Friday, September 5, 2014

Brief Foreign Policy Thoughts

I watched this video from Ron Paul, and although I don't agree with everything he says I do think he makes some valid points. I believe the issue with ISIS has to be delt with directly, with force, until they are totally defeated. The broader point however about the Sunni Shia split and solving issues in the middle east is very valid, we aren't going to solve that problem, nor is it our duty to do so. All I believe we need do in the middle east is protect Israel as our ally, defeat totalitarian Islam found in ISIS, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, and maintain peaceful relations with all other countries.

I believe in a robust national defense and am the poster child for Peace Through Strength. I think walking through the world believing everyone will love you if you give them an iPhone and three square meals a day is naive and foolish. It isn't that I think there is no place for soft power, far from it, but I know that there is evil in the world, and labeling it something different will not change that fact. Having said that I also think we have been to keen on solving everyone's problems save our own. I would that we could solve the world's problems, but we can't give away what we don't have ourselves. We need to get our own fiscal house in order. We need to maintain this land as the becon of freedom it has been, and we need to build our own culture up. Only then, and only if we have a pressing reason to do so, do I think we will be able to provide support to others, and even then we shan't be able to solve the world's problems.

I will end with the thought that I am very proud of our country. We have the greatest nation on God's green earth, even with the last seven years taken into account, and we can continue to be if we desire it. I pray we do, and that we will continue to be the greatest force for good the world has ever seen. We can heal from the past few years of self inflicted wounds, and the past eighty years of big government. Lord let the healing begin now I pray. God bless America.

Monday, June 16, 2014

On grief

Such was the fact. And I believe I can make sense out of it. You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears. You can’t, in most things, get what you want if you want it too desperately: anyway, you can’t get the best out of it. ‘Now! Let’s have a real good talk’ reduces everyone to silence. ‘I must get a good sleep tonight’ ushers in hours of wakefulness. Delicious drinks are wasted on a really ravenous thirst. Is it similarly the very intensity of the longing that draws the iron curtain, that makes us feel we are staring into a vacuum when we think about our dead? --A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis

I am currently going through a rough time personally, and at times of grief and pain I reflect on the above words from one of my all time favorite authors. These words seem apt to me and true. The comfort comes in knowing that all pain and grief serves a purpose, even when I am unclear as to what that might be. As with Romans 8:28 I don't expect that subsequently all will work out exactly as I would have it to be, but rather that God will not let a single ounce of my pain or grief go to waste.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Half measures and truth

I was reading this article, and was struck by a general idea. Half measures on matters of truth do no one any favors. Whether it is in the realm of economics, or politics, or theology, moderating for the sake of the hearer doesn't accomplish anything.

First you do yourself a disservice, by watering down the truth you do violence to yourself. Is it true that saving money is a good thing? Is it true that liberty is an inalienable right? Is it true that Christ came into the world to save sinners? If so then saying that saving money is only moderatly helpful for your finances, or that liberty is important, or that Christ came into the world to make it a better place only causes you to lie via a half truth. If your ideas are sound, and you wish to convey the truth, then moderating your stance for the sake of being heard only undermines your ideas. Are you fighting for the truth, or merely putting out a list of vague suggestions? If we are discussing matters of the utmost importance, then it seems to me you owe it to your hearer and to yourself for the sake of the truth you are trying to convey to not waffle and make half measures.

Secondly, you do your hearer a disservice. If they are willing to accept your idea on a given subject then you have won them over to the truth, but let's say for the sake of making it more tolerable you use a half measure and they accept it. You haven't won them to the truth, you have won them to a watered down version there of. This might not matter in small issues, but it will when you are talking about important matters. In the case of economics, if you tell someone they can get rich by spending money, and don't bother to mention the little detail that you mean spending money on assets, then they will blame you or the truth you were trying to convey when they go bankrupt. Similarly, Jesus did not come into the world to make it a better place. He did not come into the world so you and I could stand around a camp fire singing praise songs. Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and to redeam the world. Is a benefit of this the former two thoughts? Sure, but to state the former two without the latter is like saying that you should save up money to eat well. Of course you should eat well, but it is a biproduct of the primary reason, that is to allow yourself to live and thrive. The purpose of being saved is the washing away of individual sins and coming into a personal path of sanctification, not to make the world a better place. As C.S. Lewis says a world of nice people content in their niceness would be in just of much need of a savior as a bad one.

Finally, I believe that if we are speaking of matters of importance, whether it be economics, politics, or theology, we need to have ardent debates and state our positions clearly and fully. Calling myself a pseudo capitalist, or conservative, or orthodox Anglican does not help me put forward the truths I believe are foundational to reality, nor does it help those I debate with understand my stance any better. I think some believe they are being kind by watering down the gospel, but they are in fact being cruel. They are giving moral sanction to deny the truth, and in the process denying the truth they ought to be upholding. We are the frog in the boiling pot, first we don't want to mess up presenting the gospel in a good way, so we wait. Then we don't want to rock the boat, so we refrain, and finally we simply don't want to bother and whomever we are dealing with never hears the gospel from us. My actions will proclaim the gospel you say. You say preach the gospel, use words when necessary. I say the gospel is words, and you cannot convey gospel truths without useing them. Perhaps that water filter you instaled in that village is a sign of the gospel, or maybe it's a sign of how nice America is, without explicitly expressing one or the other how is the villager to know?

Some good reading on these topics can be found below. I hope you find it edifying.

Confession of Faith

Another confession

Economics

Recommend anything Austrian, but particularly Economics in One Lesson if you are looking for a short read.

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.