Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Comics and Political Fundraising: An Introduction to Democracy and Patriotism in the Classroom

The Wall Street Journal has a story about Sean Tevis who is running for office in Kansas against a three-term incumbent. The first-time wanna-be legislator has amassed a war chest larger than his opponent and he did it using an online comic strip and embedded computer code. This politician raised more than $95,000, which came from donors outside of his state of Kansas.

Click here for more campaign comics from Tevis.

How can classroom teachers use similar technology and approaches? I advocate for students creating their own comics demonstrating their knowledge of any particular subject or issue. For the upcoming political season, students could have mock elections and collect data on their classroom, grade and school presidential and local electoral preferences and then compare and contrast that data to the state and national data.

Students could create comics that demonstrate a particular position of a candidate or issue. At the same time civil discourse, scholarly debate, and unemotional reflection can be emphasized with the students. Rather than a lecture about controlling their emotions and behaviors, the students can actively practice such behaviors with an authentic debate of issues that impact those students and their family lives.

Not to mention, the students can learn about democracy as the unifying concept of a diverse society, and patriotism beyond flag waving and recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance. Not that flag waving or recitations are bad or negative things, unless they are the sole component of a patriotic curriculum.

Our classrooms and our communities are full of clashing cultures and incompatible mini-societies centered on race, gender, sexual orientation, culture and religion. These divisive issues are used as tools for discrimination against groups, and they have significant implications in the classroom. If unity is to be achieved, it will not occur on the foundation of one of these contentious issues. If we are to create civil societies, then we must unit students on common belief in democracy.

(Keystroke of kindness to Steve Ole Olson for sending us the link to the story.)

Go Meat!

My puppy could be the mascot for those funny Hillshire Farm Go Meat commercials. He’s spent the better part of two weeks at Camp Nanny (my parents’ house) with my daughter, a niece, a nephew, a cousin and two other tiny dogs . My father still works but my mother is retired so she entertains the kids and dogs for a couple of weeks in the summer. (The dogs are all under 5 pounds).

My daughter is home now and is fine, but the dog is spoiled rotten. He won’t eat. His food bowl has been full for days now. You see, he gets the meat while at Camp Nanny: boiled chicken, ground beef, steak, brats, you name it they feed it. Now that he’s home his is some kind of mad, holding out for the good stuff. It’s not like that at home. The table food is seldom served. We buy high quality dry food from All About Cats and Dogs; it is good stuff, but it is not the real meat.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thoughts for The Moxie

I think The Moxie, Springfield’s only independent movie theatre, should have a Black Belt Theatre night or weekend. Something different and fun. Run some old and new movies. I know it’s not really what they do, but it would be a nice expansion of what they do. They could invite all the martial arts schools from around town. I bet they would fill the house.

I love The Moxie, but I do not get to go as often as I would like. College gets in the way, but I have seen my fair share of flicks down there and I will continue to support them with my mouth, my blog, and my dollars as often as I can.

Republican’s Aren’t All That Bad

We had a talk today, my daughter and I. She is interested in politics, state and federal. During lunch we were talking about politics and she asked if someone was a Democrat or a Republican. They were a Democrat and she commented that she was relieved.

So we had the talk, the one about how there are, amazingly, good Republicans and bad Democrats out there. That we should consider the person over the party. It’s hard for a third grader to fully understand such concepts as their little brains are still very black and white. It is much easier for kids to see Dems and good and Repugs as bad. That’s okay; it was still a good message to instill. I'm glad she is taking an interest in the larger community.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Politics, Comics, and the Classroom

Imagine that. McCain is looking to the right,
Obama to the left.

It is the responsibility of classroom teachers to instruct students on democracy and patriotism, yet that typically manifests itself in the form of daily recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance and a civics examination. Not that either are bad, but there are other ways, more engaging ways, to facilitate learning. Mock elections, historical studies of the founding fathers, creating a classroom constitution, all of these are ways great teachers help kids understand democracy.
After all, our country was founded on democratic principles and it is this democracy that unites us, not culture, race or religion.

Come October 8, IDW Publishing is putting out two full-color, 28-page comic book biographies, one on John McCain and the other on Barack Obama. Each will sell for $3.99 or a flip-book version will also be available, where both are published in one book, for $7.99. Scoop has the … well scoop:

Depicting the presidential nominees’ life, Presidential Material: John McCain, focuses on Senator McCain’s Navy tour, including his time spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and his memorable tenure as an Arizona senator. This flag waving graphic novel is written by Andy Helfer, who also authored other graphic novel biographies including Ronald Reagan and Malcolm X, and is illustrated by Stephen Thompson.

