Kathee has an intern working in her department and today he explained Woot to her.

Today was the first I've heard of it. Wikipedia has a good overview.

Wikipedia: Woot.com




Basically Woot.com sells one product per day at a greatly reduced price ... shirt.woot.cm sells one shirt all day for $ 10 with free shipping ... etc.

I labeled this "Weird" but it is somewhat interesting.

What do you think?

Does John McCain have his mojo back?

McCain Gets Momentum: Can he make a comeback?


For McCain to make a comeback, several things have to fall in place. Mike Huckabee has to win Iowa or do damage to Mitt Romney. The two current GOP front runners, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, have to continue the demolition derby they kicked off in Wednesday evening's YouTube debate on CNN, jabbing each other about who's tougher on immigration and crime. The hint of scandal around Giuliani has to grow. That would leave the voters faced with Huckabee, who raised taxes in Arkansas to build roads (heresy for conservatives); a lethargic Fred Thompson, who can't seem to stir himself for the big fight, or McCain, a credible commander in chief who's always been pro-life. McCain could be the last man standing.

Comments: I think that this week's revelations about NYPD funding of Giuliani's sexual escapades is a severe blow to his campaign! Eg: Giuliani's mistress used NYPD as taxi service?. Google "Giuliani nypd travel" for more!

Clarifying the Love of God

Reformation Theology: Clarifying the Love of God for His People in Christ


The Augustinian position, in contrast, believes that Christ's death and resurrection actually secures the salvation of His people. It is completely sufficient in itself to save sinners. God does require faith of His people but Christ's death even pays for the sin of our unbelief and thus He meets all the requirements necessary for our salvation ... requirements that we were morally impotent to meet ourselves. Thus, Jesus Christ gives His children everything necessary to secure salvation. This is an unconditional love ... salvation by grace alone in Christ alone. Christ plus nothing. Salvation is, therefore, not conditioned upon our prior faith but Christ actually even secures our faith. The finished work of Christ guarantees that none of his children will be lost and will all be raised up at the last day (John 6:37-39, 44)

Comment: a good read

Fixing a mess ... or more of a mess?

Banks may agree to plan to freeze ARM rates


Federal authorities and major U.S. banks are close to an agreement under which interest rates on adjustable-rate loans will be frozen, a plan that would allow stretched homeowners to potentially avoid foreclosure, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The newspaper said such an accord could reassure both investors and homeowners, helping to support home prices and provide liquidity for lenders. Moreover, the plan could help ease criticism aimed at the Bush administration over its handling of the mortgage crisis heading into an election year, according to the report.

While details still are being worked out, the heart of the plan is an agreement to extend so-called "teaser" introductory rates on loans for people who would default if their mortgage rates "reset" at much higher levels.

Freezing Mortgage Rates Is Not the Answer


The problem with the bailout, and the reason I oppose it, is that there are no lessons learned when buyers (and the mortgage companies) are saved from bad decisions. Thus when the next boom arises, there will be little hesitation to do the same thing again. Do we want to encourage that sort of moral hazard? I don't think so. As my mom would tell me, though, the burned hand learns best.

I'm certain that there are a bunch of folks a-wishin' and a-hopin' for the deal to go through soon. And sure, it's terrible if someone's forced to go into foreclosure because they can't afford the home they bought. But the fact is, many people bought homes they had no business buying. Bailing them out is a temporary fix that does nothing to prevent it from recurring.

Sure, we're supposed to be charitable during the holidays. But charity can take many forms. Ensuring that understanding why this crisis happened so that we don't have to live through it again may be the best gift for future homebuyers.

Comments: The rationale for this is the old "Half a loaf is better than none"! The danger is that it really might make the mess worse than it is! Additionally any lending institution can already unilaterally offer a better rate to a homeowner to help them stay in their home.

Inevitable is a high-risk game

Death, Taxes and Mrs. Clinton: Only two of them are inevitable


The Inevitable is a high-risk game. You can get far being the inevitable choice. A lot of people will believe it and support you, especially the weak, and the pragmatic. They give you early support and early money. Others see the endorsements and contributions. Another level of giver and supporter kicks in. It starts to show in the national polls. Everyone knows you're inevitable.

But there are two problems with this strategy. One is that your support is by definition broad but shallow. You have a lot of people, but they won't crawl over broken glass for you. When I talk to Hillary supporters they mostly enact a facsimile of what they think passion is, and are reduced to a dulled aggression. "We're gonna win."

The second part of the inevitability problem is that once you seem no longer inevitable--once the polls stop rising or start to fall, once that air is out of the balloon and the thing that made everyone fall in line is gone--well, what do you do? If the main argument of your candidacy is you're inevitable and suddenly you're evitable, where does that leave you? What does it leave you with? Mere hunger. Insistence: "It will be me."

Comment: More great Peggy Noonan! Re Hillary, I predict an Obama surprise in Iowa. More on the "one-time Lady Macbeth of Little Rock" below:

Washington Times: The Maginot Line doesn't always hold


The one-time Lady Macbeth of Little Rock — before she scraped the Arkansas buckshot mud off her sturdy matronly pumps and became a New Yorker — looked invincible at Halloween and for a few weeks afterward but suddenly her campaign plane over Iowa looks a little like a broom and a prayer.

Some polls there put her running behind Barack Obama, with John Edwards trailing not far behind. The trouble she made for herself a month ago, with garbled answers to a simple question about driver's licenses for illegal aliens, continues with yarns about dirt on Mr. Obama that she's saving for a later kill. Now there's a new controversy over the suspicion, utterly believable, that her campaign connived with CNN to plant questions meant to sabotage Wednesday night's Republican debate.

What won't be seen in a YouTube debate

Death, Taxes and Mrs. Clinton

I will never forget that breathtaking moment when, in the CNN/YouTube debate earlier this fall, the woman from Ohio held up a picture and said, "Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama, Mr. Edwards, this is a human fetus. Given a few more months, it will be a baby you could hold in your arms. You all say you're 'for the children.' I would ask you to look America in the eye and tell us how you can support laws to end this life. Thank you."

They were momentarily nonplussed, then awkwardly struggled to answer, to regain lost high ground. One of them, John Edwards I think, finally criticizing the woman for being "manipulative," using "hot images" and indulging in "the politics of personal destruction." The woman then stood in the audience for her follow up. "I beg your pardon, but the literal politics of personal destruction--of destroying a person--is what you stand for."

Comment: Peggy Noonan! I love her!


Automailer - 2nd Try

Today was my 2nd use of Automailer. For my earlier usage see Automailer - 1st Try.

I'm working with a project manager who had a need to send an email to 850 desktop users. He did not know how to easily do this so I volunteered to do the mailing for him (knowing that I have the Automailer in my toolbox). I had to get my manager's approval to help him. I send it as it if was sent from the project manager with him as the contact person.

Sifting through the 850 rows (Microsoft Access), I eliminated rows where the email was NULL and also several duplicates. Then I exported to a [TAB] delimited *.txt file. I did a sample email to just the project manager and myself earlier this week. So today all I had to do was use the larger set of emails (744 with the NULLs and duplicates eliminated). Automailer sent the 744 emails out in less than 2 minutes.

It was one of the highlights of my day! (That and the resolution to the SQL Server Management Studio issue!).

What I am looking forward to ... trying this out with 3,000 addresses. Hopefully soon I will have a project need to try this!

