Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! I hope that everybody is doing well this holiday.

For some of this, this year has been a difficult one. I know people who are in the middle of divorce, trying to save their marriage from divorce, have lost loved ones this year, and have lost their jobs in the past couple of weeks (we happen to be one of the latter). But no matter who you are, and especially if you have the resources to read this message, we can all be thankful for this day.

I'm very lucky to have a great family. While some of my extended family might bicker, and perhaps this might even keep some of them away from family gatherings this year, I have great parents that are generous with gifts. My kids will wake up to some nice surprises tomorrow, even though I only spent $5 on gifts for the entire family this year.

But I really did get a lot for that $5. I love to talk about my sweet deals and bargains, so this is what I got. For $5, I managed to get...

A bath toy for my ds (a boat that floats around in the water)
A "My Mommy's Tote" book/toy for ds
A "Phonics 4 Babies" DVD for ds
A Cootie game for dd
A dot-to-dot book with CD-ROM for dd
2 AMC Movie passes for dh

I bought the AMC Movie Passes with Coke Rewards Points, bought the bath toy, dot-to-dots, and Cootie game with Toys R Us bucks from the McDonald's Monopoly game (and the $5 that I spent), and I won the My Mommy's Tote and Phonics 4 Babies DVD. Not too bad!

There will be kids that don't have generous grandparents, that don't have parents that can magically turn $5 into $68 worth of gifts, that won't have very much this year. Some people might wake up without much food to eat. While that is a shame, they also have something to be thankful for this Christmas season.

No matter what your circumstance, there is one thing that all people can remember and be thankful for. The reason that we have Christmas in the first place. The little baby that was born... not really on December 25th, but we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ on this day. His birth was special not only because he was God, but because of what he did for us.

It would be a shame for someone to celebrate Christmas without knowing why the baby Jesus came to this Earth. He came because none of us are perfect. We've all lied. Even my toddler knows how to lie. We've all stolen, taken things that don't belong to us. We've all had a burning, passionate anger towards someone... God sees that sort of hatred towards another person as murder... we're all murderers at heart. So many of us have taken the Lord's name in vain, and that is offensive to God. We've all fallen short of God's high standards... every one of those shortcomings I listed above, those bad things, is sin. A person who has even one sin on their record can not go to Heaven, but must go to a place of eternal torment called hell.

But the good news of Christmas day, is that 2007 or so years ago, Jesus came to this Earth to give us hope. He came to live just like we did, in order to die a horrific death so that our sins could be forgiven, and we would have the hope of one day entering Heaven... if we only ask for forgiveness and repent (or turn away from) our sins.

Everyone, no matter how good or bad this holiday season has been, can have this hope. That is one thing we can all be thankful for on this very special day of the year.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fleeing For Your Rights: Homeschooling In America

I know what the Bible says: one day, the whole world will be taken over by the one-world government, ruled by the iron hand of the Antichrist. It will be a very scary time for Christians, who will find themselves without their heads if they get caught.

I've also seen people in other countries that have it bad. Like in countries where being a Christian is likely to get you killed. Where it's illegal to own a Bible. I've even seen the story in Germany where a lady was getting her kids taken away because the government decided to drag out an old law from the days of Hitler making homeschooling illegal.

But what I've seen today, in America, really surprised me. Not because it happened, but because it has happened in America.

A lady has actually had to flee her home in order to prevent her kids from going to public school. Not due to abuse or neglect, but because an over-zealous judge decided that public school is what was best for her children.

It all started earlier this year, when the school district lost some paperwork that Denise Mafi sent in to homeschool her children. Evidently, the school district lost the paperwork, and her children were found to be truant. She has been homeschooling for nine years.

The judge in her case had the audacity to state that "homeschooling fails 100% of the time." I guess that depends on what your idea of success is, considering that Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Albert Einstein all had homeschooling backgrounds. The real motive behind his idea of a failure rate is quite transparent, since it has been proven that homeschooled children, on average, do better academically than their public school peers: the judge wants the children to receive the "social benefits" that come along with a public-school education... gems like indoctrination, groupthing, growing up to believe that your parents are idiots and God is either not real or his name is Allah... that sort of thing. The failure rate that this judge is referring to is a failure to produce the sheeple that the public school system is designed to create.

For Denise Mafi's judge, nothing but a full-fledged public school education is good enough. Not a private school. Not public school at home (she already was doing that)... but having her children taken by force from home every day and sent to a regular old public school. Anybody else in this country would at least have the choice of sending their children to private school.

This story is far from over... she has recently fled her home in order to escape the public school system. I'm sure that we have not heard the last of this case, so please keep her in your prayers.

Me and my husband have talked about what we would do when/if the government ever comes to try to take away our rights. I don't blame her for fleeing. We would go too. We already have discussed where we will go (which I will not disclose here). It is a sad day when this happens in America. Having to flee your home to protect your family is something that you associate with the Jews in Nazi Germany, not homeschoolers in the "land of the free."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jury Duty For Life?

We recently took a last minute trip to go visit my family in Washington. My mom has recently been called to jury duty, and as a result, she has to call in every evening to see if she has to go in to serve the next day.

I was laughing with her about the time that the state of Washington called me to jury duty when I was living in Italy... at the time I hadn't lived, voted, or held a driver's license in the state for over 10 years.

She mentioned that they once again called me to jury duty... at this point I haven't lived, voted, or held a driver's license in this state for 15 years.

Whenever they call me to jury duty, she has to call the jury duty people and tell them that I haven't lived in this state in over a decade, that I live in Arizona now, and can not serve on a jury here.

Which is fine... except what happens when she's not around any more to call up the jury duty guys to tell them I'm not around?

It seems as if the powers that be in Washington State never cull their jury duty rolls, and if you lived in this state once upon a time, they can call you up for jury duty indefinitely, even if you haven't lived in this state for decades.

Skipping out on jury duty is a serious offense... or so I've been led to believe. Even though I don't live here, and don't intend to live here again, I still do visit every once in a while. My brother lives here. My niece lives here. Of course, my parents live here as well. Right now, my mom takes care of my jury duty excuses, but it's not likely that she'll be around 50 years from now to handle them for me. I can just imagine this scenario... 40 years from now, I'm visiting my brother and family in Washington State. I'm driving a car and get pulled over for speeding...

Police officer: Let me see your license

Me: here you go (hand him my license)

(Police officer goes back to check his database. Comes back.)

Police officer: Did you know that there is a warrant out for your arrest? It seems that you skipped out on jury duty 5 years ago.

Me: But I haven't even lived in this state in 55 years!

Police officer: That's not my concern. I'm going to have to take you in.

Perhaps that is a ridiculous scenario... is it? I haven't lived in this state in over 15 years and I'm still getting jury duty notices, should I have any expectation that it will ever end? Since I left this country, I have held driver's licenses and voted in two different states, and I have lived in 5 states and 2 different countries. Does this state expect you to be a juror for life if you live here for any amount of time?

My mom takes care of my jury duty summons right now, but I have to wonder about all the other people who have lived in this state once upon a time, that don't have any relatives left that can take care of any jury duty notices. There have to be thousands of people that once lived and voted here, that have moved away and don't have relatives at their former address to care for things. What happens to them when they get jury summons and don't show up? They may return for a vacation or to visit friends... what happens when one of them gets caught for skipping a jury summons that they have no knowledge of because they lived out of state at the time?

The jury people told my mom that I have to write to them personally to get taken off the jury rolls. Who to write to, I don't know... and how was I supposed to know anyway that I was supposed to write to someone to get taken off the jury rolls? It's not like they tell you these things when you register to vote or get a driver's license... is there any fine print that says "should you ever decide to move, please write to xxxxx to be removed from the jury rolls, or we may call you up to serve for all eternity." I never saw anything like that.

I bet that they are still calling up dead people to serve on juries here. My grandma died in 1990... perhaps she is still getting jury summons. That was only 17 years ago... probably.

Makes me wonder if they are sending jury summons to me in my old addresses in California. I was registered to vote in two different counties there. I could be getting called up for trials in Los Angeles County and San Diego County all the time and not even know about it. I last lived there about 8 years ago, so anything is possible.

So anyway... my thought for the day is... if you are someone in charge of calling up people for a jury... if they haven't lived in the state in say... 5 years or so... and are living and voting somewhere else... perhaps you should stop trying to get them to serve on juries? And maybe double check to see if the people that died 5 years or more are taken off as well. If you are in Washington state, there is a death index that is updated regularly that can help you take the dead people off your rolls. And please stop calling me to jury duty when I haven't lived in your state in 15 years! Not unless you're willing to spring for plane tickets.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Religion on the College Campus

I think that Bill O'Reilly has it right when he says that we are in the midst of a culture war. In these days where everybody's lives are so compartmentalized, and it is so easy for us to spend time only with people that are a lot like us, it's hard to tell who is winning. Some companies try to take polls, but those are hard to gauge for accuracy sometimes... statistics can often say crazy things. So most of what you end up with is anecdotal evidence.

