October 23, 2017

Saturday Ramblings: August 27, 2016

1948 Nash Super Woody Wagon. Flickr photo by Rex Gray.

1948 Nash Super Woody Wagon. Flickr photo by Rex Gray. Creative Commons License.

The end of August is in sight, and it may be your last chance this summer to take a trip to your favorite National Park (see below), or visit the grandparents, go to the amusement park, or chill at the cabin by the lake.

Of course, we’re well past that now where I live. Here in Indiana, year-round or modified “balanced” school schedules are all the rage, so some of our kids have been in school since late July. That means we’re looking forward to Labor Day weekend and a bit farther ahead to Fall Break in October for our next chance to get away.

But when we do, wouldn’t it be great if we could all pile in a classic “woody” wagon like the one above for our trip? I tell you, it looks like it could serve as our cabin too!

Time to ramble. Let’s go!

• • •

PICTURES OF THE WEEK

Standing in line for a special ceremony, uniformed soldiers of His Majesty the King of Norway's Guard are carefully inspected -- by a penguin. Sir Nils Olav, a resident king penguin at Edinburgh Zoo, was honored with the title of brigadier on Monday during a parade in the Scottish park. The bird is the mascot of His Majesty the King of Norway's Guard and was made a knight in 2008. (NBC News)

Standing in line for a special ceremony, uniformed soldiers of His Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard are carefully inspected — by a penguin. Sir Nils Olav, a resident king penguin at Edinburgh Zoo, was honored with the title of brigadier on Monday during a parade in the Scottish park. The bird is the mascot of His Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard and was made a knight in 2008. (NBC News)

A kayaker passes the world's largest rubber duck as it floats in the Buffalo River near Canalside, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

A kayaker passes the world’s largest rubber duck as it floats in the Buffalo River near Canalside, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Happy to be back at school. Quincy, Illinois. (M. Kipley/Herald-Whig)

Happy to be back at school. Quincy, Illinois. (M. Kipley/Herald-Whig)

Swedish carpenter Geert Weggen built this Olympic podium, then spent three months waiting for squirrels to strike a pose. (Geert Weggens, SWNS)

Swedish carpenter Geert Weggen built this Olympic podium, then spent three months waiting for squirrels to strike a pose. (Geert Weggens, SWNS)

A waitress is silhouetted against an advertisement board as she carries jugs of beer during the first-ever Taedonggang Beer Festival on Aug. 21 in Pyongyang, N. Korea

A waitress is silhouetted against an advertisement board as she carries jugs of beer during the first-ever Taedonggang Beer Festival on Aug. 21 in Pyongyang, N. Korea

Participants set a new World Record of 1,297 in the World's Largest Rugby Scrum at the Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival in Cardiff. (Wales Online)

Participants set a new World Record of 1,297 in the World’s Largest Rugby Scrum at the Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival in Cardiff. (Wales Online)

• • •

HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY, U.S. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

yellowstone-national-park-2-940x640

Yellowstone National Park

Here is a nice photo gallery celebrating 100 years for The National Park Service in the United States.

Writer and historian Wallace Stegner called national parks “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”

There are many special events and commemorations taking place this summer — you can find out about them HERE. But the best tribute of all would simply be to visit and enjoy at least one of our national parks this year.

What is your favorite U.S. National Park? Why?

• • •

QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

burkiniWill this prove to be the death knell to “burkini” bans in France?

How many Zika cases were discovered at the Olympic Games?

Why is Joshua Harris apologizing?

Is celibacy the only option for the single Christian? Does the Bible say that?

Why do we love some animals and eat others?

Guess who’s causing controversy among Christians in Vancouver?

How did Pentecostalism come to replace Anglicanism as the “new normal” in Australia?

• • •

HOW ISRAEL SOLVES ITS BEACH PROBLEM

Entering the "religious beach" in Tel Aviv. (RNS)

Entering the “religious beach” in Tel Aviv. (RNS)

Speaking of modesty at the seashore, this story at RNS says the religious in Israel have found a way to relax when it comes to the whole “women showing too much skin at the beach” problem.

