Taking Time to Compliment

Recently, I have been trying to send compliments to stores, restaurants, or the like if I receive great service. Olive Garden was the latest recipient. Service there has been extraordinary the last three times I have visited. I sent them an email telling them so after I got home from there last Tuesday.

In the reply back, they wrote, "It's a rare person who takes the time to compliment. Thank you for being that person!"

I'm no superhero, just a person sitting behind a keyboard who types too many words, but it is amazing how just such a simple task can make people happy. I know from retail that it is very rare that someone takes the time out to write a compliment. They might give one in passing, and those even make you very happy. They can be enough to keep you going through the barrage of hostile customers that you need to also help. But a written one means that someone took the time out to write a compliment at a later time.

I need to continue to use my words to encourage and make people's days better. It might not hurt you to do that either. If you encounter someone that has done a good job at a store or a restaurant this holiday season, remember their name and shoot the company an email. Share the holiday cheer.

Two Tidbits

I posted a new post over at Chi Rho Live: The Great Temptation.

I also started a new blog to chronicle my thoughts along the journey into campus ministry. Radius.

This blog will remain the place for my cultural and political ravings.


I just wanted to update everyone. I will not be posting much this month. Very busy with school, job, and future ministry.

But I will ask this, what is up with all of the Facebook profile pictures in which the person is holding a beer? I have no qualms against drinking, but I just find it strange.

American Roulette

Traffic is backed up for a wreck. Time passes. Frustration wells as I am going to arrive late to work. An hour later, the jam begins to move. We all drive by the wreck slowly looking at the damage done to the cars. It looks like an unsuspecting driver was t-boned by a car that missed a stop sign. A broadside at fifty-five. I drive a little faster as if that will make up for the lost time.

I'm reading a book as the evening news blares in the background. I miss hearing about a casualty from the wreck. My book is interesting. It's one of those spiritual self-help books. One of those that will make me a better person just by reading it.

I wake up in the morning, shave and shower just like I did yesterday. I get dressed. I eat my breakfast. I hop in my car. I'm running a little late. It's my morning ritual. I turn the key and start down the road. It's time for another game of American Roulette. And I don't even realize that I am playing.

General Mills Increases Profitability

General Mills tweaked their products here and there to make more money. It made me wonder what tweaks could be made in my life or in the business to help us save more money without changing anything significant.

New! Improved! Profit Margins!

Looking Back at Election '08 - Sparrow For President

The December 2008 issue of The Sun has an article on a man named Sparrow who ran for President on the Sudoku For All Party in 2008. Needless to say, he did not make any political waves. Reading excerpts from his speeches made me laugh.

Besides the few excerpts included here, more of the article can be viewed on The Sun's website.

WE MUST STOP THINKING of imperialism as strength. France and England conquered Africa; therefore we see them as “stronger” than Africa. But suppose you have two daughters: One is a farmer who works diligently on the land, growing food for her family. The other moves to a foreign nation, where she kidnaps three people at gunpoint and forces them to work as slaves. Which daughter would you consider “strong”? Which would you consider mentally unbalanced?

BECAUSE OF MY LOVE for Sudoku puzzles, I pick up all the free daily newspapers offered in New York City. Today’s issue of Metro contains a troubling essay on the lack of Secret Service agents. Don’t worry, I have the solution: let the presidential candidates campaign in pairs; but they must stick very close together, so that one agent may guard both of them. Personally, I am prepared to travel with Mitt Romney — and even share my deodorant with him.

FORTY-SIX PERCENT of the American people now support the impeachment of George W. Bush. Imagine if he were to decapitate Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and carry her head through the streets of Washington on a pike. I’ll bet support for impeachment would rise to 48 percent!

OUR GREATEST NATIONAL PROBLEM is that so many of us take antidepressants (often just because we like the word Celexa). The American persona is cheerful enough already. When someone asks, “How you doing?” you must reply, “Fine,” or, “Great.” You’re not allowed to say: “I feel like a great big tongue that a water buffalo is peeing on.”
Americans are not happy or joyful. Rather they are “antidepressed.” We need to start taking pro-depressants. The world is depressing, and we are oblivious to this crucial knowledge.

ONE OF THE PRINCIPLES of homeopathic medicine is that a smaller dose is considered more effective than a larger dose. This has profound implications for U.S. foreign policy. At the moment, we have 158,000 troops in Iraq. Imagine if we had only six! According to homeopathic logic, this presence would be much more successful.
Let’s try it: Reduce troop levels to six soldiers and see what happens! Adopt a homeopathic foreign policy! Sparrow for president!

THE PHRASE “One man, one vote” is obsolete. I propose we replace it with “One woman, one vote.” Let men sit out the next twenty-eight elections, as women did the first twenty-eight. Only then will our nation truly attain gender equality.
I am the first presidential candidate to declare: “I should not be allowed to vote!”

I PREDICT that by April 2009, capitalism will crumble, and our world economic system will vanish. (I know I have made this prediction several times before, but those pronouncements were based on faulty data.) The subprime-mortgage crisis will nudge the shuddering carcass of capitalism over the edge of the cliff of insolvency, to be dashed to pieces on the rocks of moral urgency!
And what will replace capitalism? Possibly Hugo Chavez will rule the world with near-benevolent socialism. My suggestion, however, is cantorism, a system where one is rewarded for singing. (Cantor is Latin for “singer.”) Wouldn’t you enjoy living in a world where doo-wop groups are richer than finance swindlers?

And from his blog.

On election day:

Dear Constituents,

Vote Obama! not for me! I hope this is clear!

What part of “Obama” don’t you understand?

vote for me in your heart, in the pew of your Church or the non-pew of your Mosque, but vote for Obama today! Vote until your fingers are feeble!

His post-election message:

Thank you all for following my explicit instructions yesterday, and voting for Mr. Obama. I had no idea so many people read my blog!

I must say, now that he has been elected, I feel slightly more black.



I would read a collection of works from this guy, but there isn't one that I could find.

Eli and Takeaway - A Child and His Imaginary Monster

We have been dealing with Eli and a monster he calls Takeaway. Takeaway wants to take him away, hence the name, and eat him. He especially scares Eli in the middle of the night when he wakes up to go to the bathroom. Last week, it reached its peak when Eli ran back to the stairway, started holding the door shut, and was yelling for us to come help him with Takeaway. He was very adamant that Takeaway was down there.

I came up with a great plan to deal with Takeaway. I would get a bunch of blood makeup, the kind used at Halloween, and make it look like I got in a knockdown, drag out fight with Takeaway. Then I would tell Eli that I killed Takeaway and he would not be coming back.

The night came. I put all of the makeup on, but I got too wrapped up in the moment. I then ran upstairs, turned on Eli's light so he could see the blood all over me, and screamed at the top of my lungs, "Run, Eli, Run! Takeaway is coming to get you." The I ran around the house like a madman.

Now you might think that is overly mean, but fear is a good thing. And let me tell you, Eli was scared. But it will make him stronger.

In order to keep him strong, I make sure that I call home from work and talk in a mean, demonic voice to Eli as if I am Takeaway. I usually say something along the lines of, "Hi Eli. This is Takeaway and I am going to get you tonight." Kids are just so entertaining.

Needless to say, all of the preceding except the first paragraph is made up. After much prayer, Eli has been saying that Takeaway is no longer around. What made the situation a little scarier, at least to me, is that my research revealed that there is a demon in African mythology named Abiku. They are "Ravenous demons who are partial to children – either as a takeaway snack or to stay inside for extra portions. They can be driven away by the ringing of bells." I prefer prayer to bells. We figure God can stop any silly Abiku or, more likely, just a child's overactive imagination.

