Monday, March 23, 2020

Locust Plagues and UN Plagues

In 1969 there was a locust plague whose leading edge ended up in Abu Dhabi. Which back then had about 3 acres of grass in the whole emirate. About 2 acres of which was provided by my RedRider wagon dirt delivery business.
When they built the 11 Phillip's 66 sandblock homes (think cinderblocks made en-situ out of sand and concrete that an 8 year old boy could get into trouble for easily hammering a hole in the wall with - it wasn't my fault, my hand slipped, I swear).
Each of the houses had a sandblock planter so they imported real honest to gosh soil from Iran and after they filled them all they had a bunch left over. So I organized a business delivering soil to the homes in the compound. I was in the third grade and supervised a rotating band of unreliable 1st and 2nd grade ne'er-do-wells to help. I was an equal opportunity employer, half of my crew being girls - we had a terrible labor shortage in AD and girls were more expensive because they demanded fringe benefits - I had to buy them a coke. They actually went on strike until I got them ice....they disliked desert heated coke. Damned socialists.
My dad and a couple other families were my customers, growing luxuriant beds of bermuda grass and even potatoes and carrots from my premium quality dirt. All of which were eaten to the nub by huge two inch long hoppers who covered the ground so thick that we were forced to wear shoes to school - a terrible imposition in those days.
We didn't need to use pesticide to kill them, the rub al khali desert did that.
But Africans today desperately need pesticides to save their crops from a new locust plague. But our Lords' enviro panic and ChiComm flu panics have merged into a murderous mega panic that will likely take far, far more African lives than it will save in America and Europe.
So much of what passes for "liberalism" these days is just "selfishism". 
Here is an article about how the UN is denying poor people the right to protect their crops and families. Evil institution, the UN.

Thursday, December 05, 2019


Last night in my small group my friend Jerry asked us to think back to our 'best' Christmas memory. I had an immediate answer that had to do with being in Jakarta, Indonesia and having my dad - dressed at Santa - terrify dozens of small local children: "red demon man, red demon man!". But as I listened to the others talk about their best Christmas experiences I decided I was wrong. My best Christmas memory happened the year my son Sam was born. He was born a month before Christmas so had nothing else happened it probably still would have been my best Christmas.  A brand new baby is an incredible gift any time of year.

But as I think about, I don't believe that was only thing that made that Christmas special. For some time we had been helping Mildred, an elderly woman who lived in a small apartment near our home. Among other things we always brought her to church with us. And we didn't particularly like her. She was a rather miserable, bitter and terribly lonely 75 year old woman who apparently had never fit in anywhere. She was often critical and rude but it wasn't much of a sacrifice to drive a few blocks and pick her up so we tolerated the occasional outbursts.

From what we could tell she had been alone for most of her adult life.  She had never married or had children. She'd worked as a department store salesperson and had been fortunate enough to retire with a small pension that paid for an apartment in a nice part of town. But it was barren, empty of art, pictures of family members or any of the markers of a life lived with others. She was alone and apparently she had almost always been that way. 

On Christmas eve - as was common in the first few months after Sam was born - it took us longer than anticipated to get going so I drove over to pick up Mildred while Sam's mom finished all of the complex procedures necessary to bring an newborn infant out on a snowy winter's night. When we got back, mother and child still weren't ready so I brought Mildred inside to wait. And Sam's mother, being far more intuitive than me, brought him in and plunked him into Mildred's lap so she could finish getting ready.

It was then that a small miracle unfolded. Mildred leaned over him and with tears in her eyes whispered and sang him a tuneless song, the melted snowflakes on her coat glistening in the Christmas lights. She was a woman transformed. For those few minutes she wasn't bitter or miserable, she was filled with the true joy of Christmas: celebrating the birth of a baby who would love the world but also could be loved.

It's been twenty six years since that night but I think I've finally realized what God and Mildred and Sam had to teach me: that the key to surviving as a Christian in this world isn't in being loved, it's in loving. Because we Christians can survive even if no one loves us. After all Christ died for us and sent his Holy Spirit to minister to us. It's not ideal and not easy but God promises us that He is always with us and always will love us and that is enough. No we don't need other people to love us but we do need others to love. We must love others the way he does, for there is no other way to truly be like be Christian.

And so on that snowy St. Louis night we - but mostly baby Sam - gave Mildred the most precious gift she had ever received: someone that she - even in her limited, bitter state - could love. And I think that's the best gift we've ever given anyone.

I 'work' with the homeless at church. Mostly I hang out and do what my brilliant friends Andrea, Sarah and Carolyn tell me to do. I've gotten to know a whole host of what I call 'lost boys' - mostly men who have fallen between this world's cracks, people like LaKeith and Chris. And I've always thought that what I was doing was showing 'love' for them. But I realize now that as Christians they don't need my love so much as they need to have real people in their lives that they can love. The task of 'lifting' them out of their struggles isn't my job, it's their's and God's and the first thing they need to master is the vocation that we all are called to: to love one another.

