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Religion, Politics, & Culture: Defined and Explained

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Disarming Citizens is Tyranny

This month’s lesson in government intrusion seems to be aimed at infringing the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As you can see, the Second Amendment never mentions hunting or sport shooting. The right to bear arms is clearly for military purposes. It is to protect our State and nation from threats. This was a purposeful Amendment to prevent a specific violation of rights that the British had committed upon the Colonies prior to the Revolution.

Furthermore, the Army of the United States was envisioned by the Founders as a defensive force. The Founders wanted to avoid the political entrapments and intrigue so common in the European States of the period. The modern American Military with an offensive force and the capability to “project power anywhere in the world” is the opposite of what was intended by the Framers of the Constitution.

The history of the Amendment was to ensure that citizens could protect themselves against tyranny and foreign aggressors. Or as the standard oath of office phrases it’ “I , _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; …
• Protection from Foreign enemies is a pledge to protect our territory from attack.
• Protection from Domestic enemies is a pledge to defend citizens from the tyranny of the government; State or Federal.

Our dilemma is what to do when office holders have broken their oath and become the tyrants? This scenario was not envisioned by the Framers—at least not as part of their draft of the Constitution.

This leaves us with the right of civil disobedience and the doctrine of the lesser magistrate. These are helpful but the question remains; at what point do we stop submitting to the authority of our government? When does our road to serfdom necessitate a “line in the sand” that requires a response?

The question is further complicated by the fact that the politicians are no more corrupt that our fellow citizens. Do you actually believe that if someone “did a Tom Clancy” that the new leaders would be better than our current crop? I think it might actually result in a worse government and less freedom.

The Second Amendment is the only tool we have to insure that the rights that we have from God are not denied by the State. As long as politicians can’t disarm the population then we have hope that they will acknowledge limits to their power.


Posted by william on 01/08 at 08:15 PM
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Returns at Best Buy and Kohl’s

Other than the return line at Fry’s Electronics, I don’t have too many times that I have to return items to retail stores. In the wake of Christmas this year I did have to exchange two items; one at Best Buy and the other from Kohl’s.

Best Buy
In an irrational fit of nostalgia, I purchased a copy of Doom 3. I really wanted it to get the bonus copy of Doom 2 that was included. I have the original CD of Doom 2 from about 1995 but it will not run on my 64 bit copy of Windows 8. The code on this new CD was modified to run on a 64 bit OS. The down side was I finally had to get a Steam account. I have been trying to avoid Steam for many years but they finally got me on this purchase.

I took the game out of my stocking on Christmas day and after the children had divided their loot and the turkey was carved, I sat down to install the game. I created my Steam account and then was prompted for the product key for the game. Much to my dismay, there was no product key in the box. The box was tampered with just enough that some enterprising kid had pried the paper with the key out of the box. (In case you are not familiar with Steam, you don’t need physical media to own the game, only a product key. Once you enter the key, Steam will let you download the game on your PC. )

The next day after work, I attempted to exchange the game for a new one. I expected Best Buy to give me the third degree about the license missing. Whether it was my age or just company policy, they let me swap it for a new one. They even verified that there was in fact a license in the new box. I left a happy customer.

In Kohl’s I never saw an employee except at a cash register. I was left on my own to see if I could locate an appropriate item to exchange. In my case a pair of slippers that I was given were one size too small. I made two passes thru the shoe area to find any slippers. As it turned out, there was no area for slippers. It appears to be a holiday only item. On my second pass I found two opened boxes with slippers in them sitting on a display island in the store. The one that was the style that I prefer and the correct size still had fragments of wrapping paper on the box as a result of someone else returning them.

I went to my car to retrieve the small slippers which were purchased at a different Kohl’s store and the receipt. I then took both the item I was returning and the replacement box to the counter. They scanned both and stapled a receipt to my sales slip and I was free to go. No ID check or signature needed; even when item was purchased at a different store!

The exchange process in both stores was quick and the lines were short. Thanks for the good customer service.

