Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wacky Thursday (Special Christmas Edition)

Enjoy the Christmas season through music:

Christmas Confessions

OK, OK, so I became tremendously busy this season and my blogging suffered -something had to give. At least I wrote our family Christmas letter and met Mrs. Wicke's deadline. So I am forced to condense what should have been a nice drawn out process to one entry. As a 12 Days of Christmas gift I am going to suggest 12 books or articles (I am under no delusions about my reading proficiency, so articles are fair game in my book)that everyone should read. Let me say at the outset that these books/articles are clearly in my interest realm and might not make everyone's favorite list (listed in no particular order below). Nevertheless, I give these to you with high recommendation (I will visit topics from each of these in future posts):

1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
2. The Ideas that Use Us by Harry Emerson Fosdick
3. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
4. The Good Samaritan and Eternal Life by John Welch
5. The Seduction of our Gifts by Pat Debenham
6. The Proper Role of Government by Ezra Benson
7. Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
8. Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
9. Preventative Religion by Harry Emerson Fosdick
10. On the Shoulders of Giants by Boyd Packer
11. The Olive Press by Truman Madsen
12. If you are Young, Uncynical and Idealistic by C. Terry Warner
(sorry, can't stop at 12)
13. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
14. 1776 by David McCullough
15. Any Calvin and Hobbes comic book
16. The Price We Paid by Andrew Olsen
17. Abinadi: The Man and the Message by Todd Parker
18. Flint by Louis L'amour
19. Careless Society by John McKnight

So as a Christmas gift I give you the joy of reading -the ability to go anywhere and anytime, to explore the depths of human thought and to bust outloug in laugher. Happy reading and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wacky Wednesday: Joy & Laughter Edition

Finding something fitting for Wacky Wednesday that has a Christmas theme is somewhat difficult... Since joy and merryment are endemic in the season, you will enjoy this. My apologies if you've seen it before. Even if you have, enjoy yourself again... laugh out loud:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Time to get back to Christmas

My apologies for being absent so much last week. True to the song, this is the most glorious time of the year but it is also the busiest time. If you are like us, things are a bit tighter this year than in Christmases past. Let me suggest a few gifts that you can give TODAY that don't cost a thing. Ironically these gifts have the potential to make a greater impact in the life of the recipient than a gift costing you hundreds of dollars. Make this Christmas memorable and pick one of the following. Don't hesitate, give one of these gifts within five minutes from the time you stop reading this blog:

1. Call an old friend you have not spoken with for the past five years but with whom you have shared some great times in the "old days"... Call them and tell them that you were thinking of them and how much you treasure their previous influence in your life.

2. Write a letter to one of your children (or one of your parents) and express your love for them. Tell them about a good memory you have from 20 years ago. Mail it today so it arrives just before Christmas.

3. Think of a friend or family member who has a talent that you admire. Call them and tell them that you recognize this gift of theirs; tell them of your admiration for them (be specific) and how their influence effects your life.

4. Be proactive and forgive someone with whom you have had a disagreement or who has offended you. Don't mention the offense, just express your love and desire to be friends/close to them.

5. Call a local public official, HOA board member, the nearest military institution, church officer or similar type of person and express your gratitude for their efforts to make your life better.

6. Find a teenager (preferably one who looks kind of weird), ask them their name and confess to them something like, "I remember when I was a teen ager... life was not always what I hoped it would be. I just want to tell you that I think you can do fantastic things."

7. Go to a store (not one of the mega-stores like Wal-Mart) and open doors for people as they walk in and walk out. Wish them a Merry Christmas.

8. Drive to the nearest retirement home and hug 5 people (if you are really feeling like living on the edge, thank them for their efforts to give us a better world than they had and wish them a Merry Christmas).

9. Take a cup or hot chocolate or a soda to the cross walk guard who is helping children cross the street.

10. Do something anonymously for someone.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wacky Wednesday Special Edition: Mrs. Wicke's Day in Court

Mrs. Wicke had her day in court yesterday and as the tune goes: "I fought the law and the law won." Not! After a brief crime spree (read about it in Mrs. Wicke's own words) where she broke not one but two legally established statutes, Mrs. Wicke finally faced what all fugitives eventually come up against: justice!

Her adept use of legal proceedure allowed her to put off her date with lady justice for some time (one week to be exact) but ultimately the day of reckoning arrived. I have always said that Mrs. Wicke would make a fantastic lawyer but her impassioned stand before the judge was a masterpiece of rhetoric, logic and persuasion that would make the ancient judge Solomon bow his head in respect. She singlehandledly moved American jurisprudence forward to a new level. Before it was over the judge was said to have offered her a seat on the City of Chandler Municipal Court. Three chronic parking ticket offenders confessed and threw themselves at the mercy of the court. It was an amazing sight. I am glad the court recessed to take this historic picture.

Some of you might ask what this blog entry has to do with Christmas... and I would simply answer that Christmas is, at its foundation, about redemption from past mistakes and the gift of an unblemished future. Laurel's early Christmas present: total absolution of all traffic violations.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My best childhood Christmas present

So what was the best Christmas gift you have received? As straightforward as this question is, there is some difficulty since Christmas changes fairly significantly in meaning from childhood, through the teenage years and finally into adulthood. Since so much of the joy of Christmas is contained in those magical young years I am going to narrow this question to childhood.

So delineated, this is an easy answer: a full size Minnesota Vikings helmet. Mind you that this gift was received back in the mid-1970's before the commercial craze of the National Football League. My parents perfomed a miracle to buy this gift -I think they actually had to send off to Minnesota (yes young readers this was before email, faxes, cell phones and modern communication as we know it... in fact I'm sure they had to have the help of a long distance operator to place the call. I barely remember those days). The amazing thing about this gift was my parents deep understanding of their little boy. I am sure I did not ask for a Vikings helmet, it would never have crossed my mind that such a glorious thing was within the realm of possibility. But my parents knew how much I loved football, how much I loved the Vikings and they made the unknown dreams of little boy come true. Thank you mom and dad!

So, what was your best childhood Christmas present?

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Season of Christmas Blogs

I’ll admit it. I am a socio-political junkie… it is my profession after all. I am, however, also sentimental –a hopeless romantic. I love planning surprises, giving flowers, writing (correction: attempting) poetry, the under-dog, little babies, epic stories of great sacrifices and fallen heroes. Don’t get me wrong, there is not a bone in my body that feels a pull to watch Steel Magnolias, You Got Mail, Pride and Prejudice and the like.

When I describe myself as “sentimental” I mean that my heart melts when I see the light in my children’s eyes as they fall asleep on Christmas eve. When I admit to being a romantic I mean that I get a high from planning a weekend getaway with my wife and leaving a trail of notes around the house that gradually breaks the news to her. I will shed a tear when moving away from dear friends but not when Mr. Darcy and Juliana (or whatever her name is) finally confess their undying love to each other.

So having got that straight, let me paint the direction of my blog entries for the remainder of the month. December, specifically because of Christmas, is my favorite period of the year. For me it is a little escape from the seriousness of the other eleven months. I have officially changed from my talk radio AM stations to the 24-7 holiday music channel. I will also change the tenor of my blog entries until after December 25th. The topics will now center on giving, memories, children, happy thoughts, friends, good food, redemption, trees, Chanukah, peace and goodwill toward men. In the spirit of giving and receiving, I will need your help.

For example, I will run a list of favorite and of suggested Christmas gifts. Please begin thinking of Christmases long, long ago and be ready to share your favorite gift (both the one you received and the one you gave). Stay tuned.