The end of JASC

Corel will close Eden Prairie office


Software company Corel Corp. will close its Eden Prairie operations, the company said Wednesday, putting an end to the Twin Cities digital-media business once known as Jasc Software Inc.

Corel entered the Twin Cities in 2004 when it bought the former Jasc Software. Jasc, founded in 1991 by a former pilot (the name stands for "Jets and Software Co.," developed the Paint Shop line of photo management and editing software, which established a loyal following despite competing with the much larger Adobe Systems' PhotoShop. Those titles will still be sold by Corel.

Comment: What a great company JASC was. One used to be able to download Paint Shop Pro for free, and use it for 30 days of so. The local support was so capable. Need help? Just call those folk up and they helped you. I still have an old copy of Paint Shop Pro (I think version 7) that I use at work. Sorry to see these folk lose their jobs!

Nehemiah's wall found?

Israeli says elusive bibical wall found

A biblical wall that has eluded archaeologists for years has finally been found, according to an Israeli scholar. A team of archaeologists in Jerusalem has uncovered what they believe to be part of a wall mentioned in the Bible's Book of Nehemiah.

The discovery, made in Jerusalem's ancient City of David, came as a result of a rescue attempt on a tower which was in danger of collapse, said Eilat Mazar, head of the Institute of Archaeology at the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based research and educational institute, and leader of the dig.

Artifacts including pottery shards and arrowheads found under the tower suggested that both the tower and the nearby wall are from the 5th century B.C., the time of Nehemiah, according to Mazar. Scholars previously thought the wall dated to the Hasmonean period (142-37 B.C.).

The findings suggest that the wall is actually part of the same city wall the Bible says Nehemiah rebuilt, Mazar said. The Book of Nehemiah (chapters 3-6) gives a detailed description of construction of the walls, destroyed earlier by the Babylonians.

Comment: Here's the odd thing, our reading tonight was Nehemiah 3 (Kathee has a cold so we only read one chapter).

SQL Server 2005 migration

I'm almost completed migrating my work website (Intranet) from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005.

The hardest so far:

  1. Figuring out what replaces SQL Server 2000 "Entrprise Manager".
  2. The answer is "Management Studio".
  3. The the question was: Where do I get "Management Studio"?
  4. The answer is SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition

I had installed SQL Server 2005 Express, but this edition's Management Studio does not support data transformation (import and export functions). So that was a red herring.

Once I figured out what I needed, the next question was, "where do I get it?". I ended up buying it
from Amazon.

After I received it, I found out that it is available for free for the apppropriate techology people at work. I tried to install it on my XP workstation, but the install did not complete (and the Management Studio did not install). Utter frustration! I wrestled with that in several nights of sleep! (I do my best work while asleep). I ended up installing
SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition on my Vista workstation and today it all checked out.

I have two environments at work (one can have three, but I find two to suffice). Today I completely checked out my development environment with SQL Server 2005 (a DBA replicated all of my production data from SQL Server 2000 (production) to SQL Server 2005 development. All my code (Cold Fusion) worked flawlessly (I was surprised ... but I attribute this to Cold Fusion not to me!).

So this giant load is off my plate now! Next week the DBA's (Database Administrators) will switch my production environment to SQL Server 2005 and I will be complete!

Outsourcing Email

When E-Mail Is Outsourced


In the world of e-mail, outsourcing means two things: Google or Microsoft. Both have been marketing Web-based messaging services to small businesses, nonprofits and other groups, and they’ve focused more intensely on the higher education market over the past year. Besides services that are completely free and interfaces that are familiar to students, they offer a wide array of features, tools that let people collaborate in real time — and of course, the cool factor.

The availability of viable options outside of the university IT department has forced administrators to consider the consequences of abandoning their in-house e-mail systems. Does it make financial sense to keep spending resources on aging proprietary software when it’s available on the Web? Do colleges’ services still offer advantages over those reflexively preferred by students? And in offloading a primary function of the campus information technology infrastructure, what role would remain for administrators who previously oversaw e-mail services?

Many students have come to demand e-mail access at close to real time, integrated chat and several gigabytes of space because that’s what’s freely available from such competing services as Windows Live Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail. The ad-supported offerings have taken advantage of massive economies of scale to effectively make storage limits and e-mail clients a thing of the past. At the University of Pennsylvania, where 2 of the 12 schools are phasing in Microsoft’s Live @ edu, there was no comparison between the old 75-megabyte limit and the five gigabytes now available, said Ira Winston, the executive director of computing and educational technology services for three of the schools.

“We just can’t keep up with the likes of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo,” he said. Since students are already coming in with their own accounts, and with 30 percent of them forwarding their college mail to personal inboxes, the debate wasn’t whether to partner with one of the Web services — it was “who to outsource to.”

The outcome of that decision didn’t necessarily weigh heavily on Winston. Since Google and Microsoft’s contracts are relatively short-term and non-exclusive, choosing a provider won’t lock in a college indefinitely, and different units within an institution can potentially use separate e-mail systems. Students can still always forward their e-mail. For Winston, the most important element was “providing the best services to our students and not constraining them to any one provider,” he said. “It almost doesn’t matter who you pick.”

Comment: Outsource your email and your users will be happy (imagine 5 gigabytes of email space instead of 10 or 20 megabytes!) and there will be no Exchange servers to be upgraded, have a BCP plan, etc.

Diplomatic understatement!

Nixon Papers Recall Concerns on Israel’s Weapons

Nixon Papers Recall Concerns on Israel’s Weapons
Published: November 28, 2007
The newly released documents provide insights into America’s relationship with Israel.


After President Nixon met Prime Minister Meir at the White House in late September 1969, he said: “The problems in the Mideast go back centuries. They are not susceptible to easy solution. We do not expect them to be susceptible to instant diplomacy.”

Comment: They won't be solved until Christ's return!

Democrats CNN/YouTube plants

Democrats CNN/YouTube plants

Comment: One must wonder how inept CNN is! (By the way: I think the YouTube debates are stupid! I did not watch (I was at church)!)


The old fake $1M bill trick!

Man Tries to Deposit Fake $1M Bill

Excerpt: The federal government has never printed a million-dollar bill!

Comment: And if it ever did ... it would catch a lot of attention!

English only and reasonable assimilation

English-Only Showdown: Does Nancy Pelosi really object to a common language in the workplace?


Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn't think that's controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show "the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English." A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it "very important" that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.


Yet the public is ready for leadership that will forthrightly defend reasonable assimilation. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won plaudits when he said last June that one way to close the Latino learning divide was "to turn off the Spanish TV set. It's that simple. You've got to learn English." Ruben Navarette, a columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune, agreed, warning that "industries such as native language education or Spanish-language television [create] linguistic cocoons that offer the comfort of a warm bath when what English-learners really need is a cold shower."

Comment: Teddy had it right 100 years ago. See below:

Theodore Roosevelt's ideas on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907.

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."


Wells Fargo write down - not as bad as it could be!

Wells Fargo to Absorb $1.4 Billion Provision in Fourth Quarter for Losses on Loans


Until Wells Fargo disclosed its projected losses late Tuesday, the San Francisco-based bank had suffered relatively little damage in a mortgage meltdown that had already battered other major U.S. lenders.