I've heard anecdotal evidence about professors who believe in creationism rather than evolution to lose their jobs, grants, fellowships, etc. The same goes for scientists. But rarely does a difference of religion affect my life, other than perhaps a lost friendship or somebody thinking I'm a little silly for my beliefs.

It's hard to tell whether someone's religious views can affect their grades sometimes. I once wrote a paper about pet microchip implants, and its relationship to the prophesied mark of the beast, back in the 90s for a college class (back before most people had heard about pet microchipping) and I didn't get a very good grade on it... but with such a subjective subject as English, it is hard to tell whether I was marked down due to the content of the paper, or whether it was just a lousy paper. On rare occasions, it is obvious that someone's grades are affected by their religion.

Recently, my husband got to experience this. He is currently a college student, and is taking two religion classes. The professor obviously does not share his religious views. My husband studies hard in the classes, and for the most part has done well. However, there is one question on his final exam that he knows will be marked wrong due to his religious beliefs:

True or False: Allah and the God of the Bible are different gods.

Or something like that.

My husband knows the answer that the professor wanted. The professor believes that Allah and Jehovah are the same. However, the answer to this question is strictly a matter of faith. Neither me or my husband believe that Allah is the same God in the Bible... their characters are completely different. The Koran says that Allah claims to have no son... Jesus is the Son of the Biblical God.

My husband answered that Allah and the God of the Bible are different, knowing that the professor would mark it wrong. In fact, he wrote next to the answer "go ahead and mark it wrong." If he were to say what the professor wanted, he would have gotten the question correct, but he would at the same time be denying God himself, equating him with something that he was not.

So my dear husband wasn't thrown to the lions or anything, and that one question probably won't affect his final grade or anything, but it was a small faith litmus test on a college campus. I'm sure that this happens all the time, I had just not seen it so obviously in my own life before.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why Do Honorable Veterans Have To Pay Back Bonuses?

Recent news reports have been talking about how Iraq veterans were being asked to pay back enlistment bonuses after being forced out of the military due to injuries. Officials in the Pentagon have said that they will resolve this issue, but the fact that this problem has come up really didn't surprise me too much, as I have a similar story. I thought it horrible what happened to them, but not too surprised.

After I got out of high school, my parents were telling me that they didn't have enough money to send me to USC. Nevermind that with financial aid it would cost the same as the state school that they would have preferred I went to, but that's another story. As a result, I ended up joining the Navy Reserves.

The Navy Reserves has a Reserve GI Bill program, where if you are a drilling reservist attending college, you get a small amount of money per month. This program doesn't give you as much money as the Montgomery GI Bill that is more popular, but I also did not have to pay into it. The only attachment to accepting this money was that I remained a drilling reservist for 6 years.

That would have been all fine and good, until I decided that I kinda liked the reserves, and I didn't care too much for the starving student routine. That fall, I decided to join the Navy ROTC program. That did not pose a problem. I was a midshipmen Mondays through Fridays, and on one weekend a month, a was an Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman, drilling at Seal Beach Weapons station. It worked out fine...

Until I received a scholarship from the Navy ROTC program. You see, there's a law that says that you can not receive money from more than one government source. I'm not sure how that works, but I do know that it would have been illegal for me to continue to receive drill pay AND receive my scholarship. So I had to stop drilling. I was still serving the military, there should have been no problem, right?

Not exactly. Nobody really communicated with each other. The reservist branch of the military didn't really know how to deal with me, and even though I sent them letters and paperwork regarding my status with the military, they decided to transfer me into the Internal Ready Reserve (IRR, non-drilling status). I don't think that there are too many cases of drilling reservists joining ROTC and getting a scholarship as a midshipman. Almost every other former enlisted person that I know that went the officer route went through Boost, or the Warrant Officer program, or applied while on Active Duty. I was a fairly unique case.

Remember the agreement that I had to serve 6 years as a drilling reservist because I had received the Reserve GI Bill? I was only able to drill for about 2 of those years before I received my scholarship and was not able to drill. You think that the military would have been happy that I had chosen to serve my country in a greater capacity, and not just limit my time to one weekend a month. It didn't work out quite that way.

I started receiving letters asking for the money back. I had a collections officer call me asking for money... paying them back was not really an option since I was disputing the money for one thing, and secondly, I was living off the $3000 a semester I got from another scholarship I had earned at the time. So I argued with the collections officer a little saying that I was disputing their right to take the money, and I think that was the last I heard of that. Only it ended up on my credit report.

Time went on, and I received my commission as an officer in the United States Navy. The funny thing is... the reserves had never discharged me from the IRR. So at one point I was an Ensign in the active duty Navy, while at the same time I was also an Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class (I passed the promotion exam and got a promotion, evidently) in the Navy Reserves. My parents ended up getting some letters addressed to AMS3 me while I was an Ensign... funny.

It was funny until the day I was on deployment in the Caribbean and my husband tells me that I ended up getting paid $300 for one of my paychecks (normally they were over $1000). He had to go to Navy Relief to pay the rent that month. Anyway, the Navy Reserves thought that they were pretty smart, finding out that I was employed by the Navy, they could seize my money that they wanted from when I received Navy GI Bill money. Only they couldn't put 2 and 2 together and realize that since I was in the military... maybe I was meeting my obligations? No, they couldn't figure out that.

I had been arguing with the Navy Reserves for approximately 4 years about this problem. I would send a letter to them asking why they thought that I owed this money, they would send back a form letter saying that I didn't fulfill my obligations and had to pay back the money. I would send a letter back asking pointedly whether they thought that I didn't fulfill my obligations because I transferred to ROTC, or because I just didn't drill... they sent me back another form letter saying the same thing, that didn't answer my question.

I ended up writing my congressman, Duncan Hunter, for help. He just happened to be the chairman of the Armed Forces Service Committee (very convenient to have the chairman come from the San Diego district). While I don't think I ever voted for him before, he got me my money back, AND got the whole mess off my credit report. One credit reporting agency ended up not taking it off, but I sent a copy of my congressman's letter and it came off right away after that. So I guess you could say that it literally took an act of congress to get this straightened out. I've been a loyal Duncan Hunter supporter ever since, even though I don't live in his district any more... he has my eternal gratitude.

The story has an even better ending than that. After I got the letter from my congressman, I learned that I could get credit towards my pay for my reservist time... the longer you have been in the military, the more you get paid. I was able to get the Navy Reserves to finally discharge me, and for pay purposes, I ended up with 5 years of military service added to my time in service. My pay went up probably around $1000 a month. And not only that, but I had been underpaid for more than a year of active duty miltary service... KA CHING!!! The military owed me around $10,000, but they took out a huge chunk for taxes. Still, it was a very nice payday.

So I can sympathize with these wounded veterans who have been asked to pay back part of their bonuses. I'm glad that this is getting national attention and it will be taken care of. The last thing that I think our country should do is penalize soldiers for getting wounded on the battlefield. We should be bending over backwards to take care of them.

The military needs to consolidate their databases so they know who is where and with what branch. They need to get some common sense in their policies as well... if you are discharged from the military because you are wounded, or if you go from drilling reservist status to midshipman status... you shouldn't be treated like a scumbag who failed to fulfill your duties. I don't know how they made these wounded soldiers feel, but I know that that's how I felt for quite some time, even though I was doing the best that I could. A little bit of communication and a little bit of common sense could go very far, and avoid more disasters like these.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Real Reason Behind September 11th

I alluded to this in a comment I made in an earlier post, so before I forget about it, I'd like to write about it.

While listening to Chuck Colson speak in a Focus on the Family broadcast earlier this month, he brought up some points about September 11th. I thought I remembered hearing this before, but it really shocked me. If you want to hear the broadcast, you can log into iTunes and hear the Focus On The Family podcast from 5 November 2007, entitled "Standing Strong In A Dark World 2".

After the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, people made speculation regarding the date. Some people thought that the attacks on 9/11 referred to the US emergency telephone number 911. Some people thought that the date was chosen because 9+1+1=11 and that 11 was a message to all the people "in the know" about the New World Order. Perhaps some of that was involved, but there is a simpler explanation to those people who know their history... September 11th was the date that Polish calvary and the German infantry broke through the lines at the seige of Vienna when the (Islamic) Turks were turned back the Ottoman Empire was defeated in 1683.

Osama Bin Laden is not stupid. He would know this. The struggle between the Islamic world and Western society ended on this date. The Islamic empire was defeated... however, 318 years later, Osama Bin Laden chose to renew this struggle.

Kids sometimes like to ask why the study of history is important. Sometimes adults wonder as well. However, knowing certain events and certain dates in the past can help you understand better what's going on today, and give you a better idea of how to react to this.

If Osama Bin Laden is trying to act on the behalf of Islam and renew a world struggle, isn't that something important to know?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Revelation 18:13 - Cloning, slavery, or both?

While watching the O'Reilly Factor tonight, I was stunned when someone referred to cloned embryos as a "commodity". Not that embryos were referred to in such a fashion, but it reminded me of a verse in Revelation (in a lament about the things that Babylon had sold after it had fallen):

and cinnamon, and incenses, and ointment, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

In the NKJV it refers to bodies and souls of men being sold.

