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Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

"Lord God Bird" confirmed!

There are several confirmed sightings in the books now of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, one of the most spectacular birds of North America. The Ivory-Bill and I have a long acquaintance, not necessarily pleasant for me...

I was out hunting with my dad in the late fall/early winter, 1962/63, near Little River, in north-central Louisiana. I suddenly saw a pair of birds I'd never seen before. I watched them for about 15 minutes before they flew off and across the river. Several days later, still curious about what I'd seen, I looked the birds up in a book in my school library. I had seen a pair of Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers.

At the time, I didn't know the birds were "extinct". Our assistant principal, Mr. Smith, was a member of the Audobon Society, and became very angry at me for insisting I'd seen members of this "extinct" species. He told me more than once I hadn't seen what I knew quite well I had.

There were several reports of ivory billed woodpeckers being spotted in Louisiana over the last couple of years, both in the southern and northern parts of the state. There are still tens of thousands of acres of land in Louisiana that is either swamp, or marginal for anything but what it currently is - uninhabited! I don't doubt that there are at least a few pairs of ivory-billed woodpeckers in Louisiana, and that I saw a mating pair back in 1962/63.

So, Mr. Smith, who's laughing now (other than the ivory billed woodpecker, that is... )? 8^)

Friday, April 29, 2005

Dick Lamm for President!

I'm not a Democrat, or a Republican. I vote as an "Independent" because I don't much care for either party. I show my contempt for party politics in the signature block on my email:

People belong to political parties to make sure their scoundrel gets elected, instead of the other party's scoundrel.

Some people, however, understand better what's going on in this world than other's. Dick Lamm's speech last week shows that he understands the danger to the United States of the 1800's by the actions of a few small groups in the 1990's and 2000's. We need to read and understand every word, and to refer to it as often as possible:

THE DESTRUCTION OF AMERICA---FROM WITHIN


By Bonnie Eggle · April 24, 2005 11:52 PM

The following remarks by Richard Lamm are remarkable and hard-hitting. I was one of the many attendees at this conference and was as spellbound as the rest of the crowd. Please read and think of the 8 points....how many are already accomplished? That is a frightening thought.
_______________________________________

We all know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant.

Recently there was an immigration-overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American's finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor named Victor Davis Hanson talked about his latest book, "Mexifornia," explaining how immigration - both legal and illegal - was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.

Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, "If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let's destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that 'An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'"

"Here is how they do it," Lamm said: "Turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual.

"The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way: 'The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy.' Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans."

Lamm went on: "Invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.

"We could make the United States an 'Hispanic Quebec' without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: 'The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.'"Lamm said, "I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities."

"Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school."

"My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'Victimology.' I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population."

"My sixth plan for America's downfall would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing each other."

"A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshipped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic games. A common enemy Persia threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to over come two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell. "E. Pluribus Unum" -- From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on 'pluribus' instead of the 'unum,' we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo."

"Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits ~ make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult 'diversity.' I would find a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like 'racist'' or 'xenophobe' halt discussion and debate."

"Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of 'Victimology,' I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them."

In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, "Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis's book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."

There was no applause. A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Every discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate 'diversity.'

American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America - take note of California and other states - to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell's book "1984." In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: "War is peace," "Freedom is slavery," and "Ignorance is strength."

Governor Lamm, walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy is deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don't get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.

Hat tip, Bonnie Eggle and Michelle Malkin's Immigration Blog. Also deserving honorable mention is the Free Republic website.

Here's another view of the same problem, from a recent Walter Williams column on Town Hall. Walter Williams thought he was discussing a different problem, yet in truth, he's just approaching the REAL problem from a different direction.

The productive people who made this progress possible are often painted as villains. I'm talking about the innovators and the risk-takers, in a word -- entrepreneurs. Today's heroes are often seen as the people who attack entrepreneurs -- among them lawyers, politicians, media people, leftist organizations, college professors and others who often contribute little or nothing to human progress. My colleague, Thomas Sowell, calls the entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors the "doers" and their attackers the "talkers."

<--- --->

If we developed the practice of removing products from the market because some people are harmed by them, we might starve to death. Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe, potentially fatal reaction that some people have to foods such as milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, fish, shellfish and eggs. Each year, food-induced anaphylaxis sends about 30,000 people to hospital emergency rooms and about 200 of them die. Since many people are harmed by these food items, should they be removed from our supermarket shelves? If not, why not? The next time we hear a talker attacking a doer, we just might ask: What have you done to further human progress?

There was a 'revolution' in the 1960's against everything old. Yet that revolution was merely playing out what has happened time and time again in the past. The participants, the people who feel the strongest in forging and pushing this 'new' approach to everything, have once again confirmed the words of Santayana:

"Those who forget the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them."

True, the past in this instance is many centuries behind us, but it's not unknown. The fallacies preached now were preached 500, 1500, and 3000 years ago, and were just as wrong then as they are now. The people with the largest blinders and the worst eyesight are our "elites": college professors, legislators, some business people, a few church "leaders", the Hollywood crowd, and the mainstream media.

It's difficult to see the "big picture" of what's happening today, because it's spread out over time, involves different groups at different times, and frequently only affects a small group of people at a given time, or given event. The problems began more than a hundred years ago, and have been contributed to by virtually every major personality of the last 100 years. It's still going strong - a runaway freight train bound for the missing bridge and a terrible crash. How severe that crash is, how it affects us as a nation and as a people, depends upon what actions many of us take to immunize ourselves from the effects of the coming catastrophe.

Dick Lamm has much of it right: there is a concerted, coordinated effort being made to destroy this nation from within. There are many reasons why, but the biggest one is that one group thinks it should govern the rest of us, because it's ideas are superior to the anything else, and also just because they want to. Much of it was created by people who accepted the tenets of Marxism, and still believe the failure of the Soviet state was a fluke, not preordained by its internal contradictions. Most Marxists refuse to accept that Marxism even has any internal contradictions. Most of the people who think their ideas are better than anyone else's believe they're brilliant, that their ideas are new and unique, and will solve all the world's problems if the rest of the "stoopid sheeple" would only get out of the way and let them take over.

What you end up with is the idiocy dragging down Harvard's President, James Summers, and the ranting of "faux-everything" Ward Churchill. Nor are these isolated incidents - these are just the ones that are getting attention.

The threats to society Governor Lamm spoke about are real, and they are doing significant harm to our nation every day. These are some of the visible battlefields of the new revolution - a quiet, under-the-radar revolution that we're not supposed to notice until the war is won and we're presented with a fait accompli. There are other battlefields, too. Here are just a few:

There's an all-out assault on courtesy. Courtesy has been described as "the lubricant that allows a society to function without us killing one another". Yet today courtesy is under unrelenting attack. The attack is part of the "feminist" movement. It's a major part of "children's television" programming. It's the main target of "Political Correctness". The attack on courtesy is part of the agenda in our children's schools: rather than being taught in schools today, it's being treated as being "condescending" and "undignified".

There's an all-out assault on diversity of thought. We're all supposed to think only one way, and anyone who refuses to go with the crowd is treated as being to stupid to "get it". A part of the assault on diversity of thought is the attack on religion. The Marxists understood that religion was a source of power they couldn't control, so it had to be stamped out. The entire communist program was in reality an attempt to destroy or subjugate every source of power other than the communist party.

Notice what happens whenever a communist group assumes power: first comes massive inflation (watch for it in Venezuela in the coming months) to destroy "old" wealth and savings. Then comes total control of the information system. Then comes nationalization of all the engines of commerce - banking, transportation, resources, utilities, marketing, manufacturing, and production. Finally, the farms are "collectivized", and all private property is forbidden. These things are absorbed into the government, because each provides some degree of power. There can be no source of power other than the government in a totalitarian state. The state doesn't have to crush the source of power - it's much easier and cleaner to just "absorb" it into the government itself, and eliminate those whose thoughts aren't sufficiently "pure" to continue in their current role.

There's a power grab going on both within and among non-government organizations, and within the education establishment. Walter Williams' identification of "Doers" and "Takers" is apt. There is one segment of society that is creative, innovative, inquisitive, and constantly striving for more. There's another segment of society that constantly attacks, constantly belittles and bemoans the "exploiters", the "spoilers" for their "greed". In truth, the "takers" hate the "doers" - they know that nothing they do will have much of an impact on the world as a whole, while the more creative side of society will often reap huge rewards both of recognition as well as financial rewards. The "takers" are frequently takers in more than name only. Rather than strive to create wealth or recognition with their own abilities, they understand that it's much easier to just take it from those that do create. Whether it's in the form of graft thinly disguised as charity "for the needy", the constant whine for "grants" for "study", or the grab for power through force, the 'takers' are frequently found in politics - at the local level, at the state level, at the national level, and even in the politics of "non-profit charitable institutions" or "institutions of higher learning". When the State is weak enough, they simply take over the state. If one person steals from another, it's theft, but if the government does it, it's "taxation", or some other supposedly legitimate reason.

