Friday, October 30, 2009

What has happened to my heart

Something happened to my heart, my center.

What brought it to mind was reading the travails of a young woman who felt God led her in a direction that came up dry. She had pain and confusion and questions of God and about God. I've been through that in my life. Both in God not giving me the results I prayed for when each of my daughters was dying, and in the times I felt pushed in a direction or towards a goal that did not seem to bear the indicated fruit.

The hard part is that it has come in the context of feeling God's love and grace. Of being blessed, including occasional physical miracles (like when I was kicked in the head hard enough to rock me back and off my feet, and had not a mark on me).

But what happened is that I realized that I've come to accept that I do not know the meaning of things other than that God is mindful of me and that his grace and love are there. Reminds me of how Seraphine writes of her heart being healed by the atonement when she wasn't looking.

I learned to accept the atonement, to rely on grace and love, and to begin to surrender. To become willing to let God cure me of my infirmities. That has what has begun to happen to my heart.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On Global Warming and Cooling

From an essay from a new book:

1. If the Earth’s warming leads to global catastrophe, that would be a really bad outcome.


2. Even when there is enormous uncertainty about the likelihood of future cataclysms, it makes sense to invest now in finding ways to avoid such cataclysms.


3. Economists estimate that the costs of reducing carbon emissions are likely to be upwards of $1 trillion per year.


The correct answer to all three of these economic questions is “TRUE.” These are the three key economic facts that are critical to the arguments in our chapter. The first question doesn’t require any further explanation. The answer to the second question has been hammered home by Martin Weitzman’s work in the area, which we cite in SuperFreakonomics, as well as a newer paper that Weitzman has written. The third fact is based on the analysis of Nicholas Stern. These cost estimates are obviously highly speculative, but the true cost of reducing carbon emissions is likely to be within two orders of magnitude of this number.
The essay is at: Global Warming Fact Quiz

The book is

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It is what happens when applied statisticians get loose.

How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment

Imprisonment at five times the historical level in the United States, and at five times the level of any of the countries with which we would like to compare ourselves, has not been sufficient to fully reverse the growth in crime; current crime rates are still at 2.5 times the level of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Even that discouraging number understates how much worse things are now than they were half a century ago; today’s high crime rates persist in the face not only of ferocious punishment but also of greatly enhanced – and very costly – adaptations by potential victims to avoid being victimized. Those adaptations range from buying alarm systems to moving to the suburbs. Most of all, they involve avoiding risky situations. The need to take such precautions leaves all of us less free than Americans were half a century ago.

An amazing essay. Click on the link to read the rest of it.

Is there an alternative to brute force? There is reason to think so, and pieces of that alternative approach can be seen working in scattered places throughout the world of crime control. But the first step in getting away from brute force is to want to get away from brute force: to care more about reducing crime than about punishing criminals, and to be willing to choose safety over vengeance when the two are in tension.

If for a moment we thought about “crime” as something bad that happens to people, like auto accidents or air pollution or disease, rather than as something horrible that people do to each other—if we thought about it, that is, as an ordinary domestic-policy problem—then we could start to ask how to limit the damage crime does at as little cost as possible in money spent and suffering inflicted.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Resources for Grief

There are lots of choices, but I'd recommend the following: -- all of their material, for free, on-line.

Important, all of these can be obtained through interlibrary loan, for free. Because what will connect for you, and what will not, is extremely personal, don't buy any book you haven't read through the library for free first.

The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith by John W. James and Russell Friedman (Paperback - Mar 3, 2009)

When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses by John W. James, Russell Friedman, and Dr. Leslie Matthews (Paperback - Jun 4, 2002)

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver (Paperback - Nov 2, 2004)


When God Doesn't Make Sense by James C. Dobson (Paperback - Aug 31, 1997)
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Me at a karate tournament

The throw just slipped right in there, reflex. I was really pleased.

It is a reprise to which I wrote about twenty years ago to capture something I did to amuse Win (she came to watch some Judo work-outs. One of them I used only this sequence of throws).

