Friday, October 27, 2017

Astros v. Dodgers and the randomness of baseball


At one win apiece for the Astros and Dodgers, in about three hours we have the start of what is a best three-of-five World Series. IMHO the best predictor of a winner between these two 100-plus-game-winning teams is a fair coin toss. If that is so (and it is) then there is a decent chance that this will end with Sunday night's Game 5. That decent chance is one-in-four or 25%. Why? Whoever wins tonight has the equivalent of two subsequent coin tosses coming up heads of being WORLD CHAMPION before ever having to leave Houston to play again in LA. If this happens then the talking-head analysts and commentators (i.e., blowhards) will explain why such a one-sided, 4-to-1 series was inevitable. How one team choked, blah, blah, blah, and how the other came through in the clutch.

A just as good or better explanation is that the championship was the result of what is, not to be too technical, called Dumb Luck.

Of course there is a 3-in-4 or 75% chance that there will be a Game 6 Tuesday night in LA. The dream of the dreams of Fox TV executives, the guaranteed high-ratings fall event, Game 7, has a better than 1-in-3 (37%) chance of also happening.

Again the expensive suit-and-tie wearing Big Boys, ex-players all, will pontificate as to why it all happened and do so with all the absolute certainty obtainable with 20-20 hindsight.

These well-paid, self-satisfied Big Boys with Big Mouths get the Big Bucks while Lady Luck only gets ignored. Talk about Gender Inequality!

So relax and take in two great teams playing each other. Take in baseball’s ultimate emotional roller coast ride with the thrills, disappointments, randomness, and joy called the World Series. It doesn’t get better than this -- especially if you don’t pay too much attention to the talking heads.

Just do what Mr. Puig #66 would do: Enjoy the game.



Sunday, February 5, 2017

A little Q & A....featuring answer man Ernie Miller.

Q: So. What do you say to God when you're a total failure? What do you say to Him when you want something you don't think He wants for you? What do you say to Him when you don't even know if your thinking is correct or right? How about this: What do you say to Him when you know where you are coming from is wrong? How do you handle the anger? How do you handle the disappointment? You know the truth but you do not want to submit? I'm not asking you, because you don't know the answer. But, think of it. Have you been there? Have you been in the place where you KNOW what your doing or thinking is wrong, yet, you continue in it? Does that thing have a hold on you and you don't want to give it up? What do you do? You say you love God but you continue in doing that which He hates. Who are you? What are you? What are your choices in this situation? I can hear the answers of the legalistic. But what does God say? How does He handle someone who is in that place? It is easy to speak platitudes. But, in the end, the heart is evil and desperately wicked without Him. (OK, for all of you who don't acknowledge Him I am not quite sure what you would say.) So? What is a follower of Christ? What should that person look like? And further, what is the person that DOESN'T look like it? Jesus said that "His" road is narrow and that few go by that way.
A: ...[T]hese things are not a surprise to the Lord ..actually they are the plight of every man . Somehow we decide what to allow in our lives, our thoughts, our hearts, and when a whole group of people agree on these things ...you have religion . Yet Gods standard is perfection. Thank him for being able to see in such a way, many cannot . But this is the very thing Christ died for. When we admit were not willing, our hearts are far from Him...this is the very truth He is looking for .
And what does a Christian look like...blameless before our God..for the blood of Christ is sufficient ..nay more than sufficient
So many preach holiness and righteousness and to that I say Amen. But even to those the truth is this...holiness and righteousness is not only a thing of the past , but of the present and of tomorrow..and what will a man do not for yesterday's sins, but tomorrow's? Shall his holiness save him ? Or will He call out for the mercy and grace of our Lord? There's no other way. For its by grace alone that we are saved and by grace alone that we stand...so no man may boast .

SOURCE:  Copied and pasted without permission from a Facebook page without attribution. This does not constitute plagiarism since I do not claim authorship. I stole it!  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

fb the day after

I am so tired of all the anger, accusations, outrage, contrived victim-hood, and more.  I thought it was just the election bringing out the worst in us.  Now the election is over, but it is continuing.   Now I am beginning to see that it is not the election, it is us.

What is the source of all the filth we see and hear?  Jesus said, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Mt 12:34).  The problem with America isn't the media, the candidates,  the President, the President-elect, or those in Washington.  It is us.  We are merely seeing some evidence, the tip of the iceberg, the overflow of the reservoir of filth within us.

