American Ingenuity and Winning Friends, Redux

"No one cares about us, and no one understands exactly what happened, because we are Yazidis. Everyone wants to kill us. Where should we go? I don't have a dream because I don't have a life. That's all I have to say." I think we can do much better Photo courtesy of "Spirit of America"

“No one cares about us, and no one understands exactly what happened, because we are Yazidis. Everyone wants to kill us. Where should we go? I don’t have a dream because I don’t have a life. That’s all I have to say.”
I think we can do much better
Photo courtesy of “Spirit of America”

[OK, I posted this the other day, and with all he nonsense, I’m not sure anybody actually read it, so here its again. i think it a very worthwhile endeavor. Neo]

A while back, Jessica wrote a post entitled We’re Americans, We Act, As always with her articles, it is excellent. it deals with the problems last summer in northern Iraq, and don’t kid yourself, those problems are still there, we have perhaps helped hold the ring, but it ain’t all sweetness and light. Much remains to do.

You’ve all heard me complain about elephantine American/multinational big business and how the little guys can run them into the ground six days a week and twice on Sunday as well, given a level playing field. Nothing has changed on that front either.

And we all know that a S&P 50 firm is agility itself compared with the US Government, even that part that works fairly well, which would be the US Military.

But all problems have solutions, if we have the vision to see them but, that’s the hard part: seeing them. Well actually it’s not, our young men and women in the military, with their butts in the weeds are as adept as anyone in the history of the world at “improvising, adapting, and overcoming”, that’s one of the main reason our military is justly feared by our enemies.

But they are too often stymied by the elephantine bureaucracy of the Pentagon, and even so, some of the things that Captain Lunchbucket thinks would help him get along with his new neighbors are not things that the taxpayers should be buying but, neither should the Captain’s wife, really. Talk about a nightmare, how about a Pentagon program to supply 50 softball bats to a village in Afghanistan? It would likely be cheaper to airlift them to Colorado and give them a lifetime income.

But the American soldier has always been America’s best ambassador, everywhere he goes, his basic goodness reflects well on us, and people are drawn to him. In fact, when I was young I knew many men who flew in World War Two in 8th and 9th US Army Air Forces, the two based in England. they were proud of what they had done in the war. But the ones who had stayed in were even prouder of what they had done in 1948. In something called Operation Vittles, where we (and the British) completely supplied the city of Berlin during the blockade. That was a mission a man could really be proud of. But even in that one, the story we all remember is the pilot who bought candy out of his own pocket and airdropped it to the kids watching the planes land. Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome, indeed.

So how do we harness American entrepreneurial skills to the young soldiers’ needs in the field? We know we can’t do it with a Pentagon program, too slow, too expensive and other reasons as well.

Here’s one way that has worked for 13 years. From the Hoover Institution and the Wall Street Journal learn about Spirit of America and its founder Jim Hake.

American ingenuity: winning friends and influencing people since 1776 (at least).

Here’s the link to Spirit of America

The Rules

Well, for three and a half years I’ve run this blog without stating commenting rules but, apparently we can’t act like grown ups around here anymore without them.

So here you go:

Stay on topic (or at least reasonably close). I spend a good portion of my time looking for things that I think are interesting, useful, informative and sometimes even important. Yesterday was good example of thirty odd comments not one, not even one, was on the topic. Comments are now closed on those posts. Thanks so mucjh for not reading them.

An occasional joke is fine but I’m not really OK with what amounts to identity theft, once was reasonably funny, try it again and you’re gone.

I never wanted to do this but I’m going to monitor comments and if they’re too far off topic, I’ll delete them the first time, the second time I’ll delete the commenter as well

I’m done with this sort of nonsense, if you’ve something on say on the topic I wrote on, great, if not, don’t comment. I designed this blog to be a place for informed, rational discussion of various topics. I did not design it to be a junior high school yard, There’s plenty of those on the internet, if you want one, go find one. This blog is for intelligent discussion amongst adults of the issues of the day, and that’s what it’ll be, or it will simply not be here.

Got It? Good, carry on.

Of Doppelgangers and Practical Jokes

downloadWell that was fun. It seems our friend Newenglandsun hijacked Jess’ avatar to play a few practical jokes, pretending to be Jess.

He did a good job too,  got her voice almost pitch perfect. Of course, I was an easy mark, we always are when we want to believe. Eventually, of course I caught on mostly because of a comment that went to moderation, and that told  me his ISP.

There are ethical issues involved, not so much with the joke, but our avatars become, over time nearly a trademark, or a brand, and should likely be copyrighted (and maybe are, it’s bas been while since I read the TOS.

