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Worst Example of Journalism I have seen since High School!

16 Feb

Worst Example of Journalism I have seen since High School!

This article is an example of purple prose. It is an example of a tempest in a teapot. And, for those who dislike such phrases from bygone eras, it is also an example of rampant racism (or some other type of “respect of persons” as forbidden by the Bible).

Let’s list the reasons why:
1) The “crisis” seems to have started right before Jason Cosby, the Virginia Beach Director of Public Works, was sent to Afghanistan on a mandatory military deployment. I would suspect someone at the city didn’t want to hold his job until he came back (as required by the law called USERRA). So they started a trumped up process to fire him . . .
2) The “infractions” are so vague and minor (if this news article can be believed) that they would probably apply to hundreds of other employees of Virginia Beach. There is no evidence that any other employee has been gone over with a fine-toothed comb like this. It is as though Mr. Cosby were suddenly looked at under a microscope to pick apart any mistakes made during his twenty years with the city. I regard that as racism (or at least as undue scrutiny of just one person) until I see evidence that everyone else has been subjected to the same level of inquiry. Who else was followed around at Virginia Beach rec centers to see whether they actually worked out when they swiped in, for example?
3) The article does not specify, in most cases, what was done when these infractions came to light. They could have been innocent mistakes that were later made right. For example, I once grabbed my business American Express card to pay for some Christmas presents I bought while on travel. I was shopping with a friend and not paying attention. That card was the one on top in my wallet. Since I had to pay the card off anyway, after my return, it was a “no harm, no foul” situation which I brought to the attention of my supervisor. I believe many people accidentally use official credit cards to pay for things at some point in a twenty year career. It is what they do when they find that out that matters!
4) Mr. Cosby is not currently profiting from receiving city pay (only benefits like medical, which the military also offers in most cases). The first year, the city paid him the differential between his city salary and his lower Army salary, as required by law. This is, again, a common factor for all people who work a full-time job while maintaining a reserve career in the military. If people don’t like the way that works, they need to lobby to change the system, not persecute one person who is doing it as though he were doing something wrong. In this case there not only is no fire, there is no smoke!
5) The article smears a decorated veteran with a 20-year city career that was, until now, regarded as exemplary. He holds degrees from the University of North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech, two of them advanced degrees. His case is making its way through the city system, with lawyers on both sides working it. Why put this case in the paper to be tried in the court of (ignorant) public opinion by many people who don’t understand the USERRA law and how it is used to get quality military personnel to serve in places like Afghanistan?
6) At best, releasing the requested freedom of information files in the paper today is meant to sell papers. At worst, it is meant to produce an online lynching of someone who is, due to the ongoing process, not allowed to talk to the press and defend himself. Ya know?

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Virginia!

14 Feb

Happy Valentine's Day, Virginia!

So much has changed since yesterday in the state of Virginia, but yet so much remains the same.

The gospel of Jesus Christ still remains the antidote for the sin problem of the entire human race. Our problem with anger, our problem with selfishness, our problem with sexual sin, our problem with wanting to make a name for ourselves independent of God, and independent of the design and plan He built into the human race.

When Jesus came, during the Roman Empire, He defined marriage as between one man and one woman for life. So many of us nowadays fall woefully short of His definition.

Jesus then went on to concentrate on bringing the gospel, His good news, to broken, sinful people.

He did not rage against the machine.

He didn’t preach against the polygamy that was occurring in every part of the Roman Empire except Israel at that time.

He didn’t preach against the marriages that were marriages in name only, to produce heirs, while the men involved in them carried on with dozens of other women, or men, or young children.

Jesus addressed sin as sin; He addressed sinners as sinners. Yet He did more. He loved sinners. Often they received His love. They were then loved back into wholeness by the very Son of God!

Jesus is still doing that only . . . He is using the hands and feet and hearts of people who are alive in Him on earth right now. His Holy Spirit empowers us to love sinners and to lead them to Christ, that the Holy Spirit may dwell in them, too, breaking the hold of sin over their lives, as He has broken the hold of sin over our lives.

John, the Apostle of love, writes often of how Jesus said that that would be the only way the world around us would know that God is real and that He is love–when they see our love for each other and for lost people around us.

That is God’s plan for redeeming a lost world. Us. So we had better take it seriously.

Remember, the only time anyone ever threw a sexual sinner on the floor in front of our Saviour, He told her He did not condemn her.

And to go and sin no more!

That is our message for a broken world, and our message for Virginia today.