The Fishy Smell of Soldiers Stationed on American Soil

Pentagon to Detail Troops to Bolster Domestic Security

The story makes me feel like my more libertarian friends.

I do not understand why the military has to be the group trained to provide relief to the American population in case of a nuclear attack. Can't we train the Peace Corps for nuclear fallout relief? Or another organization if the Peace Corps is not the proper solution? A nonviolent Homeland Relief organization would work well. It just seems wise to keep it out of the hands of the group that would be the ones to oppress us if oppression were to happen?

I know it mind sound harsh, but the military is trained to kill people and win wars. The soldiers who might not be directly involved in the killing are there to provide support to the men trained to kill people. We should have a separate organization for nation building, if we feel led to do that, or disaster relief. Our military is being used more and more for those two tasks which distracts them from their real purpose. I just do not see the logic of stationing soldiers on American soil who need to go find Osama. Let us create a nonviolent nation building organization and a nonviolent disaster relief organization, which we already have in the Red Cross, if we feel the need to continue doing those tasks.

History shows that the government plans and implements without the consent of the people. For instance, the draft for WWII happened a year and a half before the United States entered the war. Roosevelt claimed that we were going to remain neutral while he prepared and planned in secret to enter the war. This stationing of troops at home reeks of the government planning something that we do not know about. I assume we will know in three years.

All I want is for them to not station American brigades on our soil in the name of homeland security. If there is a need for a nuclear relief organization, then start one that does not carry guns and does not have the ability to oppress the population. Even if the intention is noble, abuse is not far behind.

The Sea of Change - A Call and a Change of Direction

Too many of my friends' relief, the short-lived RV Dream is dead. It died a quick death as a result of prayer and seeking God's will for our lives. I find the timing of the RV dream pretty funny since it was probably the dream of Regan and Lindsay while God had other plans.

I'm 31, just finishing up my MA in history, and am still discovering what God wants to do with my life. It's exciting. I had what is the most tangible calling of my life. The story is too hokey to print for the whole random world to read. If you really want to know the details, I would gladly share it with you through email or during an offline conversation. Most of our personal plans have been thrown out the window and we are leaping into what will become one of the greatest experiences of our lives.

I remember back when we moved to Lansing, pregnant with our first child and unemployed, to plant a church. Looking back, that was crazy, but God provided. I have found comfort recently in the amazing story of Mother Angelica and God providing for her to do the ministry he called her to. I know that God will not call us to do something and without providing the way, although he oftentimes waits until the very last moment to comfort us with His provisions. This new change in direction in our lives might be up there on the crazy meter with the church plant in Lansing except we are not pregnant now, just busy raising four kids.

So what is the new direction? We are going to be campus ministers. More specifically, I am going to be a campus minister and Lindsay will offer essential support from the home. We have been offered three different schools and are praying about where to go. I can't share those schools at the time because a few of them still have staff who are going to be leaving and that is not my place to broadcast on the internet. It was not until earlier this week that we made the official decision to jump. Now, we are continuing to pray a lot and have begun to work on the preliminary details that have to be done before finding financial partners can begin. Please put us on your prayer lists. We need lots of prayer for this ministry to be successful.

Campus Ministry is something I had never even considered before, but it does seem to fit me. I have my insecurities about my speaking ability which is a definitely useful for a successful campus ministry. I also have fears about providing for my family. And I need to find a team of two other people to go with me, preferably one being a woman to minister to the women on campus. (Anyone interested?) I know God will provide in all ways; it is just that we do not often find ourselves in situations where we need His sustenance. I guess that God is moving my family out of that comfortable bubble.

We are making a trip on Sunday to one of the colleges. We are excited yet nervous. We want to make sure that we go where God wants us.

I also would like opinions on this question. Would it be wise for me to dismantle this blog, especially with what can be controversial political posts, in light of this new direction?

My Favorite Christmas Album

I spent way too long the other night scouring Amazon to find a few new Christmas CDs. Eventually, I ran across Fernando Ortega's Christmas Songs. It's simple with Ortega playing just his piano and singing on some songs, yet it still is majestic like the Savior we are celebrating. It's my holiday music recommendation to get you in the holiday mood, which I hope is giving rather than consuming.

A Look Around The Web On Universal Health Care - The First Step To Improve Health Care

U.S. healthcare falls short in survey of 7 nations

"Americans spend double what people in other industrialized countries do on health care, but have more trouble seeing doctors, are the victims of more errors and go without treatment more often"

"The report said Americans spent $6,697 per capita on healthcare in 2005, or 16 percent of gross domestic product. All the other countries spent less than half of that -- $3,128 in Australia or 9.5 percent of GDP, $3,326 in Canada or 9.8 percent of GDP, down to a low of $2,343 in New Zealand or 9 percent of GDP."

A 1998 statistical display of combined public and private spending on healthcare

We top the list.

An August, 2007, article on life expectancy in the United States: US Slipping in Life Expectancy Rankings

"Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries."

"Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Murray further stated, "The starting point is the recognition that the U.S. does not have the best health care system. There are still an awful lot of people who think it does."

Citi - Too big too lose

The headlines echo the headlines of the past few months. Citibank is too big too fail. They claim it would be too costly to the economy.

Why do we not start being proactive and break these companies up before they fail so that they are not too big to fail? Then we can let capitalism work itself out.

Unwise to Buy Gold Now

It is time to sell when everyone else is clamoring to buy, and it is time to buy when everyone else is clamoring to sell (as long as it is a solid investment).

Gold, like any currency, only has value if someone is willing to pay for it. In 2001, the value of gold was around $250. That was its lowest it has been in the . In 1980, gold was around $850. This morning it was trading at $798, down from its July high of when it nearly approached $1000. But the noise made by gold merchants is overwhelming. They want us to buy, and to buy a lot now.

Gold lovers argue that it will be worth more as the dollar crumbles. That it will go up when the economy goes down and people lose faith in the stocks, the dollar, and other forms of investment.

I remember people saying that you can't lose if you buy stocks, real estate, sports cards, and even comic books. We see where that got them. Never join in on the "can't lose" bandwagon unless you are getting in at a good deal before the peak. Gold has peaked. Everyone is still saying buy, but you should never listen to people screaming buy when you are on the downward side of the peak, especially when those people screaming are the ones who will profit from your buying. Wait for the valley to return if you are interested in gold.

Gold's value is dependent upon fear. The more scared people get about their economies, the better gold supposedly does. However, that is not proving to be the case. We have seen recent days where gold, stocks, and bonds have all gone down. Deflation will hit gold just as it will hit every market if it is to come. Gold has an artificial value just like any other item. Its value derives from people giving it value. Gold's advantage is that it has a longer history of people giving it value. Next year, the hot thing could be tulips like it was during "tulip mania" in Denmark in 1636-37.

The funny thing about writing this is I am sure Google will start popping ads up for you to buy gold. Ignore those gold ads. I wouldn't buy gold at this point. It was time to sell when it was over $900. The price appears inflated at the current time when it is looked at through its price in history (historical prices of gold from 1833 to present). The time to really have bought into gold and have made a killing has long passed.

Updated to add that everything plummeted the day I wrote this. The next morning when I checked gold was selling at $755.90, down from the $798 the day before. Stocks were down around 5%, oil was down 9%. The only thing immune was government bonds. They were up. Gold is not immune from deflation. It might be a good buy to secure against inflation, but deflation is another matter altogether.

Napoleon on Violence and Making an Empire that Lasts

Here is some wisdom from Napoleon:

The more I study the world, the more I am convinced of the inability of force to create anything durable. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I myself have founded empires; but upon what did those creations of our genius depend? They depended upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love and to this very day millions would die for him.