Friday, October 09, 2009

Failure in relationships

There are four major indicators or causes of relationships that are headed towards failure:
  • Harsh start-ups. When conversations start with criticism, sarcasm or contempt, they are referred to as conversations that have begun with a harsh start-up. A conversation that begins with a harsh start-up will end on a negative note. A harsh start-up pretty much dooms a conversation to negative results, which is a failure. If you have a conversation that begins that way, stop the conversation and start over, whether you started talking that way to a child, a spouse, a co-worker or a subordinate.

  • Toxic patterns. There are four.
  1. criticism rather than complaint. A complaint addresses a specific action or event, criticism is global. "You don't care" or "You are forgetful" or anything that sends the message "something is wrong with you" rather than "something is wrong with what you did" or "please change the way you are acting/what you are doing" is a criticism rather than a complaint.
  2. contempt. Sarcasm and cynicism reflect contempt. Contempt leads to conflict (obvious or hidden) and withdrawal and preempts reconciliation, blocking it.
  3. defensiveness. It doesn't work. The hidden message is always "the problem is not me, it is you and I want away from you."
  4. stonewalling. Tuning out is turning away and giving up, whether you recognize it or not.
  • Rejected repair attempts. A repair attempt is a call for a time out, a white flag, an attempt to set things right. When repair attempts are rejected it is a rejection of reconcilliation. For example "you left the milk out and there is a mess." Someone who says "that sure was stupid of me" is making a repair attempt. If you pile on at that point, you are rejecting the attempt. Children often make very blotchy repair attempts. When they do, teach them how to make better attempts, don't just crush the blotch.

  • Loss of positive memories. You need to build, refresh, recall, share and nourish positive memories. Positive memories lead to positive attitudes. Do you give someone the benefit of the doubt because of positive attitudes or do you just assume the worst? If you are assuming the worst, you are killing your positive memories.
Obviously if you want to repair a relationship you start by eliminating the harsh start-ups that have probably crept in. If you have one, you apologize, stop and start over. If you slip into a toxic pattern, catch yourself and start over. Practice repair. Work on positive memories on a daily basis.

If you do those things you can repair and save a failing relationship. If you are in a relationship that has those elements, it will probably fail (well, the r^2 on failure is over .83).

Don't ever let yourself start saying "you always" or "you never" or "you are so selfish" or ... unless your goal is to end the relationship. Do spend time every day with a positive memory (the reason for things like gratitude lists). Do share positive memories every day.

You can (and probably should) complain, it is how people help each other improve. Part of a useful boss's feedback is complaints. Properly training a secretary includes teaching them to complain. But universal criticism (as defined above) is useless and toxic. It poisons what should be memories that make a couple glad of each other, replacing those memories with acid burns.

Nourish good memories and good responses instead.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Hobbit meets the Internet ...

Dear MR BAGGINS, Fellow Conspirator,

I am Thorin Oakenshield, descendant of Thrain the Old and grandson of Thror who was King under the Mountain. I am writing you to discuss our plans, our ways, means, policy and devices for rescuing our treasure from the dragon Smaug.

During the reign of Thror our kingdom was a prosperous one. Kings used to send for our smiths, and reward even the least skillful most richly. Fathers would beg us to take their sons as apprentices, and pay us handsomely, especially in food-supplies, which we never bothered to grow or find for ourselves. Altogether those were good days for us, and the poorest of us had money to spend and to lend, and leisure to make beautiful things just for the fun of it, not to speak of the most marvellous and magical toys, the like of which is not to be found in the world now-a-days.

Undoubtedly that was what brought the dragon. Dragons steal gold and jewels from men and elves and dwarves, wherever they can find them; and they guard their plunder as long as they live (which is practically for ever, unless they are killed), and never enjoy a brass ring of it. There was a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm called Smaug. One day he flew up into the air and came south. The dragon settled on our mountain in a spout of flame and routed out all the halls, and lanes, and tunnels, alleys, cellars, mansions and passages. After there were no dwarves left alive inside the mountain he took all their wealth for himself.

In view of this, I received your contact through a friend and counselor, an ingenious wizard, who noted you as a Burglar who wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward. And I and my twelve companions have agreed to give you 10% of the total gold and jewels that the dragon Smaug now rests upon if you can join us on our long journey. When you have agreed please tell us the place where you dwell and send one hundred pence so that we might travel to you.

Please hold what I have told you in strict confidence and I look forward to your earliest response.

I just received this from a friend.

The Hobbit meets an on-line scam ... ;)