Writer Jeff Mariotte, who wrote River Runs Red, portrays Barack Obama’s rise through the Democratic Party in Presidential Material: Barack Obama. Winning the surprising upset victory over Senator Hilary Clinton in the primaries, this event is illustrated by Ted Morgan.

The comics will also be available for download to mobile phones from GoComics. You can order your copies from your local comic book store or from Presidential Comics.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Considering a Comic Book Convention? DefCon 7 is Next Week!

Fat Jack, family, and friends are heading to Oklahoma’s largest con next week. My sister and her family live in Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa, and we are taking all kinds of kids and teens and crashing her house to go the con.

It sounds like so much fun. This is a monster con, with 70,000 square feet of con that runs 24 hours a day for three days. I cannot imagine.

DefCon 7
August 1-3
Tulsa Convention Center
Tulsa, OK

The con purports to be more than just comics and that is fine with us as we are taking our daughter, nieces, nephew, cousin, cousin’s girlfriend, cousin’s friend, and a few of our adult buddies to the event. In fact, the youngin’s are going to dress up in costume.

Yes, yes. There will be photos a plenty. If you are going, please look us up. We will be the big, bald guy wearing a Superman t-shirt with a herd of kids and teens around him. You can expect the following:

  • Vendors
  • 2 Anime Rooms
  • 2 Movie Rooms
  • Live Bands
  • Dance/Rave/Karaoke
  • Art Classes and Portfolio Reviews
  • Art Contest
  • Charity Auctions
  • Video Games
  • Card Games
  • RPGs
  • Bishi Auction
  • Costume Contest
  • Ms. Sci-Fi Contest
  • Casino Night
  • Live Action Cosplay Chess
  • Various Contests
  • Autographs
  • Panel Discussion

Just so happens that this is the weekend my sister, who lives in Tulsa, takes her oldest daughter to college. The house will be filled with two van loads of people. It should be some kind of crazy fun.

Tulsa is a 3.5-hour drive from Springfield, so it really isn't any different than traveling to Kansas City or St. Louis, and this bad boy should be huge. Contact me if you want to caravan with us. Larry and Bryan, you two should really consider going.

The Maverick is Dead

Sen. John McCain is finding the road less traveled is much harder than he anticipated. Now that Sen. John McCain is an actual contender for the presidency, it appears he is abandoning his long-held positive parade, opting for typical, misleading, political attack ads.

I am so frustrated because while I disagree with McCain on several things, I have written about my appreciation of his character and seemingly high political ethics. He seemed different, strong, committed to positive campaigning and good politics. I bit the hook and have praised him a time or two.

His approves the message that Barack Obama is responsible for our gasoline prices. Click here for the video. Here is a quote from the ad:

Gas prices $4, $5, no end in sight. Because some in Washington are still saying ‘no’ to drilling in America, ‘no’ to independence from foreign oil. Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?” [shows picture of Obama with crowd chanting 'Obama, Obama!"].

Really? I was under the impression that even if we started drilled today, that it would be 10-15 years before we would actually see that oil. I think, perhaps, other issues and policies might be affecting the price of gasoline. And if memory serves, wasn’t it John McCain that was opposed to drilling not that long ago? So maybe Obama is not the one we should thank for high fuel prices, like the ad suggests.

I’m not surprised to see such a political ad. I’m not that naive, and I expected to see some crap thrown about from all kinds of swift boat-style groups. But I really thought, I hoped, that The Maverick would follow through on his promise to run a clean, respectable, honest campaign. That’s why I supported him during the primary. I really believed in his integrity.

He’s better than that and I expect more from The Maverick. I may not vote for him, but I do respect him, or at least I did until I saw this advertisement. I thought I would hurl when I heard him say: “I’m John McCain and I approve this message.”

Politics and a lust for power have killed a great leader and hero of American culture. I am mourning the figurative death of the Maverick.

Dust Bunny Snow Storm

I need to get me one of these.

My mother raised me better, but I am a bit hard-headed and frankly don’t care about dust as much as she does. Even I was a bit taken back when the power went out the other day during the morning storm. That night I kicked on the ceiling fan as the wife was crawling into bed.

Clods of dust bunnies the size of half dollars puffed forth and delicately dozed their way to the floor. The dust storm covered the bed and floor like ash from a volcano eruption. It bothered even the likes of us.

I guess I need to use the ceiling fan duster a bit more often. Who knew? I betcha dollars to donuts that the maternal unit calls to inquire about our dust problems and suggests ways, elbow grease I’m sure, to keep that from happening. She will just sh*t and fall back when she finds out that I just shook the dust off the comforter and went to bed.