"Clearly, this is a disappointment because (Wells) had been seen as better managers of credit than many other big banks," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Morford. "But now they have a big blemish on them, too."

After gaining 34 cents to finish at $29.83 in Tuesday's regular session, Wells Fargo shares plunged $1.40, or 4.7 percent, in the extended trading that followed a Securities and Exchange Commission filing outlining the bank's home equity loan losses.

"Maybe people are going to be freaked out about Wells Fargo's losses, but they shouldn't be," said Punk, Ziegel & Co. analyst Richard Bove. "Wells Fargo isn't superhuman and they made some bad loans just like everyone else."

Like several of its peers, Wells Fargo will take its lumps in the fourth quarter by recognizing $1.4 billion in pre-tax losses, with most of the trouble concentrated in a bundle of high-risk home equity loans that the bank intends to purge from its books.

The fifth-largest U.S. bank also is retroactively registering $265 million in expenses tied to its share of the costs for a $2.25 billion settlement that credit and debit card network Visa Inc. reached with American Express Co. earlier this month. Wells Fargo owns a 5 percent stake in Visa.

The legal expenses will trim Wells Fargo's previously reported earnings for the second quarter of 2006 by 2 cents per share and lop off 4 cents per share from its earnings for its most recent quarter ended in September.

Well Fargo intends to liquidate $11.9 billion in home equity loans that have been flagged as major problems. The nettlesome loans represent about 14 percent of the bank's total home equity portfolio of $83.4 billion.

Comment: Compared to others, not as bad!

Believe it or not—the earth is young!

Believe it or not—the earth is young!

Believe it or not, methods to ‘date’ the earth as being very old just don’t add up. For a start, the various methods contradict one another, and are often contradicted by the evidence itself.

Comment: good read with helpful links.

Scouring the ruins of the mortgage crisis

Oil $$$ comes home! This is not a bad thing! Just the result of the US addiction to imported oil, the falling dollar, and the subprime crisis!

Citigroup to sell $7.5 billion stake to Abu Dhabi


Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C) is selling up to 4.9 percent of itself for $7.5 billion to the Gulf Arab emirate of Abu Dhabi, giving the largest U.S. bank fresh capital as it wrestles with the subprime mortgage crisis and the resignation of its chief executive.


Abu Dhabi blazes trail with Citi deal


A $7.5 billion Abu Dhabi deal to buy Citigroup Inc (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research) shares may have created a model for acquisitions by Gulf and other emerging-market investors scouring the ruins of the U.S. mortgage crisis for bargains.

Muddy Night Football

Daylong rain turns the new sod at Heinz Field into a quagmire

One of the more enjoyable (to watch) football games of the season was played last night. The Steelers beat Miami 3-0 with a FG in the last 20 seconds of the game! The funniest play was a Miami punt where the football sank nose down in the mud ... no bounce ... just phwapt!

SI: Steelers beat Dolphins 3-0 Pittsburgh scores in final minute on muddy field


Late in the third quarter, Brandon Fields' punt from near the Miami goal line came straight down and plugged in the soggy turf like an arrow, burying itself several inches deep.

War, Peace, and the Christian

Who Would Jesus Bomb? War, Peace, and the Christian


In truth, questions of war and peace are never easy this side of the New Jerusalem. This is why Christians through the centuries have avoided both pacifism and militarism: holding to a "just war" concept that killing is never good but is sometimes best. This "just war" concept limits such action to duly constituted governments, and strictly contains the bounds of such warfare. The intentional killing of innocent non-combatants, for instance, is wrong and outside the parameters of just war.

There are times when the alternative to war is clearly more bloodshed, more violence. Think about what would have happened around the world if the United States had taken no action after the attack on America on September 11, 2001? There are other times when the issues are much more complicated, and good Christians may disagree about whether military action is biblically warranted, even as we remember to pray for our leaders to make wise decisions.

Wikipedia: Just War doctrine

Comment: The need to pray for our national leaders to make wise decisions is emphasized!


Executive inexperience

Which candidate is likened to a Yellow-billed Oxpecker?

____________, Uniquely Unqualified


The Yellow-billed Oxpecker stands atop the mighty rhinoceros, gobbling ticks and chirping loudly when danger looms. This tiny bird would make a perfect mascot for ___________________’s presidential bid. .... And, like the Oxpecker, ________ is remarkably unprepared for the presidency.

Backlash Against Tithing?

The Backlash Against Tithing

Comment: I have mixed feelings about this article. The Christian certainly needs to generously and faithfully support his local church. I'm not convinced what some call tithing is really tithing at all (based upon my studies in the Old Testament).


The anti-tithing movement has found support in some unlikely places: theologically conservative divinity schools and church pulpits. At Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., professor Andreas Kostenberger challenges tithing in classes on the New Testament. He teaches that if you add up all taxes paid by the ancient Israelites, they exceed 10%, and that in the New Testament there's no percentage rule. He says pastors perpetuate the 10% figure out of "pragmatism, tradition and ignorance, quite frankly."

After 25 years leading Union Missionary Baptist Church in Chesapeake, Ohio, the Rev. Bob Barbour stopped preaching about tithing a few years ago. He now promotes what he calls "grace giving" -- a voluntary, unspecified amount -- because, he says, it squares better with Scripture. The church still receives enough to cover expenses, he says. And if it falls short, so be it: "You can't beat people over the heads."

Desktop evolution

Windows / Mac comparison

Comment: Interesting graphic comparing / contrasting Windows and Mac from Windows 95 to current. The reader comments are also interesting.

Not shown: KDE or GNOME (for Linux).

Personally, I like the XP desktop best.


Sunday happenings

Ralph Harmon preached from Romans 8:1-11 this morning at 4th Baptist.

Brother and his wife arrived home from Hawaii. I called them at 7:30 a.m. and they had just walked in the door. We are going up there (Maple Grove) to see them at 3 this afternoon.

We bought a 36" wreath from the Boy Scouts. Roger is going to hang it for us.

Rachel flies to Hartford Connecticut for 2 to three weeks (audit trip).

We expect to worship at 4th tonight. Back to work tomorrow (after 5 days off).

Back to the 30s?

A Time for Bold Thinking on Housing

Economic View
A Time for Bold Thinking on Housing
Published: November 25, 2007
For lessons in real-estate innovation, look back to the 1930s.


WE have to consider the possibility that the housing price downturn will eventually be as big as that of the last truly big decline, from 1925 to 1933, when prices fell by a total of 30 percent.
This crisis should be an occasion for some inspired thinking about fundamental changes in our real estate institutions. The actions that have already been taken are not impressive. The housing market is worsening, and more and more home owners are getting into trouble with their mortgages.

The public response to the housing downturn of 1925-33 provides an important lesson in what government and private institutions can accomplish. Back then, people weren’t content with temporary palliatives. They were thinking big, and revolutionary changes were made in real estate institutions. Without those fundamental changes, the Great Depression would have been much worse than it was, and we would be in a more vulnerable situation today.
The real estate appraisal industry needs to rethink its methods. How did it happen that appraisers acquiesced in valuations that were more and more discordant with economic fundamentals? Basic concepts and procedures need change.

Comment: Before that housing crisis, mortgages were not required to be self-amortizing! I'm not sure what the solutions are, but I've suggested before that Mortgage brokers should be licensed. It would help to require greater amounts down (say 10%), and to eliminate the so-called liar loans. On the other hand, we need to avoid the dangers of over legislating a solution!