Posted by william on 12/28 at 07:46 PM

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Comments on the Connecticut School Shooting

I am amazed but not surprised at the outcry over the school shooting at Newtown Connecticut. While the attack was terrible, the political posturing and exploitation of this tragedy by liberals in our country is breathtaking. The shooter leaves his rifle in the car, using two pistols to kill his victims and all the media and politicians can do is try to convince us that the gun that was not used to commit the crime should be outlawed.

I wish people would spend their efforts comforting the families that lost loved ones instead of exploiting this shooting to empower themselves politically. I think if you look at it closer you will find that the ones offering comfort and those exploiting these deaths are actually different groups. Those offering comfort do so in private while those exploiting it do so as they pander to the cameras.

A constant in the liberal playbook is that no criminal is responsible for his deeds; it is society’s fault because we did not prevent the circumstances that lead to the crime. Why so many gullible people think this belief is reasonable is yet another indictment of government schools in this country.

The NRA had it right when they stated that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is when a good guy has a gun. The whole line of discussion about banning firearms is blatantly unconstitutional. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting, it is allowing citizens to be armed to protect themselves; first from the tyranny of government and secondly from threats to persons and property.

The hypocrisy of many exploiting this event for political purposes is shameful. Have none of the folks in our country ever heard of the Beslan school siege? Terrorists took almost 1,200 people hostage in a small village school on the first day of classes. During the three day hostage stand-off 380 people died. If you don’t want to dig too deep on Google to read about it then watch the documentary Beslan: Three Days in September narrated by actress Julia Roberts (yeah Pretty Woman herself).

In a few days many Christian Churches will honor the Feast of Holy Innocents. This is a day when we remember Herod the Great’s failed attempt on the life of Jesus when he executed all male children under two years of age that lived in the vicinity of Bethlehem.

Mass murder and evil deeds are nothing new. However, what is new is our knee-jerk reaction to punish the law-abiding and criminalize their lawful behavior because bad guys are bad. Liberty is a dual-edged sword; it can lead to greater good or greater evil. The alternative to liberty is slavery not security. The shooting in Connecticut should not be an excuse to limit the liberty of law abiding folks.


Posted by william on 12/26 at 10:44 PM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1: 10 -14

Posted by william on 12/24 at 04:50 PM

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mayan Doomsday

Since today is the end of the world, here are some movies titles to consider watching as we enjoy our last few hours on the planet.


Armageddon – Bruce Willis
Out of Time – Denzel Washington
Resident Evil – Apocalypse – Milla Jovovich
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Martin Freeman
In the Blink of an Eye – Eric Roberts
The Mark – Eric Roberts
Deep Impact – Robert Duvall
Night of the Comet – Catherine Mary Stewart
Knowing – Mel Gibson
Spaced Invaders – Douglas Barr
End of Days – Arnold Schwarzenegger

(Please note: had the Mayans used legal sized clay tablets for calendars instead of the cheaper and more plentiful letter sized ones then we could have enjoyed a few hundred more years before our apparent extinction because there will be no tomorrow.)

Posted by william on 12/21 at 08:00 AM

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thoughts on Barbara Alby’s Legacy

Barbara Alby died earlier this month. Most people do not know who she was but her imprint was large upon California politics. She was an activist for pro-life and family values, a radio talk show host before Rush Limbaugh was a household name, and a member of the California Assembly. Her biggest claim to fame was authoring legislation known as “Megan’s Law”.

However, it can be argued that she and her cohorts that took over the California Republican Assembly and later the California Republican Party in the early 1990s are largely responsible for the demise of the State Republican Party and the fact that Democrats won a 2/3 majority in the last election before her death.

I was with her in those early days of the 1990s and was an eye witness to much that in retrospect I think was done improperly. Before offering my analysis I wish to say that I have been involved to varying degrees in “grassroots politics” for several decades. I have a degree in Government from California State University in Sacramento. I worked in and around the Capitol during my college years. Willie Brown was speaker when I had my first experience under “The Dome” working for then Senator John Doolittle. I also worked for the Sacramento Union when Joseph Farah was trying to make it into a conservative alternative to the Sacramento Bee. In short, I was at ground zero when Barbara and her army of evangelical Christians were taking over. I was one of them and viewed myself as a loyal soldier to the cause.

