Monthly Archives: June 2012

Faith, Hope And Charity

I came across this video the other day.  Someone I know posted it on Facebook and I took the two minutes to watch it:

It turns out that it wasn’t the first time that Freemasonry, Facebook and the Shriner’s Hospitals For Kids juxtaposed.

About 3 years ago a college roommate living in North Western Minnesota shared a link on Facebook.  It turns out that his brother, living in the same town as him, had a little boy; a son of about 11 years old.  This brother had just posted that he was outside the emergency room where his little boy had been taken and observed.

It turns out the kid had been complaining of knee pain for several days and was now complaining that it was dramatically more severe.  It became so bad that he had to be brought to the hospital.  The doctors couldn’t say for sure what the problem might be without further testing.  They wanted the young man to be brought back for MRI’s and some x-rays.  The boy’s folks wanted the best for their kid but were unsure of what the costs might be and where that money would come from.  Additionally, the strain of being away from work only added to the pressure.

By the time I saw the post it was long past “real-time” and was now of the type, “Keep my brother in your prayers.”  And it was 8:30 at night.

I called the Shriner’s Hospital in Minneapolis, explained that I was a Mason and requested that I be allowed to sponsor a patient.  I went on to describe the condition of the child as best I could from the information I had.  The nurse made an appointment for first AM Monday morning.  When I told her that the family lived near 4 hours away, she let me know that she could change it to 1:00 if that would be easier.

I hesitated but pressed on.  I mentioned that the family worked and may not be able to make the trip to Minneapolis and I would have to call back to confirm.  She cheerfully explained that they had arrangements with a lodge in that area of the state and that a Mason would be called and a ride, to and from Minneapolis, would be arranged.  It was hard to get my head around that.  Again, explaining that the family might be able to make it based on their circumstances, I asked for lodging near the hospital, the less expensive the better.  Again, she had an answer, “We allow families to stay on campus, we have rooms just for that purpose.”

One last thing…money might be an issue.  As she wished me a good night she reassured me that all services would be provided to the family free of charge; there wouldn’t be a financial obligation to the family.

I was reminded:

Freemasonry stands for the exercise of Faith, Hope and Charity, the three cardinal virtues in the Freemasons’ creed. These are the principal rounds of that many-staved ladder, of which every stave represents an active virtue, which links earth to heaven, and which, though invisible, is a reality to the true Mason. Indeed, no man can be a true Mason without the exercise of these virtues in his daily life, for having Faith in God and His promises, he has the Faith which banishes doubt. He has also Faith in himself. Faith in his fellow-man. Faith in the boundless possibilities for a regenerate humanity, Faith in the ultimate happiness of all mankind, Faith in the enjoyment of perfect bliss throughout an endless life. With this Faith in his soul, the consistent Mason has hope. Hope for that in which he has Faith, Hope for himself. Hope for his fellows, Hope for all mankind—Hope for the present, Hope for the future — a Hope so firmly rooted in his soul, that it is steadfast, immovable, enduring to the end. And Charity, that perfection of all virtues, the choicest, rarest of all the jewels which adorn the life of a perfect Mason, that too Freemasonry stands for, although each Brother well knows the difficulty of its full attainment in this world of conflict, error, sin and tears. To bring help to a suffering humanity, to relieve the distressed stricken in body or mind, to shelter those whom a censorious world has cast out, and to throw a veil over the faults and failings of all weak and over- tempted souls—that is the Charity placed before us in a Freemasons’ Lodge.

I so do love this noble fraternity.

Greece And Germany

How must it suck to be Greece in everything Germany?

(Reuters) – Germany humiliated Greece in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament on Friday, rubbing salt in the wounds of a nation reeling from a dire economic crisis which many blame on Berlin.

Greeks were aching for at least a measure of revenge against their euro zone tormentor in the needle match of the tournament’s quarter-finals, but it ended as yet another dashed dream with Germany rolling over their underdog rivals 4-2.

The euro zone paymaster gave what many Germans see as a profligate and lazy state yet another lesson, this time on the pitch – perhaps revenge for political headache after headache in a regional debt crisis unleashed by Athens in 2009 that now threatens the survival of the entire common European currency.

Not only is Greece in the middle of a financial catastrophe, but they even have to lose to the Germans in soccer.

I love it!

Of Beer And Jobs And Regulations And Goodness

I have no idea how many jobs will be created as a result of these craft breweries opening in the Triangle.  I do know that they are opening as a result of North Carolina removing their restriction on “heavier” beers.  Ever since North Carolina passed “Pop The Top” laws we’ve seen a veritable stampede of micro-brews and micro-breweries.

And more to come:

Haw River Farmhouse Ales (

Deep River Brewing Co. (

Steel String Craft Brewery (

Sub Noir Brewing Co. (

Starpoint Brewing (
Fortnight Brewing Co. (
White Street Brewing Co. (

Baseball, Apple Pie and Chevrolet

And law suits:

MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. – A New Jersey woman who was struck in the face with a baseballat a Little League game is suing the young catcher who threw it.

