Religion and Politics

History suggests you can’t get elected to high office in the U.S. without at least marketing yourself as a practicing Christian. Yet, once elected, Christian principles often take a backseat to Realpolitik. Why do Christian constituents seemingly give a pass to faux politicians like Sarah Palin for subverting the “turn the other cheek” challenge of the gospel by advocating for “a punch for a punch” on children’s playgrounds? Much more importantly, why do Christian constituents give a pass to real live politicians like Barack Obama for greatly increasing the use of drones to kill people in Afghanistan?

We Don’t Know Phil Mickelson Either

Masterful Masters. Listening to Bones and Mickelson talk it through and then witnessing Mickelson’s shot on 13 from the pinestraw and trees just may have been worth wasting a beautiful afternoon indoors. Unbelievable. Has there ever been a better player-caddy relationship?

Sometimes an announcer make no sense like when Jim Nantz said Tiger’s play on Thursday was so warmly welcomed by the Masters patrons (don’t call them fans) because Americans love the redemptive arc or something nonsensical like that. What the heck does Tiger’s making a few birdies and getting his life together have to do with one another?

Here’s how the press will want you to remember the 2010 Masters. Phil was inspired to win it for Amy, his wife who is battling breast cancer. Watch SportsCenter for the continuous replaying of Phil’s and Amy’s post championship embrace or the Golf Channel or see pictures of it in Sports Illustrated on Thursday. Analysts will laud Phil as the anti-Tiger for days to come. Faithful family man versus filandering “family” man. The joke will be, “Wonder which blonde Tiger would have embraced had he won?!”

The truth of the matter is, we don’t know Phil just like we didn’t, don’t, and won’t ever know Tiger or Kobe or Sandra or name the public figure. Hell, do we truly know half of our friends and acquaintances? Maybe Phil hasn’t always been faithful. With no way to know, why put him on a pedestal for anything other than that filthy shot on 13. That’s not cynicism, it’s healthy skepticism. Cynics assume the worst, skeptics know things aren’t always as they appear, and therefore, question conventional wisdom.

Now Lee Westwood, he seems like an all around great bloke. :) Here’s hoping he breaks through later in the year.

Sentence to Ponder

In 2007, 23% of U.S. children were living in poverty, more than twice the rate of most European nations, and a higher rate than was true in the early 1970s, when poverty rates for children had been reduced to 15% as a result of the War on Poverty.  (Linda Darling-Hammond in The Flat World and Education)

No Guarantee

The start of a  lecture I’m giving to faculty and students at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa in a few weeks. Get your tickets before it sells out.

The Makings of a 21st Century Education

Consider the first and last sentences from a January Wall Street Journal article titled “Even-In-A-Recovery-Some-Jobs-Won’t-Return”. “Even when the U.S. labor market finally starts adding more workers than it loses, many of the unemployed will find that the types of jobs they once had simply don’t exist anymore. Harvard’s Mr. Katz warns that past experience suggests. . . conjecture is likely fruitless. ‘One thing we’ve learned is that when we attempt to forecast jobs 10 or 15 years out, we don’t even get the categories right,’ he says.”

Let that sink in.  The Harvard expert admits, “we don’t even get the categories right”. So what are college students to do? And what are faculty to do? How should faculty design curriculum, teach courses, and advise students in a “we don’t even get the future job categories right” world?

April Miscellania

• The wife got me with a pretty good April Fools, said the new car “wasn’t starting in the morning” and “we should have someone look at it.” I had to return serve. So a few hours later I told her “Good news, the NYT is reporting that young trendsetters are dying their hair gray.” She laughed heartily until I said “April Fools!” That fact that it wasn’t a joke, is now the joke. That’s just the multi-layered way I roll.

• Got some rare direct blog feedback at dinner last week. One of my sibs said indignantly, “Why should anyone care about the details of your fitness routine?!” I explained those posts are primarily for Lance. Consider them optional, not required reading. Lance NEEDS to know how hard to work to maintain his running and cycling superiority.

• So here’s my indignant sib-adjusted fitness report for March. Battled a micro-tear in one calf and then threw my back out lifting/twisting dumbbells to and from the rack without my legs. Lost about a week. Swam 23,900m; cycled, 340; ran 97. WOM (workout of the month) was a 33 mile ride and 2.25 mile run with my 22 year old uber-niece who is about to kick some serious butt at the College Nationals Triathlon in Texas.

• March Madness update. The WSJ computer and I are currently in sixth or seventh place out of eleven in the office pool. If Duke wins, I will probably end up on the podium, but no one remembers who came in second. The first five participants don’t even follow college bball. I’m actually glad computers apparently can’t quantify something as complex as a 64 team tournament. It won’t be the same when it goes to 96 teams. Classic case of less being more. Of course this year I wish it had been 196 because then UCLA might have qualified.

• This recent David Brooks essay is one of my favorites of his of all time. Brooks got killed by the most recommended commenters. I found some of their comments perceptive, but most of those were of the “Look at me, I caught you being inconsistent” variety. No one is always perfectly consistent. Many of the most recommended comments struck me as weakly argued, mean-spirited, knee-jerk liberalism. I’m a liberal, but not a fan of knee-jerkism of any variety. Very easy to criticize especially so indirectly. I give Brooks credit for courage. He knows he can’t win when it comes to most NYT readers.

• Personal record for blog readership in March 2010; however, no reason to get carried away, you’re still a member of a select group. For reasons I’m not entirely sure of, people never comment on my personal finance posts, so I think I’ll retire that thread. Even though readership is up, commenting is not. Maybe I’m not angry enough? Maybe I need to tap my inner-Glenn Beck. Also, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, I can’t get many readers to follow the small number of links I sometimes include. Case in point, you didn’t even open the previous Brooks’ link did you? I know everyone is pressed for time and I appreciate the fact that more people are at least logging on and skimming posts.

• Turns out I was exaggerating when I wrote that I’d pay anything for an iPad. I have not ordered one yet not because I wanted to read the reviews that were just published and let the application/software dust settle a bit. I anticipate buying one sometime before the summer equinox, but as a card carrying late adaptor, if so moved, I reserve the right to postpone the purchase indefinitely. Not owning one won’t stop me from adding “Sent from my iPad” on the bottom of my emails. Faux tech cache. Sometimes I amaze myself.

• Speaking of email, publicly admitting that I suck at it in my last post proved cathartic. Oddly, it inspired me to turn over a new email/internet leaf captured in this sticky note. Three days later, I’m stickying to it. Now email is not the boss of me, I’m the boss of email!

The note doubles as a logo cover, sorry Apple