Barbara—like most Christians—viewed the world in very black and white terms. Much of Christianity views the world in such categories and usually rightly so. We are saved, those outside the church are “the Lost”. We believe in Heaven and Hell; Good and Evil; right and wrong. However, when you bring such a view into the political arena this worldview can become a pretext for “scorched earth tactics”. Unlike the Christian belief of loving the Hell out of someone, in the political world vilification is easier than persuasion and gets faster results.

I think this is what happened with Barbara and her followers. In CRA and later in the CRP, we found it easier the run people out than we did to persuade them that our views and values were better because they rested on the Truth of Christianity and better reflected Western values. It was easier to play Power politics in the same way we perceived that our opponents did.

The results over time were catastrophic. The California Republican Assembly went from a statewide membership of tens of thousands to less than 2,400 today. The CRA lost most of its membership; many soured on politics and went home. Some fought the Conservative/Christian CRA and lost; some that remained active in the political world formed the California Congress of Republicans in the 1990s while in a more recent battle, Karen England and her gang tried to form the Conservative Republicans of California. Both have smaller memberships than CRA and all are struggling to maintain their existence.

Most people that Barbara brought into the political world behaved in similar fashion to her example and experienced similar results. Besides vanquishing her enemies, she also vanquished the “farm team”. Democrats groom their underlings for succession while Republicans engage them in mortal combat. As a result, when Barbara and her team jumped to the California Republican Party, no one left in CRA was able to maintain the momentum and energy Barbara brought to the organization.

CRA has been hemorrhaging members and influence ever since. Her once formidable Sacramento-Sierra Republican Assembly chapter went from a peak of 700 members under her leadership to less than 20 in ten years. Currently they are doing well if they maintain 25 members. Alby quit the CRA many years ago but many assumed she was with still part of the organization.

In like manner, the California Republican Party was captured by Barbara Alby and company. Alby controlled not only the CRA but many county central committees and then took control of the CRP. They owned the California GOP for a number of years.

The CRA’s chief Republican opponent during this period was liberal Republican Pete Wilson. Much of the disagreement with Wilson was on social policy. Wilson was not only pro-abortion but was an advocate for more government funding and constitutional protections for abortion rights. Wilson also would appoint Democrats over equally qualified Republicans to posts in State government. All of this just riled-up Conservatives in the Party. While all this was happening, Wilson very publicly called the conservatives in his party “Fucking Irrelevant.” Conservatives called Wilson, “Diane Feinstein in drag.”

A few years after capturing the California GOP, Alby began running for State Assembly. Once she was elected, her grip on the CRP was released as she went on to other things. A succession of chairmen took the reins of the GOP that pretended to be card carrying CRA members until they were elected and then they took off the sheep’s clothing and ran things as the RINOs that they were. In later years, Alby ran unsuccessfully for both Congress and the Board of Equalization.

The differences between the CRP factions still remain to this day; although the CRA has in fact become irrelevant as Wilson looked-for the irony is that Wilson is equally irrelevant. Wilson’s camp was making a good living off of the political process before Alby and company came along and upset the proverbial applecart. After a while, most evangelical conservatives left and the liberal Republicans re-took their place as GOP leaders.

My complaint with this whole process is not just with the tone and tactics employed by Evangelicals (including myself) but something harder to quantify. Namely, how does the fact that I am a Christian affect how I should treat others in politics or other “secular” areas?

What I am advocating is that we as Christians need a different paradigm to bring to the public square. When we copy what others are doing then we have ceded the moral high ground and lowered ourselves to engaging in the same political games everyone else utilizes. When Christians embrace the power religion of the State then they have compromised their biblical values and the authority of Scripture.

