March 20, 2011

World Police II: Libya

The recent military action in Libya (and the unbridled contempt with which many conservatives have viewed the Obama administration for waiting for UN Sanction and NATO support) has given me an opportunity to once again consider the role of America as Moral Policeman to the world.

As I see it, there are essentially two sets of justifications for such a role: those advanced by idealists of a Just War persuasion (defending the helpless and deposing the wicked) and the pragmatists' somewhat more complicated arguments of force and counter-force in the political judo of balancing threats to the United States against one another. The former sees little or no problem with the invasion of Iraq as an action in ensuring the freedom and self-determination of its citizens whereas the latter saw Vietnam as a the latest and most overt in a string of international actions by the United States Government in an attempt to prevent the spread of the hostile ideology of Communism.

That said, it isn't as though these two justifications offer different approaches: each side is advocating the use of lethal force in the name of the American good. The Just War Cause is almost advanced as a form of zealotry: do what is necessary, however unpalatable, in the name of the moral ideals to which every right-thinking person should agree. Pragmatism will rarely have their arguments on the subject matter heard by the masses because they're necessarily Machiavellian and don't play well in sound-bites. In thinking of the pragmatic argument, consider the forces at work in using the CIA to start covert wars in Latin America in order to prevent duly-elected Communist presidents from keeping power.

The problem is that foreign military action is, by definition, international politics and politics is always messy and rarely the domain of the high-minded ideals that are regularly advanced as justifications for such lethal military action. As such, one finds oneself contending with America's history of turning a blind eye to friendly (and absolutely corrupt) regimes while deposing unfriendly regimes, corrupt or not. To whit, the State Department's deafening silence with regards to Bahrain and contrast that with the clamor raised with regard to Libya.

In a partial return to pragmatism, let's examine the moral dilemma as presented by the seemingly-hypocritical American Foreign Policy and its impact on an ideologue: either one must accept the current state of things with some hand-waving and prostituting oneself to the system, or one becomes a pariah from the system. In the former case, one becomes a pragmatist while loudly espousing the Just War ideals that we examined earlier and in the latter case, the best that one can hope to become is Ron Paul - allowed to walk the halls of power but perpetually disregarded by anyone with actual clout. Lesser luck will result in becoming some sort of laughingstock: writing for conspiracy journals and appearing on 2 am talk-shows or at conferences on the Bilderbergs and their unholy alliance with the Pope.

On a less abstract level, the tension between the more pragmatic conservatives and the more idealistic is played out between the more hawkish members of the Religious Right and their more fiscally conservative (and pragmatic) brethren in the Tea Party. On one side, we have moral absolutists who believe (with some variety of justifications) hat the United States is a Moral Authority whose responsibilities cause it to intervene in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea and Somalia in order to impose order and save the lives and liberties of the downtrodden. On the other side, the Tea Party Conservatives may not be coming out and saying it loudly, but many realize that the Iraq War costs more than most discretionary spending programs combined. Ron Paul would be the most extreme observer of this case, but many realize that the US cannot afford to act as Moral Policeman to the world, much less unilaterally so.

So where does this leave us? I really am not interested in having an argument on the purely theoretical bases for Just War because in the end, that's not where we find ourselves. As a conservative, I find myself at a loss for a cogent and consistent foreign policy. Unlike most of my conservative brethren, I find myself at a loss for the notions of American Exceptionalism and absolute certainty in the moral rectitude of our foreign policies, which almost necessitates ending a policy of military intervention and certainly unilateral intervention. As for ideology, the fact that the US continues to prop up regimes such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia (to name my two current favorites) is deeply problematic. I'm no foreign policy wonk, so my notions on pragmatism in foreign policy are extremely limited but I will say this: Congressional Republicans as a whole have done very well to take the good parts of the Obama Administration's foreign policy and appropriate it as their own and the conservative movement as a whole would do well do continue in that vein.

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May 12, 2010

The Enemies He Keeps

I was thinking a lot about disagreements that I maintain with others and I've decided that even more than the friends I keep, I can be told by the enemies I keep. And that's why I've decided that when I die, I want my funeral picketed by Westboro Baptist.

See, there are some people who you want to be loved by, but that really doesn't say as much, because the really admirable people by whom you want to be beloved are really loving people and love everyone. And respect, well, I think respect is a hard-earned commodity amongst those whose respect I would crave... but respect isn't all that powerful of a thing next to love and hate. And hate... while I certainly wouldn't encourage that sort of behavior, it does leave a lasting impact.

Think about really great people: George Washington, Mahatma Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, John Wilberforce, Pope John Paul II ... people who did great things and lead people to greatness. Were they loved and respected by many? Certainly... but they were also hated. And really, take Abraham Lincoln for example... who hated Lincoln? White supremacists and slave owners numbered amongst many of those who hate(d) Lincoln. You could do a whole lot worse than to be hated by a bunch of bigoted Klansmen.

So, you see... that's why I'm being so careful about the people who hate me. If I can get the stupid and the enemies of education in that corner, I'll be doing well. If I can get the closed-minded and the bigoted, so much the better. And really, the end goal of this would be to get the people who are so willfully stupid and hateful that they think 9/11 happened because there are gay people in this country. After all, what does it say about you when a group whose specialty is hating good people like American Soldiers and Mr Rogers takes the time to picket your funeral? Obviously, I would be even happier if hate-filled morons would go away altogether... but failing that, I would settle for being the subject of the hate of such idiots.

And while I'm hand-picking the morons who hate me, I would take some cultists... Scientologists if I get my pick. Also Holocaust-deniers and some of those people who think the moon landing was a joke. And just so long as we're obliging my desires, if I could get the Iranian cleric who thinks that boobs are the cause of plate tectonics to hate me, I'd be down with that. I mean, I'm not sure I'm up to the level of Salman Rushdie or anything, but would a hate-filled email or two be too much to ask?

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April 09, 2010

Tangents and Asides

Upon further analysis and because Facebook comment threads suck, I thought I would do some further parsing of tangential things that keep coming up in relation to my thoughts on National Guilt:

First off, no matter how many good things your culture is responsible for, if there's something reprehensible attached to it, that's what you'll get remembered for.* The case of Nazi Germany is perhaps unique in this insofar as there's a clear line of demarcation as to when "Nazi Culture" began and when it ended and even a rather unique departure from "traditional" German culture as regards that, but a closer look isn't quite so black-and-white. I mean, it's not like Hitler invented antisemitism, the notion of eugenics or the concept of white supremacy... and as far as things like segregating Jews to ghettos goes, that sort of thing had been practiced in some form or another (in Germany and throughout Europe) for centuries before Hitler showed up on the scene. Hitler just took it from a nasty part of an estimable culture (much like it being a dark spot on of Martin Luther's noble character) and turned it into a defining feature of the culture.

I suppose that the same thing could be argued of Southern culture, with the pointed note that, as Wilson noted, while slavery didn't define Southern culture, it underpinned the society upon which it was based and created the very culture celebrated when people reflect upon the Antebellum South.

Now, in his long and rambling screed (and no, Spiff, looking at my original post I can't throw rocks), Mr. Camperman touches on the notion that a cultural touchstone (such as the Confederate Battle Flag) can be reclaimed and altered by future groups to mean a different thing, and I think I'm of two minds on that. On one hand, there are any number of Eastern Religions whose imagery was tainted by Hitler's co-opting of the swastika who would certainly like their imagery back and justifiably so... I mean, all of them were held in great contempt by Hitler and hold no truck with his party; why should he get to undermine a symbol of their religions. Also, some Eastern European noble families had it on their coats of arms, and they too would probably like to remove some of that ugly symbolism, unlikely though that seems. On the other hand, it's not exactly like anyone was using the Confederate Battle Flag for something inoffensive and peaceful before the Civil War. Due in no small part to the inextricable linking of slavery to the cause of the Confederacy, it seems very unlikely to me that attempts to reclaim it would be successful. Of course, this sort of thing is further complicated by the fact that those who would desire the Confederate Flag to be less controversial and more representative of some fictional idealized "Southern Culture" aren't the only party trying to utilize the flag to further an agenda and the other parties are perhaps more visible and likely to capture headlines what with their white hoods, robes and burning crosses.

Caleb touched on a point about this nagging need to revisit the Civil War that contrasts heavily with the perspective of Northerners and I think that it meshes well with Wheeler's notion that the Civil War is something of an anathema insofar as a great deal of the history written about it was dominated by the perspective of those who lost the war. In my stay in the North, the majority of those with whom I have interacted at an educational and cultural level seems to reflect a Lincolnesque mindset regarding the Civil War, that is, to the Northern mind, the Civil War needed to be fought to maintain the Union and it was a travesty that it needed to be fought at all. There was nothing grand or noble about it and certainly nothing to remain fixated upon... it was something more to be mourned than celebrated. By contrast, I think that in losing a war, I think there's a need to feel as though something was being fought for. Many have drawn parallels to Vietnam (which I cribbed shamelessly), and I think it's an apt comparison. In Vitenam, when that war is mentioned, according to the sources I've read, it's just the last in a series of repressive colonial actions that the Vietnamese felt they had to resist. This contrasts with the American account of the war where there is a memorial enshrining those same "colonial repressors" as heroes.** Now, getting back to the South, it is interesting how all of this washes with the fictionalized version of the Antebellum South and the whitewashed version of States' Rights that seems to reappear any time someone feels as though the Federal Government has gotten out of hand.

In the end I'm sure there's far more to talk about on the main notion of National Guilt, these asides notwithstanding. That said, I'm more than happy to discuss the actual details of the individual cases which could/should inspire National Guilt. And sadly, I think I've glossed over both the Inquisition and the French Revolution, but I guess we'll get to those some day.

*It's like that old joke: "I built most of the bridges in this town... spent years doing it and you never have to get your feet wet crossing a creek, but they don't call me Bjarn the Bridge-Builder. For that matter, I also placed at least half of the bricks in the city wall... never had an invasion since we finished it, but they don't call me Bjarn the Wall-Maker. I even saved a group of children from getting eaten by wolves, but they don't call me Bjarn Wolfsbane. But you get caught in flagrante delicto with one goat..."

** And I don't want to get into the "support our troops" argument, because I don't want to take anything away from the men and women who fought and died for their country, but at the same time, it's hard for me to respect something like Vietnam where American soldiers were asked to fight and die in a war whose very existence is cause for a debate of Just War Theory.

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March 26, 2010

A Good Daddy

A Good Daddy needs to sound like the Daddy I heard when I was inside of Mommy's tummy
A Good Daddy needs a DEEP VOICE that I can hear when I'm crying
A Good Daddy needs to have tasty fingers that I can suck on when Mommy's nipples are tired
A Good Daddy needs to be nice and warm so that when I'm cold, he can hold me close and warm me up
A Good Daddy needs to make good "shushing" sounds so that when I'm screaming, he can calm me down
A Good Daddy needs to have a good solid thump to make me burp when my tummy is sore
A Good Daddy needs to have lots of energy to bounce me around and rock me back and forth when I need to move
A Good Daddy needs to be sneaky, because I'm a Sneaky Baby and I will outsmart lesser mortals
A Good Daddy needs fast hands to pass me to Mommy when my diaper is dirty
A Good Daddy needs to be alert, because I'm going to try to pee on him when they take my diaper off, and Good Daddies don't get soaked in pee... very often
A Good Daddy needs to make a big shadow to hide me in when the light is bright and hurts my eyes
A Good Daddy needs to have no performance anxiety when he sings to me to calm me down
A Good Daddy needs to know when to take me on a walk because Mommy is tired
A Good Daddy needs to love me

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:29 PM | TrackBack

January 12, 2010

Google vs. China

China's history as a denizen of the internet and as a country of internet users is a rather one-sided one. Mostly, it's one of paranoid censorship and suppression of anything that departs from the official party line. And yet, the real interesting part is the strange dichotomy of the technology companies that profit from China, advocate openness on the internet and serve as the backbone of the censorship racket in China. This Time article really spells out a lot of the interesting give-and-take that has served as the basis for this over the last 10 years.

At the beginning of the search engines' relationship with China, there was quite an outcry amongst all of the various US News Agencies, Congressional Representatives. Interestingly, Google and others responded with a request that Congress give them some sort of legal guidance in how to deal with China beyond the prevailing traditional response that a company typically obeys the laws of the various countries that it operates in. No such guidance was ever given.

And now we have this: Google has declared a new approach on China. Apparently Google has decided that China's bad behavior as a government has descended to the level that it can no longer conscion providing services to China and in China. Reading between the lines in Google's statement, it would appear that not only is China using Google to abuse its populace, it is actually surreptitiously sanctioning efforts to compromise Google in order to further its own war on human rights. So, instead of compliance with the desires of China, it will further its own stated agenda of "Do No Evil", even if that act of non-censorship causes it to no longer be able to do business in China.

And even here, it looks like Google is afraid for its own employees, especially as its PR people write, "We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make the success it is today."

Google realizes that China may very well go above and beyond shutting down and actually go after Google's own Chinese employees. And yet, at the same time, it is very well possible that the only currency that a even multi-national corporation like Google can have to impact change in China is shaming them on an international stage.

So I'm not sure where this takes us exactly, but it should be VERY interesting.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:03 PM | TrackBack

November 11, 2009

Painted With the Same Brush

I was listening to an interview with an author this evening who dedicated his work to the priests and nuns who suffer from association from the rare percentage of those who have caused the whole establishment to be called into question. This, following closely on the incident at of Fort Hood gave me pause to consider how it is that some groups are given over to stereotyping and tainting by the actions of one individual.