In Tel Aviv and about a dozen other places around Israel, they have designated “religious beaches” where men and women swim separately on alternate days. Many Israeli pools also offer a few hours of separate male and female swimming

To Israel’s credit, [Uri] Regev [president of Hiddush, a nongovernmental organization that promotes freedom of religion in Israel] said, gender-segregated beaches and tolerance for all types of religious garb “demonstrate an acceptance for varied religious beliefs” not found in most countries. While Israeli rights advocates have successfully fought against gender segregation on public buses, Regev said, no one objects to gender-segregated beaches.

“As long as municipalities offer segregated beaches without detracting from the ability of others to swim at other beaches, this is a virtue, not coercion. Ultimately, it’s all about balance,” Regev said.

• • •

A BREAKTHROUGH FOR HINDUS IN THE U.S.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To the right is a picture of our local Hindu temple, an impressive structure on the east side of Indianapolis (click the pic for a larger image). As our society becomes more diverse and multicultural, we will be seeing all kinds of public displays of other traditions and religions in our midst.

The U.S. Postal Service has announced that, for the first time, a Hindu tradition will be honored on one of its stamps. A Forever stamp marking the Hindu holiday of Diwali will be issued on Oct. 5 at the Consulate General of India in New York City.

Diwali, or the Hindu festival of lights, is observed across the globe with music, fireworks and dance. It celebrates good triumphing over evil.

The stamp features a photograph of a traditional diya oil lamp, its flame glowing in front of a gold background.

The Hindu American Foundation, which helped lead a campaign for the stamp, said the diya is “the most iconic symbol of the holiday.”

RNS-DIWALI-STAMP

• • •

GAFFIGAN FAMILY VALUES

Jim Gaffigan is one of my favorite comedians. He keeps things clean, includes religion in his act (he’s a practicing Catholic), and emphasizes stories about family and home (and food, of course!).

For the past two years, TVLand network has been running “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” which has sought to mirror his life and his act. Now, at least for the time being he and his wife Jeannie (writer, show runner, and director of the show) are calling it quits. They have five children, ages 12, 10, 7, 5, and 3, and as Gaffigan says, “The show was taking us away from our most important project — our kids.”

Our life is very full. Jeannie and I write books. I tour doing stand-up. I get to do movies and stuff like that. It really comes down to our kids. The TV show was great, but our primary source of income is stand-up. And the time commitment to do the type of show we wanted—I’ve been doing this long enough where I’m not seeking a certain amount of fame. Is it exciting that it’s the No. 1 comedy trending on Twitter on Sunday? Yes. Not that I even know what that means. There’s so many pieces, and the creative team of Jeannie and I, we have to manage the expectations of. TV Land’s been great. The TV landscape is changing, so they might want a show that’s going to do 22 episodes. They might want a show that’s going to do a lot of things. What we’re looking for, and the creative outlet we’re seeking, is just incongruous when you have five children under 12. It’s just insane.

Here’s an “Inside the Episode” feature on the show, “He Said, She Said,” which gives you some flavor of the Gaffigans’ take on religion and family.

• • •

BABYLON BEE STORY OF THE WEEK

daniel-plan-lady-696x394HAVELOCK, NC—Roughly three months ago, local woman Heidi Miller, 32, had had enough—and was bound and determined to change her lifestyle.

“I’d been this way since I was a kid—just, you know, life habits I picked up from my parents and my friends at church,” Miller said. “Then one day it just hit me as I walked past a mirror and caught a glimpse of my open Bible on the chair behind me, next to some commentaries and other study materials. That was the moment I realized that I’d been reading the Bible in its proper context for so long, I couldn’t even remember what it was like before I did.”

A burst of courage and a quick internet search brought Miller to Rick Warren’s The Daniel Plan—and nothing has been the same since.

“At first I was skeptical, sure, but after just a few days in the program I couldn’t believe the results I was seeing,” she said, adding that she was “blown away” by the Old and New Testament verses used in the book as though they existed in a vacuum, and the way Warren switches up translations in order to find the one that says exactly what he is trying to say.

“I followed the steps—I dreamed big, set goals, and found buddies to reaffirm me when things got tough, and here I am. After 15 years of only reading the Bible in context, those days are gone and I’m never going back,” Miller said. “The Daniel Plan was a Godsend—it worked for me, and it can work for you, too.”

• • •

HERE’S EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG WITH OUR U.S. HEALTH-CARE SYSTEM
Excerpted from an article by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. in WSJ

epipen_origTo whom it may concern:

…Our health-care system is confusing. The public is understandably confused about why we have raised the price of a two-pack of EpiPens by 500% over the past decade—from $100 in 2007 to $600 today.

