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)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking back at 2010 (through Google's eyes)

I love history even if that history is the very recent past.  Almost every news outlet (including sports and other special interest focused entities) produce some sort of "year in review" montage that have an odd captivating power over me.  Check out this year in review video produced by Google:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wacky Wednesday: Christmas traditions

Christmas time is filled with happy traditions like..... scaring the hell out of little children by putting them on the lap of some total stranger with physical features unlike anything they have ever seen. How this becomes the most anticipated and joyful time of the year for these little ones I am not sure.

And then of course we will emphasize the seriousness of NEVER associating with, speaking to or cuddeling up with strangers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wacky Wednesday: Insight into Parenting

This hillarious post is dedicated to the love of my life: Mrs. Wicke.  She will not think it so awefully funny since we have come to the joint conclusion that this little clip from Rain Man perfectly captures the exasperation of being a mother of children -particularly when mothering includes unheeded requests, absurd debates or futile efforts to describe the reality of some trivial point (say, for instance, that a red light actually means you have to stop).  As it happens, children universally have impaired mental functions.  They are irrational, confrontational, contrary, strong willed and possessors of dogged persistence that would try Job to the core (please tell us that we are not the only parents with two of the most strong willed children ever to walk upon the earth).  For all these things they have a prevailing adorability that overrides all the aforementioned drawbacks.  In short, we have perfect empathy with Charlie Babbit (Tom Cruise).

WARNING:  clip contains vulgarity and language that will be offensive to some (sorry but I could not find an edited PG version).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Naked Security Scans and Public Groping

This seems to be the issue de jure in the US as we approach one of the busiest air travel days of the year.  Since I exercise little restraint in expressing my opinion through this blog, I figured I should not hesitate with regard to this particular issue. So with candor and no restraint, here is my stance:

I really don't know.  I can see the virtues in the arguments from all sides and am torn in several directions.  Consequently I have not made up my mind on the matter.

I know that is somewhat anticlimactic AND I spent considerable time wondering if I should even blog about the topic considering my position (or anti-position however you might frame it).  I came to the conclusion that I needed to share my conundrum for several reasons:

1.  to show that it is OK not to take up residence in the pro or con camp on every issue.  I think we are sometimes too quick to stake our claims on every issue that comes before us.  This continual division-making is not good for society.  There are many things that do not matter a whole lot. And even those things that are important, why do we think we have to have our minds 100% made up.  If history teaches us anything it is that some of the greatest thinkers (Capernicus, Galileo, Martin Luther just to pick from the western tradition in the narrow time frame) were willing to question the prevailing patterns of thought and challenge their own beliefs even at the peril of their lives.  We should be less rigid and more open to competing ideas  (that does not mean we have to accept them or even endure them if they prove to be harmful but there are few ideas that demand absolute expulsion from public discourse).
2.  to illustrate that many of our political and social debates center on side-shows instead of the "main event".  To me the central question regarding scanners and pat-downs is:  do these measures significantly increase safety?  So much public policy is build on smoke and mirrors.  They are shams and facades.  Air travel security measures have been designed to make us feel more safe rather than making us safer.  I could care less if I feel safe, I want to actually be more safe.  This type of thinking permeates so much of our socio-political reality.  It applies to education, the penal system, the economy, medicine, etc.
3.  to demonstrate one of the social laws of life which is as valid as the law of gravity is for the geophysical world:  that there is a price for everything.  If we as a society want to be more safe we will have to pay a price.  That price may be giving up some of our liberties (i.e. freedom to arrive at an airport 15 minutes before our flight, enduring inspections before embarking on an airplane trip, even allowing our government to listen in on a phone conversation if we use words like "bomb", "suicide", "Allah" or similar).  The price for resisting such meaures will be a liklihood of increased terrorist attacks.  Either way, their is a price.
4.  finally, it is important to admit that I do not have all the answers.  Likewise we, in the aggregate, do not have all the answers.  A little humility is a good thing and it often opens an unnoticed door that reveals a better way which we may never have seen if we were so invested in the "does to" - "does not" - "does to" debate.

So while the rest of you (speaking generally) are arguing about this, I'm going to be on the sidelines thinking about it a little more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wacky Wednesday: late 2010 version

Apologies to my readers.  Not only have I been negligent in providing a little levity but last week I blasphemed by posting a socio-political topic on Wednesday.  I have repented and changed my ways.  Here is a little something to think about:

They do fine without a manual, can you imagine the amount of human peril if they actually operated with more than a "bird brain"?  Although we are the ones with an entire library of books called "________ for Dummies"....  Makes you think.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The government has cancer

Bureaucracy is, at best, a necessary evil.  Unfortunately our bureaucracy is not at its best.  It has, in reality, metastasized into an aggressive form of cancer.  To make the condition worse, we refuse to undergo the radical surgery that is required if we are to survive another century.  To be frank and concise:  the size of governmet is killing us.  The national obesiety problem is not the size of our children but the size of our government.

During the past two years our economy has suffered and many of us have lost jobs.  Wages have been slashed or cut all together.  Salaries and new hiring has been frozen.  These conditions apply to the real world where profits and productivity reign.  In the fairytale world of government (where nothing is created, no profits are generated and productivity is of minimal concern) wages have skyrocketed. 

How can this be?  What kind of bizzaro-world existence is in effect?  For an institution so concerned with sustainability, this is entirely unsustainable! 

Now let me tie the obsurdity of our current federal bureau-monster as evidenced by the article above with a previous post -specifically with my conversation (see previous post below) with "Charles D": 
Government has one primary job:  to protect its citizen's freedoms and rights from thos who would usurp the same (and yes I know about "ensuring domestic tranquility").  To me that allows for the expansion of certain powers like the Patriot Act or even suspending the writ of habeus corpus as has been done by those whose understanding of freedom far exceeds yours and mine (a la Abraham Lincoln).  It does NOT permit the governmental entangelment in matters that are best left to the intelligent choices of individual citizens:  things like whether or not a fast food chain can include a toy in a meal or how much sodium is permitted in a plate of french fries.  When government's arm has grown to reach this level of micro-management then it has far since overstepped its primary job.  I do not need government to save me from my own eating habits... I do need government to save me and my children from the threats of Islamic terror, from faulty and negligent automobile construction, from predatory monopolies (of which government is the scariest one) and from substances that might be peddled to those too young to make an informed decision (i.e. selling alcohol, tobacco, firearms, pornography, TNT, hydrocloric acid, etc.).  If we cannot see the differences between what government should or should not be involved in then our republic will fail.  Our root problem is  (do I really need to say it again) that government is too large and too involved in the details of our lives that we should govern by applying a little self-discipline rather than by governmental dictate.  Cut their funding = cut their pay = cut the size of government.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chicken McNuggets and McFreedom: Two fictitious items

There are a few simple truths of life:
1. everyone will die.
2. taxes must be paid.
3. the motivation for eating at McDonald's is not an overactive obsession with health.
4. liberals (now synonymous with the Democratic party) wish to strip you of freedom because they know better than you what is good for you.

I would briefly like to focus on the last two points and submit the following as my evidence:

So I ask you, who is the more dangerous, more restrictive, less inclusive, party:
1. Democrats (who are now represented by liberals and leftists) who wish to control what you can and cannot eat. Not only this, but they will also ban toys since these serve to "entice" children to eat "unhealthy" food.
2. Republicans who wish to minimize the reach of government and actually let (more accurately "trust") citizens make their own decisions.

