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!