Stock Market Blahs

U.S. Stocks Post Worst Annual Losses Since 2008 - Rough trading Friday pushes S&P 500 into the red for the year; Dow falls 2.2% in 2015


U.S. stocks had their worst annual performance since 2008, closing out a rocky year that tempered investors’ expectations for gains in 2016. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a basket of 30 stocks, lost 2.2% in 2015, while the broader S&P 500 fell 0.7%. The S&P’s loss ended three years of double-digit gains for the index, but was far from the nearly 40% dive it took in 2008, a year of financial crisis.
Comment: About our own investments: I should fire our wealth advisor except that advisor is me! At least I did not pay a 1% wealth advisor fee! More

Cliff Ide, TRS-DOS hacker, passes

NEWDOS 2.1 History


In mid-1978 when Radio Shack introduced TRSDOS 2.0, their first disk operating system for the Model I, it contained many bugs. Some were fixed by TRSDOS 2.1 later that year, but many bugs remained, some quite severe. One of the earliest people to attempt to fix these bugs was Clifford Ide. He analyzed Model I TRSDOS in great detail and developed a set of patches to fix the bugs, increase performance, and add new features. This set of patches, originally known as APRDOS, was not a commercial product but was only available to those who knew someone who already had a copy. ... For whatever reason, Clifford Ide’s name was never used in connection with NEWDOS. The NEWDOS author was identified only as "Sam Jones," a pseudonym used to "keep his privacy and avoid being swamped by phone calls," according to an 80 Micro article. In Harvard Pennington’s book TRS‑80 Disk and Other Mysteries, the NEWDOS principals (Lauletta and Ide) are described not by name but as “two guys in Denver.” In the acknowledgements to the book, Jim Lauletta’s name is listed in full (although not identified with Apparat) but Clifford Ide’s name is abbreviated as C.I. The true identity of “Sam Jones” remained a mystery until 1987, when Apparat finally revealed his real name after a false attribution.
Comment:  Cliff worked for Norwest. The man was a genius!


Vikings Stadium inspired by the Jawa Sandcrawler?

Reading the comments associated with this article ...

Minnesota Vikings say Wells Fargo's new rooftop signs near U.S. Bank Stadium are too big and bright:
... the new USBank stadium looks like Darth Vader took over Noah's ark; now i wish the Wells Fargo towers were prettier. in both cases, it isn't the signage makin' 'em ugly; the building aren't exactly belles of the architectural ball.

So what if the Jawa Sandcrawler gets photo bombed.

#BlackLivesMatter at Mall of America

Comments: Image sources: Twitter feed: 1, 2, 3 Live feed 

  • From my wife: "If they were really concerned about black lives, they would be protesting at Planned Parenthood"
  • Me: an anarchist group

Time to Eliminate the Corporate Income Tax

Here’s What Genuine Tax Reform Looks Like - The goal is to be simple and fair, with minimal damage. Step one would eliminate the corporate tax.


What would a minimally damaging, simple, fair tax code look like? First, the corporate tax should be eliminated. Every dollar of taxes that a corporation seems to pay comes from higher prices to its customers, lower wages to its workers, or lower dividends to its shareholders. Of these groups, wealthy individual shareholders are the least likely to suffer. If taxes eat into profits, investors pay lower prices for less valuable shares, and so earn the same return as before. To the extent that taxes do reduce returns, they also financially hurt nonprofits and your and my pension funds. With no corporate tax, arguments disappear over investment expensing versus depreciation, repatriation of profits, too much tax-deductible debt, R&D deductions, and the vast array of energy deductions and credits.
Comment: Image source. Literally every tax paid by corporations is ultimately passed on to consumers. With no corporate tax, all incentives to tax inversions disappear!

Job # 1 for Restaurants - Food Safety

The new cover of Businessweek is a Chipotle burrito — vomiting


Chipotle management has pledged to enhance its efforts on food safety, with co-CEO Steve Ells pledging to make Chipotle "the safest place to eat."

This effort from Chipotle, as outlined in the Businessweek story and other reports, will most likely see more of the company's food preparation moved to central facilities, while less of its food will be locally sourced in the meantime.

Businessweek reports that Chipotle's pork and beef, for example, are braised at facilities outside Chicago. The company's beans are made in Denver. And so on.

On Tuesday, JPMorgan analyst John Ivankoe downgraded the stock to "Neutral" from "Overweight," citing the seemingly endless series of negative headlines about the company. "The new news flow shows the impact continuing and more importantly a management team that seems to be scrambling for answers," Ivankoe wrote. Earlier this month, Chipotle warned that its fourth-quarter sales would drop sharply in the wake of the E. coli breakout and other negative headlines. This latest cover won't help.
Comment: Many diss McDonalds. We eat there infrequently ... eg this Monday of this week when I had a Dr appointment. We hadn't had lunch as we returned at 12:30 ish and grabbed a couple of burgers from their drive-through. Never got sick at McDonalds! And it is a good stock MCD. CMG on the other hand ($200 off year's high)! Image is screen grab from above article,


Dying in Debt

1 in 5 Americans will die in debt


Many Americans will spend the rest of their lives in debt. Fully 21% of Americans say they don’t think they will be able to pay off their debts -- including their car, credit cards, student loans and mortgages -- in their lifetime, according to a survey of more than 1,000 adults by CreditCards.com.

