Wednesday, November 18, 2015

US A Nation Where We’re Free To Believe.


Each week several letters to the editor appear in our local newspaper, proclaiming that all the ills of society are due to our having “taken God out of our schools,” and unless we “get back to the Christian religion of the Founding Fathers” our nation is headed for disaster. But this past Sunday a letter from a Christian appeared which really seemed, at least to me, to be a summary of the religion that Jesus would have approved of. I reproduce it in full:


Many letters to LNP, and comments by candidates and others during this campaign season, have prompted me to consider the role of faith in our civic life. I am a practicing Christian, and I think it is important for Christians to consider this matter carefully, to avoid misrepresenting our faith.
The United States is not a “Christian nation.” Rather, it is a nation where I am free to be a Christian. Or a Muslim. Or a Jew, a Sikh, a Buddhist, or even a nonbeliever.
Our Founding Fathers did not come here to become Christians. They could have been Christians in Europe. They came here to practice their religion in the manner they chose, free from any interference by the government. It is this freedom to worship and believe as one wishes that made America so special and wonderful.
Christians should be less concerned about whether God is in our schools and more concerned about whether God is in our hearts. We should not worry about displaying the Ten Commandments in public places; we should worry about following them in our lives.
Prayer was never banned in schools, only forced prayer led by educators. Students are free to pray in school; teachers are not free to force them to do so. This is as it should be, although the Ayatollahs and Taliban would not agree.
As Christians, our faith should inform our political opinions, but never become a wall between us and others. I believe that our Lord, Jesus Christ, will reveal himself to every person in the time and manner of His choosing. In the meantime, he calls us to love all and judge none.
(Name withheld)


Amen.

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My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Would a Business Person Make a Good President?



Many people (who should know better) have got the idea that the office of President of the United States of America can best be filled by someone who has been the CEO of a large company. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The objective of a Fortune 500 CEO has nothing in common with that of POTUS, as can be ascertained by a quick glance at the mission statements of a few companies:
 Chevron - At the heart of The Chevron Way is our Vision to be the global energy company most admired for its people, partnership and performance.
 AFLAC - To combine aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers.
 American Standard - American Standard's mission is to "Be the best in the eyes of our customers, employees and shareholders."
 Citigroup - Our goal . . . is to be the most respected global financial services company. Like any other public company, we're obligated to deliver profits and growth to our shareholders. Of equal importance is to deliver those profits and generate growth responsibly.
 The Trump Organization - The Trump Organization does not have actual vision and mission statements, but they do strive to be the best luxury realty company. Their services go above and beyond what most realtors do. The Trump Organization offers superior quality, innovation and white glove service.
 In comparison to the above, let’s have a look at the “mission statement” of the United States, as presented in the Preamble to the Constitution:
. . . form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . .
Enough said?
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My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Highlights(?) in the World of Science


Senator William Proxmire, was noted for bestowing the Golden Fleece Award (1975–1988) to “those public officials in the United States who, the judges feel, waste public money.” Proxmire issued the award monthly until 1988, when he retired from the Senate. In total, he issued 168 Golden Fleece Awards. The following is a partial listing:
  • A National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded project by psychologist Harris Rubin for $121,000, on developing "some objective evidence concerning marijuana's effect on sexual arousal by exposing groups of male pot-smokers to pornographic films and measuring their responses by means of sensors attached to their penises.
  • The NSF for spending $103,000 to compare aggressiveness in sun fish that drink tequila as opposed to gin.
  • The National Institute for Mental Health for spending $97,000 to study, among other things, what went on in a Peruvian brothel; the researchers said they made repeated visits in the interests of accuracy.
  • The United States Department of the Army for a 1981 study on how to buy Worcestershire sauce.
  • The United States Department of Defense for a $3,000 study to determine if people in the military should carry umbrellas in the rain.
  • The United States Department of Justice for conducting a study on why prisoners want to escape.
  • Ronald Reagan's 1985 inaugural committee, for spending $15.5 million of taxpayer money on the Second inauguration of Ronald Reagan.

There is little doubt that many, but not all, of these “awards” were justified. The full list is available at:




Although Senator Proxmire has been gone from the Senate since 1989, the idea behind his awards lives on, although it has been given a new twist. Since 1991 Ig Nobel awards have gone to scientists toiling away on “Research that makes people laugh and then think.” They are presented by actual Nobel laureates.
The awards are sometimes veiled criticism (or gentle satire), but are also used to point out that even the most absurd-sounding avenues of research can yield useful knowledge. A few examples follow:
  • Why don’t woodpeckers get headaches?
  • Biochemically, romantic love may be indistinguishable from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Cows that have names give more milk than cows that are nameless.
  • Training pigeons to discriminate between the paintings of Picasso and those of Monet.
The full list can be found at: http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/

Science can be fun.

 
The Stinker - The Ig Nobel Mascot


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My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.

 

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Double-Edged Sword for Alaskans



Over the next few days the President is going where no president has ever gone before: Alaska. The purpose of the trip is to upgrade and cement his legacy as the first president to make any substantial moves to fight climate change. To borrow a phrase from the song New York, New York, if he can make it there, he can make it anywhere.
Why there? For one thing, one of the prime engines driving CC is man’s use of fossil fuels. Just weeks ago, Obama gave final approval to Shell Oil to drill in the Alaskan Arctic for the first time in 20 years.
Alaskans are accustomed to receiving an annual dividend check from the Alaska Permanent Fund, which is funded in large part from oil revenues. In 2014 each eligible Alaska resident received a check for $1,884. To them, the President’s drilling approval is a big step in the right direction.
On the other hand, CC is already profoundly affecting the lives and culture of people who depend on traditional ways of acquiring and storing their food. Because of thin ice, Inuit homes have had to be relocated, and one has already been lost.
Additionally, thin ice poses a danger of falling through to those whose livelihood depends upon ice fishing. Instead of several weeks suitable for walrus hunting, in some years the time has been cut to a few days. For more information from the standpoint of Inuits, go to http://www.nativescience.org/pubs/Impact%20of%20Climate%20Change%20on%20Alaska%20Native%20Communities.pdf.
Commercial fishermen will also face increased costs as cold-water fish move further out to sea.
Although it has not been mentioned, the effect of CC on tourism is also a factor. As glaciers recede from the shoreline, and calving of icebergs becomes less common, the attractiveness of Alaska as a cruise destination is going to diminish.
So the decision is between the indigenous people and those whose livelihood is dependent upon maintaining the status quo on climate, versus those who look forward to that big annual check.
As a liberal, I wish POTUS good luck on his quest. He will need it.
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My books, “There Are Only Seven Jokes” and “The Spirit Runs Through It” are available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.