Elizabeth Lloyd is seeking more than $150,000 in damages to cover medical costs stemming from the incident at a Manchester Little League game two years ago. She’s also seeking an undefined amount for pain and suffering.

Lloyd was sitting at a picnic table near a fenced-in bullpen when she was hit with the ball.

Catcher Matthew Migliaccio was 11 years old at the time and was warming up a pitcher.

The lawsuit filed April 24 alleges Migliaccio’s errant throw was intentional and reckless, “assaulted and battered” Lloyd and caused “severe, painful and permanent” injuries.

A second count alleges Migliaccio’s actions were negligent and careless through “engaging in inappropriate physical and/or sporting activity” near Lloyd. She continues to suffer pain and anguish, incur medical expenses and has been unable to carry out her usual duties and activities, the lawsuit says.

And Lloyd’s husband, in a third count, is suing for the loss of “services, society and consortium” of his wife. They’ve demanded a jury trial.

What kind of special hell must we live in before people just wake up and slap those around us into reality?

Obamacare Odds

Steady upwards track since April.  Intrade has it at 75% that the law is struck down.


A Page Break Example

Here I am showing Kells how to create a page break.

So I type a “howl” lotta cool stuff:

Pino Rocks.  Pino is always right.  Pino is great.

Pino Rocks.  Pino is always right.  Pino is great.

Pino Rocks.  Pino is always right.  Pino is great.

And NOW I wanna insert a “Page Break” right after this sentence.

So I go to the Tool Bar above and look for the row of symbols that has a “B” as the first character:

Then I slide over 11 icons until I see the “Rectangle dotted line Rectangle” icon.

When I do, it looks like this:

I hit “enter” and type away.


Black is happy!


Media Incompetence: Jon Stewart

To be fair, I don’t think that Jon Stewart, CNN or the reporter are bias in their reporting.  For his sake, Stewart is just running a clip that makes his point and probably just missed it.

But for CNN and the reporter, their mistake is a little bit more egregious.  Again, I don’t think there’s bias, rather, they think they have a story – they might well have- and they are just trying to push the numbers they have to make that story more compelling.

Watch.  Hint, it’s all over by 00:35

The error was in the numbers the CNN reporter was displaying.

Here is the graphic she used:

So the numbers and the graph are:

  • Correct
  • Off High

The graph accurately reflects the White unemployment.  The graph does NOT reflect AfricanAmerican unemployment.  In fact, it shows it lower.  Then again, the graph doesn’t show Hispanic unemployment correctly either, however it too shows the data as lower than the raw numbers.

Which is right?

Let’s listen:

… in the black community 14% compared to whites which is 7%.  Latino community 11% compared to white’s 7%.

In the dialogue we have white unemployment at 7%.  Both the data and the chart show it at 7.4%  She reports that black unemployment is 14% but the data shows 13.6% and the chart shows 13%.  Depending on which you believe, that’s a whole point.  Next she moves to Latinos.  In both comparisons she mentions 11%; consistent with the data but not the graph.

Again, I don’t think there is bias here.  Jon is setting the table for his bit.  But Lordy, how do we trust that these people are saying true things?

Employment: SES Impact – The Bell Curve

I’ve been posting data that comes from the book “The Bell Curve” in a rather chapter by chapter format.  I started with Poverty and then moved to Education.  This post deals with Employment.

I should mention that the data discussed comes from a study the authors use throughout their book.  They have decided to use this data because of the size, scope and amount of relevant data points gathered.  That study is The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth [NLSY].

From the book:

The NLSY is a very large [12,686 persons], nationally representative sample of American youths aged 14-22 in 1979, when the study began, and have been followed ever since.

In the beginning chapters of the book, the authors use the NLSY extensively.  However, the work that they have done and the results being shown in these early chapters are the result of including only non-Latino whites in the analysis.  I’ll explain the authors reasoning in following posts – or you can go ahead and read it for yourself 😉

The next sets of data will show the impact that the socioeconomic status of the individual’s background has on employment and unemployment.  First, let’s take a look at the probability that an individual has of being out of the labor force for at least 1 month in 1989:

Interesting curve.  In all the data we’ve seen so far, the curve is to the advantage of the more wealthy households.  In this case, the probability of leaving the labor force goes up as a kid’s parent’s wealth grows. *

Now, let’s look at the same group of folks in the same year but instead of being out of the labor force, let’s measure unemployment:

Virtually straight.  It really doesn’t matter how wealthy your background is when predicting unemployment.

The impact of SES on the employment and/or unemployment of individuals is hard to gauge.  I’m guessing that with further context it’ll make more sense.

* The authors felt this was strange; I don’t.  Rich kids can afford not to work.