That’s up from 18% last year. In another study released earlier this year from the public policy research organization the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 13% of workers -- and 9% of retirees -- said they had a “major problem” with debt, and 38% and 22%, respectively, said they had a minor problem with debt.

The number of Americans who say they’ll die in debt may be on the rise for a number of reasons, including the fact that household debt levels are increasing and that people still have unease about the economy, says Matt Schulz, a senior industry analyst for CreditCards.com.
Comment: Image  edited with

Speaking of yield .... Cal-Maine Foods, Inc.

Speaking of yield .... Cal-Maine Foods, Inc.

Excerpt About Cal-Maine Foods:

We are the largest producer and marketer of shell eggs in the United States. In fiscal 2015, we sold approximately 1,063.1 million dozen shell eggs, which we believe represented approximately 23% of domestic shell egg consumption. Our total flock of approximately 33.7 million layers and 8.4 million pullets and breeders is the largest in the U.S. Layers are mature female chickens, pullets are young female chickens usually under 18 weeks of age, and breeders are male and female chickens used to produce fertile eggs to be hatched for egg production flocks.

We operate in a single segment. Our primary business is the production, grading, packaging, marketing and distribution of shell eggs. We sell most of our shell eggs in the southwestern, southeastern, mid-western and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. We market our shell eggs through our extensive distribution network to a diverse group of customers, including national and regional grocery store chains, club stores, foodservice distributors and egg product consumers. Some of our sales are completed through copack agreements - a common practice in the industry whereby production and processing of certain products is outsourced to another producer. The strength of our position is evidenced by the fact that we have the largest market share in the grocery segment for shell eggs, and we sell shell eggs to a majority of the largest food retailers in the U.S.

We are one of the largest producers and marketers of value-added specialty shell eggs in the U.S. Specialty shell eggs include nutritionally enhanced, cage free, organic and brown eggs. They have been a significant segment of the market in recent years. In fiscal 2015, specialty shell eggs and co-pack specialty shell eggs represented 27.2% and 2.8% of our shell egg dollar sales, respectively, and accounted for approximately 19.8% and 2.0%, respectively, of our total shell egg dozen volumes. In fiscal 2014, specialty shell eggs and co-pack specialty shell eggs represented 24.3% and 3.8% of our shell egg dollar sales, respectively, and accounted for approximately 17.2% and 2.7%, respectively, of our total shell egg dozen volumes. Retail prices for specialty eggs are less cyclical than non-specialty shell egg prices and are generally higher due to consumer willingness to pay for the perceived increased benefits from those products. We market our specialty shell eggs under the following brands: Egg-Land's Best®, Land O' Lakes®, Farmhouse®, and 4-Grain®. We are a member of the Egg-Land's Best, Inc. ("EB") cooperative and produce, market and distribute Egg-Land's Best® and Land O' Lakes® branded eggs, along with our associated joint ventures, under exclusive license agreements for a number of states in the southeast, south central, and southwest U.S. as well as the New York City area. We market cage free eggs under our trademarked Farmhouse® brand and distribute them across the southeast and southwest regions of the U.S. We market organic, all natural, cage-free, vegetarian, and omega-3 eggs under our 4-Grain® brand. We also produce, market, and distribute private label specialty shell eggs to several customers.

We are a leader in industry consolidation. Since 1989, we have completed eighteen acquisitions ranging in size from 600,000 layers to 7.5 million layers. Despite a market that has been characterized by increasing consolidation, the shell egg production industry remains highly fragmented. At December 31, 2014, 59 producers, owning at least one million layers, owned approximately 93% of total industry layers and the ten largest producers owned approximately 47% of total industry layers. We believe industry consolidation will continue and we plan to capitalize on opportunities as they arise.
Comment: Quote

"The search for yield will remain insatiable"

The search for yield will remain insatiable: Investment strategist


“The search for yield will remain insatiable,” said Luschini. The growing appetite will allow “investors to step back into some of high dividend paying sectors.” He also thinks investors “can find some pretty plump dividend yields in areas like defensive sectors.” Areas Luschini suggest includes utilities (XLU), telecommunications (IYZ) and consumer staples (XLP).
Comment: See also The Quest for Yield


Kim Jong-Un's failed "Spice Girls diplomacy"

Kim Jong-un 'ordered girl group home over Chinese snub'


A Chinese government official told Yonhap that North Korea initially expected Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, to attend he concert, but was horrified at the offer of only a politburo member. The concert had been billed as a sign of improving relations between the two countires. Beijing decided to downgrade its presence on Thursday, the day that the Moranbong Band arrived in the Chinese capital and the same day that the North Korean leader claimed his scientists had built and deployed a hydrogen bomb
Chinese officials discovered Kim Jong Un worship would be a recurring theme throughout the performance and began making changes that North Korea found unacceptable.


