Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in review - 2011

This year has been a surprising one. As with every year, there have been ups and downs. I think the ups have outweighed the downs.

My nomination for best movie of the year (and I did not see all of them) - Battle LA.
Of course, I liked it for all the M16A4 goodness.
Honorable mention to Muppets.

My nomination for Recession buster of the year is my brother. He clocked $100K more in earnings this year compared to his earnings in 2007. And in 2007, he was above the Tennessee state average. Oh, and he pretty much doubled his earnings from last year.
Not surprisingly, he did not luck out - he busted his buns.

My nomination for best thing of the year overall is reduced ammo prices. I am buying .223 ammo for $5.88 per box of 20, compared to over $12 per same box just two years ago.

My nomination for proudest moment of the year is my son: he is in 1st grade, and is reading on a 4th grade level. In fact, his AR books (not to be confused with the gun of the same name) must all be selected from 3rd and 4th grade levels.

My nomination for heart-warming moment of the year came courtesy of the US Navy SEALs. Oh, and for those that still doubt, it seems the 5.56 mm round did just fine.

My nomination for best entertainment of the year is the TV show: "The Walking Dead."
The wife and I are glued to that.

As often happens, we lost many people of note. Some stories were sadder than others.
Of course, my own grandmother died in July, and that had me down for over a month.

I was reminded first hand of my self-imposed rule to avoid getting involved in "teh crazy."
That's a good guideline for anybody, by the way.
But, just as the mythological phoenix rose from the ashes, some of these interactions sparked my new favorite blog topic.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Regular people are getting tired of the crap

Link to a story where a Wendy's manager shot and killed a robber.

This is why carry permits are proliferating... regular people are fed up with being victims. People also realize that police simply cannot be everywhere. Even if they could, do you expect someone else to run in with a gun pointed at their head on your behalf?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Funny, true, sad, helpful, crude.

This website is crude. I came across it about 14 or 15 months ago. I saw it, read it, and decided to change myself.

I'm not there yet... but I'm close.

In mid 2010, I was over 300 pounds. I wore a size 44 pants - and those were tight (couldn't carry my GLOCK inside the waistband any more). I was moving from an XXL shirt to an XXXL. I read the website and decided that when you boil it down, it was right on the money.

So I ate less. Recently, I started exercising more. I currently hover between 220-225 pounds. My arms have gained over 3" in diameter. My waist is down to 38" (under 40" is supposed to be the trick to avoiding heart disease). My chest went from 52" to 48" - I currently wear an XL shirt, and can fit in a Large, though the shoulders are too tight.

I have only one chin now... and am no longer appalled at my picture. Even "non-flattering" angles and shots are far better than my best pictures used to look.

I don't break toys I accidentally step on. I can jump... a lot if needed. Would like to see if I'm back to being able to dunk a basketball (could in High School). I can do pushups - nearly 40 now (wasn't able to do 1 before!).

Old friends who haven't seen me in a while immediately comment - whether I tell them or not that I lost weight. I move better on the mat when teaching and practicing martial arts. I don't get sick nearly as often, nor for as long. People can lock their ankles around my waist when working from the Guard.

It's not all better - there are some drawbacks:
- I am cold more often
- my limbs will "fall asleep" more quickly
- not all beds are as comfortable any more. Nor are all sleeping positions.
- I've had to buy all new clothes (but that gave me a chance to give old clothes away!)

PS - my favorite quote from that website:
"’ve got more rolls than a sushi restaurant."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tough questions... depending on your take:

Here's a link to 15 tough questions for those who believe in evolution as the origin of life.

Here are the questions, without the comments:

How did life originate?

How did the DNA code originate?

How could mutations—accidental copying mistakes (DNA ‘letters’ exchanged, deleted or added, genes duplicated, chromosome inversions, etc.)—create the huge volumes of information in the DNA of living things?

Why is natural selection, a principle recognized by creationists, taught as ‘evolution’, as if it explains the origin of the diversity of life?

How did new biochemical pathways, which involve multiple enzymes working together in sequence, originate?

Living things look like they were designed, so how do evolutionists know that they were not designed?

How did multi-cellular life originate?

How did sex originate?

Why are the (expected) countless millions of transitional fossils missing?

How do ‘living fossils’ remain unchanged over supposed hundreds of millions of years, if evolution has changed worms into humans in the same time frame?

How did blind chemistry create mind/ intelligence, meaning, altruism and morality?

Why is evolutionary ‘just-so’ story-telling tolerated?

Where are the scientific breakthroughs due to evolution?

Science involves experimenting to figure out how things work; how they operate. Why is evolution, a theory about history, taught as if it is the same as this operational science?

Why is a fundamentally religious idea, a dogmatic belief system that fails to explain the evidence, taught in science classes?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Why the controversy?

Since the adoption of the M16, controversy has surrounded the platform. When it was first fielded, the military took shortcuts - such as changing the gunpowder and not chrome lining the barrel - that resulted in repeated and catastrophic failures. However, these were fixed, and by the time the M16A2 was released, the US military fielded the most modern and arguably the most reliable small arm on the planet.

Enter the M4A1. In 1994 the US Army adopted the M4 as its general use small arm. It was put to the test in the Middle East. Naturally, problems arose.

The M4 "cheats" its way to a lighter design by reduction of barrel length. Additionally, the gas tube (which operates the bolt, causing the carbine to chamber the next round automatically) is shortened. This creates a harsher environment for the bolt (the main moving part in the carbine). Subsequently, more failures were documented.

In other words, the "cheat" came at a cost. And the harsh environments of the Middle East exposed those costs and weaknesses.

So another controversy was born. This time, other gun manufacturers keep lobbying the US military, with factual claims that they can produce rifles and carbines that do not fail as often as an M4. In practicality, nobody argues the facts, as the M4, even when lubricated properly (something the Army has historically not been fond of doing), still failed once every 120 rounds tested. Most of the other manufacturer's firearms only failed approximately once every 250 rounds (this link - page 101).

What the other manufacturers don't want you to know is this: The M16A4 only suffered stoppages about once every 225 rounds - statistically indistinguishable from the HK and the SCAR.

Why change to a new platform? Why not just run it the way it was designed -as a rifle, with a rifle-length barrel (more accuracy, higher bullet velocity), with a rifle length gas system (more reliability, less recoil)???

Oh, wait... the US Marine Corps already does

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shooting Jacket - Product Review

Recently, I ordered a USMC shooting jacket from Made by mcron. Those of you who follow this site will know I have had an olive drab shooting jacket ordered from Fred's M14 Stocks for about a year and a half. The trouble was, that jacket from Fred's was a XXXL, and I have lost over 80 pounds in the last year or so.

Today, my shooting jacket arrived in the mail. I ordered a khaki colored XL jacket. That's exactly what arrived. A number of people are familiar with Fred's jacket (which he only has been a distributor of,  never the manufacturer), so I will write this review as a compare and contrast.

Link to pics on Facebook!

Currently, I stand 6'3" and weigh around 220 pounds. I wear a size XL shirt off the rack from most manufacturers (only size "L" in Carhartt). Currently, my chest measures 48" and my waist is 37".

This shooting jacket fits me as perfectly as a good Carhartt shirt (which happens to be my favorite).
The sleeves, though a little long, fit me perfectly (I have a "wingspan" of 81" - yes, 6'9").
Length is perfect.

The jacket is made from a 100% twill cotton. The material rather resembles an old karate gi I had that was a 10 oz. brushed cotton canvas. Very soft, yet at least twice as thick and durable as the material on the jacket from Fred's. This is my favorite material to wear.

The padding is softer and a bit thicker than the padding on the Fred's jacket. Mary at Made by mcron makes these by hand, and her workmanship is truly professional. I dare anyone to find an unprofessional stitch in these jackets.

The buttons, being sewn on by hand rather than machine, are actually ruggedly attached. With the Fred's jacket, the first thing I had to do was reinforce stitching on the buttons so they wouldn't fall off when hit with the first stiff breeze. Mary made sure these buttons will not be dislodged easily.

This is a shooting jacket... not a fashion piece. That said, as far as USMC style shooting jackets go, this one certainly looks neat, trim, and professional. A shooting jacket is a tool first, so form definitely outweighs function. But Mary has shown her true skill in blending the form into the function seamlessly (pun intended!).

Made by mcron offers these jackets for $85 plus shipping. Fred's charges $70 plus shipping.
On the surface, this looks like a win for Fred's... but read on!

This jacket, for $85 is a steal! With a more durable build than the one from Fred's, the nominal extra price is more than justified.
(and this is a big "but")
Made by mcron has fantastic service - and their representatives (read - their owners) will actually call you back and do this little thing called communication. And good customer service.
A quick Google search of Fred's on customer service will yield the ugly underbelly of the fact that so many people feel that "Fred" could care less once he gets your money.

Not only that, but Made by mcron also will make your jacket in different colors (I got khaki, not olive drab green - just like I wanted). Currently they advertise khaki, od green, desert camo, and a woodland digital camo called  CADPAT.