For instance... all sorts of murders, serial killings and a variety of other social ills can be lain at the feet of maladjusted 20-something WASP males, and yet I am not given over to any sort of prejudice as a result of that. In fact, this anomaly has been noted, especially by comedians of color who are wont to point out that it generally isn't the African-American and Hispanic-American minorities who snap and shoot up a room full of people, bomb a federal building, or even gain notoriety for being a serial killer. By and large, it's stressed-out, crazy, white dudes.

I'm sure that there's an analysis to be done as far as the treatment of a minority population by a majority population here, and yet, in addition to this, there are certain groups (members of the cloth, for instance) who are equally stigmatized. Obviously, this doesn't negate the fact that American society seems to leap at the opportunity to label groups of people who it doesn't quite understand by means of one or two notable actors, but I don't think that's the whole story. After all, the Virginia Tech killings did not seem to generate a notable reaction to the Asian-American community... but this isn't to say that there have not been abuses of that community.

The only thing that I can really point to is that groups of people from whom there are no representative faces in mainstream American culture tend to be the most susceptible to association with individual bad actors. For instance, the Muslim community has no real presence in mainstream American media and so individual incidents tend to drive the collective consciousness much faster than, say, the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Likewise, televangelists tend to get a much easier treatment than members of the Catholic clergy because, while there have been a number of tarnished individuals in the televangelist community, there are also a large number who are in our collective view. The clergy, on the other hand, is absent except for abuse cases and rare appearances of the pope (who, I might add, is far enough removed from America most of the time so as not to figure in with the typical American assessment of those of the cloth.)

So, in the end, where does this leave us? Frankly, with the notion that Americans are far too stupid to be left to understand groups of people who are ideologically different from themselves. Left with no representative for Islam than the 9/11 hijackers, the typical American will automatically assume that all Muslims are out to get us. Likewise with ethnic minorities, religious minorities and any group of people not regularly in the public view. And thus the argument must be made that the average American will create a crude caricature of any group with whose membership he or she does not regularly meet. And even that will become a caricature if the interacted group is not sufficiently diverse as to introduce the foreign notion that the set is not knowable by any small subset.

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October 28, 2009

The Evils of a Single-Payer System?

Is government-backed health insurance necessarily a bad thing? I mean, in and of itself... I'm not talking about government-subsidized or fully government-funded - I'm talking about an insurance bloc as administered by the government. Is this a bad thing?

Because up until this point, the grand plan has been to create this weak mandate that everyone buy insurance along with some sort of plan that the government will subsidize certain people up to a certain extent of poverty. I really don't understand what the difference is between doing that and taking Medicare, Medicaid, Government Employee Health Insurance and VA Medical and welding it into a single negotiating bloc and then offering insurance at-cost to whomever else wants it.

Because, honestly, if it sucks, people will buy insurance elsewhere.

Yes, I know, this puts the already-monopolistic health insurers at a disadvantage because they will have to savage their margins. Let's assume for a minute that I don't care about that (because, really, does anyone feel bad for insurers?) and ask if there's an actual downside here in terms of the tax-payers.

Let's reiterate: I don't want to spend a dime more on subsidies than is already being spent, but we can keep spending all of the money we're currently spending. All we're doing here is offering to let people buy into the negotiating bloc of the already-massive US Government Health Insurance without adding to the amount that the Government is spending.

Is there a hidden evil here that I'm just not seeing?

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September 01, 2009

Qualitative Reviews

If you don't typically read Rands in Repose (and really, I recommend that you do, especially if you're an engineer and/or an employee of a large corporation), I would encourage you to go read his recent blurb on performance reviews. While it's guided particularly towards year-end reviews, it applies to some extent or another to pretty much any written review of work done by an employee/co-worker/student.

Oddly enough, we're getting on to that year-end review point ourselves any I've been going over my current accomplishments while, at the same time, trying to make a decision regarding my own placement at the company.

You see, right now, my manager is in charge of 30-ish people who are on, at last count, 8 different projects. And while some of them are similar, these are projects of at least 10 and as many as 50 people that encompass a VAST array of functionality, goals, development processes, development philosophies and even locations in the development life-cycle. To make a long story short, my boss is in charge of a team that would be hell to keep track of even if we were all doing the same thing with half of the people, and we're doing nothing of the sort.

And really, who wants a micro-managing boss? I love my hands-off manager... it helps me get things done, there's minimal interference and really, he's like artillery... he's there to provide heavy-duty support, but generally he leaves me alone until someone calls for him. But there's this problem of hands-off, and it generally involves a careful balancing act that, if ignored, leads one's boss having a very low-resolution understanding of all of the good things one is doing. Now, you hope that other people are calling in for support from time to time and he's getting a complete picture... but I really would prefer that my feedback come from time spent directly interacting with the guy who is my face to the people who are giving me raises and cutting my checks.

Setting aside the whole raft of political realities and re-orgs, the real question on something like this is to what extent I've been attempting to solicit verbal feedback in advance of something like a year-end or mid-year review. And in my case, the answer is that I've been too busy working. Which is just a terrible answer, because it means that this lack of communication thing is failing on my end. So without communication, in marketing-speak, my message is getting lost.

And, even worse, written reviews are political, no matter where you are... especially where one's career is involved. And if you don't understand the politics and aren't playing the politics, you're losing. And by not getting involved earlier and more often, I'm shooting myself in the foot. Because even if your manager is benevolent and favorably-inclined (as mine is, fortunately), your political game ties into a bigger political game and again, if you're not playing, you're losing.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:06 PM | TrackBack

August 05, 2009

Libertarian Universal Healthcare?

I am, primarily, a Libertarian when it comes to my view of the limits imposed on the government by the Constitution. Now, I'm not quite so hardcore as some of my brethren who suggest that any power not expressly given to the government is automatically forbidden to it, but I'm also not really gleeful about the thought that the US Government spent just short of $3 trillion in FY 08, which, all told, amounts to roughly 20% of the US GDP.

Here's the problem, the status quo, for any number of reasons, simply doesn't address the health-care needs of the citizens of the US. Your average libertarian will point out that it isn't the job of the government as enumerated in the US Constitution to look after the health of its citizenry... but the counterpoint that an unhealthy citizenry leads to an unhealthy country and whatnot isn't really something that can be overlooked. Also, the fact that between entitlement programs and private expenditures, is currently at 17% of the GDP and is projected by some to rise to 20% means that it's something that the government ought to be cognizant of, at the very least.

Leaving the role of government aside, I'm always very suspicious of anything whose cost is growing at an disproportionate rate. For instance, the cost of education grows at a rate much steeper than inflation for reasons that nobody seems able to adequately explain other than by noting that external financing for education is on the decline. Likewise, I'm very suspicious that the cost of healthcare is rising at a rate disproportionate to the rate of inflation... though anecdotally, I'm told that the age distribution in the US is trending towards the older end of the bell-curve, and I suppose that makes some sort of sense up to a point.

In the end, it seems to me that the arguments presented by those who want the government to fix this problem is that any problem of the scale of double-digit percentage of the GDP needs to have some sort of government involvement. Whether that's the case or not is really a moot point, especially at this point with the extent to which the government already has its nose in this between hospital regulations, the FDA, Medicare/Medicaid and the VA medical system.

So since we already have the government inextricably involved in US healthcare, what is a Libertarian to do? Pragmatically speaking, I have to point out that there are certain functions in this system that I don't trust the private sector with. For instance, as poorly as the FDA handles the drug part of its assignment, given the impact of the relatively few bad drugs that have gotten through the system, I'm not sure anyone really wants to let the private sector handle drug screening. And much as Libertarians love to hearken back to the glorious days where there were no income taxes, I'm pretty sure nobody wants to return to the days before the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. And if you do, I'll bring you some radioactive soda, blindness-inducing makeup and a miracle diabetes cure that just might kill you to help you think it over.

In essence, my argument tends to run something to the nature of the fact that one can't trust big business any more than one can trust big government, and it's generally helpful to have them keeping an eye on one another. I'm really not sure how to make this dovetail with a Libertarian viewpoint simply because most Libertarians I know are so unswervingly fixated on the problems with a large government that they're really not providing me with realistic solutions to the actual problems that government currently addresses. At least, that's my thinking.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:28 AM | TrackBack

July 22, 2009

Health Care Reform

There's so much here that I could write a page and really not even scratch the surface. Right now, I really ought to go to bed, but I've been grinding this over. A couple of thoughts:

Doctors: One of the biggest reason that many of the best and brightest pursue the field of healthcare is the money involved. For those who argue that it's not about the money, I would urge you to look at the current shortage of general-care physicians, especially in rural communities. Obviously it's not as simple as that what with the average cost of a medical degree being solidly into the 6-figures, but there is a good reason that this stressful and critical job is well-paid. Trying to figure out how to pay doctors seems to be a bad idea... much like trying to figure out how to pay teachers less, only with more disease, infirmity and dying.

Insurance Companies Large corporations figuring out how to make billions of dollars a year providing insurance have no appeal to me whatsoever. I understand that doctors need to be paid well to compensate their skill, sacrifice and liability (with that last one being something that the tort reform crowd can tackle elsewhere.) At the same time, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, MetLife and others don't really provide a service that it requires great skill to provide nor is it something, like research (for instance), that sapping the profit out of really hurts anyone except for investors and a bunch of accountants and pencil-pushers.

Is anyone going to be really sorry if the private insurance companies get screwed here? I mean, these guys are essentially one step up from collections agencies and telemarketers, at least as far as I'm concerned... especially with the evil maneuvers like rescission and forcing paying customers to fight them every step of the way to get procedures paid for.

Drug Companies: Here's the thing: drug research isn't cheap, at all. And as much as people complain about the FDA approval process (which, I think most can agree, needs some work), I don't think anyone wants to compromise on extensive research with regards to the impact of medicine on humans. Also, see the argument above for paying doctors well and extend it to talented people researching new medicines. At the same time, when a drug company nets billions of dollars in profit annually, I think we may have an issue.

For all of those who would argue that my sentiments are overly populist and not in keeping with capitalism, a couple of points:

1) Doctors are subjected to increasing costs of practicing in terms of malpractice insurance. This is furthered by the government-run court systems... with the irony that the "pure capitalists" who don't want government interference want the government to step in and interfere with the courts' handling of liability for doctors practicing medicine. Obviously something has to be done in this situation.

2) Drug companies are essentially protected by the entirely-broken US Patent System. If anyone wants to know how broken the USPTO is, do a bit of digging around regarding such awful patents as "one-click buying", mounting touch-pads on mobile devices, and others. Basically, drug companies exist entirely because of the USPTO and treaties such as WIPO... and as entities who owe their existence to an arcane series of government regulations, pure capitalists ought to be all for examining the status of such companies.

And really, my closing point is that I'm hearing a lot of people saying things like "the government shouldn't get involved in health care." I'm of several minds on this... mostly because I don't trust big government... but neither do I trust large corporations. And it seems to me that a lot of the arguments for distrusting one apply equally to the other, and very few people are applying an equal level of skepticism and critical analysis to both.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:45 PM | TrackBack

March 21, 2009

The Lemonade Stand

note: Sharpton had a response to my AIG post that prompted me to write this. I was having so much fun that I decided it deserved a post of its own.

Let's say you have a lemonade stand. It operates on the corner of your street and a some-what busy street, and it used to make you $10 an hour. For a little kid, even after expenses, that's good money. But then two people come to you and tell you that something has to change.

The first is President Barack Obama. He tells you that due to these harsh economic times, your lemonade stand needs a stimulus package. Further, if you can write a 320-page proposal complete with shovel-ready projects and plans to hire unemployed lemonade salesmen, there's no reason that you can't leverage a $40 million economic relief check. Of course, with this relief check, your Chief Lemonade Executive cannot make more than $300,000 a year and you must submit detailed plans for your new Lemonade Stand to 16 different federal agencies and your construction must have passed through a carefully-vetted process which guarantees fair and competitive bidding on supplying, constructing and operating your new lemonade stand. Oh, and you also have to agree to pay for expanded unemployment insurance and it is strongly suggested that you voluntarily pay above and beyond the Federal Minimum Wage Act requirements in order to maintain your status as a Lemonade Stand in Good Standing.

The second is AIG CEO Edward Liddy. He tells you that your first problem is that your company is not diversified enough nor is it doing enough for its top executives in order to properly stimulate the creativity that these difficult times need. He hands you a 750-page business plan outlining the keys to your success as a Lemonade Stand. The first step is to leverage all of the lemons that your company is receiving in a careful fashion so that through a series of subsidiaries, you're actually paying 14 times for the same lemon, but your customers are paying for it 23 times, in addition to allowing you to hold the money that they're buying your lemonade with for a period of 21 days before returning the change. In such time, you will take the money they gave you and use it to purchase additional lemons and sell the rights to the lemon no less than 12 times, while not ever actually relinquishing control of said lemon. Upon properly capitalizing, you will proceed to diversify your company into related fields such as lemon farming and orange juice sales along with such diverse interests as fruit futures trading, real estate in various Banana Republics where lemons are grown, and in companies that produce the buses and clothing used by the migrant workers who pick lemons. Also, you would be well-advised to purchase stock in various arms-dealing companies that sell guns of questionable legality to revolutionaries in the aforementioned Banana Republics. Once you've done all this and your company is well beyond the scope that you can manage and is filled with subsidiaries that have nothing to do with each other, you should go on a $440 million retreat after advising the government that if your company isn't saved, fruit and fruit juice as we know it will cease to exist. Oh, and then you get to tell the government that you can no longer manage such a poorly-integrated mess and that you need their help in selling off pieces of your company, including the two 500-story lemon-shaped skyscrapers in Guatemala City and East Timor that you just finished building that nobody wants.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:30 AM | TrackBack

November 03, 2008

Election 2008

Go vote tomorrow. If you're an American citizen and registered to vote, I expect you to get out and go do just that. I would like to take this time to thank all of the servicemen and women who have preserved our right to do just that, and all of the men and women participating in the process of running the polls and enabling voting in a civilized fashion.

