Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wheels of Thunder

For those who are unaware I am an avid cyclist. I discovered the sport of tandem cycling last year, and have been hooked ever since. I believe that cycling is one of the most fun things you can do with your clothes on.

To the end of being able to compete in this sport I began to ride regularly with my cycling group Eye Cycle, and rode in the Tour de Cure to help find a cure for diabetes. I also have begun a fund raiser through USABA. These funds will be used to fund future races, cycling camps, and purchase my own tandem bike. If you wish to donate you can do so here.

As I continue to improve in my efforts I trust that I will encourage others, both sighted and blind, to be fit enough to enjoy life and do whatever it is they wish to do.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cupcakes of Satan

I really wish the below was an Onion story. Let's encourage those small businesses eh? Ridiculus!

An 11-year-old baker's 'cup'cake business has been shut down in Illinois. Chloe Stirling, of Troy, makes about $200 a month selling 'cup'cakes baked in her family's kitchen, charging $10 for a dozen and $2 for specialty 'cup'cakes, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. On Monday, the Madison County Health Department put an end to Chloe's baking endeavor after a front-age article on the successful enterprise appeared in the Belleville News-Democrat. "They called and said they were shutting us down," Chloe's mother, Heather Stirling, told the Post-Dispatch, adding that in order for Chloe to continue selling 'cup'cakes, the family would need to "buy a bakery or build her a kitchen separate from the one we have. Amy Yeager, a health department spokeswoman, told the newspaper the county was only applying the law governing businesses that sell and distribute food to the general public. "The rules are the rules. It's for the protection of the public health," Yeager said. "The guidelines apply to everyone. Chloe, who even donated 'cup'cakes for a fundraiser benefiting a boy in her school who was battling cancer, told KSDK.com she doesn't have hard feelings. "Well, I think it's just the rules are rules and they kind of need to be followed. I really don't blame the health department because it's not really their fault," she told the station. KSDK.com reported that many people have offered to open up their county-inspected kitchens to Chloe. The family is also considering building a second kitchen in their basement so she can continue baking.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Braille Story

This story was told on one of the lists I am on. I cannot express how much Braille has added to the richness of my life, in both large and small ways, so wanted to share the below.

What I wanted to share was what I was able to do with Braille over the weekend. That was, read nursery stories to my grandkids while interacting with them at the same time. Here are some details. I’ve always been visually impaired my whole life. I’ve got enough vision to read print, but the price I pay is sticking the book an inch from my face. That doesn’t allow much opportunity for interaction with others while you’re reading, and I wanted to be able to read to my grandkids when they came along so I could see their reactions and really interact with them as I did so. When I started learning Braille, I realized that Braille would allow me to do two things at once. That is, read, and still look around while I was doing it. I immediately understood that I could read a story to them out loud while looking at them, interacting with them. I realized that for me, Braille was the only way to go for doing this with them, and it was the most normal way of reading to them for me. This weekend I went to see my son and his wife and their kids. They’re 3 and 4, so they need coaxing when it’s time to go to sleep or take a nap. When they were getting tired I quickly volunteered to read them a story. I had downloaded the Random House book of Nursery Stories from the BARD site onto my iPhone, and with my Focus 40 Blue Braille display, it was a cinch to connect to the iPhone and read the story on my Braille Display. Not only were they curious about Grandpa reading Braille, but they loved the stories, especially “The Gingerbread Man”. It didn’t take them long to pick up on the line … “Run Run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!!” It didn’t take long for them to just forget about the Braille aspect of things. They knew Grandpa could read the Gingerbread Man to them, and they requested it once I had done it the first time. I must say learning the Braille, practicing, spending the $2700 for the display … was all worth it. I’ve, of course, been able to read other things with my Braille Display and iPhone, and doing that too makes the cash outlay for the Display worth it. But being able to be with my Grandkids like that … it’s exactly what I wanted to do, and Mr. Braille made it possible.

So there’s a reason why every visually impaired person should at least try Braille. It’s tough when you have to start over and begin at ABC, but once you get through it all, here’s an example of the payoff that makes It all worthwhile.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On Disability Simulations

I found this article a great summary on disability simulations. I recall in college I had a friend who simulated blindness for twenty four hours for a psych assignment. My friend was well meaning, and he did indeed gain a very small idea of what it is like to be blind on the first day. Had his simulation been long term, i.e. if he were actually, he would have found himself adapting well as most do with training to being blind. As it was he was even more amazed with my abilities. As I say he meant well, and I appreciate where he was coming from, but articles like the one above point out the very real concerns one should be cognitive of when discussing the concept of a disability simulation.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Revelation

I found this edifying from Bible Gateway And thought I'd share.