Updgrades and iPods

Today was update day. My parents got a new Mac and needed help getting the info off the old machine on the new one. I’ve been eyeing the new Mac operating system (Leopard) anyway. MobileMe holds a lot of promise as my email, calendars, address book, bookmarks, and all that jazz can be pushed to all my computers and my info on .Mac. That means I can get to my info anytime. The new operating system made accessing my home Mac from my laptop much easier too.

So I’ve spent the day installing upgrades on three machines. Quite a job, but it’s been a lot of fun. I also spent the better part of an hour installing all of Dad’s music on his Mac so he can use his new iPod that my sister got him for his birthday. He’s coming by tonight to pick up his equipment and get a quick tutorial for the iPod. Then we will hook up his FM modulator so he can listen to his music on the way back to Branson.

So where’s he been? Ah, he had to drive to Kentucky to pick up that leaky old Harley of his. Fixed good as new now. Turns out it was just a gasket for the leaking oil and a return spring in the transmission. Could happen to anyone. I’m glad it was nothing more. Typical wear and tear of an early 90’s motorcycle.

For an added bit of fun, I added all my pictures of Little Sturgis to his iPhoto library so he can reminisce. What a good son, eh, to share my boobie pictures with my Dad?

Back to Leopard, it is pretty dadgum cool so far and Mobile Me is some kind of bad dude. I make a change to email on my desktop. Say I get an email and I respond and place the email in a blog folder. Well, those changes are recorded or pushed n all machines and the Internet. Wicked cool. That makes for seamless transitions for a college student who works both from home and at school. Everything is the same, instantly.

Basking in the glory that is Mac. So how’s VISTA working for you PC-Weenies?

Rock Star of Politics Keeps Eye on Rural Missouri

Barack Obama, the presidential rock star, is opening 24 offices in rural Missouri this Saturday. No longer are St. Louis and Kansas City the golden girls of Missouri when it comes to politics. For once, a presidential candidate is taking notice of rural Missouri more than just as a quick campaign stop in Springfield.

It shows dedication and concern for rural Americans on the part of Obama. Has it occured before? Have we ever had a presidential candidate make such a move? I can't say for sure, but I am betting not.

We have been an unapologetic supporter of Obama for sometime now, despite the pissing and moaning of our r.e.d. democratic friend. We like him and hope he makes the change he purports to make. Bear in mind we are always congnizant of our political mantra: There is no such thing as a Christian politician. Be that as it may, we have high hopes for Obama and have been more excited about this election than ever before.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

People with Disabilities Get the Screw at the Pump

Despite what Michael Savage blathers on about, persons with disabilities most simply need a little help in order to live an independent life. However, life is full of disappointment and discrimination especially when it comes to people with disabilities. In short, they get the shaft. Oh yes, they may qualify for the best parking spaces but having worked in the disability field for 8 years I can tell you that life is hard and painful for persons with disabilities.

Just pumping your own gas is a feat as this NBC undercover news report discovered. People with disabilities, such as Clayton Porter (who has no arms with which to pump his own gas) rarely get assistance at the pump despite that pesky law requiring it. Watch the videos to see how pump attendants assisted him. Hint: Sometimes they don’t; customers help out instead.

Now you may be wondering how a man with no arms can drive. That really is a valid question and I am going to answer it for you. Technology is such that a person may be unable to brush their own teeth but they can drive their own car.

I have a friend and former co-worker (I’ll call him “Cowboy”) who is paralyzed from the shoulders down. Larry at Simple Thoughts knows him. There is so much that Cowboy is unable to do on his own. Being paralyzed will do that to you, but Cowboy owns his own van and drives himself all over. Thanks to computer technology, he uses a zero-effort mini-wheel, and a mouth joystick. That idea may scare you especially if you have not worked in the field. Don’t feel bad. That is understandable. I have ridden with Cowboy and he is an excellent driver. It took time, months in fact, for him to learn how to drive. A special company from Louisiana installed the equipment and taught him how. Cowboy took his driver’s test and passed with flying colors.

Cowboy cannot pump his own gas. He either has to find someone to go with him, which is hard as he lives on his own. Or he relies on the goodness of gas station attendants (and the law) to pump his fuel for him.

