Wednesday, December 31, 2008

L4K Year In Review

Hard to believe but I have been blogging for four months now.  And as I look back on my posts, I don’t regret any of them, which was one of my biggest fears when I contemplated starting a blog.  I thought I would cringe a bit when I would go back to read what I wrote and for that reason I had avoided re-reading my posts until this week.  Yeah, I have a few typos and some of the wording could be cleaned up but I think overall the posts stand up pretty well.

Some posts have been very popular and others have been completely ignored.  Based on word searches, here are the top five most popular posts:

  1. Churchill on Democracy quote.  Almost all of the European visitors were the result of this quote.  I am thinking about adding a reference to Churchill on all my future posts.
  2. Yertle the Turtle book review
  3. Among the Hidden book review
  4. Anti-federalist post. Most searches for this one included the words "anti-federalists" and "kids" so I like that they were looking for educational material for kids.
  5. Tree House post.  Still no walls. People who search for tree house don't find a lot on the Internet which surprises me.

 And here is a list of some of my favorite posts (in no particlular order):

Most of the non search traffic to my blog was the result of VoxDay adding L4K to his blogroll.  Thanks, Theodore.  I also have received a surprisingly large number of visitors because I posted a comment on the Young Americans for Liberty blog.  I guess libertarian students have a lot of free time.  I also get a few visitors when I make a comment over on Tal Bachman’s blog

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yuletide Ramblings

I had hoped to review many children’s books before Christmas but life got in the way.  My reviews of Yertle the Turtle and Among the Hidden have been popular for people Googling reviews of these two books.  So in the coming year, I will try to write more book reviews even though I am not particularly good at it.  I am even thinking about contracting out the writing of book reviews to my eleven year old daughter and niece.

On Christmas Eve I usually go to a bookstore to pick up a few books for my daughters.  I always enjoy the hour or so I spend there - why is it that the coffee at a bookstore is always so good?  While there I noticed a graphic novel on the Constitution.  I don’t remember the name of the book or the author.  I almost bought it as parts of it were extremely well done but after spending a few minutes thumbing through it, I decided to pass.  I mostly based my decision on how it treated the second and tenth amendments.  If you don't get those two right, then you don't get the Constitution right.  While the author made an attempt to present the Constitution as a document that fundamentally limits the powers of government and promotes the liberty of individuals, the main thrust of the book was to present the Constitution as a living document.  Lesson learned - examine all children's books that discuss the Constitution for a political agenda.

Is Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe becoming a new Christmas Eve tradition like It's a Wonderful Life?  I hope so.  I prefer it over It's a Wonderful Life as I have never been a huge fan of the Jimmy Stewart movie.  However, last weekend I took my family to downtown Knoxville to see the movie at the historic Tennessee Theatre.  It was nice to see it in a setting like most probably saw it when it was first released.  It is hard to imagine that Narnia could have as a successful run as It's a Wonderful Life.  I just hope the drop off in ticket sales for the Prince Caspian movie doesn't mean the other Narnia books won't be made into movies.  The Narnia series is probably my all-time favorite children's books and the first two big screen adaptions were well done.

I finally get it – gold is an excellent gift but not as jewelry.  And platinum bullion bars would appear to be an especially good buy at the moment.

I have noticed some atheist bloggers have gotten into the “true meaning of Christmas” theme this year.  To say the least, they don’t get it and many come across as being quite angry.  If only they could find a Way to turn all their hate into love.

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Am I being a scrooge for not wanting to be taken for a sucker? Part II

Surely you didn’t think my last post would be my last word on this subject.  But instead of “bashing” those who would scam the social welfare system, I want to bash those businesses that think we are all suckers.  You know the ones I am talking about, the financial industry, the auto industry, the housing industry, and, I kid you not, the gambling industry.  I saw a news story on some cable channel this morning on Las Vegas wanting its part of the bailout money.  And the gambling industry’s representative was trying to make the case as to why Vegas should get some of the loot.  It is at times like this when we need someone to ask as Alan Colmes asked the funeral protesters, “What is wrong with you?” 

But the more I thought about it the more I realized that what the gambling industry does is not that different from what those on Wall Street do.  Some free-market apologists (I like using the term “free-market apologist” because the Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy called me that when I took his sociology class on non-violence many years ago.) think that when something happens in the private sector, we are supposed to automatically defend it because to do otherwise would mean we support government intervention.  Unfortunately, many of these free-market apologists end up defending some pretty despicable actions and people.  Many of the complicated financial instruments these financial institutions created were worthless paper holding up a house of cards.  In a true free market, they would be punished but not in our current system that protects big and powerful companies who are able to buy big and powerful senators and congressmen.

Earlier I listed a few of the industries that think we are suckers.  Well, I forgot one industry - the legislative industry.  Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was more crude about it, but make no mistake what he tried to do happens all the time.  Our elected officials use the US Treasury to buy power and reward friends.  Read Atlas Shrugged and you will recognize your senator and congressman.  Just like I ended my first “scrooge – sucker” post by saying that as good stewards we should practice due diligence, we should do likewise when dealing with our elected officials when they treat us like suckers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Am I being a scrooge for not wanting to be taken for a sucker?

