Name Dropping

Let’s follow Steve on his quest to be somebody.  Steve was born into a family with a deadbeat dad and an alcoholic mother.   He was one of seven children from various fathers.  Steve never had much food to eat and had to learn to take care of himself as best he could at an early age.  His mother made him go to school so she could get her welfare checks and supply her habit.  But she never asked Steve how he was doing or cared to help him.  So he never tried very hard

Steve grew up pretty much on his own and never thinking about prospects for the future.  Life was about learning to get by.  Then one day, he saw Ozzy, the local kingpin, slide by in his big beautiful Cadillac.  He thought to himself, “There is someone who’s made a name for himself.  People pay attention to him!”  Steve didn’t think he would ever amount to much himself, but he thought about how much he would be respected if he could become friends with Ozzy.

One day, as Ozzy’s car was sliding by, it slowed and the window rolled down.  “He, kid, what’s your name?”

“Steve”

“Well, Steve, how would you like to do a favor for Ozzy?”

“Like what?”

“Just take this bag and deliver it to this address.  Ozzy would appreciate it and he won’t forget it.”

“Sure!”   “Wow!,” thought Steve, “Ozzy actually asking me for a favor!  I must be somebody!”

Months went by and Steve was feeling pretty good.  Ozzy himself would wave and call out his name when he drove by.   More and more packages got delivered, and the were always generous tokens of appreciation.  Steve was no longer hungry, and everyone is school treated him a little differently because they knew he was a friend of Ozzy.

One day, Ozzy’s car rolled up and stopped next to Steve.  The door opened.  “Get in,” came Ozzy’s voice from inside.  Ozzy told Steve that he was now was of the posse and that he wanted him to quit school and work for him full time.  When Steve was let out on his street corner, he almost couldn’t contain his happiness.  He was now a somebody!  He was a friend of Ozzy!

Familiar story, and many such stories end in tragedy–dead from overdose, dead from gang war, jailed for criminal activity, always, in the end, suffering alone.  Most names that we drop might make us feel special by really don’t do much to improve our lot and might even make us end up worse in the end.

In sports, we like to root for our favorites teams and take pride when they win.  But it does nothing for us personally.  Even is we rub elbows with the players, we are trading on someone else’s fame and fortune but still it doesn’t affect our own.

As I was sitting in a church this morning in another city and watching a former school mate lead the service, I reflected on how well-respected he was in his congregation and how he has seemed to enjoy a long and fruitful ministry.  He seems like a Godly man.  I reflected upon my status as a washout, a man cast by the wayside of pastoral ministry by circumstance.  I reflected on my own failings, of which I am personally all too well aware, even if those around me think more highly of me.   No one will ever drop my name as someone to take pride In knowing.

But, then there were the Bible readings and the text for the day.  And they all spoke of the name that is above all other names — Jesus.   Today we talked of his mountaintop experience, where he showed his followers a glimpse of his true glory, and it was so brilliant they could neither adequately describe it or even stand to witness it.  It was so awesome that Peter thought maybe they should just stay there forever and bask in it.  It was truly beyond anything that this world describes as awesome.

How lucky for Peter, James and John, who were the witnesses.  How great to say you were the intimate friends of such a man.  Of course, in a few weeks, Jesus would be nailed to a cross and the disciples would be in hiding.  But that is why they could not stay on the mountain.  Jesus has to complete his work.

And it is the completion of this work that has done a remarkable thing.  Because, by paying the punishment for all the evil deeds of all the world’s evil people, he also paid for my evil deeds.  And he opened a door to a new life, one in which I will not only reflect the glory of Jesus for now, but I will have my own glory in eternity

King David wrote, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.  Something to remember:  If you are the right hand man of the most powerful man on earth, or even if you are the most powerful man yourself, or even if you are Satan himself and posses all the powers of darkness, but cannot call Jesus your friend, all you have to look forward to is to rule over misery.  If, however, you are the lowest creature on earth, and no one knows your name, but you are a friend of Jesus, and even if you are least in the kingdom of Heaven, you still have a share of glory.

