More from my brother

I am so glad that my brother started reading and commenting on my blog. In case you missed it, here is more of what he said on that state bank post, in dialogue with tODD:

Thank you Todd. It is true that I am new to this blog thing, but I am starting to really get into it now. So much so that I am becoming unproductive at work.

On a personal note, my brother (“Dr. Veith”) is four years older than
myself and my twin sister. We have always acknowledged that he is the smartest person in the family. However, we are so confident in the little bit that we do know, that we can have some vigorous debates. They are always civil. We use Risk and Monopoly to vent our sibling aggression.

[tODD boos Monopoly and recommends Settlers of Catan.]

Thanks Todd for the suggestion. But don’t knock Monopoly. It is the game that taught my big brother (“Dr. Veith”) to become a capitalist. Come to think of it, he always won! I was always the big loser, which might also explain why I became a socialist. (Just Kidding.) But I did grow up to become a consumer bankruptcy lawyer.

Hey, my life is starting to make sense.

The reason our arguments are civil is that we always make them humorous. Maybe I’ll get my brother to be a guest blogger one of these days when I’m gone. That would balance out this blog, making it fair and balanced, like FOX News. My brother is both a lefty and a Southern Baptist.

The junk man's revolt

Charles Krauthammer says that our new folk heroes are coming from airports, from that flight attendant who slid out onto the tarmac to the man who told TSA screeners “don’t touch my junk.”  Krauthammer relates the national outrage over these third degree sexual assault patdowns to the revolt against other kinds of government infringement upon our persons.  The whole column is worth reading, but I was struck by this, especially the point about screening pilots:

The entire apparatus of the security line is a national homage to political correctness. Nowhere do more people meekly acquiesce to more useless inconvenience and needless indignity for less purpose. Wizened seniors strain to untie their shoes; beltless salesmen struggle comically to hold up their pants; 3-year-olds scream while being searched insanely for explosives – when everyone, everyone, knows that none of these people is a threat to anyone.

The ultimate idiocy is the full-body screening of the pilot. The pilot doesn’t need a bomb or box cutter to bring down a plane. All he has to do is drive it into the water, like the EgyptAir pilot who crashed his plane off Nantucket while intoning “I rely on God,” killing all on board.

But we must not bring that up. We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety – 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.

The junk man’s revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.

But now you insist on a full-body scan, a fairly accurate representation of my naked image to be viewed by a total stranger? Or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which, as the junk man correctly noted, would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else?

This time you have gone too far, Big Bro’. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time and try my patience. But don’t touch my junk.

via Charles Krauthammer – Don’t touch my junk.

Cranach is in a list of top 50 blogs

Joe Carter at the First Things blog lists what he considers the top 50 blogs of the year.  And this  blog is one of them.

With an estimated 200 million active blogs written in the English language, choosing the best blogs of the year is a daunting task.

Fortunately, I know which ones they are.

Listed below are the top 50 blogs that I have found to be the most convicting, enlightening, frustrating, illuminating, maddening, stimulating, right-on and/or wrongheaded during 2010.

The selection process is, by necessity, intensely personal and unapologetically subjective. There are a number of blogs that are written by brilliant thinkers and stylists yet, for one reason or another, have not captured my imagination in the way that the blogs on this list have done.

via The Best Blogs of 2010 » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

Joe Carter was one of the pioneering Christian bloggers with his Evangelical Outpost, so his praise means a lot.  As he explains, his list focuses on blogs that deal in religion, culture, and/or politics–as First Things does–and so leaves out a lot of categories.  You’ll want to check out the whole list.  Some of them I already read regularly, but many are new to me, and they are probably worth reading also.

I do appreciate being numbered in their company, and you commenters deserve to get in on the honor.

Bible translations and metaphor

In my earlier post about the even newer New International Version of the Bible, I complained about how that line of translations is indifferent to metaphor, poetry, and beauty of language. I cited as an example how the new NIV renders “the valley of the shadow of death” as “the dark valley.”

I would argue that sensitivity to literary qualities is necessary in an accurate translation. Metaphors are not just ornaments. They express meaning and are essential in expressing complex, multi-leveled, rich meanings that go beyond simple prosaic statements.

Consider these translations of Genesis 4:1:

The historic English Bible, from the KJV through the ESV, keeps the Hebrew metaphor: “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived.”

The 1984 NIV thinks it has to explain what the metaphor means: “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant.”

The 2010 NIV is more romantic: “Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant.”

The original Hebrew uses a profound metaphor that communicates important meaning about marital sexuality in God’s design: They “knew” each other.

Ironically, the other readings are just as metaphorical and even more euphemistic. “Lay with” is ugly and strangely old-fashioned, a version of “sleep with.” “Make love,” not too long ago, meant courting or flirting, not having sex (so that many contemporary readers of 19th century novels think they are much more racy than they are).

At any rate, “Adam knew Eve” is how the original language reads. If God inspired the words, He surely inspired the metaphors.

Reviving the Nonpartisan Party

I don’t know if you noticed, but my brother Jimmy finally read my blog and commented on the State Bank post a few days ago (a topic that he alerted me to). Here is what he said:

The history of the Bank of North Dakota is very interesting. It is a product of a populist political organization known as the Nonpartisan League, which was formed in 1915 by a former socialist. It soon took over the Republican party in North Dakota and even elected a governor, Lynn Frazier. In 1921, he became the first governor to be recalled after an investigation of the bank showed it to be insolvent.

(Which goes to show you that any institution can become corrupted by incompetent or dishonest executives, but at least with a state owned bank you have the ability to have them removed. What can we do to the CEO’s of privately owned companies that do the same? I believe that most of them are still in charge and doing quite well with their generous bonuses.)

In 1956, the Nonpartisan League broke away from Republican party and merged with the democratic party.

Despite these early problems, the Bank of North Dakota survived. I think it would be a good model for the rest of the country. I don’t think that a state owned bank needs to replace large commercial lenders or the federal reserve, but would be kind of like a “public option” for individuals and small businesses who want a low interest real estate loan, student loan or small business loan. the growth of state owned banks would provide a certain amount of stability in the economy and would also benefit the states that have them.

However, the “establishment” would certainly resist having to compete with a state owned bank that did not have to give dividends to its stockholders. I can hear Glen Beck now, standing in front of his chalkboard decrying the “socialist” origins of state owned banks.

It would take a true populist movement to establish state owned banks, not the tea party types that are too ideological and anti-government. Power to the People!

See, he is an example of what I had posted about earlier, the old-school populist Democrat. He raises at least two points worth discussing:

(1) Can a genuinely populist movement be too ideological and anti-government?

(2) I think we should revive the third party he refers to: the Nonpartisan Party. It only ceased to exist because it first merged with the Republican Party and then merged with the Democratic Party.

November 22, 1963

This is the day, 47 years ago, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and C. S. Lewis died. Also Aldous Huxley, who wrote the prophetic dystopian novel Brave New World.

So the day can be seen as something of a watershed–the end of political idealism, the beginning of the post-Christian age, the entry into a new dystopian age, the day the music died, etc.

People of my generation remember where they were when they learned that Kennedy was shot. I was in study hall in Junior High. I guess I was 12. I was a big Kennedy fan and political idealist at the time. A few of my friends applauded at the news, whereupon I yelled at them. It was scary, since we thought (correctly) that the Communists were involved and the Russians might attack. Then seeing Lee Harvey Oswald get assassinated too blew our minds again. Watching the news was more dramatic than watching fiction.

Are any of you old enough to remember where you were and what you felt?

Was the day really a watershed?


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