Incidentally, Cowboy was an excellent employee of mine, working for me for nearly six years until Governor Blunt cut Medicaid and prevented Cowboy from working and also receiving Medicaid health care. A person whose situation is similar to Christopher Reeves’ needs Medicaid health insurance just to pay for medicine and equipment. Our small, non-profit business had two employees and could not offer health insurance. So rather than work, pay taxes, and contribute to the community, Cowboy has to sit at home and draw completely off the taxpayer. Cowboy would rather work, and did work for me as long as he was allowed. We don’t hear much from Michael Savage about that do we?

Christian nation, indeed. There is nothing Christian about screwing people with disabilities.

13-Year-Old Strip Searched at School Over Advil

Apparently the Safford Middle School, (Safford, AZ) thinks it is the Bush administration, and well within its rights to circumvent the law and the constitution in its own war, this war being the one on those evil D-R-U-G-S known as ibuprofen.

With an accusation from one student, the school district strip searched a 13-year-old eighth grade student over two alleged Advil pills. According to the press release, another student got caught with the medicine. Facing discipline she stated Savana Redding gave her the pills. That was enough information for a search of her personal belongings, which rendered no pills. That was not enough for the school district, which then took the child to the nurse’s office and performed a strip search. All of this occurred without any parental knowledge or notification.

The exposure yielded nothing. And in case you are wondering, the press release stated that young Miss Redding had “no history of disciplinary problems or substance abuse”.

As crazy as this sounds, the first court sided with the school district, but a federal appellate court ruled otherwise (Redding v. Safford Unified School District, No. 05-15759), finding the school’s actions unconstitutional. Damn that evil ACLU for protecting the rights of its citizens against unwarranted and illegal search.

Said the court: “A reasonable school official, seeking to protect the students in his charge, does not subject a thirteen-year-old girl to a traumatic search to ‘protect’ her from the danger of Advil,” the court wrote in today’s opinion. “We reject Safford’s effort to lump together these run-of-the-mill anti-inflammatory pills with the evocative term ‘prescription drugs,’ in a knowing effort to shield an imprudent strip search of a young girl behind a larger war against drugs.”

Where is the common sense? Bush illegally wiretaps without a FISA court order and a school district strip searches a 13-year-old without parental notification? I know I am not teaching yet, but something seems quite amiss.

Our favorite Internet Granny and ACLU operative posted the alert and this teacher jumped on the story.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What is a Hero? Understanding Batman: The Dark Knight

“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
– Harvey Dent, Gotham City Prosecuting Attorney
Batman: The Dark Knight

The newest installment in the Batman series of films (Batman: The Dark Knight) is not about capes, or villains, or even good versus evil as much as it is a cinematic essay on what it means to be a hero and the morality code – the self-imposed sand line – of the heroic icon.

To do good, to change the world, to save lives, the hero must endure pain, suffering and the scorn of the public and yet still stand at the end of the evening with his moral compass pointing North and code of honor intact. It is no easy task for anyone.

And who is the true hero? Is it the one who is perceived as such, the one whose real self is supplanted by and inferior to his iconic stature? Is it the one whose very being inspires goodness and heroics in others, or is it the one who sacrifices his own soul and self to save the others?

There are no clear lines in The Dark Knight (TDK). Blurred boundaries and fuzzy definitions infiltrate the grit and grime of TDK making the film a disturbing, discombobulating bit of storytelling. The chaotic nature of the Joker is disorienting and absolute, yet the goodness of Batman and Harvey Dent are delicate and fragile. Determined as they are, both are uncomfortable with the label of hero and mantle they must carry, each wishing the other would bear the brunt of the burden.

The Dark Knight is not easy to watch. It is not the fun-filled thrill ride of Iron Man or the sarcastic, pummel-happy film of Hellboy. TDK is unsettling and nasty. It is a reflective commentary of the sometimes destructive and dirty path of righteousness.

Who are our heroes? Have we chosen well? Has our society placed our faith in the righteous, courageous and good? Are we capable of even knowing? The verdict may well change from person to person. There are few Batman’s left. Too many of us enjoy the congratulations, the applause, the little rewards from our teachers, friends, and the public, for doing what is right and good. Batman gives us another path, if we chose to take it, when he repeatedly tells Lt. Gordon: “You don’t have to thank me.”

How many of those heroes are left in this world?

Our political leaders could learn a lot from Batman: The Dark Knight. If we allow ourselves to play by the rules of our metaphorical Jokers, the architects of chaos and destruction, allow them to define us, to control us, and more importantly to get us to change our moral code – our boundary lines of right and wrong – then we lose more than our freedom. We lose our identity and our souls.

Classrooms Designed for Success: Missouri Summit on Inclusive Education

The Missouri Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities is hosting a summit for educators interested in inclusion of children with disabilities into the regular classroom.

