The Structural Difference between Matthew and Mark

The Structural Difference between Matthew and Mark


While Matthew has much in common with Mark, there are two important structural differences. First, Matthew adds new material to the beginning and the end of Mark’s account. Second, Matthew adds into Mark’s mainly action-packed story five blocks of teaching by Jesus.

Comment: Helpful. Two graphics with the original post.


Comment: For my son who is getting married on 1/1/11

Today's $60 1TB drive would have cost $1 trillion in the 1950s

A brief history of the hard drive


In the 1950s, storage hardware was measured in feet—and in tons. Back then, the era's state-of-the-art computer drive was found in IBM's RAMAC 305; it consisted of two refrigerator-size boxes that weighed about a ton each. One box held 40 24-inch dual-sided magnetic disk platters; a carriage with two recording heads suspended by compressed air moved up and down the stack to access the disks. The other cabinet contained the data processing unit, the magnetic process drum, magnetic core register and electronic logical and arithmetic circuits.

Comment: Previous RAMAC post


Federal Deficit: Echoes of Spain?

Tax deal says we're deadbeats


I've actually been able to find just one example in Western history that sheds any light on the situation the United States and the world finds itself facing -- the multiple bankruptcies of Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries.

In the 16th century, the Spanish Empire stretched farther across the globe than any previous empire. Starting from an Iberian peninsula unified under Castile and Aragon only in 1492, the Spanish empire grew to encompass first the island then known as Hispaniola, then Cuba, Mexico, the bulk of South America except for Brazil, and the islands of Guam and the Philippines. In Europe, Spanish monarchs ruled the Netherlands, Belgium, much of Italy and parts of Africa.

And it was a fabulously rich empire. The great silver mines of Peru and Mexico began to deliver a river of precious metal -- supplemented by gold from conquest and mining -- as early as 1511. Spain imported 260,000 kilograms of silver and 5,000 kilograms of gold from 1511 to 1550. And that was just the beginning. From 1591 through 1610, the country imported 4.9 million kilograms of silver and 31,000 kilograms of gold. The flood of gold and silver into Europe, a region previously starved for precious metals, was so great that the supply depressed the price for both metals and set prices for goods and services climbing.

But less than half of this silver and gold remained in Spanish hands. About a third went to China to pay for Spanish imports of silk, porcelain and other luxury goods. The remainder went to pay for Spanish imports from the rest of Europe. The Spanish economy itself was an increasingly uncompetitive hulk. Spain lived beyond its means, supported on that wave of New World silver and gold.

And that included the Spanish monarchy. Silver and gold poured in, but running an empire is expensive when it includes almost constant war in Europe with a constellation of national enemies that included France and England, plus local rebellions in the Netherlands and Italy, plus more than a century of land and sea battles against an Ottoman Empire that moved relentlessly westward after its capture of Constantinople in 1453.

The kings of Spain found it much easier to borrow money -- after all, what lender could afford to say no to the most powerful kingdom in Europe? -- than to reform the Spanish economy. But the seemingly inexhaustible flow of treasure from the Western hemisphere encouraged Spanish kings to think they could borrow and repay any sum -- and what bank would have had the courage to question the creditworthiness of the most powerful kingdom in Europe? The result was bankruptcy in 1557 that left the Fugger bank in Augsburg holding the bag.

The circumstances of that 1557 bankruptcy may sound familiar. The bank made the classic mistake of mismatching assets and liabilities: The Fugger bankers took out long-term loans in Augsburg in order to make short-term loans to the Spanish king. Payments on the long-term loans were to come from payments on the short-term Spanish loans. Then, in 1557, Phillip II of Spain decided that he had more use for two payments intended for the Fuggers than they did. In effect, Spain declared bankruptcy, and the bank renegotiated its loans with reduced interest payments and a longer payment schedule.

The same thing happened again in 1575 when Spain again stopped paying on its loans, and in 1596. That last Spanish bankruptcy ended the Fugger bank and gave lucky Genoese bankers the opportunity to finance Spain.

In a desperate attempt to satisfy its creditors, Spain debased its currency, replacing silver and gold in its coins with copper in 1599. That led to runaway inflation in the first half of the 17th century. From 1625 to 1650, prices climbed by 40%.

By the second half of the century, the Spanish economy was in rapid decline as high taxes on peasant producers -- just about the only class that would pay significant taxes -- led to a decline of food and wool production, and high inflation made Spanish exports uncompetitive against imports from England, France and the Netherlands.

And by 1675 Spain, once the greatest empire in the world, was ready to be picked apart by the France of Louis XIV.

Comment: An excellent read.

Proposed Lane Expansion on I-494 in Plymouth

Proposed Lane Expansion on I-494 in Plymouth


The purpose of the project is to provide three continuous lanes (and consequently improve safety and reduce congestion) on the I-494 corridor from I-394 to the East Fish Lake Road overpass in the cities of Minnetonka, Plymouth, and Maple Grove.

Comment: Needed!

Happy Anniversary (12/28/1974)

Comment: 36 years ago today


The Worst-Performing Stocks of 2010

The Worst-Performing Stocks of 2010


SuperValu (down 27 percent). Sales are down at this big grocery chain, which operates under names such as Shaw's, Acme, Albertson's, Shop 'N Save, and Shopper's, thanks to cost-conscious consumers and brutal competition from big discounters like Wal-Mart. The company has been closing some stores and restructuring, but pressure in this low-margin business remains intense. Investors are also skittish about a labor force that's heavily unionized and puts SuperValu at a cost disadvantage.

Comment: SVU was my turkey stock of 2010

60 and broke?

5 steps when you’re 60 and broke


A study from The Hartford Financial Services Group has found that more than 28 percent of people between the ages of 60 and 69 have "no idea" when they will be able to retire, and more than 33 percent 70 and older are in the same boat.

[the list]

  1. Find a job.
  2. Cut your housing costs.
  3. Reduce the cost of owning a car.
  4. Don't be too proud to apply for whatever help you can get.
  5. Keep your health insurance.
Comments: When I was 38, I feared being handicapped, 60 and broke. I've learned to live with the handicap and we took definite steps to make sure we wouldn't be broke. My own additions to "the list"
  1. Find a job. Get a second job.
  2. Do you have stuff in a storage compartment? You probably don't need most of that - sell it!
  3. If you cannot afford insurance, maintenance and keeping it safe (good brakes and tires), you cannot afford a car at all. Consider public transportation and really save some money!
  4. Can't afford your house. Sell it. Get the smallest apartment you can live with.