This is not the way to act after an election.  It is destructive to a democratic society.  It is not only rude, but unpatriotic and un-American.  "If we can't begin to treat each other in a more human way, this thing is going to go from bad to horrible."

"I'm Bob Blewett and I approve this message."

Monday, November 7, 2016

Voting for evil or voting for what American can be

The following quote is from a video I just watched:

I will vote to oppose the loss of freedom.  I will vote to oppose the loss of life.  And I will vote to oppose the loss of the traditional family.”
 ~ Tommy Nelson, The Continental Divide 

After some reflection I realize that the sentences above are each negative votes  They are votes of opposition, even votes of fear.  They are defensive.  They are truly votes of protest rather than affirmations of what America can be as a country.  

Maybe we should take a different approach to voting.

As for me, I will vote for one who will support and defend the Constitution.  I will vote for one who will submit to the Constitution as written and to the rule of law.  I will vote for one who does not wink at political corruption as the art of a deal or as a convenient means to an end.
 
Thereby I will vote to support freedom.

As for me, I will vote for one who values all human life since all human life is made in the image of God.  I will vote for one who respects the human rights of all citizens and residents regardless of their race, ethnicity, or national origin, as well as regardless of their religious, political, or social views and beliefs.

Thereby, I will vote to value life and the dignity of people.

As for me, I will vote for a person of competence and character to have the job of President.  I will vote for one competent to deal with Congress, to be commander-in-chief of the military, to be effective in both domestic and foreign affairs.  I will vote for someone I can best trust to lead us through still dangerous times.

Thereby, I will vote to support a better America and a safer world.

After reading the above, you may think me an incredibly self-righteous ass.  Be that as it may, I still have the problem of deciding for whom to vote.  I want my vote to count, to be tallied or enumerated, as well as to count for something important, something positive, something bigger than myself.

Neither of the two leading candidates meet, neither fails to meet, all my criteria.  All candidates are flawed human beings, but I sincerely believe those two are particularly appalling and clearly unfit for the office.  Neither is someone for whom I could vote in good conscience.  Neither am I constrained by the false dilemma of either Clinton or Trump.  In my state I have the option of voting for one out of a total of 36 candidates (four on the ballot, 32 certified for write-ins).

There is one of the 36 that I think is fit for office.  Evan McMullin appears to meet my criteria:  

I am not throwing my vote away voting for McMullin.  Throwing my vote away, as well as selling out my moral values, would be voting for Clinton or Trump.

This is not a “protest” vote.  A protest vote is voting for Trump because you don’t like Clinton or vice versa.  I do not have to vote for the lessor of two evils.  I do not need to settle for voting for evil.  I can vote for Evan McMullin without feeling degraded and ashamed.

In 2016 I do not have to vote for evil, incompetence, or corruption.  I can and will vote for affirmation of what America can be as a country.  I'm voting for Evan McMullin.

Be blessed!

Special NYS Rules for Write-in Votes for President


What to do if you do not want to vote for one of the four candidates for President listed on the ballot in New York?  Of course you can do a write-in vote.  However it must be done correctly or the vote will not count.  Since the President is not elected directly but by electors, rules are different for Presidential write-ins than they are for other offices.

"In order to run as a write-in candidate for President, a person must file a certificate with the State Board of Elections, in which they declare themselves to be a write-in candidate for the office of President" (NYS Board of Election).  If you write-in another name, even a name already on the ballot's list of candidates, the write-in vote will not count.

Here is how it works. "As you sign in to vote, you will be handed a voting card that contains the various offices that you will be voting for.... You will then take this card over to a table that has partitions on it which helps to keep your choices secret. Upon looking at the card, you'll note that each office being contested has the list of the authorized candidates along with a circle next to each name. At the bottom of each list of candidates will be printed the word "Other" with a blank line next to it. Take the marking instrument provided and fill in the circle next to the word "Other". Then write in the name of the person that you wish to vote for. When you are finished, take the card up to the election inspector near the voting machine and give your card to him/her. They will run your card through the machine which will record your vote" (source).