Finally, there's a battle taking place within and among religious organizations. There are those that wish to weaken these groups, and eventually to destroy them. There are those among the "leadership" of some groups that aid and abet the destroyers, in the blind adherence to "diversity" and "liberalization". Yet God said "Do not be deceived". Jesus spoke of "false prophets", and "by their fruits will you know them". There are people, both within and outside religious groups who want to force a separation of religion from other aspects of life, from politics to shopping at the grocery store, to what we watch on television. Such a separation is impossible, if God is indeed a part of our lives: "Thou shall have no other gods before Me." If we believe in the Judeo-Christian God Yahweh, it is impossible for us to separate His presence from any part of our daily lives, and we're clearly admonished against doing so.

Regardless of the issue of the moment, the main purpose is the accumulation of power by one group at the expense of another. "Political Correctness" is an instrument of war being used against those of us who believe in diversity of thought, speech, and beliefs. Unlimited, unassimilated immigration is an attack on our economic stability, our productivity, and our standard of living. The entire "feminist" movement is an attack on masculinity and the idea of masculine protection of the major reproductive member of our human species. The battle in our school system is the battle for the minds of our children - a battle many of us are losing. The battle in the political arena, from the brouhaha over the appointment of "originalist" versus "living" judges, is a battle over power - the power to shape the government without the consent of the people. The entire abortion argument is a multi-pronged attack on femininity, reproduction, religion, and society. Over it all is the corrosive battle against courtesy and common decency by our Hollywood "elite".

We, the common, everyday, nonpolitical, God-fearing, courteous, and reliable makers and doers of society have two choices: either surrender, or stand up to the enemy and conquer them. Our enemies, unfortunately, are also our neighbors, our family members, and in many instances, even our friends. Yet we cannot afford to lose this fight. That loss would end 220 years of the best government mankind has ever devised, and destroy the hopes and aspirations of ourselves, our children, and our posterity.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fat? Am I, Really?

I joined the Air Force the first time as a Cadet at the Air Force Academy, Class of 1968, in June, 1964. I weighted 188 pounds the day I joined. After six months of being run ragged, underfed, overworked, and sick, I left the Air Force Academy after a three-week hospital stay at 189 pounds, in December, 1964.

I re-joined the Air Force as an enlisted E-2 in June, 1965. At that time, I'd been working for six months at a valve plant, hauling around boxes of IBM punch cards and other supplies weighing up to 200 pounds. I weighed 214 pounds. By the end of basic training, I weighted 212 pounds, and stayed at that weight until a major illness peeled the weight off of me in 1968, and I ended up barely functioning at 177 pounds. I regained most of the weight, and fluctuated between 200 and 210 pounds for the next several years.

While my weight hardly fluctuated (except with that bout of illness), the Air Force standards did. So did my height - at the Air Force Academy, and again when I enlised, I was 5'11" tall. At that height, my maximum allowable weight, according to Air Force standards, was 225 pounds. By 1975, my height was measured at 5'10", and my maximul allowable weight was 210 pounds.

I didn't have any problems with weight until around 1980, when the Air Force standards - and my height - were recalculated. I'd shrunk to 5'9 1/2", and my maximum allowable weight was calculated at 194 pounds. Uh, Oh! I was still fluctuating, this time between 195 and 205. Both were above the "high end" of my maximum allowable weight, and at the same time, less than my weight when I entered service.

Things didn't really get bad until the mid-1980's, and another change to standards. By now, my height had shrunk to 5'9", and I had been able to keep my weight down to the 190-195 range. Suddenly, however, my maximum allowable weight was reduced to 189 pounds - the same thing I'd weighed on my discharge from the Air Force Academy at 18 years of age, and after spending three weeks in the hospital for a "closed-head injury" that occurred during a boxing match.

I managed to survive long enough to retire and draw my pension, but it was always touch-and-go. I was placed on the "weight control program" time after time, until I lost down to the then-current maximum weight.

I also began having back problems and other problems, beginning about 1975. While diagnostic techniques have increasingly gotten better, my problems eluded most of the Air Force doctors I saw until about 1988, when I was diagnosed with degenerative problems both with the disks of my spine, and also with other joints of my body. This accounted for my continued loss of height - all the pieces were the same, but many of them were thinner, and a spine that used to be ramrod straight (or else!) at the Academy now leaned both side to side, and back and forth. Knees, elbows, shoulders, neck, feet, and ankles all hurt, if not all the time, far too often to keep track.

Today, after almost 30 years of living in constant frustration, the truth comes out - all those weight statistics are a pile of crap, and mean little or nothing. All those thousands of manhours spent keeping "fit", and below weight standards, all those absurd diets and constant struggles, were based on junk science. Yet even now, the government clings to its biggest absurdity, the "one size fits all" absurdity of "standardized" weights and measures.

Each of us is unique. There are no two people on this Earth that are EXACTLY alike - not even "identical" twins. There are over 30,000 variables in human composition, from broad categories such as "skin color" and eye shade to esoteric chemical analysis of blood, enzymes, glandular secretions, and even bacteria that live inside our bodies. Every day, scientists are learning just how unique each of us are. Yet if you're "x" inches high, you should weigh between "X" and "Y" pounds, your body is supposed to act ONLY "this" way to chemicals and compounds it's exposed to, and we're all supposed to have the same response to medications, vaccinations, and other medical procedures.

I'm old enough and wise enough to know the government creates rules to help the government do whatever it decides are its functions, not what is best for individuals governed. The government recently decided Terri Schiavo should be "allowed" to die, whether it was truly her wish to do so at the moment or not. We've since heard stories of how broadly the acceptance of euthenasia is in both the health industry and government. After my 40-year experience with the government's fraudulent weight policies, I don't want to give it any additional control over my medical treatment, or any other major aspect of my life - certainly not the decision of whether I should be "allowed" to continue living or not!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

MISERABLE!

The Food and Drug Administration has taken two COX-2 inhibiting pain medications off the market - Vioxx and Bextra. These medications increase the potential for patients to experience heart problems from 2% to 4% on average. This affects me personally, as I've been taking one or the other of them for almost five years now.

The biggest problem for me (and many people like me who have a chronic pain problem) is that these two drugs WORK - they significantly reduce overall pain levels by a substantial margin. In fact, they work far better than most other pain medications I've tried in the last fifteen years, and have fewer side effects that can make life almost as miserable as the pain they've been prescribed to treat.

It's hard to talk about pain. Each person has a different "pain threshold", and experiences pain differently. That means that what's a significantly painful episode for me may be a minor annoyance for someone else, or vice versa. I've been told that my pain threshold is quite high. It's hard to know exactly what that means, except that high or not, I hurt - a lot!

Pain thresholds are measured by a 0-to10 scale by most medical professionals today. Unfortunately, there's not much in the way of explaining and quantifying these experiences so that the scale relates equally to everyone. Currently, the "0" means "no pain", and "10" means "the worst pain you've ever experienced". Certainly, we've not all experienced the same "worst level of pain", so this isn't really a reliable scale. We need some better definitions of what those "0"-to-"10" levels mean. Is it a sliding-scale, or a logarythmic scale? I doubt it could be a log scale, since that would mean that "10" would have to be 10 to the tenth power, or about 1 TRILLION times worse than a "1". So let's assume the units of measurement are all equal, and level "2" is twice as painful as level "1", rather than ten times as painful.

"0" should indeed mean "pain-free". That's self-explanatory. Beyond here, however, we need some firm examples. We need to first define the WORST PAIN EVER EXPERIENCED, so we can determine the internal units, defining both the top and bottom of the scale.

I've experienced some "9+" pain in my lifetime, yet I don't think I've ever experienced a "10". The top of the scale is "so much pain you should have died, but somehow didn't". It's a burn victim who's body is covered with second- and third-degree burns over 75% of their body or more. It's a 90-pound woman in labor with a 12-pound child, in breach. It's an automobile accident victim who has had all his extremities broken, several ribs crushed, and significant other damage. It's an earthquake victim buried under tons of rubble, with half or more of his body crushed, and huge blocks of concrete and steel still weighing heavily upon his back. You NEVER want to experience this much pain, but that's the kind of pain we need at the top of our scale.

