Friday, October 08, 2004

"I am still undecided." This is what a number of people have said in connection with the presidential race. Uhmm...there is less than a month until it will be time to actually vote for one of these guys or for someone else. The campaign has been going on now for over a year. During that year, the candidates have given speeches, held meetings, placed numerous advertisements in all the various media forms, and two debates between the major candidates have come and gone. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

I think that the folks that say they are still undecided are one of the following three things:
1). Decided voters that do not want to reveal their leanings
2). Voters(or possibly potential non-voters) that are not really listening or paying attention
3). too indecisive to actually cast a vote.

I believe that the majority of voters know who they will vote for and the rest won't make a difference.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Isn't politics a lovely game? Let's look at the latest bewildering move made by a political party.
In the Land of Lincoln, the Republicans are in trouble. It seems that the man who won the Republican primary had a couple of skeletons in his closet, and made the mistake of getting divorced, which led those skeletons out into the bright light of the news cameras. Jack Ryan decided that he would withdraw from the race for U.S. Senate. He states that the party leadership was not supporting him, and thus was making a successful campaign untenable. I think that he might have had an uphill battle with the rank and file of the party of family values when he got around to explaining his visits to sex clubs.
Compounding the Republicans dilemma is the fact that the Democrats have a real winner in this race. Barak Obama is considered to be "a rising star in the Democratic party and in our country. At least that is what all the news media drilled into the public's mind during and after his wonderful Convention speech. From all I have seen, Mr. Obama is an attractive candidate for the Senate.
One other factor is driving the GOP to a feverish decision, the election is almost here. There is little time to contemplate the errors of their previous choice and to consider what is in the best interest of the people of the state of Illinois.
Hold on, Grand Old Party, help is on the way! Riding to the rescue from his HOME in Maryland is the former ambassador and erstwhile presidential candidate, Alan Keyes. A man with impeccible Republican credentials, a paragon of traditional family values, a defender of the unborn, Alan Keyes has much to offer the state of Illinois. He has a clearly defined difference from the Democrat's choice, Barak Obama. Mr. Keyes is an outsider! Yes, this potential representative of the people of Illinois can bring the unique perspective of a Marylander trying to solve the problems of the beleagured people of Illinois.
Ok, I hope that by now, it is clear that I have a problem with Alan Keyes running for the Senate from Illinois.. I am aware that Illinois only requires that the Senate candidate be a resident when he is elected, but I feel that it is wrong for someone to represent the people of a state that they really are not a part of, whether they do it at the behest of their national party with at least the outward appearance of seeking the good of their constituents, or whether they do it to further their political career, as seems to be the case with the Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton. Both are wrong. Illinois need to be represented by an Illinoian(I hope that is what they call themselves) If the Republican party was unable to scrounge up a viable candidate after the fiasco of Jack Ryan, they should do two things. One, examine the way they choose candidates more closely, maybe they will avoid the egg on their face next time. Two, concede that seat to the Democrats. Ok, maybe I have a third point, focus on helping this country more and helping the party less. To paraphrase a former President's call, "Ask not what your country can do for your party, ask what your party can do for your country.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Ahhh, another love fest is almost here. The Democrats have just finished their love fest, now it is time for the Republicans. I find the conventions to be curious things. Large numbers of people gather together to praise a person and lift him or her onto a pedastal he or she really shouldn't be on. Some of the people present covet fiercely the limelight that they are forced to shine on someone that they personally believe is inferior. Of course there are always those smart folks that find a way to get at least a little of the attention on themselves, by wrangling one of the many speaking spots. Now these spots are supposed to be used to tell what a wonderful president the candidate will be and to shore up the main message that the party wishes to tell. While the speakers do what the party wants, they also insure that the pubic knows their name. And if they have really good speach writers, and at least passable speaking skills they look like the next best thing that party has to offer in the next state, or federal election. Then there is the matter of what message the party shows. Neither party highlights the aspects of their party that are the least palatable, they focus on the best they have to offer. They also repackage their agenda in the best light, stretching the truth most of the time. Of course, the opposing party is quick to point out this practice, while continuing to do the same thing. You know, everyone one is always complaining about the glut of lawyers in politics, I think that the most logical profession for a politician to start off in would be used car salesman. One of the best things about these love fests is the groupies. You know, the folks with the lights, cameras, microphones and studios. I hear news people talk about how it is their responsibility to be the voice of reason in this sea of political waste, but come Convention time, they seem to turn into 14 yr old boy band fans. Asking hard questions seems to take a back seat to critiqueing speaches and posturing whether a candidate's wife said a naughty thing. If they are not falling over themselves to fawn on the participants of the love fest, they act like the hard rock groupies who diss everything the boy bands do. I mean we either get news people who are swept up promoting, I mean reporting, the Convention, or we get news people trying to trash the Convention . How lucky we are. Just think, only 13 more weeks of the campaign.