Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

On Safety classes

Another day, another round of safety classes. I strongly dislike safety classes. But, I have been paying attention as closely as my bored ears can take, since it seems like there are more ways to kill or cripple yourself on this job than there are ways to NOT kill or cripple yourself. I mean, who woulda thunk that a 60,000lb, top-heavy vehicle with about 6 different hydraulic lifts would be dangerous? It's not like the vehicle is too tall to go under many bridges, or can't lift either it's forks OR the box if there are wires around. C'mon, how many people have actually died from their vehicle hitting high voltage wires? Or how many people have died from unsecured locking pins falling off a truck? /sarcasm.

This job is dangerous. VERY dangerous. Every year, about 40 people die in garbage truck related accidents, just from the company I am working for. One mistake, one person forgetting one little step, one jackass not paying attention to what they are doing, and we have a dead person. Now, lest y'all think that the company I am working for is slacking the safety department, let me assure you, they are not. Ho boy, they are not. They have ten, count them, ten different safety regulations that, if violated, result in IMMEDIATE termination from the job. As they Regional Safety Manager told us, the company would rather have us unemployed, and still alive, then employed but dead. There are about seventy or eighty safety regulations that will only result in a warning if violated...for the first time. If they regulation is violated a second time, you get to have some more safety training, since you obviously didn't pay enough attention to the week-long class you had to take when you got hired, or the annual safety meetings you have to attend each year. A third time, start looking for another job. This company ain't screwin' around when it comes to safety. Seniority isn't even a protection against the safety regs. The company just will not employ someone who is a danger, either to themselves or others.

I just still hate sitting in an office building. I know it's important, and I have had my I-can't-believe-I-was-so-lucky reminders in the real world about how important safety is, and how important it is to pay attention, at ALL times. But, I just wish there was a way to get these important safety tips without having to sit in a classroom, watching videos, and being lectured to by the Regional Safety Manager. He is a least a cool guy, who has been where we are right now, learning how to sling trash safely. So, at least we don't have to listen to a stuffed shirt tell us a bunch of stuff that he has no clue about. But the classes are still boring me to tears.

Monday, August 23, 2004

On Chaos

Okay, I have a confession to make. It is a source of shame for me, so I have to get this off my chest, or else I will feel that every thing I have told you will be a lie.

I am a Fantasy Football geek.

Yep, that's me. I am one of those pinheads who watches a game, and doesn't care who wins, as long as MY PLAYER SCORES! Or my opponent's players don't. Heck, I have even cheered for my favorite team(s) to give up a bunch of points, just my players can get me some touchdowns! So, since my draft is coming up in about 6 days, I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss the situation in my Fantasy Football league, AFTER I talk about the NFL. I will give a warning when my football talk is going to end, and my geekness will begin.

I am a die-hard Green Bay Packer fan. I am (barely) old enough to remember Lynn Dickey throwing passes to Paul Coffman, and I grew up watching James Lofton catch passes. Also, I remember when the only two games us Packer fans cared about winning were the two games we played against Da' Bears. Which were the only two games we had a chance of winning, anyway. The Packers were just that bad.

I am also an Atlanta Falcons fan. I don't like to admit that much, since being a Falcons fan is kinda like being a Cubs fan, in baseball, only without the fan loyalty. The Falcons have just been a bad team, for a long time. But, I'm hoping that a certain young quarterback might help turn that around. It worked in Green Bay...with a former Falcons quarterback.

My next four favorite teams change from week to week, since those teams are whoever plays Da Bears, the Viqueens, the Cowgirls, and the Niners, in no particular order. And if two of those teams play each other, I hope for a tie, so both teams lose, since the odds of a God pointing at each team and saying "You BOTH lose" are quite slim.

On the AFC side of the ball, I could really care less. The Tennessee Titans are the only AFC team I can even muster the energy to care about, much less like or dislike. I happen to like the Titans, but not enough to watch them, or even see how they are doing. But, if they are on, and I happen to be watching, I will pull for them. Every other team in the AFC could dissappear tommorrow, and I don't think I would even notice until Week 9 of the season.

Okay, here is where the Geek Stuff starts, so, if you don't like FF Geekiness, GO AWAY! If you do, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Okay, it is a rule in Fantasy Football that running backs win championships. It is a rule that I learned WAY too late, but I have now at least learned it. So, the A-list, stud running back is worth WHATEVER you have to do to get him. In our league, though, this is going to get interesting.

Our league is awfully weird, compared to other leagues I have compared it to. We are a "keeper" league, which means we get to retain players from year to year, but we are also an "auction" league, which means you don't get a player just because you call out his name. We also have a MUCH higher salary-cap than most other auction leagues. (we have a $500 cap, most leagues have a $100 cap) Also, I have NEVER seen a Fantasy Football magazine rate players on a scale that even comes CLOSE to our scoring system. In other words, we have a lot of goofy rules, which makes it difficult, not impossible, but still difficult, to rate players according to the "professional" Fantasy Football geeks.

Now, one of the entertaining things about a "keeper-auction" league is free-agency. Since we can keep players from year to year, but we also have to bid on them, we have contracts for those players. So, if I sign Daunte Culpepper to my team for $69 (out of $500) in his rookie year, I will have him on my team for as long as I want him, or until his contract runs out, OR until the final year of his contract, when he becomes a restricted free-agent...when other teams can bid on him, I just have the option to match whatever salary is offered, to retain his services. So, restricted free-agents can cause a lot of havoc on a team that is trying to build around a stud-quality player. If the owner wants to retain the services of that player in his restricted year, he will usually have to pay, sometimes more than he really wanted to. Which can really ruin an owner's plans for his draft. (for the record, I DID get Culpepper, in his rookie year, for $69, AND got Donavan McNabb, the same year, for $15...too bad I forgot to get a running back)

Now that I have explained our Byzantine contract structure for our league, I want to tell you about the chaos that is going to be happening at our auction this year. It seems that all but three of the top ten, and five of the top fifteen, running backs are either unsigned free agents, or restricted free agents, this year. With Ricky "the Smoker" Williams taking a permanent vacation from the NFL, that now means that six of the top ten running backs in the NFL are now fair game in our league. I am not the only one who has noticed this, since I noticed EVERY team with one of those restricted free agent running backs has cut most of their team, to free up money for those backs. Now, to give you a little glimpse into the chaos that will be erupting, Ricky "the Inhaler" Williams was the highest paid running back, and player, in our league, at $190. The next TEN running backs, ranking-wise, don't make much less. So, there are going to be some BRUTAL bidding wars on these running backs. I would not be surprised to see owners having to pay half their salary cap to ONE player. I, for one, will only go as high as 40% of my cap, or $200. But the odds are, I can finally get that stud-running back who has been the missing link in my otherwise fine Fantasy Football team. One year, Stacey Mack was my best running back, and HE was the best running back available when I signed him.

Okay, enough geek-speak. I didn't really have anything to say today, but I feel guilty for not posting on Sunday, so I am trying to make it up today.

On random notes

Okay, I have a bit of writers block. I just can't seem to think of anything to write about, so, for now, I will write about nothing. I am a little drained from having my brain picked over this thing or that thing, so, my brain just shut off. Hopefully, in a day or two, my brain will restart, and I can get back to actually writing about stuff that matters.

The first day of work was...boring. VERY boring. The company I am working for requires that all their new drivers spend a week taking safety classes before actually training in their vehicles. Now, I know that safety classes are VERY important, especially when one is dealing with vehicles that are inherently more dangerous than normal trucks are, which is quite dangerous to begin with. But, great googgly-moogly, if I wanted to spend a week in an office attending meetings, I wouldn't be a truck-driver. I HATE being in an office. HATE, HATE, HATE it. I also strongly dislike spending time around other people. Which means I hate meetings, in an office, even more. One of the reasons I like being a truck driver is the solitude. No one around to bug me, or pester me with idiotic statements, or to do things that are so nonsensical as to cause me to want to strangle them, just to weed out the gene-pool. Oh, well. The meeting only last about 6 hours a day, but they will be paying me for 8 hours a day, so I can't complain TOO loudly. But I will still complain.

Another thing I can't stand is the IDEA of safety meetings. Safety is usually so common-sensical, I am offended that the classes are even needed. But, one of the reasons they are needed is that there is a lot of stupid in this world, and all of it seems to congregate around dangerous equipment. So, I know the classes are needed, I just hate the fact they ARE needed.

Also, we had to have a mini-class on ethics in the workplace. What a crock of...um, salad. Ethics are one of those things that you either have, or you don't have. You cannot be taught them. You have to live them. So, again, I have to sit through a class that really shouldn't need to be taught, but has to be, because of all the idiots out there.

Did I mention this job will pay me twice as much as my last job did? I admit it, I am mercenary. My tolerance for BS goes up in direct proportion to my economic compensation. And I am being compensated quite well (for this area, at least) so I will put up with the BS. Besides, it only lasts a week, and then I get to train on their vehicles for a week, and then I get to train on a route for a week. So, in two weeks, I will actually get to go out in a vehicle. With somebody along, so no solitude, but after two weeks of being trapped in the yard, or in an office, I will be happy for the change of scenery.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

On Fear

Way back when, before digital watches, Xerxes, Emperor of Persia, had one of the cities under his rule revolt. This city knew that it couldn't succeed without help from outside sources. So, this city sent emmissaries to every other country they could find. In Athens, the emmissaries found a sympathetic ear. The Athenians sent a token force to help this city out. The revolt was successful. This did not please Xerxes in the slightest. Neither did the help from a nation he had never heard of. So, he decided to punish Athens for its audacity. He gathered a HUGE army, to punish the Athenians, and, by implication, the Greeks. Athens then sent out a call to all of the Greek city-states for assistance. All of the cities were willing to help, but only Sparta could send help immediately, and not very much, at that. (Sparta was in the midst of a religious celebration, and wouldn't be done with it for a week or two. Spartans did NOT interrupt their religious celebrations, even for a good war.) Sparta did manage to muster up 300 warriors, led by their King, Leonidas, and accompanied by their shield-bearers. (you ever notice the poor servants are never included in any casualty count from the ancient times?) It was decided that the Greeks would face the Persians at Thermopylae, along the Adriatic coast. Someone would have to try and delay the Persians until the rest of the Greek city-states could muster their armies and navies. King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans volunteered for the duty. No, actually, they DEMANDED the duty. Because that is why they were there. To fight the Persians, and protect the other Greek city-states. Oh, I should mention that the Persian army was around 1,000,000 men...by almost every account. Most historians think the 1,000,000 man mark isn't too far off. But, anyway, King Leonidas and his Spartans stood at Thermopylae, facing Xerxes and his 1,000,000 man army. (2nd Amendment fans know what happened next....do the words "Molon labe" ring a bell?) For those of you who are dying of suspense, King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans held out for three days, and then were killed to a man. But, the Greek city-states used that time to gather their navies, and faced Xerxes at Marathon, where the Greeks were victorious. But, that's not what I care about right now. In fact, my recollection of the exact details may be a little off. But, what I am concerned with is King Leonidas and his Spartans.

