Monday, December 17, 2012

Something Should Be Done

From time to time, generally in the days following a crisis, I hear people say, "something should be done." Most of the time this makes me cringe.

As a conservative, I hear this as a plea for more laws, more regulation and more government intervention in our lives.  And as a conservative I see most of these as a greater evil than the problems they try to "solve."  (And when I say, "solve" I really mean perpetuate because if they ever solved a problem, the program would be discontinued.)

But I had an epiphany last night.  My eyes were opened, and I saw the light about how to use the federal government's hammer of funding to solve a problem in a new way. So I am getting on board the "something should be done" wagon.  (As long as it is the right something.)

So here is my proposal.  I propose we have some new legislation.  I call it, "No Child Unprotected." And I think we can use some similar enforcement as the famous, "No Child Left Behind" law where current federal moneys are attached to some policy and assessment criterion.

Here is how this should work. The new law should require, that teachers take a concealed carry weapon's course each year.  (Eventually we can have one specially for teachers, but the one your state currently has for citizens is fine to start with.)  Pass an FBI background check to carry a weapon, and then carry a gun to school, and all school activities, all the time.  (There may be a few exception like a swimming teacher, but then there should be at least one armed school official there whenever there are students.) This program's goal is that there will never be a time in a school where our children can be gunned down like fish in a barrel and no one can shoot back.

I am sure that our law makers can take this simple idea that I articulated in a paragraph and turn it into a bill with hundreds or thousands of pages, but here is the thing, We don't have to make states that don't want teachers to carry guns do so, we just withhold all federal money from a state that fails to protect children this way. So they still have their freedom.

One objection that I see, is that some parents or schools may think that teachers might not be competent to carry a gun. Really? And we let them be teachers? If a teacher can't pass a CCW class and a background check each year, they should not be teachers. And if we don't trust them with a gun, why on earth do we trust them with our children? (I am really not criticizing teachers.  I believe that most of them are great people trying to go a difficult job as best they can. And I believe they would have no problem passing a background check or handling a gun responsibly.)

Another objection would be that these guns might accidentally kill students. While I this would be tragic, I think that we don't ban cars because people have accidents, and we don't ban pools and so many other things that have so much more accidental deaths associated with them, that this objection is mostly, if not completely, caused by misunderstanding and american people getting their information form poorly written movies.

At this point I can't think of any down side to this law. Can someone point one out?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pollyanna

One of the movies that we watch over and over in our home is a movie called Pollyanna staring Hayley Mills.  We especially like the scene where the minister is preaching and keeps saying, "Death comes unexpectedly."  Philosophically, it shouldn't.  We should all know that this life is a temporary moment between the time when we left our existence before with God, and the time when we return to him.  Sometimes we are ignorant of this.  Most of the time we get distracted from it.  And in this state of ignorance or distraction we miss the precious moments we have with one another.

Today, many families were reminded in the harshest of ways. Last year my family and close friends were reminded as we we suffered a loss. If you live long enough, you will feel the tug of the heart strings that accompanies losses like this. And I don't think that faith or knowledge of God and the resurrection removes the sting. Even Jesus wept with those grieving the loss of his friend Lazarus. 

"Death comes unexpectedly." So take a moment today, and every day, to hug your loved ones, say a kind word to people you work with and meet. Forgive someone that offends you with or without intent. Be glad that you have this day to live, that the sun is shining, that you can feel, and experience another moment of this short life. Share that gladness with someone for no reason other than that both of you can share it.

Every person and every moment is a precious gift.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Make America Great


Once upon a time there was a President that gave a speech where he said this famous quote:  "ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country?"

Do we know what this quote means?  If we do understand it, what are we doing about it?  There was a time in the history of our country where even people that didn't agree with each other still thought of themselves as patriots.  We still cared about making our nation a great nation.

So here is my question.  "What can you do to make America the greatest nation?"

Yes, not just good, and not just great, and not just one of the great, but the greatest.

First, what makes nations great?

There are nations with histories that go back for centuries.  There are nations that build monuments like the pyramids, (actually the nation of Egypt did, in fact, build the pyramids.) or the Great Wall of China, (which was built by China.).  There are nations that were triumphant in wars.  Nations that do many many things.  But what makes a nation great?

The ability to create wealth makes a nation great.  The greater the wealth created the greater the nation. Its really quite easy to define.  And wealth is not just money, actually it is not money at all.  Wealth is the creation of goods and services. 

Second, what can you do about it?

Many people are being lulled into an attitude where they are waiting for other people to create wealth, to create the solution to a problem, or to do something, anything. But the great question.  The greatest of questions.  The only really question is, "what can YOU do for your country?"

If you look at the problems around you in the world, and despair.  And then go watch TV and see what the latest un-reality show is playing, then you are not doing anything to help with these problems.

But instead if you look at the problems around you and just pick one.  You pick one and say, "What can I do to help fix this problem?"  It may be starting a business, writing a book, invest your time in helping others achieve, or something that I can't even think of.  But if what you choose to do has the potential to increase the wealth of the nation, in other words, create more goods and services, then you have done something for your nation, community, children, and self.

This is how you can make your nation great.

Friday, November 30, 2012

More to life

"Non est vivere sed valere vita est?" I responded to the man when he asked me why I would want to buy a worn toga and sash.

He shook his head, but took my money and gave me the very clothes of his back.  Then he wrapped himself in a blanket and went back into his home.  I presume to find something else to wear.  This allowed me to dress like the natives, and to "blend in" as they say.

Not that it would have mattered in the long run.

Anyway, it was a great day.  The sky was so blue.  Bluer than we see here with all of the jet trails and air pollution making the sky such a weak color.  I went to the market and found a street vendor that was selling dormice that was positively exquisite.

No I didn't have any real plans or a destination.  I just wanted to walk around and soak in the feel of the place.  And it was marvelous.  Life, commerce and the rich society pulsing around me.  I was truly enjoying myself.

But you know me.  I can never keep from getting involved in the local drama.

Well it so happened that as I was wandering around some of the back alleys, you know places that tourists are not normally found, that I came across a young girl.  And she was not having a very good time of it.  A much larger man was striking her and I just couldn't have that.