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Hey, everybody, grab your helmets, shields and swords! Marriage is under attack! This seems to be the battle cry today across our country, esp. among Christians. I have a few things to say on this subject. Let me get these couple of things out of the way first, so y'all will know my basic positions. I believe homosexuality is a sin. I believe that it is a choice, maybe not a simple one like which shirt to wear to work today, but a choice none the less. I believe that marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman.
Having said all that, I have a few problems with this whole, "save marriage from the queers" movement. First, how is marriage under attack simply because another group of people want to be married? Before you go ballistic on me, I understand that allowing same-sex couples to marry changes the very definition of marriage. I am not in favor of allowing same-sex couples marry, but it is not the end of marriage and what really appalls me about the whole "defense of marriage" is that with a divorce rate of around 50% for the last few decades, it would appear that marriage has been under attack from opposite sex couples for quite some time, with little fanfare to save it. Maybe if Christians spent their time helping to shore up the "correct" married couples, marriage might be stronger and could withstand the introduction of homosexuals.
Second, I believe that much of the motivation to oppose same-sex marriage and anything homosexual is the "ick factor." For most people the thought of homosexuality is disgusting, pure and simple. It is unnatural and we can't even think about it. This is natural. What is wrong is when Christians cloth their human distaste for homosexuality in a garb of spirituality. While God clearly condemns homosexuality, He does so in the same breath as He condemns adultery and pre-marital sex. Christians need to be honest in their reasons for their actions, and be certain that they are actually trying to be one with God and thus condemn what He condemns. Be sure that it is righteous indignation and not just human disgust that is moving you.
Third, I heard a pastor on a popular, Christian radio show the other day talking about the meeting he and his church had organized in Seattle on this issue. He made a statement that crystallizes what I see to be a major failing of Christians today, esp. in this area. He said, "We have brought God on board for our fight." Uhmm, aren't we, as Christians, supposed to be fighting His fight and not the other way around. Too often today, Christians have looked to changing the Government or laws to make society look more Christ-like, instead of looking to God and leading the lost to Christ, so they will actually be Christ-like. I believe that Christians today have lost their way. We feel that our lives would be better if everyone acted like we do or at least like we claim to act, so we try to legislate people to behave as Christians, even those who aren't Christians. Dr. Bob Jones Sr. is the example we should be following. He went all over the South preaching the Gospel. In many a place bars closed down, not just for the length of the revival, but permanently. He did not march in front of their doors, decrying the ills of booze. He did not pass laws outlawing drinking. He did not run for Congress to stop alcohol. He simply preached the Word of God and men got saved, women got saved and they no longer wanted the bottle, they no longer wanted to sell liquor to their friends and neighbors, hence the closing of bars. He looked to God to stop the evil, and did his one main job as a Christian-lead people to Jesus!
Finally, there is a move afoot to amend the U.S. Constitution with the purpose to "permanently define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. This is the wrong answer. The Constitution is not the place to change social problems. The only purely social change ever amended to the Constitution was the outlawing of alcohol, and that one was later repealed. This does not bode well for the "defense of Marriage" amendment. It too could be repealed at a later date. More importantly, this amendment would introduce into the Constitution a concept that is foreign to its very nature. It is the bedrock of our country's laws, but it is designed to deal with the fundamental, underlying principles that make all our other laws possible, turning it into a battlefield for social change will cheapen it and will backfire on those who endorse this measure, because then we have opened the door to all social change and one day, there will be those that are in the majority that will want to deal with the social "problem" of Christians.
Christians, if you want to do something to fight what appears to the ever declining state of our nation, stop looking to Washington for the answers and do what the Bible tells us to do, " If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 2Chron. 7:14 and "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all the things whatsoever I have commanded you..." Matt. 28:19-20a.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy Birthday, America

