Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Food fight?

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in different places.

~ Mat 24:7

Reading the newspaper is almost like reading the last books of the Bible sometimes. We have wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes in diverse places, the threat of superbugs like bird flu... even our food supply seems to be coming up with one poison after another. I don't remember seeing too many food recalls even a few years ago, but I've been seeing about one every month recently. Even the toothpaste and pet food is coming up messed up.

Between hurricane Katrina and the bird flu scare (which is a threat that hasn't really gone away it just doesn't make news any more), I have started to become a food collector. An extra box of cereal here, a bag of beans there. Stuff that will last a while.

I'm very budget conscious... I notice when the prices go up. The price of a gallon of store brand water, for example, has gone up $.09 in the past year at my local grocery store. The price of a 2-liter bottle of soda has gone up about $.25 in the last 6 months (they're always having sales so sometimes it is higher than that and occasionally lower, but the that's the raise of the typical price). Bread has gone up $.20 in the last 2 months. And many other items which I used to be able to get for $1 during the store's low point in their sales cycle has gone up to $1.25 during the low point in their sales cycle.

I used to be able to get a whole week's worth of food for $40, for me, dh, and my toddler. Now I'm spending $80. The $40 value wasn't 20 years ago... it was 3 years ago. Now, part of the grocery increase was due to us having more money and buying more stuff that's not on sale. $10 of that money goes to buy my dh's lunches... if he took leftovers to lunch that amount would go down. If I shopped the same way as 3 years ago, I'm pretty sure I would need at least $65 a week to buy the same amount of food that $40 could buy 3 years ago.

I've been reading a lot about crops getting destroyed due to a salmonella outbreak, chickens being slaughtered because they have bird flu, and herds of cows being killed because some cow has mad cow disease. With all this food being destroyed, I can't help but wonder if the world's food supply is not going to meet the demand one of these days. Then I see this article. I guess that I'm not the only person concerned about the food supply. Especially with the recent surge in popularity of Ethanol, which causes more corn to be diverted to making energy instead of food.

The day will come one day when food is scarce. That's what the Bible says. Hopefully it will be a while from now, but just in case, I'll pick up an extra box of cheerios at the grocery store this week.

6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures say, A choenix of wheat for a denarius, and three choenixes of barley for a denarius. And do not hurt the oil and the wine.

7 And when He had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, Come and see.

8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him sitting on it was Death, and Hell followed with him. And authority was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword and with hunger and with death and by the beasts of the earth.

~ Rev 6:6-8

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Out of Jail

Paris Hilton got out of jail early this morning. I don't particularly care for her, but I wish her luck. Hopefully she's changed like she says that she has.

Doesn't seem like her parents are doing her any favors, shopping around an interview with her for the largest amount of cash. Course they probably haven't been helping her too much since she was a toddler. It seems like they have allowed her to grow up with a distorted sense of right and wrong.

I guess that only time will tell if she behaves or not.

Monday, June 25, 2007

How To Teach The Kids

Our local newspaper has been involved in a long-term project in our area: teach a bunch of first graders how to read. The project has been going on for 3 years now, and the first graders are now third graders.

When I was in college, I tutored at a local elementary school. Some of the third graders were still learning words like mom, dad, the, etc. I thought that was really sad. My just-turned-5 year old can read those words.

So what distinguishes my 5 year old from those third graders? And why are only 14% of the students at Creighton Elementary School, where the newspaper has poured tremendous resources and private tutors volunteer their time, able to read at a 3rd grade level? Can anything be done about it, to teach the kids to read?

My 5 year old has had a lot of help. At age 2 she went to Kindercare, where they taught her letters, numbers, and colors. Most of the kids, my daughter included, knew all their letters, numbers, and colors before they turned 3... if they had been in the program for most of the year. When she was 3, her and most of her Kindercare peers learned the letter sounds, and most could count up to somewhere between 10 and 20.

At 3 1/2, I started homeschooling her part time, and at age 4, my daughter was homeschooled full time. Which really only amounted to an hour or 2 a day, but it was private tutoring. By 5, she learned to read cvc words... that is, consonant vowel consonant words like hat, bad, mom, dad, etc. She also learned several sight words.

What disadvantages do the children at Creighton Elementary, the school I tutored at, and other students have? For starters, many of them start out at a disadvantage because they do not speak English. So they have one additional problem to tackle that my daughter does not. Many of them move a lot. 1/3 of the students that started the program at Creighton Elementary did not finish third grade there. Although we have moved, it didn't cause her to have to change schools.