That sounds like a lot, especially since the active ingredient, epinephrine, has been around since 1901 and is cheap to make. Yes, we recently improved our injector, but guess what? The old injector worked fine. EpiPen, using the old injector, saved thousands of lives, especially children who are allergic to peanuts or bee stings.

The drug can be bought for 10 cents in many countries; the old injector design our would-be competitors are free to copy to their heart’s content. Our prices would surely be lower, then, if we actually had some competitors. Don’t blame me. The Food and Drug Administration has delayed the entry of one competitor and made noises that recently drove another from the market over product-quality snafus.

As I explained to the New York Times this week, “I am a for-profit business.” EpiPen sales have reached $1 billion a year on my watch, up from $200 million a decade ago. Guess how much of that growth is not increased volume but increased profit? A lot. That’s capitalism. I’m doing my job. Maybe the FDA should do theirs.*

(*Mylan employs lobbyists and lawyers to delay competitors from getting their products approved by the FDA.)

Newspaper and TV coverage of our pricing controversy has not been friendly to Mylan, but most reports at least mention the ways we strive to lower the out-of-pocket price for consumers with coupons and rebates to offset their copays and deductibles. We also provide free drugs to hardship cases. The Washington Post even alluded to these efforts in its headline: “Despite coupons, EpiPen’s virtual monopoly roils critics.”

Sadly, the media have proved unable to explain the finer points of pharmaceutical pricing. Not that we blame the media: health-care pricing is complicated and subject to Reporter Complexity Refusal Syndrome.

And yet the essential matter is not complicated. It can be explained in a sentence: Six hundred dollars is the price we want insurers to pay.

Insurers are not spending your money. They are spending everybody’s money. Look at it from the perspective of health-care providers, drugmakers or medical-device suppliers. All of us are competing for a common pot of loot. Naturally, each wants to maximize his share. That’s human nature. If 10 hungry people are sitting around a small bowl of jelly beans, each will eat more, and faster, than he otherwise would.

Notice something else: How much each provider takes out of the common pot has no natural, organic relationship to the value the provider brings to the patient. Why not? Well, in the rest of the economy, when a consumer is spending out of his pocket, he has incentive to judge whether the service he’s buying is worth the price he’s being asked to pay.

Now you know why we offer coupons and rebates to individual consumers. This is our way of trying to re-desensitize customers to the price of EpiPen in order to counter the efforts of insurers to re-sensitize them by hitting them with copays and deductibles.

Then why does getting our coupons and rebates involve rigmarole? Because certain consumers won’t make the effort, and then we get to keep the money that would otherwise go to defray their out-of-pocket costs.

It’s a great game and we have fun playing it. On average, however, it probably does not increase the health-care industry’s profit margins or the public’s health—but only the share of national income diverted to health care from everything else: beer nuts, wedding presents, automobiles. Our industry’s share of GDP is 17%, up from 13% two decades ago. Hooray, that’s $700 billion a year.

For decades, health-care reform as preached by knowledgeable experts has aimed at fixing this dynamic, and yet every law passed by Congress ends up doing the opposite, basically using taxpayer money to fill the pot with more jelly beans for providers to fight over.

Sincerely,

Heather Bresch

Chief Executive Officer, Mylan

• • •

TODAY IN MUSIC…

Tomorrow, August 28, is the 53rd anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous speech “I Have a Dream” speech given during the March on Washington in 1963.

Before King spoke that day, Peter, Paul, and Mary sang Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Let freedom ring.

Comments

  1. First! lol

  2. If government really cared they would approve the competitors for epi pen production. Now they COULD try to punish the drug company, but that wouldn’t provide any more epi pens, would it?

    Its not just the health care industry, OR “big pharma”. “Big government” deserves a share of the blame as well.

    • Yep. All of the above. And more.

    • One of the problems with free-market solutions to health care issues is that when you are sick or injured, it us one of the worst times to go into the “evaluation of options” mode described in this sentence here:

      when a consumer is spending out of his pocket, he has incentive to judge whether the service he’s buying is worth the price he’s being asked to pay.

      There’s the rub. A health care “consumer” is not a corresponding abstract unit to an automotive consumer or to a chocolate consumer. This is an arena that touches on matters life and death.

