Archive for the ‘living’ Category

Aspirin as First Aid for Heart Attacks

December 20th, 2009 No comments

I was talking with Pastor Bayly the other day and asked him why he had a pillbox on his keychain. He told me that if you have a heart attack, you should immediately chew up two aspirin. I googled and found that that’s true (though it seems one aspirin is probably enough). It makes sense– aspirin reduces clotting, which is why it bothers some people’s stomachs. I saw one comment which pointed out that you should also tell the 911 operator that you took the aspirin, so the ambulance people don’t give you more (via a suppository if you are unconscious, say) and you get too much.

Note, too, that if you have aspirin on hand you can help out the improvident heart attacked who neglected to bring theirs. One more reason, till you get round to buying your keychain pillbox, to attend Pastor Bayly’s sermons.

Categories: health, living Tags:

Good Stewardship of Natural Resources

August 15th, 2009 No comments

Steve Sailer is right about parks. The Sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabbath.

To get people back to the National Parks, they don’t need cheaper admissions (which max out at $23 per vehicle, which is cheap). They need more luxury.

For example, in the roadless high country of Yosemite National Park, above Tuolumne Meadows at around 10,000 feet in altitude, there has long been a circuit of about five High Sierra Camps, with tent cabins and dining halls, each a day’s walk (6 to 8 miles) apart. So, you can take a five night hiking trip without carrying your own food and fuel, you can sleep in a bed, and have a hot shower (at three camps): it’s $136 per person per night for food and lodging. This circuit is very popular with aging nature lovers who don’t want to put up anymore with the rigors of sheer wilderness backpacking at high altitude. So you have to apply in a lottery each year in the autumn for the next summer. My aunt and uncle applied every year for about a decade, but never got chosen, and finally gave up when they got too old for high altitude hiking.

That’s just sad.

Considering how popular this amenity is, you might think the National Park Service would have expanded it, adding more High Sierra Camps in Yosemite, and setting up similar circuits in Kings Canyon and Sequoia to the south. In truth, the more remarkable thing is that the NPS hasn’t dismantled the High Sierra Camps.

Categories: living, nature, parks Tags:

The American Teenager

August 7th, 2009 No comments

Ben Stein in TAS says of director John Hughes (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Planes, Trains, and Automobiles; Home Alone):

The insight that will make him immortal… was that the modern American white middle class teen combines a Saudi Arabia-sized reservoir of self-obsession and self-pity with a startling gift for exultation and enjoyment of life. No one had ever thought to note that along with James Dean’s sulky self-obsession might also come a shriek of happiness at just being alive.

Categories: living, thinking Tags:

Saul Alinsky: Rules for Radicals

July 5th, 2009 No comments

Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, via a Canadian site: (I have boldfaced the most noteworthy)

Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.

Rule 2: Never go outside the experience of your people.
The result is confusion, fear, and retreat.

Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside the experience of an opponent. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.

Rule 4: Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

Rule 6: A good tactic is one your people enjoy. “If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”

Rule 7: A tactic that drags on for too long becomes a drag. Commitment may become ritualistic as people turn to other issues.

Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this that will cause the opposition to react to your advantage.”

Rule 9: The threat is more terrifying than the thing itself. When Alinsky leaked word that large numbers of poor people were going to tie up the washrooms of O’Hare Airport, Chicago city authorities quickly agreed to act on a longstanding commitment to a ghetto organization. They imagined the mayhem as thousands of passengers poured off airplanes to discover every washroom occupied. Then they imagined the international embarrassment and the damage to the city’s reputation.

Rule 10: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Avoid being trapped by an opponent or an interviewer who says, “Okay, what would you do?”

Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.

According to Alinsky, the main job of the organizer is to bait an opponent into reacting. “The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.”

Some quotes:

We had to construct experience for our students. Most people do not accumulate a body of experience. Most people go through life undergoing a series of happenings, which pass through their systems undigested. Happenings become experiences when they are digested, when they are reflected on, related to general patterns, and synthesized. (p. 68)

That idea is important. It explains the rate at which people gain wisdom– or remain as foolish as they were in their youth. People who analyze when young will gain on their non-analytic friends, so we would expect ability and income gaps to rise with age.