The abrupt cancellation of Moranbong's weeklong "friendship" tour in Beijing could have been the result of a dispute between Beijing and Pyongyang, but analysts said the outcome is unlikely to affect bilateral relations. South Korea's National Intelligence Service told Joo Ho-young, a ruling party lawmaker and chairman of the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee, the Beijing concert was suddenly canceled on Saturday after Chinese officials discovered Kim Jong Un worship would be a recurring theme in the performance. Officials then decided to limit the spectatorship to low-ranking Chinese officials that incited a backlash from the North Koreans, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
South Korea Worries Over Rising Threat From North - Breakdown of inter-Korean talks and cancellation of female pop band’s Beijing shows fuel worries


The failure of recent inter-Korean talks and sudden cancellation of shows in China by a North Korean band close to dictator Kim Jong Un increase the possibility that Pyongyang will revert to military provocations, officials and experts say. On Saturday, North Korea pulled out of cross-border talks after South Korea said it refused the country’s demand to resume a tourism project that once provided Pyongyang with tens of millions of dollars each year. A few hours earlier, North Korea’s relationship with China appeared to sour when a troupe of female performers flew back to the North Korean capital hours before they were due to appear in the first of a series of shows for Chinese officials in Beijing. In 2012, Mr. Kim formed the all-female Moranbong Band, whose high heels and short skirts contrast sharply with North Korea’s familiar dour militarism. The band’s pop performances, often attended by Mr. Kim, feature western hits such as the theme from “Rocky” and upbeat odes to North Korea’s leadership.
Comment: Kinda "leggy" by North Korean standards! They should be on the Today Show!

YouTube Video


The Star Wars Worldview - Monism


How to be a Jedi
  1. Joining the Church of Jediism involves signing up to the group’s online newsletter and completing a ten-part training course
  2. Jedis believe in the Force, “a unifying energy, which everything exists within, around and always returns to.”
  3. They do not believe the Star Wars films to be real. The church says: “Although Jediism was inspired by the beliefs of the fictional Jedi, we do not believe the Star Wars films – they are entirely fictional.“
  4. Meditation is a key tenet of Jediism. The church says: “Our minds are like sponges, which soak up information daily. In order to keep our minds 'clean', we must 'rinse' them of negative Force.”
  5. A belief in God is optional. The group says: “There are no strict rules in Jediism, as we believe in freedom and so joining the Church of Jediism would not pose any restrictions on your life. “
The Apocalyptic Cosmology of Star Wars 


It is well-known, for example, that George Lucas self-consciously constructed the screenplay for the first film under the influence of popular mythologist Joseph Campbell. In an address to the National Arts Club in 1985, Lucas noted that he was entirely without direction until he stumbled upon Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces

...To understand Campbell's view of Star Wars, one must have some sense of his overall philosophy of religion. Campbell had very little formal education in religious studies. He studied Medieval European literature, Romance philology, and modem literature, especially the works of James Joyce and Thomas Mann. His main encounter with religion began through editing the posthumous writings of Indologist Heinrich Zimmer and through working with Swami Nikhilananda translating and editing the Upanishads. On the subject of mythology, he was an autodidact without formal training. When one looks at Campbell's assessment of religions in his published writings, this background is evident. Many of his examples come from modem or medieval literature with little explicit reference to religion. When he does speak of religions, he shows a decided preference for Hinduism's conception of the divine and salvation, and in particular, the traditions of monistic Vedanta. He degrades the western religions, Judaism in particular, for sharply distinguishing God from the world. "The Biblical image of the universe simply won't do any more,4 writes Campbell, and he also claims that in eastern religions the ultimate divine mystery is sought beyond all human categories of thought and feeling, beyond names and forms

Anthropomorphic attributions of human sentiments and thoughts to a mystery beyond thought is--from the point of view of Indian thought--a style of religion for children." One may note that this judgment even preferences non-dualistic Vedanta over the devotional forms of theistic bhakti practiced by most Hindus. In any case, the "proper" religious teaching of identity with the Godhead is not taught in the West, according to Campbell, because it is viewed as heresy or blasphemy; Campbell even claims Jesus was crucified for claiming identity with God. This is the sort of oversimplification of historical and theological matters in which Campbell revels. He generalizes about religions, concluding all that do not preach monism are superstitious and parochial. He reserves particular venom for the Jewish claim to be the chosen people who have received a unique revelation from God. That this denigration of Judaism is tied to Campbell's own anti-Semitism has been well documented
Comment: The "church" site (UK)

What is Monism?
Monism (from the Greek word monos, meaning “single” or “alone”) is the view that everything is ultimately one. Nothing that exists is really distinct from anything else that exists— which is just to say that, in the final analysis, only one thing exists. And that one thing— call it “the universe,” “reality,” “the One,” or whatever you like— cannot be divided or decomposed into more fundamental parts or constituents. If it could, then reality would not be ultimately one. It would be ultimately many.

