There is a Fountain Filled With Blood.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The morning on Friday of what we call Passion Week saw the end of the sham trials of Jesus.

The verdict from Roman Governor Pilate was death by crucifixion.

The Romans had perfected this horrible method of capital punishment, having refined it to the point where it normally took around three days of anguish before the condemned would finally suffocate.

Hanging with one’s arms outstretched on a cross put tremendous outward pressure on the lungs, causing them to be fully expanded. A person would have to push up on the nails through their feet to compress the lungs to expel the oxygen, then slump down to inhale again.

Every breath of air involved extreme pain in the feet pushing oneself up followed by extreme pain in the wrists after slumping down. Eventually the muscles in the arms and legs would cramp causing additional pain.

Slowly, ever so slowly, a person would lose all their strength, being unable to push up, eventually dying by suffocation.

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Acme to replace Boeing as prime contractor on Space Launch System.

This blog does not discuss politics. Since I do discuss space exploration, I will cover an announcement from the new Biden administration that Boeing will be replaced as the prime contractor on the Space Launch System.

SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for NASA. It will lift astronauts to space so they may explore the solar system.

Acme

The new prime contractor is Acme. You may have seen the products on television in the past.

The story has not received much publicity, so I’ll try to draw attention to this major change in federal policy.

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Go to Dark Gethsemane.

Maundy Thursday was a complex, messy day for Jesus.

At the Passover dinner, he gave the apostles long instruction, to include a lengthy description of the new command to love one another. That command is where the Maundy comes from in Maundy Thursday – command Thursday.

During the dinner he instituted the Lord’s Supper, referred to as the eucharist, or holy communion. The instructions are:

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (NIV)

He did this weird washing of the feet thing, a task was routinely done by the lowest of servants.

After the dinner, Jesus and the apostles went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray.

While there, the betrayal by Judas was completed and Jesus was arrested. He was subject to a kangaroo court of a trial which repeatedly, flagrantly violated Jewish law. (That is a topic for another day.)

There were trials by Pilate, Herod, and again by Pilate before the scourging, the cross, and the tomb. That is tomorrow’s story.

The events of Maundy Thursday are told in a mournful song, Go to Dark Gethsemane. The dark melody is appropriate for the day. The dark lyrics accurately tell the story of the journey from Gethsemane, to the trials, the cross at Calvary, and the tomb.

Yet the song leaves us with incredible hope in the last line:

“Christ is risen! He meets our eyes;

Savior, teach us so to rise.”

Second Church

The lyrics:

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Ride On, Ride On in Majesty.

Jesus’ grand entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday was glorious.  Yet the entrance was for the purpose of heading to the cross on Friday morning and the tomb on Friday afternoon.

The hymn Ride On, Ride On in Majesty lifts up that celebratory joy while pointing with dread to what will happen by end of the week.

The last line points to even greater celebration to come: “Then take your power and reign” which foretells Jesus reigning on His throne forever, triumphant as the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King.

King’s College, Cambridge

One version of the lyrics, for your celebration:

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Cost of the devastation caused by closing schools.

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To the extent there was ever justification for closing schools, emerging research demonstrates it has been an extremely long time since any such justification evaporated. Research from Wharton shows the severe, lifelong cost of losing out on two or three semesters of education.

This is the fifth in a series of posts reminding us we have completed one year of “fifteen days to smooth the curve.” In California, we have started our second year of curve smoothing.

10/12/20 – Penn Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania, Budget Model website Covid: Trade-offs in School Reopening – Detailed economic analysis is thoroughly devastating to any argument there is any value in keeping schools closed and in fact there are substantive questions whether there was any value to closing any schools.

Summary

There will be permanent damage to the education level of most students with a serious adverse impact on lifetime earnings with a disproportionate impact on kids who are poor kids, disadvantaged kids, and persons of color.

Read the full article. Please.

Recap of the highlights:

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Devastation visible after an entire year of “15 days to smooth the curve”, college edition. Part 3.

Empty college campus. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Articles describing the destruction in the education world have been noticable to me over the last several weeks. Most of the articles have discussed the devastation in primary and secondary education.

Here are a few articles describing disruption in higher education:

  • Alternatives to traditional non-campus higher education are growing.
  • What might a post-covid higher education world look like? One scenario.
  • Lots of class-action suits against colleges for refunds are getting dismissed.
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Devastation visible after an entire year of “15 days to smooth the curve.” Part 2.

One student who is focused on distance learning. She will do fine; notice she has two computers and her own space to study. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Destruction in the education world has been noticable to me over the last several weeks. Most of the articles have discussed the devastation in primary and secondary education. There will also be major disruption in higher education.

