Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Can That Be True?

Is it possible? It just does not sound right. I had to check several sources. Apparently it is, in fact, true. Pete Seeger is 90 years old! So what, you say? Well, just because most of the readers of this blog are about one third that age you have little idea who Pete Seeger is. Maybe you have no idea who Pete Seeger is. He is know as a singer/songwriter and I appreciate him most for writing the song "Turn, Turn, Turn". Of course, that song is mostly plagiarized from Ecclesiates 3 but that is why I like it. And you know the version that was sung by the Byrds in the 60's. Seeger also wrote the hippie hit "If I had a hammer". Surprisingly, that song was actually written in the early 50's. PBS is airing a special in segments that boasts many musical giants paying tribute to Pete Seeger. It is worth checking local listings and putting on your schedule. Really? He is 90?

Friday, July 24, 2009

National Health Care

Whew! There is a lot of talk about health care. As with most topics that involve billions of dollars, various groups are pushing their agenda by getting the word out--often without much regard for the truthfulness of those words. I may add my opinions on some aspects of various proposals later. For now, I just want to present a quote from an e-mail I received today;

"President Obama made one thing clear this week in a televised press conference focused on health care reform: "There is a cost to doing nothing." What's the cost of maintaining the status quo? It's the guarantee that over the next 10 years more people will lose their health insurance while health care costs for everyone else doubles and the federal budget is consumed by the rising costs of Medicare and Medicaid."

I am skipping the debate on the "cost of doing nothing" and the manifold debates on insurance. What jumped out at me--and I posted in bold for you--is the assertion that "the federal budget will be consumed by the rising costs of Medicare and Medicaid".

If that is true, please explain to me how the solution is to place the entire population on a nationalized plan similar to what Medicare and Medicaid presently provides for the elderly?

That sounds like my cousin, Skip, from Doles, Georgia that was buying watermelons by the truck load and selling them next to the highway. He was buying melons for $2 apiece and selling them for $1.50. After a few loads, he realized he was loosing money. He finally realized he would only make a profit if he dealt in a larger volume. So he sold his truck and bought a larger truck.

Does anybody else see the similarity?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Tale of Two Memorials

There were not thousands of police officers assigned to control the crowd and quickly handle trouble. There were no television crews, no cameras, and twitter was not overloaded during the memorial service. The service went about as expected for the quiet 93-year-old homebody that passed from this life on July 3. Her funeral service was Monday. The crowd was small and subdued. The speaker hid his feelings of inadequacy well.

The memorial held the next day in a huge, modern building was packed with media and celebrities as well as ordinary folks who won the lottery to gain a ticket for admittance. What those lucky few witnessed was great, classy, well-orchestrated entertainment. I saw some of it on one of the many channels that carried it live. Really, it was a great show and I understand the tremendous draw that the famous, wealthy, and noticeable hold for those of us who are none of those things.

Why would I care to compare these two memorials? Some of it is personal. I was the one attempting to comfort the family of the lady whose funeral was Monday. The family did not expect many to attend because Mrs. Edna had outlived most of her friends and all of her siblings. That expectation proved accurate. I feel compelled to comment on the comparison because anyone who attempts to restrain or qualify the rhetoric and near worship of Michael Jackson will probably be labeled either racist or narrow-minded for believing any of the "unproven" reports of pedophilia. Let me be clear; I have enjoyed Michael Jackson's music since I was in high school (when he first began as the cute kid with the Jackson 5). I think he was a savvy entertainer and his quirkiness contributed to his draw. He first rose above his neighbors and peers, then far outshone his siblings. Many are calling him the greatest entertainer ever to live. That can be debated--and will--but not by me. Perhaps he was. In fact, to make my point I will just concede that he is, indeed, the greatest entertainer ever. The purpose of this post is not to question his credentials as an entertainer. He was powerful and his influence was widespread. I just can't bring myself, though, to accept all that is being said now. Have you read of the family in Stockton, California that believes an image of Michael appeared on a stump in their yard the day he died?

"I was standing by that bush, and I looked up and saw that image here," Garcia told CBS.
Many people in the crowd who gathered to look at the stump on Sunday afternoon saw the resemblance, but why would Michael Jackson appear instead of a religious figure, or even any of the other celebrities who recently passed away?
"Because Michael Jackson was an icon to us," said one neighbor.
"To Stockton, Michael Jackson meant more to us than Jesus, to some people. I think they're both about even."

