Saturday, May 10, 2008

Choosing Our Political Leaders

Commenter Kyle continues to discuss the torture issue and choosing our politicians. In response to my last post, he commented:

but, and this is not a dig, the 'moral majority' were convinced of the integrity of bush. he was, in the mind of so many, a great christian. certainly he was someone that most of the 'right' looked up to. he said 'jesus' and 'god' at all the right times. _if_ he fooled us (and i leave that up to you) what hope do we have of finding someone who isnt a false messiah?

I think there are a few problems brought up by this. One, the idea that just because someone says they have "found God" or they are "born again" or that they go to church every week automatically means they are a moral person or a worthy leader. We all need to do a better job of critically analyzing people running for office. It is dangerous to assume that just because they say something that makes it true. Politicians and their staff spend much of their waking hours figuring out what to say and to whom to get what they want. Our media needs to do a better job of calling them on their crap when it's not true and every citizen also needs to do a better job of looking beyond the Emperor's clothes.

The other point that your comment brings up is that of looking for someone who "isn't a false messiah." This is dangerous territory. We need to remember that politicians are just as human as the rest of us. We can't assume they are good or evil (okay, Cheney is evil), but right in between like any other human. If we do this, I think we'll be a lot less likely to be taken in by words that sound too good to be true or assume a political opponent is the devil incarnate just because he sits on the other side of the aisle.

McCain's Hamas Comments

I've seen a few people take the road that Rod Dreher does here that it's not a bad thing for McCain to say that Hamas wants Obama to be President because they really did say that and if it's true, then what's wrong with saying it? Unfortunately, that misses the core of the problem. McCain is not repeating this as a start to a dialogue on foreign policy or to explain how he would approach terrorism. No, he is repeating this to scare American voters into voting for him. "Do you want to vote for the same guy the terrorists support?" This is slimy and beneath McCain, not to mention it is ridiculous to think that we should let foreigners, especially terrorists, influence our elections.

How Many Christian Denominations Are There?

A lot. Here is a post over at Route 5:9 that touches on the topic.

From my experience, I think the issue is related to that of education in that we tend to forget that everyone is different and has different needs. This is just as true in education as it is spiritually. If a church-goer thinks to himself, "You know, I can't think of a single sermon from the past year that has done anything for me," then the church may need to reexamine its mission. A person feeling that way is more likely to leave the church and either stop going or find a different one.

The collective aspects of the Sunday worship are important and worthwhile for members of the faith. There is something very powerful about a collective experience like that. It is also important, though, that the church connects with people on an individual level. That may mean smaller groups meeting once a month or something, but however it is done, I think this is a critical component of any successful church and would go a long way toward keeping people in the fold rather than have them go off and start another church that they feel will better meet their needs.

The Ups and Downs of Diabetes

Learning to regulate my blood sugar has been the biggest hassle so far of having diabetes. I try to write down what I have eaten when I see that my BS spikes up. There is a danger of it getting to low as well, however, which is almost scarier.

Yesterday after dinner, I went for a walk with my daughters. Half a block after we left, I started feeling a little light-headed. It continued to get worse and I was also feeling very shaky. I had to stop and sit down before I passed out. I wasn't sure if it was my MS which can make me feel dizzy and light-headed at times or the diabetes. I rested for a few minutes and then told my daughters I needed to get back home. There were a couple times I wasn't sure I was going to make it home.

I did, though, and the first thing I did was check my BS. Sure enough it was low - 60. This was only about an hour after I ate. It should have been 150-180 or so. It wasn't high before dinner and I'm wondering if I didn't absent-mindedly give myself too much insulin because I did eat enough. Anyway, I grabbed a can of pop and ate some chocolate. After about ten minutes, I started feeling much better. It seems strange to me, but I think diabetes is going to have much more of an effect on me right now than my MS.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Educational Romanticism

Here is a very smart article on the notion of "educational romanticism," or the (absurd) idea that every student can learn equally well if given the chance.

Educational romanticism consists of the belief that just about all children who are not doing well in school have the potential to do much better. Correlatively, educational romantics believe that the academic achievement of children is determined mainly by the opportunities they receive; that innate intellectual limits (if they exist at all) play a minor role; and that the current K-12 schools have huge room for improvement.

Educational romanticism characterizes reformers of both Left and Right, though in different ways. Educational romantics of the Left focus on race, class, and gender. It is children of color, children of poor parents, and girls whose performance is artificially depressed, and their academic achievement will blossom as soon as they are liberated from the racism, classism, and sexism embedded in American education. Those of the Right see public education as an ineffectual monopoly, and think that educational achievement will blossom when school choice liberates children from politically correct curricula and obdurate teachers’ unions.

