Being Careful What You Wish For, Part Two

The Supreme Court decided (5 to 4) in favor of Hobby Lobby. Many evangelical Christians will be happy.

But the Supreme Court may have set a dangerous precedent–in allowing a for-profit company’s religious views to be protected–which those same Christians many soon rue.

You see, not just Christians will now be able to project their religious views into the work place. Anyone who is or claims to be the member of a religion can jump right into that opening. This will add steam, for example, to those pressing to introduce Sharia Law in America.

Be careful what you wish for when you resort to the courts to set policy, not just interpret the law. Even when you like the outcome, it may come back to bite you.

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Beowulf by J. R. R. Tolkien (5 stars of 5)

BeowulfBeowulf by J. R. R. Tolkien

(5 stars of 5)

Beowulf is a unique work in the history of English literature. By chance—or providence—this single Old English tale survives, giving moderns a window into a world, and a language, very different from our own. And yet a culture and language which was our direct antecedent. More than you want to know about this epic poem can be found on Wikipedia.

J. R. R. Tolkien undertook this prose translation early (1920s) in his tenure as a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford. The accompanying commentary was drawn from his later lecture notes. Tolkien did not publish this translation for reasons explained in his 1936 lecture “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” and “On Translating Beowulf.” In short, Continue reading

Book Review: Connections by Edie Melson (3 of 5 stars)

connectionsConnections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers by Edie Melson

(Three Stars our of Five)

Connections is just what it purports to be: an introduction to social media for writers. And it introduces very well. Edie Melson tells the reader lots of what he or she needs to know about social media. What Connections is short on is the how of Social Media. Someone reading this books should be an assumed neophyte. Alas, Edie is less helpful on the nuts and bolts of implementing her excellent advise.

In fact, for the true first timer Connections is liable to be more a discouragement than an encouragement.

That said, it’s a helpful introduction. For more, check our Edie’s blog: http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/

A good read.

College Debt as a National Issue

Why is college debt a national issue? Because the national government is the source of the debt? Amid the whining about student debt being a drag on the economy, nobody questions how the college debt levels got so high.

First, why aren’t the parents paying more? Because they don’t feel responsible to educate their children? A loan is available, therefore we must use it? But who pays back the loan? The same people we’re saddling with a trillion dollars of new national debt each year? Doesn’t anyone save for their children’s education? (It’s not just the poor who have entitlement issues.)

Second, why does college cost so much when it delivers so little? Perhaps because no one pays for college at that time and it becomes a hidden cost? (Eat, drink and make merry; worry about tomorrow tomorrow.) Maybe students should avoid under-performing colleges.Maybe loans shouldn’t be made to colleges with high un- and under-employment rates for the graduates?

Third, why are the debts so high? Because everything is piled into the debt, including discretionary expenses like pizza and beer. (see above) One of the old—and, yes, discarded—rules of borrowing used to be: don’t borrow for something that doesn’t last as long as the debt. Under this system former students are paying (plus interest) for the pizza they had ten years ago.

Like a lot of issues these days, we think we solve it by making it a national issue when perhaps we’d be better advised to seek to reduce or eliminate the problem. No, we don’t. We just burden our children and their children with a dysfunctional economy.

With Liberty and Justice for All?

While the world obsesses over the World Cup, Putin continues his absorption of Ukraine. It’s easy to get distracted with the IRS cover-up, kidnapped teens in Israel, crumbling of Iraq, Thailand teetering near anarchy, and Anthrax loose at the CDC.

The liberals were right, you can’t force democracy on anyone. It may be a good system, but as John Adams told us, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In college forty-plus years ago I studied whether non-Christian religions could accept Christianity. My conclusion was that some could (those who admit the worth of individuals) and (through interviews with Buddhists, Hindus and Shintoists–no Moslems, I was in Hawaii in the 60s) I found varying degrees of enthusiasm and cynicism over the democratic prospect. Just like among Christians. Democracy can “take” in any soil, but it’s most likely to thrive where people respect one another.

Most of the world doesn’t qualify. For many of them an election is just a means of legitimizing a would-be dictator. Civil rights are a smokescreen for discrimination. Bureaucrats are the foot soldiers of repression. (As we’re seeing here.)

Trust building takes generations. Those ignorant of American history do not realize that partisan infighting during the first fifty years of our republic was brutal, culminating with a civil war which killed a generation (almost 2% of the total population).

Democracy is not for the weak. It’s not that it’s the best possible form of government; it’s the best considering how corrupt we are. Even so, it takes a forbearance and civility which most of the world lacks.

Some suggests we lack it too. Let’s prove them wrong.

 

Running the Government Gauntlet

“An appeal board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the trademark registrations of the Washington Redskins on the grounds that the team’s controversial name is disparaging to Native Americans,” reported the Wall Street Journal. Since when does the Patent Office enforce manners?

Do you realize how many potentially offensive (to someone) and politically incorrect trademarks there are? (Swedes may object to Vikings; short citizens might find Giants offensive, Confederacy-related mascots could offend Blacks; horse lovers may find equine trademarks (Broncos and Chargers) offensive. Why do glorify pirates?)

Who decides? Someone in Hollywood or New York City? Was there a poll? A vote? As an citizen whose ancestry includes Native Americans, I could be among the offended, but no one asked me. Was this decision made by some white lawyer inside the Beltway?

Who gave the Patent Office the power to arbitrate? Is there a due process for rescinding a long-standing patent or trademark? Is the harm to the holder of the trademark or patent considered? (Of course not, we’re going for ideological purity.)

Why are we stand for this stupidity?

Chickens Coming to Roost in Iraq

Could the ISIS embroil Syria, Iraq and Iran in decades of sectarian warfare, decimating the radical population of all three states? We can hope. Sadly, even that best-case scenario endangers millions of innocents.

Of course, if George H. W. Bush hadn’t gone wobbly in 1990, we wouldn’t be having these troubles. (He, not his son, is responsible for the mess there.) Saddam Hussein would have been removed then, and the country likely split in three … and we’d have a whole different set of problems.

Be careful what you wish for.

Tales My Father Told #1

Ralph Andrea, Self-Portrait (age 16)

World War Two started while I repaired radios at the Fort Leavenworth (Kansas) Post Exchange. I fixed home radios, which in 1941 was often a matter of replacing bad vacuum tubes. As I worked, I ran several I’d already repaired to ‘burn’ the new tubes in. One was wired into the PA system to broadcast music through the store. When the announcement broke in about Pearl Harbor, I turned up the volume. Soon folks were crowding the door to my shop, asking for details I didn’t have.”

[Ralph was born in Leavenworth, Kansas on August 26, 1920, the son of Walter and Florence (Brown) Andrea. The State of Kansas recognized Ralph as the Fourth Place student in 1935. He graduated from Leavenworth High School in 1938. He was the official school photographer as well as working for the Star Studio (since defunct) and publishing free lance pictures in local newspapers. He owned several cameras and his own darkroom: a rare and expensive hobby in 1941.]

No Wonder No One Trusts America.

For the last fifty years, America’s allies have learned that we aren’t dependable. We abandoned the Shah of Iran, after we engineered the coup which brought him to power. We declared victory in Southeast Asia and abandoned South Vietnam.

Russian tanks are showing up in Ukraine. Tanks. You know, those really big military things. Things which your neighborhood revolutionary—even in Europe—is not apt Continue reading