      • Yes. The free market ultimately cannot deal with this is a manner that is human and humane. As you said, it’s a matter of life and death.

        • Exactly, Burro, you can’t plan for health care needs. You can’t say, I plan on have artery blockage next year in February so I’ll start calling around now to find the cheapest place to get a stent. Or I think July would be a good time to have a stroke, so I’ve got 11 months to research the most cost effective treatments.

          Certainly, sometimes your car dies unexpectedly, or gets wrecked, but you can rent a car or make some sort of arrangement to get where you need to go until you can buy another that fits your budget. You can’t rent a new body when the one you have fails.

          • Even the car analogy is a bit of a reach. Car rental of $30 a day. Storage fees of $75 to $150 per day for the wreak. Time to look at cars. Been there. It’s a real hassle. But then again, not as bad as trying to decide which surgeon to do the operation.

        • “Free” market can’t do anything except sell to the highest bidder, and government can’t do it well on any level higher than the family or maybe the polis (face-to-face community limit maybe 4K).

          What do you do to ameliorate the situation where your tragedy is another’s opportunity?

          After all, parasites, scavengers, and detritivores are among the most successful of organisms.

          Hate to have to hit the same string on the guitar over and over again, but any health-care “provider” would move heaven and earth if it was his brother on the operating table, but anybody who sets out to treat the whole world like his family is going to be seriously disillusioned sooner rather than later.

          • I totally agree. I have worked for 35 years in headache medicine (an often neglected area). I made the decision 5 years ago to create my own headache clinic (rather than working in a general neurology group). My mantra ( and written policy ) was being a patient-centered practice. I wanted to treat these people the same way I would treat my own family, or even better.

            However, the timing was not good. In the shadow of the ACA ( where insurance companies helped to write the bill ) it was a huge battle to provide excellent care and to stay in business. We were overwhelmed with patients from the entire Pacific Northwest. My days became 16 hours long and I had to work most weekends to take care of the business end (mostly fighting with insurance companies to pay us what they owed us). Each year our income fell despite working harder and harder. The last year I took no salary for the last six months and we still cleared only $8,000 for the business for the year so I had no choice but to close the clinic before my own health would fail, and it almost did. The deck is stacked against providing the best care for the patient. We had to fight insurance companies every step of the way and in the end, 80% of our energy was completed wasted on the process rather than giving it to the patients that deserved it. This is why I disappeared from this forum and the world in general for the past 5 years. The system has to be fixed where the patient really is first. Things are much better now, but the dream is gone.

      • For the last time HEALTH CARE IS NOT A FREE MARKET. Yes, there are actually a set of conditions that define a free market (econ 101). Unfortunately, some folks (who have never taken an econ class) conflate “free market” with “unregulated market”. Well the Chinese knockoff black-market is unregulated. That doesn’t make it free. Anyone pretending that pharma companies are operating fairly ins a free market is simply deluding his or her self.

    • Epipen 0.3 mg can be bought from CanadaDrugs.com for $112.71. Made in the UK. Not a generic. 1/3 the cost in the US.

      Explain that.

      • To use the words of another: the system’s rigged.

        I’m not buying the rationalization from Bresch. It’s price gouging, no matter what else is involved. They’re the only ones who make this sort of device, they have a monopoly on it, and they are doing what they choose to do to make more money. Saving lives is not central to their concerns, making money is.

        • As it should be, unfortunately.

          I thought officers of corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to engage in this kind of behavior. Not to do so would open them to litigation.

          You have to internalize the algorithm to incarnate it.

          • I guess I’ve never internalized the algorithm; I suppose that’s why I’m likely to be sunk in poverty in my old age, which I’m on the cusp of now.

          • I’m right there with you, but it’s not that bad a place to be.

          • It sure doesn’t feel like a good place to be, but whether or not it is, I’m frightened, Mule.

          • That is not the case, Burro. Company officers have both an ethical and legal obligation to maximize the value of all stakeholders. This has not only been upheld and promoted in boardrooms and MBA classes since, oh, Enron, it has been thoroughly vetted in the legal system as well as activist investors sue companies driven solely by share value.

    • After reading the article on Heidi Miller’s use of the Daniel Plan, it took me a minute for my brain to connect the article to the heading that it was a Babylon Bee story. It then took me several more minutes to realize that the article on EpiPen pricing was NOT another Babylon Bee story. At least it avoided bringing up the world’s current most famous frequent user of said device at six hundred bucks a pop.