Nightmare Economic Scenario?

Mortgage Failures Could Create Nightmare


In the months ahead, millions of other adjustable-rate mortgages like Colombo's will reset, giving them a higher interest rate as required by the loan agreements and leaving many homeowners unable to make their payments. Soaring mortgage default rates this year already have shaken major financial institutions and the fallout from more of them, some experts say, could spread from those already battered banks into the general economy.

The worst-case scenario is anyone's guess, but some believe it could become very bad.

"We haven't faced a downturn like this since the Depression," said Bill Gross, chief investment officer of PIMCO, the world's biggest bond fund. He's not suggesting anything like those terrible times -- but, as an expert on the global credit crisis, he speaks with authority.

"Its effect on consumption, its effect on future lending attitudes, could bring us close to the zero line in terms of economic growth," he said. "It does keep me up at night."

Some 2 million homeowners hold $600 billion of subprime adjustable-rate mortgage loans, known as ARMs, that are due to reset at higher amounts during the next eight months. Subprime loans are those made to people with poor credit. Not all these mortgages are in trouble, but homeowners who default or fall behind on payments could cause an economic shock of a type never seen before.

Some of the nation's leading economic minds lay out a scenario that is frightening. Not only would the next wave of the mortgage crisis force people out of their homes, it might also spiral throughout the economy.

We hire a president, not a Bible study teacher

Peggy Noonan: We're making too much of politicians' religious faith

Excerpt (her conclusion):

There are some people who believe faith doesn't belong in politics. But it does, and it is there inextricably. The antislavery movement, the temperance movement, the civil rights movement, the antiabortion movement, all were political movements animated in large part by religious feeling. It's not that it doesn't matter. You bring your whole self into the polling booth, including your faith and your sense of right and wrong, good and bad, just as presidents bring their whole selves into the Oval Office. I can't imagine how a president could do his job without faith.

But faith is also personal. You can be touched by a candidate's faith, or interested in his apparent lack of it. It's never wholly unimportant, but you should never see a politician as a leader of faith, and we should not ask a man who made his rise in the grubby world of politics to act as if he is an exemplar of his faith, or an explainer or defender of it

We have the emphasis wrong. It's out of kilter. And the result is a Mitt Romney being harassed on radio shows about the particulars of his faith, and Hillary Clinton--a new-class yuppie attorney and board member--announcing how important her Methodist faith is and how much she loves wearing her diamond cross. For all I know, for all you know, it is true. But there is about it an air of patronizing the rubes and boobs.

We should lighten up on demanding access to their hearts. It is impossible for us to know their hearts. It's barely possible to know your own. Faith is important but it's also personal. When we force political figures to tell us their deepest thoughts on it, they'll be tempted to act, to pretend. Do politicians tend to give in to temptation? Most people do. Are politicians better than most people? Quick, a show of hands. I don't think so either.

Comment: See earlier CFG post: I don't care if my President is a Christian


The Second Amendment is an individual right

Opinion Journal: The Supreme Court has a historic opportunity to affirm the individual right to keep and bear arms


The Fourth Amendment says, "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . ." The "people" here does not refer to a collectivity, either.

The rights guaranteed in the Bill of Right are individual. The Third and Fifth Amendments protect individual property owners; the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments protect potential individual criminal defendants from unreasonable searches, involuntary incrimination, appearing in court without an attorney, excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishments.

The Ninth Amendment protects individual rights not otherwise enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The 10th Amendment states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." Here, "the people" are separate from "the states"; thus, the Second Amendment must be about more than simply a "state" militia when it uses the term "the people."

Consider the grammar. The Second Amendment is about the right to "keep and bear arms." Before the conjunction "and" there is a right to "keep," meaning to possess. This word would be superfluous if the Second Amendment were only about bearing arms as part of the state militia. Reading these words to restrict the right to possess arms strains common rules of composition.

Colonial history and politics are also instructive. James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights to provide a political compromise between the Federalists, who favored a strong central government, and the Anti-Federalists, who feared a strong central government as an inherent danger to individual rights. In June 1789, then-Rep. Madison introduced 12 amendments, a "bill of rights," to the Constitution to convince the remaining two of the original 13 colonies to ratify the document.

Madison's draft borrowed liberally from the English Bill of Rights of 1689 and Virginia's Declaration of Rights. Both granted individual rights, not collective rights. As a result, Madison proposed a bill of rights that reflected, as Stanford University historian Jack Rakove notes, his belief that the "greatest dangers to liberty would continue to arise within the states, rather than from a reconstituted national government." Accordingly, Mr. Rakove writes that "Madison justified all of these proposals (Bill of Rights) in terms of the protection they would extend to individual and minority rights."

One of the earliest scholars of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Justice Joseph Story, confirmed this focus on individuals in his famous "Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States" in 1833. "The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms," Story wrote, "has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of republics, since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers . . ."

More from Opinion Journal

Comment: Earlier CFG posts on the 2nd Amendement

Boxbe - new antispam option


Despite filters, tidal wave of spam bears down on e-mailers


For a start, tens of millions use Google's Gmail because it was designed with built-in spam defenses. Others are joining social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, where they control who has access to their personal profile, to exchange e-mail with friends, family and business associates.

Many also use phishing filters provided by Microsoft on its Internet Explorer browser. Last month, Yahoo, eBay and PayPal took a major step to shield customers from phishing attacks. They announced eBay and PayPal customers who use Yahoo Mail should start receiving fewer bogus e-mails because it now uses DomainKeys, an e-mail-authentication technology.

A new breed of e-mail services, such as CertifiedEmail from Goodmail Systems, put the financial onus on the senders of unsolicited commercial e-mail.

CertifiedEmail treats e-mail as a FedEx-like service. For less than one-fourth of a penny per message, commercial marketers, government agencies and non-profits are guaranteed delivery of e-mail to individuals who have indicated they will accept the messages from that specific sender. Recipients see a blue seal verifying that the message is legitimate, says David Atlas, senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Goodmail.

Another free option, Boxbe, lets users of Gmail, Microsoft Outlook and Yahoo Mail create a guest list, giving them final say on who is allowed to send e-mail. Anyone not on the list receives an invitation to join when they send an e-mail to the Boxbe user.

Comment: Bluebottle and other services have a white list system.

Mall of America: wunderbar

For foreign shoppers, a weak dollar is wunderbar, utmärkt, trÈs bien


With euros, kroner and Canadian loonies gaining new muscle, Minnesota retailers are reaping rewards from far-flung consumers.

Andrea Guðjónsdóttir arrived in Minnesota from Iceland last week with nothing but the clothes on her back. Oh, and two empty suitcases, which she promptly filled to near-bursting with clothes, toys and other gifts during a five-day shopping spree in the Twin Cities.

"Everything's so cheap," said Guðjónsdóttir, 35, who lives in Akranes, a seaport city on Iceland's west coast. "You can pay $30 for Levi's here; at home, it'd be $200."

Comment: The Mall of America: where I don't shop. Article illustrates exchange rate benefits to Europeans.

Thanksgiving photos

Nathan's pecan pie

Fei Fei's salad

Rachel's corn casserole

Roger with turkey

Me w rolls (that I really had nothing to do with!)

Note: Snow outside!

Green Bay crushed Detroit

Blue and Emily


World domination (until we quit at 7 p.m.)

