American Christians do not know the Biblical Gospel and, therefore, cannot spot a counterfeit. Christian publishers have published books like “The Prayer of Jabez” in order to enrich themselves."

New meaning to college "senior"!

Flynt, 59, making comeback with Sul Ross State University


ALPINE, Texas -- Mike Flynt was drinking beer and swapping stories with some old football buddies a few months ago when he brought up the biggest regret of his life: getting kicked off the college team before his senior year.

So, one of his pals said, why not do something about it?

Most 59-year-olds would have laughed. Flynt's only concern was if he was eligible.

Finding out he was, Flynt returned to Sul Ross State this month, 37 years after he left and six years before he goes on Medicare. His comeback peaked Wednesday with the coach saying he's made the Division III team's roster. He could be in action as soon as Sept. 1.

Flynt is giving new meaning to being a college senior. After all, he's a grandfather and a card-carrying member of AARP. He's eight years older than his coach and has two kids older than any of his teammates.

Comments: Young guys like me admire old guys like Mike Flynt! Sul Ross State University. Image from AP / Yahoo.

Perpetual debt cycle

What I read in the emergency room waiting area last night (an interesting article from a May 'Business Week'):

The Poverty Business


HAPPY AS SHE WAS with the Saturn (GM ) she bought in December, 2005, Roxanne Tsosie soon ran into trouble paying off the loan on it. The car had 103,000 miles on the odometer. She agreed to a purchase price of $7,922, borrowing the full amount at a sky-high 24.9%. Based on her conversation with the Byrider salesman, she thought she had signed up for $150 monthly installments. The paperwork indicated she owed that amount every other week. She soon realized she couldn't manage the payments. Dejected, she agreed to give the car back, having already paid $900. "It kind of knocked me down," Tsosie says. "I felt I'd never get anywhere."

The abortive purchase meant Byrider could dust off and resell the Saturn. Nearly half of Byrider sales in Albuquerque do not result in a final payoff, and many vehicles are repossessed, says David Brotherton, managing partner of the dealership. A former factory worker, he says he sympathizes with customers who barely get by. "Many of these people are locked in a perpetual cycle" of debt, he says. "It's all motivated by self-interest, of course, but we do want to help credit-challenged people get to the finish line."

Byrider dealers say they can generally figure out which customers will pay back their loans. Salesmen, many of whom come from positions at banks and other lending companies, use proprietary software called Automated Risk Evaluator (ARE) to assess customers' financial vital signs, ranging from credit scores from major credit agencies to amounts spent on alimony and cigarettes.

Unlike traditional dealers, Byrider doesn't post prices—which average $10,200 at company-owned showrooms—directly on its cars. Salesmen, after consulting ARE, calculate the maximum that a person can afford to pay, and only then set the total price, down payment, and interest rate. Byrider calls this process fair and accurate; critics call it "opportunity pricing."

So how did Byrider figure that Tsosie had $300 a month left over from her small salary for car payments? Barely a step up from destitution, she now lives in her own cramped apartment in a dingy two-story adobe-style building. Decorated with an old bow and arrow and sepia-tinted photographs of Navajo chiefs, the apartment is also home to her new husband, Joey A. Garcia, a grocery-store stocker earning $25,000 a year, his two children from a previous marriage, and two of Tsosie's kids. She and Garcia are paying off several other high-interest loans, including one for his used car and another for the $880 wedding ring he bought her this year.

Asked by BusinessWeek to review Tsosie's file, Byrider's Brotherton raises his eyebrows, taps his keyboard, and studies the screen for a few minutes. "We probably should have spent more time explaining the terms to her," he says. Pausing, he adds that given Tsosie's finances, she should never have received a 24.9% loan for nearly $8,000.

Comment: There are some really unscrupulous lenders preying on the ignorant and uninformed.

Albert Mohler on Does God Care What We Call Him?

"What Does God Care What We Call Him?"


Bishop Muskens is disingenuous at best when he suggests that God does not care about His name. This is not a matter of mere "discussion and bickering." If the Bible is the Word of God, we can be assured that human beings did not invent this discussion.

There is one final and insurmountable problem with Bishop Muskens' proposal. Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize believers "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" [Matthew 28:19]. When this command is taken seriously and obeyed, the whole issue is greatly clarified -- a Christian cannot baptize in the name of Allah.