Classrooms Designed for Success!
October 15-16
Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center
Columbia, MO

Participants will take home tools, resources, and information that can be used in their classrooms. As well, a Call for Investment (grant) will be available for school districts that wish to implement collaborative teaching methods district-wide. In order to be eligibile school districts must send at least three team members (regular ed, special ed, administrators and parents) to the summit.

Maxi Pads, Boobies, and Christian Bikers

I have been on hiatus for the past few days, taking time out to spend with my dad and the extended family. Poor Skinny Kitty was left home, on her own, sans kid, hubby or dog for a week. So I’m sure it’s been a vacation for her as well.

On Thursday, I packed the bike and headed to Sturgis, KY for the Little Sturgis biker rally. It’s an annual event for me, dad, and some friends – an extended weekend of off-the-grid biker subculture. There are places in the US that common social rules and regs do not apply and Little Sturgis is one of them. No doubt you have heard of Sturgis (the big one), one of the major motorcycle rallies in the US. More commercial than biker, many have opted out of the South Dakota rally for a more grass-roots event. Enter Little Sturgis in Kentucky. This event takes place on the county fairgrounds, which is private land and free of law enforcement.

Little Sturgis is a strange place of biker counterculture, free from the box of social constraints. People come from all over to participate in a freedom rarely experienced by the rest of society. Think of Little Sturgis as a hillbilly Mardi Gras with no law enforcement: a tooth-free, clothing optional, camping trip with lots of partying and a big side of Christianity. Girls gone wild, indeed.

Partying and Christianity? Huh? I know, you read that and furrowed your brow, right? Me too. Biker culture is a strange sub-set of American life, a mini-community of radicals. There is something about an iron horse and black leather than frees the mind and soul from the constraints of modern society and allows one to live another life. Things that people do at a biker rally they would never do otherwise, such as showing off body parts normally covered by cloth.

Amongst the debauchery of the biker rally night-life are throngs of Christian motorcyclist gangs. Nowhere else in the world do devout Christians and secular party-goers get along so well as at the biker rally. The Christian biker groups set up tents throughout the rally serving water, coffee, lemonade, and also offering the Water of Life. Their ministry is not the evangelical shouting common with street corner conversions. Rather, these folks are bikers who enjoy the biker tradition; they simply offer a water ministry to keep people safe and hydrated (which is biblically-rooted). (As far as I could tell they did not party.) If one chooses to discuss Christ, they are there to help and offer literature, but only if one seeks it. The mission is clear and they are up as late as the partiers, some open 24-hours. I used them often, filling up my water bottle and thanking them for their water and their mission. These are my kind of Christians. Good, solid folks who were not there to judge the debauchery, but rather to have fun and follow their mission. It must be a hard job amongst the clothing-scant, inebriated lot riding the biker parade until the wee hours of the morning.

Christian Motorcycle Association filling up water containers.

Dancing the night away.

Drunken dirt drags. Most of the drivers were pretty ripped,
I think. Crazy but fun.

I would offer more details, but it would render the post “Not Safe For Work”. I cannot post most of the pics, but I wish I could. They are something to see.

I can tell you about our snafu. Dad’s Harley broke down. Actually, it started out with problems, but gained new ones toward the end. As we left, his rocker box was leaking oil, which is not good when that oil hits the back brake. Makes stopping a tad touchy. We made a make-shift maxi-pad out of a terrycloth towel and a small bungee cord. I can show you pictures of that, but I do that more to gouge him than anything else. I’m a stinker like that. On Friday night, we were heading out for a ride when he found he could not shift. The linkage was loosey-goosey. We had to call Progressive’s roadside assistance and had the tow truck take the bike to the Harley dealership. I also have pictures of that. Come to find out, they were swamped and could not fix it in time. A transmission is no easy tear down.

We tried to rent a U-Haul, a Ryder, and a Penske truck. No can do in Kentucky as it turns out. U-Haul would not allow us to rent a truck one way. What the Hell? Isn’t that the point of a dadgum U-Haul? Ryder never answered the phone. Penske required us to drain all fluids out of the bike. Crazy. So we decided to let the Harley dealership keep the bike and we would come back for it.

Now to rent a car. Not an easy task in Paducha, KY either. We called Enterprise as they will pick you up. It was no help. Although we told them exactly what we wanted to do on the phone (rent a car one way to Branson, MO) once they got us to the store, they told us they did not rent one-way cars. Again with this crap! Tough. They were closing in 20 minutes and we were stranded out-of-state. I was hot and I informed the manager than they had to do something as they go us all the way out there for nothing. Enterprise took us across town to the airport to another car rental agency (Hertz) and they did offer one-way rentals, but at the lovely cost of more than $400.

