Sunday, December 24, 2006
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
Sun Tzu said:
1. Ground may be classified according to its nature as accessible, entrapping, indecisive, constricted, precipitous, and distant.
2. Ground which both we and the enemy can traverse with equal ease is called accessible. In such ground, he who first takes high sunny positions convenient to his supply routes can fight advantageously.
3. Ground easy to get out of but difficult to return to is entrapping.
"Sun Tzu on The Art of War", 500 B.C., translated from the Chinese by Samuel B. Griffith (1963)
Friday, November 03, 2006
Recently attended a high school mini-reunion. Half way between my 40th and 45th year reunions. I had fun. I always enjoy our reunions. Good people. Seriously.
We met in Branson, MO. Playground of Mid-America's Senior Citizens. Lots of Country music - very tolerable. No Gambling - thank God. Very quite after 10 PM. Plenty of discount shopping at the Super Walmart.
Laura and I with my classmates attended a Dixie Stampede show that is owned by Dolly Parton. It was a dinner show. Dinner was good Southern food but we had to eat with our fingers. Was this typical of the 1800's South?
We had our picture taken when we arrived for the Stampede. I'm kneeling in the lower left. My wife, Laura, is sitting on the stool next to me. One classmate and her husband were in town but not in the picture because he was busy winning the International Country Gospel award for best male vocalist.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Please watch it. Think. Feel. Do what you can to help restore the area and the people struck by Katrina.
Monday, August 07, 2006
The French Quarter is thriving. St. Charles Avenue and the neighborhoods of the monied look like Katrina had not struck. Only a rare home in that area is not fully repaired. But most of New Orleans does not have the money to make its own repairs. No businesses. No jobs. No people. No insurance checks because the insurance companies claim that the losses were due to flooding rather than the wind damage of a hurricane in spite of the fact that many of the houses that I saw were leaning or laying down. No job. No home. No insurance. No help from the government. FEMA is still making excuses.
After one year everybody has a share of the responsibility for so little being done in the areas struck by Katrina. Some politicians and some of the citizens in that area are now blaming the poor as the crime rate increases. Poverty begets crime. Hopelessness begets crime. After one year and no progress there can be little hope that help will come. Anger and crime are inevitible. Not because of race. Because of poverty and hopelessness.
Don't forget and don't blame the victims of Katrina. Demand that the government do something. Ask what YOU can do and act on it.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I can usually recognize a bling-bling Christian in a matter of seconds, especially if he or she knows that I'm a believer. Out come the merit badges, photos of mission trips and Christian-talk. They won’t waste a second proving that they are more than a common believer. They are chosen. They are on a mission. You are going to hear all about it… now.
This week in New Orleans I’ve also met some Christians whose conduct really impressed me. Several ladies, members of the Bibleway Missionary Baptist Church in New Orleans, have prepared and served all of our meals and laundered all of our clothes. Their gratitude for our help in rebuilding their church is genuine and so rewarding. They are not adorned with Christian bling-bling, yet their belief is obvious. I don’t need to hear their testimony. I can see it for myself in their conduct and treatment of me – their caring words and loving embraces.
I thank God when one of the ladies says Grace before a meal instead of one of our bling-bling Christians. Their prayers are simple, on the point and short. Our bling-bling Christians can and will go on and on. Who said that the longer prayer is a better prayer? Perhaps the bling-bling Christian believes that the longer the prayer, the better the pray-er.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
We came to New Orleans to renovate and reopen the Bibleway Missionary Baptist Church at 3201 Orleans Avenue. This is being called a mission but I don't think it meets the requirement that its purpose is to spread the Word. The membership of Bibleway Missionary that I have met is saved and knows the Word better than I do. I think this is a benevolent project that is no less worthwhile and necessary than a true mission. The project leaders hope that reopening the first church in this area of New Orleans will be a catalyst for more rebuilding projects.
The heat, humidity and some of the work are exhausting me and I have wanted at times to just walk away and rest or go home. I'm disappointed that I can't keep up with the younger members. Age is a factor but probably less a factor than my weight and lack of regular exercise.
