Wednesday, January 30, 2002

In her column on Welfare Reform, Kate O'Beirne reminds us both of the false prophecies of those who opposed Welfare Reform in 1996 & highlights the rousing successes of the 1996 act:

Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, predicted that the changes would "impoverish millions of American children" and "leave a moral blot on [Clinton's] presidency." Then-Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it "the most brutal act of social policy we have known since Reconstruction" — but the 1996 reforms have in fact dramatically improved the lives of poor children.

Since 1996, welfare rolls have been reduced by over 50 percent. There are 4.2 million fewer people in poverty, including 2.3 million fewer children. The poverty rate for black children is at the lowest point in history, as is the poverty rate for single mothers. According to the Department of Agriculture, there are 2 million fewer hungry children today than in 1996, and, after steadily increasing for a generation, the illegitimate-birth rate hasn't risen in the past five years.

Now, we shouldn't kid ourselves and think that judging the success of welfare reform is as simple as citing the above statistics. I think it was Mark Twain who said, "There are three kinds of dishonesty: lies, damn lies, and statistics!" However, realizing that statistics can be manipulated to show any number of things and that analysis of such a sweeping program is surely more complex, I do think the reforms of 1996 have been a move in the right direction. Alongside these statistics are numerous anecdotes of those who have indeed been helped tremendously by these reforms to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Even when well-intentioned, many of the efforts to help the poor since the beginning of the Great Society have had devastating effects in that they have fostered a paralyzing dependency while undercutting biblical family structures.

O'Beirne urges our policymakers not only to persevere in the kinds of dependency reducing reforms that were implemented in 1996, but also encourages them to put the eradication of illegitimacy and the encouragment of marriage higher on the priority list of new reforms. This in fact was a central plank in the 1996 Welfare Reform movement, however she says that for every $1000 spent subdizing single parents, only $1 was spent encouraging marriage.

No matter how much I play this CD, I just can't get tired of it.

In view of Meir Stampfer's comments in the post below about moderate drinking and good health I thought I'd remind everyone of the origin of the name of that delicious alcoholic Christmas drink, wassail...

In Saxon times the original form of this word was: was hail, (be whole) and was a greeting meaning: "be in good health". In twelfth century, it became a toast, you replied: drink hail, or "drink good health". (Hail = modern "hale" ,Meaning: "health; well-being". It is related to: "hail" which means "salute, greet or welcome".) The toast originated with the Danes; by the twelfth century the Normans thought it to be the most popular sayings of Britain.

The above etymology (and anything else you would ever want to know about wassail) can be found at The Web's Wassail Epicenter

Another study suggesting that moderate alcohol consumption is good for you. Dementia appears to be less probable for those who consume alcohol in moderate amounts:

Those who fared best were people who drank between one and three drinks a day. They had a 42 percent lower risk of developing dementia than the nondrinkers. Those who weren't daily drinkers but had more than one drink per week had a 25 percent lower risk and those who drank less than a glass a week were 18 percent less likely than nondrinkers to develop dementia.

The comments of Meir Stampfer, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health appear to lend support to the ancient tradition of toasting to good health...

"For people who drink moderately, this is another indication that they are not doing any harm. And for those who don't, if they don't simply out of health concerns, they might want to rethink that position," said

Finally, this article suggests that I might want to pop open a Guinness or a Leinie's the next time I sit down to read or study

Another possibility, the study speculated, is that low levels of alcohol could stimulate the release acetylcholine, a brain chemical believed to facilitate learning and memory.

Resolved: The next time I sit down to study Colossians, Covenant Theology, Calvin, or City ministry I will enhance my study, by making sure that I'm releasing acetylcholine with my book in one hand and a Sammy in the other.

Friday, January 25, 2002

This year I want to tackle head-on, with no holds barred, the historical and theological connections between historic Reformed theology and the African-American experience.

Thus begins John Piper's special invitation to the 2002 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors (Feb. 4-6 in Minneapolis). The theme this year is The Sovereignty of God & the 'Soul Dynamic'. Carl Ellis, Jr. (who spoke in St. Louis last night -- unfortunately I was unable to attend) is the keynote speaker and Piper will be giving a biographical sketch of William Wilberforce.

