April 28, 2010

In desperation, Mayor Daley goes global

Chicago Sun-Times: Mayor Daley Seeks to Send Gun Industry Lawsuit to World Court

There are so many factual errors in this article that it cannot be seen as anything other than pure propoganda. I do not know whether the propogandist is Mayor Daley, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial staff, or someone with friends in all the right places.

Fact: 85% of the guns used by Mexican cartels are stolen from government storage in Central and South America.

Fact: Suggesting that the World Court has the authority to meddle in the internal affairs of any country, let alone ours, is a clear violation of the Charter of the World Court. That an American mayor would suggest the World Court is a greater authority than the United States Supreme Court is pure treason.

Fact: The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press. It has no relationship whatsoever to an imaginary and delusion "right not to be shot".

Fact: Less than .0001% of the firearms manufactured in the United States and sold to private citizens through legal dealerships is ever used in any kind of violent action, be it crime or combat.

Fact: The National Rifle Association represents the interests of 80 million American firearms owners, collectors, and hobbyists. One in four Americans is far too large a percentage to be considered a "special interest" group.

For the facts, spend some time at the FBI UCR website, the WISQARS online database, and yes, even the NRA website.

Ignore the hype. Get the facts.

April 22, 2010

The IMF gets greedy, again

First, read this:
Wall Street Journal: G20 Should Impose Taxes on Financial Sector

Compelled by the "American Homeownership and Economic Opportunity Act of 2000" to lend large sums of money to people who could not repay it, the banks and lending institutions of America lost hundreds of billions of dollars when all those mortgages came due and could not be repaid. The "housing bubble", created in part by the federal government attempting to micromanage the free market, collapsed a mere six years later sending shockwaves throughout the world.

Government intervention in the housing market created the conditions that led to the global recession we just passed through. Maybe we're finally coming out of it, maybe we are in the eye of the storm and the worst is still ahead. Either way, more government intervention, especially on a global level, cannot help.

If the United States Federal government allows the IMF to tax you and I, then we are no longer a sovereign nation. While I do not believe in "evil globalists", I do believe in misguided and ambitious globalists, many of whom work at the IMF, originally founded to provide credit to emerging industrial countries like Zimbabwe, Somalia, Libya, and even North Korea. On the flipside, Tanzania and Kenya are success stories that can also be attributed to the IMF. Nonetheless, there is nothing in the United States Constitution that would authorize Congress to ratify a global tax on American banks, a tax that will be passed on to you and I in the form of increased banking fees.

You know we're living in an world gone insane when the conspiracy theorists are the only ones who see what's happening and recognize it for what it is!

But don't take my word for it: Search Amazon.com for books about the history of the IMF

April 21, 2010

My new favorite song!

Some Thoughts on "Paranoid Gun Owners"

First, consider this: Paranoid Personality Disorder
I'd like to highlight just a few of the seven symptoms listed:

A. A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

(1) suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her
(4) reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events
(5) persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights
(6) perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack

Among those few media outlets that reported on the April 19th Second Amendment March activities, almost everyone labeled the participants "paranoid" because Pres. Obama has not yet signed into law any of the dozen or so bills presented to limit the rights and freedom of gun owners. Bills such as these:

H.R. 45 - Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act 2009
H.R. 2324 - Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2009
H.R. 2401 - No Fly, No Buy Act
H.R. 4298 - Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2009

If just these four House Resolutions were to pass and be signed into law a firearm owner could not give his son a .22 rifle for a birthday present, could not give his college-age daughter a .32 ACP to protect herself from rapists, and in order for his children to inherit his collection of firearms, every single weapon would have to be taken down to a dealer and be put through the same background checks as an original purchase. The firearm owner could not trade guns with his friends, or take them to gun shows and sell them. If someone with a similar name joined a group such as the Hutaree, a law-abiding firearm owner would suddenly find he could no longer buy guns at the local gun shop and would also be in danger of having his entire firearms collection arbitrarily confiscated.

And those are just four of the dozen or so House and Senate resolutions being considered in Congress right this minute. Clearly, the firearms advocates who gathered in Virginia with weapons ready at hand were not paranoid. They listened peacefully to pro-Second Amendment speakers, talked guns with one another, and at the end of the day went home without engaging in a single threatening action or violation of local law. They even cleaned up after themselves.