Season of Stock Predictions

Jim Cramer's Top Dow Picks for 2011


I expect the Dow to hit 13,365 next year-- a 16% gain from current levels and a bountiful return -- based on a prognostication of the performance of the individual members of the venerable index. Although I am a bottoms up guy, as a backdrop I am presuming a resumption of decent U.S. growth courtesy of the Federal Reserve -- call it 3% to 4% -- continued worldwide growth, a stable-to-slight decline in the dollar and a decent increase in interest rates (30-year Treasury bond going to 4.8%) as befitting a return to economic health.

Comment: Way too optimistic (my view). Cramer looks at each of the Dow components

10 Best Dow Dividend Stocks for 2011

# 1:

Coca-Cola (KO)

Comment: I would like to own KO

Top Stock Picks Under $5 for 2011


Stocks trading under $5 typically have no analysts' coverage -- never mind a "buy" rating -- leaving investors to do the homework for themselves. However, a select few boast of favorable coverage from analysts, which can have a strong effect on share-price movements.

Comment: Citigroup is # 1. I would pass on every one on this list

Barclays' 30 Best Stock Picks for 2011


# 3: TCF Financial(TCB); # 1: AMR Corp.(AMR)

Comment: I wouldn't invest anything in AMR. TCB is interesting. If I were to invest in Banks it would be WFC or JPM. Canadian Banks look even better - Bank Of Montreal

Best Dividend Stocks to Play Defense in 2011

Comment: 3 Tobacco stocks (I will not invest in tobacco). Others look interesting. 2 of the 6 Big Oils mentioned (I like 5 of the 6 Big Oils)

To My Friends

To My Democrat Friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011 but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of
the wishee.

To My Republican Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Comment: From our Sr Citizens' Pastor


Payday lenders: interest rates as high as 391%

Payday Lenders Go Hunting - Operations Encroach on Banks During Loan Crunch; 'Here, I Feel Respected'


Most payday loans require a borrower to write a check dated two weeks from the date of the loan. When the loan is due, the lender cashes the check, which includes the full loan amount plus interest. Mr. Dueno paid $55 to get the $500 loan from Advance America.

Payday lenders have been controversial since they emerged in the 1990s from bare-bones check-cashing operations. Outraged by loans carrying interest rates of more than 500%, federal lawmakers approved restrictions in 2007 on the industry's ability to target military members. Some states have forced out payday lenders, claiming they were operating without a license or gouging borrowers with high interest rates.

As a result, payday-loan volume fell to $38.5 billion in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, a 24% decline since 2007, investment-banking firm Stephens Inc. estimates. The industry had about 20,600 loan offices last year, down 13% from 23,600 in 2007.


Payday lenders say their interest rates are justified because the loans they make are unsecured and have high default rates. A spokeswoman for Cash America International Inc., the nation's largest publicly traded payday lender by revenue, says the Fort Worth, Texas, company has "always been in the business of meeting the needs of consumers who have nowhere else to turn." Cash America reported record profits for the first nine months of 2010.

Comment: Interesting business. Bottom dwellers of the financial services industry. Cash America International


Snowflakes under the microscope

Snowflakes under the microscope

Comment: Check all of them out. Very cool!

HT: Make Magazine

Merry Christmas

Some 2000 years ago,  The God became a Man as Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem.

Emmanuel.  "God with us".  God in human form.

He came...

To seek and to save that which was lost  (Luke 19:10)

To give His life a ransom for many  (Matthew 20:28)

That the world through Him might be saved  (John 3:17)

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"  
2 Corinthians 9:15

Merry Christmas!

  • Antique Christmas card from my S-I-L's collection
  • We worshiped last night at the famous First Baptist Church in downtown Minneapolis (we worked until 4:15, then went to the 5:00 pm service, and then went to my daughter's condo in D/T Minneapolis for dinner
  • Kids coming at 9. I need to plow my neighbor's driveway before my kids' cars are in mine!


Christmas in Iraq

Iraqi Christians Lie Low on Christmas


As they gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the congregation here first contemplated death, represented by a spare Christmas tree decked with paper stars, each bearing a photograph of a member of a nearby church killed in a siege by Islamic militants in October.

The congregants on Friday night were fewer than 100, in a sanctuary built for four or five times as many. But they were determined. This year, even more than in the past, Iraqi’s dwindling Christian minority had reasons to stay home for Christmas.

“Yes, we are threatened, but we will not stop praying,” the Rev. Meyassr al-Qaspotros told the Christmas Eve crowd at the Sacred Church of Jesus, a Chaldean Catholic church. “We do not want to leave the country because we will leave an empty space.”


Throughout Iraq, churches canceled or toned down Christmas observances this year, both in response to threats of violence and in honor of the nearly 60 Christians killed in October, when militants stormed a Syrian Catholic church and blew themselves up. Since the massacre, more than 1,000 Christian families have fled Baghdad for the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, with others going to Jordan or Syria or Turkey. Though the exact size of Iraq’s Christian population is unclear, by some estimates it has fallen to about 500,000 from a high of 1.4 million before the American-led invasion of 2003. Iraq’s total population is about 30 million. This week, a new threat appeared on a Web site that said it represented the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant group that claimed responsibility for the October church siege. The Web site referred to a church in Egypt that it said was holding two women because they had converted to Islam, and vowed more carnage. “We swear to God, if there are only two of us left,” the text read, “one of the two will keep fighting you.”

Comment: So much for "nation building". Christians have less rights today than under Saddam Hussein.

Pondering the Incarnation

Nicene Creed

Excerpt (seems a shame to just provide an except! Please read the whole!):

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary ...

Comment: Wiki Nicene Creed

Athanasian Creed

The Whole:

  1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
  2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
  3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
  4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
  5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
  6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
  7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
  8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
  9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
  10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
  11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
  12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
  13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
  14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
  15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
  16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
  17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
  18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
  19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
  20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.
  21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
  22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
  23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
  24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
  25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.
  26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.
  27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
  28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
  29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
  31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.
  32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
  33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
  34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
  35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.
  36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
  37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
  38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
  39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
  40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
  41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
  42. and shall give account of their own works.
  43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
  44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

Comment: Wiki Athanasian Creed

Christologia, John Owen: The Nature of the Person of Christ, and the Hypostatical Union of his Natures Declared.

