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Showing posts from May, 2009

Devotional Thoughts: He draws up the drops of water

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Job 36 ...

Elihu continued:
Bear with me a little longer and I will show you
that there is more to be said in God's behalf.
I get my knowledge from afar;
I will ascribe justice to my Maker.
Be assured that my words are not false;
one perfect in knowledge is with you.

Hmmm ... Elihu self-described as "one perfect in knowledge" ... don't know about you that sounds a bit arrogant!

God is mighty, but does not despise men;
he is mighty, and firm in his purpose.
He does not keep the wicked alive
but gives the afflicted their rights.
He does not take his eyes off the righteous;
he enthrones them with kings
and exalts them forever.
But if men are bound in chains,
held fast by cords of affliction,
he tells them what they have done -
that they have sinned arrogantly.
He makes them listen to correction
and commands them to repent of their evil.
If they obey and serve him,
they will spend the rest of their days in …

Economics: Good news? Bad news?

Economists say recovery is around the corner.

Excerpt:
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The end of the recession is in sight, according to a new survey of leading economists.

While the economy is showing signs of stabilizing, the recovery will be more moderate than is typical following a severe downturn, said the National Association for Business Economics Outlook in a report released Wednesday.

The panel of 45 economists said it expects economic growth will rebound in the second half of 2009. However, the group still expects to see a decline in second-quarter economic activity.

But this item doesn't sound good.

Excerpt:
As the FDIC has had to step in to take over more and more insolvent banks, the fund has dwindled to dangerously low levels. At the same time, the number of problem banks continues to grow at a rapid pace.

At the end of the first quarter there were 305 'problem institutions' with a total of $220.0 billion in assets, up from 252 institutions and $159.4 billion in assets a…

Life: Memorial Day 2009

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Images from Google search for memorial day ...


image source: http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/memorial-day-tombstones-2.jpg


image source: http://www.hyscience.com/archives/2007/05/memorial_day_tr.php



image source: http://www.coxandforkum.com/archives/001118.html

Thank you to all who have served and do serve.

Non-profit of the Month: May 2009 - Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett

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image source: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/515%2BDz2rwiL._SL160_.jpg

Given that so many people in the USA hold some form of faith, it is rather surprising that media often ignores or ridicules people of faith.

One oasis is American Public Media's Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett.

Her topic selections are often timely in line with issues of the day. While others delve into the timeless questions of human existence.

Whether one agrees theologically with the guests she interviews, one will find it informative, thoughtful and respectful.

Devotional Thoughts: Waiting upon the Lord

Have recently been pondering the experience of waiting upon God.

I find myself thinking these two thoughts in regards to this:
(1) Uncertain expectations
(2) Exciting anticipation

Uncertain expectations.

Sometimes what we pray for might not get answered in the way we hope. Or in some cases, it might get answered and we might not even know it!

For instance, as someone who works with the youth group at church, parents and youth workers pray for kids that they would grow in faith. Well, sometimes it seems like they are grasping what following Jesus looks like. But sometimes, it isn't so clear! One wonders what their lives will look like 10 or 20 years later. Thus, there is uncertain expectations on how that prayer will be answered.

The prayer for their growth in faith leads to other prayers for our role in their lives and aspects of the young person's life besides what happens at church. We pray for how their life of faith will encompass all the other aspects of a busy young per…

Business: Run (mouse over) to Zappos.com

Was trying to buy some black dress shoes recently.

Unfortunately, I soon discovered the size that fits me in a jogging shoe doesn't fit me in a dress shoe! It is too big!

Turns out that dress shoe sizing is different and there is variability depending on the brand and where the shoe is made. I soon discovered that smallest shoe available in the Macys, Bloomingdales and Nordstroms were too large for me.

So I had to go to the internet.

I had heard of Zappos.com and decided it was time to give it a try.

I ordered up a pair that looked promising and received it by UPS ground.

They were slightly large!

I called the 800 customer service number and explained the situation and she said, I'll send you the next size down at no charge and with 2-day UPS shipping. Once you decide which pair you want to keep, just go to the web page and print out a UPS return label and send back the pair you don't want.

Wow!

And indeed, the other day, I got the next size down and it fit much better and I box…

Life: Small Bowel Obstruction - a third time

In 2004, I had surgery for a small bowel obstruction. I was informed that I would be at increased risk for a repeat of the condition. Indeed, in 2005, I went to the hospital for the same condition.

Alas, on Friday 8 May, shortly around 2AM, my parents drove me to the ER with similar symptoms to the previous occasions. An x-ray was quickly taken and it was confirmed that I had a obstruction of the small intestine. The NG-tube went in and a couple hours later I was sent off to a CT-scan with oral and IV contrast. After that, I awaited official admission to a hospital room. It was an extremely busy day at the ER as many patients were piled on gurneys in the hallway and an inpatient room wasn't available in the main hospital until about 5pm.