I shouted at the man to stop, but I don't think he understood me.  He heard me though, because he turned and looked at me, but in response he just spat at the ground.

He was about to go back to striking the girl, so I adopted a more universal form of communication.  I hit him over the head with a pottery jar.

Now I don't know if you have seen those shows where you hit a man with a bottle and they just crumple to the ground.  Well that is not really how things happen most of the time.   He did stop beating the girl, but he lashed out with the intent to turn his wrath upon me.

Really, I probably deserved it.  But luckily for me the alleyways are a bit narrow, so he couldn't get a good swing.  I dodged a couple of times, and then he struck me and I fell down.  This was not how I had planned the day.

In fact I wouldn't be able to even be telling you this story if it hadn't been for the girl.

Yep, I was saved by a girl.  And I am not ashamed to say it.  She hit him on the head from behind with a piece of fire wood.  Take a note of that.  Shattering a bottle or clay pot may be more dramatic, but a good old fashioned cudgel is much more effective if you are trying to take down your opponent.

Anyway, he fell on top of me, and I struggled to shift him off in the confines of the ally.  Afterwords the girl was practically hysterical.  She covered her mouth with one hand and pointed at the man she had just immobilized.  But the hand covering her mouth did nothing to stem or muffle the stream or words she was screaming.

Here is the way I figure it.  After I got involved, she figured that she would get a bigger beating, so she saved me.  But then she realized that I might just leave and she would have to deal with the man when he awoke.

It made sense to her that I might just leave her.  But of course I couldn't do that. "Tace!" I said to her to get her to stop her wailing.  She might attract more unwanted attention.   "Struit insidias lacrimis cum femina plorat."  But I must have said it wrong as she looked a bit angry.

I took her with me and climbed the hill side to get a better view of the city.  After a while she started mumbling to herself.  But we reached a place with a good view and I stopped to take some pictures.

That stopped her talking.  I don't think she had ever seen a camera before.  What am I saying.  Of course she had never seen a camera before.  After all, this was pompey, and cameras were centuries away.

It didn't take long, The volcano erupted, and soon the city was covered.  The market and particularly that marvelous street vender were gone.  That was a sad thing.  I didn't have remorse for the man in the alley, but the girl seemed to be greatly effected.  She was in tears when it was time to leave before our vantage point was covered.

No, I don't feel bad.  You know we don't interfere with history.  It causes all sorts of trouble and people can get cranky when they have to fix it.

No, I'm telling you.  It was none of my business anyway.  From our perspective they have been dead for a long time, I was just there to get some souvenir pictures, and some great food that you can't get anywhere else.

Oh, you mean the girl.  Well of course I took her with me.  I needed someone to help me with my ancient Latin studies.  Don't worry.

I plan to take her back before too long.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Smile Through Tears

I look up and see rainbows
as I smile through my tears.
And I know that Christ our savior
has balm for all my fears.

I know that what is lost to me
has already been found.
And in the arms of eternal love
our families are bound.

I reach out and take handfuls
of my present worldly cares.
And I know that Christ our savior
takes my load to bear.

I know that what is lost to me
has already been found.
And in the arms of eternal love
our families are bound.

I think of those departed,
they forge new paths above.
And I know that Christ our Savior
heals us all with love.

I know that what is lost to me
has already been found.
And in the arms of eternal love
our families are bound.

written by Roy Hayward on November 11, 2012
In memory of my son Frank Edward Hayward V.  We love you and look forward to the day we are reunited.



Friday, November 9, 2012

Greatness

One of the many things that ticked off people like me about President Obama, was his perceived lack of belief in The Great Nation.  It is unpopular in my home to say, "Americans believe that America is great just as Frenchmen believe that France is great."  It might be an interesting topic to debate, but the leader of a country should be the lead promoter of that countries greatness.

I believe in greatness. 

For example, last week I took my wife out to eat.  We went to a little restaurant that we hadn't been to before.  It was great.  I was impressed with the food and service.  I posted about it on Facebook.  And I plan on telling my brothers about it next time we get together.  When I find something I believe is great, I tell others about it.  And I tell them what was so great about it.

I believe that America is great.  I believe we are great because we have an inspired constitution with liberties like freedom of speech and religion.  We are great because we have a culture of mavericks and entrepreneurs that push the edges of what can be done.  And we are great because we are charitable with out gifts giving more than any other nation or people to others in needs.

To me these are the things that make a nation great.

Truly great.

I have been to other nations.  And there are some great things about them.  But I still believe that America is the greatest of all nations.

I have met people from Asia and Europe that have some criticisms of my country.  But it really doesn't matter.  You may have some criticisms about a baseball hitter as he pushes the home run record of the season.  But you don't deny that he is great.  And when he sets that record, or breaks it, he becomes the greatest in that thing.

Even if he is not the best outfielder.  Or even if he likes dumb movies.  Even if…….

Greatness is not just an emotional reaction.  Everyone does not think they are the greatest at all things.  There is a comparative measurement.  Some things and some people and some nations are greater than other things, people and nations.

I believe this.  I know this.  I don't understand my fellow citizens that don't understand this too. 

What am I missing?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Distractions

Today, I am a bit distracted.  I have actually been distracted for a couple of weeks.  And I expect that I will be a bit distracted for a few more.  For me, this is the time of year for distractions.

I won't go into too much detail as to the root source of my distractions.

But this means that there are a few things that are difficult to do.  Like writing.  I have a couple of WIPs or works in progress.  There is another Periculum story in the works, temporarily called "Lot and Found".  I have my first novel, "Essen Century" that needs a major edit, and a few chapter rewrites.  I have a new novel, "The Legend of Trees" that is four chapters in and stuck because I don't have time.  And then there is my new NaNoWriMo project which is a really cool story called "Passion and Restraint" that takes the Christopher Brandon character from Jane Austin's "Sense and Sensibility" and tells his back story.  Lots of action there.

What does this have to do with distractions.  Well, when I set down to any of these projects, I am only able to write a few pages before my mind begins to wander and I end up wasting time.  Very frustrating.

Not that I am normally a writer with laser focus, but I am used to being able to set down and pound out 3 to 5 thousand words without losing focus.  Right now I am lucky to get past 1 thousand before I am toast.