So who is paranoid, the gun owners or the frenzied media ranting and raving about treason? By the DSM-IV definition, it is not the gun owners who are displaying symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder. Not at all. Rather, it is the wide-eyed and fearful media folks like Rachel Maddow and Joy Behar who rail against them. Consider, for example, John King of CNN. He also reported on the gathering in Virginia, but his report contained none of the fear and ranting expressed by so many others.

Also, consider this: Student Suspended After Finger Gun Incident

In this article a 13 year-old is suspended for three days and labeled a terrorist for pointing her finger at the front of the class and making play noises meant to imitate gunfire. The teacher's and principal's actions clearly represent, "reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events", in short, clinical Paranoid Personality Disorder.

It is not the people "clinging to god and guns" who are displaying clinical Paranoid Personality Disorder. Their freedoms are, in fact, under threat every single day. It is not paranoia if you are genuinely under threat. Quite the contrary, genuine paranoia is in fact being exhibited by everyone who refuses to enter Starbucks these days on the off-chance a gun owner might be having a quiet cup of coffee with her favorite Kimber Commander .45 ACP holstered on her hip.

Round up of a few articles about the events on April 19th, 2010:

Cleveland Gun Rights Examiner: Peaceful pro-gun rallies
Associated Press: Advocates carry rifles, handguns
Washington Post: Militia movement packing heat
AFP: Gun-toting activists rally
CNN: Gun rights advocates rally in Washington & Virgina
And finally, a listing from Google: Gun rights advocates rally in Washington and Virginia

April 16, 2010

Perhaps there is hope

MSNBC: "Average citizens" find voice in Tea Party ideals
CNN Money: SEC Charges Goldman Sachs with fraud

Notice that both of these articles are appearing on websites managed by very liberal progressive media outlets. It's not much, just two tiny articles in a sea of volcanic ash and Chinese earthquake news, but even a month ago both these organizations would have simply ignored these stories. CNN Money might report on the Goldman Sachs debacle a few days from now, but only if an indictment were actually brought. That they are jumping on this the day it is announced is remarkable. And I never, ever would have believed that MSNBC could write a balanced view of the Tea Party movement if I had not read it myself! That one is truly amazing.

Perhaps there is hope after all.

April 14, 2010

On this day, in this place

On April 15th, 2010, Tea Party participants will gather in cities all across America to protest the lack of representation in Washington. While it is true we all have representatives there, for some reason the 111th Congress has found it more convenient to ignore us and has passed a series of legislations that favor only a small minority. Only 15% of Americans do not have health insurance, for example, and yet the new healthcare legislation is supposed to allow them to get insurance. If they decline this beneficence, it will fine them. This followed on the heels of a $787 billion "stimulus" package, which in turn followed on the heels of Pres. George Bush's "TARP" plan. None of these enjoyed any semblance of popular support and yet the elected officials sent to Washington to represent us passed all of these bills without hesitation. The only bill that gathered any real opposition among Congressional Representatives and Senators was the healthcare bill, so the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority leader bribed, cajoled, and coerced enough votes from the floor of their respective houses to pass it even though they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the majority of American people did not support their actions!

Our representatives have stopped representing us. Thus, the modern Tea Party arose from the ranks of housewives, factory workers, office workers, farmers, teachers, students, fast food workers, truck drivers, and countless others, all the people who work hard every day of their lives to make this country great. The representatives ridiculed and downplayed the importance of the Tea Party movement. Those people who were elected and sent to Washington as representatives used the most humiliating label in their vocabularies to refer to millions of ordinary Americans who had the courage to point out the representatives had failed their constituents. The representatives called the people who had elected them, "ignorant racists."