We made it back home safe and sound and with plenty of stories to tell. Most of which cannot be posted here. You’ll have to ask at the next blogger’s meeting. By the way, we need to do that before summer’s end. If you ask nicely, I’ll show you the pictures of the rally.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Real Fraud with Medicaid and Medicare

It’s the disabled and the elderly who are burdening the costs of health care in the state. You betcha. It’s not the health care industry itself, engaging in fraudulent business practices who rape the sick, the poor, the elderly, the disabled. It’s always the most vulnerable of society who is the problem, not the big, power bosses of industry. They are squeaky clean.

And good old Matt Blunt, the young and inexperienced, the job-hopper, ripped these vulnerable citizens a new one just to save the state money, when he could have just as easily taken the greedy bosses to task and stopped the real fraud.

Seems someone didn’t turn a blind eye to the fraud committed by hospitals.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Where Do Eggs Come From, Exactly?

Thanks to the Bob and Tom Show, I don’t know if I will ever see a chicken egg in the same way. Boiled eggs are looking better and better. Anywho, I just learned that chickens (and other creatures) have only one hole from which poo, pee and babies are excreted.

That’s right. Our beloved eggs-over-easy come from the a chicken’s brown eye. I assumed that they were like us in that they had a special orifice for urine, another for fecal matter, and yet another as the sex hole. Not so, according to veterinarian Amber, who called in to the show to set the record straight. By the way, that single orifice is called the cloaca, which is the Latin term for sewer. Nice.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Elected Official Finally Follows The Law

Circuit Clerk, Steve Helms, finally took down his poster of the 10 Commandments from his office. He claims the following:

  1. It was not a religious poster, but a patriotic one.
  2. The poster supports the Judeo-Christian values of the country.

So was it religious or not? He seems to make two cases. The telling tale is that he ran to local Christian lawyer, Dee Wampler. It was religious. He knows it; I know it. We are not stupid. If it were really about remembering those killed on 9-11 then there are plenty of 9-11 posters that have nothing to do with the Decalogue. It was never about that.

My guess is it was about politics and a subversive effort to remind people that he is a Christian and he is the one who should be elected again. Not that he intended for a skirmish to occur. He probably just wanted to lightly let voters who come into his office know his religious beliefs. I doubt he counted on such brouhaha, but I’m sure it will work to his advantage. Ain’t politics grand?

People want to pretend that they are hurt if they cannot put their religion on the courthouse or in school buildings. They aren't. No one stops them from worshiping their God in their way. It just prevents them from trying to force it onto everyone else.

And believe me, had that been a pro-Islam poster, the fundamentalists would be beating their Bible's and crying all kinds of foul. That would be the right decision. We don't need people asserting their religious views using the courthouse.

I am able to live my Christian ways even though that poster is taken down. I will still love God and be free to worship. That's the real issue.

US Perception of Disability Not Good

Yahoo! News reported last week on a survey that demonstrated a majority of American’s real perceptions about living with disabilities: They would rather die.

A brief of the findings:

Ages 35-44: 63% prefer death
Ages 55-64: 50% prefer death
Ages 65 and older: 56% prefer death

Earnings of $25K or less: 45% prefer death
Earnings of $75K plus: 59% prefer death

Southerners: 45% prefer death
Westerns: 61% prefer death

No High School graduation: 30% prefer death
College grads: 57% prefer death

Of course, this is all predicated on one’s definition of “severe disability” and “independence”. My friend Tim was injured in a car accident. Now he is paralyzed from the shoulders down. He requires assistance, but is his life not worth living? My nephew has Down Syndrome; is his life not worth living? My wife was burned significantly as a child and she is restricted because of it. Is her life not worth living? What about Terri Schivo? Was her life worth living? Where do we draw the line? How much disability is too much disability?

This all leads to a more important question. How does one’s perception of disability affect our treatment of persons who have a disability?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

That Was Not Very Nice

Pastors are people too, human and flawed. But I take issue with Wilson Phillips’ recent Voice of the Day. My issue is on two fronts: his message and his presentation.

Religion studies professor, Dr. Charles W. Hedrick, apparently wrote a piece for the N-L urging Christians not to blame natural disasters on God. I didn’t read the article and there’s no link, but from what was quoted, Hedrick seems to have taken the position that “life happens” and that we should not blame God for everything, i.e.:

  • God did not punish New Orleans with hurricane Katrina.
  • God does not punish sinful parents by giving them a child with a disability.
  • God did not give us AIDS because homosexuals exist.