So what do you do when you have lost your focus? I seem to watch a few youtube videos, listen to some music, watch documentaries on the solar system, and write a whiney blog post about how distracted I am.

Well, back to the grind stone.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Being Argumentative

I have been accused of being argumentative.  Some people thing that I will argue just for the sake of arguing.  And as unfair of a judgement as this might seem, I actually agree.

This is the way I am.  I like to argue.

Unlike some people, I think this is a good thing.  I think it keeps my mind sharp, and I get to challenge my own ideas as often I argue positions that I don't actually support.

Today, we have stopped teaching logic to our children.  In its place we are teaching cognitive dissonance.  Or the holding of two conflicting ideas in our heads at one time.

But for the sake of arguing, let me take you the long way around the barn.

     Once upon a time, I watched a movie involving chimpanzees that had been taught to sign.  The teacher was showing this students the chimps.  During the demonstration, one of the chimps takes the professor's pipe.
    Well the professor wants it back, and tried to tell the chimp that smoking is bad for him.
    The chimp then reasons that if smoking is bad for him, it is also bad for the professor and breaks the pipe so that it can't be used.  The professor then observes that the chimp cannot only communicate, it can also reason.

Here is my point.  I have met and heard people who can't make this simple logical connection in their own lives.  You see a group of people that love the iPhone.  And they go out and attack corporations that make lots of money as evil.  Lets walk through this.

  1. Corporations that make money are bad for us.
  2. Buying, using and loving products from Corporations that make money makes them bad for the country.
  3. Therefore, I should not buy products from these corporations, use them, or love them.
How about this one.
  1. Burning Oil and Coal is bad.
  2. Energy companies provide most of our electricity from these fuels.
  3. Therefore, I should stop using electricity and all other sources of power that come from fossil fuels.

Let me throw in one that people should all relate to.
  1. Hitting my thumb with a hammer hurts.  (Hurting = Bad)
  2. When I close my eyes while using a hammer, I hit my thumb a lot.
  3. Therefore, I should not close my eyes while using a hammer.
Instead, we have people that are taught to think like this:
  1. Corporations that make money are bad for us.
  2. Buying, using and loving products from Corporations that make money makes them bad for the country.
  3. Therefore, I should picket and protest and tell my lawmakers to punish them.  But it is okay for me to buy their products and use them.
Or.
  1. Burning Oil and Coal is bad
  2. Energy companies provide most of our electricity from these fuels.
  3. Therefore, I should picket and protest and tell my lawmakers to punish them, but it is okay for me to use their products as long as I am protesting them.
These are just like:
  1. Hitting my thumb with a hammer hurts.  (Hurting = Bad)
  2. When I close my eyes while using a hammer, I hit my thumb a lot.
  3. Therefore, I should picket and protest and tell my lawmakers to get rid of hammers.  But it is okay while I have a hammer, to keep using it with my eyes closed.
Am I being argumentative?  Not at all.  I am trying to be instructive.  I like to sharpen my mind against good strong arguments.  These work like a wet stone and hones my ideas to a sharp edge.

But arguments based in cognitive dissonance are like trying to sharpen a knife by rubbing it with butter. It doesn't make the blade sharper and only creates a mess.

So if you get into a discussion with me, and I get a funny little smile when you make your case.   Odds are we are about to change topics.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shadow of Our Flag





















I remember seeing faces
of heros of the past.
As they fought and died
and raised our flag high upon its mast.

We used to stand reverently
with our hands upon our heart.
And proudly pledge allegiance
to a nation taking part.

--

Stark against the pavement
I see the banner wave.
The shadow of our flag
of a home that once was brave.

--

As freedoms beacon 
to the world we stood.
Stalwart, firm and united
a champion of good.

The greatest of nations
reaching for stars.
Seeding all other nation
with the dreams that were ours.

--

Stark against the pavement
I see the banner wave.
The shadow of our flag
of a home that once was brave.

--

Lost to the past
American dreams.
Dimmer each day
are those glorious beams.

Eclipsed by the shadow
cast by our past.
We are living today
in the time that is last.

--

Stark against the pavement
I see the banner wave.
The shadow of our flag
of a home that once was brave.

--

Still some men dream of freedom
and stand upon the wall.
Bearing arms against troubles
singing of Montazuma's halls.

Liberty doesn't fade away,
going quietly in the night.
Its a thirst that can't be quenched
or lost without a fight.

--

Stark against the pavement
I see the banner wave.
The shadow of our flag
of a home that once was brave.

I stand in that shadow.


Will you stand with me?
--

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Periculum: Sold

Wow!  Someone bought my story Periculum on Amazon.

This may only be exciting to me.  But to me, it is exciting.  I have a promotion scheduled to start on Saturday, September 8th where my story will be available for free download to Kindle and Kindle reader devices.  But it looks like someone couldn't wait.

So if that was you.  Wow! and Thank you.

But in my heart of hearts, I hope that it was someone that I don't know, that just stumbled upon my story and thought, "Sounds good." and purchased it.

So here is a quote from the story,"It doesn't think and cannot be reasoned with. It is like wind flying in the face of chance."

More to come.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pre Launch Information

My first short story has been published for Kindle.  You can find it here.  Periculum is a short story.  (I keep saying that because I don't want people to think this is a novel or something.)

Also, I am officially launching this story on Saturday, September 8th with a 5 day free download.  (Sure I want to sell stories.  But I want people to read them more.)  So mark your calendar, or check back here so that you don't miss out on the chance to download and read this story on your Kindle free, starting on Saturday.




Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pete and Repete

As a child I learned this joke.  It goes like this:  "Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence.  Pete fell of.  Who was left?"

Then the response would be, "Repeat."

And the joke is that you repeated the first line, "Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence.  Pete fell of.  Who was left?"

And you continued until you had thoroughly  annoyed your parent or older sibling.  Today, I am annoying the Amazon publishing tools.  I completed and published my Periculum story.  Amazon approved and listed it.

And then I realized that I had a stupid typo on the fist page.  A page that I have read and re-read many many times.  Yet there it was.  Published for all the world to see and realize what an idiot I am.