I will offer one recent example to illustrate my point, numerous similar ones would not be hard to find.
A few years ago, a group of conservatives in Sacramento County that were part of Barbara’s old CRA chapter, got together and decided to take over the Sacramento County Republican Central Committee (again). They even created a political action committee for the purpose called “Support the Platform” (STP). STP solicited CRA members for contributions. A friend and I gave generously to the cause. That year, many of the slate were elected; enough that the coalition that we made was able to take control of the Central Committee. Once in office, the woman that we elected as chair started going her own way. She refused any suggestions to offer one or two board positions to folks from “the other side”. Only her most trusted friends or folks that would do her bidding were given any responsibility. Before long she was tripling the SCRP dues—she had refused to pay any amount of dues when she was in the minority on the committee since she argued that forcing elected officials to pay dues was illegal—and after a time she decreed that only dues paying members would be allowed to vote. She and her faction adopted San Diego style bylaws which removed all power from the membership and vested it in the governing board and did a bunch of other things to enhance her power.

In just over two years, she turned an elected body into a member’s only club that did things her way or else. The Republicans of Sacramento County that actually voted for these folks were never notified or invited to any meetings. They were purposely not given any opportunity to interact with the representatives that they had elected. All actions of this body are conducted in secret. In fact new faces were not welcomed except by invitation and they were not allowed to be part of the group unless they were willing to pay $100 in annual dues. While this farce was happening, the STP PAC ran candidates against my friend and I even thought we had contributed a substantial amount of money for the PAC in previous cycle—about ¼ of their total expenditures. That was our reward for challenging this march to tyranny.

I could go on but I have chronicled their exploits in other parts of my blog. The point is that once elected, the chair not only ran things in an even more authoritarian way than any previous leader in living memory but she took more power than her predecessors with barely a murmur of dissent. Those in her camp that were willing to call her out were steamrolled, pushed aside and ignored. (If this reminds you of President Obama’s attitude toward the constraints of the Constitution then you are starting to see my point.)

Clearly Christians in the public square have yet to figure-out that their faith should cause them to act differently. It is too easy for them to adopt the tactics of “the world” and follow the example of pagans and humanists. R.J. Rushdoony was a frequent teacher at the Central Committee chair’s old church and would roll over in his grave if he knew about such behavior. She was taught better than that; however, maybe that is why she now attends a different church.

Sadly, I doubt anyone will learn from examining Barbara’s record. I think the short comings of her generation of evangelical Christians set the stage for situation in which we find ourselves now. It appears that the Tea Party movement is following the same failed trajectory that Barbara and other evangelicals have blazed in the past. Truly “there is nothing new under the sun”. Where Barbara walked was much fire and heat but Light was a much rarer commodity.

I had hoped to have lunch with Barbara one day and talk with her about my feelings; but that will never happen now and in the life to come it won’t matter. Someday I will see her again and by then both of us will know exactly what parts we were given during our time on earth.

One final note, I am still waiting for apologies from Barbara’s lieutenants Johnson, Stoos and especially Hardcastle but it’s been over twenty years since I have seen or spoken to any of them. I’m sure they just scraped me off the bottom of their shoes and went on to their next political objective. Gentlemen I proudly bear the scares you left but I have not forgotten the tactics deployed against me. I vowed not to be silent when I see them deployed against others.

Posted by william on 12/20 at 01:27 AM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Choose Life Plates Illegal in N.C.


Federal Judge rules North Carolina cannot issue car license plates that say, “Choose Life.”
His reason is that the other side is not represented.

My solution, offer plates that say “Choose Death” then the other side will be accurately represented.

Posted by william on 12/11 at 03:44 PM
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Friday, November 09, 2012

Mark Steyn Summarizes 2012 Election

Reality doesn’t need to get a majority. Reality can get 2% of the vote, and it will still trump everything else. And America’s rendezvous with reality is coming, and that doesn’t matter how many attack ads you make about Big Bird or binders or anything else.—Mark Steyn on Hugh Hewitt radio program 11/08/2012

Posted by william on 11/09 at 10:38 PM
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Wild Election Prediction: Romney by 5:30 Pacific

Ok, I have been feeling this way for about three weeks but since nobody has put this in print—at least that I have seen—I want to be the first to blog that it will be clear that Romney has won before the polls close in California. I expect that the main stream media will be throwing in the towel by 5:30 pm on Election Day. This will be the earliest call since Jimmy Carter was spanked by Ronald Reagan. This will result in a few close races in California going our way. At stake may be the 2/3 majority being denied to California Democrats and the fate of Prop 30 & 32.