Let's now define the halfway-point of our scale, level "5". Level "5" is five times as bad as level "1", but only 1/5 as bad as level "10". Most of us have experienced a level "5" pain. Level "5" pain is the kind of pain you'd expect to feel during the first couple of days of having a broken wrist, or a cracked rib. It's the kind of pain you have with a headache bad enough to send you to bed, or a pulled large muscle. It doesn't keep you from functioning, but you're ALWAYS aware of it. It affects everything you do, from sleeping to eating to normal daily activities. It's TIRING, and you always feel drained of energy.

So now we have three points on our scale of 0 to 10 defined. It's possible to go back now, and complete our scale.

  1. 0 - No pain
  2. 1 - Very mild pain, light enough to be virtually ignored. A very mild sunburn, ant bite, or a small cut cause level-1 pain.
  3. 2 - Mild pain - the type of pain associated with a pinched finger, bumping into a wall (without bruising), an "almost-headache", a treated moderate sunburn, etc.
  4. 3 - Light pain - a bruised muscle, most headaches, a bee sting for an adult, a "twisted" ankle or sprained wrist. Light pain may last for an hour to several days, gradually fading and disappearing, even without treatment.
  5. 4 - Very moderate pain - a bad sunburn, deep bruises, a deep cut, an "easy" tooth extraction, a bad headache that lasts for several hours, stomach cramps caused by eating green fruit or too much spicy food, or first- or second-degree burns. People with very moderate pain can function normally, but require extra time and modifications to their routines.
  6. 5 - Moderate pain - the type of pain experienced from a broken wrist, cracked rib, pulled large muscle, or very bad headache. May not be able to function normally or do some tasks without pain relief.
  7. 6 - Moderately severe pain - migraine-type headaches, multiple bruises and contusions, extraction of wisdom teeth or impacted teeth, several broken bones without complications, second or third degree burns, or complications associated with other diseases such as viral or bacterial infections resulting is severe coughing, diarrhea, and vomiting. Require treatment. Usually cannot function without medical treatment, of which pain relief is only a part.
  8. 7 - Severe pain - Pain that lasts longer than twelve hours with or without treatment, pain caused by damage to major nerves or nerve groups, second and third degree burns over 20% or more of the body, severe (third-degree) sunburn, broken bones with complications, dislocation, severe back pain, multiple muscle cramps, multiple tooth extractions, major operations where muscle tissue was cut and stitched back together. Person cannot function without major medical treatment and/or significant pain relief.
  9. 8 - Debilitating pain - Pain severe enough to keep a person from being able to perform normal health and hygiene functions such as cooking and eating, dressing, bathing, normal household routines, and interaction with others. Large and frequent dosages of pain medication are essential for the person to do normal activities. Pain associated with most normal births.
  10. 9 - Very debilitating pain - Pain significant enough that the person must receive outside help to do even simple functions such as eating and dressing. The kind of pain that leaves a person bedridden. Very severe migraine headaches, pregnancy and birth with complications. People admitted to hospital Intensive Care Units from automobile or other accidents.
  11. 10 - The worst pain that could be experienced, as shown in the examples above.

My chronic pain problem has multiple causes. I've got a horrendously bad back. I had a two-level cervical (neck area) fusion in 1990. I've got at least one herniated disk in my lower back, and a deformed L-5 vertebra. I have myofascial pain problems in my mid-back, and pinched nerves, carpal tunnel, repetetive motion, and degenerative disk problems. I also have osteoarthritis in about 40 different joints, and a tinnitus and hyperaccusis problem. I KNOW pain, all too well.

The tinnitus problem keeps me from taking some of the high-end NSAID drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflamation drugs) such as Mobic, Ibuprofin, Feldene, and other medications in the same family.

With Vioxx/Bextra, my normal pain levels fluctuated between a "3" and a "5", with a few periods up to an "8" from time to time. I've been off these drugs for only a few days, and my pain levels have already increased. My "normal" pain level has increased to between a "4" and a "7", with occasional periods up to a high "9". I take Ultram (2x50mg) and Flexeril (10mg) for those occasions when the pain level goes above a "5". That's rapidly becoming the norm. Instead of taking these medications once or twice a day, I now seem to be taking them every four hours, and even wake up in the middle of the night needing them.

I know I'm not alone in this. I've heard from several of my friends that have been on Vioxx or Bextra for some time, as I have, who are also complaining that the "alternatives" they've been prescribed don't seem to work as well. Frankly, they - like me - would gladly trade a few years off the top of their lifespan for being able to function NOW.

The Food and Drug Administration owes us, bigtime!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Business Week now Blogs

Business Week, one of the premier business magazines in the United States, has started a blog, Blogspotting. This is a welcome addition to the blogosphere, and may be what we need to unite blogs, the MSM, and the rest of the information world. Stop by and take a look - I think it'll be well worth your time.

When Does 45 of 100 Equal a Majority?

If you're a Democrat, you hold power equal to a majority in the Senate, and can stop the President from appointing judges to the bench, and it's all "fair and square".

Don't the Democrats understand this is exactly why Tom Daschle lost his Senate seat last November? Don't they know that's why they lost the Presidency, and lost seats in both houses of Congress? Don't they know this is why they're a minority in the Senate, and will probably lose another two or three seats in 2006?

The behavior of the Democrats in the Senate is despotic, not democratic. "It's either my way or no way" - the Democratic cry in the Senate - is the cry of a tyrant. The American people have a long history of not supporting tyrants, especially in their own country.

The people of Colorado just elected Ken Salazar to the Senate. Ken is a Democrat. He doesn't like it when people say nasty things about him or his party. He gets upset and tells them they're "being bad". Focus on the Family came out with several ads this week attacking the Democratic Party in particular about its filibuster of judges. Unfortunately, the Colorado Springs Gazette requires payment for access to archived information, and everything gets archived the next business day. I've tried to recreate the ad below, as accurately as possible:


Sen. Ken Salazar,


Stop the Nonsense



Sen. Ken Salazar stood with his leader, Sen. Harry Reid, on the steps of the U.S. Capiton the day he promised to halt most Senate business rather than allow a simple, up-or-down vote on the President's judicial candidates.

There is only one reason Sen. Salazar and fellow liberals are desperate to block these judges: they would easily be confirmed by a majority of the Senate, because they represent the President's mainstream American values.

We've seen enough nonsense on the federal courts, from judges who demonstrate:

NO MERCY - Judges allowed Terri Schiavo to die of thirst. Had she been an animal, a condemned killer, or even a terrorist, they would have stepped in immediately. But Terri had the misfortune to be innocent.

NO HUMANITY - Judges protect the doctors who routinely puncture the skulls of nearly-delivered children and then vacuum out their brain matter, killing them in the abominal practice known as partial birth abortions.

NO DECENCY - A judge threw out the prosecution of videos that depict women being raped, mutilated and defecated upon. No one doubts these videos are legally obscene, but this judge single-handedly threw out the rule of law, declaring obscenity statutes unconstitutional.

NO RESPECT - Though a judge can find protection for obscenity videos, many find the Ten COmmandments inappropriate for public display. They quote laws of foreign countries - and even an unratified U.N. Treaty, rather than our own Constitution, when it suits their fancy.

The President has the constitutional right to appoint federal judges and the Senate has the duty to vote them up or down. Sen. Salazar wants to use the filibuster to block the vote, in a way that hasn't been used on judges in 216 years of Senate tradition.

It's time to call him on it. Call all his offices and tell him simply:

Vote, YES or NO, but VOTE on the JUDGES!

I think most thinking people can read and understand what's in this advertisement, and find at least some of it relevant. Most of us were appalled when Federal judges did nothing but a rubber-stamp of Terri Schiavo's death sentence. All of us have read stories of judicial activism, where judges have created law from scratch, or have imperially dismissed the valid laws of federal, state, and local lawmaking groups. A search of "Judicial Activism" + "United States" turns up almost a hundred-thousand hits.

Sen. Salazar's answer to James Dobson doesn't really address the problem of judicial activism at all:

Chairman Dobson,

I read in today’s newspaper a quote from your organization that said I should be “alarmed about the anti-Catholicism of some of [my Senate] colleagues.”

Your newspaper and radio ads also target Christians like me and Senator Harry Reid. I am proud that Senator Reid is a devout Mormon Christian and strong family man and that we share the fundamental values of Christianity.

I remember reading several accounts where various members of the Senate have expressed "alarm" about Judge William Pryor being "too Catholic", and that he shouldn't be approved because his "deeply held religious roots" wouldn't allow him to "make appropriate decisions".

While the newspaper ad I posted above does single out both Sen. Salazar and Sen. Reid, I don't see it targeting them because they're Christians, but because they're obstructionists - trying to kill the approval of a judge they find disagreeable because they believe in interpreting the law, rather than making it.