God bless us, everyone.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wacky Wednesday 6.1

I've got to admit that I'm sorely disappointed...I didn't get any comments on the incriminating picture of Mrs. Wicke from last week's Wacky Wednesday 6 so I'm drawing attention to it again. But in light of the coming holiday season and the pathetic plight of clueless men who straddle the thin line between expressinging their undying love and their undying idiocy, I offer this video in the form of a warning:


(I apologize for not embedding the video here but a link is all I could manage. Women, click and enjoy. Men, watch and learn.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

1,000 Blessings (don't abandon Thanksgiving so quickly)

Post Happy Thanksgiving! After a few days away from the blogesphere (am I spelling that correctly?) I am back but I just can't seem to let Thanksgiving go... and I need your help to move on. The socially conscious part of me hates that Thanksgiving is becoming something of a byword between Halloween and Christmas. This is visibly reflected in the commercial emphasis of retailers. Aside from grocery stores running specials on turkeys there is very little attention paid to a day devoted to giving thanks.

My longterm and loyal readers will also know of my affinity to language and how it reflects our values and culture. You can guess my unbridled consternation to the transition of "Thanksgiving Day" to "Turkey Day".... what happened to the concept of "Thanks" supposedly at the center of this holiday. It has transitioned from a day of indulging in thanks to a day of indulging in turkey. That does not speak well of our secularly leaning society.

So, in this one man's attempt to turn the cultural tide I am not moving on until you help me with my endeavor to identify 1,000 blessings. I took out a leather bound journal on Thursday morning and committed to identifying 1,000 blessings which garnish my life. One thousand is surely a pittance of the boundless quantity of God's tender mercies that daily fall upon me. I am well on my way but thought I would make this a public endeavor. So I invite you to each contribute only 10 (more if you would like) of the blessings that fill your lives. Make a "comment" and list them here:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wacky Wicke Wednesday

Family is the source of my greatest blessings and the root of my most effluent thanks. In the spirit of Wacky Wednesday, here are some wacky (wierd or otherwise silly) pictures of the family:

Three eyed (and droopy) Griffin

Rug rats have a tendency to get muddy

The only thing better than the movie poster is the movie.

Yes, it is Mrs. Wicke wearing hose on her head with a party cap... don't ask.

Darwin in a gorilla suit with a present... another don't ask.

Skinning the Thanksgiving squirrel (no joking)

Thanks be to Heaven for children's laughter, for a spouse's friendship, for parents who worked hard to raise me correctly, for siblings who shaped me and for a thousand sweet memories with all my family.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Essential Need for Gratitude

We live in the most affluent, technologically advanced and generally comfortable times in the history of the world. The conditions and quality of our lives are not only marginally better than our ancestors but exponentially better. Granted, the modern world brings with it a cadre of unique challenges that were unknown to previous generations including stress, pace of life, demand for educational accomplishment and the like. I do not know how these particular challenges compare to the threat of being eaten by a pack of wolves or the likelihood of dying from the plague at the ripe old age of thirty-one or even the constant pain of a mouth full of rotting teeth…. I think I’ll take the current age.

With the tremendous blessings of our day we have, somehow, also evolved into a society noted for our narcissism, ingratitude, gluttony and apathy. I do not wish to bore you with the volumes of academic studies providing STRONG evidence of these conditions but certainly we can all look around (as well as inwardly) and see ample display of what I speak. Affluence –the desire of individuals and societies-- ironically has an ugly complexion.

There is, however, an antidote that can fix much of this. If genuinely felt and frequently revived it can turn everything around, it can sweeten our lives and multiply our happiness, our relationships and our self appraisal. What is this cure? It is gratitude. Our national effort toward this cure take place in a few days under the title “Thanksgiving”.

Most likely you are familiar with this quote but it captures exactly the spirit and need of Thanksgiving. It was true during the dark days of the Civil War nearly 150 years ago and it is still true during the current days of financial and moral troubles. It seems we are never entirely free of difficulties -a universal condition of life- but we can always choose to be grateful and experience the benefits of thankfulness. Abraham Lincoln implored,

"We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness or our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
-institution of a National Fast Day
(A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 5:3366)

Happy Thanksgiving! Now go out and give some thanks to God, to your spouse, to parents to children, to all who bless your lives and even to pure strangers.

Thank you for taking a moment to read and God bless you.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It is Done: Soccer 2008

This past Saturday we celebrated the holiday before the holiday and was marked by joyful exuberance. soccer season may have come to an end but we are considering it a beginning. The past four months have been extremely revelatory.

We are more enlightened parents and have no hesitation admitting that our two favorite players are not destined for soccer greatness. No, it has become pretty clear that Logan and Griffin should pursue almost anything but Soccer. And to be quite honest, this is not a bad thing. There are plenty of other sports or activities toward which they appear to have natural abilities: swimming, wrestling, gymnastics, piano, and modern dance all come to mind.... BUT NOT soccer.

Lest you think I am overcritical or exaggerating for dramatic effect, I implore you to watch this video. Griffin is wearing #7 but is more easily identified as the player who is lathargically trailing the field of play as if he has no interest in actually kicking the ball.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

God and Griffin

I have no problem with God's omniscience. The fact that he knows all things including the way each of us will act in a certain situation does not bother me or somehow infringe on my freedom of choice. For some people, God's ability to know how they will act before they make a choice is very disturbing; they feel as if their agency is somehow diminished or that they are nothing more than a puppet to some divine game master. God's knowing, however, does not infringe on our free and independent exercise of choice. I heard it put in this way: God's omnipotence and perfect foreknowledge is very different than making some particular event happen in very much the same way that a skilled weatherman while able to forecast does not CAUSE certain weather to happen. God knows through ages of experience, how his children will act and react to certain situations.

This logic makes perfect sense to me and resonates with my soul. What is more, I'm now experiencing a lower-level of this paternal forcasting. Enter: Griffin. He came into my office the other morning with a bottle of Elmer's Glue in his hand. Immiately I probed for the appropriateness of the situation trying to cut off any disaster before it happened.

"Mom gave it to me," he explained.

A reasonable answer I thought and decided to let this scenario play out. It had been months since he was banned from scissors and this might be a good time to allow some redemption. I asked what he wanted to do with it. "Glue some paper." he responded without any hesitation. Again, an acceptable answer -much better than "give Roxy (our dog) a bath with it" or "glue sisters Webkinz". I decided that I was OK with this and knowing (the parental foreknowledge coming into play) the scenario that would unfold even with materials as benign as "paper", I offered some instruction, "You know Griffin, you only need a little glue to stick paper together."

Now Griffin is blessed with a mind that is ten yards ahead of any given moment... in our five years experience with this little soul both Laurel and I are keenly aware of this. Hence the reason why I repeated four more times the warning regarding the quantity of glue needed. In a stroke of parenting genius I even took conscious pains to phrase the caution in several ways so that he was sure to understand. After receiving verbal confirmation that he understood what I was saying, I sent him off on his errand with two pieces of copy paper. I will admit that I felt somewhat smug in my efforts to ward off a potential mess before it happened although somewhere in the repressed recesses of my mind I knew what scenario was bound to eventuate.

Probably half an hour later Mrs. Wicke called for Griffin to get his shoes on in preparation for school. He had been uncharacteristically quiet for some time but I knew he was in the play room making his Elmer's Masterpiece. Mrs. Wicke's voice reminded me of his activities and peaked my curiousity. I walked down the hall wondering if my cautions and superior parenting resulted in the perfectly glued art project... I'll let you judge.

The irony is that Griffin probably thought he was being quite conservative with the volume of glue. While I might have the beginning of God's ability to forsee, I clearly lack his skill at clear communication... something for me to work on.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wacky Wednesday Vol. 6

The irony of this piece is almost too much... the reporter seems to be prefacing a newspiece on "violent crime" and then it turns into something of an autobiography-documentary. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Truth (it really does exist out there)

I love to ponder truth and life. The hot tub on an early morning or late night is my favorite place and times for such indulgence (Mrs. Wicke has a great story to tell -since she is the story teller in our family- about my choice of contexts for enlightenment). I glean truth largely (no, almost entirey) from the writings of others. Considering the blatant lies, skillful charades and proliferation of half-truths in this world, identifying and adopting truth is an essential pursuit. Here are a variety of thoughts I've written in my "Truth" Journal:

-The height of your self-esteem is bound by the level of your selfishness.