Posted by william on 10/19 at 09:29 PM
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Billy Graham, Mormonism not a cult?

Rev. Billy Graham has reportedly agreed to stop calling Mormonism a cult following a recent meeting with Mitt Romney. According to the report, Graham’s website has issued a statement that reads in part.
‘We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.’

I am disappointed that Rev Graham is willing to subjugate his theology to avoid appearing political. Since the beginning, Christianity has been viewed as political. Christians were persecuted in Roman because they believed Jesus was Lord and rejected the claim that Caesar was lord. Rome viewed the Christian doctrine as treason. Instead of standing for the Truth of the claims of Christianity, Graham has slipped another plank of the faith under the proverbial bushel basket.

This is not the first time Graham has been weak-kneed about the claims of Christianity. When backed into a corner on Jesus’ claim that, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14: 6) Graham allowed that perhaps followers of Islam and others might be able to avoid Jesus and get to heaven anyway. Graham has stated this rejection of Jesus as “the way” on several occasions. Such a denial of Jesus by Graham is heresy.

Standing for the truth of Christianity does not mean that we as believers cannot support Mitt Romney. Romney wants to be President not pastor or pope. The upcoming election is a choice between two men. One of these two will be President for the next four years. We have been given the opportunity to pick between a man that wholly rejects any biblical ethics and is openly hostile to God and a man that—while unregenerate—can acknowledge the value of many beliefs that we derive from the Bible. Stated another way, Obama repudiates western civilization and Romney embraces it.

We should use the candidacy of Romney to lift high the cross and call all men from error to the true gospel. We are defending the faith that Joseph Smith repudiated and attacked as “corrupt” and “an abomination” when he started the LDS church. Graham’s actions in scrubbing his website are wrong. His actions seem to imply that we need Romney to make a profession of faith or walk an aisle before he should get the evangelical vote. This is silliness. To the degree that Romney supports our values we should support him. Clearly he is at least willing to listen to us while Obama thinks of us as “bitter clingers.”

Posted by william on 10/19 at 09:16 PM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Monday, October 15, 2012

Aaron Park’s Opposition to Prop 32 and Charles Munger

“Money is the root of all evil” goes the old saying. When it comes to politics in California, the biggest player and advocate of evil on the Republican side of the aisle is Charles Munger. Munger has decided to spend much of his vast fortune in an attempt to remake the California Republican Party as the Democrat Light Party. Munger clearly hates Conservatives—especially social ones—and wants the state GOP to be a secular group that embraces the power of government. He is for California what George Soros has been for Democrats on the national stage. If you look at Munger’s spending, it is clear that his main enemy is Conservative Republicans. Given the choice of defeating Democrats or Conservatives in his own party, he will fund the moderate Republican over the Conservative every time. He frequently avoids opportunities to defeat Democrats in seats that could be won by Republicans.

Munger’s win/loss record has not been that great in Assembly and Senate races but he has done better at the ballot initiatives. He is largely responsible for the top two primary in California. He is also one of the backers behind Prop 32. Given the mischief that can be traced to Munger, Aaron Park is rightly suspicious of Prop 32.  Park wrote recently on his blog, “Passing Prop 32 would effectively eliminate the free speech of labor unions and corporations – thereby enabling powerful individuals with deep pockets to buy elections with no counterweight.”