If Allah has no son, Allah is not the father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even if the case is made that Allah could be used in a generic sense to refer to God ( and I am not persuaded that it can), the word cannot be used to mean the Father in a Trinitarian affirmation. This is not mere "discussion and bickering." This is where the Gospel stands or falls.

Comment: See earlier post: Call God Allah?

Cracked my head

It occasionally happens: I trip and fall. My mind has a registry of these events: falling on the moving walkway at the Dallas Fort Worth airport, falling in downtown Denver, falling in the parking lot of my Dentist, falling at work, falling on the sidewalk walking to work, falling while out on church visitation, falling in the garage, falling in the street ... more times that I would like to remember.

The good news: I get banged up but nothing serious!

Last night wasn't serious either, but I did end up going to the emergency room.

On the way to bed (from my easy chair to the bedroom - a mere 20' or less!), I tripped in the hallway and fell on my face on the tile. Tile is a lot harder than carpet! The fall opened two cuts above my right eye. These seemingly small cuts (think of a boxer!) really bleed! Blood on the tile, blood on my face, on my hands, etc.

Nathan and Roger were there and they got me to my feet (my legs were really wobbly).

My "bell was rung" and I was dazed. We cleaned up and got dressed. Kathee drove me to Methodist hospital. My right elbow was x-rayed. It is not broken but very sore. Because my head was cracked and I was a little nauseous, I had a cat scan. The nurse said they "found nothing"! (a little ER humor!). Both cuts were stitched up. Nothing really but my modeling days are in jeopardy.

My glasses also took a hit. Frame bent. I've had this set for over three years so I am due to go back to the eye Dr again anyway.

Kathee and I were out until 2:30 in the morning. Interestingly there was another guy in the ER who fell and cracked his head. An old guy! (Which I am not!).

Today I am chilling at home. I needed a day off anyway! I am resting in my recliner with my bruised elbow (which really hurts) supported by a pillow. Ouch ... better stop blogging!

Will Phishers follow Wells Fargo news?

Phishers looking to cash in on Wells Fargo crash


The anticipated spike in Wells Fargo phishing had not occurred as of Tuesday afternoon. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, an organization that tracks online fraudsters, had counted 43 live Wells Fargo phishing sites, said Dave Jevans, the group's chairman. That's a tiny fraction of the 36,000 sites tracked by the group. "I would call that a usual background noise level," he said of the Wells Fargo activity.

However, online criminals are quick to tailor their scams to any newsworthy event, and Jevens expects the Wells Fargo scams to pop up soon. "Give them a day," he added "I would be surprised if it didn't happen in this case."

According to Helgeson, criminals are planning to send out e-mails that acknowledge the computer problems and ask victims to log on to phony Wells Fargo sites in order to validate their user information.


An all-nighter

Wells Fargo Fixes Computer Problem, Restores Service

Kathee did an all-nighter working on this. (A tribute to the technology workers at Wells Fargo who have the expertise and the dedication to resolve problems!)

When I awoke this morning, she had been awake since yesterday morning at 5:30.


Avid Modjtabai, head of Wells Fargo's Technology and Information Group:

"Using our back-up facilities, we restored Internet banking service in about one hour and 40 minutes Sunday, Aug. 19, and within hours, customers could access Wells Fargo Phone Bank Centers and make basic ATM transactions, such as withdrawing cash and making deposits at our ATMs but not at non-Wells Fargo ATMs. All point-of sales transactions, processing for mortgage, home equity, student loans, ACH, wire transfers and remittances, are now up and running. Our customers hold us to a high standard of trust and reliability and we want to assure them that all data about their accounts has remained safe and secure throughout this disruption. We apologize for the inconvenience this caused them. We thank the hundreds of team members in our technology group for working so hard to resolve this problem."

John MacArthur on Larry King Live

John MacArthur on Larry King Live

I fell asleep before John MacArthur was on. But here is the transcript!


Looks like its a fake!

Edmund Fitzgerald ring a fake?


But the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum received a visitor recently who refutes the ring's authenticity.