I'm glad someone of Piper's stature in the Reformed world is giving this kind of priority & visibility to racial issues. Usually African-Americans only find this kind of intentional welcoming of dialogue and sharing of the platform with folks who are in the Sojourners, Evangelicals for Social Action, and Prism magazine camps. I'm not completely boo-hooing all of those organizations, I've profited from some of the things they've caused me to think about, but Piper's conference is seeking to demonstrate that we Calvinist folk see this issue as significant and are ready and willing to grapple with it. In other words, race is a conservative, Reformed issue, too. It's somewhat analagous to the Compassionate Conservative stance that Bush has so strenously put forward, communicating that political conservatives care too.

I wonder if Jim could report on this conference for us, since it's in his neck of the woods. Whaddya say JH3K?

A delightful article on Stanley Hauerwas begins this way:

Then Hauerwas, the divinity school's cantankerous star professor, was asked about the events of Sept. 11.

In trademark fashion, he shot back with a theological one-liner.

"People say Sept. 11 changed the world," said Hauerwas, in his nasal Texas twang. "That is false. Thirty-three A.D. forever changed the world."

Hauerwas says much that makes me want to jump up like a Pentecostal and shout, "AMEN!" He also gets a few things wrong in my estimation (that doesn't make him all that unique does it?). No matter, he's worth reading, he almost always stirs the pot in a way that spurs me on to fruitful thinking on one thing or another. Thanks to Jim for the link.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Notice that I updated my blog links, adding Beautiful Feet & Urban Onramps.

Haven't had time to blog much, of late. But I do have a few things to blog about once I get the time.

By the way, I wonder when blog will appear in the dictionary, and if it will be listed as a noun and a verb.


Whaddya know? The Boilers stumbled onto a victory. Don't get used to it, though. This is their worst start in almost 40 years, and Keady's worst start ever with the Black & Gold.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Purdue pulls an upset beating #9 Illinois 84-75. I definitely did not expect this one.

Monday, January 07, 2002

Woooo-hoooooo!!! Man is this cool!! (Yes, by the way, I am coveting.) Apple is far from perfect, but they have an awfully high WOW! coefficient.

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Here's the recipe I used for wassail this Christmas. I got the recipe from The Web's Wassail Epicenter.

The Pastor's Wassail

1 c Sugar
4 ea Cinnamon Sticks
3 Lemon Slices
2 c Pineapple Juice
2 c Orange juice
6 c Claret Wine
1/2 c Lemon Juice
1 c Dry Sherry
Boil first three ingredients with 1/2 cup of water for 5 minutes.
Remove lemon slices, any seeds, and cinnamon sticks. Heat the
remaining ingredients until very warm. Do not boil! Combine with the
syrup and serve very warm.

The wassail was excellent, the best I've had in awhile. I highly recommend The Pastor's Wassail, I'm even thinking about making another batch this weekend. I can't use it all the time, however, because I've got to be able to make a non-alcoholic wassail that I can serve to my kids and other non-drinkers.

Wednesday, January 02, 2002

Here's entirely too much information on how a football flies through the air, with more info to come after further testing.

Big 10 basketball season opened tonight: Ohio St. 79 Purdue 71. Congratulations Dawn & Jason.

Tuesday, January 01, 2002

Sun Bowl Final -- Washington State 33 Purdue 27

As I predicted, we got beat. I must say, however, that the Boilers made more of a game of it than I ever expected, with an exciting finish to boot. Joe Tiller has taken Purdue to a bowl game in each of his first five seasons after a bowl drought of ten years or so -- impressive. However, after winning the first two bowls (Alamo Bowls vs. Oklahoma State & Kansas State), we are 0-3 the last three years (loss to Georgia in the Outback, Washington in the Rose, and now Washington State in the Sun). The Boilers really need to get back to a New Year's Day bowl next year...and they need to bring back a "W"!

On an optimistic note for next year Kyle Orton looked promising the last three games of the season. He played pretty well in the Sun Bowl (38-74 for 419 yds 2 TD's, 4 INT's) considering the fact that he's a true freshman. He's definitely got the arm, the question is can he win (he's 0-3 so far).

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