Saturday, June 26, 2004

I can taste the dust. I feel it blister my eyes, and I have just finished the first chapter of "The Grapes of Wrath." I have never felt more a part of any story before. I actually have read about 3 or 4 chapters, and it isn't like I am reading a book as much as I am experiencing what these people are experiencing. Steinbeck has so completely captured reality and while the story is fiction, you feel like you are looking out a window on the life of the Joads and the rest of our country during this time period. The chapter where he talks about the banks being more than mere men is amazing in its power to describe what people felt then, and to some extent what we often feel today about government agencies and big corporations. I can't wait to read the rest of it, so I think I will go do that now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

A character in a TV show tonight made an interesting comment. He said, "You make a choice and then you pay for it the rest of your life." He was speaking about his decision as a young gang member to take the rap for a killing of a member of a rival gang. He did not think about the pay back, and his younger sister was killed in an attempt on his life. In an age when taking responsibility for one's own actions is a lost virtue, this comment is a welcome ray of truth. Even when we refuse to take responsibility for our actions, there is a price to pay. We may mistake the price as "bad luck" or "everyone is always picking on me," but it is the often just the price we pay. Of course, too often the ones we love pay the price and , if we have a conscious at all, we will have to live with that and thus,our price again. My advice, think about what your actions BEFORE you do them!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Storytelling is an art I think. Some people are naturals. I have known some people who have been great oral storytellers. We all know grandfathers or old men who can spin yarns as easily as the rest of us recite phone numbers. Sometimes they are relating personal experiences, but the way they tell it captivates us. Then there are the storytellers who write their stories down. One of my favorites is Stephen King. He uses the English language with skill of a surgeon, knowing exactly the right instrument to employ to get the best result. You actually see the world he is presenting you with in detail. The final storyteller is the songwriter. I was listening to part of a concert with Paul Simon and John Myer. Listening to some of Simon's classic, you are immediately whisked away to the world he is showing you. I love music, all genres, but I guess my favorite types of songs are the ones that are telling me a story. If the story is well told, I am hooked, regardless of the subject matter.
I think storytelling in its varied forms is vital to a healthy culture. It helps show us lessons we need to learn or remember experiences we need to hold on to. But the most important thing stories do is make us take a minute or two to slow down and relax, and enjoy. Life should be enjoyed, not just experienced.
So the next time you have an opportunity to listen to a story, do it.

Friday, June 11, 2004

I wonder how many times the words "Ronald Reagan" appeared in chat rooms, blogs and bulletin boards this week. I am sure it is an astronomical number. I had decided that I was not going to post anything about him this week, but I feel the need to rant.
I have made the statement many times that people are never as bad or as good as "everyone" says they are. This statement has never applied more than this week. There have been people on the right who have spoken about President Reagan in such glowing terms that you would think that only Jesus Christ was a better person than he was, and that only by virtue of Jesus being God. Then we have seen people on the left discuss President Reagan as if he had been a plague on our country and that his death is to be celebrated like the eradication of AIDS.
The truth about President Reagan, like most truth, is more in the middle. I read an editorial today where the writer made reference to the President as a father. As I thought about it, I realized that is an apt description.
President Reagan was like a good dad for our country. He was there when we thought that life was hopeless, that all we could look forward to was more trouble. He was the dad that helped us see that life was not ruined , that there was hope and that the future would be a great place. He faced down the bully, told him, "This is where I draw the line and you will not bother my children anymore." and he beat the bully. He was the dad we could look up to, because he had principles and standards and he would not waver. He did not make up his beliefs based on what his fickle children felt were the right ones for that day. There was comfort in the knowledge that "dad" believed what he believed.
President Reagan was also like that good dad that we think sometimes, "just doesn't get it." He sometimes did not understand what we thought was important. Sometimes he was like the good dad that occasionally had favorites, sometimes overlooked one of the "kids." He had blind spots like any other dad, and he also made mistakes in his attempt to do what he felt was best for his children.
So my final thought is this: Thanks Dad. I did not always agree with you, and you were not perfect, but I am glad we had you in our lives and we are a better nation because of you. Go on to your just reward. Rest in peace, President Reagan.
I watched the coverage of the funeral procession in Washington of our 40th president. I have decided that news personalities make as many dumb statements as the rest of us, maybe more. Here are a few examples:
One commentator stated, "All these people who came out today, they are all here." Uhmm, yeah.
As the hearse rolled up to the plane to receive the president's coffin, the commentator said, "The hearse rolls up." Now, I am glad he told me that, because I wasn't sure what that black car
During the whole coverage, the commentators made it very clear that the hearse would take the coffin to a point on Constitution Ave and then transfer it to the caisson. It was repeated over and over again. When the hearse pulled up and the caisson moved into place the commentator said, "The president's coffin will now be transferred (pause)(pause) to the caisson. I am so glad he told us that because I was so worried about where they were going to transfer that coffin.
Now, the saddest comments were the attempts by the commentators to sound profound. One in particular sounded like he was actually covering the event for radio. Statements like, "the air is heavy in Washington today," and, "the scene is majestic." He would tell the viewers what was happening right in front of their eyes.
Another installment of "Did that sign really say that?"
There is a McDonald's near my home that has an electronic sign with two lines for information. I drove by it the other day, and I think they should have checked out what two lines they matched together because this is what I saw:
"Now hiring
biscuits and bagels"