Cynthia Edwards told a museum employee last week that her father bought the orange preserver at a garage sale many years ago, painted the name of the ore carrier on it and hung it at his cabin in Eagle River — not far from where it ultimately was found in the Upper Peninsula's Keweenaw Peninsula. When they remodeled two years ago, they put the ring on a tree and from there it disappeared.

"With the information coming in now, it looks more and more like it's not from the Edmund Fitzgerald," said Tom Farnquist, executive director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, which owns the museum.

Earlier Post

A responsibility to the Iraqi people

Baird sees need for longer U.S. role in Iraq


"I believe that the decision to invade Iraq and the post-invasion management of that country were among the largest foreign-policy mistakes in the history of our nation. I voted against them, and I still think they were the right votes," Baird said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

"But we're on the ground now. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people and a strategic interest in making this work."

Baird, a five-term Democrat, voted against President Bush ordering the Iraq invasion — at a time when he was in a minority in Congress and at risk of alienating voters. He returned late Tuesday from a trip that included stops in Israel, Jordan and Iraq, where he met troops, U.S. advisers and Iraqis, whose stories have convinced him that U.S. troops must stay longer.

Comment: As unpopular as this war has become, my own view about early pullout mirrors Congressman Baird's.


Sex offender back in pulpit: Despite prison term, preacher welcomed by Baptist congregation


A southwest suburban Southern Baptist congregation allowed a convicted child sex offender to preach for the last few years -- despite his past, and a warning from his previous church that he might still be dangerous, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

In 1996, Jeff Hannah was sentenced to nine years in prison for having sexual relations with four underage girls -- ages 15 to 17 -- while a married youth minister at Crossroads Church in Libertyville.

Hannah was paroled in 2001 and joined the First Baptist Church of Romeoville, where his new wife was a member. Soon after, the pastor moved on, and church members -- aware of Hannah's crimes -- asked him to step into the pulpit until a replacement was hired, according to church members, Hannah and others.

Hannah served in that role for three years and ever since has been a fill-in preacher, teacher and music minister at the church.
The Rev. Steve Farish, pastor of Crossroads Church, which has relocated to Grayslake, said he considered Hannah so dangerous that he warned the Romeoville church and a regional Southern Baptist official.

I preface my remarks by saying:

  1. I am a Baptist
  2. While I am not a Southern Baptist, I know there are many good Southern Baptist churhes.

Comment: When the church lowers its standards to the world's level (or in this case, below the world's level!), it's no wonder that it has so little impact on society. (Matthew 5:13, "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men".)

A little leaven


Immigration, Inc

Giant Migrant Cash Pool Powering World Economy


Experts tracking the phenomenon told The Associated Press they have gotten a much clearer picture since the 9/11 attacks, when authorities trying to cut the flow of cash to jihadists began taking a harder look at how immigrants move their money around.

Mass migration, they say, has spawned an underground economy of staggering proportions.

Globally, remittances - the cash that immigrants send home - totaled nearly $276 billion in 2006, the World Bank says. Remittances have more than doubled since 2000, and with globalization increasing the numbers of people on the move, there's no end in sight.

If these guest workers incorporated as a company, their migrant multinational would rank No. 3 on the Fortune 500 list, trailing only Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil in annual revenue.

Remittances "are larger than direct foreign investment in Mexico, tea exports in Sri Lanka, tourism revenue in Morocco, and revenue from the Suez Canal in Egypt," World Bank economist Dilip Ratha said in a recent report.

And unlike the conventional economy, more cash tends to change hands in an economic downturn, political crisis, natural disaster, famine or war.

Comment: Extremely interesting (and news to me!)

Volatility Index (^VIX)

Don't be vexed by a high VIX


The VIX is officially the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, and it measures the market's expectation of future volatility based on Standard and Poor's 500 stock index options prices.
Turns out the volatility we're experiencing today isn't terribly unusual, even though it might feel that way after the steady run it follows. In the past decade, the VIX traded above 40 three times: During the Russian debt crises in 1998, after 9/11, and during the market downturn of 2002. The VIX's historical average going back to the early 1990s is about 19.

Wiki: VIX


Comment: Today was the first I've heard of this index! Interesting

58th Birthday

We had a small family celebration tonight for my 58th birthday. Rachel is out of town in Midland, MI and missing.