Reprinted in The Reporter, Vol.2, No. 16, February 15, 1944

GM, Ford, the Bailout, and Nazi Germany

I spent more time than I should have watching the CEOs of the automakers ask the government for bailout money yesterday. That's what happens when you are on a research trip and you have nothing to do after the library closes. You sit around, read, and watch too much television.

I was against the bank bailout. If they felt that banks needed to get more money into the market, they should have given the money to the banks that actually have shown they are responsible with their money rather than send it to the banks that have shown irresponsibility and a lack of foresight.

Now comes the automakers. If we give them a bailout, why should we just stop there. What industry would come next? Although I might be for universal health care, I am not for the nationalization of private industry. GM, Ford, and Chrysler have been slow to respond to the changing marketplace. They were focused on making gas guzzling trucks in a world that has become environmentally-sensitive. Not that there isn't room for gas guzzling trucks, it just should not have been their focus.

I actually feel sorry for International Harvester. They developed the coolest gas guzzler at the wrong time. In September, they quietly killed commercial manufacturing of the Navistar CXT. I saw one in real life and it was massive, cool, and a definite gas guzzler. It resembled a semi-truck without a trailer. They are still selling them to the military. The military likes them because they serve as a generator along with being an SUV.

Speaking of the military and car manufacturers. Due to a conversation earlier this week, I have been trying to find information regarding American companies in Nazi Germany. It is a forgotten theme in history that American companies profited off of all the sides during WWII. (Kind of like Stark Enterprises in the Iron Man movie - just playing around with yesterday's comments theme.)

The evidence seems to be that the many American companies, specifically IBM, General Motors, and Ford, split into German entities at the onset of war. These German subsidiaries were still in communication with, taking orders from, and sending profits to their real owners in the United States.

Here is a link from the Washington Post.

There is nothing unusual in believing that most companies would make a profit from both sides during a time of war if they were given the opportunity. What blew up in their faces was the fact that the Nazis lost and were then rightfully villainized for their horrible treatment of the Jews. This made the companies playing for both sides look bad because of their use of Jewish slave labor, and they immediately tried to cover their tracks. How would things have turned out if Britain had never started bombing Germany and Germany had defeated the Soviets? I would bet that is what the companies were hedging their bets on, although I have read that we also made a lot of the military goods for the Soviets. Business is good for war manufacturing if you are outside of the battle lines.

The photo is of Henry Ford receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle in July, 1938. The head of IBM also had received a Grand Cross, but he returned his at the onset of the war.

What I found interesting from the Washington Post article is that American automakers were 70% of the auto industry in Germany prior to the war. Obviously, these Ford and GM factories were then transformed into military producing machines. The serious questions are whether they were fine with that and what did they use the profits for.

Back to the bailout. If we give the automakers a bailout, I would like to see them limit executive salaries, force the automakers to make the cars in America that they sell here, and introduce into the US market some of the better gas mileage vehicles that they sell abroad; however, I really do not think the government should be managing auto companies. Combine that with the belief that I do not think they should give money without stipulations, I am left to conclude that the government should not give any money to the auto industry.

These auto manufacturers are not really American companies any more. The only thing that makes them America is that they are traded on the NYSE. They are multinational, and they have shown in the past that they have no loyalty to America, only to the bottom line. The government needs to ask why should they bail out multinational companies who are taking jobs overseas?

Our Temporary Life Of Originality

Sam wrote a post about the sorry state of Hollywood.

I would wager that it is less the quality of the movies and more the station you are in life. At one point in life, every idea seemed fresh and original (even though they weren't). We look back longingly at those days as the days of creativity (when they were actually also viewed as creative regurgitation by others older than us).

Hollywood is doing what it has always done. They make a few good movies along with a bunch of crap. At earlier points in our life we were bamboozled into thinking the crap was creative. Whether the source material is comic books, a novel, a video game, or an original screenplay is pretty irrelevant. None of it is original. Nothing can be original; it can only be done well.

It just sucks getting old and realizing that there is no such thing as originality, although there are people out there who are like we were when we thought regurgitated material was original. Oh, the humanity.

Now we do the same thing with ideas although none of them are original. They are just new to us.

Abortions and the misunderstandings of pro-choicers and pro-lifers

The very nature of government is to pass laws. When a law is passed it inevitably limits the rights of someone in order to protect other people's rights. Every law limits the rights of someone. For instance, there are traffic laws that make it so that I cannot go whatever speed I want nor can I run through red lights. Those laws limit my rights for the better good of society. Making abortion illegal would limit the rights of those women who want to have abortions, but it would protect the rights of the baby in their womb. Rights are limited but it is to protect others and create a better society. There might be a better parallel to abortion than traffic laws but the purpose of that illustration was just to show that every law limits freedom, hopefully for the better good of society. A bad law is one that limits freedom and does not provide for the better good of society.

It really comes down to one's belief on when life begins. It would be horrible for someone who thinks that life begins at conception to not stand up against abortion. Would you respect someone who justifies away murder for an individual's liberty? Pro-lifers are just doing what we would expect any upstanding person to do if they held the same beliefs.

Obviously, if one does not believe that life begins at conception, they do not believe they are murdering the baby. Both sides need to see things from the other side. A pro-lifer needs to understand that the other side believes that life begins at another point. A pro-choicer needs to understand that pro-lifers are just standing up against what they believe is murder. Both are standing up for what is right based upon their belief of when life begins. The only evil individuals would be those who believe that life begins at conception and still wants to abort a baby or those who believe that life begins at birth but wants to ban abortion.

I believe that anti-abortion activists should be more willing to pay the bill for those who they demand should not have abortions. It is the responsibility of Christians to sacrifice themselves, even for those who make irresponsible decisions. That is the example Christ showed on the cross. Christians should be willing to put their money up for the women who would not be allowed to have abortions. A pro-adoption campaign would probably benefit society more in the current environment than an anti-abortion campaign.

Also, the representatives and senators have passed anti-abortion laws that the Supreme Court has overturned. The only way to have those laws enforced would be to have a President who would nominate a Supreme Court that would allow the laws to stand in the books. Our nation is about only one justice away from that happening.

In the end, I do not know how science can answer the question of when life begins. It is strictly an ethical question that stems from one's religious beliefs, whether completely secular or based on some religious tome.

If You Voted Obama, You Better Do Penance or You Will Go To Hell

In a follow up to the church taking a stance against Obama post from the the other day, here is the granddaddy of all prejudiced churches.

No communion for Obama supporters

It's down to one issue.

Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exits constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.

And here is another quote:

In fact, in this election, for the sake of argument, if the Republican candidate had been pro-abortion, and the Democratic candidate had been pro-life, everything that I wrote would have been exactly the same.

Community Nuclear Power Plants - Our Short-Term Thinking Illness

Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes

This just does not seem wise. I have been haunted by nuclear power in everyone's backyard since Sunday.

My thoughts on this are many, but my knowledge of nuclear science is limited. Maybe someone can help.

With uranium not being a renewable resource, is it possible that uranium can become scarce if we make a massive shift to nuclear power? What would happen to the cost of nuclear energy then?

What are the chances of fallout from a problem on these personal reactors? They state that a Chernobyl-type disaster is impossible but is another sort of disaster likely? The more personal reactors we have located throughout the United States and around the world, the more likely that a disaster would follow. The odds would eventually catch up with themselves.

How much wind, water, or sun power could be created with a $25m investment?

What are the future expenses of a reactor like this?

I would love to see investment in our energy structure, but it seems like putting our eggs in another basket that is not renewable just does not make sense. Wind, Solar, and Water energy needs to be our focus. If nuclear helps with a temporary need, then we should utilize it. But it should not be part of the long-term solution, and we need to start thinking long-term.

We live in a short-term society. Executives are worried about short-term profits. The President thinks in a two-term cycle. Representatives think of getting re-elected in two years. The short-term always needs to be good in order to prosper in the now. Our focus is personal gain in the now at the expense of the future. That is one of the ailments of our nation. Personally, as a family, we are sacrificing in the short-term as I go back to school in order to prosper in the long term. I think our society should do the same in some areas. There is nothing wrong with sacrifice in the short term for the best outcome in the long term. It is admirable to leave the nation to the next generation better off than you found it.

More energy efficient appliances, utilization of our renewable resources, and creating a non-exportable energy industry is the solution to the problem. That will not happen overnight though the development of an alternative energy industry will help the economy through the creating of jobs while providing future generations with an energy that can last. We need to stop the short-term thinking and begin thinking about how we can hand off a better nation to our grandchildren with clean and home-grown energy. It might mean we have to make sacrifices, but that has been asked of us before as Americans. We can do great things, but only if we stop the short-term thinking.

Let The Holiday Season Begin

Obama is a Comic Reader

50 Facts About Obama

Due to my hobby and profession, I find it nice that Obama reads comic books. He like Spider-Man and Conan.

Just in case you were wondering, I used to like Spider-Man and still enjoy many Conan books. Also, I do not carry around any lucky charms.

A Post From GenCon on the Christian Children's Fund Controversy

GenCon director of Event Programming attempts to set the record straight.

Thanks to sethra007 for the link.

Obama's Gas Problem

Gas prices have been tumbling. They are reaching the prices that I paid when I was an undergrad ten years ago. Incredible.

But this puts a kink in Obama's plans. He intended to tax the windfall profits from the oil companies and use that money to pay for his social agenda. Now, the gas companies have lowered their prices and won't receive those record breaking profits that they received under Bush's laissez-faire policies. This voluntary lowering of the gas prices prevents Obama from setting the precedent of a windfall profits tax on the oil companies and also hampers his social spending plans.

The first post-election chess piece was being moved before the election. Now, we will wait and see how Obama responds.

Bush's Legacy and Comments Not From David Letterman

I received the following in an email It is purpoted to be from David Letterman. (edited to add that Tom Keaney from the Late Show with David Letterman posted in the comments to say that they are not from David.) Not only are they faulty comments about Bush, but the author lied about who wrote them. Good stuff.

'As most of you know I am not a President Bush fan, nor have I ever been, but this is not about Bush, it is about us, as Americans, and it seems to hit the mark.'

'The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some Poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right? The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the President. In essence 2/3 of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change. So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, 'What are we so unhappy about?'

A. Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 Days a week?

B. Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter?

C. Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job?

D. Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

E. Maybe it is the ability to drive our cars and trucks from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state.

F. Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?

G. I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough either.

H. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

I. Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home.

J. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family, and your belongings.

K. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes, an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to
defend you and your family against attack or loss.

L. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90% of teenagers own cell phones and

M. How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world?

Maybe that is what has 67% of you folks unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. , yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but
complain about what we don't have, and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same
president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Did you hear how bad the President is on the news or talk show? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn't take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad? Think about it......are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is it because the 'Media' told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind every day.

Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an 'other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable' discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans?

Say what you want, but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells, and when criticized, try to defend their actions by 'justifying' them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book about how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way......Insane!

Turn off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad. We are among the most blessed people on Earth and
should thank God several times a day, or at least be thankful and appreciative.' 'With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, 'Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?' -David Letterman

It was good until he finished making his lettered points.

First off, I doubt it was written by Letterman. If it was, he should definitely refrain from any future non-comedic political commentary. (edited to add that David does a good job with his comedic stuff. He is my late night host of choice, but I hardly stay up that late.)

Here are a few quotes with my thoughts.

"Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11?"

Bush was the was the President who compeletely dropped the ball after 9/11. Instead of encouraging us to be better people and to become more loving, he encouraged to go out and consume more products and his decisions led our military around the world to kill people. Consume and kill is his 9/11 legacy.

"The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession?"

If what we are currently experiencing is "out of recession", I would hate to be in one. His economic policies and military decisions, combined with America's propensity to spend money it does not have, have led us into what is the worse period in American economic history since WWII. Now we are blessed, but those blessing have nothing to do with Bush. His presidency oversaw this great economic decline.

"Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom."

They have not died for my freedom nor yours unless you are reading this from your home in Afghanistan or Iraq. I am pretty sure that the Iraqi war has nothing to do with my freedom to worship the way I want, say what I want to say, and spend my money how I want to spend it. The Afghan war might have something to do with those freedoms in the sense of that war being fought against Al Qaeda.

"Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen."

Actually, we can dislike our President and think he has done a bad job due to the state of the nation before he took office and at the end of his presidency without being spoiled brats. We can be content in less prosperous times. Our evaluation of his presidency has nothing to do with whether I am grateful for the conditions I live in. They are two completely different subjects. I can think he did a great job as President and personally be miserable. On the actual hand, I think that Bush will be remembered as one of the worst presidents in American history, but personally I am very happy with my life right now. No complaints here although I live with less than most Americans.

Another Response from the Christian Children's Fund over the D&D fundraising controversy

The other day I posted a reply from the Christian Children's Fund concerning the refusal of money donated to them from an auction at GenCon Indy, the nation's largest gaming convention.

The Escapist did a story on it. CCF Explains Refusal of GenCon Donation.

Cheri Dahl, vice president of international communications and fund raising at CCF, stated, "This decision was in no way intended to be a reflection on Mr. Gygax, gaming enthusiasts or the game Dungeon and Dragons. We have the utmost respect for the gaming community and were touched by the generosity expressed through your auction."

The Hawk, The Squirrel, and The Crow

I had a strange experience today. I left the Swarthmore College Peace Collection for my lunch. As I walking across campus, I was startled. Five feet away from me was a hawk, next to a Magnolia tree, standing over a dead grey squirrel. At first I thought it might be a statue because the situation was just so surreal. But then I moved and the hawk moved his head to keep his eyes on me. He was staring at me. We stared at each other for an eternity. After about two minutes, some students arrived with their camera. Apparently they had seen the hawk and squirrel and wanted to get pictures.

I stood around for a few minutes watching the photographers shoot their pictures. Eventually, I left the hawk and his dead prey. About a hundred yards later, I see another hawk. This one is flying across the rugby field. This hawk lands in a tree. A nearby crow does not like the hawk being in the tree. I stand there and watch the crow dive at the hawk for about forty-five seconds. Eventually, the hawk gives away his position and flies away.

It almost all seemed so dreamlike. Very Strange. Does it mean anything? Is it just a coincidence?

This is what you get since election season is over.

Election Day

I received an email after my post yesterday on churches and voting pointing me to a blog post that points out that socialism is against the Ten Commandments. What Would Judas Do?

I would say capitalism is against many of the commandments too in the sense in which the writer is approaching the commandments. I think there is a reason God did not come down on the side of any economic system. It's because he does not really care. Just based on his desire for Israel in the Old Testament, he wants a society where the poor, widows, and orphans are not oppressed and are given equal treatment under the justice system. He never really deals with how to give the wealthy fair treatment. It did not even come on God's radar in the Old Testament.

Capitalism, if the corporate owners are not greedy, can do that. Socialism, if the gifted are not selfish and lazy, can do that. Neither system is perfect. Both appeal to our better selves to work. Also to note, we do not operate under pure, or even close to pure, capitalism.