So the Monist has to say that the apparent diversity we experience in the world is an illusion. The distinctions we make between things are only in our minds, because if those things were really distinct from one another, there would be more than one thing in existence.

Monism is a very radical philosophy. It has generally proven more popular in Eastern philosophies and religions than in Western ones. While it has enjoyed some sophisticated defenders over the course of history, it faces some quite formidable objections.

In the first place, Monism is highly counterintuitive and flies in the face of our immediate sense experience. It asks us to disregard as illusory one of the most basic features of the world as it appears to us. It implies that our experiences of the world are thoroughly unreliable. After all, those experiences present us with a plurality of things: people, cats, dogs, trees, cars, doughnuts, cell phones, and the like.

For the Monist, all these diverse things are either ultimately identical or ultimately unreal. Neither of these options is easy to swallow or to defend. What’s more, it’s tough to live as a consistent Monist. Our everyday thoughts and decisions presuppose real distinctions between things: between your body and my body, between your spouse and my spouse, between your car and my car, between your credit card and my credit card, and so on.

And what goes for physical things such as our bodies must go for non-physical things such as our minds, as well. If Monism is true, your mind must be ultimately identical to my mind; your thoughts must be ultimately identical to my thoughts. But in that case, how could we disagree about anything? For example, how could we have different thoughts about whether or not Monism is true?

Anderson, James N. (2014-01-31). What's Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life's Big Questions (Kindle Locations 966-980). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
Final comments:

  • I am not trying to be some sort of killjoy. I enjoyed the first three of the Star Wars films and admire the quality of the film-making
  • Enjoy the film - reject the worldview presented!


Salesman of the Year

Shares of SWHC and RGR at highs 


Retiree Tax Map - The Lure of the Sunshine State

Kiplinger State-by-State Guide to Taxes on Retirees




  • My wife was raised in Florida (born in Mattoon WI)
  • Kathee graduated from Florida State
  • I met her in Florida and we were married there
  • Our first several years of married life were in Tampa
  • Kathee has a brother who lives north of Tampa and
  • Another brother just changed his domicile to Florida to escape Minnesota taxes
  • I've been retired for 5 months and Kathee is set to retire in May 2016
  • Not paying state income taxes is quite and attraction


Living in a "Microaggression" zone

America's higher education brought low


Melissa Click (image below ... image source) is the University of Missouri academic who shouted "I need some muscle over here" to prevent a photojournalist from informing the public about a public demonstration intended to influence the public. Click's academic credentials include a University of Massachusetts doctoral dissertation titled "It's 'a good thing': The Commodification of Femininity, Affluence, and Whiteness in the Martha Stewart Phenomenon." Her curriculum vitae says she has a graduate certificate in "advanced feminist studies." Advanced. The best kind.

University of Missouri law students, who evidently cut class the day the First Amendment was taught, wrote a social media policy that included this: "Do not comment despairingly [disparagingly?] on others." A grammatically challenged Ithaca College professor produced this cri de coeur regarding the school's president: "There have been a litany of episodes and incidents during [his] tenure here which have led to frustration because, when brought to his attention, the view of the protesters is that he has been unresponsive." Symptomatic of Ithaca's intellectual flavor is another professor, who says agriculture is "capitalist, racialized patriarchy."

The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, an irony-free campus, declared the phrase "politically correct" a microaggression. The master of Yale's Pierson College said his regrettable title reminds distressed students of slavery. Wesleyan University's student government threatened to cut the school newspaper's funding because it published a column critical of campus leftists. Wesleyan created a "safe space," a.k.a. a house, for LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM students (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderf---, Polyamorous, Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism).

A Washington State University professor said she would lower the grade of any student who used the term "illegal immigrants" when referring to immigrants here illegally. Another Washington State professor warned in his syllabus that white students who want "to do well" in his "Introduction to Multicultural Literature" should show their "grasp of history and social relations" by "deferring to the experiences of people of color." Another Washington State teacher, in her syllabus for "Women & Popular Culture," warned that students risk "failure for the semester" if they use "derogatory/oppressive language" such as "referring to women/men as females or males."

The University of Tennessee's Office for Diversity and Inclusion, worried that students might be uncomfortable with gender-specific pronouns ("he," "she," "him," "her"), suggests gender-neutral noises ("ze," "hir," "xe," "xem," "xyr").

The University of California system's sensitivity auditors stipulated that "hostile" and "derogatory" thoughts include "I believe the most qualified person should get the job" and "America is the land of opportunity."

The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point's list of racial microaggressions includes "America is a melting pot" and "There is only one race, the human race."

Some Johns Hopkins University students proclaimed themselves microaggressed by the possibility of a Chick-fil-A restaurant on campus. (Chick-fil-A's chief executive defines marriage as Barack Obama did until 2012.)

Mount Holyoke College canceled its annual production of "The Vagina Monologues" because it is insufficiently inclusive regarding women without vaginas and men who, as the saying goes, "self-identify" as women. "Gender," said a student, "is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions," and the show "is inherently reductionist and exclusive."
This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University!


