Our kiddoes attend a fairly small private Christian school in the tiny little community of Poetry, Texas. You have to love that name.
My wife and I would never be able to afford private school tuition for even one of our two younguns if it weren't for the way this school operates.
As part of our contract with the school, we are required to provide actual physical work at the school, 5 hours each month for each
of the two children. By doing this, the school is able to reduce their tuition
to less than half that of other similar nearby schools while still providing an
atmosphere of education excellence.
They also keep costs down is by frugal and judicious spending. One of my regular chores is picking up and delivering items they
have purchased through local auctions and donations. They really know how to make use of the things they get.
But a big help is the annual golf tournament. This is the major fund raiser for us, and helps to provide some relief in the budget
for purchasing things the kids wouldn't otherwise enjoy. These are such things as stage lights, microphones, and a front curtain
for the theatre program (which, by the way, performs on a stage build by the dads at one of the gym/lunch room/meeting hall/whatever
other use to which it needs to be put,) tables and chairs for school events, and softball equipment for this year's newly formed team.
The 7th Annual Poetry Community Christian School Golf Tournament
Waterview Golf Club
This Opinion For Sale!
After more than 100 dead dogs were dumped in a trash dumpster over four weeks, police in Ahoskie, N.C., kept an eye on the trash receptacle behind a supermarket. Sure enough, a van drove up and officers watched the occupants throw in heavy plastic bags. They detained the two people in the van and found 18 dead dogs in plastic bags in the dumpster, including puppies; 13 more dead dogs were still in the van. Police say the van is registered to the headquarters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the two occupants, Andrew B. Cook, 24, and Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, identified themselves as PETA employees. An autopsy performed on one of the dogs found it was healthy before it was killed. Police say PETA has been picking up the animals -- alive -- from North Carolina animal shelters, promising to find them good homes. Cook and Hinkle have been charged with 62 felony counts of animal cruelty. In response to the arrests PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said it's against the group's policy for employees to dump animals in the trash, but "that for some animals in North Carolina, there is no kinder option than euthanasia." (Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald) ...Oops, my mistake: that's "Playing God" Defined.
In his author's notes section, Cassingham had more to say about this story:
The more I learn about PETA, the less I think of them. The story of them killing animals isn't even unusual. According to PETA's own filings, in 2004 PETA killed 86.3 percent of the animals entrusted to its care -- a number that's rising, not falling. Meanwhile, the SPCA in PETA's home town (Norfolk, Va.) was able to find loving homes for 73 percent of the animals put in its care. A shortage of funds? Nope: last year PETA took in $29 million in tax-exempt donations. It simply has other priorities for the funds, like funding terrorism (yes, really). But don't take my word for it: I got my figures from http://www.PETAkillsAnimals.com -- and they have copies of PETA's state and federal filings to back it up. The bottom line: if you donate money to PETA because you think they care for and about animals, you need to think some more. PETA literally yells and screams about how others "kill animals" but this is how they operate? Pathetic.
And you know what I wonder? PETA's official count of animals they kill is 86.3 percent. But if they're going around picking up animals, killing them while they drive around and not even giving them a chance to be adopted, and then destroying the evidence by dumping the bodies in the trash, are those deaths being reported? My guess: no. While 86.3 percent is awful, the actual number is probably much, much higher. How dare they lecture anyone about the "ethical" treatment of animals! (This is True is a weekly column featuring weird-but-true news stories from around the world, and has been published since 1994. Click the link for info about free subscriptions.)
And you know what I wonder? PETA's official count of animals they kill is 86.3 percent. But if they're going around picking up animals, killing them while they drive around and not even giving them a chance to be adopted, and then destroying the evidence by dumping the bodies in the trash, are those deaths being reported? My guess: no. While 86.3 percent is awful, the actual number is probably much, much higher. How dare they lecture anyone about the "ethical" treatment of animals!
(This is True is a weekly column featuring weird-but-true news stories from around the world, and has been published since 1994. Click the link for info about free subscriptions.)
I was watching a recorded episode of "The
Universe" from the History Channel last night. This one was named "Beyond the Big
Bang." Max Tegmark
was on it, and he said something that summed up my suspicions regarding all
things "dark" in cosmology.
From Dr. Tegmark's website, and
almost verbatim of what he said in the episode: "Dark energy is little
more than a fancy name [for] our ignorance of what seems to make up about two
thirds of the matter budget [of the observed universe.]"