Happy election day to you all. Tomorrow you wake up to socialized America. (Just kidding. You're already in socialized America. It's just socialism for the wealthy in many cases.)

White Guys Training With The Palestinians

The text from the BBC reads, "Palestinian police hold a training session in the West Bank city of Ramallah. In the background is the security headquarters, destroyed during conflict with Israel."

I just wonder who the two white guys are. Are there white Palestinians?

Vote Your Conscience - Churches Telling Us Who To Vote For

I received this email from my brother Sunday.

Regan, what is up with our churches trying to tell us who to vote for. I missed church because I had to open the Glenbrook store but I think I would have walked out because our pastor was trying to tell us who to vote for. Then Sara comes in to work from church and she says the same thing. They are working around the system by not saying names because they aren't supposed to tell us who to vote for. I'm not even registered and I super ticked. Sara said her church said she is bad christian if she would vote for O. Brandi is not even sure if she wants to vote now.

After talking to my brother over the phone, he thinks he is going to quit going to the church he has been attending. If you are a minister or a leader in your church, is it worth losing believers because of a secular election? What about young believers who do not know better? If you are going to turn someone off to Christ, let it be because of the gospel and a complete, radical devotion to it. McCain/Palin is not the gospel, not even close.

Churches should not endorse candidates. It's not good for their parishioners. You can be a democrat or republican and still be a Christian, and a church should never make you think otherwise. They can deal with all of the issues Jesus would be concerned with, but they should leave the candidates alone. (And Jesus probably does not care about gun rights, might actually be a fan of free trade, and is probably not a conservative when it comes to immigration.) They could even have a class over the issues, the biblical approach to those issues, and the candidates positions on those issues. Now I know that some churches would have a really short class because it would not take all that long to deal with abortion, but there is much more to a well-rounded Christian approach to voting than abortion.

So here is my advice. Pray about what and who you are going to vote for and vote your conscience. You will have to be answerable for your own vote. Make sure your vote is your own conviction and nobody elses.

The Economist Supports Obama

A shocker to me. The Economist endorses Obama. The Economist is one of my favorite magazines and usually espouses conservative economic principles. Here are some of the highlights:

The Candidate McCain of the past six months has too often seemed the victim of political sorcery, his good features magically inverted, his bad ones exaggerated. The fiscal conservative who once tackled Mr Bush over his unaffordable tax cuts now proposes not just to keep the cuts, but to deepen them. The man who denounced the religious right as “agents of intolerance” now embraces theocratic culture warriors. The campaigner against ethanol subsidies (who had a better record on global warming than most Democrats) came out in favour of a petrol-tax holiday...Rather than heading towards the centre after he won the nomination, Mr McCain moved to the right...

...Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying...It is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made. Had he become president in 2000 instead of Mr Bush, the world might have had fewer problems. But this time it is beset by problems, and Mr McCain has not proved that he knows how to deal with them...

...There is no getting around the fact that Mr Obama’s résumé is thin for the world’s biggest job. But the exceptionally assured way in which he has run his campaign is a considerable comfort. It is not just that he has more than held his own against Mr McCain in the debates. A man who started with no money and few supporters has out-thought, out-organised and out-fought the two mightiest machines in American politics—the Clintons and the conservative right...

...Political fire, far from rattling Mr Obama, seems to bring out the best in him: the furore about his (admittedly ghastly) preacher prompted one of the most thoughtful speeches of the campaign. On the financial crisis his performance has been as assured as Mr McCain’s has been febrile. He seems a quick learner and has built up an impressive team of advisers, drawing in seasoned hands like Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. Of course, Mr Obama will make mistakes; but this is a man who listens, learns and manages well...

...This cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.

Well-thought out and pretty unbiased of an endorsement. The Economist, like myself, prefer the McCain of six-months ago compared to the McCain of today. They point out the strengths and flaws of both candidates. My civic deed was done on Friday with an early ballot. Now I am just waiting for the results.

The Rich Support McCain, the Super-Rich Support Obama

The Wall Street Journal reports...

The Rich Support McCain, the Super-Rich Support Obama

"Lower Richistanis tended to vote almost exclusively based on taxes. But Upper Richistanis placed a higher priority on longer-term societal issues like health care, the environment and education, which are traditional Democrat issues. Some say Upper Richistanis can afford to minimize taxes, since they have plenty of money even after the government takes its share. Others say the ultra-rich have better tax attorneys so they don’t care as much about tax rates."

Investigations into Joe the Plumber

Checks on 'Joe' more extensive than first acknowledged

Helen Jones-Kelley of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services stated, "Given our understanding that Mr. Wurzelbacher had publicly indicated that he had the means to purchase a substantial business enterprise, ODJFS, consistent with past departmental practice, checked confidential databases."

She continued by stating, "Not surprisingly, when a person behind in child support payments or receiving public assistance is receiving significant media attention which suggests that the person appears to have available financial resources, the Department risks justifiable criticism if it fails to take note and respond."

"She said on Monday that her department frequently runs checks for any unpaid child support obligations 'when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight.'"

ODJFS checked Joe because of his claim to be buying a business while being behind on child support payments. This should not hurt the Obama campaign unless someone produces some evidence showing that the Obama campaign encouraged the investigation. Although the anti-Obamaites out there will not allow reality to get in the way; they will definitely use it against him without any sound reasoning. I can already hear the new round of robocalls and anti-Obama commercials. Forget any chance of McCain trying to get us to vote for McCain. It's much easier to get people to not vote for Obama.

In the end, Joe the Plumber is really not the type of guy that I would want to be the mascot of my campaign. He's behind on child support and probably believes that Obama will actually raise his taxes when he does not make over $250,000 a year. The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services was just practicing due diligence in running checks on him.

A Terrible Case of Reporting

Australians charged over attack on 75-year-old blind flamingo

This flamingo that is at least 75-years-old is attacked. The reporter never bothers to tell me why the attackers attacked the bird. Finding the answer to that question was the whole reason I read the story. Did the bird attack them and they retaliated? Were they just being vandals? If so, why did they choose to hurt the bird?

Stupid anonymous reporter.

After the Obama Infomercial

Well, Obama laid out his plan on what he wanted to do. That was immediately followed up by ads from McCain telling me why we should not vote for McCain. Instead of laying out an agenda, McCain is still trying to make Obama run against himself. He's running his campaign on the principle that a vote for McCain is a vote against Obama. Why does he not talk about what he wants to do?

The New Weight Loss Diet

I was so happy today in the checkout aisle at Meijer. I was waiting in line and I decided to flip through Woman's World rather than see what Hollywood stars really look like in their bikinis. The cover story that caused me to pick it up was on a new diet to lose weight. Intrigued, I opened up the magazine, looked at the table of contents, and then flipped to the relevant page. I was so happy to see that the culprit of our fatness is corn syrup because I am sensitive to it and would prefer to have all products without corn syrup. I really like a soda now and then, but I hate the corn syrup. Give me a foreign Coke made with real sugar and I am really happy.

Here is the actual study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center: Limiting fructose may boost weight loss, researcher reports

The study suggest that the body quickly processes fructose into body fat.

"The researchers found that lipogenesis, the process by which sugars are turned into body fat, increased significantly when as little as half the glucose was replaced with fructose. Fructose given at breakfast also changed the way the body handled the food eaten at lunch. After fructose consumption, the liver increased the storage of lunch fats that might have been used for other purposes."

“This is an underestimate of the effect of fructose because these individuals consumed the drinks while fasting and because the subjects were healthy, lean and could presumably process the fructose pretty quickly. Fat synthesis from sugars may be worse in people who are overweight or obese because this process may be already revved up.”

