December 30, 2008
I've never had a real camera. I have had an Advantix widescreen point-and-shoot, a digital point-and-shoot, a rather infamous Polaroid and several disposables (which shouldn't even be in the same category). But until this year I have not used a manual camera of any kind.
That is, until N. gifted me with a lovely Canon S5 is.
It's little, it's powerful and the pictures so far are beautiful!
Of course I lament not having it in the summer- wistfully imagining macro close-ups of budding plants and herbs- but alas, it will have to cover much ground until spring.
I took it out for a test run this afternoon when the sun was still fairly high in the sky. It was a balmy 36 degrees. Scattered clouds.
I took 134 shots; about 50 made it past the cutting room floor. The best of the best is below, with a twist! It's a photo caption contest, folks. Any genre, any caption. I will pick the best in approximately one week's time. Submit as often as you like!
N's suggestion is to use this image for greeting cards. Perhaps another small business is in the making?
Now try not to laugh too hard...
December 14, 2008
The first is a video about the HYPE documentary, which I am going to get ahold of pretty soon. I will be happy to loan it out when I have it in possession.
The second is "Obama Watch," a blog-ish site devoted to keeping watch on what Obama has, is and will probably do. He's got some great clips, as well as links to another worthy news site, PRESS TV. Among other topics, I've been reading about the Mumbai attack on PRESS TV.
Barack Obama Watch
The election's over, that doesn't mean your work is done. Keep an eye out.
December 13, 2008
I did not grow up with the Disney Channel, but my cousins did. We watched it over family vacations every now and then, and I vaguely remember thinking it was a little weird, but not knowing why.
At our house, we had Mtv. So of course Disney, with its non-sexual content and hippy-dippy shows about kids who loved their parents seemed a very far cry from our after-school programming of Madonna and Michael Jackson.
But I never thought much about Disney channel since I was a kid- except for one night when Nic recalled a favorite singer of his (Martika) from the station and made us watch videos of hers- until recently when, after dismissing this whole "Hannah Montana" craze for another Debbie Gibson episode, realized she is a global presence.
And that is a very scary thing.
I have obviously underestimated the little studio crooner. She recently made yet another top 25 stars under 25 list featured on Yahoo (my sad replacement search engine for Google which I despise.. but I nixed Google after finding out that they support the gay rights agenda). Then I noticed my coworkers going on and on about what to buy their little girls this year, how it's Hannah Montana crap again.
Apparently she does indeed have the "best of both worlds:" she's the apple of every little girl's eye and thus her face is practically on every bill in the parent's wallet. (The "best" comment was a little inside joke for you HM fans who read my blog...)
So what's my beef with the staged phenom? Three things: her making out with a fellow character on her t.v. show; her "Jesus is my homeboy" profession of Christianity; the content of her music.
The first two are self-explanatory, so I'll just give you this video as an explanation of the third. To a Christian, should the life Miley Cyrus leads be "the life?" It's a place of decadence and superficial relationships, fleeting fame and devoid of serious contemplation of who God wants her to be.
Is this the life God wants us to lead?
December 10, 2008
In the world of Chicago politics, swathed in mob mentality (as in, organized crime), Fitzgerald has rooted out one of the most indecent politicians in recent memory, Gov. Blagojevich.
Just like Elliot Ness systematically shut down the mob in Chicago and Cleveland, who all but ran the cities throughout the 1930s, Fitzgerald has successfully unearthed evidence leading to the prosecution, and conviction, of Illinois Governor George Ryan and also assisted in the prosecution of Mafia figure John Gambino in 1993. His office led the charges against several aides to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in 2005.
Fitzgerald also served the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel, where he brought an indictment for 5 counts of false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice against Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby.
On the terrorism front, Fitzgerald led prosecution against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and others charged in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Fitzgerald also served as chief counsel in prosecutions related to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania (these attacks were performed by al Qaeda).
Let's honor this principled man for doing his appointed job, with adherence to and respect of our laws.