      • The funniest thing about BABYLON BEE is that they are almost forced to explicitly state that they’re a satire site. Otherwise…

  3. I LIKE the idea of celebrating Diwali, at least my NEIGHBORS celebrating it. They write on their porches and doorstops symbols and words of welcome and leave their front doors open to invite the goddess of light into their well lit homes. Very cheery, if I must say so…

  4. Regarding this week’s music-of-the-week, you could also post this outstanding mix of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech set to music. This song is one of my all-time faves.

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xnqqm4_moodswings-ft-chrissie-hynde-martin-luther-king-jr-spiritual-high-state-of-independence_lifestyle

  5. That Nash Woodie is a beaut!!

  6. Jim and Jeannie’s priorities are right–something the Duggers never seemed to learn.

    • Dana Ames says:

      Catholics are generally not driven by wretched urgency of any sort.

      Dana

      • Dana,
        Perhaps not anymore in the West, but try telling that to James Joyce’s narrator, Stephen Dedalus, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

  7. The National Park Service was a wonderful idea. But democratic? No. The parks are mostly used by white Americans; they have far fewer people of color visiting, even when the nearby communities surrounding the parks have many people of color in them. To the credit of the Park Service, it knows that this is a serious deficiency and has tried to address the problem; but it also is in terrible need of more funding for things like maintenance and repair, funding it’s not likely to receive.

    • Wait, wait, are you saying that the National Park Service has a policy of discouraging people of color from visiting our National Parks? How do they do that? I mean in the olden days you would have just put up a sign at the entrance but I don’t think you could get away with that today. Maybe if people of color started demonstrating at the entrances in large and loud numbers the Park Service would be forced to let them in.

      • Charles, Charles, Charles! The government needs to MANDATE that more people of color use the parks or their funding will be cut! Next will come the mandate that employees stationed at the parks be demographically distributed amongst the races. You see, government oversight ALWAYS results in a fairer and democratic institution!

        • Well, here’s another example of outright discrimination. Peter, Paul & Mary were invited to perform at the March on Washington, but how many black folks did you see at a P, P & M concert? An obvious double standard at work here. By the by, Peter and Paul were way ahead of their time back there in 1963. They look just like Millennials, Stuart B can correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe Mary not so much, tho come to think of it I’m not really sure what Millennial women look like. In any case, I do find the use of the phrase “people of color” somewhat offensive. After all, white is a color and why should I be excluded? Life sometimes just doesn’t seem to be fair.

        • Richard Hershberger says:

          Subtlety and nuance is also an option in this discussion. There is a tendency in our society to look into what white middle class people want to do, and go devote resources to that stuff. And what rich people want to do too, of course. They al\ways have the means to make that happen, often including getting other people to subsidize it. Notice what groups have been overlooked in this allotment of resources?

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      I would think that is more a symptom than anything more fundamental. A symptom of economic status, for instance. Of marginalization. Etc.

      • Are you saying that there are NO people of color who are at the lower middle-class level who can afford to spend $30-$75 a day to camp? In all of the times I have stayed in Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park I saw almost NO people of color. Could this not also be a matter of culture and not just economic status?

        My son-in-law is black and he has NEVER been camping, even though he was raised in an area that has many camping facilities and opportunities. Apparently camping is too much like “living poor” for fun. Hmm…

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          No – but I wonder if that will not come by the second or third generation of middle class status.

          I am just speculating…

          • Are you saying that there is no “second or third class generation” at this time? Sorry, but they are there NOW! Perhaps it is just the constant focus on the lower rungs of (lets face it) African Americans and a routine dismissal of the rise of the middle-class in this demographic.

            In my patronage of California parks I see plenty of Latinos because they6, apparently, love camping just as much as anyone else. It is one of the least expensive vacations you can have, especially when you have kids, yet African Americans are still under represented as patrons.

            It ain’t just economics!

          • What do you think it is, Oscar? Are you saying that it’s “cultural”? Could you actually say what you think it is, if not the result of opportunity and access being limited by economic factors?

          • Even if we say there is a “cultural” component, it’s not really possible to separate cultural expression and range from economics, is it? Culture adapts to different situations on the ground, and part of that is economics, and part of it is one’s history, personal and familial.