Many of the students come from poor families. While our family went through some difficult financial times and did not have much money for a while, it was different than what many of these children experience. When you have a college student who graduates and has to work as a secretary for $7 an hour straight out of college, the family mindset is different than of someone who might make the same income but has been at that level their whole life. The college graduate has different experiences and knowledge that he or she can impart to their children. Many of the third grade students, for example, didn't know what a garage was. One child figured it out. "That's a house where rich people park their cars, right?" Well, that's one way of putting it. While we do not have a garage, I asked my 5 year old if she knew what garage meant. She does.

Studies have been done that show that programs like Head Start do not work in the long term. I'm not sure whether it is just because Head Start as a program does not work and they would do better in a program like Kindercare's, or if the student does not find the benefit because of other reasons.

I finished reading Freakonomics the other day. In the book, it says that studies have been done that show that families with a lot of books in their homes have children that do better in school than children without books... even better than children that go to the library regularly, and even if the child in the house of books is plopped in front of the TV all day. Why is that the case? Is it because parents who buy lots of books have more money, are more interested in education? Most of the Creighton kids probably do not have a lot of books in their homes. But sending them truckloads of books probably wouldn't change much either... since the root causes of having a lot of books in your house is probably the same root cause for a children to learn how to read, not the presence of books making one smarter via osmosis.

One thing that I have come to believe as I have researched and started my homeschooling journey is that it is perhaps helpful to follow the same curriculum in order to prevent gaps in a child's education. On some level, a core curriculum, such as outlined in the "What Your ___th Grader Needs To Know" books, makes a lot of sense. My daughter's textbooks don't exactly follow the Core Knowledge curriculum, but I do try to supplement a bit from there, and I also know that she is not going to really run into gaps if I stay with the same textbook manufacturer, as everything is eventually covered. Students that move a lot don't get the advantage of staying with the same curriculum, as they change schools. The drawback to using a core curriculum is that local control is lost, and care would have to be made to ensure that what is thought of as necessary to teach is something that could be agreed on.

The children at Creighton Elementary School have made a lot of progress, despite being behind. The students in the program with the extra resources and tutors are doing better than the students from the year before that did not have the extra resources. Maybe that's the best we can do.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fathers and God In America

Today is father's day. Well, it's almost done, and by the time you read this it will be over. If you're a father, I hope that you had a good one.

It was a good idea to reflect on the role that fathers play in this country, I suppose. Or at least, that's what I did... among helping the kids make their dad a t-shirt, picking up some steaks for him to BBQ, and trying to find a helium balloon for him.

A lot of fathers in the media today look like bumbling idiots. Homer Simpson, anyone? Tim Taylor on Tool Time was always hurting himself in one way or another. They did a really good job on Jericho portraying Johnston the mayor as a good father though. Dads in Jingle All The Way and Liar Liar are unreliable buffoons or liars. It's the mother in Home Alone that risks life and limb to return to her son early, not the dad. Don't even get started with television commercials, where dads and other slobs of men all sit in front of the football game stuffing themselves on pizza and beer, ogling over cheerleaders.

Bernard Goldberg made a good point in his book Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right. After hurricane Katrina, poor moms standed at the Superdome were crying about how their infants were suffering because they had no access to diapers and milk... where were the fathers?

And where was the father of baby "John Vincent", the toddler who was left abandoned in a hospital with a note on his diaper saying "Please help my baby John Vincent I can no longer take care of him. Lost job, lost medical. God have mercy on me."

Fathers are increasingly seen as unnecessary. Once a baby is conceived, some people think that is all that is needed. Single mothers raise their babies all the time. Often it's not a choice. Things happen. People get divorced, widowed, etc. It's not really seen as a big deal any more.

My pastor said something today that made me think. The family is a picture of God's love. The husband is supposed to love his wife like Christ loved the church. Parents learn how much God loves us (and how helpless we are in comparison to him) when they bring home a new baby. Fathers are (or at least should be because they live up to it) seen in the eyes of their children as all-powerful, loving people in authority. A child learns to love their father, respect him, and obey him... and eventually, they hopefully will learn to love, respect, and obey God. The father is an earthly role that pictures God's relationship to us.

So if fathers are absent, irresponsible, unimportant, unreliable buffoons, what does that say about our society and our view on God?


