Coffee economics revisited

Former WBC champion James Hoffman has written an interesting post on the cost of coffee in your average cafe… He makes an interesting comparison between the price of espresso and the price of other high market beverages… he makes the point that most recession survival guides suggest cutting coffee out of their diets, and little wonder…

“Let’s say a single espresso in London costs £1.50, which is a little high but not by any means unusual. Assuming it is a 25ml shot that works out at 6p/ml.

If you were to go to a pub and buy a pint of espresso it would cost you £34.08. Or you bought a wine bottle of espresso it would cost £45. That is a phenomenal amount of money. Think about the drinks you can buy for that sort of price. They are either extremely delicious or extremely alcoholic.”

Which creates its own problems…

The problem is that a price tag like this is a pretty hefty promise. Selling an espresso for this much implies that the experience will be of equal value. Sip for sip it should be as satisfying as a great champagne. The problem is that in this country, in London, in the vast majority of businesses – it isn’t.

Charging this much and delivering something so awful as the average high street espresso destroys any trust between the coffee industry and the general public. This kind of price/experience discrepancy makes people feel stupid. It makes them resentful.

He suggests that this equation should lead towards the proliferation of brewed coffee, I’d suggest the best way to save money on coffee in a recession (and any time in fact) is to roast your own beans and make your coffee at home.


At liberty

For those of you reading from the top of the page down – in the last post I mentioned some comments from Dave on a previous post, you should read that… anyway, he also had this to say:

“I think it taps into broader questions of what the role of the government is. Liberalism says the role of the government is to provide as far as possible for the liberty of its citizens and should interfere as little as possible with the choices citizens make. This depends on a shift from ‘government’ to ‘individual’ as the centre of moral decision making.”

I’d be interested in your thoughts on whether or not the government ever had a role to play in “moral decision making”… I would have thought that always essentially occurred via the individual because the government is not operating behind closed doors.

I probably lean towards classic “liberalism” but not so far as libertarianism as suggested by others in previous clean feed debates.

But you know who is a libertarian? WWE’s Kane. That’s who (or at least the guy who plays the character – Glenn Jacobs) – don’t ask me how I know this, but if you’re political views align with a guy who looks like this it’s probably time to reassess…


Lobbying for God

Dave (Walker – there are far too many Daves for this just to be a first name thing) and I have been thoroughly enjoying a discussion on the role of government (and Christians in relation to government) back on this post.

Dave, for the uninitiated, is the same guy who spoke at a conference in Brisbane recently and made a joke about me without realising that very few people in the audience knew who I was… this time round he’s called my doctrine of creation anaemic. I would have thought it was slightly lumpy myself, congealed perhaps…

Anyway, I was relaying the debate to my wife (who probably agrees with Dave)… and considered for the first time that while the government in the New Testament era was far from democratic, the model we see of Paul relating to those in authority while on trial is almost, almost, an example of Christian lobbying. With Paul playing the role of the advocate. I would stress that the distinction I see is that he’s not seeking to impose Christian morality on others, but to protect the rights and freedoms of Christians. I’d never really considered Paul in that light before. I see some inconsistencies between this sort of advocacy, and that practiced by the Australian Christian Lobby.


Turtle mail

Believe it or not turtles are ferocious – but that doesn’t negate this being a pretty awesome direct mail campaign from an insurance company…

“Based on the information obtained in the research, they sent warning plates, like those used for wild dogs, customized with the families’ pets.”

This one would not be out of place outside our house – Franky (short for Franklin) is a particularly vicious little reptile. We took a video of him stalking (and biting) my finger the other day that I’ll put up here one day.

The Friendly Atheist

I’ve been reading a bit of the back catalogue of the Friendly Atheist, who is in fact a friendly atheist – it’s a same about his lunatic band of followers who deface every moderate post with comments about why Christianity should not exist… I’ve been doing this because I think engaging with just one or two posts from this sort of blog and getting all preachy in the comments is harmful. I like to understand context before I go off disagreeing (yes my specific atheist friends this is important to Christians…).