See? That is the part that bothers me. Not that Michael Jackson is appreciated, but that some now think he meant more than Jesus--or was about even with Him. Lest you think that is an isolated weirdo that wants to make money from a stump, check one of the many, many videos that will soon be available of the memorial service and listen to what Al Sharpton had to say. Wow! Suddenly, I realize that Michael was not really an entertainer. He was in fact a change agent. He was responsible for societal change that allowed Oprah to be on TV and Obama to be elected president. Mr. Sharpton went on to assure Michael's children that their father was not strange--what went on around him was strange, but he dealt with it. Nothing was said about the ex-wives or the children that slept with Michael. That is appropriate for his memorial service. It is NOT appropriate that average men and women in the workplace and around kitchen tables can not be honest about the life of an individual because he has celebrity status. Please understand, I don't think he should be held to a higher moral standard because he became famous. He could not help the family he was born into. He had little choice about how his early life unfolded. MJ had little chance of ever having a "normal" life. I pity him for that. My concern is that we are drawn to recast a life of indulgence and narcissism in a way that makes a pop star seem larger than life itself and above all moral standards. Have we arrived at that place--where if you are flamboyant and entertaining enough, we will overlook any bizarre and immoral behavior you choose, while overlooking the simple, Godly men and women that go about doing the best they can?

Tour de France

I am very impressed with Lance Armstrong. His story is well-known; rebounding from cancer to win the Tour de France an unprecedented 7 times, raising millions for cancer research and treatment, and now coming out or retirement to compete in the Tour de France again. Yesterday, he moved from 10th place to 3rd by using his experience to evaluate the riders and conditions before making a strong decision that scored a huge psychological victory. It is interesting to note that even while Lance creates discussion of whether he is the greatest rider on the tour, his team, Astana, has not even decided if he is the best rider on the team. There are three weeks of racing left and probably lots of drama as well. For now, I am sharing a photo from last year's Tour de France that really is worth 1000 words. Remember, many of the daily stages are well over 100 miles meaning that riders are on the bikes for hours. Have you ever thought about how professional cyclists riding hard for 5 or 6 hours in bike shorts deal with the need to........relieve themselves? Well, it is just a fact of life that must be dealt with. Here, in one photo, that question is answered for you. Relax, it is PG-13 rated. The photo answers some questions but creates others. All things considered, I find lots of humor in this photo.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Declaration of Independence Simplified

We are about to do something drastic and rare in human history. This document sets forth our justification to the world.
The Laws of Nature created by Nature's God give any people the right to undo political ties binding them to another nation, and to take their own separate place among earthly powers as full equals. This is the case because the Creator made every person equal, and gave certain permanent rights to them all. These include the rights to live, to be free, and to pursue happiness. All this is so obviously true that it needs no proof.
The reason for government is to make these rights secure. The only rightful power a government has is power that the people give it. Because government exists to preserve the peoples' rights, if a government begins to destroy those rights the people may change that government, or they may do away with it altogether and form a new government designed to make them safe and happy.
People generally realize that they ought not to change old governments without good reason. In fact, most people put up with bad governments longer than they should. But when a government finally starts turning its people into slaves, the people must throw out that government and form a new one to do what governments are intended to do.
We have now reached that point with the King of England, who insists on turning us into his slaves. As evidence supporting this charge, the world can consider the following facts. [The Declaration then details 27 specific things that the British King is doing or is refusing to do which demonstrate his true intent.]
With all this in mind, we ask the world's Supreme Judge to weigh our motives. And now, by the authority of the colonists whom we have been chosen to represent, we officially declare ourselves separate from all connections with the British government and free from the authority of the British King. Instead, from this moment, we declare that these united Colonies are free and independent States, with all powers proper to such States.
We firmly rely on Divine Providence to protect us in making this Declaration. Together as one man, in its support we stake everything we own, our treasured reputations, and our very lives.

Reproduced from gracEmail, copyright 2009 by Edward Fudge and used by permission.

Fire Safety

Unemployment is up. House values are down. There is a lot of uncertainty. Most of us have considered cutting back on unnecessary expenses. That is understandable and may be wise in some areas. But please, please do not cut back on the tools needed to ensure the safety of your family. You may be thinking that expensive fire alarms are just not in your budget. But there is a solution that will allow you to protect those you love and not destroy your budget. If you need step-by-step instructions, please e-mail me. But I suspect this picture will be sufficient.