Furthermore, I would love to talk about the dangers of "big business" versus the dangers of "big government" but that topic will have to be reserved til later....  ohhhhh, but I can't resist: Which, for example, has power to constrain your behavior by threat of police force?  Last time I looked, Sheriff Ronald McDonald was not rounding up people and forcing them into McDonalds.  Nor does McDonald's have the power to pass a law forcing people to eat Happy Meals.... Oh, but big government just flexed its muscle with a law mandating some arbitrary standard of health that makes it illegal for you to take your child and enjoy a meal that you enjoyed when you were a child...  But of course you are such a messed up, pathetic excuse of a fat human being that such an intrusion of freedoms is warranted...  Let me just offer an open letter to the people of San Francisco:

People of San Francisco,
Do you now have more freedom? Is your "enforced" health worth the price? Are you breathing easier now that you don't have exercise your brain to make eating decisions but rather you can rely on your government to make these for you? Aren't you a little embarrassed that they think so little of your intelligence? Are you not a little afraid that they next law might curtail some behavior that is more substantive than eating a Happy Meal?

-The Un-happy Warrior

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wacky Wednesday: Politics can be funny

I'm sure most of you have seen this little farce on Senator Boxer's ridiculous stance -oh, but I repeat myself... Even if you have seen it, here it is again. I hope it tickeles your mean-spirited funny bone:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Handcart Eve (Oct. 22)

There are world wide holidays (the end or World Wars I and II for example) and there are national holidays (many countries have an Independence Day as well as other culturally important days of celebration)... and hopefully you have identifies some personal, family or other group specific holidays. Many of these group centric celebrations are religiously tied but birthdays and anniversaries are personal holidays (or more accurately express: holy-days).

I have identified a personal holiday, the celebration of which may be unique to me. I'm guessing there are a handful of other people who also take some time every Oct. 22nd and 23rd to honor the day and historical events that took place 154 years ago. Most people have no idea what I'm talking about or why my reverence. I will direct you to my blog post from last year rather than recount the story again here. And even if you are not Mormon, not a Christian or not even a believer in a soveriegn God, there is enough in this story to celebrate because it speaks largely of the human experience of following convictions, of suffering and sacrifice, of rescue, and of the indominable spirit that has brought us to where we are today. We stand on the shoulders of men and women who gave their all -enduring a much darker, bleaker and messier existence- so that we can enjoy so much comfort, ease and opportunity.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An appeal to the undecided voter: Back to the Basics

It has been a very long time since I have blogged on a political theme. This is somewhat odd even in my own mind, much less as it may be to my readers. I think I hit a point where I was somewhat burned out on the seeming inconsequence of my views and the inevitable direction of the political machinery that were owned and operated entirely by the Democratic party. They were in a position to do whatever they wished -the systematic checks and balances were rendered impotent for two years. Thank God for the wisdom of our founders who established a staggered and limited system where the people could change the course of their government on a dime. That democratic failsafe is about to kick in on November 2nd.

It is entirely beyond my reckoning how anyone is currently falling in the category of "undecided"- a classification in almost every one of the polls conducted on a continual basis during this electoral season. If you do not know on which side you stand at this point then I don't know what will ever convince you.

If you are undecided I would like to make one argument in hopes that it may tip you in one direction or the other. To do this let me frame the current decision in this manner: the current political contest is about "changing America" (President Obama's self-defined objective) or getting "back to basics". Change, or more accurately described "fundamental change", has a certain appeal to it. Things that change are better than things that stagnate. Change has a cadre of positive bedfellows including "improvement", "progress" and even "innovation". President Obama was counting on you making such emotional connections. To be honest, there is nothing new, improved or innovative about the "changes" inherant in President Obama's agenda. Every one of his ideas has actually been practiced by nations that have proven to be inferior to the United States. This is not spin, this is not propaganda, it is truth. Sit down and define specifically the "changes" President Obama wanted to bring about and you will see these ideas littering the paths of countries as they fall from global prominence. This is purposeful. Obama and his adhearance do not believe in the uniqueness of the US, in the superiority of our values, in the right-ness of being better (richer, more powerful, freer) than other nations. The change they want is the mediocratization (I'm sure that is not an "official" word) of America. This is evident in their policies: they want to limit the energy we consume, they think we need to apologize for foreign policy targeted to spread liberty and other American ideals around the globe, they think we should be bound by international legal conventions instead of our dated Constitution.
We do not need this kind of change. It is altogher antithetical to the central tennets of the great experiment that is America. We do not need to try and be like everyone else. Instead, we need to do what every organization that grew out of obscurity to a place of highest prominence has done: We need to get back to basics.

This strategy rings true in our gut. When our educational systems were (and are) falling apart and every "new and improved" technique, mandate, innovative theory or other CHANGE seems only to worsen the situation, the best fix seems to be to "get back to basics." This does not mean to regress in sophistication or to ignore improvements but it does mean to cut away the dross and go back to what made us able to rise to greatness in the first place.

If you don't like an educational analogy, let's try one from sports. When a football, baseball or basketball team is in a slide of underperforming, the answer is not found in trick plays or fancy schemes but in getting back to basics, back to the fundamentals of the game. Everyone who has every played a competitive sport knows the truth of this claim. Get back to the fundamental principles and basic elements of the game. The same is true of our grand republic. Our foundation is the principles of limited government, of individual accountability, of Judeo-Christian (a la Protestant work ethic) values, of the governing/legal framework established by the Constitution. We have a unique political and social culture compared to all the world. This was pointed out early by observers like Alex deToqueville and are woven in the everyday lives of the men and women who settled the west, who fought to liberate the slaves, who invented medicines and technology, who freed Europe from Nazism and communism.

We became the most successful, the most powerful, the most free, the most envied, the most benevolent nation on the earth (what other nation in the history of the world has helped to rehabilitate every one of the nations it conquered and then extended to them their own freedoms and left) because we held tightly to some basics. We do not need to change into something different. Certainly we do not need fundamental change..., we need to get back to the basics. Why we were ever lured by some high sounding promise of a better world different from the one we knew, is beyond me. Fortunately we have a chance to make it right before the change becomes irreversible.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wacky Wednesday 2010, Vol. ?+1

I don't know what it is in China, but 2010 has been the year of the scorpion -at least in Mesa, AZ. The only consoluation we have is that the scourge seems to be general throughout our entire neighborhood. It has been a virtual infestation. To provide some relief to an otherwise tense situation (suffice it to say that Mrs. Wicke does not get along, physically or emotionally, with scorpions), I am providing the following picture. We can be thankful for the particular pestilences that afflict us... In other words, at least we are not inundated with this type or size of creature:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Can abortion be kindness? (not my topic... the theme of a BBC show -see below)

Gee, why don't we just ask the little aborted ones in twenty years when they have had the opportunity to evaluate the meaning and experience of life for themselves? Oh, silly me, they never even had a choice ("choice", how ironic that they never had a choice because of the decision of another).

But this is not focus of this post although I am amazed that enlightened society has come to a place where the question "Can abortion be kindness?" is a serious topic of a respected news program.... Have we really drifted do far from any sense of morality such that many would argue that it is moral to abort potential human live under the guise of compassion? Wow. Already some, like Zoe Williams, are pontificating, "she has a valid point and was brave to make it." Now we are praising such viewpoints for their "bravery"... suicide bombers are brave as well but I am not going to extol the demonstration of such a virtue when weighted against the sum of their social harm. Suddenly I am embarrased to be a member of the human race.

So here is the main point of this post: The following is only one snippet of the BBC Sunday Morning Live program that should cause a gasp. I would encourage my readers to listen/view the entire conversation (here is a more complete account than I've included).

Now, I am quick to admit that the termination of an unborn child who has major physical defects is a very difficult decision and should be a matter of deep personal reflection. But to jump to a place where termination because of suffering is widely promoted is a VERY dangerous position to advance. I have several arguments with the line of thinking promoted by the ilk of Ms. Ironside (here are just two of my primary ones):
1. Life is suffering. Suffering is a great schoolmaster and refiner of character. To seek a life without suffering is largely to rende life meaningless.
2. abortion (or even legal infanticide if performed after birth as Ms. Ironside seems to suggest) to alleviate "supposed suffering" accounts for a tiny percentage of reasons why women elect abortions. Consider these findings: The reasons most frequently cited were that having a child would interfere with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for dependents (74%); that she could not afford a baby now (73%); and that she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems (48%). Nearly four in 10 women said they had completed their childbearing, and almost one-third were not ready to have a child. (Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2005, 37(3):110–118)
Another aggregate analysis reports the following as reasons women give for undergoing an abortion:
Rape: .3%
Incest: .03%
Life (threatened) of mother: .2%
Health of mother: 1%
Fetal health (i.e. physical/mental defects): .5%
Personal Choice: 98%
-too young (not ready for responsiblity): 32%
-economic : 30%
-to avoid adjusting life: 16%
-mother single or in poor relationship: 13%
-enough children already: 7%
-sex selection: <.1%
To argue for the legitimacy of abortion or more especially that abortion is based on "kindness" is deceptive and logically fallacious. The more accurate question should be: Can abortion be due to the narcissistic desires of a generation who wants to engage in recreational sex? Where is that program?

