The Parable of Fannie Mae

This might make more sense if you’re familiar with the news story that picked up steam last week about Fannie Mae. If you haven’t been paying attention to the news, read this article or this article to get up to speed, then come back here and continue.

And you should also be familiar with the parable found in Matthew 18:23-35. If you are not, go read the parable of the ungrateful servant, then come back here and continue.

Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain president, which would take account of his agencies.

And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed $317,000,000,000.

But forasmuch as it had not to pay, the president commanded it to be sold, and its officers, and all that it had, and payment to be made.

The agency therefore fell down, and pleaded with him, saying, “Mr. President, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.”

Then the president of that country was moved with compassion, and bailed out the agency.

But the same agency went out, and found one of its mortgagors, which owed it $5,000: and it laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, “Pay me what you owe!”

And the homeowner fell down at its doors, and besought it, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.”

And it would not: but went and foreclosed the house, till it should be sold at auction.

So when the other mortgagors saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto the president all that was done.

Then the president, after that he had called the agency, said unto it,
“O thou wicked bureaucracy, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy debtors, even as I had pity on thee?”

And the president was wroth, and delivered it unto bankruptcy, till it should pay all that was due unto him.

In case you had trouble following the story:
Original version:
king forgives servant,
servant does not forgive other servant,
king gets mad at first servant.

USA version:
Fannie Mae gets bailed out so that it can help people stay in their homes,
Fannie Mae keeps its money and continues foreclosing on people,
President/Congress gets mad at Fannie Mae.

For a nice ending to the story, we would see some oversight of the quasi-governmental agencies such that the bailout money is used for its intended purpose.

Even better, the bailout money could be taken from them and given directly to the people – cut out the middleman. In which case tax money is taken from the people and then given back to the people. Might as well just not tax ’em.

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Matthew 18:35

What Color Car?

On the way home last night, I saw a white car. That would not normally be remarkable enough to appear on this blog, but this was not a normal car.

This car claimed that it was green.

picture of a white car that claims to be a green taxi

Clearly, the car is not green – it is white.

A green car would look like this:

picture of a white car that claims to be a green taxi

If they had used the term “eco” then there would be no problem. “Green” is too ambiguous – don’t use it in your product name. Well-known products can be grandfathered into this rule, such as Jolly Green Giant.

He explores the mountains for his pasture
And searches after every green thing.

Job 39:8

No Place is Perfect

This conversation took place a while ago as we were driving somewhere.

Alpha: Daddy, can we go somewhere where we don’t need to worry about anything?
Me: Why? What do you have to worry about?
I think we’ll be okay. Every place has something like that.
Paris! Maybe the Eiffel Tower will fall over.
Maybe, but probably not.
Beta: What does Florida have?
Alpha: Gators!
Me: And hurricanes. And California has earthquakes.
Alpha: And lots of fires.
Me: Oh, and we have mosquitoes. And we have bees.
Beta: Bees are nice. They help the flowers.
Alpha: Male mosquitos are nice.
Beta: They help the flowers just like bees?
Alpha: But female mosquitoes are not nice. They sting you.

I hope he learns not to worry so much – he’s going to have plenty more worries as he grows up, so it’s best to start with as few as possible.

From the LORD of hosts you will be punished with thunder and earthquake and loud noise, With whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire

Isaiah 29:6

Airplane Mode

I think that someday people will look back to this decade and wonder “What were they thinking?” regarding cell phones and tablets and notebooks and laptops. It’s about the same way that we wonder what people were thinking regarding cigarettes 50 years ago.

There are studies and research and stuff about the negative effects (or lack thereof) of radiation from cell phones. The results are mixed, but studies are always like that. (And by “radiation” I mean electromagnetic radiation, not nuclear radiation. “Radiation” as in something that radiates or travels outward from a point source, in this case the radiation is electromagnetic waves.)

Until the results start converging, I prefer to play it safe.

Every year, there are more and more signals added to the air waves. First it was just radio. Then came TV. Then microwave ovens.
Cordless phones.
Baby monitors.
Video monitors.
Cell phones.
I don’t know what the breaking point is, but I don’t want to find out.

