Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pray For The Gulf States

Michael Moore and Mr. Fowler of the Democratic National Party had some words concerning Hurricane Gustav. "This proves there is a God in Heaven" and " God is on the side of the Democrats", are not appropriate at this time. Neither is a rebuttal by a two cent blogger. I would ask that the few minutes that you would normally spend reading this would be spent in prayer for the victims and families in the Gulf States who have been affected by this storm... God is bi-partisan.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Words Aren't Enough

Today I will take a break from people, politics, religion, my two-cent musings, et cetera, so on, and so forth, to write about something much more important than my opined philosophies...

There is no simple way for me to lead up to how I feel about my wife, Brandy. No smooth transition of words, thoughts, ideas, jargon or rhetoric would do my heart, or her character, justice.

To simply say that I love her is not enough, but all of the words in my vocabulary wouldn't add anything to that fact. To say that I respect her is a huge understatement and to say that I am proud of her only trivializes my feelings and opinion of a truly wonderful person.

It isn't enough to say that she is an an excellent mother as well as a spouse. She deals with three very difficult people in our household on a daily basis. And she not only does it tirelessly, but she does it joyfully. There is no place in the world, and I do mean NOWHERE, that she would rather be than with her family; and that is no testament to myself, Noah, or Mackie, but a credo to who she is.

She not only makes sacrifices for those of us at home, but for those who are around her, everywhere she goes. She tries to put the good for others before the good for herself. She doesn't ask for much and sometimes she receives even less. And she rarely complains.

Her biggest strenth is that she loves God and sincerely tries to be Christ-like every day. Even when God doesn't make sense or others question her actions, she remains true to her convictions. And you can't say that about many people.

She takes a firm stand for what is right, regardless of how it affects herself personally.

She will never brag, self-promote, complain, or give in.

Once she starts something, she likes to see it to the end.

She hes her flaws, certainly. She is not perfect, but none the less she is a model that women, and men as well, would be all the better for if they would follow it.

Over the last couple of years, and especially this last year, she has endured a tremendous amount of "heart ache", for lack of a better word. I won't elaborate because she wouldn't like it. But she has endured alot professionally, "religeouslly", and personally. And she has consistently taken the high road. "Nothing surprises God", she always says. Even when the hurt brings tears to her eyes, she clings to the fact that God is in control and that there are others who have it alot worse than she does.

And when I'm mad and ready to fight and ready to retaliate, she reminds me who I am supposed to represent and that my kids are watching. To me, thats her worst flaw; being right and reminding me that I am wrong.

I'm not good at this sort of thing, but this isn't about me. It is about paying tribute to my wife. And I want others to know that these simple words don't come close to painting an accurate portrait of who she is; but if they just get a glimpse of who she is, they will be all the better for it.

I know that I am...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Bookstore

I was in Barnes and Noble the other day when I got the idea for today's blog. This would have been Monday's web log entry, but I took a mulligan. I intended to work on this Monday evening, as I posted, but the virus making rounds in our house reared it's ugly head, and I was not feeling too well. Could it have anything to do with the allstar lineup of the Democratic National Convention? I never planned on watching, but the mere thought of Jimmy Carter, Nancy Pelosi, and Michelle Obama had an adverse affect on my bowels. I'm not sure about inspiring hope, but those three inspire something inside of me. And it wanted out! On a side note: Are the Democrats trying to lose?

Anyway, back to the issue at hand, my trip to the bookstore. I really only have some random thoughts on a couple of three or four things. And to set this into motion, I will mention that I was reading things I wouldn't normally read and trying to understand some views that I don't agree with. I do this from time to time. I honestly try to see things from more than one viewpoint and desire to be well-rounded in many areas. I don't always expose myself merely to things that I appreciate or even comprehend. It's not logical to oppose something in one's mind without understanding why, or even what, the reason for the opposition is to begin with. So it is along these lines of open-mindness that I found myself reading the things that I was reading on this day.

First up was Michael Moore's Guide to the 2008 Election; and I really don't know what to say about it. I honestly couldn't discern what was being written as sincere or what was tongue-in-cheek. Granted, I'm not brilliant, as Mr. Moore is, and I couldn't make heads or tails of his guide to the election. But then again, I have a difficult time understanding what he's talking about most any time. Then that always leads me to wonder, who does understand him? And why am I so much more the ignorant? My intelligence quotient has been as high as 165 and I still didn't get it. And I really don't know what else to say about it...

Moving on, I stumbled upon a copy of, "The Audacity of Hope". And on a side note, I noticed that Mr. Obama even has a children's version... I think Michelle wrote this one...His marketing is amazing. Never has someone who has done so little appeared to have done so much! He's like a political pufferfish. But back to the Hype, I mean Hope; The book seemed as "nuanced" as everything else Obama seems to do. It just seemd to go on and on. And on. And on. And it never really gave much reason for hope. When there was a glimpse of substance, it was either old news or common sense. But to be fair, I didn't read the book in it's entirety. Maybe he tied it all together somewhere that I overlooked. But all I read was more of the same of his speeches on hope. And it always angers me! I know that politics are now about manipulation and demographics and such, unfortunately. But for some reason Obama's pandering hits a nerve. He is always telling us to not let fear rule our lives and to not fear change and not fear this and not fear that, so on and so forth. My take is that this is in itself, fear mongering. Most people get angered and outraged, but few have any real fear. At least until some smooth-talking snakeoil salesmen writes a book and makes a speech about fear. And doesn't Obama's ideology require fear to enable itself to function? Wouldn't it really be better to focus on actual hope instead of fear if one was trying to peddle hope? Maybe I'm so brilliant, after all, that I have crossed that fine line between genius and idiot. But again, I just don't get it.

Next on the agenda was the religeon/philosophy sections. Now I could really get on a soapbx here, but will digress some. I will try to digress, anyway. One of the first things that I noticed was that so many atheist write books about the non-existence of God. Now I'm not certain about this, but if I didn't think that something exists, would I go to so much trouble to write a book about it? And would I be so passionate about it? Or so angry? The dogma of the atheist seems pretty religeous to me. Of course I was still somewhat afraid after reading The Hope Manifesto, so I may not have been as cognitively sharp as usual. But the sheer number of athiest's defending their belief, or lack of belief, or whatever it is, is staggering. And by the way, did you know that the Pew Research Center found that 21% of self-described atheists say that they believe in God... Yeah, read that again...This statistic makes me wonder if they know whether they are atheistic or not; and why did they try to write a book if they didn't have this essential doctrine of atheism understood?

Maybe these people are merely tired of being backed into a corner by "church people". Maybe they are lashing out against those who believe anything that is told to them; without learning and applying God's lessons for themselves. "This is how we do it in church so it's not for me to question", can polarize people. Even Christians. Just maybe the atheists are tired of people that don't practice what they preach. Maybe they walked down the Christianity isle of the bookstore and saw the same books that I did. Books telling you that if you give a certain amount of money that God will make you rich; when the book should say that if you give a certain amount of money that God will make them rich. Books by people they see on television telling them that they will pray for the hungry and oppressed, then get into their jet and fly to one of their million dollar homes, never to consider the poor and oppressed until they are before another packed arena of potential donors to their cause. Not God's cause, their personal cause. They preach hope for a price.

And sadly, there are some very good books by some very good authors among these books of feel-good religeon. Books written by men and women trying to truly imitate Christ. Books written by people who understand God's priciples because they have searched and prayed and found God's way to be truth. Books by authors that work with homeless, at home as well as abroad. Authors who give 90% back to the church and live off of the 10% left; a reverse tithe, so to speak. There are good books with sound doctrine and real ministry hopes nestled in between shills and flim-flam artists. The true lillies among the thorns.

It would be easy to side with the millitant atheist if it weren't for the Holy Spirit in my life. And my heart breaks for a true atheist. If it weren't for God's riches in my life and Jesus sacrifice on the cross, I could buy into the atheist docgma. If I were to base Christianity on so many Christians instead of Christ I could be that atheist. There goes I, but for the grace of God...

I didn't intend on such a diatribe, but I can rarely think of atheism or Christianity without giving in to my passions. I would apologize but I am not sorry. Some things need to be said.

After calming down and my ire subsiding, I decided to glance at a magazine. And the article I came across was another "potential, probable, possible" deal, along with an artist's rendition of the "maybe" occurrence. If that didn't make sense to some it is because I am using the same logic and reasoning as the scientist. I wrote about this in an earlier blog, but it was dealing with a "potential planet that may possibly contain life" that one again...This time is was dealing with the Higgs Boson, otherwise known as the God Boson. The Higgs boson is the only undiscovered, yes I said undiscovered, boson of the Standard Model. So how is the Standard Model accurate if it is incomplete? And how is so much scientific theory considered fact when using this incomplete Standard Model? Then we move to the Higgs Boson itself. How can something undiscovered have a name? Or maybe, why? I thought the discoveror named his find. So who named this one? And how can science presume this God Boson exists and treat it as a fact so to make it fit all of the other theories in existence? Could science be wrong? Could their dogma of the ficticious be hindering the real truth? Could many fields of science be askew? I think not. They have an artist's rendition to support their opinions, I mean facts.

So now my stomach was beginning to cramp and I wasn't sure if it was my daughter's virus, lunch, the National covention, or all of the mental garbage I had consumed over the past hour in the bookstore. We all know what happens next, no need to be graphic. So I headed toward the men's room with five copies of Michael Moore's book, just incase they were out of Charmin.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Announcement Concerning Mondays Blog

For those who follow the Self-Inflicted Blog closely, I will not have a blog written by my usual 11:00 AM, self imposed deadline. I will try to work on my musings later this afternoon. My kids come first and I need to devote more time to them than my blog this morning. Thanks for understanding, your continued support, and your interest in my two cent views of politics and people!

And as usual, EMail any questions, comments, or thoughts. For those who may not have my personal EMail address, send comments to Thanks again!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Principalities, Freewill, And You

How can we argue without polarizing those we disagree with? I think the first step is to see all people as, well, people. Ive written about this this week and I do feel that is crucial. We need to take time to think of other's situations and backgrounds. If we would all realize that we are all under alot of different pressures and influences, we may begin to temper out attitudes towards our fellows. Then the next step should be to remind ourselves that our battles should not be against flesh and blood, but against principalities. That's not mine, thats from the epistle to the church in Ephesus. And Paul's words are not only true, but good, sound advice regardless of your religeous affiliation.

But does that mean that people are without blame and that only principalities are at fault amidst our differences? Are we merely pawns in a cosmic battle? No, we are not. This is another area where freewill comes into play. Freewill, another subject written about this week, would not exist if we were helpless cat's paws unable to choose between right and wrong. And without freewill there would be no need to be concerned about responsibility and less need to be accountable for our actions. "The Devil made me do it" philosophy will only lead to anarchy, on many levels and aspects.

We do need to realize that principalities are at work, and at battle, and that no one is above that reality. No one should be given a free pass due to these principalities. We are not powerless against the princes and dominion heads in our lives. We do need to realize that mankind is manipulated and continues the chain of manipulation, a pecking order so to speak, and that it is up to us as individuals to put an end to it.

Each of us are responsible for our own actions. We all need to be held accountable for our individual actions. We can't look at mankind or government or church and blame them for our personal shortcomings. We have to rise above the principalities. And we have to become individuals in order to see others as individuals. We truly become pawns and cat's paws when we generalize and begin to see others not as individuals, but as a muddled mass.

And the first step in this direction is to become an individual with personal relationships. Freewill allows each of us a choice. Freewill points to man being responsible for his own actions. Freewill not only allows for individuality, but nurtures the same individuality. And logically we must become an individual and function as an individual before we can view our fellows as individuals. Otherwise it is like describing our own face then looking in a mirror and not recognizing ourself.

Then at that point we become a faceless nation of people making mindless choices leading us to a dehumanized, muddled mass of grey. Then we become subject to principalities.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thoughts On Polarization and Personalization

I am having difficulty getting this web log started today. And as usual, I will blame my children. I have had three different attempts and three different approaches to try to transition my thoughts from Monday's blog to today's entry. I have tried to be "smooth" and smart and funny and learned and informative get the picture. So as commonplace for myself, I will just jump into this like it is a pool full of cold water (at least I threw in a tired, old simile for a few redemptive points)

Monday I wrote about conducting ourselves in a manner that won't polarize our fellows. I think that we could solve more of the World's problems and our own civic issues if we didn't push each other into a corner with our rhetoric and party platforms. We do this in our schools, our governments, and our churches. Too many times we have a predisposed bias based on "gut feelings" or " personal history", and that bias causes differences between people to become full blown rifts, schisms, and divisions. Then throw in more of the human element of personality and we have become polarized. We may have started out 5 degrees apart but now 50 degrees in seperation exists due to our stubborness, anger, ignorance, competetiveness, so forth and so on.

Now we are polarized. And the first casualty of this polarization is individuality. We lose sight of individuals and begin to view people with differences or opposing views as something other than human. We know that they are people, but at this point it is scientific not personal. Add in the factor that we don't take time to nurture our own, close-knit relationships, much less the relationships we have with strangers, and our enemies become soul-less statistcs or just another face on the news.

Now I'm not suggesting that we try to have a personal relationship with everyone we see or hear of. I'm not even suggesting that we "do lunch" with people that we disagree with or that we try to make friends with our enemies, so to speak. I do suggest that we step back and remember that every politician, lawmaker, celebrity, athlete, and face in the news, is just as human as our own children are to ourselves. And while we never expect all people to agree with our children, we do wish that they will always get a "fair shake" by everyone. But a fair shake doesn't mean that one is above accountability. I think this overall mindset would diminish our impersonal view of the people we find ourselves diametrically opposed to. And that would go a long way towards treating others as we would like to be treated.

I think that was one of the successes of the Saddleback Civil Forum; it cast both candidates in a more personal light. At least it did for me. And that helps me to temper my attitude and my words against those on the opposite end of the spectrum than I am.

But tempering our words and actions should not lead to any type of universalism or political correctness. This will only lead to our dehumanization by leading us all towards a common and grey middle ground. We should stand on, support, and fight for our personal convictions. Morality and ethics should never be surrendered, even in the name of peace. But we should be sure that our convictions are personal, not handed down ideas or borrowed notions from a party or platform. To be seen as human and personal, we should behave as such. We must be in a position to extend as well as accept such treatment.

I would like to continue and get into the interaction and dynamics of opposing views, but I need to work on my relationship with my kids for a few minutes. I do plan on continuing along these lines Friday. I feel there are "things" we can all glean from this topic. But for now "twenty questions" and "book time" is more important.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saddleback Civil Forum

Well, it looks like there may be a problem obtaining a copy of our national budget. I contacted my congress-person after following my own advice in my "$106 million Question". So far I have recieved nothing in the area of response and my consumer satisfaction level is rapidly declining by the day. I still stand on my platform that we, as taxpayers, have a right to see where our money is being spent. Beforehand as well as afterwards. We should have more say in the manner in which our funds are spent. And I still encourage everyone to consider contacting their congress-person with theor thoughts. As for me, I guess the brouhaha will escalate until I am able to look at the budget. Don't say that I didn't warn anyone!

On a different note, I would like to offer my "two-cents" on the Saddleback Civil Forum held Saturday night and televised throughout the weekend.:

For starters, I really liked the format. While I enjoy the "vim and vigor" involved in a good, old fashioned debate, I found that the interview process allowed for a more comprehensive look at the candidates at this stage of the election. I like the fact that both were asked the same questions and were unable to hear the other's response beforehand. They were both given equal and ample time without interference or interjection from their opponent. As a result we didn't have to hear alot of rehashing and going back to the same question while the candidates postured and positioned on issues. There seemed to be more ground covered, if you will.

In a close election as this one is, and it is close regardless of how the media portrays it, the timing couldn't have been better for voters who were uncertain as to whom they were voting for. I was already leaning toward McCain but only by default. I didn't feel like there was anyone running who had my best interests, or the interests of the average Joe, at heart. It seemed like all of the candidates were really from nowhere, representing nowhere, heading for nowhere. They seemed as flat as the canvassing which we have all been subjected to lately. Even Obama with all of his charm and charismatic perception seemed more like a "character" than a real person. I think this forum helped mold them into people for the most of us. And I think that is important; that we see our elected officials as people representing people.

And as far as the forum being held in a church was a good thing, in my opinion. Now my friend Rupert Cadell disagrees and actually feels that Bob Barr came out of this as the winner because he effectively showed his belief in seperation of church and state by not attending the civil forum. I didn't have the heart to tell him that he wasn't invited. But back to my thoughts on the forum being held in a church...

I was glad to see that a church was involved in modern politics. And I was glad to see true moderation and fair and equal treatment of both candidates. While many say that this crowd was conservative friendly, they are correct. But Obama has talked much more about his faith and beliefs than McCain has and I feel Barak had the advantage going into the evening. Everyone may not agree on these points, but I feel that being asked the same questions, in the same order, by the same moderator is fair regardless of where the questions are asked. And won't the person elected as president have to go into areas and arenas that aren't supportive of him and his views? So if anyone sees the deck as being stacked in favor of any one candidate, they should step back and see it as an opportunity to show strength and adaptivity. And if they are supporting a candidate for the highest office in the land, then they need to see that their candidate is able to do such. And I personally thought McCain was at a disadvantage going into the forum and I have heard more Obama supporters fussing about this point.

But back to why I was glad that a church was involved. I think it was a good example of how church and government can function together. I do believe in seperation of church and state. I do not want an official state religeon, not even Christianity. I don't want church to become an issue to vote on, and debate, and to become a special interest group. Evangelicals are already an interest group, and that makes me cringe. I believe in seperation of church and state due to politics, but I do not believe in absence of church in the sate due to personal conviction. Our country was founded on these convictions whether we like it or not, disagree or agree. All of our founding fathers were not deeply religeous as many church people want to believe. Not every one of our original signees of the Declaration of Independence had their eyes focused on God. All of the leaders of The Revolution weren't Christians. But the thing that they all had in common was the respect for convictions and the understanding that without core moral values we would have anarchy and the experiment in democracy would fail. We must have our freedom but freedom should not give a voice to the immoral or unethical.

We can't desire for our government to regulate morality. That is something that we must do individually. Just as God gives us freewill, so should our government. But there will be repercussions should we neglect our freewill and ignore our convictions. In many ways and by many means. And I have to admit that I was skeptical of Rick Warren and of a mega-church holding a political forum. I was concerned in areas of regulating morality and freewill. And I always cringe when the focus is on "evangelicals". Too many times I have seen "evangelicals" act like an angry, mindless mob instead of a body of believers with a common concern. But I have to credit Pastor Warren on the forum. Im know what his beliefs are and I know where he stands on most issues. But he didn't allow his personal beliefs to lead to polarization. He interjected some Bible verses and asked questions that Christians are concened with, while being kind and courteous to both candidates. He, in a sense, allowed us to have freewill. He exposed the candidates, whether by design or otherwise, and thier views without the candidates or their parties forcing anything down our throats.

I think the Saddleback Civil Forum was a succes on many levels. I think it could be a model of how the church can be involved with government and how the two can go hand in hand, even when not agreeing on an issue. Maybe not in the final stage of things, but certainly in the beginning of. And it was nice to see "church" center stage for a change of pace.

This wasn't the direction that I had planned to go in this blog, but I went ahead and rode the train of thought. And for a final note today, I would ask that we all conduct ourselves in a manner that won't polarize our fellows. I would ask that we follow our convictions but temper them to a manner in which issues can be discussed rationally. And this is advice for myslf also. I can get pretty "worked up" when it comes to politics.

And to believers in Christ; use your freewill as a ministry tool, not as a right. Then we can be seen as sincere, heartfelt imitators of Jesus not an opinionated, insecure, and stiff-necked mob.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday's Six List

Six Good Reads:
1- The C.S. Lewis space trilogy
2- The First American by H.W. Brands
3- The Self-Inflicted Blog
4- The Bible
5- Ernest Hemingway's short stories
6- The Devil's Delusion by Davis Berlinski

Six Books I Read Yesterday:
1- Go, Dog! Go! by P.D. Eastman
2- First ABC; Paradise Press
3- Put Me In The Zoo by Robert Lopshire
4- The Gospel of Mark in the Bible
5- The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss
6- Petting Farm; Little Scholastic Books

Six Places I Would Rather Be:
1- Somewhere covered with snow
2- The Greek Isles, with my wife and kids
3- The Greek Isles, no kids
4- New Harmony, Indiana
5- Tanzania, Kenya with Noah
6- Ireland

Six Good Foods:
1- Bar B Qued Ribs; dryrub
2- BG's Supreme
3- BG's Potato Skins (they go with the sandwich)
4- The Monster Burger, Hardees
5- Peanut Buster Parfait, Dairy Queen
6- Bar B Qued Pork Steak, Mine

Six Reasons I'm Finished Blogging Today:
1- Mackenzie climbing on everything
2- Noah talking non-stop
3- Mackenzie climbing on Noah
4- Noah pushing Mackenzie around
5- Noah and Mackie coming to blows!
6- I'm out of ideas

Have a Good Weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


“Tell me what?” “What could that statement possibly entail?” “Did a household item get broken?” “Did the toilet overflow?” “Did one of our children color on the wall?”

What is the “this“ in “I hate to tell you this”?

The subject line in this blog is the same subject line that my husband used when he sent me a recent email. My mind raced through scenarios, and my heart sank as I contemplated what the “THIS” could possibly be! My fingers could not click on the email fast enough. My eyes scanned the contents for the answer. Could it be something terrible? Could it be something life-changing? And as my brain formulated the words contained within that email, I realized the “THIS” was something that all parents probably face at one time or another…the dreaded SCISSORS! Yes, our wonderfully adorable, curly-haired four-year old was very proud of his accomplishment. He had, in a matter of seconds, managed to cut off his locks of curls!

My first response was “NO…surely it couldn’t be that bad?? Surely it was somewhat salvageable?” I rapidly typed back a response…”HOW SHORT?”. It seemed like hours before the response came back to me…”VERY SHORT!”. And then, the words a mother never wants to hear…”I had to use the clippers.” Oh the overwhelming emotion…fighting back the tears…emptiness in my stomach…”Clippers on my adorable, curly-haired boy?” And in the silence of sporadic thoughts…REALITY stepped forth…”IT IS ONLY HAIR!!!” Foolishness that caused me to chuckle ever so silently. Was I really having this reaction to something so simple? With all of the atrocities in the world, was this really worth the expense of such emotion?

An experience that most parents are probably familiar with, but a lesson that all of us may need to learn. As I pondered over the last thought in my 3-minute emotional roller coaster, I was intrigued by how many situations or circumstances that many of us experience on a daily basis; many of which are far more serious than a child “exercising his independence” with a little pair of scissors. How often do we find ourselves on that same roller coaster of emotion and rampant thought process? Are we only “concerned”, or do we cross the line into “worry”? Do we attempt to rationalize our “worry” because “who wouldn’t be worried in this situation or circumstance?” Call it what you would like, but the Bible is clear that WORRY is sin. Yes, you heard me correctly…SIN…that action that separates of us from our loving Lord. Yet, will we seem cold or callused if we fail to “worry”? What will others think of us if we do not “appear worried”? How often do we allow society to control our responses to situations instead of the Lord? HE states “Do not worry”…and to attempt to rationalize with the OMNISCIENT, OMNIPOTENT Lord, who is never surprised by what happens in our lives, seems a little foolish to say the least!

Therefore, may I leave you with this…

“I will never leave you nor forsake you”

There is no greater peace in any circumstance than knowing that the ONE who knows all, created all, and sustains all is right beside you!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The $106 Million Question

$106 million. Thats the amount that the taxpayers will spend on security for the presidential candidates this year. And yes, I said the taxpayers. $106,000,000. My initial thought is ,"Wow! Thats alot of money".

And my second thought is, "Why don't the candidiates have to pay for their own security?". They have lots of fundraisers, solicitors, fanatics, and $1000 a plate luncheons. Why can't they pay for their own security? And why do the taxpayers have to foot the bill?

My third reaction when hearing of the $106 million security was not very flattering to admit to, but it was ," Why do I have to pay for the security of candidates that I'm not all that crazy about?" I told you it wasn't very flattering, and not very well thought out, but it was an honest thought. I guess in my income bracket the $106,000,000 causes some knee-jerk reactions. Anyway, I understand that if I send in money to a politician that I don't have any say as to how it is spent and that I should consider the ways and means that my donation will be used to further my champion's cause. That may be why I have never given anything to any of the candidates running this year, for they are not my champions. That and my previously mentioned income. But getting back to the contribution/taxpayer aspect, when its a donation it is voluntary and when money spent from a budget line in our government it is not voluntary. I didn't have a choice on the way that money, nor the amount, was or will be spent. And that is becoming an all too frequently occurring thing.

I will digress, at least for today, on my overall thoughts on government spending. I will try to stay focused on the topic at hand; The protection of the candidates at the expense of the taxpayers. And I will try not to sound calloused or jaded.

The following thought on the $106,000,000 security issue was that we really have no idea how our tax dollars are spent. We can look at obvious things, and there are many, but how many budget lines exist, like the security for presidential candidates, that we are totally in the dark about? And what is the total monetary amount of all of these lines added together. And how could that money be better spent?

That lead me to think not only about $106 million, but to think about our budget and where can I get a copy of it? And if anyone does know, please tell me. I hate to admit that there is something that I do not know, but I'm not certain if we, as taxpayers, can obtain a copy of our national budget. And I would like to look at it firsthand. I'm sure its more lengthy than most financial papers and budgets that I have seen before. And I'm sure it would take alot of studying and letter writing to decipher. But our money is being spent and I'm growing tired of not really knowing how and where. And it is our money.

Again I will maunder from a further diatribe on finances until I know more about a citizen's opportunity to see the budget he is helping fund. But if I find out that the average Joe citizen can't obtain a copy of the federal budget you can bet there will be many a brew-haha coming. And that should scare plenty of politicians!

So I end by asking for anyone who has any information on obtaining a copy of the national budget to please let me know. I also encourage everyone to try to obtain a copy and begin scrutinizing the afore mentioned budget. I encourage everyone to become more active in the processes of government and to start holding the elected officials accountable. There are many things we can do to begin to gain our voice back, and today I submit to you that it begins with a $106,000,000 question.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday Six List

Last Friday, I made a handful of Top Six Lists to kind of keep things light and change the pace a little. I recieved some feedback and comments and it seemed that a handful of people enjoyed the list, so I plan to compose a list of "Six Lists" for the Friday editions of The Self-Inflicted blog. Never let it be said that I don't listen to my readers! Even when they resort to choosing lists over my brilliant, stylish, and informative writings and muses.

I would like to note that the new lists aren't necessarilly top six in any order of favorite or ranking. And they are not all of my favorites, just some of my favorites.

And as always, feel free to give feedback, comment, or make your own lists in the comment section. Enjoy!

Six Great Guitar Players:
1: Steve Morse
2: Zakk Wylde
3: Steve Lukather
4: Rik Emmett
5: Ty Tabor
6: Michael Romeo

Six Great Songs:
1: Pieces of the Night; Gin Blossoms
2: Peace Sells; Megadeth
3: Toy Soldier; Riverdogs
4: Photograph; Def Leppard
5: Rime of the Ancient Mariner; Iron Maiden
6: I Feel Better Than James Brown; Was (Not Was)

Six Good Things About Nancy Pelosi:
1: I don't have to live with her
2: Her calming demeanor soothes children
3: She can be turned off when shes on t.v.
4: She helps Jimmy Carter look more intelligent
5: I didn't vote for her
6: Did I mention that it's good that I don't have to live with her?

Six Great Computer/Video Games:
1: Civilization 2,3, and 4
2: Titan Quest
3: Madden Football ; before Jeff's dominance
4: The old Nhl games on SEGA
5: Tecmo Football on old Nintendo
6: Galactic Civilizations 2

Six Great Actors:
1: Susan Hayward
2: Gary Cooper
3: Charleton Heston
4: Faye Dunaway
5: Cary Grant
6: Edmund O'Brien

I hope everyone has a good weekend! God Bless!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Holdout

If anyone wants to read an insightful article on race in America, they should read Larry Elder's article that was in our local paper yesterday. Maybe it was in several papers due to syndication, I'm not sure. It is well worth the short time it takes to read the article. I don't plan to tackle the subject of race today even though I am writing about a black man and I happen to be a white man.

Actually I had planned to do this anyway, I just wanted to give it an edge by throwing in the race card. I wanted to work sex into the message as well but it would have been too forced. But it would have helped sensationalize and grab attention; "Sexy, Racial Issues Tackled on the Football Field!"

I will, however, digress. Instead I will give my two cents on a football player and his situation.

The player is Steven Jackson, running back for the St. Louis Rams. Actually he is more of a running back for himself. The team pays him, but he is all about Steven Jackson. Mr. Jackson has a year left on his current contract; a legal form that he and his agent agreed to and signed. Now Jackson is down to the last year of the contract and is looking to cash in on his talent and ability. And who could blame him? The owners of the NFL have been notoriouslly greedy in the past and the life expectancy of an NFL running back has about the same duration as a politician's stance on any given issue. Or that of a fruit fly. Point being that is is a tough job that a person can't perform forever and no one really cares after you are beaten up and gone. Just ask poor Earl Campbell.

But to sit out untill a new, fatter contract is issued is not the right way to go about business. Holding a team and it's fanbase as hostage, which an agent calls leverage, is a sign of poor character and selfishness regardless of how you want to look at it. I do understand that this is the business side of entertainment and alot of people just dismiss it as such. But why? Why do we give some players a free pass on these issues? I know why the other players give free passes; they are part of the union and the shoe could be on the other foot someday, honor among thieves so to speak. But is that the kind of loyalty you would want? If you were dependent on someone to help perform your job and it was a job that required a resiliance and a fighting spirit, would you want that kind of a partner? Do you want someone want someone like that in the foxhole with you? Personally, I don't have time for people like that even on the old man league softball field on which I play. Committment and keeping your word isn't that much to expect, is it?

And what do we do to our children when they don't keep their end of a bargain? Do we tell them that this is just part of the business and this is just how life goes? Do we teach our kids to make decisions and stick with them, regardless of consequence? And that the consequences will help them to make better, more thought out decisions next time they are faced with a situation? Or do we tell teach them that honor, decision making, and character are only necessary while they are young; as they get older and gain intellect they can then manipulate and waver in the name of money, career, and business.

And what about the fans? Aren't we the real victims here? Isn't it difficult to feel much pity for someone angered that they are only making three or four million a year and that they are being mistreated by that wage? I for one would like to recieve some of that abuse. Not that anyone would pay much to see me as the featured back of an NFL team. But back to the fans, aren't we the real victims? In the big money battle between labor and management and the media camapaigns and politics of entetainment, isn't Joe Fan left out in the cold. Frankly, yes we are. But are we really victims? And could we make a difference in the way things are ran? I think we could if we could only get the people holding a gun to our head, making us buy jerseys and merchandise, to let up on us. If people would stop making me watch all of the games , I may take a stand. If only so many people would stop forcing me to partake in all of the football activites and fantasy leagues, I would reinforce what I teach my children by my actions, instead of by only words. But I am addicted to a product that has been marketed to the umpteeth degree. It's not my fault, "they got me hooked", and now I can't stop. When will the government step in and help me? I am merely a poor, pitiful...

I think my point has been made. And I realize that I am writing about entertainment and not life or death. But I do think there is some truth in my slight exaggeration and that we should examine the ways that we "do business" in our day to day lives. It's not as much about Steven Jackson as it about how we can ALL do things that will affect each other. It's about how we paint ourselves into an ethical corner and how things get to the point to where no one wins. on the field or off of it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Weird Science

I have always enjoyed science and science related subjects. With the exception of the annual science fair project, it was always one of my strongest and most loved subjects in my school days. Even during my brief, and I mean brief, college career I managed to squeeze in a science course. I believe it was around this period when I began to doubt science.

During this period of my life I wasn't exactly "living for the lord", to use a church phrase. My thoughts and priorities were more focused on worldly things and wordly ways and wordly relationships. To live in the world, I wanted to understand the functions of the world and how it all fit together; socially, psychologically, politically, physically, and scientifically. None the less, I had faith in God and believed he was the creator of all things and I felt science would help explain how and why God did the things he has done. So I was very open to alot of scientific theories and was ready to use them to explain God.

Then one day we studied the theory of evolution. I was aware of the controversy behind the theory, and to be quite honest I thought it was just a bunch of uptight people trying to draw lines in the sand, on both sides of the argument. And being a voracious reader, I had already read some of it and was now waiting for someone to help me make sense of it; because it didn't make alot of sense to me after I had read through it a couple of times. So I was eager to hear a lecture on this topic.

So the day to learn evolution came. The professor began teaching and talking, talking and teaching, going over all of the points and theorems and doctrines. And it still didn't make sense. He would get to a point where the theory didn't jibe and basically have to say,"this is where science is uncertain. But to the best of our assumptions...", Whoa! What is this? I got this much from reading the book! You are supposed to fill in the gaps. How will I ever make sense of this? And science is one of my strongest suits. I think like a scientist...

I tell that story to begin today's blog not to blur the line between religeon and science for I have little respect for either. I find both to be dogmatic and fearful, opinionated and harmful. But most people who know me or have begun to follow this blog know that I am a Christian and that my faith has grown to where I don't feel the need for science or God to support the other. I merely wanted to give some background and to state that I was very open to theory and very open to learning. And I still am. Science still interests me very much.

But the interest is different now. Now I find myself more interested in the headlines and the absurdity of the place where science is now. And I am amazed at how people accept "science" so blindly and how little we really know for certain. We speculate and fill in gaps like my old professor did but we don't really know very many things to be as certain as they are taught, written about, professed, fought over, or claimed. We can't even decide if eggs are good for you or not. Or if saturated fat is a bad thing or not. Test after test we find different results and the results are then "modified" and shaped to fit into a previous theory, never to have the previous theory proven accurate. Science has built a legacy on guesswork and theory and artist renditions instead of having much "proof in the pudding", so to speak.

With that being said, I still think science should continue to be studied and tested. Many great things have been discovered and found, and our lives are all the better for it. I don't find science void of substance just substancially innaccurate. But we can still better ourselves and our understanding by some of the by-products of accuracy and theory.

Look at all of the household items we have thanks to the space program. VCRs, microwaves, plastics, thermometers, computers, etc. and etc. the list is very lengthy. Our lives have benefitted immeasurably from these items. But how helpful is it that they have now potentially found a possible planet that may support life some light years away? Did you get that? Scientists have now claimed(claimed) to have potentially(not certain) found a possible (again, not certain what the oibject is) planet that may( theory?) support life light years away. Does that sound preposterous to anyone besides myself? And I'm not making it up. That is a real supposition being passed as not quite fact but as much certainty as if it were. And do you know what the proof is? A dot in a telescope and an artist rendition of what the planet may look like. And those things based upon a previous theory that is just as unexplained and incomplete as the one before that. But it will be defended as hard fact with much vim and vigor. People who believe this will be treated as intellects while people who dismiss it will be treated as archaic and simple.Or vice versa. And these lines will be drawn in the sand without any evidence or discipline.

And what about the article dealing with some breed of eyeless lizards that a handful of scientists found in a cave? They are using the lizard to support evolution. The lizard has eye sockets but only a thin layer of skin grown over where the eyes previouslly were, some million years ago. They have said that they doubt a God who would give something eyes only to have them evolve into a being that would lose its eyes and live in a cave. Now remember, this is their words, almost verbatim, not my words. Not even much of a paraphrase on my part. But back to the lizard; it is still a lizard and not a fish or a frog or a monkey. And according to science, it has had enough years to evolve into another form. So what is innaccurate? The date of the Earth, age of the animals, something with the species? Several theories that are accepted as absolute cross over each other here. And all can't exist simultaneouslly. Does it sound like blind dogmatic double talk to you?

And what about the animals and dinosaurs? My son love these things. And I do as well. We watch movies and cartoons about creatures of all types. And my son even likes to watch the documentaries on any beast that is covered on History channel or Discovery. So I get alot of exposure to these sciences. Have you ever noticed how many artist renditions are used as fact? The fossil record rarely supports any of the creatures that are depicted in the "documentary". They find a tooth, a piece of a skull, part of a broken femur, and maybe a bit cervical bone and then they form a new theory based upon a previous, partial theory of a dinosaur's existence. Then there is some doodling and sketching and then an artist's rendition. Now we have a dinosaur that we know the skin color of, the eating habit of, that it listened to prey using it's feet, the mating habits of, and many other small, yet distinguishable features. All of this based on what fossil record? On what proof?

There are many more examples that could be made and many more "scientific facts" that could be disputed. But I believe eveyone understands the point that I am trying to make with the sciences. Our lives are made better by science, but it is still as the apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Asia Minor, "all science is not good science". And if all science is not good science then maybe we shouldn't treat all science as science. And we shouldn't draw lines in the sand and stand so certainly on something so uncertain. We shouldn't treat worldy things so absolutley, regardless of which side of the line we stand on.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Top Six List

With today being Friday and the weekend just around the corner, I have decide to break things up a little and just do a couple of lists of my favorite things. Maybe something on the list will remind you of something you have forgotten. Maybe the lists will encourage you to do your part of helping the economy, and you will go get your hands on a copy of something on this list. Maybe it will just be something fun to look at and make your own list. Feel free to use the comment section as a means to create your own "faves list". I would like to see what some of your tastes and styles are.

As a side note, my favorites change a little from time to time, so don't hold me to any of this.
And it's not being wishy-washy, it's evolution!

Top Six Albums, LPs, CDs, Music:
1- Def Leppard: Pyromania
2- Gin Blossoms: New Miserable Experience
3- Riverdogs: Riverdogs
4- Iron Maiden: Powerslave
5- Edwin McCain: Messenger
6- Thin Lizzy: Live And Dangerous

Top Six Quoted People:
1- Samuel Johnson
2- Oscar Wilde
3- Mark Twain
4- Groucho Marx
5- Alexander Pope
6- Benjamin Franklin

Top Six T.V. Shows
1- Green Acres/Petticoat Junction/Beverly Hillbillies
2- Wonder Years
3- Twilight Zone
4- Corner Gas
5- Star Trek (Only the original)
6- Red Green

Top Six Movies:
1- Gone With the Wind
2- Any Ray Harryhausen flick
3- Hatari! (Esoecially watching it with Noah!)
4- Lifeboat
5- His Girl Friday
6- The Thing From Another Planet

Have a good weekend!