-Self-worth is an eternal constant.

-Self-esteem is a function of what a person accomplishes through hard work (physical or mental), diligence and honor: by what we do. Self-worth is a function of who and what we are (our divine nature). The latter is fixed, the former is fluid.

-Good works or righteous living or honorable decisions are always rewarded by like consequences. These consequences may be immediate or delayed (or a mixture of both). They will return at least in a 1 to 1 proportional measure. This is just as true for the inverse: for evil works, selfishness and dishonorable actions.

-The end or destination a person arrives at is in consequence of his or her traveling the path to that end. For example: if happiness is your goal, you must walk that road. You cannot walk the way of greed, selfishness and pride to arrive at happiness, they do not lead to happiness, but to their own end. Happiness has its own criteria and cannot be replaced by others. This is true for every quality, trait or accomplishment.

-The means employed toward some end will be inherent to the continuance, maintenance and functioning of that end.

-All physical, mental, spiritual and/or emotional beings are either moving along a spectrum of growth or decay.

-Every action no matter how small or large moves us in a direction either toward God or away from Him. We are never static. We either support evil or oppose it in everything we do, say or think.

-Every individual is categorically responsible for their own actions, thoughts, emotions, words, and behavior and they cannot give that responsibility away nor assign it to another (although a favorite past-time in this life is to try and pawn it off on others).

-Deception, lying or hiding from truth are inherently unraveling in nature. A lie, for example is impossible to hide, it will (by its very nature) come to light and make itself manifest. It is impossible to hide anything that is untrue because the construction, operation and basis of this world is truth. Lies must die, they cannot eternally exist.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you have further insight to offer? Please share. More to come later.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Technological Discontent

OK, here's the deal (yes, this is a pet-peeve post). We moved into a new home just over four years ago. Everything was new except for the dirt in the yard which if the geologists are correct is probably in the neighborhood of 4-6 million years old. Arizona used to be the bottom of a gigantic sea sometime at the turn of the Cretaceous. Our appliances on the other hand were all manufactured in a significantly more modern era. You might think that our Whirlpool "Gold" dishwasher would provide at least ten years of superior functionality... it is not even a normal Whirlpool; it is a Whirpool "Gold".

As you can probably surmise, our state of the art appliance finally died last Monday. It was with a conflicted heart that I declared it dead on Monday evening... you see it had been suffering for the last three months. Sometime in the middle of July we noticed a gradually increasing noise being generated from the underside of the dishwasher. The hum grew into a loud caucaphony and reached decible levels that it was impossible to carry on a conversation in the kitchen. Family and friends would ask if we had heavy equipment running in the back yard if we started the dishwasher after dinner. No joking. We finally had to use the timed delay start and shedule dish washing to commence sometime between 1 and 3 AM. So it was with some relief that we finally pulled the plug on Whirlpool Gold. The tragedy was that it was such a young machine.

The ordeal, as situations like these often do, caused me to contemplate the lifespan of technology and our current situation. I finally received an answer to one of my long pondered questions: what is fair to expect of products and technology in our modern era. Here is what I came to grips with. I call it my "If we can send a man to the moon-then we can certainly make a ________ (you fill in the blank with a product of your choosing) that should last ten years" theory. The basic premise of my theory is pretty much explained in the name. For crying out loud, if we were able to build a machine that took mankind to the moon and brought him back again in 1969 then why can't we build a quality dishwasher in 2008? Why does the automatic sliding door on my Toyota Sienna break and cost me $1,800 to replace? Why can't we make a leaf blower/vaccum that lasts more than two seasons? Is there an engineer or quality control supervisor who can answer my question?

So for better or for worse I'm introducing a new quality standard. I'm comparing everything I buy to this baseline of expected performance: If-we-can-send-a-man-to-the-moon-in-1969-surely-we-can-make-a-decent-_______________! Stand up and demand it. I have it on good authority that this is a right to which all humans are entitled. Where is my dishwasher rebate? After spending $650 on a new Kenmore I need a bailout.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Small Freedoms and Big Changes

You can tell a lot from very small indicators. The best measure of a person’s love, for example, is illustrated in the small things they do -speaking kindly, small acts of service (making the bed, a note expressing thanks, a 30 second phone call just because, picking up milk, small manners/courtesies, etc.). Generally speaking, a mother’s day is filled with a thousand small acts of love for her children. Quite literally, she sweats the small stuff… and I would contend that it is exactly as it should be.

We can contrast the “little things” against the “big things” especially in their meaning and impact. The big things, while dramatic, do not carry the depth or illustrate the importance of the more frequent and more subdued little things. Consider a father who does not spend time doing the daily little things with his children and wife –reading at bed time, wrestling around, helping with the laundry, kind words, eating dinner together- but rather executes a yearly trip to Hawaii. Which better illustrates his love? If given a choice, which would his wife and his children choose: the big thing or the small things?

The importance and prominence of the small things has application in relationships, in religious observance, in micro affairs, in macro matters (ie. the economy, political reality, social trends) –I suggest that it is practically a law of nature and applies to all aspects of life. Take for instance the seminal, singular achievement of sending a man to the moon. While at first this might look like a big achiement it was actually preceeded by a million small decisions, tasks, calculations, processes, indicators. How important were these small steps? If any ONE of them was imprecise or errant, the large event, the great thing (landing on the moon) would have been impossible. It is the little things, whether it be in a family, in engineering or in political life that makes the difference.

Our political landscape –our freedoms- are currently undergoing small, almost imperceptible transformation. As the classic metaphor goes, we are frogs in a pot of water where the temperature is slowly increasing by fractions of a degree -small changes. Perhaps you have heard of some of these small changes (the beauty of small change is that it can be rationalized as trivial, non-consequential and countered as silly obsession with meaningless minutia) taking place in California. As much as I hate to admit it: as California goes, so goes the nation. Consider these small changes to your freedoms:

1. California has outlawed homemade treats for bake sales at schools. Why? In the name of almighty Health. Yes, I have capitalized the “H” on health because it is the new god of our generation. All things bow to the importance of health. The state cannot control the fat and sugar content in home produced brownies so it has decided, in a step to protect its helpless citizens, to ban (outlaw, make illegal, criminalize) home made items at bake sales. One small change to your freedom.
2. California is forbidding the construction of homes with fireplaces. Why? In the name of the second member of the secular holy trinity: the environment. In a move to cut down air pollution and stave off global warming (no matter that there is strong evidence of global cooling) the state of California is mandating the features of your home. This statute displays the complete lack of trust the government has for its citizens. To make sure you do not make a fire to warm your home they will simply take out the fireplace so there is no choice in the matter. To be fair, the state will allow gas heated homes and besides this is such a small thing. When the state starts controlling your thermostat that will be something else.
3. The state of California is pursuing the authority to control thermostats and mandate the “acceptable” temperature for homes and buildings. Really? The most educated generation ever is not smart enough to be trusted with the FREEDOM to set their own thermostat… we need the government to do this? So you don’t think I am making this up, here is the New York Time’s story (1/11/08):
Next year in California, state regulators are likely to have the emergency power to control individual thermostats, sending temperatures up or down through a radio-controlled device that will be required in new or substantially modified houses and buildings to manage electricity shortages.. The proposed rules are contained in a document circulated by the California Energy Commission, which for more than three decades has set state energy efficiency standards for home appliances, like water heaters, air conditioners and refrigerators. The changes would allow utilities to adjust customers’ preset temperatures when the price of electricity is soaring. Customers could override the utilities’ suggested temperatures. But in emergencies, the utilities could override customers’ wishes.
But this is such a little thing and it is for a good reason (curiously, exactly what freedoms are stripped and what changes are made in the name of something evil? It is all done in the name of some good: health, equality, environmentalism, love, fairness, security, financial stability)… Yes it is a little erosion of freedom; a small manifestation of the power government has to control even the most minute of details within the walls of your own home. Danger Will Robinson, danger!
4. As the epitome of quality public education, the State of California is denying a parent’s right to home-school their child. So long freedoms! This has tremendous implication for parents who do not agree with the content of the public school (i.e. liberal, revisionist, politically correct) curriculum. Another news report (SF Chronicle, 3/7/08):
“A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution…
The appeals court said state law has been clear since at least 1953, when another appellate court rejected a challenge by homeschooling parents to California’s compulsory education statutes. Those statutes require children ages 6 to 18 to attend a full-time day school, either public or private, or to be instructed by a tutor who holds a state credential for the child’s grade level.
California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. “Parents have a legal duty to see to their children’s schooling under the provisions of these laws.”
Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.
“A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare,” the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.”