And the only way that I can see to correct the issue is to upload a corrected version, and re-publish it.

"Sigh"

Well at least it worked the first time.  Soon I will be letting everyone know that it is up there.  (Assuming that I don't find any more errors.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Publishing Periculum

I have stopped editing.

I have stopped revising.

I have stopped asking for advice on my cover.  (and my designer friends may all cringe when they see it.)

And finally, I have uploaded my story to Amazon.

It is in review right now, but as soon as it is approved it will be out there for people to download, read, and review.  And so it is pins and needles for me.

If you remember the first few pages that I wrote in an earlier post called Periculum, well, this is that story.  I had originally thought that this would be a first chapter, but unlike most of my short stories that grow in scope to become novel like.  This one grew the other way.  It started with an outline for a novel, but as the story developed between my brain and keyboard, it shrank and became a short story.

If everything works out, I will be writing more in the Periculum world, and possibly one of those will actually become a novel.

For now.  We will have to see how my story of writing stories unfolds.

Now about Periculum, here is the synopsis.

The times comes for Jac to take over his fathers duties as a protector and defender of their city.  His first job seems simple enough, but things get complicated as Jac uncovers a plot against the city he must protect.  He is forced to make choices between his duty and the lives of his friends.  And he must find a way to avoid a confrontation that might tear everything apart.


So I am going to go sit here now and click refresh over and over on my email waiting for Amazon to approve it so that I can talk about it some more.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Making a Cover for a Short Story

So I am taking a break from politics, and have finished up my Periculum short story.  Before I start getting it out there and becoming famous, I needed a cover.  Here are my two cover attempts.  Please take a moment and let me know if you have a preference, or if I am up in the night.

I liked this first cover because it showed a couple of different parts of the story. The city, the dessert, and the conflict Jac encounters. Its not supposed to tell the story, but to let you know the story is exciting.  I had this in mind when I started, and it looks exactly like I imagined it.

This doesn't happen most of the time, so I am kind of proud of this one.
I like the second cover because it focuses on the adventure and conflict of the story.  It says, "Hey you!  Want to read and adventure story?  Well what are you waiting for?"  And it is the second cover so it is naturally better. Right?

This was more an exercise.  I cropped a picture.  I added an effect.  I put in the text.  So why do I like this one?  Maybe simpler is better.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Yet Another Social Network.

Like most of you out there, I belong to more than one social network.  This is not because I have tons of free time and have nothing better to do with my time.  I have more than one social network, because I have more than one social networking need.

As a professional, I have a linkedIn account.  This serves me as a place to keep up with my current and former colleagues and co-workers.  I use this network to find work for myself, and others.  I sometimes refer friends who are looking to positions at my current or former companies.  In this way being a member of and lightly active in this community serves me.

As someone with personal and family interests I have a Facebook account.  All of my family members are represented.  We talk, share and organize gettogethers on this site.  I also have some other friends that are on FB.  These are people that I like.

Sometimes there are people in both the linkedIn and Facebook network.  Life is messy and that is just the way it goes.

I also have a twitter account.  I am more hard pressed to explain why.  It started with dreams of marketing my own business.  Then it became a place of activism.  But mostly now it is a place of inconsistency.  Some of the friends and colleagues are here as well.  If this is you, I would like to apologize for any expectations you may have had on following me on this network.

I technically have a google Plus account.  Okay, I have one.  But I check on it maybe once every couple of months.  I joined it because it seemed promising and I have been an early adopter of many online technologies.  But it fizzled for me when there was nothing and no one there that was not already on the other networks.

There are new social networks popping up now all of the time.  I have no intention of joining all of them.  Or even another one.  I need to be productive, and there are only so many hours in the day.

So don't feel like I don't care if I don't join the social network of Pizza Lovers or People Who Own Lawnmowers.  Its not you.  Its me.  And the way that I have to manage the distractions in my life.

I hope you will understand and that my lack of online friendship won't affect our real world friendship.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Best Country In The World

So I was reading comments and things on line, and I ran across a conversation where a guy was arguing and saying in effect.  "American is not the greatest country in the world.  You guys need to get over yourselves."  And this makes me wonder why anyone would say this.  And wonder why anyone would care.

As an American, I think that my country is the greatest country in the world.  And I am not ashamed to write this down, say it in public, and site evidence that supports my belief.  It is beyond patriotism.

I also don't understand why every other person from every other country doesn't say the same thing about whatever country they are from.  Don't you love your country?  Yes?  Then why don't you tell everyone who will listen how great it is?  I do.  (I mean tell people how great my country is.)

Being the greatest does not mean being perfect.

Being the greatest doesn't actually have anything to do with the number of medals you get in the Olympics.

Being the greatest really doesn't rest on much if any empirical data.  It only has to do with one thing.  How much you love your country.  I love my country.  This makes it the greatest nation on earth.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Grateful Heart

Today, I am grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ.  I confess that I am not grateful every day.  (I should be, but I am not.)  But today I am.

I am blessed to have been born in the USA, one of many nations that allows people to worship God and respect people's individual right to find God in the way that works with their individual hearts.  And I am blessed to have been raised by parents that loved the Lord, and introduced me to his gospel at an early age. This is a source of strength to me in my life.

And today I am grateful for my savior, not because of anything dramatic.  Today I prayed for strength, and I received it.  I can feel it.  And I am grateful for it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Catching Flies

When I was a around 9 years old, I read a book.  (I read lots of books actually.)  But there was one book in particular that I read that made an impression that keeps coming back to me.  I don't remember the title. I wish I did.  (If anyone reading does know, please tell me.)

The book was a about a young man in love with flying.  But the part of the book that keeps coming back is when a flying circus of WWI biplane pilots stops in his rural town to put on a show.  They enlist this boy in helping with the ground work, and advertise the show for free.

Free and Open to the public.  And of course people come to the field and watch.  It is free after all.  Half way through the show the planes land, and they offer people rides.  The rides are not free, and cost like a dollar a person.

A line formes as people line up to pay for the novel experience of riding in a biplane.

