Robocall options for the IPhone

How to Stop Robocalls … or at Least Fight Back (Pestering prerecorded calls are reaching record highs, and even hit our cellphones; here are ways you can try to stop them)


We are in the midst of a robot apocalypse. Instead of wiping us out with liquid metal lasers guns, they’re crushing us with robocalls, those unwanted, pre-recorded intrusions into our private lives. You’re not safe anywhere, not even on your once-sacred smartphone.

Comment: Image source. Links to several of them:


BREXIT: Causes and outlook

Links to articles I found valuable:
  1. Bonfire of the EU laws: From crooked cucumbers to powerful vacuum cleaners, the barmy Brussels regulations we can now get rid of
  2. Eight reasons Leave won the UK's referendum on the EU
  3. Fateful decision to hold vote was 'reached in Chicago O'Hare pizzeria' while David Cameron waited for flight
  4. 'Why should I do the hard s***?' Cameron 'told aides he'd rather quit now than spend six months working on Brexit only to hand over to rival'
  5. Liberal Cosmopolitans Lash Out at the Shattering of Their Worldview
  6. Nigel Farage backtracks on Leave campaign's '£350m for the NHS' pledge hours after result
  7. It will take years for the British, Europeans and the rest of the financial world to sort this out. This may not have any long-term impact on your 401(k) or other retirement savings.
My take:

  1. The exit vote was a reaction to unfettered immigration that voters perceive is changing the U.K. Hitherto the EU set the immigration standards. Ordinary Brits opposed that! This point is like the frustrations U.S. citizens have with immigration. (link 2 above)
  2. The exit vote was a reaction to bureaucratic regulations by nameless EU plutocrats / bureaucrats (see links 1 and 2 above)
  3. Cameron overplayed his hand. Why was a referendum even needed?! Obama's "back of the queue" intrusion backfired
  4. Ordinary Brits are tired of supporting the EU. 
  5. Greece and its debt impacted the vote. Greece is a nation of slackers / tax evaders and why be in bed with them?!
  6. It will hurt the U.K. domiciled banks.
  7. It's about state sovereignty
  8. Impact on stocks: I expect a rebound. Many buying opportunities! (Link 7 above)

Cancer: The Gift of Uncertainty

This has been and interesting week with tests:

  • Tuesday I had a bone scan - looking for metastasis to the bone (which is common with advanced prostate cancer). The bone scan was a half day at Methodist hospital. I had an early check in. After an injection of a small amount of radioactive material, I had to wait 2½ hours (we had breakfast at the cafeteria there). I checked back in at 10:45 and then the scan was about an hour long
  • Wednesday the doctor's nurse called to say they wanted me to have x-rays of my right femur and pelvic area because something was questionable. Thursday I had a series of these in Maple Grove
  • Friday I had a 3T prostate specific MRI in Saint Louis Park. We arrived at 6:45 and were out of there just before 9 am
Suffice it to say,  this week was for me like a week never before.

  • I actually shopped for funeral plots and caskets
  • I informed Kathee that if the cancer had metastasized to my bones, I was going to pre-plan and pre-pay my funeral
It's been a week of uncertainty. And few cherish living with  apprehension.

Late afternoon on Thursday, we received positive news from the first two tests: No bone metastasis. That may come later but so far not. Cause for rejoicing - I took a deep breath and thanked the Lord!

As for the Friday test - I won't hear the news until next week.

The above leads to this point: all of this life is uncertain! As mortals, we all live with the certitude that we will die! Who has escaped?! (I only know of two: Enoch and Elijah). The questions are when? And how? As a young person, I rarely thought about death. I did have a near-death experience as a child when Dad yanked me out of what I perceived to be a near drowning in Lake Michigan (I was in rough surf near pilings and had lost my footing).

How? and When? The day my high school friend died at the age of 20 when the tractor he was driving rolled over and crushed him: did Jimmy C. "see" it coming? Did he wake up that morning and even for a moment wonder if that day would be his when? Or that a tractor would be his how?

When another high school classmate died in Viet Nam, did he know his how and when?

My hope about my when: I hope it is a long time! I love life and I love life with my wife. There is so much I would like to do! I would like to have more years of service for Him!

My hope about the how: After many additional years I quietly die while taking a nap in my recliner. Perhaps after a steak dinner followed by a cup of coffee with a bowl of ice cream.

Odds are that Jim at 66 year and 10 months will die before any 18 year old! But I don't know and few do! Yes death is certain!

Me in 1967

About cancer as a "gift": See John Piper's Don't Waste Your Cancer.

About uncertainty as a gift:

Yesterday Kathee and I completed reading the Scriptures through again. We typically read 3-4 chapters a day, starting with Genesis chapter 1 and ending with Revelation chapter 22. Yesterday was Revelation chapters 19, 20, 21, and 22.

