Why Ordinary Agreements with North Korea are Destined to be Futile

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Open Doors1 noted that “Christians [in North Korea] try to hide their faith as far as possible to avoid arrest and being sent to a labor camp.”2  Given such a threatening environment for people of faith, we can conclude that attempting to solve the recent arms development problem with Kim Jong Un by negotiating routine treaties is not a high percentage strategy.  Why?  As Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979) once said:

“Can we not see that if law is divorced from morality and religion, then treaties cease to be obligatory and begin to be mere arrangements, binding only so long as they are advantageous?  Rob international justice of its roots in morality and treaties are hypothetical, not categorical; convenient tools, not honorable obligations, while law becomes an attorney’s cloak woven from the flimsy fabric of legalistic phraseology artfully placed on the shoulders of arbitrary power.”3

Perhaps this is why Ronald Reagan used the Russian proverb “trust but verify”4 in his meetings with Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev on armaments in the 1980’s.It was essential in those discussions given the forty years of the Cold War.  It may be too optimistic with North Korea given their approach to life and religious rights.

 

1 – “Open Doors USA is a non-profit organization focused on serving persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through:  Bible & Gospel Development, Women and Children Advancement, and Christian Community Restoration.”  https://www.opendoorsusa.org/about-us/

2 – “North Korea’s War On Christianity: The Globe’s Number One Religious Persecutor,” by Doug Bandow, https://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2016/10/31/north-koreas-war-on-christianity-the-globes-number-one-religious-persecutor/#25c3033556e3, 10/31/2016.

3 – “The Quotable Fulton Sheen,” edited by George J. Marlin, Richard P. Rabatin, and John L. Swan.  Doubleday, New York, 1989.  Quote was taken from “The Divine Verdict,” New York: P. J. Kennedy and Sons, 1943.

4 – “doveryay, no proveryay” according to Google translate https://www.google.com/search?q=russian+to+english+dictionary&oq=russian+to+english&aqs=chrome.3.69i57j0l5.11111j1j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

5 – Including: “doveryai, no proveryai,” as found in http://www.usmedicine.com/editor-in-chief/doveryai-no-proveryai-trust-but-verify/, by Chester “Tip” Buckenmaier, July 2014.  His article focused on the problems with and approaches to fix the problems with VA hospitals.

Instead of Protesting for $15/hour Fast Food Jobs, Why Not Work in Construction?

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Here’s a dual problem which could be solved simultaneously.  For starters:

“A shrinking pool of homes for sale across the country and in the Cincinnati area is pushing up prices – exacerbating an already existing affordability gap for many buyers.”1

Then why aren’t more houses being built?

“’It’s just hard to find enough construction workers today to build more,’ [Issi] Romem [chief economist at Buildzoom] said. ‘The economy has lost a lot of young workers, and the construction industry is aging much faster than other industries.  There are far fewer construction workers available today than there were before the housing boom, which hurts the push to build more.’”1

Meanwhile, we see it frequently, and especially on the coasts, a demand for a $15 per hour minimum wage – even though costs of living vary greatly across the nation. Based on data for early this year, New York and California (where much of the noise emanates from) have the fourth and second highest cost of living for the fifty states.2  Therefore, it would be insane for a $15/ hour minimum wage to be forced upon the median state, South Dakota, where $11.03 per hour would accomplish the same as $15 in California.  Based on its lowest of all costs of living, only $9.38 would be needed in Mississippi.  How many jobs would be eliminated in that state if it was required to pay 60% more for the same work?

Back to the shortage of construction workers.  “Construction workers [in New York City] earn a median hourly wage of $18.68.  Hourly wages typically start from $10.93 and go up to $41.47.”  Also, due to the erratic nature of the work, average earnings for general construction workers was $35,750 in 2014. Carpenters earned about $10,000 more and iron and steel workers $17,000 more.3

Minimum wage for fast food workers in New York City was officially raised to $12.00 at the beginning of this year… a job not intended to be a career to support a family.  It will increase annually until it reaches $15.00 by the end of 2018.

Assuming fifty weeks of forty hours, the fast food worker would earn $30,000 starting in 2019 – if jobs aren’t eliminated because of the 25% increase over two years.

Maybe the construction workers will get a nice raise, too, buy maybe not.

This is not to say that fast food isn’t difficult at times, but compared to construction?
In the end, why work really hard in temperature extremes and be subject to erratic work schedules based on the weather for $35,750 as a general construction worker4 when big government says you should receive $30,000 for mostly indoor work?  (also possible as big government forces these businesses to offer 40-hour weeks someday)

Perhaps we’ve solved the mystery of why there’s a construction worker shortage.

 

1 – “Affordability Poses Homebuyer Challenge, by Randy Tucker, Kentucky Enquirer, 7/29/2017.