Today I read this piece in the New Yorker about the evolution of the American vote and also the evolution of the concept of voting in America. To me, this really solidified a couple of thoughts in my mind... foremost of those being that voting remains a public trust. Not only is it the right of a citizen to vote, but it is his duty to his fellow countrymen, to his country itself and to those citizens who came before. In essence, the governance of the United States has been placed in trust by those who came before and those who will come after into the hands of the common electorate.

This is not to say that I'm some wide-eyed populist or naive advocate of mandatory voting or trusting the unwashed masses with the day-to-day running of the country, but I daresay that if more people took seriously the business of voting and the trust to which they had been vouchsafed at birth, the common electorate would probably do a far better job than they currently do. You'll note that I say "by birth", because if you've never interacted with a naturalized citizen who came into the country an immigrant, you're missing out. If you want to feel a renewed intensity and sense of obligation to your country, interact with a newly-naturalized citizen. But I digress...

The point that I'm trying to make is that tomorrow, go out and vote. If you live in a state like Iowa, you can register at the polls and then vote, so even that's not an excuse to my local friends and associates. Vote even if you don't want to, don't feel up to it or are inconvenienced by it. Because, dammit, your country requires it of you.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:41 PM | TrackBack

May 13, 2007

The Hate of Moving

I hate moving. This is a self-realization that I stumbled upon in the 4th grade as I tearfully departed from the only home I had ever really known and loved for the great unknown of New York. This loathing for the process was rekindled upon my return to Cincinnati and then actualized and enshrined in my heart sometime during the nearly two dozen moves I either made myself or partook of during my 4-year stint at LeTourneau.
While I am not a small or feeble man, it should be noted that I've never been a big fan of unnecessary physical exertion. To make matters more unpleasant, I am something of a pack rat and a disorganized slob. These things tend to come together to take moving experiences from the normal loathesome to uncharted depths of "pain in the hind end"... but the simple fact of the matter is, no matter how much of a minimalist any of my friends are, packing up all of their worldly goods into boxes and lugging them from one place to another is just a generally unfulfulling experience.
To paraphrase Chris Rock, however, let's think of the positive side of moving, all of the good things that have been brought into our lives because of moving. In my case, I believe that includes just about every piece of furniture I have ever owned, less a bed and some shelves: I have them because someone else was moving and either didn't have room for the furniture at their new place or simply didn't feel that the furniture in question was worth the labor/expense of moving and would be better replaced than moved. So while my friends, family and self should stop moving, anyone who doesn't want my help or whants to pay me copious sums of money to help them moving should feel free to scurry from place to place like a confused hermit crab.
For those who are curious as to what brought this on: my arms are sore, my hands are blistered, my feet ache and my back is sending the distress signals that could only mean that I must have helped someone move yesterday. And while I'm sure that I owed them for their help moving me into my current digs, I consider the debt more than repaid. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be venting the angst and pain from yesterday's experience by writing up a "preparations that you'd best make for moving if you want the Cynic to help and not break your arms."

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:23 PM | TrackBack

April 16, 2007

Getting Better?

Somewhat interestingly, I find myself arriving at a topic perhaps better suited to Toad's liking: namely, the "Brokenness of the System." As a backdrop: I have been closely following the Duke Lacrosse Rape Brouhaha and rather interestingly noted that after being cleared of all charges and proclaimed innocent, the players and their lawyers held a press converence . More to the point, the players questioned what their fates would have been but for the availability of high-priced lawyers and the wherewithal to fight a corrupt district attorney and what is increasingly appearing to be corruption within the testing labs used by the district attorney's office.

It goes almost without saying that in criminal defense law as with law in general and, indeed, any processional work, finances are closely tied to the quality of services provided. It is here that one must draw the qestion of justice being related to the price of lawyers. I mean, ostensibly, the adverserial legal system will bear out justice with the prepoderence of truth being the difference between success and failure on the part of either side. At least, that's how it goes in theory. Enter the much-vaunted public defender. If the legal process is to be likened to a fencing match, the public defender would be the fencer with a single rusty foil, fighting three to five well-armed opponents. While it can certainly be argued that the prosecution in many other cases is vastly outgunned in much the same way, it is virtuallyunarguable that the public defender is anything other than the weakest link.

As I sit here and read what I've written up until this point, I'm not sure that I have a solution. While it is certain that the legal system as it exists is relatively broken, unlike with so many of Toad's observations on government, I cannot say that it is the result of consistent decline. Rather, quite the opposite: Miranda, trial by a jury of true peers, public defenders: these are all improvements over the original trial law system as it was envisioned 200 years ago. While the system is not perfect, and indeed rape cases seem to highlight many of the chief flaws in it, legal reform seems to be headed generally in the right direction.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:43 PM | TrackBack

February 01, 2007

An Amusing Meme

This meme has been kicking around in some forums and places that I visit and now I pass it along to you. This is the chance of a lifetime... you get to make me work and pick a subject area... but it comes with a price... ;-P

The first 10 people to comment on this post get to request a drabble (real drabble: 100 words exactly) from you. In return, they have to post this on their blog and write a drabble for you.

Your friends can pick a relationship, a story arc, a missing scene, or pretty much anything they want, unless the author has previously mentioned that they will not write it. They comment with what they want, and you write drabbles and post it in your blog.

I'm more or less up for writing anything... with the exception of slash and fanfic. Just remember, I write for you and you have to post this and write for others.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:18 PM | TrackBack

November 01, 2006

On Behalf of Joe

As some of you may remember, about a year ago, I befriended a guy named Joe. As others will recall, Joe is a mouse... a mouse who my wife attempted to kill (using me as her unwilling proxy) several times. While many of Joe's cousins have fallen by the wayside, Joe lives to fight for the rights and lives of mice and even the cause of all rodents.

It was with a heavy heart that Joe came to me over the weekend to inform me that a friend of mine had again taken up her jihadi ways against his people. Appparently the notorious Ma Hoyt has again taken to heartlessly murdering mice, including Joe's cousin Jeremy. Joe has since informed me that his attempts at rendering peace with Ma were met with terroristic threats, including the use of spring-loaded WMD's and toxins that make anthrax seem tame.

Even as we attempt to take action through the UN and Department of Homeland Security (hey, mice have rights too), I am urging passive resistance and economic sanctions against Ma "The Hammer" Hoyt. To that end, please refrain from trading any chocolate or other sugar-laden luxuries to this despotic regime. Also, no mouse-traps, poison, or any kind of item that could be used in the production of WMD's should be traded with her at this time. I have reports that she is using apple sauce to bribe some of our weaker-minded allies, but take heart... her apple sauce is filled with poison and you don't want it anyways.

Lastly, take encouragement and boldness from the actions of Comrade Joe, who is even today moving his headquarters to Iowa so that he may better coordinate actions against the evil Hoyt. I will close in his immortal words: "cheeze 4 every1!!"

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:22 AM | TrackBack

July 01, 2006

The Man Who Moved

There was once a man who needed to move across town... because the apartment that he lived in was small and dirty. The apartment wasn't really actually dirty, but it smelled very dirty on account of the man's upstairs neighbors being mean and nasty people. The man's upstairs neighbors smoked and drank themselves silly all night long and every morning, the man's apartment smelled as if he had been doing the same. To make matters worse, the man's wife was made sick by all of the dirty smells and kept awake by the noise of the nasty upstairs neighbors. So, the man and his wife decided to move to a nicer place.

Now, moving (even across town) is not an affair for the faint of heart or the weak of muscle... especially when one's new apartment is up a rather haphazardly-arranged flight of stairs. That said, the man had some good friends to help him... and help they did. So after two evenings of hard work, most of the man's worldly possessions (and even those of his wife) had been loaded into the back of a rickety truck, driven across town, taken out of the back of the truck, and carried up the stairs and into the apartment.

Somewhere in the process of doing this, the man realized that he would very much like an internet connection at his new apartment like the nice people at the cable place had told him he could have. And they even came out and promised that it would work... but it would appear that they were misinformed, or just stupid. For when the man tried to set up his internet, it just didn't work. Try as he might, the man could not make his internet work... and so he did the thing that he hated to do: he called technical abuse.

Technical abuse is the secret name for the people who live inside of the telephone and pretend to help you with your computer and electronic problems. You see, once upon a time, there were real people who lived on the other end of the telephone and helped people with problems, but then the companies that hired the people decided that they could buy cheaper people in India and put them inside of the phone. The problem is, when they crammed the people in there, they forgot to cram some support in there, and then all they could fit in was a little script for the people in the phone to read off of.

So anyways, the man called technical abuse and after talking to 4 or 5 different people over the course of a very long time, he convinced them that he really knew what he was talking about. The people in the phone seemed very impressed at how much he knew about computers and electronics... so much so that they even agreed to send one of the people outside of the phone to come and look at his problem and make his computers get on the internet.

Sadly for the man, he was at work when the person from outside of the phone came, and so Technician (for that was his name) talked to the man's wife. And while the man's wife was good at many things, she was not well-versed in the secret trickery that Technician and his technical abuse friends practiced... and so Technician only fixed the man's internets a little bit.

And so now the man sits at his computer. He surveys his apartment, filled with partially-unpacked boxes and haphazardly-arranged furniture, and he is pleased with that. He looks at his computer, lovingly glowing and filled with electricity after spending several long days in darkness, and he is pleased with that. He looks at his happy blue wireless box, which sends internets in every direction to anyone who know's the man's secret handshake, and he is pleased with that. And then, he glances at Technician's box of lies, and he is sad and angry. For Technician's box of lies sometimes gives the man internets... only to take them away like an angry little boy stealing a piece of candy, and then it holds the internets hostage until nobody is watching, and then sometimes it gives them back.

Technician may have won this round, but the man is watching. The man will get technician... of that much you may be sure.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:16 AM | TrackBack

June 02, 2006

Educating the Slobbering Masses

As noted by Anna here, we got into one of those long discussions about education the other evening that we do from time to time. Without getting into the subject of entitlement of students, the role of teachers and parents in motivating students, and the role of state vs. federal governement in playing with education, I decided that I was simply going to get into the idea of higher standards in education. As a result, I wrote up this pleasant little treatise in advocating higher standards:

In addressing the topic of education, it must be noted that I am somewhat torn on the subject of a "free and public education." On one hand, I do believe that public education has resulted in a betterment of society to the point where even the bottom quartile of the public is quasi-literate and suited for non-menial jobs. On the other hand, the provision of a free and public education is both expensive and somewhat socialistic: the demand that the state administer and provide partially for the rearing, training and disciplining of all children under the age of 18 seems somewhat backwards to me. Then again, having been in the public school system for 13 long years, I must say that there are some children who would be far better in the hands of "the system" than with their parents... and that's saying something.

In short, I could wax eloquent at some length about how the idea of a free and public education offends my libertarian sensibilities, but the fact of the matter is that the odds of the abolition of such a system is relatively low, especially in comparison to the likelihood of changing such a system, if only on a small scale. Now, since time immemorial, there have been two opposing camps in education: education as a vocational tool or education as a developer of individuals... otherwise phrased as education as a means to an end vs. education as an end unto itself.

As a matter of course, it is relatively difficult to distinguish between the two camps throughout much of history and throughout large parts of the educational process as it comes to implementation: especially at a more basic level. For instance: both camps have traditionally taught that it is necessary and proper for a student to have the proper tools of linguistic communication, mathematics, applied sciences, history, governance, etcetera. Likewise, both camps agree that proper thinking and reasoning skills must be learned by students and that students must be effective in listening, processing, distilling and disseminating information. In short, both camps will agree on the mechanics of an education insofar as it produces a well-reasoned, thinking, functional individual within the confines of his (and, of late, her) society.

A schism arises, however, when a subject arises that is not of tangible vocational value. Musical instruction, the arts, literature, higher-level mathematics and the sciences are all areas in which the pragmatist will argue that it is not necessary for all students to have understanding and mastery, merely those for whom these areas will have vocational value. On the other hand, the advocate of the so-called Liberal Education (Liberal Arts colleges being those that teach more than just technical expertise) will argue that education in these areas produces better people with a heightened understanding of the world around them. Beyond the potential of vocational benefit, a broader knowledge base produces citizens who are better thinkers with a greater understanding of the varied and sundry things that may have impact at a later date or may simply be knowledge for the benefit of the individual.

As I should think it has become obvious, I am an advocate of a Liberal Education. Simply put, I think that an enlightened society with a broad background in literature, the sciences, humanities, mathematics and history will be a better society with individuals who are better thinkers. Simply put, if an individual doesn't want learning, I question that individual's value to society and the quality of his upbringing that he should come to a point that he desires less knowledge and understanding rather than more. While I do appreciate that there are some areas of knowledge that come easier than others to most individuals, I find the raising of standards for society to be a good and admirable gesture, regardless of pragmatic outcome.

To paraphrase Alan Dershowitz, I find my position to be defensible across a broad spectrum of ideologies. Just as I defend higher standards from the perspective of an advocate of a Liberal Education, I expect those who favor a more technical or vocationally-oriented education to lend their support on the basis of higher standards promoting better workers.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:51 PM | TrackBack

May 05, 2006

On Wheeler's Wedding

Last night at the rehearsal dinner, I had a chance to share some musings about our favorite Guatemalan... but I cut my remembrances short both out of respect for time and out of respect for his dignity. I will be paying little respect to either of those categories insofar as this posting is concerned.