Here is a list of the 32 NYS certified write-in candidates for President:

Arantxa Aranja 725 Ninth Avenue, #2A, New York, NY 10019
Neer R. Asherie 121 Reade Street, PH-H, New York, NY 10013
Mark Blickley 2728 Thomson Avenue, #202, Long Island City, NY 11101
Robert L. Buchanan P. O. Box 6151, Fredericksburg, VA 22403
Gary S. Canns 145 East 23rd Street, #5-D, New York, NY 10010
Willie Carter 5100 Turner Street, Fort Worth, TX 76105
Darrell Castle 2586 Hocksett Cove, Germantown, TN 38139
Ariel Cohen 449 Roy Street, West Hempstead, NY 11552
William J. Connolly 10953 State Route 32, Greenville, NY 12083
“Rocky” Roque De La Fuente 121 Nurmi Drive, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
Jason Fried 757 Jefferson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11221
Zoltan Istvan Gyurko 35 Miller Avenue, #102, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Ben Hartnell 1025 Autumn Lake Court, Westerville, OH 43081
Tom Hoefling 101 Third Street, Lohrville, IA 51453
Michael Frederick Ingbar 174 Spring Street, #20, New York, NY 10012
Lynn Kahn 18 Lakeview Way, PO Box 562, Schroon Lake, NY 12870
Chris Keniston 2329 15th Street, Vernon, TX 76384
Gloria La Riva 3207 Mission Street, Apt. 9, San Francisco, CA 94110
Jeffrey Mackler 33 Mandana Circle, Oakland, CA 94610
Michael A. Maturen 3296 East Clemens Road, Harrisville, MI 48740
Evan McMullin 333 Second Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Monica Moorehead 37 Bentley Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07304
Jason Mutford 912 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12203
Clifton Roberts 9382 Willow Pond Circle, Elk Grove, CA 95624
Marshall Schoenke 21924 W. Linden Avenue, Lake Villa, IL 60046
Ryan Alan Scott 194 Vincent Circle, Middletown, DE 19709
Emidio Soltysik 11713 Avon Way, #15, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Tony Valdivia 11306 Candle Park, San Antonia, TX 78249
J. J. Vogel-Walcutt 1329 Tall Maple Loop, Oviedo, FL 32765
Esther Welsh 95-20 67th Avenue, Rego Park, NY 11374
Barbara Whitaker 149 West Fourth Street, Apt. 4B, New York, NY 10912
Robert M. Wolff 627 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206
 (NYS Board of Election).

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Silence Is Deafening: Zero Support for Trump Among Former Presidential Economic Advisers




Today's Wall Street Journal (Friday 26 August 2016, p. A5) published a survey of all former members of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) going back to the Nixon administration.  The CEA was created by the Employment Act of 1946 to advise the President on economic policy and consists of three members appointed by the President.

None of the 45 living former members are willing publicly support Donald Trump.  That is NONE as in ZERO, as in NADA, as in ZILCH. (The results do not indicate whether the non-living former CEA members are, or are not, rolling over in their graves at the prospect of a Trump presidency.)  



While no former member supported the opposition party's candidate, the silence on Trump by economists serving under Republicans is deafening.  Among the Republican-appointed CEA members, all were silent except six, who all opposed Trump.  These six included former CEA chairs who served under Reagan (Martin Feldstein) and Bush #43 (Greg Mankiw).  It is very unusual for advisers to state opposition to the candidate of the party whose President appointed them.

“I have known personally every Republican president since Richard Nixon,” said Harvard University economist Martin Feldstein, who chaired the council under President Ronald Reagan. “They all showed a real understanding of economics and international affairs….Donald Trump does not have that understanding and does not seem to be concerned about it. That alone disqualifies him in my judgment.”  

Source:  http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/08/25/economists-whove-advised-presidents-are-no-fans-of-donald-trump/ 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Groundhog Day Gospel

The Gospel of Christ is not a gospel of second chances.  Yes, God gives second chances.  However, we do not have a gospel of second chances.  Let me explain.  Many of us think to ourselves, “I have sinned and failed.”  We come to Christ and he forgives our sin and failure.  This gives us a clean slate.  We have another chance.  We go out and purpose to try to do better.  When we eventually stumble then we have Christ to again forgive us, pick us up, and maybe give some coaching or teaching so we can live better lives.  We go out clean, then stumble again, and then repeat the process.  And then repeat the process.  Again.  And again. 

We hope we have been improving, getting better, and becoming a better person.  Maybe we are getting to be a better imitation of Christ?  Maybe we can get closer to God?  What else can a person do?