"Dr. Parks said that people trying to lose weight shouldn’t eliminate fruit from their diets but that limiting processed foods containing the sugar may help."

If you elect me as President, the first thing I will do is ban corn syrup.

McCain Robocall - The Democrats are to Blame for the Economy

I just received a phone call from the McCain camp telling me not to vote for Obama for two reasons: His relationship with Tony Rezco and the Democrats have driven the economy into the ground since they took control of Congress two years ago. The caller did not tell me why I should vote for McCain. I guess a vote for McCain is a vote against Obama and that should be enough to make me vote McCain.

The second point just made me laugh because the Republicans have controlled Washington (the White House and Congress) for the six years before the last one and a half. The Republicans oversaw the biggest increase in spending and the biggest increase in our deficit and debt. I would have given the Republicans some slack because 9/11 did set us back some, but they did not turn the ship around later. The last time the Democrats had control of Congress and the White House was the years between 1992-1993. Those were not nearly as bad of years as we have seen lately. Maybe Newt, who I love and would vote for in a heartbeat, has more to do with the prosperity of the 90s after the Republican Revolution in 1994, but McCain is no Newt.

McCain's economic policy seems to be to cut taxes and that will solve the problems. I am in favor of balancing the budget before cutting taxes. I have not heard how he will spend more wisely. He just says he will stop all spending increases. That's great, but what about the wasteful programs? Why not cut them more? What about the good and necessary programs? Why not increase them? I like Obama's position of decreasing spending where it is not effective and increasing spending where it is doing good.

Budgetwise, we actually have to go beyond balancing the budget and start spending less than we take in to start paying off the debt we have built up. We have a responsibility to the future generations of Americans to not leave debt behind. Our preceding generation did not care all that much about leaving debt, but we need to reverse the tide. I would much rather leave this nation better than when I was born into it rather than worse. Obama has talked about this responsibility. McCain has not to my knowledge.

Maybe the Democrats won't do any better than the Republicans if they have control, but I would be greatly surprised if they actually did any worse. Things are bad. When things are bad, change is necessary.

Game Store Mooning Gone Bad

Men severely beaten in comic shop mooning incident

Reply from the Christian Children's Fund over the Gygax Auction

Here was the reply I got from writing Christian Children's Fund after sending them an email asking for their reasons on why they declined the money from the charity auction. They get bonus points for replying within two hours of the question being sent. The writer explained that it was not the source of the money as much as the presentation of the event making it look like the auction was hosted by the CCF rather than them just being beneficiaries of the proceeds. They have to be careful about not offending their donors. It might be unfortunate that they refused $17,000 because of the kids that could be helped with that money. As an organization with Christians that are are sensitive to Dungeons & Dragons, they might lose support that would cost much more than the $17,000 that they rejected

You can read the reply for yourself:

Thank you for contacting Christian Children's Fund through our website.

Christian Children’s Fund made the decision to decline the gift from Gen Con, LLC after the review of numerous factors that in combination precluded our acceptance of the gift. These reasons include the possible misinterpretation of CCF’s role in regard to the event. CCF is selective in its endorsements or support because it must maintain the highest degree of integrity with respect to the use of its name and logo. The information presented to us gave the appearance that CCF (the organization) was an endorser or supporter of the event instead of a beneficiary.

Thank you for your interest in CCF. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.

A Warning on fastfreeiqtest.com

I thought I would have fun the other day and take an IQ test. The ads say "Obama's IQ is 142, are you smarter than Barack?" So I went and took the test. First off, it really wasn't an IQ test. Second, I never got the results after going through screens trying to make me accept offers. Don't make the same mistake. I did not provide a link to the evil fastfreeiqtest.com because it is evil. Ignore that ad. It pops up in the google ads all of the time. It is a waste of time. You have to give them your email early on in the process, so I hope my inbox doesn't get inundated with junk mail. If anyone knows of a good, free, online IQ test, I am all game. Please let me know.

Random Thoughts

Some words of wisdom from Isaac to start the day out: "I've picked my ears, and it doesn't taste good."

Children's Christian Fund rejects money raised from a charity auction from the estate of Gary Gygax, the creator of Dungeons & Dragons. Not many details there, but it seems baffling to me. I am going to email the Children's Christian Fund to see if they will explain their reasoning. We'll see if they reply.

I wrote a post over on Chi Rho Live about a Despicable Church Sign.

I have been playing around on Pandora and have created a few stations. They are in the sidebar to the right if you are interested in listening to the music I enjoy. It's tasty fun.

I'm torn on this story. A mother slept after working her third shift job. Because she was getting ready to move, she had withdrawn her kids from their daycare. While sleeping, her two children undid the deadbolt, went outside, got in the car, and died from the heat. Now they are trying her for child abuse. After just seeing Reign Over Me and the thoughts that it made me think, I wonder if this is the right action for society to take on a grieving mother. Is something that we can do to show her love in her time of grief and suffering? Maybe I should write the prosecutor a letter. Even though her pain was self-inflicted, it is only by the grace of God that similar tragedies haven't happened to most parents.

Palin's $150,000 Wardrobe Malfunction


Politico broke the story that Sarah Palin used campaign money to buy clothing, cosmetics, and stylists. The whole campaign process, in regards to money, is utterly disgusting. We are a visual people, and we require our presidential candidates to look good. When they spend money to make themselves look good, then we are supposed to be upset. But we were the ones that expected them to look good in the first place.

It is not like she could not have bought herself a new wardrobe. The Sarah Palin Truth Squad (I don't know how trustworthy a place that calls themselves the "truth squad" can be but they were the only source I could find) reported on the 2007 earnings of the Palins:

The Palins’ assets seem enviable: a half-million-dollar home on a lake with a float-plane at the dock, two vacation retreats, commercial-fishing rights worth an estimated $50,000 or more and an income last year of at least $230,000. That compares to a median income of $64,333 for Alaskans and $50,740 for Americans in 2007, according to the Census Bureau.

Palin was not destitute and in need of the campaign to buy herself a new wardrobe, but does that mean that she should have incurred a personal expense to spruce up her wardrobe for the campaign trail.

A woman has it a little tougher than a man on the campaign trail. She can't just put on the same suit day after day. I cannot find a firm source, but Obama's suits cost around $1,500 each, and he owns multiples of them. Women's clothing is typically much more expensive than men's clothing. Also, she needs a new outfit for every appearance. Okay, she doesn't really "need" a new outfit for every appearance, but it is part of our disgusting materialistic culture that women do not reuse dresses used on big occasions. If we had the honest numbers, I bet the Obama family has spent about as much on their clothing, stylists, and the like while on the campaign trail.

The Telegraph stated, "Federal campaign finance law prohibits the use of campaign funds for personal use, which it defines as any expense 'that would exist irrespective of the candidate's campaign or duties as a federal officeholder'."

Honestly, she would not have had this expense if she was not running for President. She would have continued to governor Alaska, live in her three houses, and find herself comfortable in her Alaskan wardrobe. $150,000 in expenses is a little extreme. A $295 pacifier is really extreme, but it is expected that her and her family look good on the trail. What makes a baby look better than a $295 pacifier? Some are talking about her having to pay taxes on these clothes, but they seem to be the uniform of the job rather than a personal indulgence. She did not even shop for her own clothes. What kind of woman indulges on clothes by sending staffers out to get them? Not doing her own clothes shopping should infuriate women more than the cost of clothes. What an outrage! Not doing her own shopping.

Waste is normal business in a presidential campaign (and the government for that matter). The Democratic National Convention cost over $100 million dollars to pull off. Now, the Democratic news outlets are trying to say it is a sham that Palin spent $150,000 on clothes. A good post at the Weekly Standard talks about $140,000 in stage construction and other expenses related to the convention. The whole system is a sham, not just Palin's clothing.