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Park. While I am no fan of Munger, I must say that the public employee unions in California are a greater threat to liberty than Munger. I will attempt to explain some of my reasons for holding this position.
In the book of Samuel, after David killed Goliath the people shouted “Saul has killed his thousands and David his tens of thousands”.  As I see it, Munger has spent his millions and the public employee unions their hundreds of millions. Recently the Sacramento Bee ran an article that unions representing state employees collects 10.5 million dollars a month in dues. The largest public employee union is the California Teachers Association and they collect more. It is likely that public employee unions in California are collecting over $25 million per month in taxpayer funds. Supposedly only a fraction of this amount is spent on political activity. Advocacy to members and lobbying in Sacramento do not count as political activity in the union world. Much of this political advocacy is instead called member communications. When they tell members or legislators how to vote, in my world that is political activity.

Doing the math for union influence in California goes like this. Public employee unions in our state are collecting more than $25 million dollars a month in dues. Elections are on a two year cycle; so 24 months times $25 million per month is $600 million per election cycle. Is it any wonder that these unions own everything in the state?

If Prop 32 passes, Unions would be crippled but not shutdown. Unions claim that only one to two percent of the dues collected go to political purposes. We all know this is a lie. By parsing the words, unions do not count most of their political activity as political activity. Instead they call it member communications. Lobbying legislation is also not counted as political activity. If this initiative passes unions would be forced to open their books to show members and taxpayers where all the public money goes that they have collected. This transparency is the last thing that they want but it will be the logical result of passage. Also folks like me that have money forcibly take out of our checks even though we don’t belong to the union will finally have the choice not to fund people and causes that they find morally objectionable.
California’s Prop 32 is Wisconsin light. While 85 percent of Wisconsin folks opted out of compulsory union dues for political purposes, I think the number in California that choose to remain in the system will be much higher. The funding of PACs and 527s will not be affected by this initiative.

A second line of argument against Park’s claim and in favor of 32 is that in the wake of the top two primary, party identification of candidates is not as important. This is especially true with the Republicans. The state party is broke and has been for many years. Their endorsement is almost meaningless. They have no money to help candidates or spend on their behalf. They are just a pass thru organization to funnel money to candidates by exploiting loopholes in existing campaign contribution laws. Nothing on our side of the aisle will change much.

If Munger wants to be king of the hill in our party so what? I can’t imagine a more inefficient use of money in California politics. Republicans are on the verge of going below the status of even being called the loyal opposition. We are functionally irrelevant to the political process. Elected officials in the party will only help Munger as long as the money flows. We have a name for folks like that … and you thought that was only legal in Nevada? At this stage in the decline of the Republican Party, donors will get more bang for their buck in supporting ballot measures than candidates. In the initiative arena, Munger has lots of company; he is not a lone actor as Park makes it sound.

Proverbs 13:22 promises that “the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous”. How this works is a mystery but I know that God is in charge of this world and is bringing his will to pass. He is using folks like Soros and Munger for his purposes. Mostly this purpose appears to be judgment for not obeying Him. If you look at Munger’s spending it is clear to me that his problem is not with Conservatives it is ultimately with God. I have comfort in the fact that he will fail at anything he does that is not for the glory of God.

Being a Conservative Republican in California is much like wandering in the wilderness for forty years without Moses to guide us. All we are left with is griping, complaining and fighting amongst ourselves. I don’t think much will change for the better until the current generation (i.e. baby-boomers) have gone to their eternal reward. As long as a majority of people look to government to provide their needs, our future will be filled with more tyranny and less liberty. If passage of Prop 32 can slow the trip down the road to serfdom then I count that a small victory and worth my vote.

Posted by william on 10/15 at 02:05 AM
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chick-fil-A Caves to Gays

Chick-fil-A has let it be known that they will no long fund groups that support traditional marriage.
OK, so why did all of us wait in line for hours just to find out they were out of food just to show our support. I thought the Cathy family had some backbone. I am profoundly disappointed in this caving to immorality. I suppose they will soon be open on Sundays now if Liberals criticize them for that too.

Chick-fil-A has responded to published reports such as the one cited above. The release reads in part:

For many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized. And while our sincere intent has been to remain out of this political and social debate, events from Chicago this week have once again resulted in questions around our giving. For that reason, we want to provide some context and clarity around who we are, what we believe and our priorities in relation to corporate giving.

