Perspective on the economy

Roger Simon on our economic woes:

Let’s get a bit of perspective on things. Yes, yes: my 401K is a 201K now, too. As I write, the market is hovering around 8000, down from a high of more than 14,000 not so many months ago. In October, unemployment jumped from 6.1 to 6.5 percent–ouch! Inflation this year is about 3.7 percent, up from 2.7 percent last year (and 1.6 percent just a few years ago). Not good, what? How does it compare with, say, the golden age of Ronald Reagan. Well, by the end of 1982, unemployment was 10.8 percent, up from 8.6 percent the year before. The Dow was 700–that’s seven hundred . Inflation peaked in 1980 at 14.76 percent, dropping over the course of 1982 from 8.39 to 3.83. Thinking of buying a house? The prime interest rate in 1980 touched 21.5 percent. In 1982, it went from a high of 17 to a low of 11.5 percent. It is about 4 now.

What, Sherlock, do you make of all these numbers? Here are two things: One, the market, and all associated economic indices, fluctuate. Two, we are a lot richer now than we were in in 1980.

Does that make you feel better?

Citibank gets bailed out

Citibank gets bailed out. I’ve been feeling bad about Citibank. I’ve felt guilty because my credit card balance with that company must be part of the debt that is dragging them under. Actually, I’ve been fantasizing that if Citibank goes under maybe there wouldn’t be anybody left to accept my payments and that somehow I wouldn’t have to make them anymore. If Citibank were to cease to exist, I figured that would amount to a bailout for me! Why wouldn’t that work?

Mikaeel Jackson, Muslim convert

Michael Jackson ‘converts to Islam and changes name to Mikaeel’ :

The former Jackson 5 star was counselled by David Wharnsby, a Canadian songwriter, and Phillip Bubal, a producer, who have both converted.

A source said Jackson had appeared a “bit down” and added: “They began talking to him about their beliefs, and how they thought they had become better people after they converted. Michael soon began warming to the idea.

“An imam was summoned from the mosque and Michael went through the shahada, which is the Muslim declaration of belief.”

Last year his brother, Jermaine Friday, suggested Jackson would convert having taken an interest in Islam since Friday’s conversion in 1989.

“When I came back from Mecca I got him a lot of books and he asked me lots of things about my religion and I told him that it’s peaceful and beautiful,” said Friday.

Jackson was raised a Jehovah’s Witness. Notice how it isn’t just the eccentric pop star. We have a songwriter, a producer, and another singer. I’m telling you, Islam is going to be more and more in vogue. And, no, I don’t think it’s going to lessen the immorality in the entertainment industry. Legalism doesn’t lessen immorality.

A church home for the Obamas

So churches in the D.C. area are falling all over themselves inviting president-elect Barack Obama and his family to become members. See Churches Vie to Attract The Newest First Family – Since Mr. Obama surely reads this blog, I need to make a pitch for our church.

Mr. Obama, I would like to welcome you to St. Athanasius Lutheran Church in nearby Vienna, Virginia. We are very small, but diverse. We can promise you profound liturgical worship. Powerful, rich preaching. A wonderful pastor who will give you and your family pastoral care.

Specifically, you will hear the Law and, above all, the Gospel at our church, the message about God incarnate crucified for our salvation. You will find absolution for your sins. You will receive teaching from the inerrant Word of God. Christ is really present at our congregation. We receive the Body and Blood of Christ, given for you, every Sunday.

You will be taught to value life from conception on. You will learn other things you do not realize now. We will honor your earthly authority and teach you about your vocation under God and as a fruit of faith. You will find great help and comfort for the trials and suffering that you will doubtless endure as President of the United States.

You’ll find it different from what you are used to. You will have to be catechized for many months before you can join. But it will be worth it.

The Twilight zone

The Twilight books seem to be the biggest teen & tween reading phenomenon since Harry Potter. They are about vampires and romance, but I am told they are startlingly wholesome, glorifying abstinence and other moral values. The author, Stephenie Meyer, is a Mormon. Now the first book has been made into a movie and is a huge hit. See this article: NO SEX, VIOLENCE OR STARS, YET #1: ‘Twilight’ Takes Biggest $70.5M Bite Out Of Box Office Weekend.

Can anybody speak about these books or the movie? Have you or your progeny read them? I’m not picking up any Christian objections, justified or not, as there were for Harry Potter. How is Twilight’s portrayal of vampires different from Harry Potter’s portrayal of witches, so as to make the former less problematic?

Sooners back in the hunt?

I could hardly believe the Oklahoma Sooners (my alma mater) handled Texas Tech, the number 2 team in the nation, with such ease, beating them 65-21. The mighty Big 12 South will probably have three teams with only one loss, assuming they all win out in their final game: Texas beat Oklahoma, but Texas Tech beat Texas, but Oklahoma beat Texas Tech. One of these teams will win the South part of the conference and will play the winner of the North (Missouri) for the Big 12 championship. That team may very well be in the national championship game.

The tie breaker in a three-way case like this is which team ranks highest in the BCS standings. So who should rate higher?

Today’s human polls have Oklahoma at #2, after Alabama, but the computers have Texas at #2. After the calculations Texas wins that position. But consider Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ arguments:

“If you can’t move us in front of Texas because they beat us, then you’ve got to keep Texas Tech in front of Texas.”

Then, he made a less-than-veiled reference to Florida’s 31-30 home loss to Ole Miss back in September. [Florida is ranked #4 anyway.]

“If you’re going to forgive a team for losing at home to an unranked team because they’re playing well now, well, we’re playing pretty well now, too. If it’s logical to someone else, it’s logical to us.”

The campaigning promises to turn ugly, particularly if the Big 12 ends in a three-way tie among Oklahoma, Texas (10-1) and Texas Tech (10-1), which are all 1-1 against each other. That would be the Longhorns’ only shot to get to the conference title game, provided they are ranked higher than Oklahoma – a team they beat, 45-35, in Dallas earlier this season – in the Nov.30 BCS poll.

Texas (.9209) is ranked second behind Alabama in the BCS standings released last night, slightly ahead of Oklahoma (.9125). The Sooners are actually ranked ahead of the Longhorns in the two human polls, which each make up a third of the equation in the BCS rankings. Oklahoma is second in the coaches’ poll ahead of Florida and Texas, but the Sooners only have a 42-point lead over the Longhorns. Oklahoma is third in the Harris Interactive poll, leading fourth-ranked Texas by a mere 21 points. Texas got its big bump from the six computers, which unanimously ranked the Longhorns No.2 and the Sooners No.3.

Oklahoma plays Oklahoma State next week–a ranked #10 in the nation–so a win should surely mean something.