~ God is absent from many of our lives... or at least many would like it to be so.
~ God is unimportant to many people.
~ Many people today believe that God doesn't exist, or is cruel, intolerant, and/or bigoted
~ Many people casually view him as "the big guy upstairs"... umm... is he laying around in front of football in his underwear drinking beer and eating pizza, by any chance?
~ He is seen by many as a God that has let them down in the past, because someone died when they prayed that they wouldn't, financial ruin happened, or some other tradgedy
~ And of course, people that believe that God's Bible is true are illiterate, unintelligent buffoons... especially if you believe all that "nonsense" about a literal 6 day creation 6000 or so years ago

We like to make a lot of decisions without the father nowadays. We can abort babies without even letting the father know they had a child to begin with. We pack up and take the kids down a messy road of divorce because we're "not happy". And while there are tons of nice balloons in the stores for mother's day, only a handful are available with "Happy Father's Day" written on them.

Maybe there's a correlation between how we as a society views fathers (and fatherhood) and how we view God.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Heaven Has Two New People This Week

Our world has lost two wonderful people this week. Our loss, but Heaven's gain.

The first person, that I'm sure many people have heard about, is Ruth Graham, Billy Graham's wife. She went into a coma yesterday, and died earlier this afternoon. I really didn't know much about her, but I'm sure that being married to a famous minister could not be easy. They were married for 67 years, you have to give anybody credit nowadays for being married that long.

She was born in China on June 10, 1920, to two American missionaries. As a girl, she dreamed of becoming a missionary... but instead she married the evangelist Billy Graham. She had five children, wrote or co-authored 14 books, and founded the Ruth and Billy Graham Children's Health Center.

The other person that the world lost in the last week was a little 7 year old girl named Rachel Hanson. You can read about her at the Caring Bridge web site.

Rachel was born in April 2007 (I'm guessing) in Minnesota. She contraced Ewing's Sarcoma (a form of cancer) when she was 2 years old. For five years she bravely fought to get better. In the end, she did get better, just not in the way that anybody hoped. She lost her earthly battle with cancer in the morning on June 8, 2007.

Today was her funeral/celebration of life. I don't live anywhere near Minnesota, but I wore pink, her favorite color, for her today.

I never met either of them. I learned about Rachel through a prayer thread for her when she was about 3. My family has prayed for her almost every day, and I've followed her story through her mom's journals. Losing her was like losing a friend. She may not be as famous as Ruth Graham, but she's famous in my eyes.

If anybody is reading, please pray for their families. They both were saved Christians, and I believe that someday they will reunite with their families... but even with the promise of seeing a loved one again, I'm sure that they will be missed. Losing a loved one is always hard.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Education in America: Value For Your Money?

I suppose that schools haven't been in the news much lately... school is out for the summer here in Arizona, everybody else is graduating, getting ready for prom, or just excited for the end of the school year. This year I haven't heard any stories about valedictorians not being able to give their speeches because they want to mention God, gay proms, or male prom queens. It's been slow in that department recently.

This is also the time of year that homeschoolers often start looking for bargains on next year's curriculum, and are perhaps getting rid of last year's curriculum to make room for more books and pay for the next year. Since I have a baby that will eventually need an education, I'm holding onto all of the ones that I can reuse.

On Saturday, I got a great deal on some books. $15 for a brand new Bible curriculum set that was brand new (retails for $60), in the shrink wrap even. $15 for a second grade math Teacher's manual, that also retails for $60. I got a book for my future toddler for $5, and next year's science student edition for $2 (I got the teacher's edition earlier this year at Half-Priced Books for $5).

So far, I've spent $152.95 on books for next year. I have a few more books to buy, and if I buy everything new, I'll have to spend about another $180. So it costs about $330 for me to educate a child for one year. My baby will cost less when he gets older because there will be fewer books needed to buy for him.

How do our public schools do? About $600 of my property tax money went to schools alone last year... I don't even live in a fancy house or anything... I'm guessing that about 1/2 of the homeowners in this school district pay more than me. Every year, I pay the public schools enough to educate my daughter for almost 2 years. Only, I'm only contributing enough to educate someone else's child for 1 year.

The NEA web site says that it costs an average of $7552 to educate a child for a year NEA link. That's not even including additional costs for special education students... which I would expect would cost more. Wow, that's probably twice what I will have to spend on books for my daughter's entire education!

How does this compare to other schools? Our church has a private school that operates separately from the church. Those students pay less than $2000 a year in tuition. The Kindercare that I used to work at had an accredited, all day Kindergarten... if parents sent their kids there for 40 weeks, it would cost them $7040... less than what the public schools cost. And Kindercare will take your Kindergartener from 6 AM to 6 PM, PLUS provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks! They also provide supplies and workbooks.