2https://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/, for Ohio readers of this blog, $10.20 per hour accomplishes the same as $15.00 in California (understanding, of course, it will be higher for the urban areas and lower for rural).

3https://www.sokanu.com/careers/construction-worker/salary/New%20York/

4https://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/factsheets/pdfs/p716.pdf

Baseball Players are Being Referred to as Mere “Pieces” More Frequently

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[also posted on http://www.sportuoso.wordpress.com]

All industries and cultures have jargon.  Sometimes it involves the creation of entirely new words as the IT business does frequently (e.g. malware and defragging), while other commonly used words are simply redefined over time such as “backlog” or “cell.”1

Baseball is no different.  It has terms first used in other sports:  screw ball, grand slam and innings.2,3,4  It has also come up with a few of its own:  sacrifice fly5 and squeeze play.6

Conversational lexicon changes daily especially when modern media like Twitter truncates words and invents abbreviations like “LOL.”  Baseball has its own innovation with the word “piece” being most popular during June and July as the no-waiver trading deadline approaches.  It is used to represent the player(s) who are available to attract big name stars in return.  When used excessively, it seems to reduce the status of a human player to mere pawns in a game.  True, players may feel that way if their contracts give them limited say in what happens to them.  However, we should try to maintain respect so as not to diminish the dignity of the person.  Otherwise, we end up with these:

“And it doesn’t hurt that he’s on a cheap contract that runs out after the season, making him a fairly easy and obvious trade piece if the A’s remain buried in the AL West… Either way, barring a turnaround from the Bucs, he seems quite likely to be a top trade piece this summer… With free agency beckoning, the veteran reliever is probably the Phils’ clearest trade piece… Neither veteran is hitting much early on, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still likely trade pieces… It’s not quite clear whether Atlanta will end up looking to move these moderately priced veterans, but both are swinging the bat well and could be useful pieces in the right situation.”7

It becomes more impersonal with those participating in fantasy leagues:

“In life, it’s always nice to get a deal and in fantasy, that can come in the form of trading pieces that have been performing beyond and below expectations… I’d even trade for Wil Myers because you can probably get an extra piece back with him with how hot Zimmerman’s been… Some pieces I would trade him for include Ryan Braun, Xander Bogaerts, and Jonathan Villar.”8

Those who are employees or stakeholders in a firm should consider how they’d feel if they were referred to as “pieces of the company.”

 

1 – “Backlog” meant the biggest log in the fire during colonial times. Today, it means a reserve or a pile of work you still need to plow through.”

“ Cell used to mean jail! Or a tiny part of your body…” said Amy Richards.
Today, of course, it’s also what you call your phone,”
from “These Everyday Words Used To Have Completely Different Meanings,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/26/words-that-have-changed-meaning_n_4847343.html, 2/26/2014.

2 – “The first published reference in the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] is from an 1866 book on cricket: “A ‘screw’ ball, which in slow bowling would describe the arc of a circle from the pitch to the wicket, becomes in fast bowling a sharp angle.” – from “Screwball etymologies,” by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman, https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2009/01/screwball-etymologies.html, 1/29/2009.

–“This term originated in the early 1800s in the card game of whist (forerunner of contract bridge), where itrefers to the taking of all thirteen tricks. It later was extended to bridge and various sports, where it has different meanings: in baseball, a homerun hit with runners on all the bases, resulting in four runs for the team; in tennis, winning all four national championships in a single calendar year; in golf, winning all four major championships. In the 1990s the term was used for four related proposals presented on a ballot at once.”
From http://www.dictionary.com/browse/grand-slam

4 – “Cricket originated in England in the 1300s and became a mainstream sport four hundred years later… A match is divided into innings. During an innings, one team bats while the other team bowls and fields.”  From http://www.learn-cricket.com/eng/basics1.php

5 – “The sacrifice fly was adopted as an official rule in 1954, at which point it was distinguished from the sacrifice bunt. Before 1954, Major League Baseball went back and forth as to whether a sacrifice fly should be counted statistically. In the years that it was counted (1908-31 and ’39), it was grouped together with the sacrifice bunt as simply a “sacrifice.”  From http://m.mlb.com/glossary/standard-stats/sacrifice-fly

6 – “An April 20, 1905 Chicago Tribune article stated:  ‘[Ducky] Holmes tried to “squeeze” in the run which would have won the game with a bunt, but it went foul.’”
“The first use of the term “squeeze play” can be found in the Chicago Tribune five days later when an article stated:  ‘[New York Highlanders] manager [Clark] Griffith says he has a new one called the “squeeze play,” which is working wonders.’”  From https://sports.stackexchange.com/questions/4593/why-is-a-squeeze-bunt-referred-to-as-such

7 – “Top 30 Trade Deadline Candidates For 2017,” by Jeff Todd, https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/05/top-30-trade-deadline-candidates-for-2017.html, 5/19/2017.