Brother (Roger) and his wife (Kathy)

Roger and me. (Mother got me geode bookends)

Kathee and me (235 lbs)

Roger w his USMC beer stein

Roger w old fedora of mine

Birthday thoughts:

  1. Wow I can't believe I am 58!
  2. If God enables me, and I am able, I hope to work until I am 66
  3. For some unknown reason (but I am not complaining!), my back pain disappeared this week (after I think 3 months or more!). How long it will be gone? Don't know, but I am thankful today!
  4. Psalm 90:12, "So teach us to number our days,That we may gain a heart of wisdom". Every day is a gift. Every day I must endeavor to live for my Savior.
  5. Birthday presents: geode bookends (more properly nodules!); classical game of "Risk"; The Ultimate Film Noir Collection
  6. Dinner: brats w sauerkraut, baked beans, red potato salad. Dessert: Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

Don't muzzle free speech

The Danger of Hate Crimes Legislation

Comment: a good read from Pastor Frank Sansone.

"match that lit a very dry field"

How Missed Signs Contributed to a Mortgage Meltdown

How Missed Signs Contributed to a Mortgage Meltdown
Published: August 19, 2007
There were ample warning signs that a financial time bomb in the form of subprime mortgages was ticking quietly for months.


As far back as 2001, advocates for low-income homeowners had argued that mortgage providers were making loans to borrowers without regard to their ability to repay. Many could not even scrape together the money for a down payment and were being approved with little or no documentation of their income or assets.


“This was the match that lit a very dry field of risk on fire,” Mr. Malvey said. When he first heard the news coming out of Bear Stearns, Mr. Malvey recalled, he was busy writing his weekly report to clients in his corner office on the 15th floor of Lehman’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters. Now it seemed as if the broader market was catching up to what Mr. Malvey and his team had been talking about all along.

Comment: More on the subprime mess!

A "Crescent of Embrace"?

Tom Burnett, Sr. wants son's name removed from Flight 93 memorial


The father of a Minnesota native killed when hijacked Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, wants his son's name withheld from a victims memorial because of renewed concerns that its design is centered around Islamic symbolism.

Tom Burnett Sr. served on a jury that picked the winning design, originally named "Crescent of Embrace," and said the request was "something I'd rather not do, but I can't get anyone to listen."


Nearly two years ago, designer Paul Murdoch changed the memorial's planned shape to a nearly full circle in response to critics who said the original crescent shape honored the Muslim extremists who carried out the attacks. The crescent is a Muslim symbol.

Burnett Sr., of Northfield, Minn., said he is looking for a "thorough, honest investigation" of the design and the elements discussed by Alec Rawls, a conservative blogger from Palo Alto, Calif. Burnett said many of his concerns were based on Rawls' theories.

Rawls says the planned memorial faces toward Mecca, Islam's holiest city, and contends that a planned 93-foot tower with wind chimes would act as an Islamic sundial.

Comment: My wife echoed my sentiment: "good for him"! The memorial design has since been "modified" to a "Bowl of Embrace". Will this be a field of honor or a field that mocks us? Nathan (son) said: "it would be like building a Holocaust museum in the shape of a swastika!"

Alec Rawls evidence

Alec Rawls blog

Wiki: Flight 93 National Memorial

Official Flight 93 Memorial site

Kensington Runestone

WCCO Video

Comment: Video from WCCO with the latest on the Kensington Runestone. Additional links of interest follow: Runestone museum; Kensington Runestone . We've been to the museum.

MN Fitness club test of family

Rochester judge battles what constitutes a 'family,' and who gets to decide


If allowed to continue, the suit will determine whether the club must give a lesbian couple and their 11-year-old child a family membership, which would save them about $500 per year.

Comment: Should be interesting. Wide ramifications!


Go green: Online banking

Money Is Green, but Online Banking Is Greener


Some 53 percent of all U.S. households (61 million) now do their banking online; nearly half of those also pay their bills via computer. But the report says that a whopping 16.5 million trees, roughly 2.3 million tons of wood, could be spared annually in the unlikely event that all U.S. households made the switch to paperless payments. Such a move would also reduce fuel consumption by 26 million BTUs, enough energy to provide residential power to a city the size of San Francisco for a year.