Special Revelation and the Bible When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He rebuked the devil with the words, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Historically, the church has echoed the teaching of Jesus by affirming that the Bible is the vox Dei, the "voice of God" or the verbum Dei, the "Word of God." To call the Bible the Word of God is not to suggest that it was written by God's own divine hand or that it fell from heaven in a parachute. The Bible itself clearly calls attention to its many human authors. In a careful study of Scripture we notice that each human author has his own peculiar literary style, vocabulary, special emphasis, perspective, and the like. Since the production of the Bible involved human effort, how can it be regarded as the Word of God?

The Bible is called the Word of God because of its claim, believed by the church, that the human writers did not merely write their own opinions, but that their words were inspired by God. The apostle Paul writes, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16). The word inspiration is a translation from the Greek word meaning "God-breathed." God breathed out the Bible. Just as we must expel breath from our mouths when we speak, so ultimately Scripture is God speaking.

Although Scripture came to us from the pens of human authors, the ultimate source of Scripture is God. That is why the prophets could preface their words by saying, "Thus says the Lord." This is also why Jesus could say, "Your word is truth" (John 17:17), and "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35).

The word inspiration also calls attention to the process by which the Holy Spirit superintended the production of Scripture. The Holy Spirit guided the human authors so that their words would be nothing less than the word of God. How God superintended the original writings of the Bible is not known. But inspiration does not mean that God dictated his messages to those who wrote the Bible. Rather, the Holy Spirit communicated through the human writers the very words of God.

Christians affirm the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible because God is ultimately the Author of the Bible. And because God is incapable of inspiring falsehood, His word is altogether true and trustworthy. Any normally prepared human literary product is liable to error. But the Bible is not a normal human project. If the Bible is inspired and superintended by God, then it cannot err.

This does not mean that the Bible translations we have today are without error, but that the original manuscripts were absolutely correct. Nor does it mean that every statement in the Bible is true. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes, for instance, declares that "there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). The writer was speaking from the standpoint of human despair, and we know his statement to be untrue from other parts of Scripture. Even in revealing the false reasonings of a despairing man, the Bible speaks truth. 1.Inspiration is the process whereby God breathed out His word. 2.God is the ultimate source of the Bible. 3.God is the ultimate superintendent of the Bible. 4.Only the original manuscripts of the Bible were without error.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Environment from the bottom up

I read this article and it reminds me of the fundamental difference between those who think all problems can be solved from the top down, and those who think problems are best solved from the bottom up. I am of the latter camp, and so view this as a good thing. The whole let's shake down the "rich" countries makes no sense. I believe the issues of our environment can best be solved through the private sector, and by this I do not mean a government throwing lots of money at their favorite company. What I mean is the private sector on its own making the changes necessary for a clean environment. Apple has done it, so has Google and Microsoft.

My point is that I believe problems of any sort, including environmental ones, can best be solved through volentary means. I recycle, buy Dr. Bronner's Soap and work to use less energy from Xcel. None of these things happen because I am forced to do them, indeed I would resent it if they were. They come from my love for the environment, and my desire that I and others will be able to enjoy it into the future. I hope that others see the importance of volentary action, whether it be in regards to the environment, or charity, or eatting habits.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Some thoughts on Liberalism

I had a conversation on line earlier this week with a Liberal who requested I stop the hatemongering on my Facebook page. Although I will post what I consider humorous jabs at my political opponents I have not to the best of my knowledge posted downright hateful items. I have yet to respond to a Liberal's argument with you are stupid and fat as a whale, a response a conservative friend of mine got on a White House FB post. Nevertheless I thought it might be helpful to post here why I disagree with Liberalism, and why I respond the way I do to it.

Truth

My basic concern, in politics, religion, and life is truth. Fundamental, absolute truth. If you do not agree that there is such a thing, then I doubt we can have a reasonable conversation about anything other then the mundane. BTW that Apple gift card of yours? Yeah I'll take that without asking. Think that's wrong? Then you might reconsider your thoughts on absolute truth.

The Constitution

since I have this belief in absolute truth I subsequently think laws mean what they say. You subsequently cannot in my mind read into a law what you want it to say. I believe a reading of the constitution's 10th amendment clearly gives the non specific powers listed above to the states or people. One might think this absurd, that we should have an all-powerful government. Fine, change the constitution, or tear it up, but don't try and claim that the powers you want to grant to the federal government can be found in it when they are not.

