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Weekend Update 05-19-2012

Posted: May 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 05-19-2012

JP Morgan Chase has kindly provided us another object lesson on the reasons we regulate banks and why we need to restore the regulations that provided us a stable banking system for half the 20th century. Of course, those who seem to most need that object lesson also appear completely unteachable. So I don’t have a great deal of confidence that it will do any good.

Krugman has another good analysis of the euro situation in an easily accessible column. Since the vast majority of  his economic predictions leading up to and throughout this current global financial crisis have been substantially proven correct by subsequent events, it’s a column well worth reading.

Locate Special Diet is a new and intriguing site. My family has celiac, of course, but the site has other sorts of special diets in it.

Robert Reich on Public vs. Private Morality

Postcard from 1952 by Explosions in the Sky, my wife’s cousin’s band. They are really good at their art.

Inequality is a measurable problem.

Ill Doctrine: Don’t freak out about the white babies!

And finally, because I was reminded by another of the Pet Shop Boys this week (though their music is on my phone), a few of my favorites.

Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 40

Posted: May 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: St. Maximos the Confessor | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 40

86. Food was created for nourishment and healing. Those who eat food for purposes other than these two are therefore to be condemned as self-indulgent, because they misuse the gifts God has given us for our use. In all things misuse is a sin.

Straightforward, but perhaps even more appropriate for out time. We misuse food today in so many ways and are, in turn, ruled by it.

Joe’s Crab Shack

Posted: May 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Joe’s Crab Shack

Joe's Crab ShackPeace, love, and crabs, baby!

My wife loves crab legs (though she usually buys and steams them herself) and BC (before celiac) we used to head over to Joe’s Crab Shack at least a few times a year. It’s pretty good for a big chain and the atmosphere is always a lot of fun. I don’t believe we had been back since I was diagnosed with celiac disease, though. It just never came up on my radar as I was learning how to eat (and eat out) gluten free.

Recently, however, a friend of my wife wanted to meet her there for lunch along with the daughters. They’ve been friends since both were pregnant, so the two girls have known each other their whole lives. In fact, the girls used to play together in the sandy play area at Joe’s while the Moms hung out and talked. (Obviously, that was before they were teens.)

As my daughter also has celiac disease, I naturally checked the restaurant beforehand and yes, Joe’s has a gluten free menu. My wife and daughter enjoyed their visit, so a few weeks later, we decided to make it a family outing. Many of their buckets and steampots are gluten free. I decided to try the Orleans, since it’s been a long time since my last crawfish boil. (I was born in Louisiana after all. And yes, I do suck the heads.) So, what was my verdict?

The crawfish were well-spiced, but under the spicing the tail meat seemed pretty bland to me. I’m not sure why, exactly, but they weren’t bad — just not great. The sausage, potatoes, and corn were all quite yummy. The shrimp were horrible — probably overcooked as they typically take much less time to cook than everything else in the pot. (And my wife confirmed my opinion on the shrimp, so it wasn’t just my tastebuds.) But I didn’t order the dish for the shrimp, so I didn’t really miss them at all.

My wife and daughter had snow crab buckets. I tasted a bit of the crab and it was quite good. They both certainly enjoyed their meal.

Joe’s definitely has some good gluten free options. It helps, I suppose, that their signature dishes are composed of food that’s naturally gluten free and tends to be best prepared in a gluten free manner anyway. Joe’s gets a definite thumbs up from us. It’s true they are a chain restaurant, but they are one of the decent ones.

Weekend Update 05-12-2012

Posted: May 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 05-12-2012

Today, my wife and I have been married for twenty-two years and together for more than twenty-four! She’s a pretty amazing woman for having put up with me this long. By now, hopefully, she’s used to me and wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of breaking in someone else. 😉 Today, we’ll be seeing The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project 10 Years Later. I’m looking forward to it!

In this post, Krugman does a good job explaining how the discipline of mathematics and science are supposed to function when reality runs counter to our “intuition” or “common sense.” It’s short and well worth the read.

Robert Reich accurately describes history and our current situation. Not that I see anything good coming from it when such a significant portion of our country appears to have completely lost touch with anything resembling reality.

In neither many uses of the “pro-choice” perspective (to free herself or others of the “burden”) nor in many applications of the fundamentalist Christian perspective, does a woman actually have anything like what I would consider a “choice.” Fr. Ernesto picks up on that aspect perfectly.

Frankly, it’s the privileged idiots like Sharron Angle who are truly “spoiled. Prior to the current Lesser Depression, the recession in the early 80s was our worst since the Great Depression. And during that recession, I was a young teen father and husband living in a highly depressed part of our country as part of relatively poor families. (Unlike Romney “borrowing from parents” to start a business was never an option.) And jobs did not exist. I certainly wasn’t picky. I traveled anywhere I could find work, often living out of my ’65 Chevy Bel Air with perpetually bald tires (I could only replace blowouts with other used tires). I dug ditches, planted pine trees, picked strawberries, worked as labor in construction (and during a good period actually as a drywall finisher). And even so, there were plenty of gaps between jobs when there was simply nothing. I never had a phone during that period and often didn’t have electricity or sometimes even running water. And this current Lesser Depression is worse than that recession was. Repugnuts spouting off about people unwilling to work make me sick.