Still congratulations to him, he got me, and got me good. I would have to admit that I hope he enjoys his joke but doesn’t repeat it. once is funny, and I like to laugh at myself, more is not.

American Ingenuity and Winning Friends

"No one cares about us, and no one understands exactly what happened, because we are Yazidis. Everyone wants to kill us. Where should we go? I don't have a dream because I don't have a life. That's all I have to say." I think we can do much better Photo courtesy of "Spirit of America"

“No one cares about us, and no one understands exactly what happened, because we are Yazidis. Everyone wants to kill us. Where should we go? I don’t have a dream because I don’t have a life. That’s all I have to say.”
I think we can do much better
Photo courtesy of “Spirit of America”

A while back, Jessica wrote a post entitled We’re Americans, We Act, As always with her articles, it is excellent. it deals with the problems last summer in northern Iraq, and don’t kid yourself, those problems are still there, we have perhaps helped hold the ring, but it ain’t all sweetness and light. Much remains to do.

You’ve all heard me complain about elephantine American/multinational big business and how the little guys can run them into the ground six days a week and twice on Sunday as well, given a level playing field. Nothing has changed on that front either.

And we all know that a S&P 50 firm is agility itself compared with the US Government, even that part that works fairly well, which would be the US Military.

But all problems have solutions, if we have the vision to see them but, that’s the hard part: seeing them. Well actually it’s not, our young men and women in the military, with their butts in the weeds are as adept as anyone in the history of the world at “improvising, adapting, and overcoming”, that’s one of the main reason our military is justly feared by our enemies.

But they are too often stymied by the elephantine bureaucracy of the Pentagon, and even so, some of the things that Captain Lunchbucket thinks would help him get along with his new neighbors are not things that the taxpayers should be buying but, neither should the Captain’s wife, really. Talk about a nightmare, how about a Pentagon program to supply 50 softball bats to a village in Afghanistan? It would likely be cheaper to airlift them to Colorado and give them a lifetime income.

But the American soldier has always been America’s best ambassador, everywhere he goes, his basic goodness reflects well on us, and people are drawn to him. In fact, when I was young I knew many men who flew in World War Two in 8th and 9th US Army Air Forces, the two based in England. they were proud of what they had done in the war. But the ones who had stayed in were even prouder of what they had done in 1948. In something called Operation Vittles, where we (and the British) completely supplied the city of Berlin during the blockade. That was a mission a man could really be proud of. But even in that one, the story we all remember is the pilot who bought candy out of his own pocket and airdropped it to the kids watching the planes land. Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome, indeed.

So how do we harness American entrepreneurial skills to the young soldiers’ needs in the field? We know we can’t do it with a Pentagon program, too slow, too expensive and other reasons as well.

Here’s one way that has worked for 13 years. From the Hoover Institution and the Wall Street Journal learn about Spirit of America and its founder Jim Hake.

American ingenuity: winning friends and influencing people since 1776 (at least).

Here’s the link to Spirit of America

The Barbarians Within Our Gates

christians-eradicated-in-iraqThis article, which got buried in my drafts dates from last September, but little has changed, I think.

Hisham Melhem is the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite channel. He is also the correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily. I  find him to read like a man who knows whereof he speaks, and understands the culture far better than most of us do, and who laments the destruction of his culture.

I think it worth our time to read, and to reflect on what he says here.

With his decision to use force against the violent extremists of the Islamic State, President Obama is doing more than to knowingly enter a quagmire. He is doing more than play with the fates of two half-broken countries—Iraq and Syria—whose societies were gutted long before the Americans appeared on the horizon. Obama is stepping once again—and with understandably great reluctance—into the chaos of an entire civilization that has broken down.

Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms. With the dubious exception of the antiquated monarchies and emirates of the Gulf—which for the moment are holding out against the tide of chaos—and possibly Tunisia, there is no recognizable legitimacy left in the Arab world.

Is it any surprise that, like the vermin that take over a ruined city, the heirs to this self-destroyed civilization should be the nihilistic thugs of the Islamic State? And that there is no one else who can clean up the vast mess we Arabs have made of our world but the Americans and Western countries?

No one paradigm or one theory can explain what went wrong in the Arab world in the last century. There is no obvious set of reasons for the colossal failures of all the ideologies and political movements that swept the Arab region: Arab nationalism, in its Baathist and Nasserite forms; various Islamist movements; Arab socialism; the rentier state and rapacious monopolies, leaving in their wake a string of broken societies. No one theory can explain the marginalization of Egypt, once the center of political and cultural gravity in the Arab East, and its brief and tumultuous experimentation with peaceful political change before it reverted back to military rule.