I observe that the uncertainties of life make the certainties of God's promises more real and sweeter.

Here are some "certainties" from the passage we read yesterday:

  • "Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years" Revelation 20:6
  • "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death  or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (21:3-4)
  • "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (22:12-14)
These are the certainties of which I am absolutely confident:


Conservative Smear

Wells Fargo: Proudly Plunging Toward Bankruptcy


Market watch recently reported that Wells Fargo stock has plunged into its greatest losing streak in nearly nine years. This comes as little surprise given the fact that the company has experienced a takeover at the hands of radical leftists. Leftists may be experts in certain things like organic gardening, herbal healing, and folk music. But they are not known for their expertise in economics and personal finance.
Comment: First I've ever heard of Mike Adams. Smear is shameful from the Left, the Right, or anywhere in between. Stock chart of WFC, BAC, C, and USB over 5 years. WFC is top.


Sportscaster Vin Scully commenting on air Friday, with the Milwaukee Brewers’ Hernan Perez up at bat

IMG 0044 Hernán Pérez

Vin Scully on Socialism


Perez, 25 years old, originally drafted by the Tigers. Lives in Venezuela. Boy, can you imagine, you’re a young kid playing in the United States, you’re from Venezuela, and every time you look at the news it’s a nightmare. A bunt attempt is missed—runners are holding, 0-and-2. Socialism failing to work, as it always does, this time in Venezuela. You talk about giving everybody something free and all of a sudden, there’s no food to eat. And who do you think is the richest person in Venezuela? The daughter of Hugo Chavez. Hello! Anyway, 0-and-2.
Comment:Love it!


Preferred stock an alternative to bonds

The ‘Preferred’ Path to Higher Returns


Investors need to consider bond substitutes that can provide stability, safety and relatively attractive returns.

One such substitute is investment-quality preferred stocks. Preferred stock is a kind of hybrid security that sits between bonds and common stock in a company’s capitalization.

Preferreds are senior to common stock in terms of payment of dividends and claims on assets, but junior to bonds. Usually, preferreds have a fixed dividend (although some float with some fixed premium to short-term rates).

Preferreds are rated by the major credit-rating firms. Those offered by large companies carry investment-grade ratings but are rated lower than bonds because of their junior status. They do, however, have a substantial advantage over bonds for individual investors.

Bond interest is taxable at regular personal income-tax rates. Preferred stock dividends are generally taxable at long-term capital-gains rates, which under current laws are set at a maximum of 23.8% versus a maximum rate almost twice as high for interest income.
Comment: Image source Wiki 


Mrs. Christy Walton: "the First richest woman in the world"

My dearest,

May the peace of the Lord be with you as you read this letter.

My name is Christy Walton and I am an American Citizen, I am widow and a business woman. I have recently been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and a rare heart disease which has defiled all medical treatment. Expert diagnosis has shown that I have few days to live. I am worth $41.7 (Billion US Dollars) which I inherited from my late husband Mr. John T. Walton which rates me as the First richest woman in the world.

The intention of this email is to employ the expertise of a Charity minded individual, who can identify a viable and guarantee reasonable distribution of my wealth to the needy. I cannot rely on family and closest relatives anymore, as they did not show responsible behavior when I entrusted part of my wealth to them to distribute to charitable organizations but instead they used the money for their personal needs.

To prevent any more mishaps, my attorney will act as a check, monitoring every aspect of the Charity. My will is with my Lawyer which my family is fully aware about, but there is 5% of my Bank worth which is $2.85 (Billion US Dollars) which nobody is aware of except my attorney.

Do get back to me as soon as you receive this email for further details.I await your response.

God bless you.

Comment: Fun with Spam (in my GMail spam folder this morning). Assuming she is the richer relative of the poorer clan. Images below (source):


Update on my cancer journey

Christian struggles with his Burden, the Bible in hand.

For my friends who follow my blog, here's my update (this is not news I wanted to hear but it is my current condition):

  • I am now 3½ months post surgery and recovery has been progressing well.
  • On Monday, I received the news that cancer has spread beyond the prostate. How far and wide? Unknown! But prostate cancer spreads to one's bones.
  • This is going to be a battle!
  • What's ahead:
    • Bone scan on 6/21
    • MRI on 6/24
    • Another PSA test the first week of July
    • Then back to the urologist for results on 7/14
    • Then??? 
Someone asked me this week, "How does it feel to have cancer?"

So far I feel just the same. No symptoms! 

Am I afraid? So far I am at peace. I'm not the most spiritual person and I am certainly no giant of the faith, but so far I am just trusting the Lord and every day enjoying "the gift" of that day (Today is the present)!

Today, Kathee (wife), Nancy (my sister) and I studied Genesis 15. These are the first 2 verses of that chapter from the NIV:

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless ...

