Archive for August, 2012

CU Boulder Predicts Colorado (and Electoral College) for Romney

23 Aug

From the University of Colorado, Boulder:

A University of Colorado analysis of state-by-state factors leading to the Electoral College selection of every U.S. president since 1980 forecasts that the 2012 winner will be Mitt Romney.

“What is striking about our state-level economic indicator forecast is the expectation that Obama will lose almost all of the states currently considered as swing states, including North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida,” said Kenneth Bickers of CU-Boulder.
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Posted in Politics


The Moral Case for the British Empire [Prager University]

20 Aug

A new course from Prager University was released today. Like all courses, this is a 5 minute video giving an overview of a certain topic with information that likely wasn’t presented to you in your undergraduate or graduate studies.

The Moral Case for the British Empire. Taught by H.W. Crocker, Author and Historian.

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The British empire governed on Judeo-Christian values of freedom and peace-making. The largest worldwide empire was the empire the governed the least; without displacing cultures and often ruling side by side and through local leaders.

Ghandi said that he believed the best government was the government that governed least and that he found the British empire guaranteed his freedom and governed him least of all.

The British empire was the force that caused widow-burning to cease in India, and was the greatest force in ending the global slave trade.

My Take

The course does not present the empire as perfect, or deny there were abuses. For example, the abolition of slavery necessitates the presence of slavery first.  The emphasis, however, is that the British empire was a force that overall led to freedom, peace, and life. This is true especially in comparison to other empires throughout history. It’s this kind of comparative analysis that is emphasized in the course. Not that the British empire and everyone associated with it was perfect, but that it was the Empire with the most positive ethics and effects.

In the United States, we find that the freedom founded at the beginning of our nation carried on these ideals, not because the founders were against what Englishmen stood for, but because many were Englishmen  who were fighting for the continuation of the same values.

Another worthwhile course from Prager University. I’ve included the video above, but you can also enroll in Prager University for free and accrue credits just by watching the 5 minute videos online, taught by Dennis Prager, Adam Carolla, Jonah Goldberg, and many more.


2010 Obama: Ryan’s “is an entirely legitimate proposal” bad to say “the other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens.”

16 Aug

In January, 2010, President Obama spoke about the Paul Ryan budget proposal at the time. He compliments Ryan as stepping above the political fray and proposing a serious and legitimate proposal.

There is a political vulnerability to doing anything that tinkers with Medicare. And that’s probably the biggest savings that are obtained through Paul’s plan… I raise that because we’re not going to be able to do anything about any of these entitlements if what we do is characterize whatever proposals are put out there as ‘Well, you know, that’s the other party being irresponsible…the other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens.’ That’s why I say: if we’re going to frame these in the way that allow us to solve them, then we can’t start off by figuring out a) who is to blame; b) how can we make the American people afraid of the other side. And unfortunately that’s how our politics works right now… That’s how we operate. It’s all tactics. It’s not solving problems. (full text at the end of the post)

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This was just 2 years ago. Today, unfortunately, Obama, his campaign, his party, and the Leftist media only seem to be carrying forward:

what we do is characterize whatever proposals are put out there as ‘Well, you know, that’s the other party being irresponsible…the other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens.’… That’s how we operate. It’s all tactics. It’s not solving problems.

The Obama campaign released a scare video about the Ryan budget that Obama praised in the above video.

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Here’s the full text of 2010 Obama praising Paul Ryan and condemning the 2012 Obama’s campaign tactics:

President Obama: I think Paul [Ryan], for example, the head of the Budget Committee, has looked at the budget and has made a serious proposal. Ive read it. I can tell you whats in it. And there’s some ideas in there that I would agree with but there’s some ideas we should have a healthy debate about because I don’t agree with them. The major driver of our long-term liabilities, everybody here knows, is Medicare and Medicaid and our health care spending. Nothing comes close. That’s going to be what our children have to worry about. Now, Paul’s approach, and I want to be careful not to simplify this, I know you’ve got a lot of detail in your plan, but, if I understand it correctly, would say, were going to provide vouchers of some sort for current Medicare recipients at the current level No?