Nor is the notion of “ancient sectarian hatreds” adequate to explain the frightening reality that along a front stretching from Basra at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Beirut on the Mediterranean there exists an almost continuous bloodletting between Sunni and Shia—the public manifestation of an epic geopolitical battle for power and control pitting Iran, the Shia powerhouse, against Saudi Arabia, the Sunni powerhouse, and their proxies.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/09/the-barbarians-within-our-gates-111116.html#ixzz3VDDOy6NN

I have little to add to what he says. But my point is that, whatever happens, in the Arab/Muslim world, we in the United States, and western Europe will find ourselves drawn in.

It behooves us to inform ourselves about the situation,, or we will undoubtedly do more harm than good. We should remember though, that we cannot fix the world, nor does all the world want to be like us, and it is up to them, not us to decide. That does not preclude us from attempting to persuade and encourage those whose goal strike us as laudable but, there are limits.

Read and reflect

Lukewarm Christianity and Cul-de-Sacs

Return of the prodigal son

Return of the prodigal son (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is from an old article,  The London Times of August 2003, and Matthew Parris is an atheist but, he diagnoses exactly what is wrong with modern Christianity, and I would venture to say why so many churches (including mine) are losing membership. See what you think:

Anglican evangelicals are right. Knowingly to appoint gay bishops robs Christianity of meaning. It is time that convinced Christians stopped trying to reconcile their spiritual beliefs with the modern age and understood that if one thing comes clearly through every account we have of Jesus’s teaching, it is that His followers are not urged to accommodate themselves to their age, but to the mind of God. Christianity is not supposed to be comfortable or feel “natural”. The mind of God, contemplating the behaviour of man, is not expected to be suffused with a spirit of “whatever”. As it happens I do not believe in the mind of God. But Christians do and must strive to know more of it.Nothing they read in the Old and New Testaments gives a scintilla ofsupport to the view that the God of Israel was an inclusive God, orinclined to go with the grain of human nature; much they read suggests a righteous going against the grain.

Certainly it is true that Jesus departed from conventional Judaic teaching in the emphasis He put on forgiveness, but neither the story (for example) of the woman taken in adultery, nor the parable of the prodigal son suggest that He countenanced a continuation of the sins of either. What these stories teach is that repentance is acceptable to God however late it comes, and that the virtuous should not behave in a vindictive manner towards sinners. That is a very different thing from a shoulder-shrugging chuckle of “different strokes for different folks”.

It’s true you know, any other reading of the Bible is simply misleading at best, and it would more accurate to say false.

“Inclusive”, “moderate” or “sensible” Christianity is inching its way up a philosophical cul-de-sac. The Church stands for revealed truth and divine inspiration or it stands for nothing.Belief grounded in everyday experience alone is not belief. The attempt, sustained since the Reformation, to establish the truth of Christianity on the rock of human observation of our own natures and of the world around us runs right against what the Bible teaches from the moment Moses beheld a burning bush in the Egyptian desert to the point when Jesus rises from the dead in His sepulchre. Stripped of the supernatural, the Church is
on a losing wicket.

Even as a ten-year-old boy in Miss Silk’s Scripture class, when I heard the account of how the parting of the Red Sea could actually be explained by freak tides, and that the story of the loaves and fishes really taught us how Jesus set an example by sharing His disciples’ picnic (so everybody else shared theirs), I thought: “Don’t be silly Miss Silk! If Jesus couldn’t do miracles, why should we listen? If the bush was just burning naturally, then Moses was fooled.”

Matthew Parris – An Atheist Homosexual with a Better Understanding of Christianity than many Church leaders! | The Wee Flea.

He’s right, Christianity without God is pretty much meaningless, In a comment long ago on Jess’ Watchtower, I referred to many of our churches as “A coffee shop full of do gooders”. Now mind you, there is nothing wrong with doing good works, we are called by Christ to do so, and He gives us the grace to do so, out of our own assets, not by getting the government to steal our neighbors stuff to give to our other neighbors, minus a handling fee. But we are also called to be God-botherers and partakers in the mission.

But Christianity has always believed that “we are not of the world, although we are in the world”. I think we have had it so good for so long in the west that we have forgotten that. We think Christianity is supposed to be easy and comfortable. if it is, well, you’re not doing it right.

Something else I’ve learned on Jess’ blog is that most of us there are on our second or third church before we found one with what we were looking for. There’s another commonality amongst us: that have been there for a considerable period, we’re either hot or cold, , quite liberal or very conservative (that’s most of us). None is lukewarm.

Maybe we all read Revelations 3

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: