Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Advent of the tsunami

They swear it won't happen. Tyrants in the past have said similar things to quell the fears of the opposition and to lull them into complacency. But it's happening. It's really happening.

It's happening with entrepreneurs. It's happening with churches.

And over what? Over what even prominent homosexuals are saying is a lifestyle choice.

Of course, that won't do, will it? Well, will pushing paedophilia as a "sexual orientation" lead to arguments that people were born this way and that we have to legally accomodate their perversions?

Monday, August 26, 2013

It was never about equality

Must reading, this article. I argued the same thing in a piece I wrote about same sex unions during this century. The so-called homosexual rights movement is not about "equality" and never was.

Instead, its goal is nothing less than a fundamental change in our understanding of marriage, monogamy, family, everything. It's going to get much worse and much scarier. All thanks to the New Fundamentalists and their concept of tolerance (which is, really, the height of intolerance). God help and save us all.

You may think is melodramatic, but look what's been happening: People losing their jobs, being kicked out of Master's programs, being sued, being fined, and all because they hold positions that were perfectly mainstream 10-15 years ago. They have declared themselves at war with us, and they have raised the red flag: No quarter given. Have you noticed that any more, when someone opposes so-called "marriage equality," the response isn't a thoughtful give and take? Instead, their intellectual adversary is a homophobe. That person is akin to a Nazi, a racist. In other words, they've started resorting to ad hominems as the response to opposition. It's the first step toward real (rather than bogeyman) fascism. Liberalism uber alles.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What fatherhood does to a man

OK. It's evident this article was written by a woman. The whole thing about chest thumping, etc., is crap. I've never known a single dad who has ever done that, not even grandfathers.

That said, what the article discusses is true. Fatherhood changes a man. The November after my eldest was born, I saw an article in the paper about how there had been a major pile-up on the Interstate 5 freeway near Stockton, California. Fog had set in as it often does there, causing the accident to occur. A family's vehicle became engulfed in flames. The mom and dad got out of the car on time, but couldn't get their 5-year-old boy out before their auto was consumed. They had to watch their boy die, screaming and crying for help.

Before my son's birth, I would have thought, 'Ohhhhh ... How tragic!' It would have presented a remote consideration for me. Now that I was a father, I balled (i.e., cried) for probably a half-hour. For me it wasn't some removed boy in California, it was my first born in Ohio. Also, I used to watch the TV show, "ER" each week. I stopped my son's birth. Why? Because each episode featured some child in some horrific, life threatening situation. I couldn't help but see my son in that position, and it was too upsetting for me.
Married fatherhood makes you see the world in a whole different light. It's like that commercial, "There's clear, and then there's Claritin clear." It makes your life change on a dime.
I love being a father. People look at me like I'm mad when I tell them I have more than four children. I think they're mad when they say they would only ever want one or two. What?! You would limit the blessings and love that comes into your life? Because that's what fatherhood -- parenthood, really -- is: Opening your heart and your life to love and life and giving that in ways you never thought possible in return. Praise God for marriage and fatherhood. (Love the mothers, btw.)
Disclaimer: Don't do this alone. It is not a single occupation. I'm not dissing those who are single parents. God bless them. They do an incredibly admirable and tough job, but it is one that God in His great design and even greater intelligence than our meant for two people with complimentary though vastly differing faculties [read: a man and a woman]. No matter how good a job one parent does, two parents of good will do an objectively better job. No parent is perfect. When one parent is a danger to the family, of course, all bets are off. All things being equal, however, the best of all possible worlds is to have a mother and a father. Stepping off the soap boxxxxx ... now. There.

A sad commentary

Porn has won.

An independent cinema distributor has decided to release in the US with an NC-17 rating a sexually explicit film about a lesbian couple's affair. That means, no one under 17 -- even with permission or accompaniament of a parent -- may gain admittance to see the movie.

Here's the distributor's justification:
“The film is first and foremost a film about love, coming of age and passion. We refuse to compromise [the director]’s vision by trimming the film for an R rating. … An NC-17 rating no longer holds the stigma it once did.” (emphasis added)
That is one sad commentary. Back when I was less prudent and less aware, I paid to see the first -- or one of the first -- NC-17 films not long after they developed that rating to set it apart from the X rating. (It was hugely controversial. No doubt that drove people to see it, but it kept many others away from it.) NC-17 had heaps of pornography in it, but it was done in the name of "art" and not just trying to titilate.

Of course, who are we kidding? It's Hollywood. The name of the game is to do what it will take to get people into the seats: gin up controversy, titilate, coarsen the culture. Again, whatever it takes.

So NC-17 has at least a story and dramatic development, admittedly lacking from most X-rated films. It has at least passable and sometimes very good acting, definitely setting it apart from any X-rated film.

But it's still pornography. That is, it still is the graphic, nothing left to the imagination depiction of sexual congress between two or more people. It's only purpose, really, is to titilate and arouse. There are plenty of films with violence, frankly, that should pass under the same scrutiny. They titilate and arouse in a far different way, but neither is healthy for the individual person or society. Both are sinful. One glorifies the deconstruction of the holiest thing God has given us, sex. The other glorifies the abject destruction of the holiest thing God has given us, life. (In sex, God gives us the ability to enjoy something of the perfect intimacy found in the Holy Trinity, which in turn has the power to create life. In life, God has given us the ability to imitate the Holy Trinity and its perfect love in all other ways outside of creation.)

In any event, sexual pornography has become so commonplace -- with even as many as 50-75% of church-going men using it -- and has become so mainstream that, “An NC-17 rating no longer holds the stigma it once did.”

Prediction: This film will do miserably at the box office. Movie theatres don't want the potential boycotts that would come with showing it. Families will stay away. (Gee, ya think?) Ordinary, decent folks will recognize the baseness that they're being asked to swallow and will say, "No, thanks." Only young adult males, libertine/social libertarian/liberals will, by and large, make up the ticket buying audience. And they wonder -- as they did early this summer -- why box office receipts are plummeting. It's not rocket science, guys: Put up something people -- all people -- can watch, like 42 or The Butler.

Side question:

Did the movie I saw or this movie need the graphic sexual content to tell their stories? I mean, let's say you wanted to depict a coming of age tale where someone experiences their sexuality for the first time. Do you have to show it blow-by-blow or, perhaps more appropriately, touch-by-touch? It seems hard to imagine why.

The only justification I could see is, say, for instance, a person has fallen so in love with a person they think is one person, when in the course of a sexual encounter, the real person comes out and reveals themselves to be someone who is quite dark.

However, that is the easy way to do it, isn't it? After all, though it would take much more work and intelligence to depict this, it could come out in subtle revelations of the person's character, little things they do to make someone think, "Hmmmmm. There's something not quite right here." The audience sees it, but the twisted person's lover is to blinded by their love to see it. You lose that by just easily resorting to sex.

So not even then is depiction of the most intimate act that two people can share justifiable. Something that is so intimate, so special ... There are certain things that are so sacrosanct, they should never be depicted in such a taudry fashion. They should never be depicted, period.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Some thoughts on the poor

After searching for gainful ways to support my family over the last two or so years, and with unemployment running out, I had to find a job that would provide some income, even if it wasn't what would be a living wage for me and my family.

Ergo, I took a job with a local big box retailer in their deli department.
Here is what I've learned about the poor in that time.
  • Many -- most? -- are fat, even morbidly obese. It seems strange, no? You would think it might be the opposite because lack of money generally means lack of money to buy food in particular. However, the food they can afford is loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, high fat content, and other things that not only sap their health, but as per the current National Geographic article on sugar, actually inhibit their energy levels, thus impacting the amount of exercise they get. Lacking valuable skills in general, their apparent -- apparent, mind you -- lack of concern with personal appearance is yet another strike against them, wouldn't it seem?
  • They spend money they don't have to, part 1. Like I said, I work in the deli. If I had to break down our clientelle by income level, I'd say 1% is in the top income bracket (if even that), 25% are middle class, and the rest look as if they could receive some form of government assistance. That's being hugely judgmental, I'll grant you, and obviously you can't always judge the proverbial book by the cover. Nonetheless, you can generally tell when you're looking at a Rockefeller or a Rothschild and when you're looking at a character out of The Grapes of Wrath or Norma Rae or something. Our customers get a pound of this at $5.98/pound, a pound of this at $4.98/pound, and half-pound of another thing at $7.98 per pound, and a pound of chicken roll at $2.98/pound. (For those living in metric countries, one pound equals 453.59 grams.) That's over $20 when they could get more food for less money.
  • They spend money they don't have to, part 2. Almost every one of them has a tattoo. While some have only one, very small tattoo, most have more than one, and they are not just a small heart with "Mom" written across it. They're huge, multi-colored, and must have taken several hours to complete. When you consider a rough average for a tattoo artist is $100/hour, and that a large tattoo can take up to three hours, that's a considerable chunk of cash. The really good artists make upwards of $300/hour. A large tattoo could cost nearly $1,000. When you're poor, how do you afford that?
  • They spend money they don't have to, part 3. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've seen them texting or talking on their Smart phones. These phones cost between $70-300. The plans cost between $30-55/month. While driving my son to football practice this morning (American football, natch), I saw a woman in black pants, a white button down, collared shirt, and an a brown apron, indicating she was a working class woman with a job at some restaurant or grocery store or something, probably waiting for the bus to take her to her place of employment. She was smoking a cigarette (another huge cost), and as we went through the intersection toward school, she was texting on her large Smart phone, and when I drove back on my way home, she was still there, smoking and texting.
  • They spend money they don't have to, part 4. They splurge. The crushing weight of poverty that gives one the sense of drowning when one is surrounded by a sea of wealth and attractive consumer goods that one just can't afford is maddening. I know. I've been there. I often am there (who am I kidding?). Thus when one gets a windfall of cash, the inclination is to splurge rather than to keep on the same frugal, tight fisted road. It is a desire for release from that life-sapping burden of being poor and constantly having to put off wants and do without. That's why you'll see poor people's homes festooned with flat screen TVs, their heads covered with Beats (or whatever the hip and hep earphones are called) and $25 baseball hats, their bodies draped in mock jerseys from their favorite team that cost $60-$130, their credit bills high, and their insistence that they need to pay for the cable or satellite package that gives them access to every NFL game (or NHL, NBA, MLB, MLS, whatever).
  • Many are poorly mannered. How any of them hold down jobs when lacking basic niceties such as saying "please" and "thank you" and while being arrogant and condescending is amazing to fathom. Granted, poor manners are not limited to class. Those who are better off have been known to treat my colleagues and I with barely concealed condescenion and even contempt (you can almost hear the thoughts in their brains draining through the looks in their eyes, they seem so loud, 'What sort of a loser works in this store's deli?'). However, since I deal mostly with the poor, I'm thinking mostly of the poor here. You know the adage that if you're a woman professional, you have to be that much better than the men around you to simply get equal consideration? I think the same applies to the poor. There is a built in prejudice against them.
  • They have a sense of entitlement. I saw something on TV this morning about a woman who procured a lost dog, and who tried to sell it on Craig's List. NBC News sent a reporter and camera to the door. She said she felt bad about the dog but not about the distress under which she put the owner nor the theft she committed. After all, she's a single mother with a 1-year-old and fraternal twins on the way (hmmmmmm), and she needs to buy diapers, the economny's bad, and she'll do anything it takes to care for her babies. So what if it's against the law? Yikes! It was distressing and disheartening and sickening to watch her show absolutely no shame in being confronted with her crime. Yes, this is one woman, but I do see this same sort of entitlement attitude (and that's what it basically is) on a noticeable basis at the store.
Vis-a-vis spending, do even a little bit of reading, and you don't find this prodigality amongst the rich (or at least of them). They implicitly listen to Suzy Ormond, who relentlessly preaches, "Don't spend money on wants, spend it on needs." They're frugal. They spend money like they don't have it. So whereas I'll wait on dozens of blue collar and middle class customers in the deli each day, if the rich are shopping at my big box store (and I don't see many who even look like they're professionals, so it's hard to think that they are), they're not stopping at the deli. Instead, they're getting the generic, large, two pound package of ham sandwich slices from the meat section, slicing their own cheese, or buying pre-sliced cheese. They're also buying more fruits and vegetables and fewer Pop Tarts (mea culpa on this last one).

Snob alert: It wouldn't be so bad if the poor who make up our clientelle were buying something half-way decent. But they're buying white American cheese. What is the purpose? Life is too shart to eat bad cheese, and "American cheese" -- white or "yellow" (how can that be yellow? it's orange) -- is the worst of the bad (Cooper Sharp cheese is somewhat of an exception; it's OK). But if you're just looking for something to put on sandwiches, even though it totally obliviates the taste of the premium black forest ham or roast beef you just bought at $7.98/pound, why not terrible cheese? You're looking for effect and not taste at this point, so it's somewhat understandable.

None of this is to per se knock the poor. These are simply observations. Someone recently told me my place of employment is a "field," by which I'm guessing she meant "mission field." It is, but it also is a field loaded with people who need to learn what it takes to get ahead in this world.

The gap between rich and poor may be getting wider, but it's not necessarily the rich's fault.