Here, today, we sit at a major crossroads in the history of our country. Not since 1860 has our country been so divided over issues concerning the present and the future. Half of the people in our country dream of a land governed by wise, benevolent elites who spend their days dispensing the wealth of an evil class of wealthy bankers and industrialists who have marginalized the working class. The other half of our country dreams of a land where every individual can themselves become rich through hard work, initiative, and luck. Both groups claim they are seeking freedom. Both groups claim they fear for the opportunities that will be available to their children and grandchildren. Both groups look to the opposition and refer to them in the most disparaging terms they know. No one is willing to consider the possibility of compromise or reconciliation. Everyone wants their enemy's blood. Some are willing to do anything to achieve their goals.

As I write this, the day's events have not begun. Rumors are floating of an orchestrated campaign to discredit the Tea Party movement once and for all by introducing deliberately racist slogans and by inciting violence through any means necessary. If the day's events do turn violent, it will be months before the investigations are complete and the facts are made plain. There is no guarantee anyone in the media will take the time to report the facts once they are known.

With luck, the day will go smoothly, there will be no violence, and anyone who attempts to interrupt the proceedings will be ignored. With luck, the future will look back on this period and laugh at our passionate fury.

April 11, 2010

Something odd this way comes

Call me paranoid, but after a year and a half of being totally ignored, my YouTube channel has gotten a couple hundred views in just the past two weeks and half a dozen atheists have left comments attacking my faith videos.

Why the sudden upsurge in activity? A new generation of atheists? Did Dawson release a new book? Is this a planned attack campaign with someone organizing it and guiding it in the background or just a random cultural swing? Most of the channels that have suddenly visited and left attack comments are less than six months old and have only one or two uploads. Around a dozen of them are less than a month old and have no videos at all.

Also, I notice that several other Christian video makers like myself, with low view counts and low participation despite two or three years of existence, are also suddenly receiving the same kind of negative attention.

I don't like conspiracy theories, but this honestly feels like a planned and well-executed campaign of some kind. Is something stirring or is it just a grand coincidence?

April 08, 2010

the muse strikes again

A friend posted a poem on Facebook that was originally written by Pres. Barack Obama. I don't know when he wrote it, or why. It is an odd poem. As I was thinking about it, and what it might mean, the muse struck and these words flew from my finger tips:

it took a year

it took a year to raise this house
although it shouldn't have
half-trained workers tripping
over tools of master craftsmen
fumbling their hammers in the snow
because summer was too hot

now, finally, a year and a couple days on
here i sit, typing silent words no one will read
into an old acer computer given me
by my father in gratitude at seeing
his long-lost first born prodigal son
after two and a half decades
lost among cherry blossoms

but this land is not the land i remember
strange men with stranger beliefs
run a circus where proud, defiant men
threw off a king's shackles, proclaiming
freedom for the masses
another man, less defiant, just as proud
labelled slavery freedom, freedom slavery
and left his disciple holding the reins

these strange men who run the circus
forgot the original men, forgot their blood
spilled on battlefields up and down the land
choosing the insanity of a syphilis-ridden
wild-eyed savior who jumbled words
changed meanings, proclaiming right wrong
and wrong right

i came home to write stories of magic
young, brave men and women
struggling for freedom against evil kings
metaphors for history, real history
history no one remembers, instead
i write long rants against injustice
quoting those proud, defiant men
condeming the liar the leaders now believe

blood, my family's blood, reddens the dirt
where clumsy apprentices and elderly craftsmen
spent a year building this house
these new men will not steal this land
i will not let them have it
the blood of my family demands it
they will never understand
freedom is never free
the price has been paid by two dozen
generations of scotsmen, irishmen
africans, cherokee, and chippewa
germans and italians

this red earth beneath my house
this red earth where i plant trees
this red earth is red with my family's blood
this red earth is mine and if it must
this red earth will welcome my blood

it took a year
the price has been paid
this red earth demands freedom

April 04, 2010

He is risen!

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance."
John 20:1

It is still dark as I compose this early on Easter morning. The sun is barely a red glimmer on the eastern horizon. By the time I finish, it will have risen full and yellow. Most people are still asleep. A few parents who did not do so yesterday will be hiding colorful eggs for their children to find. In some homes the last egg will not be found until it starts to reek of sulfur long after Easter has come and gone. Millions of Americans who normally spend their Sunday watching television or holding a barbeque, will make the effort to get out of bed early, take a shower, dress in their finest, and head off to church to celebrate the day. Some of them will still have a barbeque in the afternoon, while others will still find time to turn on a sports game.

