Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Belief #2 - Power of Prayer

As I study various religions throughout the world, there are many things that seem to be consistent with all of them. The obvious one tends to be that their religion is the only way, and all others are doing it wrong. The second most common thread is that of prayer.

Each religion calls it something different, or goes about it in unique ways, but when it comes right down to it, whether your chanting, dancing, singing, or speaking to your god/goddess, you are attempting to tap into some unseen mystical force to affect a change. For this article I will call any of these ways various religions use to join their thoughts together as prayer.

It’s interesting to me that all religions have the belief that there is some invisible energy that they know is out there, but they can’t explain. They know that if they all get together and think the same thing that sometimes they can make a difference. Or can they?

Unless you’re living under a rock, you have heard about the power of prayer. Are we really affecting things with prayers? Can we change our lives, or the lives of others, through some intangible force of nature? My thinking is not really.

What prayer does for people is gives them hope. Prayer provides the necessary vehicle to focus our subconscious mind on the good things in life. By praying we bring those things to the forefront that we want to occur in our lives, and push the bad thoughts deeper down inside of us.

When a large group of people gather together, and all pray for the same thing, it reinforces these thoughts and strengthens the belief that whatever is being prayed for will happen. It’s the old saying that there is strength in numbers.

The human mind is both weak and powerful. Its weakness comes from the susceptibility to be influenced and controlled subconsciously. Things happen to us daily that change our actions. Bad habits are formed from our inability to sometimes control our own actions. The power of our minds pretty much comes from the same source. It is our subconscious that keeps us safe, and throws up warning flags when danger rears its ugly head.

The subconscious, a curse, and a blessing..

A lot of what we do is based on instructions received from our subconscious while our minds are on autopilot.

This is why placing a message to yourself someplace that you will see it every day, such as on the bathroom mirror, is the method used by many to obtain their goals. Reading this message several times a day will implant it into your subconscious so that unknowingly to you, your mind begins working behind the scenes to make happen what you are trying to achieve.

We can pray for someone to get better, but the plain truth is, we’re not helping him or her a bit unless they are actually in the room hearing our prayers. If they are present, all of the emotional and positive thoughts may very well improve their ability to heal. Not by some religious force, but by affecting their subconscious and strengthening their belief in their own ability to get better.

Sometimes the physical ailments are beyond our prayers, and no matter the amount of soul strengthening our prayers do, the person will not get better. It isn’t because God does not care, it’s because the sick person cannot fight the ailment mentally.

Doing a dance to the gods so that rain will come, or the crops will grow, will never work. If it rains soon after the dance, we will assume our prayers were answered. If the rain stays away, then the gods must be angry. Our prayers cannot affect the weather, because it has no subconscious to affect. It simply is nature, and will flow as it was designed, and not by the whim of a bunch of scantily clad loonies prancing about a campfire.

In order for prayer to work, and in this I mean the subconscious altering power of it, there needs to be a strong belief and a focus. In the Christian faith, that focus is God, and his son Jesus. Because everyone has the belief that God is real, and a part of them, they all focus their collective prayers onto God. This strengthens their focus, and gives everyone a central conduit through which to channel their emotions.

Wiccans know that there needs to be a focus also. It’s interesting that in the Wiccan faith they will tell you they believe in a god and a goddess, but it seems to me that they don’t really believe in this the same as Christians. To Christians, God is a real entity, floating somewhere in the heavens and playing with our lives here on Earth.

To a Wiccan, the god and goddess represent the Yin and the Yang, male and female, the basics of the natural order of things. Many Wiccans pick and choose which god or goddess to focus their energies and prayers to. It could be Thor, the god of thunder from Norse mythology, or it could be Isis, the goddess of love from Egyptian mythology. Which god or goddess is not the point of the exercise, it’s merely a means to the end result.

For a Wiccan, it’s the focus of the prayer, not so much that they think that Isis is really sitting on a cloud listening to the prayer. In this respect, Wiccans are not fooling themselves into thinking there is some mystical being that controls our lives.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it in the future. It amazes me that followers of a religion can laugh at other religions, such as the old Greek or Native American religions, yet steadfastly believe that their mystical hocus pocus belief is real. The truth is, in another couple hundred years I believe that most of the religious hold outs today will be forgotten and amused about over a dinner table in the future.

So belief #2 is The Power of Prayer. I believe that there is indeed power in prayer. The power to help each other through hard times, the power to achieve a strong focus on the positive things in life while moving the negative things into a lesser spot in our subconscious minds. Prayer is a good thing, and it should be embraced and used whether or not you believe in a higher power.

It’s more important to believe in yourself, and in the goodness of those around you. If you require a focus to strengthen your belief, then utilize the one that works for you. Whether it is God, Jesus, Thor or Isis, choose a focus you are comfortable with.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Flu Shot Induced Alzheimer’s?

It’s the end of the world, as we know it. Or at least it seems that way if you listen to all of the hype recently about the shortages of flu shots. Thank goodness they have bought more! So what if it isn’t the correct one to fight the current flu strain that is making everyone feel like crap. It’s still a flu shot dang it!

What about these rumors going around that the flu shot is actually bad for you? It’s slowly poisoning our brains and could even cause Alzheimer’s. Let’s dig a little deeper into these mysteries of the flu shot and see if we can’t find some answers…

Now before I get to involved, you need to understand that I am not a medical person. My medical background stops at basic first aid with a little CPR thrown in for good measure. The information found here is by doing a little research, and trying to put together some spread out pieces of a puzzle. As with all my articles, the information found within them are my opinion, and nothing more scientific then that.

So read on with the knowledge that the person serving you this dish is not the cook, but merely the waiter.

I’ll spare you the details of just what exactly influenza is. It should be sufficient to mention that it’s a virus that changes each year so that it’s never really the same year after year. In fact, since it takes about two years to ramp up the flu shots, the companies that provide them are taking a shot in the dark (pun intended) on whether or not the ingredients in this years flu shot will be the right mixture.

Speaking of ingredients, do you realize what they are injecting you with? Let’s take a look at this modern day witches brew and see if it gives you the willies just as it did me.

Thimerosal (Mercury disinfectant/preservative)
Aluminum (additive to promote antibody response) (implicated as a contributor to Alzheimer's, seizures, fatigue, mental problems)
Formaldehyde (disinfectant) (incidentally, it's what aspartame converts to at a mere 86 degrees F)
Ethylene Glycol (anti-freeze)
Phenol (disinfectant)
Benzethonium Chloride (antiseptic)
Methylparaben (anti fungal, preservative)

The vaccine is prepared with chicken embryo fluid, inoculated with the living flu strains, then treated with formaldehyde to inactivate the virus. The other chemicals are used to preserve and disinfect the fluid. Since animal cells are used for this process, animal viruses are sometimes introduced into the vaccine, undetected. This has happened as recently as 1995.

Personally, I’ll take my chances on getting the flu! If Dr. McCoy were alive today he would be aghast at what we are injecting into our bodies to avoid the sniffles.

I realize that many people die each year from influenza, and we shouldn’t make light of this fact, but does injecting ourselves with these potions really help?

Not according to Dr. Monte Kline, PhD. of the Pacific Health Center. He says that,

“Many studies cast considerable doubt on the efficacy of flu shots. For example, a Dutch article about a home for the elderly noted that in spite of 2/3 of the residents getting flu shots, 49% developed severe flu and 10% of them died. Among those who were vaccinated 50% got the flu, versus 48% on the non-vaccinated. There was essentially no difference in flu incidence in the vaccinated or unvaccinated population!

"At a similar situation for the elderly a significantly lower rate of morbidity (37%) and death (3%) was noted. The only difference was that these people did not receive flu shots! A French study of people age 60-69 found 14% of those vaccinated got flu versus 13% who did not get vaccinated.”

Did you read that last paragraph correctly? Less people got the flu and died then those that were vaccinated against it!

Dr. Kline also brought up a good point when he said that claims of getting a flu shot would lesson the flu symptoms cannot be proven. How would anyone know, much less be able to scientifically prove, a statement like this?

Now I don’t want to scare you completely, especially if you already received your flu shot this year, but there is a long list of potential problems with getting a flu shot. Things like Alzheimer's, Respiratory Infections, Leukemia, Allergic Reactions, etc… Things you might expect from injecting toxins into your body.

I’ve been reading several experts that have said that the best way to avoid the flu is to do the things you already know to keep yourself healthy. Eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest, and take some vitamins.

If we stay healthy our bodies are designed by nature to fight off viruses. Instead of eating fast food daily, becoming a sofa spud, and getting 2 hours of sleep a night, take care of yourself better, and your body will take care of you.

Will you ever get the flu if you do these things? Certainly, the point is that you should be less likely to get the flu, and more likely to fight the virus quicker with a healthy body. Not-to-mention, a healthy body will help you recover easier from just about anything medically from broken bones to surgeries.

Certainly there are groups that a flu shot might benefit, such as both ends of the age spectrum. Those of us in the middle should be fine. I’m not saying never get a flu shot, nor am I saying that what I have uncovered here is 100% accurate. Only you can decide for sure what is best for you and your family.

Personally, I find no reason to inject more garbage into my body then absolutely necessary. Now if I can just stay away from fast food and the couch!

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Who’s the Fat Guy in the Red Suit?

Ah Christmas time. It brings warmth to your soul just thinking about the season doesn’t it? We all have fond memories of family and friends, Christmas gatherings and giving and receiving gifts.

Where did it all begin?

Christmas is celebrated throughout the world by almost every culture in one form or another. There are winter stories told as long as stories have ever been passed down from generation to generation.

Here in America Christmas has a decidedly Christian flare, but it wasn’t always that way. Did you know almost every Christmas tradition predates the Christian religion?

This sort of talk always makes Christians angry, because it infringes on “their holiday”. At the risk of making even more Christians dislike me, and this web site, let’s take a brief look at one Christmas icon, Santa Claus, or if you’d prefer, Father Christmas.

The figure of Santa Claus, which we can all relate to, is actually an amalgamation of several gods from time gone by. The “Reader’s Digest Big Book of Christmas” relates that Santa’s origins stem from the Norse king of gods, Odin. He certainly looks the part as the father of Norse mythology, a larger-then-life figure with a full white beard.

Although Odin looks the part his son, Thor, may have had a hand in creating some of the legend as well.

You see it’s been told that Odin’s son, Thor, rode through the skies in his chariot being pulled by two magical goats named, Tanngrísnir (Tooth-Gnasher) and Tanngnjóstr (Tooth-Grinder). Hmm, yelling, “on Gnasher, on Grinder” doesn’t sound as nice as the current reindeer names do they?

The Christians added their own entry with stories of a kind man named Nicholas, who was very giving and in one instance dropped three bags of gold down a chimney so that their father could afford their dowry and they could marry. The gold just happened to land in each of the girl’s stockings that were being hung by the fireplace to dry.

Nicholas the gift giver became St. Nicholas, and a feast for him was celebrated on the 6th of December. When the church stopped celebrating different days for different saints, St. Nicholas merged into the December 25th celebration of the birth of Christ.

What is more fascinating is that many cultures had their own twist on a kindly old gentleman who brought gifts during the time of winter celebrations. In Germany it was Christkind (meaning Christ Child) or Kris Kringle, the Dutch had Sinter Claas, a shortend form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for St. Nicholas) who would place gifts by the cinders of a fireplace.


Santa Claus didn’t really take off as the striking figure he is today until Clement Clarke Moore wrote, “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1822, which later became, “The Night Before Christmas”. In his poem Moore describes St. Nicholas as a “right jolly old elf” with “a little round belly”, who had a “miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer”. Rudolph wasn’t with him in those days.

Describing St. Nicholas as an elf brings into the mix the stories from the Norse and Germanic peoples who tell of a Yule Elf that brought them presents on winter solstice if they left offerings of porridge. This brings us back to Odin, who was a Norse god, and identified as “Jolnir”, the “Lord of the Yule”.

As an elf, Santa is also linked to the faerie folk. Did you know that bringing Christmas trees inside, and other evergreen decorations such as wreaths, were originally to give the faerie folk a place to come in and stay out of the harsh cold of winter? If you provided these magical creatures a temporary haven from the winter weather they would bestow upon your home their favor and blessings for the year ahead.

Elves seem to get most of the press, and are the workforce for Santa, and why not? Elves love little shiny things such as toys and lights, and enjoy being little tricksters. Being related to these little people, Santa is a bit of a trickster himself. After all, if you’re naughty you will get a lump of coal.

Be thankful you didn’t live in some European towns long ago. It was known there, that St. Nicholas traveled with a helper called, “Black Peter” who carried a sack of switches. If they visited a home with naughty children Black Peter would beg St. Nicholas to let him punish them. Luckily, St. Nicholas was so kind that he would almost always intervene and give all the children presents anyway.

Guess a lump of coal isn’t so bad after all.

Do I believe in Santa Claus? You bet I do. To me, Father Christmas shows that the spirit of Christmas is caring for each other. It’s giving to others, whether gifts to loved ones, or to those less fortunate then we are. He’s the ambassador to “Peace on Earth and Goodwill”.

In my heart, Santa Claus exists. Every year he magically enters our home, eating our carefully prepared cookies, and washing them down with milk. His reindeer also get a much-needed snack after pulling the little fat cookie addict all over the world in his sleigh.

Our home is decorated with evergreens, and little lights to please the faerie folk, and with any luck they will bless on our home this coming year.

More important, Santa Claus instills magic in the hearts of our children, and a twinkle in their eyes as they wander around taking in every sight of this wonderful time of year. When they go to bed they dream fantastic dreams, and anxiously wait for the day when they are visited by a kind and gentle man, letting them know that they have been good enough for his treats yet again.

How can you not believe in Santa Claus if he has the power to have this much impact on the children of the world?

It’s time for me to wrap this article up, and head off to bed. Perhaps I will dream of Christmas, the faerie folk, and Santa. I can’t imagine a world without the image of St. Nicholas, and I feel sorry for those who deprive their children of the magic of the Christmas season.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Belief #1 - An it harm none, do what you will

This is the first article in an attempt to lay the groundwork for my beliefs. Because I enjoy discussing religion and other belief systems, many people want to know just where exactly I stand in this whole religion thing.

So here it goes.

As you follow along with this article, and those that will certainly follow, you will discover that my beliefs are not necessarily anything new. In fact, many religions cover the same ground. The big difference is, that I have yet to find one single religion that believes exactly as I do.

Many religions tend to clutter up their basic edicts with all manner of ceremony and mysticism. They focus on telling you why you should believe as they believe, instead of why they believe what they believe.

Organized religions are structured for the purpose of gaining members, and keeping them. Many religious folks have a kind and trusting heart, and truly believe they are keeping with their faith by being good little sheep. After a while, these people are so conditioned to follow that they stop thinking about it.

Let’s pick on the Christian religion for a bit. Not because there is anything wrong with it, but because it will reach the most people for the discussion.

Many Christians are Christians because that is what the majority of the people in our country believe. Their family has Christian roots, and going to church is what they have always done. You’re taught early on that you don’t dare question your faith or you’ll be on an elevator ride to hell.

I talk with Christians and find out that they have dedicated their lives to Christianity, gone to church all their lives, and are shocked by anyone who is not Christian themselves. They have memorized Bible verses, volunteered for good causes, and pray at the dinner table.

Then, I start asking basic questions about their religion, such as, “Do you know how the Bible was written? Who wrote it, and where it came from?”

Very few people can answer that question, yet they will beat you over the head with it as if it is written in stone. If you truly research how the Bible was written and translated, it would scare the snot out of you.

Don’t get me started with the somewhat darker parts of the Bible. Go to the “Forums” on this web site if you’d like to really know some interesting things that the Bible says.

As usual, I’m digressing in a big way. I can’t help myself sometimes. Let’s get back on track.

The point to the past few paragraphs is that religions tend to overindulge with a lot of extra clutter. Many of them also come from a time that is so old that it takes years just to understand most of it. We hire other people to try and explain the teachings from a long time ago, and put some modern perspective on the whole thing.

When the day is done, we find as many different interpretations to religious history as there are people doing the interpreting. Yet the guy you follow on Sunday knows just how it is. Praise the Lord, and pass the Kool-Aid!

I have elected to not buy into the organized religious route. My belief is in myself, and my ability to think independently. Sure I listen to what others have to say, I read the Bible, and I learn what I can from the religious world around me. Then, now here’s the real clincher, I make up my own mind about who to follow and what to believe.

That being said, belief #1 comes to us from the Wiccan religion, and in a lot of ways from many other religions as well. Am I Wiccan? Hardly, I just feel that the Wiccans have summed it up nicely. Straight and to the point.

Belief #1 – An it harm none, do what you will.

What this is saying, is you can do anything you'd like, believe anything you wish, just don't hurt anyone else in the process.

This is central to my belief, and the foundation on which all other parts of my belief system are firmly built. You could say that it goes hand-in-hand with freedom. With belief #1, there is no need to explain that people have certain freedoms.

Lincoln said it best, "That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

This first belief does not conflict with the Christian teachings many of us have been raised on. Unless of course you’re somewhat fanatical in your Christianity and believe that if you’re not Christian, then you need to die.

So there it is, belief #1. Any thoughts on this first volley into my religious outlook on life? I’d love to read your thoughts.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Merry Christmas Mr. President

As the holiday season rapidly approaches, good news arrived from the desert. It wasn’t the star showing the way to Bethlehem, but it was triumphant news.

Saddam Hussein has been captured!

Although this is great news for President Bush, it is even greater news for the entire free world. Being able to go to sleep knowing that one more evildoer is now off the streets. Just the fact that Saddam was at large was enough to make people wonder what he was going to orchestrate next? Those fears have been lessened now.

In the history of this country the United States has had its ups and downs. The mother of all ups was when we gave the King of England the finger and basically said we’re not taking your crap any more. We were tired of being an oppressed people. Since that time we have boldly stood against all manner of nasty that has tried to tread on us, or other freedom loving people in the world.

Presidents of this country have directly contributed to the roller coaster that is our history. Many have sat on their laurels, waffling around trying to make everybody happy and like them. These were politicians first, and presidents second. They are the presidents who we don’t really remember, or who were so insignificant in our history that they don’t get many monuments, or space within our schoolbooks.

Then there is the group of presidents who made a lot of noise, but never really followed through. They did some saber rattling, posturing, and fluffing of their tail feathers, but in the end, they did more harm then good. It has the same effect of telling your child they will be grounded if they do something, and then you don’t ground them when they misbehave. It tells the other countries of this planet that the U.S. is all bark and no bite. That we have somehow become so mired in our own political battles that we couldn’t afford to look bad doing something in the world theatre.

Finally there are those presidents who make us proud to be Americans! This is the category that our current President Bush falls into.

9-1-1 could have been handled multiple ways, depending on the type of president that was in power at the time it occurred. Luckily, it was the type that was not going to stand by while the rest of the world watched us get bitch-slapped by a bunch of thugs.

We had reached a turning point on the world playground, and all the rest of the kids were watching to see if we would cower before a schoolyard bully. As much as we hate war, it is necessary at times. The actions in Afghanistan and Iraq were not only needed, but also required for us to remain who we are as a nation, and as a united people. It was a message that needed to be sent out across the planet that the United States is still on the playing field, and we remain strong, and willing to defend our beliefs with our blood.

America is the shining example of a free country, and we believe in that freedom so strongly that we are not afraid to face great opposition. Not just in the form of one country, but even when other powerful countries try to defend the evil ones. Our president had the strength to stand before his country, and the world, and lead us into the battle we so desperately needed to wage.

Sure we were worried, but most of this country knew it had to be done. And thank goodness we had a strong leader to be there for us all. President Bush continues to take abuse daily by people who would like to see him fail. Other countries, and sadly, people in our own country who would like to see America come out of this beaten and scared. These are the true politicians.

Politicians who would rather put their own needs in front of those of the country. Politicians who have spent all of their time trying to undermine our president. Politicians during times when strength in unity would be a better goal, try any way they can to attack the president and destroy his every decision. These are the same politicians who are an embarrassment to our country in the eyes of the world. And these are the politicians who are climbing all over one another trying to get your vote.

Mr. President, congratulations on the capture of Saddam Hussein. Thank you for your strength, courage, and conviction on our behalf. Thank you for being the punching bag of the world, and of the lesser Americans in our own country. Thank you for taking the time to fly over and bolster the troops moral on Thanksgiving, thank you for landing on the aircraft carrier to show your support for our military.

We still have a long road to haul for Peace on Earth, but thanks to you President Bush, we are one step closer.

Merry Christmas Mr. President, and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 08, 2003

Culture Shock

Have you noticed that the web site has been a little quiet lately? Have I run out of opinions? No such luck.

My wife and I went to Cancun Mexico for a much needed vacation. While we were there, we do what we usually do and went to a Mexican fiesta. The dancers of the fiesta performed some Aztec and Mayan dancing, as well as dancing from other various areas of the country and times of Mexico’s history. While watching these people keeping their history alive, and sharing it with us, I was reminded that people from all countries have roots that run deep.

Recent events have caused us to dwell on the negatives of other countries and cultures. It’s easy for people to hate those that are different then they are. I think that if you focus on the basics of any culture it all boils down to one thing. People of every country want the same thing, to be able to raise their families how they see fit.

Even though different belief systems tend to make us think that everyone else is bad, and we are the only ones who know what is right, this is not the case. War is usually waged by one government against another government. Unfortunately a side effect of these differences of opinion is that an entire country can be labeled as the enemy.

Every one of us has a lineage that take us back to other countries and other cultures. Our histories are rich in tradition. Native Americans, Mexicans and Iraqi’s have their pride, right there along with the English, the French, the Germans and the Russians. You all have seen movies, read stories, or have visited other countries and saw their heritage and culture.

In this world we truly need to find a way to get along with each other, while recognizing that the history of everyone is the history of our world, and ultimately, every one of us. We are all human beings, related in the grand scheme of things. We are all brothers and sisters if you trace our roots back far enough.

When you look upon Iraqi’s, don’t view them as enemies, but as the unfortunate victims of a ruthless dictator. Have the compassion to realize that they are now trying to recover from a terrible history of oppression.

It’s true that there are still those out there that view freedom loving people as their enemy. Don’t misunderstand me, these wacko’s are still our enemy, and must be dealt with by using extreme force, and anything that is within our power to protect our people. We will also protect those who require our assistance to obtain their own freedom.

When we talk about Mexico and those who illegally cross our borders, we need to temper this with the understanding that not all Mexican people are illegal aliens in our country. Mexico is full of hard-working people that are trying to provide for their families and country the best way they know how.

Many of the illegal Mexicans that come into our country send much of their meager earnings back to their families still living in Mexico. Does this mean we should look the other way when our borders are violated? No, only that we should guard against hardening our hearts toward every Mexican. As members of the world family, the Mexican people are welcome, proud of their heritage, and a great culture to embrace.

Just as every German you meet is not responsible for the régime that was the legacy of Hitler, every white man is not responsible for the slavery that took place in the United States. People must truly learn to get on with their lives and look to the future, not dwell in the atrocities of the past.

This does not mean to forget our past, our traditions, our people and our cultures. We can embrace our origins, while teaching our children to work hard to achieve great things in their lives. After all, it is ultimately what one generation passes on to another that will shape this world.

People who teach hatred and intolerance to their children, whether wrapped in the sheep’s clothing of religion or not, are breeding a generation of war. Those who teach tolerance, forgiveness and love, will truly be the examples that others should emulate.

The day that all members of the world family understand that differences do not equate to enemies is the day that the phrase, “Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Man.” will become the mission statement of mankind.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Let's Talk Turkey

It’s a Thanksgiving day tradition where we sit around the table with friends and family, say a prayer, give thanks for many things, then devour a poor little animal that was cruelly raised, abused, pumped full of chemicals, shackled upside down, then unceremoniously slaughtered so that we can gorge ourselves on its flesh.

I enjoy nature. Nothing makes me happier then watching a covey of quail come to my backyard feeder, or seeing a family of deer as they wander through the neighborhood. When it comes to wiping out nature, I’m all for its protection.

As much as I love the natural world around me, there is another side of me that has a functioning brain. God, or nature, designed our bodies to be omnivorous. This means that we are biologically created to eat both meat and plants. Now I understand that some folks don’t have a firm grasp on this concept, or merely choose to ignore it, but regardless of your feelings for little critters, they are below us on the food chain.

Some people take the eating of animals too seriously. They see the family pet and think how could anybody eat another little defenseless animal. The reality of life is that we eat animals. We eat fish, cattle, chicken, and a variety of other Earthly fauna. It’s what we were meant to do. It is how we were engineered. More importantly, it is how we survive on this planet.

Seeing how animals are raised for slaughter is not a pretty sight. These visions are brought to you by those who feel that the poor turkeys are not given the opportunity to live happy full family lives out in a green field in utopia U.S.A. The hard cold fact is that for the amount of animals that we consume yearly there isn’t enough room, or at the least it would be cost prohibitive, to give them all their own acre of land to live on.

Animals that are raised strictly for food do lead crummy lives. I imagine it sucks royally to be raised for food, but it’s their purpose for living. They are bred, so that we can survive. Sort of all comes back once again to the whole survival of the fittest argument. On the food chain of life, turkeys will be eaten. If we do not consume them, then a whole variety of other animals will line up at the banquet table in our place.

There is a reason that calling someone a turkey is insulting. Being a turkey is not something to be proud of. You exist so that others can eat you. Pigs have the same social issue. It saddens me to see slaughterhouses, and to see what animals that are being raised for food must endure. In the end, I realize that it is being done this way for a purpose. The purpose of feeding us humans, after all as I have stated before, we are near the top of the food chain.

This Thanksgiving why not say a special thank you to the turkey you are about to eat. Native Americans always thank the animal they are going to eat, for giving up its life to sustain theirs. If it sort of bothers you to eat animals, then try giving some recognition to the animals’ plight. Thank them for being a part of your celebration, and let them know that their death is appreciated.

Thanks!

Imagine living in a crude log home. The winter is coming soon, and you have no food to get you through. You look at your neighbor and wonder how long you could get by if you cooked him. But your neighbor is getting just as thin as you are, and you realize there isn’t enough meat on his bones to feed you and your family for long. Enduring many months on a ship to make it to your new home where you are free from religious oppression, and now it seems that you will all die.

As all of these terrible thoughts are going through your head, you see a movement in the bushes on the other side of the clearing. The native people of this new land have seen your plight and have come to help feed you, and to show you how to make a living off the land of your chosen new home. This one act of friendship, and caring, will mean the destruction of these same natives.

We celebrate Thanksgiving and fondly remember the kind Native-Americans who provided the necessary food for our forefathers to survive on this continent. Without them, things may have been a lot different in the world. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Native-Americans would have survived no matter who first claimed North America.

The sad truth is, if it weren’t for one group of white men it would be another. England, Spain, France and others were all poised to try and claim North America for their own. The downfall of the Native-Americans was that they were too nice. They were the unfortunate casualty of progress in the modern world.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s remember the Native-Americans, the African-Americans, the Irish-Americans, and all of the other hyphenated Americans and emigrants that helped to build this country up to what it is today. Many different cultures poured a lot of sweat and blood into this country, and many more have gave their lives defending that way of life even today.

There will be a lot of articles that will talk about the men and women that are now serving this country at home and overseas. This is just another one of those articles. I’d like to think that the quantity of these types of articles show that Americans do understand what is at stake, and just who is to thank for their ability to eat turkey until they have to undo their pants and sit on the couch to watch football.

Our military are on every continent, and just about in every country on this planet. Every one of them is there for one purpose and one purpose only. To ensure that those of us that are living back here in the United States have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.

Many of our military will spend the holiday season eating sand and walking around with targets painted on their backs so that they draw the attention, and the war, away from their families and friends in this country.

The attack on 9-1-1 was horrendous. Not simply because we were being attacked on our own soil, but for who was attacked. Thousands of innocent people were slaughtered with no remorse of the action. Historically an enemy would focus their attacks on military targets. That is what the military does. Its purpose is to place itself in harms way so that the people they represent don’t have to. Almost every country believes this, and follows this unspoken rule; until recently.

The enemy we now face is the worst form of coward I have ever known. They sneak around blowing up innocent non-combatant civilians. For some bizarre reason they think that their war involves anyone who does not think as they do. They are like a cancer on this planet, and they spread their vile filth to the minds of their children. Never mind the fact that their twisted sense of war has not worked throughout the history of this planet, and will never work or allow them to ever achieve their goals.

This is why the rest of the world views them for what they are, spineless, cowardly, murderers of innocent people. Nice religion folks. I would really love to see some sort of goals based on their beliefs. Do they honestly think they can kill every living soul who does not believe as they do? Do they honestly think that this will attract more people over to their way of thinking?

It’s easy to brainwash idiotic citizens when you prevent them from learning and to thrive with freedom. Once the communication doors are open, and freedom takes hold in a country, it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. The Soviet Union attempted this a while back and it didn’t go very far at all. Free people will not be oppressed again. They will fight to remain free!

This Thanksgiving we all have a lot to be thankful for. Top on the list is our freedom. A close second is the ability to bring freedom to others who have known only fear and hatred. Terrorist will eventually run out of steam, and supporters. The eyes of the Earth are being pried open slowly. Soon, there will be very few people left who are in the dark.

I am thankful for the men and women, both past and present, which have fought for the freedom that we now enjoy. I am thankful for a strong president that was able to stand up against the weaker of our nation and lead the fight a little further to rid this world of evil. And I am thankful that I live in a country where I am free to write down my views and share with you all my thoughts whether they are a popular position or not.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2003

Push Me, Shove You

Lately it seems more and more like the terrorists are on the offensive. Daily we are seeing news that something else has been blown up. English targets were hit recently to coincide with our Presidents visit to England. Has the free world bitten off more then they can chew this time?

It’s a sad world we live in where people have to die for a cause. Whether that cause is freedom, democracy, or religion, people should not have to die to defend their views. Yet this is what is happening all around us, and it’s the same process which has molded the world throughout its history. If you don’t live the way we want you to, we’ll attack you until you do.

You know what’s really nuts? As terrible as that sounds, by not attacking we leave ourselves open to being attacked and taken over by others.

There is no handholding “Kum Ba Yah” answers to world relations.

It all rolls back to the “survival of the fittest” rule that I tend to lean on with many explanations. It’s not how right your view is, or even if your view is correct. It comes down to whomever has the largest pair to enforce that their view will be dominant.

We hear that we are fighting for the cause of freedom for all people, but isn’t the point that we are fighting for “our” brand of freedom for all people?

Those that we are fighting believe just as strongly that their religion, as oppressive as it seems to us, is the only true path. The sad part is that their religion, like most organized religions, is terrible. To rule an entire region of the world by one group’s narrow-minded religious views is crazy. THAT, my friends, is what we are fighting for.

The fact that we have opened up a hornet’s nest should not concern us. This mess in the world has gone on too long, and the only way to eventually remove the problem is to keep at it until it is, well, suppressed. I believe that from this day forth we will have terrorist attacks for a long time to come. We must meet this challenge head on, and root out the little bastards wherever they fester. Killing innocent people to try to make your point has never been acceptable in a civilized society. Just like children these folks need to finally be taught some manners.

The world community has looked the other way while countries commit atrocities against their populations. The United States has done this as well. On the defense of those countries, it’s difficult to make the decision to go into another country and slap them around for acting like thugs. It’s an extremely brave decision to finally say enough is enough.

I don’t think any leader wants to be the one to risk his population just to straighten out the sleaze in another country, but I for one am proud that G.W. had the strength to make that decision for us. Even if it did take 9-1-1 to make us realize that the time has come to open up a can of whup-ass.

Change is a hard thing to take, and we are in the process of not only moving the cheese of another country, but we’re trying to change the way of life they have lived since the beginning of history. That’s a huge movement, of cheese that is…

We cannot turn tail and run because a few of them are blowing things up and killing folks. The end result of that move would be a complete and total disaster for the world. The only course of action is to stay in the fight no matter how long it takes. Believe me when I say, this fight is going to take a long time and span the terms of multiple presidents.

For as long as we are dedicated to this cause we will be under attack, both on our home soil, and in other countries. I believe that if we stick to the fight, and if all other freedom-loving countries stick to it as well, we will prevail! We will never please everyone, but we can certainly defuse many of the runaway evil empires that have surfaced in this world.

Another disaster would be if other countries left us to fight this fight alone. It would take down our strength and start to wear on our resolve. We would be forced to pull back to a smaller front. This would send a terrible message to terrorists and evil countries all over the world. For this reason England, and all other countries that are in this fight with us should be praised for taking a stand for freedom.

Just as there will always be idiots that commit heinous crimes against people in this country, the same will be true worldwide. The goal is to make this the exception, not the rule. In our country people kill others, but it’s on a manageable level. It will be a long process, but I think the world community can reach this level of civilized behavior. Sure it’s a lofty goal, and some weaker people in our society can’t even fathom a world where terrorists are a small problem.

From my viewpoint, protesting the extermination of terrorism is showing us where the weakness in our society truly is. The folks who believe that if we just all hold hands and sing songs, the big bad people will leave us alone is borderline crazy. That line of reasoning went down with the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Terrorists have slapped us in the face with their gauntlet; we cannot afford to cower now, or ever!

Thursday, November 20, 2003

A COLUMN FOR SOPHIE, THE TOBACCO BUSTER

[The following article is reprinted with permission from Bob Lonsberry. More great articles by Bob can be found at his website at www.lonsberry.com Thanks Bob!]

This column is for my daughter Sophie.

She is 10, a fifth-grader, and a Tobacco Buster. That's what her T-shirt said yesterday. Tobacco Buster. She and some others wore them as they trouped from classroom to classroom in the elementary school, making a presentation about smoking.

She's learned about smoking in school and is very serious about it. I remember how that is. When I was her age, and younger, I was very serious about it myself.

I remember being about 7 and getting a lesson in school about the dangers of smoking and the number of years it would take off one's life. I went home afterward and made some calculations and took them to my mother.

I told her when she would die, and how old I would be, and how afraid that made me, and how I wished she would stop smoking.

She laughed and told me not to worry and kept on smoking.

Then and for years to follow. After the nodes came and her voice went raspy and the hacking, phlegmy, nearly passing-out coughing fits took hold of her and she had to lift the nasal canula out of the way to light her cigarettes.

She's out on Greenwood Street now, a little lichen-scarred stone between her third and fourth husbands.

She's grama-in-the-picture-frame. An 8-by-10 smiling face unknown to or barely remembered by her grandchildren. Just like her father is a fleeting memory to me, a wheezing emphysemic with a cigarette and a cough, dead long before I was old enough to even know what a grandfather was.

My people drown in their own fluids, with blackened cancerous lungs and the stench of burnt tobacco in their hair.

My grandfather and my mother and my uncle and another uncle sick now and my brother with a canula of his own.

This column is for my daughter Sophie.

She is a Tobacco Buster and she takes it seriously. She is learning in the classroom what I hope she never has to see in person, the agony and terror of people who can't breathe, and the hurt of lives they leave empty by their absence.

Today is the Great American Smoke-out, or something like that. That gimmicky thing they do each year for people who have lost the instinct of self-preservation. A little plea to smokers to try for one day to suspend the slow suicide of their habit.

I admit I've kind of lost interest in it.

I've kind of given up hope. You can cry and plead and beg and argue and none of it does the slightest bit of good. They nod their heads and mouth platitudes about how they know it's bad for them but they just can't stop or they like it or how their grandfather smoked two packs a day and lived to be 92.

Blah-blah, blah blah blah.

Different person, same tired nonsense.

I've kind of given up hope.

But I am touched by Sophie's enthusiasm and faith. She and the others went from classroom to classroom with a simple and obvious message - don't touch the stove, it's hot. Don't do that, it will hurt. Don't smoke, you'll die.

And maybe the children listened.

Or maybe they went home and feared for their parents.

And maybe your heart is too shrouded by selfishness and cowardice for that to sink in. And maybe I don't care. Because if you don't give a damn about yourself, why should I?

Smoke and die for all I care. Better people than you have done it and the rest of us have gone on fine. We don't need you, we don't feel sorry for you, you're bringing it on yourself.

Screw you and your cigarettes.

If only you'd have the good graces to go off on an island somewhere and fight for breath alone, out of our earshot, where your slow-motion death isn't played out for your family to watch and cry over, a last token of your incomprehensible selfishness.

It's your life you end, but it's other people's lives you ruin. The ones whose misfortune it is to love a smoking idiot like you. You will put them through hell and leave them prematurely bereft and denied the birthright of family because you're too spineless to put down that freaking cigarette.

I don't pity you, I hold you in contempt.

And so, eventually, will your loved ones. When they realize what your smoking did to them and their children. We would hate someone who killed our parent, so what should we feel for parents who kill themselves?

Who become grama-in-the-picture-frame, a smiling 8-by-10 reminder that she loved cigarettes more than family, nicotine more than blood, habit more than home.

This column is for my daughter Sophie.

The one who is very serious about tobacco.

The one who is the spitting image of the grandmother she never knew.

- by Bob Lonsberry (c) 2003

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Stupid Is, As Stupid Does

This morning while driving to work I was almost broadsided. Does anyone know what the little red upside down triangular traffic sign with the word “Yield” on it means?

Further along my extremely short journey to work I saw a pedestrian just about run over by the woman in front of me as they were strolling across the street while staring at the steady red, open-palm, facing them. Can someone tell me what that sign means? Now let’s not always see the same hands.

Is it my imagination, or is the world populated by idiots? Weren’t we all supposed to learn as children to read signs, look both ways before crossing the street, and oh yes, cross in a crosswalk and not 15 feet back up the street from the crosswalk. How many times have you seen people darting across a very busy street with a perfectly good crosswalk, and light-controlled intersection, just a few yards away?

As an added benefit at night, these walking fence posts dress all in dark colors, just in case there might be a chance of actually seeing them. I especially like the addition of bicycles so that it enhances their speed as they plunge across unlighted streets.

Here’s a little scenario that I see frequently as well. You’re driving down the freeway, cruising along on a nice sunny day, radio blasting out some soothing rock ‘n roll, you check your mirror, everything looks normal. Suddenly, you catch movement out of the corner of your eye in the same mirror you just checked and here comes some dip-zweeby on a motorcycle going 95 MPH wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and sandals, weaving in and out of the lanes like some Mario video game. Does anyone else wonder why motorcycle riders die easier then those of us in cars?

When I was living in Colorado, I was stunned to learn that when a left-turn light turns red, that means that at least six more cars can proceed to turn left in front of the on-coming traffic. People talk about the driving in California, but in Colorado they tend to mix a little dangerous in with their fast. All the sand on the streets during the winter just adds a touch of excitement as you glide around corners like you’re driving on marbles.

Have you ever looked at warnings on various items and wondered why they sounded so dumb? The reason that warning is there is that some grey-matter lacking gonzo tried to do what they are warning you about. Here are just a few examples.

"Caution: The contents of this bottle should not be fed to fish." -- On a bottle of shampoo for dogs.

"For external use only!" -- On a curling iron.

"Warning: This product can burn eyes." -- On a curling iron.

"Do not use in shower." -- On a hair dryer.

"Do not use while sleeping." -- On a hair dryer.

"Do not drive with sunshield in place." -- On a cardboard sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard.

"Do not eat toner." -- On a toner cartridge for a laser printer.

"Do not use for drying pets." -- In the manual for a microwave oven.

"Do not use as ear plugs." -- On a package of silly putty.

"Warning: has been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice." -- On a box of rat poison.

"Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage." -- On a portable stroller.

"Do not iron clothes on body." -- On packaging for a Rowenta iron.

"Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly." -- On a child sized Superman costume.

"Not for human consumption." -- On a package of dice.

"Do not dangle the mouse by its cable or throw the mouse at co-workers." -- From a manual for an SGI computer.

"This product not intended for use as a dental drill." -- On an electric rotary tool.

Well I think you get the basic idea. People are so sue happy these days that anytime some ninny does something completely unexpected, and for what the product was never intended, the manufacturer must then warn others to not attempt the same maneuver.

Personally, I say don’t warn these folks. Let’s get them out of the gene pool so that they don’t continue to breed. Sometimes it seems that attempting to save the cerebrally-challenged among us can only lead to further generations of people who just might use a garden hose internally.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Ice Cream Headache

Some of you may know that I am an active member of the local Water Rescue Team. Today we had a training dive. Almost all of the dive team members wear dry suits, which means water rarely touches their skin. Inside the dry suit they can wear long underwear, or anything else that will keep them toasty. Being new to cold water diving (all of our lakes in Utah were geothermally heated), I still wear a 7mm wetsuit.

Diving with the rescue team is not your typical scuba diving experience. Most of the dives are in fairly cold water, poor visibility, and shorter then your average sightseeing dive.

Today would not disappoint me by breaking any of the above factors.

The air temperature was a balmy 41-degrees Fahrenheit, and the water was warmer at 44-degrees. In addition to the lovely temperatures, it was raining on us as well. Great weather for the snow skiers because the mountains were getting dumped on. For scuba diving, it was a great day to be under water.

Since I’m still one of the new guys on the team, some of the others planned to bring me into a scenario instantly. One of the more seasoned rescue divers was working a search pattern with one of our support people while I was suited up and sitting on the dock as the safety diver.

Suddenly, I see multiple tugs on the line heading to the rope tender, which indicates the diver was in trouble. Everyone alerted the nearby team members as I placed my mask on my faced and tried to pull the strap over my head. Since I rarely dive with as thick of a hood then what I had on, the mask strap would not go over, and as a safety diver you need to get into the water ASAP.

I yanked my hood back off my head, pulled the mask on and jumped in the water immediately heading down the rope toward the distressed diver. As I descended I was glad to discover that the psuedophed I had taken was working, and I could drop rapidly. I’m one of the lucky ones that hardly ever have any ear troubles while diving. I can normally freefall as deep as I need to and as quickly as I need to at any given moment.

My ears were not an issue during the descent, but the temperature of the water woke me right up. Ever have an ice-cream headache? Picture one of those surrounding your entire head and ears and coming on instantaneously. My adrenaline had fortunately kicked in as well and I focused on the task at hand, determining the cause of the divers problem and performing a rescue.

Visibility was about 6 feet today so as I approached the diver I could see him lying on the bottom with his regulator still in his mouth, and with him apparently still breathing. He was wearing a dry suit, so I tapped his inflator and made him a little more buoyant. He was still a tad heavy, and I didn’t want to ditch his weight belt before trying one last thing. A few taps on his buoyancy compensator (BC) was all it took to get him and me heading to the surface.

Once we broke the surface I flipped him on his back, inflated his BC all the way to keep his mouth out of the water, and headed for shore. At the shore the support personnel were waiting to help remove him from the water and to provide additional aide if necessary.

This was only a drill, but since I was not in on the plan it felt like it was a real rescue until we were at shore. I will admit that I suspected it was just an exercise, since he was very experienced, was only down for a short time, fairly shallow, and was breathing through his regulator when I approached him. Knowing that it was an exercise did not change any of the actions that were performed however.

After the rescue it was my turn to perform the search pattern, and practice scouring the nasty, muddy, thickly weeded, bottom for evidence of the made up crime. You can’t imagine all of the junk at the bottom of a lake, especially near a dock or popular spot on shore.

Why would anyone jump into 40-degree water willingly you may wonder? Well, I love to dive, and I have always wanted to be on a search and rescue (SAR) team. I was starting the process of joining the Rocky Mountain SAR team but was soon transferred by the Air Force to Alaska. The local scuba SAR in Colorado had to be an employee of the ambulance service to cover liability.

In everything I do I seem to require a purpose. I love writing computer programs, but only do so when I have a need of a particular program. Scuba diving isn’t any different. If I lived near a gorgeous reef I may do more diving for fun. Until that happens, looks like my reason to dive here will be for SAR missions. One day I will become a scuba diving instructor, and perhaps my purpose may shift then.

Diving on the Water Rescue Team not only gives me a reason to dive into cold lakes, but also allows me to use a rare skill up here in the Pacific Northwest to help others and to contribute something to the community in the process. You don’t realize how great a hot shower feels until you’ve been swimming in 40-degree water.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Jessica Lynch

Okay, so I watched the Diane Sawyer interview of Jessica Lynch tonight. Did you really think I would not have an opinion to share with you all? Here’s my take on some things that came to mind while watching the interview.

You know what I find sad? Hearing people ask why Jessica Lynch is getting all of the attention and they are not. One thing that helps me cope with this nonsense though, is that it seems that these comments are coming from the relatives of the military members, and not the military members themselves.

Luckily, Jessica Lynch sounds like she is doing well while trying to deal with her injuries, and her popularity. She has the support of the Army, as well as a very loving community and family. If you saw the interview, I’m sure you don’t need me to rehash the heartwarming parts, and are anxious to read some of my more critical thoughts on the subject.

At one point, Diane leads Jessica into commenting on the fact that her rescue was filmed by the military. Jessica seemed to be of the opinion that her rescue should not have been filmed. My thought is, why not? A daring rescue, or what was thought to be a daring rescue, should be filmed. When a country is at war why not do a little PR work and film what was hopefully going to be a fantastic rescue?

We find out from Jessica, and upon hindsight, that the hospital was not really defended at all, and was basically just a hospital. Comments were made that the military went in using maximum force, and perhaps too much force was used.

When you’re at war, how much force is too much force? If I were a person asked to organize the rescue of a P.O.W., I would most certainly assume that this P.O.W. was heavily guarded because it was a fairly rare thing for the Iraqi’s to actually have a prisoner. How could you even think that resistance would be minimal? It’s easy to armchair quarterback this type of situation, but I think the military approached the rescue in the absolute correct manner.

If there were even minor resistance, and the rescue force was ill prepared and all killed, what sort of story would that have made? Better to be over prepared then taken by surprise. This isn’t football, it’s a war!

Let’s not forget about the Iraqi doctor’s and nurses who helped save Jessica, and cared for her while she was in their charge. I realize that many people have some harsh views on Iraq, and Muslims in general since 9-1-1, but I also realize that an entire society is not to be blamed for the sins of a few of its members.

Perhaps I’m an optimist, but I feel there is good in all people, and that an entire race should not be condemned for the actions of a few. Don’t get me wrong, we should be fighting with full force during this war on terrorists, but as we have learned throughout history, our beef is not with every single Muslim, but with those who use their religion to try and justify their actions. You bet your butt I’m taking an extra cautious look at any Muslim looking individual I see in this country, but I am not automatically condemning their entire race in the process. In this country, I still believe that you are innocent until given a reason to suspect otherwise.

One story I have been hearing is that Jessica Lynch is getting more disability pay then Shoshana Johnson. If they both had similar circumstances, why is Shoshana getting less then Jessica? I have read story after story adding fuel to Jesse Jackson and his typical idiotic, narrow-minded view of life as he thinks he sees things. The fact is, that it’s very obvious that Jesse Jackson, and the multitude of reporters who write things that they have no clue about, are all confused.

Disability percentages are based on the amount of injuries or medical issues you have, not by your skin color or how loud a family whines. There are many blacks, Hispanics and other races who receive disability pay equal to or greater then Jessica Lynch. There are also a large number of white folks that are receiving smaller disability percentages then Jessica.

Should everyone injured in Iraq receive 100% disability just because? Should they just toss out how disability percentages are figured out because Jesse Jackson has once again opened his mouth wide enough to drive a truck through, then shoved his foot into it all the way up to his ankle? As far as I can tell, it’s Shoshana’s family, and not Shoshana, who have brought this mess up. All I have to say to them and Jesse is… Whaaaaaa!

On a happier note, it’s nice to see the media go over to Iraq looking for the poor GI stories, and come back instead with stories of many soldiers that believe we should be over there, and that we are doing a good thing. There are many successes, and a lot of proof that we are on the right path.

There are still news stories of the terrible things we are doing over in Iraq. There are stories about the war that is being fought for oil, or the poor soldiers that have been injured during this conflict. Even with all of this negative reporting, I feel that the American people know the truth, and sometimes these claims just seem so silly I can’t believe that some people believe them.

A recent claim was that the war was created by our current administration for political reasons. Do people really think that anybody, much less our president, would do such a thing for just a political means to an end? Just because past presidents seemed to have wagged the dog for political gains, I have not seen, or heard, one shred of evidence to even come close to support these fairly tales.

I have one question for you on closing.

What did you and your family do to honor the veterans today?

If your answer was nothing, remember them in your prayers and at your table on Thanksgiving. You can honor them daily, or at any time. When you see a person in uniform, thank them for their service. Next veterans’ day, try a little harder to remember those who have fallen, and became injured, so that we can live as free as we do.

A special thank you to all who have served, and who are currently serving, this country.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

The American Way

The word politics used to bring to mind the dream of going to Washington D.C. and representing the will of the people. It once was a noble idea to champion a cause, and try to make a difference. This government claims to be run by the people, and for the people. After seeing some of the things coming out of various governments, whether local or federal, sometimes it feels like it’s just a political system run by career politicians with their own personal agendas.

It’s easy to look at government, and politicians, and just want to give up. Many people I have heard that don’t vote think that it doesn’t make any difference; things will go the way they are going to go with or without them. I too used to feel that way, but not any more and I’ll tell you why.

Several things have happened recently that gives me hope for America and democracy. Four examples where people stood up to the few idiots and made their voices heard. It seems like Americans are tired of taking crap from people of any kind. Foreign countries, governments, courts, and even television networks have been put on notice just recently.

Thanks to a strong president, the United States is once again commanding respect from the world community. I always feel a since of pride when we, as a country, don’t take any crap from anyone else. The people of this country have relayed their thoughts on terrorism to the top of this country, and they have responded. I’m all for diplomacy, but there always comes a time when it’s time to stop talking and start standing up for what you have been talking about. Afghanistan, and now Iraq have learned this, and other countries are taking notice. If G.W. gets re-elected, I think the rest of the nasty nations will fall into line as well.

What can we do to help? Stop paying any attention to any whiney-butts who say we need to pull out of Iraq. Regardless if you personally think we should have gone in or not, the fact is that we did and the only intelligent thing to do is to stay until Iraq can police themselves. Stop listening to the media, and a few ignorant folks who you call friends. The truth is if we leave Iraq now, all of those military folks have lost their lives for nothing.

We ARE making a difference over there, and if you think we aren’t, I’d love to hear your plan. Don’t just cry and say it’s all for the oil, or some anti-Bush B.S. unless you have exact examples and proof of your comments. The mass graves they have found with hundreds of thousands of people in them from the previous regime are strong proof that we have done a good thing by removing a sadistic leader.

The politicians tried to slap the people of California in the face and prevent them from taking back control of where they live. A legal attempt was tried to block the will of the Californian people, but they slapped back. It was such an overwhelming pressure that was building that the courts grabbed their heads firmly and pulled. After their cranialectomy, they supported the recall of the worthless governor. Hopefully, Arnold will work hard for the people. He does have a long road ahead with all of the fire damage on top of all of the past governors damage, but I believe he’ll go the distance for the people of California.

The people once again rose to the occasion by showing a judge that he is not all powerful, and he cannot bring his own bias into a government building by making him remove his Ten Commandments monument. I’m shocked at his continued attempt to fight this fight. It shows me that this judge does not understand his impartiality at all, and proves that our court system is prone to the bias of others. The scary thing is that every one of you has seen this type of bias from bosses and companies, and sometimes even neighborhoods where you live. Not just religious, but race, sex, and even interests. The last thing we need is a strong bias in our courtrooms. It’s nice to see the people win one every once in a while.

Finally, there is CBS, and their foiled attempt at delivering a mini-series about Ronald Reagan that was very unflattering, and mostly slanderous. This attempt at making Reagan out to be some sort of monster president was first excused by saying that it was only a fictional mini-series, and not a documentary. How silly is that?

CBS knew that fiction or not, if they had made Reagan say things in that mini-series, many people are dumb enough to believe that is how Reagan really was. The only reason to do something like this, and coming into an election year where the current president is very Reagan-like, was to try and bring down the current president.

Under extreme pressure from the people, they have decided not to air the show on CBS. It may surface on Showtime, but who cares about Showtime. The mini-series has been exposed for what it was, and a Showtime airing may just turn out to have the lowest watched audience in the history of the channel.

This last incident reminds me of the story the L.A. Times broke about Arnold groping women something like twenty years ago. It’s amazing how bringing out the story a week before the recall didn’t seem unusual for the paper. How stupid do the media really think we are?

Seeing the people finally stand up to the media for things like this Reagan mini-series, the Arnold story, judges for the California recall block attempt, the Ten Commandments monument, and finally to countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, makes me feel good to be American once again. If you are against all of these recent victories for freedom, perhaps it’s time to take a long look into the mirror and ask yourself what exactly you do support.

Once again, I’m proud to be an American!

Monday, November 03, 2003

Bye Bye Baby

I don’t know of any more debated subject then that of abortion. It’s a difficult topic, with emotions running high on both sides of the issue. Oh sure, each camp has a pile of information as to why they are correct. The major flaw with each position is that they come from a narrow minded viewpoint.

Does this mean my opinion is any less flawed? Hardly. This topic has been running through my mind for years. Every time I hear about it in the news, I start thinking about what I believe should be the right choice. The truth is, I have been waffling between both sides, and I’m probably still not sure what the best course of action is. I’m always up for a challenge though, so it’s time for me to climb down off the fence and tackle this subject head on.

Please don’t get the wrong idea when reading this article. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, nor would I presume to tell you how you must believe this problem be resolved. In fact, after reading my views you may come out of this even more confused then you went in. So let’s get going and see where this takes us.

While contemplating this subject for the umpteenth time, I tried to get a feeling for how it could be broken down. Many complicated things can usually be broken down into more simplistic parts. After the simple parts are analyzed and understood, then they can be reassembled and hopefully we can then gain a better insight and conclusion for what we were so confused about in the first place.

The act of simplifying the various components of abortion is not meant to trivialize the subject in any way. This is not a flippant attempt to gain some sort of following on my way of thinking. I am not a leader of any cause, and I am certainly not a follower of any special interests. My goal is to try and come to grips with a battle that has divided the world, and try to see if I could help myself to better understand what was at stake in the answers.

I’d like to begin by answering the question of where life begins. After giving this only a brief moment of thought it was very apparent to me that life begins at the fertilization of an egg by the sperm. Isn’t it obvious to anyone that from that moment on there is a new life in the making? I’d really be curious to hear from anyone who does not agree with this view.

Just because the life is not physically recognizable as a baby, does not make it any less viable. The fact remains, that once fertilization has occurred, the new life is on an express ride to being a human being. Therefore, any termination of that life should be classified as killing that life.

It sickens me to think that people are trying to measure the amount a life has grown and judging at which stage it is considered a human. I’m sorry, but this seemed extremely basic to me, yet at times in the past I found myself listening to the other side of the argument like there was some scientific explanation at when a life was a life. In the end, no complicated smoke and mirrors are needed. Any person with a basic understanding of how babies are made can tell you when they become a life.

Now that we have the foundation of when life begins for a human being, lets move on to the actual act of when aborting that life is acceptable. While we’re at it, let’s remove the term abortion, and just call it what it is, murder.

Is murder too strong of a word for you? It even feels weird to write it, but if we accept the previous facts of when a life begins, then the ending of that life on purpose must be called murder. The term abortion seems like an attempt to make it sound like it’s a medical procedure rather then purposely killing a human being.

Keeping with the process of breaking things down to their simplest components, let’s say that there are two occasions when the murder of a fetus can take place as an abortion. These I like to call the “Oops”, and the “Uh-oh”.

The “Oops” thought process for the murder is for those occasions when a baby was not planned. This can be from a one-night stand, kids that are not yet adults, or even legally married people that accidentally slipped one past the goalie. Whatever the circumstances, these babies began life without their parents being able to foretell their coming.

Oops babies should never be murdered under any circumstance. No matter the embarrassment to religious circles from unwed mothers, the difficulties raising a child by a child, or the financial strain it might place on a family to have another child. In these cases, the fact is, you made the decision to have sex, and it’s time to take responsibility for that decision.

Sure an Oops baby can cause strain, be hard work to raise, or make stupid people talk about it behind your back. So what? Would these be grounds for murder? Gee, should we allow the killing of children if a family has to file for bankruptcy? Thin the herd so the rest of the family survives? Of course not, so why should we allow it early on?

If a family or mother truly cannot support, or mentally deal with, a new baby, then they should still have to carry it to term, look it in its helpless little eyes, then give it up for adoption if they still feel the need. There should be no question in these cases.

Now “Uh-oh” babies are a different story. This is where I am a little fuzzy on when an uh-oh baby comes along. I have heard that there are medical reasons that murdering the fetus is required, maybe to save the life of the mother, or that there is something seriously wrong with the fetus, like it will be born without a brain. To me, it sounds perfectly plausible that there are cases that must be treated medically for sound medical reasons. The same reasons that doctors make all of their decisions, to save a life or to prevent unnecessary suffering.

If you’re a regular reader of my articles, you probably are aware that I am a big fan of freedom. Although freedom is a great thing, it also comes at a price. Some people mistake the term freedom as meaning that they have the power to do anything they want, to whomever they want, and whenever they decide. This is not true. Freedom should be something that is granted as long as the granting of that freedom does not harm another human being. In the case of murdering unborn babies, you are not free to choose who lives and who dies.

Women in our country have incredible amounts of freedom. In fact, I’d say that the United States of America is probably one of the few countries that allow women almost any freedom they desire. Women can use birth control, vote, and pretty much pursue any career of their choosing. Sorry ladies, but I would be the first to stand in the way for the freedom for you to murder unborn babies.

I will concede that in some areas women still have difficult times, but they should realize that we all have trouble in some form or another in our society. Minority races, women, and even the proverbial white male all have areas where who they are can limit their access. Perfection will always be fleeting, but we continue to try.

So, should we look down upon women who have had abortions in the past as murderers? Certainly not! This subject has been so confusing for so long that I can’t even imagine having to make such a choice. I do think as a society we need to focus on treating it for what it is, and educating the masses as to why it is murder.

There is no freedom of choice issue, there is no religious versus atheism, or anything else here. We do not allow people to murder other people for any reason in this country, so the time has come to take a firm stand on this one. Of course, there is the death penalty, but let’s save that one for another time.

Finally, the old argument that women will just go into dark alleys to have it done is a lame one. People will also buy drugs, and murder people, this does not mean we legalize drugs and murder so it can be done in a more civilized manner. No matter how you slice it, abortions are murder. I’d love to hear an opposite opinion.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Living Hell - Fiction

The goblin lunged at Marcus, his intent clear. Revenge.

Witches, ghosts, vampires, princesses and a variety of sports figures witnessed the battle. None of them seemed interested in joining in, which was unfortunate for the little goblin. On this night, he would lose the spoils of his door-to-door efforts. The candy would go to the victor, and in this case, as with the other ten children before the goblin, it would be Marcus.

Marcus was evil. Not just because on Halloween night he stole candy from kids, but he was evil in ways that many normal people would never imagine evil could be. The professionals all agreed that Marcus had some sort of imbalance in his chemical make up. Almost all recommended that he be institutionalized for the protection of others. For some reason, Marcus fell through the cracks, and roamed the streets looking for trouble.

The police knew him well. From petty crimes, to torturing animals, Marcus has done it all. Unfortunately, nobody really knew Marcus. Nobody could even fathom the depths that Marcus had sunk to in his daily rituals. On the surface he presented an image of somebody to stay clear of, and most people in Los Angeles did just that. There was the typical staring, pointing, and talking as he passed, but that was all.

Marcus turned into an alley and entered into an abandoned store by pulling up the corner of a long-forgotten chain-link fence that was meant to secure the door. Inside, the place was nothing but a large empty room, filled with trash here and there, and many years accumulation of dust. There was a noticeable trail where the dirt had been trod, leading to a door on the other side of the room. Marcus followed the path he has taken hundreds of times before, and opened the door that led into the darkness of a storeroom below.

This was where Marcus called home. One dim bulb provided what little light Marcus required to do whatever it is he did down there. A small hotplate, microwave and refrigerator made up his kitchen, and a broken card table propped up on one side by a cardboard box was his only table. In one corner was a pallet with some blankets on it that he called his bed, in the opposite corner was a large hole in the wall.

Marcus tossed the candy from the nights haul onto the table, grabbed a handful and shoved it in his pocket, then walked through the hole in the wall which led to a ladder, and down into the sewer system. Once in the sewers he reached into a dark alcove and produced a small flashlight. The light clicked on and Marcus could see little things scurry from its beam. He felt most at home here among the rats and roaches, and enjoyed interacting with them from time to time. He directed the flashlight into the darkness and used it to guide him through a maze of tunnels until he reached his destination.

The door was closed, and if you hadn’t been looking for it you could easily walk right by. Marcus didn’t know what the room had been designed for, but it was perfect for his needs. The little room had power to it, and Marcus pulled the chain on the fluorescent fixture he had installed with some old wire he had found.

The light swayed back and forth throwing wild shadows around the room. Surprisingly, this room was better furnished then his home. There was a stainless steel table, and a long countertop with jars and a variety of odd instruments that seemed to be collected from many different professions from automotive to medical. There were a few cages in the room, some looking like plastic kennels you would use for transporting your pets, and others merely made from wire and sheet metal.

The table itself had nylon straps bolted to the sides in about six different locations, and it could be moved into various positions from standing straight up, to lying flat and low. Over the table was another light that circled a large magnifying glass. This was what Marcus considered his laboratory. This was his private place where he could perform ghastly experiments.

Nothing was safe from his work. The local rats, cats, dogs, and even the roaches themselves have all contributed to his quest for knowledge. What exact knowledge he was trying to obtain, was anybody’s guess. Marcus himself had no clue why he did what he did, all he knew was that he enjoyed his work, and saw no need to change how he performed it.

This was a rare occasion when he had no patience in the lab. The place was quite for now, but he was formulating a plan that would involve a few dogs, the candy he had gathered, and electricity. A smile grew on his filthy face as he began to plan the various experiments he could try, and what else he would need to do the job properly.

Marcus left his secret room, secured the door, and made his way back through the filth to the ladder. As he climbed the ladder his foot slipped from one of the rungs and he fell backwards about 15 feet onto the hard concrete below. He gave a grunt, and went to pull himself back up, but nothing happened. He could not move anything. He tried again, but not even a twitch of his fingers could be managed.

Laying there for a while Marcus thought that soon he would start feeling better and could once again move. He seemed to be able to see just fine, and breathing didn’t appear to be a problem. So he lay there a while looking at the intricate patterns of the walls. He noticed the ladder that betrayed him had a broken rung on it, and that must have been what caused him to fall.

Marcus had nothing but time on his hands. His mind began thinking of many new things he could do in his underground laboratory. Although he had yet experiment with humans, he had been toying with the idea for some time now. Maybe it still wasn’t too late tonight. The little kids were running around in their costumes, mostly unguarded. With everyone in costumes, and running amok, it would be the perfect time to gather a human specimen. His plans for the candy and electricity changed from using a dog, to using a small child. Then he saw movement on a pipe overhead.

His eyes were somewhat adjust to what little light the fallen flashlight was providing, and he could make out a rat scurrying along one of the many pipes that lined the ceiling of the sewers. Then he noticed that one was actually on his stomach, but he could not feel anything. He noticed it was doing something, but he could not see just what from his angle. The he saw it.

The rat had a little piece of flesh in his mouth, and some blood on his fur. Marcus began to panic inside, but still could not move. As he lay there, helpless as he could ever be, he saw more and more rats begin to crawl all over him. He knew they were tearing at his flesh, but could do nothing to stop them.

A cockroach crawled over his face, tickling his check as he crossed, then disappeared somewhere into his shirt. For a moment he was elated that he had felt the roach on his face. Perhaps he was getting better, and could soon show these rats who the boss really was down here. Another roach showed up, but this one stopped near his nose. The tickling of the tiny feet soon gave way to little painful sensations. The damn roach was biting his nose!

Terror welled up inside Marcus as the roaches and rats began to arrive in larger numbers. Hope was gone that he was ever going to be able to move. He tried to pinch the inside of his nose closed as the roaches ventured further into his nasal passages. He closed his eyes as they started crawling all over his face. He peeked out every now and then when he thought he had a clear moment. The rats now joined in with the roaches nibbling at his face, and the pain was excruciating but he could not scream, or move.

Marcus was trying to blow a rat away from his mouth when the flashlight started to dim. It wasn’t long before the light went out completely. Now Marcus lay in complete darkness, and the pain on his neck and face became surreal. He could feel a roach, or a rat, trying to chew on his eyelids as he tried to keep them tightly closed.

Nobody noticed that Marcus never came around anymore. He was one less vagrant to point at, stare at, and to wonder about. There were many more to fill his place as the weird and the strange on the streets of Los Angeles. There were no missing persons report filed, and no memorial services for him. Marcus had merely disappeared from the Earth.

Somewhere in the sewers of the city of angels, Marcus was distributed to feed the needy. The life of Marcus was finely worth something to nature, as a source of food.

Monday, October 27, 2003

It's Un-American!

I am starting to see a disturbing trend throughout politics at the state level, which is starting to trickle up to the federal level. This country is rapidly being sold to the lowest bidder. The capitalism that has made us strong is starting to tear us apart!

In the old days capitalism worked great because we practiced it, for the most part, within the confines of our own country. Over the years, however, more and more companies are either moving overseas to gain the cheap work forces, or bringing cheaper labor into this country.

The major infestation is from the South. People from Mexico have infiltrated this country by the millions. Now that we are beginning to crack down on this problem we have countries complaining because we are sending too many of their own people back to them. We catch these folks committing crimes in our country, export them to their legal country, and we’re to blame that the crime rates are going up where these people are being sent back.

Got a news flash for you countries. They’re your problem to start with! They are YOUR legal citizens, not ours. I think we should not only continue to round up these folks, but increase our efforts. If later on we believe that we need to bring a cheaper work force into this country, then at that point we can create a better work visa program to accommodate this.

The answer to a huge number of illegal immigrants in this country is not to make them all legal! I am reading scores of articles about the poor children who can’t go to college, drive, etc… because they were brought here illegally and now they have grown up here. Hey kids, it’s because your parents are criminals of this country. It’s not the taxpayers’ burden to support you; it’s your parents’ burden for doing this to you!

I really do feel for these people, and their kids. I’m just at a loss as to what to do about the situation. There is a part of me that wants to nationalize them all, and welcome them into America with open arms. Why not? Many of them are hard-working people trying to do what is best for their families.

Should we legalize them all and start giving them paychecks so we can tax their income? Something has to be done because out current methods don’t seem to be working. Maybe we can nationalize the ones who have already made it, and increase our border strength to prevent more from crossing.

It clearly is a complex issue, but giving people that illegally entered this country all of our benefits is also not the answer. They need to be identified, accept the responsibilities of belonging to this country, and become Americans to gain the liberties that we enjoy.

On the other side of the coin we are bringing even more people into this country through work visas. Rumor has it that a bill is being pushed up that will largely increase these numbers. This is mainly true for the cheaper technology workers of places like India who will work for cheaper wages in our country.

The problem is that those of us who work in the technology industry will be getting the shaft. It’s already evident in the fact that technology positions don’t pay near what they used to, and every help desk you call, from any company, has heavily accented folks working the phone lines. I don’t care if they are from other countries; I am not against equal opportunities for anyone. The trouble is that too many of our positions are being given to people from other countries, and they’re working on increasing these numbers!

I can envision the day when Americans may live in this country, but they no longer run this country! Soon, we’ll be tolerated as natives here, but interests will run this country from Japan, India, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. It’s already happening and apparently we are collectively too stupid to stop it! I don’t think it can be stopped any more then many countries could stop McDonalds from infiltrating their way of life.

What’s the answer? I don’t know. All I see is that we are losing our grip on what America is, and what it means to be American, and nobody seems to care. Perhaps this is the same feeling that other countries have regarding us moving our influence into their cultures? We’re quickly becoming part of a rising world community, and we should be planning in that direction, not fighting it.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Generally Speaking

You should know that I am not a religious man. Not in the context of any organized religion anyway. On the other hand, I am not an anti-religious man. Throughout history religion has played a major part in each race or people, and each country where human beings have sprung. I recognize its existence, and the role it plays in our society.

Recently, Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin has been placed in the spotlight based on some comments he made at church. What do I think about this?

In the military we are taught that we do not wear our uniforms to any organization or function we attend so that it does not give the appearance that the military is endorsing such a gathering. In fact, we are even discouraged from wearing our uniform outside the performance of our normal duties. For example, you don’t go to the mall in your uniform on the weekends to shop.

As with most things I comment on, I have not done a weeklong in-depth research into all of the facts of this case. My opinions spring from basically what I know by listening to the radio, watching the news, and reading brief news articles on the subjects. That being said, I’m not sure if the General wears his uniform to a civilian church, or to a church on a military base.

Now that I think about it, this should not be the issue either. The problem as I see it, is not that the general spoke his mind, based on his faith and belief system, or even that he slammed another religious belief in the process. The big problem is that he did it in uniform, and as a general. If he was talking wearing a suit and tie, this would have gone nowhere, but he was wearing a symbol of our country, and preaching against another religion in that uniform.

Every Sunday many military folks attend church, and say things like, “Lord please help bring our military home safely.” Some may even say, “watch over our military and protect them in their duty.” These comments are fine, and welcome in the spiritual uplifting that they provide to friends and family that hold the same belief system.

To quote Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility”. A general of the United States has great power, and great responsibility. Just as a political leader has to be careful what they say, how they say it, and to whom they say things, a general does as well.

Wearing of the uniform is not something you parade around in to impress people. You should not go into church in uniform so that everyone at church knows you’re a general too. A suit would be more appropriate in a civilian church setting on a day-to-day basis. Especially if you’re going to climb up on the soapbox and start preaching with a big dose of political commentary mixed in.

There is freedom of speech in this country, and that’s not what this is about. He has not been told he cannot speak his mind, or do so at church. Again, the issue was that he was doing so as a general of the United States military by wearing his uniform. This is wrong. And again, not wrong because he wore his uniform to church, but wrong because he began speaking about issues that can inflame a current situation.

Despite what Christians may think, there are many U.S. service men and women who are not Christian. I was one of them. Occasionally things would come out like Bible study after work, or praying in some meeting that would make me a little uncomfortable. If you start allowing leaders to attempt to rally their troops based on Christian teachings, eventually those troops are going to start feeling just as divided as the country does.

In the military we all shave our heads and wear the same uniform for a reason, so that we are all one big happy team. Start dividing that team by race, sex, or religion, and you will have a big mess on your hands.

If a general stood in a mosque, in uniform, and began telling of the joys of Allah we’d string him up big time. Or perhaps a general may stand up and pray to the goddess for strength and end the prayer with blessed be. How would you react then? Don’t whip out the, “well our founding fathers B.S.” either until you have read most of my articles on this site.

As I have mentioned time and again in my writings, we must be careful where religion is brought into the mix. Unfortunately, many of the Christian faith have not left the crusades behind them, and still believe that because they believe, the rest of the world should too.