          • Burro [Mule] says:

            Thirty years ago, we had a Boy Scout troop that was 70? Black. It was hard to get them into the woods. The woods was where the scary White folks lived.

            Maybe that is the cultural component.

          • I’m afraid of white people too. 50,000 dead in WWII alone. That’s prodigious savagery by anybody’s math.

          • Make that: 50,000,000 dead….

      • Brianthedad says:

        There was a great NPR interview on this very subject this week. I wish I had a link to it. It is something the Park Service is aware of and working to fix. The why is a tougher problem to get hold of. They interviewed a park superintendent, one of the few black superintendents in the service. He recognized the problem of figuring out how to attract minority visitors. He stated that as a young man raised in a large city, he’d had no experiences with ‘dark skies’ and the wild outdoors he’s such a fan of today until he joined the Boy Scouts. He credits the Boy Scouts with igniting an early desire in him for the great outdoors. I didn’t get to hear the whole interview, but it was an interesting insight on the problem.

        • In California Latinos love camping as much as anyone, and their numbers are close to their presence in the larger society. I can’t speak to the East coast, though.

          • Ah, but Latinos are legally white, in spite of what you might see in polls and censi, so they don’t officially count in this argument, even if your point is valid. And when we speak of “people of color”, we really aren’t talking about Latinos or Chinese or East or West Indians or Inuit or Hawaiians or all those troublesome people who live around the Mediterranean, we’re talking about you know who. Embedded racism may be a world wide phenomenon but we Americans seem to hold the patent on it.

            Many years back I spent two months traveling all of Mexico and camping out the whole way. No one thought it was peculiar. Do that in this country and you might be arrested and/or interviewed on the evening news, that is if you escaped being murdered in your tent. I was once attacked at dawn camping by the side of the road in South Dakota by four Sioux, our other racist heritage. Perhaps the answer is for everyone to get together and ask each other, “What’s wrong with you people?”

    • Well my understanding is that after Trump is elected, and builds the wall, and deports all the immigrants then next on his list is making it mandatory for all black folks to visit our National Parks at least once a year.

      Problem solved!

    • They are absolutely democratic, available to all. Robert, this one’s a non-issue.

      • Thank you! Occasionally common sense rules the day.

      • My initial comment was poorly thought out and poorly expressed. The mandate of the Park Service is certainly democratic in intention; people are not prohibited from enjoying the parks on the basis of race, creed, sex, etc. In that sense they are certainly available to all citizens.

        Otoh, the fact that so few black Americans visit the parks is a clear indicator that something is amiss, as the Park Service itself is aware. While it’s resources may be legally available to all citizens, they are not accessible for many, and this is partly and significantly related to socioeconomic status as that plays out in racial divisions of our society. This in effect creates a situation in which not all demographics have equal access to the parks, practically speaking, and it limits the degree of realization of the Park Service’s democratic mandate. As I’ve said, the Park Service administrations knows this is a problem, but lacks resources to address it adequately.

        And I’d like to thank those who responded to my initial admittedly poorly thought out and expressed comment with maximal sarcasm: your powers of persuasion are truly belittling!

      • Brianthedad says:

        Agreed, but the statistics are there. Urban black Americans are not interested in or able to go camping in the great outdoors. Why? I don’t know. Lower rates of private vehicle ownership that prevent them from traveling to a park? Lower participation in Boy Scouts? Not sure. We live in the country outside of Montgomery, Alabama. It’s dark out here, no street lights or anything. The area we’re in, more of an exurb now, is pretty evenly mixed white and black, with a growing number of Hispanics and Koreans. Most of my black neighbors are avid outdoorsmen, having grown up in the country, hunting and fishing, spending time in the outdoors day and night, like most of my white neighbors. None of them have ever talked about trips to state or national parks. We are also foster parents. We get quite a few kids from town. Most of these kids are terrified of being out in the country, especially at night. One young lady couldn’t sleep after we sat on the porch and listened to some coyotes howling. Is it a vestige of poor race relations and being mistreated when ‘caught’ out on property not your own? Could be. I think the dynamic is more of an urban/suburban thing. This is my own experience and is admittedly anecdotal. I’d be real interested to hear some input from African American imonk readers.