Who cares who has the top pot in Heaven.  Jesus will know everyone’s name.  When there is no end of time, there is not limit to access with Jesus.  All alike will be perfect, all alike will be glorified, and not even the lowest citizen will cease to were a royal crown.

Who were Peter, James, and John?  There were nobodies.  But Jesus picked them out from the crowd and made their names famous for all time.  They were famous because they were the chosen friends of Jesus.  But they are not unique.   All the chosen friends of Jesus shall be eternally exalted.  That includes even lowly, unknown people like you and me.

One day, while Steve was in prison, he heard through the chaplain the voice of Jesus calling, “Steve, come be my friend.”   It was then that Steve connected himself to the only name that could ever really make him something.  And it was then that he knew to real joy of name dropping.

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The Constitution Was an Act to Stop Affirmative Action.

I have read two books of great interest this week.  One was Thomas Sowell’s Affirmative Action Around the World, and the other was Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, by Woody Holton.  From these two books, I come to the following conclusions:

1. Affirmative action is meant to address the universal plight of all the oppressed, regardless of whether their oppression is self-inflicted or has come about because of intentional of unintentional opposing circumstances.

2. Affirmative action always fails, because, instead of leveling the playing field, it merely angles it in new, often grotesque and almost always unforeseen ways.

3. The United States Constitution was as a direct result of affirmative actions taken by state legislatures and to prevent more such moves from causing escalating revolts and the demise of the United States of America.

It is important to understand that Affirmative Action, as we have come to know it in America, is not the affirmative action in general of which I speak, although it is one recent and local permutation.  And does not always involve a redress of minority slights.  It has often sided with the majority, as was the case in the majority of actions in America in the 1780’s.  And it most often comes about with new-found self-determination — democracy as it is known.

The founding fathers already worked under the Articles of Confederation, by which the united States of America were functioning.  But each state was left pretty much to it’s own devices, not only for administering its own affairs, but also for raising its share of federal revenue, since Congress had no method of creating its own revenue — taxation.  Under this system, the states found themselves unable to enforce revenue collection, which, in turn, led to money shortages and a choked economy.  Also they could raise no armies to facilitate  the safe and orderly conduct of state business among the people who tended to use heated rallies and court closures to champion their affirmative action issues.  The Constitution enabled a fix, in effect killing all such actions while at the same time giving the federal government the control of currency and the ability, through excise and import taxes, to raise enough revenue to preserve the peace.

If you want to know more about how I came to my conclusions or which to debate them further, you must first read the above-mentioned books.  As I have read more and more over the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that I am an unruly American.  I have not always been a good citizen, even at times when I have thought I was standing for the Constitution but my understanding of its reach was flawed.  There is a fine line between upholding the Constitution and subverting it  for one’s own ends.  The income tax of 1913 is one such subversion of the constitution clause granting the Congress the power to lay taxes.  Nevertheless, it is the law at present and must be obeyed, although it is doing the opposite of what the framers intended.  It upholds the tremendous weight and burden of our present affirmative actions that the Constitution sought to abolish.    The Constitution also headed off the creation of fiat money and preserved hard money that could not depreciate and that would discourage speculation.  We have also parted ways with intentions in this regard.  In these ways and many others, the framers would not recognize nor approve of what we have done with their carefully crafted document.

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I’m an Old, Grumpy Man Today

WIN_20150205_122021  Some days, I fail to launch.  This is one of those days.  Actually, I have already accomplished a great deal of stuff that doesn’t seem to count for anything.

I always want to write.  I’m sure that I am one of the most annoying friends to be had on Facebook, because I add my two cents’ worth to everything.  Do you have such people in your life?  Don’t you sometimes just want to slap them and tell them to get a life?