Make no mistake there is a battle currently being waged against our freedoms. At stake are a hundred small things (like dodgeball, tag, appropriate words, text books, fatty foods, redistribution of wealth, minimum wage, changing the definition of words, etc.) that will contribute to a wholesale restructuring of our republic and our personal freedoms. Who is ultimately responsible for this? YOU and I! Probably the single greatest small change we’ve allowed to take place in our society is the disassociation of the concept of rights with the concept of responsiblilty. Every right has a corresponding responsibility. If we are a nation that will continue to enjoy personal freedoms there are personal responsibilities we must also exercise. One of them is to stand up and fight for our freedoms. Government is, by its nature, a power assuming monster. It will usurp our freedoms, one small freedom at a time. Small changes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wacky Wednesday Five

I hope my Wacky Wednesday installment provides some levity and laughter in the middle of the workweek... just when we most need it. For all of you who, at one time or another, have made an idiot of yourself: at least it was not on national television while you were trying to establish yourself (and your product) as reputable. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank you Dad, Bernie and Eddie (Veteran's Day Tribute)

I've been a patriotic civilian all my life... the closest I came to experiencing the military was two years of ROTC in college. I determined that my inquisitive and questioning sociological mind was not a good fit for military service (although now I am not so certain that the two are mutually exclusive.)

Now I am old enough and sufficiently observant to happily admit the great debt that I, along with every other American citizen, owe to those who put their lives on the line for my freedom. The men and women who served in the military display one of the greatest values in life: we should live for something bigger than ourselves. Unfortunately some people in our narcissistic age never learn this in a whole lifetime.

So with woefully inadequate words I offer my simple but heartfelt gratitude: THANK YOU! And because anonymous, general thanks is too often substituted for what could be a meaningful gesture, I want to pay tribute to three specific veterans. These are men from my own family who have accomplished something I never will in my life. They served their country to the extent that they were willing to go wherever, whenever and even give up their lives so that I and my children could live free. Thank you!

Dad (aka "the Colonel"), I salute you.

Bernie (my older brother), I salute you.

Eddie (my brother-in-law), I salute you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mr. Wicke Goes to Washington

A little more than ten years ago Mrs. Wicke and I were fortunate enough to take a whirlwind trip to the east coast where we found and fell in love with such places as Baltimore, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington D.C. We visited all these in the short span of ten days. For many reasons (including driving through Manhattan to return our rental car and riding in a taxi driven by a man who hated his job and saw little downside if his life ended in a firey automobile accident) it was a trip we will never forget.

Gettysburg was deeply moving, a real bonus because it was not even on our pre-trip agenda. But the most remarkable realization, for me at least, was the profound spirit of Washington D.C. We found ourselves in our nation’s capital at the height
of the Monica Lewinsky affair (pun intended). One night we even watched a live national news reporter broadcast the latest developments on the steps of some government building. Surely those of you old enough can remember this lewd and low chapter in our national legacy. Remember the President who wagged his finger at us and told us a bold faced lie. Remember the man who tried to fool us all with his

elitist parsing of words, “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is”. If only we could be as intellectually advanced to comprehend the sophisticated meaning of verbs like “is” and “change”. Although if we combine Clinton with Obama we have something that is somewhat insightful: It depends on what the meaning of change is. Wow, who knew that two Democrats mixed into one actually makes a valid point.

I’m sorry I could not pass that up.

Back to Washington D.C. Because of my despair over the whole perverted particulars that stained our country’s highest office (again, pun intended), I was particularly dispirited regarding our national identity, our government and the moral void that defined our cultural leadership. This was the behavior that marked the height of civilization? This is what the lofty ideas of sacred honor, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness had degenerated to?

This was my politico-emotional state as Mrs. Wicke and I walked onto the national mall and experienced the miracle. In a day and a half we visited with Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Jefferson and lifted our eyes as the Washington Monument pointed heavenward. Yes, it was a religious experience. We read names on the Vietnam Memorial and were transfixed by the beauty of the Library of Congress. The Supreme Court possessed its own sense of power both outside and in. A kind Congressional aide took us through the underground tunnels and gave us a personal tour of the Capital building. We walked on the floor where great men stood and formulated plans to face great challenges.

Somewhere between Mr. Lincoln’s memorial and the Capital rotunda I realized that I was part of something much larger than I had ever supposed. This was not the government of Bill Clinton, it was not a nation of people who lived only in 1998. The United States of America was so much more than one man or one generation. I realized that we stood on the shoulders of giants. The troubled country of the present had deep roots which had survived many strong winds and lean times. It would not fall by the selfish exploits of one man, by the woeful mismanagement of another or by the destructive political policies of a third. The Constitution, the love of liberty, the precedence of freedom and the blood of thousands of citizen soldiers is stronger than any one president or Congress or Supreme Court decision. It was such a glorious diminutive feeling. My sense of nothingness enlarged my vision and my soul. The consuming issue of President Clinton faded away like darkness before the rising sun. Ahhh, sweet perspective!

Our trip to Washington D.C. was refreshing and invigorating. Without trying to sound too dramatic, I felt politically born again. It gave me hope that was not based in a man or in the issues of any one era. I am just now realizing that I do not have the words to describe what the visit did to soothe my soul… I guess you will just have to go there yourself.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We lost, now what?

I hate losing. I don’t care if it is a board game or a flag football contest: I hate it. I especially hate to lose at things in which I feel there is a moral principle at stake. Anyone who has read my earlier blog posts knows how deeply I feel about our nation’s political situation… As you can imagine I am now working very hard to suppress all those negative emotions that accompany losing. May I share some thoughts in retrospect of the Obama presidential victory:

Be civil: The genius of America and of democracy in general is the imperative of the rule of law. Over 50% of our countrymen voted for Mr. Obama in a free and fair election. That decision MUST be respected. It does our country no good to undermine the president-elect before he has even begun to act in the office (this includes calls for impeachment: such proclamations are damaging in that they weaken our stand if true grounds for impeachment ever arise). Democrats and progressives did this country no service in their vitriol and hatred of George W. Bush. For eight years they were consumed with a drunken vendetta causing wounds that will not easily heal. Now, conservatives must not adopt the same pigheaded defiance. There will be fundamental issues where we will take a stand and hills upon which we may defend or die in trying but to remove civility from our public debate is to ruin civilization.