Public school supply lists are getting out of hand as well. I've seen some of the lists... they have the basics like crayons, pencils, erasers... although sometimes they ask you to bring an outrageous amount of one supply, like 10 boxes of crayons or something. But they also want you to bring tissues, copy paper, dry erase markers, and I think I saw toilet paper once. PLUS the teachers always seem to be going out and buying supplies for their classrooms. Just what are the public schools paying for?

I do realize that they have to pay for some things that I as a homeschooler do not have to pay for. They have to pay the teachers (which I think should be given a fair salary), buildings, overhead, busses (although some districts charge for that, especially with increased gas costs). But if Kindercare can provide more services for less money, shouldn't our public schools be able to do better than they do?

I think that we often pay our taxes out without really thinking where all the money is going to. It becomes a collective pot of money that sometimes the government does really stupid things with, like teapot museums or berry research in Alaska. Not that education is stupid, but we should get more value for our money.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Back In Jail

Paris Hilton was ordered back in jail. Well good. Maybe there's hope after all.

Probably not though.

The Amish and RFID

I'm not Amish (you probably figured that one out already). But I have a lot of respect for them. I admire their devotion to God, and even their separation in many ways from the world. While I personally like my electricity, I respect anybody that can do without it.

So it makes me pretty sad to hear how much the Amish people will be affected by the upcoming RFID act. I stumbled upon a link talking about the Amish with regards to their situation here.

It often sickens me how much government encroaches upon our freedoms and tries to force us into living a certain way. Shouldn't I have the choice to be stupid and ride around town without a seatbelt if I'd like? If I get in an accident and fly out the window, then just hand me a Darwin award... I deserve getting hurt or dying for being stupid (children would be another matter). If I want to hike up a dangerous mountain in the middle of winter wearing only a t-shirt, I should be able to do that too. If I get trapped up there and die, well, I deserve what's coming to me... and nobody should have to pay to send rescuers up there to bail me out either.

So my thoughts regarding the Amish tend to be "leave them alone and let them live their lives." But government doesn't seem to want to do that. It wants to make it mandatory to RFID their animals, apply for movement permits, etc.

To many of the Amish (and to me as well) this is just a precursor to the Mark of the Beast. The Bible says that there will come a day when the Antichrist will cause all to put a mark in their right hands or foreheads... and without it, they will not be able to buy or sell. Similarly, the Amish will not be able to transport themselves to the grocery store without this RFID mark... and if they get the mark, they then have to apply for permits to go to the grocery store using their horses... since this is moving animals.

How did we get to the point? Our forefathers would be rolling over in their graves.

I'm not a fan of RFID. If I buy a movie, computer game, or CD, when I get home I usually seek out the little RFID strip, rip it off the packaging, and throw it in the trash. When I was in the military I secretly did my own little civil disobedience by not microchipping my cat when it was supposedly mandatory to do so. I am also no fan of applied digital or their verichip.

If they can make it mandatory for the Amish, who try so hard to be separate from the world, will it be us that are next?

They RFID'd the Amish horses, but I was not Amish, so I did not care
Then they made RFID mandatory for pets, but since I did not have a pet, I did not care
Then they made RFID mandatory for prisoners, but since I was not a prisoner, I did not care
Then they made RFID mandatory for children (don't want them to get kidnapped, right), but since I did not have children, I did not care
Then they came for me, and there was nobody left to complain

Could this be our story soon?

Immigration Bill Defeated

Yesterday the immigration bill was defeated. Good! Nobody seemed to like it anyway.

But we still have the problem of illegal immigration. And we still have approximately 12 million immigrants here in this country. What to do? I was watching the O'Reilly Factor earlier this week, and somebody remarked that rounding up 12 million people and deporting them would clog up the legal system. I think that's a rather shortsighted view. If we were to deport all the illegal immigrants, who says that it would have to be done overnight?

There are two parts to this problem. The people getting in, and the people that are already here. These problems would probably be best tackled separately... if I was in Congress, I would tackle the problem of the people still coming in first. If you start dealing with the people that are here first, it's like trying to put your finger in the dam to keep it from leaking. The dam must be taken care of first.

So how do we take care of that? I suggest that you take care of both the means that people come in, and the motivation. Take care of the means by securing the border. Use a fence. The Minutemen are practically willing to build one for the country, I don't see why we couldn't take advantage of that resource. Ask for donations. Why does everything have to go through taxes? I'm sure many people would volunteer to donate. I would consider donating to that, even though I won't even donate $1 of my tax money for political campaigns.

