Thots and observations about our culture 2010
By Jim Watson
A stupid phrase: "give back"
A current buzzword among celebrities is "I want to give back."
What did they take? I am concerned because using this phrase is a symptom that one is not a thinker, but a follower. They use the phrase just because its a trendy buzzword right now that sounds impressive and altruistic. But, for those who give to their community and are thinkers, the phrase doesn't make sense.
A good person doesn't give 'back', one simply gives of him or herself. That's impressive enough.
Pervasive Catholic abuse
An independent commission in Belgium reported that children had been sexually abused in every Catholic parish in the country. Hundreds of boys and girls were raped or molested by hundreds of priests, with some children abused over many years. At least 13 committed suicide. “None of us was prepared for the severity of some of the accounts of abuse,” said a psychiatrist who headed the commission. From The Week magazine
Average military compensation
$70,168 in pay and $52,095 in benefits for a total compensation of $122,263 per person in 2009, up from $58,545 in 2000 (benefits include the value of housing, medical care, pensions, hazardous-duty incentives, enlistment bonuses and combat pay in war zones). From USA TODAY
Percentage growth of compensation, 2000-2009:
84 % Military
37 % Federal workers
19 % Private sector
Some thoughts on the illegal immigration issue
Why do Mexicans risk their health and lives to enter the USA illegally?
To give birth to an American child.
Federation for American Immigration Reform: automatic citizenship for children born in the US is one of the main magnets for illegal immigration. While many illegal immigrants are searching for jobs, many others come here to have a baby who is entitled to a wide array of government benefits and can eventually help the parents become citizens as well.
USA TODAY: The number of children in the USA born to illegal immigrants jumped to 4 million in 2009. Those are automatically granted US citizenship and represent 5.4% of all children under the age of 18 in the US. An estimated of 8% babies born in the US in 2008 came from illegal immigrant parents.
Solution: Change the law that allows any baby born in this country to be considered an American. Immediately.
To escape violence in Mexico due to the drug wars.
Solution: Legalize marijuana. Remove the black market. Step up enforcement in Mexico and US border towns. Work with Mexican police to minimize corruption.
To work and earn money.
We actually like and want illegal immigrants in the US. Their willingness to work for low wages keeps prices lower in these industries: restaurant and food service, construction, roofing, and landscape and yard work. Myth: "But, they don't pay taxes." They pay sales tax, gas tax, property tax (through their landlord), and others. The only tax not paid is the income tax (some wealthy Americans pay very little income tax).
Solution: Not sure - how can we balance keeping prices lower and still manage the influx of illegal residents. Work visas? New working class designation with lower wages than minimum wage but still pay income tax?
It does seem apparent that a huge wall along the border hasn't yet solved the problem. Remember how we cheered when the Berlin Wall came down and yet we are now building our own Wall.
My sentiments exactly
When i was Chair of the Department of Design, one of the tasks i enjoyed the least was having to write Strategic Plans (redundant words to begin with - a strategy and a plan are the same thing). We spent a disproportionate amount of time preparing reports for an administration that didn't know nor care what we really did. The university bureaucracy would have us write reports and fill out forms that had little-to-no value. Once, i had to call a meeting with the Design faculty and the admin to present the SSCI report - a huge paper that discusses our procedures for planning. The VP asked me to detail the ways in which i involved the faculty in the preparation of the report. I told him that i didn't involve the faculty at all - i saw nothing in the SSCI that would help faculty do a better job in the classroom and i wouldn't be so inconsiderate as to ask them to help with a useless report (no one in Admin read the entire thing or used it to improve teaching at the university). The poster above is from the Baltimore Print Studios of a quote from Herb Kelleher, the guiding force behind Southwest Airlines, a lean company that makes profits while other airlines lose money. Herb is a doer.
An 'Act of God' destroys the 'King of Kings' statue
In June 2010, near Cincinnati, Ohio, a bolt of lightning struck the Kings of Kings statue at the Solid Rock Church, setting it on fire. Believed to have been the largest sculpture of Jesus Christ in the USA, it showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the raised arms. There were lightning resistors and grounding rods in place around the statue, but they failed to divert the bolt from the Heavens.