Extend the benefit of the doubt: There is no question that I am filled with a spirit of trepidation over the unknown political leaning and leftist precedent of President-elect Obama. All the reservations and outright objections I’ve previously voiced are still effectual BUT since he will be our country’s chief executive I hope only the best for him. I pray that his vision of America resembles what our founders envisioned. I hope all my concerns are proved wrong. I hope he reaches across the political divide and genuinely works with conservatives. I hope my estimation of his socialist tendencies and policies were ill founded. No one hopes more than I that he proves me wrong. But since no one really knows what form or specific features his “change” will take, I have no choice but to wait and see. In the meantime I think the only option is to extend the benefit of the doubt. If he pursues a socialist agenda we will have plenty of opportunity to fight. For now, let’s just wait and let the real Mr. Obama come out. Perhaps we will be pleasantly surprised.

Celebrate a true social accomplishment: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Viktor Frankl are three of my heroes and teachers. Each contributed profoundly to the struggle for racial equality and human decency. The election of a black man to the highest political office in the United States is an accomplishment to be celebrated. To me the color of his skin was largely irrelevant as a reason to vote for or against him -plain and simply, I disagree with his political philosophy, platform and stated policies. I can still, however, rejoice in this seminal cultural accomplishment. I hope it dispels what I consider to be the largest social fallacy of our day: that America is steeped in racism and bigotry. I can provide significant evidence that the US is one of the most welcoming, generous, non-racist nations on the earth. I hope that this accomplishment tones down the race-bating and false accusations that are too frequently promulgated by groups and individuals who have much to benefit from fanning the embers of racial discord.

Be your best selves: while I believe racism is one of the largest non-issues in our society I am not naïve to the despicable supremacist views of a handful of idiots to be found at all extremes. I hope all decent people will reject the organized efforts and spontaneous instances from whatever corners of the political spectrum they might come. I’ve heard of race based jokes perpetuated over the Internet; I’m familiar with intellectuals already dismissing or downplaying the importance of this event and claiming that the white, male-based power structure still inflicts its malicious oppression; I’m deafly afraid some wacko might violently attempt to spoil this cultural achievement. We are better than all of this. As Viktor Frankl wisely observed, “there are only two races, the decent and the indecent.” For us it will take our best selves to prove to those who would like to continue promoting the tired old black versus white division of our country.

Visit Washington DC: sound crazy? This will restore your optimism in our country like few other things will … more on this to come.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wacky Wednesday IV: Why?

Why is one of the most powerful words in language. It is the catalyst for learning and the antidote for ignorance, apathy and the resultant social problems. But Wacky Wednesday is about ligher things (and heaven knows we've been consumed with very serious issues lately) so I will save my elucidation on the virtues of "why?" for another time. Here are some thoughts that will leave you wondering, why. As in, why does anyone care?

Happy Wacky Wednesday:

· The sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." uses every letter in the alphabet. (Developed by Western Union to Test communications)
· The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is "uncopyrightable".
· 'Stewardesses' is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.
· No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple.
· "I am." is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
· In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere.
· Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches.
· A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.
· The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of yore when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.
· The airplane Buddy Holly died in was the "American Pie." (Thus the name of the Don McLean song.)
· Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. Spades - King David; Clubs - Alexander the Great; Hearts-Charlemagne; and Diamonds - Julius Caesar.
· 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
· Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down - hence the expression "to get fired."
· Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.
· Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt.
· The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law that stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
· An ostrich's eye is bigger that it's brain.
· The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I believe Barak Obama... and you should too

I believe people. I believe what they say. I pay close attention especially to those with whom I disagree. I believe you must listen carefully to the opposition. I believe Osama bin Laden when he says his goal is to attack America and the West and to kill as many of us as possible. I believe Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he says he wants to wipe Israel off the map (and if he secured nuclear weapons he would not hesitate to pursue that end). I cannot disagree more sharply, but I believe PETA believes what they say: that the slaughter of chickens is comparable to the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust. I believe that type of philosophy and rhetoric is dangerous.

Now I don’t want to draw moral parallels between the three examples cited above and the current Democratic candidates for president and vice-president, but I do want to suggest that we better listen to what they have said. I do not believe they are lieing (well, Mr. Obama at least, Mr. Biden is more adept as a politician.... case and point: defending the traditional definition of marriage but proclaiming on Ellen's show that he would vote against Prop. 8). There is one thing we had better all give sober consideration to: I believe Mr. Obama when he says, we are one week away from fundamentally changing the United States of America.

Fundamentally changing the United States? That is what he said and that is what he means.
Enough said Mr. Obama, I believe you. While the United States of America has some problems I do not believe we come close to the necessity of “fundamental” changes. I believe the foundation upon which this country is based is profoundly sound and to tamper with it is to risk unwarranted peril. I believe rather than going in some uncharted, unproven direction we should return to the Judeo-Christian values upon which this country was established. I believe in E Pluribus Unum. I believe in the citizens of this country much more than I believe in the government of this country. I believe in individual responsibility, in individual initiative and in private business. I believe a God fearing nation is infinitely better than a Godless nation. I believe in separation of business and state as much as I believe in separation of church and state. Neither religion nor business should be formally established within the machinery of the government. To nationalize health care or any other industry is as dangerous to the free exercise of the citizens as is the nationalization of a particular religion.

Make no mistake, Barak Obama believes his campaign slogans. He wants to change this country at its most fundamental level (not my words, these are his). His entire life is evidence of the direction he wants to take it. He has the most socialist, leftist voting record in the US Senate. His personal affiliates frequently proclaim the same need to alter or repair a problematic America of which we have little to be proud. He believes in legitimate governmental seizure and spreading of wealth. He believes the government should pay for students to attend college. He believes in a more restrained military and diplomatic appeasement. He believes our national standard of living is incompatible with the rest of the world.

I believe Barak Obama has told us exactly what he means to do and I fear that if he is elected he will do exactly what he promised.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Stop the Hate Accusations

I am tired of the hate defense. This is the strategy employed by “progressives” who accuse anyone who is on the opposite side of “hating” their candidate or position. Rational and civil people can disagree without either party being consumed with hate. It is a juvenile and utilitarian method to reduce an issue to the lowest human emotion. Those who propagate the “if you vote for __________ you are a hater” are perpetuating a dangerously uncivil society.

I will be very specific so I am not misunderstood:

-A vote for anyone other than Barak Obama does not make you a hater of Black people (does not make you a racist).
-Voting for Prop 8 (or Prop 102 in Arizona) does not mean you hate homosexuals.
-Voting against a minimum wage does not mean you hate poor people.
-Voting for tough illegal immigration laws does not mean you hate foreigners.
-Voting to reduce funds for education does not mean you hate children.
-Voting for restrictions on partial birth abortion (or "normal" abortion) does not mean you hate women.

Can’t we all see the danger of the hate defense/accusation? I'll try to illustrate with a couple of examples: In the case of the presidency, the difference in vote will not likely be greater than 55%-45%. If Obama receives 55% of the vote does that mean 45% of the people who did not vote for him are racists and haters? Come on; it is possible for people to take a political stance for differences on issues and philosophy that have nothing to do about race and/or hate. Do I recognize that there are a small number of idiots and ignoramuses who actually do hate Blacks and homosexuals? Yes, these idiots exist on both sides of the political spectrum but they are a very small minority.

Consider the question of same sex marriage (again assuming a 55% to 45% division). Do we really want a society where 45% of the people are viewed as and have been accused of being haters? Can’t you see how that has the potential to irreparably tear the social fabric. Does anyone really believe proponents of Prop. 8/102 are haters? I am one of them and have many friends who have allied themselves to the “hate accusation” campaign… do I really think my friends consider me a hater? No. So please, don’t say or support something that is not true; that you don’t really believe. If, on the other hand, you think I really am consumed with hate (even at a subconscious level)… well then, our society is really in bad shape and we should start counting the days of our demise.