That which followeth hereon, is the union of the two natures in the same person, or the hypostatical union. This is included and asserted in a multitude of divine testimonies. Isa. vii. 14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel,” as Matt. i. 23. He who was conceived and born of the virgin was Emmanuel, or God with us; that is, God manifest in the flesh, by the union of his two natures in the same person. Isa. ix. 6, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” That the same person should be “the mighty God” and a “child born,” is neither conceivable nor possible, nor can be true, but by the union of the divine and human natures in the same person. So he said of himself, “Before Abraham was, I am,” John viii. 58. That he, the same person who then spake unto the Jews, and as a man was little more than thirty years of age, should also be before Abraham, undeniably confirms the union of another nature, in the same person with that wherein he spoke those words, and without which they could not be true. He had not only another nature which did exist before Abraham, but the same individual person who then spoke in the human nature did then exist. See to the same purpose, John i. 14; Acts xx. 28; Rom. ix. 5; Col. ii. 9; 1 John iii. 16. This union the ancient church affirmed to be made ἀτρέπτως, “without any change” in the person of the Son of God, which the divine nature is not subject unto; — ἀδιαιρέτως, with a distinction of natures, but “without any division” of them by separate subsistences; — ἀσυγχύτως, “without mixture” or confusion; — ἀχωρίστως, “without 227separation” or distance; and οὐσιωδῶς, “substantially,” because it was of two substances or essences in the same person, in opposition unto all accidental union, as the “fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily.”

Creed of Chalcedon / Council of Chalcedon

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God (μονογενῆ Θεὸν), the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

Final comments: Pastor Morrell cited the Creed of Chalcedon in his Sunday morning message this past week (an exposition of John 1:1-14). Isn't this a lot more exciting than NORAD tracking Santa!

Kuyper: Conclusion

The Crescent is far from its demise. As long as it retains its successful rule over the hearts of its mass of 245 million people, it will be a bad mistake for anyone to dismiss Islam as a negligible factor. As in the past, Islam retains its strong position of power, especially in Africa, but even Europe cannot afford to ignore it. Do not forget the following remarkable contrast. The millions of Christians who came under the rule of the Sultan during the seventh and eighth centuries, have almost all converted to Islam. To the contrary, Muslims who currently are ruled by Christian powers have fully persevered in their faith.

Comment: Date of writing: December 24th, 1907! Worthwhile read. Short!

Kuyper: the difficulty of Muslim missions

For the Muslim to convert to Christianity is from their point of view to descend to a lower level. Islam came after Christ. Islam has a later and higher revelation. Who wants to go back from the latest and highest to an earlier and lower? A convert from Islam is a traitor in the eyes of Muslims. As far as Muslims are concerned, such a person has died morally and the entire Muslim neighbourhood works together towards his reversion under the weight of contempt and of social deprivation.

Comment: Ibid

Abraham Kuyper's "Mystery of Islam"

Reading online, "Mystery of Islam" by Abraham Kuyper. Kuyper is famous for among other things this quotation: "No single piece of our mental world is to be sealed off from the rest and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’"

Section: "Christian Dhimmi Status"

Christians in a land militarily occupied by Muslims have only three choices. The first is to adopt Islam so as to be absorbed into the faithful. The second is to pay the special tax known as jizya, which turns them into dhimmi or second-class citizens. The third is simply to be killed by the sword. Choosing to pay the tax is in effect to submit and thereby to accept conditions of tolerance that were painful and humiliating. These treaties or, as they are sometimes called, “covenants” were all designed to socially oppress and humiliate. When Omar conquered Jerusalem, he included the following conditions in the decree of capitulation often referred to as the “Covenant of Umar:”
  1. Christians are free to worship in their churches, but Muslims are allowed to attend at any time, day or night;
  2. they will never perform their worship services on the street;
  3. they will not teach the Qur’an to their children;
  4. they will not convert anyone to their religion;
  5. they will not hinder anyone from becoming Muslim;
  6. they will always give Muslims the highest seat of honour in their meetings;
  7. they will not dress like Muslims
  8. they will never write in Arabic, the glorious language of Islam;
  9. they will not adopt Muslim names;
  10. they will not ride on large saddles;
  11. they will never carry weapons;
  12. they will shave their beards;
  13. they will never place crosses on their churches;
  14. they will never play their carillons;
  15. they will bury their dead without public display;
  16. they will never harbour a slave that belongs to a Muslim;
  17. they will never peek into Muslim houses;
  18. they will never raise a hand against a Muslim.
These conditions were to be accepted at the time of the capitulation for themselves and their descendants. Should they ever fail to strictly observe any of these conditions, they would in effect concede to Omar the right to apply any penalty against them that is due to a sovereign over against rebel subjects.

December snowfall - breaks record

Take it to the snowbank: December snowfall is a record


Up to 6 inches of snow fell overnight and pushed the monthly total to 33.4 inches at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The previous December record was 33.2 inches, set in 1969.

Comment: It's beautiful. When we left for work today our road had not been plowed nor had our driveway.

Norad tracking Santa instead of missiles

Comment: The whole "Santa lie" illustrates the previous post!

Official Norad Tracks Santa

Secret Santa: NORAD mum on how it tracks St. Nick: 'Ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras,' radar, satellites and Canadian fighter jets all play role, insiders say


PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Lots of military secrets are hidden behind the gleaming walls of NORAD'S headquarters building, including this one: Just how do they get Santa's flight path onto their computer screens every Christmas Eve?

Tracking Santa's travels is a celebrated tradition at the North American Aerospace Command, and it unfolds Friday for the 55th year.

NORAD insiders drop hints about how they do it — "ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras," radar, satellites and Canadian Forces fighter jets. They happily release a flurry of facts: They answered 74,000 phone calls and 3,500 e-mails from around the world last year, all asking for Santa's location.

But any inquiry into the technological particulars is met with a polite rebuff and a cryptic explanation involving the magic of Christmas.

NORAD Tracks Santa, the official name of the exercise, began in 1955 when a Colorado Springs newspaper ad invited kids to talk to Santa on a hotline. The phone number had a typo, and dozens of kids wound up dialing the Continental Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, the predecessor to NORAD.

The officers on duty played along and began passing along reports on Santa's progress. It's now a cherished ritual at NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canada command that monitors the North American skies and seas from a control center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

"It's really ingrained in the NORAD psyche and culture," said Canadian Forces Lt. Gen. Marcel Duval, the deputy commander of NORAD, who pitches in to field French-language calls on Christmas Eve. "It's a goodwill gesture from all of us, on our time off, to all the kids on the planet."