Finally, take a moment to read the post-show comments of Claire Lewis who was a guest on the BBC program by webcam and is equally incensed by Ms. Ironside's position.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Constitution Birthday bonus

I originally planned on just one posting to commemorate the birthday of the Constitution but this video is well worth your time:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Constitution! You are to young to die.

September 17th is the "birthday" of the US Constitution -the greatest politcal document and foundation for the establishment of a nation-state this world has ever known. To be sure, the foundation of our good country rests on an amalgamation of prior principles and documents including the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, English Common Law, the ideas of a cadre including but not limited to Locke, Hobbes, Smith as well as the general contributions of the Greek and Romans, and finally the principles taught by the Prince of Peace (argue with this last source as you might but the historical record is uncontrovertable: this nation was founded by individuals whose moral, political, social and financial philosophies were -and are- inseperably connected to the Judeo-Christian faith. Religion and religiously informed themes are woven into the fabric of this country such that if they were removed, this country would unravel and be substantively different than it has been for the past 250 years). Sorry for that tangent but I know there will be several readers who take exception to that statement.

Mainly I wanted to offer my reverence for the Constitution of the United States and say "happy birthday!" Unfortunately our Constitution is showing serious signs of dying. There are some who wish to change it, to ignore it, to "re-interpret" it, to pre-empt it. This is accomplished so subtly, out of supposed "good intentions" and sometimes under the cloak of some urgent crisis (a la White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste — and what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you didn’t think you could do before.”)

Here are some relevant (and wise) thoughts that we would do well to consider:
To the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Constitution of the United States is as a tree of liberty under whose cooling branches one might find a haven from the scorching sun of turmoil and oppression and have his rights protected according to just and holy principles. To them, the Constitution was established by the hands of wise men whom God raised up for this very purpose, and they devoutly believe that if it should be in danger of being overthrown, their lives, if need be, are to be offered in defense of its principles. (See D&C 101:77–80.)
-Harold B. Lee(True Patriotism 2; revised in Ye Are the Light of the World 176)

"Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it."
-George Bernard Shaw

"Let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;-let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, & to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American... let it become the political religion of the nation."
-Abraham Lincoln, address to the Young Men's Lyceum
27 Jan. 1838; Liv. Lincoln, pp.23

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wacky Wednesday 2010: Vol. ?+1

After having reached an apex sometime in the mid 1900's, American culture began a slow descent. In the 1980's we entered a period where men were men and women were women but it was very hard to tell the difference.

(end of "wacky Wednesday" post... now some social commentary)
As disturbing as this situation might have been, the descent continued. By the turn of the century it was widly accepted that men actually could be women and women could be men (a little snip here, a limb attachment there and a strict hormone injection regimen could do wonders... and if that was too expensive it was OK for a man to simply dress up in nylons, heels and a skirt). Furthermore the academic elites and social engineers were telling us that not only could we not tell the difference but there was actually NO difference.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Stupidity of the Education Establishment

I love learning. Other than a free exercise of the moral goodness latent in the human being, I think the acquisition of knowledge is one of the qualities that bridges the gap between mortals and diety. For this reason I become irate over the self-serving nature and financial pilfering that defines too much of the contemporary educational establishment (and by establisment I mean the Teachers Union and the army of educational bureaucrats that blindly march toward the cliff of insolvency). Case and point: the following which is a report from The Heritage Foundation (but has also been cited widely by many news organizations). Why the hell did someone, anyone in a decision making capacity -administrators, principal, school board, the mayor, governor, parents, ANYONE!- stand up and say "stop this madness"!

At $578 million, the Robert F. Kennedy School in Los Angeles is the most expensive public school ever built in America. It features a high-tech swimming pool, a chic auditorium, vaulted ceilings, luxury amenities and a design aesthetic worthy of a spread in Architectural Digest. ABC News reports that the school is more expensive than the "Bird's Nest" stadium in Beijing, China, built for the 2008 Olympics, and the Wall Street Journal notes that it cost more than L.A.'s Staples sports center.

And while a half-billion dollar public school complex would be jarring enough to taxpayers during plush budget times, this public school was constructed at a time when the district faces a $640 million deficit. It's a red carpet reminder of why California and so many other states face severe budget shortfalls.

But Joe Agron, the editor-in-chief of the school construction publication American School & University, said that "Districts want a showpiece for the community, a really impressive environment for learning." When asked by the Wall Street Journal whether the school's plush amenities and architectural flourishes were necessary, Thomas Rubin, a consultant for Los Angeles' bond oversight committee, was blunt: "Did we have to do that? Hell no. But there's no accounting for taste," Rubin stated.

But it's neither "impressive environments" nor good taste that will raise academic achievement, boost graduation rates or cultivate a thirst for learning. Nor is it half-billion dollar school complexes. In fact, many very low-performing school districts throughout the country spend tremendous amounts of taxpayer resources on public school facilities and have hefty per-pupil expenditures. In Los Angeles, conservative estimates put per-pupil spending in excess of $11,000; other estimates put the figure closer to $30,000 per-pupil. Yet just 15 percent of 8th grade students are proficient in reading and less than half of students graduate high school. The WSJ notes:

The K-12 complex isn't merely an overwrought paean to the nation's most celebrated liberal political family. It's a jarring reminder that money doesn't guarantee success ”though it certainly beautifies failure."

Unfortunately, the profligate spending on the Robert F. Kennedy public school isn't an isolated case. Los Angeles taxpayers are also on the hook for a $232 million Visual and Performing Arts High School as well as the $377 million Edward Roybal Learning Center.

While these schools were constructed in part using $20 billion in bonds approved by Los Angeles residents, the spend now, pay later mentality permeating a public education sector dominated by special interest groups has been bolstered by continual federal bailouts courtesy of the Obama administration.

These federal bailouts - $100 billion in new money given to the Department of Education through last year's "stimulus" followed by another $10 billion teacher union bailout this August - prevent states from making the long-term budgetary decisions necessary to ease the burden on taxpayers and create systemic education reforms.

To all my blog readers: this is YOUR money being frivolously spent by an educational establishment that is always crying "save our schools" and "don't let teacher positions be cut". I say, no more taxes, bonds or gifts until you start using the money you are already getting with some sort of higher intelligence than you are currently displaying!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A few thoughts on Quran burning

I once heard a radio personality refer to a statistic that I call the "Perpetual Idioicy Axiom" or "PIA". The statistic is that 10% of Americans believe that Elvis is still alive (a 2002 poll found that the percent is now down to 7%). His point, which I have tried to summarize in the aforementioned name, is that at any one time there is ten percent of the population who is beyond reason and will engage in illogicial actions, believe senseless theories and otherwise cast a dim shadow on the rest of the community, their group, society or on humanity in general. Unfortunately this small minority seems to draw an over-representative share of attention. It creates a skewed view of reality especially when their beliefs or actions are reported so frequently or so widely (the media effect) that it gives the impression that they carry more weight than they really do or that their views are more representative than they really are. (I can't pass up another example of my PIA: a 1999 Gallup poll found that 6 percent of Americans doubted the Apollo 11 moon landing happened).