The above is not the Gospel.  The above is a spiritual application of the movie Groundhog Day.

We don’t have a Gospel of Second Chances.  Why not?  Because we never had a first chance. Without the first chance, then how can there be a second, a third, or even a seven-times-seventieth chance?

Why no first chance?  We were all born into a broken world, a world broken and dysfunctional since the Fall in the Garden.  We were not only born into a fallen, broken world, we ourselves were born broken, born with a sinful disposition. This was not God’s desire, not at all what he intended, but we and all before us have been broken and have contributed to the vicious, downward cycle of dysfunction and brokenness in this world.

We never had a first chance because we never had a chance to live holy, righteous lives in the first place.  Yes, God gave Moses the Law but the purpose was not to give us a manual showing us how to live lives pleasing to God.  The Apostle Paul wrote that the purpose of the Law was to show us we do not, and will not, live sinless lives.  The purpose was to show the world that we cannot fulfil the Law, to show that we can never, no matter how hard we try, never be holy, never be righteous, never be sanctified, and thus never be acceptable to God (Romans 3:19-20).  We are guilty and already condemned.  Showing us this is a good thing since the Law shows us the absolute necessity of God’s mercy. The penalty is death and without the Blood of the Lamb to pay that price for our freedom we have no chance.

The Gospel of Christ is that God through Christ Jesus came not to give a second chance to you or me, but to bring death to the old man and to bring to life a new creation in us.  This new man, this new creation, this new person has the Holiness, Righteousness, and Sanctification of Christ.  It is through the efforts of God, not the efforts of man; it is Christ in you or me, not you or me, that makes us a new creation.

Yes, we can act holy, but without Christ we cannot be holy.  We can do righteous works, but without Christ we cannot be righteous.  We can act sanctified, do the works of one who is sanctified, but only Christ can make us sanctified.  Yes, in our own efforts we can act sanctified, righteous and holy, but we can’t keep it up.  We can’t keep it up through our own efforts because it is only an act.  I do not mean we are phonies or hypocrites; I mean these are merely acts, not who we are.

The Groundhog Day Gospel is a gospel of bondage, of endless repetition, of continual frustration.  A gospel that does not bring us closer to God but lets us cling to the delusion that we can do better next time; the delusional that it is all about becoming better people.  The message of the Groundhog Day Gospel is, “Not good enough” with the subtext, “Try harder, fail better.”  Like the movie, each day we repeat the cycle.  Unlike the movie, we never escape the cycle.  Being better is not good enough.  The word gospel literally means “good news.”  This Groundhog Day Gospel is bad news.  It is a false gospel.  While this false gospel will not keep us from having our names written in the Book of Life, it can rob us of a lot of joy that God wants us to have in Christ. 

What to do?  How can we be freed from the slavery of this false gospel?  How can we escape the living hell of not good enough and try harder, fail better?  Christ suffered death on the Cross to free us; he never intended to settle for us just being better people.  What God wants is more than we can give him though our own efforts.  He died and rose again to make us sons and daughters of the living God.  “Because of what God has done, you belong to Christ Jesus.  He has become God’s wisdom for us.  He makes us right with God.  He makes us holy and sets us free” (I Cor 1:30 NIRV).

What to do?  Jesus was asked by the people, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  Jesus answered, “The work of God is this:  to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6: 28-29).  Believe we are each a child of God if we have come to faith in Christ Jesus.  Believe Christ did it all and that our standing as such is settled and will not change.  God wants a close relationship with his children. How close?  God wants to abide in us, to live in and with us, through the person of the Holy Spirit.  Accept that the efforts of Christ brings this about, not our own efforts.  So rest, take a Sabbath, take a permanent vacation from your own efforts.  Rather than look to the efforts of our flesh, our human nature, look to God. (Romans 8:5-8).  Follow God and let the Holy Spirit work in you and through you. 

Rest from your efforts; abide in Christ; let the Holy Spirit do the work that he was given to do.  You may be surprised when you realize your acts, your behavior, your inclinations will be changing, moving toward godliness.  That God is working in you.  You will find that being changed by God, by abiding in him, brings permanent change that could never be obtained by your own efforts.