Would I order from them again? YES. In a heartbeat.
Would I recommend them? YES, in a heartbeat.

Two thumbs up.
Five stars.
"Like" on Facebook

Post Edit:
Please also note, as pointed out below in the comments by Glocker 21, 10% of the purchase price ($8.50 if my math is correct) is donated to veterans organizations by the nice folks at Made by mcron.

Post Edit 2:
In a Facebook conversation, one of the owners of Made by mcron stated that the khaki shooting jackets are indeed made of a 10 oz. twill cotton, and the Fred's jackets are made with a 5 oz. cotton. (seems I do know my fabrics from all of the karate and judo gis I've seen over the years).
However, he indicated that Made by mcron's OD green jacket is also made from the same 5 oz. material.
Still, given the customer service difference, the difference in attitudes, and the fact that 10% goes to veterans' assistance, my money is on the Made by mcron jackets... by a wide margin. 

Post Edit 3:
Added link to pics on Facebook.
Highlighted company name "Made by Mcron"

Adult Bullies

Some time back, I was approached by an adult bully. The bully attempted to bully me personally. Not in a physical sense - that really would not have ended well for him - but in a verbal attack. Alas for the bully, he attended a battle of wits, but found himself unarmed.

Learn to recognize the signs of bullying.

The details, though fascinating, are really unimportant. What is important is that readers here are well advised to learn all they can on the subject. Bullies these days take many forms: male, female, child, adult, supervisor, subordinate, physical, mental, verbal, electronic, and others.

The above link has many wonderful resources on the topic of bullying. I myself, with a lifelong study of the martial arts, have dedicated decades of my time to helping people overcome bullies.

- Learn about bullying. It can save a life. 
- Approach things in life with an open mind. 
- Age is no measure of wisdom.
- However, wisdom comes from experience 
- It rains on the just and the unjust alike. 
- There is such a thing as right and wrong in this world.
- People's motives must be understood, to understand why they make the decisions they make.
- Stop looking at motives as "right" or "wrong" when all you need to know is "why?"
- People naturally want to assume that others want to do the right thing.  
- People have a way. of rationalizing their actions and motives as "right" regardless of the truth of the matter.
- And last but certainly not least: when a bully has exhausted all his means of bullying to no effect, the last-ditch efforts to try to gain some sort of control wind up being very sad and pathetic.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Did Cavemen go to Heaven?

Saw this on a forum I frequent, and thought it would make a great topic for my next religion post.
Unlike others, this will be a short post. 

Cavemen existed. I don't know of many people that would argue that. The point of contention is when did they roam the earth? Some would say hundreds of thousands of years ago. All of that is without evidence, as there were no observers, and no hard evidence there was anything around more than about 10,000 year ago.

That said, there is debate about how one might be saved prior to Christ's arrival on earth. Here is a link that summarizes it beautifully. So, essentially speaking, if a caveman believed in God, they were saved. Because God had given us a Promise (that Jesus would fulfill), and that promise was His manifested Grace, and there is not scripture that would indicate that salvation is by anything other than God's Grace.

This happened to me on the job once

Was looking for an insurance agency in a small rural town in Tennessee. Could not find them, so I called:

Usagi: "Hi, I was looking for your agency. Can't seem to find it."
Agent: "We are where we've always been."

I go to the spot they used to be located at - which has been bulldozed and turned into a small retail center.

Usagi: "I am at the old place. Can't seem to find your office."
Agent: "Oh, well we are over by the parts store."

I go to the parts store. No dice. I walk into the parts store and ask. They have no clue, either. Not a good sign in a small town (fewer than 5000 people).

Usagi: "I am at the parts store and cannot seem to locate you. Even the guys here don't know about your agency."
Agent: "Oh, well, the owner now operates the agency out of her house, and she doesn't want anyone over. So, bye!"

From the mouths of babes

Another funny martial arts story from the past:

Parents who bring their children to me typically do so for one of two broad reasons:
a) To help with behavior issues.
b) To expose their children to real martial arts for self defense and/or fun.

A young lady was a student in my studio. She had arrived early as she often does. Even in the first grade, her mother insists she learn good manners, and this is good. So it completely surprises me when she blurts out:

"Are the demon-children going to be here?"

She was referring to a family whose children attended class at that time - obviously to help with behavior problems - and who were in need of much help and improvement.I mean, these children were really difficult. Of course, it didn't help that mom or dad would sugar them up right before class (for example: half of the time, they had an icee right before class).

I still don't know which is funnier: what she said, or the fact that I was wondering the exact same thing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Question on power

Occasionally (not as often anymore), some folks will question whether an AR 15 (chambered in the standard .223 / 5.56 mm) is powerful enough.

Powerful enough for what? I ask.

Clean, one shot kills on animals larger than deer - probably not. There are better choices.

Sniping from 800 meters away - probably not. Again, there are better choices.

But I bet it would do in a pinch in either situation.

Here is a story about a polar bear being put down with an AR15.

Heck, if it can take down a polar bear, I'd say it's good enough for anything in North America.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Good shoot - Dec 2011 version

A woman in California is on the phone with 911 as an intruder tries to break into her house. Sadly, when seconds count, police are only minutes away. This is not a bash against cops, it is a fact. Police cannot be everywhere at all times.

Listen to the 911 tape of the call. The woman shot twice, that didn't work. So she shot a third time. People, ammo is cheap, life is expensive.

Today, Donna Harper knows this to be true as she is alive.

The most surprising thing of all is the idiot 911 operator, urging Hopper to not fire the gun! The operator states that she doesn't want Hopper to accidentally shoot at police, but Hopper has stated several times that she can't see police anywhere, and the intruder is breaking in at that moment!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Who I am. And why I do what I do.

Recently I purchased this hat from Life, Liberty, Etc.

While at a hotel on business recently, I was wearing the hat, and it caused one of the hotel employees to approach me. I learned she was raised Muslim, but had converted to Christianity. She asked me why I would wear such a hat, and asked me if I knew what it meant.

The word on the hat is "kafir" - or as we commonly know it, "infidel."

I answered that I knew I was an infidel according to the Qur'an, as I do not believe in Allah. I believe in Jehova (YHWH in the Jewish tradition), whose son is Jesus, the Christ. Some Muslims (this person included), feel that the god of the Islamic tradition is the same - the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. However, Islamic tradition holds that other religions (Judaism, Christianity) who "share the same God" are wrong, or somehow incomplete, since Mohammed is the final prophet and the Qur'an is their sole source of authority.

In other words, they think the Bible is incomplete and inaccurate. 

By definition, that is not true - if I am to follow Christian faith (which says clearly that the Bible is God's word), then I must believe that the Bible is entirely true. Furthermore, to say that the Bible is inaccurate and that the Qur'an is the only true message from God would dispel what Jesus himself said: "I am the Way the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

There is no getting to heaven through Allah.

This person could not argue my logic, so then she resorted to stating that in Arabic, the word "kafir" means the same as the English "atheist." Not entirely true. Furthermore, the "infidel" is seen as an enemy to the Muslim. The Qur'an instructs the Muslim to fight the infidel that cannot be turned to Allah.

She also stated that the Arabic word "Allah" was simply "god" - and did not refer to a specific god. This is equally incorrect.

She also stated that Muslims are not really taught that Jews and Christians are infidels. This, too, is equally incorrect (link from their own wiki!)

Since I do not (and will never) believe in the Muslim Allah,
And since I know this, and they have a term for someone like me - "kafir"
It is only fitting that I do indeed match their (Muslim) description of the word "kafir" - or "infidel." Since I am unabashedly Christian, and glad for my salvation through the Grace of God, it pleases me to no end to say:

I am an infidel by their (Muslim) definition of the word.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On Adult Bullying

This is a story that recently "came across my desk." Seemed chock-full of lessons to learn.

Enter Grouchy
There once was an unhappy man - we shall call him Grouchy. Nothing seemed to go right in his life. To that end, he consumed himself with poisonous feelings and thoughts. As the unhappy are wont to do, he looked for an outlet in which he could be superior to others. Grumpy was not the physical specimen, nor really the intellectual specimen. But of the two, he fancied himself more intellectual.

Grouchy decided on religion as his outlet. For in religion, he could learn and later make use of knowledge which contains many things which are not absolute. He set about his learning. He learned much, and even came to a place of authority - leading others in their learning.

But as is the case in life, this too came to an end. Grouchy was certainly not happy about it. Of course, truth be told, Grouchy was rarely happy about anything. So Grouchy set out, looking for another outlet of authority. He enjoyed the authority and power given to him in the teaching element.

What Grouchy did not realize is that he did not have the heart of a teacher - he never taught for the love of the subject matter, nor even for the love of teaching. Time after time he was turned away in his bids to gain authority. Yet still, he learned about his religion. He learned how to argue certain points. He specifically chose points of view contrary to modern logic, but that also had less absoluteness to them. And especially he enjoyed points of view that would make him look more worthy than others.

Grouchy, you see, was a bully. Always had been. And now, as an adult, religion had become his bully pulpit.