I have a life, of course.  So far today, I am playing hookie (spell check’s got nothin) from it.  Some days you just have to stop the world and get off.  OK, I’ll be out there making amends as soon as I finish writing about nothing, so this doesn’t really count as a day off.  More like “administrative leave” or being assigned to a desk job pending some investigation.  Speaking of administration, this is the most overlooked part of self-employment.  You can only put it off so long before you outrun your supply chain.  That’s sort of where I am today.

Well, enough about my laziness.  It’s not really laziness.  It’s just that my job is quite tedious, monotonous, and seclusive that I sometimes can’t get myself to face it.  So, instead, I am sitting, by myself, writing to people I will never see and who will never respond to me.  See how that is way better?

Age is, of course, relative.  My father tells me about his day, the highlight of which is washing the kitchen floor.  If he does that, that’s a good day.  Once I raked his leaves for him.  He said, don’t bother, it takes two days.  I was done in three hours.  For him that was amazing.  For me, that meant three days of stiffness.  No, I am not 80 something, so I can still do a young man’s work.  But also, I am not 20 something, so give me a few days to recover when I do 20 something work.   Lucky is the 50 something man who can do enough manual labor every day to stay in shape but not too much that he can’t answer the bell every day.  It’s a fine line that takes constant adjustment as we grow older.

As for being grumpy, it’s the above said adjustments that make me grumpy.  I need to be 20 something because I have a lot to do.  I can’t be 20 something.  So I have to adjust, and somehow get more done with less effort.   I often have great success at that.  But not this week.  I feel rather like a failure this week, at least at doing my job.  But, one thing that time does teach us is that even a little progress each day at something can add up to a whole lot of progress over time.  While my body and mind needed a vacation from the primary occupation, I did advance in some areas that I hope will help me when I am too old to do my present job as much but still too young to retire.   I have on my agenda, for instance, finishing becoming a virtuoso pianist, so that I can be of some service to mankind and also so that I can attract some students and have my dream retirement job of a piano teaching studio.  After all,  who doesn’t want a grumpy old man for a teacher?

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Why the Government Hasn’t Yet Managed to Destroy the Economy

rightwingnutsandbolts:

As I have said before, any criticism of capitalism is lensed in the filters that are caused by America’s insistence on tinkering with Capitalism, otherwise known as regulation. While regulation always appears to be for the sake of the small man, or the safety of the powerless, it almost always turns out to be a way for someone to hedge the market in his favor, and usually that means those with enough resources to enact the regulations that will protect them from open competition. “Trickle down economics” has been hijacked in this way and greatly hindered. In a truly open market, when the rich make more they create a larger pool of wealth that trickles down to many people and lifts the whole economy. In crony economics, the smaller interests are choked to the point of being unable to afford the benefits of the trickle down. In actuality, the trickle down is absorbed by the regulatory machine and ceases to exist. In this way, the rich still increase the pool of wealth, but no one is able to share it.

Yet, one can see all over the globe that enterprising people create niches of oportunity for themselves and others under even the most totalitarian and ruthless of regulatory governments — under Mao, for instance. There is always hope for an economy whose drivers refuse to be regulated into non-existence. There will always be those who operate under the common laws of decency and presenting a product with honest value at an honest price, even when those who do so have to run fast and loose with the regulations. This is what we call the “black market.” Perhaps it is not so much black as hidden.

Originally posted on Flyover-Press.com:

Markets are like weeds. They are impossible to stamp out. Markets emerge wherever and whenever there exist opportunities for individuals to gain through exchange. But not all markets are equal. Market exchanges in the absence of property rules take place, but possess characteristics which are not desirable for long-term economic growth.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)   One of the greatest travesties in the history of mankind involves the collective cognizance of the average dumbed down American. He (and especially she) has forgotten (or has had it brainwashed away) the idea that private property rights are the foundation of ALL freedoms. ALL human “rights” are also private property rights.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2)Take for example, the supreme court case that dealt with “shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” The court’s ruling put a serious limitation on the freedom of speech because the brief was couched in the wrong terms. This was NOT a “free speech” issue. It was a “property rights” issue. So whose property rights…

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Woman reflects on her bio-parents’ divorce and growing up in two-lesbian home

rightwingnutsandbolts:

It’s unfortunately true that our society has reduced the rights of children to a cipher in so many ways even as it claims loudly that children’s rights are respected over and above the rights of parents. It all depends, I suppose, on one’s agenda. If it is to encourage irresponsibility and childishness among those who would commit acts regardless of child lives, such as abortion on demand and the rights of gays to have children, the, by all means, we must claim loudly that no children are hurt (even as we have videos of unborn children screaming while being dissected alive). If, however, it is in the interest of proving that the state is better at raising children than two loving and biologically committed people, then by all means we must elevate the rights of the child. At all costs, we must stifle the voices of those experientially in the know in favor of white-frocked theorists in ivory towers.

Originally posted on Wintery Knight:

The Public Discourse posted a really interesting letter from a woman whose biological parents divorced, and then she grew up with her mother and her mother’s lesbian partner. She addresses this post to Justice Kennedy, the swing vote on the Supreme Court.

She writes:

Children are the reason government has any stake in this discussion at all. Congress was spot on in 1996 when it passed the Defense of Marriage Act, stating:

At bottom, civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing. Simply put, government has an interest in marriage because it has an interest in children.

There is no difference between the value and worth of heterosexual and homosexual persons. We all deserve equal protection and opportunity in academe, housing, employment, and medical care, because we are all humans created in…

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The Torrent Model: Power of the Swarm

For years I have used torrents to preview large amounts of data and to download large items, such as foreign movies, that are not available to me any other way.  While I am not here to talk about the legality or the ethics behind such free sharing, which often may violate copyright laws, I believe there is something to be said about the torrent model when it comes to disseminating information.

Today, I was on Youtube, trying to access  popular video site for libertarian thinking.  I was not able to view the video, because too many others were already accessing it.  And here is the problem with having on destination for everyone–access.

Enter the hoard of the blogosphere.  What are we if not the swarm?  I know I have said this before, but there is a purpose in our borrowing from each other.  And there is a much greater one than just upping our view count, maybe attracting sponsors and having impressive numbers of articles.  There is the swarm mentality.

We are in a death race with the forces of, well, evil, to teach what really works in the creation of good and orderly societies.  The forces of evil, be they called communism, humanism, socialism, or whatever, already own the institutions of higher learning and high positions in offices of trust.  The only place left to spread our message of freedom is in the swarm.  The internet is our last bastion of free speech–for now.  The swarm is how torrents are broken down to manageable pieces and reliably shared.  We, the conservative blogosphere, must also be the swarm.  Sting, baby, sting.

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Words and Action

St. James said,

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Blogging is a world of media, but primarily a world of words.  It is a world of reporting on the what is and the what should be.  And there are many bloggers who are persons of faith, deep convictions, and their words, and my words, are fruits of those convictions, fruits of their faith.

But, again, they are just words.  We claim to have faith, but where are the tangible evidences in what we do?  I have always found this to be a difficult thing, that is, to get together with others who wish something could be done and actually DO something.  But, alas, we are all off, involved in our “secular” livings, and God’s work, or, real, meaningful change, in the words of the New Ager, has to wait for another time, or it has to be done by others whose faith in humanism makes for decidedly bleak outcomes, although they can all pat themselves on the the back and feel good about the effort.

Lately, I have been in some petty squabbles with those whom I consider to be my companions in the fight for truth and justice.  This perhaps stems from how we all feel sometimes as we watch the world blindly thrashing about in all directions trying to save itself and we stand watching like helpless bystanders.  After all, blogging is not easy, and even harder is any attempt to keep abreast of all the latest and greatest thrashings.