Saturday included an x-ray to monitor the situation along with various IV change outs and physical exams.

Sunday included an x-ray to monitor the situation along with various IV change outs and physical exams.

The NG tube came out Sunday a…

Economics: Reinventing Health Care

Just saw this program on KCET.

Very lively and heated discussion!

About 2/3rd into the program, moderator, law professor, Arthur Miller said the magic words: rationing.

After all the back and forth about the different systems each country uses and the scenarios of various individuals and the numerous statistics thrown around, it comes down to WHO decides WHAT should be covered?

And of course, there was many recitations of the famous triad of the health insurance problem: access, cost and quality.

Want to cut costs in health care?

"Someone" can decide that procedure X is deemed too expensive so it isn't covered.

Want to increase access?

A minimal package has to be identified and the rich taxed to help cover the poor.

Want quality?

The profit motive drives innovation but also inequity. How can we design a system that maximizes innovation but moves toward equity on some defined minimal coverage.

At the end of the show, there seemed to be some agreement that a basic insurance packag…

Economics: I guess banking isn't quite like other businesses

Everyone has an opinion about the banking crisis. So this pseudo-pundit in pajamas blogger should feel free to opine too!

I am not a fan of bailouts but in the case of the banks, I think there really wasn't any choice.

The reason people don't want to bail out the banks is that the high level executives got rich running the banks into the ground and they seem to be "getting away with it" and the people are angry.

The economic reason why bailouts as a rule are not good is "moral hazard." The idea is that if people don't bear the full responsibility for their actions then they take more risks, often too much risk.

The fact that banks have FDIC insurance means that the banks and the customers are partially shielded from the full weight of responsibility for poor decisions. But a full free market banking system with no FDIC insurance might be even more risky because a bank is like a power utility: too many people get hurt if the system fails.

I can buy a …

Sports: Dodger baseball on the day of the big news

Weisman cites what Vin Scully said to lead off tonight's broadcast."Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant Thursday evening to you, wherever you may be. The Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles and all of California and for that matter, all of baseball, still shocked and stunned over the suspension of Manny Ramirez. We'll have more to say about that a little bit later on -- but no one man stops baseball ..." -- Vin ScullyIn case you have been living in a cave, Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance. See here for ESPN's Jayson Stark's comments on the situation.

Economics: California by the numbers

Is California a rich state?

According to the census California's per capita income is
$41,571 which ranks #7 in the USA.

Who is #1?
Connecticut $54,117.

Who is in the middle at #25?
Wisconsin $36,047

Who is number 50?
Mississippi $28,845

How about per-capita taxation?

#1
Vermont $3,600.16
#10
California $2,724.31
#25
Nebraska $2,158.36
#50
South Dakota $1,430.46

Okay, now let's combine the numbers and see what is the per capita taxation versus per capita income. Simplistic I know and the data for one table is from 2007 and the other table is from 2005.

Suffice to say California is in the top part of the list but not in the top 10. So does this mean I should vote FOR tax increases in the special election this May 19?

UPDATE: Taxgirl gives a rundown on the California tax system.

UPDATE: All 5 tax increase or fund swapping measures were defeated by wide margins on May 19. I voted no on all 5.

StateIncomeTaxationRateVermont36,6703,600.169.82Hawaii39,2393,477.938.86West Virginia29,5372,367.178.0…

Economics: UAW to own Chrysler? What the heck? Its complicated...

When the big 3 auto companies were on the edge of collapse last year, I figured there would be some bailouts. But I also thought, maybe, the government might let the weakest one go bankrupt. After all, in the end, maybe the USA can't really support three auto makers.

So when I heard the news that Chrysler was going to bankrupt, I thought, well, I guess they were the weakest one and going to the chopping block was necessary.

But then I read the "fine print" after hearing Congressman John Campbell (used to work in the auto business before going to the House) on the HH show say that the UAW will now own Chrysler!

What?

Didn't the unions help crash the auto business?

Excerpt from the CNN piece:The UAW announced late Wednesday night that its membership at Chrysler had overwhelmingly ratified the agreement reached between the company and union leadership on Sunday night.

As a result of that deal, the UAW will own 55% of Chrysler. Fiat will own a 20% stake with the option …

Culture: Dennis Prager on What Makes America Special

Clear and to the point!

Bravo!



1. E Pluribus Unum (From Many, One)

2. In God We Trust (rights derived from God)

3. Liberty (equality of opportunity not of outcome)