The work is progressing very rapidly. Overall the project is not managed very well and people tend to do what they want. Most of us aren't skilled at any of this work and some of us have never used a power tool before. Several of the members are construction tradesmen or contractors that are at least familiar with the work. I would like to see the work done better but there is the practical matter of limited time. The church will be reopened for service next Sunday and for the most part nobody will much notice our shortcuts. Still, I wish there was more time.
Everybody keeps saying that God is making this happen. This may not be the Christian thing to say but I think all of these men and women are making it happen through their desire to serve mankind in God's name. I don't think they are doing it with the Power of God. I think they are energized by their Faith. Is this the wrong way to think?
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Sunday, June 18, 2006
We have a steep hill along our backyard. We've been planting wildflowers on it for the last 3 years. This year two flowers dominate the hill. In the past we've had more of a mix but the Sunflower and the Black-eyed Susan have taken over.
We haven't decided what to do when there are more dead blossums than live blossums. One landscaper recommended that we cut everything back to 12 inches and the flowers will set more blossums. Another landscaper suggested doing nothing but it starts to look pretty poor. If you have dealt with this issue let me know what you think worked best.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
This week I was working with a young woman around 30 years old. While discussing sleeping habits I mentioned that I like to wake up early – between 4 and 5 AM. She said that she was a night person and doesn’t go to bed until after midnight. I added that I am also a night person and I, too, stay up late. I said, “I just don’t sleep long now that I’m older”. She asked me if I didn’t sleep long because I’m thinking about dying soon.
What the …! I haven’t even reached Old Age but this young woman thinks that I’m close to the End. I’ve heard people say, “He died of Old Age”, but he wasn’t 59! Maybe 99 or 89 but not 59!
Do I look like I’m about to expire? I have a nice tan on my face from my convertible sports car. That’s not the look of Near Death!
Since my conversation with this young agent of doom I haven’t been sleeping well. I realized that this was not the first time that somebody has thought that I was near the End.
A few years ago I attended a reunion of sailors that had served on the Navy destroyer USS Braine. I'm one of the younger sailors from one of the last crews. Some of the attendees had served on the Braine in WW2. During one story telling session, one of the older sailors learned from one of my shipmates that I have had hepatitis C for several years. The old sailor was shocked. He told me that he’s known two people that contracted hep C and both died after only a few years. One of them had been married to one of his friends. Since USS Braine reunions were held every other year, this old sailor thought we should meet every year for the next couple of years WHILE I WAS STILL ALIVE!
It was funny the first time but now I’m getting concerned. I'm concerned that these suggestions could shorten my life. I’m only 59! Even my wife is contributing. Since January 1st when I tell somebody that I’m only 59, she says “You’re 60 this year.” Yes, I’ll be 60 in October; however, right now I’m only 59 and I just don’t require a lot of sleep.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Karen’s latest post at The Sword's Still Out addresses the question “If He loves us so much, why is all this bad stuff around…? Why aren't our prayers answered?” I agree with Karen but you’ll have to read her post like I did.
I have no reason to believe that I know what God is doing in this world. As for what I should be doing it seems to me that Jesus is the best if not the only indication of what God expects of me. Believe in Him and Love. If I act out of Love I will also be both good and helpful. I certainly don't know if God is answering my prayers. I really have only two prayers. Help me to Believe. Help me to Love. It's a work in progress.
A lot of people feel that they know in very specific terms what God doesn't approve of. Based on Jesus I know that God disapproves of Not Believing and he disapproves of Not Loving. I don't know anything else.
When anybody says that God wants me to do something other than Believe in Him and Love then I quit listening to that person. When anybody says that God disapproves of something other than Not Believing and Not Loving then I quit listening to that person.
That's it. Believe in Him and Love.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Will America now abandon being Good? Our standard must require absolute Goodness or we are abandoning Goodness altogether. The standards for our conduct should not vary with the application. A detainee is no less human than a prisoner of war. We are no better and can demand no more from others than the worst of our own conduct.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Therefore, the Mexican nationals living and working illegally in the U.S. are really “disregarded non-white” Mexican nationals. Vicente Fox is in the U.S. to generate support for Bush’s non-amnesty plan to legalize the current U.S. population of illegal aliens. Vicente Fox and Bush argue that these people are filling jobs that U.S. workers will not fill. Instead I believe the illegal aliens make it possible for U.S. employers to hire workers for less than minimum wage. But, the U.S. consumer is equally guilty because they are willing to hire contractors that employ illegal aliens because some of the labor cost savings are passed on to the consumer. Bush’s plan to legalize the illegal aliens is supported by these employers and consumers because the plan stipulates that these guest workers will not be protected by our labor laws. So, the plan actually creates a pool of legal workers that can be paid less than minimum wage.
This is not what America was supposed to be about. This is really an opportunity for the privileged to legally take advantage of the under-privileged. Equal opportunity would mean equal protection under all the laws but such is not the case according to Bush’s plan. The illegal aliens obviously welcome the “take it or leave it” offer. “Leave it” having a somewhat different meaning in this case. Of course they will take it and so will many more who will flock to the U.S. in greater numbers to take advantage of the plan since it would be their best alternative.
An ideal solution is to create safe, fair and adequate employment in Mexico; however, Vicente and the Mexican government are advocating for a compassionate response from U.S. citizens and the approval of Bush’s plan, instead.
Racial discrimination, which is the root cause of the economic plight of the non-white in Mexico, is still a factor in their existence in the U.S. However, with legalization the discrimination in the U.S. is likely to worsen as more and better jobs are filled by lower paid guest workers.
Send Vicente home to work on a Mexican solution. Pray that the Democratic Revolution Party candidate, Lopez Obrador, beats the National Action Party (Vincente’s party) candidate in Mexico’s upcoming Presidential election. Obrador was the mayor of Mexico City for 5 years. During that time he created public works jobs, funded social programs and left office with an 84% approval rating. As president he vows to enact tax reform – the greatest fear of the wealthy ruling class who consider Mexico a “tax-free enterprise zone for the rich”.
In the U.S. support the enforcement of laws prohibiting the employment of illegal aliens. Don’t hire contractors that employ illegal aliens. Demand that any plan to legalize illegal aliens already living in the U.S. not include any exceptions to or changes in the current labor laws protecting all U.S. workers.
Friday, March 24, 2006
The average person can quote more untruths than truths about our physical world - a fact that disappoints me. My disappointment turns into irritation when I can't convince a misinformed person that their "belief" is only an "old wives’ tale". I’m a physicist and engineer, which means that I know a very little bit more than the non-physicist/engineer about the physical laws of our universe. Just enough to know that what fails the common sense test is often untrue. One such belief is that hot water freezes faster than cold water. You wouldn’t believe the number of times that I’ve been told this yet I have NEVER been able to convince one of the believers that the old wives’ tale is not true.
Today, I was searching the internet and one of the results was a paper titled “Can hot water freeze faster than cold water”? (Just my luck!) The author of the paper states that this tale is true but only if certain conditions are met. I find the paper believable but I still disagree with this tale. I can make an equivalent argument that “man can fly”. Under certain conditions. Let the man buy an airline ticket. Ensure that the man has in his possession all the necessary papers to satisfy the applicable security requirements. Let the man board the plane, take his seat and abide by all of the applicable rules of conduct for a passenger. Let the plane in which the man is seated take off successfully and fly (to move in the air with wings without support from the ground). Yep, hot water freezes faster than cold water and man can fly.
If you have the time and interest, I suggest that you read the paper titled “Can hot water freeze faster than cold water?”
If you are interested in checking out a few more “wives’ tales” for some that you like I may believe, take this link to Wikipedia.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Before the nomination of Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture Oscar it appeared that all of Hollywood considered Brokeback Mountain the Best Picture Oscar winner. After the Oscar Committee nominated Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture Oscar, Hollywood was absolutely sure that Brokeback Mountain had the Best Picture Oscar. Hollywood applauded its film makers and the Oscar committee for having the courage to make and recognize a film that defends and normalizes homosexuality - no little matter considering the near-revival strength of conservative Christian ranks.