Congressman Ryan: No we protect the program for Americans 55 and above [those in and near retirement]

Obama: I understand there’s a grandfathering in.That’s why I said I wanted to make sure that I’m not being unfair to your proposal. I just want to point out that Ive read it, and the basic idea would be that, at some point, we hold Medicare cost per recipient constant as a way of making sure that that doesn’t go way out of whack, and I’m sure there some details

Ryan: We increase the Medicare payments with a blend of inflation and health inflation. The point of our plan is, because Medicare as you know is a $38 trillion unfunded liability.

Obama: Right.

Ryan: It has to be reformed for younger generations because it wont exist. Its going bankrupt. The premise of our idea is look, why not give people the same kind of health care plan we here have in Congress? Thats the kind of reform were proposing for Medicare. [applause]

Obama: As I said before, this is an entirely legitimate proposal. There is a political vulnerability to doing anything that tinkers with Medicare. And that’s probably the biggest savings that are obtained through Paul’s plan. And I raise that, not because we shouldn’t have a serious discussion about it; I raise that because we’re not going to be able to do anything about any of these entitlements if what we do is characterize whatever proposals are put out there as ‘Well, you know, that’s the other party being irresponsible…the other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens.’ That’s why I say: if we’re going to frame these in the way that allow us to solve them, then we can’t start off by figuring out a) who is to blame; b) how can we make the American people afraid of the other side. And unfortunately that’s how our politics works right now. Every time somebody speaks in Congress, the first thing they do, they have all the talking points, I see Frank Luntz up here, he’s already polled it. I’ve done a focus group, they way we’re going to box Obama in on this one, or make Pelosi look bad on that one. That’s how we operate. It’s all tactics. It’s not solving problems. And so the question is: at what point can we have a serious conversation about Medicare and its long-term liability, or a serious conversation about Social Security or serious conversation about budget and debt where aren’t simply trying to position ourselves politically. That’s what I’m committed to doing.

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25 Books Every Christian Should Read

14 Aug

I’ve previously mentioned my men’s book club, “Book Burning” briefly once before. I’ve always tried to alternate between new and old books, based on C.S. Lewis’ advice, though this January things took a turn.

The books selected for a book club are typically books that one or more members have previously read and enjoyed. Because not everyone reads the book before discussion, sometimes the only reading is re-reading by those who already love the book. Alternatively, books can be taken on the recommendation of another. Yet whose recommendation does one take? We aren’t interested in an Oprah book club.

Enter 25 Books Every Christian Should Read by Richard Foster’s Renovaré. Frederica Mathewes-Green was on the board, which lent it a great deal of credibility for us, as her Gender: Men, Women, Sex and Feminism was one of our most discussed books previously read.

15 Books Every Christian Should Read Cover

Compiled by a team spanning Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical and Anabaptist traditions, the chronological list begins with Athanasius’ On the Incarnation and ends with The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J. M. Nouwen. Books are both fiction and non-fiction, and only books whose authors are now deceased were allowed. This is important as I would have avoided the book had some of the end-of- book recommendations of contemporary books been included in the official list.

I ran the idea of following the 25 Books recommendations by a few guys who are part of Book Burning and we started in January. We’re interspersing other books for a third of our Burnings. I was afraid that reading ancient Christian literature might not draw as many guys, but we’ve had more guys show up for these discussions than we did when we picked books on our own recommendation.

I figured 25 Books Every Christian Should Read would be similar to 10 Books That Screwed Up the World and 5 Others That Didn’t Help, which summarizes the author’s background and book content. What I didn’t realize – but now very much appreciate – is that 25 Books is structured as a guide for discussing the book with others. It’s perfect as a guide for Book Burning.

It also allowed me to add new direction and purpose to the book club. It’s still about hanging out with friends, eating, maybe smoking a pipe, and discussing books; it’s now also about spiritual transformation. Thanks to the books we’ve read, I see my faith and life differently now.

Since January I’ve begun to forget some of my take-aways from and responses to the books. I plan on writing up, briefly, my thoughts and bits from our discussion about these 25 books so I don’t permanently forget them.


