Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Goodbye Davy Jones

Davy Jones died today. I watched episode of the Monkees’ TV show a hundred times. They were a big part of my childhood. The same goes for my wife. We grew up on this stuff. I feel like I’ve lost culture touchstone linking me to my childhood.

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No Chick-fil-A for you!

Students at Northeastern University will have to travel way over to Burlington to eat golden delicious Chick-fil-A Nuggets. Those poor deprived students; how will they survive? Perhaps we can organize an airlift of In-N-Out burgers? No wait… they are conservative Christian owned too. Let’s just send beer.

Apparently they voted the conservative and socially active restaurant chain off the campus.

“The decision tonight was based on all of the student feedback we've been receiving,” the Northeastern Student Government Association said on Twitter, adding in a later re-tweet that: “Student concerns reflected CFA's history of donating to anti-gay organizations.”

I applaud the student’s decision while at the same time I’m trying not to think about those damn nuggets (that I have not had in a long time because I’m boycotting CFA.)

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Would you call a mother a whore?

Breastfeeding is natural. It’s not a sexualized activity. It’s a natural part of life. Would you call a woman a whore or a stripper for breasting feeding her child in public? I know what I do… give the mother and child space and move along. What would Jesus do? Well, one of his representatives on earth called breastfeeding lewd, he called the woman a stripper, and cast her out of his ever-so-hip biker church.

A Georgia woman was told to “cover up and go away” when she started breastfeeding her newborn child during a church service. The pastor ordered Nirvana Jennette to feed her baby in the bathroom, and when she objected he told her that breastfeeding is lewd and compared her to a stripper.

The pastor asked Jennette to not return to the church, which Jennette describes as a “biker church” with a congregation made up of people who ride motorcycles.

What would Jesus do eh? Why do I even ask the question?

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Camera Obscura in the O.C.

I stumbled upon a new camera obscura location in the Orange County Great Park. It is in the Palm Court Arts Complex, and looks temped in, but it is fully functional.

Camera Obscura

My wife and I stood in the darkened view space for 5 minutes until our eyes adjusted enough to see the upside-down image. The affect is magical. If you are a photography buff like me, pack a picnic lunch and give it a go. The park is free. So are the exhibits.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

The countdown till April starts now…

I love Bob Marley’s music and can’t wait to see this documentary.

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What symbol for the confused?

I was walking through a parking lot today when I saw an SUV with decals of four crosses affixed to the rear window. Two of the crosses were large with mom and dad names under each; two were small with child names under each. I told my wife that I would like do do the same thing on my truck but with an atheist symbol for me and my two sons. However, I would need to invent a symbol for my confused catholic wife. Perhaps a big question mark. ...she was not amused.

Plus, she was not aware there was a symbol for atheists. When I told her about it she laughed.

Photo - Winter in SoCal

HB Wetlands

This is another HDR shot of the wetlands in Huntington Beach. It took me longer to produce because I needed advice on the color pallet. I’m color blind…

This is a northbound view shooting towards the city of Sunset Beach.

My first shot in this series is located here.

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There is no greater threat

Rick Santorum has been making some troubling statements these past few months. Every position he takes on critical issues is straight out of a comic book, and worse, his positions challenge the founding principles of American democracy. He and his ilk are a real threat to what I value most about being an American. He most recent statements lead me to think he is the single biggest internal threat to the American way of life. He wants to dumb down America while imposing his sect’s view of a Christian moral jihad. I do not understand who listens to Santorum, let alone how he is still in the fight for the Republican nomination for president. His positions are crazy and represent a slice of America that is out of touch with the rest of America and the world.

He thinks higher education is secular Indoctrination.

“I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely," he said. "The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”

Higher education is the only way we can remain competitive in the global economy. I’ve spent a lot of time in China. I’ve hired professionals there for various technical positions. I interviewed dozens of highly educated people, but that is not the real story. For one open position that required a freshly minted graduate degree, we had 17,000 qualified people apply; All applicants lived in the surrounding city. If I ran the same job search in America, the results would be less than 1,000 applicants, with maybe 75 qualified applicants. 6.6 million people will graduate from college this year in China alone (1.5 million in America). Add in India, Russia, the developing economies of South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe and well… we are in trouble.  30% of Americans have a Bachelor’s degree. 8% of Americans have a graduate degree. Just 3% of Americans have a Doctorate. 30% is not enough, nor is 8%. We face competition on a scale the fundie America cannot understand. Frankly, Rick Santorum is leading the charge toward failure.

America’s children need the right education in order to succeed. More importantly, for them to excel lead America into the future, more children need to go to collage. Looking backward is not an option. Pushing children toward the trades, or condemning them to ignorance, is not a viable strategy. Do not give Santorum a chance to become president. It sends the wrong message.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Christian homeschooling and abuse

I’ve always been a little Leary of Christian homeschooling movement. I had a willowy young girl living across the street from me a few years back. Her fundie parents homeschooled her and her younger brother. They used to play with my youngest son. It was always awkward. They could not watch TV, play video games, use a computer or read unapproved books. I remember her mother freaking out when she saw our library. The mother pleaded with me to keep the books away from her child. Of course, I let her read whatever she wanted to.

The girl was a maladjusted socially awkward mess. She did not know how to act around adults, nor did she relate to other children well. Neither of her parents had graduated from high school, yet they were arrogant enough to homeschool their children and attempted to tell me public schools will ruin my kids. I’ll make sure to send them a note after my son graduates from Berkeley…

I ran into the homeschooled girl a few years ago. She was living with foster parents. Her story was a sad one. Apparently, there had been some abuse and she was pulled from her home. She had not seen her bother in a long time. She was sad and more than a little odd. I felt sorry for her, but I had hope. She was attending public school.

The problem with homeschooling, besides the obvious lack of qualifications, is the lack of accountability and oversight. When my neighbors got into trouble with the local school district, they moved. After a few years of this, the damage to a child’s development is severe. When you add physical or sexual abuse to the mix, the damage can be far worse.

I got thinking about this because of pastor James Monson. He was arrested for allegedly molesting a 16-year-old girl that he helping to homeschool. I bet the sessions were private…

JamesMonsonMonson faces charges of sex with a child and sexual exploitation by a therapist. The victim alleges she engaged in sex with the pastor. I’m sure she thought she was in love. Her mother brought the case to the police, but I’ve got to ask, “What were you thinking?”

James Monson is the pastor of Gaining Ground Community Church is Sparta, Wisconsin. Their website is down and their Facebook page is friendless.

Let me draw a picture for you. In a public school it is hard to abuse children. I say hard, but not impossible. Public schools have policy, oversight and witnesses working for them. It’s hard to abuse children in that scenario. Homeschools have none of that. If you are subbing in a pastor as a homeschool teacher, then you are turning you child over to an unsupervised adult male who thinks he’s a holy man. My blog is full of examples of holy men abusing children. By the way, these men are not holy; they are not men of God either. No, they are just men. Would you turn your 16-year-old daughter over to a man for private homeschooling? No reasonably cautious person would do so. How does it feel mother of the victim? You served your daughter up for the sexual pleasure of a pedophile pastor, She will carry the scars for life.  And as a homeschooler… she might do so as a cashier in he local Wal-Mart.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I laughed with them

I visited Tucson this week. My visit happened to coincide with the GOP debate in Arizona. On the night of the debate, I visited a bar near my hotel. I walked into the bar at about the halfway point of the debate. Gingrich was speaking. The room was full of laughter. I looked around for the source and spotted a knot of people standing near a big screen. As I approached another round of laughter broke out. The bar was full of people laughing. When Santorum started to speak somebody yelled, “Asshole”. Another yelled, “Jag off.” People howled with laughter. I laughed with them.

It got me thinking. If the patrons of a middleclass bar in Tucson are laughing at the GOP candidates, what chance do they really have?

I left before the debate ended and stopped in at my hotel’s bar before heading back to my room. I found a different audience there. Salesmen and management types working for the Rain Bird corporation, plus a couple of barflys and hotel staff. I asked those sitting at the bar what they thought of the debate, the response was unanimous, “Fuck the debate.” When I asked why, they all responded with a slightly different version of the same story. Essentially, they think that the candidates are nuts.

  • Santorum – too worried about why other people do in their bedrooms, plus way to religions.
  • Gingrich – A failed politician who has questionable morals.
  • Paul – a complete loon.
  • Romney -  A rich out of touch elitist who’s not even a Christian.

I think the GOP is in deep trouble. Whatever fantasy they have running through their minds will not pass the ballot test. None of these candidates have the respect of the people on a level that will assure a win. And none of these candidates will beat Obama. That’s a lost cause.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Do standards matter?

Pastor James Davis stands accused of raping a child. Yet when we look at his past, it is clear that he should never have stood in the pulpit of a church.

  • 1999 - Manufacture, delivery or possession of a controlled substance
  • 2000 - Parole violation
  • 2001 - Manufacture, delivery or possession of a controlled substance

He was released from prison June of 2008, and then became a pastor of a Baptist. The truth is, he was a criminal with no education or formal training, yet he became a pastor. How does this happen? Do one simply hang out a shingle, call oneself a church, and then people will start dropping money in the collection plate? It’s insanity (and a scam). With a criminal record, a real job would be difficult for Davis to secure, but a church… it’s easy. Why? Because they have no (or low) standards.

I bet Davis is a beer goggle pastor – you know, a small desperate church looks past his fitness to lead because it’s last call. It’s a criminal pastor or nothing. Or worse, It’s a criminal pastor or you head down the road to Evening Star Baptist Church and try to adapt to a new and different culture.

We do we give special privilege to churches if there are no standards to judge them by?  Why do we grant special privileges to pastors when there are not held accountable to a standard? Let’s end the tax exemption for pastors.

Let’s put this in perspective. A man of low moral character is allowed to lead a church where he allegedly raped and impregnated a young girl. Members of Morning Star Baptist church is Cotton Plant, Arkansas, you are just as responsible as James Davis. You should have done your job and kept this man out of your church and away from your children. It’s your fault damn you. Don’t you see that?

Clergy Sexual Abuse, Rape, Baptists

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tucson oddness

I'm in Tucson on business. And true to form, the fundies reached out for me on the flight over. The old lady across the isle handed me a mini bible. I refused it, but she keep pushing it my way anyway. I eventually took it and slipped it into the trash when the flight attendant walked by. She winked at me.

The man to my left on the window seat insisted on telling me the story of his conversion. I was nice at first, but then realized he was in full on witness mode. I put my headphones on, pumped up Nirvana, and ignored him. He kept trying to talk to me, even through a loud rendition of Dumb. I eventually told him to shut the fuck up using my loud scary voice. He shut up.

People... Christians in particular, do not try to recruit for your team on planes. It is just not nice or fair. If we tell you off, you've earned it.

I thought thus last guy was praying, but it turns out he had a bad back.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Walking, not blogging…


A few of you have noticed that I stopped blogging a few weeks ago. I want to tell you why. A health problem cropped up that was serious enough to scare me. I had to make a choice. Start exercising or pay a heavy price. I opted for exercise, and I let blogging go for a time.

Each night, I come home and walk during the hour I usually spend blogging. Now, almost a month later, I have a routine down that gets me an hour of walking in almost every day. The only exception to the treadmill routine  is when I walk out in the real world like I did on the 17th. It took almost three hours to walk the wetlands near Bolsa Chica State Beach in Orange County. My odometer tells me that I walked 5.7 miles. I walked at a slow pace because I took a few hundred photos (mostly bad) of the local scenery and birds. The photo above is one of the better shots.

I have a problem though… I love to write. I’ve been struggling with how to do both. I’ve decided to reduce the time I spend in another idle pursuit; gaming. It will free up time, and then hopefully I can put some words together.

My health. All I can say is that the ball is in my court. I must exercise every day. It has a profound affect on how I feel and on my health. The by product of exercise and controlling my diet is that I lose weight too. Exercise becomes a litter easier with each pound I shed. The lighter I get, the easier it is to get out and take photos and enjoy the outdoors. It’s a win all the way around.