A somewhat benign example of this is the periodic media coverage of shark attacks. It seems like every 4 years or so there is a virtual slaughter that takes place along the beaches of America. In reality it is just the media spotlight on a phenomenon that represents far less than 7-10% of the mortality causes... but it sure is dramatic. And so for one summer everyone is paranoid about swimming in the ocean. Not such a horrible consequence by comparison.

And so it is with our morally and rationally challenged pastor of The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida. One obscure pastor of an obscure non-denominational church is casting a long and ugly shadow on Christianity and on Americans.

I am not one to speak in absolutes when it comes to the prospect of burning books (although I can safely take a universal stance against the burning of people -a lesson well learned from early American history in Salem, Massachusettes). I am loath to burn books or flags although I can think of instance of both where I would participate. The disgusting account of a manual of child molestation which is just now being carried by the news media is one such example of a text that deserves to be burned... and I would happily provide the match. But I would defend and protect the integrity of even those texts for which I have strong distaste -included in the list would be The Communist Manifesto, Mao's Little Red Book, The Feminine Mystique and The Catcher in the Rye (this last being a matter of personal dislike rather than strong philosophical disagreement). Texts that qualify as sacred writings are on an infinitely higher level of consideration. It is beyond me that a Christian who is knowledgable in the long, painful, tortured history of early Christianity would condone or conceive of the idea of destroying another religion's sacred text. To me this pastor and this non-denominational church has lost its claim as legitimate Christians. I ask the single, the most fundamental clarifying question of Christianity as they consider the rightness or the wrongness of this potential course of action: What would Jesus do? If they can seriously suggest that he would condone their behavior, much less lead the book burning himself I have no other way to explain their perspective and their beliefs than to apply my Perpetual Idiocy Axiom -there will always be a small percentage of people who believe entirely untenable and irrational things... and unfortunately there is little you can do about it in a free society.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wacky Wednesday 2010 Vol. ?

I have been so negligent in posting some mid-week humor this year that I've lost count.... So here is a little risque humor involving our natural world. Scientists have finally collected strong evidence that flora are also distinguishable as male or female.
As it turns out they only had to look in their trunks.

Come on people... it is only physiology.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Mrs. Wicke frequently laments that I have no hobbies. This makes gift buying an excruitiating endeavor. But this charge is only partly true. I do have hobbies.... well, a couple of them at least. Work and football are two that readily come to mind (I do have more but such is not the topic of this blog).
As for football, by hobbie I do not mean that I am one of those nut-case adult men who have a room decorated in the colors, apparel and garb of their favorite team. I have never even face painted. The last NFL jersey I owned was the great #10 of Fran Tarkington, my childhood hero. So when I say "hobby" I do not mean unhealthy obsession. To be certain, I enjoy playing football more than watching it -which is increasingly more difficult since I've reached my fourth decade of life.

No matter, football season is once again upon us. And to help my fellow football afficianados get ready for a season of sport, I offer you this video collection of highlights:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My woman as the answer to feminist drivel

Over the course of my whole life the traditional role of women -as a homemaker, nurturer and housewife- has been denigrated and socially condemned. Real meaning and self-fulfillment, they were told by the academic and cultural elites, was to be found outside the home. You need to be more like men. To prove your emancipation from the ubiquitous oppression of a patriarchal system you needed to leave the old fashioned, simpleton notion of motherhood (personified by the "barefoot and pregnant" stereotype) in the dust-heep of social progress. It is interesting to me that the crowd which extols the virtues of non-judgmentalism and despises stereotypes has no qualms judging women who choose to spend their best years (i.e. prime earning years) in the home building children instead of corporations and dismissing them as ignorant and backwards.

Think I am over-the-top and overly sensitive on this conception of the prevailing view of women?... Consider the recent declaration in response to Glenn Beck's August 28th event on the National Mall that was published in one of the leading online news publications:
"His religion typifies the noble lie that the neocons originally set out to defend against the counterculture--Archie Bunker's America--where a woman's place was in the home and with baby, and an African American's place was in a ghetto. (Mormons revere women much like Hindis do the cow."
Never mind the religious, political and racial canards and untenable attacks stuffed into that single sentence. For my purposes I draw your attention to the smear against those pathetic Mormon women -and may I be so openminded and inclusive as to include Christian women of any denomination that holds the place of women in similar high regard.

Those who decided to maintain their profession as Chief Executive Mom have been mocked for their naivete as if they were somehow taking the easy way out by not participating in the real world where real problems demanded problem solving, intelligence, education, managerial skills and tenacity.

What a load of bull$#*!% (I'm sorry, I can't bring myself to vulgarity even when it is absolutely appropriate... the repressive religious standards I have so blindly bought into over the course of my lifetime have too large of a hold on me). I am honored to offer as "Exhibit A" a single case study as proof that a woman who has elected to stay at home is every bit as intelligent, sophisticated, accomplished and capable as any so called progressive business, academic or social elite. I challenge you to match your intellectual acumen, your education, your problem solving ability, your analytical capacity, your managerial skills and your tenacity against Mrs. Mom Wicke. Begin by reading any of her recent blog entries and try to apply those tired old anti-woman arguments.

I could hire one of a thousand women to manage a company for me or to lead up a sales team or to develop a study of some complicated social phenomenon, but there is only one woman in a million who has the skillset to raise my three children -children who will inherit a world teetering on the edge of social and political catastrophe- so that they will be prepared to successfully face the challenges of tomorrow. And while I certainly have a biased judgment of my wife, she is not alone. I know hundreds of women who have rejected the empty epithets of a feminized generation and embraced a role of mother and protector of the home. These are highly educated, extraordinarily capable women of insight and capacity. They choose to apply their influence in their homes. And because they make strong homes, their communities, nations and our society is likewise stronger.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Compassion for Dummies 101

This is actually a full article by Rabbi David Wolpe titled "How to Visit the Sick". Since visiting the sick and afflicted is a core component of Christianity, Judaism and most every other religious tradition, it is practical advice for everyone. Even for the agnostic, the following are useful points since sickness (and eventually death) are the common lot of all humanity. While we all share the experience of visiting the sick and are often the recipient of such visits, the skillful navigation of this situation is a rare art. Hence the following article was extremely useful for me and may offer some guidance for others:

After enduring both a brain tumor and chemotherapy for lymphoma, I learned something about how to be sick, and how to visit those who are sick. As a Rabbi I have also seen these lessons enacted - and too often violated. So here are ten simple rules and suggestions:

1. Do not greet the sick person morosely. If he is feeling well, he must now accommodate your level of sadness. One who is sick does not spend all day thinking, "I am sick." She may be thinking about lunch. Greet normally, and allow the patient to guide the emotional tone.

2. If you visit someone going through chemotherapy, remember: Losing hair is visible and dramatic, but not catastrophic. After all, the Talmud tells us that Rabbi Akiba was bald. Yul Brenner was bald. This is usually more trying for women than for men, but it is a stage to seeking wellness. Don't make it more important than it is; it is not a symptom nor a symbol; just a side-effect.

3. Offers to help should be specific. "Let me know if there is anything I can do" though well meant, places the burden on the sick person. "Can I bring you dinner tomorrow night?" is far better. The best gifts I received were an IPOD loaded with music to listen to during chemo (mostly classical and gentle melodies) and a credit at a local restaurant to charge dinners for delivery. If you make a dinner, there is always the chance the person will not like it; they are obligated to return the dishes, and they have to communicate their thanks and praise. Every extra obligation is wearing on the sick person. Ordering is easy.

4. If help is refused, or offers and good wishes met with silence, do not be hurt. Sometimes coordinating help, checking on it, thanking, is more trouble and fatigue inducing than refusal. Responding to even the most gracious message requires energy the person may need elsewhere.

5. The Jewish tradition esteems the art of medicine. If you have the blessing of good doctors and nurses you understand why. Anyone who has ever spent an uncomfortable night in a hospital is not likely to undervalue nurses. A good nurse is God's most gracious emissary in this world. A bad one...well, less so. So don't hesitate to ask the person if he or she trusts/ likes their doctor, and if you have a suggestion for another, offer it without insisting. Second opinions can be lifesavers.