This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.

So here’s my advice:

If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.
Comment: A "Microaggression" zone ... in contrast to a "War Zone". Updated w Crybullies cartoon c grrrgrahics. Used w permisson


From "Slacker" to DFL Representative?

Black Lives Matter St. Paul leader to challenge three-term representative for seat - Rashad Turner plans to challenge Rep. Rena Moran next year. 


The lead organizer for Black Lives Matter St. Paul plans to challenge the only black member of the Minnesota House for her seat in next year’s election. Rashad Turner, 30, said Saturday that not enough progress has been made in St. Paul’s communities of color after three terms of Rep. Rena Moran, DFL, representing District 65. “Organizing for Black Lives Matter, social justice is near and dear to my heart,” Turner said. “It’s something I felt Rena Moran hasn’t attempted to tackle in her three terms.” But Moran said Turner has ignored a record that includes sponsoring bills that directed funds to education initiatives aimed at targeting intergeneration poverty and directing state Department of Health funds toward efforts to reduce high tobacco and menthol use in Minnesota’s African-American communities. “I’m not coming into it fresh and wide-eyed with bright ideas. I’m coming with that experience and knowledge to move forward the agenda we need at this time,” Moran said. “I bring those connections. I bring a community of people with me who have done it who have continued to do it.”
Comment: Re "Slacker"? See earlier post. Rena Moran below.


On Christian "fanatics"

Christianity has had its fanatics. Still, the notion of fanaticism needs to be analyzed. Probably most people think that Christians can be placed on a spectrum between nominalism (Christians in name only) and fanaticism (Christians who are extremely intense about their beliefs and morals). On this scale, we might be most drawn to the middle of the scale, to the nice moderates. The problem is that the scale itself is mischievous. It assumes that Christianity itself is primarily about effort and moral improvement, so that the high-intensity end of the scale is peopled with self-righteous, over-confident, superior, condescending folk who are, at best, terribly off-putting. Yet that is not what Christianity is about. Where one sees that Christianity is being lived out in a fashion reasonably faithful to the Bible's emphasis on salvation by grace, on what God has done for us in Christ and not on what we have achieved, it ought to change everything.
Comment: D. A. Carson. God Who Is There, The: Finding Your Place in God's Story (p. 184). Kindle Edition. Image source

What does Atheism transcendentalize?

... it has also been shown by Alister McGrath in his book on atheism that if you do not have religion to transcendentalize things, you end up transcendentalizing something else. In other words, the act of making something out to be of transcendental importance is not exclusively a function of religion. It may be a function of human desire to control. In the twentieth century, the powerful movements of Nazism and Stalinism were not religiously driven. Some in the Nazi party laid claim to their reconstruction of Christianity, but the purpose was to domesticate Christianity and harness its energies. In reality, what drove the two movements-Nazism and Stalinism-were were distinct visions of reality: on the one hand, the transcendentalizing of ethnicity, a sense of intrinsic Aryan superiority, a hate-filled blaming of Jews and of the Treaty of Versailles; on the other hand, a transcendentalizing of the state grounded in Marxist social and economic theory. So it is not as if religion poisons everything while everything else is good. The century characterized by the greatest bloodshed, the twentieth century, generated most of its violence in movements that were distinctly anti-religious. The world did not lose one-third of the population of Cambodia because of Christianity but because of communism.
Comment: From D. A. Carson. God Who Is There, The: Finding Your Place in God's Story (pp. 183-184). Kindle Edition. I hypothesize that atheism primarily transcendentalizes science.


If your going to fight back ... best to have more than a banana!

Former CIA Director: ISIS Will Strike America

... if not significantly degraded, the ISIS threat to the Homeland will become a direct one—that is, an ISIS ability to plan and direct attacks on the Homeland from the group’s safe haven in Iraq and Syria— just like the group did in Paris last week.

Such attacks are deeply concerning because they carry the potential to be much more sophisticated and complex—and therefore more dangerous—than than homegrown attacks, again just like in Paris last week, or London in 2005, or even 9/11 itself. And, in something that should get everyone’s attention, ISIS has shown an interest in weapons of mass destruction.

“Over time” may be shorter than many think. The attack in Paris was the first manifestation of an effort that ISIS made to put together an attack capability in Europe—an effort that they began less than a year ago. The head of the UK’s domestic security agency recently warned that ISIS is planning mass casualty attacks in Britain. His concerns are well founded. We will not be far behind.
D.C. police Chief Cathy Lanier urges public to ‘take down’ active gunman if they can

In a surprising comment, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier is encouraging ordinary citizens to subdue or even kill active gunmen if they can as the “best option for saving lives before police can get there.”

During an interview Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Chief Lanier was asked what should people do if they are in the vicinity of an active shooter like the ones who terrorized Paris on Nov. 13, The Washington Examiner reported. “Your options are run, hide, or fight,” the D.C. police chief said.

“If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.”