What is most disgusting is that this has become a focus of the campaign. Thank you Politico. Good, solid, meaningful investigative reporting. In a time when the stock market is crashing, unemployment is going up, gas is at $3.00/gallon, our education is failing, our health care is inferior for a developed nation, and we are in two wars with other international situations, we get a story about a candidates wardrobe. We do not need this distraction.

In the end, Palin is not making us pay a dime for her new wardrobe unless you donated to the RNC. This money came from RNC coffers that was to be used on campaigns. Someone who might be losing a tight Senate or House race might have a reason to have grief over the $150,000 clothing expenditure because it is money the RNC cannot spend on their campaign, but it is not a surprise that there is waste in the administration of the RNC. They, after all, are half of our wasteful government. We live in a culture of waste and this story is just one of the symptoms.

Our Dislike Of Death Bed Conversions or A Total Misunderstanding of Grace

A new post by me over at Chi Rho Live.

Our Dislike Of Death Bed Conversions or A Total Misunderstanding of Grace

Reign Over Me - A Movie Dialogue

Reign Over Me is the story of a dentist who is miserable in his life, a former dentist who is wallowing in depression from the loss of his wife and children on September 11, and a society who refuses to love.

***Spoiler Warning Galore***

Reign Over Me attempts to inspire us to be patient and love those who are struggling with mental illness. The case portrayed in the movie was such an extreme case that it is tough to draw a comparison to my real life in which I need to be loving to someone who is temporarily mentally cracked. The point to be taken is that I need to handle everyone with love and gentleness.

The shadow of the colossus (a terrible video game but one that is used throughout the movie to portray a theme) will never go away. For Charlie, his shadow was the plane hitting the World Trade Center, engulfing his wife and three lovely daughters. The scene where Charlie teaches the dentist how to play Shadow of the Colossus is actually reflective of the dentist teaching Charlie how to live again, but it also reflects that they both had a good time doing it. Having friends around to show us how to live in the shadow of the past and become victorious once again is the way to learn how to live again when tragedy hits. That victory only comes when we let love reign, as is shown through the movie by playing the Pearl Jam remake of The Who's Love Reign Over Me throughout the movie. The director was a little overt in using other media to portray the themes with "Love Reign Over Me" and "Shadow of the Colossus" repeated frequently, but it was a good theme and excusable. Charlie was healed through a relationship with a friend who did not view him as a project but viewed him as a friend. Charlie brought his own brand of healing to the dentist as he brought healing to him. They were friends helping one another out.

The saddest moment in the movie is when state held a hearing to see if Charlie should be put in a mental hospital. The mental hospital was cold and heartless. This is probably unfair to many of the fine mental hospital doctors out there who plug away day in and day out to try to bring healing to the people in their hospitals, but the major point of the movie is that our society does not treat its mental patients with love and patience. That might generally be true. The conflict between love and punishment rose to the top when Charlie was at his hearing. He was so close to recovering, yet the process of recovering was making him fall apart. Society wanted to throw him in a hospital while his doctor and friends wanted to let him "find his own way." In the end, a wise judge places the decision in the hands of his n-laws. They decide right, and Charlie is on his way to recovery.

The most inappropriate storyline in the movie was the messed-up woman who eventually fell for Charlie. The relationship was contrived and undeveloped and really dampened an otherwise great movie.

Reign Over Me was a good movie, and I am glad I watched it. May we will deal a little more lovingly to those who are challenging to us. The reason they are more than likely challenging is because they are hurting.

Entertaining: 4/5
Inspiring: 3/5
Ethical Thinking: 5/5

Goodbye Kontera Ads

I must apologize for the annoying text link ads that I have had on here for about a month. A post the other day made me realize how annoying those little buggers are. Now, you can trust my links. No more Kontera ads.

To Not Vote for Obama

Is Obama A Socialist? Not if You Ask One

This article, besides Obama being pro-choice, is one of the most convincing articles I have read on not voting for Obama. It is not because he is not a socialist but because the article paints him out to be a dirty, typical protector of the wealthy. True capitalism does not protect the wealthy. True socialism does not protect the wealthy. What we currently have, and what this articles says Obama is proposing, protects the wealthy.

Obama's Chicken Counting

The media, especially Drudge, wants me to think that Obama is out of line in planning his transition team and having construction done on his election night party site.

I just wonder. Has McCain started planning his transition team? I sure hope so. I would hate for our next President to not be prepared when they take the White House. Preparing one's transition team is a basic requirement of October politics as a Presidential candidate. You need to be ready to hit the ground running once you win the election, so that you can start being President the day you take office. Chuck Baldwin or Ralph Nader probably should not worry about their transition teams, but the Obama and McCain camps should. It is not presumptive of Obama to be prepared and have done what needs to be done for when he might win the election. I am sure that McCain is doing the same.

What is wrong for preparing the site of his election night gathering? It's less than two weeks away. He will have a big turnout, whether he wins or lose because they turn out before the results are in. And he needs to be prepared. Again, Drudge is trying to make him look presumptive, but he is doing what needs to be done in order to insure that election night runs smoothly. I would also assume that McCain has been making preparations for his election night bash.

But wait, Obama is not really a US citizen, he is a Muslim, and now he is a presumptive elitist. That's the story we need to stick with.

The Tough Times - Taleb's Thoughts on the Coming Depression

Tuesday night, on the Jim Lehrer Newshour, the economic correspondent interviewed Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Taleb, author of the book The Black Swan and an investment adviser who has profited greatly off of the crash because he successfully predicted it. The thing about Taleb is that he seems genuinely concerned about the future economic state of the world.

Here are some of the best quotes from the interview.

The banking system, the way we have it, is a monstrous giant built on feet of clay. And if that topples, we're gone. Never in the history of the world have we faced so much complexity combined with so much incompetence and understanding of its properties.


The banking system, the way we have it, is a monstrous giant built on feet of clay. And if that topples, we're gone. Never in the history of the world have we faced so much complexity combined with so much incompetence and understanding of its properties...that consolidation is what's putting us at risk, because we are -- when one bank, large bank makes a mistake, OK, it's 10 times worse than a small bank making a mistake.


Now you understand why I'm worried. I hope I'm wrong. I wake up every morning -- actually, I don't wake up every morning now. I start to wake up at night the last couple of weeks hoping that I'm wrong, begging to be wrong. I think that we may be experiencing something that is vastly worse than we think it is...Of all the books you read on globalization, they talk about efficiency, all that stuff. They don't get the point. The network effect of that globalization, OK, means that a shock in the system can have much larger consequences.


I don't know if we're entering the most difficult period since -- not since the Great Depression, since the American Revolution.

When faced with a depression like the Great Depression, or something worse like Taleb predicts, I wonder how we will survive it. I have heard that the Depression was inconsequential out here amidst the fields of maize where I live, but that was in another time. Now, because of technology and globalization, everyone in the world is more connected with one another. The farmers now raise food that is good for only one thing, making corn syrup. It has almost zero nutritional value. Maybe the wheat and soy beans could sustain us if we were able to continue farming. The farming requires oil from the Middle East to run these giant combines and trucks that send the food to markets around the world. Our personal jobs are all in the surrounding cities that we also have to travel to. There is nothing self-sustainable about our lifestyle except for the artesian wells in the fields around our homes.

Yesterday, I took the scenic route home from Fort Wayne and traveled the backroads through Amish country. I doubt the Amish, with their horses to raise crops and solar and wind power to run the electricity in their barns, will see much of a setback from a depression. They are used to being self-sufficient. They have become more connected in recent years as I see them shopping in Meijer and Walmart, but their strings of connectedness are thin compared to the rest of us.