Sunday, June 06, 2004

"The people have a right to know!" When someone says this phrase with the right inflection and tone of voice, and especially if the person saying it is a respected journalist, like Walter Cronkie, the phrase is powerful and compelling. Unfortunately, today, this phrase gets thrown around like a sitcom catch phrase. I have been thinking about the phrase a lot lately, and I keep going back to three basic questions. I don't necessarily have the answers to these questions, maybe you will.
First, where do we get this "right?" We have the right of free speech and freedom of assembly and religion, because our Constitution guarantees them to us. I have read the Constitution a couple of times and I don't remember the "right to know." Some of our rights are what we call "natural rights," like the right to life , liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Again, I don't think this "right" falls in this category.
Second, why do we have a "right to know?" Now I know that this question sounds similar to the first and it probably is connected, but what I want to know is why do we need to know, esp. all the things that the media claims we have a "right to know" these days. I can understand the public's need and right to know what our government is doing in our name. This makes sense, but I think the public is entitled to very little information, esp. about the personal life of people.
Finally, if we conclude that the people do have a "right to know." What exactly do we have a right to know? Is there no such thing as information that is not for public consumption? Do we really have a "right to know" that some man we don't know has been arrested for a crime? Would it not be more appropriate that we had a "right to know" that a man we don't know was convicted of a crime? Maybe, we don't even need to know that. Do we have the "right to know" the personal lifestyles of people we happen to see on the TV screen or the silver screen? Is there no aspect of an elected official's life that does not fall into the category of "the people's right to know?"
Maybe we should look at our own lives and see if we would like "the people to have the right to know" everything in your life.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Where have all the IKEs gone? I just finished watching A&E's special movie about Eisenhower and D-Day, and it has left me longing for leaders like Ike. Now, I know that it was only a movie and if I gave a couple of rabid "news people" a couple of hours, they could bring me reams of reasons to change my statement. I think I will stay with my opinion for now. He was a man who sought, fought and got almost absolute power. He was in sole control of the largest military force in history, and he did it for the right reasons and he used it right. He was not seeking self-aggrandizment, and he was not trying to win a victory for a political party or ideological position. He was trying to win , and did win a war against tyranny and the sure destruction of most of the world. He had his priorities right. He wanted Roosevelt and Churchill to be able to do their jobs, running their countries and inspiring their counties when the days were the darkest, so he was willing to risk everything to do just that. He even was willing to take sole blame if D-Day had failed, regardless of the reasons for its failure. That, my friends, is a leader, and it is what we need in Washington, and in our state capitols , and in our city and county governments! Anyone want to volunteer?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Have you ever seen a window hit by an object that doesn't shatter it, but it cracks it and the cracks continue to grow away from the original impact site, until they envelope the entire window? I think that is a good example of how an event in one person's life has consequences, and effects in others around them, even some they don't know. A tragedy brings out the core of people I think, good or bad. The incident I detailed in my last post of a man beating and threatening his fiance is a good example of these two statements. I am going to mention what I saw as a result of this incident. The neighbor to this couple called the police. The landlord and I went to this neighbor's house originally, because some other tenets who had seen some of the struggle thought that it had happened in that town house. She came to the door and she was having trounble breathing, because she was so upset and worried. She had heard the girl cry out, "Oh God, please, someone help me!" She was genuinely scared for this girl's life. Before this incident, I am not certain that this neighbor had even spoken to this girl before. The girl's sister and her boyfriend came rushing over when they found out. Fortunately, the police were already present, because if they hadn't been, the situation would have escalated into a murder. The boyfriend stated as much while we were waiting for the police to finish his report. Then after the police left, he brought a 9ml out of his car, waving it around like it was newspaper and gave it to the girl's mom. This would have been a far worse situation if hotter heads had prevailed. The sister, of course, insisted that the fiance had to "be on something" and reiterated that she would not have let a man do that to her. I wonder sometimes if we really know how we would respond to crisis before they happen. Another neighbor confided in me later that he had heard everything that was happening, but it wasn't his business and "butting his nose in" was a good way to get yourself in trouble. Good thing the fiance was not actually trying to kill the poor girl. Another neighbor sidled up to me and said that since I was being such a good Samaritan, could I ask the girl to repay him the fifty dollar loan he had given to the fiance. I decided that that was not a job I was gong to take. I was talking to a group of neighbors and commenting that often in these situations the girl is pushing buttons, but that that did not justify hitting or worse a girl. One of the guys said that he TRIED to avoid hitting his girl. He implied that there were occasions were hitting her might be acceptable. A couple of people connected to the girl had been at odds and those differences were put aside in light of what happened. My landlord demonstrated that even a guy that seems like a "good ole boy" can be adapt at calming a frightened woman down and helping her tell the police what they needed to know. See the spiderwebbing of this window into the human condition?
"Domestic violence", such a sanitary phrase for such an ugly act. I think that in our zeal to be politically correct or to sound more sophisticated, we have robbed our daily vocabulary of a much needed item, words that sting when used, because the object they describe stings. We have down-played negative things because no one likes to look at unpleasant things, but we need to look at the underside of our lives often, or we will never succeed in ridding ourselves of the filth that lives there. How can a phrase as clean as "domestic violence" clearly depict what it is talking about? Let's look at an instance that happened earlier this evening at my town homes, then you tell me what we should call what happened. A young woman came home from work to find her fiance in less than pleasant mood. Their conversation turned ugly and arguing ensued, a common occurrence of late. He begins to threaten her, telling her that he will kill her. She tries to leave the house, succeeding only in getting the door open and one foot outside, when he grabs her by the hair, dragging her back inside,screaming loud enough that I hear her in my town house with the doors and windows closed across the parking lot. When back inside, he punches her in the mouth, and then grabs her around the throat, and squeezes, not enough to stop her from breathing, but causing pain. Then he spots the box cutter she uses at works , and places it against her neck, causing a small cut, all the time telling her that he is going to kill her. When he hears knocking at the door, he pushes her down, hard enough to bruise her head, and tells her to go upstairs. Petrified, she does. Fortunately, the landlord is able to keep him occupied until the police, that another neighbor had called arrive. Oh, and all this time, their young child is present. Now, does the term, "domestic violence" seem adequate? This is not even the worse example of "domestic violence" I have heard of.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Have you ever had an irrational fear? I know of people that are deathly afraid of spiders or the such, and it controls their whole life. What I am talking about is a fleeting fear, one that just pops up and grabs you around your waist and refuses to let you function normally, at least for a few minutes. Maybe that is the way a phobia starts, hope not. I had that happen to me the other day. I could not sleep at all. I was running a fever, and had slight congestion. I laid there in bed trying to go to sleep. My mind was running a mile a minute, not a very sleep-inducing practice. I even tried to imagine a peaceful place to help convince myself that it was time to sleep. NO LUCK! I finally got up and decided to play a video game, hoping to get sleepy. After about an hour and a half, it became crystal clear, that it wasn't helping. So it was back to bed to try again. More hours of nothing resembling sleep, but what did creep in was a little whisper of fear. I began to worry that if I did fall asleep, I would not wake up, that my slight congestion would stuff me up and I would not be able to breathe. Now, I am a rational, intelligent adult. This was a silly fear. I tried to shake it off, but it held on, like a bull dog puppy to my pant leg. That ended any further attempt to sleep. Even after I got up and took a walk, I was still being stalked by a hint of that fear. I spent some time in prayer, and felt relief. Unfortunately, the little puppy of fear has nipped at me a couple of times throughout the week, nothing that had any noticeable effect. It is disconcerting to have this experience. I am heading to bed in a little while, and the thought has crossed my mind that I might meet the puppy again. The one thing I do know is that God has not given us the spirit of fear, so He will work this out. In the mean time, "Go to sleep, little doggie."