8 – “7 Players to Trade Now (Fantasy Baseball),” by Clinton Ho, https://www.fantasypros.com/2017/05/7-players-to-trade-now-may-2017/, 5/12/2017.

Why is it So Difficult to Pronounce “Queso” Correctly?

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American English has had an influx of foreign words as much as our nation has had immigrants.  After years of common use, we can easily stop becoming aware of their origins.  Words such as restaurant and entree (French), delicatessen [often shortened to “deli”] and kindergarten (German)1 , vodka (Russian), as well as fiasco and prima donna (Italian)2 fit into our daily conversations smoothly.

With the increase of those with Hispanic heritage, many Spanish words have become prevalent in our conversations.  Sometimes the words are used even when an English equivalent exists.  This brings us to “queso” or cheese.  A recent fast food television commercial  used the Spanish word throughout rather than its English equivalent.

Fine, many ads do that.  But why is the word pronounced “KAY-so”  instead of “KEH-so”?  In the first place, the long “a” is practically unique to the English language.  Secondly, the correct “eh” sound for the Spanish “e” is already familiar to us Americans.  For example, we have “impressive (“im-PREHS-sihv”), beneficial  (beh-neh-FISH-al), etc.

The closest to a long “a” sound in Spanish comes from words with the “ei” diphthong3 such as in “beisbol” (meaning baseball).

While we’re on the subject, the common unit of currency in several nations, the “peso,” is pronounced “PEH-so”, not “PAY-so.”  Of course, Spanish words aren’t the only ones with foreign origins which are mispronounced when they are easily said correctly.  Perhaps these will be addressed in a future article.

 

1 – “German loanwords in English,” http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/en/words/loanwords.htm

2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_words_of_Italian_origin

3 – “A diphthong… also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel soundswithin the same syllable,” from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diphthong

Atheist is Suing Against “In God We Trust” on Currency — Perhaps We Simply Don’t Deserve to Use It

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A California atheist, Michael Newdow, will be in a federal court in Cincinnati arguing that the presence of the words “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 by infringing on his religious freedom.1,2  He’s ignoring the prominence of religious belief in our republic since its beginnings.  As George Washington said in his farewell address:

“Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports… Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice?  And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.  Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”3

The courts will continue to ponder this thorny issue of how to allow expressions religious belief in our public lives without violating constitutional rights.

Putting that aside, a review of where our U.S. culture is headed strongly suggests that using the motto “In God We Trust” is giving ourselves more credit than we deserve.  Oh sure, we made slavery illegal in this country in the 19th century – a mere eight centuries after “both Saint Wulfstan and Saint Anselm successfully campaigned to remove the last vestiges of slavery in Christendom” 4 (unfortunately, it resurfaced later in more “enlightened” times).  And we started allowing women to vote in 1920, or twenty-seven years after New Zealand did the same and we were also later than ten other countries.5

But, we have had legalized murder of the unborn for 44 years resulting in about 59 million victims6 not counting the physical risks and emotional scars suffered by the mothers.And our latest creation, where we think  the state can redefine the institution of marriage (something not created by the state in he first place) and toss Natural Law out the window with same-sex “marriage.”

These are strange ways to prove we believe “In God We Trust.”

 

 

1 – “Does God have a place on money?, by Chris Graves, The Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/18/2017.

2https://www.congress.gov/bill/103rd-congress/house-bill/1308

3https://www.crossroad.to/text/articles/WashingtonFarewell.html

4 – “Bearing False Witness,” by Rodney Stark, Templeton Press; West Conshohocken, PA, 2016.

5 – “First 15 Countries To Grant Women’s Suffrage, http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/first-15-countries-to-grant-women-s-suffrage.html

6 – http://www.christianliferesources.com/article/u-s-abortion-statistics-by-year-1973-current-1042

7 – “In a series of 1,182 abortions which occurred under closely regulated hospital conditions, 27 percent of the patients acquired post-abortion infection lasting 3 days or longer… Researchers have reported that 3 to 5 percent of aborted women are left inadvertently sterile as a result of the operation’s latent morbidity… Other countries which have legalized abortion have seen the same dramatic increase in ectopic pregnancies…

“Within 8 weeks after their abortions, 55% expressed guilt, 44% complained of nervous disorders, 36% had experienced sleep disturbances, 31% had regrets about their decision, and 11% had been prescribed psychotropic medicine by their family doctor… Thirty to fifty percent of aborted women report experiencing sexual dysfunctions, of both short and long duration, beginning immediately after their abortions. These problems may include one or more of the following: loss of pleasure from intercourse, increased pain, an aversion to sex and/or males in general, or the development of a promiscuous life-style.”  From The After Effects of Abortion,” http://www.abortionfacts.com/reardon/the-after-effects-of-abortion

Time to Send Sgt. Saunders to Congress!