I have written before about the need for more individualized curriculums. It is ludicrous to treat everyone the same. Murray sums it up:

For the good of our children, educational romanticism needs to collapse, and quickly. Its effects play out in the lives of young people in devastating ways. The fourth-grader who has trouble sounding out simple words and his classmate who is reading A Tale of Two Cities for fun sit in the same classroom day after miserable day, the one so frustrated by tasks he cannot do and the other so bored that both are near tears. The eighth-grader who cannot make sense of algebra but has an almost mystical knack with machines is told to stick with the college prep track, because to be a success in life he must go to college and get a B.A. The senior with terrific SAT scores gets away with turning in rubbish on his term papers because to make special demands on the gifted would be elitist. They are all products of an educational system that cannot make itself talk openly about the implications of diverse educational limits.

Rod Dreher offer his thoughts.

Never-Ending Story

So, even after yesterday's results mean that Clinton has fallen even farther behind in delegates and popular vote, she just can't give up. It's not like yesterday even sealed the deal. She has been essentially out of contention since March 4. On a certain level, I think her refusal to give in has been good for Obama because it has made him a tougher candidate and better prepared to square off against the Republicans in the general. Now, though, it is just ridiculous. Her narcissism and desperation for power which have led her to keep sinking lower and lower are only hurting the party. Not that she cares about that, of course, even if a gracious exit would be beneficial to her.

When Egos Collide

My money is on the Bat.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Never Forget

Patrick Roy Kramer
May 6, 1977 - October 22, 2006

Monday, May 5, 2008

Racist or Religious Loony?


Mary Bunger, a 44-year-old single mom from Abington, emerged from the town's general store on Wednesday, the only place to purchase a snack in a 10-mile radius.

"I am definitely going to try to go with Hillary," she said. "I almost feel like (Obama's) the anti-Christ from the Middle East."

The Horrors of War

Check out these chilling photos taken in the aftermath of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima.

Most of us are so distanced from combat, but I think it is important to remember what the consequences of war are. Not all results are going to be as horrific as those of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but death is still the ultimate outcome. War may be justified, but even if it is we cannot forget the cost.

The Menaissance Has Begun

A month back or so, I wrote about the decline of traditional male virtues and my new favorite word - menaissance.

Well, the menaissance is beginning. Check out this awesome website: The Art of Manliness. It is dedicated to bringing back real men, not the sitcom variety that sits on the couch, is sloppy, openly leers at women, and gets drunk all of the time. No, it has articles on topics such as grooming your beard, how to be a gentleman on a date, how to select and wear ties, and how to start a fire without matches. This is great stuff.

I joke about being a man and menaissance, but I do think it is a serious issue. Making women equal to men in our society does not mean emasculating men or making everyone the same. It means understanding that we do have differences and that sometimes those differences are okay. Men and women are different beyond our reproductive organs. Our brains our different. We think differently. Instead of trying to change our differences, we need to embrace them.

So, bring on the menaissance!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weekly Music Video

Perhaps my favorite piece of classical music, Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata.

A Business Venture

After giving it a lot of thought, I have decided to start my own computer business. I have had a few opportunities arise in the last few weeks and I am going to capitalize on them.

My good friend, Jeromy works for an organization called Peacemaker Ministries which helps people with Christian-based conflict resolution. He approached me about hiring me to build a donor database for his company.

At the hospital I work at, St. Vincent Healthcare, I have built a database for our security department to keep track of daily incidents. I would like to do more with it, but much of it has been on my own time. Two women from our Performance Excellence (aside - who comes up with these names?) met with the security director about Joint Commission requirements. He showed them the database I created and they really liked it so they wanted to meet with me and see what else I could do with it. Everything they wanted is stuff that I already had on my list of things to do, but since I do it on my own time, it is slow going. However, I know that if I have my own business, I can talk to the security director about hiring me and paying me for my work.

I also have a lot of experience helping people troubleshoot computer problems and training people in computer use. All that said, I am going to start a business geared toward home computer setup and repair, database development, and training. I could use a few extra dollars for bills and credit cards not to mention helping my mother keep her house.

Thinking of a name has been the hardest part. "Noble Computing Solutions" is the only one I have sort of liked so far, but I'm not completely sold on it.

Weekly Secret