The young man in this story asks the fellow running the show why they don't just charge people for rides, but also for the show.  The man points up into the air as the planes are flying around and explains.  "It wouldn't take long for even dirt farmers to realize that they could see our air show just as well from their pastures and roof tops as they can from here.  And then they wouldn't be here for us to sell rides to."

I think about this story and the lesson being taught here all of the time.  Whenever I hear about online piracy, and movies and copyrights.  I think about this lesson.

When I hear about people wanting to tax internet usage.  I think about this lesson.

When I hear about new DVR technology to skip commercials.  I think about this lesson.

Its possible, that if you grew up in today's world you won't get it.  But people use to understand that if you want to sell something.  You need to get them to listen to the offer.  All the taxes and lawsuits in the world won't convince anyone to listen to an offer.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Political Time-travel

How long in the past do we look to find out about who a candidate or elected official is?  Where is the line?  Or is it ever possible to out live a mistake or mis-statement?

If you listen to the news and talk shows, it doesn't look like you can ever out live anything you have ever said or done.  (And if you are Sarah Palin, you can never outlive things comical lookalikes have said or done.)

But here is the problem.  Back a decade ago, things were different than they were today.  Two decades ago we were worried about things that we don't worry about today.  And we were not at all worried about things that we are really concerned with today.  And three decades ago, we didn't even know that some or our concernes today existed.  And some of them didn't.

When I was a child, there was no gay or homosexual community.  We sang along with the Flintstones' theme song about a "gay old time" and were happy.  (That's what gay meant back then.)  As an adolescent we heard about gay people.  Some of my friends made really bad jokes about them.  Today, no one makes those ignorant jokes as we are all way too educated on the issue.

Fast forward 20 or 30 years, and these peers are old enough to be elected to government positions.  Should I go out and make statements and go on TV and expose these things?

Billy getting into a playground fight and pushing a girl at 8 years old does not mean anything about Billy at 38.  It just doesn't.

And Bert picking on a kid in high school at 18, doesn't mean anything about Bert at 48.  It just doesn't.

I have some beliefs and views that have survived from my childhood.  I was a fan of Regan as a kid.  I am still a fan.  I was a christian as a kid.  I am still a christian.

But I was also an environmentalist that thought protesters spiking trees to kill loggers where heroes as a kid in the public school system.  I think they are murderers now.

As a kid, I didn't really understand abortion.  Then I did, and decided that it was murder and never excusable.  Then I grew up a bit more and moderated my views for special circumstances.  And today, I think it is still murder in most cases, but think it should be a states rights issue not a federally protected or prohibited act.  And as I continue to live and discuss my views, I will continue to refine and adapt my views.

Its called being alive.

By going back to the high school of a person to look for dirt, we are participating in "Political Time Travel"  We are going back to select times where people were ignorant and capturing their acts and statements from that time.  Then we transport that to today, and attach it to a candidate or person.

Its ridiculous.

We should be laughed at for doing so.

But where is the cutoff.  How far back do we look to find out who our candidates and officials are?  10 years sure.  20 years?  not so sure.  30 years?  probably not.

When I hear clips that are brought forward about someone running for office.  I have to ask or inquire how long ago they are from.  And then weight them accordingly.

We all do and say stupid things when we are growing up.  And even as adults.  We shouldn't toss out anyone that has ever made a statement or we will be left electing people that are truly unknown.

And didn't we do that already?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Democracy: Rumors of my Death are Greatly Exaggerated


Yet again, the "Death of Democracy" has been reported.  If this is news to you, or if you were tending to agree, then this post is for you.  You need to undertand what democracy is, and how it is unlikely to ever die.  And finally, why its death would be really meaningless to most of us.

What is Democracy?

Here is a pertinent extract from wikipedia: "form of government in which all the citizens determine public policy, the laws and the actions of their state, requiring that all citizens (meeting certain qualifications) have an equal opportunity to express their opinion."

In this form of government, each law, ordinance, and expenditure would be taken to a public ballet.  There would be weekly or daily elections, where all of the legislative activity would be put to a vote, and the popular vote would make the decisions for the community, county, state, and nation.  When I was a child, we made decisions like this all of the time.  My circle of friends, (we would actually be in a rough circle), and we would use the raise of hands to make a choice of whether to go do something like hunt frogs, or hang out around the arcade.

Strangely enough, sometimes a person in the minority would revolt, and not agree to follow the majority.  And half the time, the majority would shift and decide to follow the minority.  Eventually, one person or a small group of people would become leaders.  And most pople would wait to vote until hearing how they were going to vote.

This is democracy, we all have a vote.  We all participate in make a decision.  And people that are too lazy to think about the issues, follow someone else and add their voice to theirs.

Will Democracy ever Die?

Nope.

Okay lets be more specific.  Heck No!

It is impossible for democracy to die.  It is the basis for so many things that you just can't kill it.  And if you figured out how to do it, it would just pop back up in a new form.  Its a concept, not a life form.

Why the "Death of Democracy" would mean very little.

For most of us reading this blog, we are in America, or the USA.  And we don't have democracy as our form of government.

Don't believe me?  Well, when is the last time that you got to vote on the tax laws?  Or traffic laws?  Or any laws at the federal level?

How about state laws?  (There are some ballot initiatives at state and local levels.)  People vote for representatives that then vote and create laws.  This is known as a republic, not democracy.  It is a form of democracy in that the political power starts with people.  It is not democracy because people only participate in a limited way.

Our representatives are supposed to represent the aggregate of their constituents.  But they are also leaders.  Where they do and pass things their constituents have never thought of or would think of doing if they had.

In this way, if democracy were to die, the impact on us would be small to non-existence.

One more thing:

Declaring that "Democracy is Dead" because more people voted for something that you didn't like only shows that you didn't really understand what democracy was in the first place.

Just saying.




Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Online Search and Seizure

In the US we have these pesky things called "Rights."  Nobody really knows what they are anymore.  And even fewer people bother to read the documents that define them.  Especially those people that are charged with protecting them.  This seems to be true of people of all political parties.

But we can talk about that later.

Today, I want to talk about privacy for a second.  Believe it or not, we don't have a "Right to Privacy."  Not from each other and not from the Government.  Suprised?  Well, considering the state of our education system and journalism, that is not surprising.