But, Brokeback Mountain didn't win the Best Picture Oscar – Crash won – and Hollywood is beside itself with disappointment and anger. Is Hollywood upset because Brokeback Mountain was really the Best Picture? Or, is Hollywood upset because members of their own ranks threw away a big opportunity to make a liberal statement about homosexuality? Is Hollywood liberal enough to nominate Brokeback Mountain yet biased enough to give the Best Picture Oscar to the second best movie? Maybe, but it’s at least equally possible that the Oscar voters, a subset of Hollywood, acted apolitically. Producers, directors, screenwriters and actors have every right to express their opinion – any opinion – through the movie medium. If movie makers were strictly interested in the art and technology of movie making, would the general public be entertained? The movie makers have something to say and often it’s something they have to get off their chest. The viewing audience wants to be entertained. They want to laugh; to cry; to get mad; to fall in love. Most of us were very impressed by the technical artistry of the graphics in “Shrek” but the movie makers really, really touched us when Love proved again that beauty is only skin deep.
So, I give kudos to the movie makers for putting their money where their mouths are and I give the benefit of the doubt and kudos as well to the Oscar voters who remained, I hope, true to their charge.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I have supported the war to bring political and religious freedom to Iraq since it began. The BS about the missing Weapons of Mass Destruction means nothing to me. I didn’t care whether they every existed as long as the possibility of their existence allowed us to give Iraq to free Iraqis. That is still important to me but a free Iraq can exist only if all Iraqis and all Muslims are free.
In the last two weeks my optimism has completely disappeared. The political and religious fanatics are not interested in freedom for all Iraqis. The religious leaders are totally incapable of controlling their followers except to incite them to more destruction. It appears that we are only wasting the lives of our children-at-arms for a multi-cultural people who will NOT live together.
Saddam is in jail but his megalomaniacal successor waits for the US and its allies to leave Iraq. I do not know who he is but I do know that he will destroy everything that the Free World has done in Iraq. I have no doubt that the weak-willed Iraqi majority will surrender to him their opportunity for freedom. One political party, one political leader, one Muslim sect will rise up with their new leader while the minority parties and sects crouch back down in fear.
May the Hope of a Free Iraq “rest in peace”; it does not reign in Iraq.
Friday, February 10, 2006
This week we talked about men, women and their mutual sexual attraction. One of our group stated that the male is "wired" such that he must respond sexually to a woman. "Wired", in this context, means that the male's response is understandable and acceptable, i.e. natural. I certainly agree that men are so wired. I believe that women have their own wiring but if I were to say more I would only be guessing. Our group was divided on the question of who is responsible when the male's sexual response kicks in and takes charge at inappropriate times. I heard that one or more of our male teens can't look up from their feet when the youth worship team is leading the teen group in singing because some of the girls dress provocatively. Specifically, some of the girls wear low waist pants that expose their midriff. Some in my men's group think that girls should dress modestly or they will stimulate an uncontrollable unwanted sexual response from every male.
I suggested that they might instruct all the girls to wear burkas. The burka has proven to be an excellent way to deal with the provocative female body and the natural sexual response of the male. Putting burkas on all women is a lot easier than making all men act maturely and to treat women with respect. To my great surprise they thought I was serious. Luckily, they also thought that my suggestion was going too far. They thought a less agressive dress code would be sufficient to ensure modesty and protect the males from themselves.
I think women and men should show respect for themselves in their dress, speech and conduct. They should also dress, speak and act with respect for others. In my opinion showing respect for others means dressing, speaking and acting appropriately for the situation. Wearing nothing while swimming in a public pool is inappropriate; however, wearing a swimming suit, even one that doesn’t cover your midriff, to a public pool is appropriate. Wearing a swimming suit to a church service would be inappropriate. Wearing a swimming suit, even one that does cover your midriff, in church does not show respect for the other church goers.