I met Jared when I began encountering and attempting to indoctrinate the Second Cohort... but I really didn't begin speaking with him at any length until his sophomore year, principally because he was quiet, frequently in a hurry (because he was due somewhere else five minutes ago), and rarely left his room. I saw him from time to time, and knew enough of where his room was to crash it and trouble him and Durkin (who seemed rather alarmed at the intrusion)... but that was more or less it. In our defenses, he had a good roommate and wasn't feeling like chancing the burning glare of the daystar, and I was increasingly interested with other distractions.

Jared's sophomore year, however, (and my Junior year) heralded the formation of the SC Blogs Proper, my taking classes with Jared, and Jared spending a decent bit of time out of his room. It was at this point that I also found the joy of sitting next to Jared in chapel because he always had an interesting spare book or three. Oh... and an interesting tidbit... a 150 pound guy with a 50 pound backpack spins like a top when you seize his backpack and shove it to one side or the other. Ah... I miss that backpack. Another point of note is that Jared was the LeTourneau student "Most Likely to be Found in the Library" through most of his time at LeTourneau. I'm positive that he holds the record for most hours asleep in the library by sheer force of the fact that he did a good half of his sleeping there for most of his sophomore year. I almost forgot "Mosh the Guatemalan"... a favorite game of Gallagher's and mine. Not so sure of Jared's undying appreciation for the game, however.

And then we roomed together for the summer. Jared has a lot of crap... which I found out the hard way when we moved it... a lot of heavy crap (It's still not as bad as Moore's freaking couch though... damn your couch Moore... you suck.) That said, silly Guatemalan... you should never room with someone whose voracious taste for books, trouble and movies is only surpassed by your own. To say that we slacked hard is probably a gross understatement of the term. We might could have slacked harder, but it would have gotten us fired... and we weren't eligible for welfare. So I had to wake Wheeler up at the crack of dawn... and 5 minutes later, and then drag him out of bed so that we could stumble across campus to work and not be late. Not that our boss really minded, but it was the principle of the thing. Except for those two weeks where we scraped glue. We should have probably quit then on principle.

But we lived like kings, Wheeler and I. We read all day, except when we watched movies all day, and then watched movies every night. We probably drove Ardith and Anna insane... but we had a hell of a time doing it. And then the rest of the crew came back... and the work-load increased a bit, but the fun of watching the good movies also increased. Oh... and we saran-wrapped Paige's car... that was fun too. At some point, I also got engaged and married... and Wheeler was there to help out with that as well. A fine groomsman, if I do say so myself.

And this year, I've gotten to see him a lot less than I would like. Part of it is my having a job, and part of it is him spending lots of time with Rachel and my not living right by them. I suppose that's the way it is with the Real World... it's not like college. Which more or less sucks, if you like being near your friends most of the time as opposed to across town from them and too busy to spend lots of time having fun with them. To Jared's discredit, he couldn't remember to ask a grocer for food if he was dying of starvation... but we'll try not to hold his complete inability to communicate important information against him... too much.

I could go on and tell stories about Wheeler for hours... and I probably will. But this post probably should come to a close, and the close is this: I'm going to miss my damn Guatemalan... who has been there for me as a great friend for several wonderful years. I mean, now he's going to be Rachel's damn Guatemalan... and she'll probably even make him change his name to Rachel's respectable Guatemalan. And who wants that?

But I wish them both the best... and looking back, I think I've managed to withhold most of Wheeler's embarassing stories. You're welcome Gauatemala.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:49 AM | TrackBack

August 25, 2005

Parents in Action

As promised, here is my attempt at analyzing and providing critical thought on Rolando Bini's "organization.

Over time, there have been a series of writings on my blog and on Toad's regarding the Child Protective Services. Roughly a week ago, Rolando Bini, ostensibly representing a group called Parents in Action, surfaced and began on a fairly... special diatribe about the illegitimacy of Child Protective Services. While that discussion seems more or less finished where it was begun, I proceeded to visit Parents in Action's page, and was quite shocked with what I found.

I would like to start out by trying ascertain the nature of the group. Here's what I found:

"We consider Parents to be the Natural Protectors of their Children and as such to have a God-given right to raise them without government intervention."

Now, capitalization issues (of which there will be many) aside, it is easy to note that this appears to be a theistically-based group, though it's hard to tell much more than that they subscribe to a theology of the family being a divinely-appointed group, designed to be the best way to raise children. While this is well and good, this militant attitude towards the government is somewhat disturbing. Before we get to that, let me showcase what I feel are the organization's other two solid points:


"We consider Fathers as equal partners and very important for the healthy development of their Children, and as such we encourage their full participation in the lives of them, not only as protectors and providers, but also by providing emotional nourishment. Fathers, having the duty of being role models for their Children, must rise to fulfill that mission by being positive role models, and by being there for their Children. We aim to increase awareness among fathers of their full responsability in the well being of their Children, and the community to help them regain their natural positive place in society."


"We consider Grandparents as valuable resources and support for their Children and Grandchildren..."

In short, I think it's quite a good sentiment that fatherly involvement in the family and in the lives of his children is key and that the elderly are an invaluable resource to the community and to the family which should be utilized and not minimized.

That aside, I see some deep-seated problems with Parents in Action's rhetoric. Firstly, their assertion that the Child Protective Services is an evil entity with unchecked and universal power is patently false. They assert:

"Any system that has no checks and balances and is accountable to no one, will become abusive. The Child Welfare System is by design such an entity. We need to be ever vigilant in Preserving the Family, since its integrity is essential for the development of a Healthy Society. As such, we aim to bring public awareness to the abuse of power by Children Protective Services, the Family Court System, and Foster Care providers and eventually make them accountable."

While it is obvious that unchecked power is a serious problem, CPS and Foster Care are HEAVILY regulated under US Federal Law and are overseen by the Judicial Branch, in addition to frequent interaction with law enforcement at various levels. To say that there are foster parents and case-workers that are under-supervised would be an accurate statement, but to say that the entire system is an uncontrolled power trip would appear to be an accusation that is grossly out of line without some sort of factual backup. To summarize, I agree that there needs to be a comprehensive review system in place, but I find it a malicious and gross mischaracterization that the existing system lacks any sort of safeguards to prevent wanton and flagrant abuse of power.

Having done a cursory summary of the "stronger" points of Parents in Action, as well as expressing some concern with the tone of their position, I think it's fairly safe to say that this is a group that attempts to take on some sort of Theistic tack, though I really can't say much more. As I look at addressing the lesser points that the group takes on, I keep coming back to the issue of authority. In short, where do they derive their mandate from? The only answers I can find are these, in addition to the earlier appeal to parents having a "God-given right to raise [their children] without government intervention" :

"We consider Family Preservation vital for our very survival, being the biological Family Unit, the Natural cell of Human Society; and coerced/forced Foster Care and Special Ed in Public Schools the main Social Cancer producers that feeds the prison, homeless and mentally ill population. As such we have a duty to promote Social Healing initiatives that contribute to the Common Good."

To the extent that it is coherent, this argument appears to be that the most natural order is the highest good, and the family is the most natural social unity, there for it is privileged to the highest degree of Common Good. Organized education and larger societal structures, being less natural, have a lesser degree of Common Good, and are thus trumped by the family. This line of argument is fraught with difficulty, because it seems to be an arbitrary argument that biological relationships are inherantly superior to non-biological relationships. But this, in essence, argues that there is no societal order larger than an extended family. This lack of provision for a larger governmental structure that cannot be disregarded at will seems to be fine and good for the establishment of small villages of close relations but breaks down in modern society. With large groups of non-related people, there must be some sort of authoritative government, even in some of the most extreme libertarian understandings, short of the anarchist way of thinking, which also seems to run counter to the ideals of Parents in Action.

As I have argued earlier, even within the traditionally libertarian understanding of government, it is held that police protection from other citizens who would attempt to break laws is acceptable. Further, because I doubt that anyone would argue that child abuse shouldn't be illegal, it falls to the government as a representative of all good citizens to protect these children from crimes perpetuated against them by criminals, EVEN IF THOSE CRIMINALS ARE THEIR PARENTS.

Now, the basis of the argumentation for Parents in Action aside, there are several points that the organization makes that have been bothering me which I would like to address:

"We consider that the majority of cases of parents accused of abuse or neglect are rather cases of poverty and that the government should use those resources to Preserve Families rather than dissolve them. The act of having Children taken away from the people whom they trust and love the most, has a devastating effect not only on those Children, but also in the psychological and financial well being of the whole Family, further sinking them into poverty and creating chaos in their lives and those of future generations."

I have been attempting to find some sort of political classification which simultaneously invites government subsidy of private families and yet demands government non-intervention. While this could be asserted to be a statement to the effect of "if the government must intervene, at least give aid rather than taking children", it would seem that this statement tacitly acknowledges that where the government intervenes, there may be legitimate problems, albeit problems resulting from poverty. So, there is a situation where parents are irresponsibly having children that they lack means to care for, and Parents in Action's solution is for the government to provide aid rather than removing children from parents who are at least negligent if not worse? With adoption as a viable option, parents who keep children they cannot afford to provide for are dangerous to society. Even if these parents are only unwilling to part with their children out of sentimentality, the fact remains that they would damn their children to a miserable existance out of a selfish indulgence rather than allowing their children to be provided for, and this is precisely why they should not be allowed to keep their children.


We aim to help Families dealing with internal conflicts such as: Domestic Violence, Teen-age rebellion, substance abuse, emotional crisis, separation, Divorce, etc. to deal with them in a constructive, conflict-resolution oriented form, away from punitive measures that further damage the Family. Our aim being to Heal not to dissolve the Family."

Good intentions notwithstanding, domestic violence and substance abuse are criminal offenses. While I might be persuaded with the argument that substance abuse can be a self-injurious crime without consequences to others, domestic violence is criminal activity that should not and cannot be exempt from punitive measures. Simply put, if Parents in Action is advocating protecting violently abusive parents/spouses from legal action, I can find little understanding for their position. I would invite someone from the organization to clarify this point for me, because I cannot understand why anyone who commits assault and battery on a member of his/her own would be shielded by an organization that proposes to help families.

Lastly, I cannot quote the entire page, where Parents in Action asserts that CPS engages in child slavery, but here is an excerpt:

"Children are Kidnaped (the criminal enterprise uses the feel-good euphemism "remove") under any imaginable excuse, Kept with Legal Trickery and eventually Sold. The Kidnapers are the so-called CPS (Children Protective Services) Division of ACS; the Hostage Keepers are the Foster Care agencies; and the ones who Sell them, as Slaves are and were Sold, are the Adoption Agencies. All of them Profit from this Scheme."

Now, up until this point, I have been willing to cede that I might suffer from an outsider's perspective and that this website might be a somewhat-misleading representation of a good-hearted organization. This assertion that the New York City Child Protective Services is engaged in a large-scale slave industry seems to force the abandonment of that belief. In light of such extreme positioning, it seems to be unlikely that this is an organization headed by rational individuals, nor is it one with any sort of capability to work within a system that needs help. Rather, this is waht we call an extremist group, thankfully a seemingly-nonviolent one, but nevertheless a group that should probably be kept under close watch, all things considered.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:11 AM | TrackBack

August 09, 2005


In response to this post of mine, comments pursuant to it, and this post of Toad's, I have attempted this analysis of the Child Protection Services and Government's role in the protection of children from a libertarian and Christian viewpoint. I encourage and value feedback and would love to develop this into a more cogent, longer, and cited work:

Having been given the unfortunate task of defending the necessity of the Child Protection Services (hereafter referred to as CPS), allow me to start with a couple of caveats. It should be noted that the author, as a Libertarian approaches the role of government from that perspective, and in particular, the view that there are some roles that cannot be entrusted to private organizations, such as anything with welfare of the entire public in mind. Thus, to a libertarian, these roles are accepted as inevitable, but limited to absolute necessities. That said your average libertarian (myself included) accepts police presence and military defense operations as necessities, along with judicial responsibilities and whatever (minimal) legislative needs arise. Obviously the laws will be up for grabs, but it's generally accepted that murder, rape, assault, kidnapping... etc are illegal.

In short, the question I have been given to answer is: "Should the public be entrusted with the protection of society's children in an ad hoc fashion, or should it be a governmental responsibility, bearing in mind that it is already tasked with the defense of the public welfare?"

Now, before any of you shout "theocracy" and I have to light you on fire, allow me another caveat: in an ideal Christian society, I can let there be no line between Church and State... but we do not have such a system so the point is moot.*

Now that we've gone and sighed about "wouldn't it be nice" (and this isn't too dismiss the idea that an ideal world and an ideal government wouldn't be nice), please allow me to address the pragmatic realities.

While I appreciate that a great many conservatives would really like the idea of private organizations handling items of public welfare, I would counter that, at least in the case of child welfare, governmental oversight is the lesser of two evils. Simply put, a government has the obligation to protect the rights of its citizens. In short, the rights of a child to be protected from torture, abuse and negligent parents supersedes a parent's right to custody of a child. To that end, I would argue that "taking someone's children is kidnapping", while true in lieu of outstanding governmental obligations, becomes moot when said parent has been legally demonstrated to be a risk to his/her child.

Now, as to Toad's solution of a privatized equivalent of the CPS, I think he admits that it won't work within the strictures of a modern government, but I'd like to explore further why it's a bad idea even within the confines of a typical libertarian government. In short, I believe that even within the traditionally libertarian understanding of government, it is held that police protection from other citizens who would attempt to break laws is acceptable. Further, because I doubt that anyone would argue that child abuse shouldn't be illegal, it falls to the government as a representative of all good citizens to protect these children from crimes perpetuated against them by criminals, EVEN IF THOSE CRIMINALS ARE THEIR PARENTS.