Which can be very hard for me. All I need to do is admit my weakness and limitation and they'll do the rest. Because it's only when my pride dies, that I can become someone who can truly help the lost and the lonely progress on they journey to Christ. So this Christmas, I'm trying to focus less on 'proving' my love to others and more on making my self vulnerable and approachable enough so that other people can do God's will through me. Which will be strange for a rather hyperactive and self righteous man like me. 

I would love  to see Mildred holding Sam again....

Thursday, September 12, 2019

My encounter with T. Boone Pickens

T. Boone Pickens is dead. Here's a Forbes piece on him.

I have a personal recollection of T Boone: I was attending the University of Chicago when he came to give a speech. I was able to weasel my way into the handful of students who were invited to have lunch with him beforehand. I did this because at the time he was making a play for Phillips Petroleum which was my father's company whose then headquarters were in the town I graduated high school from: Bartlesville, OK. The news even featured a prayer service at the Church I attended (I suppose beseeching God to hex Boone or something). Each of us got to introduce ourselves to the great man and so I pointed out my connection. After lunch as we walked to the speech site Boone sidled up to me and worked me the entire time, emphasizing his concern for Phillips and the people of Bartlesville and so on. The ironic thing was being a Good Chicago economist, I was rather agnostic on the whole affair. But Boone was clearly more than just a cold corporate raider: he wanted to be seen as the hero. But I'll let History be the judge of that.

Friday, August 30, 2019

The dying liberal order

It's amazing that I don't even think that this is  abnormal any more. The amount of factually false statements that I see from so called "educated" friends on social media is frankly shocking. And they always cite a "news" story. I have well educated friends that have posted (in all seriousness) about the "imminent end of the world" (actual phrasing). We don't have an independent press or government anymore. Which makes it hard to have a "diverse liberal democracy".

Because if you can't trust the state or the news or educational institutions to play it fair, then you fall back on the old ways: clan and tribe.  "Blood of my blood". So much "diversity", so little honesty.

And those whose families have been obliterated by generations of social "innovation", welfare and taught helplessness are like abandoned children wandering in a war zone.

See to your neighborhood, your church (seriously, you should have one) and your kin because the broader institutions we have used to transcend them are rapidly bleeding out what's left of the trust they spent so many years accumulating.

And that's what I think about that.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Is the flight to identity politics is driven by family collapse?

I think you'll find this interesting.  Not particularly partisan but very relevant.  The Church tries fitfully to be a family substitute for the increasingly atomized lower half of our society.  It's a poor substitute for kin. When I talk to homeless about their problems I always ask 'where are your kin?' because in the dark, evil past, that's where many of these people found help and shelter (and discipline).  Today we have 'experts' who focus on bits of people but take no ownership.

It's not a solution. It's just immense expense joined to immense misery. But the commercialization and professionalization of 'social services' that used to be performed by families is So. Damned. Profitable.

The technocracy is eating us alive and nobody knows how to stop it. You see it at its worst in our most 'hip' precincts. (To be clear: the piece isn't partisan. But I am).

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The savior of the world.

In an uncharacteristic lapse in judgement, a friend asked me to give the invocation (church talk for kickoff or warm up prayer) at church. This is what I said:

Dear lord thank you for this day.
Thank you for the sunshine
and the truth of your gospel.

Lord Jesus give us eyes to see,
ears to hear,
and the faith to know that you are the savior of the world.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Is there an America if citizenship doesn't matter?

If citizenship means so little that the government doesn't even want to count how many of us there are - because they simply don't care - then is it really our government?

Or is the US government just another stationary bandit like Dubai? Delivering services in exchange for tribute? And if so, why should anyone pay income taxes...i.e. share the wealth with anyone else?

If the borders are open and the government is just a technocracy validated by people who show up at polls without ID or better yet fill out and mail in a form, then why share wealth with this ever shifting global craps game called America?

Governance becomes completely transactional....fee for service and if service gets bad.....

Nobody in their right mind would DIE for Dubai. Maybe since citizenship would be meaningless under CA style rule nobody should die for America.

Of course if citizenship increasingly means nothing then there really isn't an America is there?

In that world the universal longing for belonging would be filled by places like.....Texas or Minnesota who would strive mightily to sustain and bolster the critical sense of belonging that is required for people to be willing to sacrifice their wealth and lives.

Maybe that sense of belonging, that sense of responsibility and commitment is why the social breakdown we see in CA isn't spreading to TX or MN. Maybe we poo differently because our loyalties are different, more real.

The canary in the already collapsed California coal mine would be a second Texas Revolution: Flight from Sobbing Woke Pointlessness to True Meaning.

Because the true meaning of life is what we do, who we love and sacrifice for. Not how big a victim we are