  • I use my cell phone as my alarm clock, so it stays on my nightstand (right near my head) all night.
  • My kids will occasionally play games on my phone. And their bodies and brains are still growing and developing.
  • No one ever calls me, other than my wife. That’s fine – I like to keep the cell phone for urgent matters (They’re out of the sausage links that you put on the grocery list. Do you want something else instead or should I skip that one? Okay. Bye.) and not for chit-chat.

Because of all those reasons, I put my cell phone into airplane mode when I get home from work each day. There are still cell signals flying through the house, but they are reduced. My phone does not generate any cell signals (or wi-fi either).

As an added benefit, I don’t need to worry about my kids inadvertently buying or downloading games or clicking on ads or calling someone while they’re playing a game. And most of the games use a server to generate the ads, so without an internet connection, the ads don’t even appear in the games. And no phone call will interrupt my game.

That’s only at home. At work, I keep my phone in normal mode. But I don’t wear it. I set it on my desk so the radiation-generating point is not so close to my body.

Time may prove that EMR does not effect any health problems. But until then, why not play it safe? It takes me just a couple of taps to put my phone in airplane mode. It’s free and easy.

For the waves of death encompassed me;
The torrents of destruction overwhelmed me;

2 Samuel 22:5

Check Your Prices

Two recent experiences have taught me the lesson that you should always check the per-unit price:

Light Bulbs

I was in the store to buy light bulbs. There was a pack of normal light bulbs, and there was a pack of double-life light bulbs.

The double-life light bulbs are supposed to last twice as long as normal light bulbs. At least that’s what the packaging said.

I was tempted to buy them, because then I would have to change (and therefore buy) light bulbs half as often.

Then I noticed the price – they cost more than double the regular bulbs.

So I could spend $2.48 twice or $5.48 once for the same amount of light-years.
(what? that measurement is already taken? How about light-hours? Okay.)

I went with two packs of the normal bulbs.

“New and improved” might mean a price hike.

“Chocolate” Syrup

Yes, I added those quotes on purpose. The syrup has “real chocolate flavor” not necessarily “real chocolate”, so I feel those quotes are appropriate.

My kids are going through a chocolate syrup phase right now, probably similar to the Nestle Quik phase that my side of the family went through about a dozen years ago.

At the grocery store, I reached for the larger container of Hershey’s syrup. For some reason I felt like looking at the price. And I compared the per-ounce price to the smaller container. The smaller bottle had a better price.

The large one (48 oz.) was $3.79 and the smaller one (24 oz.) was $1.75.

“Buy in bulk and save” might not apply to whatever you’re buying.

All in all, I saved about 81 cents on those two items by buying the smaller or worse item. If I were paid by the hour, that probably would not have been worth my time to stop and do the comparisons.

Every little bit helps, I suppose. But there has to be a point at which it’s not worth it.

What’s a good threshold for saying “ah, skip it” and just buying an item without comparing prices (either within the store or between stores)?

Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, When he has no sense?

Proverbs 17:16

Warrior Dash 2011, Part II

Welcome back to the Warrior Dash recap. When we last left our hero, he was running the race. Let’s see where he is now…

The Obstacles

I’ll just list each obstacle and what I thought of it. And I have listed some helpful tips and hints for how to handle these Warrior Dash obstacles. After I realized that the obstacles were prime locations for passing people, my goal was to pass people in the obstacles. Note: the term “cargo net” means ropes connected together to make a grid of one-foot square sections.
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Warrior Dash 2011, Part I

Since I know most of you weren’t there with me at the Warrior Dash, here is my recap of the day:


Warrior Dash is a 3.1-mile race with about a dozen obstacles, most of which require climbing or crawling plus mud.

In my preparation for the half marathon in September, I wanted to do a 5k in July and a 10k in August. There were some 5k races in July around here, but this was the most appealing. If I want to run 3.1 miles, I can do that just about anywhere. A 5k obstacle course, however, doesn’t come along every day.
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