Grouchy continued his search for the next group of people over which to exert authority. Of course, this group would have to be cultivated and raised up by another, for Grouchy certainly did not have the wherewithal to draw people to him.

Enter Jovial.
Jovial was an eternally happy soul. He had often in life been called on to lead, but had no ambition of leadership. He had found success in life in things physical as well as intellectual. But he sought out neither of these things.

Jovial had lead a great life, but as with everything, that was not always the case. At one point, Jovial's family life became the source of strife for a time. His life was not immune to the stresses of modern society, and so, for a time, he was in the midst of internal conflict. This left him confused and saddened.

While in the middle of the sorrow, Jovial was also attacked from the outside. The Devourer wanted to kick the man while he was down, and bring his jovial nature to an end.

In the midst of these attacks, the paths of Jovial and Grouchy crossed.

Enter the conflict:
As with all bullies, Grouchy was immediately able to discern the weakness - albeit a temporary one - in Jovial. Since their paths had crossed in such a way that Jovial had been leading a small group which Grouchy had attended (looking for his next attempt to unseat leadership and slip into that role again), Grouchy saw his opportunity.

Experience taught Grouchy to bide his time - he waited, he lurked, he observed.

Grouchy learned what he wanted to learn about Jovial. He learned of the perceived weaknesses. He learned of the fact that Jovial had never sought the position of leadership, and had no aspirations to it. He saw his chance to take this form Jovial, and he knew Jovial in the long run would never miss it.

And then it happened. Jovial was leading a meeting and discussed one of the topics that Grouchy had taken to long ago. A topic that was neither here nor there in importance. A topic that had no absolute truth to it.

Grouchy took the offensive, publicly disagreeing with Jovial. Grouchy took it further, and pressed on with attacks on Jovial in person and indirectly.
Grouchy used projection - he claimed Jovial was guilty of things which were in fact, true of Grouchy.
Grouchy sought attention -  a problem clearly exhibited by bullies.
Grouchy acted narcissistic.
Grouchy denied the attacks, of course, and immediately counterattacked with feigned claims of victimhood.

But Grouchy failed in one area.

Normally, a bully will not seek out a healthy, confident individual to attack. Bullies prey on the weak. And while Jovial had certainly been weakened at the point in time of his first contact with Grouchy, the fact was that those problems had passed. The time it took Grouchy to bide and wait and lurk and observe had been used by Jovial to right all of the things in his own life, and regain his confidence.

So when Grouchy attacked, Jovial was no longer weak, but he was strong.

Grouchy's verbal and intellectual attacks were thwarted, one after the other. Grouchy was losing battle after battle. Battles that Jovial did not even want to fight - but was forced to by the constant attacks of Grouchy. Grouchy didn't realize that he had made a mistake in selecting his victim until it was too late - and then he was too far committed to turn back.

In desperate fear of losing a battle he so felt he needed to win, Grouchy threatened to take the matter to the pastorship - which Jovial quickly agreed to.

Jovial had learned that the best reaction to bullying, is to meet the bully head-on, with far more force than the bully expected or wanted to deal with. Jovial also knew all of the possible outcomes of taking the matter before the pastorship, and he was perfectly happy with any eventuality. In a manner of speaking, this was a fight he could not lose.

The Unaware:
First, the Mediator was brought in. Mediator had attended this church for quite some time. He was generally respected, and had been a real servant in the ministry for many years. Truth be told, it was his role that Grouchy really would have been after.

It was Grouchy that contacted Mediator, as well as Pastor. It was his side of story that was told first, and most vehemently. It was he that made "all the noise."

Mediator then contacted Jovial, and got his take on the story. Quite a different take, but not entirely surprising to Mediator. In the back of his mind, Mediator started wondering about the validity of any of Grouchy's claims.

Ultimately, the matter went before the Pastor. Though Mediator was the fact-finder, it was neither his place, nor his desire to render judgment in the case. Both Jovial and Grouchy were respectful of the position of the Pastor, and would live with his decision as being final.

The Pastor:
Pastor was young. He had replaced a previous leader who had been a man of great standing both in this congregation, as well as the community. Powers-That-Be within the congregation selected Pastor due to his youth and the fact that he was easily manipulated to do their bidding. The former leader had not been easy to manipulate.

In fact, just prior to this event, Pastor had maneuvered to make appointments of other pastoral positions within the church to be at the sole discretion of himself and another pastor. This was in stark contrast to the popular vote requirement for installation of pastorship that the church had used for many years prior. This was done at the direction of the church's "powers-that-be."
** Note below**

This was all fine with Pastor, as he held higher aspirations than simply being the Shepherd to this congregation for more than just a few years. His aspirations were to lead larger flocks, and have all of the notoriety that came with such a role. This congregation was simply a stepping stone.

The naivete:
Pastor is confronted directly by Grouchy. He sent Mediator on a mission to obtain all the facts. He sees this situation as a chance to show his ability. But in so doing, he makes one crucial mistake: he fails to see that despite the teachings of the Bible he holds so "dear," he refuses to believe there can be a right and a wrong in this case.

Pastor decides in advance that both men must have committed some wrong, and both men must also have some validity to their arguments. He decides in advance that this is the best way to broach the meeting. Pastor is not concerned with the facts of the case, but rather how he might show "resolution" that might bring himself more ability, and to do so in a way that would not put him at odds of his real superiors: the Powers-That-Be within the church.

In other words, he preselects a decision that cannot harm him... regardless of the truth in the case.

Jovial and Grouchy are brought before Pastor in meeting. Mediator is present, too. Each side has a chance to make their case. Pastor asks each man for a simple apology, and to admit his own misgivings.

The problem is that there were no misgivings on Jovial's part. And to apologize would be to grant the bullying Grouchy the very thing he sought most - attention in the case. Furthermore, Jovial was completely aware of the fact that the best way to handle a bully is to confront the bullying directly and avoid giving in to the bully's demands.

Of course, Grouchy denied all the claims of bullying. He tried to make it into a contest of scripture - asking for a scriptural resolution for a problem he himself created!

Even poor Mediator was reluctant to chime in with his personal feelings, as he was truly a bystander in the case.

The naive Pastor did not recognize the situation, primarily because he had preselected a desirable outcome, and secondly because he was young and inexperienced - particularly when it came to recognizing the signs of bullying. He could not see that Jovial was simply applying the tried-and-true tactic of standing up for himself.

Nevertheless, the remedy requested was indeed a victory for Jovial. Remember, Jovial was prepared for any outcome, and had no way to lose. Grouchy on the other hand, didn't even realize that if he got everything he wanted, he still could not win. 

In the end, Jovial refused to apologize to Grouchy.
Grouchy refused to acknowledge his own wrongdoing in the whole matter.
Mediator saw justice done, even if it wasn't in the plan.
Pastor saw himself not damaged, and thus his aspirations remained in play.

- Learn about bullying. It can save a life. 
In this case, Jovial was fully prepared to deal with a bully, but so many people are not!

- Approach things in life with an open mind. 
Pastor saw this from completely the wrong angle - but that was only due to his youth and inexperience.

- Age is no measure of wisdom.

- However, wisdom comes from experience 

- It rains on the just and the unjust alike. 

- There is such a thing as right and wrong in this world.

- People's motives must be understood, to understand why they make the decisions they make.

- Stop looking at motives as "right" or "wrong" when all you need to know is "why?"
People naturally want to assume that others want to do the right thing. This is largely true. But motives can differ. And people are often motivated without determining whether what they are doing is "right" or not. Also:

- People have a way. of rationalizing their actions and motives as "right" regardless of the truth of the matter.

- And last but certainly not least: when a bully has exhausted all his means of bullying to no effect, the last-ditch efforts to try to gain some sort of control wind up being very sad and pathetic.  

** Note: Since publication, I have been advised that how pastorship decisions are made within this particular church has not changed. Of course, only time will tell if this is accurate.

Weight discrimination.

From the Examiner:

Despite what some might tell you, weight-discrimination does exist. Many supervisors and hiring influences will use this ugly method of discrimination against employees and prospective employees.

Weight discrimination, or weightism, is protrayed in media outlets, and is one of the last forms of discrimination that is still looked on in a "good" light. Fortunately, our society has largely done away with discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, and other trivial matters.

The other side of this coin is that these days, there are more overweight people in America than ever before. And Nashville, being in the Southeast, is right in the middle of a state that is one of the most obese.

Sadly, weightism is not technically illegal in hiring processes. Further, it is often covered up very carefully behind other, legitimate-sounding excuses. So combating weightism during interviews and hiring processes is difficult and often tricky, at best.

If a person feels they have been discriminated against due to their weight, all of the standard rules and procedures apply. Try to work things out in a civil manner. If the company won't, then the job seeker must decide whether to file a claim with the EEOC - being mindful that weightism is not one of the listed types of discrimination.

It might be an uphill battle, so the job seeker must continue to look for other jobs as well. No reason wasting one's whole life on one negative outlet, while passing by all the other wonderful opportunities that are literally right under one's nose.