Meanwhile back to reality: Was that really a missile?



The American people would do well to demand a full investigation by an unbiased group, and let the chips fall where they may. I am referring to the "missile shot" taken of California coast recently, and the lame response by NORAD, the Pentagon and the White House itself.

First, in hope of adding some creditability to my assessment of what really happened just off the coast of Los Angeles let me convey a bit of my background which can be checked easily by going to Google and typing in my name. An Air Force biography will appear.

During the late eighties I was assigned to NORAD, as a Command Director initially and later as the assistant Director of Operations for NORAD. The NORAD operation was located inside the Cheyenne Mountain complex just outside Colorado Springs, Colorado. Twenty four hours a day a team of approximately 150 highly trained individuals, lead by a Brigadier General, monitored one of the most sophticated computer systems in the world. This system was fed data from many different sensors that were able to detect missile shots from any point on the globe. All this data was taken into consideration when making the "assessment" as whether or not North America and/or Canada were threatened by such a launch. If the launch was assessed as a true threat, the President was contacted immediately by NORAD through a military individual always close to the President who carried what we called, "the football", a black brief case with release codes for our nuclear forces. I know the system well, as for near three years I led one of those teams.

In addition, for over 25 years, I flew US Air Force fighters to include the F-106, F-4, F-15, F-16, and commanded an F-15 Squadron and an F-16 Wing. The sole purpose of the F-106 assignment was to maintain an ability to become airborne in minutes to intercept inbound bombers posing a threat to the US mainland. Untold hours were spent studying and being tested on visually identifying an air-to-air threat to include its type and threat potential. I understand the difference in an aircraft contrail and a missile launch contrail.

In my opinion there is absolutely no doubt that what was captured on video off the coast of California was a missile launch, was clearly observed by NORAD, assessed by a four-star General in minutes, and passed to the President immediately. That is the way the system works, and heads fall if there is a failure. This is one of the most important tenets of National Defense and its sole purpose of protecting the American people. Even the smallest failure in this system gets intense scrutiny at the highest level.

Now, the question that still must be answered is why NORAD's muted response was simply that North America was not threatened, and later our government approved the lame excuse that the picture recorded was simply an aircraft leaving a contrail. This decision was made far above the four-star level, and because the system in place demands it, was made by the President himself.

There are many possible answers to the question why. Normally, when a situation of this nature occurs the decision makers in Washington feel it would create panic among the mere mortals who go to work every day. To avoid shocking the population the truth is shaded, or sometimes just kept quite in hope it will just go away. I would say to our government officials who disregard the intelligence of the American people, be careful. The people are awakening, and their trust in our government is fading. This level of decision making will hasten that process.

In my opinion we must question the timing of this shot across our bow. The President was abroad being diplomatic, which means trying to placate China which is becoming overly concerned with our handling a totally out of control deficient in spending. They do not want our debt to them be paid in cheapened US dollars, and it appears that our current plan is to do just that. China is devoting a major portion of their GDP to defense spending, and what better time to show the US that they can slip a missile equipped submarine through the South Pacific undetected right up to one of our largest cities, than right now. And, the Chinese have the guts to do it.

Important in my opinion is that once again the leader of this nation chose to disguise the truth and keep the American people in the dark on an issue that constitutes a major threat to the entire population of the United States of America. This is no longer a threat to only our military thousands of miles from the homeland. This is a show of force sending a signal that downtown USA is now capably of being hit by an undetected submarine and at any time. It may very well be the beginning of the real power struggle between the United States and China. If so, I predict the next phase will be China's demand for the US to cease support of Taiwan, and so it goes.

Comment: the above was written by a retired USAF General with inner knowledge of NORAD. Biography of Jim Cash here.

Christmas as an Alternative Religion

In defense of Santa and the cult of Christmas


Christmas has become a kind of alternative religion, offering watered-down versions of profound theological doctrines. Its miracles are found on 34th Street, not in Bethlehem. The visitation of Gabriel has become the visitation of Clarence, assuring us that it is a wonderful life. The modern cult of Christmas offers a domesticated form of transcendence. Naughty or nice instead of good or evil. A jolly old elf rather than an illegitimate child, destined for an early death.


Admittedly, it is not credible to assert that all religions - from Buddhism to Aztec human sacrifice to Quakerism to Wahhabi Islam - are equally true. Religious differences are not trivial. But most faiths share a similar striving. Across the world and across history, human beings have been hounded by an instinct to seek meaning beyond the material - a desire for forgiveness, acceptance, holy awe and ethical behavior. This search takes many forms and faiths, from animism to Zoroastrianism. If the instinct is not merely a cruel evolutionary joke, the practice of religion has produced varied insights and wisdom. As a Christian, I believe that the claims of Christianity are true - but this does not mean other faiths are devoid of all truth.

C.S. Lewis put it this way: "If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view."

So I choose to take a more liberal view of the Christmas cult. Its tacky materialism can be unattractive. But the desire for Christmas miracles and visiting angels - for Tiny Tim not to die and for hooves on the rooftop and for George Bailey to be the richest man in town; for just one night of calm and hope - are not things to be lightly dismissed.

"If I find in myself," says Lewis, "a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." In this argument, the sentimental desires of Christmas are hints and rumors and reminders of a birth that somehow represents their culmination. Put another way: The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.

Comments: HT: Denny Burk. Not meant to be "bah humbuggy". Kathee was at Target last weekend to pick up some extra Christmas cards. She could not find ONE with a Christ centered theme. My Sister in Law (Kathy P) collects antique Christmas cards ... the above is from her collection.

Don't fritter away the 2011 Social Security Tax Holiday

Putting That Tax Holiday to Work in 2011


The biggest Christmas present that many people will get this year comes from the federal government. And most will probably fritter it away.

Thanks to the tax bill that President Obama signed a week ago, a large number of Americans will get a year-long discount on their payroll taxes in 2011. Normally, employees pay 6.2 percent of their salaries, up to a $106,800 limit, toward Social Security. In 2011, that number will fall to 4.2 percent.

As a result, individuals could end up with a payroll tax savings of up to $2,136 in 2011, according to CCH, a tax information provider. Households with two wage earners who both make more than $106,800 will get $4,272, double the amount for individuals.

The self-employed will share in the year-long tax holiday as well, though they will still be on the hook for the full 6.2 percent of the employer contribution to Social Security. As a result, they’ll pay 10.4 percent in payroll taxes instead of the usual 12.4 percent.