What we do have is contained in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.  Here, let me quote it for you,

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and Warrants shall not be issued, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I am not going to dissect this for you.  It is really, very, plainly stated.  It is easy to understand.  There are some twisty laws and regulations and standards relating to things like "Plain Sight" and such where an officer of the law does not have to have a warrant when the crime/illegal property is in plain sight or out in the open.  But I don't even want to talk about that.

What I am talking about today is files stored in what we are now calling the cloud.  We have passed beyond the debate of people storing files on their computers.  And beyond point to point sharing and access of files on personal computers.  When it comes down to it.  These have physical locations that are most of the time either on a person, or reside in homes or other structures.

But what about a file in the cloud?  As more people are using tools like Google Docs and now Google Drive to store and share files for collaborative work, we need to ask, "Who owns them?" This is a fundamental question to who has expectations of privacy, and whether they are "In Plain Sight" or if they require probable cause to be searched.

I say searched on purpose.

As we can see, making copies of digital files is easily done, so that nothing has to be seized in the virtual world.  I can email an unlimited number of the same resume without degrading the original copy on my hard drive.  And I can do the same thing with almost any file on my computer.

So it is not necessary for the government to seize anything.  (Mega Uploads is a bit unusual.)

But what about searching?  Yes, that is what I am talking about.  Does the government need a warrant to search my google docs?  Should they?


Sunday, May 6, 2012

The 6 Planets

In 2006 a group of well meaning but lazy scientists got together to try to prevent more and more celestial objects from being declared planets.  Their goal seems to have been two fold;  First, to exclude everything beyond the original 8 planets from the list.  Second, do so in a way that sounded scientific.

So we should have a definition of what a planet is.  And with this definition we should be able to look at any object in our solar system and be able to conclusively state whether it is a planet by measuring a few criterion.

Give Me A Definition

Here is the definition that they presented:

A planet is a celestial body that:
 (a) is in orbit around the Sun,
 (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and
(c) has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.
Footnote:   The eight planets are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
So What's The Problem?

The inclusion of the footnote, for me, is the most telling part.  If we are talking about something else, like the scientific definition of water.  And then included a footnote listing ice, steam, and liquid water, I would wonder what they were talking about.  Should not the definition be enough to find all mater in the form of water and identify it without the cheat sheet?

As a scientist myself, I wonder why we need that footnote.  I hypothesize that there can be only two possible reasons.  One, one or more planet on the list doesn't actually qualify, and they don't want to have defined away any of these 8 as a planet.  Two, there are other objects that would qualify as planets by this definition, and we are trying to keep the planet club exclusive.

I don't have data, on all of the objects in the solar system, so testing my second hypothesis would be difficult.  But I can test the first one.  I have data on the 9 planets to examine.

According to this definition, (ignoring the footnote), Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus qualify as planets.  That is assuming you don't worry about comets and Asteroids and other small objects as things not cleared from the "neighborhood".

Pluto and Neptune have a mutual problem.  They cross each other's path.  So if we are really being honest, Neptune can't be a planet.  Especially if Pluto is disqualified.

And now lets look at one more.  Mercury.  Mercury has an entirely different problem.  Its neighborhood and orbital path is clear.  And it is in orbit of the sun.  But there is one other qualifier that if fails on.  Mercury is not round.

This definition really is troublesome.  It tries to use a form of a scientific definition.  And to appear straightforward.  However, one can't look at an object in the sky and decide if it is a planet.  We have to scan the entire solar system to see if there is another object out there that might disqualify it.  Just plain silly.

How About This Idea?

Just like defining other things, the process of creating a definition is to list what things have in common.  Like defining a tree would start with taking a couple known trees and listing attributes that they all share.  (being on the same footnote listing tree names should not be one of these.)

The next step is to take other things and compare them and see how our definition holds up and if it needs changes.  Whatever changes to the definition we make, must still work to define our known trees as trees.  (And our known planets as planets.)

Looking at Earth, Mars and Venus, what do they have in common.  (Round, Orbit the Sun, have an Atmosphere.)  And with these we can make a definition like this.


A planet is a celestial body that:
 (a) is in orbit around its Sun or closest star(s),
 (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and
(c) has an atmosphere.

Footnote:  This should be all you need to tell if it is a planet, not an pre-defined list that makes the definition irrelevant.
Why This Is A Better Definition.

Aside from my snarky footnote, this definition defines planets in a way that is not exclusive to our solar system.  The blatant planetary bigotry that there are no planets outside of ours is truly astounding.  We really need a definition that helps us recognize planets around other stars.

We don't have to look everywhere for this cleared orbital neighborhood to figure out if it qualifies.  (We don't look at the plant or rocks around a tree to see if it is a tree.)  This definition holds just by looking at the celestial body itself.

What Would Happen If We Used This Definition?

Pluto would be back as a planet.  So would 50 to 150 other known objects that are round, and have atmospheres out there orbiting the sun.

Mercury would become a moon orbiting the sun.  Or something else.  But with no atmosphere and not being round it would lose it's status as a planet.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

If I Were President - Education Policy

Generally not as spicy as policies about abortion or gun control, Presidential candidate's stands on education make up part of the profile or platform of a candidate for President.   Generally this question, like many others, is posed in a way that asks what a Candidate would like to do to "fix" problems in education.  And generally candidates reply with actions they would like to take, laws they would like to sign, programs they would like to create and so forth.  Basically it boils down to a, "Lets use the POWER of government to FORCE education improvements." Or something like that.

This is completely the opposite view that I hold on how to address education.

Questions like, "Do you support requiring states to implement education reforms in order to be eligible for federal grants?"  or "Would you support school vouchers programs?"  or  "Do you support nation wide standardized tests?"  as so forth.  They are all based on the preconception that the federal government should use its coercive power to fix perceived problems of educational performance.

Here is what I would like to see.  If I were president I would get the federal government out of the classrooms, out of school districts and out of the way of the education systems of citys, counties, and states.

No Constitutional Justification

I see no constitutional justification for us having a Department of Education for more than conducting surveys and gathering statistics.  And then publishing its findings.

And I see no reason that the federal government should be spending or sending money to school districts.