Now, this is where we get into the thorny issue of child custody. I wouldn't go so far as to say, like some Socialistic countries, that children are legally the wards of the State from the beginning and are only given to parents in trust... but I would like to point out that a child has to be looked after by someone. To that end, while I certainly appreciate Toad's notion of privatized Foster Services or the equivalent, the government has an obligation to see that the children in question are placed in good homes, should their own extended families (the next ideal step) be unable to do so, because government is protecting them in lieu of their parents and is protecting them FROM their parents. Now, I see Toad's general call for civic responsibility by Christians looking out for children in need as viable. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that Christians are obviously not fulfilling their obligatory role because there are still hundreds and thousands of children already in the system looking for permanent homes. To that end, I am willing to argue that government is doing a superior job to the Christian community in that it is at least dealing with all of the children in such a way as it can.

In short, the argument that the government is the ultimate evil is a nice thing to tell oneself, but it cannot be the end-all. In fact, while criticism of the government's methods has a legitimate place, it cannot operate in the vacuum of a failure to perform civic duties and attempt to work within it. To criticize CPS and the foster system and yet not seek to improve it by volunteering one's own resources falls dangerously close to hypocrisy (I speak to myself as much as others.) While far-reaching changes would certainly be welcome, the fact of the matter is that many Christians have failed to even work to improve the current system... opting instead to stand at a distance, point and ridicule. As the adage goes "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

*At least to my mind it has been proven in modern times that God is not actively working as the head of a governmental system as per the Old Testament, even if said government claims otherwise, ergo, Holy Roman Empire, Papal States and kingship by divine right. Rulers may be divinely inspired, but God is not actively ruling any countries. In fact, even in the OT when God WAS ostensibly at the head of the State, things frequently go to hell in a hand-basket and all manner of idiotic religious and social mandates were issued, seemingly as "God's will" as stated by the current leader. Simply put, if you have an axe to grind on theocracy, don't start it in my comment system... either make a post of your own or send me an email and we'll go there.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:37 PM | TrackBack

April 28, 2005

Would You Read?

If you ran across a book that started like this (or had this as the summary), would you read it?

Alright, so I'm going to assume that because you're going off to college, you have bought or someone else has bought for you a great book about doing everything right at college. Maybe you've been taking advice from your parents, counselors and teachers, and perhaps you're getting the inside scoop from admissions people at the college you're going to. Rest assured that I'm not going to tell you how to do everything right at college.

I'm going to assume (and if this doesn't apply to you, you can go away) that eventually you're going to want to cut class, wait until the last day to write a paper, pull a last-minute cram session, or something of the like. It's for times like those, that this book will help you. I won't lie, I'm not 4.0 student... but I will tell you that I've gotten away with more in 4 years than most students will in a whole lifetime, and it's because I know how to use the loop-holes, work time to my advantage, and take advantage of a good thing when I see it. So if you want an adventurous 4 (or 5) years of the best time of your life, why don't we see if I can get some of my magic to work for you?*

*note: I am currently pulling one of my class-skipping tricks even as I write this paragraph

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April 07, 2005

The Problem of Illegal Immigration

As a moderate caveat, it should be noted that this does tend to ramble a bit, but I find it more or less illustrative of my feelings on the subject. Do bear in mind that I hashed this out while sitting in classes if it begins to take on a slightly disjointed feeling from time to time. That said, all comments, ciriticisms and responses are welcome.

The problem of illegal immigration in the United States as it is typically realized is actually a threefold problem of national security, law enforcement and human rights. On these matters, there is increasing debate as one goes down the list, such that I find it most profitable to first address the problem upon which there is the most agreement if only to arrive at a profitable agreement which I may use as a tool later in the discussion.
It should be noted at this point that regardless of controls created upon current illegal immigrants and future immigrants, an open and uncontrolled border such as the one that the U.S. shares with Mexico does not support national security and stands in opposition to any attempts at improving U.S. national security. Further, one should at this moment take pause and consider the lack of national stability and security of Mexico and further emphasize that a nation can only safely exercise an open border with another country if such a country shares similar ideals and is of equal or greater national stability and security. With a country such as Mexico where national security is a farce and nationwide corruption and instability are the rule, it is foolish to turn a blind eye to an open border. Further, to perpetuate such an instrument of national insecurity and instability by inaction is the paramount of foolishness.
Now, on the topic of illegal immigrants, one must first deal with tangential arguments of human rights that plague most discussions on illegal immigration, unnecessarily derailing them and diverting off onto rabbit trails. In short, it must be agreed that every human being has certain inalienable rights that cannot be abrogated, even if a particular individual is either suspected of or convicted of criminal activity. An enumeration of these rights would seem profitable, so we shall draw upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an accepted criterion as accepted by the United Nations General Assembly.
Insofar as the rights of immigrants are concerned, I have several things to note. First, it should be noted that while everyone is construed as having the right to leave any country and return to his own country, it is nowhere construed that anyone has a right to enter a country where he is not wanted. Extrapolating on this, it stands to reason that while a person might have certain rights that cannot be abrogated regardless, there are other rights that he has that are provisional of being a law-abiding and upright resident of the state in which he is located and it could be argued that included in a listing of such rights are the rights to work, a living wage and access to education. In short, no more could I land in Russia and demand a right to a job, a decent wage and an education than an unlawful immigrant should be able to demand such things of the United States and have the denial of such demands construed as a human rights violation. Indeed, such an unlawful entrance into a country could be construed as a voluntary abrogation of many human rights, should an unlawful immigrant be convicted of having broken laws and such a criminal status would carry with it certain penalties such as loss of liberty, exile and property loss. Furthermore, insofar as the illegal alien attempts to trespass where he is not allowed and steal benefits and thus cheapen or remove those benefits from others, it should come as no surprise that the government is now forced to intervene to protect him from the disdain-filled vigilantism that typically follows such crimes.
As a partial aside, I will note that while it is certainly possible and even a proven reality that illegal and inhumane acts on the part of independent operators and even U.S. state and federal law officers have served to violate the rights of illegal immigrants, that is not germane to this discussion. If I will allow that such injustices can be and are perpetrated, surely it can be allowed that the proper oversight would necessarily curb and eliminate such injustices, thus allowing us to progress to the next area of our discussion.
Coming back around, it is thus that I am left to criticize the proposed amnesty (or naturalization or whatever) for illegal aliens. Surely, such an act would allow accounting for those who have already entered the country, but it really doesn't solve the national security problem imposed by the open border with Mexico. Further, such a system for naturalizing immigrants involves, by necessity, the provision of documentation for some mass of undocumented aliens and thus allows another natural loophole with regards to the circumvention of national security. In short, the proposal merely treats the symptom of the existing problem, and that at the cause of the credibility of the laws as they currently stand.
In summary, I have no problems with immigration of a legal variety, nor do I truck with isolationism and indeed, I would love to see immigration policies expanded. While some criticize such a penchant for regulated immigration as bigotry, isolationism and xenophobia, I would counter in saying that a nation must protect her borders, especially in modern times. Further, with the foreign national status of all of the perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks, it is foolhardy to suggest that regulated immigration is nothing more than paranoid xenophobia. I care greatly for human rights, but I care little for those who would presume to unlawfully exploit the generosity of a sovereign nation by circumventing and flaunting her laws.

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March 19, 2005

Perkins Reloaded

Being as that we're back in Cincinnati and Anna had never been to the Perkins of Legend, it seemed appropriate to give it a visit. My best friend Tim, a fellow veteran, was understandably reluctant to revisit the home of the worst restaurant service available in Cincinnati, but that reluctance, as always, was tempered with the anticipation of another exciting Perkins episode. Thus, it didn't take me too long to sell Tim on the idea and so we went, with Ben in tow.*
I began anticipating a good time when I arrived at Perkins and noted that the parking lot was parked 3 cars deep in some areas, as opposed to the common American practice of parking 2 deep and leaving access aisles such that there isn't a middle car that is potentially prevented from exiting. In light of this entertaining parking scheme, Tim pulled through one spot and I followed him so that I would be able to leave at the proper time. What's more, upon exiting we discovered that this mystical "third row" wasn't a row at all but rather a mechanism of parking in the access aisle unilaterally adopted by the presumably disoriented (and potentially inebriated) customers of Perkins.
Upon accomplishing the marvelous feat of parking, we set out to go in, only to pause at hearing noise emanating from the adjoining dumpster. Tim managed to mutter "dumpster diving" just in time for us to note a man climbing up onto the dumpster and sitting down upon it. Then, instead of rifling through it, he discarded several boxes into the dumpster, hopped down, and dashed into Perkins. We thought this slightly odd, commented such, and proceeded into the restaurant where, lo and behold, this same employee was standing at the front counter, handing a customer her take-out food. This level of sanitation should have discomforted me, but I was distracted at that moment by a man sticking his head in the women’s room.
Pausing to attempt to figure out what was going on, I noted a couple of "Caution: Wet Floor" signs on the floor, that the man looking through the door was wearing a Perkins shirt, and that the peeping tom and the man at the counter both appeared to be managers. Oh... and the man at the counter appeared to be agitated and, well, gay.
As we stood there waiting, Peeping Tom darted from bathroom to bathroom and into the back, at which point the counter manager paused to shout after him, "I've already dealt with it!" Noting that he wasn't being acknowledged and affecting more flagrant mannerisms by the moment, the dumpster-diver turned to a heretofore-unnoticed Perkins employee sitting in the waiting area and said, "You'd better get him out of here or me and him are gonna have to fight!"
The employee looked up from where he seemed to be trying to hide and responded, "I don't work here any more James, leave me out of this."
At this point the manager emerged from the back and James interjected, "It's all deatlt with! I've been on my hands and knees wading, through 6 inches of water for the past hour to get the water up, but it's dealt with! Get out!"
The manager turned to James and told him, "I'm just doing my job!" and then turned and retreated into the back, where James followed him after barking at the camouflaged employee. It was at this point that our waitress emerged from some side door and escorted us to our table.
After being seated, I had to know what was going on. That, combined with the apparent unprofessionalism of both the restaurant and the waitress prompted me to inquire, "What's been going on in here?"
The very question seemed to be all that the waitress needed by way of encouraging to unload the ever-increasing burden of the goings-on of the evening to somebody. "Well," she began, "this isn't even the first of it. It all started earlier this evening when a group of drunk guys brought this girl in and she decided at some point to go sit with a different group of guys. Now, they were also drunk and we could smell the alcohol from over there," she continued, pointing over to the kitchen. "There was almost a fight and the manager had to come over and break that up and we had to hurry up to get them out of here."
"What about the manager who's here now?" I prompted.
"That started a bit later," she answered, leaning over conspiratorially, "when the toilet in the employee bathroom plugged up. Water poured everywhere and there was, like, two inches of water everywhere in the kitchen and all of the bathrooms. And our manager is gay, so he was all exaggerating when the general manager came in. And now he's checking up on our manager and they hate each other so I just hope we get the general manager out of here because they're back there screamin' at each other right now."
After a bit more colorful dialogue wherein the waitress informed me that I looked like a stoner friend of hers whose hair she used to braid, she wandered off to find somewhere to hide or something. It was at this point that a group of 6 young teenaged girls, sporting a good bit of attitude, was seated at a nearby oversized booth. One of the girls was given a chair and was sitting in the aisle, which was promptly noted by James in the kitchen. He came storming out, looking very agitated and very gay, and tried to calmly tell the girls that they couldn't have a seat out in the aisle due to the fire code. I must admit, I was really hoping for an explosion, but the girls moved into the booth together with only minor grumbling.
It was at this point that my coffee arrived, complete with a suspicious layer of sludge on the outside of the carafe. I didn't ask, I don't want to know, and all I can say for the food was that it was barely tolerable, and without the company it wouldn't have even acheived that. Sadly, the rest of the evening was largely uninteresting with one exception:
Roughly 10 minutes before we were to leave, the waitress came back by our table to check on us, and inform us that she hoped her TV wasn't going to burn. Apparently she was renting-to-own a 64-inch plasma television and had spent roughly $4000 on it. For reasons that weren't explained, she was remodeling her apartment or something and the television had just been moved to James' apartment for storage earlier that evening. Apparently, James had just received a call to tell him that his apartment had just caught fire. Thus, the manager had rushed off to his apartment, leaving our waitress to hope and pray that her television wouldn't be burned. I suspect and hope it had some sort of insurance... but this was just one more oddity to top out a rather entertaining, and surprisingly well-serviced Perkins run. Come to Cincinnati with me and I'll hit Perkins with you, too.

*note: This was more of a risk than it sounds because Ben is a notorious over-tipper and supporter of the International Brotherhood of Waiters and Waitresses, no matter what a bunch of hacks they are. We've had to steal Ben's tip back from him in order that we can under-tip for execrable service on numerous occasions.

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April 14, 2004

On the Business of Chapel...

Call me crazy, but I really didn't enjoy chapel today. It all started with praise and worship. Granted, I'm fairly obnoxious regarding my likes and dislikes of praise and worship... that said, I'd like to be able to understand what's going on. If we're singing in Spanish, I really don't have much of a clue. We could be singing in Swahili or even "Made-Up Space Language" for all I care. Yes, I know we're being "diverse" and "multi-cultural," but the simple fact of the matter is that if I don't understand what I'm singing, there isn't much point. The traditional argument is that there is a significant population of Spanish-speakers at LeTourneau... and that's fine with me. I would just like to point out that there is a significantly larger population of people who don't understand Spanish, and the fact of the matter is that it's required that one speak English to end up at LU in the first place. So yeah... I'm having serious issues with praise and worship that might as well have been in "Made-Up Space Language."