We shouldn't stop at a fence and border patrols though. People will still dig under the fence, come in by boat or through Canada, etc., if they have the motivation. Don't offer services to illegal immigrants, except life-saving medical care. Punish companies who willingly hire illegal immigrants. I know that illegal immigrants sometimes take the social security numbers of dead people and children, and companies can unknowingly hire them... I'm not talking about that. But there are some companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants... sometimes even PREFER illegal immigrants. Fine them. Also fine private individuals who hire illegal immigrants as maids, carpenters, pool guys, and landscapers. I realize that finding private individuals is more difficult... don't send too many resources that way to start, but if you find a private individual knowingly hiring an illegal, fine them.

Once we can take care of the flood of people coming into this country, focus on the people already here. Do we send the Gestapo out to knock on everybody's doors and have everybody show their papers? No, that would be silly. But we can start somewhere. Why not start in the prisons? Once we release an illegal immigrant from jail, it's deportation time. That is a good start. As the jobs for illegal immigrants start drying up, it will cause some natural attrition... that continues the reduction of illegal persons in this country.

When the prison population of illegal immigrants starts drying up, we can start finding and deporting individuals from other places. Schools. Hospitals (we'll fix you up and save your life, but then we'll send you packing back to your home country). Those guys waiting on the side of the road for people to pick them up and give them jobs. If we can even reduce the illegal immigrant population from 12 million to 5 or even 10 million this way, we've succeeded.

I know that this sounds mean. I don't know if a bill like this would succeed because it would require people to not be pansies. We'd have to get tough, and say ENOUGH! A lot of people in government nowadays don't have that kind of courage.

But how kind is it to allow people to exist here as a permanent underclass? To allow people here to take advantage of the illegal immigrants by hiring them for a pittance, giving them jobs that are not safe, etc.? I know that many employers aren't like this, but there are many that do, and the illegal immigrants can't complain because then the government will find out their legal status. There have been even worse cases... illegal immigrants have been taken as slaves, many died several months ago in a fire because many of them lived crammed in a little apartment in unsafe conditions. If we force them to return home, these people... who may just be the some of the most courageous, adventurous, etc. from their home countries... they can perhaps create change in their countries at home, whatever it may take.

Unfortunately, I feel that our inability to control immigration in this country is a problem with us... the United States citizens. We have forgotten who God is. We don't follow him. I think that a passage from Leviticus is relevant:

Lev 26:14 But if you will not listen to Me, and will not do all these commandments,
15 and if you shall despise My statutes, or if your soul hates My judgments, so that you will not do all My commandments, so that you break My covenant;
16 I will also do this to you:
I will even appoint terror over you, consumption, and burning fever, consuming the eyes and causing sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

Most of us aren't farmers... but when people come into this country and take advantage of resources that we have worked for, I see that as the 21st century equivalent.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Somebody Call The Waaahmbulance!

So I guess that Paris Hilton ended up getting released from prison early. She was sitting in her cell crying all day, and had mental distress. Boo hoo.

So her new "punishment" is to be confined to her house. Where I'm guessing she can swim in her pool, shop online, or do whatever she normally does in her own comfortable home. Upon arrival in the prison, she brought with her a stack of books to read and they wouldn't let her take them into the cell with her... now that she's been under mental distress, she can have those books, her music, television, and all the comforts that a millionaire can afford to keep in her house.

I know many people were hoping that a stay in prison could help straighten her out. Maybe help her see that she was not above the law. I guess that won't be happening now. What they should have done was send her to tent city in Phoenix... it was 108 degrees the other day, when she would have been serving her time. But no... obviously if you're rich, pretty, and famous, you can get out of your jail stay.

There are so many people on this planet that would see a 40 day stay confined to Paris Hilton's house as a reward, not a punishment. Political prisoners in China. Starving children in Africa. A lot of people right here in America, even.

Some people may argue that her punishment was a little harsh to begin with and she wouldn't have been sent to jail in the first place if she hadn't been famous. That may be the case, but it would have been better to give her a lighter sentence in the first place than not carry out the sentence that you give her. That just sends the wrong message.

Perhaps if she would have had to stay in prison for what was it... a week with good behavior? She could have perhaps come out a changed person. But that's hardly likely now. Not when her "punishment" of 40 days in her house can hardly be described as such.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Mitt Romney = Satan?

Bill Keller, host of a Live Prayer TV program and, made a controversial statement the other day when he sent out a devotional including "If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for Satan!" That's a little harsh... at first glance. Some people are looking into taking away his organization's tax-exampt status as a result.