Do I hate those who have adopted the hate dialog to gain supporters for their cause? No I don’t. I think they are wrong, passionate, ill-informed, naïve and even creating a dangerous social environment but they are simply mistaken. The best way to try and convince them of the error of their position is to engage in rational and civil conversation. I would think that their side would have sufficiently strong arguments without playing the “hate card”. A society that ceases to have the ability to “agree to disagree” but rather accuses everyone who disagrees as haters will soon cease to be a society. The logical extension of this condition is ominous and we are not without precedence: A house divided against itself in hate cannot stand.

Hate has a horrible self-fulfilling property. Accusations of hate dismiss all rationality and create a discussion based on emotions. Dr. King warned “hate begets hate.” I would add: unsubstantiated accusations of hate begets hate. Please, turn down the rhetoric. Same sex marriage is not about hate it is about the social benefit or injury of extending marriage to homosexuals. The vote for Barak Obama is not about voting for a Black man (soley or even predominantly) but about agreement with the policies, values and views he espouses.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wacky Wednesday (well... Thursday): Fun Pictures!

I've been so caught up in the serious side of life that I failed to post a Wacky Wednesday... and here it is Thursday. Mrs. Wicke has taught me the importance of not being so serious and I am indebted to her. Although we face some HUGE challenges ahead (I am not too encouraged about what is just over the horizon vis a vis politics, social and cultural conditions, etc.) we must take time and laugh. To help with this lofty goal, I present you with: Truth through pictures and commentary.

I am exercising my best self-control to keep from offering some social, political and/or cultural commentary on these pictures... each one is so full of truth regarding contemporary society. No, I won't do it. I will resist. Just take another look and laugh yourself silly. There are times when we just need to laugh.

Same Sex "Marriage": 4 Points of Clarification

The sophistication and the emotions of this debate require precision for either side of the argument. Let’s therefore establish some fundamental terms, conditions and propositions central to this debate:

1. Love and marriage are two distinct and independent concepts
I love many people but I cannot, nor do I want to, marry them. I love my mom but I do not marry her. I love my son but I do not marry him. I love my dog but I do not marry him. I love my best friend and his wife but I do not marry them. In opposing the marriage of two individuals of the same sex, I am opposing their marriage, not their love.
Currently society (backed by legal enforcement of the state) limits the number of people I can marry to one. No one is denying, especially not legally, the ability or right of any person to love another. It would be entirely impossible to forbid love. There is no legal prohibition, no denial of civil rights, against two individuals loving each other -all adults are equally free to engage in this.

2. Marriage is, always has been and will continue to be a state authorized venture.
Both sides sometimes fall into the fallacious argument that the state has no business in marriage. Wrong. The state has a vested interest in marriage oversight. That is why two individuals wishing to get married must obtain a license. The logic is similar to the requirement that an individual who wishes to drive on public roadways must obtain a drivers license. The state has great interest in who it allows to drive and disqualifies many categories of people from driving. Likewise the state is very interested in limiting marriage to one man and one woman (i.e. it has compelling reasons why: for establishing this as the standard). More on these compelling reasons later.

3. Opposition to same sex marriage does not mean you hate or are a homophobe.
Two or more individuals can differ on any given topic without one or both hating the other either consciously or subconsciously. The most damning and destructive contemporary social development is to charge those of differing views with accusations of racism, hate, homophobia and the like. To play the race (of the hate) card is to immediately kill the dialog by reducing it to the lowest level of civility. This tendency has the potential to rapidly drag us down to a level of incivility, anger and violence.

I oppose same sex marriage because of my concern for the larger society (more specifics on this in a future post). My wife and I have many homosexual friends whom we have great hopes for their happiness and contentment in this life. Our affection and concern for these friends is deep and profound. To accuse us of hating them because we oppose same sex marriage is an infantile and naïve accusation. Furthermore, there are many practicing homosexuals who oppose the redefinition and legal transformation of marriage. The great majority of these are well adjusted and thoughtful homosexuals who likewise consider the traditional institution of marriage best left as between a man and a woman. These are not stteped in self-hatred. They consider the good of society more important than their individual desires. They recognize that this issue is one of profound importance and is not reduced to a question of hate.

4. Marriage is not exclusively about the rights of the two individuals involved in the contract.
Our society is so fundamentally self-centered and narcissistic that we have not even discussed one of the most germane and obvious issues inherent in this debate. The legal protections (prohibitions, pre-requisites, etc.) of marriage have little to do with the marrying individuals and everything to do with their potential offspring. Children have no control over the family environment they are brought into. They had no say in their arrival to a family and the make-up of that family. Children are powerless, captive, pawns subject to the effects of their parents expert, remedial or malicious treatment. Government has declared that certain circumstances will more likely lead to the development of a contributing member of society than others. A fundamental and, until the last several generations, widely accepted assumption is that an intact “nuclear” family comprised of a husband (male) and a wife (female) provide the best configuration to accomplish the emotional, educational, physical, financial, social and spiritual development of a child and the next generation of humanity. Summarily put, a man and a woman devoted to each other through a legally recognized partnership are best suited to bring their unique assets together to produce and then raise children.

Viewing the wellbeing of the children rather than the rights of the adults engaged in a marital relationship brings a different perspective to the larger question of marriage. This view explains why society has traditionally discouraged pre-marital sex, unmarried cohabitation, divorce and yes, same sex marriage. None of these is the ideal context for children. None of these provides the best possibility for their socialization and psychological wellbeing. It is not about Adam and Eve’s rights nor is it about Adam and Steve’s rights, the protection of marriage is about Junior and Jane’s rights to have the best possible context for their physical, social, emotional and spiritual development.

It is difficult to fathom someone who is not entirely a narcissist and consumed with the preeminence of their own rights above all others who disagrees with the following concise statement: “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”

Is that too much to ask: children born to a man and woman committed to each other through legal union, children nurtured, raised and protected by a father and mother who are absolutely committed to each other? Some will say it is unrealistic. On the contrary, I assert that considering the tremendous accomplishments of the human race, we can certainly accomplish this. In fact, if we fail to accomplish the ideals of that statement, all the other technological, medical, engineering, economic, artistic and political accomplishments of the human family become largely meaningless.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Same Sex "Marriage"

I have spent much time describing why I feel the current presidential election represents a turning point for our country. For those new to my blog, the importance is summarized in the fundamental and essential question about the role of government in a democracy. I can put it in no more concise way: a Barak Obama presidency will be a definitive step toward a socialist state, a step away from the type of government the United States of America was built on. Furthermore it will evidence a profound social transformation by a majority of the citizens away from individual responsibility and citizen-centric liberty to government paternalism and state-centric allocation of services and liberties. Power (to make decisions about the details of their own lives) will be wielded by the state rather than by the citizens. Government will dictate to the people rather than people dictating the government. We are in the process of turning upside down the political values of the founders of this great country.

As passionately as I feel toward this contemporary tug-of-war, there is another equally weighty issue currently before the citizenry. The question of what constitutes a “marriage” will also have profound impact on civilization. The significance of this issue cannot be understated. As such I will devote significant time to the question of “homosexual marriage” over the next several days. It is an issue that we had better be sober, thoughtful and precise about. We must carefully consider the impact it will have on us and on generations to come. Is it really that important? Well, consider one truth that must be recognized by all sides involved in this debate: this will be the first time in the history of human civilization where the meaning of the institution of marriage will be altered to include two individuals of the same sex enjoining each other. This is no small change. This is not to say that homosexuality did not exist in history -of course it did. It was also socially accepted in various places and times, but it was never granted the legal and definitional privilege of “marriage”.