Here's a great quote from Atty Fitzgerald, from a press conference following Scooter LIbby's indictment:
"Fitzgerald was asked about comments by Republicans such as Kay Bailey Hutchison, who said 'I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality...' Fitzgerald responded, 'That talking point won't fly... The truth is the engine of our judicial system. If you compromise the truth, the whole process is lost . . . if we were to walk away from this, we might as well hand in our jobs.'
(source for all: Wikipedia)
Someone had requested it and I thought I'd re-post the video with the link on YouTube.
The artist is Flipsyde.
and below is the video again:
December 9, 2008
If you sign up for a free photo-hosting site (photobucket, kodak, etc.) they are offering your first 20-50 photos printed for free! So if you combine the two offers you could get your customized Christmas cards (up to 50) for $15.
IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been arrested on charges of conspiracy to induce bribery, "allegedly conspired to sell U.S. Senate appointment, engaged in pay-to-play schemes and threatened to withhold state assistance to Tribune Company for Wrigley Field to induce (the) purge of newspaper editorial writers" (quoted, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant).
Blagojevich's administration, which replaced the former Gov. Ryan's and his history of corrupt politics, was expected to usher in a new age of morally-upheld government officiating.
So much for that.
"They (Atty Fitzgerald's office) also allege Blagojevich is heard on tape demanding a corporate board seat for his wife worth as much as $150,000 a year; promises of campaign funds, including cash up front; and the post of secretary of health and human services or an ambassadorship for himself in the Obama administration."
At least we can give Mr. Blagojevich a round of applause for his audacity. And hey, that's something the Obama camp loves, right? Maybe Blagojevich would've been a good fit after all.
What appalls me about this story is the last charge, that Mr. Blagojevich and a staff member conspired to force the Chicago Tribune to fire dissenting, or at least concerned, editorial staff members.
Which brings me to my conclusion, one that comes after the holiday but is still just as pertinant an item to be thankful for: our nation's founders' recognizing the longevity and importance of the first amendment!
Without it, those Tribune writers wouldn't have been able to criticize at all. Without it, I wouldn't be able to write this blog. Thanks, founders!
December 7, 2008
Please go to the following link to sign petitions and check mark the stores you most often shop at (these statistics help FOTF to know where to best combine their efforts).
I am adding Ace Hardware to that list. I heard a commercial on the radio which said something to the effect of, "We know finding Christmas gifts can be difficult..." So, if you are in the market to buy any kind of electrical device, tools, paint supplies or anything of the like, please consider Ace Hardware. You'll notice I am not endorsing either Lowe's or Home Depot.
Here's Focus on the Family's list:
"Christmas-friendly" retailers — prominent acknowledgment of "Christmas"
|Bass Pro Shops* |
Bed, Bath & Beyond
Linens 'n Things
Pier 1 Imports
The Home Depot
Toys "R" Us
"Christmas-negligent" retailers — marginalized use of "Christmas"
|Barnes & Noble |
Dick's Sporting Goods
"Christmas-offensive" retailers — apparent abandonment of "Christmas"
|American Eagle |
* National retailers that recently learned of our campaign and contacted us to display their support for Christmas.
December 4, 2008
It might interest you to know he began writing it when he was eight, after seeing lots of his schoolyard friends having "trouble getting girls." Perceiving the need for a primer that they could understand, the boy wrote it and later had it sold at a school book fair.
Shouldn't I be as proud of this boy (and he is still a boy, at least until he "finds the right girl"), as his school is, that he has successfully written a book that "helps" his little friends?
Shouldn't I find it cute that he has already developed an interest in little girls? (I do recognize here that God instills in us the desire for the opposite sex at birth, but that is no promotion for his behavior.)
Shouldn't I shrug this off as just another little kid having his fifteen minutes of fame for saying "the darndest things?"
As a Christian, as a potential mom, as a lover of all children and fighter for their childhood preservation, I can't help but see this for what it is: the indoctrination of our kids, teaching them that sex is something to be "explored" and "questioned" as early as possible.
Liberal voters freaked out when conservatives suggested Obama's push for sex ed in elementary school meant teaching kindergartners how to put condoms on bananas. But if this story is any indication, we might be headed in that direction already.