Was he really saying that Mitt Romney is like Satan? I personally don't think so. I suppose you could ask him, but I'm guessing that he meant that by voting Mitt Romney into the office of president, it makes Mormonism more acceptable.

If you're a Mormon, that would be a good thing. For most people, I'm guessing that it doesn't really matter much whether he's a Mormon or a Baptist... Mormons are Christians too, right?

I guess that all depends on how you define Christian. How you define salvation. I believe that in order to be saved, you have to put your faith in Jesus Christ, for him to forgive you of all your sins... bad things that you do. I believe that you need to repent (turn away) from your sins and not want to sin any more... although we'll all continue to sin until we get into Heaven. This is a grace-only viewpoint... grace being getting something (salvation) that you don't deserve and did nothing to earn.

From what I understand, Mormons believe in grace... but you have to try your best too. Well, if I have to try my best, wouldn't that be works? Which is not what I'm guessing Bill Keller believes. If you believe that you have to have something to do with earning your way to Heaven... the trying your best part... then that does not give God all the glory. If you believe that, then Jesus dying on the cross was not enough to save people.

I don't know if I would go so far and say that a vote for Mitt Romney was a vote for Satan... it's not like Hillary Clinton is going to lead a nationwide revival or anything... but in a way I think that he does have a point. Mitt Romney can make Mormonism appealing. Which could be destructive for some people's souls.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Words We Use

I've been reading "Crazies To The Left Of Me, Wimps To The Right." Although I don't always agree with his politics, Bernard Goldberg does make a really good point in his chapter "Alec Baldwin is not Sadaam Hussein - At Least I Don't Think So."

He was commenting about how people often make really exaggerated, dumb comparisons to make a point. Like Kim Basenger saying of Alec Baldwin, "He's Sadaam Hussein". Okay, he did make some stupid comments to his daughter on a cell phone... but if he truly was a mass-murderer, I would think that somebody would have caught on to that by now. If Kim has the evidence of him being a mass murderer, maybe she should turn that over to the police?

Maybe he is like Sadaam Hussein in some ways. Perhaps they both have the same endearing speech... maybe Alec Baldwin and Sadaam both curse like a sailor and hurl insults the same way. If that's the case, maybe that would be a better comparison. But to flat out compare some (I'm assuming) non-murdering actor to a mass murderer is a little silly. Children on the playground have about as much sense.

When we use gross exaggerations to make a point, like Alec Baldwin/Saddaam Hussein or George W. Bush/Adolph Hitler, our words lose meaning. It makes us look stupid. And even worse, some ignorant onlooker who only knows half the story might take you literally. Say I was someone from Timbuktu who knew nothing about actors in Hollywood, but I had heard something about Sadaam Hussein. If I wake up from my Timbuktu coma and read "Alec Baldwin is Saddaam Hussein" I'm going to assume that Alec Baldwin is a cruel mass murderer. Or perhaps I'm someone that went into a coma in the 1970s and just woke up (I think I read about that happening recently). I'm catching up on the news, and I read someone commenting in the newspaper that George W. Bush is like Hitler. That'd be pretty scary, wouldn't ya think?

There aren't too many that are that completely out of touch, but words affect our subconscious as well. Like advertising. I may read that Alec Baldwin is like Sadaam Hussein once, and dismiss it as stupid. But part of it gets filed away in my subconscious that "Alec Baldwin must be a bad guy." Then I hear about him leaving a nasty message to his daughter, and the bad guy message becomes more ingrained.

Rosie O'Donnel compared "radical Christians" to "radical Islamists". I know what the radical Islamists have done... they have been known to fly into buildings, commit suicide bombings, create terrorist plots... I don't really know of many Christians that act like that. There are those Phelps kooks, I guess... but even they haven't been known to kill anybody... they're just annoying. I suppose a few Christians have blown up abortion clinics, which is not good. As far as I know, they're a much smaller segment of the Christian population than suicide bombers are in the Islamic population. And from what I understand, more Christians condemn abortion bombers than Moslems that condemn suicide bombers... 26% of US Moslems age 18-29 believe that suicide bombing in defense of Islam can sometimes be justified. Pew research report, see page 60 I haven't seen a poll of Christians and abortion bombers, but I know a lot of Christians and I doubt that the approval rating is 26%.

It's tempting to exaggerate in order to make a point, and I'm sure that I'm guilty of this as well. But by exaggerating, our words lose their power and mislead.