That rousing praise and worship chapel just really put me in a wonderful mood for the message. That said, the message didn't start out half bad... essentially Corey correlated Simon of Cyrene's carrying of Christ's cross with a Christian's carrying of each other's burdens. And then it got weird... because "carrying burdens" all of a sudden meant rebuking others in love when they needed it... and by others, it means just about anyone you feel like rebuking whom you suspect might be a Christian. I've heard that sentiment several times before, and usually it ends up with overzealous Christian teens going around and making general asses out of themselves. And what's worse, Corey encouraged this sort of nonsense by telling people not to worry about feeling silly or stupid in confronting their friends and acquiantances.

Look, I'm not saying that this sort of thing doesn't have a place, and indeed there is quite the biblical precedent for confronting a sinner in love... but that said, I would like to look at the example of Christ and the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-42. I really don't want to do an in-depth exegesis, I just want to point out that before Jesus confronted the Samaritan woman's extensive sin problem, he established a rapport and earned a right to say something. I would like to take this as an example rather than people who walk up and start condemning people.

Oh yeah... and I really wish people would lay proper logical framework for chapel messages. I know they typically have something valid to say, but I really dislike the fact that an unacceptably large number of chapel speakers don't have the logic of a hill of beans. If I'm made to listen to these people, at least they could do me the favor of spending some time on their talks.

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February 26, 2004


So yesterday, we got to hear from Eric Buehrer, a guest speaker who is apparently the president of Gateways to Better Education. His organization exists to further the teaching of Judeo-Christian beliefs and values in the public arena, especially public schools. Incidentally, before I get into a criticism of his talk, I will note two things:
1) Dr. Jimmy Ames (the education prof who introduced Mr. Buehrer) put the entire audience to sleep in the 30 second introduction and thus things got off to a rough start with a cold crowd.
2) Apparently Eric Buehrer is on a first name basis with Mel Gibson, with whom he watched The Passion about a month ago. We gather this from "I saw [The Passion] about a month ago. Me and Mel... Mel was there. Me and about 500 other pastors."

His reasons why Christianity could and should be taught broke down into four arguments, namely: Christiantity is culturally appropriate, academically legitimate, legally permitted, and morally imperative. While I would agree with all of these points and agree that Christianity can and should be taught in the public schools, his support was absolutely abysmal.

Before I can even get to his main arguments, we have the problem of dealing with his absolutely awful prelimilary remarks and straw men. At the beginning, he spoke of a stupid argument about the words "Under God" being in the Pledge of Allegiance and noted that they weren't in the original and discredited arguments for returning to the original by saying "it took 50 years to get it right." After this, he moved to an example where a teacher re-wrote a class production of The Sound of Music without mention of nuns and a abbey in order to take religion out of it and how a parent successfully fought her on that. Another example is a child being forced to wash a cross off of her hand that she had drawn on it so that she wouldn't upset other students. Can we say "straw men?"

Here are his arguments, in chronological order, organized under the categories in which Buehrer placed them:

Christianity is Culturally Relevant
First, we have our suspect statistics:
"85% of Americans claim Christianity?"
"40-44% of Americans attend church in a given week"
"61% of African-Americans describe themselves as attending church weekly"
"39% of Americans referred to themeselves as 'committed born-again Christians'"
And then we have a reference to a Newsweek article:
(date 7/16/2001) - Newsweek "Christian music is now the hottest genre in the entire music industry"
The article also mentioned Left Behind, Veggie Tales as selling well and having cultural significance. And from that, he drew this conclusion and moved on:
"It is reasonable that American schools teach American students about american culture and Christianity is deeply-rooted in American culture."

Christianity is Academically Legitimate
Here we started out with another straw man of a teacher agreeing to allow a student to do a report and presentation on Psalm 23 but refusing to allow the student to read Psalm 23 in his presentation.
He branched from this to the legality, noting that the Department of Education has given students the right to incorporate their faith into their schoolwork.
After this, his only justification for reading the Bible alound (aside from when you've been allowed to do a report on a particular Biblical passage) is because it's a thing of "literary beauty."
From here he jumped to the Texas State curriculum and noted that religious awareness education is present in many different places in the curriculum and that it shouldn't be irrelevant in Texas schools in light of its educational standards (that's all well and good in a conservative state like TX, try NY for a different perspective.)
And finally, Buehrer noted that it is proper and allowable to present religious holidays in light of their historical and ongoing religious significance, such as with Easter and Christmas. Granted, this only works sometimes in more conservative settings, but it's something.

Christianity is Legally Permitted
Buehrer first noted that the 1963 case Abbington vs. Shemp invalidated the requirement of religious ceremony and reading in school. However, the courts explicitly stated that a study of the Bible was a academically legitimate one in the light of a study of comparative religions and in light of its historical impact. He then pointed out that even the ACLU noted that objective teaching of religious impact in schools. And that was essentially that

Christianity is Morally Imperative
Buehrer asserted that modern children are morally aimless due to a lack of religious roots. He then made the more or less syllogistic assertion that if people follow Christianity and stick to the morals it teaches, they will be moral.

If you look up and read the main talking points, you may wonder why this bothered me so much. And I can't even really give the man justice by typing the talk out. The fact is that I happen to have been in public school for 13 long years and nobody agrees that the place needs Christianity more than I. That said, there wasn't one of his arguments that I either couldn't find fault with or couldn't point out the obvious straw-man that he was using to build his case. It's people like this who bother me to no end because I look up at them and I see them destroying something that I find valuable by their ineptitude and inability to find real talent to do the job that they are botching. Thanks for another quality chapel!

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February 22, 2004


"The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man."
Genesis 2:18-22 (NIV)

When I stop and think about it, I really am quite the extrovert. It's funny how whenever I am abruptly separated from the company of a large group of friends and have to console myself with my own company, I get very depressive. This passage above is probably one of my favorites in the Bible, not only because it explains my personality and outlook on life fairly well but also because of how God deals with this. Rather than leaving Adam alone to work it out by himself, God sends Adam some company. Now Adam has a friend whom God has designed specifically for Adam so that he can be supported and not be lonely.

So often, I guess I just take for granted that I always have friends around: people whom God has set aside to support me. And every now and again, it probably does me some good to be away from all of those people to get perspective. But I really am not all that crazy about being alone for long periods of time. Some of you will note how obsessive I am about not leaving people behind when we go to do stuff. As best as I can figure, this little compulsion of mine is best described by the fact that I hate being left behind. There are few feelings that upset me more than the feeling that my friends are doing something and I'm not involved.

All that to say is, go find a friend and have then enjoy the day with you tomorrow. Friends don't let friends get left out of fun.

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February 04, 2004

My Education (Part 1)

A consideration of my educational background grants me considerable insight into my formative years as well as my interactions with others and perspective on these interactions.

It must have been 2nd grade or so when I realized that I was being used to further the educations of others. In hindsight, I don't believe that this problem would have ever come to a head if it weren't for my perpetual boredom at school. You see, to my young mind, my perpetual boredom was a direct result of the teachers slowing down to accommodate the lazy students. To further this, now she wanted me to drag along those same students whose laziness and inattention had led to my boredom and the wasting of my time in the first place.

Granted, this simplistic understanding of mine failed to take into account the difference in scholastic capability between myself and others... but remember that I was a 2nd-grader. Besides this, the kids I was helping might not have been as "smart" as I was, but they were slacking so hard that some of the desks were outperforming them... thus negating any possibility of some sort of revelation and resultant compassion that I might have had for them.

And, as is the case with this sort of injustice in the mind of a child, I took my problem to my most trusted legal representative: my mother. I told mom in no uncertain terms that I was having no more of my time wasted by these hangers-on and that I was tired of doing nothing but tutor others in school. My mother took advantage of my simplistic and childish logic and turned the discussion into an evaluation of my lack of compassion and unwittingly started a debate that we've been having for 15 years. After all, she might have painted me into a corner that I couldn't have found my way out of at the time... but I had this nagging feeling that there was something wrong with her argument and eventually I figured out the problem, thus creating new arguments. And behold the argument of homogenous versus heterogeneous grouping and the underlying compassion or lack thereof present in the systems has kept us amused and sparring through my academic career... but I digress.

Being as that I was attending a 4th-rate school in a 3rd-rate district, this sort of nonsense kept up in droves. 3rd-grade was a lot like 2nd with the notable exception of a rudimentary attempt at dividing advanced English from remedial and likewise for math... thus causing me to only have to help bring up the rear guard in Science and History. This pattern continued through into 4th grade with a slight change in that advanced 4th-graders were combined with remedial 5th-graders, creating a 3rd group that was meant to accelerate people whose academic background was at least better than what we had in our grade and thus things bogged down a bit less frequently.

Midway through 4th grade, I moved to New York. This move facilitated an educational Renaissance whereupon I was transferred to one of the best public school systems I have ever seen and was given a teacher who really cared. I guess at this point I really ought to enumerate how Mount Healthy (old district) differed from Shenendehowa (new district.)

In Mount Healthy, there were 3 major demographics: Catholic families, elderly couples and families on welfare. This is a community on the edge of the incorporated district of Cincinnati and bears all of the markings of a once-affluent area that had since had almost all of the money move out or huddle into small pockets throughout the area. Thusly, most people either had no kids, had their kids in private school, or didn't care about their kids' education (generalizations, but statistically provable) and this caused the school's funding which came from property tax levees (voted on by the residents) to stay at the constant rate that it had been at since the 1970's. This lack of funding provided class sizes in the 30+ region in elementary school. Combine that with teachers who were extremely poorly paid, buildings built on governmental grants for experimental "open learning" (read: no walls between many classrooms) and 50% of the student populace from government-subsidized housing and anyone who could afford it getting their kids to private school and you have Mount Healthy.

This is getting long, so I will close this section with a comparative look at Shen. Put simply, there are exclusive private schools in many areas that are nowhere near as high-quality nor as elite as the upper-level classes at Shen. Even the "forgotten 50%" received far better treatment and educational provision than anyone I've seen in any other district. There were sports of every variety, classes for all manner of special interest, classes of 15-20 students, massive and expensive school buildings, specially-hired teachers' aides who did nothing but provide educational assistance and VERY well-paid teachers. Students and parents generally cared (if only to keep up appearances) and more than anything, were willing to pay the high taxes to ensure excellent education and high property values.

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February 03, 2004

Background, Part 2

In order to get back to a proper understanding of my views on justice and situational ethics, I realized that I'm going to have to get back to my posting on my personal history. When I left off last time, I was attempting to construct a correlation between my personal history and developmental years and my cynical outlook on life.

Some introspective consideration of my status as an extrovert has lead me to believe that I have always been, at heart, an extrovert. Being an outgoing sort of chap, I was always running up to people and talking to them at the slightest provocation. But at some point, this trailed off. Further consideration has led me to believe that at some point I realized how silly and foolish I seemed to these older folks. It took some time, to be sure, but by the time I was entering Kindergarten I had already taken my leave of speaking to most adults and other children in favor of reading and keeping my thoughts to myself. Part of this may have been that I was always a strange child and something of a wool-gatherer and took verbal abuse for that or it might just have been that I was a bit advanced for the malicious and randomly abusive nature of young children. But whatever the case, I went through most of elementary school having those friends whom I had "accidentally" picked up along the way along with my books.

This notion of friends by accident made the move to New York simple in a lot of respects, especially in that I had never been all that close to most of my friends. I guess, in the way of elementary students, we had liked each other well enough but really lacked any understanding of the world. Thus, I had disposed of some friends and gained myself some free time to read and the two more or less cancelled each other out and left me feeling rather unbothered.

If you've never had the "wonderful" experience of public school, especially in those wonderful Junior High years, the only thing I can say is that... well... your skin isn't probably nearly as thick as mine became as a result of it. Before-hand, I was merely fairly certain that I hated people... afterwards it was like a religion to me. People became the most worthless, unreliable scum to walk the face of the earth. Some teachers were different, but I came to largely regard my peers as foolish ignoramuses whom I hated.

Let's not get this wrong, I had good times and good friends... but they were all of the age of development where they exhibited that occasional characteristic adolescent immature cruelty. And thus I had no reliable friends and trusted myself to nobody. Adults were a good deal more reliable, but I had faith that they were every bit as fallible.

Thus, it was after this incubation of disdain, loathing and cynicism for 4.5 years in New York that I returned to Ohio. I wish I could say that those were pleasant years... but they generally weren't. I counted few as my friend and I trusted fewer still. My books were my solace and my room was my respite. That sort of emptiness does all sorts of things to an individual's outlook on life and I'm still dealing with the aftermath and it's been nearly 7 years since I left New York.

So yeah... if I was to divide out my formative years, the period in New York gets a section all to itself and essentially this section is how everything went wrong. Don't worry... things try to fix themselves in the next section.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:10 PM | TrackBack

January 21, 2004

Background, part 1

It's always at the dark watches of the night that I feel like starting these things out. I've been cranking on this for a combined hour or so throughout the day (thank you Wheeler for upping the ante and Anna for following suit.) As with Wheeler's, there is no way I'm going to get all of this into one post, so let's hope it makes sense as a part of a whole...

A proper understanding of my social interactions with others should find its start at the root causations and work its way to the present or, simply put, begin at the beginning. Granted, my memories from extreme early childhood are fragmented and incomplete, but I remember something of a conflicting dichotomy between my internal world and the external reality. Few people realize that I've had a very active imagination for a very long time... as I'm sure many do. Mine's just a bit odd reaching from way back.

At some point in this dichotomy, I began to acheive ridicule for my odd affectations due to my excited imagination. Upon becoming excited, I would do odd things like wiggle my fingers and toes. Granted, most of these behavioral tics were quickly unlearned, but I still caught a lot of grief and teasing from them. Combined with early abuse over my larger-than-average head and I began to realize that I was not like the rest of the world and learned of their cruelty.