You see, King Leonidas and his Spartans KNEW they were going to die. To them, the question was, HOW were they going to die? In their beds, as subjects of a conqueror, or on the field of battle, fighting to preserve what freedoms they had. (Not many, actually, but still more than as a subject of Persia...) What method of dying did they fear most? They feared dying WITHOUT fighting. To them, losing their freedoms was more frightening than death, or dismemberment, or even pain. Fighting to preserve those freedoms, EVEN UNDER PENALTY OF DEATH, was considered the mark of a man. Fear, not bravery, drove those Spartans to stand against insurmountable odds, and say "Come and get us, we're waiting for you". Okay, they may not have said those exact words, but we do know they offered to turn their weapons over to the Persians, if the Persians were willing to "come and get them". Anyway, at first blush, and many looks afterwards, most historians and lay-man would assume that the stand of Leonidas and his 300 at Thermopylae were the pinnacle of bravery in the face of certain death. I, on the other hand, look at them as cowards of the first order, and the world could use a few more cowards like them.

One of the benefits of the system of government laid out in the US Constitution is that EVERY citizen has a say in how their government is run. Now, that is no longer the case. Because too many people are too afraid of being labeled with a negative term to actually stand up for what is right, and to fight for their say in their govenrment. Or else too many people are too afraid to give up the few rights that are left to them to fight for the rights that the Constitution actually accords them. How else to explain the complacency that the American public seems to have towards our constant erosion of rights?

As someone who currently doesn't have a say in our political system right now, I view with some amused detachment the fights over "Rights" in our society. When some knucklehead politician proposes a law that infringes on our rights, there is the usually some rather heated discussion about the law, but, in the end, the majority of people just throw up their hands and say "whatever!". They give up. Yet when some group or other wants to fight for a PRIVELEGE, the fight goes on for decades! Loss after loss after loss doesn't deter them. Each victory emboldens them. Each defeat makes them try that much harder. Am I the only one who is confused by this?

I suppose I should take a minute or two and explain what a right is. A right is a something that EVERYONE has, without any actions from outside agencies. The right to free speech exists because no one can prevent you from saying, or writing, what you want, short of killing you. They don't have to help you do it, but that is different from actually trying to stop you. The right to keep and bear arms is a right, because no one can stop you from doing it. If someone actually manages to take away your firearms, you can arm yourself with blades. If someone takes those away, you can arm yourself with clubs. If someone takes THOSE away, you can arm yourself with rocks. If someone is patient enough to take THOSE away, you still have your fists. The right to keep and bear arms cannot be taken away. It can only, as the Constitution states, be infringed. Or limited. The right to not incriminate yourself? One of the most basic rights ever. No one can stop you from lying about what you did. The Constitution just says you don't have to lie to keep from admitting your guilt. You just have to not say anything. *sigh* I wish more people would exercise that right...the not saying anything part.

Many of the things that pass for rights in our society are actually priveleges. The right to health care? A privelege. If there were no health care workers near you, you wouldn't be able to get health care. So, health care is a privelege, because SOMEONE ELSE has to give it to you. If that someone else is required to give it to you, then THEIR rights are being violated. And rights never violate anyone else's rights. The right to a vote? A privelege. And one of the greatest priveleges given to a society by a government. If you think the right to vote isn't a privelege, go to Saudi Arabia and try casting a ballot for the opposition party.... Since the right to vote is actually a privelege, I am always astonished at the number of people who don't exercise that privelege. But, hey, that's just me. I didn't vote in the first (and only) two elections I was eligible to vote in, so I guess I can't complain too loudly. But that was then. This is now.

Back to the matter at hand, though. In our society, we have been entertained with the Gay Rights movement for, oh, at least 20 years that I've been aware of. But what are they fighting for? The same thing the Abortion Rights movement has been fighting for: the "right" to have as much indiscriminate sex as they want, with no repercussions, such as disease, pregnancy, or, Heaven fordid, any one telling them that they are sluts, or might just be immoral. Are those really rights? Or just priveleges? When one looks at it, one realizes that they are just priveleges. Because the rights they purport to want infringe on other people's rights, so must be priveleges. Yet common American's are too afraid to actually stand up for their own rights to fight the infringement of their rights by these privelege seekers! The privelege seekers have nothing to fear. If they don't get their priveleges, they are in the same situation they were in before they started. If they DO get their priveleges, they get to have more priveleges. The only ones who should be afraid are the ones who actually ARE afraid...to stand up for themselves.

I have been asked what I would do if I woke up one day to find out that a right of mine had been taken away. I thought that question to be one of the most nonsensical questions I have ever heard, because there is NO WAY I would allow my rights (the few I actually have remaining) to be taken away without a good old fashioned dust up. If my rights were still taken away, because I lost, that wouldn't stop me from picking myself up for Round 2. Or Round 3. Or Round 15. Or Round 36. Because the only way my rights could be taken away is if I LET SOMEONE TAKE THEM! And I have NO intention of letting someone do that. I lost most of my rights due to a youthful indiscretion, and have precious few rights to spare. Oh, and just for the record, I can get those rights back just about anytime I want...so my assertion that I let those rights be taken away still stands. I have just been too lazy to clear my record, so, by inaction, I have let those rigths be denied to me. I just haven't felt the urge to get the rights I don't have re-instated, because they just haven't affected my life all that much. But it is on my list of things to do.

To bring this back full circle, what are YOU afraid of? Are you afraid of people not liking you? Get over it. The numbers of people who won't like you, for no apparent reason, would almost drive you to suicide. Are you afraid of pain? Get over it. Pain heals. Pain is actually God's way of letting you know you are still alive. Are you afraid of Death? Become a Christian. Death is almost a reward, rather than a punishment, or something to fear. (I don't mean to imply that Christians should be SEEKING Death, just that they shouldn't be afraid of it) Afraid of servitude? Don't be a slave. Slaves don't fight back. Free men (and women, of course) do fight back. Leonidas and his 300 men were more afraid of being slaves than they were of dying. Can you say the same?

Oh, and Leonidas and his 300 Spartans were gay. Queer as three dollar bills, they were. Doesn't change their stand one bit.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

On excuses

Okay, one more excuse, and then I'll get to blogging like a good little minion...

Yesterday, I didn't blog because my important task was still unfinished (still is unfinished, but the danger zone has been passed through), and I really needed to devote all my attention to the task. So, nothing from last night.

Tonight, however, my head feels better than it did this morning, if that's any consolation. It seems that yesterday, while I was at my third-to-last day at work, all of the dust at work finally decided to bother my poor, weakened sinuses... to the point where my sinuses launched a revolt. This morning. On my second-to-last day of work...Good Grief, I feel like a horse's ass for calling in sick one day before my last day of work. But my head was KILLING me... Now, it's only a minor irritant. No worse than when I try to figure out what John F'ing Kerry just said.

So, as a result of said rebellion by my sinuses, I won't be posting tonight, either. But, I have some drafts under construction right now, so I'm hoping I can get some good stuff up in the next couple of days. Maybe even good enough to make up for me being such a wimp...

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

On happy tidings

Yay for me! On Monday, August 23rd, at 8:30AM, I start my new job! Now, I just have to work up the nerve to gut through three more days of the most boring, tedious job I have ever held...

It doesn't help that I figured out that I can not go to work for the next three days, and STILL make more money in two weeks than I would if I stayed at this current job...kinda makes it hard to want to go to work, when you realize that you won't really miss the money from your job that you don't like.

Oh, well, as Paul told us to do, I work as unto the Lord. I'm not working for me, nor am I working for my boss. I am working for the Living God, the Lord of Hosts. So, off to work I go. I just don't have to like it.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

On priorities

Due to something FAR more important than my opinions on the issues of the day, I am not going to have time to post tonight. It's not an emergency, or even all that bad, but take my word for it. If you were doing what I am doing right now, you might not even think of putting up this post.

And no, it isn't sexual, either.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

On state's rights

Since I was asked to delve a little deeper into the concept of "state's rights", I will. Today, we will be talking about Federal funding of anything, and how that violates the rights of states, and the citizens of those states.

Nowhere in the US Constitution is Congress authorized to spend ANY citizen's money on another citizen, or for another citizen's benefit. Congress is only authorized to spend money on the benefit of the nation, and country, as a whole. Not for part of the citizenry, but for all of the citizenry. So, since the military and Interstate system benefit ALL Americans, Congress can authorize spending. AIDS research, not so much.

You see, Federal funding of disease research only benefits the few people who have to live with the disease. Not those of us who don't have that disease. So, Federal funding is NOT Constitutionally authorized. Since I am in the lowest possible risk factor for AIDS (heterosexual male, non-IV drug user, non-sexually active, non-hemophiliac, no recent surgeries, and no surgeries planned), money spent on AIDS research does not benefit me in the slightest. In fact, it has a negative effect on my welfare, as my share of tax-dollars spent on AIDS research could be better spent BY me, ON me. Any money I spend goes into the tax system, thereby enhancing the Federal budget, rather than taking away from my ability to spend, which decreases the Federal budget.

Oh, a quick aside here on some basic economics. Government employees cannot pay taxes. It's impossible for them to do so. A Federal employee CAN pay SOME state taxes, and a state employee can pay SOME Federal taxes (less Federal taxes than you would think, since most states receive Federal funding, but the Federal government doesn't receive as much back from the states), but a state employee cannot pay ANY state taxes, in any way, shape or form. A government employee is paid out of tax revenue. A government employee then gives some of their wages back to the government, as "taxes". To explain this in a different way, if I gave you $100, but asked for $25 back, to pay me for the ability to pay you, you would only get $75. Who cares how long you held on to it. You still only received $75 from me. And then I'm going to ask you for more of that money back, to help me pay you. Ponzi's name is still reviled for a scheme like this. And some morons in this country elect politicians who make Ponzi look like an amatuer. Sad, really.

Anyway, since I, and actually the majority of Americans, do not gain ANY benefit from AIDS research, it is a violation of the Constitution to require us to pay for it.

By the way, I am not opposed, in the SLIGHTEST, to research into a cure for AIDS. I am just opposed to me, and other Americans, being REQUIRED to fund research into AIDS, or any other disease, for that matter. It just so happens that there is a real cheap preventative measure for AIDS: it's called "abstinence". Also, no hypodermic needles outside of a medical facility is a good thought, also. But I digress.

An even greater Constitutional debacle is the Department of Education. If the Founding Fathers were all Hell-bent on education being a Federal issue, they would have created a Department of Education in the US Consitution. But, since they didn't, we now get to look at those pesky Ninth and Tenth Amendments again, to see what they felt. That's right. They left it up to the states. You seeing a pattern, on how our government is supposed to be administered, yet?

I guess the most concise way I could state this would be to say that just about anything that isn't specifically authorized as an expenditure in the US Constitution is a matter that the Founding Father's wanted to be left up to the states. Want funding for the Disease du Jour? Get it from the state you live in. Or, better yet, get some private citizens to pay for it. Want welfare? Convince your neighbors to pay for it, not the citizens in another state. Nowhere in the Constitution is taking money from one citizen to GIVE it to another citizen authorized. And that's all Federal funding of research and "safety nets" and education is: legalized theft. Because I personally have not benefited one iota from the Department of Education, and neither has any other American. Welfare has been a boondoggle since it's inception, and is just you and I paying for someone else's misfortunes. And Federal research money is just theft, plain and simple.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have no problem with those things being funded. BUT, not with MY money, AGAINST my will. If I want to send money to an organisation that does research into curing a disease, let me make that decision. If the state I live in wants to fund that research, I can always move to another state. If a person doesn't want to be educated, no amount of money from the Feds will help them. Now, I'm just funding an expensive ignoramus. And if I want to help those who are down on their luck, let me do it with my own money. Direct contributions have no management fees, and I can place whatever stipulation on the money I want. (I personally don't place stipulations on my aid, but I also don't have much money FOR aid, due to obscene taxes, and all those people getting MY money without my consent already) In all of these cases, the state I live in can stipulate that money will be spent on those issues, and, if I don't like it, I can move. Which, truth be told, I am. Mainly because of the money that is being taken out of MY wallet, to pay for things I do not use, nor will I ever use. (Just so y'all know, I have been fired more times than I care to discuss, and the only time I have EVER even APPLIED for unemployment was when I was laid off due to winter...I was goin back to the job in the spring, and just needed the money to pay my bills until I reported back to work. Otherwise, I won't collect unemployment. Ever.)

On a final note, and as another aside, one of the ways that Federal funding in minimized in the eyes of the electorate is the mythical "dollars per taxpayer". You see, 10% of the population pays 75% of the taxes. So, I can't possibly be paying "my fair share" of any Federal research grant, since I don't make enough money to be in that top 10%. The bottom 50% of taxpayers pay less than 5% of the taxes, so they pay even less than I do. So, it is a relatively (and I do mean "relatively", since the top 10% make over $75,000/year...not all that much, when you think about it) small percentage of people who are funding ALL of the programs in America, if you consider that the bottom 90% don't even pay enough in taxes to fund the neccessities, like Federal road projects, or the military. And since that top 10% could be putting their money to more EFFICIENT use funding those programs themselves, it doesn't make any sense to make them pay for programs that they most likely don't need. But, hey, that's just me. I like it when my boss has more money. It means I'm getting a raise soon.

Friday, August 13, 2004

On trust

In my mis-spent youth, I was an "Applied Psychology Entrepeur". Which is one of the most hated professions in the world. You see, an APE (acronym completely unintentional) thrives on betrayal of trust. Your local "Private Independent Pharmecuetical Entrepeneur" is more trust-worthy than an APE. You see, when you purchase your pharmecueticals from your local street-corner provider, if you don't get what you pay for, you don't go back. So, the street-corner provider has to be trustworthy, at least as far as his product goes. An APE, on the other hand, deals in mistrust. Lies are their commodity. Deception is what you are paying for, and half-truths are only sold on special. But, don't ever lie to an APE. They don't like that. It makes their job more difficult.

In order to be an APE, one has to have several skills, in abundance, and with near-mastery. One of those skills is rapid character evaluation, or being able to determine someone's character in less than five minutes. It's not a skill that one can learn over night, nor is it easy to teach, even with the plethora of books on the subject. The way to learn it, in my case at least, is with YEARS of observation and attentiveness to what people say, compared with what they do. I have always been able to blend in to a crowd, even if that crowd is only three people. So, for most of my school years, I was able to listen in on conversations, and then follow the speakers around, and hear their other conversations, and also watch what the speakers did after their listeners were no longer around. And what I learned about people soured me on personal interaction for almost two decades.

You see, I learned that people are generally opposites of who they pretend to be. So, the most insecure people I have met were really VERY competent at what they did, they just never thought they were doing it well enough to suit themselves. Or the most confident people I met were rather incompetent, and were really not all that good at what they did. In addition, I found that the people who were the most enamored of their level of education were rather stupid, and those who were apologetic of their education were highly intelligent. As a person who pardoxically thrived on honesty to tell my lies, I found that I couldn't stand to be around people who were living lies. I just started out trying to make points to people about themselves, and then learned that they weren't learning what I was teaching. So, I decided to make some money off of them. It worked for a few years, until I coulnd't stand to look at the liar I had to look at everday in the mirror. So, I quit. But, the lessons I learned on human behavior are still with me. And I still use them.

One of the lessons I still practice is "the guilty accuses first". Or, the person who is guilty of the crime, or sin, is the one who usually lobs the first charges of it against others. I have read somewhere that the police use this to very good effect to solve murders, as the person who first calls in the murder is usually (not always) the one who committed it.

We can also see this in the "race card" played on a daily basis by some of our politicians. You know the ones. The ones who say it is racist to say that a black man is capable of succeeding on his own, without government help. I think Gen Benjamin O. Davis, and his son Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, JR. would disagree with those people. You see, both Gen. Davis's graduated from West Point, as black men, when black men weren't even allowed to serve in the US Army, except as stewards and stevedores. Yet, the senior Gen Davis graduated from West Point, as the first black man to even attend, much less graduate, in the 1800's! And his son also graduated from West Point, some 20 or 30 years later, as one of the first five black men to ever graduate! When World War II broke out, Gen Davis, JR, was one of the most experienced combat pilots in the US Army, so he was put in charge of the first US Army Air Corps pilot school for black men, at Tuskeegee, AL. At the time, Gen Davis was only a Col., but he knew the deck was stacked against him. He KNEW that he was only being allowed to teach these young black men to fly, just so the racists (in the Democrat party, for the record) could say "See! We told you black men weren't smart enough to fly!" He told his first class that they were allowed ZERO mistakes. Not one. Col Davis was aware that any mistake, no matter how common in white candidates, or how simple, would be an excuse to stop the "experiment" and relegate black men to subservient role in the US Army, possibly forever. He almost got that zero-mistake ratio, and the one mistake made by one of his cadets almost shut the school down. But he still had the fewest amount of fatalities of any pilot school, and proved, conclusively, that black men COULD compete with white men. Although, compete wouldn't be the best term, since it wasn't a fair fight. The black men were superior in ability, and education, and motivation, to their white counterparts. So, it wasn't a level playing field. The black men had all the advantages, and proceeded to perform far and above the ability of their white counterparts. The fighter wing that was eventually formed out of the Tuskeegee pilot classes had the distinction of NEVER (that means NOT ONCE!) having a bomber that they escorted shot down by enemy aircraft. (The bombers downed by flak they can be forgiven for, as fighters don't do much good against flak.) No wing flown by white pilots even came close. Or even REMOTELY close. Or even within 50 bombers close. And there is a political party that tells us we have to help out the black man, to give him a fair shot. My ass. Take away the incentives for them to do nothing, and they will succeed far beyond what we can imagine. They have done it in the past. Let them do it again.

Another area where we can find the guilty accusing first is in the area of religion. In my observations, the people who are the most vocal about this person or that person going to Hell because of their sins usually have quite a few sins of their own to deal with. It is as if they are trying to use the Spanish Inquisition's methods to gain access to Heaven: If I consign enough people to Hell, God will see that I am serious about getting into Heaven. Bullshit. Flagrant bullshit. 15-yards-and-loss-of-down Flagrant bullshit. We are ALL going to Hell, without the intervention of God, through His son, Jesus the Christ. I believe Jesus had something to say about this. Something about a mote and a beam, and the locations thereof.

This is a thread that I am not sure I can do justice to, in the amount of time and space I have available. So, I will probably keep revisiting this one. Like I don't have enough threads to revisit... Oh, well, at least I'll always have something to post about.

On mortality

Okay, I will admit it. I am very callous towards death. I don't know if it was my very miserable childhood, where I kinda learned to not like people, or if it was because I had faced my mortality at a rather young age, or if it is just because I am what I jokingly call a "passive suicidal", meaning I don't much worry about whether I live or die. In any case, I don't react to death the way most people do. I don't freak out about it, and I rarely get emotional over someone's death. Several times, I have even had to fake emotions to get people to stop staring at me, like I was a freak.

Yesterday (Thursday) kinda drove that point home to me. I was at my trained-monkey, mind-numbingly boring job, unloading carts of engineered rocks, when one of my co-workers, who isn't the most industrious worker in the world, but is better than most of the other morons there, stopped unloading. I stepped past him to keep working, muttering nasty comments under my breath (it's really loud 8 feet from a kiln, REALLY loud, so he didn't here me), and grabbed the next container. As I dumped my container, I saw my co-worker do a faceplant onto the concrete floor. Now, it's hot where we work, as we are never more than 20 feet from a 4000 degree F kiln (it's not 4000 F outside of the kiln, but the bricks still radiate a lot of heat. It's usually over 100 F on a cool day. On a hot day, it's in the 130s), so I first thought he had passed out from the heat. It was a cool day, but I've seen people pass out in cooler temperatures from heat-exhaustion, just because they didn't think they could overheat on a cool day. (you can) Then, I thought maybe he had passed out from a sugar low, as he is a Type 1 Diabetic. Then, I noticed that he had managed to clutch his left pectoral as he fell, and his breathing was awfully shallow. So, now my thinking is "heart attack". So, what do I do? I start trying to analyze the situation, and figure out what I should do. After a minute, maybe more, maybe less, (time moves really weird when one is faced with a crisis) someone says "go get the Tom (the plant manager)". Now, my thought is, "what is Tom going to be able to do that we can't?", but I go anyways. Not running, as it would do no good for my co-worker for me to trip and fall and hit my head on a machine while trying to get him help. That would delay his help even longer, and then I would get to join him in an ambulance ride. I really don't like being in ambulances. Al (the general manager) and Tom go racing back to where our work-area, and someone has finally decided to call 911. By this point, though, I can see Curtis (my co-worker) is breathing. Shallowly, for sure, but he is breathing. I can also see him trying to move his legs. He can't, but I can see him trying. Now, to me, these are all good signs, so I immediately go into "safe" mode, and start looking for work to do. The microscopically polite part of me says "STOP! You idiot! Your co-worker is lying there, probably with a heart-attack, and you want to start stepping over him, just to do some work!?" So, I stood around and watched him do nothing with everyone else. Today, it was confirmed. He had a heart-attack. It was a minor heart attack, and Curtis wanted to come back to work today, but Tom and Al told him to stay home and get better, and if he felt up to it on Monday, then they would think about letting him come back. If it were me, I would think about taking a week off, just to be on the safe side. But, I would also want to get back to work, mainly because I get bored easily, so I can understand Curtis's desire. But, he's got a wife to support.

So, enough morbidity. What my experience with Curtis's heart-attack did, though, was get my mind focused on my own inevitable mortality. I know I am not making it out of here alive, so I am not going to spend any effort trying to delay the inevitable. What I will do, though, is spend effort making my time here worthwhile.

At almost every funeral, there is a string of people who all have stories about how good the honoree was. Now, I have been to funerals, and I know for a FACT that many of those stories are just attempts to not speak ill of the dead. But I have also been to a funeral where a manufacturing plant had to shut down, because everyone on their first shift asked off to attend the funeral. Now THAT is respect. Since it was my grandfather's, I was especially awed. I KNEW he was a great man. I just didn't realize that 700+ other people agreed with me. So, at every funeral, everyone is going to say nice things about the honoree. The difference is, do they mean it?

In all of the funerals I have been to, not once have I ever heard someone say "Well, Bill was making $60,000 by the time he was 19, and he managed 5000 employees by the time he was 35." Nope. Not once. Why? Because no one cares about that shit. What they care about is, how did Bill treat other people? Because, in the end, that is all that anyone will remember about anyone, including you and me. So, why do people brag about how much money they make, or how many things they have, or who they know, since no one will care about those things when they are gone. Nope, all they will care about is "How did they treat me?".

Since I discovered my callous attitude towards death, I have been freed, in a way, to do things that others place no importance on. Since I am aware that I could die at any time, I live my life as if I am trying to write my eulogy ahead of time. So, I don't worry about how much money I make, since no one will care when I die. I don't care about getting the credit for good ideas, since no one will remember when I die. I don't worry about people respecting me, since I'll know how much they respect me when I die. What I do worry about, though, is whether or not they'll be telling the truth when they tell all and sundry about how good of a person I was, while I was still alive. While I have no control over what people think about me, I do have total control over my actions and speech, so I can control what events those people form those thoughts about. And THAT, I can tell you, can confuse some people.

When I buy a new computer game, if I don't like it, I don't return it, or even re-sell it. I give it away. And rarely to a friend of mine. I usually give it away to someone at work. If I am asked to lend someone money, if I have it, I give it, and don't expect it back. If I borrow money, I pay it back, as quickly as I can. If someone asks for my assistance, I render it, and will refuse payment. If someone wants to buy a smoke off of me (yes, I smoke), I won't accept the money. I buy sodas for people I don't like, and refuse the sodas they try to buy me in return. I don't allow anyone to buy me a drink, yet I will buy drinks for others. None of these things is an attempt to buy friendship. Rather, they are attempts to be as good of a person as I can be, without asking anything in return. To quote a old saying, I am attempting "neither a borrower nor a lender be". Because I do nice things for people because they are nice things to do, and I feel that I will negate the nice-ness if I accept anything REMOTELY like repayment in return. I have learned that doing the nice thing, simply because it is nice, is far more repayment than anyone can provide for me.

If you haven't thought about what people will say about you when you have passed on, I would implore you to do so. If you cannot honestly say that people will actually be telling the truth when they say how nice you are, I would suggest that you start taking steps to not make liars of them. Because, if you are a Christian, you are just as damned for causing someone to lie, even about you, as the person who lies, even about you.

Think about it. You might not like the answers you get, but you need to hear them anyway. If you ARE a Christian, ask God for His assistance. If you are not, then do what you have to do.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

On being computer illiterate

Okay, I know that this is yet another delay to me posting, but, if I try and compose anything longer than this post, I will be tempted to break my computer. And it's not paid off yet, so I don't want to do that. Yet.

Either my Internet connection is screwy, or I really hate Mozilla. I'm not sure yet. I'm not going to find out tonight, because my blood-pressure is spiking as I type. So, after a day of, um, calming down, I should be able to get something up tommorrow. I might even try and get two or three up tommorrow, to make up for not my lack of diligence in posting this past week or two. Heck, I might even spend the better part of the weekend posting. But, we'll see.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

On handy definitions

According to Wikipedia,, a state is defined as follows:

In international law and international relations, a state is a political entity possessing sovereignty, i.e. not being subject to any higher political authority. But, as noted below, the "state" can also be defined in terms of domestic conditions, specifically the role of the monopolization of force within a country. Of course, different political philosophies differ in their interpretation of the actual and ideal roles of the state.

The definition of "state" in the meaning of political subdivisions of some countries, is related as it emphasizes the intention of a confederation where these state governments are seen as possessing some powers independently of the federal government. Often these states existed before their creation of a federal régime.

A nation is defined as:

A nation is a group of people sharing aspects of their language, culture and/or ethnicity.

Shortly after the definition of "state" given above, Wikipedia, has this to say about the differences between a "state" and a "nation":

In casual language, the idea of a "state" and a "country" are usually regarded as synonymous, although some speakers, notably in the United States, make efforts to use "country" or "nation" for the sovereign entities. Others would primarily understand "the State" as a synonym for "the Government", or be careful to distinguish between a territorial "country" and a "nation" of people. Confusingly, the terms "national" and "international" are both used as technical terms applying to states, see country.

Now, using the above (correct) definitions of "state" and "nation", some things about the USA and it's history will make MUCH more sense to the semi-educated observer.

For instance, when we look at what the letters "US" stand for, and then realize that there were quite a few lawyers amongst the Founding Fathers, we may start to look at The United STATES of America a little differently. You see, in the very name of the COUNTRY I call home, is the idea that each and every STATE of the United STATES is a seperate, SOVERIEGN, entity. A casual reading of the US Constitution would only reinforce this observation. What does that mean to us?

What that means to us is our rights are being trampled on by our government. Every American I know has a favorite Amendment to the US Consitution. For many, it is the First, for others, the Second. For some, it should be the Fifth. I actually have two. The Ninth :

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

and the Tenth:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Interesting, no? The US Constitution specifically declares, in no uncertain terms, that the PEOPLE, and to a lesser extent, the STATES of the Union, have all powers not specifically mentioned in the US Consitution. Based upon my (limited) knowledge of what the Founding Father's intended with the Bill of Rights, it would seem to me that these two Amendments were the ONLY reason the Bill of Rights ever was ratified! It seems that the major opposition to the Bill of Rights was not whether or not those rights were entitled to the populace, but rather whether or not they even had to be enumerated. Many of the opponents of the Bill of Rights felt that, as soon as rights were enumerated in the Constitution, that future generations would make the assumption that those were the ONLY rights granted by the Federal Government. So, the Ninth and the Tenth Amendments seem to have been included to assuage the fears of the opponents of the Bill of Rights.

In a nutshell, the Ninth and the Tenth Amendment are the two amendments that lead to the battle-cry of "States rights! States rights!". And that is a good thing. The states of the US are NOT just little subdivisions of governments to make gerrymandering a little easier. The states of the United States are all independent countries, bound together by a treaty obligation called the US Constitution. This is something that is so basic to the understanding of how our government is supposed to work that I am amazed that it is not more common knowledge. I personally grew up thinking of a "state" as a subdivision of a country, because that was the impression I was given by all of my social studies classes. And I know I am not the only one who was left with this impression. It was only after I learned what the ACTUAL definition of a "state" was, combined with trying to define what the United States of America actually meant, that I was struck with what the Constitution actually was saying about how our government is SUPPOSED to work. And the United States is not some sort of political abberation, either. Germany is a collection of states, some with more autonomy than others (Bavaria, Hamburg, and Bremen come to mind), and Great Britian is an ENTIRELY different country than England (call a Scotsman or a Welshman English someday. Do it twice, and win a trip to the Emergency Room!). Switzerland is a collection of "states" so diverse, they need four languages just to make everyone happy. Where the US was, and is, different, is the amount of AUTONOMY that our form of government is suppossed to accord to the states, or signatories to the treaty, if it helps you think of it that way.

States rights was one of the arguements used AGAINST the abolition of slavery, and FOR the rights of the Southern states to secede from the Union. I know this will sound bad, but in the first case, the Southern states had a point. The Founding Fathers never addressed the slavery issue directly in the US Constitution, because, while many of them felt slavery was abhorrent, they didn't want to dissolve the Union over one sticking point. The anti-slavery members of the Constitutional Congress, and even some of the pro-slavery members, decided to leave it up to each individual state to determine whether or not slavery would be legal, with the understanding that states would each abolish slavery on their own. Since the Southern states weren't all that fired up about abolishing slavery on their own, some well-meaning, but ill-advised, politicians decided to try and abolish slavery by Federal fiat, because they were too lazy, frankly, to use the Amendment process to abolish it Constitutionally. Which lead to the US Civil War. Where the arguement FOR the ability of states to secede from the Union was a sore spot for the President, as he was not sure whether or not the Southern states actually had the right to secede. Fortunately for the Union, some nutcases in South Carolina took the matter out of his hands, and fired at Ft. Sumter, turning the arguement away from the rights of states to secece, and to the putting down of an armed rebellion, which the President DID have the right to stop. So, the groundwork of the US Civil War was laid by anti-slavery knuckleheads who didn't want to follow the Amendment process, and started by pro-slavery knuckheads who didn't want the Amendment process to go through. Not following the Constitution lead to the bloodiest war in US history.

Today, because of precedents started during the US Civil War, the US Constitution is routinely ignored, because advocates of Big Government, and even some advocates of Smaller Government, don't want to follow the US Constitution. When the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that there is a "right to privacy" in the US Constitution, which allowed abortion, they trampled all over the US Constitution. The right to privacy can EASILY be interpreted from the US Constitution, by using the Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments, but how does that allow a woman to kill her child? Besides, a person forfeits their right to privacy the INSTANT they step out into public, since no one has the right to demand that onlookers avert their eyes to avoid seeing the person who wants their privacy maintained. So, while the right to privacy CAN be found in the US Constitution, it only applies in very narrow circumstances, such as one's home, with the curtains drawn. Once it is available for all to see, it isn't privacy anymore. So, using the right to privacy to defend one's public actions makes no sense.

Another area that is supposed to be in the purview of State's Rights is religion. The US Constitution specifically forbids the Federal Government from endorsing any one religion, or preventing the free expression of religion. It says nothing about whether or not STATES have the right to do so. Actually, it does. Since the First Amendment specifically mentions CONGRESS "shall make no law", using the Ninth and the Tenth Amendments, we find that each STATE may pass such laws. I am not neccessarily an advocate of any state USING that power, but the state has the right to do so, if the state's laws permit it. Because, if I don't like that state's laws, I just don't have to live there. And that, my friends, it the heart and soul of what the name of our country means.

The US Constitution, which created the United States of America from the ashes of the Revolutionary War and the failed government that followed, is based wholly on freedom. A state has the freedom, within certain parameters, to pass any law it sees fit for the governance of it's population, and the population of each state has the right to LEAVE that state if they find the state's laws to be not to their liking. Any other interpretations of the US Constitution are wholly at odds with the Founding Father's intent, and unConstitutional, to boot.

Tommorrow, I will discuss the "nation" part of this thought, unless y'all want me to keep holding forth on state's rights. I doubt y'all do, but if you do, let me know.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

On frustration

Grrrr. My site counter keeps going up, but my comments never get added to. If y'all think what I've just written is pure bunk, say so in the comments. If you like it, say so in the comments. If you just want to troll, say so in the comments. I'll delete you if you are an idiot troll, but do it anyway!

Okay, enough ranting and raving. Maybe the people are just passing through on their way to another site...yeah, that's it. I'm just a resupply stop. At least, that's what I'll tell myself.

On new links

If you will direct your attention to the Evil Sidebar of Doom, you will notice a link under my blogroll that is highlighted in red. That link is to a blog written by a soldier in Iraq. If you haven't read his blog, do so. If you have, continue to do so. He is at the sharp end of the spear, protecting us. While I am a little better about polished writing than he is, he has a much better grasp of what is important than I do. I will now visit his site at least once a day, to see what is REALLY going on. I would suggest you do the same.

Semper Fi, soldier. Ernie Pyle would be proud of you.

On lack of patience

I had my physical for my new job today. It was a standard Federal Medical CDL physical, with a job-performance physical added. The job-performance physical was one of the easiest things I have ever had to do, since it was no harder than what I've been doing for the past six or seven years. The Fed-Med physical, on the other hand, has me a little worried. I might have failed the vision portion of it, but they gave me my card anyway, so I shouldn't be worried. But I'm going to anyway.

Anyhow, I now have to wait until next Monday to find out if the background check and physical were acceptable. I don't want to wait. I want an answer now. Especially since I've already turned in my two-week notice to my current employer. *sigh* I hate waiting.

On politicking from the pulpit

One of the things that the Dialectic Materialists (DM's) want to prevent with the mythical "seperation of church and state" is ministers endorsing certain candidates from their pulpits. While the US Constitution actually allows this, it would not be a Good Thing™ for the DM's. And it can be demonstrated that NOT allowing ministers to endorse specific politicians is un-Constitutional, if the "seperation of church and state" is actually Constitutional. But, the question that SHOULD be asked by Christians is, should ministers even be endoring politicians in God's House? I'll deal with all of these in today's Random Firings of Neurons.

First of all, ministers do not give up their citizenship in the United States of America by becoming ministers. So, they do not give up their rights, as citizens, to speak about whatever topic they want, just because they are ministers. So, if a minister so choses, he is allowed, under the US Constitution, to speak about ANYTHING he wants, even from the pulpit. The DM's don't want this. Because, if a minister actually knows the Word of God, he would be able to instruct his flock on what candidates and politicians are the closest to following God's will. If that were the case, then DM politicians, and their parties, would be opposed in an unregulated (for a reason) arena: the churches. So, DM politicians have rammed through some rather punitive laws, all aimed at taking away ministers, and only ministers, right to free speech. Those laws are aimed at revoking the tax-exempt status that churches get, if a minister so much as even MENTIONS a politician in a sermon. Although, to date, the only ministers charged under such laws have committed the cardinal sin of speaking ill of candidates from only one party, or speaking favorably of candidates from the other party. Three guesses which party has been spoken ill of, and the first two guesses don't count.

When a DM minister gets up to the pulpit, he almost invariably starts endorsing a specific candidate, for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the Word of God. Since DM ministers do this, they automatically assume that non-DM ministers also do the same thing. Which may be true in some cases. BUT, that has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether or not a minister, DM or not, has the RIGHT to endorse a candidate from the pulpit. ALL ministers, even the dreaded Dialectic Materialist minister, have the right to endorse, or not endorse, or even criticize, ANY candidate, even from the pulpit. To say they don't, based on "seperation of church and state" is preposterous. You see, ministers are still US citizens (unless they aren't), so they still have First Amendment rights. Now, Christians (I don't know about other religions, so I won't speak of them) are told to think of themselves as citizens of another Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. BUT, they are still citizens of their nations of choice. Now, taking away a minister's right to free speech, just because he is a minister, would seem to be based on the minister's citizenship in the Kingdom of God. THAT is a blatantly religious stance, and has NO legal backing. So, the assumption that a minister is a citizen of the Kingdom of God, so has no more Constitutional protection, is a violation of the "seperation of church and state", since the legal process originated from a definitely religious belief. Which, the DM's are quick to point out, is supposedly no way to run a government. And yes, I have heard Church-and-State-ers use that arguement. Christian church-and-state-ers, no less.

Now, on to the real meat of the thought. Should ministers be endorsing candidates from the pulpit? No. They should not. They have the legal right to, under the US Constitution, but they shouldn't exercise that right, just because they have it. Christianity is based on free choice, even if those choices are ill-advised. By endorsing a candidate from the pulpit, the minister is running the risk of having it appear that God endorses that candidate. Even if God did, He wouldn't interfere with our right to vote for the wrong candidate. In addition, a minister should have done his job well enough in the previous sermons to instill a desire in his flock to consult God DIRECTLY on the matter. It is possible, though unlikely, given today's political climate, that there may be two candidates who, while not perfect (who among us really is?), are still God-fearing men, and who want to do God's will in their political career. In that case, when Christian men and women prayed to God for guidance, He would probably tell each Christian to vote for a different candidate than the other Christians, simply because God had a different plan for that Christian. Who knows? Maybe God really did endorse one Christian candidate over another, but just wanted the other Christian candidate to get enough voter support to not abandon his political future? We don't know. Nor will we ever. All we know is that we are supposed to find out the Will of God, by asking Him, and our minister ain't the one to tell us what it is. He is supposed to only tell us where to look, or what God says on any given issue. Endorsing one candidate over another isn't what God does.

A minister SHOULD, on the other hand, speak to his flock about the issues of the day, and what God has to say about them. Because God does have a lot to say about just about any issue you care to name. And it's in His book, the Holy Bible. A good minister shouldn't ever have to tell his flock what to think. Because he should have already done the work to ensure that his flock knows WHERE to look to find out God's Will. If he hasn't, and has to endorse one candidate over another, then he has failed, and should seriously think about another line of work, as he isn't really fit to be a minister. Nowhere in God' Word is issuing decrees from the pulpit endorsed, and it one of the things that lead to the Protestant Reformation. At all times, God has endorsed persuasion to influence the flock, and knowledge of His Will to motivate His faithful. Not on a minister's say so, but on God's. I'm still not man enough to gainsay God on His own will, and I have never met a minister who was any stronger than I.

Monday, August 09, 2004

On hiatus

Yep, I'm on a hiatus. Or better yet, I'm on strike. For tonight. Tonight only. I'm rather tired, and I think my brains are running out of my ears. So, nothing for tonight. Tommorrow, though, I should be all full of vim and vigor, and should be able to put something coherent up here. Until then, I'm gonna think about getting some sleep.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

On stating the obvious

In Psycho-babble, there is a neat little folksy saying that states a concept so obvious, it is sad that it ever has to be said. What is even sadder is that it is so obvious, that it comes as a shock to people when they hear it! That saying is, "In order to get an elephant out of your house, you first have to admit that there is an elephant in the house." Variations on this saying are "the 800-lb. gorilla in the room", or "the first step to solving a problem is admitting there IS a problem". Obvious, all. Painfully obvious. Yet, when someone trots out these phrases, the listeners almost universally nod their heads sagely, and mutter to themselves, as if these were the greatest revelations ever to be uttered. Poppycock. All they are is over-used sayings to state what the listeners should already know. Yet, we, as humans, like to ignore the obvious, and sometimes even actively avoid it. Why?

I believe one of the reasons we ignore the obvious is because the obvious answers to many of our questions are rather painful. If we acknowledged the obvious, we would have to do something about the obvious. Because, to use our first saying, once you admit there is an elephant in the house, NOW you have to figure out a way to get the elephant to leave. Much easier to just walk around the elephant. It's not really getting in the way all that much, is it? It may be a problem we can cope with, but it will cause problems in the long run. Why not just spend the effort to just deal with the problem now, rather than jump through all the hoops to ignore the problem until (we hope!) it goes away?

I like to deal with the obvious. I have found that dealing with ONLY the obvious sets me apart from many of my peers, and from my fellow citizens. Now, I am aware that dealing only in the obvious can lead to animal-like behavior, such as "me horny now, me find woman/man/animal/anything handy to satisfy urge". But that is not dealing with the obvious, that is dealing with the "now". The obvious is a little longer term than "now". "Now" thinking only deals with the immediate events, obvious thinking deals with patterns, and likely obvious outcomes of actions. To use the "me horny" example, the "now" thinking says "Horny? Take care of it." Obvious thinking says "Horny? What about children? Are you ready for them? Do you even WANT them? Do you want this person to call you in a week? Are either of you married? Are either of you married to EACH OTHER? Are you willing to get caught? Are both of you clean of STDs? How do you know? Will your birth-contol fail?" and so on. All obvious questions that need to be asked, yet very few people are encouraged to ask them in our society. Most, if not all, "now" thinkers will tell me that I am being too paranoid. I am not. I am dealing in the obvious. The obvious solution to the "horny" question is "Don't have sex with someone other than your spouse, and be a little picky about whom you marry." That obvious solution GREATLY reduces the risks of unwanted pregnancies, STD's, divorce, and infidelity, just by applying obvious solutions to obvious problems. I try and apply those obvious solutions to all of life's little problems.

Now, I don't just apply the obvious solution to matters of conscience, or politics. As anyone who actually knows me can attest, I am what some of them call "the Master of the Obvious". I state the obvious solutions to the obvious questions, based on the obvious data at hand. Sometimes, this leads me to state something SO obvious, even I have to say "Why the Hell did I say that?". But, most of the time, my friends and family look at me like I've just grown a second head, or have just admitted that I would like to know sheep, in a Biblical sense. Because I have just pointed out something so obvious, they would have rather ignored it. If someone I know has just said one of the stupidest things I have ever heard, they will, very, VERY quickly hear the words "That is the one of the stupidest thing I have ever heard!". And then I will tell them WHY that was one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. All because it was obvious. If a friend of mine is about to do something stupid, I will tell them "You are about to do something stupid", and then explain to them why it is stupid. Now, don't get me wrong. Many times, someone I know sees something that is obvious to THEM, and I don't see it. So, I will be wrong in my assessment of obviousness. But, if they see something I don't, and I try to correct them, we both win, because I have advised them on something obvious they may have not seen, and I learn something obvious that may not have been obvious to me before. Other times, my statements of obvious ramifications falls on deaf ears, because the person KNEW what the obvious ramifications were, and decided to either ignore them, or deal with them. In the first instance, they usually come back to me and tell me I was right (like I need any more ego-boosting), and in the second instance, I get to go to them and say "Well, you were right, and I was wrong. It worked. But I wouldn't have done it." I actually don't like the first instance, because I don't like to see people make avoidable mistakes. I have a love-hate relationship with the second instance, because I don't like admitting that I was wrong, but I will try and learn from being wrong, which I do like.

What brought this "I love me" post on? Having to deal with my mother this weekend. You see, my mother and I haven't initiated contact with each other in almost a year, and we live about five miles from each other. I made a decision to be polite to her when I see her, but to not actively seek her company. This stems from a conflict in "now" thinking on her part, and obvious thinking on my part. You see, I am a conservative. My mother views me as a stereotypical conservative, because she is a stereotypical liberal. This wouldn't be so bad, except she cannot deal with my obvious nature. If she spouts off about the latest liberal myth about conservatives, I will automatically, without thought, completely on reflex, attempt to correct her ignorance. This is not a good situation. Because she is a "now" thinker, any statement contradicting her is bad, because she has just been called "wrong". No one likes to be told they are wrong, present company included, so she launches into a defense of why she is not wrong. Using wrong information and assumptions. When THOSE are proved to be wrong, she then launches into attacks on the person who had the NERVE to say she was wrong. (elapsed time: ~5 minutes) Now, to any one looking for the obvious, being attacked personally is taken as a, well, a personal attack. Even if it is one's mother. So, the obvious thinker says "I'll come back when he/she/it is more rational", causing ANOTHER round of personal attacks, because the obvious thinker has DARED to insinuate that the "now" thinker isn't rational! Where the obvious thinker now says "Wow. Do I want to wait that long for them to become rational?!" Which leads to yet ANOTHER round of personal attacks, after which the obvious thinker says "Okay. This is a lost cause. I'll just go hit the bar. At least there, I can be insulted, but have a beer while I'm doing so". Which then gets the "now" thinker to say "What? What did I do? Why are you mad at me?" Repeat conversation for about 8 years, and one gets the picture. And this all started from a person who would rather BE wrong than be TOLD they were wrong. That "elephant in the house" again.

One day, many beers years ago, I decided that I was tired of always being wrong. I couldn't figure out why it was so easy to prove me wrong, and why I always had to concede the arguement to the other person, even though I KNEW I was right, all evidence to the contrary. So, I started to learn about the things I liked to talk about (which is darn near everything, the "fine arts" excluded), and found out that all those people who were telling me I was wrong were actually RIGHT! So, I decided that I was no longer going to be wrong, and start accepting the fact that I would have to unlearn a lot of things if I was going to be right. The obvious solution to that problem was trying to live a new personal mantra. "I would rather be told I was wrong, than be wrong". Fast forward to today, and I am now what is rather nicely called a "know-it-all". It is nigh unto impossible to prove me wrong these days, for one little reason: I don't open my mouth unless I know what I am talking about. If I don't know what I am talking about, I will only open my trap to ask questions, or to pose ideas that might help clarify the situation for me. Because of this, I don't have many friends, and my family tends to only tolerate my presence (although they do still love me, and miss me when I'm not there. I'm not a Goth, for cripe's sake!), because they don't know how to deal with me.

All because I decided I didn't want to walk around that elephant anymore, and I was tired of elephant shit all over the carpet.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

On family obligations

Well, today is going to be another sparse day for posting from me. I am going to Lake Wisconsin to spend time with my aunts and uncles and cousins and sister and brother-in-law and nephews. Oh, and my mother. yay for me. I most likely will not get to write another post until tommorrow, so this is all y'all get.

Friday, August 06, 2004

On Church and State

Well, I wasn't actually going to post much tonight, as I am a little tuckered from work. But, I have had a request to discuss the seperation of church and state, and I try to grant ANY request, in as timely a fashion as I can muster. Well, my laziness is no excuse to not grant a request, so here goes.

First of all, the seperation of church and state is a legal fiction. It doesn't exist ANYWHERE in the US Constitution. Go ahead. Look it up. I'll make it easy on you and point you the First Amendment. The Founding Father's DID have a notion of keeping religion out of the hands of the FEDERAL government, but at no time did they actually even consider a strict "no religion in the government" stance. Quite the contrary, actually. There was much debate in the Constitutional Convention about what would be the state religion of the about to be formed United States of America. (The USA was not our first government. We labored under the fairly ineffectual Articles of the Confederation for, oh, about three or four years before the Consititutional Convention was convened to correct the mistakes of the Articles) One thing most of the delegates were united on was that Catholicism would NOT be the official state religion. (I say most, because there were a handful of Catholics there as delegates. No more than 10, if memory serves correctly) Ditto for Anglicanism, as many of the former English subjects had come to the Colonies to flee the Anglican Church, and IT'S excesses. So, amongst the various denominations present, which would be the state religion?

Well, I will make some pure speculation at this point, and say that the Presbyterians won. Due to the Prebyterian Church's belief that people of faith could have legitimate arguements about what Scripture meant, the Presbyterians probably sounded like the reasonable voices in that arguement. (hard to believe that a religion comprised mostly of Scotsmen could be reasonable!) And there were quite a few Presbyterians at the Convention, maybe even enough to carry the day for the Presbyterian stance. Which was probably "All Christian religions may be equally right, so why are we even fighting about it? Let's just declare ALL religions to be protected, and protect the free worship of ANY person of faith!" What do I base this speculation on? Simple. The United States of America's Federal Government is an amalgamation of the Parliamentary system of England, and the Presbyterian Church's table of organisation. The Constitution stresses local control, with local entities (cities and towns) communicating to larger entities (counties and states), which then had agreements with the largest entity (The US). This is how the Presbyterian Church is organised. Trust me. I attend a Presbyterian Church. When the method of determining doctrine and control was described, I thought I was getting a Civics 101 class.

So, anyway, there was never any attempt to eliminate religion from the government, and there was actually quite a bit of arguement about which Christian religion would be the dominant one! In the end, it was decided that individual states would make up their own minds as to which religions would be the state-sanctioned, and if citizens of that state didn't like it, they could move to another state. Actually, truth be told, that's what the FF's solution to darn near EVERY arguement! Leave it up to the states. In the case of religion, each state had the right to declare a state religion, or not, as the state decided, or as the state's voters decided. You see, it was even left up to the states to determine HOW they were going to determine IF they were going to have a state religion, and if they were, WHAT was it going to be?! I don't have the actual breakdowns handy, but I seem to remember that Georgia's state religion was Baptist, and I think Maryland was Presbyterian. I'm not sure, but I do know that several states had state-endorsed religions, AFTER THE CONSTITUTION WAS RATIFIED! Did you catch that? The Founding Fathers felt so strongly that religion HAD to be kept out of the public sector, that they even let individual states ENDORSE SPECIFIC RELIGIONS! (/sarcasm) Now, the states that endorsed a certain religion over any other religion ran into a few problems. You see, not all citizens of any state were that religion, and started to move to other states. So, the states that had state-religions decided to no longer sponsor any specific religion, just to keep the non-member citizens from going to other states! So, the Constitution UNINTENTIONALLY created the idea of no state-sponsored religion, by leaving it up to the states. The states weren't about to drive off voting (and tax-paying) citizens over something as trivial as religion, so dropped any state endorsement of any specific religion. So, there's the background on the how's and why's of the First Amendment, and it's impact on the state and the church.

Now, we'll fastforward to today. What does the First Amendment mean to us, TODAY? Well, what it means is that the Federal government is not allowed to pass ANY laws restricting the free expression of religion. By the same token, the Federal government will not SPECIFICALLY endorse any one religion over another. The "seperation of Church and State" were words used in a court decision, not words used by our Founding Fathers.

One of the ways that the "seperation of Church and State" has been misused in our society is to prevent Christians (and Christians only!) from exercising their religion anywhere NEAR a public building. This is wholly at odds with the Constitution, and the Founding Fathers intent for the Constitution. What they wanted was ANYONE (Christians, in their minds, but any other religion for practical purposes) to be able to practice their religion freely, with no repercussions from the FEDERAL government. That means that the Founding Fathers were FOR prayer in schools. They may have wanted those prayers to be Christian, but they included the possibility of those prayers being Jewish, or Muslim (although they would probably roll over in their graves over THAT one!), or Zoroastrarian, or Shinto, or Buddhist, or even Wiccan (if Wicca had existed then). You see, they wanted anyone to be able to pray in public, no matter what their religion was. So, since Christians are the VAST majority of the population of the US, they would have the most opportunities to pray in public. But, Jews and Muslims are allowed to pray in public also! Although, truth be told, Jewish and Christian prayers are kinda the same thing. But, anyway, once the Christians were denied their rights to pray in public, the Jews and Muslims were also. But that's not what "Church and State Seperatists" believe. They have only argued that CHRISTIAN prayers are forbidden, while Jewish and Muslim prayers are protected, simpy because they are not Christian.

I would also like to point out that the "seperation of Church and State" wasn't even CONSIDERED a viable thought until AFTER the advent of Dialectic Materialism. It was the DM's, and Communists in particular, who argued against Christianity, and the destruction (yes, the destruction, not the reigning in, or even controlling. The destruction of.) of any vestiges of Christianity in ANY culture. Because, Dialectic Materialims couldn't work if the "have-nots" had loyalties to anything other than the State. That meant that marriage needed to be destroyed, because spouses are more loyal to each other than the state, or even their neighbors. Gay marriage anyone? Also, the bonds between children and their parents needed to be destroyed also, as parents would rather feed their starving child than their lazy neighbor. Why do you think that the The Feminist Mystique was written by a CPUSA member? Or why so many women think that their careers are more important than whether or not their children are raised by their parents? (The same goes for men, also, but children bond better with a stay-at-home mom than a stay-at-home dad) The big target, though, was the "opiate of the masses", or religion, Christianity in particular. Why? Because religious people, or more specifically, people of faith (no matter what faith) have a higher loyalty than to the state: to their God. So, DM, and it's attendant governments, needed to get rid of religion, and any vestige of loyalty to a higher power, since the State (or "society", since NOONE ever trusts their government) had the need of ALL of their loyalties. If a person is trying to do something because it needs to be done for whatever they are loyal to, they won't be doing what the State needs them to do.

So, in summation, the "seperation of Church and State" has been a tool by DM and it's advocates to destroy religion in America. "Seperation of Church and State" never existed, and was never envisioned by the Founding Fathers. In addition, it was a "seperation"-less America that protected Jews, when no other country would. While I am aware of the Ku Klux Klan, and the other racist organisations, they were a vocal minority, and should have been prosecuted for their illegal activities against Jews. But, trying to use the tactics of the Klan AGAINST Christians doesn't erase the evils that the WASP Klan inflicted. It only makes them worse. Because it makes the Klan look like it was right. Non-Christians have had no better friend in the world than Christian America, and Evangelical Christian Americans. Punishing them for the actions of some idiots just lets those idiots win.

Remember that the next time you get all a-twitter about some Christian having the nerve to publically proclaim their Christianity in a public building. If you want that Christian silenced, then you are next. Because after the Christians, it's the Jews. And after the Jews, it's the Muslims. And after the Muslims, it's the Buddhists. It won't even stop when it gets to the atheists. Because the atheists have argued for so long that rights come from Man, that when Man takes those rights away, they won't have any allies left to help them.

This is another topic I could go on for DAYS about, and still not say everything I wanted to say. I will probably revisit this topic in the future, maybe even soon. The next time, I will discuss whether or not ministers should be politicing from the pulpit.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

On cautious optimism

Yep, I'm cautiously optimistic right now. I had an interview on Tuesday for a job that will pay literally twice as much as I get paid now, with only about 25% more work. I felt that I was a long shot to even get a second interview, as I was sure that there were people FAR more qualified than I, and there were only two positions available. Well, today I was offered the job, pending a successful background check. While I do not have the cleanest background in the world, I was upfront and honest with them about it, and they felt that my background will not be a problem. I am now worried about whether or not my background will be acceptable to them, since I'm not sure what they are looking for in the check. I know, I know, I am worrying about nothing. But, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want this job, even though I know that I won't like it as much as I told them I would. But, it will enable me to pay off my debts, save up a LOT of money, and move to Texas in three years.

Did I mention that this company is headquartered in Houston? I REALLYREALLYREALLY want this job.

Please lend any spare prayer time you might have. I am making time in my schedule to ask God for His help, as I know I cannot get this job on my own. I need His help. Maybe even lots of His help.

My optimism comes from the feeling that God would not have had me check the Internet job-sites on the ONE AND ONLY day I did so, to find this job posted only an hour before I checked the site, have me be able to take off time from work to interview for the job (I know, it felt icky to me, too.), and get a call-back to be offered the position, just to say "Whoops! Just kidding! Keep doing the mind-numbing, trained-monkey task I have planned for you!". Although, if that's what He wants, I'll do it.

I just won't be happy about it.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

On theocracy

I should take some time to expound upon a philosophy that I discovered while reading a brief summary of the major philosophies of the world. What amazed me about this philosophy is that it is either the first or second most widely believed philosophy in the world, and I had never heard of it. Nearly half of the voting public in America believes this philosophy, and nearly all, if not all, of Europe is governed by this philosophy. It was the philosophy that used to govern more people in the world than any other philosophy, and I had never heard of it. I would be willing to bet, unless you have fallen asleep during a philosophy class, that you have never heard of it, either. The philosophy is NOT Communism. Communism is a form of government based on this philosophy. The philosophy is Dialectic Materialism.

Dialectic Materialism (or DM for short, since I am tired of typing it already) holds that individuals have no control over history. Only movements have any control over the fate of history. Individuals are merely cogs in a machine. They are either "haves", or they are "have-nots". The "haves", will try and remain "haves", by taking from the "have-nots", or even other "haves", if neccessary. "Have-nots" don't want to be "have-nots", so they are trying to become "haves". And they will do anything it takes to become "haves", including taking from other "have-nots". All that exists is a shark-infested pool of material, with the only food source being other sharks, according to DM.

DM also holds that only those who are "enlightened" (maybe not the term it uses, but it will suffice) can see the system for what it really is. No one wants to be thought of as "un-enlightened", so DM holds a particular intellectual elitist sway over it's adherents. They are smarter than the "un-enlightened", so they have an "obligation" to help those caught in the "have-have-not" quagmire. I will let you make your own conclusions about who believes in DM and who doesn't...

Now, what does DM have to do with theocracy? Simple. DM fails when confronted with one of the central tenets of Christianity, which is altruism. According to DM, Christians cannot be altruistic, because altruism only exists in people who subscribe to DM. Because DM is anethema to Christianity, Christians do not think the same way the DM adherents do, simply because Christians are incapable of that sort of thought. Christians believe that it is ONLY individuals who make a difference, through altruism and sharing their faith, while DM believes that individuals don't really exist, other than as pawns in a game. It is because of this that opponents of Christianity cannot see what Christians want for America.

Christians live in America, even though there are quite a few legal activities that we feel should be illegal. We will ignore the FACT that those activities were only recently declared legal, or that Christian morality has governed this country for most of it's existence. Those facts are actually irrelevant in this discussion. They make no difference. What DOES make a difference is the people who advocate those illegal activities are dismissing Christian's opinions out of hand, simply because those advocates feel that there is a "seperation of church and state" in the Constitution. (there isn't, but I won't go into that now, if ever. I would just be another voice in the cacaphony of voices saying the same darn thing. Of course, if you really want me too...) Where the DM v. Christianity debate comes into play is the belief that we Christians want to dictate our morality to others, because that is what the DM'ers would do, and ARE doing. Nope. Christians are just responding to the question "what kind of society do you want to live in?". That question makes no sense to DM'ers, because it presupposes that the individual's answer might be considered.

One rather sticky area in the (non-existent) "seperation of church and state" arguement is whether or not politics can be advocated from the pulpit. The answer to this is yes AND no. It is actually legal, under the Constitution, for a minister to campaign for a particular politician or policy from the pulpit, as that is his right as an American, covered under the 1st Amendment. Now, our current laws dictate that a minister cannot campaign for a POLITICIAN from the pulpit, while he can advocate a policy. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it is a violation of the minister's rights to say he can't do that. On the other hand, I would be offended by a minister who did that, as the House of the Lord is not place to be holding up a sinner as a paragon of virtue. Now, if that minister were to lay out the hot-button topics of the day, God's Word on those topics, and where each candidate stood on each topic, that is something different altogether. Because then the minister is educating the faithful, rather than using his "authority" to dictate voting positions. The latter smacks of theocracy, while the former is just the minister's job. They both should be legal, though. Even thought they both are illegal.

Another facet of the DM v. Christianity arguement is the previously mentioned campaigning from the pulpit. DM'ers don't want Christians campaigning from the pulpit, becuase DM'ers campaign from the pulpit. Don't believe me? Where did the Rev. Al Sharpton do most of his campaigning for Democrats from? Where did the Rev. Jesse Jackson gain his fame for campaigning from? It wasn't on the normal campaign trail. It was from the pulpit. Even the Rev. Martin Luther King, JR. campaigned from the pulpit. DM'ers campaign from the pulpit because they have a captive audience, and they assume that Christians would act the same way, with the same motives, from THEIR pulpits.

If the DM'ers are so afraid of a theocracy, they should embrace Evangelical Christianity, as no other MOVEMENT on Earth has done more to fight theocracies than the EC's. Theocracies have been the bane of Christianity since Christianity's inception. It was theocracies that led to the Protestant Reformation. It was theocracy that led to the schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, and between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican/Episcopalian Church. It was under theocracy that the greatest crimes committed in the name of Christianity were committed. (All by the Roman Catholic Church, but I will rant and rave about THAT at another time) It is under Islamic theocracy that we have people willing to kill themselves to kill others, all because the targets won't willingly convert to the theocracy's religion. Theocracy is anathema to Evangelical Christianity. Theocracies have persecuted EC's. Even Christian theocracies.

No, the real goal of EC's is to share the Word of God, in every manner at their disposal. And in America, one of those methods is at the ballot box. America is the first, and probably only, nation in the world where the ballot box is the best recourse for moral change.

Christians oppose the normalization of the homosexual lifestyle. Does that mean that Christians hate homosexuals? No, it does not. The VAST majority of crimes committed against homosexuals are committed by people who aren't Christian. The crimes against homosexuals are usually committed by people who don't like Christianity because it has all these stupid rules about how to act, the same reason most homosexuals don't like Christianity. Once homosexuals realize that their allies are actually their enemies, it could change how they view Christians. The EC stance on homosexuality is "I don't want to live in a society where homosexuality is advocated". EC's do NOT believe that homosexuals are to be punished for being homosexual, or that they are deserving of violence because they are homosexual. We just don't want to be forced to condone a behavior that we are told is abhorrent to God.

Christians also oppose abortion. Now, we don't hate women (most Christians are women, you trolls!), nor do we feel that women who have abortions are evil. We just think that abortions are the most avoidable type of murder in America, and we want people to stop doing the activities that lead to abortions. Such as pre-marital sex. Now, we also don't feel that people who have pre-marital sex are evil, but they are committing a sin. And then they compound that sin with another sin (murder). Again, the abortion question, as all other moral questions do, comes down to the basic question of "What kind of society do I want to live in?". Christians do not want to live in a society where pre-marital sex is extolled as virtuous, and abortion is just a way of avoiding the consequences of pre-marital sex. By making those two things happen, all the DM'ers have done is make Christians work four times harder to change the hearts and minds, and laws, of America. We know we are fighting an uphill battle, but God is on OUR side, so we know we will win. Eventually.

I am sorry if I am rambling. This is a topic that I am not sure I could do justice to in an encyclopedia-sized volume of books. I have a feeling I am going to keep coming back to this topic at later dates. It is too important to just ignore.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

On mixed feelings

Okay, on the advice of some LC's over at The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller, who are far more computer literate than I am, I switched both my web-browser and e-mail getter to Mozilla, Firefox and Thunderbird, respectively. Now, I should have thought this through, and realized that I am not exactly a genius when it comes to computer stuff. I didn't, so now I have a web-browser that is a touch tempermental, and a e-mail fetcher that I don't exactly trust. I have been assured that I am a little more virus proof as a result, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable using programs that have as many glitches as these two do (not many, but one glitch is more than I am capable of handling).

On the positive note, I get far less junk-mail than I used to, and I am actually learning a fair amount of HTML, because I am getting tired of cutting and pasting codes, and the quickie HTML buttons don't appear on any sites I've been to. They appear on my blog-editor, but the editor was created to be Mozilla compatible.

Am I just being a nervous Nancy-boy, or are the Mozilla products actually better than IE and OE?

On last resorts

Okay, one of my Random Firing Neurons gained supremacy within my skull. It was given the upper hand by a comment made in one of the earlier posts, so do the host a favor. COMMENT FREQUENTLY! Those of you who know me from the Rott' know that I usually respond to other people's comments rather well, or at least don't suck at it. Which cannot be said of my skills at writing stuff that springs from my skull. Those skills sucks rocks.

Anyway, my thought was on prayer, and using it as a last resort. This is wrong. Prayer is the single most powerful tool a Christian has at his disposal. A direct line to God is not something to be trotted out "when all else fails". It can, and should be, the first option. God delivers on His promises, and He has promised to answer our prayers. So, take Him up on it. That's what He wants you to do.

Prayer is not what many people think it is, though. God always answers prayers, but He may not answer them in the way we want Him to. Whenever we ask God for something, He answers in one of several ways. He says "yes", He says "no", He says "not right now", or He says "I've got a better idea". When He does answer a prayer, we just have to be in tune with God enough to recognize His answers.

An example of this is a story I learned at a rather young age. A storm had come in, and dropped so much rain that the dam holding back the river had busted. There was a town in the path of the newly-released deluge, and the citizens had to evacuate. A Christian took the opportunity to witness to the town, and stood on his porch, praying to the Lord for deliverance from the floodwaters. After an hour, with the water around his knees, a man in a canoe paddled up, and asked the man if he needed some assistance. Our good Christian replied "No thank you. The Lord of Hosts will provide for me, He will protect me". The canoeist said "Suit yourself, pal." and paddled off. After another hour, with the water around his waist, his Faith undaunted, a man in a skiff paddled up, and asked our Faithful Witness if he needed assistance. He again responded "No thank you. The Lord of Hosts will provide for me, He will protect me." The skiffster said "Suit yourself, pal.", and paddled off. Another hour later, and we find our Saint with water up to his neck. He is having trouble praying, but he is undettered by mere discomfort. A man in a rowboat paddles up and asks the same question as the other two would-be-saviors. Again, our good Christian resonds "No thank you. The Lord of Hosts will provide for me, He will protect me." So, our boater paddles of with much the same response as the other two. Another hour later, our Christian finds himself face to face with the Living God, in Heaven. His faith is shaken, his world has been rendered false. He pleads with God, "Lord, Lord! Why did you not provide for me? Why did you not protect me?". God responds with amazement "What do you mean?! I sent three boats!"

While humorous, this story does illustrate the tendency among many Christians, and people who are on the cusp of becoming Christians, to demand that the Lord of Hosts deliver us in a spectacular fashion, when the mundane would work just as well. Once I realized that God DID move in mysterious ways, I realized that He wasn't always going to respond to my requests and prayers in an obvious fashion. Sometimes, His responses were fashioned to appear as mere coincidences. Such as the time I had heard a radio play about Pastor Deitrich Bonhofer, of Germany, who was executed by the Nazi's in 1945 for refusing to acknowledge the Nazi Church as the head of ALL churches in Germany. I only heard an episode or two, and missed the last several episodes, due to me not working anymore on the days that it was broadcast, and being too lazy to actually wake up on time to hear it. But, I was intrigued by the story, and found myself wanting to know more about him. Two days later, I was waiting to speak to my pastor, and was in the church library, perusing books that I really should not have been left alone with, when I found a video tape, with the title "Bonhofer". I was now positive that God had read my heart, and placed me and that tape within arm's reach of each other, to answer a half-prayer of mine to learn more about Pastor Bonhofer. I took the tape home, and watched it. Imaging my surprise, and awe at the power of the Lord of Hosts, when the movie started at EXACTLY THE SAME POINT WHERE I HAD STOPPED LISTENING TO THE RADIO PROGRAM! I was able to continue the story of Pastor Bonhofer, without having to review stuff I already knew, or missing parts I had not heard. Events like this have been commonplace for me in the last two years, and I have learned to recognize them for what they are: Answers to prayers.

If God will answer minor little prayers like that, when I haven't even really spent that much effort asking for them, what will He do when I ask Him for help with more important things? He will answer those prayers, also. I have learned to ask God first, and then accept the answers He gives me. I have had a much easier time dealing with difficult situations when I have asked God first, rather than try and tough it out on my own, and ask God when I can't do anymore. I now ask first, and use my efforts towards doing what He tells me to do in response.

I highly reccommend this behavior. If you are not doing it, you are showing a lack of faith in God, and He does not deal well with lack of faith. Trust in Him, and see if He does not deliver. I garauntee you, if you trust God, He will deliver. He has promised to do so. You may not like His answer to your prayer, but you will be better off if you accept His answer.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country