In response to Hedrick’s article, Phillips responds thus:

“It's apparent that Professor Hedrick's heart and mind have not yet been opened by our sovereign God to understand the apostles' revealed knowledge of God that we have in Scripture.”

That, my friends, is a big fat slap by Pastor Hedrick, who insults Professor Hedrick for simply having a different religious (both Christian) view. In other words, Hedrick has not had God really touch or speak to him, in Phillip's opinion. Poor sinner does not really know God, the real God of the Bible. Is that the kind of language we should use to reach the “sinners”? What put Phillips in a position to be able to know how God speaks to others? Why is it that pastors feel they know the will and mind of God?

Was that insult really necessary? Could not Phillips have simply presented his position without the big bitch slap? That was not very pastoral if you ask me. I wish he had not done that. You know, different people can read the same Bible and come to different conclusions. It is okay to see the Bible differently. It’s okay to have different views. But to publish a slam in the newspaper … gosh, I wish he had made another choice that would represent Christianity better.

Personally, I do not believe that God causes every terrible thing on Earth, but I know that lots of people do. When I worked in the field of disabilities, I had numerous Mom’s come into my office crying. I was able to identify a theme: Some churches or congregations believed that the child with a disability was born because of some sin in the parents’ life. This theology has a negative impact on the congregation and does injury to persons who wish to come to Christ.

I’m not out to change Pastor Phillip’s mind, of course. He is welcome to his view and I want him to believe what he feels is right. Would if I could, change his approach. This blog has taken shots and given shots. We frequently exchange jabs with our buddies, so what is the diff? I do not represent a business, an agency or a congregation. If I am speaking as a professional for a group that pays me, I do not post insults in the local paper. Besides, this is a personal rant blog and not a newspaper. Phillips represents a church congregation, the name of which was printed. He was acting as the senior pastor of this church when he insulted Hedrick. I disagree with that. I would be upset if my pastor insulted another in the local paper. My pastor would never do that to begin with. He’s not turned that way.

As a side note, does it not seem that opinions page of the News-Leader is turning into a Sunday School class?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And He Calls Himself a Reverend

Never cared much for Jesse Jackson. (I refuse to call Jackson a reverend, mostly because I do not believe his actions represent what a Christian minister ought to stand for.) I've always thought of Jackson as something of a promoter of racism.

He's finally stepped in it. Word on the street is the Bill O'Reilly is going to run the segment in full. I hear that Jackson said something about cutting off a piece of Barack Obama's down there anatomy.

I wonder if Al Sharpton will come out against Jackson like he did Don Imus? I care about what Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton say about as much as I care about the thoughts of Rush or Ann Coulter.

Notice that Jackson keeps blaming the hot mic for his misstep. Like he would let that fly with anyone else.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Cost of Gasoline

We could drill for oil off the coast of California and in Alaska. Forget the fact that it would take 10+ years for the drilling to yield results. Or we could simply invest in other technologies that reduce our dependence on oil to begin with.

Enter Honda's hydrogen-powered sedan: The Honda FCX. It does not use gasoline at all! It is a "fuel cell vehicle that runs on electricity powered by hyrdrogen," according to the website. The FCX is a four passenger sedan with a top speed of 100 miles per hour. No plug in at night, either. The car travels approximately 270 miles before needing a fill-up at a designated hydrogen refilling fuel station. They are working on a home energy station so you can fill up in your own garage.


It's only available in Southern California right now. Let's hope this does not go the way of the electric car.

This weekend, while at the farm celebrating the 4th, we noticed one of the party goers had a Toyota Prius. The hybrid vehicles are very interesting to us, but with a starting price of $21,500, does the savings in gasoline (45-48 miles per gallon) outweigh the cost of the vehicle? I don't know, but it is worth checking into.

17-Year-Old Boy with Disabilities Missing

A boy with disabilities, who looks much younger than his real age, is missing, according to the News-Leader. Caleb needs medications and he is also very trusting of strangers. Too much trust can be common among persons with disabilities. A picture of Caleb can be found on the News-Leader website.

Name: Caleb J. Barnes
Nickname: CJ
Age: 17
Height: 5-feet 6-inches
Weight: 95-100 pounds
Hair Color: Blonde

If you have information, call 9-1-1.

A little known program exists designed specifically for persons who are in danger of wandering off. Project Lifesaver is a national program that works with law enforcement. Participating counties will place a tracking band on the wrist or ankle of the individual. When a loved one escapes, a call is placed to the sheriff's department. Officers are dispatched (by car and/or plan). They use technology that looks like the tracking wand from Wild Kingdom. Typically individuals are found in minutes or hours rather than days or weeks – can make the difference between life and death. Greene County does participate in some capacity, but it is Webster County that is the supervising agency for Missouri.