And, of course, the above is made even worse by all those who desperately want to assert that the unemployment problem is structural rather than stemming from a lack of demand. There’s absolutely no evidence supporting their view. In fact, all the evidence says the current unemployment isn’t structural. But if they accepted reality, then they would presumably be forced to advocate or work to increase demand (like we did in every previous recession and — driven by war — to finally end the Great Depression). It’s one thing to have differing interpretations of ambiguous facts or philosophical positions about the underlying nature of reality. It’s another to put your hands over your eyes and ears, ignore unambiguous facts, and choose to live in fantasy instead of reality.

That transformation, from consumerist governed by the passions, to disciple governed by Christ, is the very heart of the Christian life.

Of Bedrooms and Boardrooms. Robert Reich on a roll.

The banking regulation “debate” has always puzzled me. The evidence, after all, is crystal clear. We had forty years of banking and financial industry stability (and growth) following the Great Depression and the regulatory reforms enacted as a result. Starting in the eighties, an ideological movement proposed the hypothesis that regulation was categorically bad (which is prima facie silly, of course, since most of us do desire safe water, food, etc.) and that we didn’t actually need those banking and financial industry regulations. Over the last thirty years we’ve experimented with removing many of those regulations and as we’ve done so, we’ve seen increasing fraud, questionable behavior, rank profiteering, and overall instability in the banking and financial industries culminating in a virtual duplication of everything that went wrong in the 1920s and 1930s and our own Lesser Depression. So there’s absolutely nothing unclear about the facts. We fixed the banking and financial industries after the Great Depression and those industries were stable for forty years. We then tested the hypothesis that those regulations were unnecessary and have proven it false. So let’s put the regulations that actually worked back in place. Duh. It’s simply another area today where we see the psychology of ideology and group participation completely overwhelm the ability to perceive reality for a large segment of our population. And I have no idea how we fix that. How long can we maintain a stable government “of the people” when many of those people are lost in a fantasy world?

There’s the whole thing about refusing to learn from history and dooming yourself to repeat it. “In the long run we are all dead.” Indeed.

Dianna Anderson has a good post on Romney and gay-bashing. I agree that people can change. In fact, I think most of us change over the course of our lives to one degree or another. I’ve certainly changed quite a bit, yet I’m still continuous with the person I was when I was a teen. However, our past remains a part of us. We can, I suppose, reasonably hope that we “won’t be raked over the coals” for things we did when we were young, the world usually only works that way when people don’t know or can’t see those parts of your past. I know that all too well as a teen parent, because that’s something that’s both highly visible and stays with you your entire life — no matter what you accomplish in life. I don’t regret and have never regretted having my children or actively being their father. In many ways, they are the raison d’etre of my life. But as I mentioned to Dianna on twitter, even though I’m coming closer to that fifty year mark these days, when conversation turns to kids and people ask how old they are, I still get that uncomfortable pause as they look at me and do the math. I can’t claim it really bothers me anymore. For me, it’s been normalized. If anything, I tend to be amused. But I know all too well that nobody really gets a pass on their past unless they relocate, develop all new friends (and enemies), never talk about what they want gone, and stay away from high profile gigs — like running for President. And, of course, assuming that the past they are leaving behind is something that, unlike teen parenthood, actually can be left behind. (Oh, and if anyone who reads my blog has any doubt, I’m very pleased that President Obama expressed his personal support for marriage equality as the sitting President of the United States. Even if he did it purely for political reasons — which I rather doubt — it remains a highly significant event. And I fully support him in it.)

It’s been two decades since the seminal first person shooter (fps) Castle Wolfenstein 3D was released. Now you can play it online in a browser! It sucked me in for a while.

This is an excellent celiac disease panel conducted by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Take a few minutes to watch it.

End of Overeating 8 – Food Rehab

Posted: May 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: End of Overeating | Tags: , , | Comments Off on End of Overeating 8 – Food Rehab

End of OvereatingThe End of Overeating offers an intriguing set of foundational principles for what Dr. Kessler calls Food Rehab. To provide a sense of those principles, here’s a summarized list.

  • Conditioned hypereating is a biological challenge, not a character flaw
  • Conditioned hypereating is a chronic problem that must be managed, not cured
  • Effective treatment breaks the cue-urge-reward-habit cycle
  • Diets that leave us feeling deprived magnify the loss of control at the core of conditioned hypereating
  • New learning sticks only when it generates a feeling of satisfaction
  • Restoring control over eating requires a comprehensive approach
  • Lapses are to be expected
  • Eventually, we can begin to think differently about food

The core of the program requires us to replace unplanned eating with planned eating. Planned eating is much less subject to impulse. It replaces chaos with structure. It’s important that we plan meals that will satisfy us and that we enjoy but which do not fuel hypereating.

