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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