Friday, January 27, 2006

Stuttering Politicians

I listen to talk radio a fair amount, and it's often about politics. When the sound bites get played my mind does a little comparison:

What a person's reply sounds like when I ask them a question
vs.
What a politician's reply sounds like when a reporter asks them a question.

I realize that politicians have a lot to deal with and much to consider. Obviously it's no fun to put your foot in your mouth with the cameras rolling. But I don't think they realize what dopes they sound like when they try to think on their feet.

Reporter fires a question...

"Well, aaaah, we attempted in the aaaah last session to aaaah discuss all the aaaah ramifications of a plan that aaaah would encompassaaaah all theaaaah..."

All I'm sayin' is if a politician wanted to come across as really honest and plain spoken he or she should do this: Pause for a moment and then utter a complete sentence with no guttural place holders. But, to pause is to appear to be guilty, of something, even if no accusation is made. This must be why the answer must come immediately, even if it's more eeeeh's and aaaaah's than actual substance.

Come to think of it, this is advice that lot's of people should take. For example, people who terminate a question mid-stride with an "er". Waiter says, "You finished workin' on that er....". And of course, grown adults who say "goes" instead of "said" and so-called professionals who pepper their sentences with as many "like"s as a mid-eighties valley girl. So if you're just skimming at this point I'll get your attention with the bold print.

It's OK to pause and formulate an answer before you open your mouth.
People might think you're being shifty or that you're slow at first, but before long folks with any brains at all will start to respect you for your concise, intelligent answers.

Plaing [dead] With the Kids

My cousin just posted something about grunting like an old man when he get's up from playing on the floor with his kid. He's only 36 and feeling like old age is creeping up on him a little early. I could go on about the things about adult-hood that nobody ever tells you about, but that's been done to death by stand up comedians. The next thing that popped into my head was this about coping:

When I’ve been pulling wires or hanging drywall all day I often come home feeling like my arms are attached to my body with thin pieces of string. On days like this it’s still my duty to run interference while my wife get’s dinner together. So I’ve developed a system of play that involves holding my six month son on my chest and lying down with my eyes shut while my three year old daughter makes requests for impressions while she plays with things.

“Dad! Talk like Tigger!”
“Napth are what Tiggerth love betht!”
“Dad! Talk like Pooh!”
“Oh bother… I’m sleepy.”
“Dad! Talk like Marlin”
“Nemo?” “Dad?” “Nemo?” “Dad?”
“Son!” “Oh Dad I missed you!”

If you’ve ever read “The Giving Tree” to your kids you’ll remember the tree that gives her friend everything she has, apples, branches, trunk, and when there’s nothing left she still offers her stump for the boy to sit on. Come 5 o’clock just call me “Stumpy”.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

School

Why didn't anybody ever give me a decent answer when I asked, "Why do I have to learn this stupid stuff anyway?"

Well, what some one did eventually tell me was:

You're in school to learn how to learn.

Which made things suddenly a lot easier. Building on top of that, I added my own bits of reasoning.

You don't need to remember all this stuff, just know where to find it when you need it.

It goes hand in hand with the idea that you're there to get a well rounded education. I wouldn't be able to write this now if I hadn't gotten a handle on writing a long time ago and built up my vocab in High School, for example. A few other things come in handy from time to time and it's not always the one's I would have expected when slogging through it all back then. I frequently balance equations... who would have guessed? However I almost never do anything even remotely related to chemistry (called that one though). Thing is though, I learned enough about it at the time that if I ever need to know something about chemistry I can get the information quickly and put it to use.

If this sounds redundant to you, congratulations... you're another proud member of the not-so-exclusive club for people who are too smart for public school. If not, maybe it'll make the experience a little better for you, or you can use the knowledge to help your own kids out.

Sometimes all it takes is stating the obvious.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Heaven & Hell

Continuing the "Christian Code Words" series with a quick thought on our final resting place.

Once again I'll have to ask you to bear with me on a couple things. Some of you may believe that you just vanish into nothingness after you die, and of course there's reincarnation. But this post is just going to deal with the classic question of just what exactly are Heaven and Hell like.

Heaven:
I have to say that I'm not a big believer in the classic Hollywood version of heaven. I don't expect when I get there to walk past a smiling St. Peter who will hand me my harp and halo and show me to my own private cloud. And I'm not sure that I'll be able to look down upon Earth and see what's going on. I'm not sure I'll even care at that point.

What I do know for a fact about Heaven is that God, the all powerful God of the Universe, made a place for his children that is perfect for them. It's written in the Bible that people in Heaven will praise the Lord without ceasing. That always gets a sneer from at least a few people, "Sounds boring" they say. But I can't imagine that God would go to all the trouble to set up the perfect habitation for us, give us new, perfect bodies when we get there, and then just have us sit around doing stuff that bores us to tears for eternity. I'm guessing that it'll be interesting and fulfilling, otherwise the walls would have to be pretty high to keep everyone in.