It seems to me that this is another example of building on
"ifs" to come up with a way to coerce our model into agreeing with
observation. In this case, we have a
theoretical model, the Big Bang Theory, modified by the inflationary model, and
then a magical "if" ("if there is something exotic out there
causing pulling on space at large distances, then we would see large scale
structure and homogeneity of cosmic background radiation and the smoothness of
space,") that can be turned into an "it" to complete the
equations. That leads me to a couple of
energy" and "dark matter" are comforting since we can give
"it" a name or two, but when do we decide that we've gone too far in
bending a model and that we need to rethink the model's foundation?
2. I've been
pondering the possibility that it is the nature of space itself that causes
what we see as inflation, and not the nature of some exotic substance or energy
that is affecting space. Perhaps this is
some aspect of space that can only manifest far from matter where it is not
drowned out by other interactions (gravity, for example.) It doesn't seem to be any more magical than
"dark energy" itself and would be a simpler explanation since it
doesn't invoke a need for a more complicated system.
3. Could this unknown
aspect of space turn out to be what gives rise to what we call the fundamental
forces, each varying in domain based on their proximity to mass in some
ratio? Currently, there isn't a standard
ratio that lets one predict a relative effect from the ratio of 2 forces the
effect of a 3rd force (ie., you can't predict gravity
by comparing the weak and strong nuclear forces,) but what if each were
dependent upon a 5th variable (strong nuclear force modified by the
"fundamental spatial force" compared to the weak nuclear modified by
the "fundamental spatial force" results in a prediction of gravity
modified by the "fundamental spatial force".)
I think I understand why so many neocon
Republicans don’t want Dr. Ron Paul around anymore. If he were to win the nomination, then all
these unthinking, chin-beaver wearing, pro-war Bubbas would need to find a new direction
for their chest-thumping.
Bubba: “WHAT??? We
That’s what sissies do! Real men
die on the battlefield! Hell, they even
fall on their swords if that’s the only way to get kilt in battle!”
Someone with a brain:
“So, sir, when do you plan on doing that?”
Bubba: “Oh, I’m a
real man because of what I say, not what I do.”
I squeezed into my local Wal-Mart the day
before Thanksgiving to get some last minute items for our Thanksgiving
dinner. My “local” Wal-Mart is the one
in the mighty micropolis
Texas, that just opened a few months ago.
Our house is almost exactly at the center of a triangle whose three
vertices are occupied by Wal-Mart Supercenters (Greenville and Rockwall form
the other two vertices.) I chose Quinlan
thinking that it would be a bit less crowded than the other two because of its
more rural location. If it was less
crowded, then I can only imagine how packed the other two were.
My visit fell into three distinct phases:
My first surprise was seeing the parking lot so full. But from what I fully attribute to the grace
of God, I found a decent parking place in my usual section about two-thirds out
to the edge. Farther out is “no man’s
land” where employees should be parking.
Closer spaces are for old ladies and that handicapped. And inconsiderate lazy-loser people. I get a little inner smile watching Bubba
sitting in his redneck
dream truck, taking up both directions of the two-way lane, waiting for
Grandma to finish packing her trunk and back out so he can have her prime
parking spot. Meanwhile, I’ve parked in
my section, burned an extra 3.44 calories walking across the lot, and made it
all the way into the warmth of the happy land that is Wal-Mart.
crowd. Couples double-teaming the
shopping: one driving the buggy full
speed, while the other sends a turkey flying from freezer chest to the buggy in
a single underhand fling. Cranberry sauce running ankle-deep in the
aisles. Choking clouds of cornmeal dust
loosed upon the enemy by the craftier shopper-warriors. This perfectly describes what the experience
was not like. The nearly manic stockers
were keeping their shelves and freezers so readily replenished, that I rarely
saw a section with a low product count.
My heart leapt with joy over the abundance of choice. I fell easily into the great wheel of
humanity that rolled through the store, quickly and efficiently selecting my
chosen goods and filling my buggy. I
didn’t feel the least bit tyrannized.
Running the checkout
gauntlet. What better way is
there to wind down from a grueling shopping course through Wal-Mart than standing
in line for a chance to give away some of my hard-earned money? Not a chance of that on this foray. I think every checkout was open this
day. I estimated I had 18 items, but
since I was not in a hurry and can find endless amusement people-watching
from the front of the store while I wait my turn to fork over the cash. Not being a fully realized masochist, I got
into a middling lane with 3 buggies in front of me. I was at the front of the line and checked
out before I barely got a chance to scope for any local celebrities who might still be alive.