This is how fascism works, folks: The leaders and media get people used to the idea of something (sexual exploration, for one; liberal political bent, for another) slowly, gradually and with plenty of kitsch value (incorporating children as much as possible; see: the elementary school singing an Obama anthem and a related post) until we don't even notice the changes anymore.
Pretty soon they can pass the Fairness Doctrine, give mandatory birth control pills to girls ages 9 and up, add-on Muslim prayer rooms to public schools, remove books that are considered "too controversial" (meaning, too conservative) from libraries or make only certain rights available to certain people who sympathize with the government (no matter what) without so much as a frown of disapproval from the masses.*
Before you cry "conspiracy theorist!" at me, take another look at the items I just mentioned and recall if you've seen any of them in the news lately.
Then again, if the government-darling liberal media is doing its job, you wouldn't have.
(*Check the "Headlines and Links" portion of the sidebar here for more info.)
This is a great beginning apologetics book. How better to glorify God and celebrate Christmas by learning how to defend the faith? (Nic gave it to me for Christmas last year.)
"Christless Christianity," by Dr. Michael Horton
This is a primer of all the current "alternative gospels" being offered in the American church. Extensive research has yielded insight about the prosperity gospel, new age and mystical practices, the watering-down and outright betrayal of the great commission.
From Rob Bell to Charles Finney and everyone in between (Pagitt, McClaren, Warren, Osteen, Jakes...).
World Vision (www.worldvision.org) : Here you will find intangible (in the sense that you will never see them) gifts of animals, education supplies, Bibles, food, shelter, water and clothing
Check out their gift catalog (found at this link) for many gifts under $30, or to donate a share of the larger-cost gifts. Please consider sponsoring a child, too; it costs $35 a month and provides so much. It's a great way to spread the real Gospel by personal letters and contact you have with your sponsored child.
Recommended: American Families Assistance Fund (click here to go to the page)
Why not help out in our own nation? Thousands of children and adults here need our help and to know the Gospel, too. This fund works with churches in the U.S. to provide critical supplies like clothing, food and water. In addition, these families find shelter in churches where they can be told the Good News about Christ, our Savior.
Also recommended: Donate Bibles, Youth Bible curriculum or Christian education to students around the world. Click on the items to go to the page and donate today!
December 3, 2008
it's going to be incredibly boring due to his complete lack of conviction and masculinity.
And by masculinity I mean, well, balls.
You heard it here first.
The attitudes and conduct of some 29,760 high school students across the United States "doesn't bode well for the future when these youngsters become the next generation's politicians and parents, cops and corporate executives, and journalists and generals," the non-profit Josephson Institute said.
In its 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth the Los Angeles-based organization said the teenagers' responses to questions about lying, stealing and cheating "reveals entrenched habits of dishonesty for the workforce of the future."
Boys were found to lie and steal more than girls.
Overall, 30 percent of students admitted to stealing from a store within the past year, a two percent rise from 2006. More than one third of boys (35 percent) said they had stolen goods, compared to 26 percent of girls.
An overwhelming majority, 83 percent, of public school and private religious school students admitted to lying to their parents about something significant, compared to 78 percent for those attending independent non-religious schools.
"Cheating in school continues to be rampant and it's getting worse," the study found. Amongst those surveyed, 64 percent said they had cheated on a test, compared to 60 percent in 2006. And 38 percent said they had done so two or more times.
Despite no significant gender differences on exam cheating, students from non-religious independent schools had the lowest cheating rate, 47 percent, compared to 63 percent of students attending religious schools.
"As bad as these numbers are, it appears they understate the level of dishonesty exhibited by "America's youth," the study warned, noting than more than a fourth of the students (26 percent) admitted they had lied on at least one or two of the survey questions.
"Despite these high levels of dishonesty, these same kids have a high self-image when it comes to ethics."
Some 93 percent of students indicated satisfaction with their own character and ethics, with 77 percent saying that "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."
Tax cuts are "part and parcel of what we need when it comes to stimulus," Obama said last week.