The District for decades had outlawed handguns until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban in 2008. Since then, city leaders have enacted restrictive laws that are still being challenged in court by gun owners and pro-gun activists.

Chief Lanier, who has enthusiastically supported the city’s efforts to limit handgun ownership, admitted that her suggestion for the public in the midst of an active gunman does not reflect the longstanding advice offered by many police officials around the country.

“That’s kind of counterintuitive to what cops always tell people, right? We always tell people, ‘Don’t … don’t take action. Call 911. Don’t intervene in the robbery’ … We’ve never told people, ‘Take action.’ It’s a different … scenario,” Chief Lanier said, according to the CBS preview of the interview, the Examiner reported.

Comments: Image source

The above links are current ... just from this week! Terrorists and evil shooters will go for the soft targets that have high impact and shock value.

It's a myth that the cops can protect us ... it can take them 7 minutes or more to arrive. By then much carnage can take place. There is a strong argument to be made for qualified and motivated individuals to have a concealed carry permit and have a weapon!


Judge Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, Jr. : The "whiskey speech"

Judge Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, Jr. : The "whiskey speech"


My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, this is how I feel about whiskey: If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.
Comment: Link has an audio reprised by Mississippi state Rep. Ed Perry on 100th anniversary of opening of the Mississippi state Capitol, as broadcast on public radio. (Duration: 3 minutes 27 seconds). Image source. Note this is a humor piece! Enjoy it in that light!


Qu'ran instructs Muslims to Read the Torah and the Gospels

Quran Surah 5:68


Say, "O People of the Scripture, you are [standing] on nothing until you uphold [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to you from your Lord." And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. So do not grieve over the disbelieving people.
Comment: More: There are many passages in the Qur'an which point specifically to the New Testament writings. The Arabic word for gospel is Injeel and Muhammad lifts up its authority as well  and A Comprehensive Listing of References to Jesus ('Isa) in the Qur'an


Lessons from Abraham Sacrificing Isaac

Genesis 22:11-14
But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”

So he said, “Here I am.”

And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
Comment: Image source: Abraham Sacrificing Isaac (1650), Laurent de La Hyre (1606–1656)

Lessons: Here God teaches His people

  1. That there is no higher test of covenant loyalty than to give up one's beloved son for another (consider John 3:16-17)
  2. That God will preserve the seed of His promise so that it will certainly be fulfilled. 
  3. That a substitutionary offering is nevertheless necessary (Genesis 22:8)
  4. That God thus provides for His people in all of their needs, their greatest being the forgiveness of sins. Cf  Mark 2:8-10


The Intolerance of Tolerance - Fired for authoring book criticizing homosexual conduct as “perversion.”

Christian Belief Cost Kelvin Cochran His Job - Atlanta says it terminated its fire chief because he published a book without permission. The real reason is because of what’s in it.


.. a year ago, Mr. Cochran was suspended for 30 days without pay, pending an investigation into his behavior. On Jan. 6, at the end of the suspension, Mr. Reed sacked him. Mr. Cochran’s fireable offense, according to the city, was publishing a book in violation of the city’s ethics code and without permission from the mayor.

The reality, according to a lawsuit filed in response to the firing, is that Mr. Cochran no longer has his $172,000-a-year job because of what’s in the book. The suit accuses the city of firing Mr. Cochran for his religious beliefs.

It turns out that when he’s not fighting fires, Mr. Cochran spends a lot of time helping black men turn their lives around and stay out of trouble. He does this under the auspices of Atlanta’s Elizabeth Baptist Church, where he is a deacon and leads a men’s bible study. Mr. Cochran self-published a book in 2013, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?”

The book, written on his own time, is a compilation of lesson plans for his bible classes and explains how the teachings of Christ can help men fulfill their purpose as responsible husbands and fathers. What earned the ire of Atlanta officials is that the 162-page tome includes a few passages criticizing homosexual conduct as “perversion.”

In response to the lawsuit, the city has maintained that Mr. Cochran was terminated for violating protocol, not for his religious views—as if he would have been fired for publishing a cookbook. But comments from the mayor and other city officials at the time of the suspension suggest that the book’s content is what drove the decision.

“I want to be clear that the material in Chief Cochran’s book is not representative of my personal beliefs, and is inconsistent with the administration’s work to make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all of her citizens—regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race and religious beliefs,” said Mr. Reed. Alex Wan, a member of the City Council who is openly gay, said “I respect each individual’s right to have their own thoughts, beliefs and opinions, but when you’re a city employee, and those thoughts, beliefs and opinions are different from the city’s, you have to check them at the door.”

So the mayor fired someone who disagreed with him in the name of inclusivity and tolerance. And Mr. Wan believes that government employees are entitled to their own views but not entitled to share them with anyone. If this is true, the Constitution’s protections of free speech and freedom of religion are meaningless in practice. David Cortman of Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal group representing Mr. Cochran, says the city is now using protocol arguments to cover its tracks after wrongly terminating someone for holding and expressing religious views that city officials didn’t like.