Jewish families, on the other hand, are mid-way through the Passover week while Pagan families celebrate the coming of spring with feasts designed around early vegetables. For most people, regardless of their religion, spring is a time of renewal and hope for a better future, especially this year.

This year, Easter falls on April 4th. In 1968 on this day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and although James Earl Ray was convicted for this crime, there are some who feel he was not guilty. Oddly, it was on this day in 1967, exactly one year before his death, that Martin Luther King, Jr. publicly declared his opposition to the war in Vietnam. In 1973 the Twin Towers were declared finished on April 4th, only to come crashing to the ground less than thirty years later after terrorists slammed into them with hijacked airliners. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization officially came to life on this day in 1949, and despite the passing of the enemy it was meant to counter (the U.S.S.R., naturally), NATO is still with us today. In 1818 Congress finally got around to settling on an official design for the American flag, thirteen stripes of alternating red and white with white stars on a blue field, one star for every state. Down through the centuries many things have ended on April 4th, while many others have begun.

I have not gone through my archive, but I'm reasonably certain this is the first time I have ever sat down to write a post for a particular holiday. I try very hard to avoid holiday posts, because so much is said about them in so many different places that I feel anything I can add to the discussion would be trite. But this Easter feels different, so here I sit, trying to figure out what has drawn me out of my warm bed to sit in front of my computer and type these words.

I suppose, since this is the celebration of Christ's resurrection, I should focus on it. Most people know how Mary and some other women came to the tomb in order to anoint the body of Jesus with spices. This was a common practice among Jews of their day and they had not done it sooner because the various feasts and regulations of Passover Sabbath had prevented them. They came, wondering who would roll the stone aside for them, wondering if the centurions posted by Pilate would let them pass, only to arrive at the tomb to find the centurions gone and the stone rolled away. The tomb itself was empty. Jesus then appeared and announced his resurrection.

Many non-believers point out that the four gospels do not agree on many key details about the resurrection. Myself, I am always somewhat mystified by this criticism. How many women there were, who ran to tell the disciples, whether Jesus first appeared to the women, to one woman, or to the disciples all gathered together, none of these matter. Historians can argue about them for days but none of that changes anything at all. Something happened. Something so profound that it changed the lives of everyone connected to it and eventually changed the entire history of our world. Without the resurrection there would have been no Christianity, no Catholic Church, no Crusades, no Reformation, no Enlightenment, no Renaissance, no funding for Christopher Columbus, nor for Cortez, no pilgrims fleeing religious persecution, and no United States of America founded by men whose deep faith and Christian ethic convinced them their King was not fit to rule.

Something profound happened the day after the Pesah Shabbat at a family grave outside Jerusalem about two thousand years ago. Ordinary women, going about an ordinary chore, were so stunned they dropped what they were doing and ran for their menfolk. The men, in turn, ran to the grave and could not understand what they found. Within a few short months all of them, men and women alike, were traveling around telling the world that their teacher Yeshua had sacrificed himself so that all people, Jew and Gentile alike, could be granted entrance into heaven. Hundreds were baptized into this new faith, then thousands, then millions, until the political government itself became alarmed and sought to crush it entirely, only to find that for every believer burned as a human torch or fed to hungry animals ten more appeared. Then one of the leaders came into the faith. He, for his part, brought together elders from all over the civilized world in a council that met annually for over a decade to formalize the rituals, doctrines, and texts this new religion would observe.

It is impossible now to say what the world would look like if it were not for Easter Sunday. That, and that alone, should tell us clearly that if he is not risen, our world has no meaning whatsoever. Our culture, our values, our sense of right and wrong all depend upon a miracle in the rocky hills outside a crowded merchant city in the Middle East. If he is not risen, then history has no meaning. If history has no meaning, then life itself has no meaning. If life has no meaning, then why are so many people working so hard to sustain it, corrupt it, enhance it, enjoy it, or revile it? Since life has meaning, history itself has meaning, and since history itself has meaning, Christ must have risen and be even now seated on his throne in heaven.