Education is the prerogative of the parents of children, then the districts, cities, or counties that they reside in.  Where state governments have been empowered to administer state wide programs, they should do so as they see fit as long as they retain that mandate from their citizens.

No Child Compelled

No child of a citizen should be compelled to attend any school at any time except by their parents or guardians.  Schools should endeavor to find and implement the most efficient means possible to educate children and are held accountable solely by the parents or guardians of those children.

There are a multitude of ways to educate a person.  Success is determined by the result.  If a teaching method works, use it.

There is a question of what works and how will we know?  These are not real questions.  We know how to teach, we have been teaching our children for thousands of years, and there are obvious ways to do this obvious thing.  And we know how to find out if it is working, we simply ask the student to demonstrate their knowledge.

Parents should conduct these tests.  Asking the school to verify education is like asking the pie maker if his pies are good.

Perfect World?

In a perfect world, schools would become private enterprises where parents would enrole their child to get them the best education they can.  Schools would compete the same way any competitive industry competes to get more students by providing what the customers, parents, want.

It is not the Federal Governments job to impose a perfect world.  This will always fail.  The best we can do, it get the Federal Government out of the way so that people and markets can create that perfect world or as close to it as humanly possible.

If I were president?

I would get the federal government out of the way of parents and education.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Critical Thinking Fed Flag

I am a promoter of critical thinking and critical analysis.  This does not mean that I go around criticizing people or ideas.  (I do that, but this is not what it means.)  What it does mean is that I examine arguments and statements with an eye that looks for logical flaws.

One of my pet peeves is the attack the messenger argument.  This is a form of a Straw Man logical fallacy where the actual statements and arguments are disregarded and the history or credentials of the person making them are examined.

My example is like this.

Man One says, "Rain gets people wet because rain in composed of water."

Responding to him, Man Two says,  "We can't trust anything Man One said, because he sells raincoats for a living, and his wife sells umbrellas."

Here is the problem, we haven't had any argument or evidence that discounts the argument of Man One, but he is now somehow on the defensive, and everyone goes away wondering if rain is really a cause of wetness.

But a critical thinker totally ignores Man Two's statement.  He is not confused except by why Man Two is making irrelevant statements when we are talking about things that make us wet, not people vocation.

A more reacent one is an man who has spent his life learning about oil production gets on TV or radio to talk about energy.  He is really smart and if we actually listened to what he had to say, we would all understand energy better.  But the reporter or windmill guy, attacks him based on the fact that "Big Oil" is paying him.  He works for them.  So we can't trust what he has to say.

It drives me nuts.

The latest one for me was just this morning.  Some dude starts writing that the some of the same people that are talking up Mit Romney's qualifications also promoted people that were unsuccessful or not as qualified in the past.

What is the problem?  Who is talking about Mit's qualifications have nothing or extremely little to do with those actual qualifications.  But by tying Romney to these other people that were unsuccessful in the past by virtu of their supporters we are using a fallacy to tarnish his accomplishments and qualifications.

It drives me nuts again.

If you have something to say, then say it.  Say that you don't think a guy who has a track record of turning financially struggling organizations around will be bad for the economy.  (Both private and public sector.)  Say that a guy that professes faith in Christ is not a christian.  (BTW the name of the church is "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of latter day saints")  Say that a guy that is getting more support and delegates than any other candidate running in his party is not a "True Conservative".

Lets debate those and any other point.  But lets please do it directly.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Set a blog on fire.

The saying goes like this; "If you build a man a fire, you warm him for a day.  But if you set a man on fire, you can warm him for the rest of his life."

There are two levels to this proverb.  The first is purely an entertainment level.  People think that we are about to say, "Teach a man to build a fire." like the proverb about fishing.  And then we twist it in a humorous way.  It makes me smile.  I like this level and spend a bunch of time there.

But then there is another level.  What if fire is a metaphor, and not a dangerous state of combustion?  For me, being set on fire is akin to having my mind opened to new knowledge and experience.  In christianity we sometimes speak of the Holy Spirit like fire.

"he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance"  from John 14:26

I also feel like learning to read is like this.  Having homeschooled my children there is a point where their education experiences this exponential increase.  Like looking at a hockey stick graph showing compounding interest learning to read, really reading, set my children off on an exploration of the world that was both self directed, and at a velocity that would be impossible to impose.

Their minds experienced the "fire" in the metaphor and their minds have been warmed for the rest of their lives.

This also happens in other areas.  When I fell in love with my wife, I was set on fire emotionally and I am different.  I can be warmed from that love the rest of my life if I don't mess it up.

When I served two years of missionary service for my church my faith, that was already working and effective, was set afire in a new way and with new strength.

And I was set afire politically when I realized what apathy was doing to a nation I was raised to love.

So I hope that you will forgive me for taking strong stands.  For speaking out against the evils of tolerating evil.  For insisting that we call a spade a spade, and not calling bad good.  And for speaking plainly so that no one can hear and not be offended.

The constant conciliation and appeasement that goes on by good people is like Chamberlain before Hitler.    It does not, and cannot work.  It only brings greater sadness and pain later.

It is really easy to write and speak the milk toast of the politically correct.  But it is not an act of a patriot who loves his nation.

It is a much much better thing, and shows much much more love to stand against people that are wrong, and point out where that is and how to correct the problems.  And it is a much much better thing I intend to do.

By the way, I also write short stories, some of which will show up here too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

If I Were President - Same-Sex Marriage:

"Marriage, marriage is what bring us together today..."  to quote one of my favorite movies, "The Princess Bride."  But today and in many cases it is "Marriage" that is dividing people.  And so the issue of "Same Sex Marriage" or "Gay Marriage" has become a political football that is used to divide, anger and frustrate people.  Most of all it is a distraction from what is important.

There is only one reason that the US Government cares about marriage.  That reason is Citizenship.  Marriage is one of the few ways that citizens are created.  This happens in two ways.  First, and most commonly, the natural product of a marriage is children.  Children of US citizens are also citizens.  Second, people married to US citizens may become US citizens themselves.  This is why the US Government cares about marriage.

Children:

The vast majority of children are born to heterosexual parents.  I am not going to delve into the biology that facilitates this.  