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Here is a furniture store marquee that should have been re-worded:
Welcome home 151st Battalion

12 months no interest

Are they bragging that they have not been paying attention to the 151st Battalion for a year?

If you find any funny signs, let me know about them.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Utter the following four words, "the war in Iraq," and watch the comments fly. You will hear such things as, "Bush is a liar!" and "Where are the WMDs?" You will also here such things as, "God bless America," and "Support the war or support Saddam!" What you will hear the most I think is, "What is going on." and "Is there an end in sight?" I fall in the last category. I did not believe that a pre-emptive war was the right thing to do. It went against all that our country has stood for since its inception and against the generally accepted rules of war. I also feared that a war in Iraq would take away resources, troops, and most importantly, the focus on the more important war, the war on terror. In this belief, I have been proven right, unfortunately. Having said that, I also believe that it is in the past and the war in Iraq is here and we have to deal with the here and now. I wholeheartedly support our troops, and want what is best for them and us and the Iraqis. I am pleased that Saddam is gone and that the Iraqis have the beginnings of freedom. Now, we have to finish the job. The problem is defining what the job actually is. I have a hard time with notion of bringing democracy to the Middle-East at the barrel of a gun. Everywhere in the world and throughout history, democracy and freedom have been the product of a country's effort to be free. Most have needed outside help, but they have only received it, while they were already struggling to throw off the bonds of tyranny. It did not come by an outside force forcing democracy on them. We will not succeed in democratizing the Middle-east with tanks and bombs, esp. in countries that have not begged for our help. The countries in the Middle-East, and elsewhere in the world will only be democratized, when they fight for it. I really don't know what we have to do to finish the job in Iraq and I hope the President does and will tell us. I was reading about the fighting in Najaf, Al-Sadir's stronghold. It appears that in our efforts to defeat this trouble-maker, we have severely damaged a holy mosque. This has even our Iraqi allies unhappy. I think what we need to do in this city is go "old school" and I mean old. We need an old fashion siege(with modern weapons and tools, of course). Inform the citizens of Najaf that if they want to be safe, they need to leave and then just shut down the city, power, water, electricity, etc. No more costly incursions into the city. Make the bad guys come out of the city to us and then finish them off. I am not a military man, and this might have some flaws, but hey, it is an idea.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Here is a further note on "separation of church and state." I went into a chat room last night, this time after asking the general question, I used a specific incident to illustrate how far afield we are today from the original framers'intent. It was about a local teacher who had been asked by one of her students in private if she thought the student would go to hell if she did not accept Jesus as her savior, The teacher said that she personally believed that, but that not everyone agreed with her. The teacher got in trouble for her answer. The responses I recieved form people to the incident illustrated completely that this principle is out of wack. One guy said that the teacher must not have been a very good teacher, because she should have responded to the student with a lesson on the history of the idea of hell, and mythology. The general consensus was that a teacher in a public school did not have the right to express her personal beliefs about religion to any student, regardless of the setting. I was frustrated when I signed off
because I had not been able to convince any of these folks that the teacher was not wrong. This morning, in the shower, it hit me. The teacher did not violate the 1st amendment. She did not make any law supporting a religion and she was simply expressing her belief. Some my argue that it is inappropriate for teachers to do that, and I would be willing to accept a school, like a business requiring their employees to refrain from proselytizing, but in no way did she violate the 1st amendment