There comes a point in every individual's life where he/she realizes uniqueness and a lack of total commonality in thinking. In my own life, I believe this occurence hit fairly early on, relatively speaking. My first real encounter with foreign thought processes was with my brother Geoff learning his letters. Myself, I never remember learning letters and I have it on good authority that this was early knowledge and that I always enjoyed this sort of thing. My middle brother, on the other hand, had them drilled to him the summer before he started kindergarten and believe me, he didn't appreciate his lessons one bit. It was then that I started to suspect that there were people who didn't love learning as much as I did.

During 2nd grade and even more in 3rd grade, the naivete really wore off. While I continued to be (at least in my own mind) friends with everyone, there were conflicts that occasionally arose in a manner that might be construed as serious. I mean, since time immemorial the noble boys had carried out the great Jihad against the feeble and gross girls, but besides that conflicts began to arise between those who felt that they were in some way intellectually superior.

It might be pertinent to point out that a lot of my arrogance dates back to this point in time, when I went to a pathetic excuse for a public school and was one of perhaps 5 kids in my grade who was really ahead of everyone else. And of course, being as that my natural inclination has always been learning and since at this time I was very driven to be the best, I tended to end up getting the top score on just about every test... and our teachers did me the ego assistance of noting the top score. So yes, I can be arrogant... but it has typically come from honestly knowing that I'm the best at something.

It was near this point in time (in 3rd grade or so) that I began to notice some traits in myself that I really didn't like. I had come to like to hear myself talk and I had affected this very sure tone of voice that implied that if someone thought I was wrong, he or she was clearly at error. I also noticed that I tended to get stressed out very easily over stupid little things and since the discipline for the poor behavior of others was frequently meted out upon the entire class, this stress frequently tied up my stomach in knots in an effort to control everything.

So, there you have it... by the ripe and developed age of the end of 3rd grade, I had developed a sort of intellectual arrogance and was very convinced that I was the smartest person of my age and was a better thinker than anyone else (my age) I knew. That, combined with an increasing reluctance to hear myself talk and an appreciation that the world of books was far more informative than my classmates drove me to introspection and isolation.

In hindsight, I had friends in the manner which 3rd-graders perceive friendship and was even fairly well-liked by these associates. Granted, by this time I had developed into quite an anomaly amongst my friends, but most of my hubris was internal and I tried to be an agreeable and helpful enough fellow. I had developed a good friendship with a boy named Tim who went to my church and we got along splendidly.

It was in much this manner I plodded through my 4th-grade year until about fall. I don't remember the day or even the month, but it seems like it was about fall when my father told me we were going to be moving to New York. I remember that we were on Miles road as it zigs and zags through the woods close to my along a creek bed and we were on our way home from Tim's house. And that, friends, is when the Cynic was conceieved, so to speak.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:42 PM | TrackBack

January 04, 2004

Excerpts from Wench Management

"Why do you need a book on wench management? Why, you ask, is it so hard to get females to do what they're told when they have such an easy time manipulating men? The trick is all in how we understand the world.
You see, men tend to be logical and women tend to be emotional. That said, we men have one very powerful emotion that tends to get us in a lot of trouble and emotionally-saavy women tend to use this to their advantage. Thus, we're trapped by an emotion that we can hardly manage, much less control.
On the other hand, you're a man, just trying to get a wench to do what she's supposed to. Problem being, you're approaching the situation from logic and women have no secret logic receptor that overrides their emotions. In fact, playing to logic tends to confuse the issue and create a whole new set of vague and ambiguous emotions..."

That might be the beginning... or it might not. We'll see.

Disturbed Links of the Day: Tricksy Surveys
Days Until I See Anna: 4
Days Since I Saw Anna: 18

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:17 PM

Excerpts from Wench Management

"Why do you need a book on wench management? Why, you ask, is it so hard to get females to do what they're told when they have such an easy time manipulating men? The trick is all in how we understand the world.
You see, men tend to be logical and women tend to be emotional. That said, we men have one very powerful emotion that tends to get us in a lot of trouble and emotionally-saavy women tend to use this to their advantage. Thus, we're trapped by an emotion that we can hardly manage, much less control.
On the other hand, you're a man, just trying to get a wench to do what she's supposed to. Problem being, you're approaching the situation from logic and women have no secret logic receptor that overrides their emotions. In fact, playing to logic tends to confuse the issue and create a whole new set of vague and ambiguous emotions..."

That might be the beginning... or it might not. We'll see.

Disturbed Links of the Day: Tricksy Surveys
Days Until I See Anna: 4
Days Since I Saw Anna: 18

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:17 PM

January 01, 2004

Auld Langs Syne

Here's to the New Year:

If it works, let us be wise enough to not change it...
and if it doesn't, let us be brave enough to try something different.
Let us keep those friends near who are dear to us,
while at the same time making new ones and drawing old ones closer.
Let us have temperance to moderate ourselves,
and wisdom to know when the time has come to abandon moderation.
Let us have the time to do everything that needs it,
and the insight to put off or drop those things that don't need to be done.
Let us see life in the reality of what it is,
and yet have the courage to hope for what it could be.
Finally, let us live in the Hope of our Saviour and Lord,
by whom, with whom, and in whom is our best and only chance at a meaningful year.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:56 AM

December 10, 2003

The Tale of Idiot Boy

Due to a sleep deprivation and a need to amuse myself and others, I proffer this story pulled from my files:

Now sit back and let me tell you the tale of the Idiot Boy. Long ago (something like 3.5 years ago to be exact) I was a Junior in high school and it was the second semester. Due to the extreme grief and aggravation that Spanish had caused me during the angst-ridden 3 semesters of it that I was forced to take, I decided upon taking a new language to fill the void in my schedule. And so it was that Latin entered my high school experience. And I did take Latin and lo, it made sense. This was not vile Spanish where laws of spelling, pronunciation, and verb conjugation varied like the winter winds on the high seas, but where peace, tranquility, and a general holding to the rules was king. And it was good and there was happiness. But to my dismay, this class was riddled with fools.

At every side, there were morons whom the other languages had rejected and foisted off on poor Magistra. Among the ranks of the morons were Davus - the wrestler who had taken far too many hits to the head, Michaelus - to whom the secrets of passing high school in less than 6 years had not been imparted but who was not quite foolish enough to drop out, Dustinius - the compulsive skipper of school (he regularly missed 2 days a week) and least likely to pass a drug test, and last and most foolish Robertus, commonly referred to as "Idiot Boy".

Now Idiot Boy was a particularly dislikeable breed of moron. For you see, though he was chief among the morons and even the other fools disdained him as an idiot, he did not realize that he was a fool. Instead, Robertus would play Gameboy during class and scuttle all hopes of possibly learning the material. Worse, he would not do his homework (a similar practice to myself, but the homework was so easy that by the time she got to my spot in the room to check mine it was done) and would whine endlessly about how hard it was. Bear in mind people, we're talking translating simple sentences here and declining such nouns as canis and pater. But worst of all was his simple absence of mind. Class would go something like this:

Magistra: Robertus, what is the Latin word for dog?
Robertus: uh... uh... wait... I know I have this one.... just one second
Magistra: Robertus, at least look it up for us, it's not that hard
Iosius (unable to take it any more): whispers canis, you moron, canis
Robertus: uh.... can is (pronounced like can and iz)
Magistra: Iosius, stop helping him out, Robertus it's canis.

And thus idiot boy's reputation did plummet. For you see, Robertus would ask the same question every day for a week sometimes and even after Magistra had answered it 6 or 7 times he would still be horribly confused. But he refused to work and refused to study and continued to fail even the easiest vocabulary test (10 words a week, you just had to spell the Latin when she gave the English equivalent, not that hard)

But then, it would seem, Robertus struck upon a plan: he would cheat and get a 100 on his next vocabulary test. So Robertus craftily wrote down his words and definitions on a cheat sheet and dropped it on the floor next to his foot when test time came. But about three words in something went horribly, horribly wrong for Robertus.... Magistra spied his cheat sheet... for even in cheating he lived up to his nickname. Robertus had used bright pink paper to write his cheat sheet on. It was hard to miss. And upon closer inspection, Magistra did see Idiot Boy's deceit and treachery. And Idiot Boy did receive a 0 on the test. Through incidents like these (he got caught cheating again later in the semester when he wrote the answers on his desk in permanent ink and failed to wash them off in time) he became one of the 2 people out of 75 to fail Latin I that entire year... the other being Dustinius, who failed not on lack of merit, but because if you miss more than 8 days in a semester without a good reason you can't get credit for a class and Dustinius missed 30 without much of a reason.

Now... to more recent events.

I had found myself working with Robertus (Idiot Boy) at Kroger over Christmas break last year. This was not a happy development, but I tried to grin and bear it. But Idiot Boy did recognize me and remembered my disdain for him and did tell one of our co-workers the following: "Cynic always treated me like I was some sort of moron in our Latin class. But really I'm not stupid, I just act stupid a whole lot."

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:33 AM

December 06, 2003

Chauvinist Dogma

I was trolling through an old thread on a forum that a friend of mine runs. I found this wonderful comment that I made about 2 years ago:

"Indeed? Are you so arrogant as to presume that your individual ability supersedes the inherent weakness of your gender? Is it possible that even one could escape the vacuous wasteland that is the sum of all female intelligence? Perish the thought. There is no such thing as female intelligence, only the modicum of perceived thought that is the imitation of male ingenuity. There is nothing more, anything that could presumed otherwise is only a clever charade or the plagiarism of an idea that originated from some poor man."

I need to go find some more of my old Chauvinist writings to properly re-inspire myself.

Now Playing
Evanescence - Where Will You Go?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:01 AM

December 05, 2003

Iraq Debacle

Well, Wilson and I are picking fights with people over the whole Iraq debacle. I posted this in the comments in response to some rather interesting reasoning posted by a reader who was in turn responding to this post on Wilson's blog (blue is me, italics is a guy named Shrode:

I believe Saddam was a threat. But not for the reasons you mentioned. He was the backbone of an attitude in the region that supported terrorism.

I would really like some justification for this line of reason. Bluster aside, Saddam was a cowed dictator who played silly cat-and-mouse games from within his borders and talked a big fight. How was he more of a backbone than any other leader in the region?

You see supporting terrorism at ANY level must be seen as a threat to us by us. That is why he had to be taken out. To set an example and change the region. Other countries with similar mindsets must learn that even flirting with terrorists is a risk to their very existence. He gave rewards to PLO and Hamas families of suicide bombers. We must destroy all terrorists and all supporters of terrorists.

So on what level do we draw the line? Idealogical? So are we now going to invade North Korea? How about communist China? What about Colombia? Why don't we attack Saudi Arabia? By all indications, they have many more citizens who support terrorists on an individual scale than anything Iraq could do? What about Syria and Yemen? I would argue the inaction of these governments in some way indicates a support of terrorism and probably does more harm than Iraq has in the last 10 years.

And it is a just war to do so because it is self defense. Where our government has been inconsistent, and where Bush dissapoints me, is in not giving Israel full support in its war on terrorism. We have also not helped the UK in its fight against the IRA enough. We must wipe out all terrorists everywhere. I kill all scorpions on my property whether they are in my house or not. Because I know that if my child happened to get near one it would get stung. We must hunt down and destroy all terrorists period. And that I believe is a consistent conservative (and Biblical) position.

So now all pre-emptive strikes against prospective terrorists and supporters of terrorists are now justified by self-defense? Who decides what is a terrorist problem and if we get to strike them? And are we still advocating that Bush make unilateral strikes like he has thus far?

As far as UK and IRA goes, this is a non-issue anymore. And as for Israel, is not the Israeli government equally culpable for a war of terror against the Palestinians? Justifying huge collateral damage in the name of "National Security". Wow... that sounds awfully familiar *cough* Ashcroft *cough*... but I digress.

I find your casual assertion that the U.S. should strike out against anyone who
would possibly support terror worldwide to be at least mildly distasteful. On what grounds do we invade sovereign nations? Pre-emptive self defense? Being idealogically anti-American? And I'm really questioning where on earth you're getting a Biblical support for all of this.

Now Playing
Cake - Italian Leather Sofa

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:16 AM

July 08, 2003

On Loss...

Something I jotted down on the curse of LU summers...

How do you deal with the loss of a friend?
How do you cope when hope comes to an end?
Do you sigh? Do you sob? Do you break down and cry?
Or do you resolve yourself to just asking Him why?
Remember The hope lost is less than the hope that is found.
In the end, in eternity, is where hope is sound.

It just seems that every damned summer, I lose more friends. Here's to hoping that summer finds you well and remember that in just over a month school starts again. That's the thought dragging me through the summer.

Look, I'm a shitty poet... I don't need you to tell me that. It just expresses my sentiments on the matter and I'll thank you to leave it alone. Otherwise, I'll illustrate how much better I am at profane and derisive limericks.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:02 AM

June 23, 2003

Rangers' Game

I've never had so much fun with pennies in my life. The scene: The Ballpark in Arlington. LeTourneau SummerPLUS students and administrators go to a Rangers vs. Astros game. I have penny projectiles.

My first target is Bri... you've gotta pick on the LU Admissions liar... you've just gotta.

Next up, for a bit of a stretch in my aim, I go for two rows down and about 10 seats over and go head-hunting for the Limey Brit... SCORE! I manage to hit the Brit and graze the penny off of his fiancee while I'm at it. Dunny flips me the bird, ignoring the presence of the children. The children fail to see the act: no harm, no foul.

Next target is Corey. Corey is sitting behind the Brit and Q, another shot, another hit.