A part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas. Our intent is not to support political or social agendas.

Posted by william on 09/20 at 06:21 PM
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Further Adventures with Windows 8

I once went to an estate sale near my house. It was the afternoon of the third day when I finally wondered over there to see what all the fuss was about. All the rooms of the house were arranged in a logical fashion but most of the contents had been stripped to the bone. Only a few crumbs remained. Any hope of finding a treasure that would make you a star on the Antiques Roadshow had faded days ago. This is the feeling that I have when I wander through the Windows 8 Store. All the rooms are there but the contents are sparse.

I realize that the Store for all intents and purposes is still a beta but I doubt there are five hundred apps in the whole thing. Many apps appear to be in other languages which further reduces the number that I would be interested in using. Some apps are just long form commercials—“crapware” that often comes preloaded on PCs—only this stuff has a different wrapper on it. One example is a Kaspersky app that looks like a free anti-virus beta.

Another disappointing app is the Kindle Reader from Amazon. You can’t direct it to your existing Kindle library and can’t add other content to it. Not even pdf files. I downloaded the Windows 7 Kindle Reader and no longer have these problems.

Some apps are great but others are unfinished or even lame. My other complaint is that if I try an app and don’t like it, I can’t find how to get it off my list of apps that want to be installed. One support thread said try going into Power Shell and remove the installer package. …OK; so nobody at Microsoft ever thought of this before? Don’t they have children in Redmond?

Speaking of children, my seven year old wanted a faster computer to play games with his brother. His little XP box could not handle the games in a networked play environment. Command & Conquer Generals and Diablo II were ok but Minecraft was beyond what his little PC could handle. I figured that this was daddy’s excuse to upgrade and give junior the old stuff. My upgrade went fine. Windows 8 didn’t skip a beat with a new motherboard, CPU and more RAM. It booted right up. I did not get a pesky message that my license was invalid and I needed to register the software again. Just for the record both boards were from Gigabyte.

However, getting my son’s computer to run and keep running was a major project. After installing Windows 8 three times from the install DVD and twice from back-ups, I threw in the towel. The motherboard, CPU and RAM from my computer plus the old hard drive I found in the garage did not exist in harmony. I experience corrupted files and bad registry hives. My first thought was that hard drive was in the garage for a reason so I bought a new drive and tried again. The installation still got corrupted. I put a new power supply in the computer and still the files were getting corrupted. Soon the operation system would give me the sad screen of death—a modest improvement from the dread blue screen of death (BSOD).

To get Minecraft to run on Windows 8, I needed to use beta drivers from NVIDIA. I didn’t know if it was the video drivers or the hardware. Finally, frustrated beyond “R-rated” words, I put the Windows 7 install disk in the computer with the intention of wiping the drive and going with a more proven OS. Not satisfied that this was going to work, I rejoiced to see the Memory testing utility as the other choice besides installing Windows 7. I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to run this silly program. The diagnostic program got to 9 percent complete before I saw the message that I needed to contact the PC manufacturer because a hardware problem was detected.

YES Finally I was vindicated. It was a problem beyond my control. I was not sure if the problem was the RAM, motherboard or CPU. I talked to a guy at Fry’s and he told me of a similar problem that he had experienced. He found that the culprit was the motherboard and not the RAM. After wasting a week on this computer already I decided that I was beyond “plug and pray” repairs and opted for a new motherboard, CPU and RAM. After my son went to bed, I assembled the components and then installed them in the case. Then I loaded Windows 8. All while he slept peacefully a few feet away. Things have been great since then.

One last word of advice is that in Windows 8, System Restore is off by default. Turn it on and run it occasionally. While it didn’t help in my situation it might save your bacon with other PC problems. Oh, and good luck finding the Control Panel. When you do, pin it everywhere.

Posted by william on 09/12 at 10:40 PM

Saturday, August 25, 2012

2016: Obama’s America

My wife insisted that we see 2016: Obama’s America. Earlier today we hopped into the car and headed to the local theater. After buying a lunch of soda and popcorn, we marched into the theater and grabbed a seat. 