Friday, May 14, 2004

There is an old saying that says that if you repeat a lie enough times, people will start to believe that it is true. While I am not certain if this is true all the time, I am convinced that if enough people repeat an idea often enough with enough force of will, that people will start to accept the validity of that idea, regardless of its true merits. I realized this the other day. I was discussing the separation of church and state with a friend and he said, "What separation of church and state? That is not in the Constitution." I started to argue with him, when I realize that he was right. I had bought into the idea that has been perpetuated that it is in the Constitution and it is not there. You might be able to make the argument that some of the framers wanted a wall of separation, but they did not actually include it in the Constitution. I went into a political chat room and asked the following question:"Where does the Constitution require a strict, and complete separation of church and state?" I got two responses. One said it is in the first amendment, which when I challenged him on, decided that maybe he was wrong and the other one said that some of the framers meant that when they wrote what they did in the 1st amendment. It is time for people to read the Constitution and follow what it says, not what people would like us to believe it says

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Is there an answer for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? In the long run, God will finally end this conflict and He will do it without the help of any Nobel Prize winners. But in the hear and now, what is to be done? I wish I could say that I have the answer, but I can't. I do have an observation. Violence doesn't seem to be working. I completely understand how someone would feel justified in resorting to violence when the other side has killed one of your own. I also clearly see that that has not worked and it only results in more violence. Violence is a necessary evil and in some cases it is the immediate regrettable solution;however, it should always be the last resort. Someone needs to say, this ends here and now. I will not kill you or yours when you kill mine. Compromise has been painted with such nasty brush, that the very thing that most often ends feuds and solves conflicts is thrown away. We see the results of the lost art of compromise every day on a far less fatal level. In politics, in business, and in our every day life. We are so consumed with being right or proving that "they" are wrong, that we only mire the conflicts we are involved in deeper. "I am wrong.", "I am sorry.", and most of all, "Let's agree to disagree." are all noble sentences and often far more effective than any violence
It is official! The American television viewing audience is insane! Now, I know that doesn't come as all that great a shock, since the viewing audience is responsible for "reality TV" and the Fox network, but they have now gone too far. On one of the only "reality" shows that has any "value", American Idol, the audience chose to boot the one contestant that has consistently performed to almost perfection every week, and who has all the makings of a pop star. This is an outrage!!
Ok, maybe I watch too much TV. It was a dumb decision, but it is afterall not war in the middle east or children dying of hunger.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I went to a friend's graduation tonight. I came away with a few questions, or comments or thoughts about the whole graduation ceremony.
First, let's talk about introductions for speakers. Whenever someone is introduced to address an audience, and this is not limited to graduation ceremonies, the person doing the introducing seems to find it necessary to recite everything that the speaker has done in his or her life, well, almost everything. They tend to leave out the bad things, like the time the speaker slept through class, or cut a class, or peeked at his classmates paper. I think that those sort of revelations would go a lot farther to helping the audience want to listen to the speaker than a recitation of the boards that he or she sits on and what awards they have won. Introductions should go something like this: "Y'all. Mr Smith is going to speak to you for a bit. Pay attention." definitely save time.
Second, let's talk about those graduation speeches. First, the ones given by the valedictorian and Saluatorians, why are you making these folks give a speech? They have already proven that they are smart and capable. Let them enjoy their day. I mean, what do all really say in those speeches: thanks for educating us (that can be done one on one), and let's go out and do something good (this is the subject of the commence speaker) Now, let's get to that all important commence speech, usually given by a visiting dignitary. These speeches are really just a waste of time. Please tell me what they accomplish? The obvious purpose of the speech is to motivate the graduating class to go out into the world and do great things. Uhmmm, isn't that the reason people go 2 or 4 or 6 or 8 years to college, to go out and do something great, at least for themselves. I mean, I have yet to meet a college graduate that after his graduation ceremony says, "Whew, I am glad that is over. Now I can get going to my life in a cardboard box under the bridge and my career of panhandling." Seriously, these speech are pointless and time consuming. The graduates don't need a speech from some famous actor or politician or athlete. What they need andwant is to get their diploma and start celebrating the end of all that studying. Ok, so maybe the Dean's List grads want to get their diplomas and start overachieving, but the point is the same.
So this is how graduation ceremonies should go: Do the whole pomp and circumstance entrance, then the President of the college gets up and says,"Welcome, graduates and family and friends. Conratulations on finishing. Thanks parents for the money. Now, here are the graduates." Then the graduates have their names called and they walk across the stage, get their diploma(the real thing, not just the case it goes in, there really has to be a way to do that) and return to their seats. When everyone has their diploma. "Goodnight, y'all"
Oh, one more thing. This whole nonsense about holding applause, shouts, screams of joy,etc. until everyone has gotten their diploma is hogwash. Parents should be able to shout and clap when they hear their child's name called. I mean they are filled with pride and with the knowledge, that their spendable income has just significantly increase, Hallejulah!
Well, Congratulations, Scott