“I can’t believe Jesus was struck,” said someone who noted the giant sign for the Hustler Hollywood adult store across the street was untouched. The Lord hasn’t struck down the adult store, yet. The statue will be rebuilt. “We are blessed. Now we get to build a brand-new one, all paid-for (because of insurance coverage). This time we are going to try for something fireproof." (to avoid another clear message from God.) Complete updated essay
An idea whose time has come
For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Members of Congress can retire with the same pay after only one term. They are exempt from many of the laws they have passed while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest example is that members of Congress have exempted themselves from the Healthcare Reform legislation. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. Here is a good way to stop this divisive self-serving:
Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution
Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.
Sometimes, the old world ways still suffice
Saw this man looking for aluminum cans on Wall Street in front of Federal Hall and the NY Stock Exchange. He may be an immigrant from China. Compare him to the photo of the ancient Chinese farmer.
Poor implementation of handicap parking spaces
Providing easy access for people with hardships and disabilities is a good idea, but this execution at Walmart in Edmond is just too excessive. The loss of parking spaces for the rest of us cannot be justified here.
Really? No Parking? Not even in that safely enclosed space?
i assume that the railed ramp was added after the asphalt was signed with No Parking, but there could be better ways: a planter in the enclosed space or no ramp at all - it doesn't seem to be a big improvement over the covered sidewalk. Shot at an Edmond Shopping Center.
Just too many receipts - even when arranged neatly in symmetrical rows
What a waste of paper. The store/restaurant needs a copy and the consumer needs a copy. Shouldn't that be enough? Doesn't the technology allow the number of receipts to be reduced? The Apple store emails a receipt or asks if you want a printed one from the store at time of purchase. That reduces the number to zero or one. Much better.
Finally, proof that President Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim
Obama and Michele prayed not for peace or comfort, but for a recovery. 3 days later came this announcement:
If God won't answer a prayer from the Leader of the Free World, then Obama must be praying to the wrong God.
Progress or primitive? Year 710 or 2010?
In Mecca, during Eid al-Adha, the most important holiday in Islam, more than 3 million pilgrims last year filed past three stone walls representing Satan and pelted them with stones to, symbolically, denounce the devil. Human crushes and pileups have killed hundreds, most recently in 2006.
This hajj is a religious duty for every Muslim able to carry it out. The first day of stoning also marks the feast of sacrifice, when Muslims slaughter sheep and cattle in remembrance of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son. A butcher calls out "In the name of Allah!" and then slits the animal's throat.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John
Why are there 4 Gospel chapters in the Bible, each telling essentially the same story as the others? Why would the author, God, feel a need to repeat a story? Why wouldn't he get it right the first time? If its more important than the rest of the stories, why not repeat it 7 times? Or why wouldn't just twice be enough? Why not just write it once and command us to read it 4 times? If he wanted to show 4 different viewpoints, why wouldn't an all-knowing deity be able to show the appropriate viewpoint in just one try?
The most common reason given for the 4 Gospels is "Some things we were just not meant to understand. God's ways are mysterious." Sorry, that's such a lame cop-out excuse.
Billy Graham's March newspaper column
Since God created everything, then is he responsible for all the evil in the world?
Billy replied: No, God is pure and good. Evil is from some of the angels that God created who turned against him.
1. God flooded the earth, killing thousands of men, women, children, and aborted fetuses by a horrible death of suffocation in water. How can that be described as pure and good?
2. Has Billy read Isaiah 45:7: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."?
Or Amos 3:6: "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?"
Note: some Biblical scholars translate ‘evil’ as calamity or disaster. But even that doesn’t put God in a good light.
I posted the above on Facebook and there were 60 comments posted. Some were from 2 Christians. One said, "People of faith need no explanation. For people of no faith, no explanation is possible." Not a single person responded to that, possibly because its so shallow. People of faith don't need to think or reason, even when faced with absurdities. The other Christian just repeated what he had been taught, again, with no deep thought or rational thinking.