Executive Privilege: President Obama

Today President Obama protected Fast and Furious documents by issuing Executive Privilege.  I don’t have a lot any knowledge of what this really is so I did a little digging around.

Turns out that our current President is not alone in such actions.  For examples of recent such occasions we learn that Dubya used this power 6 times and President Clinton 14.  Obama certainly isn’t walking down a path not already well worn.

So, what IS Executive Privilege?

Well, in short, it’s this:

The right of the president of the United States to withhold information from Congress or the courts.

Interesting to note that this very succinct definition simply states that that the president may withhold information.  Not one word about the type of information.

A slightly longer but still rather short explanation followed:

The Constitution does not specifically enumerate the president’s right to executive privilege; rather, the concept has evolved over the years as presidents have claimed it. As the courts have ruled on these claims, their decisions have refined the notion of executive privilege and have clarified the instances in which it can be invoked. The courts have ruled that it is implicit in the constitutional Separation of Powers, which assigns discrete powers and rights to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. In reality, however, the three branches enjoy not separate but shared powers, and thus are occasionally in conflict. When the president’s wish to keep certain information confidential causes such a conflict, the president might claim the right of executive privilege.

Again, this seems to offer broad applicability and mentions nothing that the information be directly related to the President himself.  Rather, he can restrict the release of information within the executive branch.

In fact, to this end, the concept of Executive Privilege morphed during Eisenhower:

[another] development in the use of executive privilege became known as the candid interchange doctrine. In an attempt to shield the executive branch from the bullying investigative tactics of Senator joseph r. mccarthy, President Eisenhower directed that executive privilege be applied to all communications and conversations between executive branch employees; without the assurance of confidentiality, he claimed, they could not be completely candid. This doctrine marked a tremendous change in the scope of executive privilege, extending it from the president and the president’s top advisers to the myriad offices and agencies that make up the executive branch.

It seems very clear that this privilege extends to much of the information contained within the executive branch.  It’s interesting hearing the right wing speak out claiming that this privilege extends only to information that the President personally was engaged in.

However, this does not totally remove the shadows of doubt in Obama’s actions.  While the precedent for restricting the release of information goes back to Washington, it did so with a spirit that doesn’t exist today:

The term executive privilege emerged in the 1950s, but presidents since George Washington have claimed the right to withhold information from Congress and the courts. The issue first arose in 1792, when a congressional committee requested information from Washington regarding a disastrous expedition of General Arthur St. Clair against American Indian tribes along the Ohio River, which resulted in the loss of an entire division of the U.S. Army. Washington, concerned about how to respond to this request and about the legal precedent his actions would set, called a cabinet meeting. Although no official record was kept of the proceedings, Thomas Jefferson described the deliberations in his diary. The participants, Jefferson wrote, concluded that Congress had the right to request information from the president and that the president “ought to communicate such papers as the public good would permit & ought to refuse those the disclosure of which would injure the public.” In the case at hand, they agreed that “there was not a paper which might not be properly produced,” so Washington provided all the documents that Congress had requested. This event, though notable as the first recorded deliberation concerning executive privilege, did not carry precedential value until after 1957, when Jefferson’s notes were discovered. In 1958, Attorney General William P. Rogers cited Jefferson’s remarks as precedent for an absolute presidential privilege. Legal scholar Raoul Berger declaimed Rogers’s arguments as “at best self serving assertions by one of the claimants in a constitutional boundary dispute.” Instead, Berger argued, Washington’s willingness to turn over the requested documents shows his recognition of Congress’s right to such materials.

I’m sure Obama’s move is going to enrage the right for some time.  For me, I’m certain that he made this move for political reasons and not for legitimate ones.  For reason, he didn’t restrict this information until the day of the vote for contempt of Holder.  However, Obama certainly isn’t breaking with precedent and is only playing by the rules established by his predecessors.

If you are angry by this move, it would be an example of failing to offer objection to the growth of government power when that power was in “your guy’s” hands.

Make no mistake, I’m distressed by this move made by Obama.  I think it’s motivated by politics alone and is despicable.  But he’s not doing anything that hasn’t been done, and approved of, before.

Media Bias: MSNBC

Both sides cry foul when it comes to the media.  Both sides have data that show the other sides gets preferential treatment when it comes to coverage of “their guy” and they can come up with chapter and verse that shows the positive/negative for the other side is skewed.

It’s fun.

But this, THIS, right here, is crazy.

Here MSNBC doesn’t just take a video and start it at a point that clouds the context or ends it at a point that clouds the context.  No.  They actually parse the video, showing a clip from an early section, cutting in a piece from another section and finally end it all with yet another cutting later on.

I hear they even added a laughing track.

Check it out:

That isn’t selective reporting.  That isn’t commentary that favors one version of ideology over another.

THAT is a blatant distortion of the entire conversation.

THAT is media bias.