Anyway, I guess they're cloning monkeys over in Oregon right now and some people were worried that they might start cloning human embryos next. What really made me think of this verse is how this whole cloned embryo thing could perhaps take off at some point. I believe that a baby is a baby in the zygote stage, so whether you are talking about an embryo, fetus, or even a blastocyst, it's still a baby, and if it is a human baby, creating it to experiment on or harvest stem cells from (forgive me if I get my terminology wrong I don't feel it's worth the time investment to research) is morally wrong.

But let's say at some point in the future scientists do start cloning humans and start experimenting on their cells (at whatever stage). I could really see a trade of sorts developing... people would be buying and selling the bodies and souls of men as this Bible verse is referring to.

Now I know that slavery does exist today in the traditional sense that we learn about in history books. Back in the days when I had more money I did donate money to a modern abolitionist group through the Combined Federal Campaign. For more information about slavery today you can visit www.antislavery.org. Up until today, I thought that Revelation 18 referred to the modern slave trade. And it probably does, to some extent. But perhaps this verse is also referring to the buying and selling of cloned embryos as well.

Another thought on the subject of cloning... if you cross a human with a mouse, what do you get? Scientists have already created these chimera-like creatures, and I'm wondering what they are. I believe that there is a divide between animals and humans and humans are not animals, and vice-versa. So what is a chimera? Is it a human or an animal? Does it have a soul? Does it need to get saved? Will it automatically go to hell? At the end, will God just destroy it and it will cease to exist? To me it's a scary thought... that God is allowing us to create these... whatevers... and who other than God knows whether these creatures need salvation or not? Or can get saved?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pat Robertson Endorses Guiliani

I'm really underwhelmed by the first-tier candidates this election. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton? I'll be praying for enough money to move to Australia if that happens. Barak Obama? Does anybody know what he stands for except for dancing well? As for the Republicans, we have a pro-choice, adulterer divorcee and a Mormon. Not that Mormons aren't nice or anything, and I think that in general Mitt Romney could do a good job, but I'm afraid that a Mormon president would make it more disagreeable to say that Mormons and Christians are of different faiths. I really like governor Huckabee, and I'd vote for him if he actually gets the nomination. He seems to be gaining in the polls, so we'll see. But he still seems to be a dark horse. I like Duncan Hunter too, mainly because back when I was in the military and was having problems, he retrieved thousands of dollars for me that the Navy had wrongfully taken from me... sometimes it helps to write to your congressman, and it paid off big time that time.

I heard today that Pat Robertson is endorsing Rudy Guiliani. I don't think that Pat Robertson's endorsement carries the weight that it did oh... 20 years ago or so, but I still find it disturbing. I know that Guiliani did really well after 9/11, but to be perfectly honest, terrorism isn't my top concern. More people die from bathtub drownings than terrorism. He's got way too many marks against him in my book. If it was just the abortion issue, that would be one thing. If it was just the divorce issue, fine. We've already had more than one adulterer in the White House, so if it was just that... okay.

Dr. James Dobson said the other day that voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for... evil. And if we're talking about human lives being saved here... a lot more people die from abortion every year than terrorism. It just doesn't impress me. Last election I voted 3rd party, and I don't regret it. If it comes down between Guiliani and Clinton, I'll vote 3rd party again.

While it seems like people know who is going to get the nomination, a lot of things could change in the next few months. Four years ago, Mr. Yippee Yee Haw Howard Dean was the front runner, but he kind of ruined his chances. So I suppose that there is still hope. But it is disappointing when a "Christian" leader endorses someone with so many strikes against him. I know that we have all fallen short of the glory of God, and we should forgive, but at the same time, the Bible also doesn't have a problem from disqualifying people from certain offices due to their past. Haven't we had enough presidents being voted into office with tarnished reputations already?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Westboro Baptist vs. Free Speech

The Westboro Baptist Church, run by the Phelps family and owners of vile web sites such as "Godhatesf&$s.com", recently lost a lawsuit for $11 Million for picketing a funeral.

Now, I really can't stand the Phelps family. I feel sorry for their kids, who know that they hate "fags", yet don't even know the meaning of the word. I think that they are the ones that need to wise up and repent, and I pray that some of their children will see the truth over what they've been taught from birth. But, I can't really say that in this case, I agree with the lawsuit. That's a really hard thing for me to say, considering how vile these people are.

The father of the deceased soldier in this case was on The O'Reilly Factor this week. He described what happened. They did have to change the parade route because of these kooks, but during the parade and memorial service, they did not see the Phelps clan (according to what the father said on the program). It was not until AFTER the memorial service that the father turned on the TV, expecting to see coverage of all the well wishers and mourners, that he saw coverage of the Phelps idiots instead.

This is America, and we are supposed to have free speech. We don't have the freedom from being offended, or from having people hurt our feelings. We aren't guaranteed that things will go our way and people will only say nice things to us. Much as I can't stand the Phelps' or their message, they do have the right to say it.

If the protesters had intruded on the funeral, I think that I would feel differently. Funerals cost money, and are normally held on private property. If someone barged in on a funeral that people had paid for and had some reasonable expectation of being relatively peaceful, I can see that there would be damages. But in this particular case, the funeral itself was not interrupted, they stayed away from the parade route, and the protesting was not seen by the family during the protest.

The message of the Westboro Baptist Church is hateful. It is unpleasant. In my opinion, it is also quite misguided and wrong. But isn't that what many people say about Christians? Many non-Christians think that being told that if they don't repent and ask Christ to be their Savior they are going to hell is hateful. They find it unpleasant. They think that it is misguided and wrong as well.

There is a difference between most Christians and those of the Westboro Baptist Church, of course. Most Christians that I know believe that God LOVES the world, which is contrary to what the Phelps clan teaches. The Phelps seem to delight in the thought of everybody that is not in their church going to hell, while most Christians that I know find it exceedingly sad and tragic. But conservative Christians (I realize that some more liberal Christians don't feel this way) do tell other people that if they don't repent and get saved, they will not be going to Heaven.

Perhaps a small settlement for pain and suffering in this case might have been appropriate. $11 million is quite a lot, however. On the other hand, to punish these people because of what they say... no matter how vile and egregious... just opens the door to other sorts of free speech lawsuits. It's only a matter of time before real Christians start being hit with lawsuits too.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

In The Internet Age, Play Nice

Most of us alive and able to read blogs remember a time when the internet was not so prevalent. That soon will not be the case, considering that I've had an email address now for over 13 years, but 13 years ago, you didn't see www plastered on every print ad and not everyone had a blog, web site, AIM address, etc. Mostly just us technogeeks back in the early days.

Having the internet around changes the way things operate, and I don't think that most of us have really gotten used to that fact yet. Specifically, that quite a large percentage of our conversations can be recorded and preserved for potentially all eternity, if the need arises.

15-20 years ago, that was not the case. You had photographs, of course. Those have been around since Lincoln was in office to one degree or another. There were videos and films... I'm sure that my grandparents still have old reel-to-reels of me hunting for Easter Eggs as a 3 year old. Then there were also tape recorders, which technically could be snuck into a room to record a conversation, but that wasn't routinely done. The answering machine came along and then you could leave messages that could be saved indefinitely.

Now, things are different. Not only do all the above ways of recording still exist, but they are more pervasive. Many people carry cell phones wherever they go, and a lot of those come equipped with cameras. Emails, texts, and instant messages can be easily saved, and are often the preferred means of communication. Internet bulletin boards exist where people discuss anything and everything.

Just because you say something, doesn't mean that it's over. Our words, preserved electronically, are out there for a very long time. There are Usenet posts of mine still floating around from my college days. What we say does not go away.

Not only that, but if you say something that you shouldn't, everybody and their mother can be notified before breakfast. Our recorded conversations can be forwarded to everyone we know, and even to those we don't, as long as we have a shared hobby and post to the same message board. If our forwarded message is outrageous enough, or deemed important enough, our friends might end up forwarding it, and their friends might forward it, until the message goes viral.

Which can get people into potential trouble.

The Yankee sales manager over at WCBS in New York is one of those people that forgot how powerful the internet can be, and that if you don't play nice, your words can come back to haunt you.

Last month, a fellow poster over on a sweepstakes web site won a $1000 watch. Supposedly, the prize was "stolen" and the radio station was going to scrounge around for some junk in it's place. Sweepstakes are governed by laws and are a form of advertising for companies... while substitution is authorized in almost every circumstance, a company always has to substitute with an item of equal or greater value, not a bunch of junk that is worth several hundred dollars less than the originally promised prize.

So in the quest to get the prize back, several phone calls were made, and the radio station couldn't get their story straight. More than one watch was stolen, but the radio station couldn't seem to figure out how many watches were stolen, because that number kept changing.

Then the sales manager left a veiled threat to this person (like he was going to sick some lawyers on her or something) on the winners answering machine. He also called her a nasty name in another phone conversation. Oops.

20 years ago, it might have been pretty easy for some fancy bigwig at some New York radio station to intimidate the little guy. Lots of people had answering machines, but they weren't very good. Certainly someone in this exact situation couldn't have notified hundreds of people about it. There would be no support system of people to give advice on what to do. You could complain to your friends about it, write a letter to his boss, call the consumer reports guy for a different station in the area, but more than likely, not much would happen.

Despite all the bad things surrounding the internet, the ability to get help and find justice is a good one. This person will more than likely get their watch. It is also likely that Mr. Not So Nice Guy's boss will find out about the situation, and while action may not be taken, probably said boss will be keeping an eye on him.

Because we live in an age where anything can be sent anywhere within minutes, it helps to play nice. It helps to follow the Bible's advice on not getting drunk as well, because those that do get drunk could find themselves the darling of YouTube the next day if they are not careful. Anything we do or say could get picked up with someone's cell phone, get talked about by our friends on the internet, etc. So it helps just to play nice to begin with. Because what we do today could follow us around longer than we can remember it ourselves.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween and the Entitlement Culture

Today being Halloween (although, almost over), my mind started wandering to the whole premise of trick or treat, and I started wondering if it's popularity is somehow related to the whole society of entitlement that we seem to have nowadays.

We don't really do Halloween in our family. My daughter watches all the popular children's cartoons, so she knows what it is, but we don't go out trick or treating, purchase Halloween costumes, or anything like that. She did play dress up today, wearing a princess costume I bought a couple of years ago on the day after Halloween (50% off). She also got candy, since our church had a movie night to go to.

Since we don't do Halloween here, I think of the scenario of what happens when/if someone shows up on our door begging for candy. We do have some candy in the house, and I suppose if someone had shown up, I'd give them some and a gospel tract. We have lights that turn on when you walk up to the front door and stay off the rest of the time, so that didn't happen.

The premise of Trick-or-treating... give us candy or we'll play a trick on you... isn't very appealing to me. Most people nowadays don't vandalize a person's house for not giving out candy, but the phrase implies the threat. I was curious if the rise in popularity of trick-or-treating was in any way correllated to the rise of entitlements, so I looked it up in Wikipedia.

There are various forms of begging for treats that go back hundreds of years... in the 1500s, poor people used to go around promising to pray for the dead in exchange for food. However, the earliest reference for Halloween begging was around 1915. But it wasn't something commonly done.

The phrase "trick-or-treat" came from the 1930s, when begging for Halloween candy became more widespread. In the 1940s and 1950s, trick-or-treating became more mainstream, appearing on TV shows, magazines, and a Disney cartoon.

Oddly enough, from the 1930s to 1950s, many adults though of trick-or-treating as a form of extortion. Some adults didn't even know what trick-or-treating was, and the children had to explain it to them. In 1948, even the children protested trick-or-treating... the Madison Square Garden Boys Club carried a banner saying "American Boys Don't Beg."

Coincidentally, perhaps, the entitlement programs started around the 1930s as well. There is some correllation but it may not actually be linked. 80% of adults plan to give out Halloween candy, and 93% of children go trick-or-treating. So while it may be seen as an entitlement by some kids, it is one that many adults don't mind bestowing on cute, costumed children.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

No Child Left Behind - Homeschool Style

Yesterday I found out what the meaning of "No Child Left Behind" is to homeschool parents.

A local Christian school had the day off yesterday, and one of the members of our little homeschool group was babysitting 10 of the students that had the day off. We used to go to the church attached to the homeschool, so my daughter and I know all the kids at that school. One of the girls attending the school is my daughter's best friend, so she was really happy that her best friend had the day off.

So yesterday all of us had a park day. 10 kids from the Christian school, my 2 kids, and 4 other kids that normally go to the homeschool group. So we had 16 kids.

We all met at the main house where we normally meet, and all the kids either walked, rode in a stroller, rode in the van, or rode bicycles to the nearby park. We took a picnic lunch and toys. We had quite a bike parade!

For the homeschool parent, No Child Left Behind means making sure that no child gets left behind when you have 16 children walking or biking to the park... and making sure that no child gets left behind when returning home. Or toy.

Any parent that thinks that homeschoolers get no socialization doesn't know what sort of socialization homeschoolers can have. Our park day crowd of kids looked like any group of kids you might find at any day care center in the country... only none of the teachers had to make sure the kids weren't biting, spitting, climbing up the slide, etc. (I worked at a day care center for two years). The kids ranged from 11 months to 8 or 9 years too, so there was probably a wider age range than would be playing at the typical day care center playground.

In a typical week, my daughter attends church 3 times, goes to the library with other kids, sees her soccer friends twice a week, and goes to her homeschool group. Not to mention trips to the grocery store, doctors, or anywhere else we might happen to go. She doesn't seem to lack friends. As an added bonus, she usually gets along with her brother pretty well (unless he's trying to play with the mouse or keyboard while she's trying to play computer games).

Friday, October 26, 2007

The "Good Old Days"

When I was a kid, I would remember sometimes about how old people would talk about "the good old days." You probably know the stories... the ones where they had to walk barefoot in the snow 10 miles uphill (both ways) to get to school. But then again, they could go to the movies for 1 cent and with another penny they could buy a bag of candy or something outrageous like that?

There was a thread today on a bulletin board where people were talking about their version of "the good old days," using real examples that they remembered rather than the 10 miles in the snow uphill exaggeration, that made me think. There have been good old days in my family as well, and it's sad that they are gone. And it has nothing to do with money, or technology, or even safety. It's something that could be recreated today, but is probably gone forever, at least with my generation.

When I was a kid, we used to go to my grandma's house every Sunday. The grownups would sit around and watch 60 minutes, and us cousins would play. They were all there almost every week. All of my grandma's 4 children and their kids. Sometimes we'd ride these Big Wheel tricycles out in her backyard, or play house, or something else. Grandma always had lots of toys at her house (she still does).

Every July, we'd get together to watch boat races. We'd all draw little slips of paper to see who got what boat, and if your boat won you got some money. I remember one year we made homemade ice cream. Another year it was so hot that it was in the 100s and one of our bunnies died.

Every year, we'd go camping in August. Same place every year. The campground started getting popular, so we started showing up on Thursdays to get a good spot. The campground started getting even more popular, and I think we ended up going on Wednesdays toward the end.

Every Christmas, we'd all go to grandma's on Christmas Eve. "Santa Claus" would come and pass out present. One year Santa came drunk and pinched my Aunt's butt, and said "sure is *#*&ing hot in here"... something we still can laugh about. On Christmas day, we'd all get together again to open Christmas stockings and eat.

Obviously, people get old, and families get bigger as the kids grow up and get married. It would be okay if that was the end of the story. But unfortunately, that wasn't what happened. Everything started going downhill about the time I graduated from high school and went off to college.

My cousin got cancer at age 5. He died when he was 7. It really hurt my Uncle deeply. I'm sure that it hurt my Aunt as well, but she could at least still be kind. My Uncle started being sullen at family gatherings, and stopped talking to my mom. Then my mom got mad at him and doesn't like him any more. Uncle said some harsh words to my brother and they got upset with each other as well.

Then a different Aunt got a disease that makes you quite sick and remains with you for the rest of your life. Ended up getting a divorce with another Uncle of mine. That situation deteriorated as well. Now my Aunt is somewhat estranged from her own daughter because she wanted her daughter to choose which parent she liked better, and that's a mess.

Another Uncle of mine has always liked to drink, but it's catching up to him. Sometimes he can't remember what year it is any more. His own son took his food stamps from him one time and was laughing about it with another cousin of mine.

Two of my family members around my age are divorcing.

Since I live far away from my family, I haven't been able to go to our annual camping trip in several years, but I've heard that some people just don't show up any more. Those that do show up often fight, because half of them don't like each other any more.

It makes me so sad to see what has happened to my family. I still get along with all of them when I come up to visit, even though many of them don't get along with each other. I love them all. Since I live far away from all this, I have pretty much avoided the drama, and perhaps the days when we all used to get together and go camping, hanging around the campfire together, going hiking together... perhaps they seem more real to me and not as far off, because that's how everyone was when I moved away to get an education and see the world. A little like when the last time you see a child is when they're an infant, and the next time you see them they're 5 years old, and they seem to have grown up overnight. It's like that with me, perhaps.

I hear about the breakdown of the family, about Satan trying to attack the family, and this is what I think of. A family that used to be so close even 15 years ago, barely cares for each other any more. It's so sad to me. Because my daughter and son will never know how fun it is to have 8 cousins to play with, that we visit weekly.

While the 9-person extended family on my husband's side is pretty close, it's not the same. And perhaps we're the exception rather than the rule.

I miss the good old days at times. Not good old days of black and white TVs and 5 cents a gallon gas (not that I remember any of those days because they were before my time)... but I miss the good old days when my cousins, aunts, and uncles were all close, met together every week, and there was only 1 person out of the whole lot of them that had gotten a divorce.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Drug Makers Take Infant Cold Medications Off The Shelves

My son has had a cold for more than a week now. A couple nights ago, he woke up at 2 AM hacking and unable to sleep. We didn't have any infant decongestant in the house, so my husband ran to Walgreen's to get him some medicine so he could get back to sleep.

Well, I'm glad that my son was sick earlier than this week than today, because who knows what infant medicine is left on the shelf? I found an AP article on Excite saying that drug companies had pulled many infant medications off the shelves. Evidently, some parents are overdosing their children.

While I don't run to the medicine cabinet every time my little boy has a runny nose, there are times when it's very nice to have infant medicine. Like when it's 2 AM and your baby can't sleep. By taking the infant medications off the shelves, parents are left with fewer options to deal with their children.

With the wonderful availability of the internet, it's very easy to look up a dosing chart for infant's medications. I like to use the one here. Although, since they are taking the medicines off the shelves, they might end up taking the dosing chart off the internet as well.

Which leads us to the bigger question: with infant medications no longer available, what will parents do when their child is sick in the middle of the night and can't sleep? My guess is that many of them will be giving their infants children's medicines. Which doesn't really fix what the drug makers are trying to solve in the first place, does it?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

15 Minutes of Anonymity

There's a saying that goes something along the lines of... everybody gets 15 minutes of fame... or something like that. The culture that we live in is obsessed with fame. People want to be famous, and if they can't be famous... they want to work for the famous. In a recent poll, more people wanted to be a celebrity's assistant than something important, like being the president or the CEO of a fortune 500 company or something.

You really can't blame them. Celebrities make a lot of money, and people almost worship them like gods. Who doesn't like being loved and adored? Of course, for those of us who are Christians, God is who we should want people to love and adore, not ourselves. But even for the Christian, it's natural to want to be liked.

A lot of people do stupid and dangerous things because they think that it will make them famous. Look at the Fear Factor phenomenon. People that get into fights or do stupid, dangerous stunts in front of video cameras in hopes that their YouTube video might go viral.

But what happens to these people? Do they really experience a complete change of life? Do they get mobbed for autographs in the grocery store? Probably not.

With the popularity of reality TV, just about anybody can get on television. Or lots of people at least. But very few of them are remembered by the masses. If you watch American Idol, do you remember Zachary Travis (without Googling)? He was a boy that completely looked like a girl... he now has a web site up at Zachidol.com. They have a guest book up there that gets about 1 post a month. Or perhaps you are a Survivor fan. Without googling, can you even tell me what season Carl Bilancione was from? He was from Survivor Africa... which wasn't the most popular season by far, but I've seen every episode of Survivor at least once and I had to look up Survivor seasons on Wikipedia to find that name. I haven't seen every season of the Amazing Race, but I don't really remember Megan and Heidi... and they were on the very popular season that Rob and Amber placed second in.

So if your average reality TV fan can watch every episode that you appear in and not remember you after a couple of years, what becomes of someone who loses their finger creating a YouTube video that they hope will go viral. Well, a year from now, nobody will know who they are, and they will be without a finger.

I have my own experience with television. One summer in college, I worked as a movie extra. I worked in Higher Learning, Stuart Smalley, Reform School Girls, True Crime, and Little Giants. I carried the American flag during the televised Olympic Torch Relay Kickoff in Los Angeles for the Atlanta games. I appeared in several commercials and did a couple of interviews for the Armed Forces Network in Europe about terrorism. Most recently, I appeared in a local American Idol style singing contest.

As a movie extra and flag bearer, I blended into the background and nobody ever notice me, although I could pick out myself. People did recognize me after I did the commercials, and would come up to me and say "hey, I saw you on TV last night!" However, the military community in Italy is pretty small, and more than 90% of the people on the base would know who I was even without the commercials... especially since I taught the anti-terrorism class every week, that all new people were required to attend upon arrival. My picture was also up in the security building because I was the Force Protection Officer and was part of the chain of command. So it wasn't exactly appearing in a commercial and having some random stranger recognize you the next day.

My last television appearance, singing on a local television show, actually surprised me because nobody recognized me. I wasn't on a public access show that nobody watched, I was on a television program that they advertised for months beforehand while they were soliciting for people to audition. I was the very first person to sing on this show. The judges said my name on the air. I sang an entire verse of a song on the air. I'm sure that many people watched the show, but when I went out the next day, it was just like the day before... I still lived a life of complete anonymity. I didn't go on the show to try to be famous (I wanted the prize of a car and cash), so in a way I was glad that nobody knew about my television performance.

In the grand scheme of things, very few people are remembered for very long in history. Would you recognize Mark Dinning if he was walking down the street? Do you know what song he sang? He sang the popular 1960 song "Teen Angel". Many people remember the Beatles, Chubby Checker, and Elvis Presley, but many other people who had hit songs of the time have been fading from memory. 47 years from now, do you think anybody is even going to remember Paris Hilton? Probably not.

If you go back even farther in time, even fewer people are memorable. We remember Bach, Beethoven, and Queen Elizabeth, but many other people who made music or sang during that time are forgotten. Even farther, we remember Plato, Nero, and Julius Caesar, but who remembers the Roman Emperor Vespasian? Going farther back, how many Egyptian Pharoahs can you name? What did Sekhemkhet do? And I have heard the name of the Pharoah Djoser before, but only from the movie Ghostbusters.

As Solomon would say, it's all vanity. Being famous might be fun, but it's not worth losing a finger over. Besides, there are way too many people that get famous and it ends up being their downfall. River Phoenix? Dana Plato? And more recently, Britney Spears... although she hasn't died of a drug overdose or killed herself or anything, I know I wouldn't trade my kids for anything.

Besides, the more famous you are, the more people say bad things about you. It doesn't matter who you are, people even criticize Mother Theresa. Even this little ol' blog, with maybe two readers, already has someone talking smack about it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Are You Ready For Bird Flu?

Worldnetdaily has reported that dozens of people in a Mexican city have turned up with suspected bird flu. So far, 45 patients have turned up with flu symptoms, some of them children that would not normally have anything to do with being around birds.

This may turn out to be nothing. Hopefully it will not spread. But it does leave us with a very important question... are you ready for the bird flu? Do you have a plan in place?

We use The Grocery Game method of buying groceries, which not only helps you save money, but has the added benefit of letting you stock up a little, since you buy things when they go on sale, not when you need it. I have some food stored up, as well as quite a lot of toilet paper (2 unopened packages of 12 double rolls each). Unfortunately, my diaper supply is pretty low. I had purchased a lot of diapers prior to my baby's birth, but he's worn them all and I buy diapers as I need them.

After hurricane Katrina, I put together a stash of water, but that supply has dwindled as well.

With these recent potential bird flu cases so close to our backyard, perhaps now would be a good time to rethink what you would do in the case of bird flu. Would you continue to send your kids to school? How long could you avoid going to the grocery store? Could you work from home? Do you have supplies like gloves and masks?

The US government is currently undergoing a practice bird-flu exercise. I wouldn't be alarmed, when I was in the Navy we did practice terrorism exercises all the time, so that we would know what to do and what to expect if the real thing ever occurred. I'm glad that the government is working on being prepared. How about you?

Some preparation is good in general. It's good just to have a little extra water and food on hand, because you never know what will happen. If you live in a part of the country that has bad snowstorms it's good to have extra food and supplies on hand just for that. A terrorist attack could occur, or some other scenario. Food and water are great to have on hand no matter what. If you have a few extra dollars, masks and gloves could be a decent investment... if bird flu did hit the US, you can be sure that they would sell out quickly.

There's no reason to be alarmed... it's a good idea to be watchful though. And a little preparation never hurts.

read more | digg story

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Juan Williams A "Happy Negro"? - CNN Thinks So

A day or two ago, CNN declared in its broadcast that Juan Williams, a frequent commentator on The O'Reilly Factor and other Fox television programs, was a "Happy Negro".

Say what?

O'Reilly was having lunch at a Harlem restaurant with Al Sharpton, talking about how sometimes whites feared black people, and that it was primarily driven out of fear. Just look at how the media portrays black people far too often as gang-bangers, or half-literate hoodlums that can't speak proper English. On his radio program, O'Reilly remarked to Juan Williams that the restaurant that they were eating at was just like any other restaurant run by white people.

The comment was taken completely out of context by CNN, and O'Reilly was portrayed as anti-black. Juan Williams, who was talking to him on the radio, was called a "happy negro" for speaking to O'Reilly and having a civil conversation about all this.

A month ago, if you asked me how race relations were in America, I would have said "pretty good." My family is about as integrated as they come. Between me, my husband, my husband's brother and my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and her husband, there are exactly 3 white people and three black people. Nobody ever gives us problems. My biracial daughter has no problem making friends and tends to be popular wherever she goes. My biracial son is the darling of the church nursery... even the other children come up to him and call him "the cute baby."

But obviously, despite so much progress, underneath the surface there is much tension. Look at the whole Jena 6 controversy. That is a mess all around. There are both whites and blacks that have acted poorly in that one. Then you have this whole O'Reilly/Williams/Happy Negro controversy. How insulting can CNN be? To me, calling someone a "happy negro" brings up thoughts of old slave/plantation stereotypes a la Driving Miss Daisy.

Give me a break. Both me and my husband watch the O'Reilly Factor regularly and I've never seen anything on the program to make me believe that he is a racist. We've both read two of his books and never have seen anything that we perceive as racist. Juan Williams always appears intelligent and seems to have his own opinion.

CNN seems to be the racist ones to me. Happy Negro? Come on. Reminds me of when my husband decided that he was going to go to college and he asked for a small (1/2 hour a week) schedule accommodation from his boss. His boss's reply was a no and implied that he shouldn't be wasting his time trying to better himself, and what, was his job answering phones not good enough or something? Like maybe he should just be satisfied making below the mean salary for the rest of his life, letting his computer talents go to waste. I'm not sure if the comment at the time was meant to be insulting or not, but it sure sounded along those lines. And so does "happy negro". I didn't watch CNN before, and I'm certainly going to think twice before turning it on again.

read more | digg story

Monday, September 24, 2007

Apple says iPhone unlocking may leave handsets "permanently inoperable"

Apple said Monday that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed.

In another article I found, "This has nothing to do with proactively disabling a phone that is unlocked or hacked," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in an interview. "It's unfortunate that some of these programs have caused damage to the iPhone software, but Apple cannot be responsible for ... those consequences."

We're supposed to believe that Apple didn't purposely write code to try to override the hackers? That it's all a coincidence that Apple is releasing a software release that will disable hacked iPhones? ROFL. I'm the tooth fairy.

read more | digg story

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Everyday Mathematics Makes My Head Hurt

An internet friend of mine who had previously been homeschooling her 9 year old decided to send her child back to public school, at least for a semester. On the message boards she remarked that her daughter hated her new public school math class, and had even cried during math. She was using a textbook called Everyday Mathematics.

I had heard of the book before, but I didn't know anything about it. I visited some web sites to learn more about it. Wow, it's quite scary. I was looking through the K-3 glossary to see some terms that their book used:

mental arithmetic Does not require all computations to be done in one’s head. Rather children develop a variety of flexible solution strategies, including drawing pictures and doodles, counting jumps on a number line or grid, and so on. Children devise their own solution strategies.

Doodles? Drawing pictures? Children devising their own solution strategies? That's just looking for trouble in a math class. You can't devise your own solution strategy for something that you barely know how to do in the first place.

number grid A table in which consecutive numbers are arranged in rows of ten. A move from one number to the next within a row is a change of one; a move from one number to the next within a column is a change of ten.

Huh? Say that again?

Fact Triangles Triangular cards that use the members of fact families for practice with addition/subtraction and multiplication/division facts. Two one-digit numbers and their sum or product (marked with an asterisk) appears in the corners of each triangle.

What was wrong with flash cards?

power of a number The product of factors all of which are the same. For example, 53 (five to the third power, or 5 x 5 x 5) is another way to name 125.

I understand this term perfectly well, but this was something that was taught in 7th grade when I took pre-algebra. I might have learned it in 6th grade math, but certainly not in 3rd grade math.

In case you think that these third graders are geniuses, though, the K-3 glossary fails to include definitions for improper fractions, mixed fractions, subtrahend, addend (not an item in the glossary by itself, but the definition of "number family" assumes that you already know what an addend is), or minuend. Not that most people use those terms in their everyday life, but if you are going to be teaching mathematics at as high a level as powers of a number, I would think that you would want to teach fractions first... and I would guess that if you taught fractions properly, some of those terms would end up in your book's glossary.

MJ McDermott, a meteorologist with a degree in atmospheric science, produced this 15 minute YouTube video talking about Everyday Math, as well as TERC math. It's pretty interesting:

It's amazing how anybody other than someone with a really high math aptitude already would be able to go through a program like this with a good grounding of mathematics.

How Can You Tell If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Is Lying?

The answer, of course, is when his lips are moving.

60 Minutes this week had a hilarious interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today. If you've got it on Tivo be sure to watch it. You can hear him utter such gems* as:

  • What do we need a nuclear bomb for? The nuclear era has passed.

  • (After hearing a quote from George Bush that was basically telling him off) I can't believe that George Bush said something like that. That must be your interpretation of what he said.

  • I wanted to visit Ground Zero to pay my respects.

I just couldn't help but thinking about how Satan is known as The Father of all Lies. This guy was lying through his teeth like crazy. I almost thought that he believed his lies.

The top quote of the evening was at the end. It had me rolling...

"I am a Moslem. I can not lie."

Too funny!

*Unless an item is in direct quotes, I am paraphrasing Ahmadinejad's sayings. The saying I directly quoted was a quote of what his translator said.

20/20 Tough Call Part 1: Hannah Montana

20/20's "Tough Call" Episode last week had a couple of controversial segments... although I suppose that all of them might have been controversial to some people. I felt like I should comment on two of them, and since they are about two completely different subjects, I'm creating two different posts.

The first tough call I want to address is Hannah Montana. Most people who have kids above the preschool age have probably heard of her, she seems to be pretty popular. I don't know much about her myself, other than that she's on the Disney Channel and is a little over my daughter's age level still.

Miley Cyrus, AKA Hannah Montana, is the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, known for the once-popular crossover country song, "Achy Breaky Heart." From all I know about him, he seems to be country's equivalent to Vanilla Ice.

He took his daughter on tour with him when she was a baby, and she became interested in music, acting, and the stage. 20/20 seemed to act like it was surprising when she became so interested in acting and music and wanted to do it herself. Not too surprising, is it? People often follow in the footsteps of their parents. Our country has even had a couple father/son presidents.

20/20's reporting is intended to make the audience believe that Billy Ray Cyrus made the correct call when he let his daughter audition for television roles, and to have her own television show. I have a different take on the whole situation...

She's 14. The jury is still out on whether he made the right call.

Has 20/20 forgotten about Britney Spears already? When she was 16 (older than Miley is right now), Britney seemed to have it all together. You would have thought that her parents had made the right call too, to let her join the New Mickey Mouse Club, then later Innosense, and then to create a solo album. A lot of parents thought that she was a great role model for their daughters.

That's not really the case with Britney any longer, right? She is now another example, among dozens, of child star horror stories. She might still have a lot of money, but if you wish your children to live a happy life with a moral compass and a heart for Jesus, she's not it.

Hopefully everything will turn out great for Miley. She seems nice enough. But give it 6 or 7 more years... then we can know if Billy Ray made the right call.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Is This Normal In A 10 Month Old?

My 10 month old baby is under the 5th percentile for weight, yet he eats like it's going out of style. He routinely goes through 3 stage 2 jars of baby food for lunch, eats Cheerios for breakfast (probably more than his 5 year old sister), and for dinner he almost always eats more than his sister, and sometimes more than me or my husband. To me, he seems pretty strong. As a newborn, he was practically holding up his head before he left the hospital.

He doesn't walk on his own yet, because he hasn't perfected the balance thing, but I already can't keep him in one part of the house. I was blocking off the living room from the rest of the house with a big giant gate, but he is quickly figuring out how to move the gate and escape. So if I want to keep him confined, I put him in his playard.

Only now he moves the whole playard if he doesn't like where I put it.

Like today. I needed to wash dishes after he woke up from his nap. So I put him into the playard. He pushed the playard, toys that were inside it and all, into the kitchen so he could be with me. In order to get into the kitchen, he had to maneuver around the corner and around the kitchen counters. But he did it.

I don't remember my daughter doing anything like this. Or any other 10 month old, for that matter. Anyway, I grabbed the camera and filmed it:

My husband tried putting 3 and 5 pound weights around the playard, but he pushed those out of the way. My daughter has trouble picking up a full jug of milk... somehow I doubt that when he's 5 he's going to be telling me "I can't get anything to drink because it's too heavy!"

Family Friendly TV During Family Hour? Maybe...

I was watching the previews for a new CBS television show called Kid Nation, where a bunch of children end up stuck out in the middle of nowhere by themselves. From the initial description it sounds a lot like Lord of the Flies... but then the previews went on some more and it seemed more like a controlled reality television experiment. Besides, if a television show really wanted to recreate the Lord of the Flies experience for television, a) it would probably get a lot of protests, b) not too many parents would let their children be sent off for such Lord of the Flies experiment unless they really wanted to get rid of their kids, and c) Lord of the Flies reality TV would probably involve CPS.

The television show has adult cameramen and medics on staff (although hidden), so I guess that keeps the kids from killing each other. The television show seemed fairly tame, so I let my daughter watch the show. Here are my findings:

The show is pretty good, kid-friendly television, for the most part. The kids have to deal with things like homesickness, working together to win challenges, and they end up with assigned duties like cook, laborer, or storekeeper depending on what team they end up on (four teams competed for the different spots; the fourth team became the "upper class" and get to help out however they feel like). None of the kids are sent home, although they can go home if they choose, but one kid per episode can win a gold star worth $20,000... which is a lot more than the first Survivor competitors to get voted out get.

There was only one thing that I found wrong with this show. There were several instances of blasphemy (oh my g__). The kids on the television show ranged in age from 8 to 14, and I'm sure that many of them have far worse potty mouths at home or even off-camera, but I did find it bothersome. I suppose that most of the kids on the show don't see anything wrong with that phrase, as most of them were probably brought up in homes where that wasn't considered cursing. At least it allowed me to have a conversation with my daughter about how that is not a phrase that she should be using.

I suppose that Kid Nation is more family friendly than most television that has been on during this time slot lately. I think that I will allow my daughter to continue to watch it, but it reminds me of the movie Time Changer, where a professor at a Bible school from 1890 travels through time to the present day and goes to see a movie. He comes running out of the movie theater yelling "stop the movie! There's been a big mistake! They are blaspheming the Lord!" or something along those lines. I'm not particularly fond of this aspect of the television show.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Science Experiment: Even A 5 Year Old Can See That Evolution Does Not Make Sense

My daughter and I are going through Bob Jones University Press's Science 2 this year. Today we did a science experiment. We made pudding to demonstrate that evolution is nonsense.

I put the milk in one bowl, and the pudding mix in the other bowl. "How long do you think it will take for the pudding mix and the milk to come together to make pudding? A day? A week? A year? A million years?"

To think that the pudding mix is going to jump over into the bowl of milk is absurd, and my 5 year old was able to figure that out. And pudding only has 2 ingredients, milk and pudding mix. Imagine how hard it would be for a pile of screws and metal to get together and make a watch, or boards and nails to magically get together and build a house. Or could a tornado in a junkyard produce a space shuttle? Even a space shuttle is less complicated than the DNA inside a frog, yet we are to believe that the frog came together by itself, even though nobody would believe that the less-complicated space shuttle could build itself.

My five year old understands it.

Reminds me of a Bible verse. Romans 1:22 "Professing to be wise, they became fools."

On a related note... don't you think if any transitional forms were seen (as in, a reptile growing wings and flying) it would be all over the news? I'm not talking about fossils... if transitional forms still happened, we'd notice. We've had people making scientific observations since the Greeks at least... so it hasn't happened where a scientist could notice in 3000 years.

Infant Shot Execution Style In Armed Robbery

Here's one for the sick-and-twisted-morality file: a man and his infant son were shot dead during an armed robbery.

Police believe that the baby's father drove to his friend's house, left the baby in the car, and ended up running into the robbers instead. The robbers shot him, and on their way out, they decided to put a gun to the infant's head and shoot him, still sitting in his car seat.

Who does something like this? I could understand to some degree if this was a 6 year old who might be a witness to the crime. It would still be pretty awful, but people are pretty selfish and the robbers might feel that killing the witness would be in their best interests. But what is a 7 month old going to say? "Da da da da da" is about all my 10 month old manages to say. I guess that the court might find out that Dada was there, but the baby wouldn't be able to point out who actually committed the crime from that testimony.

Reminds me of Matthew 24:12 "And because iniquity should abound, the love of many shall wax cold." There's not one logical reason that I can think of that someone would purposely kill an infant during the commission of a crime. Perhaps they thought it would be fun and that they could get away with it.

Also reminds me of the verse "As in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." The world that Noah lived in was filled with violence.

One more related verse: Matthew 18:6 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Note To OJ: "Fight On" Doesn't Mean Armed Robbery

OJ Simpson has been recently in the headlines... this time for armed robbery. Evidently somebody ended up with some of his sports memorabilia, he found out that it was going to be auctioned off, and he was caught trying to steal it back.

While normally I really don't care about football players, since I don't watch football, OJ Simpson is different. We went to the same college (different years). I was attending the University of Southern California during the OJ Simpson trials. I was hoping that everything would turn out to be a big mistake and he'd be found not guilty, since at the time, he was one of our more famous football heroes.

What a difference several years makes. While OJ Simpson still did great things for our football team back in the day, he's now one of our more infamous graduates, rather than one of the people we proudly say "yes, I went to the same school as _____." I'm sure that every college has them, but ours is pretty visible right now... and because he was such a football hero back in his college days, his name will unfortunately be forever linked with the University of Southern California. I'd rather have George Lucas or Neil Armstrong come to mind first.

But then again, I suppose that other colleges have their infamous graduates as well. Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unibomber, went to Harvard. Ted Bundy, a famous serial killer, went to the University of Washington. I suppose when they were admitted nobody knew what they would become.

So here's a note to OJ Simpson, and every other USC alumni out there... "fight on" may be a great fight song for football and basketball games, but it doesn't mean breaking into houses or stores and committing armed robbery.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Math Is Beautiful!

I found this today on the internet. I thought this was really cool...

Beauty of Math!

1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111

9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888
987 x 9 + 5 = 8888
9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888
98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888
987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888
9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888

Brilliant, isn't it?

And look at this symmetry:

1 x 1 = 1
11 x 11 = 121
111 x 111 = 12321
1111 x 1111 = 1234321
11111 x 11111 = 123454321
111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321
111111111 x 111111111=12345678987654321

Now, take a look at this...


From a strictly mathematical viewpoint:

What Equals 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?

We have all been in situations where someone wants you to GIVE OVER

How about ACHIEVING 101%?

What equals 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help answer these



Is represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.


H-A-R-D-W-O-R- K

8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%



11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%



1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

THEN, look how far the love of God will take you:


12+15+22+5+15+6+7+15+4 = 101%

Therefore, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that:

While Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will
get you there, It's the Love of God that will put you over the top!

Have a nice day & God bless!!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

20/20 Takes On Health Insurance

I really like John Stossel's reports on 20/20. They're always pretty interesting, and he usually makes a lot of sense. Earlier this year, he did a report on education, stating how when there's competition, services are better... for example, in other countries when schools compete for children to attend, whether public or private. I know for a fact that the private sector can educate children more effectively, because for the same cost that the public school educates a child, Kindercare provides full-day Kindergartens at most of their centers, and will throw in breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

For his health care segment, I was not surprised that he did a good job as well. He first pointed out that it's not good to be without health care. He brought out a lady that left her job, was on temporary insurance, and then found out that she had cancer. After her temporary insurance ran out, she was left with paying for everything out of pocket. While nobody in our family has cancer, thank God, we did deal with losing our health insurance when my husband lost his job earlier this year. Just our luck, we ended up with two fevers at 103 or greater and one case of severe dehydration in an underweight infant, and ended up with 3 emergency room trips. We now have health insurance so all is taken care of again.

For several years now, I've found most private health insurance offered by employers to be way overpriced. I turned down health insurance while working at Kindercare because it would have cost half my paycheck. Health insurance at my husband's last job would have cost $700 a month out of our pockets, and that was after his job kicked in enough money to fully cover my husband.

Why is that? I can shop around and find high deductible policies that cover my entire family for around $200-$300 a month. Why do employers offer the low-deductible policies and charge their employees an arm and a leg for it? During most years I wouldn't even use $8400 in services, which is what the insurance policy offered by my husband's prior employer would have cost him every year. I don't even think that we'll reach a total of $8400 in health insurance costs this year, and that includes 3 emergency room visits and several well-baby checkups.

Health insurance costs a lot because people use it for everything. He brought up a good point... what if there was grocery insurance? People would be buying steaks instead of hamburger. The same thing is true with any time someone else is paying for services... I receive WIC, and although I always buy the cheapest milk and eggs that are at the grocery store, I buy my preferred brand of tuna fish and don't really look at the price. If someone else is paying for it, you are less likely to shop around.

Why do we include the smallest things in our health insurance coverage? If everyone paid for their own well visits and checkups, it would lower health insurance costs. Similarly, people should pay out of pocket for things like birth control and viagra. These are things that a lot of people will buy, but if you have to pay for them out of pocket you're going to shop around. You're also going to think twice about whether you really need something or not. When we were without health insurance this summer, for example, we really thought long and hard about whether we were going to take our kids in. I waited each time until I thought that there was nothing that I could do at home, and they really needed to be seen or they might die. While I don't think that people should wait until they think that they are on the verge of death before they see a doctor, sometimes if you just have the sniffles, you really don't need to be seen.

Britain, France, Canada and Cuba are looked at by Michael Moore and others as examples because they have free health care, but because it is free to all, it is substandard. People have to wait for months to see a specialist, even for life-threatening conditions. Emergency room waits are longer than ours here, if you can believe it. The wealthy and well-connected might be able to get better care, as Michael Moore was able to in his movie, but ordinary people are going to hospitals where they try to save money by washing the sheets every other day... one suggestion to save money was to flip the sheets over and reuse them. Gross!

At the end of his report, John Stossel talked about clinics popping up in grocery stores and pharmacies, where you pay cash and see a nurse practitioner. I wish I would have known about those months ago. My daughter wouldn't have had to suffer temporary hearing loss and spend over a month with an ear infection because we couldn't afford a doctor. We could have saved 2 emergency room trips, I'm sure, because we could have taken in my children when they had fevers and gotten a prescription for antibiotics. Probably not when my son was dehydrated because he needed an IV, but the other two trips could have been saved. Since we live in a major metropolitan area, I'm sure there must be one of those within driving distance of us.