  8. a grasshopper leaps
    off my front door as I enter,
    camouflage undone

  9. I’m glad to see that Joshua Harris is reconsidering the ideas he promoted in his first book, <I Kissed Dating Goodbye. And frankly, I’m not sure how much he is to blame for some evangelical congregations turning the principles of courtship into fundamental church doctrine.

    Still, all the apologies Harris can make does nothing to undo the damage suffered by so many Christians of his generation and the generation which followed. Just like the Shepherding Movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s, the consequences of the courtship movement will adversely impact the church for some time to come.

    • On Harris’s website, he is publishing stories of those who were hurt by his book and its teaching. That’s something.

      • Dan from Georgia says:

        That is something you don’t see from someone who’s taught bad theology/things/ideas/etc and has caught flak for their heresies. Usually they sweep it under the rug and/or ignore the criticisms.

  10. I would totally vote for Jim Gaffigan for President. He’s a decent guy, a political outsider which so many want, and his State of the Union speeches would be hilarious! Let’s start a write-in campaign!

  11. Klasie Kraalogies says:

    Interestingly, I went and checked on the history of National Parks. The first was in the the US, the second in Australia. By 1898 Africa got its first, when the Sabie Sand Reserve was proclaimed in the then South African Republic ( The Boer Republic of the the Transvaal).

    But surprisingly, the first national park service was Canadian, in 1911.

    The history of conservation is quite interesting.

  12. “As long as municipalities offer segregated beaches without detracting from the ability of others to swim at other beaches, this is a virtue, not coercion. Ultimately, it’s all about balance, Regev said.”

    Regev? Wasn’t that a George Wallace quote, circa 1957?

    Oh wait…they’re talking about men and women! Oh that’s ok then. What a relief!

    Folks how come women are always being forced to repress their sexuality but men are never required to discipline theirs?

    • The difference is that these are not the only beaches — that’s the point. By making allowance for a few beaches like this they are providing for the Orthodox in their midst. No one is constrained either way.

      • And would you support some amount of racially segregated beaches just because other beaches are available for different races to mix? Of course not. Society should not be required to cater to this foolishness even though it is justified by appeals to religion which apparently gets a free pass on everything.

        And if there is a perceived difference between racial segregation and sexual segregation I would really love to have that difference explained to me.

        • That Other Jean says:

          You run into a knotty problem, though, by not catering to any form of sexual segregation, whether it’s different times and/or different beaches for sex-segregated swimming or burkinis on public beaches. Tthe regulations that prohibit them are generally promoted in the name of opposing the suppression of women, but mean that many women will end up more suppressed than before. Instead of swimming apart from men, or covering most of her body while swimming, a woman who follows religious teachings that call for such practices is more likely to stay home rather than swim in mixed company or alter her swimwear. Would it not be better to let the women involved decide what to do, instead of shutting down their opportunities to participate?

        • I’m just reporting here. I’m not sure how I actually feel about the practice. I’m also not sure it’s always up to me to decide what is “suppression of women” in a given religion. If there are abusive practices and lack of equal opportunity, that is certainly clear and I’m opposed. So I’m sure I would not fit in well among the Orthodox Jews in many ways. Whether or not separate swimming falls into such a category, or wearing a “burkini” for that matter for Muslims, determining that is beyond my pay grade and I would rather focus on more pressing issues of discrimination anyway.

  13. Dan from Georgia says:

    Not only should Harris apologize to everyone for that garbage called “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, the publisher should apologize and Harris should offer refunds.

    I didn’t know that Franklin Graham was a televangelist.

    • Joshua Harris is probably financing his studies with the royalties from his books, so I expect he’ll wait on any full recantation until he has another source of income.

      • Dan from Georgia says:

        Hi Larry, you are right on that. I was just throwing that out there to pile on him, so to speak. I perused the Christianpost.com article and it appears that he’s been piled on by lots of still-single Christian women who bought into his book and contents. I am glad that he’s is re-thinking his books content, but I really, honestly think he’s got more to do, and I don’t think he realizes the extent of damage his book has done to many singles in the church.

        • If Joshua Harris is reading the stories he’s posted, I hope he’s waking up to the damage his book has done. Although he’s not the only one who should be apologizing. So should plenty of others, starting with the pastors who made their parishioners follow the book as if it was holy writ.

          Recently Charisma magazine’s website republished a pro-courtship article by Joseph Mattera, a Brooklyn-based evangelical pastor. The article was full of legalism and advocated what amounted to control mechanisms for courting couples. I found it ironic that this article was republished at a time when the person most associated with the courtship movement is questioning his own writings.