Note: up until this point, all of the targets have known that I was the one throwing the pennies... Corey is apparently ignorant to this fact (unbeknownst to me at the time.) As I sit back and scope out more targets, the real fun begins.

Corey, noting that the Brit had been looking around and holding a penny not more than 30 seconds earlier, assumes that Dunny threw said penny at him. Thus, he holds his drink over Dunny's head and attempts to shake a drop of condensation unto the Brit's head. The drop holds on with uncommon tenacity and as Corey works his magic, he manages to pour a good splash of coke (or whatever was in that cup) unto Dunny's head in lieu of the drop. Corey is shocked, Dunny is confused and pissed, Querida is slightly amused and confused, and I am rolling in my chair laughing my ass off. This gets better when Dunny asks Corey why he did this and Corey responds "because you threw that penny at me." I realize that this attack should have been meant for me as Dunny turns, glares and explains. I am nearly in tears from laughter.

Does it end? Nay, it gets better.

Doug and Brent have brought their families (including small sons) to the game. Each (along with Stephen) has a pre-k son. The three boys cavort around, extol the virtues of the Rangers and deride all Astros fans as only pre-pubescants can, "you better stop cheering for them!"

I pelted them with pennies, and again they knew not their benefactor. Doug's boy was pleased and confused, Steve's boy was glad for the penny, and Brent's boy didn't even stop cheering to wonder about the source of said penny. Brent's daughter was also a beneficiary of a penny and she was greatly confused as to its source. Bri and Joy attempted to tell her that I had done it, but I acted confused and pointed her towards Corey. After much convincing and Corey being dumb enough to throw a quarter to the boys, all were convinced that he was at fault.

Prompt me later for more details on this, I am tired and need sleep and am ceasing to make much sense.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:25 AM

May 08, 2003

Here's a Sentimental Drink..

It's funny how at the end of a school year, everyone gets all sad and sentimental. If you read around the various student blogs, the same theme comes across: losing friends sucks. It's even worse when you know they're not coming back. Hopefully most of mine are. And if any of them go eloping or any ridiculous shit like that, I'm going to get my swords.

Here's a drink for those who are no longer of this earth, because they're in a better place.
Here's a drink for those who are with us but aren't because of circumstances that separate.
Here's to those who are only away for a while and will be back before too long
and to those who we may not see again this side of eternity.
And thank God for those He lets us keep with us if only for a while longer.
Because dammnit, we need someone to help us along and support us.

There, that's out of my system... now time for bed.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:16 AM

April 12, 2003

Things I Want A Beating for Doing

The Infamous "Things I Want a Beating for Doing" List... reposted to the top of the blog

I will be updating the list here from now on... at least until it moves to the bottom of the page and needs to be dragged back up again.

1) Become a vegetarian.
2) Start worshipping animals.
3) Eat a tofu burger.
4) Go out with a girl that a good friend of mine is interested in behind his back.
5) Hit a girl when (when my life isn't being theatened by said girl.)
6) Buy an Apple computer.
7) Change how I look for a wench.
8) Sell out my morals for a wench.
9) Stop referring to wenches as wenches.
10) Refer to a Business Major as a "tough degree"
11) Stop being cynical.
12) Start espousing feminism.
13) Refer to the MRS degree (the other EE) as anything other than MRS
14) Stay at LU as long/longer than
15) Turn into a "Happy Person"
16) Hand a weapon over to a wench.
17) Commit to do an undisclosed favor ("Can you do me a favor?")
18) Commit to something I don't know anything about.
19) Become a member of another worthless committee or organization.
20) Run from the cops when I get pulled over.
21) Join the Peace Corps
22) Ask for advice and then ignore it
23) Break up with someone in a letter
24) Tell a friend goodbye in a letter/email/phone call
25) Arm a wench (militarily or otherwise)
26) Give obnoxious morning greetings
27) Sing in Saga (a la Didlake)
28) Work as an Admissions Nazi
29) Become Themelios
30) Treat people under me as inferior
31) Become an ignoramus who abuses people to further my ego.
32) Turn into Dr. Batts
33) Stop asking anyone for advice except those whom I know will agree with me
34) Join a cult
35) Stop being a Chauvinist
36) Stop being a 2nd amendment activist
37) Join Green Peace
38) Start a labor union

more to come as I remember them or they come to me...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 05:02 AM

April 08, 2003

The Original List

The Cynic Will Exact Vengeance Upon: Worthless Idiots

In that vein: here are some idiotic things that I've thought up in the past week. If I ever do any of these, I want my ass kicked.

1) Become a vegetarian.
2) Start worshipping animals.
3) Eat a tofu burger.
4) Go out with a girl that a good friend of mine is interested in behind his back.
5) Hit a girl when (when my life isn't being theatened by said girl.)
6) Buy an Apple computer.
7) Change how I look for a wench.
8) Sell out my morals for a wench.
9) Stop referring to wenches as wenches.
10) Refer to a Business Major as a "tough degree"
11) Stop being cynical.
12) Start espousing feminism.
13) Refer to the MRS degree (the other EE) as anything other than MRS
14) Stay at LU as long/longer than Lurch.
15) Turn into a "Happy Person"
16) Hand a weapon over to a woman.
17) Commit to do an undisclosed favor ("Can you do me a favor?")
18) Commit to something I don't know anything about.
19) Become a member of another worthless committee or organization.
20) Run from the cops when I get pulled over.
21) Join the Peace Corps
22) Ask for advice and then ignore it
23) Break up with someone in a letter
24) Tell a friend goodbye in a letter/email/phone call
25) Arm a wench

more to come as I remember them or they come to me...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:26 AM

March 14, 2003

Amos in Modern Times

Let me paraphrase what's below and do a bit of modern paralleling if you will allow...

Amos is preaching against Israel and telling her that the news is bad. Times suck and Amos is telling them how wicked they are and that God's gonna drop the hammer on them. The priest doesn't like it and tells the king on him and then tells Amos to get the hell out. Amos tells the priest to shove it and tells him more of what God wants them to hear.

This next part may offend some of you... consider why it offends you before you respond, but I always welcome dissenting viewpoints. Email me or comment if you disagree, or if you agree, or if you have comments.

Shem shows up on campus. Shem starts telling people how it is and doesn't sugar-coat things. People don't like that and start telling him to shut up and then whine to administration. Administration tells him to shut up. Shem finds more unbiblical things with every passing day.

The question now is, what will LU do about it? Will we keep going on and getting more screwed up as the days go by? Or will someone in MSC-2 finally own up and say, "Look, there are some seriously wrong things that we do around here and it needs to change. Our attitudes toward our students, toward the faculty, and toward the relationship between God and the campus community need to change."

I'm still waiting to see.

And students, wake the hell up! Shem is just the most recent casualty of students whose ideas don't mesh with administration who happen to be in IMPACT positions. Are you going to stand by and let the school go the way of Old Testament Israel? Or are you going to stand up and be counted, screw what happens to your happy little IMPACT position?

And one last thing. Since when did Bud, Chaplain Carl, Doug, and Dean start picking God's emissaries to His children on campus? Isn't that one of His prerogatives?

As an afterthought for some clarification: I'm not saying that I know God's will for the campus. I'm not saying I know who He picks to be His emmissaries in this place. I just have a hard time believing that all of the politics around here glorify Him and I think some of the stuff around here that administration is a part of isn't Godly and it isn't right. That's just my take... feel free to respond with yours.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 06:07 AM

February 14, 2003

On Satire and the Dangers Thereof

The Cynic Will Exact Vengeance Upon: People Who Can't Take Jokes

For those of you familiar with the LU Forums, you will note that there is a restricted HNRS2111: Contemporary Political Issues forum. In there, those of us in that particular class discuss a given political issue, changing by week, in conjection with the class and the book. Issues are usually good for discussion: ranging from direct democracy vs. republic to gun control to economic idealogy. It's a lot of fun for those who like politics and the forum has been of particular amusement to me.

I am a lover of satire in addition to being a cynic and have been known to employ it from time to time. At the beginning of the class, a couple of friends and I took up the idea that an armed coup could take over the US and make conditions so bad that a reform would return to a Constitutional government, ridden of the demons of apathy. The plan gets rather in-depth and in subsequent weeks it was expanded to include the topics we covered such as what to do with gun control and the specific working of the government's economy. The satire got old and worn-out, and so this week I saw the oppurtunity to develop a new parody. It went something like this:

"Being as that the Shadow Council more or less runs itself these days, I have decided that I will be pursuing other things in addition, so that I don't get slow or dull on my rhetoric.

The idea of returning to the halcyon days of yore when men ruled the land as they should and women held their tongues has always appealed to me. Recently, I have begun to explore the feasibility of making such a change and it occurred to me that even should I control the government in an autocracy, I would need something more. Just because women are relegated to their proper state as second-class citizens doesn't mean that they won't continue to stir up dissension and create problems for my regime.

And then, as is with all problems, the solution came to me. The control of all forms of media would be my tool. Primarily, the constant barrage of the news media and entertainment would reinforce my message of truth. Feminist literature and the like would be banned and burned. As a cautionary measure, women would be forbidden to read, but this would take some time to implement. In the meanwhile the state-run media would pervade all of life. I honestly don't think it would take much to return peoples' minds to the proper frame of reference with the use of that media...."

And then things got a little nuts. One person in particular took things so badly that she dragged her entire floor into it. And there was much talk of lynching me and the mob was very angsty. And so now, it would appear that my satire is going to get me in trouble... oh joy. When you read satire, or something that appears to be satire... check with the author before you kill him. Next time I'm just making a modest proposal...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:54 AM

January 28, 2003

Welcome to 1984 Friend

Your rights to freedom of speech have been stripped, the presses have long since stopped printing anything other than government propaganda, your weapons to resist with were stripped years ago, and those who refuse to conform dissappear in the night, never to be seen again. You may certainly vote, but only in that ephemeral sense that you know you're voting in an election for a puppet figurehead. The only real power you have is to leave or to join a revolutionary faction, and the latter is akin to signing your own death warrant. Further, trial by jury of peers was disbanded and there really hasn't been any freedom from illegal search of your house since the government took control of housing and forced you to live in a house they provided for you. In short, all that remains of the Bill of Rights that you once cherished is that to a grand jury in a capital matter... but the problem therein lies with the fact that you know the grand jury is rigged against you. No rights to call your own, no freedoms, and as much responsibility as you could care for. What manner of place is this and where is the land I once so treasured? Welcome to LeTourneau friend, freedom left you at the edge of the bubble.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:50 AM

January 26, 2003

Ingenuity vs. Intelligence

I love how at LU we can have so many people who come to a University where we are supposed to be brimming with ingenuity and yet can't think for jack shit. At the risk of sounding trite, I'm going to go wander over to Webster Online and look it up so I'm not talking out of my ass...

Here we go, ingenuity is the noun form of the adjective ingenious. So, for the Engineers out there: if you are described as ingenious, you display ingenuity. That aside, here's a definition:

1 obsolete : showing or calling for intelligence, aptitude, or discernment
2 : marked by especial aptitude at discovering, inventing, or contriving
3 : marked by originality, resourcefulness, and cleverness in conception or execution (an ingenious contraption)

synonym see CLEVER

Aha! It makes so much more sense now. Ingenuity is no longer a marked intelligence, but just a marked ability at making things work. It makes so much more sense now, and I'd even be willing to bet that we're the one's that took the intelligence out of ingenuity. God bless LeTourneau, where we go to chapel because we have to (although to be fair, the quality isn't exactly begging for voluntary attendance), have our opinions given to us by our professors and peers, and we try to conform to the norm. Just last night as I was out and about, I was informed that my appearance scares people and that they stay away from me because of that. My response? "Good, I really don't want to be dealing with someone stupid enough to let that drive them away anyways." Is that the best response? Nah, I should probably try and be outgoing towards everyone so as to drive off the myopic social idiocy that runs rampant in this place, but the fact of the matter is that I don't have the time, energy, or impetus to go righting all of the wrongs around this place. Frankly, there are too many of them.

So... maybe we should go find us a better word than ingenuity. I'd go for intellectual ass-kicking sets us apart, but something tells me that the board wouldn't go for it. Other suggestions?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:40 AM

January 22, 2003

Gecko vs. Doc and Webcam

Great things happen on 1B! And I happen to miss half of them.

Tonight, for whatever reason Doc decided to talk to his girlfriend over webcam in Toad's room. He doesn't have his own computer, so I guess Toad might have just extended the offer and it was either that or no talky-talky at all. In any event, so Doc is sitting in Toad's room along with Toad... Toad playing DAOC and Doc teleconferencing with his girlfriend. Damian walks by, and recalls that Doc had been messing with him earlier in the evening. He proceeds to walk into Gecko's room...

"Hey Gecko, I need your help with something. Could you come here a second?"

"Yeah sure... what's up" as he wanders out

"Doc has been really messing with me and I was wondering if you could go in and moon him" points into Toad's room

"I can do better than that!" rips his pants off and charges into Toad's room

Toad and Doc in unison: "GECKO!!! NO!!!"

Only too late did Gecko realize what had happened. He turns and leaves, Damian having fled the instant Gecko dropped his pants. Fortunately, Doc's girlfriend seems to have found this and the subsequent abuse of Doc amusing. Unfortunately, I think we broke Gecko and Doc... Gecko being the second or third time we've really broken him.

So words of warning:

1) Don't be like Doc (having said earlier this week, "I don't think you guys can shock me anymore")
2) The RA can't save you (and in a lot of cases, doesn't care to)
3) Don't underestimate Damian's sneakiness
4) Gecko will get naked, given the impetus and the oppurtunity
5) You can't be paranoid enough

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:22 AM