I think that clinics are a great idea. Just as it would be preferable if routine doctor's visits were something ordinarily paid for out of pocket. Competition would reduce prices. It would save doctors offices money as well, because they wouldn't have to pay so many staffers to haggle with insurance companies. Of course, you're always going to have people with medicaid, but wouldn't it be better if instead of having a $700 a month health insurance premium, you had a $300 a month health insurance premium and covered routine doctor's visits, viagra, birth control, and other small items out of pocket? Do you really spend $400 a month on all those things? Maybe some people would have to because they get sick a lot, but if everybody did it, doctors would lower prices to try to draw customers.

HSAs are a good idea, in theory. My husband's job last year had a really nice HSA program where you were given a debit card and could pay for health costs with that. It allowed you to roll over money that you had if you didn't use it all in one year. When my husband worked for the state, however, their HSA program really bit. You would lose all your money at the end of the year if you didn't use it, and you had to fill out a form and mail it in if you had a health expenditure, and they would reimburse you. We decided to opt out of that one because in most years we don't really get sick that much, and having to go through the whole headache of reimbursement wasn't worth it.

This is just my opinion, but why couldn't we have a hybrid type health care system? Allow for private insurance (private clinics are illegal in Canada). The government could offer coverage for major medical expenses to every family making... say... under $100K a year, or those that lose health insurance because of a preexisting condition... with a catch. The government's health plan would only cover major, life-threatening medical expenses, like cancer. Of course, we know that in countries with government health care, the line to be seen is long, so anybody with enough means to afford private insurance would probably want to pay for that, because they wouldn't have to wait as long to be seen.

It would be preferable if more companies would offer higher deductible plans that cost the employers less per month. Then people would have to spend the first couple of thousand dollars out of pocket, but they would make better choices and shop around. They would save a lot of money in the long run, because $700 per month after your employer's contribution for health insurance is ridiculous.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Putin Dissolves Parliament... Get Ready To Rapture?

Vladmir Putin dissolved the Russian parliament (story here)! My husband called me this afternoon to ask me if I knew anything about Russia, but I hadn't had the TV on anything but PBS Kids and Tivo'd O'Reilly Factor from yesterday, so I had no clue. Then I discovered that the Russian parliament had dissolved and a new Prime Minister was in power.

Ever since Putin was installed as President, I always thought that he would be there for the end times. He just seemed to have the background for it. Now I'm even more sure that I'm probably right. Especially considering that Russia has planted their flag and claimed the North Pole as their own, and they seem to be getting a little imperialistic.

For those of you that do not know what Russia has to do with the end times, a little info. Russia is supposed to invade Israel in the future, but they will get their butts kicked supernaturally. That's how I understand it supernaturally. If you've ever heard of Gog/Magog... that's Russia. We know that Russia is Gog for several reasons. Moscow is north of Israel, for one. Rosh is also mentioned by name, and Tubal is also a place in Russia. I'm just going off the top of my head on this one, if you want more info on why Russia is Gog, you can google it.

Anyway, for prophecy watchers, this is a MAJOR development. Things are moving quickly! Or at least they seem to. There is nothing that stands in the way between history and the rapture... it could happen at any time. Gog/Magog is something that is to happen in the tribulation, so that means if things really are moving in that direction, the Christians will be out of here soon. Very soon.

Are you saved? Are you sure? Jesus Christ died on the cross to forgive you of your sins. If you haven't realized that you are a sinner, repented of your sins and asked Jesus to save you and forgive you of your sins, you probably are not saved. Please do so! The rapture could happen at any time and you don't want to be left behind!

Think you're a good person? Take the good person test here! If you pass the good person test and have never sinned, you have nothing to fear. Unfortunately, the Bible says that there is none righteous, so you probably won't pass.

What Do Celebrities, Senators, and Suicide Have In Common?

About a week ago, it was all over the news that Senator Larry Craig was gay, and had plead guilty to indecent conduct in a gay sex sting. Although he has denied the allegation that he was gay, an Idaho newspaper reported that he was.

I don't wish to ponder on whether he is gay or not. The better question is, should the newspaper have reported that he was gay? Should newspapers out someone that does not want to be outed?

Is knowing that someone is gay or not important? If this person is a member of the clergy, I suppose that it would be. Some church denominations have had recent scandals along those lines. The Bible forbids homosexuality and calls it an abomination. If a member of the clergy engages in homosexual acts, then they probably should not be in a position of leadership in the church, as church leaders should be role models that laypeople can look up to.

You could argue the importance of a senator's sexual orientation both ways. Is a senator's sexual orientation important? On one hand, it might affect the way that a senator votes, which is important. If a senator's sexual orientation is going to cause him to vote in favor of gay marriage, that's important to know. In Senator Craig's case, he wasn't known for being pro-gay in his voting record. You can also argue that senators should be role models, in that case you may consider it important.

If it is not important as to whether a senator is gay or not, I don't believe that the newspapers should report it. In that case, it is just gossip. It doesn't matter whether it is true gossip or not... we are not to speak ill of other people for no reason.

Which leads me to celebrities. They are often known for their chaotic lives more than just about anybody else. Should newspapers out celebrities? It is important whether an actor is gay or not? Does it really make a difference? You could argue that celebrities are role models too, but if a celebrity does not publicly make his or her homosexuality public by acting discreetly, their sexual orientation would not be a factor in how people saw them. So in my opinion, if a celebrity is gay and is not open about it, the newspapers should leave them alone. It's just gossip.

Which leads me to my final point. People were shocked when Owen Wilson tried to commit suicide. Doesn't he have everything going for him? Then again, don't most celebrities have wealth, fame, and just about anything us normal people could dream of? If that's the case, why do so many of them get into drugs and alcohol? Why does Britney Spears shave her head in a moment of apparent lunacy?

Here's my theory: who are the most gossiped about people in the world? Celebrities, right? I can't think of anybody else who people gossip about more. You might say the royal house of Windsor, but they're celebrities too. If someone has millions of people gossiping about them, by definition you could say that they are celebrities, right?

The Bible tells us not to gossip. It doesn't matter whether the juicy tidbit is true or not, it is still gossip. Gossip is hurtful. People don't like to be gossiped about. You could say that being gossiped is part of the job of being a celebrity, and some stars act like some publicity is better than no publicity, but that doesn't make it right. Perhaps even to the most publicity-seeking celebrity there is, something on the inside feels hurt by what people are saying about them. Perhaps that's why celebrities tend to live such chaotic lives, and try to escape with drugs, alcohol, and occasionally, suicide.

I have to add, sometimes it is difficult not to gossip. It can happen without even thinking. And sometimes there's a fine line between gossip and trying to make a point or teach someone a life lesson. So I realize that it's something that I and many other people need to work on.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Osama's Beard!

I was listening to Way of the Master Radio and heard a REALLY interesting tidbit. You know how Osama Bin Laden died his beard black? Well, Islam forbids someone to dye their hair unless they are going on jihad!

Maybe he just wants us to think that he's doing something. I hope so. I don't want to see another attack on the US. But maybe we should be extra vigilant.

My husband has been watching Glenn Beck this week, and I usually don't care for the show, but he's having some really interesting info this week about terrorism and schools. There are 17 school buses that have gone missing. There were also some blueprints and videos of public schools here in America found with the terrorists. Could you imagine how grieved our society would be if the terrorists struck a school? It would just kill our spirits.

And if there was an attack on our schools, what do you think the chances are that schools will let parents pick up their children in a timely fashion? I'm giving the chance about... zilch. This school in Texas kept children hostage at school until 9 PM or so the other day due to lightning, I don't think that children will be going home quickly in the event of a terrorist attack on schools. :(

I'm glad that my daughter is going to school at home.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Curriculum I Am Loving This Year

We started school officially on September 5th (even though dd asked to do school early so we did a couple of lessons the week before). After looking through my new curriculum, I was really excited about trying out Bob Jones University Press's Bible course... but after teaching it for a week, I am sure that it is a curriculum that I am going to love.

It's been really easy to implement this program. The questions are all laid out for you, they have child-friendly paraphrases of the Bible accounts to read if you don't want to read straight out of the Bible, and the worksheets are simple and fun (they do one page a day).

I also really like how BJU Bible 1 ties in other subjects to help extend the learning. We have been learning songs in our Bible class (currently we're doing This Is My Father's World). We also are doing BJU Music K, so she gets to sing a lot. I'm glad she gets to learn all these songs, because a lot of times she'll be in church with us and she doesn't know the hymns, so this will help her.

They have a science connection where we've been doing some fun things as well. During our lesson on God making the sky, we made a cloud in our kitchen. We looked at the difference between salt water and fresh water when we talked about God making dry land and seas. These were easy to do but fun. We also learn a different Bible verse every week.

I am teaching BJU music, reading, history, and science as well, but Bible is my favorite out of all the BJU courses. The rest of them are good too :).