Obama/Bush

I remember the immense disappointment I felt when Bush chucked the free market under the bus in late 2008. I actually got a Libertarian Party membership because I was so disappointed. Having said that it disappoints me even more when I see friends who would rant to no end about the evil George Bush, cry to the hills and to the limit of my ears endurance about how he was taking over the world and was a warmonger. Yet when Obama does something similar, or worse, there is not a peep from these same friends. Where is the outrage? Where is the desire to protect basic civil rights? This points out the flaw, both on the right and left, that if my guy does it then it's okay. The trouble with Liberals is that they seem to genuinely believe that I should listen to them rant about Bush, and take it as granted that their guy will take care of me. Forgive me, but where is the debate?

Obama Insurance plans/scandals

This brings me to another point. When Bush had scandals, or Ronald Reagan for that matter, Liberals were all over it like white on rice. Yet when there are scandals in the Obama era I hear that we don't know all the facts yet. That we need to respect the office of President. Although I can agree with the latter this respect does not in my mind force us to grant him a free pass until he is out of office, indeed the importance of his position makes it all the more important to hold his feet to the fire. As for the former point is the fact that such things as NSA, IRS, Benghazi, etc. etc. not concerning even with the facts we know thus far?

Emotional Arguments

When one disagrees with the President on a social or economic policy he is called a racist. When one disagrees with an entitlement mentality and wants to cut social programs then he is called cruel and lacking in compassion. When one opposes abortion based on the concept that it is murder he is called a hater of women. These arguments far from putting forward a positive vision for the future, merely rests on emotionalism. Although I can understand the pull of these arguments, they do not address the issue at hand, nor in fact are they true. The unwillingness of Liberals to look at facts, to have a reasoned and rational argument, and to deal with reality rather then wishes is the primary reason I might be Libertarian at times, but never ever Liberal. Liberals want to tax the rich, claiming that it will solve our debt problem, but if one looks at the numbers it doesn't come close to doing this. What is the response to this statement? You're obviously in for big business, why can't you care about the little guy?

Liberal Math

This emotionalism ties into what I call Liberal Math. This is math that says 2 + 2= 3.9992 once the niceness factor is added in. I fundamentally disagree with this, as 2 + 2= 4, and that is that. The problem of Liberal Math crops up again and again. In budgets and in programs both foreign and domestic. Saying everyone should have a house of their own and that it is a right doesn't make houses any less expensive. Claiming that everyone should be kind to each other doesn't make it so. Wishing for results, and fudging the numbers to match your inner reality doesn't change the real facts of life.

Tolerance

Tolerance means dealing with each other, it does not mean agreeing with each other. I am more then happy to discuss political disagreements with anyone, but just because I deal with my political opponents does not mean I subsequently have to somehow put forward that I really agree with them in the end. This seems to be a mistaken impression of some who call for this trait in others. I hear it particularly from Liberals when I have a valid point on their fantasy. Oh you might be right but you are a creep because you should be tolerant of others. Really? I call that tolerance bull.

Fundamental Values

I believe that rights are negative not positive. That means that as opposed to having a right to something I believe you have the right from something. This fundamental view on rights puts me at odds with big government fans of any party. I don't think the poor have a right to housing, or food, or clothing. I don't believe that people have the right to keep a job, or live a certain lifestyle, or be treated in a certain way. I do believe they have the right to be free from fraud and protection from force. I believe America was founded on these latter principles, and that they are what makes our country the greatest nation on earth ever. I do not think we subsequently ignore the black marks in our history, but neither does it mean we do not recognize all the many blessings of our country or when we have done right. Utopia will never exist on this earth through the means of man, which is why I think the checks and balances found in the constitution and in our manner of government are so important. If we were all angels then no government would be necessary. As it is we are not, and anyone promising universal peace, or health, or caring from others is selling something.

Freedom

I believe in freedom, and it seems to be Liberals wish to take this away, all for the common good of course. Why can't we have that soda or burger? Because it will make you fat and drive up healthcare costs. Why can't I talk about my religious beliefs as a basis for my political views? Because you might offend the Muslims, or those without religion. Why must I be forced to recycle instead of doing so voluntarily? Because we have to save the planet and this is how we're going to do it. I long for Hayek and Von Mesis. They don't promise a utopia on earth, but that comforts me greatly.