The NIV is a bit different than the ESV, NASB, or KJV/NKJV, but I believe the italicized / underlined words of "shield" and "Sovereign" accurately convey the thrust of these verses.

About the word "journey" - this is what it is and what it will be - a journey! Not a journey that I would have chosen, but the path that has been chosen for me by my Sovereign Lord. My faith journey of the past 46 years (I trusted Him as Lord and Savior in November 1969 - I did then what Abram did in Genesis 15:6, "Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness."), has not always been easy! For example I suffered a broken neck and paralysis in 1987! But the Sovereign Lord has always been faithful, even when many times Jim was not faithful! And the Lord has never disappointed me!

The image above (source) is John Bunyan's Christian on his journey from his hometown, the "City of Destruction" ("this world"), to the "Celestial City" ("that which is to come": Heaven). This is my journey!

Today I was thinking / praying about what I will most love about reaching that city:

  1. To meet and bow before my Lord who died for my sin!
  2. To be freed from my aging, diseased, crippled body
  3. To be delivered from this wicked, violent world


Dow-DuPont = Grow Acceleration

Comment: Image snap from the stockholder proxy material. 


I grieve with Orlando

Image sources: Top is screen shot from here. Bottom is from Jet Blue blog.


Public Pensions - Fudging the Numbers

Minnesota pension changes get pushed off to next year


The rejected legislation also included a small but significant provision to lower the level of investment returns that the teachers’ pension fund projects it will earn each year.

Following national concern about public pension plans’ overly optimistic assumptions about how much they can make on Wall Street, legislators voted to drop that figure from 8.5 to 8 percent.

Actuaries advising the state have suggested it be dropped as low as 7 percent.

This spring, the Hoover Institution reported that such commonly high assumptions essentially allowed governments to mask the amount of debt they owed workers.

“Even Warren Buffett only assumes a 7 percent return,” said Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake. “I don’t think our fund managers are as smart as Buffett.” Pratt said he was the only member of the Senate to vote against the proposal, saying he wanted to lower the projected returns even further.

States like New Jersey, California and Illinois are grappling with how to shore up massively underfunded government pension plans. Minnesota’s retirement systems are still relatively flush compared to many of their peers.
Comment: Image source

The Orlando shooting - a "Rorschach test" for views

Reactions are predictable but first my own:

We live in a very wicked world where human life is devalued. I personally decry the taking of human life based on the principle that men are made in the image of God and that murder is against the moral code of God (the so-called 10 commandments). By "the Orlando shooting - a Rorschach test for views", I mean that so many commentators are reacting along fissures of world-views. 

Samples (just a brief survey from the Internet ... my view is above):


Economic Reality - What Government cannot do!

Economic Reality


In 1977, responding to the difficult energy outlook brought on by the Arab Oil Embargo, President Jimmy Carter created the position of Secretary of Energy and chose James Schlesinger as America’s first “energy czar.” Previously Schlesinger had served as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Director of Central Intelligence, and Secretary of Defense, and in his early days he taught economics at the University of Virginia. I was tickled by a story – undoubtedly apocryphal – about his days in academia that made the rounds when Schlesinger was in his new energy post.

As the story went, Schlesinger was such a convincing evangelist for capitalism that two students in his economics class decided to go into business after graduation. Their plan was to borrow money from a bank, buy a truck, and use it to pick up firewood purchased in the Virginia countryside, which they would then sell to the grandees in Georgetown. Schlesinger wholeheartedly endorsed their entrepreneurial leanings, and they proceeded with great enthusiasm. From the start of their venture, the former students could barely keep up with the demand.

Thus it came as quite a shock when their banker called to tell them the balance in their account had reached zero and the truck was about to be repossessed. They contacted Schlesinger, and he listened attentively as they recounted their experience: they had, in fact, been able to acquire vast amounts of wood for $50 a cord, and they’d been able to sell all they had for $40 a cord. How could they be broke? Where had they gone wrong? Schlesinger puffed on his ever-present pipe and said: “The answer’s obvious: you need a bigger truck.”

Comment: An essay on what government cannot do (link sent to me from my daughter). Image source

The Atheist and the Grizzly

An atheist was walking through the woods. 'What majestic trees!' 'What powerful rivers!' 'What beautiful animals!' He said to himself.

As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path.

He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing in on him. He looked over his shoulder again, & the bear was even closer. He tripped & fell on the ground.

He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw & raising his right paw to strike him.

At that instant moment, the Atheist cried out: 'Oh my God!'

Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky.

'You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident.' 'Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament?' . 'Am I to count you as a believer?'

The atheist looked directly into the light, and said: 'It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian?'

'Very well', said the voice.

The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed..

And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head & spoke: 'Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from Thy bounty. Amen.'
Comment: Forwarded to me from my brother. As an aside whenever an atheist complains "It's not fair!", one wonders where, if life is all chaos, where the concept of fairness is derived!