Most people have gone to church and mouthed Christian doctrines, and yet this is really not part of their experience because they haven’t lived it. Their church experience has been purely a ritualistic decoration…

[Of someone who found God and tried giving away his money to bums.] Our friend attempting to emulate Christian life and emulate St. Francis of Assisi found that he could only do so forty minutes before being arrested by a Christian police officer, driven to Bellevue Hospital by a Christian ambulance doctor, and pronounced non compos mentis by a Christian psychiatrist. Christianity is beyond the experience of a Christian-professing-but-not-practicing population. …

I’ve been asked, for example, why I never talk to a Catholic priest or a Protestant minister or a rabbi in terms of the Judaeo-Christian ethic or the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount. I never talk in those terms. Instead, I approach them on the basis of their own self-interest, the welfare of their Church, even its physical property.

If I approached them in a moralistic way it would be outside their experience, because Christianity and Judaeo-Christianity are outside of the experience of organized religion. … The moment I walked out they’d call their secretaries in and say, “If that screwball ever shows up again, tell him I’m out.”

Communication for persuasion, as in negotiation, is more than entering the area of another person’s experience. It is getting a fix on his main value or goal and holding your course on that target. (p. 89)

This last passage is a devastating criticism of Christianity in America. Alinsky would have applied his rule of making people play by their own rules if he thought it would work. He didn’t, with Christian pastors. He doubts they can even conceive of genuine Christianity.

Categories: game theory, living, teaching, thinking Tags:

Does Using Car Air Conditioning Reduce Mileage AT ALL?

June 23rd, 2009 No comments

Snopes has a good and educational post on car mileage and air conditioning. The air conditioner uses 5 to 30 horsepower, so it might reduce mileage by as much as 20%. On the other hand, driving with your windows down creates drag, which at highway speeds is likely worse for your mileage. The thread also reveals that the gas gauge is driven by manifold intake pressure, rather than direct measurement in the gas tank. The pressure is not all that accurate, apparently, but how inaccurate is not made clear.

Categories: living Tags:

Gadgets and Products To Buy

June 1st, 2009 No comments

This page will list products I buy.

  1. Sony Micro Vault Tiny USB

Categories: living Tags:

An Earthquake

May 18th, 2009 No comments

I didn’t get to see any fires on my trip to California, but I did get to feel a 4.7 magnitude earthquake. My brother and I had our laptops at hand, and there is very good instant info on earthquakes from the government.

Categories: living Tags:

Spring in the Back Yard

April 17th, 2009 No comments
Yellow Violets
A Morel
Categories: art, beauty, living, mushrooms, nature Tags:

The Amazing Waste from Turning Off Computers Each Night

March 30th, 2009 1 comment

I saw an article that illustrates why it’s good for me to teach students about economic cost as opposed to raw accounting cost:

I leave my laptop running overnight because I know it’ll take five minutes or more to get things going in the morning — not just booting up, but launching the various apps I start the day with, downloading my overnight email, filtering out the spam, and otherwise “getting settled.”

But all the power wasted while computers are sitting idle overnight adds up, and one study has finally tried to measure it. The tally: An estimated $2.8 billion wasted on excess energy costs each year in the U.S. alone….

The full report is available for download here (scroll down to “PC Energy Report US 2009”)….

If you run a company with 1,000 PCs left on overnight, you can save about $28,000 a year if they are turned off after hours. That’s not chump change.

One advantage of the economic way of thinking is that it makes one think of a question here. Why are companies so stupid as to not mandate that their employees turn off computers, if companies could save so much money? The economist naturally wonders if there is something that high-paid corporate executives know that the journalist is missing.

Let’s do the full calculation. 1000 PCs * 5 minutes of employee time * 200 days per year * $60/hour or $1/minute = $1 million/year saving from leaving the computer on all night. That compares with $28,000 in energy savings costs.

You can adjust my numbers if you think they’re wrong. Suppose its only 1 minute of employee time that it takes them to boot up, 100 days per year that they work, and $6/hour that your company pays them. Then the benefit in labor costs from leaving on the computers is only $100,000 per year, a mere four times the extra cost in electricity.

Non-Wrinkle Shirts

March 14th, 2009 No comments

From The Right Coast. (I typed in “The Right Cost” at first, by mistake, but a good mistake.)

Categories: buying, clothing, living Tags:

Reparations for Slavery

January 20th, 2009 1 comment

Suppose your ancestor was a slaveholder, or a corrupt politician. Ought you to do anything in compensation? What should you do with wealth inherited from that person?