Stella’s Coffeehaus and Jasmine Pouchong Tea

13 Aug

In my search for alternatives to Starbucks, I’ve happened upon Stella’s at the recommendation of our friend, Wanderer Jen.

Stella’s is located in Denver at 1476 S. Pearl street between Florida and Arkansas. The place is huge. It seems they connected two older townhouses resulting in several large rooms with different atmospheres. There’s additional seating outside on the front porch.

Tonight I’m drinking Jasmine Pouchong tea. Jasmine is one of my favorite teas, probably due to all the Jasmine tea my family had with Dim Sum and other Chinese food when I was growing up. As I got my computer set up for a few blog posts, the refreshing aroma of the Jasmine tea drifted to my nose as a reminder of my unfinished series of posts about coffee and tea places as Starbucks alternatives.

The final straw for this move was Starbucks’ choice to spend profits to lobby governments on controversial issues unrelated to their products and business, about which I’ve already written. Another reason relates to G. K. Chesterton’s political and economic model of Distributism, as I read in The Outline of Sanity, which includes a very strong emphasis on small business and shopping locally.

interior of stella's coffeehaus

Stella’s is clearly a liberal establishment, with Obama stickers on the door and mints mocking Sarah Palin for sale near the entrance. Yet even if the owners decide to use company profits to lobby government, it won’t have near the power of Starbucks, which is funneling money from stores around the world to lobby state governments one by one.

The tea choices are plentiful, both loose-leaf hand-bagged teas and blooming teas. The Wi-Fi is said to work on occasion, yet tonight I’m again connected through my cell phone’s data connection. Though it’s crowded, there are still many tables of various sizes and shapes and with unmatched wooden chairs available.

I feel strangely old at Stella’s, and out of place if I don’t have my (work supplied) MacBook Pro with me. It feels like a college campus common area, with many students working on homework, others flirting, others stating quips loudly as if they’ve reached epiphanies of eloquence by repeating theories they don’t understand but have heard from their professors.

This creates an environment in people and conversation that is undesirable when I seek to read or write, but I’m able to block this out enough to enjoy the wooden furniture and brick walls when I’m alone. Yet the loud (and giggly) atmosphere would make this place fine for talking with friends or playing a game.

Solid Grounds is my new place of choice, but they don’t stay open too late. While not open 24 hours, Stella’s has a better environment, better tea, and much more seating than Fireside Books & Coffee.

Verdict: Stella’s is my choice when I’m out later than Solid Grounds is open and I have enough time for the extra drive past Fireside.


Posted in Places


A Gay Chick-Fil-A Employee Speaks Out… and Continually Contradicts Self

02 Aug

Sandwich, fries, and a drink From Chic-Fil-AThe Daily Beast has an article today written by a closeted homosexual employee of Chick-Fil-A, who states she wanted to vomit when she heard people singing God Bless America and wished that her customers would die of asphyxiation.

The self-contradictions really show the double standard that epitomizes this writer and probably those trying to shut down Chick-Fil-A because the president holds a different political opinion than they:

On the one hand, PLEASE DON’T PROTEST MY WORKPLACE. If you do, you’re just being self-righteous:

Boycotting Chick-fil-A doesn’t hurt the company. It hurts the employees. And it’s hard enough working for a place that doesn’t think you should get married. But it’s work. Don’t take it away because you feel righteous.


We had two protestors outside, and I took five minutes to run out, hug them, and tell them: if I weren’t working here now, I’d be out here with you. 

On the one hand, hoping someone goes hungry for boycotting, you know, food is evil: arrogant, self-righteous, and desire for others to suffer:

One kid, age 19, said “I hope the gays go hungry.” I nearly walked out then and there. That epitomizes the characteristics of these evangelical “Christians”…

That arrogance, self-righteousness, and desire for their opponents to suffer: that’s the least Christ-like attitude of all.

On the other hand, wishing the family value advocates die is just fine:

I remember thinking, under stress, “I hope they choke.”