Monday, May 10, 2004

Just a quick programming note. I have started another blog, that is where I am going to be writing a novel..ok, a story. Feel free to visit and critique.

Friday, May 07, 2004

I think that my neighbor's three dogs have A.D.D. I was cleaning up the alley that runs behind all of our apartments this afternoon. When I came to the area behind her apartment, her dogs began their obligatory barking. They continued threatening me with their supposedly intimidating barking for about five or ten minutes, then they stopped. It was about five minutes later when they came back over to the fence and challenged me again. Almost like they had walked away from me to check out something else on the patio and then suddenly remembered, "Hey, aren't we supposed to be barking at that guy back there." This happened about three times while I was working back there. Wonder if they make Ritalion for dogs.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

T.V. is dead! The most important television show of all time is gone and we are helpless and hopeless! Whatever shall we do? How can we go on? And did we give this pinnacle of all that is good in our country the most fitting send-off? Should we have mourned it's loss for another week, and should we have found a way to have more ways to honor this golden calf? Uhmm...PLEASE... get a was a pretty good show, let it go and get a life.
"Off with his head!" This is what I expect to hear by the weekend in regards to the Secretary of Defense. It feels like I have traveled back to the French Revolution. O.K., that is a little harsh, but so are the suggestions that Secretary Rumsfeld should be asked to step down or be fired. I have not always agreed with Mr. Rumsfeld, but in this situation the idea that he should be fired for the actions of 6 miscreants is outrageous, esp. in light of the fact that the others under his "command" have been handling the situation according to military procedures and are rooting out the trash. If I follow the logic of those calling for Sec. Rumsfeld's head, the following should also occur: the immediate superiors of those soldiers should be canned, the commander of the prison should go, the commander responsible for all the prisons in Iraq should be booted, the commander responsible for all prisons controlled by the U.S. military should get his walking papers, the commander of the war in Iraq should be cashiered, his immediate superior should get the axe, the Army chief on the Joint chiefs of staff should be unemployed, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be preparing his resume, the Commander-in Chief should be out of a job, and I almost forgot, since the CIA might have been involved this chain needs to be followed in that command structure. Maybe we should let the military discipline those that need it, and leave politics out of it

