Bit and pieces, the detritus of a busy life  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , , , , ,

Halloween costs. Someone has projected the numbers for Halloween purchases in 2012. I suppose it has to be done so companies know how much to produce and stores can plan for shelf space and sales. I hope we can Skype with the grandchildren or at least see pictures of their costumes—I only wish they lived close enough to come scare some candy out of us. In any case, Halloween spending is projected for 2012 as follows:
            Candy: $1.94 billion
            Decorations: $1.89 billion
            Adult costumes: $1.21 billion
            Children’s costumes: $1.05 billion
            Cards: $340 million
            Pet costumes: $93.1 million

Desire for relationships. Wherever we look today there is the debris of fragmented relationships littering the landscape. Divorce, abandonment, abuse exist both without and within the church. It is not entirely surprising, then, to learn that 50% of single Americans under thirty believe marriage is “becoming obsolete.” And since they remain God’s image bearers, it is not entirely surprising to learn that 19 out of 20 of those single Americans under thirty want to get married.

Security & freedom. It does not take a lot of scholarly reasoning to realize that increasing security measures in a society can result in a loss of or decrease in freedom. Knowing this, of course, is not an automatic reason to oppose any particular security measure, but it does suggest that unless a free people remain vigilant an honest desire for greater security can erode their freedoms indefinitely. Though thoughtful citizens may disagree on where the point is, surely some point must exist beyond which added security is too costly in terms of the loss of freedom it entails. Perhaps I am missing something, but this discussion seems to be absent, or is so politicized as to be worse than useless. And that does not bode well for the future. Here’s a fact that may be useful for this discussion, should it begin: The U.S. Border Patrol can legally perform warrantless searches 100 miles from land and maritime borders, within which slice of the country 2/3 of all Americans live.

The Dead Sea died. Scientists have drilled down into the lakebed of the Dead Sea, extracting cores that allow them to study the history of the lake. Over the past several decades the Dead Sea has been shrinking, and researchers have disagreed as to whether it could dry up completely. In the core, 253 meters (830 feet) down, they found smooth pebbles that suggest the Sea was once completely dry. The pebbles sat on top of 45 meters (148 feet) of salt, the amount that researchers believe would be left today if the Dead Sea dried completely. “The researchers estimate that the lake vanished 120,000 years ago. A warmer climate at that time could have dried up the Dead Sea's water sources. Today the Dead Sea is threatened again, this time by the diversion of water from the Jordan River for irrigation and other uses. Now fed only by mountain runoff and underwater springs, the Dead Sea dropped 10 meters between 1997 and 2008.”

Sources: Halloween spending in “Datastream: in Wired (October 2012); Marriage data from “Harper’s Index” in Harper’s Magazine (February 2011) page 11; Border Patrol data from “Harper’s Index” in Harper’s Magazine (February 2011) page 11; “Dead Sea once turned to dust” in Science News (December 31, 2011) page 9.

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