Comment: We calculated our savings over the year and divided by 52. Every Friday that amount is transferred to savings. (While we actually get paid every two weeks, it was easier to set up weekly transfers). INGDirect is a good place for automatic savings plans.

Dec. 24, 1968: Christmas Eve Greetings From Lunar Orbit

Dec. 24, 1968: Christmas Eve Greetings From Lunar Orbit

Comment: I'd like to say "I remember this and [I was doing, thinking, etc]". But frankly I don't remember it. I was a Sophomore at the University of Cincinnati. 1 year before I trusted Christ as Lord and Savior


Suppose the "Christmas story" is true

Cal Thomas: What If It's True?


Suppose what some call the "Christmas story" is true -- all of it, from the angels, to the shepherds, to the virgin birth, to God taking on human flesh. By this, I don't mean to suggest it is true only for those who believe it to be true, but what if it is objectively true, no matter what the deniers say? What difference would it make? Should it make any difference?


I suspect even those who don't believe the story secretly wish it were true. Who, or what else, offers the hope, cleansing and purpose for this life -- as well as eternal life -- like that presented by this child-man-God? In an age when love means lust and is too often conditional, this story offers a love that is personal, redemptive and unconditional. Christmas is the great story of God becoming human in order that humans might dwell with Him. It is about the helper helping those who cannot help themselves no matter how hard they try.

It is a gift better than anything the fictional Santa Claus could give. And it is a gift that keeps on giving into eternity, never losing its value, unlike stock portfolios.

Come on, what have you got to lose -- only everything -- by considering this greatest of all stories? Maybe you believed the story as a child, but with maturity came skepticism and later unbelief. Try reading it again as an adult. It truly is the ultimate gift and it has your (and my) name on it. It fits all who try it on and has the additional benefit of having been paid for by someone else. This gift never wears out. Once accepted, it so satisfies that people rarely return it. For what could it be exchanged?

Can anyone name a better gift that has produced more positive and welcome results around the world for more than 2,000 years?

Comment: Excellent read

Moratorium on Wal-Mart / Four Seasons development

Plymouth council enacts moratorium on Four Seasons Mall site


A new moratorium in Plymouth would block a Wal-Mart or any other development at the Four Seasons Mall for up to a year.

The council accepted a $100,000 grant from the Metropolitan Council to study the Four Seasons Mall site and approved an interim ordinance temporarily prohibiting development on the site during a Dec. 14 meeting. The moratorium is intended to protect the planning process, Community Development Director Steve Juetten said.

Earlier in the meeting, opponents of a Wal-Mart filled the council chambers as Plymouth resident Ray Mowery presented hundreds of signatures on a petition against the store.

Wal-Mart has not completed an application to build a store on the site but did pay for a city study regarding the impacts of a Wal-Mart store on traffic. The Arkansas-based retailer closed on purchasing the site earlier this month.

Comment: I favor development of this site.

Michigan's shrinkage

Michigan’s Decade of Tarnish Seen in Census Report


While every other state in the nation gained population over the past decade, Michigan shrank. And yet, as word seeped across frozen towns like this one on Wednesday, almost no one seemed even mildly surprised. This was, many here said with resignation, just one last, official confirmation of Michigan’s long, grim and gloomy slide.


Cities like Detroit and Flint pondered ways to shrink their sizes to save themselves. States like Wyoming and North Dakota, flush with jobs, tried to recruit out-of-work Michigan residents to relocate. And places like this old corn and soybean growing village of 2,095 people — the self-proclaimed seed corn capital of the world — watched companies, like the soda pop top factory here this fall, close up shop.

In 2009, 2008 and 2007, United Van Lines, the moving company, had proclaimed Michigan to have its largest percentage of “outbound” moves. But experts here who had dismissed those figures as not particularly scientific had less to say about the Census Bureau numbers released this week, which showed that Michigan’s population shrank, for the first 10-year period since at least 1900. Not even Louisiana, which had weathered Hurricane Katrina, got smaller. Sure, Puerto Rico, a commonwealth, also lost population, but that seemed little solace here.


In the simplest terms, state officials say, Michigan’s .6 percent shrinkage to 9,883,640 people happened like this: A relatively low rate of people moved away, but a very low rate of people moved in from other states, or from other parts of the world.

Now some of the fallout is clear — the loss, as in so much of the industrial Midwest, of a House member and a possible drop in federal money — but there is a murkier psychic effect, which bubbled up as residents scanned The Kalamazoo Gazette’s headline here: “Michiganders Becoming Poorer and Older than Rest of U.S.”

“If I would have known 30 years ago what’s going on today, I’d be in Kentucky,” said Butch Vollmar, who pointed, by turns, to an array of causes for the state’s troubles — the shift in manufacturing, a “terrible” business climate in the state and a set of politicians he generally does not trust.

Comment: The state of my parents' birth. The state where I lived for 2 years (1978-80). A state I have vacationed in and love!

The final desideratum of the New Deal welfare state

The Democrats and Health Care - An account of political self-destruction


The passage of Barack Obama's health-care legislation in the spring of 2010 proved profoundly injurious to the president and his party in the November midterm elections. Studies conducted at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota agree that at least one-third of the 63-seat Democratic loss in the House of Representatives can be attributed to the electorate's negative reaction to the health-care bill—which suggests that the legislation was responsible for taking a bad election and turning it into a historic disaster.

Indeed, the determination of Democrats to push for the passage of health-care legislation may have created a new political dynamic in the United States. Since 1991, as I explained in an article published in the March 2010 issue of Commentary called "Health Care: A Two-Decade Blunder," Democrats have operated under a misperception—the misperception that health care was a winning issue for them. It has repeatedly led them to mistake voter concern for the economy for support for the Democratic health-care vision. In both 1992 and 2008, Democrats won the presidency in the midst of economic turmoil. And following both elections, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama saw their respective victories as a mandate to make a government-run health-care system—the final desideratum of the New Deal welfare state—a reality. Clinton's failure to get it and Obama's success in getting it led both men to spectacular midterm defeats.


In June 2009, according to the New Republic's Jonathan Cohn, chief Obama adviser David Axelrod briefed the president on polling numbers showing the unpopularity of his health-care plans, telling him that "these numbers are pretty discouraging—there's a political cost to this." Obama responded with a story of a cancer patient who lacked health insurance and told Axelrod, "Let's keep fighting."