I was familiar with Dinesh D’Souza’s thesis about Obama, his father and colonialism so I had some idea what the movie would cover.  The movie begins with a compare and contrast of D’Souza and Obama. This simultaneously lets viewers meet both men and also lets you know the perspective of the man who brought his book to your local Cineplex.

The movie introduces a few actions taken by Obama during his first term in office. These events are ones which many viewers will be familiar and had wondered why? Then it moves to the story of both Obama and his father. Much of the narrative in the film is audio from Obama’s two books. Obama did us the favor of recording both books in his own voice. D’Souza interviews Obama’s family and many that knew him earlier in life or had known his father.

The film weaves a more complete picture of the President’s life history than most people have ever heard from their televisions or talk radio. Granted, this movie presents only a thumbnail sketch of these events but the framework is logical and objective. I never got the feeling that I was being manipulated by the filmmakers. Yes, I was seeing what they felt was significant but in most cases I think they exercised good judgment in preparing their story.

The highlight of the movie to me was finally getting to see Obama’s brother, George. George was intelligent and very different from his more famous half-brother. Obama Sr. had five wives and died when George was six months old. George lives in a ghetto in a tiny 10 x 10 hut in Nigeria. It was great to see him on the big screen.

The movie then tries to explain actions taken by President Obama within the framework of D’Souza’s thesis. It finally circles back to the events at the beginning of the movie. You can almost hear Paul Harvey’s words “and now you know the rest of the story” echoing in your ears.

The last few minutes of the film are spent in extrapolating what a second Obama term would be like based on the first term and D’Souza’s thesis. This is interesting especially since Obama has never said what he plans to do if re-elected.

I don’t think everyone will agree with D’Souza’s analysis but if you don’t then what explanation do you have that fits the facts better? On this point those across the political spectrum have been silent. Obama’s actions as President defy traditional flavors of Liberalism in American politics. 2016 is the best window into Obama’s life that has been produced thus far.

Posted by william on 08/25 at 09:55 PM

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Windows 8: Preliminary Review

Yesterday, I downloaded the final code for Windows 8. As a Microsoft TechNet subscriber, I have access to most of the software produced by Microsoft. I chose to upgrade my main desktop machine just to see what the experience would be like.

Unlike other recent versions of Windows, the installation procedure did not run a compatibility check. With only a few prompts, the software seemed to run on its own. Only at the end of the procedure did I encounter problems. Toward the end of the procedure, the user starts getting prompts to select theme color, some default settings and then tie the installation to your Windows account. (For many years this was called the Windows Live account.) It was at this point that the installation process crashed. I got a message that Windows could not be installed and then the program removed Windows 8 and a few minutes later my computer restarted into Windows 7.

My first thought was that my Kaspersky internet security program was responsible. (I am aware that no existing antivirus product works with Windows 8 but it was part of the experiment to see what the average user would encounter.) I uninstalled the program and did the suggested restart. Again I ran the Windows 8 DVD and about 25 minutes later I was running Windows 8.

The final code provides a much clearer interface than previous versions. Before when I ran betas of Windows 8, every item in my start menu appeared as a tile. It was just a cluttered mess to wade thru but the tile experience on the final code is much simpler. I also installed the beta version of Microsoft Office 2013. (I may blog on this at a later date.)

So far I like the program. I did shrink many of the default tiles to the smaller size and add a few but otherwise everything fits onto one screen. The best thing I found in the marketplace was the app to let me run XBOX programs thru my network on my Windows 8 PC. That looks interesting.

Lastly, on my desktop view, all my stuff is there except my Gadgets. I had read that they were deemed a security risk and MS was planning to end them.

I still haven’t checked out dual monitor capability because my other monitor is the TV and Chef Ramsey does not like to be preempted.

My final word is uninstall your antivirus program and the take Windows 8 for a spin.

Posted by william on 08/16 at 02:03 PM
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