6. Strength and weakness both are good, and each has its place. If the patient is acting strong, they may need to; if they are self-pitying, they may need that too. Particularly when we are ill, our moods shift with pain, medicine, diagnoses and whim. Do not flaunt your own strength or health. Don't stand above the bed. Sit at eye level. Sick and well are not superior and inferior, just sick and well.

7. In every sickness one can find mission and meaning. That does not make the sickness welcome, but it can give it a new and powerful dimension. Don't assume the person cannot find light in this darkness. But it is their light to find; yours at most, gently to suggest.

8. Even a dying person can still teach. Indeed these may be his or her most powerful moments. I study each week with a 93 year old man who still remembers his mother, some seventy years ago, saying to him as she died, "Do not be afraid. It happens to everyone." The thought gives him comfort to this day. So let the person know that you wish to learn from them, not only comfort them.

9. No matter your theology, there is a great power and beauty in prayer. The heart overflows - with fear, with hope, with thanks. Don't be afraid to let it pour out. Prayer is poetry. Check your caveats at the door and don't deprive yourself of this comfort and strength. An offer to pray for or with someone can be refused, but also can gratefully be accepted.

10. To the one who is sick: Death is inevitable. Love is a choice. Kindness is a decision. Don't let what must happen rob you of what can happen. Live the time you have.

May I add an 11th suggestion that may be a bit more personally applicable and less generalizable: a mint and chip milkshake contains sufficient ingredients to mediate almost any ailment if only in the short term.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beware of the literal figurative

I make a concerted effort to learn something new everyday. More than not the morsel of knowledge I gain is some trivial bit of information. Every once in a while I stumble upon some great insight or piece of wisdom. I'll let you decide which category best fits for my learning experience yesterday.

Language is filled with sayings we often designate as figurative. A person might be explaining something and say "figuratively speaking...." I learned that it is a dangerous thing to transform the figurative into the literal. Take, for example, the figurative expressing "I ran into a brick wall." This is a figurative expression one should not take to a literal reality. Unfortunately I did.

The whole experince sounds quite ridiculous. I was swimming in our pool after the sun had set and while the temerature still exceeded the hundred degree mark. I was attempting to swim as many laps as I could with only one breath. Since I wear contacts I cannot open my eyes while swimming... you can begin to sense the inevitable transition of figurative to literal. Usually I have a very good sense of my body in relation to other objects but, as I quickly came to discover, this sense is not so developed in a liquid environment. Let's just say that I plowed full force into the side of the pool when, according to my reckoning I should have been in the middle and yet quite a distance from the end.

I have not experienced such a violent blow to the head in probably fifteen years (even the multiple car crashes during the mid 90's only impacted my torso and arms). I saw a white light flash and that crushing unexpected pain. After the split-second of complete disorientation due to an unexpected change of reality, I stood up and put my hand to my forehead to see if I could determine if there was any blood spilling down onto my face. I didn't identify any sign of blood but I did feel what seemed to be a second, albeit smaller, head growing out of my skull. I don't think I have had a "goose-egg" since I was four or five years old. Later, when standing in front of a mirror I discovered a nice "road-rash" below the goose-egg where I must have skidded along the plaster.

And so amidst the many lessons that could have been garnered from this experience, I learned that it is best that the figurative and the literal never become one.

(no, don't hold your breath for a picture of my injured likeness)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wacky Wednesday 2010: Vol. 6

Yes, I have been inexcusably absent for much too long. I am touched if anyone actually took notice. There is no better day than "Wacky Wednesday" to resurface. Here is a picture that will be appreciated by those who have children... particularly by those of you who might have recently attempted a family photo shoot with a little one who would not sit still. Solution: duct tape!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Welcome to the real world: Because "life is not fair" is just the first in a string of unfortunate truths

It is my assertion that we live in a mamby-pamby society that has been slowly built on a dangerously large dose of affluence, a sense of freedom artificially disconnected from responsibility and on socially manufactured self-importance (i.e. socially engineered self-esteem which has metastasized into narcissim). At times I am embarrased to be a member of the twenty-first century human family.

Higher education (colleges and universities) is the epitome of the aforementioned condition. Too often it teaches "what should be" (at least what someone thinks "should" means) instead of "what is". Hence there is no better time to start talking and facing the truth than at commencement. Here is a hypothetical commencement speech that does just that. Take 10 minutes and enjoy (or throw your hands up in the air and wallow in angry denial... you choose).

Click here to watch: http://www.pjtv.com/v/3713

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Out-of-wedlock births and clashing value systems

A reader recently took objection to my over-simplified assertion that a rise in secular humanism is the cause (or is even correlated strongly with) the rising trend in out-of-wedlock births. Let me offer a summary argument and see what readers think:

Values are the antecedent and the determinant of actions/behavior. In other words the reason person 1 behaves a certain way and person 2 behaves in a different way under the same conditions is a factor of their value system. True, there are some minority of individuals who are mentally or psychologically unable to rationally make decisions or who otherwise have some form of psychopathy but this is the exception to the vast majority of cases. Also, it is important to recognize the nearly endless combination of social, environmental, economic, cultural and individual circumstances at work in each individual’s life but these are ultimately aggravating or mitigating factors which one weighs against their espoused value system when contemplating between behavior 1, behavior 2 or behavior n. This is to say: in the end, the behaviors we perform and the decisions we make comes down to ones values.

If discussed in detail we would discover a multitude of value systems utilized by individuals and perpetrated within different social groups. We can also summarize many of these on a macro level. In the United States, for example, the Judeo-Christian value system is a predominant guide to behavior. In several Arabic countries we could identify the Muslim value system. These are not static systems but rather subject to change and refinement over time but they have at the core distinctive principles which inform moral or acceptable behavior and expectations. A rival to Judeo-Christian values is secular or humanist values. I am aware that there are differences between secular and humanist perspectives but they are close enough to each other and distinctive enough from the Judeo-Christian values as to be summarized together. There is currently a war in American culture between the secular and the Judeo-Christian values. This is obvious in best selling intellectual books (God is not Great, The God Delusion, The End of Faith), in Hollywood or the media generally, in political policies (many of which are contriversial because they are the point at which these competing value systems meet), in court decisions and in academia. This struggle surrounds us and is evident in macro and micro behavioral trends. The increasing trend in out-of-wedlock births is illustrative.

Judeo-Christian values suggest that sex is a sacred act and should be reserved for two married people. This value system also holds that children are best reared in a two parent (of different genders) family. These values suggest that family life is more important than professional accomplishment (although the two do not necessarily need to be exclusive). Secular values view sex as an act not entirely different than eating or breathing -certainly not a sacred act. Certainly secular humanism promotes the free expression of sexual behavior and goes so far as to indicate that religious based restrictions on sexual behavior are oppressive and naïve. Secular values run counter to Judeo-Christian values when it comes to defining marriage, the differences between men and women, the unborn, what constitutes success, the role of government, etc. It follows then, that a society that adopts a more and more secular value system will, among other things, see greater numbers of out-of-wedlock births. I do not see how this is controversial or debatable. We may disagree on which value system is best ("best" of course is subject to different conceptions -it depends on what your definition of "best" is) but the logic of this progression between values and behaviors is straightforward and entirely tenable.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Out of wedlock births and moral decay from a secular perspective

It is futile to argue religious based morality with modern secular intellectuals. They view us as babeling infants. According to them, escape from the religious social mores of the past is one of the greatest advancements of the twentieth century although they are not yet satisfied since a majority of Americans still hold to a belief in God. So to express lamentation about the continued surge in births to unwed mothers from a religiously informed moral perspective is entirely ineffectual.