There is no official requirement to notify the mayor before you write a book, Mr. Cortman told me, and Mr. Cochran sought and received permission from the city’s ethics department to pursue the book project. “The ethics rule concerns moonlighting, other employment or outside work,” said Mr. Cortman. “It doesn’t apply to writing a book, religious or otherwise, on your own time at home. And if they had such a rule in place it would be unconstitutional. You don’t need the government’s permission to do that.” Despite the left’s efforts to paint Mr. Cochran as some kind of hateful bigot, the city’s own investigation of the former fire chief’s work history found no complaints of discrimination.
Comment: The book: Who Told You That You Were Naked? See The Intolerance of Tolerance


Five Different Ways the Bible Speaks of the Love of God

The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story, DA Carson


  1. There is love of God-I don't know how else to say this-within the Godhead, within the Triune God. The Bible explicitly speaks of the love of the Father for his Son and the love of the Son for the Father. Two chapters back we noted that John's Gospel, the fourth book in the New Testament, says that the Father loves the Son and has placed everything into his hands (see John 3:35) and has determined that all should honor the Son even as they honor the Father (see John 5:23). Explicitly, then, the Bible says the Father loves the Son. It also tells us, equally explicitly, that the Son loves the Father and always does whatever pleases him (see John 14:31). Why Jesus goes to the cross is first of all because he loves his Father and does his Father's will. This love within the Godhead (what people call God's intratrinitarian love-if God can be referred to as the Trinity, then what we are thinking of is the love that flows among the members of the Godhead, of the Trinity) is a love that is perfect. Each person of the Trinity finds the others adoringly, perfectly lovable. It is not as if the Father says to the Son, "Frankly, you really are a hopeless case, but I love you anyway." The Son is perfectly lovely, and the Father is perfectly lovely, and they love each other perfectly. This is one way the Bible speaks of God's love.
  2. God's love can refer to his general care over his creation. God sends his sun and his rain upon the just and the unjust. That is to say, it is providential and nondiscriminating. It is an amoral love (not an immoral love). He sustains both the godly and the ungodly. In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus can use God's providential love to draw out a moral lesson. He says, in effect, "If God sends his sun and his rain upon both the righteous and the unrighteous, then why should you be making all these terribly fine distinctions between who is your friend and who is your enemy, choosing to love only your friends while hating your enemies?" (see Matt. 5:44-47). So there is a sense in which God's love generously extends to friend and foe alike. Here is a second way in which the Bible speaks of God's love.
  3. Sometimes the Bible speaks of God's love in a kind of moral, inviting, commanding, yearning sense. So you find God addressing Israel in the Old Testament when the nation is particularly perverse, saying, in effect, "Turn, turn, why will you die? The Lord has no pleasure in the death of the wicked" (see Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11). He is that kind of God.
  4. Sometimes God's love is selective. It chooses one and not another. "I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated" (Mal. 1:2-3). This is very strong language. In remarkable passages in Deuteronomy 7 and 10, God raises the rhetorical question as to why he chose the nation of Israel. He ticks off the possibilities. Because they are more numerous? No. Because they are more mighty? No. Because they are more righteous? No. He set his affection on them because he loved them-that is, he loved them because he loved them. He did not love all the other nations just the same way. In the context, God sets his affection on Israel as opposed to the other nations because he loved Israel. It is his sovereign choice.
  5. Once God is in connection with his own people-usually this means he has entered into a covenant-based relationship with them-then his love is often presented as conditional. Consider, for example, the second-to-last book of the Bible, a little one-page book called Jude. Jude, a half-brother of Jesus, writes, "Keep yourselves in God's love" (Jude 21), which shows that you might not keep yourself in God's love. In such passages there is a moral conditionality to being loved by God. Indeed there are a lot of passages in both Testaments where God's love or Jesus's love for us is in some sense conditional ditional on our obedience. Even the Ten Commandments are partly shaped by conditionality: God shows his love, he says, "to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments" (Exod. 20:6). So there are contexts in the Bible where God's love is cast in conditional terms.
Do you see how subtle this necessarily becomes? Inevitably one starts asking ing how these different ways of talking about God's love fit together. It helps to think of human analogies. I could say with a straight face, "I love riding my motorcycle, I love woodwork, and I love my wife." But if I put all three together in the same sentence too often, my wife, quite understandably, will not be pleased. And they really have different weight. Or again, I can say, "I love my children unconditionally." I have a daughter in California who works with disadvantaged kids. If instead she became a hooker on the streets of LA, I think I'd love her anyway. She is my daughter. I love her unconditionally. I have a son who is a Marine, and if instead he started selling heroin on the streets of New York, I think I'd love him anyway. He is my son. I love him unconditionally. Yet in another context when they were just kids learning to drive, if I said to one of them, "Make sure you are home by midnight," and they weren't, they faced the wrath of Dad. In that sense my love was quite conditional on their obeying me and getting the car home on time. In other words, despite the fact that we are dealing with the same kids and the same dad, the different contexts change the use of the love language. It was not that my love for them, in one sense, became less unconditional, for there is a framework in which that love remains constant. But there can be another framework where agreements and family responsibilities prevail-or, in biblical terms, covenantal obligations-and here the dynamics change somewhat.
Comment: From chapter 9, The God Who Loves. See The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. Image Source