Hell:
Same goes for my thoughts about the traditional version of hell. I don't really buy that you land in a torch-lit dungeon to be poked in the butt by a guy in red pajamas for the rest of whatever. I'm not even too sure about the fire and brimstone version that gets preached a lot. The one thing that seems certain to me about what Hell will be like is that whatever the living conditions, God will not be there in any way shape or form.

Anyone who says they've been through Hell, or today was Hell or it hurt like Hell is uttering the greatest of euphemisms. No one has ever experienced Hell because they have never been totally separated from God. His spirit is in, around, and permeates everything in the entire universe. There is no place that you can go that God is not there... except hell.

The Difference:
That's why I'm still so keen on getting into Heaven, even though it means an unpopular lifestyle and living habits that a lot of people find stringent. Personally, I think that it's worth just about anything to wind up spending the rest of my forever in the club house that's all about love and light and inclusiveness. And I plan on doing everything in my power to make sure as many people as possible escape the fate of living forever, excluded from those same things.

Weigh it up... peace, love, joy, celebration, or a complete lack of those things. Eternity is a long old time, folks. On the off chance that the bloody Christians are right, might it not be worth taking a good long look at what your own beliefs on the afterlife are?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Christian Code Words

Or: just exactly do people mean when they say, "Jesus died for you".
Please understand that this post is not an attempt to save your soul, just explain a little something.

Every once in a while I get so fed up with my fellow Christians blabbing on in Christian-eese that I feel like I need to set up a Christian-to-English dictionary for the rest of the world. So here's the start of it. This isn't going to be easy, so it'll probably take numerous posts to wade through it all. But the thing that I really want to clear up before anything else is what this whole "Jesus died for you" thing is all about because I went to church for 25 years before I finally had it sufficiently explained to me.

Let's just assume for the sake of this post that God exists. If you're an atheist or agnostic, just go with the flow for a minute here. You'll be at the bottom of the page shortly and you can get on with things in your own fashion. So, God is in His Heaven, as they say, and he is Holy! He is so pure that anyone who isn't equally pure will be struck dead by the mere sight of Him. And the only way you can get that pure is if He makes you that pure.

To begin with, you have Adam and Eve in the garden and they're walking and talking with God Himself in the cool of the day. (At least the Bible says so and I'm going to ask you to temporarily believe that it is true and believable, but only as long as you're reading this. It'll save time, trust me, and I don't expect you to continue any of these temporary beliefs after you click the button on your browser.) So there you have it, man and woman in their perfect state, chillin with the Boss in their own private paradise. But then they screw up and poof! they're out and pain, death, hunger and so-on are all brought into the world. Thanks guys.

But God wasn't ready to give up on his kids, so after a while he made a way for them to be able to get back in touch with Him. Animal sacrifice. (Now before you PETA types get all bent out of shape just keep in mind that it wasn't my idea, and besides, it goes away after a while and winds up tying in nicely with the theme of this post) The only way to pay for sin is with blood. (Again, not my idea) So at the moment whatever poor beast meets its demise, God transfers the sinner's guilt onto that animal and it's blood is the payment for the sin.

This wasn't the greatest system for all the obvious reasons, but it was the best mankind had going for itself for quite a while and it was better than nothing. Because people who have once had a real connection with God don't much like to be separated from him. And you can't get near him if you have any sin on you. But as man is wont to do, things get complicated and soon there's priests and religious rites cluttering things up. And still, at best, only the highest priests can actually come before God, the rest of humanity is just paying the bills to an unseen boss.

But along came Jesus, who for the sake of argument, is God's own son. In addition to doing a bunch of teaching and healing and miracles and whatnot he was sent here for one reason. To pay for your sins by taking them on himself and dying. How and where he died is actually mostly irrelevant. He shed his blood to pay for every sin of every person that ever lived or will live.

Now you, sitting in front of your computer, as you sit, right now, with no action taken on your part, have already had your sins paid for. That's what people are talking about when they say he died for you. Weather you avail yourself of that or not is up to you. But understand this, your tab has been paid.

Abortion...

To put it quite bluntly, I think abortion ought to be legal, but people ought to choose to have their babies.

Part one: When abortion is illegal, women turn to the most unsavory means of terminating their pregnancies and risk serious complications including death as a result.

However...

Part two: This doesn't mean that I think it's right to kill an unborn baby. But I don't expect all the people of the world to share my morals and it's not my job to make them. I say people here because while it is a woman's body, it does take two to do this particular tango and the male involved ought to have some say in this. Whether or not he is man enough, or smart enough, or still there enough to be able to do so is another matter entirely and not worth pursuing at length.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Here's the idea (First Post)

Like it says in the description, I just want to boil things down to the simplest terms and use those to explain things to people. I'm willing to take a crack at anything. Just like the physical world can be discused in terms of simple formulas, I believe our personal philosophies can have the same simple elegance. Just don't expect this to always be a dose of smiley, happy feel-good philosophy... this might sting a little.