If a swimming suit is not immodest dress for a public pool then it is also not immodest dress for church, a classroom or the workplace. Inappropriate – yes. Disrespectful – yes. But, it’s not immodest in my opinion, whether the midriff is covered or not. If exposing one’s midriff while wearing a swimming suit is not immodest then it is never immodest.
If a male is sexually stimulated by the sight of a woman’s belly button, is the male or female responsible for the male’s response? If the male responds by acting inappropriately, that is, if the male responds to the woman as if she is a sex object, is the male or the female responsible? If you think the female is responsible then you probably think that dressing women in burkas is an appropriate way to prevent women from provoking an uncontrollable male sexual response by displaying their belly buttons, midriff, ankles, knees, arms, neck, face and eyes. And, if so, you may also blame rape on the woman. Okay, maybe that’s a bit strong but do you wonder “what she was wearing or how was she acting” when she got herself raped?
Please… let us all be respectful of ourselves and others and assume responsibility, sole responsibility for our thoughts and our conduct.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Thursday, January 19, 2006
At the time of the killing the mother had recently been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was very poor. As one would expect the father did not take care of his sick wife and she was finally removed from her home and placed in a hospital. This disregard for her mother angered the woman enough that she decided to kill her father.
At a later date, the woman armed herself and went to her father’s house to shoot him but found the doors locked. She took this as a sign that God did not want her to kill him. However, one month later she returned to the house and ignored the locked doors. She brought wine with which she got her father drunk. She then pointed the gun at her father’s chest and pulled the trigger. It did not fire. She pulled it two more times and still it did not fire. However, it did fire on the fourth attempt. The father fell on his back and said “now you’ve done it”. She told him that she agreed and then shot him a second and third time.
At the trial her lawyer pled for mercy because of the horrible treatment she had suffered as a child. The judge agreed and the charge was reduced to manslaughter from premeditated murder. She received a seven year sentence - the minimum required by law. In the case of family abuse parole is possible after serving one-quarter of the sentence. She was paroled after 17 months.
On King’s show all three daughters were still celebrating their father’s killing. The two that had not shot him admitted with smiles that they had been plotting to kill him together when their sister beat them to it. Although King stated at the closing of his show that he thought the daughter had done the world a favor, he had at least started to challenge why the killing was necessary. Even though the mother had witnessed many of the physical and sexual abuses, she never considered leaving her husband because of her wedding vows and she didn’t know how she would care for herself and her children. None of 4 or 5 children had been living with their father for at least 20 years.
The killing was neither self-defense nor in defense of anybody else. The killing didn’t occur in the heat of an emotional argument or fight. Although the father’s criminal and immoral acts were worse than most people would imagine possible, these acts had been committed more than 20 years ago. None of the children complained of threats by the father or fear of harm to them or their families since they no longer lived with him. Although the mother continued to live with her husband, she was not living with him when he was killed and during the last 20+ years she might have lived with one of her children had she wanted to and was offered the opportunity.
The daughter killed the father because she hated him for what he is and what he had done to her. The other children approved of his killing for the same reasons. The mother accepted the killing and seemed, in my opinion, emotionally uninvolved. She would not have killed him and she would never have asked somebody else to kill him but she accepted his killing.
Several people called into the show and all of them applauded the killing.
The children had more than enough cause to always hate their father. I believe they have plenty of reasons to ask why their mother had never acted responsibly by removing them from their father’s home instead of honoring her marriage vows. Since their father’s family knew of the abuses, why not ask why they did nothing to protect the children. In the last 20+ years while all of the children have been living on their own, did any of them offer their home and financial assistance to their mother?
This was murder - premeditated revenge. It was not a heroic act. It was criminal and immoral. The court has acted irresponsibly and by so doing has sent a message to everybody that in their town such acts will be more than tolerated.
Apparently their state government doesn’t approve of the local court’s decision. They have since modified their laws to ensure that such acts will not be so tolerated. I applaud the state’s response.