The program is very beneficial for many citizens including: children, adults, persons with disabilities, and senior citizens. Many children with Autism are prone to wandering away (or running away).

If you have questions, I suggest you contact Webster County first or Project Lifesaver. It is not available in all counties, but many times a neighboring county will accept you.

The Goose Made a Rule, but it Only Applies to the Gander

I've been writing about racism and inequality lately, so this News-Leader editorial is apropos. What's wrong with transparency in government? It is routine for all kinds of business and government agencies to report on its hiring practices. Why should these politicians be exempt from reporting?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Little House on the Prairie for Independence Day

A day late and a dollar short, we celebrated Independence Day yesterday (July 5). We went to the Pugh-Towe farm in Granby where we were served a wonderful cowboy dinner. Pork chops, fried taters, corn on the cob, fresh veggies, barbecued beans, biscuits, blueberry cobbler and apple something-or-other, all of which was yum. Our hosts’ parents cooked it all over the campfire in cast iron. That’s the best way if you ask me.

The kids entertained themselves on the wagon. The grownups were sitting round the big tree jib-jabbing away when I see the wagon go by in the background. Those kids pushed that wagon around the house by themselves. They played Little House on the Prairie for hours, ate dinner, then went back to it for another few hours.

Life on the farm is good.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Patriotic Thoughts on Independence Day

Back in the days of black-and-white thinking, characterized by childhood and adolescence, my mind was cluttered with a romanticized concept of war and warriors. One where the good guys were defined – by default – simply for being American and a Christian, ideas which were synonymous in my view.

I played war and collected hundreds of GI Joe action figures. I remember hearing and believing that war was okay because it was good for the economy. I recall my pastor preaching from the pulpit that God nodded approvingly at war and that killing in the name of America was biblically sound. That Bob Dylan song comes to mind.

I’m not sure, despite the call to arms from today’s Christian politicians and television pulpits, that the Iraq War has God’s mark of approval. I do not buy into the “Christ the War Hammer” line of thinking. And is anyone still making the argument that war is good for the economy?

But here we are – July 4, 2008 – and the Iraq War rages on. My good buddy, Gabe, is currently making his third appearance in President Bush’s conflict-for-nothing. It is my impression that my soldier-friend is glad to do so. We have supported him all these long years he’s spent over there, mostly by sending care packages and correspondence. He comes and sees me when he is on leave. We usually go down to Busiek State Park and shoot some rounds at the outdoor firing range, although we haven’t done that in about a year.

I’m thinking of Gabe today. I hope he makes it home safe. I supposed I should be waving my flag and praising my government today, but I am not. I don’t see that as patriotism. When my a person I know sends out racist pictures, I let him know it upsets me, and when my president lies to me and gets me into a war-for-nothing, then I let him know that upsets me too. To me, critical thinking is patriotic. Standing up for what is right is patriotic.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Local Blogosphere Keeps Growing

Stu Solomon, copy editor and columnist for Community Free Press has his own blog now. Politics, government, philosophy, and music appreciation will be served at the hometown potluck at Stu's café. I love a good buffet, so I'll have to stop by for Sunday brunch. If you get a chance, tell him Jack sent you.

HeroClix Batman: Alpha

(I've updated this post as I have received more information.)

I have been looking at HeroClix, the superhero miniature game, for a long time now. My thought is that it would be a great game for kids to play on those rainy days when we have indoor recess. Mathematics, strategy, and fun all rolled into one. Unfortunately, I hear mixed reviews about the game as far as tweens go. That is to say, that the rules are a bit complex, frustrating a good number of kids.

HeroClix Batman: Alpha utilizes simpler rules and easier game play, making it the perfect set for kids ages 8 and older (according to the box) or any newbies to HeroClix. A typical, HeroClix core game takes 1 hour, but the Alpha games take approximately 30 minutes. (Many elementary schools have gone to one 30-minute recess instead of two 15-minutes recesses.) That’s exactly what I was looking for. Please note that race, gender and disability are represented in the game pieces and that makes for a happy teacher.

The nice thing is that a more expensive starter set is not required. Each box contains 1 Batman, three random characters, 2 micro dice, a set of rules, and a map. So entry into the game can be pretty inexpensive.

Now to learn the rules and play the game – dad against daughter.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Numero uno was good. Will the boy from Hell do it to it a second time? Oh I hope so.