It is the beauty of life that proves the lie of atheism. It is the ugliness of life that gives strength to the lie, but only if we accept that the pain and suffering life brings is somehow unnatural. It is only through pain and suffering that we learn to appreciate beauty. Without sorrow, happiness has no meaning. The women who approached the tomb felt their own sorrow as deeply as any of us feel it. All of them were intimate friends of Christ, and one of them was his mother. Their pain became shock, their shock became joy, their joy became us. We are what we are because of three women going about an ordinary task who stumbled on a miracle.

And that is the real meaning of Easter. Three women, racked with sorrow, who saw their sorrow transformed into joy. Those three women, even more than Peter and Paul, are the true founders of Christianity.

April 03, 2010

The real problem with modern America

The guy I stole this from stole it from somebody else. I first encountered an abbreviated version in 1989 or so on the Usenet Newsgroup alt.alt.alt.alt.alt, so it's been around awhile. It was true then, and it is just as true now:

Teaching Math through the decades

Last week a I purchased lunch at a local fast food joint for $4.58. I handed the cashier a $5 bill and started digging for some change. I pulled out 8 cents and gave it to her. She stood there with $5 and 8 cents. She looked bewildered, holding the nickel and 3 pennies in one hand while staring dumbfounded at the screen on her register. I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help. While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she burst into tears. The incident got me thinking about how our kids were learning math in school (or not).

Teaching Math In 1950: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5ths of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5ths of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1970: A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money. The cardinality of set "M" is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set "M." The set "C," the cost of production, contains 20 fewer points than set "M." Represent the set "C" as a subset of set "M." Answer this question: What is the cardinality of the set "P" of profits?

Teaching Math In 1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math In 1990: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees. (There are no wrong answers)

Teaching Math In 2000: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production including taxes, B.L.M. land-use lease fees, E.P.A. report filing fees, and O.S.H.A. inspection fees is $200. How does the I.R.S. determine that his taxable profit margin is $180?

Teaching Math in 2008: El hachero vende un camion carga por $100. La cuesta de production es ...

This is, of course, intended as a joke. Unfortunately, it is not funny to me because it illustrates all too well the basic problem we have in the modern United States: diluted education brought about through an increased emphasis on globalization.

There is a class of Americans who are disgustingly wealthy. They have more money then their families will be able to exhaust even if the next two dozen generations do not work. I envy these people greatly. There are individuals amongst them who give me no end of headache with the consequences their deep sense of guilt over their good fortune to be born into wealth produces when they become politically active.

I really hate rich people. And yet, every rich person I know personally I love dearly. These two emotions are not mutually exclusive. They are part and parcel of who I am, and also symptomatic of everything our nation is doing wrong. Too many people who are so wealthy they have no worries are terribly worried about what I think and as a result, they use their wealth to fund politicians and political agendas designed to make me like them so they can feel less guilty.

It won't work. It does not matter how much they convince the government to do, it will never be enough. What we really need is for all these elitists to stop feeling they are responsible for the welfare of all us lesser beings. They aren't. They are not responsible for what I think, how I feel, whether I have food in my cupboard, or whether I go broke after having a heart attack and being forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars in health care. It is not their responsibility to see to it that my life improves. It is my responsibility and mine alone.

And, like it or not, the same goes for you and your life, regardless of what kind of economic situation you were born into.

When I was a young man I believed we needed more social safety nets. I am not a young man anymore. Now I look out at obese people with wide-screen televisions, 300-channel satellite packages, warm homes, and running water, who spend their days writing to their political representatives begging for the government to do something about their lack of a job, the poor quality of all those television channels, or their kids being picked on at school, and all I can summon up in response is a profound nausea.

Schools should not be teaching morality. School textbooks should not be trying to introduce political sensitivity into every subject they teach. School teachers need to stop worrying about their own political agenda and start worrying about developing in their students the real skills they will need to function in a world of computers, hybrid automobiles, and space tourism. We need to stop preparing students who will become politically conscious adults with a burden for the poor and go back to preparing students to become engineers, rocket service technicians, flight line mechanics, and automotive diagnosticians.

Our children do not need an overactive conscience. Our children need real-world skills in mathematics, history, reading, composition, and critical thinking.