And so this short entry seeks to convince these secularists, these intellectuals, these agnostics of the precarious social condition resulting from unbridled sexual behavior from their own tradition. The truth of the matter is, theirs is not a sophisticated position of informed reason... it is a simple case of human pleasure (what we should honestly call the modern right to narcisim) above all else. This is really simply a state of carnal anarchy. If they were, in fact, true to the roots of humanism and reason, they would have to confront such thinking as this (who argues for sexual discipline not from a religious perspective but from a basis in rational logic):

Abstain from casual sex and particularly avoid sexual inercourse before you get married. This may sound prudish or old-fashioned, but it is a time-tested way by which we demonstrate respect for ourselves and others. Sex is not a game. It gives rise to very real enduring emotional and practical consequences. To ignore this is to debase yourself, and to disregard the significance of human relationships.
An active sex life within a framework of personal committment augments the integrity of the people involved and is part of a flourishing life.

This statement was from Epictetus' manual The Art of Living. Although Epictetus lived after the time of Christ and certainly during an era when the Judeo value system was established in small pockets of the world, he was almost certainly ignorant of these deity-centered perspectives. He was born a slave in AD 55 in the eastern outraches of the Roman Empire. He was a philosopher who concerned himself with the primary question of how to live the good life. His reason based thought processes, methodology and egalitarian spirit parallel those claimed by the intellectuals of today. Epictetus' conclusions --on sexual behavior and so many other "moral" concerns involved with the pursuit of a happy life (which is to him completely synonymous with a "virtuous" life)--more closely resemble the conclusions of modern day religions than they do of secular intellectuals. So, who has the informed perspective and builds on the rich history of rational thought?

It seems to me that the best minds--religious or secular--prescribe a very different kind of morality than what is being widely forwarded by today's liberal, intellectual and so called humanist school. I ask you, how humane is it to bring one out of every four children into a society where they are immediately placed in precarious social and economic conditions?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Births to unmarried mothers... going where no man has gone before

As was the underlying theme of Star Trek, we are now venturing into uncharted territory. Unfortunately for us, this is not a good thing. In fact, unlike the exploits of the crew from the starship Enterprise who always had the potential of discovering some new technology or helping some oppressed civilization, there is nothing good to come of our current expedition.

Just last week the Pew Research Center published their "New Demography of American Motherhood" where they revealed 4 in every 10 births (actually 41%) were to unmarried women! And so my play on words has some meaning: we are in a place where no man has gone before because all the men are gone from society's most essential relationship -marriage. Oh they seem to be quite involved in the sexual act that, at one time, had a high correlation with and was temporally antecedant to marriage... Yes, they are willing to go that far (and the moms-to-be are evidently willing enough to be used as paternal-free pre-preganancy pleasure objects).

But of course we are so much more enlightened now... there is no need for sexual activity to be couched in the context of a committed matrimonial relationship! We have thrown off the oppressive contraints of religious self-denial and can pursue pleasue without the slightest thought of consequence. After all our public education system will teach the highly technical technique of proper condom use and our youth will be consequence free. All will work out so fantastically... EXCEPT for exhibit A: 41% of all children now born come into the most highly unstable and precarious situation. Consider the findings further:

"A record 41 percent of all U.S. births are now to unmarried women -- this, up from 28 percent in 1990. Half the children born to Hispanics are to single mothers, while just shy of three-quarters of all black children born are to single mothers. For whites, 29 percent of births are to unmarried women -- up an astonishing 69 percent over the past two decades.

Given that there is no single demographic factor more predictive of poverty than being born into a single-parent household, this is not good news at all."

What a tragedy.... No, "tragedy" assumes some element beyond our control -some sad condition of chance. This is a direct result of conscious choice and re-estimation of morality. Hence we have done this to ourselves. It is evidence of a dispicable self-centered belief system that is directly opposed to traditional, conservative, God-based morality!

More to come...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Religion, the State and Freedom

A few weeks ago this blog contained a conversation between myself and a "Charles D" over the recent judicial decision that declared the National Day of Prayer as unconstitutional. Charles D (who by way of full disclosure is a member of the Ithica Democratic Socialists of America) forwarded a discussion that essentially rests on the constitutional notion of "separation between church and state". His interpretation of this safeguard permits ZERO overlap between religion and government. This view is at odds with not only the explicit meaning of the founders (i.e. what they meant by "separation of church and state") but also contrary to the actions of these founders and subsequent statesmen/women. God has been invoked in every presidency, Congress, court of law, state, in the military, etc. God permeates our political and social culture WITHOUT a belief, doctrine or practice being forced on any citizen. If we abandon God we loose the very foundation of our civilization and political structure. One question is sufficient to establish this fact. Where is the basis of our individual rights if we remove God from this bedrock declaration: man is "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

If our rights are not given us (an endowment) from God, then they must be from ourselves... we made them up and/or are claiming them (or perhaps you have a third alternative like alien endowment). If they rest in mankind than mankind can certainly take them away by sophistry, revision or willing surrender. This is the inevitable end of the arguement that God has no place in government. The argument against some God-Government joint venture is articulated by my friend Charles D:
You have every right to believe in God, pray every day and call upon your fellow Americans to do the same. However, you should not use the coercive power of government to encourage others to embrace your religion, nor should government show a preference for one religion over another or for religion over a lack of religion. That is not the role of government.

When religious belief is intertwined with government, it not only is offensive to those who do not share that belief, it is corrosive to religion itself.

What Charles fails to recognize is that the National Day of Prayer (or any other practice where religion currently has a footprint in government) is not 1. using coercive power to embrace any particular religion, or 2. is not prefering one religion over another including athiesm. There has never been a people more free to practice or abstain from praciticing religion than in the United States of America over the past 223 years. Civil rights and individual liberties are not being infringed upon. I challenge anyone to provide a concrete example of where a non-believer was forced to engage in prayer or other religious exercise.

On the other hand, I have an example of the state's oppressive power to keep people from exercising their right of exercising their religious beliefs. This is the natural progression of the ruling against the Day of Prayer and of Charles D's political persuasion. Those who are pressing to seperate God from government ultimately are for the prohibition of any individual exercise of religion. Read this story and tell me whose liberties, whose basic rights of conscience are being extinquished:

(click image to read more)

Nietze was right... God is dead and we are killers. If God is dead and gone, how long can the inalienable rights that He gave us remain? Surely those that killed God will want to kill any vestiage of him. After all, we now have a system much more responsive than God. We now have government in whom we can trust with all our needs: food, shelter, health insurance and retirement. At lease we can see, touch and feel government. God with all his mystery, absenteeism and mandate of blind obedience was so annoying... If only he would give a "State of the Union" or show up on Late Night with David Letterman every once in a while.

Come on people. Governemnts have been born and died, do we honestly think ours is so much better. No one, especially not I, will force you but in the rise and fall of political dynasties, one power has outlasted them all: God.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Sociology of Disaster Response: More complicated than it appears

It is what I do. My research interest is the psychosocial elements of disaster preparation, impact and response. This news story, although not an indepth exploration of the phenomenon, does a nice job of showing one sociological element of current disaster response. Are we helping or are we hurting? The same Hypocratic question that lurks in the back of medical doctors should also guide our social and political policies.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Political Correctness is disgusting and it is going to get someone killed

We are so damned sensitized not to offend anyone that we cannot speak the logical or the obvious truth. Let me ask one question that is so obvious that 95% of Elementary school children would get it right: In the past 10 years, what group (ideology, country, etc.) is most likely to be responsible for carrying out a terrorist attack against the United States?

The answer is so bloody obvious (please excuse my use of British slang but it is better than the "French" or other vulgarity I'm fighting to control): Radical Islam (specifically, various factions of)!

So why is it that when a car bomb is discovered in Time Square in the heart of New York City, Mayor Bloomberg's visceral response is to speculate that the perpetrator was a disgrunteled white American male with political motives (a conservative or anti-Obamacare motive to be specific)! I am so tired of the accusations against the supposed anger and sedition exhibited by those with conservative political and moral ideology. These assertions are fabrications. If they are not, show me the large scale violence that corresponds with the supposed large scale anger.