Be blessed!
RB

Friday, September 18, 2015

An autumn tradition: Shakespeare in the North Country

It’s time once again for a favorite part of fall, the American Shakespeare Center performances, and your favorite duty, which is telling others that FREE tickets are now available at the Brewer Bookstore and the Sullivan Student Center. For those who shamelessly procrastinate, FREE tickets should be available at the door of each night's performance.  Since they are FREE, I might be wrong, and if I am, shame on you!

If you’re new to St. Lawrence University, the American Shakespeare Center’s touring troupe, based in Staunton, VA, has visited us for nearly 25 years, since 1992 (we’re one of only 3 colleges in the country with such a long relationship). The actors bring us three shows a year, typically two of Shakespeare’s plays and one from his era, and offer workshops here as well. This year, however, we’ll get to see a late-Victorian comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, along with Henry V, and Julius Caesar. These are modified original practices performances: the house lights stay on, the actors do not perform on an elevated stage (you’re encouraged to stand up to see, as some in Shakespeare’s audience would have done), there are no microphones, and there is lots of music. It’s a lot of fun, particularly if you sit in the front row, where you might become part of the action.


All tickets are FREE this year, but as always I do recommend picking them up early, and arriving to the shows around a half hour early, to catch some of the pre-show music and to get a great seat.

All performances are in Eben Holden Center. The schedule is:

• Thursday, October 8, 7:30 pm, Henry V
• Friday, October 9, 7:30 pm, Henry V
• Saturday, October 10, 7:30 pm, Julius Caesar
• Saturday, October 10, Midnight, The Importance of Being Earnest
• Sunday, October 11, 5:30 pm, The Importance of Being Earnest

Do note that SLU’s traditional midnight performance (did you know we are the only campus in the country for whom the actors are willing to perform at midnight?)—my consistent pick for best show, year after year; there’s some adrenaline in that room—has moved from Friday to Saturday. Sunday’s performance, too, has moved later into the evening by popular request.

Finally, this year, we’re featuring two events in conjunction with the performances:
• a FREE lecture by Dr. Sarah Skwire of the Liberty Fund on “Political Economics in Henry V” in Sykes at 8 pm on Wednesday, October 7
• a FREE panel discussion on “The Economics of Performance and Production” featuring PCA’s own Zip Trainor, visiting ASC actor Andrew Goldwasser, and Dr. Skwire at noon on Thursday, October 8 in Eben Holden North (you’re encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch)

[Shamelessly plagiarized in large part from a campus email sent by Sarah Barber of the English Department and there is nothing you can do about it.  So there!]

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

John Newton in the 18th C. on a 21st C. problem

I asked the Lord that I may grow
in faith and love and every grace,
Might more of his salvation know,
and seek more earnestly his face.

'Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
and He I trust has answered prayer,
But it has been in such a way
as almost drove me to despair.

I thought that in some favored hours,
at once he'd answer my request,
And by His love's transforming power,
Subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of that He made me feel
the hidden evils of my heart,
And bade the angry powers of hell
assault my soul in every part.

Nay, more, with His hand He seemed 
intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
blasted my gourds*, and laid me low.

"Lord, why this?" I trembling cried,
"Wilt Thou pursue this worm to death?"
"This is the way," the Lord replied,
"I answer prayer for grace and faith."

"These inward trials I employ
from sin and self to set thee free,
And cross thy schemes of earthly joy
that thou might find thy all in Me."



John Newton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­iv­er, 1779).

Text Source:
Treasures in Christ by Jean Oathout (7 July 2015).

Image
: "Hymn 36" in A Selection of Favorite Conference Hymns with Historical Sketches of Church History: through every century of the Christian Era, edited by J.A. Burke (Albany, NY: A.N. Sherman, 1829), p.34.

*Alludes to the plant that provided shade in Jonah (4: 6-7, KJV).


















Monday, June 1, 2015

Arminian v. Calvinist? Don't think so.....

This afternoon I read this exchange between an elderly John Wesley and a young Charles Simeon which occurred in the mid-1780's. I then found it reprinted online and did a cut and paste. Here Simeon writes of the meeting and refers to himself in the third person.
CharlesSimeon.jpg Wesley  Simeon A young Minister, about three or four years after he was ordained, had an opportunity of conversing familiarly with the great and venerable leader of the Arminians in this kingdom; and, wishing to improve the occasion to the uttermost, he addressed him nearly in the following words:

Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

No.

What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things where in we agree.

Sources: here and there.