Muhammad discovers the Trinity

D. A. Carson. God Who Is There, The: Finding Your Place in God's Story (conclusion of chapter 7) 


It may bring things together if I conclude with a story I have told on a number of occasions. My first degree was in chemistry and mathematics at McGill University in Montreal. Somewhere along the line I befriended a wonderful Pakistani gentleman. He was twice as old as I was. He had come to McGill to do a PhD in Islamic studies. (McGill had, and still has, a very fine Islamic institute.) He had left his wife and two children behind in Pakistan, so he was lonely. Over time I befriended him. After a while it dawned on me that he was trying to convert me to Islam. I thought that I should return the favor, but I soon found myself out of my depth in debate, for he was a trained Muslim theologian while I was studying chemistry.

I remember walking with him one night down Mount Royal along University Avenue to Pine Avenue to catch a bus. He had agreed to come to church with me. He wanted to see what it was like. As we walked, he asked me, "Don, you study mathematics, yes?"


"If you have one cup and then you add another cup, how many cups do you have?"

Well, I was taking some mathematics courses, so I said, "Two."

"If you have two cups and you add another cup, how many cups do you have?"

I said, "Three."

"If you have three cups, and you take away one cup, how many cups do you have?"

I said, "Two." So far I was hitting on all cylinders.

So he said, "You believe that the Father is God?"

"Yes." Uh oh, I could see where this was going.

"You believe that Jesus is God?"


"You believe that the Holy Spirit is God?"


"So if you have one God plus one God plus one God, how many gods do you have?"

I was studying chemistry, not theology. How was I supposed to answer that? The best I could do was say, "Listen, if you are going to use a mathematical cal model, then let me choose the branch of mathematics. Let's talk about infinities. Infinity plus infinity plus infinity equals what? Infinity. I serve an infinite God."

He laughed good-naturedly. That was the level of our discussion and friendship.

About November it suddenly dawned on me that he had never read the Christian Bible. He did not own one; he had never held one in his hands. So I bought him a Bible. He asked, "Where do I start?" He did not know how it was put together. He did not know about the Old Testament and the New Testament; he did not know about the Gospels. And I did not know what to suggest to him.

So I said, "Well, why don't you start with John's Gospel?" I showed him where it was, right after Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Coming, as he did, from Asia, he did not read books the way I would read a book. (How many pages can I get through tonight? The more the better!) No, he had a style of reading that proceeded slowly with many pauses for reflection, rereading, and wondering. And the passage he was beginning to think about was John's prologue.

That Christmas I brought him home to my parents' home, who at that point lived on the French side of our capital city, Ottawa, in a place called Hull. It transpired that my father had heart problems, and my mother and I spent most of our time in the hospital.

My dear friend Muhammad was largely left on his own. By the end of that Christmas break, Dad was recovering nicely, so I asked to borrow the car so I could take Muhammad to see some of the sights in the capital city. We went here and there, and we ended up at our Parliament buildings.

In those days there was much less security than there is now. We joined one of the guided tours-thirty of us being led around the buildings-to to the rotunda at the rear where the library is, to the Senate chambers, House of Commons, to the rogues gallery of Canadian prime ministers from Sir John A. McDonald down, and so forth.

We finally returned to the central foyer, which is circled by some large pillars. At the top of each pillar is a little fresco where there is a figure, and the guide explained, as he pointed from one figure to the next, "There is Aristotle, for government must be based on knowledge. There is Socrates, for government must be based on wisdom. There is Moses, for government must be based on law." He went all the way around.

Then he asked, "Any questions?"

My friend piped up, "Where is Jesus Christ?"

The guide did what guides do under such circumstances. They simply say, "I beg your pardon?"

So Muhammad did what foreigners do under such circumstances. They assume that they have been misunderstood because of their thick accent, so he articulated his question more clearly and more loudly: "Where is Jesus Christ?"

Now there were three groups in the foyer of the Canadian Parliament listening to a Pakistani Muslim ask where Jesus was. I was looking for a crack in the ground to fall into. I had no idea where this was coming from.

Finally the guide blurted out, "Why should Jesus be here?"

Muhammad looked shocked. Picking up a line from the Bible verses he had been reading, he said, "I read in the Christian Bible that the law was given through Moses but that grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Where is Jesus Christ?"

The guide said, "I don't know anything about that."

And I muttered under my breath, "Preach it, brother."

Do you see how it looked to Muhammad? He was a Muslim. He understood about a God who has laws, who has standards, who brings terror, who sits in judgment over you, a God who is sovereign and holy and powerful. He understood stood all of that. But he had already been captured by Jesus, full of grace and truth, who displays his glory profoundly in the cross and becomes the meeting place between God and sinners because he dies the sinner's death.  
Comment: The Gospel of John is indeed a good place to start. 1st image source. 2nd image source.