Another method of combating weightism is really a plain and simple one. Get on a good diet and exercise plan and lose some weight. Not only will the job seeker look and feel better with the weight loss, but will also reap the rewards of all the other health benefits associated with a healthy weight.

Note: The author was once in excess of 300 pounds - morbidly obese by medical standards, and is certain of having been discriminated against due to his weight on more than one occasion. Today, he is over 80 pounds lighter than his peak weight, and has noted that the stigma has all but vanished.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saw this on Facebook - had to post:

You might be a redneck if:

- It never occurred to you to be offended by the phrase, 'One nation, under God..'

You might be a redneck if: You've never protested about seeing the 10 Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a redneck if: You still say ' Christmas' instead of 'Winter Festival.'

You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when someone prays. 

You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem. 

You might be a redneck if: You treat our armed forces veterans with great respect, and always have. 

You might be a redneck if: You've never burned an American flag, nor intend to. 

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe and you aren't afraid to say so, no matter who is listening. 

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and raised your kids to do the same. Some of you are so old you don't have elders to respect. 

You might be a redneck if: You'd give your last dollar to a friend. 

You might be a redneck if: You believe in God & Jesus and believe that others have the right to believe in which ever god they believe in as long as their god does not tell them to kill anyone who does not believe the same as they do!!!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

College football National Championship 2011

As I've written before, college football needs a national championship tournament.

If we follow the pattern I suggested almost two years ago, then here is what we would have. Conference champions get selected, then the top 3 other teams according to BCS standings:
1. LSU
2. Oklahoma State
3. Oregon
4. TCU
5. Wisconsin
6. Clemson
7. Southern Miss.
8. West VA
9. Northern Ill.
10. Arkansas State.
11. Louisiana Tech
12. Alabama
13. Stanford
14. Arkansas

Hypothetical of how I think it would turn out, based on this alignment:

Round 1:
#3 Oregon vs #14 Arkansas
In a shootout, Arkansas proves SEC football reigns supreme and ousts the PAC 12 champs 64-62 in 3OT

#4 TCU vs #13 Stanford
The Cardinal, behind Andrew Luck, race out to an early lead and never look back. TCU cuts the margin late, but only against the 3rd string defense and Stanford wins 38-28.

#5 Wisconsin vs #12 Alabama
Wisconsin gets blitzed early and often. Alabama shows why they were the BCS #2 team and pulls away 42-10.

#6 Clemson vs #11 La Tech.
Clemson puts on a show, and dominates 35-7.

#7 Southern Miss vs #10 Arkansas St.
Southern Miss wins the most competitive game of the first round 24-23.

#8 West Virginia vs #11 Northern Illinois
This game provides our first "upset." Of course, the folks in the Chicagoland area know they have a good team on their hands, and West VA proves why the Big East is the most over-rated conference. Northern Illinois wins convincingly 28-10.

Round 2:
The Fiesta Bowl sees #1 LSU face #14 Arkansas in a rematch of the SEC west game.
Unfortunately for the hogs, the rematch has the same story line. 28-13 LSU

The Orange Bowl pits #2 Oklahoma State vs. #13 Stanford.
The Cowboys get all they want of Andrew Luck and then some. Stanford wins a thriller 63-59 in OT.

The Citrus bowl hosts #6 Clemson vs #12 Alabama.
It's all the same, only the names are changed for the Crimson Tide in a laugher. 41-14 Alabama.

The Cotton Bowl offers us #7 Southern Miss vs. #11 Northern Illinois.
This is the best game of the tournament so far with the Eagles eeking out a 27-24 win in 2OT.

Round 3:
In the Sugar Bowl, #1 LSU has "home-field advantage" over #13 Stanford.
But in the end, they didn't need it. Andrew Luck sees his first NFL-speed defense and throws 4 interceptions. LSU wins going away 37-14.

The Rose Bowl pits #7 Southern Miss vs #12 Alabama.
This is no contest. Alabama pulls away like they have against every opponent so far this year except #1 LSU. Richardson runs for 250 yards and the Tide win 45-9.

National Championship Game:
#1 LSU in a rematch against #12 Alabama held at the Orange Bowl.
These two teams show us why they were #1 and #2 in the BCS polls. Again it goes to OT. Again, LSU squeaks away with a field goal victory. All that matters is the final 20-17.

More on why not Romney

Several have asked me why not Mitt Romney for President - as he seems to be a consistent front-runner.

So here's some basics:
1. Gun Control.
He was for gun control before he was against it. Even when he is against it... he's not really against gun control. He signed a permanent "assault weapons" ban into law as a governor.

2. Romneycare.
Pushed through and signed into law in 2006 (only three years before Obamacare), this law was essentially the template used by the liberals and democrats for the Obamacare plan.
Any questions?

I'm not the only one in the family with a sarcastic edge.

Frankly speaking, I am probably the least sarcastic of my siblings. I have the second-strongest filter of the three of us. I just happen to have the biggest dose of "I-don't-give-a-crap."

Anyways, one of my siblings has started a blog. Funny stuff.

This is what our conversations are typically like. :)

Pleasant surprise in sports

Prior to the season, I predicted that my favorite NFL team, the Tennessee Titans, would wind up 6-10. After all, they had just dumped the entire quarterback roster for a free agent and a draft pick. They had also fired the longest-tenured coach in the NFL and hired Mike Munchak - who had never been a head coach on any level before.

After their win yesterday against the Buffalo Bills, the Titans moved to 7-5, and are in the thick of the hunt for the NFL playoffs. Moreover, even if they lose every game between now and the end of the season (unlikely when one looks at the opponents remaining), they have already eclipsed my prediction.

Right now, there are four games left in the season, in order: vs. the Saints, Colts, Jaguars, and Texans.
The Saints and the Texans are both tough. Both sport a 9-3 record as of this article.
On the other side of the coin, the Colts are having a really odd losing year and are 0-12. The Jaguars are 3-8.

Based on those simple stats, the Titans will likely go 2-2. I predict they beat the Jags and Colts, and fall to the Texans and Saints. That gives them a record of 9-7... possibly a playoff berth (if all the cards fall right).

Confrontations in Church

The Setting: 

So I blogged recently about a doctrinal disagreement I had with a fellow Sunday School student. He took exception to my blog post about the topic, and "confronted" me about it.

As I offered no apology - due to the facts that A) I had not wronged him, and B) he never approached me as being offended, but rather as a bully would - things escalated. He found his opportunity to seek attention.

As I write this, we await a time to be set up to meet with one of our senior pastors. This meeting was demanded by my fellow student. The sad part of this is that he thrust Right Minded into the middle of the whole thing. Evidently, in his "intense" study of scripture, he never ran across Proverbs 16:28 -
Destructive people produce conflict; gossips alienate close friends.

And as much as my fellow student won't like it, this post is not about him either. You the reader simply needed to know this background to understand why I say the point of this post:

The problem with it all:
Machiavelli said: "It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both." This was certainly the attitude adopted by my fellow student. Attempts to bully me were not successful.

The solution:
We are set to have one of the senior pastors mediate the difference. As is expected, I have thought through ever major possibility. Every possible outcome is perfectly acceptable to me. Why?

The catch:
My wife and I had been considering leaving the church. We had pondered doing just that on several occasions over the past four years. Why? The church had parted ways with strong men of conviction who were in leadership positions, much to our dismay.

What was left (and the prevailing attitude of those selected to replace these men) was an unmistakeable air of legalism and plutocracy. This attitude from the leadership positions on down, has attracted the pharisee types in droves. Sure, our attendance numbers are up, but at what cost?

The catch, part 2:
So we had actually decided to leave the church by year's end. But then, my fellow student decided he would try to bully around just the wrong person.

Having devoted the better part of my life to the martial arts, and having taught the martial arts for upwards of 25 years, one could say that I have devoted a big part of my life to equipping others with skills needed (verbal, mental, and physical) to deter people just such as my fellow student.

It would be hypocritical of me to tuck tail and run at this point.

The catch, fin:
So you see the position we have here. I am OK with the extreme possibilities of the outcome of the mediation: either the expulsion from the church of my fellow student, or myself.

How did I arrive at that possibility? Simple. If I am directed to offer an apology to my fellow student, I will kindly and firmly refuse. Forever. If that means the church feels I should leave, then I've lost nothing.

What if the decision is not at the extreme?
Fine with me. Again, nothing to lose for me in any event.

Naturally, I suspect that a simple mediation solution will be offered. It's just much more likely. Something to the tune of either myself or my fellow student being displaced to another Sunday School class. If I am the one forced to leave, then I leave the church, too. Just that simple. Our Sunday School class is the only thing that has kept us there.

What it all means:

There is an old Italian proverb:
"Beware the man who has nothing to lose, for he has only to gain." 
There are few times in my life when I could honestly say I was in that position, but this is certainly one of them.

In this situation, I stand only to gain. There is not an outcome in this situation that has me at a loss. It does remind me of another Italian proverb I saw when looking for the link to the one above:
"Chastise the good and he will mend, chastise the bad and he will grow worse."