The proposed change is more consequential than the discovery of electricity, than the technology of flight, than the concept of germ theory, even more than the idea of democracy. It strikes at the core of family and child rearing. If there is a universal human condition, it is the necessity of family for the perpetuation of the human species. Societies where the family foundation is disrupted (by any number of forces: war, drought, disease, misogyny or misandry) may limp along for a few generations but they are always terminated or replaced by societies with more sturdy family structure.

Can we change the conception, the legal definition of, marriage? Sure, we can do anything; the human being has wonderful powers of self-reflection. Should we? That is another question entirely, a question we should consider very carefully. The precedent of all of human existence is against it. This alone should give us pause and instruct us to walk softly and slowly. If no one before us -in all the thousands of years and all the diverse peoples and societies who have existed, even among those where homosexuality was socially celebrated- saw fit to retain the integrity of marriage to a relationship between man and woman (some even expanded it include one man and many women or one woman and many men -but even in a polygamous arrangement the two wives were only married to the man, not to the other woman) then how are we so arrogant and cavalier as think we know better? Perhaps we do know better, perhaps our progressiveness is as glorious and positive as we think…. In a spirit of full and clear self-disclosure: I think otherwise. What is more, I think to go where human kind has never gone before will bring profound consequences that those on all sides of this issue do not anticipate nor desire. I invite you to a discussion that will be respectful, rational and thought provoking.

Monday, October 27, 2008

NFL Chandler Results

For those of you who chose to play Brett Farve in your fantasy line up instead of me, I just want to show you how we compared:

Farve 28/40 290 yards 2 TDs 3INTs
Wicke 26/31 387 yards 4 TDs 0 INTs
* 1 two point conversion (rush), also 1 sack

If you did play Farve instead of me, all I can say is: bad team management! As for next weekend, things will certainly get tougher as we move into the post-season but the first round should not be too difficult. Finally, I would appreciate your write-in votes for my selection to the Pro-Bowl. I have been overlooked every year (I think it is due to the lack of prime time television coverage of our league) but I'm hoping that my blogger presence will generate the publicity that television has failed to provide.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Taxation 101 and Obama’s Spreading the Wealth

I have a Ph.D. which means I know a lot about a very specific subject. It also means that I am smart enough to recognize that I know very little about most other things -even regarding the phenomenon I am an “expert” in, I know that our level of understanding is severely wanting. Hence, even in my area of expertise I have more questions than I have answers. Having a Ph.D. also means that I am somewhat adept at analyzing situations, systematically attacking a problem, rationally evaluating a set of factors and somewhat objectively observing the world. This last set of abilities is largely independent of my specific area of study and benefits me in the vast majority of human and natural circumstances in which I am not overly informed.

This being said, I know very little about economics. I find the whole financial world, especially macro-economics, extraordinarily baffling. I am somewhat distressed to see, during the current global economic troubles, even the economic experts vacillating and themselves unsure of how to explain or fix the present malaise. If they do not know what is going on, I certainly don’t.

There are, however, some basic economic fundamentals that I can understand. These things are not rocket science (or require a Nobel laureate to explain). Let me spell it out:

Taxation is legalized seizure of money.

Taxation that targets certain groups and not others is fundamentally (and definitionally) discriminatory.

Taxing the rich will take money that they otherwise would have invested in other money making endeavors.

Taxing businesses will cause them to: 1. raise prices, 2. reduce wages for employees, 3. lay off employees, 4. grow less rapidly (stagnate, recede and possibly go out of business).

That which is taxed decreases in strength (and will eventually die).

The rich are rich because they know how to grow their money. They grow money by having other people work for them. When they are made less rich they are not able to have as many people work for them. That is what we call being laid off and unemployed.

“Spreading the money around” is another way of saying: taking money from others under the guise of the legal convention we call taxation.

Here is a prediction: when taxes are raised on the “rich” (i.e. those who are effective at generating more money) they will not be unable to pay employees who will be laid off; unemployment will increase, businesses will fail and tax revenue will decrease because the person or business is no longer generating as much revenue as previous. This is what we call a receding or a depressed economy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wacky Wednesday 3.0: NFL -Chandler

I'm an idiot. I don't have a problem admitting it. My wife was right, in the end. (Actually I have the most supportive wife ever and when I earn the label of nincompoop, I deserve it). OK, so what is the reason for my self-described idiocy? Let me paint a picture for you:

Brett Farve and I have a lot in common. We are roughly the same age; we have both played football for many years; his hair is turning grey and so is mine; he throws touchdowns on the weekend and so do I; we both have beautiful wives; we both played through considerable pain... That is about where the similarties end. Now let's explore some of the differences:

-I have never retired
-I have thrown fewer interceptions
-I have an all-star receiver who has played on my team for years (my brother Ben)
-I (my team) had a perfect, undefeated season (2006)
-Brett has gobs of money, I don't

-Brett is very famous; I am not although my children think I'm the strongest man in the world (come to think of it, I'm sure I can bench press more than Brett)

So, why am I an idiot? Because at 38 years old I am still playing like a little boy. Next to a meteor crashing into the Chandler, Arizona and the Phoenix metropolitan area, not much will keep me from playing in our flag football league every Saturday afternoon. It is a little looney to be so fanatic about a game with a bunch of overweight, balding and trash talking men but to her everlasting credit, sweet Mrs. Wicke doesn't miss a game. To emphasize my idiocy she refers to this weekly contest as "NFL -Chandler". What she doesn't realize is that I'm bearing down on Brett's all time passing yards record... another reason for Brett Farve to fear me.

More action

Last one.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Fallacy of Change: Five Essential Changes and why Barrack Obama wants to keep things as they’ve always been

When it comes to considering a person’s past performance or their promises for future action, I side heavily on the former -on their track record. To borrow from one of the greatest movie lines in cinematic history, promises and patronizing speeches have a tendency to “disappear like a fart in the wind.”

So let’s talk about the promise of change that has become so vogue during this political season. Readers of my previous post (Oct. 9th) will know how cynical I am regarding the empty word “change”. It represents so many things wrong with the American electorate: emotional, shallow, disinterested, image versus substance, etc. Isn’t anyone else offended that politicians view you as mindless lemmings who can be placated with platitudes and empty phrases? How many American’s can elaborate on even five changes Barak Obama wishes to make? How will he accomplish these changes? What consequence will they have on American society? Why should these changes help America which has become the most prosperous, most powerful, most innovative, hardest working, most free, most diverse nation in the world? If things are not going so well now and we are losing some of our educational, technological, economic and moral standing it seems like we shouldn’t charge off into uncharted territory but rather it seems like we should get back to the things that made us great. Get back to the basics, not pursue some liberal, European-like policy. We passed Europe a half century ago, why should we now adopt their philosophies?

Sorry, I got off on a tangent. Let’s get back to the idea of change. Barrak Obama’s mantra of change is not only empty rhetoric aimed at the great mass of unthinking public but it is patently deceptive. He is counting on an unfortunate truth: that a majority of the voters in the United States are so naïve that they will not give his arguments serious independent thought; that his empty generalizations and emotion inducing anecdotes will stir them to excitement, furor or fear; that they need the government to make right what is wrong with their lives. The disappointing thing is it doesn’t take a college graduate to think long enough or hard enough to see through his deceptive dogma.

Here are five everyday examples that exemplify government ineptitude, corruption or waste. Five things that could be changed today if the American people were really serious about fixing their situation and changing “government as usual”

1. The Chicago Political Machine
Ironically Mr. Obama began his campaign claiming that he is not the old fashioned politician the American people have come to despise –that he is the antithesis of traditional partisan politics. Recent polls show how little trust the American people have in their politicians who cannot seem to stay out of scandals involving money, alcohol, interns, political contributions, other people’s wives, etc. It seems the only thing they are not accused of is actually being effective representatives. The archetype of this old school of politics is the Chicago Political Machine…. Opps, this is the very institution that made Mr. Obama’s political career. If Mr. Obama is not an old fashioned politician why has he not led a fight to dismantle the Chicago Machine? In fact, why was he absent when actual political reformers (both Republicans and Democrats together) were trying to fight the Chicago establishment. Hmmmm. No call for change here. In fact his early promise to change the way politics is done stinks worse than that elusive fart in the wind when he identified a man who personifies the old politician, Mr. Biden, as his running mate. Something doesn’t add up.