Let's continue:

I have not encountered any feelings of anti-Catholicism from any of my fellow Senators on either side of the aisle. Indeed, we have 24 United States Senators who are Catholic, both from the Democratic and Republican parties.

In contrast, I understand you are helping lead the effort on a national telecast against Democrats in the United States Senate with Dr. Al Mohler, among others. In March of 2000, Dr. Mohler said “I believe that the Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel. And indeed, I believe that the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office.”

My faith is the cornerstone of my values, as I am sure it is with you as well. I call on you to repudiate Dr. Mohler’s comments and hope you distance yourself from those who serve to divide the world’s Christian churches against one another.

"If the facts are against you, argue the law; if the law is against you, argue the facts. If both are against you, attack the virtue of the defendant and witnesses."

Sound familiar? Re-read the previous paragraphs. So James Dobson goes on a national telecast to call attention to the fact that the Democrats are doing something that has never before been done in the history of the United States, and someone else who has the same feelings happens to be a jerk. That doesn't discredit the idea being presented, or destroy James Dobson's credibility. "The enemy of my enemy" may not be my friend, but we're both going in the same direction. The fact that we're walking together doesn't make us partners. This is a straw man, and a pitifully poor one, at that.

More:

I would further encourage you to cease your unfounded attacks on the faith of my Democratic colleagues. The Senate controversy over judges is simply about whether the rules should be broken in the pursuit of power. The controversy has nothing to do with the faith of any Democratic U.S. Senator. Indeed, I would ask for your prayers that the United States Senate transcend the abuse of power at the root of this controversy, and move forward in a spirit of bipartisanship on the issue of judges, as well as the monumental challenges facing our Nation such as health care, transportation, energy, education and care for our elders. I am committed to helping find a solution to these challenges that confront us.

Sincerely,
Ken Salazar
United States Senator

Since I didn't see any "unfounded attacks on the faith" of any Democrats in the ad, I have to assume either a) Sen. Salazar is bringing up something else that has appeared elsewhere, and I'd like to see it, or b) trying to change the subject because he knows his behavior is wrong, and it's the DEMOCRATS who are pursuing unwarranted and dangerous power. The statement, "this controversy has nothing to do with the faith of any Democratic U.S. Senator" is true, but again, disingenuous. It's not the faith of Democratic Senators that's being questioned, but the faith of judges being submitted by President Bush for approval.

As for rules, the Senate is supposedly a group consisting of adults. It has the power to make its own rules. There has NEVER been a rule that it would take 60 votes to confirm a judge - NEVER. It is the Democrats who are imposing a NEW rule, one generated by Democrats, and designed to aid them in their unconstitutional power grab. The Democrats are saying that no one's going to be appointed to a judicial office unless THEY agree with that person's "philosophy" - in other words, the Democrats only agree to accept activist judges who will create law rather than interpret it. This kind of behavior has no place in a Republic, and those that practice such tyranny should be rapidly eliminated from any position of power in the government of the United States.

I think Senator Ken Salazar owes James Dobson an apology. I'm sure the Chinese will be able to age some 1000-year-old eggs from those laid yesterday before that apology is rendered.

UPDATE: PoliBlog has some interesting takes on the current Republican/Democratic squabble, and does an excellent job of showing the fallacy of much of what the Democrats are saying in the news. Please check out his writing - it makes a lot of sense. Poliblog will be added to my blogroll immediately!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"Bone-headed Stubbornness"

I'm a Christian. I believe that Jesus was the Son of God, born of woman as any child is born, to live an exemplary life and to die as a surrogate for out sins. His resurection, His victory over death itself, allows all men to have hope for the forgiveness of sin and a similar victory over death.

There's much more that matters for belief, but that's the core - the miracle of God's Birth as man, His life on Earth, His death and resurection, are the major features that a believer must be able to accept. Without that, there is no salvation, no grace, no forgiveness, no redemption.

Once we master this, however, what more is there we need to understand? Isn't that all that's important? That sums up the entire requirements for salvation and eternal life, doesn't it?

Not by a long shot.

We must learn the message of Genesis, that God created the heavens and the earth, and all things that exist are His creations. Quibbling on whether it happened literally in six days (when God didn't separate Light from dark and call the light "day" until day Four...) or otherwise is foolishness - trying to decide which came first, the chicken or the egg. The truth of God's creation is more important than the quibble over timelines.

We must also learn the wisdom handed down from us by God's chosen people, the Jews, who were selected from all others to bear the Word of God to all men. The Old Testament is filled with successes and failures, of rewards and punishments, and God's steadfastness in guiding and teaching His chosen people. We need to learn the lessons, both of faith and failure, that are shown there for us, so that we don't make the same mistakes.

The words of the New Testament show us not only a glimpse of the life of Jesus, but also how his followers accepted and reacted to His death and resurection, and the Gift of the Holy Spirit. We're given ample examples of what God expects of us in spreading His Word, and in granting His salvation.

Nor has God stopped talking to us. He has promised to be "with us always, even unto the ends of the Earth". He has promised to guide and direct us, so that we may not stray from His path. He has also warned us of false prophets, and of those who will preach in His name, but not for His good.

One of the problems many people today have with God is that He demands we adhere to His teachings completely. We can't be "10%
Christians" - doing what we wish six days of the week, then attend Church on the Sabbath and believe we're doing the will of God. What's true on the Sabbath is true also the other six days of the week, or else our beliefs are weak and we're not true to God.

Another failure of the people to understand God's will is the complaint that "God's laws are so old fashioned, He needs to get with it". Times, indeed, have changed - but times ALWAYS change. God gave us ten Commandments that were immutable. He gave the Jews laws that were both to bind them to God, and to keep them separate from other tribes and nations, for God's purpose. Their success today, their ability to survive where others were destroyed, is both a testament to their faith and to God's promise to them.

Many of the laws God gave to the Jews apply to us who are Christian, just as they do to Jews and Hebrews. There are some things God commands us are abominations, not to be tolerated. There are others which are sins, that can be forgiven, but only with due pentence and repudiation. Denying that God's laws apply today just as they did ten thousand years ago is to deny God, who is, and was, and always will be. We all have vices, we all do things which God has commanded us not to do, but some people have a harder time asking for forgiveness, have a difficult time repenting their sins, and "go, and sin no more", as Jesus said to Mary Magdaline. Yet that's exactly what God demands of each of us.

The Catholic Church has just selected a new Pope, following the death of Pope John Paul II. Both the new Pope, Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the long-held fundamental practices of the Catholic Church, again confirming that some behaviors were "incompatible with Church teachings and the beliefs and traditions of the Church". I'm not a Catholic, but I appreciate the dedication of those who hold fast to what's fundamentally right, regardless of those that rail against it. Holding fast is a sign of strong faith, not the "bone-headed stubbornness" those that wish to weaken the Church label it. Let us all hope that we can be equally "bone-headed stubborn" about the truth of God's love for us, and His rules that we uphold in order to show our faith.

Eyeballs and Rifles

There are many different ways to fight a war, and many different ways to serve in times of relative peace. The military is a microcosm of everyday life, yet different. Where the average citizen is committed to creating something - even if it's only words - in order to earn a living, the military has a specific purpose that guides its every function: to defend against those that would do harm to the United States and its people. That defense may consist of "killing people and breaking things", or simply being a "force in being" that intimidates an enemy enough he decides NOT to attack.

EVERYTHING the military does is done to meet that one specific function. Civilians are inducted and trained to become military people; some soldiers' primary responsibility is to feed the rest of us; some soldiers' jobs are to keep track of what was used where, and when to ask for more. The number of people who provide the ordinary everyday necessities usually exceeds those who actually fire a weapon in anger by dozens, if not hundreds. Every job is important, however, because every job is geared toward that one simple goal: to "support and defend".

My job in the Air Force was imagery analysis. Basically, I was tasked with looking at reconnaissance imagery of all types, to determine what kind of a threat a given group was to the United States. A lot of it was simply "bean counting" - how many aircraft at a given airfield, and what type, how many tanks in a barracks, what kind of ship was anchored where, with what kind of armament, and what state of readiness it appeared to be in. These things were important in helping the people above us to develop information they could use to determine whether a unit was 'top of the line', 'secondary', or 'reserve forces'; whether they were adequately trained or not, and much, much more.

There was far more to the job than just determining what was where, manned by who, for what purpose. We were constantly on the lookout for modifications in equipment, or differences in training during exercises. These usually indicated a change in capabilities, and the necessity of learning the extent of those changes, so someone "in a higher pay grade" could decide how best to counter the new threat.

We also kept track of virtually every foot of every highway, rail line, river, port, harbor, airfield, and any other facility that could move a military unit anywhere. We monitored parades and cultural events to see how well they were attended, and how many people found "other things to do" on such days. That gave us needed information on social acceptance and morale. We watched crops and harvests, to see how much was produced, and how that compared to what was reported. We even kept track of environmental damage and the destruction of wildlife habitat.

There is no such thing as "unimportant facts". Everything is useful. Not everything, however, is of EQUAL usefulness, and we had priorities. The longer you spent in the field, and the more you worked at different places, the more you grew to understand the rationale behind what you were asked to do. The more you learned, the better you did your job, the more things began to make sense. It was always the people who really loved the job that were the best at it. They also seemed to have the most fun doing their job.

Sometimes, you were asked to do something "different". That was almost as good as a promotion. Not only did you get a sense of accomplishment hard to achieve in the everyday "beancount" world, you usually were asked to learn something new, do something just slightly different, and look at the world in a slightly different way. It was always a growing experience, and always worth the extra hours you usually had to put in.

It wasn't all work and no play, either. There were lots of things to keep us interested and prevent us from either getting into a rut, growing stale, or becoming complaisant. I've only been in one intelligence unit where the morale was low. I've NEVER been in a unit overseas where the people weren't treated with respect, and where the command structure didn't do everything it could to relieve the tension of daily workloads. The best unit I ever served with in that regard was the 497th Reconnaissance Technical Group, in Schierstein, West Germany. The unit's not there any longer, and neither is our old compound, but several thousand of us who served there between 1952 and 1992 will always have a special place in our heart for that unit.

The technical details may change from time to time, but the job goes on - "to search out and find the enemy, count his number, judge his intentions, and report them to me forthwith" - what General Meade requested of those intrepid early airmen, the Union's experimental "Balloonists". All they had were their eyes, and maybe a telescope. Today we have cameras that can pick out the markings on a little-league infield, and the ability to "see" our enemy day or night. Yet we, too, follow the same order. If you're the right kind of person, if you like jigsaw puzzles and mystery novels, it's the best job in the world!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Milestones

American Soldier is approaching his 150,000th visitor, but may not be able to keep track of when that actually happens! Apparently he's at Fort Erwin, at the National Training Center, for a major exercise. He has posted some beautiful photos, so stop by, help his hit count, and enjoy the scenery. You might also say a prayer for the guys and gals exercising there. Fort Erwin is in the Mojave Desert, one of the most inhospitable places on the North American continent!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Destructive Behavior of the Democratic Party

The Democratic Party is blaming the Republicans of "changing the rules" by threatening to shut off the filibuster of judicial nominees. Yet at the same time the Democrats threaten the most destructive behavior possible in a society of laws - the destruction of the rule of the majority.

The Democrats in the US Senate are effectively saying "if you don't do things our way, you won't be allowed to do anything at all". That's tyranny, regardless of whether the obstructionist Democrats were "duly elected" or not. So were a majority of Republican senators. More people chose Republicans than Democrats, even in an election where the "norm" is for the party in power to lose seats.

What the Democrats are threatening to do is to rule. They obviously feel they should be allowed to do this, regardless of whether they're the majority party or a minority. The United States is a Republic, and its elected leaders are elected to govern, not rule. We have no king, no pope, no shah or potentate that has the authority to rule over us. We are a free and independent people who choose those that will represent us in a republican government chosen to govern in our name.

The Democrats refuse to accept that the people have chosen Republicans, not Democrats, to run our government. It's now time for them to acknowledge the will of the people, and accept minority status. They have the right to contribute to, object to, and lobby against, but not to halt, legislation, appointments, and other governmental actions. They are not God, nor a human ruler, whose every whim is law. The arrogant disdain of the will of the people, the utter contempt they express for this nation's duly elected leaders, is telling: they consider themselves our "natural rulers", and demand that, even in minority status, their will should be obeyed.

The Democrat's behavior is also contemptuous of the very constitution that gives them the power they lawfully exercise. That contempt leads them into violating, twisting, distorting, and effectively destroying the rule of law and the legitimacy of government. It's no longer considered government "of the people, by the people, and for the people", but "my (Democratic Party) way or the highway".

The attack on Tom DeLay, the filibustering of judges, and many other actions the Democrats are engaged in are not just "politics as usual", but an attempt to regain power by any means possible. Such a party should no longer receive any respect from the people of this nation, and should be shunned. The Democrats have moved beyond a "party of people" to a "ruling oligarchy for Democrats only". There's no room for that in our form of government.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Fighting the Good Fight

Every once in awhile (like, two or three times a week!) I have to go back and re-read the US Constitution. Something some Democrat says, or something some group brings up against either a Republican or a judicial nominee, makes me stop and think - "is that right?" Usually it's not.

I'm not a fan of the Republicans, but they're not the one trying to rewrite the Constitution on the sly, and suddenly impose all kinds of new rules and regulations on "we, the People". The biggest problem I have with Democrats are their demand that religion be totally separated from every other aspect of daily life. It can't be done, and it shouldn't be done. In fact, the Constitution specifically prohibits it:

Article VI, Paragraph iii: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several State legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this constitution: but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

No religious test means both that we cannot demand that someone be a worshiper, or that he not be a worshiper. We cannot refuse a government position to someone because of how they worship, or if they choose not to worship. We can deny office for membership in a group that is hostile to the government and the people of the United States, but only when such proof is beyond reproach.

There are dozens of groups that demand the total separation of "church and state" - I.E., nothing religious can ever be said, nothing pertaining to religion can be on Government property, and people deemed "too religious" should be blocked from government office. Yet all of this is obviously UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

The First Amendment to our Constitution clearly states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free practice thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievences.

Like everything else the Left wants to control, the first thing they do is change the meaning of words. That's not going to be allowed to happen in this case.

Preventing a judge from being approved to any court because of his personal religious beliefs is unconstitutional. Preventing people from gathering anywhere, but especially on federal or state property, unless they're restricting the government functions at that site from their lawful functions, is unconstitutional. Preventing a specific group of words from being displayed, regardless of where they come from is a violation of the freedom of speech, and is unconstitutional. Any attack by the government of the United States upon the "free exercise" of religion, including excluding the public display of religious scenes, objects, or words, is unconsititutional, even upon government property and inside public buildings. Such displays do not in and of themselves constitute "establishment" of a religion, but merely recognition of the beliefs and practices of this nation's citizens.

The First Amendment forbids the government from establishing a church and forcing worship. At the same time, it also acknowledges the right of the individual to pracitice their religion wherever they choose - again, as long as they don't interfere with legitimate activities by others at the same site. Should the government acknowledge the display of one religion, and preclude the display of another, that would be a violation of the First Amendment. Should the government prohibit the founding, practice or gathering of one group of believers, while acknowledging and allowing the gathering and practice of other groups, that would be a violation of the First Amendment. The Government's current practice of prohibiting religious symbols, including quotes, words, displays, and other trappings of religion from public places, is both a violation of the "free practice" doctrine AND violates "free speech" as well.

The only "wall of separation" that exists between Church and State is the wall excluding either the Church OR the State from exercising power over the behavior of people not legally apportioned to them. There is no law that says people cannot be offended by others exercising their faith - such a law would be unconstitutional. There can be no law that states that the exercise of religion is an infringement upon the rights of others without restricting the rights of those who wish to to exercise their faith. Both Article VI and the First Amendment prohibit this. The decisions by judges and courts to the contrary, the right to practice a particular faith cannot be restricted by another wishing to practice a different faith, or to refuse to accept any faith. Again, such a restriction is unconstitutional.

This nation was created by men of faith. They fully expected faith to play a major role in the continuity of both the nation and its institutions. The current attack on people of faith would astound and anger our founders. The idea that "all it takes to change the rules is a willing judge" is the perscription to tyranny. It's time for all of us to go back, re-read the documents that established this nation, and to understand how they shape our freedoms. We also need to stand firm against those that wish to destroy the bedrock of our Constitutional government for their personal gain.

Friday, April 15, 2005

AAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

The Food and Drug Administration has done it again. First, they pulled Vioxx from the pharmacy shelves. This time, they've pulled Bextra off the market. There's a good possibility they'll shut down access to all COX-2 inhibitors. If you're someone who has a chronic pain problem as I do, you know these medications actually WORK. I'll find out next week what kind of medication my doctor is going to prescribe to replace Bextra. I only hope it works half as well as what I'm losing.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Limits

Why is there so much anger and bitterness aimed at the Ten Commandments and prayer in school? Why are so many groups fighting to eliminate the need for parental consent for just about everything? Why do the people on the Left spend so much time indoctrinating people in our schools, and so little time actually teaching what students need to learn? And why does the Left hate George Bush so passionately, even more than they hate the Republican party? The answer is one word: limits.

When my wife and I were working for the Youth Behavior Program of the Human Development and Research Center, a part of the Evergreen Partners in Human Development, the Center placed a heavy emphasis on training for those of us that had been selected as foster-parents. They not only taught us the therapy techniques we were to use, but also the psychological and psychiatric principles underlying them. Most of the children we were assigned had SERIOUS problems - attachment disorders, hyperactivity, failure to thrive syndrome, and dozens of other serious problems. Most had come from abusive situations, and many had physical as well as mental disabilities. These children were usually under twelve, and many we dealt with were under six.

One of the key things we learned was that all children want and need limits in their lives - behavioral limits, sociological limits, cultural limits, and economic limits. Much of a young child's behavior can be divided into two parts: exploration of his environment, and searching for the limits placed on behavior. Most of the children we cared for had an abnormal past history. Many were punished for exploring and learning. Others were treated harshly by having the most stringent of limits placed on their behavior, or by not being given any limits at all.

It's important to a society that children learn to accept limits placed on their activities. Some of those limits are man-made, and are imposed limits. Other limits are the natural consequences associated with growth - touching a hot stove, for instance, or slipping and falling on an icy street. Adults usually establish limits to provide for the safety of children, and for their psychological as well as their physiological growth. Children are taught manners and how to be polite to keep from being rebuffed or neglected by their peers and adults. They're taught safe ways to do things to keep them from hurting themselves or others. Parents who establish a curfew on a young teen do so to ensure the child has time to do their homework, and gets enough rest. Children are given an allowance to teach them to handle money, and required to work for anything that can't be purchased on their allowance. All of these things are done to help the child grow up into a responsible, courteous, capable adult.

Limits are an essential part of society. We normally call the limits placed on adults either laws or social mores. Another frequent name for limits are rules, whether legal, moral, ethical, political, social, cultural, religious, or economic. Breaking one of them usually result in negative consequences.

There are many people today that have a hard time accepting the need for limits, or for imposing consequences on those that exceed those limits. Yet children who grow up without limits are usually extremely unhappy, and develop physical, mental, and emotional behavior that limit their social activities, endanger their economic success, and leave them frustrated and lonely. They frequently engage in dangerous or unpleasant behavior in order to attract attention. They make few friends, have a hard time following instructions, and thus do poorly in their work. The majority of such children grow up to believe the world "owes them something", regardless of whether they actually work hard enough or well enough to receive such a reward.

The same behavior exhibited by a child who grew to adulthood without substantial limits being applied and enforced can be seen in today's Democratic Party. The Democratic Party lost the last election. They lost the Presidency, and lost seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Democrats were so firmly entrenched in power in the House and Senate that they forgot how to live within limits. Today, they are a minority, yet they continue to act as if their ideas are the only one that count, and their way of doing things is the only way things should be done. They've surrendered all moral standing by insisting that the Republicans do things their way, yet if they were in power, they wouldn't even think to ask the Republicans for their input. Their former power has made them arrogant, haughty, incapable of compromising, and brutish. They've adapted the persona of the bully. That's a pretty ugly reflection on ANY political party.

The American people aren't very tolerant of bullies. They're also not very tolerant of arrogance. Most Americans understood that the attack on the World Trade Center was an attack on our lives and our freedoms, and that we have some very real vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.

The Apostle Paul said, in First Corinthians 13:11,

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Most Americans after September 11th put away their childish things. They understood that we were at war, that it would be a long war - perhaps decades in length - and that they would be called upon to make sacrifices. Many Americans could see - and still see - that many of the things that we've done as a nation over the past 50 years have contributed to the circumstances we find ourselves in today. They know that some things MUST change if we are to survive the attacks against us. They know that we must establish new limits, and stay within them. "Business as usual" is no longer an option.

Most of us know that many things have to change. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has either refused to accept that any of those changes are necessary, or even that there is anything that would require change. This denial is the same childish behavior a six-year-old has for bedtime ("I'm not tired yet, it's too early, I want a drink of water, I have to go to the bathroom, I didn't get a story").

Nor is the Republican Party much better, although at least they understand that we're at war, and that their actions - or inactions - will play a significant part in winning that war, both at home and abroad.

Both the House and the Senate have engaged in passing laws in the past that limit our ability to respond to an unconventional outside threat today. This must change.

The Senate has approved judges that fail to understand the need to adhere to limits. Both the limits that are set and the consequences that accrue with violating them must be consistent, or there is no change of behavior. Judges that fail to adhere to the law, who fail to be consistent in dealing with those before them, and who fail to understand the need to work within the framework of our Constitution endanger us all.

Our Constitution is the foundation of our nation. How people perceive it matters. Those that see it as "originalists" consider it a foundation of bricks. We can remove any of the bricks and replace it with another, but the entire foundation remains the same, and people can make decisions based upon their understanding of it. People who see a "living" Constitution treat it as water - capable of flowing first in one direction and then another. Water, even if it's frozen solid and quite thick, makes for a very poor foundation upon which to build. No one can know how a judge might interpret a "living" Constitution. No one can be sure the decision would be the same in two different but similar instances.

Young children are given a fixed amount of money in a budget to teach them wise spending habits - to save for the future, and to be careful in what they spend their money on, and to understand how much things cost. Yet many in Congress see no reason to limit their spending, or their establishing commitments that our children's children will have to pay for.

George Bush, as president of the United States, understands the need for limits. He also knows the consequences that can accrue from failing to abide within the limits of an orderly and just society. He knows our failure to adequately respond to terror attacks in the past set us up for what happened in New York and Washington. He understands how the fiscal irresponsibility of many of our current "entitlements" will bankrupt the nation and destroy our way of life. He's intelligent enough to know that things have to change, and it's better to change now than later. He understands the needs for imposing limits in key areas in order to ensure the safety, security, and continuity of our nation. He's pushing Congress to do just that.

The Democrats are pushing back, not because they have a better idea, but because the ideas are coming from George Bush and the Republican Party. The nation be damned - the only thing that counts (in the eyes of the Democrats) is their exercising as much power in government as they can. Consequences are for "other people".

Life doesn't act like that, and neither should our government. It's time those in our government, whether elected, appointed, or employed, understood the limits that are an integral part of their position, and learn to live within them.

Our Constitution established a limited Federal government. It's time we the people insist that those we've elected to serve us stop acting like spoiled children unable to accept limits, and begin to work in OUR best interest, instead of throwing a temper tantrum. It's time we reaffirmed the good behavior and restated the limits we demand Congress acknowledge and abide by. We need to impose appropriate consequences upon those that fail to get the message. Firing them is the best lesson we can give them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Marriage and Family

I read the recent discussion of sex and fidelity from Becker & Posner, and came away dissatisfied. They are both well-educated, intelligent men, but somehow what they said didn't quite satisfy my personal quest for answers on the subject. It did stimulate my thinking on the subject, not only of sex, but of marriage and the current cultural clash in the United States.

Becker-Posner try to explain the "sexual revolution" and the current ideas about sex, marriage, fidelity, and divorce. The discussion arose from the death of Pope John-Paul II, whose idea about family, contraceptives, and promiscuity were considered controversial and old-fashioned, and "out of step" with the evolution of society. I believe, and I think Pope Paul believed, that the most important single element of society is the family: the individual family, and the family of the church. The bedrock of the family is trust. Trust depends upon fidelity, both outside of marriage and within a marriage. This is why Pope Paul spoke so often, and so strongly, against promiscuity, against divorce, against infidelity, and against abortion. All are destructive of the family unit.

Pope Paul understood that sex outside of marriage weakened the commitment to family, and encouraged promiscuity. It weakened commitment and destroyed trust. It also reduced the role of sex from the ultimate act of union between two equal partners and an affirmation of commitment to a simple act of pleasure and release. Such behavior is destructive, on a personal level, on a societal level, and on the larger level of man's relationship to his Creator.

I believe the basic building-block of any group of people is the family, consisting of one man, one woman, and their children. When the bonds of family are strong, the group is strong. When the bonds of family are weakened or broken, the group itself becomes weak, and will eventually collapse. I believe that Becker-Posner approached the problem from the wrong direction, and that their comments explain the "why" without examining the basic premises of family, and how sexual fidelity either builds or destroys both its integrity and the integrity of society.

The family is under attack in the United States, from virtually every direction. There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is that we've lost the understanding of what a family is, how it arose, how it's supposed to function, and the role of religion in establishing and energizing a family.