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The Hipsters, who Distance from the Fundies, Review Ken Ham through their Lens of Christianity

5 Feb

The Hipsters, who Distance from the Fundies, Review Ken Ham through their Lens of Christianity

Disclaimer: not all young Christians are hipsters and not all hipster Christians spend their time acting like they would like to hide the fundamentalist folks in Christianity in a broom closet, along with their hardworking old grandmother who makes them feel ashamed in front of their friends by her terminal lack of coolness.

But there are enough young hipsters like that in Christianity to be ironic.

Ironic because they denounce fundamentalists for hating them and trying to make them go away.

They denounce us while using these same tactics against us.

Enough already. Mom here! I don’t care who started it. Let’s just stop it. We are all part of the same Christian camp.

The above post doesn’t address many things theologically.

If you want to be a hipster Christian and defend marriage as being other than Christ defined it (one man, one woman, for life), then show me where the moral authority comes from to do that.

If you want to believe in theistic evolution, explain to me theologically how death came along before Adam and Eve fell.

If you want to reconcile a world that is millions of years old with a Saviour who was born of a virgin, explain to me how a God who wasn’t capable of creating an old universe in the Old Testament (with starlight already in progress, since stars that we can see are millions of light years from earth) suddenly became capable of creating a virgin birth in the New Testament.

There are lots of things that need to be addressed theologically by the above post. They were not even attempted. The writer merely did some terminally cool posturing. I throw a flag on his play.

And just sneering at fundamentalists does not count as a logical argument. In fact, that is called an ad hominem argument, for anyone who is truly looking to learn the fair rules of debate.

Just sayin’

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Poverty . . . Any Ideas?

31 Jan

Poverty . . . Any Ideas?

This piece, on worldwide poverty, brings to mind our microcosm in the U.S., as addressed by the President in the State of the Union address Tuesday night (January 28, 2014).

I had some thoughts on the wage inequality that the President raised. I don’t believe it will be touched by raising either the federal employees’ minimum wage to $10.40 an hour, nor the country’s minimum wage to $10.40 an hour.

First of all, most federal employees already make far more than $10.40 an hour, so that statement was just window dressing anyway.

Secondly, what can be done on $440 a week? Not much here. Even two married people, both making minimum wage, would be barely able to scrape by on $880 a week in coastal Virginia.

Should we federally control prices? In a free market? Never. That would be the worst of Soviet communism, come to fruition on our own soil.

So how do we equip people to live in this expensive economy?

Certainly not by preparing them to be minimum wage workers all life long.

Our newspaper, not a bastion of liberal nor of conservative thought, laid it all out again last week (these statistics are well known and have often been reported by bipartisan sources): point #1) there is a huge difference in wages between high school graduates (or dropouts) and college graduates, point #2) college graduates tend to marry each other and point #3) college graduates are the ones who still believe in the institution of marriage and embark on it, trying to make it last (high school graduates and dropouts tend to be the ones who believe that the entire institution of marriage is flawed so we should all just cohabitate whenever we wish).

I have had people who don’t believe in the institution of marriage try to give me anecdotal evidence that suggests the above points are not true. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. But the points are true.

So, given that, I was less than encouraged that neither the State of the Union nor its rebuttal led to a discussion of strengthening the family.

It seems that finishing college and embarking on long-lasting marriages is the way forward economically for Americans.

Yes, we used to be able to make it in single-earner households. Some, by drawing down their requirements, still do. But most of us do not. World War II changed that by putting women to work. The economy grew to the point that it costs the wages of a husband plus the wages of a wife to live.

Society shifted. Life is like that.

Any constructive ideas from others about the way forward?

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Slippery Slope: How Private Schools and Racial Segregation Can Go Hand-in-Hand

20 Jan

Slippery Slope: How Private Schools and Racial Segregation Can Go Hand-in-Hand

A thoughtful article.

I do have to give a shoutout to my own church and its academy. I haven’t done an exact count, but the academy seems to be approximately 50% non-Caucasian, with students who are black, Asian, and Hispanic all there. And the most popular ethnic group nowadays–those beautiful kids who are of such a mixture of heritages that you couldn’t even classify them if you wanted to do so!

That, my friends, is heaven.

We are advantaged here by having the military as the great integrator. In our area, we host all five military branches. People are comfortable with those of other races because they learn to be comfortable at their government/military jobs.

I suppose a place like Jackson, Tennessee (in the article) isn’t advantaged like we are with a working environment in which people of various races get to know each other well.

But our church also reaches out to all ethnic groups and has a low enough tuition for the private school that it is more easily accessible for members of ethnic groups who might be the first in their family to consider private education. It is a sacrifice for everyone, but it is one that an increasing number of African-American, Asian, and Hispanic parents are choosing at our school . . .

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Anti-Gun Mayor Imprisoned after Holding A Man Captive and Firing a Gun . . .

17 Jan

Anti-Gun Mayor Imprisoned after Holding A Man Captive and Firing a Gun . . .

There is so much wrong here . . . where do we begin?

The least of the mayor’s difficulties is firing his gun inside his residence (even with his membership in an anti-gun group).

It seems that, while having his “complex life involving bisexuality” he committed acts of stalking, misuse of government resources (having the police go pick up the person he was stalking–how frightening), unlawful imprisonment (making the stalking victim stay with him for three and a half hours), underage drinking (odd that giving alcohol to a 20-year-old is a crime, while consensual sex with a 20-year-old would not be a crime), attempting to have a sexual relationship with that 20-year-old (non-consensual, therefore a crime, no matter who you are), and bondage.

This is a perfect time for the gay people of good will in our nation to loudly denounce this sort of thing. Just as heterosexual (and gay) men of good will have spent forever saying that it is wrong for men to force non-consensual sex on women. Being an emotional basket case is not an excuse for breaking the law and I am glad this mayor had the book thrown at him.

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2013 List of Countries Where Christians are Most Persecuted

16 Jan

2013 List of Countries Where Christians are Most Persecuted

This is the real McCoy, folks. Places where you can be beat up or killed for being a Christian. Not the faux persecution we speak about in the States when we actually mean that Phil Robertson makes a little less money due to his faith (or not, maybe he is making more money now–who knows?).

If we know this list, we can pray for our Christian brothers and sisters, worldwide, with wisdom.

The Damage that can be done by People without Knowledge of History

14 Jan

This is going to be dangerous territory.

There are some ideas that you cannot call out in the U.S. without people who hold them realizing they are being called out for holding those ideas.  

You can call it a “conversation” if you wish, but if you have talked with said individuals numerous times and have found it to be like hitting your head against a brick wall, then you doubtless are aware that this is not really a conversation.  

Sometimes you just have to say things plainly and . . .if people hold other views and feel their views are being attacked, well, that is actually true.

You see, not all ideas are equally valid, no matter what we say about free speech.  You have a right to say it.  But just saying words does not gain you validity, nor followers.  You have to know what you are saying and be able to back it up.

People who have not studied history have the same right to free speech as the rest of us.  But they also have the right to listen to others laugh at them when they say silly things, due to not knowing history.  

In the marketplace of ideas, laughter is a valuable thing.  We don’t need to suppress speech.  But we do have to research what we are saying if we hope to have our speech be respected.  

I have a friend in my age group who has been a valuable person to help me understand how some folks in younger generations look at the military in the U.S.  She has helped me with that because she holds many of the same views as our younger generation generally does.   

The military is regarded, nowadays, as an unaffordable luxury.  What are we protecting, after all?

As a student of history, I see that mindset as myopic.  Tragically so.  

But it may take another world war to turn that mindset around.  

My friend has often made statements about the military not having a right to an opinion about what she calls “other entitlement programs.”  Yes, she will say, “You have your entitlements like the commissary and Tricare, so you have to keep quiet about the entitlements of the rest of us.”  

Really?  So when you serve 27 years for it, as I did, it is still regarded as an “entitlement”?  

So when the government signs your paycheck because you work for the government, it is the same as when the government signs a welfare check?  Have we told the President and the Congress that their paychecks are “entitlements”?

I totally get it about not treating welfare recipients as pariahs.  But that does not mean they earn their checks in the same way the military does.  You don’t turn it around and elevate the self respect of welfare recipients by lumping them in with the military, for whom we have traditionally held the highest respect of all.  

In an era of limited resources, it would go far toward healing some of the U.S.’s divides if people would at least act appreciative of the military while asking them to take 50% of the budget cuts (note:  the military is not 50% of the budget, but we are regarded as having more discretionary dollars than Medicaid, Medicare, social security or welfare).  

I totally get it that most of our Senators and Congresspeople have no military service, for the first time in history.  So they can’t really appreciate us unless they are students of history.  Sometimes they try to give us lip service.  Sometimes they don’t bother.  

I totally understand that most people sleep through high school history classes and some even do that in college.  But . . . I entered the military with a very sparse knowledge of history and just started reading . . . It is amazing what history books, even good historical fiction, can do for you!  I always loved history.  Now I have a pretty broad background in it.  

There is no excuse for not understanding the Cold War or what the U.S. did to preserve freedom in World Wars I and II.  There is no reason for anyone to not tell a Viet Nam vet “thank you for your service” with full understanding of why that phrase matters to him.  

And, more recently, our next “greatest generation” that gave the strength of its youth in Iraq and Afghanistan needs to be praised and encouraged, not lumped in with welfare recipients as “entitlement folks.”

It is important.  Very important.  

Google Glass and the End of Racism

13 Jan

Very interesting article about Google Glass and its potential to level the playing field, especially in relation to race.

Hunter Baker

Brand dominates everything in our social and commercial lives.  I have a massive attachment to the Honda brand.  I have come to associate it with cars that offer durability, reliability, and fuel efficiency at a reasonable cost.  As a result, I bought my last three cars from the company.  My family has been similarly affected.  Between my parents, my sister and her husband, and my wife and me, we have purchased about 12 cars from Honda in the past quarter century.  It has become our go-to brand.  Why don’t we re-evaluate the whole thing every time there is a buying decision?  Because information, once we believe we can rely upon it, is like an investment that pays off for years to come.  Once you know something, you can worry about figuring out other matters. 

When we think about brand and automobiles, the association is pretty non-threatening.  Of course, we will…

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On the Legalization of Pot, Nationwide

20 Dec

On the Legalization of Pot, Nationwide

Ben Barber points out, from his long experience and from research, how pot can destroy motivation and make someone content, in their youth, to just sit home as a long term stoner.

Questions coming from that: 1) While we all would have the right to do this if pot were legalized, is it prudent to put yourself in a possibly vulnerable position of dependence on a substance that could remake your life as you know it? 2) If so, who supports you if you have no motivation to work? 3) If the answer to #2 is “your parents, forever” then who supports your children if, while you are not motivated to work, you are motivated to have sex and manage to make some babies in the process? 4) If you happen to be the product of a broken home yourself, with no option of living with your parents forever, will the government then be required to “parent” you with room and board (and health care and all the other things to which you believe you are entitled just because you are you) while you sit home as a long term stoner? 5) If we hit “critical mass” in which a large chunk of our population prefers stoning to working, how do we remain a productive society? How do we support everyone?

Yes, I am going down a slippery slope with my comments, but I believe in counting the cost before we embark on controversial paths (or any path, for that matter).

It is not for nought that the Bible said if a man doesn’t work, he shouldn’t eat.

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Edward Snowden as the Canary in the Coal Mine . . .

19 Dec

Edward Snowden as the Canary in the Coal Mine . . .

Every few months I have to recalibrate with Eugene Robinson in order to realize that this liberal writer and I agree completely on the role of the National Security Agency and the fact that they have gone far beyond that role, funded by our taxpayer dollars to collect against our own citizenry, no less!!!

Edward Snowden had to be. Whether he is a traitor, I will leave to someone more nuanced than myself.

He did need to fill the role of whistleblower. And of canary in the coal mine.

He may never be able to come back to the States. I think he realized that possibility when he did what he did. He counted the cost and . . . did what he did anyway.

What if we had never found out that the NSA is collecting on virtually every electronic move made by every resident of this land, as well as many people overseas? And that it is storing the data for quick recall later if they ever suspect one of us of anything.

As Mr. Robinson says, this data is always available after the fact with a warrant.

But the NSA wants their collection to be effortless. And apparently warrantless.

I like Mr. Robinson’s statement that it is supposed to be inconvenient (to the government) to invade our privacy!!!

Rape Insurance??? What our Language Says . . .

16 Dec

Those in Michigan (and nationwide) who object to Michigan’s official policy, written into law last week, that abortions are not a covered service required to be provided by insurance companies, have taken on a new tactic to express their anger.

Coverage for abortions now requires a separate rider in Michigan, sometimes from a different insurance company or sometimes paid for by the individual if her employer has a moral conflict with covering her abortions.  

Opponents are calling these riders “rape insurance.”

Ah, yes, use hyperbole to bring up the extremely small percentage of abortions that are requested due to rape.  Then drag that language front and center!

They say the people who control the language also control the dialogue.  This is not a time for conservatives to passively sit back and let the language be hijacked this way.   

When I was younger, insurance companies often had separate riders for maternity insurance. We didn’t purchase one, even when trying for a brother or sister for Joey (he was born at the local naval hospital and cost us a sum total of $16).  We had intended to have our second child, and any subsequent children, born at home and to pay the midwife out of pocket.

Quaint concept that–paying out of pocket for the things we want.  We now think everything our heart desires must be covered by someone else’s funding, don’t we?   

Thus we have an outcry when those who desire an abortion can’t find a way to get them free (read:  at taxpayer expense or at the expense of the other people employed by their companies).  

I categorically object to the term “rape insurance.”  

It is a false categorization of riders which are making people pay for their own abortions.

Morally, I don’t intend to pay for them.  You have the right to have an abortion.  You also have the right to find a way to pay for it that does not involve me. 

Just sayin’

Can We Be a Poseur So Long that We Start Believing our Own Press?

12 Dec

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So how about the deaf interpreter in South Africa who stood next to the president of the U.S., along with multiple other foreign leaders, and signed gibberish instead of the words to their speeches?

Can there be a better example of a poseur?  And apparently he has been at it so long, as a loyal member of the African National Congress, that he is unapologetic about the fact that his presentation had no meaning for the thousands of deaf people who watched it.

The guy’s an artist and his interpretation is masterful.  If it doesn’t contain real words–well, that is his audience’s issue, not his.  <serious sarcasm alert there> 

He also claims that he had a schizophrenic break while up there signing.  Don’t think about that too hard, folks.  He says his schizophrenic breaks have led to violence in the past; he was right there next to the president of the U.S.   Great!

It’s kind of like if we had let the Navy Yard shooter have clearance to go wherever he wanted around dignitaries after he had had violent episodes.  Oh, wait, we did that! 

Folks, it is not a safe world.  And no one has any business letting people who have documented violence in their past go near governmental dignitaries.  It’s not logical to give them targets so they can act out.  Ya know!

But back to the poseur issue:  it seems this guy really does believe he is a deaf interpreter.  I am willing to say he is not.  There is an easy way to find out.  Give him a test, right now, administered by a sign language expert.  If he fails it, have him pay back all of the money he has made faking sign language at events in South Africa these last few years.

The trouble with poseurs is that they are always found out to be the fakes they are, eventually.

Just because someone has faked his way through 100 events, he can’t use those events as a defense when he gets caught during event 101 (the guy is actually trying to do this.  There have been complaints about him in the past but the ANC would not pursue them.  So now he says his past is proof he is a good interpreter.  Except his company seems to his vanished this morning . . .).

A fake is a fake, no matter how many times he has done it.  You can spend a lifetime pretending to be something you are not and . . . you are still a fake.  

The shame is that the guy could have spent his lifetime actually learning sign language instead of sinking all of his energy into covering up the fact that he is a poseur.  

Sad.

 

 

 

Closing the Military Commissaries!

24 Nov

I must admit that nothing in the last six months has gotten my blood boiling quite so much as the bland little news article this week saying that the powers that be have charged the military chiefs to come up with a plan for closing the military commissaries (grocery stores, with special prices and no sales tax).  This would be regarded as collateral damage from sequestration.

The article was quick to say that Congress would probably never pass such a plan. 

Really?  Then why is it on the table?  

Is it really necessary to break every promise ever made to those of us who gave the best years of our lives to our country’s military?

It should never need to come to Congress for a vote.  That would just be another opportunity for them to grandstand.

Congress didn’t give us this privilege–we earned it.  And, yes, not every American gets it.  Because not every American served.  

Don’t make us promises when we sign up, then later hold them hostage to a vote for your particular political party. Either we earned these privileges or we did not.  If we earned them, they are part of our agreed wage package, so continue to give us these privileges as pay for our time invested.

It really is that easy!  Really!

The First Gay Legislator to Vote Against Gay Marriage

13 Nov

http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/November-2013/Exclusive-Why-Rep-Jo-Jordan-voted-against-Marriage-Equality/

Jo Jordan explains her no vote on gay marriage in Hawaii.

Interestingly, it was important to her that people listen to each other on this issue and one side consistently shut down dialogue with her. They had an attitude that they already knew they were right on every aspect of the legislation so she should just vote yes, with no questioning.

The same side that usually says fundamentalist Christians always believe they are right in every situation and won’t listen to anyone else . . .

Maybe they have learned from us, after all.

Nobody but God is always right!

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