Categories: ethics, international law, living, religion Tags:

Cold Weather

January 18th, 2009 No comments

Peter Hitchens has it right and writes well:

I like sitting round a hearth as much as anybody, or walking into a warm kitchen. But these things are not half so pleasant unless you have come in from the cold outside.

Proper British cold weather is exhilarating, stimulating and good for you. … I still recall experiencing as a small child the sharper frosts of Scotland, on the Fife coast of the Firth of Forth, and finding the milk solid in the bottles on the doorstep, with the cream thrust up out of the bottle and he foil cap perched on top.

Sometimes it brings glorious clear air, so that you can see further than at any other time of year. Sometimes it comes with mysterious fogs. I am still sad that I shall never see again the overpowering sight of an express steam engine coming into a station one foggy winter dusk in a small Dartmoor town, entirely surrounded by its own cloud of steam glowing pink, red and gold.

When it freezes lakes and ponds, and hardens the earth, it makes sound travel quite differently, so that church bells across a long distance have a special hollow echo to them that (like the bells themselves, only more so) is uniquely English.

Categories: art, living, writing Tags:

Uses for WD-40

January 17th, 2009 No comments

From (the donation page for which is here)

The manufacturer-recommended uses for WD-40 spray that remained after their emendations were as follows:

3. Protects silver from tarnishing.
4. Removes road tar and grime from cars.
10. Loosens stubborn zippers.
11. Untangles jewelry chains.
14. Keeps ceramic/terra cotta garden pots from oxidizing.
18. Keeps scissors working smoothly.
19. Lubricates noisy door hinges on vehicles and doors in homes.
21. Lubricates gear shift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers.
22. Rids kids rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises.

23. Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open.
24. Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.
26. Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.
27. Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
28. Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling.
30. Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
33. Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
34. Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
35. Removes all traces of duct tape.
37. Florida’s favorite use is: “cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers.”
43. If you sprayed WD-40 on the distributor cap, it would displace the moisture and allow the car to start.
44. It removes black scuff marks from the kitchen floor! Use WD-40 for those nasty tar and scuff marks on flooring. It doesn’t seem to harm the finish and you won’t have to scrub nearly as hard to get them off. Just remember to open some windows if you have a lot of marks. Wash off after use.
45. Bug guts will eat away the finish on your car if not removed quickly! Use WD-40!

Categories: living, science Tags:

Buying Religious Books from Persia

January 8th, 2009 No comments

I just received a book I ordered from either an American or a British company (I forget which). It came in an outer wrapper from Dubai, and the inner label is:

New Book Sale

PO BOX: 15875-8573

Is warehouse space really so much cheaper in Iran? Or is it the English-trained handling labor?

And the book? —Philosophy of Religion- Selected Readings.

Categories: Economics, Islam, living, religion Tags:

The Charity Gift to an Individual-What Is It?

January 5th, 2009 No comments

From Tom Smith at The Right Coast:

Something you can do these days is give someone the gift of having given a gift yourself to some charity. So you might get a card that says, We have given a goat on your behalf to the village of Ubuti in East Ubutistan. As a follow on, you might get a picture of the villagers posing with their new goat, which is from you, sort of.

I’m not saying this is not a nice thing. It is a nice thing. What puzzles me is just what it is. Not from a legal point of view. I’m not aware it raises any legal issues, interesting or otherwise. I just think it’s a little baffling what it is. Is it a gift? Somebody says to you, instead of giving you something you don’t really want or need, I have elected to give some people something they really do want and need. But then what does that have to do with me? Supposedly, the person sort of forgoing the gift gets the credit for it, but what credit is there, really? I didn’t give anybody a gift. Nobody asked me if I wanted to forgo a gift in order to enable the goat giving. I just get a card that says, you just gave a goat to someone, to which I might reasonably respond, I did? Maybe the idea is that the giver thinks I am such a good person I would prefer to have a goat given than to get a gift myself. Well, thanks! If you get a gift of this sort, do you write a thank you note for it?

A commentor noted that the donor, but the not the quasi-recipient, gets the tax break.

Categories: Economics, living, taxes Tags:

Enjoying Your Tombstone

January 3rd, 2009 No comments

Via Clayton Cramer comes this CNN news story about Mr. Burris’s tomb:

Under the seal of the state of Illinois and the words “Trail Blazer,” Burris, 71, has listed his many firsts in granite, including being the state’s first African-American attorney general and the state’s first African-American comptroller.

The memorial also notes that Burris was the first African-American exchange student to Hamburg University in Germany from Southern Illinois University in 1959.

Categories: Economics, living, politics Tags:

TV, Intemperance, and Video Games

January 2nd, 2009 No comments

A comment I made at the Baylyblog on a good entry on the book Goody Two Shoes, family reading, and TV:

Maybe the biggest problem with TV is that you don’t get satiated. TV is fine in moderation, like wine and chocolate. If you ingest a lot of wine or chocolate, the desire goes away, at least for that day. Plus, a stomach ache or hangover may remind you that you’ve sinned. But you can sit in front of the TV indefinitely, and wake up fresh the next day. So the best solution may be to never watch it, just as for some people the best solution to alcohol is never to take a single drop.

I wonder which is a more harmful sin nowadays: insobriety or excessive TV? Or how about excessive video game playing? Heathens may laugh at calling such things sinful, but I’m glad to see pastoral warnings about them.

January 3: Clint Mahoney posted the Television poem of Roald Dahl on the Baylyblog. An excerpt:

In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.

Categories: books, living, religion Tags:

Giving Away All One’s Possessions

December 28th, 2008 No comments

From an old post in He Lives:

I’ve decided (for today, at least) that the toughest verse in the Bible is Luke 12:33. In particular, the first sentence thereof.

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:32-34)

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Now, how do I avoid the plain meaning? Let’s fire up a couple of tried-and-true escape mechanisms:

1) Is this in a parable? No.

2) Can this be cast as figurative? Does it really mean: “Do not hold on to your possessions. Be willing to give them up at a moment’s notice, should they be of use to God or the church. Do not make idols of your possessions. Do not value your self-made kingdom more then the kingdom of God.” Can it be taken that way? No.

A commentor said:

Go back to verse 32 because that is where we are told to whom verse 33 is addressed. It is plainly not Christians living in 2008 AD in Virginia. It is members of His ‘little flock’ in the year 33 AD or thereabouts living in and around Jerusalem. These are the people concerning whom the Father had already chosen to give them the kingdom. Note that He did not say the Church.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not at all saying that giving to those in need is not a possible application of this verse. Just that the plain meaning has to do with the specific speaker and hearers and the immediate context. Less plain interpretations are what are causing the problem of living up to this plain teaching. By the way, did most of these people have cash to give to others? Or, did they have possessions that had to be liquidated so that the proceeds could be given to others? Note, Jesus does not say sell all your possessions. Could He have meant sell enough so that they could give some funds to others in need? Oh well, it just may not be that plain.

Categories: living, religion Tags:


December 23rd, 2008 2 comments

Megan McCardle educates men on makeup and makeup as a gift in The Atlantic.

Categories: living Tags:

Wide Tires Are Bad on Snow

December 8th, 2008 1 comment

From Clayton Cramer:

The source of the C5’s problems with traction on snow and ice is the combination of rear wheel drive and very, very wide tires. As the tires get wider, the amount of force per square inch declines. There’s roughly 700-750 pounds of force per rear tire–and with the standard tires of the Corvette, this spread over an enormously wide piece of rubber. My measurements suggest that the contact patch is about 30-40 square inches–so roughly 19 psi of pressure. At a certain point, the down force is so little that the tires simply have no hope of getting any grip on either snow or ice.

The way that chains work, and studded tires, is by concentrating the roughly 750 pounds of force per tire into a relatively tiny area–perhaps as little as three square inches for chains–so 250 psi, or a square inch for studs (so 750 psi). That’s enough to break a hole in the surface of the ice, and allow you to move forward. Ditto for brakes.

Categories: living Tags:

"The Mom Song Sung to William Tell Overture"

December 4th, 2008 No comments

My wife showed me the good YouTube video, “The Mom Song Sung to William Tell Overture”.

Categories: art, living, words Tags:

The 2008 Christmas List

December 3rd, 2008 No comments

1. The BFG, by Roald Dahl (1982). The Big Friendly Giant is good for kids and adults
both. It has the flavor of science fiction, and the way the BFG talks is hilarious.

2.Netflix instant movies. Netflix appeared in a previous list, but what is new is being able to watch
movies instantly on your computer.

3. The Coincraft coin shop across from the British Museum. Roman coins for only one pound each, and
wonderful browsing in the shop, catalog, and website.

4. The
by Donald Knuth (1984). This famous computer manual will teach you TeX,
typesetting, and a lot of good quotations. It’s for reading through, not looking up.

5. Evidences of Christianity, by William Paley (1794). Paley’s watch-in-the-forest
argument for God, from another book, is better known. This book argues for Christianity specifically, using
historical rather than design arguments. Free at

4. Economics and Jewish Law: Halakhic
by Aaron Levine (1987). The questions in this book on ethics and economics are as good
as the answers.

5. Stomp Rockets . It’s amazing how high a rocket powered merely by jumping-propelled air can go. Even
Faith could make it rise a few feet. See

6. Youth hostels . These are better than hotels for families, as well as cheaper. We stayed at the Eu
castle kitchens
in Normandy,
Melrose in Scotland, near the Abbey (the best), and Hawkshead

7. English country walks. The countryside and weather are ideal for walks, with varied scenery, marked
paths, villages, and sheep.

8. Britanny’s gites (farmhouses). We rented one near Languenan. In France, having your own kitchen is

9. To Teach the Senators Wisdom; or, An Oxford Guide Book by J.C.
Masterman (1952). This is a mix of travel guide and novel, as college fellows converse about what sights are the
essence of Oxford. It’s the best Oxford guide I have seen.

10. Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior by Kate Fox (2004). Dr. Fox
is an anthropologist who studied English manners and conversation and wrote them up humorously but analytically.

11. Wacky Wednesday, by Theo LeSieg (Dr.Seuss) (1974). I didn’t know the LeSieg Seuss
books, a bit different from his usual style. This one is about a day when detached feet appear on ceilings and
mice chase cats.

12. Portsmouth. The Victory, other old ships, helicopter simulations, the modern naval base,
museums, an artillery museum (the Royal
Armoury), a partly Roman castle, the sea… It’s easy to get to and good for many visits.

Lists of good things from other years are at

Some other items this year: Fraser’s Flashman, McCall-Smith’s African mystery
books, Sights of Britain,
Cathedral, Bern, St. Malo, Walking with Dinosaurs,
HREF=””> Rummy,
English sausages. The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends music CD. The Silver Chair
movie (1990, Alex Kirby),
pommeau aperitif,
Harry Potter books. British Museum coin exhibit.
Bernard Cornwell’s Sea Lord , Richard Fortey’s The Secret Life of the
Natural History Museum
, Carreg
Cennen Castle

Categories: books, living Tags:

Analog vs. Digital Controls

November 29th, 2008 No comments

I thought I must have posted on this, but I can’t find it using my search engine. I’ll have to post more, but here are a few thoughts:

1. Notoriously, digital readouts for speedometers were tried and rejected. Old people liked them, not young people, because old people think slowly anyway.

2. Digital clocks are inferior.

3. Digital controls generally are inferior except when precise numbers are important and speed of response is not.

4. One place where a digital control would be useful is for the gas gauge. Somehow, a digital readout is *never* available for that.

5. Old analog radio controls were vastly superior to the modern digital ones– even to pseudo-analog twist-dial ones.

6. Twist dials should have one complete turn take you from zero to the maximum level. For some reason, my Eclipse radio doesn’t do that– it takes many turns. You want to be able to instantly switch to the desired level.

7. Knobs should be used for pre-set stations on car radios. You need a control that sticks out and can be felt without having to take your eyes off the road.

8. Analog tuning is better than digital because it is much faster, and more accurate.

9. Important controls such as volume and tuning should be large, for finer control and easier finding, especially in cars.

10. Engineers are idiots not to notice these things I’ve been describing. Why? Probably because controls are an afterthought and because designers don’t test devices as users. Also, because analog controls are lower-tech, single-use devices, and are hardware controls, not software ones. The modern ideal is to have no moving parts and to have one control that does everything via complicated nested menus.