Billy Graham explains why God struck Haiti with that earthquake
From his column (which I read religiously each morning in The Oklahoman): For years, I've pondered the question of why tragedies such as this occur; honestly, I don't have a full answer.
We live in a broken world, where evil and suffering often seem to gain the upper hand. The Bible traces this back to the rebellion of the human race - along with that of Satan and his fallen angels - against the authority of God. As a result, 'The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.' (Romans 8:22).
So, it sounds like we can answer the question with one of these options:
• As preached by the Godly Pat Robertson: God caused the massive death and suffering because he was pissed off that the Haitians, years ago, made a 'pact with the devil'.
• Satan and his fallen angels are more powerful than God.
• God is vengeful and struck back at humans who, thousands of years ago, rebelled against his authority.
• The earthquake was simply the groaning of creation.
• Geologic forces were set in motion years ago by God and when the tension was released he simply chose not to intervene, allowing the murder of 200,000 of his children.
• We just aren't able to fully comprehend, without suspending rational thought, why a fairy tale superpower would murder hundreds of thousands of his children.
• The earthquake was caused by tectonic plates sliding by each other and releasing tension.
Oklahoma is the seventh-most religious state in the USA New England states and Alaska were among the least religious states, with New Hampshire and Vermont at 36% compared to Oklahoma's 69%. Oklahomans also ranked 7th in worship attendance, with 50% saying they attend religious services at least once a week, and 12th in frequency of prayer, with 66% saying they pray at least once a day. 80% of Oklahomans believe in God with absolute certainty, while nationwide, 71% say they are absolutely certain, and in several states, fewer than 60% say they are absolutely certain God exists.
This helps explain why Oklahoma ranks near the top in incarceration of women; household hunger; divorce; smoking; methamphetamine laboratories; youngest age to get married; teen births; and prevalence of obesity - and near the bottom in women’s progress economically, socially, and politically; teacher pay; and population covered by health insurance. More on Okie values.
gada goda wirk
We often say, I have to go to work or I gotta go to work. This attitude of 'have to' can be a bit demoralizing. Like its an awful ordeal. One's entire outlook can change with a simple change of attitude about work. Given the option of not working, going to work is usually preferable. We like the benefits that work provides - a sense of satisfaction, service, and productivity and, often, a sense of self-worth. We also love the benefit of a paycheck. We love the money to pay bills and buy stuff that we want. So, maybe the a healthier attitude would be I want to go to work.
American English intrigues me - it is still evolving and adapting to cultural needs. I read the phrase I got to go to work on Facebook and wondered if it could still be read if it was translated into phonetic and slang: gada goda wirk. The unscientific survey confirmed that it could.
Just when I was getting disappointed in the state of affairs in America - I still run into people who think that prayer is no longer allowed in public schools (more), that pro-choice people are pro-abortion (more), and that just posting the 10 Commandments will make things better (more). But, the results of a recent USA Today poll show that more people are thinking with logic and intelligence - the number of people who believe in delusional fairy tales and the occult are decreasing while the number of people who follow no religion are increasing. Maybe America will move towards a culture based less on a make-believe medieval mentality and more on realistic intelligent solutions, reason, and compassion.
Change in percentage of religious groups between 1990 and 2008 by state (green=Northeast, blue=Midwest, red=West, yellow=South)
LEFT: Catholics (includes Roman, Greek, and Eastern Rite Catholics) The increase of Catholics is in states with a large influx of Mexicans.
RIGHT: Other Christians (includes Protestant denominations, non-denominational Christians, and Mormons)
LEFT: Other Religions (Jews, Muslims, eastern religions, and movements such as Wiccans
RIGHT: No Religion (atheists, agnostics, and people who claimed no religious identity)
From The American Religious Identification Survey 2008, based on 54,000 interviews. Link to the USA Today site
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