Families have existed since Man became Man. The Bible relates how God created Eve to be Adam's helpmate and partner. Three of the Ten Commandments directly relate to marrital behavior: the fifth Commandment tells us to honor our father and our mother; the the seventh Commandment tells us not to commit adultery (to be faithful to our spouse), and the tenth Commandment tells us that we should not covet our neighbor's wife (or anything that is our neighbor's). There are scores of passages in the Bible telling us how to live as a family, how to behave toward spouse and children, and how to act in society as a whole. The people who hold true to those teachings have strong families and are usually happy and successful.

Legally, a couple's children usually inherit their parents' estate. Fidelity - on the part of both husband and wife - ensures that the children who inherit are actually the legitimate children of the family. It also makes it difficult for there to be outside claims upon the estate.

Family life establishes patterns of behavior that will continue through the life of the children. A strong, two-parent family, where there is love and devotion to the partners, provides a more nurturing background than any other. When the father practices commitment, the children learn the value of commitment, and internalize trust. When the mother provides the example of dedication and devotion to the family, the children learn the value of family. The children learn the value of family, and the roles played by both members within that unit.

Bad habits are also picked up. If the father is promiscuous, the children have a harder time learning to trust. When the mother is promiscuous, the children have a harder time learning faithfulness and commitment. Other failures on the part of the "adults" in a family relationship also create problems. A parent that fails to provide for his children fails to instil virtue and trust in his children. Integrity learned in the home can be carried over to integrity in other practices. Failing to learn integrity places a heavy burden on children when they become older and must provide for themselves.

When we make divorce too easy, and divorce loses its social stigma, children fail to learn to make commitments, to value their personal integrity, and have a harder time trusting others, both adults and children.

Failure of the family also leads to failure of the society, and failure of the church - regardless of what church that is. The family establishes (or doesn't) the integrity of personal commitment - to the immediate family, to the extended family, to the tribe (or society), to the state, and to the church. There's a reason church congregations are frequently referred to as "family" - the same type of relationships exist, for the same reason. Personal integrity, honor, commitment, and trust are required at every level of the community, in business, and in political, social, and religious organizations. These are best learned by example in the immediate family.

The so-called "sexual revolution" of the 1960's and '70's supposedly "freed" men and women from "archaic behavior". In actuality, what it did was destroy trust. Trust is the foundation of all relationships. Suddenly, however, the pillar of trust, the family, was no longer "important". "Commitment" became a dirty word. Sexual behavior changed, and the foundation of the family was shaken. The State removed the stigma of sexual behavior outside of marriage, the stigma of divorce, and the stigma of unwed motherhood. Instead of commitment, we suddenly worshiped "victimhood". An entire generation grew up with an extremely damaged view of sexuality, marriage, commitment, integrity, and trust.

It's not just the family that has suffered from this damaged view of what we refer to loosely as "moral values". Family commitment has been weakened, and with it the commitment to society and the nation have also suffered. Criminal behavior has skyrocketed. Abuse, neglect, abandonment, and dozens of other family-related crimes have grown apace. We're no longer sure of our role in society, or in the community.

Pope John Paul II knew this. He knew the core of personal relationships, the family, was the key to success as individuals, as a culture, as a state, and as a church. He also knew it had to be the "traditional" family as established in the Bible and through history, not some manmade construct. He knew that the family was the key to success - for the individuals involved, for the state, for society, and for the Roman Catholic Church. He understood that the attack on religion - all religions - was actually an attack on the family. Societies that have destroyed the integrity of family have themselves been destructive in other ways - communism, fascism, and any other form of fanaticism first replaced the role of the family by the State, and destruction follows.

Integrity of the family is the essential foundation for any group. The destruction of the family will destroy the nation, the society, and the church. A society must commit itself to maintaining the family as a viable unit, or it faces its own demise.

Pope Paul also knew that the traditional roles of family members must be understood and accepted for the family to succeed. That includes a male and female parent, and children. A family that fails to breed soon dies out. A society that fails to breed collapses. A church that fails to acknowledge the necessity of children and the relationships within a family has forgotten the foundation of its faith. The pope stressed these things, these relationships, and admonished the Catholic Church to honor them and teach its members to honor them. He knew that this was the foundation for honoring God, the Father of the Church, and acknowledging the role of the Church family in sustaining and maintaining the Church and its teachings.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Sleepless Nights

It's one-thirty in the morning, and I have an eight-thirty doctor's appointment tomorrow - later today. I went to bed at 10:45, hoping to get a good night's sleep. Fat chance.

It's still snowing. The low pressure area that is bringing us this storm is centered about halfway between Colorado Springs and Denver, dumping tons of wet snow all across the Front Range, from Cheyenne to Trinidad. There's a great possibility that the physical therapy office I'm supposed to visit tomorrow won't be open. All the schools in the local area have already announced closures, and dozens of businesses as well. The list of road closures takes twenty minutes to scroll across the bottom of the television screen. Over a foot of snow has fallen, and it's supposed to continue for at least another eight to ten hours.

I've had a "weather affinity" ever since I had the surgery on my neck in 1990. It's been much worse over the last six months. This is the second night in a row I haven't been able to sleep. I was awake most of last night with leg cramps caused by a pinched sciatic nerve. Tonight I'm up with a headache that the pain medication isn't working on. That happens now and then. At least I'll keep my blog up this way.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

"Blizzard of '05" Looks Like the Real Thing.

We get two or three "blizzard warnings" every winter. More than half the time, they turn out to be anything but true blizzard conditions. This time, however, the warning was right. It's snowing quite heavily outside, and the wind is blowing constantly, gusting to about 25 to 30 miles an hour. Here in the city there are quite a number of trees, plus buildings and several large hills to break the wind. I'm sure that the eastern plains areas are getting 50 to 60 MPH gusts. There's about 3 inches of snow in my yard, with drifts over a foot in any place that breaks the wind. Visibility is about 250 feet in blowing and drifting snow.

This weather system started as rain about 3:30AM, Mountain Daylight Savings time. It turned to snow sometime after 4:30, and has been going hot and heavy since. This is very wet, slushy snow, which is typical of spring snowstorms in Colorado. Colorado hasn't been getting these types of snowstorms over the last four or five years, which is one reason we've had a drought.

We missed the last really bad blizzard Colorado Springs had. My mother had an accident the day before Thanksgiving, 1997. We left early Thanksgiving morning for Spring, Texas. We could see the snowstorm behind us all the way to Bowie, Texas, where we stopped for the night. During that night, Bowie got several inches of rain from the storm, and it continued to rain on us all the way into the Houston area. When we returned four days later, there was still 30 inches of snow in our back yard.

This current storm is coming from a low pressure area around the Four-Corners area where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. It's slowly moving east. A Four-Corners low always brings lots of snow to the mountains. As it moves east, it brings snow to the eastern plains. We could get as much as two feet of snow from this storm.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

A Lack of Conscience

The city of Colorado Springs was shocked again yesterday when a 33-year-old female teacher was arrested for having a long-running affair with a 17-year-old male student. This isn't the first teacher/pupil case of this sort in town, and it probably won't be the last. The number of teachers dismissed for improper behavior, child molesting, sexual assault, or sexual harrassment in the last ten years isn't exactly known, but the number is greater than a dozen for sure, and probably greater than two dozen. Nor are any schools exempt. Problems have been discovered not only in all five of the local school districts, but in most if not all of the private and parochial schools as well.

I'm sure that Colorado Springs isn't unique. The problem is epidemic in all school systems.

This is just one of many "unexpected consequences" of the sixties attitude of "free love", protests, extreme liberalism, contempt for authority, the explosion of psychobabble, and rebellion against the status quo.

Some of the casualties of the war leftists have waged for 40 years are beginning to reach epidemic proportions. Here's a short list:




Two-parent families
Motherhood
Common courtesy
Sanctity of marriage
Integrity
Honor
Patriotism



Civilization as we know it depended on many of these factors, yet people had no qualms about destroying them. Many arguments were used to bring these institutions down. Religion was called an impediment to human development, a fantasy that no longer needed to be heeded, and "the opiate of the masses". Psychologists decided they knew human behavior so well they could recommend "getting rid of baggage from the bad old days", such as discipline, courtesy, honesty, integrity, and truth. Doctors and psychologists told us how we should rear our children, how we should treat our mates, and that we should always "consider ourselves first". Politics, like religion, was considered to be the source of unnecessary limitations on behavior, to be ignored.

And the world today is an unHoly mess.

Crime is up, unwed motherhood is up, depression and suicide is up, divorce is up, the number of children living in one-family homes is up, violent behavior is up, and dozens of other negative statistics are up.

And 33-year-old teachers are sleeping with 17-year-old boys.