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Iraqi prisoner of war scandal is one of the hottest news item around these days. It is a disgraceful act committed by a handful of degenerate soldiers who disgraced their country, their uniform and themselves. Now,we are hearing form the "peanut gallery" Now , I do not mean to show disrespect to members of Congress and the press, but I have to say that their recent actions give me little motivation to heap respect on them. We are hearing calls for congressional hearings on the incident, cries that this must not be an isolated incident, that the military is covering things up or falling apart, and best of all, you would think, from some of the statements that some of President Bush's opponents have made, that the President had to be the one holding the camera for the pictures.
Let's look at what we actually know. Sometime last year, or early this year, a few soldiers did unspeakable things to prisoners of war. The military authorities found out about it in Jan. They did not immediately rush out and send copies of the photos to Al Jazeera, or CBS. They did not call their Senators and Representatives and ask that Congress begin an investigation and hold televised hearings. They did not publicly apologize to the Muslim world for the abuse that the Muslim world did not know about. What did they do. They began an immediate investigation into the matter. They began disciplinary action against those involved and those responsible for those involved. They also began investigations into all the facilities around the world where they are holding either prisoners of war or enemy combatants to be certain that no abuse of detainees was occurring elsewhere, and all this occurred in less than five months. Seems to me that things are being handled correctly. We certainly do not want cover-ups and down-playing of wrong doing by American military personal, but we also do not need an explosion of coverage on this sordid affair, esp. when it is being handled in a timely and disciplined fashion. How about we hold off on the congressional hearings while the military cleans house and then if they fail to do their job, we can publicly flog them.
Under the heading of compliments that don't quite make it, let me relate this anecdote. I overheard a woman in my apartment complex describing why she loved her boyfriend. She had mentioned a number of his good qualities, when she got around to describing his looks. She said, "He is cute. I mean he isn't terrible to look at." Imagine what she would have said if he had been ugly.
Ever notice how press conferences, esp. in regards to bad news, resemble the shark tank at feeding time?

Monday, May 03, 2004

24 hour news channels, what a great idea! I might be working when the 6:00 news comes on and maybe I don't want to wait until 11:00pm, so this is great. Of course, they don't cover my local news,unless there is a catastrophe. I will have to wade through hours of "news analysis" to get my news. I will get to hear "experts" interpret the news for me, because I can not possibly understand the "actual" meanings of the news. I will get to hear repeated stories about people who have been accused of a crime, but have yet to be convicted, and I will get to hear "experts" prediciting what is going to be the outcome of these cases. Of course, I will only get to hear about a select few who get arrested, others in similar situations will be ignored. I will get to watch the same stories over and over with some of the same "experts" telling what is "really" going on on different "news" programs.
Maybe I will just wait for the 6:00pm news.
Faith, trust, believe, very powerful words, but words that are often used frivolously. For a Christian, they are even more important. We have no right calling ourselves Christians without faith. Most of us do believe and have faith, at least on a surface level. We have trusted that what the Bible says about our eternal destination is true and we have placed our trust in God for salvation. What about our everyday life? Do we trust God to keep his promises to us ? Do we put our faith in God to help us overcome difficult situations that arise? I think that most of us do, but we are like Sarah. In Hebrews, chapter 11, God says that Sarah conceived and delivered a child through faith, because she trusted God to keep his promise. When we read the account of the visitors that told Abraham that Sarah would bear him a son, we read about Sarah laughing at the thought, and we see that she gave Hagar to him to try and fulfill the promise herself. It sure don't seem like she had any faith or trust that God would keep his promises. I think we are too hard on Sarah, especially since she did what we do on a regular basis. We face a problem, a decision, a crisis, and we drop to our knees and beg God for help, telling Him that we are turning this over to him. We are sincere in this, but then we hold onto at least a little of the worry, sometimes we even try to fix the problem or face the crisis on our own, I think that this is not a complete loss of faith, but it is a futile gesture, because if God is the one who has to ultimately solve the problem, we are just causing ourselves more grief. What is comical, is that when God does come through on His promise, or does solve our crisis, we are surprised. I know this to be true, because I just faced a situation that I had to turn over to God, and I did exactly the same thing Sarah did. I believed, but I also thought maybe He doesn't want to help. Guess what? He solved the problem, and I was mildly surprised. So in conclusion, all I am saying is, trust God, really trust Him, leave the worry to Him, He will do what He said He would. Oh, one more thing, being extremely grateful, is far better than being surprised.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I was watching Law and Order, SVU (I so much want to call it SUV, traffic division) last night. The episode was about the illegal trading in humans, mostly from Africa and Asia, and mostly for sexual purposes. The main bad guy was a Nigerian man. It made me think about comments many people make when discussing slavery in the 1700s and 1800s. I often hear people say that Africans sold each other into slavery as a defense against accusations of wrong-doing by white folks. I think about two things when I hear that, first, that statement is not completely true. In some cases Africans did sell other Africans into slavery, but in other cases, Jews, Arabs and whites captures Africans and took them as slaves. Secondly, and of far more importance, even if all the slaves had been sold by Africans into slavery, how does that excuse any one of the slave owners. If there were no one to buy the slaves, there would have been no slaves sold. This is just another example of people not wanting to take responsibility for their own actions, or in this case wanting to turn a blind eye to the sins of one's forefathers.
WOW, that was all intelligent and important sounding. Trust me, I won't always be so heavy and uhmm, potentially boring, so please do come back, y'all
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