I sum it up as a good adventure in capitalism: I got what I want in a satisfactory manner
while parting with an agreeable sum of money (which I fondly think of as the “fruit
of my labor” and a reliably exchangeable valuation for a portion of my life.)
All of this got me to thinking about those few I’ve met who
are militant anti-Wal-Mart types
(my, oh my! A website run by
a union full of happy smiling drones that
has desperately tried to unionize Wal-Mart since the mid-90s, but hemorrhaged membership
by 70,000 people between 2001 and 2005!)
The typical arguments I hear (admittedly not often, but often enough to
give me some much needed eye-rolling exercise) go something like this: “Wal-Mart is evil. They don’t pay their workers a fair wage, they
ruin the local small business climate, and I can’t even think about what they’re
doing to the environment without crying little baby penguin tears of anguish!”
“What,” I then ask, “would you do to alleviate this tragedy,
and dry up those obnoxious tears?”
What follows is the usual litany of fixes:
minimum wage and provide top-notch benefits to workers
Force Wal-Mart to either raises its prices (also
a proposed solution for funding #1 above) or confiscate part of their revenue
to “revitalize” failing areas (again, another proposal to help the
disadvantaged slave-laborers down at the local Wal-Mart)
Nebulous “greening” ideas (more in a later entry on this one)
So, what do any of these have to do with Wal-Mart performing
the function it was designed and built to do?
For those who don’t know or are having trouble understanding, Wal-Mart
has one and only one purpose:
to make money for its owners by providing a valuable service to as many willing
clients as possible. In other words, to
engage in the very activities that this country and our society are founded
on: taking part in voluntary, profitable
Let’s go to that strange Fairy Land where the Wake-uppers
have their way, and see what has happened:
Wal-Mart has been besieged by state and federal law, and
must concede or be wiped out by the only folks who have deeper pockets:
government lawyers (who just need to print more when
they feel the supply running low, thereby stealing from all of us! Joy, joy!)
In an effort to meet these demands, Wal-Mart raises prices
to meet the higher costs plus to pay the confiscatory taxes levied against it. Business slows. Customers no longer have the motivation to
shop at Wal-Mart like they once did. Mom
and pop businesses make a comeback.
But wait a minute.
That’s not the whole picture. Something’s
The actual effect is that the market has shrunk. The shrinkage means that less money changes
hands for fewer products (or in this case, more money that is worth much less
because of inflation.) The market can
bear fewer employees. Wal-Mart ends up
laying workers off by the thousands. It’s
a good thing the tax money was taken from them, because now it’s needed to
support all those out-of-work folks. Who
now must shop for higher-priced goods with money worth just barely more than
the paper on which it’s printed. So much for helping the
workers and the locals.
I would like to believe that this whole scheme can be
attributed to incompetence by well intentioned do-gooders, and we all know what
famous path is lined with said “good intentions.” However, I just can’t quite convince
myself that they are so incompetent that they can't see how quickly
the above scenario would come true. I'm left to
consider just one alternative:
they truly are maliciously trying to destroy the already tattered fabric of the free
society we enjoy and force us under their favorite flavor of socialism,
regardless of how history has proven it to be a failure.
It’s the day after Thanksgiving. We had a good day yesterday. Just us, my Mom, and Marvin,
a friend from church. We didn’t
have much food by choice. I just didn’t
want to be living on leftovers for the next 3 weeks! Ah, the balances we strike: Pay someone else to feed us and clean up at
one extreme, and at the other, go all out with 2 days of cooking leading up to
2 hours of gorging, 4 hours of cleanup, and 2 weeks of tasting turkey in
everything. We had the best of both.
I’m trying to get a good mental grip on this blogging
thing. I want to post thoughts, and I
have 10 or 20 a day that I want to share, but I don’t know how to keep on a
topic. Notice how I’ve already
shifted? Give me a paragraph or two, if
you don’t see it yet! What to write
on? Dr. Ron Paul? Metamaterials? Jesus? Marriage? Friends? Business? Inventions? Time and Space (or rather, my suspicion that neither really exists?) I guess I’ll just have to do them one at a
time as I get to them, or as I’m inspired to write of other things.