Eggies restaurant

We have today off and are basically relaxing with light errands.

We ate out this morning at Eggies in Crystal which is a small grill that specializes in breakfast. Very good.

It is right by the Metro Women's Center.

View Larger Map


Now Thank We All Our God

Brian McCrorie: Now Thank We All Our God

Comment: a worthwhile reflection on thanksgiving.

Opinion Journal: The Desolate Wilderness


Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

The Desolate Wilderness: Nathaniel Morton describes what he and other Pilgrims saw in 1620

Comment: The Wall Street Journal has published this editorial annually since 1961.

Thanksgiving Cogitations

What was "Reformed" in the Reformation? If one wants to know what the Protestant Reformation was all about without reading huge volumes of historical literature, it is perhaps most clarifying to look at the theological results. One should specifically note the rediscovery of five critical biblical doctrines that had been obscured from public view by the medieval version of what we now know as the Roman Catholic Church. And just so you know, Rome still either openly opposes or seriously distorts these doctrines. Using the Latin names given to each, they are:

Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone): The Reformers were united in their belief that the Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for salvation and Christian living (cf. 2 Peter 1:1-4). They held the Word of God to be the only standard by which men's consciences may be bound. Rome, on the other hand, then and now, denies sola Scriptura by elevating Papal decrees and church tradition to what they say are equal (but are in reality greater) positions of authority than that of the Bible. Where the meaning of the Bible differs from the opinion of the Pope or official doctrine (as is very often the case) the Word of God plays a mute second fiddle.

Sola Gratia (by Grace alone): The reformers understood that salvation is not a cooperative event carried out by God and man working in partnership. In salvation, sinners are rescued from God's wrath by His grace alone (cf. Titus 3:3-7). God's grace is His spontaneous and unmerited favor, granted to the spiritually dead and helpless sinner through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. God mercifully releases those whom He is saving from their own willful bondage to sin and thus enables them to repent and believe (cf. John 3:3; 6:44; Rom. 8:6-8; 9:16). Interestingly, this point of doctrine is disputed today, not only by Rome, but also by many evangelicals.

Sola Fide (through Faith alone): "Justified" is the biblical term that describes a person as forgiven, not guilty, and perfectly righteous in God's sight. According to Scripture, justification is bestowed on the sinner by grace alone through faith alone, "not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8-9; cf. Gal 2:16). According to official Roman Catholic dogma, however, using the word "alone" after the word "faith" will earn you a pronouncement of anathema (formal damnation). Rome actually forbids you to believe or repeat what the Bible plainly states! They insist that while justification begins with faith, it can only be completed through the sinner's personal effort. In Roman Catholic theology, one may not say, "Therefore, having been justified by faith," or "having now been justified by His blood" (the exact words of Paul in Romans 5:1 and 5:9, emphasis added). According to Rome, one may only believe that he is being justified - by faith plus works.

Solus Christus (because of Christ alone): The reformers understood that the salvation of God's people was the work of Jesus Christ alone. His death was a sufficient and effective sacrifice for sin (cf. Heb. 9:12, 26, 28; 10:12, 14). He is the only mediator between God and men (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5). Only Christ's righteousness (not the sinner's personal righteousness) merits the believing sinner's justification (2 Cor. 5:21). Rome, on the other hand, commands the performance of seven essential works of merit (sacraments) for justification. Rome also insists that Mary (not Jesus) is the dispenser of grace. While Rome denies that Christ's righteousness may be imputed to the believing sinner, Mary is said to have vast amounts of excess righteousness which can be imputed to sinners. This form of blasphemy against the Son of God is bad enough, but it culminates in blasphemy against God the Father - the idolatry of Mary worship. Mary is praised as the "co-redemptress" and "co-mediatrix" with Christ. Rome even refers to her in some places as the savior of mankind, the one who commands God to save whom she will.

Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone): It is obvious that in Roman Catholic theology Mary receives equal (if not greater) credit than God for the salvation of sinners. Rome openly glorifies her. Also, God is robbed of His glory by making the sinner the one who ultimately performs (via the sacraments) or suffers (via Purgatory) his own way into heaven. But the Bible insists, and the reformers recognized, that God saves sinners by Himself. Therefore He alone should receive all praise and glory. And the God of the Bible is a jealous God (cf. Ex. 20:5). He will not share His glory with another (cf. Isaiah 42:8; 48:11).

So what was reformed (or recovered) during the Protestant Reformation? In the final analysis, it was the gospel of God's grace. And the "church" that stole the gospel the first time will gladly do so again if Christians everywhere do not take seriously the command to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 3). -- Copyright © 2006 Daryl Wingerd. Permission granted for reproduction in exact form.

Comment: Cogitations include items written by others, shared because of the importance of the content in my judgment, usually something I wish I had said myself but most likely would not express as well.

** Sola scriptura; sola gratia; sola fide; solus Christus; soli Deus gloria; only Jesus saves. Email author-editor Dr. Warren Vanhetloo to begin subscription, ask questions, make comments, or request removal, at cbsvan[AT]sbcglobal[DOT]net

Are you glad or thankful?

To be thankful:

  1. There must be an object of the thanksgiving and
  2. That object must be personal and
  3. The object of thankgiving must be the provider of the gift for which one is thankful.


  1. I am now relaxing in my leather recliner. The chair is comfortable. I am glad for my chair but it would not make sense to thank my chair for my comfort. The chair is impersonal.
  2. I am glad I have a LL Bean robe (which I am now relaxing) provided to me by my Mother last Christmas. After Christmas, I thanked my Mother for the robe that she gifted me with! My Mother was the object of my thanksgiving. She is a person, she provided it, and I thanked her.

Observe Psalm 100:

1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.


  1. Consider His provision: Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,"

    1. Salvation through His grace
    2. A free gift
    3. Something that would could not obtain by our own works
    4. Though the work of our Savior (observe broader context of Ephesians 2:1-11)

  2. Consider the Person: The gift of salvation is provided by the Person of God the Father, through God the Son, and applied by God the Holy Spirit. And so the object of thankgiving is Him alone!
  3. And so thanksgiving is to Him: "Make a joyful shout to the LORD" (Psalm 100:1)

Some are simply glad! Glad for the meal, glad for the day off, glad for football and family.

The one who fears the Lord, is thankful to Him.


Can God use me?

When You Feel Like God Cannot Use You, Just Remember...

  1. Noah was a drunk.
  2. Abraham was too old.
  3. Isaac was a daydreamer.
  4. Jacob was a liar.
  5. Leah was ugly.
  6. Joseph was abused.
  7. Moses had a stuttering problem.
  8. Gideon was afraid.
  9. Samson was a womanizer.
  10. Rahab was a prostitute.
  11. Jeremiah and Timothy were too young.
  12. David had an affair and was a murderer.
  13. Elijah was suicidal.
  14. Isaiah preached naked.
  15. Jonah ran from God.
  16. Naomi was a widow.
  17. Job went bankrupt.
  18. John the Baptist ate bugs.
  19. Peter denied Christ.
  20. The disciples fell asleep while praying.
  21. Martha worried about everything.
  22. The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once.
  23. Zaccheus was too small.
  24. Paul was too religious.
  25. AND...Lazarus was dead!

No more excuses now.