There is a reason why Jews are the most successful people in the world, even when treated the harshest. They live the closest to what God, mankind's Creator, has instructed us. There's a reason the average Mormon is prosperous, married, with several well-behaved children who mostly get college educations and do well in life. There's a reason Catholics do better in life across the board than those who profess no religion.

The Soviet Union imploded because of lawlessness and greed, because the people had no faith in themselves or anyone else. Europe, especially France and Germany, are suffering high unemployment, and many internal problems. The Dutch are on the verge of being overwhelmed by a tiny minority in their nation. All because they forgot that there are rules that apply to human behavior - rules established by God the Creator.

When we forget the rules, bad things happen. Man is not sufficiently honest in and of himself to not engage in bad behavior. He's not smart enough to understand the consequences of his failures. Yet man has been in charge of society in most of the world for the last 50 years, and all of us have suffered from it. Mankind needs rules, especially rules of ethics, rules governing relationships, and rules governing the sanctity and integrity of life. Without rules, you have the killing fields of Cambodia, the genocide of Rwanda, and the mass murders of Germany, China, and the old Soviet Union.

Even if you can't bring yourself to believe in a spiritual God, at least acknowledge that His rules create a much happier and orderly society, with less crime and more courtesy than what we have now.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

In Service to God and Country


I am an American Fighting Man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

I learned those words as a Basic Cadet at the Air Force Academy some 40 years ago. They're hard to forget. There are other words, too, that are equally hard to forget - words such as those found in the beginning of every Oath taken by those becoming members of the military, whether for the first time, or for the tenth:

I ... ... do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

Commitment. Not to the government, or the President, or to a political party, or to killing, or to empire, or to any other thing other than the Constitution of the United States, and the people and way of life that it represents. For many of us, it's a lifetime commitment.

A large percentage of us are also people of strong faith. The God-given rights of liberty, freedom, and individual dignity expressed in our Declaration of Independence, and protected and defended ever since, including the right to worship (or not) who we please, as we please, and where we please, makes this nation something special, something worth defending to the death.

Most of us know that freedom isn't the "natural state of being" in the world: freedom must be fought for and defended. The Tree of Liberty has always been an endangered species, requiring constant watch and careful nurturing. It can't be done haphazardly, but only through careful thought, military might, and personal commitment. Military service is just that - a service to our nation, to defend it, to honor it, and to keep it filled with the fruits of liberty.

Our colleges and universities today are filled with people who reject that belief out of hand. They consider military servicemembers "scum", and don't have a clue how the military is the major player in allowing them to insult their protectors so freely. We are called "baby killers", "intellectual morons", "murderers", and many other less repeatable names. We have been spit upon, physically attacked, and verbally abused. College students are being constantly bombarded with anti-military propaganda, agitated to resist anything proposed by or for the military, and encouraged not to join. Yet their freedom to say these things, to do these things, is only ensured by those they refer to so derogatorily.

Students that have friends, husbands, wives, brothers or sisters, or even parents who currently serve, or who have retired, remain silent, lest they draw down the wrath of the anti-military crowd. THEIR freedom is being suppressed not by the military or the government, but by those that rage against it.

A very good friend of mine, Tom Hunter, is a retired Army NCO and former Airborne. He agrees that the purpose of the military is "to kill people and break things". Even so, he knows that killing and breaking things are only done to support and defend the Constitution. That's one reason we have civilian leadership over the military - to ensure that military force is only used to "achieve national objectives" set by the President, and approved by Congress. Whatever killing members of the military do is done under rigid controls established by law and stringently enforced. We've seen that in the number of well-publicized cases where legal action has been taken against those that exceeded the authority delegated to them. There is no wanton killing, no uncontrolled destruction. Everything done has a purpose, every act is done for a reason.

God plays a very large part in maintaining the physical discipline and mental well-being of our military forces. The military encourages church attendance, and provides spiritual leadership through the Chaplaincy program. Strength, honor, mercy, self-discipline, and obedience is trained into every member of the military, reinforced by the words of whatever God the individual military member recognizes. Worship is never forced, but strongly encouraged. Individual faith is recognized and honored. Faith provides a foundation that keeps us going when things get nasty. It provides forgiveness for the brutality we are sometimes called upon to exhibit. It provides solace for the loss of our brothers in uniform, and a sense of security for our loved ones, whether with us or thousands of miles away.

The military services are not filled with heartless, brutal murderers, but with well-trained men filled with honor, pride, faith, and humility, united together for one purpose - to protect the people of our nation, to protect the founding principles that led to our Constitution, and to guard against those who would do us harm. No matter how we serve, or where, or in what uniform, we recognize these truths, and commit ourselves totally to them, even unto death. Rather than demean those in uniform, people should look upon them with pride and honor for the thankless, sometimes brutal, and always dangerous job they do - to keep us all free.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Holding the High Ground

One of the first things anyone in the military learns is that the person holding the high ground has an advantage over those below them. It's easier to hit a target on lower ground, it's harder for those below to hit those above, and the people on the high ground have a better assessment of where their enemies are. It's hard to move unseen when your every movement is visible from above.

This isn't new. Castles were usually built on high ground overlooking the area below. Even Romans and Greeks preferred to camp on the highest ground they could. One of Gen. George Custer's most obvious failures is that he camped his men in the valley below a dozen round hills in South Dakota. His unit was totally wiped out.

High ground can be taken, but it's costly. One of the major reasons Bastogne was able to hold out was that it was slightly higher than the areas around it. The United States usually constructed its firebases in Vietnam on the high ground, and it cost the Vietcong tremendously to attack against these fortified sites.

Just as in warfare, the high ground is important elsewhere in life. Honest people, people who choose the "high ground" of integrity, are more trusted and respected than their opposites. We hold members of the clergy in high esteem because they supposedly live on the "high ground" of Godly values. We endow members of government respect because we believe they're on the "high ground" of governmental integrity.

One of the main problems of living on "high ground" is that it also leaves one quite visible, and open to attack from all sides. Yet high ground, either physical or moral, also provides one a stronger defense, and better chance of survival against all enemies, than any other, all things being relatively equal.

In today's society, everyone on "high ground" is under constant attack. There are those that hate moral values, who hate integrity and truth, who hate "inequality" of any type or for any reason. These people constantly try to destroy anyone whose values, whose reasons, whose beliefs differ from theirs - to destroy the "high ground" or to elevate their groups to equality with those who live on percieved high ground.

The flood of truth is destroying their arguments, bringing down their houses of corruption, and washing away their artificial elevations. The greatest attack is aimed at those who adhere to religious beliefs that demand they separate themselves from the behavior their religion says is sin. Sin infers judgment. Sin infers differences. Sin infers failure. For these reasons, those who sin fight to destroy the concept of sin. Yet there is the concept of final judgment that cannot be destroyed without destroying the concept of God Himself.

Whatever small victories sinners may have on this earth, they cannot win against God. Nor can they destroy the reward the Godly shall inherit. God is the ultimate "High Ground", and cannot be defeated.

A Matter of Attitude

One of the many lessons my dad taught me when I was growing up was that there were two types of people in this world - talkers and doers. He always encouraged me to be the second type, and I've done my best. My dad was full of a lot of good advice, and very smart. I didn't realize that when I was a kid, but as life went on, my dad's wisdom was proven over and over to me.

Another of my dad's favorite pet peeves were people who complained all the time, but never did anything - or even suggested anything - to make things better, either for themselves or anyone else. He told me, over and over, "if you're going to complain about something, at least try to offer a solution as well, or your words are empty air". I've also tried - and still try - to do that, as well. That's a major reason I created this blog, and what a lot of my articles discuss. I've tried to suggest a solution, as well as complain about the problem. God only knows the vast number of problems that exist in the world today. There's a lot that "needs fixing". Yet the biggest industry that exists today is the hot-air industry - people making a living from complaining, yet never offering a single idea toward a solution.

There's the other group too, that can only offer the same failed solution tried before and found wanting. New ideas are difficult for narrow minds to generate. Many people fixate on an idea, and fear that any competing idea - or even information that might be difficult to square with their existing ideology - might destroy what little they have. Their minds freeze, and their intellectual capacity begins to deteriorate.

My dad never stopped learning, never stopped growing, up until the day he died. My mother was much like him, and I know they were happy together. There were always books in my house - dozens of books. I was surprised to find that many of my neighbors didn't read, had very little intellectual capacity or desire for knowledge. I also found they were people I grew less and less comfortable with as I grew older. Yet my grandfather wasn't much of a reader. He knew more about living, and how to live life, than any man I've ever known, and I never felt uncomfortable in his presence. He never stopped learning, either, but his 'school' was the world around him.

It's all a matter of attitude, whether you're open to learning new things, or afraid of it.