The Bully: 

From this link:
"Serial bullies tend to project their own deficiencies on to their victims. Knowing this, the victims need to clearly label the allegations of bullies as projections during an administrative resolution of problems (which is EXACTLY what I did). The victims also need to closely examine the bully's past performance in the areas of accusation. By having facts about the past failures of the bully, it is much easier to make the case for projection. The experts at the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line say that the best strategy for combating bullies is to focus attention on the bully's past failures and then label the bullying behavior as projection.

If the targeted victim is successful in keeping the attention of supervisors on the past deficiencies of the bully, then the bully will generally counter-attack and try to prove that the victim is mentally unbalanced. If this strategy does not succeed (which it didn't in my instance because I provided an emotional front of absolute calm and peace), the bully will try a third strategy, which is to claim to be the victim of the victim's attacks. Bullies in the workplace are often very good at all of their strategies: isolating and attacking people, counter-attacking victims if they are charged with bullying, and playing victim themselves."
Emphasis mine - because they describe accurately what I witnessed. Only difference - it was in the Church, not in the workplace.

The Events:

The meeting with the Senior pastors is over. We met with the discipleship pastor and the senior pastor.  I found out that my fellow student had been in communication with them... significantly. This was to be expected.

I had prepared a list of instances where my fellow student had shown similar arrogance and bullyish behavior when dealing with others online. There happen to be many examples. One person with whom he has argued in the past calls him a modern-day pharisee. His head knows, but his heart does not. This would explain the pride, the arrogance, the bully behavior, and the lack of understanding of things he knows.

The list was not needed. My fellow student never denied trying to bully. He pushed forward with his agenda. Finally naming a reason he felt he was wronged - that of not coming to him and telling him of sin to his face.

Even when the Senior Pastor encouraged us to air our grievances, my fellow student would not apologize for the bully behavior - then he only apologized for "anger." Worthy of note here is the fact that Biblically speaking, anger is not a sin. Ephesians 4:26 says, in part, "be angry, but do not sin..." In fact, several times the Bible talks about Jesus getting angry - but He never sinned.

So when my fellow student apologized for anger, it was my impression that he was not apologizing at all for a sin. He was making a clear distinction in his head. In so doing, he was displaying yet more arrogance. He was displaying contempt for our senior pastorship. And he was displaying more bullyish behavior (not "guilty of any wrong").

Bully behavior in adults, is indicated by showing several of the traits on this list. I weep for my fellow student, as he shows all of the first thirteen, I am unsure of the next two (which happen to be of a sexual nature), and all of the rest of the dozens of traits discussed.

At the meeting, I was asked to apologize to my fellow student for failing to come to him when I saw him in sin. I refused. My refusal stemmed from the fact that he had not wronged me in the sin of arrogance. I had no dog in that fight.

The Aftermath:
The senior pastor asked us to prayerfully consider all we had said and done, and comment back with him in a week or so. I did so. In my email, I acknowledged that on some topics the pastor had pointed out, I needed to rethink my stance. As it was, these topics were wholly unrelated to the situation, but I was glad to have learned from him.

On a related note, the pastor had asked me to forgive my fellow student, even though I felt (and still feel) I had not been wronged. I offered my forgiveness in the situation - something I needed to do - despite the lack of an apology on one issue (the bullying attempts), and despite the lack of having been wronged in the other issue (the pride issue).

Additionally, the pastor gave me verses indicating that even in issues of sin where we are not wronged directly, we still need to confront the person about their sin. And although this post is not the proper forum, I will discuss later how this suggestion has merit, and scriptural basis - and also how we are still not to be the "Christian police." Nevertheless, this is a lesson I've learned, and again, there are times to use it and times it does not apply.

Also, I offered martial arts classes to my fellow student free of charge, or, alternately, to pay for classes at a local martial arts school to address the bully behavior. The senior pastor took a measure of offense to this, replying:
"[The Discipleship Pastor] and I will also be in touch with [your fellow student] concerning the steps he needs to take.  I believe it is more appropriate for us to handle that from a pastoral perspective than for you to handle it from a martial arts perspective.  The reconciliation needs to occur between two brothers in Christ who are united in the same body, and I believe moving the process into a martial arts setting (whether your class or another) would make you an authority in the situation instead of an equal."

I mentioned nothing of an apology, and the pastor asked me to offer one. This time, in print, he asked me to offer an apology for making public comments about my fellow student. This was different than the original apology requested by my fellow student. Since I did no wrong in making the public comments about my fellow student, I declined to offer an apology.

Additionally, I did apologize to the pastor for writing something he took to be me attempting to usurp his authority. Also, I made clear my intent to make a charitable donation in an amount equal to a month of martial arts classes at the most expensive local school.

The response was fascinating: the Senior pastor still wants me to apologize to my fellow student - this time for "blog-gossip." 

Since the "offense" (if there actually is one - seems doubtful to me) seems to be a moving target, I cannot apologize.

More than a bit of irony that a bit later, the Senior pastor asked me again to apologize, stating I was not at all in the wrong, but that my fellow student was, but the Senior Pastor wanted to confront him (fellow student) about anger, bullying, and the like. He felt it would be hard without my apology. But he admitted I was not at all in the wrong. Funny.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Replacement found

She doesn't have the best campaign, but she does have the values. That's what we need most of all. Since Herman Cain is no longer in the Presidential race, I am throwing my support behind Michele Bachmann.

Cool quote she had on guns:
"I don’t get as much time to go and shoot as I would like, but my favorite gun is the AR-15. It’s so accurate. It is a big gun!"

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Poetic Justice

A home intruder was shot and killed in Florida.

Details of note:
The shooter was a former beauty queen.
The shooter used a pink handgun.
The intruder was a career criminal.

Sounds like a good shoot to me!

Sad it came to this

Today, Herman Cain announced he is suspending his bid for President. He cited the damage done to his family by the continued assaults on his character regarding phony sexual misconduct allegations.

Now I gotta go find another candidate to vote for. Sure won't be Ron Paul.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Word analysis for the day:


noun - a victory, especially in competition.

verb - to achieve a victory or finish first

also - To get laid off from one's job - while simultaneously having two other jobs (which more than pay the bills). Especially when one anticipated the layoff within 2 weeks of starting employment there.
see also - Usagi's start to December.

This is so very cool!

Get your picture taken with Santa and machine guns!

Gun Rights - TN 2012

Looks like some legislators are thinking about making it legal to carry in TN without a permit... but they will keep the permit system in place so that folks can carry in states that have reciprocal agreements.

Mixed emotions - Dec. 2011

The state of Ohio has taken a boy from his mother. The boy was in the third grade, and weighs over 200 pounds.

On one hand, the state of Ohio should have no ability to take a child away from a parent. The state also stated that the child is at risk for certain diseases - but that doesn't mean the child has those diseases, however!

On the other hand, the simple fact is that this is the single best thing that has ever happened to this child.

8 wins or he's out

Can't say I disagree with this article. At all.

New Holiday Song

In light of the way Black Friday has unfolded in recent years; a tribute, in song, from an email:

Gunshots ring, are you listenin'?
In the aisles, pepper sprays mistin'.
Be ready to fight, on Black Friday night
Shopping in a Walmart wonderland

In the parking lot we can rob an old man
And pretend we bought this on our own
He'll say "Help me", we'll say "No man"
Just kick him, shoot him then we go right home

Later on we'll perspire as we come under fire
Be ready to fight on Black Friday night
Shopping in a Walmart wonderland.

Great read on why not to vote for Ron Paul

Link to Camp4u. He sums it up better than I ever could.

Ron Paul says the Bush Administration was "gleeful" when the 9/11 attacks happened. Paul stated that Bush was looking for a reason to invade Iraq. That was a very irresponsible thing to say.

Movie Review - Thanksgiving weekend 2011

The Muppets movie of 2011 was on tab this past Thanksgiving weekend.

It was a Muppet movie. The producers held to the formula (simple comedy, simple plot, entertaining songs) that made the Muppets a favorite of mine, and so many others in my age group.

My kids loved it. I enjoyed it. More than once, the wife was tapping her feet to the beat of a song.

Well, I guess McCain woulndn't have been much better than Obama

He has co-authored a bill that would violate the constitutional rights of citizens by allowing the government to detain indefinitely and determine what is "enemy action" - and in so doing, imprison American Citizens here in our own country.

What they in power don't get is that the US Military if for fighting people who would bring harm to Americans, not to fight Americans!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In an email from Pops:

Microchip Implant Allows Islamic Terrorists to Speak to God.
The implant is specifically designed to be injected in the forehead.
When properly installed, it will allow the terrorist to speak to God.

It comes in various sizes: Generally from .223 to .50 cal.
The exact size of the implant will be selected by a well-trained and highly skilled technician, who will also make the injection. No anesthetic is required.
The implant may or may not be painless. Side effects, like headaches, nausea, aches and pains are extremely temporary.
Some bleeding or swelling may occur at the injection site. In most cases, you won't even notice it.
Please enjoy the security we provide for you.
Best regards,

"WE take great comfort in knowing that the last thing Osama bin Laden saw on this earth was an American".