But, maybe, we pour our efforts too much in the wrong direction.  Maybe, instead of spending so much time claiming to be defenders of the faith, maybe we could do more with a few deeds.

Now, to what deeds do I refer?  Well, first of all, there is the neighbor.  And we all know Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan and who is and how to love your neighbor.  Does this mean we should all go around being Good Samaritans?  Well, yes, and no.  In fact, the story really wasn’t about the “goodness” of the Samaritan.  It was really an indictment of the lack of deeds of love that should have flowed from the people of Israel if they really had faith in God.  The point was not that doing deeds makes one good; the point was that, as James pointed out, deeds must flow from faith.  The point, then, is not to go around looking to do random acts of kindness.  The point is to let your faith shine through what you do.

I have had some thoughts of how we, the conservative blog nation if you will, could put our faith into action.  Or, just in general, what can we DO to change things for the better?  One idea that keeps popping up in my head is education.  I understand that education has been hijacked, and that, each and every day, another new legal block is raised to prevent its being recaptured.  Nevertheless, now that brick and mortar are no longer needed to build universities, there ought to be a way for us create our own online universities.  Perhaps the problem comes from credentialing, or from the layers of administration that most believe would be essential, and the planning of  curricula, etc., and all the costs involved.  And, as always, their are the ancillary fees of books and so on.  So any talk of creating an online university seems far-fetched.

But, seriously, why couldn’t we create a free, all-volunteer, online university?  Or, at least, why can’t we create a university that is bare-bones, fee for service (just enough to cover the costs), and where the books are non-existent?  Instead of overpriced, often worthless, tomes being slapped on the students, what if we used a dynamic approach to research in each subject in which, essentially, the students create the book?

What!?   How can I expect the students to be the teachers?  It’s not really that far-fetched.  And it gives every student the chance to really add his or her two cents and really be heard.  It results in the free exchange of ideas.  And, as I can attest from my own life, the best way to learn something is to teach it.

Now, I dare say there would be a lot of opposition from the establishment education system over such talk.  After all, just look at the bicker already in place over “parochial” schools, and, even more radical, home schooling!  Yet, our most highly-regarded universities accept those students because they score, on average, well above their counterparts in established educational facilities.  Regardless of how many As are handed out, the proof of the pudding, the SATs and ACTs and other standardized tests prove where the cream is.  Results must be acknowledged regardless of the source.

Let’s think about potential employers.  They have two pools from which to choose employees.  Those seeking any kind of skill other than manual, and even some of those as manual labor becomes more high-tech, must choose from the pool of college graduates.  (They actually don’t have to, but the paper is everything for some)   While some, like the said education institution, will require a diploma from an “officially” accredited institution,  what the rest require is proof of being able to perform at a high level.  Certainly. any student who graduated from a university, accredited or not, in which the graduates can show to their prospective employers that they were responsible for creating the textbooks, has a leg up in showing an ability to handle real-world situations.  Thus, the free university, whether accredited or not, is the ultimate “results-based” model of education.

Here’s the things about the free online university:  it doesn’t need a location.  It needs no classroom buildings, no dormitories, causes not stress in commuting, doesn’t cause the proliferation of bistros and Starbucks, doesn’t require faculties offices or lounges, and does not require anyone to even get out of bed in the morning, if that is where their computer is located.  (Yes, indeed, I write in bed this morning!)  What it will need is a board of directors.  What it will need is conferencing ability (Skype or others)  But those are all small issues for a group of bloggers who most likely have between them all the IT knowledge necessary.  (And,again, for the “teachers” who don’t know everything, another oportunity to learn by teaching.)

Well, I have mentioned one possible way to put words into action.  I’m sure there are many more to be explored.  In the end, I think it’s much better, and more in keeping from going insane, to focus on the positive more than dwelling on the negative.  As was said about alms-giving, don’t give until it hurts, give until it feels good.   Share.  Act.

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