It is possible to determine a parent through genetic testing, however, most of the time it is easiest just to look at the marriage and birth records to see who is descendent from who.  So when my wife has a child, that child is a citizen because at least one of the parents of the child is a citizen.

Spouse:

Because a married couple may produce children, a non-citizen spouse of a citizen gets a special pathway to becoming a citizen.  Trust me this is not an automatic thing that movies make you think it is.  It still takes years and there are many steps and lots of paperwork.

Other relationships:

A marriage or other type of union that does not have the potential to produce children/citizens will not be an institution that the government cares about.  This is directly related to its inability to produce citizens.  BFF declarations don't matter, because they don't produce citizens.  My daughter's brownie troop doesn't matter, because it can't produce citizens.  And so forth.

Yes there are other organizations that the government does care about, but we are talking about marriage. And the only reason the government cares about it, is because of the citizens that are produced out of it.

Adoption:

Sure, adoption is a path way to citizenship.  If I adopt a non-citizen, they also have a pathway to becoming a citizen.  But this really doesn't matter when we are talking about marriage.  You don't have to be married to adopt a child, so this pathway to citizenship is irrelevant.

Marriage Benefits:

I could go on an on about marriage benefits, but that would bore most people.  When this is brought up, it is used as some argument for fairness.  Somehow it is not fair for people who like each other but are unmarried to not have the same tax, insurance and visitation in prison rights as married people.

This is a really strange argument.  Let me just address them all with two answers.  Answer 1:  The government has an interest in making marriage attractive so that it can better track who is and is not a citizen.  Answer 2:  Life is not fair.  (And that is a good thing.)

Basically it is an issue of Right:

Citizens have rights.  Other people have rights too, but not the same rights.  The government was formed to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity" as stated in the preamble of our constitution.  FYI; posterity means children.

As much as it would be nice if the US government could extend rights to all peoples everywhere, that is not what it is for.  And those other people might not want us to do that anyway.

The US government has the responsibility to secure the rights and privileges of it citizens.  Marriage is an institution that creates citizens.  So the US government has an interest in this institution.  Other institutions that don't have this citizen creating power are of less interest.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Strategy of Distractions


There is a debate strategy called "Ad Homoniem"  http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem.html

There is another way.
Basically this is when instead of addressing the ideas and arguments of another person, a personal attack on the person with the argument is made.  For instance if a person makes an argument that water is wet, and the counter argument is that the person making that argument is a raincoat salesman and has a vested interest in water being wet.  Thus water isn't really or always wet, this guy just wants to sell more raincoats.

No attempt to make a real counter argument.  No refutation that water really is not wet.  Just an attack of the person.

This is the old method of "distraction" in argument.  But reacently we have seen a new twist on this.  A new tactic.  One that no one seems to be recognizing for what it is.

I call it, "intentional error" and it is being really effective.

Here is the strategy:

Lets say that I am embezzling money.  And I know that I will be caught sooner or later, so I prepare some other errors that are annoying, but less serious.

In my example, I start to wear clothing that is offensive, but not against the company dress code.  

I make a point to be as obnoxious about it as possible.  I get people to complain.  I may even pay people to complain about my attire.

And eventually I concede and stop wearing that clothing.  But I come up with something else, to keep the attention on myself directed onto things that are not important.  Or at least not as important as the embezzling.

The result, no one investigates my embezzling because they are busy arguing about my clothes.  Many people get tired of this and simply tune out.  When the topic of missing funds comes out, acusations to me are deflected as people that are really targeting my clothing. 

This is happening today.  There are some serious issues facing our country; border security, national debt, the economy.  And we should deal with these issues.

But instead of dealing with them, we are talking about birth certificates.  We are talking about poetry and what church the president went to.  We are talking about things that don't matter.  We're talking about free birth control.  Or if they do matter, the don't matter nearly as much as the economy or border security.

An analogy of this is that a person with a burning home should not be concerned with an error on the deed to the house until the fire is out.

Lets keep our eye on the ball.  Economy.  So when someone brings up a tangent like the president's pick in March Madness Final Four.  Respond with a question about unemployment, and gas prices.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

If I Were President - Social Security

Social Security, like most other government programs that go on for any length of time, is a mess.  So what to do about this mess is a question that comes up all of the time in Presidential elections.  Crazily the thought is that the president can do something about it.  He can't.  Congress runs this program, and they seem really and truly to be incapable of making hard choices.

I am a Lock-Box
VoteSmart.org and others try to ask loaded questions like this one.  "Do you support allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts?"  Where if one answers "Yes." People will think that you are a Republican, and that you don't care about people and want them to starve if they make poor choices.  And then if you say, "No." that you are a Democrat and want the program to limp on until if fails.

Here is the crazy thing.  I don't think just doing either thing, allowing personal investment or not, will save or curse Social Security.  This action has nothing to do with the fate of this program.  The problem is not one of investment, or with regulation, or with fraud, or with most other things that are proposed to help.

Social Security has really only one problem.  (This is the same problem as the budget.)  It is a math problem.  The Federal government is the only institution that believes that they can spend more money than they bring in and that this is okay.  (California thinks this too.  I know. )

The solution to Social Security is a math solution.  Fix the program by either spending less, or bringing in more.  Or Both.

Here are some options to spend less:

  1. Raise the retirement age.  (This is math, not cruelty)
  2. Reduce the amount paid for non-retirement reasons.  (Again, you may not know that SS covers all sorts of other people not just retired workers.)
  3. Put caps on expenditures and benefits.  (As many as possible.)
  4. Don't pay SS to anyone that doesn't want it.
  5. Don't pay SS to anyone that doesn't need it.  (This is not an investment program.  It is welfare.)
  6. The penalty for anyone found guilty of welfare fraud loses the right to ever receive it for themselves.  (If you try to cheat SS, medicare or medicade, you will never get food stamps or SS yourself.)
  7. I am sure that if we set down and looked at other things that SS pays for we could all find some things that are obviously stoppable.  They may be worthy causes, but are really outside of SS charter.
Sadly, I can't say that as President that I would do any of these things.  It really isn't his job.  If you want these changes, please write your congressmen.