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Good Shoot - Chattanooga style

A frequent reader (and perhaps a member of the family - I'm not tellin'!) sent this article to me.
Basically, a man was leaving for work when he was accosted by two criminals. One of the criminals pulled a gun. The man was a HCP holder, and pulled his own gun. At least one of the criminals was shot - the article mentioned only one "suspect" as having been shot - no mention of the fate of the other "suspect."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Embarrassing moment

Embarrassing to say the least. When I was new to sales and customer service, working at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Dyersburg, TN, I made a really bad error. This happened in 1999.

I was reminded of this by recent conversation with the man who was my manager at the time - Rich. He was an excellent manager, and taught me a lot. However, at the time of this "incident," I simply had much to learn.

A customer had locked a set of keys in a rental car, forcing us to get an additional set of keys cut. Rich informs me that I need to tell the customer that there is a charge for that, as the keys were not free to Enterprise, either. I think the charge was something minimal - $25 or so.

I had trouble thinking of a good way to express this to the customer. Finally, I made up my mind (customer was on hold on the phone at the time):
"Sir, don't be surprised if there is a $25 charge on your credit card to cover the price of the keys."

Rich immediately chided me when I hung up the phone: "that's a terrible way to say that!" His half-smile indicating not only his displeasure with me, but also his incredulity at my lack of tact. 

He was RIGHT! That was a terrible way to say that. Not sure I could say it worse if I had to - even now, some 13 years later.

Looking back, all I can do is facepalm myself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Once Saved Always Saved?

Summed up - some people believe that once the gift of Salvation has been accepted, that it cannot be undone. Others believe that the gift can be given back. Using that simple analogy, these things seem possible. But are they? If so, which one is true?

Of course, this is another of the "hot topics" in modern Christianity.

On one end, you have the concept that Salvation is perfect, and that God does not do things "halfway." On the other side of the coin, you have the concept that people can reject God (which is true), but also do so after having accepted Him.

This link has a lot of good arguments, pro and con. It even has links - pro and con. The author takes the point of view that salvation can be rejected - which is true. The question, though, is whether salvation can be rejected after it is first rejected.

The link, and the subsequent links, provide more scripture on the topic than I could ever hope to link here.

The basic idea gets down to this: what is salvation? It is the atonement of sin. Essentially - it is God forgiving you. God forgives you for sins - past present and future. If it were not true, then it would be necessary to be saved again and again as future sins were committed.

God's forgiveness is unlimited - if we ask it and accept it. There is not a sin that He will not forgive. On that topic, there is not a sin that is greater or worse than another. "For the wages of sin is death." The Bible never indicates one sin as being more deserving of death than another.

Now, unlike Calvinists, who believe falsely that God chose specific people to be saved ahead of time, I firmly believe we must accept the Gift through our own free will. Some say you can "give that gift back" - but it is not that kind of gift. It is not a tangible gift. It is a gift of eternal forgiveness. Still, the question remains: what if the person later rejects God?

Some feel that because the gift is eternal forgiveness, it cannot by definition be given back. God agrees to forgive every sin you might commit when you simply ask Him to. That includes future sin - even the sin of rejecting Him.

Scripture is not clear on whether one remains saved after first accepting Christ, then later rejecting Him. So no conclusion can be had on this topic. 

Therefore, I conclude, in the absence of scripture to the contrary, that God's plan of Salvation is perfect, and will forgive and atone for any sin - past, present, and future. 

That said, I am not about to reject God to test this hypothesis!   :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bill Clinton as President

A regular reader recently asked me to sum up thoughts on Bill Clinton as President. In short, I was not yet old enough to vote in 1992, and I voted for Dole in 1996. So you know which way I am going.

Clinton took office Jan. 20, 1993 and left office Jan 20, 2001. During that time, many people attribute much success to him. Fact is that most of the economic success came via balanced budgets and holding steady on taxes via bills passed by a Republican controlled House and Senate in the mid and late 1990's. Another source of the economic boom was consumer debt.

Failure #1: Terrorism
America was attacked on its own soil in 2001 by Islamic extremists. Emboldened by Clinton's lax policy on dealing with violent radicals, these terrorists felt that we as Americans were soft. After all, we had elected and re-elected a soft leader in Clinton.

Fact is, there were several terrorist attacks that went unanswered during the Clinton administration, and this is what gave the terrorists on 9/11/2001 the guts to attack us:
-World Trade Center in 1993.
- Fuel truck bomb in Saudi Arabia in 1996.
- US Embassy bombed in Kenya in 1998.
- Last, but not least was the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.

Failure #2 - NAFTA
Ever notice lately how bad our unemployment is? Can you imagine how much better the US Economy would be if we had about, say, 1,000,000 more manufacturing jobs? Well, thank NAFTA - the "free trade" bill signed into law by Clinton. It was feared in 1992 that such a bill would cripple the US Economy. Sadly, the predictions were true. Even current President Obama was critical of the move in 2008 when he was running against Bill Clinton's wife.

But, if you like sending all our jobs overseas, then you wouldn't understand this criticism.

Failure #3: Socialized Health Care
Nobody wants it now, and nobody wanted it in 1993. Difference was that in 1993, enough politicians were frightened enough to actually not vote for it.

Failure #4: Social Security and Medicare
It is no secret that Social Security and Medicare are out of control. But they weren't always. Back in 1993, the Omnibus Act passed, and removed spending caps. That's all we needed - prevent the government from having any spending limits on something... anything. Jeesh.

Failure #5: Brady Bill
Passed in 1993, this bill required a waiting period on handgun purchases. To date, it has not prevented a single crime. What it was is an attempt to control guns a bit more and take a step toward the removal of the 2nd Amendment. Thankfully, in 1998, an online background checking system became possible, and the asinine law had its sunset.

This law also made it difficult and sometimes impossible for US citizens to purchase surplus firearms from other countries, like the SKS. It was this precedent that is attributed to part of current President Obama's "rationale" for banning the US from taking delivery of our own M1's and M1 Carbines that we had lent South Korea. 

Failure #6: "Assault" weapons ban:
Enacted in 1994, as part of this silly law made illegal certain "deadly features" on common use rifles, pistols, and shotguns. Of note, the "deadly features" included magazines that hold over 10 rounds of ammunition, pistol grips, collapsible stocks, flash hiders, bayonet lugs, and muzzle devices that allow for attachment of grenade launchers.

One really silly provision was "semiautomatic versions of automatic weapons." Replicas, in other words.

Thankfully, this law also had a sunset clause, and expired in 2004. However, the damage had been done. Americans wanted freedom - not governmental restrictions. So a Republican majority in Congress was elected later that year.

Failure #7: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Tell me one thing this did. For gays, or for those who oppose gays in the military.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Would you look at this, part II

It seems Wal Mart now sells AR 15 style rifles and carbines. I've seen them myself, and here's a link to a blog article on the same news.

Prevailing price on a decent Bushmaster carbine seems to run $847 - $897, depending on location. This is far less than the typical gun store - which often sell the same for $1000 or more.

Of course, one could order an AR 15 of equal if not better quality for far less money.

And one could assemble an AR 15 of equal or better quality for even less money.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

So funny and shouldn't have been

So this week I visited several clients (as I do every week).

One client had the postcard my company sent out to introduce me recently. My photo was on the postcard. On my photo, the client had drawn glasses on me.

I snickered inside. It was funny.
Some might have been offended, but I guess I'm just too juvenile not to like it.

Artistically said

These songs were on my mind recently, for different reasons. None of them is my favorite - but all of them apply to something... somewhere.

Sound Beach

Ph@ri-C 2011

Age is no measure of wisdom

Forever "My Belle"

Funny Sign

This week I spotted a sign at a place that does oil changes. It read:

"Sign man too lazy - come inside for message."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Multiple great quotes

I really like the quotes from Clint Smith:
(in part)

"If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid. That’s ridiculous. If I have a gun, what in the hell do I have to be paranoid about?"

"Don’t shoot fast, shoot good."

"You can say ‘stop’ or ‘alto’ or use any other word you think will work, but I’ve found that a large bore muzzle pointed at someone’s head is pretty much the universal language."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fun afternoon

So part of my son's 7th birthday gifts from my wife and I was tickets to the Tennessee Titans game this afternoon. Mrs. Usagi does not enjoy watching professional football in person (too many TV timeouts), so it was just the boy and myself.

We left early in the afternoon to make the 3:05 start time. We both had fun, even though the Titans did not emerge victorious.

My overall record, watching the Titans in person, is 2-2. Twice I've watched the Titans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. I've also witnessed them lose to the Oakland Raiders, in addition to the loss today.


In a forum I frequent, someone posed the following situation: his family was all aware that he prepared for possible SHTF situations. They all said that in the event something did happen, they would go to his house. He asked the best way to let them know that he would not be sharing his guns / ammo / food with them since they didn't prepare.

I suggest a different approach is needed. The question is faulty. I would not want to come across to family or friends as unsympathetic or mean - possibly damaging relationships in the process.