What scares the hell out of me (again, pardon my use of Biblical jargon) is a knee jerk reaction that not only ignores the obvious realities of our time but moves in the opposite direction because we are afraid... and this from our leaders.

Here is Mayor Bloomberg (to CBS News Anchor Katie Couric):
"If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that. Homegrown, or maybe a mentally deranged person, or somebody with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something. It could be anything."

The Mayor's perspective is not isolated but seems to be adopted by more and more political commentators. Read more:

"A Connecticut Taliban in Bloomberg's Court?," by Robert Dreyfuss in The Nation, May 3:

It may be that the Pakistan-based Taliban, the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has quietly established a Connecticut franchise while we weren't looking. That's possible. But it seems far more likely to me that the perpetrator of the bungled Times Square bomb plot was either a lone wolf or a member of some squirrely branch of the Tea Party, anti-government far right. Which actually exists in Connecticut, where, it seems, the car's licence plates were stolen. [...]
Sensible analysts of the event point out, convincingly, that no branch of the Taliban, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan, has demonstrated either the intention or the capability of striking in such as fashion. And the fact that the suspect, videotaped, is a white male in his 40s, hasn't deterred our vast team of terrorism talking heads from describing the operation as part of the jihad. Of course, it could be that some offshoot of the jihadist movement recruited a white bread American to do its bidding, and it could be that the man shown in the videotape is not the culprit at all.

But, as in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, when self-appointed experts blamed Muslims only to find out that it was a Gulf war veteran named Tim who did it, there has once again been an unseemly rush to judgment.

The Wall Street Journal is already editorialising in favour of stepped up racial profiling to catch evil doers, even though - in this case - such profiling would have more profitably sought out the editors of the Journal, who are mostly white men in their 40s...

Well Mr. Dryfuss, who is stereotyping and racially profiling now (yes, profiling by race can actually apply to white men as well)? Looks like you were wrong. And while Tim McVeigh was the author of a horrible terrorist act against the United States, please provide evidence of any kind that he was representing the common sentiment of the conservative movement. Is it too difficult to draw a distinction between a single lunatic wacko and millions of adhearants to an ideology who share a committment whereby they would not hesitate to take their own lives while killing hundreds or thousands of innocents? The American people --the vast majority of whom are decent, not racists, kind and well grounded due to a solid foundation in Judeo-Christian values-- deserve an apology for your cynical and erroneous estimation of them.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday Enlightenment: Actions Matter (Prager Univ., Vol. 6)

Enjoy another five minute session that will cause some thought and inform your worldview:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day from all us humans

It is Earth day. If there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and if they were observing us there is no doubt that they think we are idiots (for this and so many other reasons). Today we are celebrating Earth and it (the planet) has absolutely no idea we are celebrating it. We might as well have "Air Day".
Make no mistake, we should be greatful, respectful, in awe over and have reverence for the earth but ONLY because it is a gift from the Creator of Earth, NOT because of Earth itself. We are to worship the creator and not the creation. This day is, instead, for many, a day to worship the Earth. The term "environmentalism" has become nothing short of a secular religion. I hate it when good causes and worthy objectives (i.e. being good stewards of the physical environment as well as the flora and fauna with whom we co-habitate) meltdown into some bizzare form of radical myopia.

To those who think I am picking at a very small difference in connotation, consider this sad truth (here is the myopia): There are a good number of people and groups who think the Earth would be better off if people (homo sapeins) were not part of it. They view us as nothing less than parasites on the planet not unlike lice that might take up residence on your scalp (have an ich all of a sudden?). Still think I'm being too hard on this perspective... take a moment and view this video again.
To these I say: humans are the best thing to happen to the Earth. Really, without us there would not be anyone or anything to so honor the earth with its own special day. No people = no Earth Day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wacky Wednesday 2010: Vol. 5

Time to take a brief respite from all things political. My question today is: why do children like McDonald's so much in light of the obvious visual... abnormality? Children have a difficult time with Santa Claus, you can't tell me no one saw this coming. I, myself, have always thougth that Ronald is a bit freakish. But the kids still love it. And so it remains one of the mysteries of life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Challenge from a Reader: Constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer

I rarely get feedback especially in the form of a challenge to my way of thinking (which is the whole purpose of my blog) so I was EXCITED when "Charles D" wrote the following:
Judge Crabb is quite correct and I'm surprised more religious people don't agree. Why do you want big government messing around in religion anyway? Do you want government to be deciding who should and should not offer prayers on the National Day Of? Do you want government to favor some religions and not others? (It would seem LDS have some experience in this area.)

Judge Crabb wrote "'It goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.''

I know readers can follow these conversations in the "Comments" section but I wanted to highlight this conversation and not leave it to chance that you would click on the "Comments" link. Here then is my reply (please everybody feel free to chime in on either side or on a third perspective):

Charles D,
First of all, thank you very much for your thoughtful comment and engaging in discussion. I have two fundamental answers to your concern that government should stay out of "religious matters". The first is the unanimously ignored elephant in the room: our republican democracy, as set up from the beginning, is and always has been tied to religious principles -specifically to the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. I know conservatives desperately try to avoid this reality because they think it is an obvious slam dunk for criticism by liberals, by the left, and by atheists. The truth is, the principles of government at the core of the United States are fundamentally tied to a faith in a soverign, extra-human Creator. Our claim to liberty, to freedom, to all things different than monarchy, theocracy, communism, dictatorship, etc. rests on the reality of a God. If there is no God then our republic must fall -it is a fiction no better than any other form of man-based governance. Revisionists have been busy during the last hundred years, but truth is difficult to hide. The most blatant example: "We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by THEIR CREATOR with certain unalienable rights..."
The more we move the locust of these rights from the Creator to the government, the more perilous is the continuance of these rights. So, if God and the government of the US are "in bed together" I suggest that acknowledging Him through an official state ceremony is not just a good idea but is as much an exercise in reifying what we, as Americans, are based upon as is the statement on all our currency, as is the tradition of opening each Congress with a prayer and as is the case with a hundred other references to God in our governmental practices, buildings and proceedures.
Secondly, tell me whose political or civil rights are being infringed upon by this practice. If the National Day of Prayer mandated participation of even one citizen under threat of penalty I would be the first to object. Truth be told, the proponents of secularism and humanism (both of which are heavily influential in the sciences) have done more to limit the rights of citizens in the US over the past decade than any religious practice has. For example I am now mandated under threat of penalty to purchase health insurance... The odious Day of Prayer does not even come close to trampling my freedoms and my rights as a citizen as does the health care bill of 2010. Point is, 1)no one is being forced to practice a religion, and 2) no single religion is being sponsored by the government.
Do I want big government deciding who should or should not offer the prayer? Well, if big government prohibits a National Day of Prayer than aren't they decideing a bigger question? Namely that no prayer can be offered by an agent of government. Just another banishment of God from the public square and another infrigement on the rights of the majority of citizens who hold a belief in a Deity (case and point: many schools outlaw the invoking of God in their commencement speeches... but I suppose I should welcome that "protection" as well). In your scenario, government appears to be much less tolerant than religion. I could care less if we take turns having a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, etc. offer the prayer on successive years (or give all who wish a chance to offer a prayer each year). As a Mormon I celebrate and encourage the exercise of faith of all my reigious counterparts irregardless of their particular beliefs.
I know I said I had two points but I cannot let the Judge's claim that this event/activity "serves no secular function in this context" go unchallenged. Really? That is an enormous logical leap that I cannot let stand. I again refer to the MANY previous statesmen, some of whom were hardly religious, who extolled the public virtue (and hence the political functionality) of a religious citizenry... and encouraged it. Why do so called progressives and liberals wish to banish God entirely from the public square and from American culture? I'll give you the answer: because God stands in the way of government being the people's ultimate soverign, rule giver and master.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More thoughts on the unconstitutionality of the National Day of Prayer

I am disgusted with the supposed progress and arrogant intelligence of the modern age. Is this where the long struggle of past generations has brought us? I am ashamed to think, when I die, of faceing the many Americans who sacrified and gave their best so that future generations could have a better life, could enjoy the blessings of the American dream. These were people who had no guarentee that they would live out the year in the settlements like Jamestown or who would have sufficient food to eat as they scratched out a living on the frontier... and we, like infantile and spoiled adolescents, want the government to guarantee us health insurance, a certain mortgage rate, breakfast and lunch for our children, a minimum wage for work performed, free college...