"We're going to be putting money in people's pockets so that they can spend on buying a new computer for their kid's school, so that they can, you know, make sure that they are able to deal with heat and groceries and all the other strains on the family budget," he added.
The long-term benefit, in his view: It would create more fairness in the tax code.
There are so many things wrong with Obama's statement above. They are, from least to most important: the idea of fairness, what people are spending money on, who will get those tax cuts/Obama's naivete, redistribution of wealth, whether this is good for our economy and anticipated objections.
1. The idea of fairness.
Tax cuts seem like a good thing, don't they? Taking less money from those who don't have much to begin with- it seems nice and, a favorite liberal word (used above by Obama), fair.
But I ask you to consider whether giving money to people at the lowest income levels- the people who are least likely to have worked the most (hence their low income status); the very same people whose unpaid loans largely contributed to the mortgage crisis; the people most likely to depend on the government for welfare assistance, social security checks and free health care services- is fair, or is the complete opposite?
You there, middle-class American citizen: do you work to pay your family's bills, housing and food costs? Do you pay taxes which provide gas, electric, garbage removal, clean water services, recycling in your city? Do you depend on health insurance from your employer or a private company for your family's well-being?
If so, you are doing what could be called unfair; you are paying taxes into a pool of local and national government services that provide for someone else. (In fact, a lot of somebody elses.)
But you know why you pay taxes- you believe that for your use of these services you should pay for them. It would be stealing otherwise, right?
2. What people are spending their money on.
I was going to write "hard-earned" money, but then remembered I'm including everyone here!
Obama seems to think that people who will receive the biggest tax cut will spend that economic stimulus money on things like "a new computer for their kid's school."
Aw, that's sort of sweet in a totally naive way. But I doubt it's the first thing people will think to spend that money on. I'm thinking more like a flat-screen t.v. or a Wii (or a second one) will occupy people's minds in early 2009. Did you know that many stores offered no fee to cash stimulus checks last year in exchange for a gift card in the amount that could be used only at that store. Wal-Mart was one of them; they might want to reconsider that this time, in lieu of recent events. Extra savings might prove extra deadly.
I digress. What do people at the low-income level spend money on? If living amongst them and actually seeing them go about their business is any indication, money is spent on clothing, entertainment, cars, gas, pets, food and drink. After all, if you didn't have to pay for most of your groceries, your rent, health care, baby supplies and food, or education, what would you be spending on?
3. Who will get these tax cuts/Obama's naivete/redistribution.
See #2. In addition, let's talk a bit more about who will get these "tax cuts."
You see, Obama and the liberal left are always talking about how people who are the "most disadvantaged" are "most deserving" of a break. The fact is people at the lowest income level are already receiving a lot of breaks from the government, and a tax cut is just another one.
More importantly, 80% of taxes are paid by people at the highest 50% of income level. People in the lowest 20% income bracket only pay 5% of all taxes paid. The fact behind these statistics is that people in the lowest income bracket do not, for the most part, pay any taxes at all. So to give them a "tax cut" really means to cut them a check for absolutely nothing.
This is that "redistribution of wealth" thing you're not hearing about anymore.
Here's a simpler way of putting it: when the government writes everyone a check, where does that money come from? Could it be from taxes? If not, where? Don't say "the budget," because that's just pushing the question back one step (what money is the budget comprised of?).
If some people are paying no taxes and others are paying most taxes... who do you think is paying for this stimulus package?
4. Will a tax cut/stimulus package be good for our economy?
Personally I loved that economic stimulus package from President Bush; it was some extra money I could pay bills off with (yes, that's what I did with it). But studies have shown that our economy was no better off following the bundles of money poured back into it from the checks being spent.
It is a typical Democratic response (which demonstrates Bush's segue from conservative ideals) when a problem arises in an area to throw money at it (See: $700 billion big bank bailout, proposed auto industry bailout). Government has been doing it with the public education system for decades and schools are worse than ever, with humanism running rampant and self-esteem bankrupting kids of learning useful skills.
So, is one more "throw-money-at-it" solution going to help?