In August 2009, Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel suggested that they turn away from health care to spare the party a political disaster. Obama refused, telling some of his aides, "I feel lucky." A month later, according to David Paul Kuhn of Real Clear Politics, Virginia Senator James Webb visited President Obama in the White House and "told him this was going to be a disaster." As Webb described it, Obama somewhat blithely "believed it was all going to work out." In retrospect, the preternaturally calm-in-a-crisis Obama celebrated in best-selling books like Game Change seemed less calm than bizarrely oblivious.

Comment: Word of the day (new word for me!): desideratum. The Dem health care plan (passed into law), commonly called Obamacare, is not better or less costly! Hopefully key provisions will die in the courts!

For States and Municipalities: "Prichard is the future"

Alabama Town’s Failed Pension Is a Warning


This struggling small city on the outskirts of Mobile was warned for years that if it did nothing, its pension fund would run out of money by 2009. Right on schedule, its fund ran dry.

Then Prichard did something that pension experts say they have never seen before: it stopped sending monthly pension checks to its 150 retired workers, breaking a state law requiring it to pay its promised retirement benefits in full.

Since then, Nettie Banks, 68, a retired Prichard police and fire dispatcher, has filed for bankruptcy. Alfred Arnold, a 66-year-old retired fire captain, has gone back to work as a shopping mall security guard to try to keep his house. Eddie Ragland, 59, a retired police captain, accepted help from colleagues, bake sales and collection jars after he was shot by a robber, leaving him badly wounded and unable to get to his new job as a police officer at the regional airport.

Far worse was the retired fire marshal who died in June. Like many of the others, he was too young to collect Social Security. “When they found him, he had no electricity and no running water in his house,” said David Anders, 58, a retired district fire chief. “He was a proud enough man that he wouldn’t accept help.”


It is not just the pensioners who suffer when a pension fund runs dry. If a city tried to follow the law and pay its pensioners with money from its annual operating budget, it would probably have to adopt large tax increases, or make huge service cuts, to come up with the money.

Current city workers could find themselves paying into a pension plan that will not be there for their own retirements. In Prichard, some older workers have delayed retiring, since they cannot afford to give up their paychecks if no pension checks will follow.


“Prichard is the future,” said Michael Aguirre, the former San Diego city attorney, who has called for San Diego to declare bankruptcy and restructure its own outsize pension obligations. “We’re all on the same conveyor belt. Prichard is just a little further down the road.”

Many cities and states are struggling to keep their pension plans adequately funded, with varying success. New York City plans to put $8.3 billion into its pension fund next year, twice what it paid five years ago. Maryland is considering a proposal to raise the retirement age to 62 for all public workers with fewer than five years of service.

Illinois keeps borrowing money to invest in its pension funds, gambling that the funds’ investments will earn enough to pay back the debt with interest. New Jersey simply decided not to pay the $3.1 billion that was due its pension plan this year.

Colorado, Minnesota and South Dakota have all taken the unusual step of reducing the benefits they pay their current retirees by cutting cost-of-living increases; retirees in all three states are suing.

No state or city wants to wind up like Prichard.

Comment: I hope this is not the future for Social Security!

Mary - what a remarkable woman!

Christmas Meditation

Comment: A very good read from Dr Bauder

"You just don't think enough about My mother"

What Jesus did not say about His Mother


The New Testament is primarily about Jesus, not about Mary. She has played her role -- pivotal, yet taking up less space in the inspired text than the patriarchs, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, or even Job. As a devoted Son, in His dying moments Jesus assures Mary's continued care (John 19:25-27). Then she basically vanishes from the text, apart from one last appearance in Acts 1:14, where she has finally taken her place on a level plane with every other Christian, in prayer and worship of her risen Son.

So what would Mary say to us today, were she to speak? Would she bid our attention on her, summon the spotlight from her Son to herself to any degree, try to increase her place in the Christian's worshipful consciousness?

Or would she not rather reiterate what she had already said - "Whatever He tells you, do" (John 2:5)?

To ask the question is to answer it. We best honor Mary not by idolatrously focusing on her person, but by embracing her example of humble, devoted, Biblically-informed, self-disregarding, God-centered faith.

Comment: I'm gagging over all of the "Happy Holidays" ... and Santa fascination of the season. Kathee just finished reading the nativity narratives in Matthew and Luke.

Albert Mohler asks: "Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?"

Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?


Carl F. H. Henry, the dean of evangelical theologians, argues that the Virgin Birth is the “essential, historical indication of the Incarnation, bearing not only an analogy to the divine and human natures of the Incarnate, but also bringing out the nature, purpose, and bearing of this work of God to salvation.” Well said, and well believed.


Those who deny the Virgin Birth affirm other doctrines only by force of whim, for they have already surrendered the authority of Scripture. They have undermined Christ’s nature and nullified the incarnation.

This much we know: All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ — the virgin-born Savior. Anything less than this is just not Christianity, whatever it may call itself. A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth.

Comment: Worthwhile read! Marvel at the incarnation of the Christ!

A Guide to the Open Internet

A Guide to the Open Internet

Comment: I haven't sorted out my views on this issue. In principle it makes sense that the Internet is viewed as a utility and the more of the resource one uses the more he should pay for it.


"Being debt-free is the new rich!"

Filing bankruptcy in retirement may not be such a bad idea

Comment: Love the quote! Last sentence in the above article. Bankruptcy is not the path to "debt-free"!

George Will: Income Tax quotes

Taxes made simple


[on the FICA scream]: "Indignant children, holding in trembling hands their first paychecks, demand to know what FICA is and why it is feasting on their pay. "

"the tax code is 10 times longer than the Bible, without the good news."

"Many conservatives ... believe that although most Americans should be paying lower taxes, more Americans should be paying taxes. The fact that 46.7 million earners pay no income tax creates moral hazard - incentives for perverse behavior: Free-riding people have scant incentive to restrain the growth of government they are not paying for with income taxes."

"one-third of the 143 million tax returns filed by individual earners for 2007 that showed no tax liability, additional millions of households have incomes low enough to exempt them from filing tax returns. The bottom two quintiles of earners have negative income tax liabilities - they receive cash payments from the government via refundable tax credits. "

"Washington doesn't have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem."

Comment: George Will ... always a good read!

Investing in Big Oil

Comment: "Big Oil" is a pejorative term, but I would like to invest in one of the Supermajors: the six largest, non state-owned energy companies.

Here they are:

StockEPSP/E RatioDividendYield

  • I can just invest in one! It will take me well into 2011 to be able to afford to buy 100 shares
  • BP is out ... obvious reasons, I suppose. Were high flying, now not.
  • Royal Dutch Shell has A and B shares. Info on here: A shares are subject to Dutch withholding tax
  • Stock price comparison


Photo of my Dentist

Comment: From The Dentist. I made it through the day without taking any Vicodin. Meals: 1.) Oatmeal; 2.) Bean w Bacon soup; 3.) Pea soup

Review of the Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf: Pros and Cons of living with an electric car


And you definitely want to heat or cool the car while it's plugged in. That's because your driving range drops by at least 10 miles the instant you turn on the heater. Of course, the range goes up if you turn the heater off. So I found myself turning on the heat long enough to warm up my toes, then switching it off. I was able to extend my driving range somewhat, but my toes never got very warm.

A word about the heater. It works reasonably well, but not all that great. In my experience it seemed to take longer to warm up than a conventional car, and never got as hot. Nissan will have heated seats and a heated steering wheel as part of a cold weather package, but they're not available yet. Heated seats are a more efficient way to get warm and shouldn't affect your driving range as much.

Comment: Not sure if I see it working well in Minnesota

A Christian Fundamentalist Travel Guide

A Christian Fundamentalist Travel Guide


The burden resting on historic Fundamentalists is how to build a bridge to right-wing evangelicals without burning the bridge to traditional Fundamentalists. At this time, however, because of some of the conclusions that historic Fundamentalists are drawing, many traditional Fundamentalists question whether the former are Fundamentalists at all.

Comment: Good reads from 9Marks.

3M's CEO George Buckley: Early out?

Is Buckley ready to retire from 3M?


3M Co. chairman and CEO George Buckley has told the company's board of directors that he would like to retire early, according to Bloomberg. Buckley was named CEO in December 2005 and his current contract runs until he turns 65 in February 2012.

The news service, citing three unnamed sources, said the board is evaluating three top executives to succeed Buckley at the Maplewood-based giant.

3M spokeswoman Jacqueline Berry declined to comment. She said Buckley was traveling and unavailable for comment.

The three internal candidates are Inge Thulin, executive vice president of international relations, Bradley Sauer, executive vice president of health care and Jean Lobey, executive vice president of the safety, security and protection services business, Bloomberg reported.

All three men have spent their entire careers with 3M, though Sauer spent a few years with Imation Corp. after 3M spun it off in 1996. Sauer, 51, is from Minneapolis, and joined 3M after graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1981. Thulin, 57, first joined 3M in his native Sweden in 1979 and spent most of his career there and in Europe with the company. He has headed the international operations wince 2003.

Lobey, 58, is from Algeria and joined 3M in 1976 after studying economics and marketing in Paris. He has worked with the company in Europe, the Middle East and Brazil and took on his current role in 2005.

Buckley took the reins of the company after James McNerney left to become CEO at Boeing Co. The two men are the only outsiders to run the company in its 108-year history.

Comment: 3M (MMM) is one of my best stocks. Daughter works there. I think she should be the next CEO!

May be a Vicodin day

I had the second phase of oral surgery this morning at 7:50. Now chilling out. The Novocaine hasn't worn off yet.

We got home at 9:30. Kathee made oatmeal for me. It will be soft foods day today and tomorrow.

Above video is Steve Martin from Little Shop of Horrors!

Settlers of Catan

Like Monopoly in the Depression, Settlers of Catan is the board game of our time


Settlers of Catan is the pinnacle of the German style. It is, like Monopoly, a multiplayer real-estate development game, in this case set on an island rich in natural resources to which players have limited access. You need ore to build a city, and if you can't mine enough yourself, you can trade - but the wood you surrender in exchange may help your partner, or boost or thwart someone else. In Settlers, the trading - and the interconnected fates of the players - keeps everyone involved even when they aren't rolling the dice; there are multiple ways to win; and players are often neck-and-neck until the very end. The game has been constructed to last an hour, 90 minutes tops. And each time you play, the board, which is made up of 19 hexagons, is assembled anew.

Comment: Christmas board game.


Jack Booted Feds Stomp on Christmas in Payne

Federal Reserve Orders Private Bank to Remove Crosses and Bible Verse


While the Injustice Department is suing an Illinois school district on behalf of a Muslim teacher and a federal judge has issued an injunction against an Oklahoma measure prohibiting the use of Sharia law in court decisions, a private business in the Sooner State no longer seems to have First Amendment rights. Outrageously, the Federal Reserve has ordered the small Payne County Bank in Perkins, OK to remove religious symbols and sentiments in deference to an anti-discrimination regulation.

Reporting on the story, Koco.com writes that Federal Reserve examiners "deemed [that] a Bible verse of the day, crosses on the teller's [sic] counter and buttons that say ‘Merry Christmas, God With Us' were inappropriate. The Bible verse of the day on the bank's Internet site also had to be taken down." The officials claimed that the bank was in violation of, writes Koco.com, "the discouragement clause of Regulation B of the bank regulations. According to the clause, ‘...the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication ... [that] express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion [is prohibited].'"

Comment: Local Reporting, Payne County Bank. Looks like issue was resolved. Suggest that all my readers deposit $ 1000 in this bank!

This too shall pass

Comment: Featured in the WSJ Friday Journal

Warning: Global Cooling

Comment: 35 years ago!

Hasta la vista AltaVista

Yahoo Plans to Shut AltaVista


Yahoo Inc. said it is planning to shut down several "underperforming" and "non-core" Web properties, including the venerable search site AltaVista, as it continues a years-long turnaround effort.


AltaVista, launched in the mid-1990s, became a popular search engine until Google Inc. and others grabbed much of the market several years later. Yahoo also developed its own search technology but struggled to compete with Google and last year reached a deal with Microsoft Corp.'s Bing search engine to power searches for Yahoo sites

Comment: Before people "Googled it" they Yahoo'd it. Before that it was AltaVista. As the Internet Turns! Do many people "Bing it"?

More: Wiki. Official Site


LA bargaining chip

Metrodome collapse inflates LA discussion


Los Angeles is a more valuable property without a team than with a team, as existing teams having stadium issues can always point to the West and the second-largest market in the country sitting without an NFL tenant.

Comment: Despite a 6 billion dollar two-year budget deficit, the Minnesota legislature will vote for a new stadium. Gamblers (fools) and taxpayers (fools if we support it!) will fund it (because it just wouldn't be Minnesota without them!)


I surrender

Winter Weather Advisory: 3" to 6"

My little tractor just can't take it this Winter. Green Horizons came and plowed me out Saturday night. My driveway has walls of packed snow (largely from my side to side plowing on Saturday morning). There is just no where to push snow. So ... I surrendered and hired a plowing service for the Winter (which has not even officially arrived!)


Air Traffic Control - 60's style!

Park Slope Plane Crash | How It Happened


As hard as it may be to imagine today, it was standard practice then for a jet hurtling over the metropolitan area at more than 350 miles an hour to be left to find its own way for minutes at a time. When the controllers on the ground were tracking planes on their radar scopes, using grease pencils to identify them on plastic strips called “shrimp boats,” they could not judge altitudes. Radar had only been in use at New York’s airports for about a decade, and the technology was still rather crude, retired controllers said.

“In the early days of radar, there were no depictions, you just got a raw target, just a green blip, like on Pong or something like that,” said Barrett R. Byrnes, who was an air traffic controller for 35 years and whose father was one of the first controllers in New York.

So, when two blips merged into one, a controller could only hope there was sufficient space between them. For the Connie and the United jet, there was not.

Comment: Maps ... associated with the article

This was years before my first air travel. My first flight was from Cincinnati to Indianapolis in 1968 or 69. My Sister worked for American. She bought round trip tickets for my brother and me (as a Christmas present). We flew to Indianapolis. Hung out in the airport. And returned the same day! Today that would seem like torture! Back then it was adventure!

How Credit Card act negatively impacted credit scores

Is Your Credit Card Keeping You From Refinancing?


In anticipation of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act passed last year, banks went on a credit pruning spree, cutting available credit lines on millions of borrowers, says Beverly Harzog of Cardratings.com, a consumer-education website. Last year, for example, American Express and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. reduced credit lines for borrowers in areas hit hardest by the subprime mortgage collapse.

Reductions in available credit have a powerful impact on credit scores, says Ms. Harzog, causing them to plummet precipitously. Low credit scores can knock borrowers out of the refinancing race, as banks impose high closing costs on customers with less than pristine credit. Credit scores are partially determined by how much of available credit a borrower uses, otherwise called the "utilization rate."


If homeowners are thinking about refinancing, they should pay close attention to their utilization rate. Pay down as much credit-card debt as you can, says Ms. Harzog—but don't permanently close out existing credit-card accounts, since that can also ding your credit score.

Comment: It's all about the credit "utilization rate". In a simple example, a couple have 1 credit card that had a credit limit of $ 15,000. They carried $ 3000 a month on their card. They utilized 20% of their credit. The CC company reduces their credit limit to $10,000. Well now they are utilizing 30% of their credit. Their FICO goes down and a refinance will cost more. The unintended consequence of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act.

We have a Discover card that we only use in a limited way. The credit limit is $ 13,500! I wanted to cancel the card. We've had this card for 20 years. I was going to cancel it, but if I did, my available credit would go down and so would my FICO score. Doesn't make sense to me!

One Phrase Financial Advice

The One Phrase A Client Needs To Remember


Ted Jenkin, of OXYGen Financial says, “You must always pay yourself first.”

George Papadopoulous, a CFP from Michigan chimes in, “Nobody knows.” (We’re sure he wasn’t referring to this blog though.)

LLBH Private Wealth Management’s Jim Pratt-Heaney adds, “Develop a detailed financial blueprint.”

And the USAA’s June Walbert says, “Know how much you’re spending and on what.”

Comment: While none of these reflect a Christian world-view (eg "pay yourself first"), I think all have value. Of the above the fourth (in my view) is the most valuable - "how much you’re spending and on what"

I'll add some of my own (all at least touch on finances):

  • "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)
  • "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15)
  • "Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase;" (Proverbs 3:9)
  • "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Timothy 6:10)
  • "For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy ... (2 Timothy 3:2 (context end times!))
  • "For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money," (Titus 1:7 (Context ... qualifications for church leadership))
  • "covetousness ... is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5)
  • "The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their food in the summer" (Proverbs 30:25)
  • "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need." (Ephesians 4:28)
  • "whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14)
  • "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
  • "Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful." (I Cor 4:2)
OK ... enough of the Bible verses for me ... if you have one to add, leave a comment. Other off the cuff financial advice (and frankly I have made so many financial mistakes in life that I could probably write a book about it!)
  • The ultimate possession is eternal life in Christ. The ultimate gift is salvation. The ultimate safety is salvation!
  • Don't buy it unless you need it! (Broken this rule many many times!)
  • If you buy something, buy quality (something that lasts)
  • Save every pay period (broken this rule many times)
  • Give without expecting anything in return (not Quid pro quo giving)
  • Know where your money goes (We don't have a budget per se, but of late (for the last 10 years or so) we know where we spend it). We used Quicken for many many years. Now we use Yodlee (which is free and web based). I highly recommend this!
  • If married, share all financial things (joint accounts, joint tenancy, etc)
  • If married, have regular conversations about money! (Not a preoccupation with it! But set aside time (away from the kids!) to review finances. We do this every Tuesday night. Only takes about 15 min!)
  • Budget and save for big things: The next car, Christmas next year, etc. (Buying a new car with cash is so much fun. The salesman is completely disarmed!)
  • Pay off credit cards (if you use them) at the end of every month. (We have done this consistently over our marriage. There have been exceptions - like the sudden death of Kathee's mother that involved a trip to Florida (airfare, hotel, rental car, etc. It's good to have credit for emergencies!)
  • Have an emergency fund that is liquid (like a savings account). Emergencies happen. Eg transmissions fail (we've done this twice), washing machines die when you don't expect it, etc
  • If married and have children, have adequate life insurance. Ask yourself the question: if I died today, how would my wife pay the bills over the next 3 years (or more). Term insurance is the best option (in my view).
  • Have a current will (both husband and wife need one!)
  • Don't look to the government, your church or your children to provide for you!
  • Sounds morbid, but plan for the funeral. We haven't bought a pre-paid plan, but we know what we want the funeral to "look like": not cheap but not ostentatious.

Anything you might add?


Video of Dome Collapse

Comment: Pretty cool!

Pics of Dome collapse

Comment: My son Roger took these just minutes ago

------ Update (From The NYTimes (screen shot) ---------

Metrodome Roof Deflates Under Weight of Snow