Comment: Sent to me by Jason Janz of Providence Bible Church, Denver

Drawing in Gravel is Great, but We Still Need Propositional Truth

Emeth Aletheia: Drawing in Gravel is Great, but We Still Need Propositional Truth

Good read!

Sad news

Yesterday I received double sad news.

  1. I had a call from a close relative to say that her husband will be in hospice care with just weeks to live. Very heavy on my heart as this is someone whom I have known for over 40 years and whom I dearly love.
  2. Also received news of a women I've worked closely with for the last year. She has inoperable terminal brain cancer.

James 4:14, "whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."

I had coffee with my friend Scott yesterday and he encouraged me.

Today Kathee and I have off (actually we have off work until Monday!). Kathee is already off to Lunds shopping. I have an errand today at Metro Womens Center.

Tonight we will be at Fourth Baptist for our Thanksgiving service.

My Brother and his wife are in Hawaii all week ... freezing here ....

Norway slaps Minneapolis!

For Children of Norway, a Rift With the Mother Country

Minneapolis Journal
For Children of Norway, a Rift With the Mother Country
Published: November 20, 2007
Norway’s decision to shut its career consulate in Minneapolis has upset residents of the Upper Midwest, which is home to more Norwegian-Americans than any other region of the country.


“This is a bit of a slap in the face,” Janet Rog, 74, said of Norway’s recent announcement that it would shut its career consulate here next year and send the diplomats home.

The consulate, opened in 1906 and upgraded in 1946 to its current status as consulate general, is a point of pride for the Upper Midwest, which is home to more Norwegian-Americans than any other region of the country.


Norwegian officials say their decision to close the consulate, which handles a nine-state region, is simply a matter of money. Jannicke Jaeger, an official at the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, said it cost about $2 million a year to operate the consulate. While it will be closing in 2008, new ones will be opening in China, where the economy is booming, and in Spain, where many Norwegians retire.


“It’s silly to think that this place is somehow going to break the budget for Norway,” said Anne Kanten, a resident of Milan, Minn., which calls itself Norwegian Capital U.S.A. “What’s more Norwegian than Minnesota, anyway?”

Three other Norwegian career consulates in the United States will remain open, in New York, San Francisco and Houston. Embassy officials defend those choices as strategic; Houston, for instance, has significance for Norway’s oil interests.

For Minnesotans, that is one more rub.

“Houston?” asked the 80-year-old Mrs. Amundson, laughing faintly. “Houston, Texas?”

Ingebretsen's Scandinavian Center

Big bugs!

Scientist finds fossilized claw of man-sized sea scorpion


British scientists have stumbled across a fossilized claw, part of an ancient sea scorpion, that is of such large proportion it would make the entire creature the biggest bug ever.

How big? Bigger than you, and at 8 feet long as big as some Smart cars.

The discovery in 390-million-year-old rocks suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were far larger in the past than previously thought, said Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleontologist and one of the study's three authors.

"This is an amazing discovery," he said Tuesday.

"We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies. But we never realized until now just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were," he said.

The research found a type of sea scorpion that was almost half a yard longer than previous estimates and the largest one ever to have evolved.

Wikipedia: Sea Scorpion

Comment: I believe the fact (giant fossil found) but not the hypothesis (390 million .... evolution, etc). "it was much longer than today's average man is tall" - Creepy!

Loan Crisis Entangles Freddie Mac

Loan Crisis Entangles Freddie Mac

Loan Crisis Entangles Freddie Mac
Published: November 21, 2007
Losses at the big mortgage finance company on Tuesday underscored the continuing turmoil in the housing industry.


Freddie Mac, the big mortgage finance company, posted a $2 billion loss for the third quarter and warned that it might not have enough capital on hand to cover the mandatory reserves for its mortgage commitments.

The company has been battered by a rising wave of foreclosures tied to subprime mortgage defaults, and it is “seriously considering” cutting its stock dividend.

Freddie’s misfortune is particularly rattling because the company is considered something of a backstop for the lending industry. With its implied guarantee of government backing, the housing market looks to Freddie, and its bigger sibling, Fannie Mae, to provide stable credit and financing for a wide swath of mortgages.

But yesterday’s earnings report showed that even the gold standard of lending agencies was not immune to the toxic subprime securities that have infected much of the market.

Wikipedia: Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation


The FHLMC was created in 1970 to expand the secondary market for mortgages in the United States. Along with other GSEs, Freddie Mac buys mortgages on the secondary market, pools them, and sells them as mortgage-backed securities to investors on the open market.

This secondary mortgage market helps to replenish the supply of lendable money for mortgages and ensures that money continues to be available for new home purchases. The name "Freddie Mac" is a creative acronym-portmanteau of the company's full name that has been adopted officially for ease of identification.

Historic dive to the Carl D. Bradley

Two Minnesota divers make Lake Michigan history

After two local divers, John Janzen and John Scoles, met the last remaining survivor of a 1950s Lake Michigan shipwreck, they knew they had to dive to the site about 370 feet below the surface.

In 2004 at a diving and shipwreck show in Minneapolis, Janzen of Champlin and Scoles of Farmington met Frank Mays, who was 26 when the freighter Carl D. Bradley sank on Nov. 18, 1958.


The Bradley Transportation Company of Rogers City, Michigan, had the largest self-unloading steel steamer on the Great Lakes built in 1927 and named her CARL D. BRADLEY after the President and Director of the firm. She served in the limestone and coal trades her entire career on the inland seas and set many cargo records in the process. The self-unloading type freighter was not rare on the Lakes at that time. That type of carrier had been in existence since the turn of the century but it had been perfected in the BRADLEY. She was by far the largest carrier on the Lakes at that time as well as being the largest self-unloader. It was a proud day for the citizens of Rogers City when she first steamed into port on her maiden voyage. The majority of her crew were from that small Northern Michigan port and the ship proved her worth to her owners over the next quarter century of her existence. Her days of service came to an end in a violent storm on Lake Michigan on November 18, 1958. She had left the lower Lake Michigan port of Gary bound for Rogers City in ballast and was buffeted by gale force winds almost immediately after her departure. Heavy seas washed over the bow but the BRADLEY held course towards the northern part of the Lake. At approximately 5:30 that evening she broke in two and sank almost immediately off Gull Island.

Wikipedia: SS Carl D. Bradley

Expedition '97 to the CARL D. BRADLEY

Comments: 2 b/w pics of the ship with the 2nd link!


Saudi "clarification"

Saudi: Why we punished rape victim


The case, which has sparked media scrutiny of the Saudi legal system, centers on a married woman. The 19-year-old and an unrelated man were abducted, and she was raped by a group of seven men more than a year ago, according to Abdulrahman al-Lahim, the attorney who represented her in court.

The woman was originally sentenced in October 2006 to 90 lashes. But that sentence was more than doubled to 200 lashes and six months in prison by the Qatif General Court, because she spoke to the media about the case, a court source told Middle Eastern daily newspaper Arab News.

Previous CFG post

Precious (comment by Susan (Sound-off section at the bottom of the article)):

What is wrong with these men? How can they treat their mothers, daughters, sisters and wives like dirt? It is barbaric.

Comment: See "Precious" above. My view too!

SCOTUS to take 2nd Amendment case

Supreme Court Will Hear D.C. Guns Case


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the District of Columbia can ban handguns, a case that could produce the most in-depth examination of the constitutional right to "keep and bear arms" in nearly 70 years.