Furthermore, I suggest that most likely, someone that did not take an active role in preparing themselves or their family would not last long in a SHTF environment, and so the question would be moot.

Alternately, if the man's family did last long enough to get to his place and ask for his food - they have proven that they do have some real useful qualities. I'd want to keep people like that around.

Quote to end all quotes

Question: How do you confuse a recruiter?
Answer: You tell them something simple and straight-forward.

This from my brother. The Inspiration?

My brother is currently interviewing candidates for an open position. He recently told the HR person that he was going to pass on a specific candidate because that candidate had significant discrepancies on answers from the interview vs. what was actually on his resume. 

The candidate asked the HR lady on Friday about the status of his candidacy.

She (HR lady) actually asks my brother what the status is... and why my brother decided to pass on this candidate. AGAIN.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Recently found the folks over at Life, Liberty, Etc.

Decided to upgrade my shooting jacket:

There's a really good chance that a sticker just like that will find its way to my "M16A4" Clone rifle in the near future.

There's an equally good chance that when I wear the jacket at the range, and am shooting the rifle in question, I'll be wearing a ball cap that says "infidel."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Great quote

Rule #1 in the music industry: "It's not fair!"

Was given this quote from Mr. Smith at Spirit Martial Arts last night.
Told Mr. Smith at Spirit Martial Arts that I'm stealing that one from him!  :)

Here's a story full of fail

Former NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield had his home searched and 40 firearms seized.

Mayfield Fail:
Mayfield shows fail by having some methamphetamine in his possession.

Media Fail:
"We're told the guns were seized so officials could determine if the weapons belong to Mayfield .... and if so, if they are properly registered."
NC does not register firearms. They have a pistol-purchase permit, but that does not track the unit sold in any way - just verifies to the dealer that the citizen is eligible to purchase a pistol. 

Police Fail:
Acting on a warrant for stolen property, they can only make an arrest for drug charges.

Shennanigans? Surely not...

Recently, my candidate, Herman Cain, has been saddled with allegations of sexual impropriety. So far, no proof has come out... only allegations. And there seems to be a leak somewhere. And that leak might just lead back to those who would stand to lose the most in an election against Cain.

Remember, Rule #1 of politics - those who gain power are afraid most to lose that power.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This one is for Right Minded

But the rest of you might enjoy it, too. Seems Right Minded is not the only person with an unnatural fascination with the destruction of pumpkins with firearms.    :)

Carry Permits In WI

Wisconsin now allows permitted carry of firearms - as of yesterday. Seems that was a popular decision - 80,000 applications were submitted on day 1!

It seems the state's Attorney General was the first to be issued a permit.

Also, a bit over 100 were processed on the first day. I hope the processing gets quicker for my friends in the dairyland state!

Gun Control = Racism... Again

Thanks to Say Uncle for the story.

On a similar note in an unrelated story, Al Sharpton thinks guns should be banned from the black community. (The article's words - not mine)

Presidential Politics - Nov. 2011

Looks like Herman Cain is not only in the lead, but is separating from the crowd.

You know it's the case when even liberal polls have him in a "dead heat" with their elect: Romney.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Bit on Adult Behavior

So far, most of my behavior topics have related to children. Let me shift gears here, and talk about adult behavior problems.

The most common one I see is projection. Simply put, projection is when a person is guilty of something himself, but blames others of being guilty of it instead. Liberals often fall into this category.

Another common problem I see is when people seek to place blame. People like this find it easier to blame someone or something else, than to live up to the consequences of their own actions.

A third problem one often sees in our society, and one that is intermingled with the first two, is the act of being accusatory. Some people accuse others - particularly in an attempt to assign blame, or sometimes out of a case of projection.

Another huge problem is cases of bullying. Generally speaking, people who bully others do so to seek negative attention and to gain control. Frequently, bullies are also products of bullying. Here's a link on Adult Bully behavior.  Here's one on Child Bully behavior. There are some perceptible differences.

Now, of course, there are the run-of-the-mill problems out there like selfishness, greed, insecurity, and others. But the ones that really stand out more than the rest, to me, are the three listed above.

My new rifle

So, when I made the mistake of letting Mrs. Usagi try out my AR15 this past Memorial Day weekend, the end result was that I lost another rifle. She took possession of it, and customized it a little bit.

At that time, I decided to build one for myself. I am a fan of the M16A4, and figured this would be my chance. Here it is with an ACOG and with a carry handle:

The specs:
Bushmaster buttstock
Surplus Arms stripped lower.
Palmetto State Armory (PSA) lower parts kit.
Rock River Arms (RRA) National match trigger.
PSA upper, Bolt Carrier Group, and charging handle.
ER Shaw Stainless Steel heavy barrel - 1:8 twist
Trijicon TA31F Acog (used to be on Mrs. Usagi's rifle, but she liked the TA01 reticule better, so I bought her a TA01) - Both ACOG's have John 8:12 as the Bible verse.

What the rifle is capable of:
That was shot at 100 yards.
And yes, the quarter will cover the group entirely.

That group was shot using Privi-Partisan 75-grain match ammo. Interestingly, it has the same point-of-impact as 55-grain M193 ammo does out of the same rifle. M855 strikes one inch low. Neither the M193 nor the M855 will group as tight as this.

I would never have thought (on guns):

Better get one before the 2012 election - Palmetto State Armory has complete AR15 carbines available for $599. Of course, it needs to be shipped to your local FFL to comply with ATF rules and for background check purposes, but that's still quite a deal!

Funny things from hiring

One of the main searches on Google that will get you to my blog seems to be what I've written on Wonderlic tests.

I am putting together an unofficial list of companies from where the internet is used to search for these strategies on Wonderlic. Seems to be the thing to do. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

My kind of Sheriff

After arresting a suspect for attempted rape, the Sheriff of Spartanburg, SC suggests the public get carry permits... and use them.

Link to story.

My favorite quote in the whole thing?

"I think I better stop before I get sanctioned."

Fun show, neat moment

One of my favorite shows is The Walking Dead on AMC.

Last week - Season 2, Episode 2 - brought about a moment of joy in the house, as Mrs. Usagi also enjoys the show.

The heroes were traveling, and had stopped. Of course, zombies are everywhere, and before long, a group of zombies is spotted heading toward the heroes.

The main protagonist shoulders his bolt-action rifle, and uses his sling in a "hasty sling" (second picture, this link) configuration. Of course, this sling usage is taught as part of Appleseed training, as well as being a classic use of the sling to help steady a rifle for a more accurate shot.

Of course, there is an entire horde of zombies, forcing the heroes to hide instead of fight. At which point, Mrs. Usagi says: "why aren't they using AR15's? Just two people could have taken out the whole horde."

Then we shared a pondering moment as the obvious fact of the liberal media's intense desire to not portray "evil black rifles" as being anything good came to roost.

Post Edit:
Mrs. Usagi would like to point out that there are "Evil Pink Rifles" as well.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to my son today. He is 7.

The funny thing is right now it is 30 degrees. Today's high is supposed to be 57. When my son was born, it was 93 degrees that day. We had to use the AC in the car on the ride home that Sunday morning.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Well, I didn't like Pepsi anyways

Seems Pepsi is working hand-in-hand with a company that uses stem cells from aborted babies.

Didn't like Pepsi anyways, so this boycott is totally on!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Predestination or Free Will?

Last week, I was asked to be substitute teacher in my Sunday School class. This is not unusual - happens about 4-6 times per year... sometimes more. Originally, our Sunday School class had another "go-to" person who would teach in our instructor's ("Right Minded") absence. However, that person and his wife left our class about 4-5 years ago, and at the time, as Right Minded put it, there was nobody else left that could do it.

Funny thing - I never asked to be sub. Never really wanted to be the sub. But, not wanting to put a friend in a tough spot, I accepted. To be 100% truthful, it is one of the few things in life I truly do not look forward to doing, but do so out of a strong sense of duty.

At the heart of my personal preference to not teach is the simple fact that I know I am strongly opinionated, and my concern that this will some day put a friend in a tough spot. I thought that had actually come this past week.

A new member to the class was present last week. It so happens that this person is Calvinist, though I was unaware of that fact at the time - it would become painfully clear at the end of that class. Of note in Calvinism, is the philosophy of "the 5 points."

Of note for last Sunday in particular, was the opinion (pro and con) on predestination. (PS - that Wikipedia article actually has a really good segment on the Christian take on the subject, and lays out a lot of good pros and cons). Specifically put, the Calvinist concept of predestination is essentially that those who are and are to be saved by Christ have somehow been selected specially by God ahead of time.

I do not believe in predestination in the least, for a number of reasons. Most notably, the only way that an argument can be made for predestination is to systematically ignore and reassign the meaning of the written words contained in the scripture. Additionally, the scripture is chock-full of reference after reference after reference of Salvation being the gift of God, and being offered to all mankind, and available for us to choose of our own free will.

Simply put - God is not sitting up in Heaven, "playing with his dolls" as it were.
Of course, the Bible actually starts out with mankind's first account of free will in Genesis chapter 2. God gives man a choice, and the consequences of a poor decision:
“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

For a more in-depth set of reasons on why I will never accept the ill-conceived concept of predestination, see this article. Also, another basic reason is that the Bible teaches the concept of "Free Will" and that no words have to be twisted to believe it - even Calvinists cannot deny the concept (only twist it).

The Basics:

At the heart of the disagreement last Sunday, were the Biblical verses from Romans 8:28-30. With my fellow student spouting the typical arguments about "the elect" and he himself 'electing' (pun intended) to misinterpret the words of the verse to read that God foreknew (argued by him to mean that God caused, instead of simply knowing ahead of time), and therefore predestined the "elect."

That very argument, while popular in certain small segments of (most) Presbyterian and (a very few) Baptist circles, is filled with holes:

1. "The elect" or "the chosen," are phrases used by Paul a lot in his epistles. It is used as another way of referring to Christians - as Paul used the terminology to replace the Jews. In fact, every scripture that references the elect and predestination is in fact talking about the Jews!

2. The Greek original word "proginosko" has a simple meaning of having known about something beforehand. There is no implication by any Greek scholars (only Calvinists) that the term means any sort of causal relationship.

3. Even the word "predestined" is not used in a context such as the Calvinists argue. Their argument comes solely from isolating the word and applying a stretched meaning of a translated word (proorizo). Instead of looking at the entire passage, which clearly talks about God causing things to work together for His perfect Will - forming a plan for Salvation of sinners (and, as part of that plan, to be conformed to the image of Christ), and eventually giving those sinners the Glory of God.
Note: This same concept is also mentioned clearly in Ephesians 1:1-10. Of the six times the word "proorizo" is written in the Greek translations of the Bible, these two passages contain half (three of the six) of the instances.

Additionally, it is worthy of note that in the literature, one of the authors talked about the concept of predestination, and stated that it (predestination) was a concept only truly understood in the "annals of God's inner circle" - whatever that is supposed to mean. It is my experience that the Bible was written that all mankind can understand it.  The only people I've ever heard proclaim that certain topics in the Bible were beyond certain people were folks who were really arrogant themselves - often stemming from a classically trained background which espouses such garbage.

The Problem:

Sadly, the disagreement happened toward the end of class. We were already a few minutes past normal dismissal time, so there was not time to give an adequate rebuttal. And to do so in future Sunday School classes would be inappropriate. I would gladly debate the topic with this individual or any other. Absent that, I'll put the crux of my beliefs here.

The difference:

My fellow student claimed that my interpretation was "not what the verse says," when I pointed out that the passage does not talk about predestination in the sense that God caused all these things to happen - but rather that God set into motion His perfect plan, and set it up such that Christians (referred to by Paul as "the elect") would have an avenue (Christ Jesus) to become like Him. Therefore, let's examine the passage and see what really is:
Romans 8:28-30 -
We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan. God knew them before he made the world, and he chose them to be like his Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. God planned for them to be like his Son; and those he planned to be like his Son, he also called; and those he called, he also made right with him; and those he made right, he also glorified.


"For those whom He foreknew" - found in several translations. My fellow student tried to claim that the Greek word here for "foreknew" ("proegno" - root word: proginosko) not only means that God knew of these things ahead of time, but also that He predestined them to come to pass. Funny thing is, that's not the case.

 "Proginosko" is used 5 times in the New Testament (Acts 26:5, II Peter 3:17, Romans 11:2, I Peter 1:20 AND Romans 8:29). The other four times, it is used in reference to man's or God's knowing that or what something was or would be - similar to the modern English phrase "you know." In those instances, it is clear that man is not omniscient. The clear implication is "to be familiar with (before now)." However, for this one time, the word takes on a different meaning? As the author of  the link on the Greek word study put it: that is a very schizophrenic definition.

The very obvious verbal intent, put in modern English, would be along the lines of: "those God knew would become Christians..." There is no cause implied.


The Greek word proorizo/proorisen is used here - which has the clear meaning of God causing things to come to be. So the question is simple - what did God cause to come to be?
The only way this (or any) passage can be translated is when looked at in its entirety. God predetermining whom would be saved is a stretch and is disingenuous at best. Why? Because to assume that, one has to isolate a phrase out of the verse. The whole verse is: "God knew them before he made the world, and he chose them to be like his Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters."

The clear and obvious meaning is that God predestined the Christians to be conformed to the image of Christ. This is the Plan of Salvation. God would make Christians to be made like Christ, and this so that Christ would be the Head of the Church.

Another way to say it is this: God did not predestine who would become a Christian. God predestined Christians to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. 

The Elect:

Another sticking point is the use of the term "the Elect" in reference to Christians. 
Paul, a trained Pharisee, knew that the Jews were referred to in Scripture as God's Elect. He (Paul) was displacing that concept (and rightly so) with the concept that Christians were now God's Elect. Use of this term in different translations of this verse and passage should be viewed in this sense. It is a failure to focus on the term "the Elect" as being descriptive of God predetermining them; rather, it is a term, familiar to Jews of the day, to refer to God's people.

Using the term "the Elect" in this passage would actually be an out-of-date translation - as the Greek word for "those" (people He knew of) is the pronoun "ous" - very literally, "those."

Romans 8:30

Again, we have to look at the focus of the entire passage, and not stop at a single word.
Verse 30 clearly draws on Verse 29 and refers to Christians as "those whom He predestined."
There is no indication of what God predestined, there is only a reference to define whom was called, justified, and glorified.

Summary on Verbage
So can we sum up who or what was predestined? Can we use scripture to prove it? Why, yes, we can! Unless Paul was schizophrenic, or otherwise in the habit of saying one thing one time and contradicting himself later, then we can summarize from II Timothy 1:9 -
"For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus."

So what did God predestine?

Great question! This link has an excellent sumamry:

What God has predestined:
1. God predestined that His children (Christians) will be conformed to the image of Jesus.
2. God predestined that the Gospel of Christ would be a mystery until He chose to reveal it.
3. God predestined that believers in Christ Jesus would be adopted as God's very own children.
4. God predestined that believers in Christ Jesus should be to the praise of God's glory.

What God has not predestined:
- Your day-to-day life and decisions.

The biggest fundamental problem:

The single biggest problem with the concept of predestination is that if some were chosen, then others were predestined to be eternally damned. It would mean that those who would never receive salvation never had a chance to be saved. There are two main problems with this line of thinking:
a) God doesn't work that way. He is a patient and just God.
b) What about the countless scriptures that state salvation is for everybody!

Another fundamental problem:
Let's use simple logic on this one...
If God predestines who will be saved,
Then God (by default) predestines who will not be saved.
This very concept is in direct conflict with scores of scriptures... most notably, those that tell us that God is merciful, God is just, and that God wants all mankind to be saved.

Other problems:
Calvinism, by being erroneous, is a false doctrine.
Christians are not Chosen to Salvation.
John Calvin himself was a fraud.
The concept of limited atonement (only some would be chosen to be saved) is actually self-defeating.
None of the "Five Points" is actually scriptural as written by Calvin.
Calvin himself was not likely a Christian even, but a heretic!
My fellow student was a self-evident Hyper-Calvinist. That is actually worse!
Despite Calvinists' claims to the contrary, Foreknowledge, Election, and Predestination are different things, not one and the same.
More on God's predestination of a blessing for Christians.
Calvinism is no different than Romanism or Arminianism.
The point of Calvinism is to make Salvation mysterious and incomprehensible.
If predestination were true, then the other side of the coin would also be true - God would predestine people to sin. This is completely against the nature of God.
If Calvinism is true, the Jesus only died for the Elect. Some scriptures to refute that notion.
All five points of Calvinism are false.
Why it is dangerous to teach that Christ died only for a few.
Cliff's notes on why the 5-points are all wrong.

This guy agrees with me.
So does Jerry Falwell.
This is a nice 3-part video debunking the junk faith that Calvinism is.

And here is the best conversation I've ever seen for simple debunking of the tenets of Calvinism.
It's under 5 minutes in length, and full of good points!

The main, root problem:
The root of the problem with Calvinistic thinking - specifically with the notion that God predetermines who goes to Heaven (and by default, whom goes to Hell) - is pride. Those who cling to the notion that God predetermined them and others for Heaven gives them a warped sense of a "holier than thou" mindset. In most cases, this is the one thing in life they can cling to wherein they can "legitimately" feel better than another person. And that is the real root problem: the pride of wanting to be better than another for one reason or another.

General Summary:

In closing, my final issue with predestination is the inherent attitude that must be had in order to believe it. I have never met a person that believed in predestination that wasn't proud of it. They have all felt they were better than someone else for considering themselves "God's Elect." Much like the Jews, especially the Pharisees of Jesus' day, had become. This concept is clearly in stark contrast to Ephesians 2:8-10. I urge you read the whole passage (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Therefore, I conclude, in the absence of scripture to the contrary, God predestined Christians to be conformed to Christ's image. God did not predetermine the individuals who would be saved.

Anything else would be uncivilized and disingenuous at best.