One of the silliest parts:

no one called the restaurants and said “Hey, you may be flooded with customers. Thaw extra chicken.” Not one of the employees in those congregations gave the restaurant a heads-up. That sort of consideration wasn’t even an afterthought. The ministers, and through them the congregants, didn’t think about the consequences of their actions, or who it might screw over. And it ended up screwing us rather thoroughly.

August 1 as Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day was national news for more than a week beforehand, declared from Mike Huckabee on Fox News, not just a few local pastors. If your management or franchise owner wasn’t paying attention to a major news story about her/his business, that’s their fault, not your customers’ fault.


The Hero and the God (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Monomyth Chapter 3)

01 Aug

Book cover of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

…the adventure of the hero normally follows the pattern of the nuclear unit above described; a separation from the world, a penetration to some source of power, and a life-enhancing return. – p 35

This is the most basic outline of the rather circular hero story. Unlike the outline of any old story, the conflict, the uncomfortable realm, is supernatural in some way in the hero story.

Everywhere, no matter what the sphere of interest (whether religious, political, or personal), the really creative acts are represented as those deriving from some sort of dying to the world; and what happens in the interval of the hero’s nonentity, so that he comes back as one reborn, made great and filled with creative power, mankind is also unanimous in declaring. We shall have only to follow, therefore, a multitude of heroic figures through the classic stages of the universal adventure in order to see again what has always been revealed. This will help us to understand not only the meaning o those images for contemporary life, but also the singleness of the human spirit in its aspirations, powers, vicissitudes, and wisdom. – p 35-36 (emphasis added)

Campbell lists the steps of the universal hero story, which are also the chapters in his Part I (We’re still in the prologue for this and another chapter):

1 Departure

1.1 The Call to Adventure
1.2 Refusal of the Call
1.3 Supernatural Aid
1.4 The Crossing of the First Threshold
1.5 Belly of The Whale

2 Initiation

2.1 The Road of Trials
2.2 The Meeting With the Goddess
2.3 Woman as Temptress
2.4 Atonement with the Father
2.5 Apotheosis
2.6 The Ultimate Boon

3 Return

3.1 Refusal of the Return
3.2 The Magic Flight
3.3 Rescue from Without
3.4 The Crossing of the Return Threshold
3.5 Master of Two Worlds
3.6 Freedom to Live

– p 36-37

He draws a distinction between a “hero of the fairy tale” and a “hero of myth” : “Typically, the hero of the fairy tale achieves a domestic, microcosmic triumph, and the hero of myth a world-historical macrocosmic triumph.” – p 37-38

He writes:

The godly powers sought and dangerously won are revealed to have been within the heart of the hero all the time. He is “the king’s son” who has come to know who he is an therewith has entered into the exercise of his proper power-“God’s son,” who has learned to know how much that title means… the two-the hero and this ultimate god, the seeker and the found-are thus understood as the outside and inside of a single,self-mirrored mystery, which is identical with the mystery of the manifest world. The great deed of the supreme hero is to come to the knowledge of this unity in multiplicity and then to make it known.

My thoughts & questions

  1. The story of the hero demands the supernatural. Campbell as an atheist doesn’t believe in the supernatural, yet he believes we must live out the subconscious hero story for our own well-being. His conclusion is thus that we just need to go through the motions.
  2. What if, instead, the repetition of this same hero story in every human heart and in every culture is a story written by an author, directing us to the life we’re supposed to be living and/or to the real ultimate hero of all reality? I don’t think the data drives the conclusion, but the worldview of the author.
  3. Campbell’s desire to go through the motions includes stepping through a stage of rebirth. Isn’t being born something that someone else does to a person? How does one walk through a passive step in denial of the one who births? Or is this just a weakness of language?
  4. One of my ongoing questions is whether the biblical call to discipleship is a call to all to engage in the hero story themselves. The quote above lends itself well, as he is using biblical language of dying the world and being reborn. Biblical Christianity speaks of this being a spiritual reality as well as the symbolism of baptism. In this case, it seems that delaying baptism is putting the breaks on the story, not really engaging with it; being stuck in what Campbell calls The Refusal of the Call.
  5. How does this compare with the list compiled by Lord Raglan I posted yesterday?