Dr. Kessler outlines the shape of a rehab plan and many of the elements it must contain to be successful. Moreover, he makes the information readily accessible while recognizing that each person is unique and no one size fits all cookie-cutter approach exists.

Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 39

Posted: May 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: St. Maximos the Confessor | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 39

78.  It is one thing to be delivered from sinful thoughts and another to be free from passions. Frequently a man is delivered from such thoughts when the things which rouse his passions are not present. But the passions lie hidden in the soul and are brought to light when the things themselves are present. Hence one must watch over the intellect in the presence of things and must discern for which of them it manifests a passion.

And this is an important point. Passions require a trigger. If we simply remove the trigger, we are not free of the passion. The former is important, of course, but only the first step in our healing. Moreover, like the Pharisee thanking God that he is not like other men, including the wicked publican, we are often proud of our ability to resist things with which we have never been truly tempted. We need to understand that we share in the weakness of humanity and that only through the strength of Christ can we be truly healed.

End of Overeating 7 – Set Rules

Posted: May 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: End of Overeating | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on End of Overeating 7 – Set Rules

End of OvereatingAs approaches for treatment of hyperconditioned overeating are outlined, the End of Overeating next focuses on the essential nature of clear and easily remembered rules we can actually follow. Hyperconditioned overeating is intrinsically impulsive, so we must break the grip of that impulsive behavior. Concrete “if-then” rules are an important part of that battle.

I was reminded in this section of the effort Michael Pollan has invested in constructing clear, simple food rules. His rules are things like, don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients or with ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t recognize. He also has rules like, don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

These are the same sort of rules. Clear and categorical rules — “I don’t eat french fries” — are the easiest sorts of rules to follow consistently. As people with celiac disease, my younger children and I are familiar with that sort of rule. “I don’t eat gluten” must be an absolute rule for us.

The book provides some good examples of the sorts of rules Dr. Kessler and researchers have found effective. It doesn’t simply provide the theory.

Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 38

Posted: May 8th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: St. Maximos the Confessor | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 38

77.  A man endures suffering either for the love of God, or for hope of reward, or for fear of punishment, or for fear of men, or because of his nature, or for pleasure, or for gain, or out of self-esteem, or from necessity.

The mere fact that we suffer means little. It’s important to know why we endure suffering and it’s rarely from our love of God. St. Maximos the Confessor suffered a great deal for his faithfulness and love of God. He was banished and imprisoned. He had his tongue removed so he could not speak against the ruling heresy. He had his right hand cut off so he could not write against it. And he died without ever seeing the fruit of his faithfulness through suffering.

I’ve endured the suffering of poverty and hard, manual labor for little pay — but that was from necessity. I’ve endured the suffering of a childhood that was not always the easiest, again from necessity. I endured the suffering of Army basic training, but that was for gain, out of self-esteem, and perhaps from some fear of men (drill instructors cultivate a fearsome image). For my own self-esteem, I’ve endured at different points in my life the suffering of strenuous exercise and training. When I am injured, it tends to be my nature to endure that suffering stoically and fight through it. (That last frustrates my wife no end.)

But have I endured suffering for the love of God? Not that I can recall. Would I even be willing to endure suffering for the love of God? I find I don’t know the answer to that question.

Mama Fu’s

Posted: May 7th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Mama Fu’s

Mama Fu’s is a restaurant I had seen on a number of local gluten free restaurant lists for years, but had never visited. We recently watched the release of Titanic in 3D (which was fun) and happened to be near one of the local restaurants and decided to give it a try.

Chinese and Asian restaurants where we can safely eat are few and far between. Most soy sauce is fermented with wheat and soy sauce tends to be everywhere in an Asian restaurant. There’s Pei Wei and PF Chang’s, of course. And there are higher end local restaurants like Uchi’s (which is really more Japanese). But the options are pretty limited.

Their gluten free guide contains a note that not all locations outside Texas have the gluten free sauce, so check first if you live in another state with a Mama Fu’s.

The food was decent. I wouldn’t call it great, but it was pretty good and as far as my daughter and I could tell it was safe. Neither of us got noticeably sick, anyway. And it was reasonably quick, convenient, and not too expensive. I got what was listed on the menu as one of the spiciest dishes and found it somewhat bland personally. But then, I tend to like spicy things.

So if we’re out doing something and need to go grab a bite to eat somewhere, Mama Fu’s definitely makes the list of options.

Saturday Evening Blog Post – April Edition

Posted: May 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Misc | Comments Off on Saturday Evening Blog Post – April Edition

In this month’s edition of the Saturday Evening Blog Post, hosted by Elizabeth Esther, I chose my post, Speaking of God – Trinity. If that post interests you, consider reading my entire Speaking of God series. And a leave a link to your own favorite April post at Elizabeth’s blog.

If you’re interested in the whole Speaking of God series, here are the links.