          • Dan from Georgia says:

            I would like to see Multnomah (who published the book in the first place) pull the book at Harris’ request. Won’t happen though. Let’s hope Harris does taker SERIOUSLY his message in that book. Sure, if you read the critical comments on Amazon, you will see people respond to the critics that it’s not Harris’ fault some people are single after reading the book. Sorry, but if you are in a place of authority like Harris is/was, and you write a big selling book published by a major Christian publisher such as Multnomah, and your book gets onto DVDs, conferences, Focus on the Family, whatever, you DO have responsibility for your message.

            Charisma? Yikes. I personally wouldn’t put anything past them.

  14. So now are there any other authors out there who wrote a book early in life at a time of dogmatic zeal which they now wish to recant?

    Call now, the lines are open.

    • Maybe Paul knew what he was talking about when he wanted the church to be led by elders (chronologically as well as spiritually)…

  15. Why do we love some animals and eat others?

    Because they’re delicious?

    If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did He make them out of meat?

  16. Late to the party, but I enjoyed the Ramblings. Only, I’ve got to ask, Chaplain Mike, are you *sure* the Bresch letter about the Epi-pen was not an Onion-type parody? (I clicked on the WSJ link but got a blank page.) I mean, what CEO writes stuff like this:

    “The drug can be bought for 10 cents in many countries; the old injector design our would-be competitors are free to copy to their heart’s content. Our prices would surely be lower, then, if we actually had some competitors. Don’t blame me.”

    “All of us are competing for a common pot of loot. Naturally, each wants to maximize his share.”

    “It’s a great game and we have fun playing it. ”

    Isn’t the jovial brutality of this somewhat over the top, even for unrepentant, 90’s-style, Greed is Good capitalists? I’d love to think it was a joke.

    • She didn’t write it. It’s the author’s take on what she would say if she ‘fessed up.

      • Ah, I’m awakened but disappointed. I thought someone, and it would probably take a woman, was actually stepping up to tell it like it is. Like I said, I thought it was more Babylon Bee at first, but then took hope. Ah well. Ah well. Also like I said, this could be redeemed by someone mainstream pointing out the most prominent user today, but not holding my breath on that one either. The drama continues.

    • Reality and parody are far too similar these days.

  17. 1) Heather Bresch is satanic, in the technical sense of the word. She is promoting the values and outcomes of the Enemy. I get it – I’m an MBA who manages a sizable part of a sizeable business, and I also try to maximize profit when ethical. That doesn’t make it Christian. There are few things that disgust me more than people who call themselves Christian, but chuck their ethics the minute money is involved (or worse – political persuasion).

    2) The Babylon Bee story is only funny because the author believes that an open Bible and study materials implies studying the text in its original context. What a crock. The fictitious woman is no closer to the original intent than the Daniel Diet. I’ve seen this attitude a lot in fundagelicalism. Uneducated but snobby individuals who think that reading a book by Wayne Grudem makes them some kind of intellectual or something.

    3) What a gorgeous woody wagon! Speaking of, resto on my ’77 630CSi is going well. Need to get the local body shop to patch up some rust holes, once I can afford it.

  18. Okay, I’m still reeling a bit from learning I got Onioned with that EpiPen disclosure, but there really is an astounding amount of apparently real disclosure of truth going on today, and even if some of it is disinformation or misinformation or outright hoax, I’m fairly confident that the tide has turned and the Enemy of Humanity and Freedom is on the defensive and perhaps on the run. We’ll see.

    In the meantime, the bottom line is that ’48 Woody is the absolute epitome of the end of an era. If memory serves, the 1948 Cadillac was an elegant car I would love to be driving today, but halfway thru the year Cadillac was the first to put fins on the tail end, and in 1949 everyone else followed suit, and here we are today.

    Looking closely at that classic Nash station wagon, it doesn’t have a rear bumper. Back then bumpers actually worked and they didn’t set off a thousand bucks worth of air bags from a three mile an hour tap. This rig looks like a rear end tap might cost a whole lot more than Doc Fundy’s 630CSi rust spots. Perhaps an analogy with our situation in the world at large today. In any case, that’s one fine Woody.

  19. roar of cicadas
    by the church cemetery
    tries to raise the dead