5. Anticipated objections to my argument.
Personally, I think the low income class has too much slack which may be why they have become so dependent; if your essential needs were already provided by someone else, how motivated would you be to get up early every day to look for a job, and work hard enough to keep it?
Furthermore, it's a misnomer to call these people "disadvantaged." They have just as many opportunities to work as anyone else. Your objection, "But Victoria, people like this are disabled, or can't work, or are prejudiced against by people who don't want to give them jobs!"
Really? I've worked with kids with serious mental and physical disabilities, and their parents. I've also worked in homeless shelters and with other people so-called "unfit" for the work environment. And it's true, some of them couldn't work because of severe physical impairment, but most often it was because they "didn't feel like it" (a response I heard often from parents of kids with an SSI check every month that covered the bills).
In fact most of the "disadvantaged" people I've known - including a homeless man and a woman with the mental development of a ten-year-old - had jobs of some kind and, though they didn't pay well, earned them pride and satisfaction in their work, as well as the respect of their able-minded and -bodied coworkers.
All this made them want to keep working... See the difference?
If we are considering the bigger picture here, we have to admit that there are all kinds of jobs available to anyone who wants them. For instance if you don't believe that there are "some jobs Americans don't want to do" that illegal immigrants snatch up, you should have no problem accepting that people with no job at all could/should accept a job picking fruit or cleaning hotel rooms.
December 2, 2008
Changing his mind, I mean. His appointments of James Jones (National Security Advisor) and Robert Gates (to continue as Defense Secretary) are truly statements of change that Obama voters may not join him in cheering for.
But I will. Why? Because they're nothing like Obama, or his supporters. And that's a good thing.
James Jones is a former Marine general and NATO commander. He knows the world we live in, has faced the enemies of our country head-on and will provide some back bone to the upcoming administration.
Robert Gates is the current Defense Secretary and has become a powerful proponant of both the surge in Iraq and the war in general. Gates has been to Iraq, know what is working there and what won't (i.e. a set end date in 16 months). His contribution will continue to be (I hope) the support of fighting the war in a measured way.
Hilary Clinton's appointment (foreign policy advisor) is obviously controversial and not one I can immediately endorse. But even she might be good for the administration, providing some much-needed deflating of the Obama hope balloon. She's an opportunist, to say the least, and perhaps that spirit of competition will light a fire under the President-elect to make some bold moves (not just bold speeches).
*Update: Yesterday Gates said it is imperative we "find out who" committed the terrorist atrocities in Mumbai over the weekend. Why did he sidestep the fact we KNOW who did it, we have one of them in custody and he has confessed? Am I wrong about this guy?
December 1, 2008
How well do you think the average person understands the mass slaughter of over 200 people in Mumbai, India over the weekend? The intentional, year-long planned massacre of bystanders in a train station and hostages in the Taj Hotel?
CAIR's busside ads encourage me to dialogue with them, telling me I can "get answers" on their website. I went to their website to find out if the answers to my burning questions were really found there.
If I found anything, it was only a bit more confusion.
Here's a question: what kind of Muslims are the creators of CAIR?
I see photos of young Muslim girls wrapping up scarves and sweaters to "clothe the homeless," concerned Muslim faces below the caption "Not in the name of Islam" (a public service announcement campaign), as well as videos and articles decrying terrorism done against "innocent civilians," including the victims of the September 11th attack. I also read that CAIR has taken out newspaper ads, conducted open house forums and in other ways aggresively sought to "disseminate the peaceful teachings of Islam."
So, they are peace-loving Muslims? Those who simply wish to "coexist" and be able to practice their religion just like everyone else?
That sounds nice- it's pluralistic and modern and non offensively "religion-lite"- but is it really what they want? Can they hold to Islamic doctrine and deny/decry the violent nature of Islam as a religion in practice? In other words, is it true?
For a change, I'm not going to spout off in my usual hothead way, leaving some wondering if I have an ounce of patient discipline for self-educating anymore. Instead, I'm going to leave this open until I read the Koran and find out what Allah requires of his followers.
I happen to have a copy at home, in fact.
To be continued...