Sunday, May 12, 2013

What is your central idea?

Mother's Day is a day of gratitude, a day to express appreciation for the care and love that most of us receive from our Mothers. It is a good day to recognize the role that our Mother's play in shaping the central ideas of our lives. Some of us embrace the same central ideas held by our Moms and Dads. Some of us run from them, and from their ideas. Some of us embrace the central idea that we saw them reaching for, even if they never quite firmly grabbed hold of it. And some of us embrace a central idea that Mom and Dad never would have expected, not because of rebellion, but because they left it to us, sometimes as abdication of their responsibilities and sometimes as active encouragement that we seek the truth on our own.

This central idea is the core of our life philosophy and world view. It may be humanistic, theistic or something else, but except for those of us living in utter confusion, we all have one. A central idea of Buddhism is that the goal of life is to break the cycles of death and birth by following the five principles. A central idea for the Cretan philosopher Epimenides, was an unknown god "in him we live and move and have our being". To the Cilician Stoic philosopher Aratus, we are the offspring of this unknown god. The central idea of Paul the Apostle was we are the creation of a knowable God who broke the cycle of death on our behalf, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and yes, in Him we live and move and have our being, to the end that we may obtain the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is also the central idea of my life, on which, yes, I have a sometimes weak, mortal grasp. It is an idea that my Mother pointed me toward, along with many others to whom I will ever be grateful.

What is the central idea of your life? Breath it in. Let it flow through every fiber of your being. Live it out. If you cannot fruitfully live and move and have your being in it, with love, joy, and peace, you may need a new central idea.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Insider Speaking, the WSJ Speech Code

Neighborhoods, companies, organizations, and families often have unique ways of communicating that can be difficult for outsiders to decipher. Sometimes called "speech codes" these patterns contain unique idioms, vocabulary, usage, and even grammar. Acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon form elements of a speech code known to the readers of the Wall Street Journal.

Listed below are examples all appearing on the front page of today's WSJ, in order of appearance. Some are unique to business and finance. Some are common idioms, but codes nonetheless. I've also included a few unusual phrases.

Do you speak the code?

VOL., NO., WSJ, DJIA, NASDAQ, NIKKEI, STOXX 600, 10-YR. TREAS., B of A, MBIA, "soured securities', SEC, Pa., CEO, S&P 500, "the bill faces hurdles", "a string of rulings", EU, "private-equity firms", PG&E, KPMG, NATO, "storefront pot shops", "stop and frisk", "Researchers made bits of human bone", FDA, greenback, ICAP, CFO, "Obama is held back by risks on Syria", "Turkey's economy is getting hairier", "Turkey's emergence as a place for facial hair transplants", "be-whiskered boom", "troubled incinerator project".

Finally, this isn't coded or unusual language, just something worth repeating, "The SEC also took issue with Harrisburg officials for doing what many public officials often do: Putting a good face on a difficult situation."