Other major pluses: toxic air pollutants would be cut by 3.9 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents, which is comparable to taking 355,015 cars off the road; waste water would drop by an estimated 13 billion gallons (enough to fill 19,846 swimming pools), and 1.6 billion pounds of solid waste (equal to 56,000 fully loaded garbage trucks) would be eliminated. In addition, the report says, there would be 8.5 million fewer particulates and 12.6 million fewer nitrogen oxides in the air, on par with getting 763,000 buses and 48,000 18-wheelers off the streets.

Comment: Ingdirect.com has Electric Orange which is free online bill pay. Wells Fargo is one of the leaders but the service has fees. Image from Trust Texas Bank.

Compact Disk anniversary

CD celebrates 25th anniversary

It was August 17, 1982, and row upon row of palm-sized plates with a rainbow sheen began rolling off an assembly line near Hanover, Germany.

Comments: I remember a friend (a weathy friend) who had a CD system way back when. It was expensive (as I recall he had paid $ 1,200 for it)! My first CD player was purchased about 15 years ago. We had a couple from the church by and listened to Herb Alpert and the Tijuani Brass.


Imagine a butcher making sausages

The American Dream unravels for poor and rich alike

Comment: If the subprime mess finds you confused, don't be surprised. I was (yes it was a long time ago!) an economics and finance major (University of Cincinnati, 1971) and I find it confusing. What's a collateralised debt obligation (CDO)? This article explains - it's like butcher making sausages!


Their broker urged them to get on the property ladder before it was too late, assuring them that soaring house values would soon provide a tidy profit long before the initially low interest rate of the subprime mortgage he'd arranged for them took a significant hike upwards.

Comment: There is a lot of presumption in the above: soaring home prices, tidy profits, etc. This article is not about butchers or sausages!

Subprime fallout

Californians rush to pull money from Countrywide Bank

Anxious customers jammed the phone lines and Web site of Countrywide Bank and crowded its branch offices to pull out their savings because of concerns about the financial problems of the mortgage lender that owns the bank.

Countrywide Financial Corp., the biggest home-loan company in the United States, sought Thursday to assure depositors and the financial industry that both it and its bank were fiscally stable. And federal regulators said they weren't alarmed by the volume of withdrawals from the bank.

Comment: Folk are getting nervous! Countrywide Financial Corp. (CFC)

Money Ball: What works, and what doesn't, in a credit crisis.


On that score, the feds went one for two this week. On the plus side, Countrywide Financial was able to call on an $11.5 billion bank credit line when that giant mortgage lender couldn't sell its commercial paper. It also said it would move its mortgage business under its bank unit, which will give it a further liquidity cushion. Countrywide is at the center of the subprime storm, and its stock price has taken a huge hit. But it retains significant earning capacity and a solid business in safer mortgages.

The last thing anyone should want is for an otherwise solvent business to go bust because it can't meet its short-term borrowing needs. The bank credit line will be expensive for Countrywide. But as the 19th-century journalist Walter Bagehot advised, in a financial crisis lend freely at a penalty rate. To the extent that Treasury and the New York Fed played an indirect role in creating this private financial cushion for Countrywide, this was effective crisis management.

Comment: This smells so much like the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s!

A journey of faith

Rejecting radical Islam -- one man's journey


The path to faith often takes unexpected twists. In the case of Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the road went through three of the world's major religions -- Judaism, Islam and Christianity -- and ultimately brought him to the FBI.
In 1999 he left his job at Al-Haramain for law school at New York University. Away from his co-workers, he was free to question the radical doctrines he'd learned in Oregon and meet with others about spirituality, including Christians. A year later, he converted to Christianity and was eventually baptized in the Baptist church.


  1. Image from FrontPageMagazine.com
  2. My Year Inside Radical Islam: A Memoir is available from Amazon

Excerpt from Front Page interview:

FP: Share with us your climb out of radicalism and conversion to Christianity.