The justices' decision to hear the case could make the divisive debate over guns an issue in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections.

The government of Washington, D.C., is asking the court to uphold its 31-year ban on handgun ownership in the face of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the ban as incompatible with the Second Amendment. Tuesday's announcement was widely expected, especially after both the District and the man who challenged the handgun ban asked for the high court review.

The main issue before the justices is whether the Second Amendment of the Constitution protects an individual's right to own guns or instead merely sets forth the collective right of states to maintain militias. The former interpretation would permit fewer restrictions on gun ownership.

Gun-control advocates say the Second amendment was intended to insure that states could maintain militias, a response to 18th century fears of an all-powerful national government. Gun rights proponents contend the amendment gives individuals the right to keep guns for private uses, including self-defense.

Alan Gura, a lawyer for the D.C. residents who challenged the ban, said he was pleased that the justices were considering the case.

"We believe the Supreme Court will acknowledge that, while the use of guns can be regulated, a complete prohibition on all functional firearms is too extreme," Gura said. "It's time to end this unconstitutional disaster. It's time to restore a basic freedom to all Washington residents."

Previous CFG post: Will the Supremes take D.C. 2nd Amendment case?

Prediction: Either 5-4 or 6-3 to overturn the District of Columbia's stringent handgun ban.

NRA-ILA: U.S. Supreme Court to Hear First Second Amendment Case Since 1939

NYTimes: Justices Will Decide if Handgun Kept at Home Is Individual Right


Because none of the justices now on the court have ever confronted a Second Amendment case, any prediction about how the court will rule is little more than pure speculation.

Of the hundreds of gun regulations on the books in states and localities around the country, the district’s ordinance is generally regarded as the strictest. Chicago comes the closest to it, banning the possession of handguns acquired since 1983 and requiring re-registration of older guns every two years. New York City permits handgun ownership with a permit issued by the Police Department.

The District of Columbia ordinance not only bans ownership of handguns, but also requires other guns that may be legally kept in the home, rifles and shotguns, to be disassembled or kept under a trigger lock. The capital’s newly empowered City Council enacted the ordinance in 1976 as one of its first measures after receiving home-rule authority from Congress.


In striking down the district’s ordinance, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that an individual-right interpretation of the Second Amendment would still permit “reasonable regulations,” but that a flat ban was not reasonable.

Dennis A. Henigan, a lawyer at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which advocates strict gun control, said that if the justices agree with the appeals court, an important question for future cases will be “what legal standard the court will eventually adopt for evaluating other gun regulations.”

Bogus software awards!

The software awards scam

Comment: Interesting. Someone on SharperIron linked over to this.

Home buying is complex

Robert Steel, undersecretary for domestic finance: Mortgage Providers Must Be Clear


At the town hall forum in Minneapolis sponsored by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., Steel said home buying is complex.

"Mortgage providers must offer clear, transparent and understandable information on the mortgage products they sell," Steel said. "And home buyers have a responsibility to use that information and understand their mortgages."

In the prepared remarks, Steel said housing and mortgage markets adjustments are occurring "against a backdrop of healthy U.S. fundamentals and strong global economy."

He said a "significant number" of homeowners will be affected by challenges in the housing market and many could face foreclosure.

About 2 million subprime mortgages will reset in the next 18 months, but not all of those will end in foreclosure, Steel said. Some homeowners will be able to afford their new payments; many others will qualify for a refinanced, fixed-rate mortgage, he said.

Some homeowners went beyond their means or made bets on the housing market, purchasing multiple houses expecting to make a profit, Steel said. "For many of these borrowers, foreclosure is inevitable," he said. "And let me be clear _ we have no interest in bailing out speculators. Our concern is for the Americans who are struggling to make payments on their primary residence."

Comment: Home buying is complex, the process should not be dumbed down to avoid the details!

The NFL Thanksgiving Classic

The Insider: Why Detroit, Dallas get Turkey day benefit

Wikipedia: Thanksgiving Classic

Comment: If you are a fan of the NFL, these are interesting reads. Because we have family that lives in Dallas (actually Arlington), the Dallas game is always an interest to us. And because I went to seminary in Michigan; for several desperate, disappointing years (desparate and disappointing only about football!), we were Detroit Lions fans. Kathee and I went to the Thanksgiving classic in Detroit (the Pontiac Superdome) in 1979 (the Lions upset the Bears 20-0).

NFL scores - 1979 (PDF)

Lions 1979 details

Nov. 22, 1979 - The Lions shocked Chicago and a national television audience on Thanksgiving Day, blanking the playoff-bound Bears, 20-0. Jeff Komlo highlighted the day for Detroit, shaking off three interceptions and passing for 244 yards and one TD. Rick Kane picked up 67 yards and plowed over from one-yard out for a TD. Detroit held Walter Payton to 54 yards and Al "Bubba" Baker picked up four of the club's five sacks. The shutout was Detroit's first in 40 Turkey Day appearances and stuck Chicago with its only loss in the season's last eight weeks.

Kiplinger: Mortgage crisis forecast

Mortgages: How Long Till Daylight?


The subprime mortgage crisis is going to take most of 2008 to clear up. Hardly a day goes by without a major lender announcing a multibillion-dollar write-down on the value of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities in its possession. The cascade of bad news spells big trouble for banks' earnings in coming quarters as well as a continuing drag on the stock market and the economy in general.

In the meantime, a huge chunk of the mortgage market -- namely, subprime and other higher-risk loans -- will be frozen, sapping demand for housing and imposing continued downward pressure on the pace of construction and sales. The risky loan category rose from only 7% of outstanding mortgage debt in 2000 to almost 25% this year.

Comment: Others think it will take 2 years to clear!


ING acquires Sharebuilder

ING Direct to Acquire Sharebuilder

ING Direct will spend $220 million in cash to buy Sharebuilder, a unique Bellevue, WA-based discount brokerage, with upwards of 2 million accounts across 660,000 customers ....

Many (most??) of Sharebuilder's accounts have come through co-branded programs with 40 banks and 140 credit unions including National City Bank and Boeing Employees Credit Union. It's biggest brand name partner is Wells Fargo, which not coincidentally, is also an investor in the company.

Comment: Wow! Sharebuilder is a great service!

DowBlog: Sermons in the Wild

Sermons in the Wild

Comments: Humorous! Glad this is not found at Fourth Baptist Church!

SQL Server 2005 conversion

I am working on a SQL Server 2005 conversion of a website (from 2000) and today was frustrating.

I have two environments: basically test and production. We can have three: dev, preview, and production. I use our preview enviroment as my development (test) environment.

What's working:

  1. Our web resource (conversion coordinator) copied my production 2000 database to SQL 2005 test. Checked out OK
  2. I can connect my local Cold Fusion server to this environment. I had an issue there but we worked through that.
  3. I downloaded SQL Server 2005 Express from Microsoft. I need to have what is called "Management Studio" (replaces the old "Enterprise Manager"). I can connect with my database tables fine.

What is not working:

  1. Turns out I need to full edition of SQL Server 2005 (not just the "Express" version to have the fully functional Management Studio. I cannot get this to install.
  2. I've tried this three times, and it fails on the final step. The log file is of no apparent help to me.

I've ordered SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition from Amazon. Hopefully this will resolve.