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Those of us born in the first half of the “Baby Boomer” generation will remember the television weekly series, “Combat!”  It was set in World War II France as the Americans fought the Germans.  Like most programs of that era, short snippets from an episode were used in brief promotions during the week.

The one which stands out featured a night battle scene where Sergeant Saunders (played by Vic Morrow) was giving instructions to an overwhelmed soldier, both covered in mud and sweat.  As the sergeant finished his orders, the soldier said, “I’ll try.”

Saunders sharp comeback was, “Don’t try, you DO IT!”  

Fast forward to 2017, where a two-plus year Republican majority in both houses of Congress has had several years to plan a strategy to deliver us from Obamacare.  The two leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), seem to be rolling out more versions of doomed legislation with their apparent concern being that they can say they tried rather than they were relentless in the critical pursuit of victory.

The threats of the Axis powers then and Obamacare now are similar in their impact on daily life.  Had Germany, Italy and Japan been victorious, our freedoms that are guaranteed (not given) by the Constitution would have been scuttled.  Allow the ironically named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to continue much longer and the free enterprise medical world crashes in the U.S. when too many insurers pull out of markets and middle-America is smothered by premiums covering many more than just their own families.  Thus, the original intent of our previous President will be realized as a frantic majority will plead for “single-payer health care” (also known as socialized medicine) where big government decides what health care is given to whom.  This will complete the liberals’ process of trivializing human life to a commodity to be managed like crops and minerals – the same philosophy of the Axis leaders.

To Mr. McConnell, Mr. Ryan and the rest of the Republican controlled Congress:

“Don’t try to fix the damage caused by Obamacare, YOU DO IT!”

India Wants to Tackle Climate Change with the Risk of Increased Nuclear Power?

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A few days after President Trump announced that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a state visit to France where he emphasized India’s continued commitment to the 2015 accord by saying “we will work and walk together with others to leave a gift for future generations.”1

The article continues to describe India’s desire to make its “Made in India” campaign realized partially through its development of nuclear power.  The nation is behind in its ability to produce nuclear power as it is still recovering from the 32-year ban the world placed on India prohibiting it from buying nuclear fuel and technology for civilian purposes.  The ban was initiated as a result of its testing a nuclear weapon in 1974.

Putting all of the political reasons and climate change theories aside, there should be one monumental question overriding everything in this issue:  Why is a densely populated country like India willing to gamble with a potentially cataclysmic accident?  Or has the world forgotten Chernobyl?

The  Distressing  Data  from  Chernobyl

April 26, 1986 Chernobyl:  The nuclear power disaster killed 30 workers at the time of the explosion or those who died within months due to radiation exposure.  The World Health Organization projects 9,000 total deaths as a result of this calamity if it parallels the results of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in 1945.  Greenpeace suggests it could go as high as 90,000.  Three hundred fifty thousand people were impacted by the initial evacuation and resettlement.About 1,000 square miles continue to be restricted areas.3  High levels of radiation are expected to make the area uninhabitable anywhere from 180 to 320 years.  Birth defects in Belarus and Ukraine near Chernobyl have been significantly higher.Cleanup of the site is scheduled for 2065.5

If  This  Happened  in  India

The nuclear power plant in Hazira is running at about 20% capacity.1  It is not India’s biggest plant, but let’s supposed a ramped up Hazira has a Chernobyl misfortune.

The city of Hazira is only 65 square miles, so we need to look at its Surat district within the state of Gujarat to compare for population density.  This district is 4,418 square kilometers in size or roughly 1,700 square miles (or close enough to use for similarity).  Its population density is 1,376 per square kilometer6  or about 3,564 people per square mile.

If this plant were to contaminate a Chernobyl-sized area of 1,000 square miles, at least 3-1/2 million people (approx. the combined populations of Chicago and San Francisco)7 would be displaced in addition to the thousands of deaths and life-changing impacts on many more in surrounding areas.  Is nuclear power really the best option for India’s in its attempt to show its resolve in addressing climate change?

 

1 – “India’s Nuclear Industry Needs a Jolt,” edited by Cristina Lindblad, Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/12-18/2017.

2 – “Chernobyl: 30 Years Later, By The Numbers,” by the Associated Press, https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-04-25/a-look-at-the-1986-chernobyl-nuclear-disaster-in-numbers, 4/25/2016.

3 –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_Exclusion_Zone

4 – “Area around Chernobyl remains uninhabitable 25 years later,” by Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail,https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/area-around-chernobyl-remains-uninhabitable-25-years-later/article4266317/, published 3/15/2011, last updated 8/23/2012.

5https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_Nuclear_Power_Plant

6https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surat_district

7 – July 1, 2014 estimated populations. https://www.infoplease.com/us/us-cities/top-50-cities-us-population-and-rank