And while the government is providing all these things our citizenry is preoccupied with sit coms, video games, sexual experimentation, cosmetic augmentation and countless other forms of material acquisition, conspicuous consumption or appetite satisfaction.

This is the cultural context of the latest strike against what once was a great America (perhaps you are thinking I am too pessimistic in my analysis). The latest blow is the finding of a federal judge declaring the National Day of Prayer to be unconstitutional. As evidence for our slide from greatness, I submit the words of Abraham Lincoln who, according to this federal judge, was acting contrary to the Constitution:

"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 prod to pray to the God that made us."
-words spoken during the institution of a National Fast Day

Call me crazy but if I am to side with the great emancipator or some federal judge in the post-modern, progressive era.... I'm going to go with Mr. Lincoln. The stark contrast between the two views should cause us to consider how our values, our political perspective and our culture has flipped completely upside down. We are not the America we once were. Fundamental change... that is the proposed objective of some. That will take us where we have never gone before. What I suggest is principled reform and rededication to the principles of what made America great. That will take us back to the basics, back to principles that made the United States the most generous, the most prosperous, the greatest force for good in the world.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Federal Judge: National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional

I would not be surprised if, in my lifetime, the United States government (led by the courts and supported by Congressional sentiment) declares God himself to be unconstitutional. After all, God with his ties to religion, has no place getting all involved in political matters. Government is well equipped to secure its citizens with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without the Supreme Creator getting involved.

Here is the disturbing news report:

Federal Judge Barbara Crabb, who was nominated by President Jimmy Carter, ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional Thursday, saying the day amounts to a call for religious action.

And here is a warning from one uniquly qualified to speak on legal and spiritual matters:

(full text here)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wacky Wednesday 2010, Vol. 4

I applaude the scientific progress of mankind. It has resulted in an age of unmatched longevity, luxury and lethargy (not to mention lechery.... a la viagra). In circumstances such as reported in the following news story, there seems to be no end to the potential advancement of men, animal or vegetation when applying the best scientific principles:

Scientists Successfully Teach Gorilla It Will Die Someday

Welcome brave new world!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Immigrants and the America that is... or was

I love immigrants. By this I mean those men and women who legally leave everything that is known and familiar to them and embark on a journey into the great unknown possibilities. I am in awe of their courage. Particularly I love immigrants whose journey has had, at its core, a pursuit of the "American Dream". Unlike those of us who are 3rd, 4th or 5th generation "Americans", these know what it means to want a better life so desperately that they are willing to change everything and to risk everything. Many are not fluent in English, many have no guarantee of income or a job. Many are unfamiliar with the culture of the United States. It is a journey into the great unknown all in the HOPE of a better life for them and for their children.

I want to introduce you to one such immigrant and share a brief conversation we had about two weeks ago. This is Oliver.
I called a local company to clean our carpets while Mrs. Wicke was away with the children during Spring Break. Oliver knocked on my door and introduced himself as the representative from the carpet cleaning company and the person who would be cleaning our carpets. He had a familiar accent. He reminded me of a good friend and past client from Irvine, California: Alex. Alex was from the Ukraine, had become an American citizen and was the owner of Gulliver's, a high end steak house just across the street from John Wayne Airport (definitely eat there if you ever find yourselves in Orange County -they have the best steaks you will ever eat). He advertised in a publication I owned. Whenever I would call on him he would invite me to join whatever group he happened to be with -restaurant management, other vendors, family, it didn't matter. We would sit at a table in the restaurant and would talk about whatever topic was already being discussed. If it was just he and I we would talk about European news events (of which I was largely ignorant), of sports (he like I was a wrestler in our younger years), or of the Mormon church who owned the property where his restaurant was located. He always asked if I wanted something to eat. Alex was a big man (thick and brawney) and his Russian accent was beautiful to hear. Alex was an immigrant to America and had worked his way to his present position as owner of a successful restaurant. His ability to work hard and to take risks were two qualities of his success.

Back to Oliver standing in my doorway: I could tell immediately that Oliver came from somewhere in or near one of the old Soviet Union countries. As he unloaded his equipment I asked him where he was from. He said that he came to America eight years ago and was originally from Kazakhstan. He and his family were now Americans. He had several children in school and he worked as a carpet cleaner to support his family. He was effluent in his love for America. And here is the point of this blog. He said "don't change America. Don't become like Europe. Why does American want to become like Europe; Europe is dying." We talked about opportunities, freedom and self-determinism. He wondered why many American's do not understand the uniqueness, the specialness of their country; why they are now trying to be like Europe.

...Just a few days later President Obama and the Democrats passed their European-style health care reform. We took one great step away from leadership, from being different, from being a nation where citizens decide what is best for themselves rather than a nation where the government controls the details of our lives.

I hate this legislation and the trend toward bigger government. It is fundamentally contrary to the type of government that our founders established. Democracy holds, at its core, a deep distrust of government. It is a necessary evil that must be kept in check or else it will grow into an oppressive monster -a leviathon. This is not a contemporary conservative view but was at the heart of almost every enlightenment thinker (a la Thomas Hobbes, Leviathon). And so I have significant dissonance about the direction of our country. But I also feel bad for Oliver. I feel like I should apologize to him. He staked everything on leaving his old life and pursuing a dream in America. But now America is changing into the world he worked so hard to leave. Where can he go now. It may be somewhat trite, but it is nevertheless true: America is the last great hope of mankind. But what if America stops acting like America? There are those among us who believe America is not exceptional, that America should no longer lead, who think our cultural and political values are no better than Fidel Castro's in Cuba. Perhaps post-modern American's cannot see the value of being different but it is clear that immigrants still see something they want, something in America that is better than anywhere else in the world.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wacky Wednesday 2010 Vol. 3

It is April and I'm only on my third Wacky Wednesday post.... I apologize. The first quarter of 2010 has been somewhat crazy. I originally planned a very special Wacky Wednesday video post but due to technical difficulties it will have to wait a week or so. Until then, who doesn't like dancing babies... enjoy:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday, Nisan 16: The Firstfruits

(NOTE: this is the last of six entries regarding the events of the Easter and Passover season. These blog entries have been chronological in logic and it is best to begin with the post from last Sunday before reading this, the final, entry).

The celebration of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread continues for several more days. There is an interesting element of the Passover celebration called the Feasts of the Firstfruits. It is something of a preparatory feast. It looks forward to the coming harvest and implores God for his advanced blessing of the coming firstfruits. It should not surprise you, by now, to learn that the Feast of the Firstfruits falls on the day after the Sabbath -timing that the God of Israel established way back in Leviticus 23:11. During the Passover celebration in which Jesus Christ was crucified, this fell on Nisan 16th... the day in which Jesus rose from the tomb to become the "firstfruits of those that slept." He is the first of many. He, being the firstfruits of the resurrection, is precursor to the great harvest which in some distant day, will include the entire family of man. All will bear the fruit of new life, of resurrection.

It is difficult to fault Mary, Peter or Thomas for not believing the report first given by the angels: why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, he is risen! In all the history of the world there was no precedent for these events. Even the symbolism of Passover, aside from the ambiguous element of "firstfruits" did not include something this dramatic. Deliverance, yes. Covenant people, yes. But a man with power to take up his own life and thereby extend that same promise to all others? This was unprecedented. It was a miracle. It changed everything. It connotes a new day, a bright future and some important expectations. If it is true, it means that the Messiah has come and has prepared not only for the deliverance of his people but also for their spiritual exhaltation. This, above all matters of earthly attention, is the most important matter to know. How about it, where do you stand?