Categories: living Tags:

Full Spectrum Daylight Light Bulbs

November 29th, 2008 No comments

In the past couple of years “daylight” light bulbs have started to be generally sold. These are bulbs which have less yellow light and thus are closer to daylight. The Solux company website persuasively and toughly claims that its competitors all do a bad job of replicating sunlight, as the diagram here shows. If they are being truthful, their own $8 bulb is far better, though it needs a two-prong, non-standard fixture. I wonder whether any normal-fixture bulbs are better than the Reveal brand?

Categories: living, medicine, science Tags:

Surviving versus Living

November 2nd, 2008 No comments

I told my Bible study group about this Bill Stuntz post today.

…Medical care is usually about maximizing time itself, about keeping the patient’s heart beating as long as possible. But time isn’t what I want to maximize. Longevity is fine, but life is what matters. And those two words are definitely not synonyms.

Which leads to a crucial characteristic of chemotherapy, at least as I’ve experienced it. Chemo is a strange beast: it restores life by first killing it….

“Killing” is the right word. Forget the many side effects that are too gross to describe. Chemo drains the life from its recipients. …

… I’ve read and heard a good many stories of stage 4 cancers over the past few months, and in more than a few of them, the patient spends his or her last years—the number of years can be considerable—oscillating between yet another surgery to remove the latest tumor, and more months of chemo to slow the cancer’s spread. They call it “extending life,” and sometimes, that’s what the treatment does—but other times the label misleads; patients survive but don’t really live. Which is why this week’s news seemed so joyous: my oncologist told me that, when I resume chemo after this summer’s thoracic surgery, the dosages of the drugs can be dialed back, and if I so choose, dialed back a lot. Thanks be to God: I can do more than survive; I still have some living to do. Before I heard that news, I was starting to wonder.

… Doctors see their job as fixing the broken places in our ailing bodies. When it comes to the kinds of brokenness that can be repaired, that is as it should be. But there is another set of medical problems that cannot be fixed: cancers that won’t disappear, pains that will last as long as life does. When it comes to those problems, repair is not the proper goal. A better word is redemption: the enterprise of carving out some space, however small, for life—not mere survival—in the midst of diseases that seek to squelch it.

Oncologists are better on this score than most doctors, probably because they see the destructive character of the treatments they administer up close. Even so, the tendency to equate success with survival is strong. Too much so, I think: that tendency needs resisting. I suspect I’m far from alone in saying that survival holds little appeal for me. I want to live—for as much time, or as little, as I have left.

That mind-set follows naturally from my faith, I believe—but a good many of my fellow believers seem to disagree. One of the more surprising aspects of Christian culture in our time and place is the widespread embrace of longevity and survival not just as moral goods, but as moral imperatives. That embrace seemed all too evident in the Terri Schiavo controversy of a few years back, and in the long-running conversation about medical treatment of dying patients. I’m no fan of euthanasia, but I’m also no fan of the idea that physical longevity is a morally proper goal in circumstances like Schiavo’s—or in circumstances like mine. Just because medicine can sustain the body for awhile longer, that doesn’t mean it should always do so. Life is more than a beating heart. And life is what we should be seeking. The good news is, if you look in the right places, it’s usually there to be found.

Categories: living, religion Tags:

January 21st, 2008 No comments

Motherhood. My sister forwarded me this email, which is funny and wise.


Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?

1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
 2. Mostly to clean the house.
 3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?

1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
 2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
 3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?

1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
 2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

1. We're related.
 2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?

1. My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
 2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
 3. They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

1. His last name. 
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
 3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?

1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
 2. She got too old to do anything else with him. 
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?

1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
 2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
 3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms & dads?

1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
 2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
 3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's. 
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your mom do in her spare time?

1. Mothers don't do spare time. 
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?

1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
 2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
 2. I'd make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me. 
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Categories: living Tags:

January 17th, 2008 No comments

The Simple Life. Something worth thinking about are the transactions costs of daily life. Should we make, or buy? Coase (1937) pointed out the importance of this choice. If we make it ourselves, we avoid transactions cost, which are especially onerous if we have to think about the transaction each time. If we buy, we get better division of labor– in the household, or the firm. Have people thought about this in the context of the household? (surely! both are Old Chicago favorites). Hiring a nanny means determining quality, doing tax forms, etc. It is simpler for the mother not to work. Hiring a plumber is a hassle too. Simpler for father to spend twice as long as the plumber would and do it.

Categories: Economics, living Tags: