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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dread in Computer Shops

Today (Monday) I was whipped by an issue.  I could not get several newly installed fonts to continue to appear in software dropdown font selections after a reboot.  This was the case even though after reboot they continued to appear elsewhere in the system’s list of installed fonts. It was a recurring problem—we had worked on the same issue periodically for several days.  The ultimate software fix is to re-image the computer.  In this procedure, the entire C: drive (including operating system) is erased and replaced by a previously built and saved image for that computer model. All software specific to the re-imaged computer (like specific printer drivers or special application software) has to be reinstalled.  For this reason, it is not the first solution that comes to mind; most often it is the last.   Software wipes and new installation comprise the ultimate solution for many device issues including weird problems with Blackberry phones and their synchronization with email software.  All these ultimate solutions share one deep emotion—dread.  Dread that the ultimate solution, despite its many pains, will be required.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Today in Sunday School

Today’s first lesson was from Matthew 16:13,15 (NRSV):  [Jesus] asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?...But who do you say that I am?”  “Who are you?  Why are you here?  These two questions are fundamental to our understanding of another human being.  The lesson concluded “…we will find God leading us to serve others in ways that will show us who we and Christ are” (Upper Room, 11/22/10).  The second lesson was from Psalm 115:13 (TEV): “[The Lord] will bless everyone who honors him, the great and the small alike.”  The lesson concluded “In Christian experience, every person—regardless of importance, ability, or achievement—can be filled with God’s spirit and share all the beauty and flavor of Christ.  As we come to know Christ’s love more and more deeply, we can be ‘filled with all the fullness of God’ and by doing so, show God to others” (UR, 11/23/10).

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Cut Off and Alone

There used to be a saying, “If you were marooned alone on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean, and could have only one book, what book would you want to have with you to read?”  Today (Saturday) I have an answer for that.  I wouldn’t want any book; I would want a solar powered computer and access to the internet.  Today I awoke to find that our phone line to the house was dead, and along with it any access to the internet through SDL.  I felt stranded.  I could not access email (except through my cell phone—which is a major struggle of miniature keys and screen).  I could not watch a movie or documentary on Netflix.  I could not access Wikipedia.  I could not get the BOGO ads for Publix.  I could not do my blog.  I could not play my internet radio.  When I discovered that the line would not be fixed until Monday at the earliest, I became like a baby deprived of his pacifier.  How spoiled I’ve become in the relative few years that the internet has developed.  What in the world will I do this weekend stranded without the internet?  Perhaps I could read a book.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Rocks

Christmas rocks because once a year (that’s about all we can afford) people throw caution to the winds and generously gift others; and however large, gifts are only a token of our appreciation and a dash of our love.  In this sense, Christmas is the most symbolic season of the year.  We revel in bestowing symbols of affection on others.  Because of this active symbol creation, we enjoy a deeply human endeavor.  It is great fun and makes all masters of symbolism.  Christmas is driven by an unrivaled confluence of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual rewards.  It is a high that comes with a price tag—but most feel is well worth it. 

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday Fare

From Fall Sailing (1972):












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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Still Undaunted

I have seen programs on the universe.  The numbers are a little mind numbing.  For one, the sun—merely a dwarf star—is about 865,000 miles across.  About 1,000,000 earths would fit inside the sun.  It is calculable that the sun will run out of fuel in about 5 billion years.  I simply don’t know how to react to these facts other than to say that I don’t feel in any way diminished by them.  I feel no less significant because of these figures.  To me this is similar to noting that there are approximately 7 billion people on earth today.  Why isn’t this figure daunting and a source of feelings of insignificance?  Yet, I go about my life as happy as a frisky brown dog with his tail wagging over his back.  There are several levels of awareness.  The most critical level is the sense of self and direct relationships, perceptions, and physical motivations.  Next come abstract perceptions dealing with awareness of human society such as city, state, and country.  Addition abstractions deal with concepts such as ideologies, religions, and political theory. Direct experience and abstractions both can command loyalty to the point of death.  But few people would die over a dispute about the size of the sun unless it was couched in terms of defending the abstraction of truth.  The health of the sun is not irrelevant to me; it’s just that the behavior of the sun is completely outside my influence or control.  Shall I vote to extend the life of the sun another 5 billion years?  That would be a silly exercise.  Humans will seek to know and understand the universe for it is in their nature to do so.  Usually knowing and understanding is precedent to some sort of control.  In the case of astronomy, for the time being at least, significant control is a distant dream on the order of faith.  For the time being at least, we must settle for the delight of understanding. Yet that delight is a powerful motivator as we experience the thrill of discovery.  There can even be something liberating about studying the nature of that which is beyond our control, about that to which we have to humbly adapt. 

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reality Lab

Today I worked all day at the TASCO Youth Graphics Technologies Lab.  While this is a government program under the auspices of the Leisure and Community Services of the City of Saint Petersburg, it is evident that it is not run like a government program—if by government program one means an assembly line process using second class equipment and software.  We recently upgraded computer memories to handle Adobe Photoshop CS5. The TASCO staff installed wall mounted widescreen monitors.  Adobe Creative Suite CS5 and Photoshop Elements for photo editing and Photoshop Elements Premiere for video editing are installed on laptops.  There is also software for audio editing. (Total number of computers: 7 desktops; 6 laptops.)  Cameras and video equipment are top of the line.  The student creations born from the program testify to the program’s genuine merit.  Judges in graphics competitions bestow top honors on the program’s entries.  Of course, quality neither begins nor ends in technology.  Rather it derives from the commitment of the staff and students to the pursuit of excellence.  Ethical values such as honesty, respect, and discipline are the origins and ends of the program.  Electronic gimmickry alone could not provide the gravitas that sturdily underlies the structure and assiduousness of the program.  This program clearly is more than a thin effort “to do something” for youth and to give officials an easy justification that “something” is being done.  The intention, the effort, and the product are securely grounded in reality.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Freely Gotten, Freely Given

It is sobering that people can reach mature adulthood and continue to expect that they can get something for nothing.  They can be shocked that a “free” offer for a trinket on-line that required only a shipping charge was really a gimmick to get their credit card information for subsequent fraudulent charges.  It is clearly true that we should (despite the advice of the aphorism) very carefully look gift horses in the mouth.  “Free offers” usually come with heavy strings attached.  Once this is said, however, the truth of the matter is that we really do get a lot for free.  For example, I live in a great city with friendly people.  I have an enjoyable job.  I’m loved by my family.  These are things that I did not nor could not earn.  Yet, correctly seen these are not gifts in the sense that I should hoard them and sit in a corner and selfishly attempt to guard them in my lap like a spoiled child.  Rather, these gifts should awaken a sense of celebration—and with it a sense of obligation.  This obligation is not a belated attempt to earn the blessings I have, but a facet of the mature human response of thankfulness.  This showing of appreciation is more than good manners, it is a simple realization that unearned gifts mean that un-repayable debts are now due.  Giving back is an inseparable aspect of thanksgiving.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Today in Sunday School

Today’s lesson came from Luke 10:42 (TEV) The Lord answered, “Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her.”  This initiated a wide ranging discussion of several issues.  One was the importance of placing priorities on the right things.  Mitch asked us to think of a Thanksgiving dinner that we really enjoyed.  It was likely one where everyone focused on enjoying everyone’s company—being a family—rather than being overly concerned with social correctness or putting up a front of perfection.  In all areas of life we need to keep it real and concentrate on genuine communication.  Kunte brought up the experience he had as a youth when he was bullied.  He said he feels like he is always under attack.  Mitch asked him to consider how he describes experiences.  To say that he is “always” under attack simply is not true.  He has many friends and is safe in many ways.  Kunte said that he took martial arts so that he could feel like he could defend himself.  It was mentioned that there are many kinds of strength not just physical.  We have all witnessed occasions where a tiny woman carriers herself in such a way that everyone knows that they had best not mess with her. There is character and spiritual strength.  And it was also mentioned that political leaders like presidents are constantly under attack.  Roughly half the country is of a different political party and can find nothing good in what the president does or says.  How do leaders under constant attack manage to keep a level head and a good attitude?  It comes down to not only physical rigor, but character and spiritual strength as well.  They have to be firmly committed and resolved to do their best despite heavy flak.

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A New Day

Today my brother Bob came by for a visit.  Tonight he is sleeping at our house, no great thing to mention except this is the first time he has ever done so.  The reason he has not done so before is very simple; my house was in no condition to invite visitors.  It was in too much of a mess.  But now since I’ve married Kathy everything is different.  We’ve had the bathroom and kitchen remodeled.  We have a new couch that lets out into a bed.  We have an ample supply of clean sheets, towels, and pillows.  All rooms are tidy and clean with many nice decorative touches to make a house a home.  For the first time, a welcome mat is out.  Kathy has made all this difference possible.  As I told Bob while at dinner at Olive Garden; putting my arm around Kathy I said “You don’t have to feel sorry for Wayne anymore.”  Like me, Bob finds the universe now in order. 

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Moody Again

This evening I feel at home once again.  Moody radio once broadcasted from WKES in Saint Petersburg.  Then in the 90’s the station moved to Lakeland.  I could no longer receive the station reliably.  This week I got an Internet Radio with built-in WiFi.  I am at this moment listening to Moody from Chicago.  It is playing hymns.  I look forward to hearing many Bible based programs.  The station is much more politically conservative than me, but the Christian programs make me a loyal fan anyway.  I will sincerely miss hearing Pastor Cole’s call-in program from Chicago for Bible related questions.  He has retired since I have been without the station.  He knew the Bible thoroughly.  I once attended a service at Keswick where Pastor Cole preached.  He was a kind and empathetic man—the necessary conditions for great intelligence.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Human Nature and the Lessons of Derivatives

The most obvious lesson of the derivative crisis is that unregulated financial markets are a disaster.  This is so due to basic human nature.  Greed, the desire to gather unrealistic returns, is inexpungible from the human character.  An associated characteristic of human nature is the desire to escape from responsibility thereby eviscerating the usual judgment required to build trust.  We trust our genuinely experienced emotion of greed and cease testing the trustworthiness of various otherwise dubious arrangements.  Another lesson presented is the tremendous gravitational force of conformity.  Under this force people stop doing their homework and using common sense (that is, somberly reflecting on human nature) and accept the judgment of established but biased opinion makers.  The last lesson of human nature I want to mention is the massive influence of fixed ideas.  A fixed idea (like the idea that markets best regulate themselves) becomes a moral imperative—a great “Should” that broadly clouds the judgment and intellect while giving a great sense of righteousness. Ideology, however righteous we may feel it is, should never be worshipped as an idol.  It should never take our eyes off the proven characteristics and weaknesses of human nature and the incomprehensible resourcefulness of God.   

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In Praise of Pedestrian Government

Sometimes I like to see the glass half full.  Sometimes I like to see that the value of democracy far exceeds the messiness of the process.  Sometimes I even glory in the messiness.  When one considers the alternatives (and we’ve had ample display of those alternatives) it is with great relief that I settle in to enjoy relentless untidiness and controversy.  A great rationale underlies divisive politics—lock-step unity is far worse.  Lock-step too often transforms to goosesteps.  I find in disarray a profound comfort, a safety.  Sometimes I distrust a big program that promises to be good for us.  I prefer many little steps, so if one proves to be a misstep, the damage is not great.  The die is cast for me.  Democracy is the nest in which I place all my eggs.  If it fails, I know that only the worst of the past will be revisited.  For me, there is no other option.  Will democracy be replaced by something better?  Can we conceive of what it would be?  Until a better light brings astonishing new illumination, better to keep aglow the modestly humane and kindly light of liberty.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No Lover of Pain

Today, as for the past week, I have endured a stabbing pain in my right hip.  I have thought, “One more day and it will go away.  If I change the shoes I’m wearing, it will go away.”  But it doesn’t go away.  It only seems to get worse.  It interrupts my sleep.  It is a dull presence all day.  I have always felt that one should not go to the doctor at the slightest provocation.  One should not be an imaginary invalid.  I dread overmedication and medical procedures that are really not necessary.  But I am near capitulation.  I am almost ready to submit myself to the full MRI (which makes me claustrophobic).  I am almost ready to go through the insurance procedure of first getting an appointment with my general practitioner and then a referral to a specialist.  I am almost ready to be impressed once again by the miracles of modern medicine.  Acetaminophen alone seems to have met its match.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Escape into Reality

Life has a way of becoming routine and dullness can fill our days.  This morning I awoke early and found an Alfred Hitchcock movie on Netflix.  The movie was The Lady Vanishes (1938), a film filled with suspense, wit, and odd, unpredictable characters.  How refreshing it can be to escape from dullness into suspense.  In a world of near absolute conformity, a woman is convinced that something is amiss.  A sense of wrong becomes tangible and a sense of urgency arises—the missing lady must be found before the train stops.  The evil we sense is not petty evil, but an organized conspiracy to harm.  Great effort and courage are required to counter it.  And suddenly with a gunshot and a bloody hand, confirmation beyond doubt is established for even the skeptical that the lurking evil is not the figment of a fervid imagination.  We have experienced a train ride filled with shivers and certitude in the face of complacency and doubt.  Somehow we sense an escape into reality. 

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Today in Sunday School

Today in Sunday school we read a lesson by Michael Macdonald in the Upper Room (Nov. 9 2010).  “’What have I done to deserve this?’ is not the right question in times of either blessing or tribulation.  Instead we can ask, ‘How can I be useful in God’s kingdom in my present circumstances?’”  The Thought for the Day: “Each one of us has a role to play in God’s story of redeeming the world.”  Our role in redemption, our role in being useful in God’s kingdom is the ultimate role that should concern us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

On Homosexuality

Following a discussion of the subject Friday, I feel that it is only fair that I make my views of homosexuality clear.  This view comes from no in depth research, but from personal experience.  In my view people go through several developmental stages.  If one does not move on from one stage to the next, we encounter arrested development and some consequent dysfunction.  Based on my experience, I have observed that males and females (though my experience was based primarily on masculine behavior) go through stages when they require self-affirmation from the same sex.  They develop best buddies and closest friends.  This is true during the puberty stage.  People then need, and I use the word intentionally, to garner a feeling that they are not only ok sexually, but are even admirable.  Same sex relations help accomplish this as males and females get to compare and show off their sexuality in the safe territory of same sex relations. (And it should be remembered that sexuality is so basic to our identity that having our sexuality affirmed is tantamount to the affirmation of our entire being.)  It’s a fair question--why do I state this with such certainty?  It is because I have been an observer of human behavior.  As a youngster I observed others with same sex interests.  In high school I’ve heard narratives of same sex relations of the display category.  I have personally experienced same sex displays.  I feel compassion for those people who did not get this affirmation during key stages when it was necessary and appropriate. I think many who are uptight about sex, especially homosexuality, have been so deprived.  They simply were denied for whatever reason a virtual developmental necessity.  Do I think people are born this way?—yes.  Do I think people are born homosexual?—No.  In my view it is the result of arrested development in this area. The denial of the developmental view of human nature is the cause of much deceit and shame.  People are often dishonest when it comes to their own experience and fantasies during their development years, so it makes those who are honest feel isolated.  Sexually derived shame and deceit are the source of much mischief in areas of human behavior seemingly remote from the immediate cause.  Truth is perhaps the first casualty; compromising the truth results in the cynical view that even denies the possibility of forthrightness and honesty.  Complete honesty and frankness is “just not done” in polite society.  We should remember that the devil rejoices in deceit and it is up to us to decide where our allegiance resides.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Management Material

Today I heard someone express the opinion that they would not vote for anyone to be President if they did not feel they could push the nuclear button if necessary.  There must be in the presidential character an insentient thread of steel at the core.  This goes not only for presidential material, but for any manager as well.  A potential manager must convey the sense that they could pull the trigger if called upon.  By “pulling the trigger” I mean the ability to fire someone without regret; the ability to serve on pension committees and deny benefits to orphans and widows should that be allowed by policy; the ability to say “go pack sand” if a request seems unreasonable.  The ethics of management in the end boils down to having the will and temperament to be a mean ass when necessary.  The servant leader as exemplified by Jesus really has no place in management.  A manager must have the character to say “take up your swords” rather than “put away your swords” in times of crisis.  Crucifixion and martyrdom are incongruous with the management class.  Clearly, certain types of personalities and their requisite ethics are necessary to rule.  It takes a son of God to be an exception. Only then can a little child lead them.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hung Jury

Today is Veterans Day.  The war of my youth was the Vietnam War.  This is the war for which I went to prison rather than fight.  I note that the verdict is still out on this war.  Two million Vietnamese and 58,000 Americans were killed.  Blanket aerial bombing and burning villages became the norm in this war.  Napalm was used to destroy flesh and vegetation.  Facts became an uppermost political casualty.  Dirty tricks became the modus operandi of a profane president. This was a very dark period in American history.  One of the two poems (an excerpt) below remembers Kim as she ran burning from her village (photo).  Another remembers the disgrace of President Nixon and his associates.





Poems from Fall Sailing (1972).

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Perfect Tense

The realization that we should not expect perfection in the personality of others is simply a way of saying we should not constantly place ourselves in a superior judgmental position in relation to the rest of humanity.  Thomas Jefferson wrote: “were we to love none who had imperfection, this would be a desert for our love."  In fact, constantly demanding perfection of others always seems to have a blind side.  With such an insistence on flawlessness, we occasionally bestow a level of perfection on others (say on some notable celebrity) that is completely unrealistic.  This can be harmful to the admirer and to the person idealized.  Not demanding perfection of others is liberating for we coincidentally no longer shackle ourselves with self-defensiveness in vain attempts to protect our own unsupportable pretentions to perfection.  Understanding that we are less than perfect need not cast a shoddy pall over humanity, however.  For in our imperfection, we're given a job to do—strive for perfection.  There is nothing contradictory about striving for perfection and humility, for the struggle for it is itself an admission of imperfection.  The only mortal danger is concluding that we have attained some level of ultimate supremacy.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Political Drives

Since institutions are comprised of human beings, it is impossible to avoid the human element.  This means that politics is always present.  By politics I simply mean the play of personalities upon organizational influence, leadership or control.  One of the most elemental institutions is a jury.  Even in this transitory situation a leader is chosen and conflicting personalities and beliefs are navigated.  Other institutions are not immune.  Educational institutions are ripe for power machinations due to the interplay of administrators, teachers, students, parents, and other interested parties.  Work places are subject to the buzz of the human factor in nearly all its aspects.  In employing new employees, personality is a key consideration during the endeavor to find people with harmonious approaches, qualifications, attitudes, and values—a good “fit.”  Of course the Church is not exempt as it is necessary to fill hierarchical positions with people who are faithful representatives of the organization.  Since much of the work of the Church is done by volunteers, complex motivations other than money are called upon.  Government obviously has a political element as it attempts to embody diverse interests and views.  It is easy to condemn politics in all institutions public and private.  But one might as well believe in fairies as to imagine institutions without the steady presence of political drives.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

In the Wesley Tradition

This evening Kathy and I attended a supper at First United Methodist Church for the installation of new officers of the Women’s Circles.  The supper included chicken (or beef or vegetarian) lasagna and vinegar pie.  During the service, the new president read the following quotation from John Wesley:  "Do all the good you can.  By all the means you can.  In all the ways you can.  In all the places you can.  At all the times you can.  To all the people you can.  As long as ever you can."  Because we were tired, Kathy and I left before the performance of a play, Vinegar Pie, written by the past president of the Circles, Joyce Lagor. The play, a fictionalized version of actual events, portrayed key women organizers in the history of the Methodist Church.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Behind the Eight Ball

Buying the cheapest item often doesn’t pay.  I learned this lesson again today when the drain underneath the kitchen sink began to leak.  The problem was readily apparent.  The bolt holding the drain pipe to the sink had come undone.  I tried to screw it back on but the threads of either the bolt or attachment were stripped.  I called the plumber, and on first glance at the problem he said that the entire assembly including the bolt would have to be replaced.  The existing cheap assembly strips easily and cannot be repaired.  He had to remove it and install a new one.  Obviously, the cost of the repair far outweighed what the purchase of a quality part at the outset would have cost.  This falls into the category of cutting corners—not wanting to make the required investment in time, material, or money in the first place.  An adequate upfront investment is simply required to have the job done right.  Of necessity often the financially strapped find they must cut corners.  So, ironically, those who can least afford it eventually find themselves encumbered with additional and higher expenses.  This is a basic reason for a cruel truth: one has to be wealthy to afford poverty.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Steadiness during Turbulence

Today I watched the film Invictus directed by Clint Eastwood starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The movie was “about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid. Freeman and Damon play, respectively, South African President Nelson Mandela and Fran├žois Pienaar, the captain of the South African rugby union team the Springboks” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invictus_(film)).

I cried throughout most of the movie.  When people do the right thing even though it would be understandable and easier for them to do otherwise, it warms the heart tremendously.  When leaders do not turn away from leadership and become lackeys of current public opinion but press on with what is ultimately unifying and spiritually lifting, it shows much more than courage; it shows the innocent determination to achieve transformation.  The grace and graciousness of Nelson Mandela was built upon ironclad certainty of what was needed.  His 27 years in Robben Island prison did not break the man, but gave him confidence where true strength lies.  He had 27 years of class 101 Human Nature to study man’s behavior carefully and to map out its spiritual underpinnings.

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Hell No I Won’t Conform

The elephant in the room is the harm caused by alcohol.  When, I wonder, will the propaganda for alcohol be countered by the facts?  When will alcohol cease to be the sophisticated and cool drug of preference and be seen instead for the plain and evident harm it does?  Will it ever be as “uncool” to drink as it has become to smoke?  I hope and pray that it does.  Prohibition was a failure.  People rebelled against their freedom of choice being violated—as if alcohol were a victimless adventure in which no harm was ever perpetrated against innocents.  “Get real, Wayne, alcohol is here to stay.”  My retort:  “Yes indeed, it’s time to get real.”  I have come to hate alcohol and most especially the lying propaganda for it.  What kind of society yawns at ubiquitous falsehood blared into its living rooms?  Will the cry of the innocents ever be heard above the din of advertisements?  Money, it seems, can buy anything and cover a multitude of death and suffering with a sheen of intimidating deceit—if you’re against alcohol then you're uncool.  The quicker I learn that I’m not cool, never have been, and never will be cool, the better off I’ll be.  The quicker I learn that the truth is often viewed as uncool, the more I’ll appreciate the nonconformist.

Excerpts from a November 1, 2010, article regarding alcohol follows:

London, England (CNN) -- Alcohol ranks "most harmful" among a list of 20 drugs, beating out crack and heroin when assessed for its potential harm to the individual imbibing and harm to others, according to study results released by a British medical journal.

A panel of experts from the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs weighed the physical, psychological, and social problems caused by the drugs and determined that alcohol was the most harmful overall, according to an article on the study released by The Lancet on Sunday.

Heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals, the study says, while alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others.

In the article, the panelists said their findings show that Britain's three-tiered drug classification system, which places drugs into different categories that determine criminal penalties for possession and dealing, has "little relation to the evidence of harm."

Panelists also noted that the rankings confirm other studies that say that "aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy."
(Retrieved November 6, 2010: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/01/alcohol.harm/index.html)


Thursday, November 4, 2010

All Thumbs Strategy

Today at 4:00 pm I found myself helping on a job for which I have little talent.  The job sounds easy enough, and it seems to be for some people.  The job is to prepare the electrical hookups for Mayor’s Night Out—a meeting held each month at various recreation centers in different parts of town.  In these meetings the mayor, several council members, and key city staff from various departments meet the public in the evening. The settings are the gymnasiums in the recreation centers.  The afternoon of the event at the determined site, tables are set up along the walls and electric has to be run to each table.  This involves using Velcro to fasten electrical strips to the table legs, daisy chaining some of the strips, and running wires to wall outlets for current.  The final step is to tape over the wires on the floor to avoid a tripping hazard.  There is a neatness factor.  The excess wire lengths have to be coiled and arranged properly to give the setup a professional appearance.  For some reason, I find it very difficult to visualize what is needed—which wires best go in different locations for the best fit.  Also, the strips just don’t want to stay put when I attempt to Velcro them to the table legs.  When I try to tape down the wires, rather than getting a neat and straight run, mine tend to wander and the tape is crinkled rather than smooth.  So what do I do when faced with this situation?  I remember what my father said, “Do the best you can do, and that’s all you can do.”  So my technique is to be a helper rather than a leader.  I hold the wire straight along the floor so that another better adept at taping can do that.  I help set out the wires and strips at various tables.  I bring in a projector for presentations and the screen.  Finally, I hope that 5 o’clock will come soon—my quitting time.  I hope that no one will notice my ineptitude, and if they should will say “Well, he’s doing his best.”  Sometimes that’s the most I can hope for.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We Need Another Billy Graham

The biggest challenge of today is to turn America away from greed and towards God.  The biggest problem today is that people seek spiritual fulfillment from unspiritual things.  They expect money, power, wealth, or an institution (often government or business enterprise) to fill the need that only God can fill.  They turn the spiritual need for salvation into a quest for material salvation. They place their hope in mammon not manna. It is incumbent upon the church to reassert its role in society.  The hour is late.  Only God and his eternal values and spiritual gifts can save America from a shallow grave.  Dead civilizations warn that self-destruction is the consequence when one makes idols of things and worships them. It is not too late.  America has fallen asleep, it has not forgotten. Wake up America.  Turn to God. Our spiritual crisis makes our financial crisis.  Our spiritual crisis makes our corruption crisis. Our spiritual crisis makes our power crisis.  Our spiritual crisis leaves us rudderless.  It is not too late.  Turn to God.


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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day – A Personal Reflection

Once every so often, elected officials must ask voting citizens for their endorsement.  Those challenging elected officials must do the same.  Neither of them is appointed by God.  Neither ascends to the throne automatically by divine right.  Both must submit themselves to an unseemly and sometimes cruel process in which they are vilified by the public, pundits, and the opposition.  Even if they win, they become labeled as a “politician” meaning they are essentially sleazy, selfish, and dishonest.  There is no job security.  What kind of person would possibly submit themselves to this?  One could guess that they are power hungry control freaks were it not for the fact that even as elected officials their ability to control policy and events is severely limited.  They seldom get credit for good outcomes and always get blamed for bad.  They must give up their anonymity and privacy.  They must face nut cases, citizens who earnestly complain that there are not enough squirrels in their neighborhood.  My question is why would anyone want to become a politician?  My answer must be that God has placed it in their hearts.    

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Notes upon seeing Michael Jackson’s “This Is It”

Self-discipline when sourced in humility is a form of love.  Perfection when offered as a gift indicates a pure heart.  True excellence derives from grace.  Harsh, tough tasks are carried lightly when done with a servant’s heart.  Extravagance is not extravagance when it derives from generosity.  Joy overflows from intentionally creating and contributing the unsurpassed.  The immediate gift is never the main gift—that flows outwardly from appreciation.  The good that men do has intrinsic, inherently timeless implications.


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