Kevin Everett released

Bills TE Everett released from Houston rehab center


ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Bills tight end Kevin Everett has been released from a Houston hospital to resume his next phase of rehab, 10 weeks since sustaining a severe spinal cord injury.

"While this news is a significant milestone for me, I still have a long journey to full recovery," Everett said in a statement released Sunday by Houston's Memorial Hermann/TIRR, where the player spent the past two months in rehab.

It was unclear when this week he was released, but Everett will continue his rehab at the facility as an outpatient.

"I was fortunate to meet many extraordinary people at Memorial Hermann/TIRR, many who have suffered the same or similar injury as myself, many of whom I now consider friends," Everett said. "Their courage and determination inspired me to fight every day for recovery of my ability to walk."

Previous Kevin Everett posts

Comment: Of special interest to me.

Fleeing 'the world's largest prison'

Leaving North Korea at any price


Brokers here are busily selling what they call "planned escapes" from North Korea.

Given enough money, the brokers say, they can now get just about anyone out of the dictatorial Stalinist state that human rights activists call the world's largest prison.

A low-budget escape through China via Thailand to Seoul, which requires treacherous river crossings, arduous travel on foot and several miserable weeks in a Thai immigration jail, can cost less than $2,000, according to four brokers here.

Comment: Money talks in this process!

Recycling a rape allegation (20 yrs later)

Report: Family wants Tawana Brawley case reopened


Glenda Brawley and Ralph King want to press New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to re-examine the November 1987 incident, which a state grand jury ultimately concluded was a hoax, the Daily News reported.

"New York state owes my daughter. They owe her the truth," said Glenda Brawley. She reiterated her stance that her daughter was indeed raped by a group of white men who smeared her with feces and scrawled racial epithets on her body.

Wikipedia: Tawana Brawley rape allegations

Comment: I remember well the race-charged tensions 20 years ago. After months of media attention, and a thorough grand jury, the allegations were never substantiated. The Wikipedia article has links to extensive documentation discrediting Tawana Brawley's claim that she'd been raped by white law enforcement officers. Yet 20 years later, her parents (why not her? She is a 35 year old adult!) want to have the issue rehashed. Waste of time! Someone wants either money, media attention, or both!

Can economic theory address criminal punishment?

Does Death Penalty Save Lives? A New Debate

Does Death Penalty Save Lives? A New Debate
Published: November 18, 2007
Studies indicating that executions are a deterrent against future murders have been the subject of sharp criticism.


According to roughly a dozen recent studies, executions save lives. For each inmate put to death, the studies say, 3 to 18 murders are prevented.

The effect is most pronounced, according to some studies, in Texas and other states that execute condemned inmates relatively often and relatively quickly.

The studies, performed by economists in the past decade, compare the number of executions in different jurisdictions with homicide rates over time — while trying to eliminate the effects of crime rates, conviction rates and other factors — and say that murder rates tend to fall as executions rise. One influential study looked at 3,054 counties over two decades.

Comment: Is capital punishment a disincentive to crime? Studies say ..... "Yes"

Saudi justice: punish the victim

Saudi punishes gang rape victim with 200 lashes


A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

The 19-year-old woman -- whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms -- was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News reported.

Comment: Illustrates the Islamic low view of women!


“Autos Katrina”

Katrina-ravaged cars being sold in Bolivia


Suspected Katrina cars — with their jittery wiring, sand in the cracks and the telltale mildewed stink — have cropped up in a number of countries, but Bolivia has become a particular target. One local environmental agency believes 10,000 or more flooded U.S. cars may have ended up in the landlocked nation, drawn by loose import rules, a thriving smugglers’ economy and an insatiable hunger for cheap wheels.

Comment: Trace the history of a cute red Mini Cooper from a graduation gift, to New Orleans, to Bolivia! I'm sure the Bolivians appreciate this!

Electrum in Ezekiel

First coins were more than just currency


The world's first coins appeared around 600 B.C., jingling around in the pockets of the Lydians, a kingdom tied to ancient Greece and located in modern-day Turkey. They featured the stylized head of a lion and were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver.

Wikipedia: Electrum


Electrum is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, with trace amounts of copper and other metals. Colour ranges from pale to bright yellow, depending on the proportions of gold and silver. Gold content of naturally-occurring electrum in modern Western Anatolia ranges from 70% to 90% in contrast to the 45-55% of electrum used in ancient Lydian coinage of the same geographical area.

Electrum was used as early as the third millennium BC in Old Kingdom Egypt, sometimes as an exterior coating to the pyramidions atop ancient Egyptian pyramids and obelisks.

Electrum was also used in the making of ancient drinking vessels and coins.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Electrum

The Revised Version, margin rendering of chashmal, of Ezekiel 1:4,27; 8:2 Septuagint elektron, Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 AD.) electrum). Both the King James Version and the English Revised Version have "amber" while the American Standard Revised Version has "glowing metal." Gesenius says electrum must not be understood as being here used for amber, but for a kind of metal remarkable for brightness, compounded of gold and silver. "Amber" is undoubtedly a poor rendering, as the Hebrew term means "polished brass." the American Standard Revised Version has the more correct rendering. Amber, however, may well have been known to Ezekiel (Encyclopaedia Biblica).

Ezekiel 1:4; Ezekiel 1:27; Ezekiel 8:2 (English Standard Version)

Comment: Image from Wikipedia

The largest stagecoach order ever

30 coaches

Comments: From the Wells Fargo blog. Click on the "postcard" image to enlarge. Fun for the family: visit a Wells Fargo museum (click link for locations). I've been to the Los Angeles Wells Fargo museum (I was in L.A. on business several years ago).

Subprime macroeconomic shock

Goldman Sees Subprime Cutting $2 Trillion in Lending


The slump in global credit markets may force banks, brokerages and hedge funds to cut lending by $2 trillion and trigger a ``substantial recession'' in the U.S., according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Losses related to record home foreclosures using a ``back- of-the-envelope'' calculation may be as high as $400 billion for financial companies, Jan Hatzius, chief U.S. economist at Goldman in New York wrote in a report dated yesterday. The effects may be amplified tenfold as companies that borrowed to finance their investments scale back lending, the report said.

``The likely mortgage credit losses pose a significantly bigger macroeconomic risk than generally recognized,'' Hatzius wrote. ``It is easy to see how such a shock could produce a substantial recession'' or ``a long period of very sluggish growth,'' he wrote.

Goldman's forecast reduction in lending is equivalent to 7 percent of total U.S. household, corporate and government debt, hurting an economy already beset by the slowing housing market. Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf said yesterday that the property market is the worst since the Great Depression.


Hatzius said his report is based on a ``conservative estimate'' of financial companies cutting lending by 10 times the loss to their capital. Investors realizing half of the potential losses, at $200 billion, would have to scale back lending by $2 trillion, he said.


Goldman's outlook matches forecasts by Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-prize winning former World Bank economist, who said in an interview today that the U.S. faces a ``very major slowdown, maybe recession'' because of a ``consumption binge'' fueled by household borrowing.

``What it all comes down to is that Joe Six-Pack has been taking equity out of his house and supporting the U.S. economy,'' said Simon Ballard, global credit strategist at ABN Amro Asset Management in London. ``Now house prices are correcting, the bubble is deflating. You're going to see the engine of global growth significantly weaker.''

Comments: I feel like I am living out my degree in Economics watching this unfold!