The Friendly Atheist, Hermant Mehta, achieved some fame ebaying off his time with a promise to visit churches identified by the winning bidder. He turned it into a book – which would no doubt be informative reading for anybody wanting to look at church practices from the outside. He also used his experience to write a couple of reflective posts – one about things about church that are annoying (and I agree with most of them) – as do many Christian commenters on the post (which is still getting comments almost 2 years later)… and this one – ten things Christians do better than atheists – which is a bit less friendly. I guess because both target the fringe parts of Christianity that I personally have struggles with… Which in itself is interesting. I think the “rational” evangelical arm of Christianity probably spends a lot of time agreeing with atheists and throwing stones at Christian brothers rather than focusing on the unity we have with our “irrational” fellow Christians. Which is pretty challenging. Especially in the light of passages like 1 Corinthians 1 (incidentally if you google the phrase: 1 Corinthians 1 biblegateway esv – the third result down is a page on the MPC website (dad’s church for the uninitiated))…

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The more I grapple with, and try to convince my atheist friends of the rationality of the gospel the more I am convinced that this is the case – they’re going to read this and tell me I’m copping out for falling back on a proof text written in order to justify just this criticism – but that’s where I guess our “doctrine” of Scripture disagrees. If it’s a true representation of God’s intentions why wouldn’t the Bible say it?

Craig linked to the article from the Friendly Atheist I posted the other day, with a wise disclaimer encouraging Christians to be sensitive when posting – advice I perhaps failed to heed with my own comments – lest we give more ammunition to the disdain these atheists show for Christianity. It’s particularly pertinent advice given some of the “drive by” evangelism that happens in the comments on that blog – evangelism without relationship is pretty futile. As perhaps best expressed by this Friendly Atheist post of advice for Christians as they evangelise to atheists

All good things…

Sadly it appears the game is up. Michel Robert is not playing my games any longer. Or so it would seem.

He sent me an obscure email – with the subject line YES A JOKER.

I told him in no uncertain terms that I was not. And he responded:


I responded, unwilling to give up, requesting the photo…

How can I send you the money?

I need your photo.

Get back to me with the details for the transfer and the photo as soon
as possible.

He wasn’t receptive to my response…


I smelled a rat. Perhaps his uncles had caught up with him. I had to be sure…

You need to get me the photo. As soon as possible. And I will send you the money – you are acting strangely. Prove to me that you are for real. I have $10,000 to wire you to get you out of the country and into safety. BUT I MUST SEE THAT YOU ARE OK. That your uncles haven’t taken over your account. AND THAT YOU ARE PREPARED TO FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS.

His response took me by surprise…


12 BP 4010 ABIDJAN 12



He had done no such thing. So I called him out on this lie…

“No you didn’t. I’ve checked my emails – I have no record of that request.

I don’t think you are Michel.

I think you are his uncles – and I think you’ve killed him. I am going
to go to the police without proof that you are really Michel. I
understand you are under stress and might not be keeping track of the
emails you send.

I will send you 10,000 when I get the photo. Not before. Otherwise I
will go to the police, and the lawyer, and the security company and
inform them that Michel Robert has been murdered by his uncles. Run
away uncles. While you have the chance.

I will come for you – you have killed my Michel.”

And he brushed me off…

” which instruction do you want me to follow?. I told you how important it is for me to leave here but you are asking me to send you photo. in the first place, i have started wondering if you are telling me the truth because it seems you are lying to me or you may want to play with me. i do not have money to snap the picture and dont ever ask me to send you the picture again because i have no means to snap the photo. if you dont want to help me, please go with you $10,000 and i dont need it. not intrested in your games”


Nothing makes me sadder than this post on “the friendly atheist” and the tales of “deconversion” shared in the comments.

In short, he was much happier being religious. I think anyone would expect this, but the problem is that I don’t think he has found anything positive in atheism yet, and I think he’s finding it very depressing that there might not be a god. I don’t think that “better moral guidelines” and “seeing the universe as it is” can outweigh what could well be the loss of his entire family, at least not at this stage.

It’s sad that these atheists (the blogger in particular) – make it their life’s ambition to bring misery to people in the form of “enlightenment” – if they truly believe there’s no God – why proselytise aiming to deconvert someone and disrupt their family?

It’s also sad hearing tales of broken lives driven by broken understandings of Christianity perpetuated by broken people. There’s so much anger and anguish underpinning the genuine hurt many of these “deconverted” atheists feel having “wasted their lives”. It also seems many of them have been ostracised by their “Christian” families for doing so.

It’s stories like this, repeated time and time again, that make me angry and sad. For all parties involved.

I come from an Evangelical Southern Baptist strand of Christianity so I think our situations may be similar. I was truly a warrior for Christ – daily Bible readings coupled with prayer, tri-weekly Church visits and I made every decision in my life based on the Truth I knew from the Bible. Of course I was still a teenager at the zenith of my faith so my decisions can’t truly compare to those made about a spouse or career.

I was 22 when I told my mother that I no longer believed Christianity was valid and it initiated the single hardest time in my life. She effectively disowned me and we did not speak for several months. In her rage she told our extended family of my betrayal and even “outed” one of my friends to his own family. I was told that I was to no longer speak with my own brother.

A bunch of links – May 29, 2009