The current situation worries me at times, but then I have to check myself. Worry doesn't do any good if it does not spur us on to action. If times get real tough, all I want is for my Lindsay and I to be able to provide our children with food, shelter and warmth, adequate health care, clothing, and a loving environment. If we focused on just those things now. And who knows, maybe a depression will make us a little less connected around the world and a little more connected with our neighbors. Maybe we will be happier after all.

All of this makes me focus on another quote.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Juno - A Minimal Movie Dialogue

I just finished watching the movie Juno. I thought it was going to be more of a movie for my wife, but I have not enjoyed a movie as much since Little Miss Sunshine.

I usually explain a movie and my thoughts throughout the film, but I really can't with this movie.

All I can say is that when life really, really sucks, there is still beauty.

Entertaining: 5/5
Inspiring: 5/5
Ethical Thinking: 5/5

Another Stimulus Bill? - A Corporate Culture of Cronyism

What is going on in Washington?

The first stimulus bill has yet to be spent, although they have authorized $250 billion of it to buy stock in the banks, which was a much wiser decision than buying bad mortgages that nobody wants. This new stimulus bill, currently proposed as $168 billion, is being pushed by the Democrats with the focus being public works, jobless benefits, Medicaid, food stamps, and another round of tax rebates. At least this one is to help the poor rather than to stop corporations from losing their value.

The total of this package is close to all of the pork that was added to the last bill to influence Representatives and Senators to vote in favor of it. Bush had proposed a three-page stimulus bill. Eventually that bill inflated to 448 pages and added around $100 billion dollars in pork.

What needs to happen in Washington is not another stimulus package; what we need is monopoly busting. The consolidation of nearly every industry in the last decade has caused our system to become much more vulnerable than it should be. If these megacorporations never merged together, there would not be that much danger from a bank, or twenty banks failing. Each merger caused the holes in the safety net to grow. Eventually it reached a point where the net was completely useless. It is much easier to absorb the failure of a corporation when there are many other corporations of similar size in the same field to absorb the impact. There should be enough other banks to pick up the slack. What we see going on is banks that are too large for other banks to quickly pick up the slack failing. In the end, the failing banks are too large because government allowed them to become too large. The same situation could happen in many other industries because of the massive corporations in those fields.

We also need to stop different businesses in the same field from being owned by the same people. Competition really does not work if the owners are the same people in the companies that are to be competing with one another. We need transparency of ownership. That means those trust funds and investing groups need to stop being shields to prevent us from knowing who is investing in what companies. Combine this with monopoly busting so that companies that are owned by the same wealthy individuals will be viewed as the same company and busted as such.

Those are my two solutions to the problem. They are not short term fixes like a stimulus package, but they allow capitalism to work. Right now, we seem to be operating in an environment where corporations receive government help when things are falling apart but can rape the consumer for profits when the economy is thriving. The government needs to insure that the market has competition or capitalism is just a charade for cronyism. In capitalism, a company cannot rape the consumer for profits because another company will steal all of the business, nor can a company demand government help when failing because other companies are in the waiting ready to fill the hole. Let us move from cronyism to capitalism.

Random Thoughts

The latest Apple ad is much better than all of the previous in that it is not as condescending. It makes fun of Microsoft for advertising. Apple making fun of Microsoft for advertising. That's funny.

Obama's ads are much more negative this week. Although they are not nearly as cruel and uncivil as some of the ads I have seen from McCain. It is disappointing.

The last worldwide depression led to a terrible war. I sure hope this one does not do the same.

Gold and silver are as worthless as the dollar if people do not want it. Material items only have value if people give it to them.

Isaac and Eli are in a casual soccer league where we have no practices and only play once a week. How I wish all youth sports were casual like that. More than likely, my kids are not going to be professional athletes.

Yesterday, I had to listen to a bunch of people that I enjoy the company of who are on social security and Medicaid rail against Obama and socialism. That's about as funny as the Apple ad. A little less funny because it is more serious.

It's getting tough to make it through October without turning the heat on. Today could be the day we give in.

News Bias on Obama and McCain - Headlines Designed to Slant our Thinking

Today, I have perused the Drudgereport, MichaelSavage.com, World Net Daily, New York Times, and Salon.com to examine the headlines. What I found is disturbing.

I regularly go to the Drudgereport, but lately his headlines have been somewhat bias. Maybe I am just reading all of them wrong. A look at the Drudgereport this morning will give you the following headlines.

Obama vows to 'change the world'...
Nears record for spending on ads...
Lines up cabinet...
Obama's transition team meets...
And the large one in big letters that has been up for almost a full day: "MCCAIN: OBAMA POLICIES SOCIALIST"

The only headline on Drudge that deals with McCain directly is Dallas paper endorses McCain; Miami picks Obama...

Of course, I expect (and that is why I enjoy, listen to, and read) bias from Michael Savage. His current headlines read...

"Trickle-up" poverty: The new economics of Barack Obama
Liberals looking forward to supermajority power
Obama jokes he's not Jesus, he's really Superman
Libya's leader says Obama is Muslim, credits Arab money helping him win

Now, if we head on over to World Net Daily, a bastion of conservative news on the internet, we read the following:

The Big Headline reads...Gadhafi: Obama a Muslim, studied in Islamic schools
College associate editor says 'Obama is my Jesus'
2nd lawsuit challenges Obama's citizenship

Did Ayers' wife kill policeman?
Michelle Obama organized event with Ayers, husband
McCain blasts Obama tax policies
National anthem scrapped from Obama rally

Obama lines up a cabinet of stars

President Barack? Just say NObama!
- This one is an advertisement put out there like a headline.

Compare these headlines from liberal leaning news organizations like the New York Times and Salon.com

For the New York Times, I had to go to the Politics page to get anything substantial.

Obama Raised Record $150 Million in September
The Candidates Debate Tax Cuts and Welfare - This one is similar in tone to the Conservative headlines decrying socialism and is an unbiased report of the dialog between the two candidates rather than a report declaring the one to be socialist.
Obama Attacks McCain on Health Care and Medicare, in Some Ways Inaccurately
Nearing Record, Obama’s Ad Effort Swamps McCain
Slow Economy Aids Obama in Missouri

At Salon, the headlines read...

Banking on early votes for Barack
McCain's last stand
Which John McCain will show up to debate?
Behind the GOP's voter fraud hysteria
Meet Sarah Palin's radical right-wing pals
The low road to the White House with the subheadline: "As the gloves come off in the presidential race, John McCain seems ever more willing to dispense with past claims to personal honor."


The problem with the whole situation is that biased people get their news from the biased source they trust. This creates a terrible situation. People reading only Salon are going to think that McCain and Palin are evil monsters. People reading WND, Michael Savage, and, possibly, Drudge, will think that Obama is evil. I cannot believe that the headlines at the New York Times are the most unbiased in my examination of the internet news.

Demonizing the other camp creates an atmosphere of distrust that will remain long after this political season is over. After the election we need to get along to bring about the changes that this nation needs, but the media creates an attitude that makes that nearly impossible. Neither one of these guys is the antichrist despite the biased news from each side proclaiming such in an attempt to win the undecideds and motivate their base. I remember that I wrote just a month or so ago that I would be happy with either candidate being my President. The news has done such a wicked job demonizing each candidate that I have lost excitement for either one. I will still vote, but I would have much rather voted being happy with either candidate rather than holding my nose as I vote.

In the end, the headlines tell us a lot more about the political view of the websites rather than give us a fair and unbiased report of the news, which is something we sorely need in these times.