A few years ago when I worked for Boeing, each department would adopt a family to buy Christmas presents for.  The “worthy” families were selected by state Social Services and we were told they were screened to make sure the families were truly needy.  I was surprised when a co-worker told me that he doesn’t participate in this annual charity event.  That he would not participate seemed out of character so I asked him why.  He told me that he had been burned too many times like one Christmas when they collected old bikes throughout the year and, on their own time, stripped down the bikes in the factory’s shops, repainted them and reassembled them with many new parts.  He delivered the bikes that year.  He said the kids didn’t seem grateful.  One kid noticed that his bike was not new and threw it down and said he didn’t want a used bike.  I commented that one bad experience shouldn’t ruin his Christmas spirit.  He responded, “It wasn’t just one year; it was like that every year.”

So our department adopted a single mother with three young children.  I noticed the three children had three different last names.  So the mother had been making bad decisions but that was no reason the children shouldn’t have presents for Christmas.  I was part of the group that delivered the presents.  I was surprised at how young she was; she couldn’t have been more than 20.  As we entered her apartment, she had MTV’s “Yo! MTV Raps” on the TV and all three children were watching and she didn’t bother to even turn it off when we arrived.  She simply motioned where she wanted us to put the presents.  Needless to say, we never got a thank you card.  That family had plenty of electronic babysitters but apparently very little parenting.  I hope she stopped at three children and was able to become a good mother.  But the odds are not in her favor. 

The next year we adopted a family that lived in the country.  When we called the family, we were told that we could only come when the children were not home.  Which was fine, I could understand the parents not wanting their children to know that others had bought the presents.  When we arrived, there was an expensive ski boat in the drive-way with an equally expensive 4X4 truck.  As the five of us carried the 20 plus presents into the house, we were met by a huge mound of presents in the floor.  In my life I had never seen as many presents.  It looked like a mall Christmas tree made up of presents.  It must have been 5 feet tall and 10 feet round.  They certainly were not poor.  And they were probably hitting numerous adopt-a-family programs.  I then understood why Ricky didn’t participate anymore. 

The next year I suggested to the community outreach committee that we do something else instead of adopting a family which had been picked by Social Services.  I suggested we buy presents for the Serenity House which is a shelter for abused women with children.   My suggestion was accepted and that is what we did.  I am all for giving, but I am against giving just to make me feel good.  I prefer to give to my church or other Christian charity organizations.  But that is just me, there are plenty of good charities out there but you really do need to do some due diligence. 

As someone who tries to be a good steward of my money, I hate being taken for a sucker and these people thought we were suckers.   

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Remember when they laughed at him?

I remember when Ron Paul was belittled and laughed at during the GOP debates. Republican voters were told by the establishment and the media (especially Fox News) that Ron Paul was a crackpot. Looks like he was right all along.

This video is worth watching. If you hear someone ask, "Why didn't anyone warn us?" I suggest you direct them to this video:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Are your instincts telling you that it is wrong?

I think for most Americans the answer is "yes." We know what the government is doing is wrong.

And it is true that we don't always do the right thing in our personal lives even when we know what the right thing is. This is true for people that have a well defined moral code as well as for those that fly by the seat of their pants ethically, but we sometimes get it right whereas it seems the government rarely gets it right even though it has a well defined code called the Constitution. But of course, most elected officials ignore the Constitution when it is convenient. They prefer to interpret the Constitution like a Unitarian interprets the Bible - for maximum convenience and with no regard to the actual text.

In Ilana Mercer's WND column, "Your Godless Government At Work,"
she states,

Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, your instincts tell you that such promiscuous spending is criminal.

Your gut tells you that your government is not only economically bankrupt, but morally bankrupt too – detached from any ethical moorings.

Alas, "figures don't lie, but liars can figure."

The experts say the complete opposite: The values and virtues ordinary mortals hold themselves to don't apply to government. The macroeconomic and microeconomic solitudes are governed by separate codes of morality. Never the twain shall meet – or so the money mavens claim.

Whereas you'll pay dearly for your profligacy; the government's recklessness will be rewarded. Whereas your debt will wipe you out; government debt will lift us all up. The latter is "stimulating"; the former sapping.

Hopefully you won't buy this – nor should you. Reason and decency dictate that your government is up to no good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Give a Hoot, be Climate Change Astute!

When I was in elementary school, there was a national anti-pollution campaign called "Give a Hoot - Don't Pollute!" and in Tennessee there was an anti-litter campaign called "Tennessee Trash" which ran a very funny PSA on TV showing a guy in an old convertible throwing out trash. The tag line for the Tennessee Trash PSA was "There ain't no lower class than Tennessee Trash." I think both were effective. But there is a difference between these anti-litter campaigns and today's anti-global warming campaigns. Give a Hoot and Tennessee Trash were aimed at encouraging people to act responsibly, not to encourage political activism.

Scholastic, the world's largest publisher of children's books, publishes a book that is used in many elementary schools today called Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming. According to this book, the first thing kids can do to help prevent global warming is to "
Write a letter urging your mayor to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to reduce carbon emissions in your town."

If you are concerned that your child is getting only one side in school, there is a book out that claims (I have not read the book) to present an alternative to the current global warming orthodoxy, it is called The Sky's Not Falling!. The book is written by natural resources management expert Holly Fretwell and is for children 8 and up.

You may also want to visit the demand Debate website for a few other resources.