2. Educational change
Perhaps nothing needs changed more than our educational system which displays continually decreasing measures of competence. Over the past twenty years the American educational apparatus has been falling in comparison to the rest of the world and in comparison to previous accomplishment. All the while we have been spending more and more money on education, developing more and more federal programs and lengthening the school year. So where is the call for wholesale reform of the educational system? In case you need ideas Mr. Obama, here are a few: abolish tenure, dismantle the US Dept. of Education, stop taking money from and worshipping at the alter of the Teacher’s Union. How about allowing school choice. Let’s trying vouchers and charter schools and ANYTHING! Get rid of the peripheral programs and curriculum: teach reading, writing and arithmetic not environmentalism, sex education and Ebonics. Opps… Mr. Obama was involved in an organization that established a school based on principles and values of the United Nations… doesn’t sound like we are talking about the same kind of change. Mr. Obama is not really interested in educational change or he would confront the one organization that is responsible for making it the dismal institution it has become today: the Teacher’s Union. That would be “change”.

3. Fairness in taxation
Stop pretending to be a bold reformer and actually reform: change the current taxation schedule to a flat consumption tax. Unfortunately this is not rocket science or brain surgery… which is probably the reason why no politician will actually adopt it. There is a certain functionality that comes with dazzeling (i.e. confusing) people with complicated systems. The current system makes it easier to pit the haves against the have-nots; it makes it easier to make the citizenry focus their energy and angst on each other instead of focusing on a common enemy (the politicians). You want to be revolutionary? Change something that is against your own interest. Change the tax system to a flat consumption tax.

4. Rational, Scientific Based Energy Polity
This means nuclear power plants, leaving energy to the highly effective private sector and allowing them to drill in the most cost effective and potentially productive areas (not the hundred million-trillion acres they already hold leases on). This would mean, of course, alienating the environmental lobby…. and we can’t do that. Since I am a change-realist I will limit my proposal to one component: nuclear power. The arguments against nuclear power (i.e. safety and waste disposal) are scientifically unfounded as any rational person from the left or right is compelled to admit. If you are interested in actually educating yourself on the matter instead of clinging to a visceral political posture, read Power to Change the World by Gwynth Cravens (who happens to be a liberal). You will be enlightened (as was I) as you learn, for example, how much waste a nuclear power plant actually generates. Beyond the facts, lets use logic and consider the France –that nation which liberals want to model the US after- is largely dependent on the nuclear power produced by their numerous plants. Somehow they are able to do it, let’s make a real change.

5. Morality Credits (i.e. a spin-off of carbon credits)
The problem of children being born to unwed mothers has grown during the past century to epidemic rates. This phenomenon has tremendous social (including political and economic) consequence. Here is a change: how about morality credits to young people who do not have sex until marriage (“si, se puede”)? Revolutionary I know. But if we want to talk about change, here is a proposal. We can also enlarge these credits to a larger sense of “morality” that includes credits to those who do not default on their consumer debt, to those who go to college, etc. Like carbon credits we could fund it from those who are abusing their human responsibility to act morally…. Oh, but that would not be sensitive, politically correct and would be legalizing morality. Really? Tell me how it is any different than the logic behind carbon credits? There is no “morality” or political correctness involved there? I admit that the specifics of such a program need to be defined and developed, but how is this any different than ANY of the “changes” to which Mr. Obama alludes?

Proper Role of Government (on video)

Word, words, words... Here is a video presentation that might be a bit more interesting than my blabbering on and on about the role of government and the drastically different perspectives represented by Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain. Choose carefully, nothing but the fate of western democracy hangs in the balance (I've got to admit that I am surprised it took us less than 250 years to contaminate our democracy).

While I have some slight differences of opinion with the video, for the most part it is right on. It is difficult to disagree with the veracity and representation of the facts it proports. This stuff is not just made up, it carries the precedent of the modern age and the best political thinking of the enlightenment.

Friday, October 17, 2008

That which saves you, owns you

It is not the job of my government to save or to rescue me. That job falls first and foremost on me. If I cannot provide for my own “salvation” or wellbeing, the burden falls upon my family -my parents, brothers and sisters, children, etc. If none of these are capable of adequately assisting me with MY responsibility to take care of ME, we are fortunate enough to live in a very generous country where many faith based and other non-profit entities provide a variety of social, emotional, spiritual and even financial services. I am not such a purist or so naïve as to think there is never a scenario when the government might need to step in and assist in the salvation of its citizens… but I am also enough of a realist to recognize the great danger of granting to governments powers that rightly belong to individuals. The political progression of western society which is a road from despotism to democracy with stops at Machiavelli, Aquinas, Lock, Hobbes and Jefferson speaks with one voice of caution against the power of governments (most specifically of individuals bequeathing powers which rightly belong to them, to the government).

In plain language, a government endowed with the power to save me also, by definition, has the power to do the opposite. A government that provides my health care, my education, my wage, my home, my protection also has the power to establish the limits on each one. It has the power to control my decisions regarding health. It has the power to limit my unacceptably large wage. It has the power to press me into military service to defend the body politic. It has the power to forbid my behavior in the most trivial and personal decisions such as if I can smoke, if I can eat fried food, what temperature I must set my thermostat, who I can fire and who I must hire (the last four have actually been enforced or proposed by liberal/democrat controlled legislatures). How far, in the name of environmental responsibility and global sustainability, until that government puts restrictions on the number of cars I drive, on the size of my house, on the amount of energy I consume, on the amount of food or water I consume, or on the number of children I can have.

This is the evil and the inevitable end of a government to whom the citizenry has endowed with power to make a “better”, more equitable society. We trade our individual moral choices for governmental legal mandates. A government that is heavily involved in aspects of our social reality (economics, health, education, family decisions, etc.) is a socialist state. Responsibility is shifted from the individual to the state. The transformation is so slight and so subtle as to escape the notice of the apathetic masses who have been placated on the sweet milk of prosperity. The subtlety is illustrated in the alteration of a core American value. In outlining the fundamental differences between our government and all others, Jefferson declared our inalienable right to… “the pursuit of happiness”. Sometime in the last hundred years we have emphasized a right to happiness even though the grammatical and philosophical emphasis is not on the prepositional phrase (“of happiness”) but on the noun (“pursuit”). We have no inherent right to happiness, nor is it the governments job to ensure our happiness, heaven forbid that it ever mandates our happiness. Rather our right is to “pursue”. To have the opportunity to work for such a condition. There is a world of difference between guaranteeing our pursuit and guaranteeing an end or condition of that pursuit. Necessary to the right to pursue happiness is the right to possibly fail (heaven forbid that anyone in America –be it a little league team or a major investment firm be allowed to actually fail). Government, in ensuring my happiness (legislating the condition of my life), has stripped me of my freedom to pursue. It no longer is a freedom of means but a guarantee of ends. The only way to guarantee a specific end (i.e. happiness, safety, security) is to mandate a specific means…. Doesn’t this scare anyone?

The tragedy is that we have been complicit in the whole affair. We’ve traded the risks of a republic for the guarantees of a paternal government. I am a big boy, I don’t need government to provide my healthcare or to plan for my retirement or to make sure my child doesn’t get left behind. What happened to you America? Benjamin Franklin’s warning is as (perhaps more) applicable to day as when he described our government: “a republic if you can keep it.”