Today’s articles:

  • 3 million missing kids.
  • Kids from poorer neighborhoods will suffer most from lost education.
  • Last December UNICEF warned against keeping schools closed.
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Devastation visible after an entire year of “15 days to smooth the curve.” Part 1.

Close up view of a closed school’s message board, encouraging students to keep learning and stay healthy amidst the coronavirus quarantine

Devastation on kids caused by the lockdown is becoming more visible with every day that passes. A few articles pointing this out:

  • Mental health of schoolchildren has suffered.
  • Even CDC finds kids are suffering.
  • It is past time to fix the mistake.
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Lockdown for the last year was a mistake.

The year-long lockdown has been okay if you are a member of the “Zoom class.”

As we finish our first year of shutting down education for our kids and shutting down the economy for everyone evidence is emerging of what a terrible mistake we made.

A series of posts will commemorate this regrettable anniversary.

Today’s articles:

  • Worst public health mistake in a century
  • Lockdowns okay for those of us fortunate enough to be a part of the “Zoom class”
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New claims for unemployment in week ending 3/13/21 are roughly same as last several months.

The number of new claims for unemployment for week ending 3/13/21 increased 45,000 after decling 29,000 the prior week. Those weekly changes are in the range of what has happened over the last six months. In other words, not a lot of improvement with plenty of ups and downs in the weekly new-claims tally.

Since 8/29/20, the new weekly claims ranged from a low of 711K to high of 965K. average since then is 812K. That means weekly new claims have been bad news for seven months in a row.

For context consider before the economic shutdown the new claims averaged about 220K per week, so after all these months of improvements we are still running about four times the previous norm.

Why this ongoing discussion?

If we’re going to understand what is happening in the economy we need to dive deeper into the numbers. For those of us who are CPAs providing audits and reviews, it helps us to have a deeper understanding of the overall economy.

Ponder the following graphs and you can make your own assessment.

News report

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Behold the creativity of cheaters.

Need to fabricate an excuse to bail on your meeting? There’s an app for that. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I am continually amazed at the creativity of cheaters. A few examples in the news recently:

  • Restaurant offering receipts with menu items relabeled as office supplies
  • Generate disruptions to get out of a zoom meeting
  • Fake Covid test results

I mentioned these for the laughter value and more importantly for the educational value.

The stories are amusing. If you work in the finance area or are leading an organization, having an awareness of these schemes might help you recognize one if presented to you.

Your entertainment and anti-fraud training for the day:

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2020 giving trends for churches and religious charities based on ECFA survey.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Finding data on prior year contribution trends early enough in the year to have analytical value in a review or audit has long been a challenge. Usable data for 2020 is now available in March. This is current enough to allow leaders in churches and ministries analyze the 2020 financial results in time for it to be actionable.

Throughout the pandemic the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) has been conducting quarterly surveys of its members. Lots of data has been gathered and processed.

On 3/4/21, ECFA published the results of their survey of full year 2020 revenue and expense trends compared to 2019. They have graciously made the results of the survey available for free. You can find it on this page of Feature Surveys. Click on the “Free Download” button beneath the Remarkable Resilience survey report dated March 2021.

The survey is based on responses from 559 churches and 730 religious nonprofits. That is a total of 1,289 responses. ECFA has lots of subsectors for its membership. For those sectors with 20 or more responses, the survey aggregates and reports results.

Who would benefit from looking at this survey? Two groups.

First, finance teams and senior leadership of churches and religious nonprofits to see financial results for 2020 of a large group of their peers. This provides an incredible opportunity to see how other organizations are doing.

Second, CPAs performing reviews or audits of churches religious not-for-profit organizations can easily find industrywide information to use as a benchmark. As mentioned earlier, financial information is usually published long after most of the reviews and audits have been released. It is rare I can find anything that is actually usable.

High-level results from the ECFA survey are summarized into three broad categories:

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Public health officials in school district outside Toronto have gone off the deep end.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The craziness from government officials is getting worse instead of better.

The Peel school district, headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada posted an official “recommendation” of a 14 day solitary quarantine for any child in the district sent home because someone else in the student’s classroom tested positive.

Yes, you read that right. If any child in a classroom is sent home because of a positive test, that means that every student in the classroom will be sent home.

Not only that, but the school district also “recommends” every child in the classroom be quarantined, by themselves, in a separate room, for 14 days.

No contact with mommy. No contact with daddy. No contact with siblings. No contact with anyone else.

In case you think I’m making this up, check out this coverage:

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