Gartenstein-Ross: If there's one thing that working for a Wahhabi charity can do for you, it is make you step back and rethink your religious views. In the summer of 2000, after my first year of law school, I found that I missed the tolerant, idealized version of Islam that I once practiced. But by this time my views on faith had shifted: I no longer saw the purpose of religion as forging a relationship with God that felt comfortable, but instead believed that I needed to truly understand the relationship that God wanted with me. I began that summer studying the Qur'an, the ahadith (Muhammad's recorded sayings and doings), and trying to revisit whether the moderate version of the faith that I once knew was indeed viable. Midway through the summer, during a stroll through Washington Square Park, I was struck by the realization that perhaps I hadn't found the truth in Islam. When the faith seemed to answer my spiritual questions, it was because those were the answers I had been looking for. It was then that I began to examine the arguments for Christianity with a far more open mind. I became a Christian before the end of the year.

When the smoke clears

Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap: Wells Fargo Will Keep


Calling it a stock for "when the smoke clears," Cramer said he believes it will "own the mortgage market" and be in better shape than its peers.

The company is known to offer a "great" dividend, and Cramer is a fan of its diversified holdings. He'd buy some "in a week or two" should the price fall into the $32 to $34 range.

Comment: Wells Fargo (WFC)

Bio-Fuels Boondoggle

Bio-Fuels Boondoggle Backfires, Badly


A new study that concludes that rainforests absorb more CO2 than can be saved by clearing the land for biofuel crops. Razing rainforests for bio-fuels? Surely not! Uh-huh. U.S. and European government legislation mandating huge increases in ethanol consumption is already amping-up ethanol production in developing countries

Comment: Answers: Small cars! Think Europe (where the cost of fuel (because of taxes) is high enough to encourage: less driving, smaller cars, public transit)! Also small diesels would be better than ethanol fueled vehicles.

Earlier Cold Fusion Guy comments on Ethanol

Image is of rain forest clearing in Indonesia


"Special Force 2"

Hezbollah video game: War with Israel


Raid Israel to capture soldiers, battle tanks in the valleys of southern Lebanon and launch Katyusha rockets at Israeli towns -- a new Hezbollah computer game puts players on the frontline of war with the Jewish state.
Designed by Hezbollah computer experts, players of "Special Force 2" take the role of a Hezbollah fighter, or Mujahid. Weapons and points are accumulated by killing Israeli soldiers.
The game retails at about $10 in Lebanon and is produced by volunteers. Hezbollah is expecting strong demand for the game at home and abroad. Hundreds of copies have been reserved in advance in Lebanon.

The 3-D game forces players to think and use their resources wisely, reflecting the way Hezbollah fights, Daher said.

"The features which are the secret of resistance's victory in the south have moved to this game so that the child can understand that fighting the enemy does not only require the gun.

"It requires readiness, supplies, armament, attentiveness, tactics."


See earlier posts about Farfour.

The hook in Sennacherib's nose

Kathee and I are reading through the Old Testament and this week came to 2 Kings 18 & 19. Oh how I love the Kings!

2 Kings 19:28, "Because your rage against Me and your tumult Have come up to My ears, Therefore I will put My hook in your nose And My bridle in your lips, And I will turn you back By the way which you came"

2 Kings 19:32-34

32 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria:

‘He shall not come into this city,
Nor shoot an arrow there,
Nor come before it with shield,
Nor build a siege mound against it.

33 By the way that he came,
By the same shall he return;
And he shall not come into this city,’
Says the LORD.

34 ‘For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”

How this blessed me: This text demonsrates the absolute sovereignty of God over the nations! How it comforts my heart!

Image from www.livius.org

Classic Investing Theory

Remembering a Classic Investing Theory


Right now, the stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index have an average P/E ratio of about 16.5, which by historical standards is quite normal. Since World War II, the average P/E ratio has been 16.1. During the bubbles of the 1920s and the 1990s, on the other hand, the ratio shot above 40. The core of Wall Street’s reassuring message, then, is that even if the mortgage mess leads to a full-blown credit squeeze, the damage will not last long because stocks don’t have far to fall.

Comment: The worst thing an investor can do it look at the stock market every day! Buy value ... invest for the long haul! When the stock market goes up 10% ... just remember it is only "on paper". When it goes down 10% ... remember "it is only on paper". As for Security Analysis, I had not heard of it before today. I'll probably pick it up!

Stock quote for Citicorp.

Tip: Use online financial tools to look for the P/E ration! If the P/E is "N/A" (eg , Ford), the company is not making a profit.